FeaturedFilmHistoryMark MalvasiSenior Contributors

A Reflection ~ The Imaginative Conservative

Ridley Scott’s film is a vast oversimplification of a complex historical reality. Therein lies the danger. Like a mind-altering drug, the film provides a convenient shortcut that saves the audience the time and trouble of thinking for themselves. Filmgoers, of course, need not become experts in Napoleonic history. But Scott might have done more to encourage them to use the past as an aperture through which to view matters of grave consequence in the present.


Ridley Scott has arguably created a Napoleon for our times. If Scott’s intention was to ridicule those who wield power, he has succeeded. His Napoleon is ignorant, vulgar, truculent, churlish, and more than a little stupid. He is resolute but inept at making love. The film does not explain why Josephine, or any woman, would have tolerated such a charmless and awkward buffoon, let alone admitted him to their embraces. He displays no capacity for thought or reflection, using serious discussions about his political future and the destiny of France to catch up on the sleep he missed while trying to figure out the nuances of sexual intercourse. Scott’s Napoleon, in short, is a near imbecile who bumbled his way into power and compelled men of superior intellect and understanding, such as Charles-Maurice Talleyrand, to try both to direct and restrain his actions. If in this description there is any resemblance to persons living or dead the similarity is purely coincidental.

Critics have amply documented the liberties that Scott took with the past. Most are trivial. Scott himself has admonished those who insist on historical accuracy “to get a life.” In an interview published in the Times of London, he elaborated, dismissing such complaints with the observation that “When I have issues with historians, I ask: ‘Excuse me mate, were you there? No? Well, shut the fuck up then.’” As a filmmaker, Scott may be forgiven for his inability to understand how historians conduct their work. Less forgivable than the historical untidiness of Scott’s film, or even than his absurd comments about the nature of historical study, are the events he chose to omit from his depiction of Napoleon’s life and career. These, rather than Scott’s mostly venial sins of commission, prevented him from crafting an important film that offers sobering reflections on the nature of power and the human condition. Scott, of course, is entitled to make any kind of film he wanted. To be fair, he may only have sought to captivate and entertain his audiences. But if that were the case, then he must also accept the criticism that Napoleon has more in common with spectacle than with art.

The truth that Scott so blithely ignores is that the realities of Napoleonic history are far more interesting and significant that anything his imagination can conceive. Although having Napoleon witness the execution of Marie Antoinette, which he did not, is a contrived and inelegant trope, it enables Scott rightly to suggest that Napoleon was a product of the French Revolution. Born in Corsica on August 15, 1769, a year after the island passed from Genoese to French control, Napoleon entered military school in Burgundy in 1779, his education paid for by the crown. In 1784 Napoleon enrolled in officer training at Paris and the next year was commissioned an artillery officer with the rank of sub-lieutenant. Afterward, his career was slow to advance. As the son of an undistinguished Corsican aristocratic family he could not have expected rapid promotion.[i] He spent much of the next eight years, until 1793, on leave, his absences from duty frequently unauthorized. Yet, he was hardly idle. In addition to settling his father’s estate and participating in Corsican politics, he read. It was during these years that Napoleon acquired the extensive knowledge of politics, law, and history that served him so well once he came to power and made him anything but the vapid fool that Scott portrays him to have been.

It is unreasonable to expect a filmmaker to clarify the intricate political maneuvering of the French revolutionaries. At the same time, viewers without prior knowledge of persons and events are certain to be perplexed. Scott seems content to abandon them to the chaos. Failing to strike a balance between explaining too much and explaining nothing, Scott misses an opportunity to reveal essential aspects of Napoleon’s life, thought, and character. Napoleon early allied with the Jacobins, the most radical faction among the revolutionary partisans. He came to the attention of officials in the revolutionary government during the summer of 1793 when, as a junior artillery officer—he was not in command as he is in the film–he distinguished himself at the siege of Toulon against British and Spanish troops. The Jacobin government promoted him to general and, in 1794, appointed him to command artillery units in the French army fighting the Austrians in Italy. Napoleon’s star seemed to be ascending.

It fell just as abruptly. With the execution of Maximilien Robespierre (who makes a bloody cameo appearance in the film) in July 1794 and the subsequent collapse of the Jacobin government, Napoleon was out of favor and without political cover. Arrested, jailed, and facing execution, he proved too gifted a soldier, and so was freed to resume his military service to the Directory, the new governing body in France. Although many scholars have long doubted Napoleon’s participation, he apparently added to the luster of his reputation, or at least his legend, by dispersing a counterrevolutionary movement that had emerged in Paris, the so-called Insurrection of 13 Vendémiaire. Whether Napoleon actually took part in these events, Paul Barras, a prominent member of the Directory, became his patron and secured for him command of the French Army of Italy. Scott inexplicably overlooks the Italian Campaign of 1796-1797, which was Napoleon’s first independent command and the first of his military triumphs.

