Napoleon Bonaparte and le Petit Homme Rogue
From Kook Science
Napoleon Bonaparte and le Petit Homme Rogue (English: "The Little Red Man").
Notes and Queries (3 Dec. 1910)
- "NAPOLEON AND THE LITTLE RED MAN", Notes and Queries (London: John C. and J. Edward Francis) (49): 447, 3 Dec. 1910, https://books.google.com/books?id=brdp2EAabXkC&pg=PA447
NAPOLEON AND THE LITTLE RED MAN. — I take the following account from 'Fifty Years' Recollections,' by Cyrus Redding, 1858, vol. ii, pp. 67-8:—
"The story of the 'Little Red Man,' a familiar demon of Bonaparte, was revived.... by the Bourbonists, if not originally of their invention. The ex-Emperor first formed an intimacy with the 'Little Red Man' during his exploration of the Egyptian Pyramids, in the centre, perhaps, of the room where stands the sarcophagus of some renowned Pharaoh. Amidst masses of impenetrable granite Napoleon held mysterious meetings with his new friend, and as well as the ruins of Egyptian Temples (sic), in the bituminous odour of Catacombs not yet half explored, and while walking in the refulgence of the glowing moon of a brilliant firmament over the ruins of Heliopolis. After several of these mysterious meetings, at the earnest solicitation of the 'Little Red Man,' the ex-Emperor gave way to certain conditions, at a moment when they promised ripeness of his designs overcame every other object of his mental vision, and he agreed to bestow his lofty soul upon his nether mundane visitor in return for their realization. The 'Little Red Man' was also seen with the Emperor, by numbers of persons, on the field of battle about the time of his subsequent successes. He had been observed walking up and down outside the Conservatory of St. Cloud, when Napoleon dissolved the Convention. At Marengo, at Austerlitz, and on other occasions he was present, but when the fortune of the Emperor changed in 1814, he was seen no more, having abandoned his friend because Napoleon violated the pledge he had given to a personage who had obtained for him all his wonderful successes. The 'Little Red Man,' from the colour of his skin, was evidently of the ancient Egyptian stock. At the great of all the Emperor's victories, those in 1796, he had not made the 'Little Red Man's', acquaintance for he had not then seen the Pyramids. Thus consistent and clever was the tale. It is hardly credible, but true, that I heard this story argued upon as if it were a fact, by some of the Bourbon party. Everybody talked about it.'
In Redding's assurance that this was a well-known story in Paris after Napoleon's fall corroborated by any contemporary publications? HORACE BLEACKLEY.
Notes and Queries (24 Dec. 1910)
- "NAPOLEON AND THE LITTLE RED MAN", Notes and Queries (London: John C. and J. Edward Francis) (52): 511, 3 Dec. 1910, https://books.google.com/books?id=brdp2EAabXkC&pg=PA511
NAPOLEON AND THE LITTLE RED MAN (11 S. ii. 447). — The story of the Red Man was evidently current in Paris at the time of Napoleon's downfall. In a section headed 'Bonaparte and his Familiar,' contained in 'News from the Invisible World,' pp. 353-6 (one of Milner & Sowerby's publications, reissued in London, 1854), an anonymous correspondent, writing from Paris, names 1 January, 1814, as the date when the mysterious visitant appeared. The account is given with much circumstantiality of detail, but differs materially from Cyrus Redding's version. Instead of being a person of small stature, the familiar was a tall man of imposing appearance, dressed all in red. Count Mole, in attendance on Napoleon, with orders to admit no person to his presence, was quite overawed by the mysterious stranger. He listened trembling at the door, and heard all that passed. The familiar, it seems, was not an embodiment of the enemy of mankind, but rather the "genius" who presided of Napoleon's destiny. He ordered a certain course of action to be taken, and allowed three months for it to be carried into effect. Napoleon apparently refused to comply. They parted in anger, and in three months the Emperor was a captive in Elba. "Even the French papers, when Bonaparte was deposed, recurred to this fact, and remarked that his mysterious visitant's prophetic threat had been accomplished." On three different occasions the Red Man appeared to the Emperor: in Egypt, after the battle of Wagram, and in January, 1814.
In the process of transmission through the crucible of fervent loyalist imagination the story seems to have been altered or mutilated, and the familiar not only dwindled in size, but also decreased in moral respectability.
The legend is mentioned in Charles Lever's 'Tom Burke of Ours,' where this mysterious figure is represented as having visited the future Emperor in his camp on Mount tabor. "L'homme rouge" complains of Napoleon's ubiquity, and begs to be told of some spot of earth where they will never meet. Napoleon in derision points out upon the map the island of St. Helena, and promises the Red man that he will never disturb him there. "At least," he says, "if I do, thou shalt be the Master and I the slave." The whole story is to be found on p. 237 of the second volume of 'Tom Burke,' Downey's edition of 1901.
There has recently been published a book called 'The Court of the Tuileries, 1852-70,' by "Le Petit Homme Rouge."
['The Court of the Tuileries' is known to be by Mr. Ernest Vizetelly.]