My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I have made the proofreading of this book for Free Literature.
The original file was provided by Internet Archive.
Title: Mes Memoirs, v. 1/6
Author: Alexandre Dumas
Translator: Emily Mary Waller
Release Date: August 11, 2015 [EBook #49678]
Produced by Laura N.R. and Marc D’Hooghe at http://www.freeliterature.org
(Images generously made available by the Internet Archive.)
Free download available at Project Gutenberg.
There is no real biography of Alexandre Dumas. Nobody has collected and sifted all his correspondence,
tracked his every movement, and pursued him through newspapers and legal documents. Letters and other papers (if they have been preserved) should be as abundant in the case of Dumas as they are scanty in the case of Molière. But they are left to the dust of unsearched offices; and it is curious that in France so little has been systematically written about her most popular if not her greatest novelist.
Having settled that neither my father nor I were bastards, and reserving to myself to prove at the close of this chapter that my grandfather was no more illegitimate than we, I will continue.
It was at the head of his dragoons that my father left the very presence of the commander-in-chief; but Bonaparte took care that everything which was done, no matter what, should at least seem to have been done by his orders, and on his initiative. We shall see an interesting example of the same method in the battle of the Pyramids. Bonaparte was a clever stage-manager; but we may be permitted to believe that Providence, who used him as an instrument, as men of genius are used, had something to do with the success of the pieces he played.
And, moreover, we shall misjudge all these men of the Republic if we judge them only by those who survived the Republic and lived on into the period of the Empire. The Empire was an epoch of rude pressure, and the Emperor Napoleon was a rough coiner of new metal. He wanted all money to be stamped with his own image, and all bronze to be smelted in his own furnace; even as he himself had, in some measure, set an example in the transformation of his own character. No one resembled First Consul Bonaparte less than the Emperor Napoleon, the conqueror of Arcole less than the conquered of Waterloo.
“How long shall you be in Egypt, General?” his secretary asked, as he offered his congratulations upon the appointment.
“Six months or six years,” replied Bonaparte; “it all depends on events. I shall colonise the country, and shall
introduce artists, workmen of all kinds, women, actors, poets. I am only twenty-nine years old now, and should then be but thirty-five, which is not such a great age. If all goes as I hope, six years will suffice to penetrate into India as far as Alexander did.”
It will be remembered that just before the Egyptian campaign it had been settled that if my mother bore a son,
the godparents of this said son were to be Bonaparte and Joséphine. But things had changed greatly since then, and my father had no inclination to remind the First Consul of the general-in-chiefs promise.
Finally, my father died without even having been made a Chevalier of the Légion d’Honneur–he who had been the hero of the day at Maulde, at la Madeleine, at Mont Cenis, at the siege of Mantua, at the bridge of Brixen, at the revolt of Cairo, the man whom Bonaparte had made governor of the Trévisan, and whom he presented to the Directory as the Horatius Codes of the Tyrol.
“Do not be anxious about me, mother dear; I have run away, because I do not want to be a priest.”
“Oh! I don’t need to think, mother!” I cried–“I will be called Alexandre Dumas, and nothing else. I remember my father; I never knew my grandfather. What would my father think, who came to bid me farewell at the moment of his death, if I should disown him in order to call myself by my grandfather’s name?”