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and put on his armour, saying, “ that it became not a man to die like a beast.” A more remarkable instance is that of Maria Louisa of Austria, who, a short time before she breathed her last, having fallen into a sort of insensibility, and her eyes being closed, one of the ladies in attendance remarked that her majesty seemed to be asleep. “ No," said she, “ I could sleep, if I would indulge repose, but I am sensible of the near approach of death, and I will not allow myself to be surprised by him in my sleep; I wish to meet my dissolution awake.” The extinguishment of that spirit, whose " sound went forth into all lands,” must, no doubt, be considered as one of the most important and interesting events of the day. But it is mortifying to human vanity to reflect with what indifference this intelligence has been received. The truth is, the few last years have teemed with events of appalling magnitude-with giant births-unheard-of monsters and prodigies. Revolutions, with all their sanguinary train of consequences, have succeeded each other with fearful rapidity; and the caprices of jugglery, which fortune delights to play in private life, have been exhibited on the grand theatre of Europe. We have been glutting our eyes with the bloody business of the Circus, and the tale of individual misery can no longer work upon our sensibilities.
We are, perhaps, less impressed with the importance of this event, because Napoleon may be said to have terminated his political exist. ence when he abdicated the throne ; but he was still the lion in the toils, whose destruction is only completed when the death-blast has sounded. It will be moreover contended by his admirers, that the years of his imprisonment, though replete with suffering, and though flowing in darkness and sorrow, will be more honourable to him when history shall have taken her pen, and meted out his measure of praise, than his days of sunshine, when he trod, like a winged Mercury, and waved the rod of the enchanter. To suffer well is the highest praise that man can earn ; to accommodate the fiery and restless spirit to the uncontrolable changes of fate, not notching his days of misery in passive helplessness, but wearing his manhood undauntedly about him, is the true test of greatness of soul, which shows most brilliant in surrounding darkness. It is said that
“ The evil that men do lives after them,
The good is oft interred with their bones." It is well if it be so: the good has carried with it its reward ; and the evil may perchance remain a useful warning to mankind. But, in truth, neither are remembered when their immediate effects cease to be felt. Military renown is of all others, and very deservedly so, the most brilliant and the most fading; it is a splendid meteor, which blazes and expires. Wolfe and Abercromby are no longer remembered as the benefactors of their country, and the name of Nelson is already strange in our ears. It is not, as some of our old writers apprehended, that we have fallen upon the latter days of the world, and that there is not as yet time for the enjoyment of fame, or that we are not still alive to the tale of conquests (though the effect of this, as of every other twice-told tale, must lose somewhat of its charm as the world advances in years), but really because nothing has been done that contributes in any shape to the present happiness or well-being of mankind. We are about as sensible of the beneficial effects produced by the victories of a Howe, as of the defeat of the Spanish Armada. And, in general, our knowledge of these things is as circumscribed as that of Mr. Southey's narrator of the battle of Blenheim, who could only say that “ 'twas a glorious victory."
We are told that the dissolution of this great man is an instructive lesson to the world, as affording a striking instance of the punishment that awaits upon perverted talents, and ill-directed ambition. But, after all, the world is little benefited by such lessons, and grows no. thing wiser from the experience of the past. Whatever may be said of the progressive improvement of which the nature of man is capable, that glorious prerogative which is said to distinguish him from the brute creation, society seems to be marked every where with the same follies, and the same vices. The same passions lead to the commission of the same crimes. Revolution and bloodshed, havoc and ruin, have been ever abroad, and war has never furled its flag. For when did example, or the cold maxims of experience, ever repress the wing of young ambition, or quench the ardours of a restless spirit? The disasters and unhappiness consequent upon the intemperance of youth, seem to be useful monitors, only when indulgence has blunted the edge of passion, or satiety has incapacitated us for enjoyment. So true it is (as Lord Bacon has remarked) that “ Nature is often hidden, sometimes overcome, seldom extinguished.” But, in point of fact, the fate of Napoleon seems no very salutary warning to those whose talents, combined with fitting time and opportunity, may induce them to tread in his footsteps.
