Napoleon on Politics & Power
who knows how to flatter also knows how to slander.
hostile newspapers are more to be feared than a thousand
incidents must not be allowed to shape foreign policy,
foreign policy must shape the incidents.
and decent people must be protected and persuaded by gentle
means, but the rabble must be led by terror.
is an ambassador's duty to stand up for his nation's foreign
policy in any era and under any government whatsoever.
Ambassadors are, in the full meaning of the term, titled
man made for public life and authority never takes account
of personalities; he only takes account of things, of
their weight and their conseqences.
political administration, no problem is ever simple. It
can never be reduced to the question whether a certain
measure is good or not.
if it is reasonable, limits itself to giving everyone
an equal opportunity to compete and to obtain.
is a molehill. All great empires and revolutions have
been on the Orient; six hundred millions live there.
fifty thousand men were to die for the good of the State,
I certainly would weep for them, but political necessity
comes before everything else.
is among the ingredients of political medicine.
war, as in politics, no evil - even if it is permissible
under the rules - is excusable unless it is absolutely
necessary. Everything beyond that is a crime.
change, politics are immutable.
keep their promises only when they are forced, or when
it is to their advantage to do so.
true master of politics is able to calculate, down to
the smallest fraction, the advantages to which he may
put his very faults.
In politics, stupidity is not a handicap.
politic is only common sense applied to great things.
you wish to be success in the world, promise everything,
politics... never retreat, never retract... never admit
In politics, an absurdity is not a handicap.
new-born Government must shine and astonish — the moment
it loses its éclat it falls.
great Nation should have a fixed Government, so that the
death of one man should not overturn it.
the Government is weak, military sway prevails.
the stability of the Government, the people should have
a considerable voice in the elections.
a great nation, the majority are incapable of judging
wisely of things.
The sovereignty of the people is inalienable.
is no power without justice.
events ever depend but upon a single hair. The adroit
man profits by everything, neglects nothing which can
increase his chances; the less adroit, by sometimes disregarding
a single chance, fails in everything.
King should sacrifice the best affections of his heart
for the good of his country; no sacrifice should be above
great European federative system alone can be favourable
to the development of civilisation.
pass away, but acts remain.
is more arrogant than the weakness which feels itself
supported by power.
leader is a dealer in hope.
great art of governing consists in not letting men grow
old in their jobs.
are two levers for moving men, interest and fear.
do all that one is able to do, is to be a man; to do all
that one would like to do, is to be a god.
people to fear are not those who disagree with you, but
those who disagree with you and are too cowardly to let
firmness is sufficient, rashness is unnecessary.
things are brought to a successful issue by impetuous
desire, but most by calm and prudent forethought.
and decent people must be protected and persuaded by
gentle means, but the rabble must be led by terror.
legislator must know how to take advantage of even the
defects of those he wants to govern. The art consists
in making others work rather than in wearing oneself
negotiate is not to do as one likes.
would be a joke if the conduct of the victor had to
be justified to the vanquished.
first method is that of a schemer and leads only to
mediocre results; the other method is the path of genius
and changes the face of the world.
men are never cruel without necessity.
is the law of animals, men are ruled by conviction.
magistrate is not a father; he must be just and severe.
Only tyrants are fathers.
is no strength without justice.
who have changed the world never achieved their success
by winning the chief citizens to their side, but always
by stirring the masses.
not talk to me of goodness, of abstract justice, of nature
law. Necessity is the highest law, public welfare is the
policies of all powers are inherent in their geography.
politics is merely the calculus of combinations and of
The heart of a statesman must be in his head.
is more in means, than in principles.
morals are natural complement of all laws they are by
themselves an entire code.
Constitution should be short and obscure.
throne is only a bench covered with velvet.
order that can be misunderstood, will be misunderstood.
is a set of lies agreed upon.
interrupt your enemy when he is making a mistake.
Public opinion is the thermometer a monarch should constantly
are more easily governed through their vices than their
has given me the will and the force to overcome all obstacles.
you set out to take Vienna, take Vienna.
who fears being conquered is sure of defeat.
time to deliberate, but when the time for action has arrived,
stop thinking and go.
is more difficult, and therefore more precious, than to
be able to decide.