"Well, spite of our stern bearing, here's everything going against us; and yet the army did prodigies of valour. Then came battles on the mountains, nations against nations—Dresden, Lützen, Bautzen. Remember these days, all of you, for 'twas then that Frenchmen were so particularly heroic that a good grenadier only lasted six months. We triumphed always; yet there were those English, in our rear, rousing revolts against us with their lies! No matter, we cut our way home through the whole pack of the nations. Wherever the Emperor showed himself we followed him; for if, by sea or land, he gave us the word 'Go!' we went. At last, we were in France; and many a poor foot-soldier felt the air of his own country restore his soul to satisfaction, spite of the wintry weather. I can say for myself that it refreshed my life. Well, next, our business was to defend France, our country, our beautiful France, against, all Europe, which resented our having laid down the law to the Russians, and pushed them back into their dens so that they couldn't eat us up alive, as northern nations, who are dainty and like southern flesh, have a habit of doing—at least, so I've heard some generals say. Then the Emperor saw his own father-in-law, his friends whom he had made kings, and the scoundrels to whom he had given back their thrones, all against him. Even Frenchmen, and allies in our own ranks, turned against us under secret orders, as at the battle of Leipsic. Would common soldiers have been capable of such wickedness? Three times a day men were false to their word—and they called themselves princes!
In the earlier folk-stories one finds a childlike simplicity and readiness to believe in the marvellous; and these qualities are found also in the French peasant's version of the career of Napoleon.