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This is the talk page for discussing improvements to the Napoleon page.


"Religious wars are basically people killing each other over who has the better imaginary friend"

Often attributed to Napoleon, but I can't find any source. Maybe add it under Misattributed.

==Souhand that gives is above the hand that takes. Money has no motherland; financiers are without patriotism and without decency; their sole object is gain." - As quoted in The Money Masters (1995)

  • The above is listed under "Sourced" on the page. Where is the source?
And not only that quote, the majority of the "Sourced" contents is out of place... I say they all should be moved to their proper section. -- Jokes Free4Me 16:48, 16 April 2009 (UTC)[reply]
Although, upon searching this, i understand that "The Money Masters (1995)" is supposed to be the source. IMO this particular quote only lacked a better phrasing of the given source. -- Jokes Free4Me 17:46, 16 April 2009 (UTC)[reply]


I put in quotes from Widger's quotations, but I stated the source as the source stated by that text. Is that right, or should I change the sources to "Widger's quotations"? —The preceding unsigned comment was added by Jimregan (talkcontribs) 20:30, 11 July 2003 (UTC)

famous palindrome[edit]

What I have read about "Able was I ere I saw Elba" is -- When Napolean was imprisoned in Elba, one newspaper reporter went and interviewed Napolean and during interview it seems he asked As a nobleman, what and how does he feel about being imprisoned in Elba? to which Napolean replied "Able was I ere I saw Elba" that means before coming to Elba, I was not as able as I am today......

"Able I was, ere I saw Elba". Did Napoleon actually say this? It seems hard to believe, given that this is presumably only a palindrome in English, and not in French. —The preceding unsigned comment was added by (talkcontribs) 23:49, 19 September 2004 (UTC)

I strongly doubt it. What use would a Frenchman have for an English palindrome? --Ardonik 00:30, 20 Sep 2004 (UTC)
On Elba he was guarded by the British was he not? -- 07:21, 7 February 2007 (UTC)[reply]

I have heard a quote that goes something like, "It is easier to rule a country by writing its songs than it's laws." Does anyone know if there is such a quote by Napoleon? Joi 05:39, 3 Oct 2004 (UTC)

As for the source, I figure you should say "quoted from so and so" —The preceding unsigned comment was added by (talkcontribs) 18:04, 16 February 2005 (UTC)

Wait... It isn't a palindrome because if you reversed it, it reads "Able was I, ere saw I Elba." --Heinah 07:56, 02 April 2010 (UTC)[reply]
The correct rendition is, in fact: "Able was I, ere I saw Elba." I will do some searching for it in this form, and probably post it as a quote about Napoleon, though it is long purported to have been a response he made to a query as to whether he could have taken London, or presented with other such framing anecdotes. ~ Kalki (talk · contributions) 08:33, 2 April 2010 (UTC)[reply]
I posted it under misattributed, because there is very little likelihood of it being genuine, with the comments:
  • The earliest publication yet located of this famous palindrome is in the "Witty and Whimsical" section of The Saturday Reader, Vol. II, No. 30 (31 March 1866), p. 64:
It is said that Napoleon, when asked by Dr. w: if he really though the could have invaded England at the time he threatened to do so, replied in the following ingenious anagram: — "Able was I ere I saw Elba." The reader will Observe that it reads the some backward or forward.
  • Of such attributions to Napoleon, there is little credence, as stated by William Irvine in Madam I'm Adam and Other Palindromes (1987): "The well-known ABLE WAS I, ERE I SAW ELBA, for example, is conveniently attributed to Napoleon, whose knowledge of English wordplay was certainly questionable, at best." There is no mention of such a palindrome in O'Meara's own work, Napoleon in Exile : or, A Voice from St. Helena (1822).
That seems to be a sufficient summary of the situation regarding it, as of now. ~ Kalki 14:11, 2 April 2010 (UTC)[reply]
Kalki, does the "Of such attributions" paragraph come from The Saturday Reader too? (Because if it does, my newly-added cquote is incomplete and needs to span over the second paragraph too...) -- Jokes Free4Me (talk) 08:41, 21 August 2012 (UTC)[reply]

Out of synch[edit]

Out of Synch The French and English pages are out of synch; There are several quotes in each that don't apprear in the other language. -- 14:08, 18 May 2005 (UTC)[reply]

As at 3/2011, the French page remains remarkably small compared with the English.
—This unsigned comment is by Lmstearn (talkcontribs) .

