Napoleon Buonaparte Inspects the Royal Marine Guard - "How much might be done with a hundred th
From the Memoirs of Sir Frederick Lewis Maitland then Captain of HMS Bellerophon
About ten A.M. the barge was manned, and a captain's guard turned out.
When Buonaparte came on deck, he looked at the marines, who were generally fine-looking young men, with much satisfaction; went through their ranks, inspected their arms, and admired their appearance, saying to Bertrand, "How much might be done with a hundred thousand such soldiers as these."
He asked which had been longest in the corps; went up and spoke to him. His questions were put in French, which I interpreted, as well as the man's answers.
He enquired how many years he had served; on being told upwards of ten, he turned to me and said, "Is it not customary in your service, to give a man who has been in it so long some mark of distinction?"
He was informed that the person in question had been a sergeant, but was reduced to the ranks for some misconduct.
He then put the guard through part of their exercise, whilst I interpreted to the Captain of Marines, who did not understand French, the manoeuvres he wished to have performed.
He made some remarks upon the difference of the charge with the bayonet between our troops and the French; and found fault with our method of fixing the bayonet to the musquet, as being more easy to twist off, if seized by an enemy when in the act of charging.