The following quotations are a selection of excerpts of British anti-Napoleon propaganda of the period after Napoleon became head of state in France in late 1799. This material was written and published in an attempt to demonize and defame Napoleon for two reasons: the British considered him a deadly enemy of Great Britain, and to criticize with propaganda in order to picture Napoleon as evil.
The selections can be found in The Secret War Against Napoleon: Britain’s Assassination Plot on the French Emperor by Tim Clayton.
However, the question I have for the forum regarding this 'information' is how much it has influenced the study of Napoleon himself and how much is still be used by present day authors and historians (the two are not necessarily synonymous)?
Two of the quotations, by Coleridge and Whitbread, are apparently replies to the constant stream of anti-Napoleonic propaganda.
‘As to Buonaparte himself, there is every feature in his character, every circumstance in his conduct, to render it certain that no species of fortune, mental and bodily, no sort of infamy, which a malignant spirit, a depraved imagination, and a heart black with crimes of the deepest dye, can possible suggest, or a hand, still reeking with the blood of murdered innocence and stimulated by the most insatiable thirst of vengeance, can inflict, which will not be exhausted upon the conquered inhabitants of the British empire.-Anti-Jacobin Review, xv, 332-333, 1803.
‘A revolutionist by constitution, a conqueror by subordination, cruel and unjust by instinct, insulting in victory, mercenary in his patronage; an inexorable plunderer and murderer, purchased by the victims whose credulity he betrays, as terrible by his artifices as by his arms, dishonoring valor with ferocity, and by the studied abuse of public faith, crowning immorality with the palms of philosophy, tyranny and atheism with the cloak of religion, and oppression with the cap of liberty.’-Revolutionary Plutarch, II, 204; 227.
‘An obscure Corsican, that began his murderous career by turning his artillery upon the citizens of Paris-who boasted in his public letter from Pavia of having shot the whole municipality-who put the helpless, innocent, and unoffending inhabitants of Alexandria, man, woman, and child, to the sword till slaughter was tired of its work-who against all the laws of war, put near 4,000 Turks to death in cold blood, after their surrender-who destroyed his own comrades by poison.’-Buonaparte’s True Character, Wheeler and Broadley, Invasion, II, 284.
‘The contents of these volumes are interesting in a remarkable degree; as detailing, either from personal knowledge, or from accredited works of other writers, the lives, conduct, and crimes, of every person distinguished as a relative, a courtier, a favorite, a tool, an accomplice, or a rival of the Corsican upstart, who has hitherto with impunity oppressed, and plundered the continent of Europe; and as exhibiting at the same time a clear display of the extraordinary kind of police by which Paris is now regulated. Such a mass of moral turpitude as is here displayed, yet in a form that leaves little room to suspect its authenticity makes up blush for out species.’-European Magazine XLV, 56, 1804.
‘Fear is always cruel…In the late war and in the present the British Ministry has been loudly accused of participating in, and encouraging those plans of assassination, which have been directed against the person of the chief magistrate of France. Let the ministry, if they can with truth, vindicate themselves from so black a charge by a solemn and authentic disavowal; and let the British public show the high honor and intrepid courage, for which they have long been renowned, by consigning to merited contempt and abhorrence all works, together with their authors, who direct tendency is to degrade the generous and high-spirited patriot into the lurking assassin.’-Annual Review and History of Literature II, 510, 1803.
‘It has been considered an appropriate appendage to this work, to republish the celebrated pamphlet of ‘Killing no Murder,’ one of the most singular controversial pieces the political literature of our country has to boast; one of those happy productions which are perpetually valuable, and which, whenever a usurper reigns, appears as if written at the moment, and points with equal force at a Protector-or a Consul.’-originally from Killing No Murder directed against Oliver Cromwell and resurrected to be against First Consul Bonaparte.
‘It will, we trust, be amply sufficient for our purpose, to remind our readers that the doctrines and principles in question had for their object, not merely the revolution in France, but that of the whole world-That the usurping rulers of France have laboured, with unremitting assiduity for the accomplishment of this object-That the war was entered into with the Emperor in order to complete the overthrow of the French monarchy, according to the well-known declaration of Bissot, ‘It was the abolition of royalty I had in view in causing the war to be declared!-That hostilities were afterwards extended to other countries in pursuance of the impious design, announced by the declaration of fraternity, of affording military assistance to the disaffected of all countries-And that in furtherance of the same scheme of universal revolution, France has had her emissaries in every state, to inculcate her doctrines and to incite the people to insurrection.-Anti-Jacobin Review I, 27, 1798.
‘Mr Pitt railed most bitterly at the character of Bonaparte…But the truth is Mr Pitt knows Bonaparte to be sincere, and, therefore, will not negotiate, because the negotiations would lead to a peace, which peace would baffle that idle hope of restoring the French monarchy, which, spite of the document sent to Petersburgh, is and has been the real object of Ministers, both in beginning and continuing the war.’-Samuel Taylor Coleridge, as written in the Morning Post, 6 February 1800.
‘Every topic that can revile, and every art that can blacken, has been resorted to, for purposes of political slander; and I am very sorry to see that the Intercepted Correspondence from Egypt, strengthened, and embellished with notes, and perhaps, too, garbled, has made its appearance to prejudice the country against the chief consul, and thereby to set at a distance every hope of a negotiation for peace.’-MP Samuel Whitbread, 3 February 1800.
‘The intrigues of the French, the servile, the insidious, the insinuating French, shall be the object of my constant attention. Whether at war or at peace with us, they still dread the power, envy the happiness, and thirst for the ruin of England. Collectively and individually, the whole and every one of them hate us. Had they the means, they would exterminate us to the last man…while we retain one drop of true British blood in our veins, we shall never shake hands with this perfidious and sanguinary race, much less shall we make a compromise with their monkey-like manners and tiger-like principles.’-Prospectus of a New Daily Paper to be entitled The Porcupine by William Cobbett, September 1800.