Like the end of every other great man, it will serve “to point a moral and adorn a tale;" but it is nothing more than the old lesson that has been read to us from King Solomon downwards. We shall find, upon investigation, that he was a more fortunate usurper than Cromwell. His triumphs were as brilliant, and his reign of longer duration than Julius Cæsar's; his country was not ungrateful to him as Scipio's; his seclusion and banishment were as sacred and dignitied as Dioclesian's ; he encountered the approaches of dissolution with the calmness and philosophic resolution, if not with the Christian spirit of Charles the Fifth; and if he did not, like Samson, crush his enemies in his fall, he died, at least, in the full strength and vigour of a spirit that still awed the world. Probably no triumph was more complete, or more calculated to swell the heart of mao, than the return of Napoleon from Elba. He came alone, unarmed, a wanderer. The very elements seemed to aid him at his approach; armies rose up and flocked round him, like the bones before the prophet; and his entry into the capital was not in the car of triumph, and with the sound of trumpets, but in the hearts of a mighty people, and borne upon the universal shout of France. If Turenne was right, that the only two pleasures of an ambitious man are the gaining a prize at school, and the winning a battle, surely years were to
little to purchase such a moment of exultation and life, too short to efface its intoxicating sweets. The “Veni, ridi, rici" belongs more properly to him than to Cæsar.
Of the events which immediately preceded his downfall, and which are supposed to have tarnished his military reputation, it is hardly possible to speak with precision or justice. It is a subject upon which it is safer " to say nothing that is false, than all that is true, as we tread upon fires that are not extinguished.” And yet we may venture to affirm, that when party and faction shall die away, and the impartial voice of truth be heard, there will be found many features of the memorable campaigns of 1814 and 1815, that, in their display of military genius, would not have disgraced the brightest days in the annals of Napoleon.
We have a lively and ingenious portrait of this great man from the hand of Madame de Stael, who knew him in the full lustre of his power, which, though probably somewhat distorted in the outline, and heightened in the colouring, carries with it, upon the whole, that genuine air of truth that makes us pronounce it to be a likeness, without a personal knowledge of the original. “I could not find words to reply to him," she observes, in relating her first interview, "when he came to me to say that he had sought my father at Coppet, and that he regretted having passed into Switzerland without having seen him. But when I was a little recovered from the confusion of admiration, a strongly-marked sentiment of fear succeeded. Bonaparte at that time had no power; he was even believed to be not a little threatened by the captious suspicions of the Directory: so that the fear which he caused was inspired only by the singular effect of his person on all who approached him. I had seen men highly worthy of esteem; I had likewise seen monsters of ferocity; there was nothing in the effect which Bonaparte produced on me, that could bring back to my recollection either the one or the other. I soon perceived in the different opportunities I had of meeting him during his stay at Paris, that his character could not be defined by the words which we commonly use: he was neither good, nor violent, nor gentie, nor cruel, after the manner of individuals of whom we have any knowledge. Such a being had no fellow, and, therefore, could aeither fiel nor excite sympathy; he was more or less than a man. His cast of character, his understanding, his language, were stamped with the impress of an unknown nature. 1 examined the figure of Bonaparte (she goes on to observe) with attention ; but whenever he discovered that my looks were fixed upon him, he had the art of taking away all expression from his eyes, as if they liad been turned into marble. His countenance was then immovable, except a vague smile, which his lips assumed at random, to mislead any one who might wish to observe the external signs of what was passing within."
Mr. Ellis, who afterwards saw him at St. Helena, says that “ his elocution was rapid, but clear and forcible, and that both his manner and language surpassed his expectations. The character of his countenance was rather intellectual than commanding, and the chief peculiarity is in the mouth, the upper lip apparently changing in expression with the variety and succession of ideas. I was most struck, he observes, with the unsubdued ease of his behaviour: he could not
VOL. 11. NO. Vill.
have been freer from embarrassment and depression in the zenith of his power at the Tuileries.”
