During the Hundred Days, (1815) there lay in Napoleon's study in the Tuileries a packet of papers, sealed with the Imperial arms, on the cover of which was written, "A remettre au Cardinal Fesch seul." This packet was carried by Fesch to Rome, but he never had the curiosity to open it, and it remained sealed and tied up till his death, on May 13th, 1839. Many years later it was eventually opened, and an astonished world discovered that Napoleon had collected papers relating to his boyhood and youth. Using this amazing material and many other sources Oscar Browning produced the first English language account of the formative years between Napoleon's birth in 1769 and when he first forced his way onto the world stage as a young man of importance at the siege of Toulon in 1793. There He personally led his men in the assault on the field earthworks guarding the city. During one of the attacks he received a bayonet wound. Napoleon with his artillery also destroyed several British warships anchored in Toulon's harbour, forcing them to sail away. It was his first victory and he was promoted to brigadier general.
Oscar Browning was a Fellow for life at King's College, Cambridge and he became an assistant master at Eton. He went abroad every school vacation, travelling in princely style with a courier. His associations with young men led him to fall foul of authority at the time and some senior members of King's were dismayed by his return to college. Nevertheless, he did good work in promoting King's to higher intellectual standards. His research was always of quality and his writing style is pleasing and always highly readable. He died at Rome in 1923.
INTRODUCTION I. BIRTH AND CHILDHOOD II. BRIENNE III. DEPARTURE FOR PARIS IV. THE ECOLE MILITAIRE DE PARIS V. VALENCE AND AUXONNE VI. CORSICA VII. AUXONNE AND VALENCE VIII. AJACCIO IX. PARIS X. LA MADDALENA XI. PAOLI XII. LE SOUPER DE BEAUCAIRE XIII. TOULON APPENDICES (A) SUR LA CORSE (B) SUR LE SUICIDE (C) REFUTATION DE M. ROUSTAN (D) RECONTRE AU PALAIS-ROYAL Reprinted from Napoleon's original documents. THE MEMOIRS OF BOURRIENNE THE EARLY WRITINGS OF NAPOLEON ORIGINAL DOCUMENTS FROM THE BRITISH MUSEUM CONCERNING THE SIEGE AND EVACUATION OF TOULON