God fights on the side with the best artillery[edit]

What about "God fights on the side with the best artillery." -- 16:58, 11 Jun 2005 (UTC)

First attribution is to Napoleon, but in 1947: "The Field Artillery Journal", Page 156. Cagliost (talk) 09:46, 30 July 2020 (UTC)[reply]

You must not fight too often with one enemy[edit]

"You must not fight too often with one enemy, or you will teach him all your art of war." is a quote from Plutarch. He is talking about the Spartans. It goes something like 'the Spartans knew “they should not make war often, or too long, with the same enemy, lest they should train and instruct them in war”'. - Master_Gopher —The preceding unsigned comment was added by (talkcontribs) 09:21, 13 December 2005 (UTC)


How about "You are shit, Talleyrand... shit in silk stockings" (upon his dismissal of Foreign Minister and Grand Chamberlain)? —The preceding unsigned comment was added by (talkcontribs) 18:10, 19 December 2005 (UTC)

Never interrupt your enemy when he is making a mistake.[edit]

That was John Milton: Samson Agonistes (l. 560) --Miss.hyper 20:44, 15 January 2006 (UTC)[reply]

The source cited here doesn't seem correct, if Milton actually penned the line.
From [Samson Agonistes], (I 555-569)
When God with these forbid'n made choice to rear [ 555 ]
His mighty Champion, strong above compare,
Whose drink was only from the liquid brook.
Sam. But what avail'd this temperance, not compleat
Against another object more enticing?
What boots it at one gate to make defence, [ 560 ]
And at another to let in the foe
Effeminatly vanquish't? by which means,
Now blind, dishearten'd, sham'd, dishonour'd, quell'd,
To what can I be useful, wherein serve
My Nation, and the work from Heav'n impos'd, [ 565 ]
But to sit idle on the houshold hearth,
A burdenous drone; to visitants a gaze,
Or pitied object, these redundant locks
Robustious to no purpose clustring down,

One source for this reasonably close paraphrase, from 1852: " Then, gentlemen," said Napoleon, "let us wait a little ; when your enemy is executing a false movement, never interrupt him." A nearly identical quote appears in an 1836 history. Jbgfour (talk) 14:42, 17 March 2017 (UTC)[reply]

Thematic organization[edit]

Is there anyone here who would be opposed if I reorganized this quotes page under a thematic structure, similar to the one that J. Christopher Herald used? -- Black Sword —The preceding unsigned comment was added by (talkcontribs) 05:58, 30 March 2007 (UTC)

Whatever you do, don't lose the separation of source and unsourced quotes. This is the primary distinction between quotes at Wikiquote. Sourced quotes are valuable; unsourced/attributed quotes are not much better than rumor. ~ Jeff Q (talk) 08:24, 30 March 2007 (UTC)[reply]

Joan of Arc[edit]

Has Napoleon Bonaparte ever mentioned about Joan of Arc? If I could remember he mentioned her but i forgot his quote. Anybody remembered or has it down? Haven't seen it here yet —The preceding unsigned comment was added by (talkcontribs) 10:18, 16 April 2007 (UTC)

Never be taken by surprise[edit]

One of my teacher when I went to an MBA program quoted Napoleon as follow : "I might be defeated, but I will never be taken by surprise"

Is this accurate ? —The preceding unsigned comment was added by (talkcontribs) 19:51, 18 June 2007 (UTC)

Comment on Format[edit]

Why are some of the quotes in bold? I don't think it's up to wikiquote-people to give importance to one quote over another. —The preceding unsigned comment was added by (talkcontribs) 02:30, 22 July 2007 (UTC)

Spirit or Mind?[edit]

The same quote is said in at least two spots: "There are only two forces in the world, the sword and the spirit. In the long run the sword will always be conquered by the spirit." In one, it mentions spirit, and the other it mentions the mind. Both have similar, but different wordings. Did he say both? 22:29, 11 September 2007 (UTC)[reply]

The French word esprit has several meanings, including "mind" and "spirit." If esprit was used in the original French, it would explain the variant translations. An unsourced quote, precisely because it hasn't been sourced, can never be assumed as genuine. The answer then to your question, "Did he say both?" is: We don't yet know whether he said either. - InvisibleSun 22:49, 11 September 2007 (UTC)[reply]

In the Bible ihe words 'spirit'/mind/breath are all identified by the same Hebrew number 7306 In the psalms, David wrote "take not thy presence from me and remove not thy Holy Spirit from me. so that spirit prsence and breath all refer to the same concept of God dwelling within us by faith; and that when God removes His breath, spirit, presence from us ...we die. Some religious bodies beleive that God's spirit represent a third member of the Deity,or a Trinity. which the Bible does not teach but which was introduced by man into mainstream religious thinking several centuries after Christ was crucified. —This unsigned comment is by (talkcontribs) .

