Napoleon's Meeting with Goethe & Letter to Hadhrat Tipu Sultan
I have received this from David Moosa Pidcock, the Leader of Islamic Party of Britain and author of many books. He has permitted me to publish his sharing here. I am pleased to do the needful for learning by all.I have referred this text for understanding the importance of Jamia Azhar and how Fatimid Era seat of learning remains influential till date.I have cited this for showing muslims on the continuity of Fatimid Khilafa with diverse levels of acceptance and obedience. Theological validity of Fatimid Khilafa can not be challenged. 49th Imam and Fatimid Khalifa is the Leader for all..
Published on: Mar 3, 2016
Transcripts - Napoleon's Meeting with Goethe & Letter to Hadhrat Tipu Sultan
RELIGION & POLITICS
# I. - Religion
EXTRACT FROM Le Courrier de l’Egypte (no. 76., of 18th Thermidor) (1).
The matters outlined in the following passage are of the most remarkable kind, both
in themselves and in the origins, either direct or indirect, from which they surely arise.
They indicate an entire political policy, and the moderate wording of the item has been
measured in order to impose conviction.
“ On the 14th of this month the Muslims celebrated the birth of Mahomet. Our
Government's tolerant principles have always induced it to take part in this celebration,
which has been recognised in Cairo by many artillery salutes.
"On the day itself Sheikh el-Bekry, a descendant of the Prophet, gave a sumptuous
dinner for the Commander-in-Chief, all the general staff and that of the garrison, the
generals and high ranking officers of all the troops stationed in Cairo, as well as various
public functionaries and leading citizens of the country. In the evening the whole city was
“Whatever our religious opinions may be, Mahomet must be considered as a man who
towered over his century and his countrymen, and for his genius, his inspiration and his
audacity, merited the admiration of posterity.
(1) See official documents of the Army of Egypt, 2nd part, P. Didot the elder, year IX,
“Born among an ignorant and superstitious people, he knew how to dwell upon
religion’s so powerful influence, and putting himself between Man and his Creator,
succeeded in substituting the doctrine of the unity of God for a host of ridiculous ideas and
practices which disgraced the backward races of the Orient.
“The fundamental points of Mahomet’s religion can be reduced to seven, the first three
of them concerning faith and dogma, the four others belonging to practice.
“The first fundamental point is that there is no god but the true God, and that Mahomet
is his prophet.
“The second point consists of the belief that the actions of Man will be rewarded or
punished after death.
“Predestination, or God's absolute decree, is the third of the fundamental points.
“The four points of practice are prayer, giving of alms, fasting and the pilgrimage to
“Besides these main points, the Koran also prescribes several moral precepts to be
religiously observed, such as the prohibition of drinking that which intoxicates, excites
passions and disturbs the social order.
“Usury and gambling, both of which find their origins in cupidity, are similarly
prohibited in Mahomet’s law.
“The Koran also includes civil laws; it settles the women's and children's share of the
inheritance of their fathers and husbands, and reduces to four the number of women whom
a Muslim can marry; finally, it allows divorce in reparation for the violating of natural
laws which often takes place within marriage.
“Through our association with the Turks, we know much more than we have either the
time or the purpose to present here; yet if we want to judge it sensibly, it is sometimes
useful to put together in a concise fashion the series of fundamental principles in what is
often a confused doctrine.
“We conclude with the observation that perfection as found among the Muslims is due
to principles (1) of universal morality, independent of religion, which will finally bring
them all together again; that the element most destructive of Muslim grandeur and power
lies in the dogma of predestination, which made them neglect the acquisition of
knowledge, giving us such a great superiority over them in every way.
“Some eight to ten days ago the Captain-pasha returned to Alexandria; Mr.Smith came
to join him with a capital ship and two other smaller vessels.
“Mourad Bey always displays the best intentions, and often writes very affectionate
letters to the Commander-in-Chief.
“The annual works on the canal which carries Nile water to Alexandria are at their peak
of activity. Citizen Le Pere, director of the civil department of bridges and highways, pays
much attention to the gathering of information upon the irrigation of Egypt; he has sent
engineers to examine the various canals and the manner in which they distribute the
waters of the Nile throughout the country. The level of that river was today, morning of
the 18th, 44 inches higher than on the same day last year.
“Orders have been issued for repair of the meqyas, or nilometer; public neglect has
contributed to the defacement, almost from top to bottom of this monument, which,
though not beautiful, is very famous throughout the world. Its construction can be traced
back almost nine hundred years.”
(1) cfr supra.
# II Religious Policy
SCIENTIFIC AND MILITARY EXTRACT OF THE FRENCH EXPEDITION
IN EGYPT (1)
Strict but just with the people, devout but restrained with the muftis, Bonaparte knew
when necessary , in his Oriental style, how to use a form of words which was familiar to
them, how to quote a verse from the Koran to obtain a concession, and whilst controlling
them with an imposing dignity, how to bestow a few insignificant favours. However it
was not enough that they ceased to regard the French as their enemies. Bonaparte
demanded a more absolute commitment. In a solemn declaration ringed by all forms of
religious overtones, he wanted the Divan to have the Egyptians recognise him as the
envoy of God, as a friend of the children of the Prophet, with no other mission but to
free them from the tyranny of the Mamelukes. However it was not easy to force them
into such a condescension. The custodians of the Great Mosque objected that, as a son of
Issa, he must be an enemy of the true believers, and that they could not concede what he
demanded of them so long as he and his soldiers would not convert to Islamism.
Bonaparte replied that he was convinced of the excellence of Mahomet’s religion, but
that it was necessary to give his troops time to familiarise themselves with its doctrines and
observances; that in two years time, when the occupation of Egypt had been assured , an
abjuration would perhaps become possible, and he would then order the construction of a
magnificent mosque half-a-league in perimeter. Although such an offer was far from
binding, the sheikhs of the Al-Azar Mosque, overcome by his flatteries, or won over by
various overtures, seemed to be content with it. The declaration in favour of the French
was proclaimed from the top of the minarets of the Great Mosque, and soon after repeated
to the people by the muezzins of the other mosques at the hour of prayer. From that
moment complete confidence was established. Reconciled with the holy men, considered
by the Turks as allies of the Sultan, the French enjoyed for some time a friendly
relationship with the Arab population. Bonaparte was called the Sultan-kebir or Great
Sultan, and soon the following stanzas were sung in his honour:
Author of this ode: Nikoula-el-Turk, son of Yusuf-el-Turk, of Constantinople origin,
but residing in the blessed town of Cairo; there offering his praises to France, and her
incomparable hero, prince of the army, Prince Bonaparte, at the beginning of the year
1. - At last the times predestined by Allah have witnessed their dawn; an atmosphere
of felicity surrounds it; the star of victory which lights up the French warriors is
resplendent in its fires; the renown of their glory precedes them; with them come fortune
2. - The chieftain who marches at their head is impetuous; terror bends the foreheads
of kings before him, bowing to the invincible Bonaparte, lion of battles, the irresistible
power which dominates destiny, and elevates itself to the height of supremacy and the
skies of glory.
3. - He musters insurmountable strength; destruction falls on him who declares himself
an enemy; his reign is unshakable, the herd of the mighty ones is forced to humble itself
before him, master of victories, whose generosity is a boundless ocean.
4. - Untiring conqueror, he is unique amongst men, his bold alacrity surpasses
admiration, he has vanquished the kingdoms arrayed against him; he decides in his
sovereign will, he gives the orders, and in legions the battalions hasten unto him, while
the seas simmer under his ships.
5. - He makes himself master of Alexandria and despite all obstacles, instantly
subdues her during Moharram, the month which has the honour of heralding both the new
year and the conquest: with his army he invests the plains around the ramparts of the
capital, which is threatened by his dispositions.
6. - Each soldier, each warrior calls impatiently for the day of battle; he deploys his
battalions with skill, drawing upon his knowledge and long experience of war; at his
precise order they spring impetuously into action, dashing upon the furious squadrons of
7. - And the fire of war blazes up with fury, on that day when little children's hair
whitened with fear; the Hero turns the reins of his steed towards the enemy, and he
drenches them from the cup of bitterness; he forces them to witness a terrible day of battle
which turns human reason into madness.
8. - A day of which in truth it will be said, "May God preserve you from such a day!"
Suddenly this gathering of many princes is dispersed in the deserts: and they see death
above their heads, already raining in a hail of fire.
9. - The valorous chiefs among them, the warlike youth, have no thought but of retreat
and flight. Sombre despair becomes their only host: misfortune has fallen heavily on those
powerful houses: Bonaparte triumphs: and the Mameluke is disenthroned by his defeat.
10. - His princes are driven afar, henceforth plague-stricken, abject and dishonoured; and
with the conquest of Cairo in the tenth month of Safar, Allah's order has been
accomplished; and the Sabbath (Saturday) is the day which determines the period within
which the triumph is complete.(2).
(1) Paris, 1830, Vol.III, pp. 219-225.
(2) No need to emphasize the official character of that type of Arab poetry.
# III Bonaparte's civilizing policy in Egypt
EXRACT from the History of Bonaparte's expedition in Egypt, by P. Martin.
Details on the Institute - "The Institute held its sessions regularly, the first and sixth of
each period of ten days. This truly liberal assembly was conscious of all the dignity of the
functions it was called to fulfill. Its members were burning with the desire to cover all
aspects of Egypt, by way of studying the monuments spread across this land of classical
knowledge. In such a spirit they enlightened each other with wise and profound
discussion, and the French came to detach themselves from the pursuit of arms in those
friendly conferences presided over by the genie of liberty.
One of these sittings gave an indication of this. Bonaparte wanted to dominate
opinion, and wondered about the resistance which was sometimes brought to the adoption
of his own ideas. His most stubborn opponent was the master physician Desgenettes, and it
involved a discussion about chemistry. Bonaparte impatiently broke it up by saying "I am
well aware that you are all holding hands. Chemistry is the kitchen of medicine, and that
the science of the assassins". Desgenettes then, looking at him fixedly, replied: “And how
will you define for us that of the conquerors?”
