A STORY IN PRAISE OF NAPOLEON BONAPARTE
 IT was the little man in the drab overcoat and three-cornered hat who did it—the little man with
the smooth boyish face and the strangely keen eyes that seemed to be able to read your most secret
thoughts; he did it; he saved France from the hands of her enemies, when it seemed as if fortune had
deserted her altogether.
You must not think, however, that France had not made a brave fight for it; indeed, she had held her
own against all Europe before ever the world had heard the name of Napoleon Bonaparte.
You must know that when France had declared her right to freedom, and proclaimed herself a Republic
never more to
 ruled over by kings, the princes and rulers of the countries of Europe began to feel easy. They
began to wonder if their own heads were safe.
"If goes on," said they, "our own people will maybe follow the bad example, and we shall all be
murdered like Louis the Sixteenth." So they gave soldiers and money to help the refugee French
nobles to win back again the crown for the royal house of France.
The little Dauphin had died during the Revolution, so that the next heir to the throne of France was
Louis the Eighteenth, brother of Louis the Sixteenth.
France, determined to defend the Republic at all costs, sent out her army, and there was war in
Austria said, "The French rebels must be made to bow before a king again," and the Austrian army
went forth to war.
England said, "Is this Freedom which allows murderers to rule? Better the old way," and England made
ready her army and her fleet.
 Prussia said, "Let me have a hand in the crushing of these people," and the Prussian army went forth
So also the Russian, the Italian, and the Spanish armies. Thus, at one time or another, France had
to face every great power in Europe.
The French army made a gallant stand, but they could not expect to succeed long against such great
odds, for they had little or no help from their government in Paris. Paris, in truth, was so busy
murdering and killing, and changing its rulers, that it neglected the army, sending little money or
ammunition; and if you have no money and no ammunition, how can you go on fighting?
Matters became desperate. Something had to be done. Something was done; a few wise men who happened
to be in power at that time appointed a new Commander-in-chief of the army and gave him power to do
whatever he thought best. Napoleon Bonaparte was the name of this new man. Very few people knew
anything about him. The name sounded strange to
them:—  "Who was he? What had he done?" they asked.
"He comes from Corsica. Twice before has he saved France—once at Toulon, when he showed the
generals twice his age the right way to take the city; once in Paris, when he saved the government
from being overthrown by a Royalist plot." So answered those who knew him, for most men who knew
Napoleon believed he was the only man who could save France from her enemies.
But the old warriors who had led the army before and fought so well were doubtful at first of their
new chief. "A young whipper-snapper to be set in authority over us," they cried indignantly. "What
does he know of war? What is the experience of a young officer compared with ours? What kind of man
must he be to have been given this honour?"
They soon found out what kind of a man this Bonaparte was. He showed his power at once, and, after
the first interview, he had won most of them to approve of his plans.
 The new campaign was to be opened in Italy, said he, and gave his reasons; and the march must be
made so quickly as to surprise the Austrian and Italian armies, who would not expect them there. The
soldiers heard him speak and would have followed him anywhere, so strong was the power of the man.
"Soldiers of France," he cried, "I come to lead you into the most fertile plains in the world, the
plains of Lombardy. There you will find honour, glory, riches.—Now march!"
And march they did. What cared they if their clothes were ragged, their feet bare, when Napoleon was
there to lead! They marched with almost miraculous speed through the mountains and into Italy, and
if you will believe me, in fifteen days Napoleon had led that army to victory six times. His
movements were so quick, his plan of fighting so new and strange, that he bewildered his enemies.
Again he spoke to his army: "Soldiers, in fifteen days you have won six victories, taken twenty-one
colours, fifty pieces of
 cannon, many strong places, the richest land in Piedmont. Lacking everything, you have supplied
yourselves with all. You have won battles without cannon, crossed rivers without bridges, made
forced marches without shoes, lain down in camp, time and again, supperless and hungry. The two
armies which attacked you now flee from you; only Republican armies could do such heroic deeds.
Nevertheless, while you have done much, there is more to do. Neither Milan nor Turin is yours, and
these towns command Italy. Forward, then! Your country expects much of you! Do not let her be
Forward again marched they, following close on the enemy. General Beaulieu, the head of the Austrian
army, was determined to defend Milan from these surprisingly victorious soldiers. He chose his
position well, making for Lodi, a town on the river Adda. If by ill-fortune Napoleon forced him to
retreat from Lodi, he had his choice of two refuges—Mantua, which lay to the east, a grim
citadel almost impossible of capture,
 and Milan itself in the north-west, a strongly fortified town and the seat of the government. But
Napoleon had made up his mind to give the Austrians such a thorough beating before they came either
to Mantua or Milan that they would not be able to reach either of those cities.
He chased them so swiftly that the first part of the French army came upon the last part of the
Austrian army just as they were entering Lodi, and thus the Austrians had no time to close the city
gates after them. The two armies marched fighting as they went.
Now a long narrow wooden bridge led out from the town across the river Adda; this bridge was called
the Bridge of Lodi. The French forced the Austrians to cross this bridge. On the other side,
however, Beaulieu brought up his artillery in great numbers. They swept the bridge with a storm of
shot. Napoleon immediately did the same upon his side so as to prevent the Austrians from destroying
the bridge by setting it on fire, as they tried to do. Thus.
 the two armies seemed at a deadlock, for who would dare cross the bridge under such deadly fire?
Napoleon then sent a troop of cavalry up the stream to find a safe ford; when he saw that they had
crossed and were on the other side ready to help him, he turned to the grenadiers and gave the order
to cross the bridge. Not only did he give the order but he led the way himself. After him sprang the
giant Lannes, who was later on to be one of his best generals and friends. The grenadiers followed.
Once Napoleon feared they would fail him. They had been but a moment on the bridge, and in that
moment a thousand had fallen. "On, on to victory," cried Lannes, springing forward, and the men who
loved him obeyed. On they pressed, trampling over the bodies of their dead comrades. Still the
relentless storm of bullets rained down upon them. Still they poured over the bridge, nothing
daunted, and at last came to the other side. Lannes was the first to reach the bank, Napoleon
second. Lannes was promoted
 on the spot. After this their victory was assured. "What can we do against such a foe?" cried the
Austrians; "he snatches victory out of the hands of death."
Four days after this Napoleon and his army marched in triumph through the streets of Milan. But at
the Bridge of Lodi Napoleon had done more than defeat the enemy. He had shown his own soldiers that
not only could he make the plans which gave them victory, but that he could fight side by side with
them for it, showing equal courage; and they loving him for this, named him "The Little Corporal."
They loved him always—those brave soldiers—even to the end, when after defeating every
nation in Europe, save only England and Russia, he lost all through his own vainglory and ambition.
The story of his wars, triumphs, and downfall is too long to tell here. He brought France both glory
and shame, both victory and defeat. Through selfishness and ambition, he fell from his high place
 the sons of men, and France he dragged with him in his fall.
But in Paris his memory is honoured with a wonderful marble tomb round which are grouped all the
flags captured by him in battle, and there is scarcely a country in Europe which has not one or more
France recovered slowly after the downfall of Napoleon and his Empire, and after many adventures and
misfortunes has at last come to be a prosperous and stable Republic, respected and honoured by all
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