Napoleon drove the Austrians from Lombardy and could have marched on Vienna had he been so inclined. In Italy he displayed not only his military prowess but also the administrative and political skills of which Scott deprives him. He consolidated the territories that he had seized into an independent state, the Cisalpine Republic. Welcomed initially as a liberator, Napoleon soon alienated the Italians by imposing heavy taxes and looting priceless art and other treasures. He paid as little attention to Italian protests as he did to the instructions he received from the French government. Although only a general, he conducted himself as a sovereign, even establishing a formal court in Milan.

Although members of the Directory were apprehensive about Napoleon’s growing popularity, they were not above exploiting it to elevate their waning prestige at home, especially since they also found it impossible to relieve or rebuke him. They tolerated his insubordination because he had, after all, reinvigorated an army that was demoralized when he assumed command. He had defeated a formidable enemy in the Austrians and, in 1797, had compelled them to sign the Treaty of Campo Formio that ceded to France the southern Netherlands (Belgium), Venice and its environs, and territory along the left bank of the Rhine. It was in Italy, Napoleon recalled years later, that he awakened to his destiny. “I realized I was a superior being.” he wrote, “and conceived the ambition of performing great things, which hitherto had filled my thoughts only as a fantastic dream.” [ii]

Upon his return to Paris in November, 1797, the Directory ordered Napoleon to plan an invasion of England, the most powerful rival of France. Knowing the strength of the Royal Navy, Napoleon demurred and suggested as an alternative that he strike the English in the Mediterranean, where they were presumably more vulnerable. The Directory endorsed his proposal, if for no other reason than to remove him and the army from French soil. Any military, political, and diplomatic advantages the campaign might produce were secondary. In May, 1798 Napoleon with an army of 35,000 men departed for Egypt.

Scott both details and distorts the Egyptian Campaign, which was a disaster. Napoleon did not order his gunners to fire on the Great Pyramid at Giza, as in the film, but the French did capture Cairo, the Egyptian capital. Then everything went wrong. At the Battle of the Nile (a.k.a. the Battle of Abukir Bay) on August 3, 1798, the British fleet, under the command of Admiral Nelson, annihilated the French navy. Deprived of access to reinforcements and supplies, Napoleon was compelled to abandon operations. He transferred command of the decimated army, and left his troops to molder in the desert and finally to surrender. He did not return to France, as Scott would have us believe, because he had learned of Josephine’s infidelity, but because the expedition had failed and because he wished to further his own political ambitions.

In this instance, Scott again misses, or rejects, an opportunity to ponder not only Napoleon’s character but also a phenomenon that has become treacherous to political discourse in our time: disinformation. Napoleon was the master of propaganda and self-promotion. Rather than acknowledge publicly what he admitted in private, that the Egyptian campaign was a catastrophe, Napoleon issued enthusiastic but false bulletins describing the many victories he had won. To the French, Napoleon was a conquering hero who draped the republic in glory.

By the time Napoleon reached Paris on October 16, 1799, a conspiracy to overthrow the Directory was already under way. At its head was Emmanuel Sieyès, a former priest, a leading member of the current government, and a man of insatiable political ambition. His associates included Talleyrand, the Paris chief of police Joseph Fouché, the writer Madame de Staël, and Napoleon’s brother, Lucien. The aim of Sieyès and his fellow conspirators was to end anarchy in France by entrusting power to the wealthy. He solicited Napoleon’s participation because of his popularity with the army, control of which was essential to success. Like Scott, Sieyès underestimated Napoleon. Sieyès intended Napoleon to play the part of a useful idiot, to be no more than a figurehead to entice military support, a puppet whom Sieyès could manipulate at will. But, as Napoleon observed, in politics as in prostitution amateurs are often better than professionals. And so it was.