Already some members of the commission had made excursions into the Delta;
Malus and Fèvre had identified the ancient tanitic branch. Sulkowsky had given a
description of the then little known road from Cairo to Salehieh; Berthollet and Fourrier
had visited the valley of the lakes of Natron; Andreossy had charted a map of Lake
Menzaleh; the indefatigable Desgenettes and his intrepid collaborators studied Egypt’s
physical and medical topographies, and at Alexandria and Rosette were already testing out
their first remedies against that terrible disease which they subsequently fought with so
much success. Two newspapers were published: one under the name Décade Egyptienne
reported about the works of the Institute and the memoirs of the members of the
Commission of Arts and Sciences; the other, entitled Courrier d'Egypte, carried
information about the interior and exterior political situation of the country. Finally the
first foundations had been laid, and they were starting to gather the materials for the great
literary monument which has since been erected to the glory of the Egyptian people.
On the 25th Nivose (15th January 1799), Cairo celebrated the aniversary of the Battle
of Rivoli by the release of a linen balloon 44 feet in diameter, entirely spherical, and with
tricoloured ribbons. In large letters it carried the words: "Battle of Rivoli". It was
assembled on Ezbekieh Square, beside the house of the Grand Divan; but later taken to the
middle of the square, from which it climbed majestically at three o'clock in the afternoon.
It remained in the sky for about one hour and descended very gently at the Sulkowsky
fort. It was expected that this ascent would make some impression amongst the Egyptians,
but it was observed with astonishment that those who crossed the square at the moment
when the balloon was about to take off, did not even take the trouble to stop and satisfy
the curiosity which should have been evoked in them by such a spectacular show.
This mingling of joy and resentment which the French experienced by reason of the
position in which they found themselves, had led them to form varying opinions about
Egypt, and each believed he was depicting it in its true colours, by sketching the picture
from the viewpoint of his own perspective. Until the Cairo uprising, the unease which
had been in evidence, and the difficulty of following one’s own inclinations, had darkened
perceptions to the point at which Egypt became a frightful prison.
It was then, with perhaps a too hasty conviction, that Volney's dark pictures of this land
came into favour. That author, so intriguing in the majesty of his style and the strength of
his logic, was awkwardly placed in Cairo, having to write just as he felt, without being
able to see anything for himself. Confined to the Frankish quarter during his entire stay
because of Hassan-bey's revolution, he wrote the story of Aly-bey and of Mameluke
customs, on the strength of notes given him by Mr Rosetti. Unable to see Egypt except
from a vantage point on the terrace of his house, the author of the Ruins injected his
melancholy into the few pages he dedicated to this country during his journey through the
Orient; and in the early days this same melancholy pervaded all the fickle throng who
yearned for the delights of Paris.
Savary, on the other hand, had been feted in Egypt. He had tasted its delights and, all
intoxicated with pleasure, had given his imagination free rein. His portrayal, drawn in
the most vivid colours, was far from the truth: it sinned by the naivety of its conception,
and the disciples of Volney seized on this lack of precision to condemn the work itself.
However public opinion, led gradually back to the truth, while rejecting Savary's style
was able to appreciate his descriptions, and a member of the Arts Commission did not
shrink from giving them his loud approbation, even adding to them all the graces of his
own mind in the diary of his journey which he published after Bonaparte's return to
France. Savary found his imitator in the person of Denon, but Volney also found his in
General Reynier, who, without inhibitions, presented Egypt in its true perspective.
Amongst the works entrusted to the Institute, first priority was given to examining the
question of a canal joining the Red Sea to the Mediterranean. In order to start operations,
it was necessary to be in full control of the isthmus. General Reynier had already subdued
the whole of Charkié province, but the Red Sea was still not in sight. A particular
expedition was necessary to take possession of Suez, which was separated from Cairo by
about 150 kilometres of desert inhabited by numerous Arab tribes, who had absolute
control there, to the extent that the caravan to Mecca was obliged to pay them right of
passage. On the 14th Frimaire, year VII (5th September 1798), the 32nd demi-brigade
was sent there, with General Bon and Eugene Beauharnais, aide-de-camp to the
Bonaparte himself wanted to go and visit this important geographical location. He
took with him Messrs. Monge, Berthollet, Costaz et Lepère. Leaving Cairo on the 4th
Nivôse, Year VII (25th December 1798), they did not reach Suez till the evening of the
6th two days later. After spending the whole of the 7th viewing and ordering all that was
required for the needs of the garrison in defence, trade and naval matters, Bonaparte went
on the 8th to visit the Springs of Moses, situated on the other side of the Red Sea, about 12
kilometres from Suez. On his return journey he suddenly ran into considerable danger,
being almost at the point of enacting anew the miracle of the crossing of that sea by the
Pharaoh when, in pursuit of the Israelites, he was swallowed up with his whole army. The
caravan had crossed it dry-shod, like the Israelites, but on the way back the flood-tide was
flowing, and with the coastal land being very flat at the bottom of the gulf, the surge was
going to reach the Commander-in-Chief when a guide, seeing him in danger, took him on
his shoulders and carried him swiftly away.
On the 10th Nivôse (31st December) they departed Suez, and the Commander-in-Chief,
leaving the caravan to head for Aggeroud, hurried north to discover the traces of the old
canal, which he indeed located and followed for about 20 kilometres, right up to the the
basin of the Bitter Lakes, where it ends. He rejoined the caravan at Aggeroud and took
himself on the 14th Nivôse (4th January 1799) to Belbeis, whence he went 40 kilometres
into the Wadi-Tumilat in order to reconnoitre that part of the canal which had been derived
from the Nile.
Immediately on his return to Cairo, he had the engineers provided with all that was
necessary for a long stay in the desert, in order to facilitate the operations of cartography
and levelling; they departed again for Suez on the 26th Nivôse (16th January) with
Brigadier General Junot in command.
The peace which Egypt had been enjoying those last three months was nevertheless but
a fore-runner for important events which were due to take place there.
Bonaparte, who was deliberating over projects outwith the country, needed to assure
himself on the mood of the inhabitants during his absence, and was determined to
conciliate them at all costs. An unfortunate incident which occured in Cairo at the
beginning of Nivôse (end of December) gave an indication of this. A woman had been
murdered during the night, in her house on Ezbekieh Square, opposite the general
headquarters. Crowds gathered in the morning, and the populace accused French soldiers,
more precisely two guides of the Commander-in-Chief, whom some Turks claimed to
have seen around the house, between ten and eleven o'clock at night. They were arrested,
their swords stained with blood. But they protested their innocence of the murder, told that
at the time they had been seen, they were coming back from a café to the guard-room,
that on the way, harassed by stray dogs such as then swarmed the streets of Cairo, they
had killed some of them with their sabres. After this evidence the court martial could not
condemn them, but Bonaparte arrived at this moment from his trip to Suez, reviewed the
investigation, and although well convinced of the innocence of these unfortunate soldiers,
sacrificed them to the hatred of the Turks, using his authority to have them shot. A few
days later the true murderer, a servant of the house, was arrested by the aga of the police
and confessed to his crime.
The proclamation of the Grand Vizier, profusely spread through all the Muslim states,
had its desired effect. In Arabia, the inhabitants of Mecca and Yambo had marched in
defence of their religion and had crossed into Upper Egypt via Cosseir, in order to join
The English, after vain attempts on Aboukir and Alexandria, had succeeded in rousing
the Arabs of Derna and the Barca desert, who were threatening to descend upon Lower
Egypt, where the inhabitants were well disposed to them, being barely kept in control by
General Marmont, in command at Alexandria, and General Lanusse, commanding at
Menouf. It was a difficult situation, and called for a great effort to turn it around.
Chapter V - Expedition into Syria
Hearing no further news of the negotiations with the Great Sultan, upon which the
Directory had misled him, Bonaparte endeavoured to initiate some of his own. He
consequently wrote, on the 5th Fructidor, Year VI (23rd August 1798) to Ahmet-Djezzar,
pasha of Accra, to announce his arrival, assured him of his friendship and asked him to
favour trade between their two countries, hoping thus to find a favourable approach to
By the same token he had sent back the Turkish caravel he had found at Alexandria,
and entrusted M. Beauchamp, a French astronomer, to act as surety with the Grand Vizier,
on the intention which he said he had, of acknowledging and maintaining the sovereignty
of the Sublime Porte over Egypt. M. Beauchamp was captured by the English and treated
by them almost as a spy.
Ibrahim, however, after being deported from Egypt, had found asylum and protection
under Djezzar, and was continuing intelligence activities on the frontiers which were
disturbing for the army.
Receiving no news of Beauchamp during Nivôse, and having thus less reliance on his
mission, Bonaparte thought that the time had come for him to strike an attitude. He had
already written to Djezzar pasha a second letter couched as follows:
“Bonaparte, Commander-in-Chief, to Ahmed Djezzar, pasha of Accra.
“Cairo, 29th Brumaire, Year VII (20th November 1798)
“I do not want to wage war on you, if you are not my enemy, but it is time for you to
explain your position; if you go on giving refuge to Ibrahim bey on the borders of Egypt,.
I will consider this as a mark of hostility and march on Accra.
“If you want to live in peace with me, you will remove him forty leagues from the
Egyptian frontier, and you will allow freedom of trade between Damiette and Syria.
“Then, I promise you to respect your states, and allow entire entire freedom of trade
between Egypt and Syria, whether by land or sea.”
This letter sent Djezzar into a fury; that anyone should dare to threaten him at his own
residence of Accra, he whose very name could make the whole of Syria tremble! He
made no response other than to have the unfortunate messenger beheaded. Promptly he
reinforced his garrisons, and, whether with the intention of attack or defence, occupied the
fort of El-Arish, situated on the desert coastline, about 150 kilometres from Saleheih. At
his word, the pashas of Damas and Alep raised troops to rally to him. These preparations
gave confidence and even a sense of boldness. to the Egyptians. General Bonaparte, seing
that he would be attacked from all sides at the same time, resolved to go himself and carry
the war into Syria, to destroy resources which the Ottoman armies might find in that
country, before returning to consolidate his power in Egypt. (1)
(1) Extract of the history of the French Egyptian expedition by P. Martin, engineer in the
Royal Corps of Bridges and Highways, member of the Commission of Egyptian Arts and
Sciences, and one of the collaborators in the description of this country, published by order
of the French Government. Paris, J.-M. Eberhart, imp. du Collège Royal de France, 1815,
# IV - Résumé of International Policy during the Egyptian Expedition.
Extract from a pamphlet of the Year IX.