Some allowance must be made for all this. On viewing the stupendous effects produced by high talents, aided by a fortuitous combivation of circumstances, the judgment becomes lost in wonder and admiration. The mortal assumes the God -- the most trivial actions are pregnant with fatality—the sports of childhood, and the freaks of youth, are found to have contained the latent seeds of future greatness; and biography becomes enveloped in fable and romance. The same may be said of the external man—the outward mould-work of Nature: the tenement of clay is found to have been stamped with the sure marks of the profound mind that has displayed itself. We fancy we could have discovered the great Napoleon in the lieutenant of engineers. It is probable that, in all ages, a certain conformation of face and person has been considered as the indication of intellectual superiority. We naturally yield at first to some such. impression, though it may be afterwards altered, or even altogether effaced. But in the present age of scientific research we go much farther. We do not leave unattempted those mysteries of Nature which seem denied to human investigation; we would enter the temple where she works in secret, trace the unrevealed sympathies between soul and matter, and unravel the whole machinery of man. Idle and unprofitable as these researches may be, they are, at all events, not uninteresting or incurious; and it is pertiaps consoling, in our utter hopelessness of arriving at any thing like a knowledge of the internal fabric of our species, to have observed something of a conformity of appearance in all great men, and bence to have gone some way towards establishing certaiu external indications of the most prominent features of the mind. The conclusions of physiologists upon this subject, if not to be received with perfect confidence, are at least too respectable to be treated with levity; and, judging of Napoleon Bonaparte according to the imaginary standard that has been laid down, he certainly appears to have been cast in the mould of a hero.
He was of the stamp of Cæsar, of Alexander, of Mahomet, of Cromwell. The beautiful bead, the ample forehead, the muscular form, the bilious temperament—all indicated strength and loftivess of mind, daring ambition, and intlexibility of purpose; and of him it may be said, in the words of Livy, as applied to Cato Major, “ In illo viro tantum robur et corporis et animi fuit, ut quocunque loco natus esset, fortunam sibi facturus videretur."
Heroes, from first to last, seem to have been compounded of nearly the same ingredients. The grand requisite, the main-spring of action, appears to be a consciousness of a superiority over other men, and a vehement desire to display that superiority. This display must be variously modified by time and opportunity, and in proportion as it is seconded by good fortune or opposed by difficulties; but under similar circunstances it is probable that it would produce nearly similar effects. Cæsar's expression, “ that he would rather be the first man in a village than the second man in Rome,” is in effect but an echo of the sentiment that is uttered by Milton's Satan, when he exclaims : " Better to reign in Hell thanı serve in Heaven." So that the same spirit seems necessary to make a Cæsar, or a Satan—the monarch of the Tuileries, or the demon of Pandemonium.
It is the peculiar misfortune of society that we admire those exploits which are rather dazzling than useful, and that a nation should aim at being great and splendid rather than being happy. Creatures of education, we imbibe in early youth the spirit of romance and chivalry: that which is in fact a necessary evil, is presented under the imposing form of glorious circumstance;" Homer does more than philosophy and Christianity can undo ; and in fine we roam about like mortals in the enchanted abode of the fairies, with unanointed eyes, mistaking for solid gold, for delicious dainties, that which, in reality, is but tinsel, and frippery, and dirt.
These conclusions are obvious in our closets, but they come too late to counteract the effects of education; we seldom reduce them to practice, but move along through life in this, as in many other respects, with our conduct one way and our argument the other. Virgil's trumpeter never wants a successor who is equally fortunate in his trade—“Ore ciere viros, martemque accendere cantu,"-of rousing fools and making slaughter.
The writers of the day have been loud in their invectives against Napoleon, for the selfishness and the utter disregard of life which he manitested in common with all lovers of war. Without seeking to extenuate his faults or eulogize his merits, we may observe, that he perhaps endeavoured to elevate himself above the rest of mankind by stifling all feelings which he partook in common with them. He atfected to be a man apart from his fellow-creatures, turning the passions of men to the completion of his own purposes, but himself beyond their controul. Accordingly we do not hear that he wept at the bloody field of Borodino, or that he sympathised with the sufferers at Moscow. He looked upon these events with the cold eye of a political calculator, to whom the loss of an army was as an error in his arithmetical process. It would have been in better taste, no doubt, to have deplored the extinction of 300,000 fellow-beings in the horrible campaign in Russia, than to have exclaimed, while rubbing his bands over the fire on his way homewards, “this is pleasanter than Moscow." But Xerxes wept when, viewing his immense army, he reflected that not one of such a multitude would survive a hundred
years. And yet we do not find that Xerxes desisted from his idle attempts to enslave Greece. In fact, the kindlier feelings of humanity seem incompatible with such a calling. Where blood is to be poured out as water, and human life is as grass before the sickle, the edge of sensibility must be blunted, and the best feelings of our nature are uptorn.
Jo turning over the pages of history, it will be difficult to assign any place to Napoleon amongst those who are gone, or to say to what class he properly belongs. Though very dissimilar in many respects, some strong features of resemblance may be traced between him and our own Cromwell. Both were of extreme vigour and reach of capacity; of the same bold and enterprising disposition which enabled