Like Sieyès, Napoleon recognized that more than a decade of political instability, economic upheaval, domestic violence, and war had produced an atmosphere of crisis in France. In such times, he reasoned, people sought a champion to end uncertainty and restore order. A man of destiny had no choice save to act. Although meticulously planned and carefully executed, the coup d’état nearly miscarried. Yet, disheartened by years of unrest, the French welcomed a strong leader just as Napoleon anticipated that they would. Sensing the mood of the people, he took care to identify with the fears and aspirations of the most insecure groups, such as the bourgeoise, who sought to protect all that they had gained from the Revolution. Setting an example for aspiring dictators in the centuries to come, Napoleon characterized himself as the guardian of freedom, prosperity, and peace.[iii]

To quell violence and impose order, Napoleon demanded and received extensive authority. Assuming the title First Consul, he supervised the drafting of a new constitution, which was “short and confused,” as he said all effective constitutions should be. At the same time, he made certain that the Constitution of the Year VIII created a strong executive. The constitution indicated that three consuls were to share the responsibilities of power but Napoleon refused to concede and moved quickly to establish his personal rule. Before the French realized what had happened, they found themselves subject to the dictatorship of an absolute sovereign. The last and most successful of the Enlightened Despots, Napoleon exercised a power that the Bourbon monarchs would have envied. Behind the façade of republican government, he established a military dictatorship and created the first modern police state.

Using several attempts to assassinate him as the pretext, Napoleon dismantled both the Jacobin and the monarchist opposition to his rule. He ordered the summary execution of many leaders of these two groups and sent others into exile from which few returned. He purged the army of dissenting officers, or merely of those who entertained political aspirations of their own. By the end of 1802, Napoleon requested and received from the impotent legislative chambers the title “First Consul for Life.” Two years later, on December 2, 1804, as the result of a meaningless plebiscite, Napoleon was proclaimed the hereditary emperor of France.[iv] During the splendid but carefully staged coronation that took place at the Cathedral of Notre Dame, Napoleon, by prearrangement with Pope Pius VII, took the imperial crown from the pope’s hands and placed it on his own head. With this symbolic gesture of high political drama, Napoleon indicated that he owed his power to no one and that he served no master but himself.

As emperor, Napoleon revived monarchial court life with all of its oppressive extravagance and formality. Far from having coarse manners as in Scott’s depiction, Napoleon enforced strict etiquette at the imperial residences in the Tuileries, St. Cloud, and Fontainbleau. When criticized for his emphasis on pomp and ritual, for restoring, as it were, the “baubles of monarchy,” he is alleged to have replied that “it is by baubles that men are led.” As if on cue, courtiers and sycophants reappeared, while many members of Napoleon’s family accumulated immense fortunes. Only his mother, Letizia, remained unimpressed. She disapproved of his lavish coronation and refused to attend, although Jacques-Louis David subsequently painted her into the official portrait.When asked what she thought of her son’s career thus far, she said: “Let us hope it lasts.”


In the remainder of the film, Scott concentrates equally on Napoleon’s European conquests, his desperate efforts to father an heir, and his relationship with Josephine following the dissolution of their marriage. The choices are historically and cinematically defensible. But again what is missing from the film is most troublesome. Scott misrepresents the Battle of Austerlitz and the Russian Campaign. At Austerlitz, Napoleon did not lure the opposing armies onto a frozen lake only to crack the ice beneath their feet with artillery fire and send men and horses to a watery grave. During the retreat from Moscow, by contrast, at least 12,000 of Napoleon’s troops were drowned trying to cross the Berezina River. As he had in Egypt, Napoleon abandoned the remnants of his army in Russia and hastened to Paris in disguise, traveling under the alias Monsieur de Rayneval. Scott makes no mention of the Spanish insurgency–the “Spanish ulcer,” as Napoleon referred to it–which drained the French treasury, occupied increasing numbers of French troops that Napoleon could have deployed in other engagements, enabled the English to establish a military presence on the continent, and inspired anti-French resistance movements throughout Europe. More inexplicable and unjustifiable is Scott’s failure even to allude to the Battle of Leipzig (a.k.a. the Battle of Nations), fought between October 16 and October 19, 1813, which was the first unequivocal defeat that Napoleon suffered and which marked the real end of the Grand Empire.

