As we think of Napoleon Bonaparte what a world of visions and memories rises before the mind! Who does not know the outward form of the greatest conquerer and captain of modern times: the small, almost dwarfish, figure, the rounded symmetry of the head, the pale olive cheek and massive brow, the nose and lips carved as it were from the purest marble of the unique world, and above all the deep-set eyes of lustrous grey, now flashing with electric fires, now veiled in impenetrable contemplation?
Perhaps in the whole range of history no one has aroused emotions so opposite and so intense, or within his won lifetime has claimed so much of the admiration, the fear, and the hatred of mankind.
For those to whom psychological analysis is wearisome he stands simply as the miraculous man of action, who without assistance of wealth or station mounted to the highest pinnacle of human fortune, supplying by the weight of one transcendent example a conclusive answer to the theory that the art and mystery of politics is an esoteric thing, a perquisite of pedigrees and privilege.
The man of whom Madame de Stael said, that “of all the inheritance of his terrible power there remained only to the human race the deadly knowledge of some further secrets in the art of tyranny,” is also the child of the Revolution, the most dazzling proof of his own democratic doctrine that in every society a career should be open to talent.