Here's the original in French:

« Il n’y a que deux puissances dans le monde, le sabre et l’esprit.

« J’entends par l’esprit les institutions civiles et religieuses… A la longue, le sabre est toujours battu par l’esprit.»

KHirsch 14:40, 15 December 2011 (UTC)[reply]

The above welcome bit of information provided by KHirsch is from Revue des deux mondes, Vol. 4 (1838). p. 645; I might examine things and do a bit of tweaking a bit later, but have to soon be leaving and attending to a few other things right now. ~ Kalki (talk · contributions) 15:07, 15 December 2011 (UTC)[reply]

"What then, generally speaking, is history? A fable agreed upon."[edit]

I've done full-text searches for many keywords in this quote, and I can't find it anywhere in the Memoirs of Napoleon. Where is this quote? 20:25, 29 November 2007 (UTC)[reply]

I've only thus far done a vert quick search of "A fable agreed upon" in Google Book Search and found that Ralph Waldo Emerson credited to Napoleon, in his essay "History" : "What is history," said Napoleon, " but a fable agreed upon?
I don't know Emerson's source, and the hits are too extensive for me to investigate fully right now, or any time soon. ~ Kalki 20:34, 29 November 2007 (UTC)[reply]

Money has no motherland[edit]

The source of this appears to be R. McNair Wilson's Monarchy or Money Power (1933). I haven't seen the original book, just a transcript at the Yamaguchy web site. The first two paragraphs from that book's “Chapter IX—Napoleon” are:

Having made peace with the whole world, Bonaparte set about his task of preparing himself and the French people for the return to the God-system. It was ordained by him that money should not be exported from France on any pretext whatever except with the consent of the Government, and that in no circumstances should loans be employed to meet current expenditure whether civil or military.

The object was to withhold from finance the power to embarrass the Government as it had embarrassed the Government of Louis XVI. When a Government, Bonaparte declared, is dependent for money upon bankers, they and not the leaders of that Government control the situation, since “the hand that gives is above the hand that takes”57. He did not allow anyone to forget the shipments of gold to England organized by Barras at the expense of the army of Italy, and at a moment when France was denuded of metallic currency. “Money,” he declared, “has no motherland; financiers are without patriotism and without decency: their sole object is gain.”


Note 57.—This was among his favourite quotations.

The only part I can verify is “the hand that gives is above the hand that takes”, which other sources also attribute to Napoleon, although not with respect to banks (and not as an original saying). For example, in Napoléon a dit: aphorismes, citations et opinions, p. 82:

  • La main qui donne est au-dessus de celle qui reçoit.
    • Dicton italien, cité par Bonaparte pendant la première campagne d'Italie pour souligner la dépendance pécuniaire du Directoire enver l'armée d'Italie qui lui procura des million et des trésors, butin des pays conquis.

I somewhat doubt the rest is valid. I find “l'argent n'a pas de patrie” (money has no fatherland) several times in the 19th century, but never attributed to Napoleon, which is very odd if he said it. I also can't find any trace of the rest of the quote in Google Books, but this doesn't mean much since there are many ways to translate it and there aren't as many French books yet in Google Books.

I'm also a bit suspicous because R. McNair Wilson was quite a fanatic on the money issue. Besides Monarchy or Money Power, he once wrote a book, about a monetary change which now is just a footnote in French history, with the hyperbolic title The Defeat of Debt: Being an account of the world-wide and secret battle which, on June 6th, 1935, ended in the downfall of the International Money Power Together with certain forecasts about the prosperity which all men are now about to enjoy. He also wrote Promise to pay; an inquiry into the principles and practice of the latter-day magic called sometimes high finance.