The Egyptian expedition, so fine in its principle, so great in its purpose, so fraught
with promises of glory and prosperity for France, had been perverted, to England’s
benefit, by the misconceived policy and ineptitude of the Directory. It could have
arranged negotiations with Turkey in which it would have been easy to show her where her
true interests lay, and the immense advantages in a French occupation of Egypt. (1)
The settlement of an active and industrious workforce, delegated to clearing those
regions which had been granaries of abundance for Rome and Italy, to bringing the
benefits of civilisation to a savage land, to the rousing of a population unnerved by torpor,
blinded by ignorance, brutalised by servitude; the revival of agriculture and the
transformation of ugly deserts into fertile plains; everywhere the digging of navigational
and irrigation canals in order to use the overflows of the great river; the proliferation of
European trade offices in the confines of Europe, Asia and Africa, on the banks of the Nile
and in the ports of the Red Sea; establishing more frequent and more effective
communications for the Indian trade; attacking England in her far dominions and at the
source of her wealth; the tracing of a new route; a new maritime and commercial system
changing, the Mediterranean , as it were, into a French lake, causing the treasures of the
Levant to flow into our southern provinces: such were the prospects of this great and
well directed enterprise. To make Turkey a part of it, it would have sufficed to guarantee
her an annual flow of products, fixed and certain, from a territory where her dominion
had become illusory, and whence the revenues, erratic and badly acquitted, no longer
justified its claim to count as one of her provinces.
Such a tactic, whilst maintaining the long-established friendship of the Ottoman
cabinet, would have warded off the new gathering of powers against the Republic, and
affirmed the continental peace so precious to France for the execution of her vast
projects in the Orient.
This first and essential condition of Ottoman consent having been neglected, all that had
originally been in our favour turned against us. The drive against England’s trade had no
other effect than the ruin of our own commerce in the south, the detachment of the
Barbary States, the closure to us of the Levantine ports, the introduction of the English
into the Mediterranean, denying us the elite of our warriors, and an ally until then faithful
and more precious than ever: Turkey's defection paved the way for a coalition of all
Europe against France.
We have seen how England, after the Treaty of Campo-Formio (2), insinuated her
agents into every council chamber: she had given instructions to rekindle the flame of
conflict throughout the Continent. But Austria, dismayed by her recent losses, her
resources of men and money exhausted, did not want to risk an unequal struggle without
the assistance of a Northern power with enough troops to bring some hope of success.
Russia obstinately refrained from entering imprudently into world affairs, so long as her
borders were under threat from the Turk, a dangerous and rival neighbour, and a friend of
the French Republic. The English then set about embroiling France with Turkey. This
rupture would be decisive for Russia, and Russia stirred up the Court of Vienna. War was
again ignited on a continental scale; England was vindicated.
Sidney Smith was at the Temple. Four thousand French prisoners had been offered as
his ransom. The English cabinet thus betrayed the importance they attached to this
personage. The Directory Executive, despite advice and pressing solicitations from
Bonaparte, neglected to send an ambassador to Constantinople, with a view to making the
Ottomans more favourably disposed towards the arrival of the French in Egypt. It also
did not keep a careful guard on Sidney Smith, whose escape was the focus of
remonstrations and venal intrigues by England. This doubling of errors caused the loss of
No French minister had arrived at the Divan. Only the English commodore, escaped
from the prisons of Paris, presented himself in the name of his Court to point out the
intrusion of the French on Ottoman territory, draw up, and have signed, a declaration of
war against France and the union with Russia, himself instigate the preparations for war
and give out his orders in the city and the port.
Thus Bonaparte who should have crossed a friendly and allied country without
obstacle, receiving reinforcements from his own homeland, occupying himself with
political rather than military affairs, creating a colony, fostering the arts and sciences in a
land which had been their cradle, emerging as a pacifier rather than a destroyer and
conqueror, found only dangers and enemies, battles to fight, entire populations conspiring
against him, all his hopes betrayed, all his projects shackled through the energetic and
cunning policies of the English and the lack of foresight and stupid negligence of the
In vain he proclaimed his peaceful and benevolent intentions to the Ottoman Court; he
sent letter after letter, courier after courier to Constantinople, with advices on his needs and
dispositions to the French Ambassador , who had not left Paris. Finally he learned that
the British legation alone had influence at the Divan; and was in receipt of the Ottoman
manifesto against France. He foresaw the new storms which were about to break over his
homeland; he sensed the immensity of the seas between, knew of the numerous battle
squadrons , all their flags united under the English flag. The ships which had brought him
to those distant shores had been attacked and destroyed while he marched in triumph
across the deserts in the footsteps of Alexander and Sesostris. He was abandonned by his
last hope when his soldiers murmured against him; without the resources to match his
genius, discontent and despair would disorganise his army.
Despite so many difficulties and obstacles, he faced misfortune with a courage which
was more than equal to his reverses. He inspired in his companions the noble fortitude by
which he himself was sustained. He countered the prejudices and superstitions of the
indigenous population with kindness, persuasion and tolerance. He destroyed little by little
the many-headed hydra of ever-recurring rebellion. He triumphed over climate and
disease. At a stroke he laid low the beys, the Mamelukes, the innumerable Arab tribes
which congregated at all points and places. He resisted the combined Turkish and English
armies, on land and sea, as well as internal enemies in league with those from without.
He secured his peaceful possession of Egypt.
In the midst of the needs of war, he did not neglect administration and government,
finance, the distribution and collection of taxes, promoting agriculture, reviving trade and
restoring communications, canals, fortifications, the sciences, shipping, legislation, civil,
religious and military celebrations; the difficult art of bringing together the French soldier
and the local inhabitants, two types of human being vastly different in race, customs and
language, and from their respective standpoints natural enemies.
The scholars attached to his colours, the skilled generals and brave warriors who had
already proven their valour and heroic stolidity on the plains of Belgium and in the fields
of Italy, were inspired by the example of this bold and generous commander who presided
over their destinies. A colony was founded and consolidated amidst arms and amongst
constant and frustrating conspiracies.
But Bonaparte had not forgotten Europe and the scene of his earlier victories, or the
mother-country whose citizens followed him with anxious eyes throughout danger and
conquest. He had learned of the successes of the new coalition and the invasion of Italy.
He was not unaware that brave Frenchmen, marooned on African sands, and whose arms
the Republic begged vainly to be always victorious, were also forfeit to a royal vengeance,
should liberty be allowed to perish. And which of them could, or would want to survive
the loss of liberty in their native land?.....
He also had taken an active and glorious part in that Revolution which had spread
across the Universe, and whose eclipse would plunge the earth into slavery and darkness.
He was bound at the same time to his glory and to his country; to Italy, where he had
promised to share and confront the dangers, if she were threatened; to his brothers-in-
arms who had nothing more to expect from a government which was not able to secure its
own frontiers, and had forfeited public opinion.
"He left the fate of Egypt and of the army in the hands of the hero most worthy to
succeed him; Kléber, whose great and generous soul, open character, noble loyalty and
intrepid courage had won him the esteem of both soldiers and people. He concealed his
departure from all eyes, so that no fateful indiscretion would betray the secret to England’s
watchful spies. He cast his fortune on the waves. Guided as by an invisible hand, he
arrived on the shores of France, where victory had already preceded his return. He
deferred to the national will, which consigned him the faltering destinies of the State".
(Extract from the Appel aux véritables amis de la Patrie, de la Liberté et de la Paix, ou
Tableau des principaux résultats de l'Administration des Consuls et des ressources
actuelles de la République Française. (Appeal to the true friends of the Motherland, of
Peace and Liberty, or catalogue of the principal achievements of the Administration of
the Consuls and of the current resources of the French Republic). At Paris, at Roger's
bookshop, germinal Year IX (1801) (3)
(1) See M.Herbette: Une ambassade turque sous le Directoire (A Turkish embassy
under the Directory), justificative sections, pp.295 and following, notably pp.309-324.
(2) Translator’s note: this treaty ended the First Italian Campaign between France and
Austria in 1797. It gave France sovereignty over Belgium and the Ionian Islands.
(3) See Emile Bourgeois, Manuel historique de politique étrangère, vol. II, pages 187-
# V. - Departure Point for Bonaparte's Politico-religious Theory: Refutation
of the Defence of Christianity as from a Political Viewpoint, by Roustan.
(Napoléon, unpublished manuscripts, 1786-1791, from original
autographs by Frédéric Masson and Guido Biagi) (1)
Is the Christian religion good for the political constitution of a state? Rousseau has so
little doubt about it that he says: "The third (2) is so evidently bad that it is a waste of time
indulging oneself in its demonstration". Anything which ruptures social unity is of no
value. All the institutions which put Man in contradiction with himself are of no value. As
these principles are incontestable, M. Roustan cannot retract them, but he denies that the
reformed Catholic religions are in this category.
As for the Roman faith, it is on the latest evidence that the unity of the State is broken.
Let us therefore explore further into the points he makes against Rousseau. It is true that
Christianity and government have a common goal in the happiness of mankind, but does it
follow from this that the unity of the state is not jeopardised? Undoubtedly not. They
advance towards the same goal, but by different routes. Christianity brings happiness by a
repression of the evils which afflict us in this world. "What is life compared to eternity? I
am unhappy and you, evil people, are prosperous; but I will wait for you at the Tribunal of
the Supreme Being. It is then that the reckoning will come, come once and for always".
Government watches over the security of its citizens: "You have wronged me, you
have violated the laws within my remit, come and account for it before the ministers of
justice, the avengers of crime and upholders of the laws." It is therefore well apparent that
the spirit which moves Christianity is contrary to that of government, though aiming at
the same goal , but if, in moments of crisis such as all states experience, one is obliged to
make the people temporarily unhappy in order to save the country, Christianity would
oppose it and resist the views of government. The proposition is thus resolved.
Christianity forbids men to obey any order opposed to its laws, any unrighteous order,
even one emanating from the people. Therefore it goes against the first article of the
social contract, which is the basis of government, for it substitutes particular confidence
to the general will which is the basis of sovereignty. Politically speaking, the
inconveniences must be considered. The inconvenience of this interdict by the Gospel is so
dangerous in the Christian state, that it totally ruptures the unity of the state, as the
ministers of the law are not the same as the ministers of religion.
