By Emil Ludwig
This is often the good vintage biography of Napoleon. What makes Emil Ludwig's paintings probably the most is his literary variety and presentation.
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This much is certain, that Buonaparte, at the head of his battalion, tried to seize the fortress. But the garrison was not to be intimidated. Guns were trained on his men, and he had to withdraw. A complaint against the young officer was in Paris ; he was accused of armed rebellion, and a trial for high treason was impending. His exculpatory phrases deceived no one. Paoli, who had from the outset been somewhat alarmed at 24 The Deserter the zeal of his turbulent fellow-islander, hastened to proclaim his own loyalty to France, and to cashier the son of his old friend.
Thus he has become a soldier of fortune more speedily than he had wished. He is without firm standing-ground ; his only rights are the revolutionary rights of a National Guardsman, the member of a force which may go to pieces directly a reverse is sustained. Hic Rhodus ! He must take advantage of the| latent civil war between the townsfolk of Ajaccio and Guard; must fan the flames, so that, amid the general confusion, he may assume the role of saviour! Is not the citadel now occupied by the king's regular forces, a standing menace ?
From now, when he is barely twenty-six, he will for twenty years, with unremitting vigour, move onwards towards his goal, drawing the chain of thought and action after him. Suddenly, twenty years hence, the chain will snap. Napoleon's work begins. " The veil is lifted, for here he finds the most secret reports concerning all the armies of the republic. At the same time, his daily association with the leading civilian figures in France gives him authority. The suggestive influence of his personality makes itself felt.