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he weakened the defence of the states he attacked, by deluding their subjects into dreams of liberty and independence which it could never have been his intention to realize,* and that he artfully seized the moment of proposing those terms, which led to the peace of Leoben, when the Austrians had gained his rear, and rendered retreat, in case of misfortune, impossible. The glorious peace by which so successful a war was terminated, rendered Bonaparte the idol of the whole nation. The directory, who were now oppressed with the greatness of their own general, became desirous of giving employment to his energy and resolute character at a distance, and readily consented to a plan which he proposed, of annexing Egypt to the republic, even though Switzerland, the ancient and faithful ally of France, was to be ravaged, and the independence of Malta annihilated, in order to furnish the funds necessary for the expedition.
His success in Egypt, if we consider the grea“ (lisparity of force, has been, I think, exaggerated. It was frequently attended with circumstances of unnecessary rigor, and unprovoked cruelty; and I am told, that those who mean to pay their court to him, and who know him, never speak of Egypt in his presence : but it is impossible not to admire the firmness with which he tore his repulse before Acre, and the proud ascendency over the minds of others by which he silenced all complaints, and prevented all reflections. The gallant remnant of his army, who might with justice have upbraided him for the waste which had been made of their strength, and the distress they had been so unprofitably exposed to, seemed rather disposed to solicit his forgiveness for not having done more.
His last exploit in Egypt was the attack of the Turkish post at Aboukir, and here Fortune, whom he has almost converted into a goddess, seems indeed to have befriended him. Miot, one of his warmest admirers, asserts, that if the Turks, who were able to repulse the first assault upon their principal redoubt, had not sallied out, in the moment of success, in order to cut off the heads of the dead and wounded, according to their barbarous custom, and thus exposed themselves, in disorder, to the attack of a fresh column, the attempt would, in all probability, have been as fruitless as at Acre.
But one of the most singular events in the life of Bonaparte is his return to France in the year 1799. He had left it with forty thousand chosen troops, with twelve sail of the line, and all the means of esta
• Nations of Italy, says the proclamation, the French army is come to break your chains. The French are the friends of the people in every country. Your religion, your customs, your property shall be respected. The nations of Italy may consider the French as their brothers, &c.
blishing a great and flourishing colony. The losses of the republic in the West-Indies were to be thus splendidly repaired; the sacred land of Egypt, the cradle of the arts and sciences, was to be rescued from the barbarians, who had so long oppressed its wretched inhabitants ; commerce was to assume the direction which the hero of a former age had given it; and a mortal blow was to be inflicted upon England, in the destruction of its Indian empire. But how were these splendid prospects realized? He lost the whole of his fleet; he deserted the poor remains of his army, and returned, like Xerxes, after the battle of Salamis, * a poor fugitive in a single frigate. But the weakness and profligacy of the directory, and the extreme bad conduct of their agents and officers had so reduced the power of the republic, that the losses and disgraces of the East were overlooked and forgotten, and the geral, who might, in other circumstances, have been made amenable to a court martial, was received as a deliverer. The military hoped for an end to that disgrace which had lately obscured the glory of the French arms; and a party in the government were desirous to avail themselves of his resolute mind, and of his influence with the soldiers, in the execution of a plan which was to place the power of the republic in their hands, at the expense of their colleagues; but Napoleon and his brother Lucien were too cunning for the abbe Sieyes and the director Barras. .
In violating the constitution, and destroying, by an armed force, that government which they had sworn to obey, they chose that the profit should be for themselves and followers ; nor were the feelings of the nation such as might have been expected upon the occasion. They perhaps considered the conduct of their general as irregular, but they saw with pleasure power wrested from the grasp of unprincipled unqualified men, and hoped for a more equitable and lenient government in the hands of a gallant soldier, misled, to a certain degree. indeed, by ambition, but with none of those petty enmities to satisfy, or those vitious habits to indulge, which had marked the conduct of that race of inferior lawyers who, under the mask of republicanism, had so long oppressed them. His education, and the tenor of his earlier life. it was supposed, would have induced him to follow the example of Monk, in England. All ranks were gratified, meanwhile, by the splendid and decided success of the French arms, as soon as they were restored to his direction.
The changes which have since taken place are such as he could Hot possibly have foreseen or intended ; but he has skilfully availed himself of every opportunity that offered to enlarge his power, and his
Sod qualis rediit ? nempe una nave, &c?
views having gradually expanded, and every caprice almost of his ambition having been successful, it is not improbable that he now considers Providence as having thrown the right, as well as the power of government into his hands.
It has been his policy to keep the nation engaged in war. This has gratified their military genius, and afforded them the sort of satisfaction they are most sensible of, while it has enabled him to provide for many needy followers and relations : for he makes as free in the distribution of the kingdoms and principalities of Europe as if they had descended to him from a long line of ancestors. He would have done better, I am persuaded, to have restored the ancient royal family (the establishment of a republican government was out of the question); but not having thought proper to do so, it is probable that he could no otherwise have preserved the nation from scenes of internal discord than by the assumption of sovereignty. Arbitrary power was become a necessary evil, and, every thing considered, it could not, perhaps, have been better placed. His domestic administration is, in many respects, deserving of praise, and his cude, though liabie to the charge of inconsistency, in retaining some ill-placed vestiges of democracy, is in general well adapted to the situation of the nation, and to the administration of justice; but the trial by jury has been abolished in all criminal cases, and the law which ordains that the prisoner should be examined in a certain time after his arrest, was forgotten as soon as made. Torture, too, though contrary to law, is said to be applied in private to enforce confession, and the agents of the government leave no means unessayed to blacken the reputation of those who are to be brought to trial. I have seen Moreau's name published in the Moniteur, at the head of a long list of traitors, who were in the pay of England to assassinate the first consul, the week before he was to be tried. The present code has put an end to the scandalous abuses of the republican law of divorce, and religion is again protected and encouraged; but neither the clergy nor the judges are sufficiently paid to render them respectable and independent.
