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Friday, July 20, 2018

Napoleon Bonaparte: On Entering Milan

Napoleon Bonaparte [1769-1821], great military genius and conqueror, knew the value of the spoken word. His addresses to the army illustrate his great gifts of oratory and his ability to select occasions when he could use his gifts most effectively.

Soldiers: You have rushed like a torrent from the top of the Apennines; you have overthrown and scattered all that opposed your march. Piedmont, delivered from Austrian tyranny, indulges her natural sentiments of peace and friendship toward France. Milan is yours, and the republican flag waves throughout Lombardy. The dukes of Parma and Modena owe their political existence to your generosity alone.

The army which so proudly threatened you can find no barrier to protect it against your courage; neither the Po, the Ticino, nor the Adda could stop you for a single day. These vaunted bulwarks of Italy opposed you in vain; you passed them as rapidly as the Apennines.

These great successes have filled the heart of your country with joy. Your representatives have ordered a festival to commemorate your victories, which has been held in every district of the republic. There your fathers, your mothers, your wives, sisters, and mistresses rejoiced in your good fortune and proudly boasted of belonging to you.

Yes, soldiers, you have done much—but remains there nothing more to do? Shall it be said of us that we knew how to conquer, but not how to make use of victory? Shall posterity reproach us with having found Capua in Lombardy?

But I see you already hasten to arms. An effeminate repose is tedious to you; the days which are lost to glory are lost to your happiness. Well, then, let us set forth!

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