The particular leanings of the latter, subject to their strictest interpretation, could
indirectly contradict the orders of the Sovereign. In effect, which tribunal will decide
whether such or such an order is unjust? Conscience, you tell me! Who controls
conscience? You therefore see very well that the State is no longer one. Follow this
reasoning and you will see that the response of the Viscount of rthe in a Christian state is
very different. You thus realise for yourself the influence that ministers of religion can
have upon the laws, since, in order to prevent election abuses, you consult enlightened and
virtuous priests. You therefore feel that they have more influence in the State than the
ministers of law themselves; yet, as ministers of religious bodies are never, or almost
never, citizens, but always ministers, conflict of interests!
I need not point out the great number of real contradictions and inconsistencies into
which M. Roustan descends. I have already shown enough of them. It is therefore obvious
that even a reformed Christianity destroys the unity of the state: (a) because it either
increases or diminishes the trust which one should have in ministers of the law; (b)
because, due to its constitution, it has a particular element which not only shares the heart
of the citizen, but can also contradict the views of government. Besides, is this body not
independent of the state? Indeed it is, for it is not subject to the same disciplines. Do we
see it defending the motherland, the laws, or liberty? No. Its empire is not of this world.
Therefore, it is never of the citizenry...
With a triumphant air, you ask why neither the Swiss Protestants nor the French and
Piedmontese Calvinists have been rent by civil dissension. Why? Because they had a
common enemy in the papist. So long as Christians were being persecuted, bridled by the
pagans, they remained humble and good. The spirit of the constitution, which has appeared
since then, has been engulfed in impotence. The political wars, the vigilance which the
nation needed to prevent the princes from usurping the rest of her liberties, the former
papists who were still numerous, the need of the German protestants to be helped against
the Roman leagues, were the very reasons which kept the Swedes free of religious wars.
But let us not open the annals of Europe, we would find there many other ills engendered
by the various reformed sects...
If an emperor is not previously Christian, if prosperity has not already had its effects
on Christianity, so that all the resorts (of the State) are broken down; it is clear that this
religion will do nothing to help the government, and that on the contrary, due to its instant
corruption, it can only be infinitely harmful to society.
Do you see this in the ancient religions? No, for sure! At least religion reflects the
degree of governmental corruption. Meditate over the Christian Consitution and you will
find there the source of wars and, I dare say, of our lack of respect for religion.
You admit therefore that you do not understand why the cleric is master and law-giver
in his own country. Do you deduce from this that we should suspect Rousseau had no
idea what he was saying? No! no! you would rather make us believe that it would have
been better for you not to have written. The clergy, wherever it becomes a body
encompassing several states, is in control, in so far as its decisions are independent of all
other bodies of the state. It is a legislator, in that it reigns over the conscience. Finally, all
that it does, it does despotically...
Not only does the unity of the state consist in having neither organisations nor
individuals able to oppose the means it uses to achieve the aims of government, but it is
necessary moreover that the sentiments which the different institutions inspire should
incline towards the same purpose. Yet does not Christianity breed in us a marked
indifference to effects of a purely human origin?
Christianity, it is true, tends to make us contented. The aim of government is also to
bring contentment. Does it follow from this that Christianity does not destroy the unity of
the state? we doubt it. They may arrive at the same destination, but by entirely different
methods which contradict each other. Christianity fosters contentment by making us
consider all the pain we feel as a punishment from God , and which will bring reward in
the hereafter. It says, “This life is therefore happy because of the promise of a future life.”
The aim of government, on the other hand, is to lend strength to the weak against the
strong and by this means offer everyone a little tranquillity, a chance of happiness. But,
otherwise, so long as the ministers of law are not at the same time ministers of religion,,
it presupposes a spirit particular to this body, and that spirit is all the stronger when its
empire is purely metaphysical. The citizen's allegiance is therefore divided between the
ministers of law and those of religion. Yet the natural impulse of man is to wish to
control. Judge for yourself whether a body which is all powerful without power, will not
want to have that power...
You tell us that emperors committed a great mistake in enriching (the priesthood), but
can’t you see that this was a natural consequence, first of the power they had over the
conscience of the prince, and then of the good or evil they could do inside the state? What!
you expect a man, an organisation which is more powerful than anyone, not to be rich.
Well then, cast an eye into the human heart! Thus the wealth of the church was a natural
consequence of its spirit of non-dependence on the government and, furthermore, it should
be levied against Christianity’s account as well as the abuses and wars it engendered. I
say, independence of government. That is clear. First of all, because, being independent on
spiritual matters, it had necessarily to influence the temporal...
Despite the title of friend which you give to Rousseau, you are not forced to read his
works. In order to prove that the pagans could have the concept of a kingdom in another
world, you tell us that several (.......) , by which I well believe you do not understand what
Rousseau means. The politicians and the Caesars of paganism could never believe that the
Christians would speak with sincerity, and could ever content themselves with a
metaphysical empire. And it appears that the workings of a profound policy are concealed
in this. The pagans should have waited until the Christians had made manifest? Suppose
an army is about to occupy your city, it has not, however, manifested any evil intent. (3).
(1) See pp.7-19 . - Fonds libri. The fragment refers to the volume entitled: Offrande aux
autels et a la Patrie (Offering to the altars and to the Motherland), by Ant.-Jac. Roustan,
minister of the Holy Gospel at Geneva, Amsterdam, by Marc-Michel Rey, 1764, in-8*,
volume comprising a defence of Christianity considered from the political aspect,
responding in particular to Chapter VIII of the 4th book of the Social Contract”.
(2) “The third, that is to say, the Roman Catholic religion. It is the second in all our
reckoning, but he does not wish it so.” (Note by Bonaparte).
(3) This is only a draft; Bonaparte is seventeen and his French is still not of the best; but,
as Frédéric Masson remarks, even in this draft "where readings which may have been bad
could multiply the obscurities, in this draft written off the cuff without erasure and which
Bonaparte has neither read again nor corrected, it is impossible not to discern in its
entirety the theory which Napoléon later tried to put into practice, and not to recognise the
origins of his ideas about the Catholic religion. As Consul and Emperor, he has claimed to
prevent a rupturing of the unity of the State by giving the State its guidance. "With my
influence and my forces in Italy, I did not despair,” he stated in the Mémorial, “of finally
having in my hands direction of the Pope, and after that, such influence! What a leverage
of opinion over the rest of the world!”
“When he wants to establish the Pope in Paris, create him Bishop of both Paris and
Rome, holding him under his hand with all the pontifical court, which he will make into
some kind of ecclesiastical annex of his imperial court; when he thus imagines he can
reinforce his civil power through this religious power; when he institutes a budget for the
various creeds, and whilst allocating a modest living for the priesthood as a charge upon
the State, can therefore forbid them from acquiring their own wealth, by which they could
become independent of the government; when, by the same token, he protects the
individual’s substance from the tax which was levied, generation after generation, by
those who claimed to be the masters and journeymen of "the hereafter"; when he bans
from his empire those regulars over whom he would have no means of control - since he
could offer them neither money nor promotion - and admits only the laity; when through
this laity he obtains it that religion teaches obedience to his government, and congratulates
himself on having made them the most useful agents of his will, is it not upon the
conclusions drawn by him in 1786 that he necessarily builds, and are not the ideas which
he expresses here those which he has forcibly adopted?" (Frédéric Masson) Let us add
that during the Egyptian expedition the same reasoning could not do other than strongly
attract Bonaparte to Islam. Was he not observing, for the first time, this perfect coherence,
logical and therefore dynamic, for which his spirit yearned? The abuses of the Egyptian
system were obvious, but no less so were the virtualities.
# VI. - Development of the Doctrine.
Appearance of Ulterior Divergences. - Secret Unity
Bonaparte’s unity of thought, under a multiplicity of outgoings, has not escaped the
historians; the majority have pointed it out; the Catholic writers alone have not been afraid
to bring it to light.
This unity can be explained as much through the principles which Bonaparte was
already professing as an adolescent (1), as by the perpetual struggle, direct or undirect,
conducted against Catholicism in conformity with the ideal of the secret societies on one
hand, and with the fundamental circumstances on the other.
That Bonaparte was a freemason (2), that his reign marked the period of masonry’s
greatest expansion, has been amply demonstrated (3).
At first glance there seems to be a profound contradiction between Bonaparte’s
successive actions. What is in common between his conduct in Italy, in Cairo, in Paris, at
Fontainebleau?......In reality, unity proves undeniable.
This is what Deschamps and Claudio Jannet have particularly well established.
(1) Compare previous para.
(2) See N. Deschamps, Les Sociétés secrètes et la société, vol. II, pp. 191 and following.
(3) Idem, see pp.177-207.
A. - Bonaparte’s Revolutionary Background.
On the eve of 18th Brumaire Napoléon Bonaparte, through all his earlier beliefs,
offered the revolutionaries and the freemasons the guarantees which explain the active help
they gave him.
“A confidant of Robespierre, he owed him his first step to fortune on receiving, with
command of the artillery, effective control of the army besieging Toulon... ..
“Subsequently appointed head of the army in Italy with Robespierre the younger, he
had such a close liaison with him that this member of the Convention had offered him
command of the army in Paris, in place of Henriot, despite that after the 9th Thermidor he
was imprisoned for ten days (1). It was to him, on the 13th Vendémiaire, that the regicides
of the Convention called for help, so that they could remain in power by force and drown
the Parisian sections in blood.
“We have seen how, in the war against the Pope, he had made himself the executor of
the Revolution and expressed in his correspondence the intimate thinking of the sects
(Book II, chapter VI, # 14).
“His conduct during the Egyptian expedition was essentially in conformity with the
masonic design, which tends to put all religions on the same level.
“According to M. Thiers, by secret intrigues he had prepared a long hand account of
the traditions of the island of Malta. Freemasons such as the Chevalier Dolomieu et
Bosredon, were said by other historians to be imprisoned there, and the cowardly Grand
Master Hompesch yielded to him on this, as well as the adjacent islands, in consideration
of a principality in Germany, or, in default of it, 300,000 francs annuity for life, 600,000
francs of indemnity, 700 franc pensions for the chevaliers of the French language.
Cafarelli Dufalga, one of Bonaparte's senior officers, while walking through the fortress
and admiring its fortifications, said, ‘We are very fortunate to have had someone inside to
open the doors for us!’
“The Order of Malta was destroyed, and two years later, thanks to these Masonic
treasons, the boulevard of the Mediterranean, the impregnable island of the Knights,
belonged to the English, who are still in occupation (2).
