Reference > Quotations > S.A. Bent, comp. > Familiar Short Sayings of Great Men
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S.A. Bent, comp.  Familiar Short Sayings of Great Men.  1887.
 
Alexander I.
 
        [Emperor of Russia, born 1777; succeeded his father, Paul, 1801; joined Austria against Napoleon, 1804, and took part in the coalitions until his overthrow; entered Paris with the allied armies, July, 1815; formed the holy alliance with the sovereigns of Austria and Prussia; died at Taganrog, Dec. 1, 1825.]
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I am, then, only a happy accident.
          In conversing with Madame de Staël, in Paris, upon the form of government to take the place of the empire, she said to him with characteristic enthusiasm, “Sire, your character is a constitution!” His reply referred to the temporary and accidental expedients, which, from the time of Sieyès, the French had dignified with the name of constitutions. Napoleon’s opinion of the czar was less flattering than Madame de Staël’s. He said to O’Meara at St. Helena, Dec. 5, 1816, “He is an extremely hypocritical man; a Greek of the lower empire” (C’est un homme extrêmement faux; un Grec du bas empire). What more could he have said if he had foreseen that the liberal emperor was to form an alliance with two despotic sovereigns which should be for thirty years the bulwark of reactionary ideas?
  Disraeli said of Lord Palmerston, “He has the smartness of an attorney’s clerk, and the intrigues of a Greek of the lower empire.”—Runnymede Letters, 1836.
  After Napoleon’s retreat from Moscow, in 1812, the Russian and Prussian sovereigns met in Breslau, where Frederick William III. was moved to tears in speaking of the losses his kingdom had suffered by being obliged to furnish a contingent to the French expedition. “Courage, brother,” said Alexander to him: “these are the last tears Napoleon shall draw from you.” The next year saw the opening of the “War of Liberation.”
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The Dardanelles are the key of my house. Let me get possession of them, and my power is irresistible.
          Thus Napoleon said, “Constantinople is an empire in itself;” and Francis I. of France declared that if he became emperor of Germany, he would be in Constantinople in three years, or would die upon the road.
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