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Again, Napoleon, in throwing himself into the arms of Great Britain, in preference to any other of the powers, notwithstanding his being her deadly and determined enemy for so long a period, paid the nation the highest compliment a nation could receive under any circumstances. He evinced, by this act, the high opinion he had of its generosity and magnanimity; and, in return for this confidence, it would certainly have been highly creditable to its government to have rendered his captivity as little irksome and degrading to him as possible.
On the other hand, much may be said in favour of the policy of securing the person of Napoleon against even the possibility of escape at least for a necessary space of time. With the knowledge we had of his character and policy, we had good reason to apprehend that he would leave nothing unattempted to effect his escape, and that, should he succeed, he would again aim at the sovereign power in France, and once more embroil Europe in a sanguinary contest. It is well known there is in France a powerful party who would be ready to join his standard, and second his most ambitious views. It is not probable, judging from his past conduct, that, if liberty were now restored to him, he would ever be at rest. He might, as at Elba, remain tranquil for a time, but it would be only for the purpose of meditating new schemes of ambition, and watching for a favourable opportunity of once more coming forward as a mighty actor on the political theatre. In short, there are many considerations to justify the policy of confining the person of Napoleon for a definite period. But could not this be done in a manner less vexatious and wounding to his feelings? And who will say that the feelings of that man should not be respected, who, had it not been for his own perverse pride, would at this moment have been recognised by all Europe as the sovereign of a great nation? The question is, could he not have been as securely guarded in England as at St Helena ? or, granting that he could not, where is the necessity for carrying the vexatious minutiæ of interdiction and restraint into the very bosom of his retreat? of exercising an inquisitorial control over his private concerns his confidential conversations-his epistolary intercourse with his friends-even his very literary amusements? Such treatment cannot be deemed creditable to the government which countenances it; it is unworthy of a great and generous nation, by the bulk of whom it is by no means approved. There are a few-and we believe but a few-who affect to sneer at the fallen Napoleon, to ridicule all his complaints, and even endeavour to make him appear an object of contempt. One cannot but smile at the egregious folly of such petty efforts. How easy it is to trample on the fallen! Who among the mightiest of his enemies, will say that they were not awed by his great military genius, and the series of his prodigious victories ?
There is no man we abhorred more than Buonaparté in the zenith of his power, subduing and insulting crowned heads, subjugating and parcelling out nations at his pleasure, triumphing with a licentious spirit over brave but discomfited armies, and often unfeelingly and treacherously exercising the power fortune had given him; and there are few political events at which we more sincerely rejoice, than the defeat and humiliation,-as far as defeat could humble him,-of this modern Alexander. But now that we behold in him only the unfortunate
captive, cut off from all intercourse with the world, and with those who are dear to him, and subjected to a mortifying and vexatious control, we must say, that all feelings of hostility are absorbed by the contemplation of this awful reverse of his fortunes.
The life and achievements of this astonishing man, whatever his future fortunes may be, will be contemplated with wonder by the latest ages. It is not too much to say, that he has outdone, in military achievements, all the heroes and conquerors of antiquity. Alexander the Great and Julius Cæsar shrink into insignificance before him. They were great conquerors, it is true, but the armies they had to contend against were chiefly those of barbarians. Napoleon fought and conquered the disciplined armies of civilized states. Compared with the contemporary sovereigns of Europe, he was a giant amidst dwarfs. The brightest sparklings of their fame will be but a reflection from his; separated from the meridian splendour of his glory, they would shine with but a feeble light. Their names and actions will go down to posterity with his, they will accompany him along the stream of time,
"Pursue the triumph, and partake the gale."