A few French web sites give the quote in French, but without a source and it seems a bit awkward, as if the quotation is translated from English, rather than originally in French. For example:

  • Lorsqu'un gouvernement est dépendant des banquiers pour l'argent, ce sont ces derniers, et non les dirigeants du gouvernement qui contrôlent la situation, puisque la main qui donne est au dessus de la main qui reçoit. ... L'argent n'a pas de patrie; les financiers n'ont pas de patriotisme et n'ont pas de décence; leur unique objectif est le gain.


  • Napoleon I, Emperor of the French, 1769-1821.; Lucian S. Regenbogen (1996). Napoléon a dit : aphorismes, citations et opinions. Paris: Les Belles lettres. ISBN 2251752005. 
  • Wilson, R. McNair (1933). Monarchy or Money Power. London: Eyre and Spottiswoode. OCLC 3561268.  Reprinted as God and the Goldsmiths. Hawthorne, Calif.: Omni Publications. 1961. OCLC 3088576. 

KHirsch 02:32, 16 November 2009 (UTC)[reply]

Unsourced quotes removed[edit]

... by this edit.

And salvaged to this page, as seeds for further research:


A picture is worth a thousand words.
  • A celebrated people lose dignity upon a closer view.
  • A man does not have himself killed for a half-pence a day or for a petty distinction; you must speak to the soul in order to electrify him.
  • A man will fight harder for his interests than for his rights.
    This is from Napoleon in his own words (1916), translated from the French by Jules Bertaut (Virilites : maximes et pensees de Napoleon I). I can't find the original French version though. Gssq (talk) 07:40, 25 November 2013 (UTC)[reply]
  • A man like me troubles himself little about the lives of a million men
  • A picture is worth a thousand words.
  • A portion of the multitude must ever be coerced.
  • A revolution is an idea which has found its bayonets.
  • A soldier will fight long and hard for a bit of coloured ribbon.
  • A true man hates no one.
  • Ah, tenez, vous êtes de la merde dans un bas de soie.
    • Look, you're shit in a silk stocking.
    • Referring to Talleyrand (28 January 1809)
  • All men are equal before God: wisdom, talents, and virtue are the only difference between them.
  • Ambition never is in a greater hurry than I; it merely keeps pace with circumstances and with my general way of thinking.
  • America is a fortunate country. She grows by the follies of our European nations.
  • An army marches on its stomach.
  • An emperor confides his trust in National Soldiers, not in mercenaries.
  • Authoritarian government required to speak, is silent... Representative government required to speak, lies with impunity.
  • Better not to have been born than to live without glory.
  • Better to have a known enemy than a forced ally.
    • Variant: Better to have an open enemy, than hidden friends.
  • Calumny, envy, and all revengeful passions appear almost exclusively to direct the actions of men.
  • Ces terribles chevaux gris! Comme ils travaillent!
  • Chartres is no place for an atheist.
    • Upon visiting the Cathedral of Chartres.
  • Civil liberty depends upon the security of property.
  • Courage is like love; it must have hope for nourishment.
  • Cruelty can only be justified by necessity.


  • Death is nothing, but to live defeated and inglorious is to die daily.
  • Death may expiate faults, but cannot repair them.
  • Different subjects and different affairs are arranged in my head as in a cupboard. When I wish to interrupt one train of thought, I shut that drawer and open another. Do I wish to sleep, I simply close all the drawers and then I am— asleep.
  • Doctors will have more lives to answer for in the next world than even we generals.
  • Every soldier carries a marshal's baton in his pack.
  • Everything has a limit, even human emotions.
  • Everything in religion should be gratuitous, and for the people; care must be taken not to deprive the poor... of the only thing which consoles them for their poverty.
  • Experience proves that armies are not always sufficient to save a nation; while a nation defended by its people is ever invincible.
  • Fanaticism must first be lulled, in order that it may be eradicated.
  • Female virtue has been held in suspicion from the beginning of the world, and ever will be.
  • "For my Poles there is no such thing as impossible."
  • Four hostile newspapers are more to be feared than a thousand bayonets.
  • France, the army, Josephine...
    • Reportedly his last words. In French: 'France, armée, Joséphine...'
  • Free trade favors all classes, excites all imaginations, and rouses the whole population; it is identical with equality, and tends naturally to independence.
  • Frenchmen know not how to conspire.
  • Friendship is but a name.
  • Glory is fleeting, but obscurity is forever.
  • Great ambition is the passion of a great character. He who is endowed with it may perform either very great actions or very bad ones; all depends upon the principles which direct him.


