|* Note: This is Marius' Corsica monologue found in the Norman Denny translation of Les Miserables.
God forbid that I should seek to diminish France. But to associate her with Napoleon is not to diminish her. Let us be clear about that. I am a newcomer among you, and I must confess that you astonish me. Where do we all stand? Who are you, and who am? Where do we stand about the Emperor? I've heard you call him Buonaparte, butting the accent on the "u" as the royalists do, and I may tell you that my grandfather goes even further and pronounces the final "e" as well. I think of you as young men, but where does your allegiance lie and what do you do about it? Whom do you admire if you do not admire the Emperor? What more do you want, what other great men, if that one is not good enough for you? He had everything. He was entire. He had in his brain the whole range of human faculties. He coded the laws like Justinian, was dictator like Caesar, and his conversation mingled the lightning's of Pascal with the thunderbolts of Tacitus. He made history and wrote it his bulletins are epics. He combined the mathematics of Newton with the metaphors of Mahomet, and left behind him in the East words as great as the pyramids. At Tilst he taught kingliness to emperors, at the Academie des Sciences he answered Laplace and in the Council of Sate he held his ground with Merlin. He infused soul into the calculations of some and the machinations of others. He was a lawyer among lawyers and an astronomer among astronomers. Like Cromwell, blowing out every other candle, he went to the Temple to bargain for a curtain-tassel. He saw everything and knew everything, which did not prevent him from rejoicing like the simplest of met over the cradle of his newborn son. And suddenly Europe found itself listening in terror to the march of armies, the thunder of artillery columns, the clouds of cavalry galloping like a tempest, the cries and the bugle-calls, the trembling of thrones while frontiers vanished from the map. They heard the sound of a superhuman blade being drawn from its sheath and they saw him towering on the horizon with flame in his hands and a dazzling light in his eyes, spreading amid the thunder his two great wings, the Grand Armee and the Vieille Garde, and they knew him for the Archangel of War!
Let us be fair, my friends. What more splendid destiny could befall any nation than to be the Empire of such an Emperor, when the nation is France and its genius is added to the genius of such a man? To rise and prevail, to march in triumph from capital to capital, to make kings of grenadiers and decree the downfall of dynasties; to change the face of Europe at the pace of a cavalry-charge; to feel, when you are threatened, that the sword you hold is the sword of God; to follow Hannibal, Caesar, and Charlemagne in the person of one man; to be the nation whose every dawn is greeted with the tidings of a new victory; to awaken to the salvoes of gunfire from the Invalides, and live in the brilliance of imperishable names, Marengo, Arcole, Austerlitz, Iena, Wagram! . . To make the French Empire the successor of Rome; to be the great nation that gave birth to the Grand Armee, sending its legions to the four corners of the world like a mountain sending forth its eagles; to be a nation ablaze with glory, sounding its titanic fanfare to echo down the corridors of history to conquer the world twice over, by force of arms and by brilliance all this is sublime! What can possibly be greater?