By Emil Ludwig
This can be 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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Weeks of waiting. What answer will come from Paris? Here is the courier at last. The island is to be a French province, having the same rights as the other provinces; in accordance with Mirabeau's proposal, Paoli and all the champions of liberty are free to return home. The lieutenant is taken aback. A province ? In spite of the new ideas, and indeed because of them, the Corsicans are to remain Frenchmen ? A strange form of liberty! But there, already, is the procession, headed by the 18 The Roman authorities, on its way to the cathedral, where the decree from Paris is to receive a blessing.
The suggestive influence of his personality makes itself felt. What is the first thing he aspires to gain for himself ? Neither the command in Vendée nor the command of the Army of the Rhine. These are attainable, tangible magnitudes. Here, at the centre of all the real fronts, nothing allures him so much as the thought of a command which as yet lives only in his imagination ; in a battle-ground which does not exist, but which he wants to create to-day, and which he will again want to create seventeen years hence.
All his papers have been seized. It is his birthday. " To-day I am twenty-five," he thinks, as he glances seaward through the grating. If he could lean out of the window, he would catch a glimpse of Corsica. How many attempts he has made there, only to be defeated! Was the destiny of a young aspiring soul ever before built upon such a series of catastrophes ? What has Plutarch to say on this matter ? Cashiered, banished, outlawed—as far as Corsica is concerned. Now, after all his plans, he is a prisoner of 34 Strike Off My Chains!