  • He who fights against his country, is a child who would kill his own mother.
  • He who is unmoved by tears has no heart.
  • He who knows how to flatter also knows how to slander.
  • How can you have order in a state without religion? For, when one man is dying of hunger near another who is ill of surfeit, he cannot resign himself to this difference unless there is an authority which declares, 'God wills it thus.' Religion is excellent stuff for keeping people quiet.
  • I accept I might be defeated, but caught in surprise, never.
  • I am never angry when contradicted, I seek to be enlightened.
  • I am sometimes a fox and sometimes a lion. The whole secret of government lies in knowing when to be the one or the other. (Idea originally conceptualized by Machiavelli in The Prince)
  • I believe love to be hurtful to society, and to the individual happiness of men. I believe, in short, that love does more harm than good.
  • I can no longer obey; I have tasted command, and I cannot give it up.
  • I feel as if I am being driven towards an unknown goal. As soon as it is attained and there will no longer be any use for me, an atom will be sufficient to annihilate me; but until then, all human efforts whether in Paris or in the army will be powerless to prevail against me.
  • If you start to take Vienna — take Vienna.
  • I have been called upon to change the face of the world.
  • I have not come to you except for the purpose of restoring your rights from the hands of the oppressors... (motivation for invading Egypt in 1798)
  • I have recognized the limits of my eyesight and of my legs, but never the limits of my working power.
  • I made all my generals out of mud.
  • In the world there are but two powers the sword and the mind, in the long run the latter always beats the former.
  • I was born and made for work.
  • If I always appear prepared, it is because before entering an undertaking, I have meditated long and have foreseen what might occur. It is not genius where reveals to me suddenly and secretly what I should do in circumstances unexpected by others; it is thought and preparation.
  • If I had to choose a religion, the sun as the universal giver of life would be my god.
  • If the whole world was a state, Istanbul would be the capital of it.
  • If they want peace, nations should avoid the pin-pricks that precede cannon shots.
  • If you want a thing done well, do it yourself.
  • If you wish to be a success in the world, promise everything, deliver nothing.
  • Imagination rules the world.
  • In a great nation, the majority are incapable of judging wisely of things.
  • In choosing a wife, a man does not renounce his mother, and still less is he justified in breaking her heart.
  • In great crisis, it is the lot of women to soften our misfortunes.
  • In politics stupidity is not a handicap.
    • Variant: In politics an absurdity is not a handicap.
  • In victory, you deserve Champagne; in defeat, you need it.
  • In warfare, the mental to the physical is as three is to one.
  • It is an approved maxim in war, never to do what the enemy wishes you to do, for this reason alone, that he desires it.
  • It is in the workshops of the country that the most successful war is waged against an enemy, at least it does not cost a drop of its people's blood.
  • It is not enough that I succeed — everyone else must fail.- Adapted from Hannibal.
  • It is the cause, and not the death, that makes the martyr.
  • It is the province of honest men to enlighten the government.
  • It requires more courage to suffer than to die.
  • It would have been better for the peace of France if this man had never existed.
  • Let China sleep. For when China wakes, it will shake the world.
    • Variant translation: When China awakes, the world will tremble.
      • Variant: Let China slumber, for when she wakes, she will conquer the world
        • Variant: Let China thusly slumber, for when China wakes up the world will shiver (original: Laissez donc la Chine dormir, car lorsque la Chine s'éveillera le monde entier tremblera, purportedly said in 1816 at Sainte-Hélène after having read Voyage dans l'intérieur de la Chine et en Tartarie by Lord Macartney)