When we consider his obscure origin-the early developement of his genius, his great talents and prodigious success, as the leader of an army, at a period of life when others rarely attain higher rank than the command of a regiment, his subsequent astonishing career of victory, -his elevation to the imperial throne of France,-his conquest over a considerable portion of Europe-his undisputed sway, for a time, over the whole, England excepted, and the strange and stupendous events which led to his downfall,-he must be regarded as the greatest prodigy of successful talent, and daring, on record. To borrow the language of poetry, he was like a mighty comet suddenly rushing amidst the stars of the firmament, eclipsing their splendour, spreading around a terrific and ominous blaze of light,then as suddenly vanishing from view. Had he not by his rashness and pride, sacrificed his army in Russia, no one can tell where his career would have ended. His rapid rise, from the situation of a subaltern of artillery, to a height of power and grandeur never before possessed by any monarch, exceeds all that history presents to us, and can only be surpassed by his still more rapid and astonishing downfall. He was the architect of his own stupendous fortune, and by his own hand he overthrew it. By prudence and forbearance, he might have given it stability; but his illimitable ambition levelled it with the dust! It seemed as if Providence had sent this political prodigy on the earth for wise purposes,-to humble the pride of kings and of nations,—to renew the lesson of the folly of a boundless ambition,-to sweep away evils and abuses to which ages had given stability and sanction. He was permitted to rise to a fearful height, only to be cast from it by his own presumption. He imagined that he overruled destiny, instead of being subject to it. This arrogance carried him into Russia at the head of half a million of men, without allowing him to calculate on the obstacles he might meet with from an incensed and desperate enemy, and from the more terrible visitation of the elements. His army was destroyed, and his unwilling allies turned against him. Still he managed to raise a
new and formidable army. In this situation peace was offered to him, on advantageous terms. He rejected it with disdain. Again he was beaten, and forced to retreat precipitately into his own dominions, whither he was followed by the numerous invading armies of the allies. His affairs grew desperate; still, such was the awe in which he was held even in defeat, that only a few weeks prior to his final subjugation, he was offered the sovereignty of France, stripped only of the fruit of his aggression; which offer, fortunately for Europe, his pride once more prompted him to reject. Again, from obscurity and exile, he rose Antæus-like, to combat for empire. But the spell was broken; he was no longer the invincible Napoleon, the dispenser of fate the mighty conqueror, at whose nod kings were dethroned, nations parcelled out, and armies annihilated. The veteran army, at whose head he had so often conquered, no longer existed; and at Waterloo, opposed to two generals worthy to contend with him, the star of his glory set to rise
Whether the criticisms of Marshal Ney on Napoleon's generalship, in this his last fatal campaign, be just or not, we are not competent to decide. It is, however, we believe, the general opinion among military men, that had Ney been suffered to retain the whole of the corps intrusted to his command on the morning of the 16th, while Napoleon, with the remainder of the army, kept the Prussians in check, the British van-guard would have been annihilated at Quatre-Bras; in which case, the outset of the campaign would have been fatal to the allies; and no one can foretel what, in such an event, would have been the issue of the contest. Napoleon, it would appear, had, from the moment of his disastrous retreat from Russia, committed errors which excited astonishment in the minds of all military men.
To enter into a detailed view of the character of this wonderful man, with the particulars of his eventful life before us, were useless. Ambition was his great and governing passion, and to that, like other great men who have been misled by it, he often sacrificed justice, humanity, good faith, and sound policy, the prosperity of his own people, and the happiness and repose of his neighbours. We cannot, however, deny him the merit of having done some good. He restored the throne and the altar; he crushed Jacobinism-that monster of modern birth, that daring and licentious spirit of anarchy, and contempt for religion and the laws, which demoralized the people of France, and threatened the subversion of order, morals, and good government throughout Europe. He encouraged and promoted science, literature, and the arts; he established useful institutions, and extended and improved the public seminaries. He put down the Inquisition in the countries over which he had extended his sway-that horrible tribunal, since revived by his holiness the Pope, and his most Catholic Majesty; and abolished many other privileged oppressions, the vestiges of ancient bigotry and barbarism.
Whether all he has done that is useful or salutary to mankind, can atone for the mischiefs he brought on various states, the acts of violence and injustice he frequently committed, and the oceans of blood he spilt during the career of his insatiable ambition, is a question on which there exists great diversity of opinion.
DIRGE OF ALARIC,
Who stormed and spoiled the city of Rome, and was afterwards buried in the channel of the river Busentius, the water of which had been diverted from its course, that the body might be interred.
By PROFESSOR EVERITT of America.
WHEN I am dead, no pageant train
Shall waste their sorrows at my bier,
Upon the spot where I repose;
In hollow circumstance of woes:
Your monuments upon my breast,
Lay down the wreck of power to rest;
And now that I have run my race,
And from the northern hills I burst
And where I went the spot was cursed, Nor blade of grass again was seen Where Alaric and his hosts had been.
See how their haughty barriers fail
Beneath the terror of the Goth,
Before my ruthless sabaoth,
In judgment my triumphal car; "Twas God alone on high did send
The avenging Scythian to the war,
O'er guilty king and guilty realm;
And vengeance sat upon the helm; When launch'd in fury on the flood I plough'd my way through seas of blood, And in the stream their hearts had spilt Wash'd out the long arrears of guilt. Across the everlasting Alp
I pour'd the torrent of my powers, And feeble Cæsars shriek'd for help
In vain within their seven hill'd towers; I quench'd in blood the brightest gem That glittered in their diadem, And struck a darker deeper die In the purple of their majesty, And bade my northern banners shine Upon the conquer'd Palatine.
My course is run, my errand done
I go to Him from whom I came ;
Of glory that adorns my name;
But darker ministers of late
And in the caves of vengeance wait, And soon mankind shall blench away Before the name of Attila.