Napoleon's Maxims & Quotes

On People

  • The confidence with which a Sovereign is invested, is solid only when it is sanctioned by the suffrages of the people, who clothed him with the supreme magistracy.

  • The people excited by ambitious demagogues, sooner or later return into the hands of the Aristocracy.

  • A portion of the multitude must ever be coerced.

  • We must serve the people worthily, and not occupy ourselves in trying to please them. The best way, to gain their affections is to do them good.

  • When Monarchs abuse the rights with which they have been invested by the confidence of the people, and bring down upon their heads the calamity of war, the people have the right to withdraw their allegiance.

  • I am conquered less by fortune than by the egotism and ingratitude of my companions in arms.

  • Friends must always be treated as if one day they might be enemies.

  • Flatterers and men of learning do not accord well with each other.

  • Passionate people invariably deny their anger, and cowards often boast their ignorance of fear.

  • He who is unmoved by tears has no heart.

  • Age, habits of business and experience have modified many characters.

  • The conscience is the inviolable asylum of the liberty of man.

  • A man is not dependent upon his fellow creature, when he does not fear death.

  • Better to have an open enemy, than hidden friends.

  • Better to have a known enemy than a forced ally.

  • The life of a citizen is the property of his country.

  • To live, is to suffer; and the honest man is always fighting to be master of his own mind.

  • Men are led by trifles.

  • Better live a King, than a Prince.

  • Whatever may be the position in life of a parent, it is his duty to share his crust with his children.
  • If you want a thing done well, do it yourself.

  • Impossible is a word to be found only in the dictionary of fools.

  • Death is nothing, but to live defeated and inglorious is to die daily.

  • There are two levers for moving men, interest and fear.

  • How many things apparently impossible have nevertheless been performed by resolute men who had no alternative but death.

  • Human life is the only thing that takes care of itself

  • The torment of precautions often exceeds the dangers to be avoided. It is sometimes better to abandon one's self to destiny.

  • The extent of your consciousness is limited only by your ability to love and to embrace with your love the space around you, and all it contains.

  • Never ascribe to malice that which is adequately explained by incompetence.

  • Forethought we may have, undoubtedly, but not foresight.

  • Vengeance has no foresight.

  • It requires more courage to suffer than to die.

  • He who knows how to flatter also knows how to slander.

  • All celebrated people lose dignity on a close view.

  • The only one who is wiser than anyone is everyone.

  • Ability is of little account without opportunity.
  • I have very rarely met with two o'clock in the morning courage: I mean instantaneous courage.

  • Courage is like love: it must have hope for nourishment.

  • We live and die in the midst of marvels.

  • So you think the police foresees and knows everything. The police invents more than it discovers.

  • It would be a joke if the conduct of the victor had to be justified to the vanquished.

  • Remember that a man, a true man, never hates. His rages and his bad moods never last beyond the present moment-like electric shocks.

  • The law, that is what makes men stay honest.

  • Morality for the upper classes, the gallows for the rabbles.

  • Man is entitled by birthright to a share of the earth's produce sufficient to fill the needs of his existence.

  • Has a man the right to kill himself? Yes, if his death harms no one and if life is an evil to him. When is life an evil? When it offers a man nothing but suffering and pain.

  • Remember that a man, a true man, never hates. His rages and his bad moods never last beyond the present moment-like electric shocks.

  • The strong are good, only the weak are wicked.

  • Good and decent people must be protected and persuaded by gentle means, but the rabble must be led by terror.

  • Every beggar shall be arrested. But to arrest a beggar merely in order to put him in jail would be barbarous and absurd. He should be arrested for the sole purpose of teaching him how to earn a living by his work.

  • I have come to realise that men are not born to be free.

  • Ten people who speak make more noise than ten thousand who are silent.

  • A man will fight harder for his interests than for his rights.

  • God! How men of letters are stupid.

  • Time is the great art of man.

  • It is the success which makes great men.

  • Doctors will have more lives to answer for in the next world than even we generals.

  • Never interrupt your enemy when he is making a mistake.

  • Public opinion is the thermometer a monarch should constantly consult.

  • Secrets travel fast in Paris.

  • Men are more easily governed through their vices than their virtues.

  • Men take only their needs into consideration, never their abilities.

  • Men are moved by only two levers: fear and self interest.

  • Be successful! I judge men only by the results of their actions.

  • I like honest men of all colors.

  • I start out by believing the worst.

  • Our hour is marked, and no one can claim a moment of life beyond what fate has predestined.

  • The herd seek out the great, not for their sake, but for their influence; and the great welcome them out of vanity or need.

  • The stupid speak of the past, the wise of the present, and fools of the future.

  • We must laugh at man to avoid crying for him.

  • The French complain of everything, and always.

  • He who fears being conquered is sure of defeat.

  • A people that is able to say everything, becomes able to do everything.
  • The crowd which follows me with admiration, would run with the same eagerness were I marching to the Guillotine.

  • The public spirit is in the hands of the man who knows how to make use of it.

  • Public esteem is the recompense of honest men.

  • Public opinion is a mysterious and invisible power, to which everything must yield. There is nothing more fickle, more vague, or more powerful; yet capricious as it is, it is nevertheless much more often true, reasonable, and just, than we imagine.

  • To attach no importance to public opinion, is a proof that you do not merit its suffrage.

  • What is the government? Nothing, unless supported by opinion.

  • Power is founded upon opinion.
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