  • Men are more easily governed through their vices than through their virtues.
  • Men are moved by two levers only— fear and self interest.
    • Variant: There are only two forces that unite men— fear and interest.
  • Men take only their needs into consideration—never their abilities.
  • My motto has always been: A career open to all talents, without distinctions of birth.
    • Quoted in Mémorial de Ste Hélène by Las Cases
  • Never attack in front of a position that can be taken by turning.
  • Never awake me when you have good news to announce, because with good news nothing presses; but when you have bad news, arouse me immediately, for then there is not an instant to be lost.
  • Never interrupt your enemy when he is making a mistake.
  • Nothing is more difficult, and therefore more precious, than to be able to decide.
  • Now we are in a fix. Peace has been declared.
    • After the treaty of Amien
  • One must change one's tactics every ten years if one wishes to maintain one's superiority.
  • One should never forbid what one lacks the power to prevent.
  • Passionate people invariably deny their anger, and cowards often boast their ignorance of fear.
  • People accustomed to great victories, know not how to support a day of reverse.
  • Popes have committed too many absurdities to create a belief in their infallibility.
  • Power is founded on opinion.
  • Power is my mistress. I have worked too hard at her conquest to allow anyone to take her away from me.
  • Public opinion is the thermometer a monarch should constantly consult.
  • Religion is what keeps the poor from murdering the rich.
  • Respect the burden.
  • Riches do not consist in the possession of treasures, but in the use made of them.
  • Six hours sleep for a man, seven for a woman and eight for a fool.
  • Skepticism is a virtue in history as well as in philosophy.
  • So you think the police foresees and knows everything. The police invents more than it discovers.
  • Some men have sufficient strength of mind to change their disposition, or at least to yield to imperative circumstances.
  • Speeches pass away, but acts remain.
  • Strategy is the art of making use of time and space. I am less concerned about the latter than the former. Space we can recover, lost time never.
  • Stupidity is not a handicap in politics.
  • Such work as mine is not done twice in a century. I saved the Revolution as it lay dying, I have cleansed it of its crimes and have held it up to the people shining with fame. I inspired France and Europe with new ideas which will never be forgotten.


  • Ten people who speak make more noise than ten thousand who are silent.
  • The act of policing is, in order to punish less often, to punish more severely.
  • The allies we gain by victory, will turn against us upon the bare whisper of our defeat.
  • The aristocracy has the advantage of concentrating the power of Government into less dangerous hands than those of the ignorant multitude.
  • The battlefield is a scene of constant chaos. The winner will be the one who controls that chaos, both his own and the enemies.
  • The best cure for the body is a quiet mind.
  • The best way to keep one's word is not to give it.
  • The Bible is no mere book, but a Living Creature, with a power that conquers all that oppose it.
  • The favorable opportunity must be seized; for fortune is female, and if you balk her today you must not expect to meet her again tomorrow.
  • The guilt of many men may be traced to over-affection for their wives.
  • The heart of a minister should be nowhere but in his head.
  • The infectiousness of crime is like that of the plague.
  • The most important qualification of a soldier is fortitude under fatigue and privation. Courage is only second; hardship, poverty and want are the best school for a soldier.
  • The nature of Christ's existence is mysterious, I admit; but this mystery meets the wants of man. Reject it and the world is an inexplicable riddle; believe it, and the history of our race is satisfactorily explained.
  • The only victories which leave no regret are those which are gained over ignorance.
  • The only victory over love is flight.
  • The people never rub themselves against naked bayonets.
  • The people to fear are not those who disagree with you, but those who disagree with you and are too cowardly to let you know.
  • The revolution is over. I am the Revolution
  • The spectacle of a field of battle after the combat is sufficient to inspire princes with the love of peace and the horror of war.
  • The strong man is the one who is able to intercept at will the communication between the senses and the mind.
  • The stupid speak of the past, the wise of the present, and fools of the future.
  • The surest way to remain poor is to be an honest man.
  • The true character of man ever displays itself in great events.
  • The woman we love is ever the prettiest of her sex.
  • There are calumnies against which even innocence loses courage.
  • There are only two forces in the world, the sword and the spirit. In the long run the sword will always be conquered by the spirit.
  • There is neither subordination, nor fear in empty bellies.
  • There is no greater misfortune for a man than to be governed by his wife: in such case he is neither himself nor his wife, he is a perfect nonentity.
  • There is one kind of robber whom the law does not strike at, and who steals what is most precious to men: time.
  • There is one thing that's not French: for a woman to be able to do what she likes.
  • They think I am stern, even hardhearted. So much the better— this makes it unnecessary for me to justify my reputation. My firmness is taken for callousness. I shall not complain, since this notion is responsible for the good order that is prevailing, so that there is nothing that needs to be repressed.
  • To abandon oneself to despair without a struggle, to commit suicide as a relief, is like leaving the field of battle before we have vanquished the enemy.
  • To extraordinary circumstances we must apply extraordinary remedies.
  • To have a right estimate of a man's character, we must see him in misfortune.
  • To have good soldiers, a nation must always be at war.
  • To seduce a wife from her husband, or a son from his father, are odious acts, unworthy of civilised nations.
  • To write history, one must be more than a man, since the author who holds the pen of this great justiciary should be free from all pre-occupation of interest or of vanity.
  • There is nothing we can do.