Yet, the most serious omission from the film is Napoleon himself. We are treated only to Scott’s caricature, which is far less remarkable and arresting than was the man. In the aftermath of the Russian Campaign and before the Battle of Leipzig, on June 24, 1813, representatives of the Prussian, Austrian, and Russian governments extended to Napoleon an opportunity to surrender, offering him the Treaty of Reichenbach. (Sir Arthur Conan Doyle must have found it delightful to set the final confrontation between Sherlock Holmes and Professor Moriarty, “the Napoleon of crime,” at Reichenbach Falls.) The treaty required only that Napoleon dissolve the Duchy of Warsaw, created in 1807 from the Polish holdings of Prussia that Napoleon had forced the Prussians to cede to him, to return all other captured Prussian and Austrian territory, and to restore the freedom of the previously independent German cities of the Hanseatic League, such as Hamburg and Lübeck. The treaty honored existing French borders up to the Rhine, and did not affect the rest of the Grand Empire. The allies permitted Napoleon to keep his personal fortune, which by then amounted to approximately £8 million, as well as the treasures he had looted from throughout Europe.

At the end of the film, Scott portrays a fictional meeting between Napoleon and the Duke of Wellington during which the “Iron Duke” clarifies the terms of Napoleon’s exile to St. Helena. Scott meanwhile disregards a conference that actually took place at Elsterwiese Castle near Dresden on June 26, 1813 at which Prince Klemens von Metternich, the Austrian foreign minister, discussed with Napoleon the terms of the Treaty of Reichenbach.[v] Contemporary accounts of the meeting vary and are self-serving, but the exchange nonetheless reveals much about Napoleon’s character and conception of himself. At talks that lasted from noon until 8:30 in the evening, Napoleon rebuffed all overtures for peace. He would make no concessions to the other European powers. “My reign will not outlast the day when I have ceased to be strong and therefore to be feared,” he told Metternich. “I know how to die,” he continued:

but I shall never ceded once inch of territory. Your sovereigns, who were born to the throne, can allow themselves to be beaten twenty times and will always return to their capitals. But I cannot do that–I am a self-made soldier.

Metternich replied “I have seen your soldiers. They are not more than children.” At Metternich’s provocation, Napoleon lost his temper. Enraged, he exclaimed “you know nothing of what goes on in a soldier’s mind. I grew up on the field of battle. A man like me cares little for the lives of a million men.” Metternich responded: “If only the words you have just spoken could be heard from one end of Europe to the other.”

“I may lose my throne,” Napoleon thundered, “but I shall bury the whole world in its ruins.”

“Sire,” Metternich declared, “you are a lost man.”

When negotiations broke down, the Austrians, Prussians, and Russians signed a convention that became the basis of a military alliance against Napoleon, whose Grand Armée they then proceeded to decimate at Leipzig.[vi]

It is unfair to judge a film as if it were a text book or a monograph. Questions of historical accuracy, if not irrelevant, are negligible. Questions of historical understanding are not. The Italian philosopher and historian Benedetto Croce argued that all history is contemporary history. The past must be relevant to the present, and the aspects of the past that most engage attention are invariably those that address present concerns. “It is evident that only an interest in the life of the present can move one to investigate past fact,” Croce explained. “Therefore this past fact does not answer to a past interest, but to a present interest, in so far as it is unified with an interest of the present life.” [vii] In a world in which the freedom of millions is increasingly under threat a filmmaker of Scott’s caliber might have used the life and career of Napoleon to reflect on the origins of modern dictatorship.

His failure of imagination appears harmless enough. Scott has done his job. He has brought to the screen a big-budget film that contains many elements calculated to yield success at the box office: the chronicle of a lowly outsider’s rise to power against the establishment and his predictable fall, complete with the obligatory depictions of rutting, panoramic battle sequences, and a tempestuous and ultimately doomed love affair. The film entertains–sort of–as it was designed to do. To paraphrase Flannery O’Connor, if it is mere entertainment then to hell with it. There is today a tacit agreement among many who churn out popular culture–not only filmmakers but also writers, publishers, and large swaths of the media–to avoid discussing critical matters in politics, society, religion, philosophy, and history. Few, it seems (there are notable exceptions), want to be accused of saying anything meaningful or important, if only from the fear that in the ensuing controversy someone might be offended and seek retribution. They are also concerned lest serious deliberations elicit lassitude and indifference.

Scott’s film is a vast oversimplification of a complex historical reality. Therein lies the danger. Like a mind-altering drug, the film provides a convenient shortcut that saves the audience the time and trouble of thinking for themselves. Filmgoers, of course, need not become experts in Napoleonic history. But Scott might have done more to encourage them to use the past as an aperture through which to view matters of grave consequence in the present.

