He alone—with the ideal of glory and greatness he has acquired in Italy and Egypt, with his frenzy of self-adoration, with his insolence in crime, and his frankness in mendacity—he alone can justify what has to be accomplished.

He is needed for the place that awaits him, and so, almost apart from his own volition, and in spite of his uncertainty, the lack of plan, and the blunders he commits, he is drawn into a conspiracy that aims at seizing power; and that conspiracy is crowned with success.

He is dragged into the assembly of the rulers. In alarm he tries to flee, believing himself in danger; pretends to faint, says the most senseless things that should have been his ruin. But the rulers of France, once proud and discerning, now feeling their part is over, are even more panic-stricken than he, and fail to utter the words they should have pronounced to preserve their power and crush him.

Chance, millions of chances, give him power; and all men, as though in league together, combine to confirm that power. Chance circumstances create the characters of the rulers of France, who cringe before him; chance creates the character of Paul I., who acknowledges his authority; chance causes the plot against him to strengthen his power instead of shaking it. Chance throws the Duc d’Enghien into his hands and accidentally impels him to kill him, thereby convincing the crowd by the strongest of all arguments that he has the right on his side since he has the might. Chance brings it to pass that though he strains every nerve to fit out an expedition against England, which would unmistakably have led to his ruin, he never puts this project into execution, and happens to fall upon Mack with the Austrians, who surrender without a battle. Chance and genius give him the victory at Austerlitz; and by chance it comes to pass that all men, not only the French, but all the countries of Europe except England, which takes no part in the events that are to be accomplished, forget their old horror and aversion for his crimes, and now recognise the power he has gained by them, acknowledge the title he has bestowed upon himself, and accept his ideal of greatness and glory, which seems to every one something fine and rational.

As though practising and preparing themselves for the great movement before them, the forces of the west made several dashes—in 1805, 1806, 1807 and 1809—into the east, growing stronger and more numerous. In 1811 a group of men formed in France is joined by an enormous group from the peoples of Central Europe. As the numbers of the great mass increase, the power of justification of the man at the head of the movement gathers more and more force. During the ten years of the preparatory period preceding the great movement, this man forms relations with all the crowned heads of Europe. The sovereigns of the world, stripped bare by him, can oppose no rational ideal to the senseless Napoleonic ideal of glory and greatness. They vie with one another in demonstrating to him their insignificance. The King of Prussia sends his wife to sue for the good graces of the great man; the Emperor of Austria considers it a favour for this man to take the daughter of the Kaisers to his bed. The Pope, the guardian of the faith of the peoples, uses religion to aid the great man’s elevation. Napoleon does not so much prepare himself for the part he is to play as all around him lead him on to take upon himself the responsibility of what is being done and is to be done. There is no act, no crime, no petty deceit which he would not commit, and which would not be at once represented on the lips of those about him as a great deed. The most suitable fête the Germans could think of in his honour was the celebration of Jena and Auerstadt. Not only is he great; his forefathers, his brothers, his step-children, and his brothers-in-law are great too. Everything is done to deprive him of the last glimmering of reason, and to prepare him for his terrible part. And when he is ready, his forces too are in readiness.

The invading army flows towards the east and reaches its final goal: Moscow. The ancient city is taken; the Russian army suffers greater losses than were ever suffered by the opposing armies in the previous wars from Austerlitz to Wagram. But all at once, instead of that chance and genius, which had so consistently led him hitherto by an uninterrupted series of successes to his destined goal, an immense number of chance circumstances occur of an opposite kind from the cold caught at Borodino to the spark that fired Moscow; and instead of genius there was shown a folly and baseness unexampled in history.

  By PanEris using Melati.

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