Quotes / Napoleon Bonaparte

Quotes by Napoleon

"A revolution can be neither made nor stopped. The only thing that can be done is for one of several of its children to give it a direction by dint of victories."

"Soldats, songez que du haut de ces monuments, quarante siècles vous contemplent".note 
— Before the Battle of the Pyramids.

"Soldats, je suis content de vous ! Vous avez à la journée d'Austerlitz justifié tout ce que j'attendais de votre intrépidité...Soldats, lorsque tout ce qui est nécessaire pour assurer le bonheur et la prospérité de votre Patrie sera accompli, je vous ramènerai en France. Là, vous serez l'objet de mes plus tendres sollicitudes. Mon peuple vous recevra avec joie et il vous suffira de dire "J'étais à la bataille d'Austerlitz" pour qu'on vous réponde "Voilà un brave !"note 
Proclamation after the Battle of Austerlitz: December 3, 1805

"Iíve seen one of your orders of the day to the soldiers that will make you the laughing stock of Germany, Austria and France. Have you no friend to tell you a few home truths? ... Forget your ministers, your ambassadors and your finery. You have to sleep out in the vanguard with your men, sit on your horse, day and night. March in the vanguard, so you know whatís going on ... And for Godís sake have the wit to write and speak correctly!"
Letter to his brother Jérôme Bonaparte, who he appointed King of Westphalia

Wherever wood can swim, there I am sure to find this flag of England.
— On boarding the Bellerophon, after his defeat at Waterloo.

There is but a step from the sublime to the ridiculous.

Go, sir, gallop; ask me for anything but time.

You would make a ship sail against the winds and currents by lighting a bonfire under her deck? I have no time for such nonsense.
— To Robert Fulton, who was trying to convince him to buy his steamship.

"After me, the Revolution — or, rather the ideas which formed it — will resume their course. It will be like a book from which the marker is removed, and one starts to read again at the page where one left off."
After the Battle of Leipzig, 1813.note 

"I may have been called 'a modern Attila' and 'a Robespierre on horseback' by the other sovereigns; but if they would search their hearts, they would know better. Had I really been that, I would perhaps be reigning still. But one thing is certain: had I been such, they all would long since have ceased to reign."
— At Saint-Helena.

Élevez-nous des croyantes et non des raisonneuses (Bring up for us believers and no thinkers)
— His instructions for a school for girls.

Quotes about Napoleon

What a pity that the man wasn't lazy.

"I saw the Emperor - this world-spirit - go out from the city to survey his realm."
G. W. F. Hegel

"[Napoleon] was amongst the worthiest of individuals."

"He[Napoleon] had destroyed only one thing: the Jacobin Revolution, the dream of equality, liberty and fraternity, and of the people rising in its majesty to shake off oppression. It was a more powerful myth than his, for after his fall it was this, and not his memory, which inspired the revolutions of the nineteenth century, even in his own country."
Eric Hobsbawm.

"To begin with, he fascinates me. His life has been described as an epic poem of action. His sex life was worthy of Arthur Schnitzler. He was one of those rare men who move history and mold the destiny of their own times and of generations to come — in a very concrete sense, our own world is the result of Napoleon, just as the political and geographic map of postwar Europe is the result of World War Two. And, of course, there has never been a good or accurate movie about him. Also, I find that all the issues with which it concerns itself are oddly contemporary — the responsibilities and abuses of power, the dynamics of social revolution, the relationship of the individual to the state, war, militarism, etc., so this will not be just a dusty historic pageant but a film about the basic questions of our own times, as well as Napoleon's. But even apart from those aspects of the story, the sheer drama and force of Napoleon's life is a fantastic subject for a film biography. Forgetting everything else and just taking Napoleon's romantic involvement with Josephine, for example, here you have one of the great obsessional passions of all time."
Stanley Kubrick, on his fascination with Napoleonnote 


My enemies are many. My equals are none...
Napoleon, Napoleon: Total War

Oh, Napoleon was the fightin'-est man you ever knew,
And everyone he fought with, he subduedó
But the King-a and the Queen-a
Sent him off to St. Helena,
Just because they didn't like his Attitude!
Katnip Kollege (1939)

Who pulls the strings, who makes the deals?
Stands 5'3" in Cuban heels?
Who gets all the girls,
Then wakes up again?
Who would rule the world
If it only knew his name?