The World's Famous Orations/Volume 7/During the Egyptian Campaign
DURING THE EGYPTIAN CAMPAIGN
Soldiers, you are a wing of the army of England! You are masters of the modes of warfare appropriate to mountains, to plains, to sieges. Naval war remains to complete your experience. The Roman legions whom you have sometimes imitated, but not as yet equaled, fought Carthage successively upon this sea and upon the plains of Zama. Victory never forsook them, because they were constantly brave, patient of fatigue, well disciplined, resolute. But, soldiers, Europe has her eyes upon you! You have great destinies to fulfil, battles to fight, fatigues to surmount!
Frenchmen, you are about to undertake a conquest of which the effects upon the civilization and commerce of the world are incalculable. The first city you are to meet was founded by Alexander.
Cadis, Sheiks, Imans, Chorbadgys, you will be told that I came to destroy your religion; do not believe it. Let your answer be that I come to reestablish your rights and punish your usurpers, and that I have more respect than the Mamelukes for your god, his prophet, and the Koran.
Tell your people that all men are equal before God. Wisdom, talent, and virtue make the only difference between them.
But, is there a fine country? It is appropriated by the Mamelukes. Is there a beautiful slave, a fine horse, a fine house? All this belongs to the Mamelukes. If Egypt be their farm, let them show the lease which God has given them of it! But God is just and merciful to the people. The Egyptians will be called to fill the public stations. Let the wisest, the most enlightened, the most virtuous govern, and the people will be happy.
You had formerly large cities, great canals, a flourishing commerce. What has ruined them all if not the avarice, the injustice, and the tyranny of the Mamelukes?
Cadis, Sheiks, Imans, Chorbadgys, tell the people that we, too, are true Mussulmans. Is it not we who demolished the pope, the great enemy of the Mussulmans? Are we not the friends of the grand seignior?
Thrice happy those who shall be found on our side! They will prosper in fortune and rank. Happy those who shall remain neutral! They will have time to know the result, and then will join us.
But woe, eternal woe, to those who take arms in favor of the Mamelukes and fight against us! There will be no hope for them; they will perish!
Sheiks, Ulemans, believers of Mohammed, make known to the people that those who have been enemies to me will find no refuge either in this world or the other. Is there a man so blind as not to see that Destiny itself directs my operations?
- Translated "by a member of the New York Bar."
- Napoleon's famous remark at the Pyramids was not part of any of these speeches. As Thiers relates the incident, the army on its march suddenly came within sight of "the gigantic Pyramids gilded by the sun," and then "halted as if seized with curiosity and admiration." With his face "beaming with enthusiasm," Napoleon "began to gallop before the ranks of the soldiers," and pointing to the Pyramids exclaimed "consider that from the summits of these Pyramids forty centuries have their eyes fixed upon you." Thiers gives only these words.