“Arriving in Egypt after this simple exploit, Bonaparte odiously abjured Christianity in
his first proclamation to the inhabitants of the country (3). But let us harken to his own
judgement, made later at Saint Helena on these proclamations.......
"My Frenchmen only laughed at them, and their attitudes in this respect in Italy and in
Egypt, were such that, to have them gather and discuss religion, I myself was obliged to
speak about it very flippantly (4), equating the Jews to the Christians, the rabbis to the
“After all, no one says there would never have been any circumstances which would
oblige me to embrace Islamism. Can it be that the Empire of the Orient, and maybe the
subjection of all Asia, would not have been worth the wearing of a turban and trousers?
for truly this is all it would have been about. We were only losing our breeches and a hat
(5). I say ‘we’ because the army, as it was then disposed, would certainly have played the
game, seeing it only as a joke and a piece of fun. On the other hand, look at the
possibilities: I take Europe in the rear; the old civilisation was still encircled, and who
would then have thought to threaten our France's destiny and the regeneration of the
century? Who would have dared to undertake it? Who would have succeeded?” (6).
“This was indeed the way freemasonry intended to unite all religions under its banner
(See book I, chapter II, # 10). As we have seen, that presupposes the most utter cynicism in
religious matters. But Napoléon was essentially a cynic (7), whatever some naive
enthusiasts may have said of him. His conversations at Saint Helena show that his beliefs
did not go further than a vague deism, or the pantheism of freemasonry.”
"In the evening, after dinner, the conversation turned to religion,” reports M. Las-
Cazes. “The Emperor spoke about it for a long time. I will now give a careful resume of
this, as being quite characteristic on a point which must doubtless have often aroused a
“The Emperor, after a very lively and warm gesture, said, ‘Everything proclaims the
existence of a God. It is indubitable! But all our religions are clearly the creations of
“‘Why did these religions always denounce, always fight each other? Why has it been so
always and everywhere? It is so because men are always men. It is so because always the
priests have everywhere slipped in fraud and lies.
“‘Promptly,’ continued the Emperor, ‘as soon as I came to power, I hurried to re-
establish religion. I used it as a root and a foundation. It was in my eyes an upholder of
morale, of true principles, of sound habits..
“‘Assuredly I am far from being an atheist; but I cannot believe everything which is
taught me against my reason, under pain of falsehood and hypocrisy.
“‘To declare where I come from, what I am, where I’m going, is beyond my
comprehension.. And yet, all this is in being; I am the watch which records, but knows not
“‘There is moreover no doubt,’ he further observed,’ that in my capacity as Emperor
my spirit of incredulity was a benefit to the people; otherwise, how could I have looked
with equal favour on so many differing creeds, if I had been dominated by one of them?
How could I have preserved my independence of thought and action, under the spell of a
confessor who would have ruled me through fear of Hell?
“‘Through his title of confessor, what empire might a villain - be he the most stupid of
men - exercise over those who govern the nations?
“‘I was so deeply convinced of these truths that I promised myself to put it in hand, so
far as I was able, that my son should be raised in the same religious beliefs that I hold
“Two months later the ex-emperor used the same language and insisted that, apart from
a belief in God, with which his inner being was in sympathy, he had lost all religious faith
as soon as he had been able to reason, and that at as early an age as 13 (9).
“Those intimate opinions help to make comprehensible the policies followed by the
Emperor, wherein there is much more consistency than is believed by those who confine
themselves to facts outwardly known...”
(1) Lanfrey, Histoire de Napoleon, vol .I. pp.46-54.
(2) Thiers, Histoire de la Revolution, 8th edition, vol.IV, pp.151-152. - Barruel, Memoires,
vol.IV, p.368. - Histoire Universelle, Duruy. - Histoire de France, vol.II, p.681.
(3) Cf. above.
(4) Whence the explanation of those superficial sarcasms which Napoleon found
indispensable as tricks of war.
(5) Circumcision was declared non-obligatory and wine-drinking permitted for new
Muslims, redeemable by charitable works. See Campagne d’Egypte et de Syrie, vol.II,
pp.219-222 (chap.V, affaires religieuses). Cf. above.
(6) Correspondence of Napoleon I, published by order of Napoleon III, vol.V,
pp.185,191,241. The formula. God is God, is not cited in this correspondence, but in
several other histories, including: Memorial sur la Revolution francaise, by Tous. Fel.
Joly, retired professor, p.593. - Memorial de Sainte-Helene, pp.143-144.
(7) Deism of the most authoritarian. See Aulard, Etudes et lecons sur la Revolution
francaise, 1908 (2nd edition, 4th series pp.303 and following: Napoleon et l’athee
(8) Mémorial de Sainte-Hélène, vol. IV, pp. 204-209, by Comte de Las-Cases. Reprinted
1828. Lecointe, library, Paris..
(9) Idem, vol.V, p. 384.
B. - Destruction of the Pope's Temporal Power.
“What will never be emphasized enough,” adds the same author (1), “is that Napoléon
was seeking less to conquer a few provinces, over which he had already reigned de facto
for several years, than (2) to put the Pope under his hand and make him a docile
instrument of that spiritual power whose strength he perceived without recognising its
“He himself had unveiled his thoughts when recounting in his conversations on Saint
Helena the aim he was pursuing when he extorted the Concordat of Fontainebleau from a
captive Pope, separated from his advisers and weakened by sickness:
"‘I had quite different views. This shift only increased the resentments and the
intrigues. Until then, the quarrel had only been temporal. The Pope’s mentors, hoping to
raise their profile, complicated it with all the spiritual medley. Then I had to do battle
with him on this ground also. I had my own advice of conscience, my councils, and I
invested my imperial courts with both appeals and abuses , for my soldiers could do
nothing in this matter. I had no choice but to fight the Pope with his own weapons.
Against his scholars, his quibblers, his legists, his scribes, I had to bring mine. The Bishop
of Nantes, de Voisins, was among our bishops the firmest supporter of Gallic liberties. He
was my oracle, my torch, he had my sublime confidence in religious matters, as in my
quarrels with the Pope I had it as a first concern, whatever was said by the intriguers
and shufflers, not to touch on dogma; so much so that that when this good and venerable
Bishop of Nantes would say - Be careful, here you are confronting dogma! without
bothering to argue, without even trying to understand, I immeditely altered my approach
to come from other directions; and as he did not share my secret, how astonished he must
have been by my digressions! How bizarre, obstinate, capricious, inconsequent I must
have seemed to him! It is just that I had my purpose, and he did not recognise it.
“‘ I got the Pope moved to Fontainebleau, but that should have been the end of his
miseries and the restoration of his splendour. All my great concepts had been
accomplished under subterfuge and mystery; I had brought things to the point where its
development was inevitable, all naturally and without any effort. Also, we have seen how
the Pope consecrated it in the famous Concordat of Fontainebleau, even after my reverses
in Moscow, and thenceforth I was going to elevate the Pope beyond measure, lavish pomp
and honours upon him, make an idol of him, and have him stay near me. Paris would have
become the capital of the Christian world, and I would have directed religious affairs as
well as the political!
“‘That is the keynote to unity in all of this life.’ (3)
“He said on another occasion that this emancipation from the Court of Rome, this legal
reunion, direction of religious affairs in the hands of the Sovereign had been for long and
always the object of his meditations and his prayers.” (4)
(1) N.Deschamps, idem, vol.II, pp.206 and following.
(3) Hence therefore deism; war upon idolatry; outcome of the powers. Is that what
Deschamps is meaning? There, in any case, are the essential and certain points.
(4) The Mémorial de Sainte-Hélène, edition of 1828, vol. V, pp. 391-401; vol. IV, page
C. - Secret Unity
1) If the authority of the Mémorial de Sainte Hélène becomes more and more eroded
(1), the preceding arguments remain none the less solid , because: -
2) (a) On the religious question, actions and declarations of Napoléon were
systematically altered by the editors of the Mémorial, but only in a pro-catholic sense (2);
(b) Actions and declarations of Napoleon are only explained and coordinated
through such interpretation:
.(c) Finally and especially, the Refutation de Roustan, and the Correspondance do
not leave any room for uncertainty. That is the point.
(1) Intuitive minds have never accepted the Memorial other than with extreme reserve.
(See Correspondance, vol.XXIX, p.3 of the Report on a publication of the works of
(2) Translator’s note. Various documents were created or forged immediately after the
Emperor’s death, such as wills in which he allegedly recognised all his crimes against the
Popes, the King of France in exile and all mankind. Despite all the respect due to one of
his generals, we have to suspect Montholon of taking part in this. He had a reputation for
dishonesty as well as bigotry.
(3) In the Réfutation de Roustan, Bonaparte already appears to us, as much as a deist and
partisan of the concentration of the powers, as a kind of implicit Muslim. In Cairo, he
exposes himself explicitly, and his actions are in keeping with his words. In accordance
with prevailing circumstances, and not without cunning where an enemy confronts him, he
will pursue unswervingly the maximum realisation of his social-philosophical plan of
1786. His policy towards the Pope will be aimed at a maintenance of deism amongst the
people, coincidental with a progresssive absorption of the pontifical power within the civil
power, the only impartial representative of deism.
A solution to the enigmas which characterise Napoléon's religious policy may be
(a) The necessity not to destroy existing forms of deism, but to let them evolve,
whatever they might be (See Correspondance, vol. XXXII, page 327: Du sentiment
(b) From the viewpoint of immediate policy, the need to be circumspect about actions
in process (See following: Lettres de Munich).
(c) A further requirement to indicate the aim with sufficient clarity for politicians of the
future. - See Correspondance, vol. XVI, page 408, no. 13,637 (to Eugène-Napoléon,
viceroy of Italy, 10th March 1808); and, in the same volume, pages 463-465, no. 13,709: A
M de Champagny, minister for external affairs, Saint Cloud, 1st April 1808, - as well as
the Annexe to this piece; see finally: Six notes sur l’ouvrage intitule les quatre concordats
(Correspondance, vol. XXX, pages 537-570, especially pages 547 and 557-558): "There
were in Rome cautious people who had a presentiment about it, and said in Italian: It is his
way of making war; not risking a frontal attack on the Church, he turns her flank, as he
flanked the Alps in 1796"... (See idem pages 557-559). Napoléon revealing his plan,
makes others declare it; but the words: cautious people and: To achieve this vast plan, so
suited to the century, etc... are decisive. This is all that has to be taken into account, but
Napoléon takes care to warn us about it (Idem, page 559).