  • Un bon croquis vaut mieux qu'un long discours.
    • Translation: A good sketch is better than a long speech.
    • Alternate translation: A picture is worth a thousand words.
  • Victory belongs to the most persevering.
  • War is the business of barbarians.
  • Water, air, and cleanness are the chief articles in my pharmacy.
  • We cannot escape from the arbitrariness of the judge, unless we place ourselves under the despotism of the law.
  • We must laugh at man to avoid crying for him.
  • We must not obstinately contend against circumstances, but rather let us obey them. We have many projects in life but little determination.
  • We must not take up arms for vain prospects of grandeur, nor the allurements of conquest.
  • We must take things as we find them, and not as we wish them to be.
  • We walk faster when we walk alone.
  • When he who measures the duration of life has pronounced his secret, all the sciences of humanity are but useless essays.
  • You must not fear death, my lads; defy him, and you drive him into the enemy's ranks.
  • You must not fight too often with one enemy, or you will teach him all your art of war.
  • You would make a ship sail against the winds and currents by lighting a bonfire under her deck? Excuse me, I have no time to listen to such nonsense.

unsourced quote about Fashion[edit]

"Fashion condemns us to many follies; the greatest is to make oneself its slave."

... sources anyone? --Immer in Bewegung 07:42, 12 July 2010 (UTC)[reply]

No Cowardly Source[edit]

"The people to fear are not those who disagree with you, but those who disagree with you and are too cowardly to let you know."

Searched through French equivalents, nothing. Nothing in an English search much before Norman Lockridge's 1945 "World's wit and wisdom" either.
—This unsigned comment is by Lmstearn (talkcontribs) .
would this have to be linked to "En tout et partout ce ne sont pas les entêtés de bonne foi qui sont à craindre, ce sont les hypocrites." ?


"The world suffers a lot, not because of the violence of bad people, but because of the silence of good people". Some (not authoritative) sites refer the quote as his though I suspect not. c.f: Galoism (talk) 03:33, 7 June 2012 (UTC)[reply]

Was he anti-Semitic?[edit]

I have found a troublesome quote from him:

The evils of the Jews do not stem from individuals but from the fundamental nature of this people.

Examples: [2]

How do we explain this? --Romanophile (talk) 03:36, 18 November 2015 (UTC)[reply]

I see this attributed to other people. Can't find it in Google Books before 1900. Cagliost (talk) 09:56, 30 July 2020 (UTC)[reply]


It's so weird French page not referenced from the article., other languages seems to lack link to French too. The French page though does have interwikis. Alliumnsk (talk) 09:57, 21 February 2018 (UTC)[reply]

Able was I ere I saw Elba =[edit]

I found an earlier, and possibly original, source for this palindrome. I linked to the publication in Google Books. Someone might be able to improve the reference by linking directly to the page.

Show me a family of readers, and I will show you the people who move the world[edit]

“Show me a family of readers, and I will show you the people who move the world.” is allegedly from Napoleon. Could it be included? Pier4r (talk) 14:18, 26 July 2022 (UTC)[reply]

The sanhedrin is at least useful to me."[edit]

Obviously relevant 14:56, 1 February 2023 (UTC)[reply]

To be inserted in the right place[edit]

Perhaps it was the spirit of the time and the place that affected me. But I assure you no occurrence of any of my other battlefields impressed me so keenly. I halted on my tour to gaze on the spectacle, and to reflect on its meaning.

This soldier, I realized, must have had friends at home and in his regiment; yet he lay there deserted by all except his dog... I had looked on, unmoved, at battles which decided the future of nations. Tearless, I had given orders which brought death to thousands.

Yet, here I was stirred, profoundly stirred, stirred to tears. And by what? By the grief of one dog. I am certain that at that instant I felt more ready than at any other time to show mercy toward a suppliant foe-man. I could understand just then the tinge of mercy which led Achilles to yield the corpse of his enemy, Hector, to the weeping Priam. Creatoreoccasionale (talk) 18:52, 13 October 2023 (UTC)[reply]