To observe that Napoleon presents an ambiguous and confusing legacy is a monumental understatement. From the pages of his memoirs, Napoleon emerges as the champion of liberty, equality, and even democracy who shattered monarchical power, clerical and aristocratic privilege, religious intolerance, and social injustice. He liberated the human spirit not only from the oppression of kings, priests, and nobles but also from the tyranny of the past. To be sure, Napoleon exported the ideas and ideals of the French Revolution. He made impossible a return to the old order, a reality that even arch-conservatives such as Prince Metternich, although perhaps not Tsar Alexander I, understood and accepted. He marked feudalism for destruction. In a comparison with Adolf Hitler, the last man to conquer Europe, the ledger favors Napoleon. Civilization, culture, and law accompanied Napoleon’s armies. Oppressive as the Napoleonic system of government could be to conquered peoples, it remained committed, from first to last, to civil equality and human rights under the rule of law. To Napoleon, the subjugation or extermination of entire peoples not because of their opinions or even because of their actions, but because of their of their birth, their faith, and their blood was inconceivable and incomprehensible, especially when they might serve the regime. For their severity and their atrocities, the French were much feared and hated in the territories they annexed and occupied. But the French rule of Europe under Napoleon seems in contrast to Nazi domination restrained, decent, and humane.

The English writer William Hazlitt continued to regard Napoleon as the agent of progress and righteousness. In his four-volume biography published in 1828, only seven years after Napoleon’s death, Hazlitt proclaimed:

The question with me is whether I and all mankind are born slaves or free. . . . If Buonaparte was a conqueror, he conquered the grand conspiracy of kings against the abstract right of the human race to be free; and I, as a man, could not be indifferent which side to take. If he was ambitious, his greatness was not founded on the unconditional, avowed surrender of the rights of human nature. With him, the state of man rose too. . . . As long as he was a thorn in the side of kings, and kept them at bay, his cause stood out of the ruins and defeat of their pride and hopes of revenge. He stood (and he stood alone) between them and their natural prey. He kept off this last indignity and wrong offered to a whole people (and through them to the world) of being handed over, like a herd of cattle, to a particular family, and chained to the foot of a legitimate throne.[viii]

For Hazlitt, Napoleon was nothing less than the benefactor of a downtrodden humanity.

Such lofty rhetoric bore only partial semblance to the truth. Everywhere Napoleon suppressed liberty. He subverted representative government, such as in the Netherlands where he abolished ancient charters, traditional rights, and local assemblies. He plundered the wealth of Europe at the point of the musket and the bayonet. He ransacked the art collections of Italy, the Germanies, and Spain, while his troops confiscated food, supplies, and horses following his orders to live off the land. When the victims resisted, the French commanders had their men execute them, sometimes wiping out entire villages. The Napoleonic Wars hindered the economic development of Europe, including France, for more than a generation, and inflicted brutality and suffering on untold millions. Napoleon’s ambition resulted in the deaths of more than three million soldiers and likely two million non-combatants. Bonaparte’s reign, asserted the Swiss political theorist Benjamin Constant, who was himself committed to advancing the cause of republic liberty, sacrificed human beings “to abstractions–a holocaust of individuals is offered up to `the People.’”[ix]

Napoleon Bonaparte dominated Europe between 1799 and 1815. “Is there anyone whose decisions have had a greater consequence for the whole of Europe?” asked the Dutch historian Pieter Geyl.[x] Napoleon had a penetrating mind characterized by a soldier’s attention to detail, precision, and order. He was indefatigable, able to work for as long as twenty hours at a time without surrendering either to boredom or fatigue. Both an Enlightened philosophe and a Romantic artist, Napoleon was guided by reason and animated by inspiration. The French historian Georges Lefebvre described him as “a poet of action” for whom the whole world was a blank slate waiting to be shaped and reshaped according to his vivid imagination and his implacable will. [xi] He was no ordinary man and his was no ordinary life. Brilliant, charismatic, arrogant, cynical, and unscrupulous, Napoleon could not compromise his objectives, could not moderate his ambitions, and so, as the Duke of Wellington said after Napoleon’s escape from Elba, he at last “placed himself beyond the protection of the law.” [xii] In the end, Napoleon bled Europe dry, inaugurated total war in the service of a belligerent nationalism, and subverted the humanism that distinguished the Enlightenment and for a brief moment inspired the French Revolution.

Napoleon disappoints not because Scott failed to unravel the contradictions about Napoleon’s life and character that have bedeviled contemporaries and historians alike, not because he did not untangle the man from the legend. The film is unsatisfying the more so because he did not show in his interpretation of Napoleon an ominous portent of things to come. In essence, Scott did not take Napoleon seriously–at least he did not take him seriously enough. Writing of Napoleon’s nephew Louis Napoleon Bonaparte, Napoleon III, Karl Marx noted that “Hegel remarks somewhere that all great, world-historical facts and personages occur, as it were, twice. He has forgotten to add: the first time as tragedy, the second as farce.”[xiii] Scott’s film demonstrates that history can occur a third time as melodrama, resplendent in its superficiality.