All the apparent enigmas will be resolved thus, by way of analogy, and with the help of
Napoléon’s own statements.. - See supra, 3rd part, note 2 of the foreword. See Gourgaud's
Unpublished Journal, vol. II, page 275.
The letters from Munich (to the Pope and to Cardinal Fesch), far from being a
contradiction, are a peremptory argument to the exclusion of any other interpretation (1).
These two letters are so decisive that it would be superfluous to underline the
significant passages if the import of each of them was not extended, by way of analogy, to
all arguments related to Napoléon's religious policy. All, indeed, must fulfill the following
(A) Take account, at each stage, of the totality of the diverse declarations, and compare
them against each other;
(B) Check this complete record with reference to certain military or political actions
which may have been in process.
(C) With regard to declarations which are apparently contradictory, bring these
contradictions together with the new circumstances on the one hand, and on the other, with
the supreme identity of the ultimate goal (an identity as much demonstrated by what has
gone before as by what follows more or less immediately);
(D) Let it be remembered that Napoléon always aims for the result to be obtained with
the least delay;
(E) Note that in the presence of an opponent, he puts so much emphasis on verbal
trickery that he has no scruples in using the language best suited to obtaining the desired
result, whilst even making the opponent collaborate in it (2).
Therein the apparent contradictions originate; what does not vary is the general line of
religious policy, which, among other things, is characterised by two main themes:
emancipation from any foreign religious power, and, consequently, absorption of Rome
(once its immediate elimination is deemed impossible; involvement of the opposing forces
in this respect.....(3)
(1) See the preceding note.
(2) Strictly an edition of Napoléon's Muslim Works would only comprise, as an
explanation of exegetic difficulties, a literal reference to one of these various books (A.-
(3) Cfr above (1st part). Adde, Correspondance, Vol .XIX, pp.458-9. (Missions.)
Here are the two letters from Munich, letters to which the hadith : Elharbu-khida (1)
apply only too well.
No 9655. - To His Holiness the Pope
Munich, 7th January 1806
Very Holy Father, I receive a letter from Your Holiness, dated 13th November. I could
not but be deeply affected by the fact that, when all the powers in England's pay were
building a coalition to force me into an unjust war, Your Holiness had given credence to
bad advice and was prompted to write me such an ill-considered letter. Y. H. is perfectly
entitled to keep my minister in Rome or to send him back. The occupation of Ancona is an
immediate and necessary consequence of the bad military organisation of the Holy See. It
was in Your Holiness's interest to see this fortress in my hands rather than in those of the
English or of the Turks. Your Holiness complains that, since Your return from Paris, You
have only suffered grief; the reason is that, since then, all those who feared my power and
gave evidence of their friendship, have changed their attitudes, in the belief that the
strength of the coalition against me was sufficient justification, as well as the fact that,
since the return of Your Holiness to Rome, I have received from You nothing but rebuttals
on all matters, even on those which were of interest to religion in the first degree, as for
instance, when it was about preventing Protestantism from raising its head in France. I
have regarded myself as Protector of the Holy See and in this role I occupied Ancona. I
consider myself, like my predecessors of the second and third race, to be the elder son of
the Church, as the only one having the sword to protect her and provide her with a shelter
against being sullied by Greeks and Muslims (2). I will constantly protect the Holy See
(3) despite the false approaches, the ingratitude and bad
(1) Cunning is (the science of) war. The quoted hadith does not refer to the Holy War,
but only to the concept of war. - Compare the Campagnes as also the Testament, rursus,
3rd part, note 2 of the foreword.
(2) Greeks and Muslims, says Napoleon, grouping them here as racial types.
(3) Cfr. notes to the following section.
dispositions of the men who have been unmasked during these three months. They
believed in my ruin: through the success with which He has favoured my arms, God has
made radiant the protection He has bestowed on my cause. I will be a friend to Your
Holiness at all times when you consult only Your heart and the true friends of religion. I
repeat, if Your Holiness wishes to send back my minister, You are free to do so; free also
to welcome for preference both the English and the Caliph of Constantinople; but, not
wishing to have Cardinal Fesch exposed to these affronts, I will have him replaced by a
secular official. In any case Cardinal Consalvi's hatred for him is such that he has
constantly encountered only rebuffs, whilst the favours were for my enemies. God is
judge of who has done most for religion, amongst all the reigning princes.
On this, I prey God, Very Holy Father, that He preserve you to rule for many long years
in government of our holy mother Church.
Your devout son, Emperor of the French, King of Italy.
Foreign Office Archives (1)
9656. - To Cardinal Fesch
Munich, 7th January 1806.
Dated 13th November, the Pope has written me the most ridiculous, the most absurd
letter: these people were assuming me dead. I occupied the town of Ancona because,
despite your representations, nothing had been done to defend it, and besides they were so
badly organised that whatever was done, it would have been unable to be defended against
anybody. Make it clear to them that I will no longer suffer abuse; that I do not want in
Rome any minister from Russia or Sardinia. My intention is to replace you by a secular
official. As these imbeciles do not see anything embarrassing in having a Protestant on
the throne of France, I will send them a Protestant ambassador. Tell Consalvi that, if he
loves his country, he must leave the ministry, or do what I tell him; that I am religious but
not a bigot; that Constantine has separated the civil from the military, and that I also can
nominate a senator to administer in my name in Rome. It suits them to speak of religion,
those who have accepted the Russians and rejected Malta, and who want to send
back my minister! These are such as prostitute religion. Is there an example of an
apostolic nuncio in Russia? Tell Consalvi, tell even the Pope, that, since he wants to drive
my minister out of Rome, I could very well go there and re-establish him! Is there nothing
to be done with such men other than by force (2)? They allow religion to die out in
Germany by their refusal to complete the Concordat; they allow it to die out in Bavaria, in
Italy; they become the laughing stock of the Courts and of the nations! I had given them
advice to which they have never listened. They believed indeed that the Russians, the
English, the Neapolitans would have respected the neutrality of the Pope! For the Pope, I
am Charlemagne, because, like Charlemagne, I reunite the crown of France with that of
the Lombards, and because my empire borders with the Orient. I expect them therefore to
regulate their conduct towards me in this respect. I will make no change in appearances
if they behave correctly; otherwise I will demote the Pope to Bishop of Rome (3). They
complain that my Italian policy does not take them into account. Should it have been then,
as it was in Germany, where there are no longer solemnities, sacraments, religion? Tell
them that, if they do not cease, I will show them up to Europe as egoists, and that I will
establish the affairs of the Church in Germany with the arch-chancellor, and without them.
There is truly nothing quite so unreasonable as the Court of Rome.
Archives of the Empire (4).
(1) Correspondence of Napoleon, Vol.XI, pp.527-528.
(2) Compare the passage mentioned in the preceding note.
(3) (3) Here we find summarised (let us insist upon it for the last time) the blueprint for
all of Napoleon’s religious policy. Does it not follow logically from that of Bonaparte in
Egypt, - or rather, in spite of first impressions, is it not just the same?
(4) (4) Correspondence of Napoléon 1st, vol. XI, pages 528-529.
NAPOLEON’S PERSISTENCE WITH BONAPARTIST IDEAS
ON THE SUPERIORITY OF ISLAMIC PRINCIPLES (suite)
In order to present it on its own, we omitted the following document, dated two
years prior to the letters from Munich.
8298 - To the Emperor of Turkey (1)
Paris, 10th Pluviose, year XIII (30th January
Very high, very excellent, very powerful, most magnanimous and invincible prince,
Great Emperor of the Muslims, Sultan Selim, in whom all honour and virtue abound, our
very dear and perfect friend; may God increase your greatness and exaltedness, with a very
happy ending. You, descendant of the great Ottomans, Emperor of one of the greatest
empires on earth; have you ceased to reign? How can you suffer Russia to impose her laws
on you? You refuse to render unto me that which I render unto you: to that extent have
you become blinded to your own interests? If Russia has 15,000 men at Corfu, do you
think it is against me? Her warships have made a habit of sailing up to Constantinople: are
you so blind as not to see that one day, under the pretext of either bringing back to
Russia troops already in Corfu, or of increasing these forces, a Russian fleet and army,
with the consent of the Greeks, will invade your capital, and that your empire will cease
with yourself? Your dynasty will go down into the night of oblivion. The reis-effendi
betrays you; half of the divan are in Russian pay. The death of the captain-pasha has
deprived you of your best friend. I have twice warned you : I warn you a third time. Get
rid of your divan, punish the reis-effendi, and reign in Constantinople, otherwise you are
lost. As for me, I have striven to be your friend. If you persist in refusing me what France
has always had (2), i.e. pride of place in Constantinople, if you want to remain in servile
submission to your enemies, I will also set myself against you; and I have never been a
Your divan is taking no measures to restore order in Egypt and Syria.; it allows Mecca
and Medina to be forfeited; it insults your friends and bows and fawns upon your eternal
enemies. Persia is at war; she is threatened by Russia and, far from helping her, the
pathetic divan, or rather the traitors who lead it, are not even able to intervene on her
bahalf; it is only against me that they show some courage. That is why I am writing to you
in person; you are the only friend remaining to France seraglio; if perchance the men
who have usurped all the dispensations of your throne allow my letter to reach you.
Wake up, Selim! Call your friends to the ministries; get rid of the traitors; put your
trust in your true friends, France and Prussia, otherwise you will lose your country, your
religion and your family. Your real enemies are the Russians, since they want to control
the Black Sea, and they cannot do so without having Constantinople; and since they are
of the same religion as the Greeks, who comprise half your subjects.
I await your answer, so as to know what I must think and do. If you no longer govern, if
you are fully at the disposal of France’s enemies, I will lament over the blindness and
misguided policy of her most ancient ally; but I will understand that Destiny, which made
you so great, now wants to destroy the empire of the Solimans, of the Mustaphas and the
Selims; for on earth everything changes, everything perishes; God alone does not perish.
On that, I pray to God that He will lengthen the days of Your Highness, and fill them with
all prosperity, with a very happy ending.
Your very dear and perfect friend.
In my imperial palace, the Tuileries, this 10th Pluviose Year XIII.
Archives of the Empire (3)
(1) Selim III.
(2) Translator’s Note: the special relationship between France and Turkey, inaugurated by
Francis the First.
(3) Correspondence of Napoléon 1st
, vol. X, pp.130-131.
