Napoleonic Ideas

By Prince NAPOLEON LOUIS BONAPARTE. Translated by JAMES A. DORR. New York: D. Appleton & Company. 1859.

THIS publication has at least that merit which is one of the first in literature,— it is timely. Though we look upon the Emperor of the French as a kind of imperial Jonathan Wild, it does not the less concern us to make a true estimate of his intellectual capacity. Nothing is more unwise than to assume that a man’s brain must be limited because his moral sense is small; yet no mistake is more common. Napoleon the Third may play an important part in History, though by no possibility an heroic one. In reading this little volume, one cannot fail to be struck with the presence of mind and the absence ot heart of which it gives evidence. It is the advertisement of a charlatan whose sole inheritance is the right to manufacture the Napoleonic pill, and we read with unavoidable distrust the vouchers of its wonderful efficacy. We do not fancy the Bonapartist grape-cure, nor believe in it.

Mr. Dorr’s translation is excellent. He understands French, and is able to do it into English elegantly and accurately without any trace of foreign idiom. This is no easy thing; for our general experience has been that translators read French like Englishmen and write English like Frenchmen.