[i] Napoleon’s antecedents were Italian. A minor noble family, the Buonapartes left Florence and settled in Corsica early in the sixteenth century. In 1764 Napoleon’s father, Carlo, a lawyer, married Maria Letizia Ramolino. Their fourth child was registered at birth as “Nabulione.” In 1768, the year before Nabulione was born, the Italian city-state of Genoa sold Corsica to France. The Corsicans rebelled. Carlo Buonaparte initially sided with the rebels but changed his allegiance, which is why his son could later be educated in France at royal expense.

[ii] Quoted in Philip G. Dwyer, “Napoleon Bonaparte as Hero and Saviour: Image, Rhetoric, and Behaviour in the Construction of a Legend,” French History Vol. 18/No. 4 (2004), 382.

[iii] Scott’s film accurately depicts the coup, or at least its final act. On the night of 17-18 Brumaire (November 8-9, 1799) Sieyès and his associates convinced the members of the Council of Elders and the Council of Five Hundred, which were the legislative bodies of the Directory, that the Jacobins were plotting a counterrevolution. For their own safety, the legislators needed to leave Paris and flee to St. Cloud. Napoleon and his garrison, meanwhile, would safeguard Paris. Of course, this decision placed Paris under the control of the conspirators. Later on 18 Brumaire, the five-man Directory resigned.

On 19 Brumaire, Napoleon appeared before the deputies to obtain permission to move against the Jacobins. By this time, the members of the Council of Five Hundred realized they had been deceived. The troops surrounding their quarters were not there to protect them but to intimidate them into surrendering power. When Napoleon appeared, they denounced and attacked him. Hysterical and near collapse, he barely escaped with his life. The coup d’état seemed to have unraveled.

Napoleon’s brother, Lucien, saved the day. He told the troops that, bribed by the English, the legislators planned to overrule the people and that they had tried to kill Napoleon. He then ordered the troops to disperse the Council. When the soldiers hesitated, he put a sword to Napoleon’s breast and vowed to kill him if he ever betrayed France. Inspired and emboldened by Lucien’s impromptu theatrics, the soldiers carried out their orders. Lucien subsequently informed the Council of Elders that he had to threaten violence to save Napoleon from the enemies of the state and the people. On the evening of 19 Brumaire (November 10), a remnant of both the Council of Elders and the Council of Five Hundred appointed a provisional government made up of three consuls, Sieyès, Pierre-Roger Ducos, and Napoleon as First Consul, and adjourned.

[iv] The recorded vote was 3,400,000 in favor to 2,569 opposed. The affirmative vote was actually closer to 3,100,000. Napoleon arbitrarily increased the number to 3,400,000, which became the official figure.

[v] In May, 1812, Napoleon had relocated his court to Dresden in anticipation of the “civilizing mission” that he intended to launch against Russia.

[vi] The exchange between Metternich and Napoleon is quoted in Alan Palmer, Metternich (London, 1972), 99.

[vii] Benedetto Croce, History: Its Theory and Practice, trans. by Douglas Ainslie (New York, 1920), 12.

[viii] See Kevin Gilmartin, William Hazlitt: Political Essayist (Oxford, UK, 2015), 114; William Hazlitt, Preface to the Life of Napoleon Buonaparte,” in Selections From His Writings (London, 1889), 483. Italics in the original.

[ix] Quoted in Isaiah Berlin, Four Essays on Liberty (Oxford, UK, 1969), ix.

[x] Pieter Geyl, Napoleon: For and Against (New Haven, CT, 1964), 16.

[xi] Georges Lefebvre, Napoleon, trans. by J. F. Anderson (New York, 1969), Vol. 2, 66.

[xii] Quoted in Elizabeth Longford, Wellington: The Years of the Sword (London, 1969), 393.

[xiii] Karl Marx, “The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte,” in The Marx-Engels Reader, second edition, ed. by Robert C. Tucker (New York, 1978), 594.

The Imaginative Conservative applies the principle of appreciation to the discussion of culture and politics—we approach dialogue with magnanimity rather than with mere civility. Will you help us remain a refreshing oasis in the increasingly contentious arena of modern discourse? Please consider donating now.

The featured image is courtesy of IMDb.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Source link