NAPOLEON’S PERSISTENCE WITH BONAPARTIST IDEAS
ON THE SUPERIORITY OF ISLAMIC PRINCIPLES
CONVERSATION BETWEEN NAPOLEON AND GOETHE
We do not pretend to establish, from the few documents which follow, Napoléon's pure
and simple persistence in Bonapartist ideas. Every man who thinks also evolves, and we
are not writing today the history of a philosopher’s thinking, but that of his progresive
thinking, in brief, the evolution of his doctrine. All the more reason why the thinking of
the statesman should also be subject to evolution....
What we want to establish is no more than this :
(a) Persistence of the profound effect exerted on Bonaparte by the religion of the
Prophet, whom he loved;
(b) By implication, the absolute sincerity of the Cairo proclamations and the
instructions he gave there;
(c) And in consequence, the compounded error levied against Bonaparte the
Islamophile: shortcomings of the French leaders who did not understand him, and took it
as a joke; lack of foresight within the population and among a majority of the indigenous
top people, who failed to gauge the importance of the occasion.
We know the passionate interest of Goethe in everything that touches on Islamism. He
had translated Voltaire's Mahomet (1), and eliminated everything hostile to the prophet's
When they met, on the 2nd October 1808, Goethe and Napoléon almost immediately
started talking about Mahomet.
Here is Goethe's account:
The Emperor takes his lunch, sitting at a very large round table; on his right, at a few
steps from the table, stands Talleyrand ; on his left, and close by him, is Daru, with whom
he discusses the taxes to be raised.
The Emperor signals for me to make my approach.
I remain standing before him, at a respectful distance.
Having looked me over carefully, he says, “You are a man.”
I bow my head. He puts a question:. “How old are you?”
“You are well preserved. You have written dramas?”
I give a mimimal response.
Here Daru takes up the theme. In order to flatter the Germans and to a certain point
soften the pain he was forced to inflict upon them, he had studied a little of their literature;
Daru knew Latin literature very well, indeed he was the author of an edition of Horace.
He talks about me as the most favourable critics in Berlin might have done, at least I
recognised in his words their ideas and mannerisms.
He added that I had translated French works, notably Voltaire's Mahomet.
The Emperor replied, "That is not a good play." And he further revealed in a very
detailed fashion how little it suited the conqueror of the world to make such an
unfavourable portrayal of him..
He then turned the conversation to Werther, whom he must have studied from
beginning to end.....
The Emperor seemed satisfied and came back to the drama; he made significant
observations like a man who had studied the dramatic scene as carefully as a criminal
judge, and who had strongly felt that the mistake of the French theatre is to distance itself
from Nature and truth.
While developing this aspect, he disapproved of the dramas where fate plays a major
role: "These plays belong to an epoch of darkness. Besides, what do they mean by their
fate? Politics is fate.” (3)
On Saint Helena, after a reading of Voltaire's Mahomet by Marchand, Napoléon
expressed his ideas on the play, and Marchand collected them. These notes are, as the
editor says, "the impulse of a frank opinion”. Therein their merit lies.
(1) Translator’s Note: Mahomet is the French spelling, which has been used throughout
(2) About this very strange matter, see Friedrich Warnecke: Goethe’s Mahomet - Problem,
(3) See S.Sklower, conversation between Napoleon 1st and Goethe, by S.Sklower, Lille,
Ernest Vanackere, 1853.
NAPOLEON’S PERSISTENCE WITH BONAPARTIST IDEAS
ON THE SUPERIORITY OF ISLAMIC PRINCIPLES (suite)
OBSERVATIONS ON THE ”MAHOMET” OF VOLTAIRE
Despite the flaws which obscure M de Voltaire's drama Mahomet, the beauties in
which this masterpiece abounds have placed it in the first rank; and still make it a
theatrical delight. But would it be so difficult to remove flaws which are not rooted in
the nature of the work?
(a) Mahomet's love for Palmire, set beside that of Séide, is an object of disgust
and to the worst effect, in so much as this love is useless and like a hors d'œuvre. It
produces nothing, for no one would admit that Palmire's death, which deprives
Mahomet of his mistress, is a punishment for his crimes; doubtless Palmire's death
would have been a chastisement for the loving Séide; but who could be convinced
that it would be thus for Mahomet?
(b) The second blemish which can be noted in this play is the poison twice used by
Mahomet in order to be successful in his projects and to prepare his triumphs. What!
Mahomet, who destroyed the false gods, threw down the temple of the idols in half the
world, who more than anyone else had spread the knowledge of a one and only God
throughout the Universe; Mahomet, recognised as a prophet in Constantinople, at
Delhi, in Greater Cairo and in Morocco, Mahomet would only have arrived at such
great achievements by the means employed by the Damiens and the Bastide in order to
usurp their neighbours' succession? Smaller communities are of short duration and
destroy themselves, because they are not cemented by the bonds of morality, so
necessary to society.
“Hercide is weak,” says Mahomet to Omar, “well then, let us poison him.” Yet
why does it not strike Omar that he may well be poisoned himself? By the same
principle, Seide, stained with Zopire’s blood, is disavowed by Mahomet and arrested
by Omar. With such procedures, Mahomet, a second Séide, and Omar himself would
have trembled to be serving a scoundrel who sacrificed and disowned his principal
Séide, hearing that he has just murdered his father, leads the people against
Mahomet, who feels all is lost, and finds no better salvation than ordering the poison
to act on Séide, in order to stay this young assassin’s arm, and thereby force the
people to declare themselves....
What, all the predestined works of Mahomet, which had such an influence on the
Universe, were founded only on the art of... and of... (1)
For the Mahomet play to be truly worthy of the French theatre, it would have to be
read without indignation in Constantinople by eyes as enlightened as those in Paris.
Mahomet was a great man, an intrepid soldier: with a handful of men he won the Battle
of Bender; a great captain, an eloquent and mighty statesman, he regenerated his
country, and created a new nation, a new power amid the deserts of Arabia.
(c) The state of mind and the strength of the factions within Mecca are not
sufficiently developed; Mahomet’s policy is barely and very thinly outlined; this is
the third weakness which we would like to see eliminated from our play.
In order to make Mahomet's love for Palmire vanish, there would be nothing that
needs changing in the first act. In the third scene of the second act, Mahomet says to
Séide: You, Séide, in here! It is, in the author's intention, an indication of jealousy;
but this line can be kept because it may be attributed to the astonishment of seeing
Séide with his father. In the fourth scene, it would appear that the last line Mahomet
With which eye do you see Palmire with Séide?
should be cut out; but it could be left, being a show of jealousy. Iit might also be the
surprise effect of seeing both of Zopire’s children in his house; but one should then
cut out Mahomet’s reply and that of Omar up to the line:
These both here are born from the tyrant I hate.
Already, without knowing each other, both of them outrage me,
I stir with both hands their illegitimate passions,
Heaven’s design was to gather here all crimes.
and say, instead of those three lines, that the children would serve him to distract
Zophire, to make of him a partisan or to get revenge on him if he could not succeed in
In the sixth scene, it should be enough to erase:
Of his offended master the incestuous rival
and all Mahomet’s tirade of twelve lines, which finishes the second act.
In the third act, the fourth scene should be taken out; in the fifth scene, Omar’s
hemistich: And to ravish Palmire.
From the fourth act, it will be necessary to remove:
His heart, even in secret, perhaps ambitious.
Will feel some pride in capturing his master.
In the fifth act, scene two, one should erase:
Know that a destiny more noble, a title still greater,
If you merit it, may well be waiting for you.
and, finally, the twenty-four lines attributed to Mahomet which conclude the play.
Thus, with these three slight omissions, without even adding a single line, one
could remove the main drawback from this masterpiece.
To erase the second weakness, the poisoning of Hercide, a few changes would
In the fourth act, it is enough to take out: Hercide is weak, etc., as well as Omar's
answer: I did what you want.
In the fifth scene of the fourth act, let us remove:
I am punished, I die at Mahomet's hands.
And in the first scene of the fourth act, Omar's lines:
Who could instruct him about this? An eternal oblivion
Holds with this secret Hercide engraved.
In order to omit Séide's poisoning , there should be a change in the outcome;
firstly, in the fourth act, we have to take out:
Do you answer that Séide should be delivered to Death?
Do you answer for the poison which was prepared for him?
In this version, the whole of the sixth scene in the fourth act would have to be cut
out; instead, a scene should be substituted, in which Séide would be killed by Zopire's
partisans, after they found him covered with their master's blood, or in which he
would kill himself in despair from having killed his father. Omar would then arrive
and kidnap Palmire.
In this approach also, the fifth act would be changed entirely; Séide would be
approved by Mahomet; he would have taken part in the holy battle, ordered by God
in the Koran; the Zopire faction in Mecca, brought down by the death of its leader,
could offer no resistance to Mahomet’s forces, supported by the army, already at the
gates of the city, and seen appearing on the ramparts. That, with the death of
Palmire, would end the fifth act. (2).
(1) These two spaces have been left blank in the original manuscript. (Editor’s note).
(2) Observations on Voltaire's drama Mahomet , written by Marchand under the
dictate of Napoléon. See: Précis des guerres de Jules César by the Emperor Napoléon,
written on Saint-Helena under the Emperor’s dictate. Paris, Charles Gosselin, 1836.
pp.235 and following. - See Commentaires de Napoléon 1er, volume V, pages 363-367,
and Correspondance de Napoléon 1er, volume XXXII, page 263 (Extract of the
Mémorial de Sainte-Hélène: 22nd-25th April 1816, “Mahomet has been the victim of
his sharpest critic, both in character and in the means employed.
“Voltaire,” said the Emperor, “had here betrayed both history and the human
heart. He prostituted Mahomet's great character through the basest intrigues; he
made a great man, who had changed the face of the world, like the vilest scoundrel
worthy only of the gallows. No less indecently he travestied the great character of
Omar, whom he portrayed as a melodramatic bandit and a masquerader.
“Voltaire sinned here most of all on the basis of attributing to intrigue that which
belongs to opinion only. Men who have changed the universe,” continued the
Emperor, “have never done so by cultivating leaders, but always by stirring up the
masses. The first resort is in the nature of intrigue and only brings secondary results;
the second is the march of genius and changes the face of the world." See above..
