S.A. Bent, comp. Familiar Short Sayings of Great Men. 1887.
[Andoche Junot, Duc dAbrantes, a French general; born 1771; enlisting as a common soldier, was made by Bonaparte his first aide-de-camp at Toulon; gained distinction in Egypt; governor of Paris after the fall of the Directory; took Lisbon, 1807, but defeated at Vimiera, for which he was disgraced, and retired to private life; died July, 1813.]
When a bursting shell threw some dirt upon a paper on which he was writing a despatch from Bonapartes dictation, at the siege of Toulon, December, 1793. It was this display of coolness which attracted Bonapartes attention to him.
When, at a later period, after the formation of Napoleons court, a nobleman inquired of Junot as to his ancestry, he replied, I know nothing about it: I am my own ancestor (Ah, ma foi, je nen sais rien: moi, je suis mon ancêtre). So Napoleon replied to the Emperor of Austria, who would have traced his lineage to some petty prince of Treviso, I am my own Rudolf of Hapsburg; and he silenced, on a similar occasion, a professional genealogist with, Friend, my patent dates from Montenotte, his first battle.
In a letter to his father, in 1794, Junot said of Bonaparte, He is one of those of whom Nature is sparing, and whom she does not throw upon the earth but with centuries between them.