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RIENZI, deserving the fate, adopted the suspicions and maxims of a tyrant; and, after rashly offering a mortal injury to his opponents, in their condemnation, vainly presumed, on pardoning them, to be forgiven.
BUONAPARTE, indifferent to the rights, insulted the feelings of the conquered nations; and, after degrading their hereditary Sovereigns by his triumphs, idly hoped, on restoring their dominions, to render them subservient to his designs.
RIENZI denied the fallen Colonna the honors of a burial, exciting compassion among the people for the object of his inhuman display of power.
BUONAPARTE sacrificed the Duke d'Enghien to his jealousy and resentment, reviving the sympathies of mankind for a family, whose abasement had prepared the way for his assumption of the throne.
RIENZI, by such means, in the pride of victory forfeited what yet remained, of the reputation acquired by his early conduct in the management of civil affairs.
BUONAPARTE, dazzled by success, in the display of greatness, forfeited, from the want of civil prudence, the fruits of his splendid military success.
RIENZI's extravagant conduct led the Roman Nobles to look forward to the subversion of his power, their old animosities subsiding from feelings of common disgrace.
BUONAPARTE'S inordinate ambition led the Princes of Europe to project the destruction of his boundless sway; their mutual jealousies being suspended from the conviction of a common cause.
A free and vigorous opposition was formed against RIENZI, within the walls of Rome; and thirty-nine members of the council voting against his measures, showed that however the populace might adhere to him, many of the most respectable citizens disclaimed his cause.
A formidable conspiracy was raised against BUONAPARTE, even in the heart of France; and the unprecedented opposition of the legislature, soon evinced that his overbearing influence was at an end.
RIENZI, branded with the guilt of rebellion, sacrilege, and heresy, was discharged from his office by the Papal Legate; and the surviving Barons uniting with the Church against him,
he was obliged, on the introduction of a military force into the city, to abdicate the Government and palace.
BUONAPARTE, accused of tyranny and ambition, was deposed by a decree of the Senate; and, Paris being surrendered to the Allies, the leading authorities deserted him, when, on the earnest representation of his Marshals, he consented to resign his power.
The misconduct of the Roman Nobles on succeeding to the Government, made the faults of RIENZI be forgotten, amidst the sighs and wishes of the people, for the prosperity of the good estate.
The gross impolicy of the Bourbon Princes, on their unexpected restoration, soon obliterated the crimes of BUONAPARTE; whilst the people were alarmed at the revival of long exploded bigotry and misrule.
After an absence of seven years, RIENZI was sent into Italy, by the Court of Avignon, to reform the anarchy of Rome; and, being favorably received by the people, soon revived the vigor of the laws.
After an interval of ten months, BUONAPARTE returned from exile to reclaim the sovereignty of France; and, being hailed by an unequivocal and almost unexampled expression of public sentiment, was restored, with due restrictions, to the throne.
But the sunshine of RIENZI was soon closed: suspected by the people, as the Minister of a foreign Court, he was abandoned and opposed by the Papal Legate, and suffered at once from the misconduct of others and his own.
The good fortune of BUONAPARTE was speedily reversed; his former tyranny had destroyed all confidence among the friends of liberty, whilst his authority was disowned by the allied powers; his own criminal ambition, and that of his opponents, contributing equally to work his fall.
The treasures of RIENZI, and the city's patience, were soon exhausted by a civil war; and Rome being invested by a furious multitude, he was deserted by his servants, vainly striving to persuade them, that he and the republic must together stand or fall.
The destruction of his army in a severe engagement exhausting BUONAPARTE'S resources, deprived him of the public voice; and as the allies pressed forward to the frontier of France, he was dethroned by the legislature, vainly striving to separate his interests from the public cause.
After an administration of four months, the career of RIENZI was prematurely closed; and, unable to escape, he was massacred in a tumult fomented by the Roman Barons.
After a dominion of one hundred days, BUONAPARTE, pursued by his enemies, surrendered to the British fleet, and, at the instigation of the allies, was sent a prisoner to a distant Isle.
In a long period of anarchy and servitude, the name of RIENZI was celebrated as the deliverer of his country, and the last of Roman patriots; whilst the continued degradation of the people threw new lustre on his fame.
Amidst the arbitrary claims, and retrograde policy of the Bourbons, the memory of BUONAPARTE will be long revered in France, as the patron of general improvement, and the proud asserter of his country's high control.
And the faults of both these singular men will sink in public estimation, when contrasted with the duplicity and meanness, the tyranny, bigotry, and false pretences, of those who effected their destruction, or who rose triumphant on their fall.
But whilst the brilliancy of his military talents and achievements, in a more extended sphere of action, have raised BUONAPARTE immeasurably higher in the general estimation, a better principle of action seems, in the dawn of his exertions, to have actuated RIENZI's mind. An ardent love of his country, and a keen indignation at her worthless rulers, giving force to his persuasive eloquence, recommended RIENZI first to public favor, and entitled him justly to the confidence of his countrymen, as the restorer of the good
But a cruel attack on the revolted sections, when all active resistance to an unjust restriction on the right of suffrage had ceased; and the infamous surrender of Venice to Austria, in defiance of justice and of honor, tarnished Buonaparte's early glories, and showed a disregard of the rights of men and of nations, inconsistent with the cause which he at first pretended to espouse.
Whilst, therefore, the rise of RIENZI was connected with the revival of public freedom; the elevation of BUONAPARTE was both preceded and attended by measures altogether subversive of the cause.
If however, RIENZI had followed up his first success with moderation and forbearance, he might have been justly ranked among the greatest benefactors of mankind. Or if BuONAPARTE, in the hour of victory, had abandoned every pur
pose hostile to the freedom of his own country or the peace of Europe, and resigned his power into the hands of the people, the only legitimate source of sovereignty, such disinterested patriotism would have entitled him to admiration and esteem.
But among successful Generals, the example of a WASHINGTON is rare and in the crowded history of modern nations, he alone can be regarded as entitled to unqualified applause. For it should never be forgotten, that, unless when exerted in defence of human rights and freedom, the talents of the warrior are among the greatest scourges of the world. And the man who nobly vindicates a righteous cause by his achievements, sullies his laurels, when he renders them conducive to any sort of tyranny or misrule.
Whilst, therefore, the fame of BUONAPARTE fades before his own unprincipled ambition, and the important services which he rendered to France are eclipsed by his invasion of the public freedom; the name of WASHINGTON still shines resplendent, as the champion of American independence, and the constitutional ruler of her Commonwealth. This was the bright example which BUONAPARTE ought to have adopted, if the same infatuated vanity, which wrought the fall of RiENZI, had not gained undue possession of his mind.
Whilst, therefore, the advocates of courtly crimes proclaim his vices, and unthinking panegyrists loudly vaunt his glories; the discriminating friend of human happiness and freedom, admitting all the advantages derived from his internal policy and its influence on general improvement, must equally lament the mischiefs attendant on his conquests and defeats.
Nor is it easy to reflect without pity and regret, that at the crisis of a great revolution, when the accumulated abuses of tyranny and superstition had sunk beneath the power of an indignant people, the greatest means of benefiting mankind were lost by this aspiring leader; WHO, WHEN HE MIGHT HAVE BEEN A WASHINGTON THOUGHT FIT TO BECOME A RIENZI.'
'See Gibbon's History of the Roman Empire, 8vo. xii. New Annual Register, 1796-1805. Lady Morgan's France. Marshall's Life of Washington, &c. &c.