PERSISTENCE OF NAPOLEON WITH BONAPARTIST IDEAS
ON THE SUPERIORITY OF ISLAMIC PRINCIPLES (continued)
From the "Mémorial de Sainte-Hélène"
"Indeed,” writes the most authoritative of arbiters (1), we find in the Mémorial, in
Montholon, in the dictates, passages of high thought: the great man, having made his
impact on history, and considering the things of this world as a great historian. But the
man Napoléon, in his state of repose, of serene contemplation, judging men and things
with impartiality, ‘non-critical, non- ironical, not at all pessimistic’, as Sainte-Beuve
imagines of him at Saint Helena, Napoleon the philanthropist and moralist, introspective
counterpart of Napoléon Petit Caporal and of Napoléon the open-natured, so popular
under Louis-Philippe, can hardly be recognised within Gourgaud's notes. They offer much
of Frederic and infinitely less of Marcus-Aurelius.
“‘I defy,’ said the Emperor once, talking about some of those who had abandoned him,
‘I defy any individual to catch me. Men would indeed have to be scoundrels to the extent
that I suppose.’”
It is because it seems out of sorts not to quote from the Mémorial that we give an
extract of it here.
"Mémorial de Sainte-Hélène" - Extract (2)
In the evening conversation (3), the Emperor, talking about nations, said that he
recognised only two peoples; the Orientals and the Occidentals (4).
. . . . . . . . . .
"The English, the French, the Italians, were composed of the same family, the
Occidentals; they had the same laws, the same ethics, the same customs; they differed
entirely from the Orientals, especially in the two important points of their relationship to
their wives, and to their domestic servants; the Orientals have slaves, our servants are free
agents; the Orientals confine their wives; ours share all our rights; they have a seraglio;
and never, at any time, has polygamy been accepted in the Occident. There are a host of
other distinctions,” the Emperor further observed. “They reckon on having counted up to
eighty; so these,” he said, “are really different peoples..
“Among the Orientals,” he continued, “everything has been arranged for them to
protect their wives and be assured of them. In the Occident, on the other hand, our whole
environment mitigates against that protection, so we are obliged to deal with it ourselves.
Every man among us, unless he be an idiot, must have an occupation; yet while he is
attending his affairs or fulfilling his functions, who will stand guard for him? With us,
therefore, it’s necessary to rely on women's honour, and this in blind confidence...
“For that matter, to decide which is the better system, ours or that of the Orientals, is a
very big question...
“What is absolutely certain, is that one would be greatly mistaken, to suppose there is
less joy among the Orientals, to believe them less happy than we are in the Occident. There
the husbands love their wives very much. The wives likewise love their husbands. They
have just as many chances of happiness as we, whatever other differences present
themselves; for everything among the men is bound by convention, including feelings
which seem to come other than from nature; and then also these women have rights in
their own homes, as have ours. They could not be prevented from going to the public
baths, any more than we would prevent our own women from going to church; and it is
abused as much by one as by the other. You see that the human species, its imagination,
feelings, virtues and faults turn in a rather narrow circle. All that, with very little
difference, is the same everywhere."
And he made an effort to explain or justify polygamy among the Orientals in a very
ingenious fashion: "It has never existed in the Occident,” he said. “The Greeks, the
Romans, the Gallics, the Germans, the Spaniards, the Bretons, only ever had one wife. In
the Orient, on the other hand, polygamy has always existed; the Jews, the Assyrians, the
Tartars, the Persians, Turks, have all had several wives. Whence came this constant and
universal differential? Could it only have been by chance, or as a solitary oddity? Did it
depend on individual physical characteristics? No. Were women, in all proportions, less
numerous here than in Asia? No. In the Orient were they more numerous than men? No.
Were the latter more formidable, otherwise constituted than we are? No. Quite candidly
it’s because the lawmaker, or the wisdom from above which takes his place, will have
been guided by the pressure of circumstances within their respective environments. All
Occidentals have a similar shape and colour; they comprise but a single people, a single
family; it was feasible, as at the moment of creation, to assign them one mate only. A
happy, admirable, beneficient law, which concentrates the man's emotions, raises the
woman's status, and bestows upon them both a plenitude of moral enjoyments.
“By contrast the Orientals differ among themselves like night and day, in their shapes
and in their colours; they can be white, black, bronzed, mixed, etc. So it was necessary,
above all, to think of their survival, to establish between them a consanguineous fraternity,
to prevent them from eternally exterminating, persecuting or oppressing each other,
something which could only be achieved by establishing polygamy and by giving them the
opportunity of having at the same time a white wife, a black wife, a mulatress and a
bronze. After that, the different colours formed part of the same family, being
compounded in the affections of their leaders and in their esteem for each other.
“Mahomet,” he went on, “seems to have known the secret and to have reconciled
himself to it; otherwise, how would he who follows so closely in the footsteps of
Christianity, and deviates so little, not have suppressed polygamy?
“It might be said that he retained it only because his religion was all sensual; but then
he could have permitted the Muslims an undefinite number of wives, whereas he limited it
to four only, which would allow for a white, a black, a copper- coloured and a mixture.
“Besides, it should not be imagined that this legal largesse could be bestowed upon the
whole nation; there would not be enough women for all. In fact, eleven men in twelve
have only one wife, because they could not feed more than that; but polygamy being
practised by the leaders suffices to attain the principal objective; for with a blending of
races and colours being achieved by the practice of polygamy among the upper class, that
is enough to establish unity and perfect equality throughout.
“Let us agree then,” he concluded, “that if polygamy were not the instrument of a
political compact, if it was only arrived at by chance, that would in this case have matched
the most consummate wisdom.”
The Emperor said he had thought seriously about applying this principle to our
colonies, in order to harmonise the welfare of the negroes and the necessity to employ
them. He had even, he said, consulted with theologians on this matter, to know if there
were any means, subject to local circumstances, of adapting our beliefs to this custom,
He had conversed in this fashion until past midnight (5).
At dinner (6) the Emperor had said some very astonishing things about Egypt,
concerning one of the chapters he had dictated on religion, customs, etc... He observed, as
worthy of comment, that it was from the same corner of the earth that the three religions
had emerged which had uprooted polytheism and spread throughout the world the
knowledge of a single God. (7).
Then, analysing the two religions of the Orient and the Occident in the most
ingenious way, he said that ours was wholly spiritual, and that of Mahomet wholly
sensual; that ours is dominated by chastisements; it was Hell and eternal supplications,
while there were only rewards for the Muslims; blue-eyed huris, smiling boscages, rivers
of milk; and from this he concluded in opposing both religions, that one was a religion of
threat, presenting itself as a religion of fear; while in contrast the other was one of
promise, and became the religion of attractions, etc... (8).
(1) M.Albert Sorel (Journal des Savants, October 1899). It is not without surprise that one
finds in the French edition of didactical works such as the Idh-Har-Haqq, or Manifestation
of Truth, of El- Hage Rahmet-Ullah Efendi de Delhi (E.Leroux 1880, vol.II, p.358 and
notes of pp.458 and following) a discussion almost entirely based on the Mémorial de
Sainte-Helene. Is it not a little as if one had eavesdropped at the conversation of
Bonaparte with the muftis inside the Pyramid of Cheops? See Armand Bourgeois, Le
general Bonaparte et la presse de son epoque, 2nd series, pp.23 and following.
Lieut.Col.E.Picard: Preceptes et jugements de Napoleon, preface and supra (Appendix II).
It is not just as a supplementary that we reproduce the following, universally known
extract, but that for this very reason it would be surprising not to find it here. - Lieut.Col.
E.Picard, Preceptes et jugements de Napoleon, preface, p.15 and cfr supra, 3rd part.
(2) Edition Lequien fils, 1835, vol.I, pp.693 and following.
(3) 23rd September 1816.
(4) These are the ideas of Napoleon; cfr. above; Bonaparte et l’Islam.
(5) Loc. cit. vol.I, pp.695-697.
(6) 3rd October 1816.
(7) Cfr. Appendix I.
(8) Memorial, quoted ed. vol.I, p.714. - Cfr supra, Appendix I, # V.
NAPOLEON’S PERSISTENCE WITH BONAPARTIST IDEAS
ON THE SUPERIORITY OF ISLAMIC PRINCIPLES (suite)
NAPOLEON’S MEMOIRS (1)
EGYPT - RELIGION
On Christianity. - On Islamism. - Essential differences between both religions. - Mahomet
was not an enemy of the Arts or the Sciences. - On the duration of Asian empires. - On
Polygamy. - On Slavery. - Celebration of the Prophet’s birthday by Sheikh El-Bekir, with
Bonaparte in attendance.
The Christian religion is the religion of a civilised people, it is wholly spiritual; the
reward Jesus Christ promises the chosen ones is to look upon the face of God . In this
religion, everything is aimed at redeeming the senses, nothing to excite them. The
Christian faith has taken three or four centuries to establish itself, its progress has been
slow. It takes time to destroy, by the sole influence of the spoken word, a religion
consecrated by time. It takes longer when the new one neither uses nor engenders any
The making of Christianity was the triumph of the Greeks over the Romans. The latter
had subdued all the Greek republics by force of arms; the former dominated their
conquerors through the arts and sciences. In Rome, all the schools of philosophy, of
eloquence, all the artists' workshops were in the hands of the Greeks. Roman youth did not
consider its studies complete without going to finish them in Athens. Still different
circumstances favoured the spread of the Christian religion.
The apotheosis of Caesar and Augustus was followed by that of the most abominable
tyrants; the abuses of polytheism encouraged the concept of a single God, Creator and
Master of the Universe. Socrates had already proclaimed this great truth. The triumph of
Christianity, which borrowed it from him, was, as we have mentione above, a reaction of
the Greek philosophers over their conquerors. Almost all the holy fathers were Greeks. The
morals they preached were those of Plato. All the subtlety which we find in Christian
theology is due to the sophistic spirit of his school.
As with paganism, the Christians believed the rewards of a future life insufficient to
repress the disorders, vices and crimes which passion engenders; they made a physical hell
with all sorts of bodily chastisements. They vastly exceeded their own precepts, and even
imbued this dogma with such a superiority, that one may rightly say the religion of
Christ is a menace.
(1) Memoirs contributing to the history of France under Napoleon, written at Saint
Helena by the generals who shared his captivity, and published from the manuscripts
entirely corrected under Napoleon’s hand. Paris, Firmin-Didot, 1823 vol.II (General