His foreign enterprises, though seldom the result of any fair and liberal policy, are conducted with great ability ; and when he deviates from generally received opinions in military affairs, he never fails, by his success, to remind one, if we may compare war to poetry, of those writers who, according to Pope,
“Can snatch a grace beyond the reach of art.” Such too is the brilliancy of his name, and the overruling influence of a great reputation, that if he fails, if the event should even be disastrous in the extreme, as in Egypt, or at St. Domingo, if he violates his engagements, as in the case of Italy and Switzerland, his losses and
disappointments make no impression to his disadvantage. His want of good faith seems hardly noticed, and the world speaks only of his triumphs.
His guards are numerous and in the highest state of discipline, and his court the most brilliant, I am told, in Europe. Those who are permitted to appear at it, for there is by no means the indiscriminate crowd of former times, are most splendidly dressed, nor is he, with all his cares, indifferent to that circumstance. A lady, whose appearance he was not satisfied with, was, upon one occasion, ordered to withdraw; and it was owing to the humanity of the chamberlain in waiting, who ventured for once to deviate from a strict interpretation of the orders he had received, that she was not forced out in a contemptuous and disgraceful manner. A printed paper, more in the nature of a mandate than of an invitation, is sent to those whom he means to see at court upon great occasions. It was thus, after the battle of Austerlitz, and when great numbers were collected in the antichamber, they were instructed, by a sort of master of the ceremonies, how they were to conduct themselves. A bow or a courtesy was to be made at the door, on entering, another when opposite the throne, where sat the emperor and empress, in all the dignity of empire, and a third at the door of exit. Not a word was to be said, and, having been discharged, they were left to go round through the open space before the palace, and find their carriages as they could.
He eats and sleeps less than most men, and looks into every thing himself. It would be better, perhaps, for the prosperityof the empire, if he suffered certain sorts of business to devolve upon others, for there are subjects upon which he is universally allowed to be uninformed. He is said to understand neither finance nor trade, nor how best to encourage those manufactories he would wish most to promote. It was a considerable time before he could comprehend why his fotilla might not get to England, and he is at times singularly deficient in matters of general policy, and extremely impolitic in his conduct towards neutral nations.
He sometimes plays at cards for a moment, and now and then, in small family parties, is seen to dance; but then it is without any sort of pretension to fine steps, and like a man who dances for exercise and to promote digestion.
To his relations and followers he is liberal of that which does not belong to him, it is true ; but of that which he might keep for himself, he does not, however, seem at all ambitious of acquiring a reputation for generosity.
I travelled into Italy, last year, a few weeks after him, and was desirous, as you may suppose, of listening to the multitude of little anecdotes his journey and passage of the Alps, previous to bis Italian
coronation, had given rise to. The servants of the household always preceded, and prepared his meals; but the use of the rooms he occupied was sufficiently well paid for by a steward who attended. To the postillions and guides, however, many of whom had provided new clothes for the occasion, not a sixpence was given at the time, nor to the postmasters who furnished the horses ; but a month or five weeks after there came a commissioner who settled all their demands, very justly indeed, but not in a way to abolish the unfavourable impression which had been already made, and from the funds of the department. It had been the same on his journey to Marengo and back again, nor did he ever deviate into any thing like generosity but in one instance, when a guide, having saved him from falling down a pricipice, was presented with a purse of fifty Louis d'ors. I ought in justice, however, to mention an anecdote of him upon this occasion, and the more so, as I can vouch for the truth of it. A lady of Geneva being upon a visit to her friends at Lyons, a little before the revolution, was told of a young Corsican who was confined by sickness in an upper room of the hotel Garni, where she lodged. All that the people of the house knew of him was, that he was an officer of artillery, that his name was Bonaparte, and that his purse was very slenderly furnished. Her charity, for charity is a virtue proper to Geneva, soon carried her to the sick man's bed side, and she had at length the satisfaction to see him so far restored as to set out for his regiment, with many expressions of gratitude for her maternal care, and many wishes that Fortune might ever enable him to testify his gratitude. On his coronation she wrote to him, and took occasion to mingle with her felicitations some account of her own situation, which the casualties of the times had rendered less prosperous than formerly, nor was she long without an answer. She received a very handsome letter, containing bank notes to the amount of four hundred pounds sterling, and very friendly assurances of immediate attention to any application which it might be convenient to her to make hereafter.
In his intended journeys from place to place he is always very secret, and, when once in motion, extremely expeditious, rather, I believe from peevishness and impatience than from any solicitude for the safety of his person, which is always sufficiently well guarded.
If his servants should suppose, from what they may have heard him say, that he was going to take an airing, and should make preparations for the purpose, he reprimands them, and orders his carriages put up, and perhaps orders them out again the moment after. He has even been known, upon such an occasion, to have invitations sent out, if they can be called invitations, for a ball, or a concert at court, and to set out on an excursion to the sea coast, and sometimes to a very dis