Obrázky stránek
PDF
ePub
[ocr errors]

-Sber

uves

e en

A fois

[graphic][ocr errors][subsumed][merged small]
[blocks in formation]

See'st thou yon rock that rears its awful form,
And points majestic still to heaven its spire;
Though round its base the tempest vainly storm,
Yet doth it calmly and sublime aspire,
The theme of poets lays, and minstrels lyre.
So stands Napoleon in fair history's page.
So long shall stand while burns th’etherial fire:
The glory, dread, and wonder of his age,
The conqueror of the world, the mystery of the sage.

The present age, though sufficiently willing to do justice to the habits of Napoleon, now that death has removed him from this bustling scene, is yet not the proper period to depict his character, his policy, his rise, his career, and his downfall, as hereafter, they will be transmitted to posterity. The living, who judged ill of him from his actions, or adored him from his personal qualities, and his extraordinary career, Ram. Mag. No. XI.

2 S

[ocr errors]

are yet too prejudiced to judge of him impartially.
It will, indeed, be a difficult task for any one who shall
undertake it, to exhibit Napoleon and his actions in
their true point of view. So many varied and op-
posing qualities unite in him, that it will be hard to
say, whether he was or was not a tyrant; whether he
was inost inclined to despotism or freedom; whether
he was loved or detested by his subjects; public spi-
rited, or sellish; ambitious, or forced into wars; whe-
ther he was elected by the people to power, or placed
there by his unruly soldiers; whether he possessed the
common feelings of humanity, or was ruled altogether
by a cold and calculating policy; whether his encou-
ragement of the arts and sciences was false, fleeting,
hollow, or from a real desire to promote their true in-
terests, and whether he is more entitled to the execra-
tions or blessings of mankind ? Such are a few of the
important questions that the historian of Napoleon
will have to decide upon, and from their incongruities
draw a fair and perfect picture. Napoleon is as much
a phenomenon as a man, as he was as a conqueror, and
seis at defiance all theory, or preconceived systems.
As a conqueror, he will rank with Alexander of Mace-
don and Julius Cæsar in history, and will be more
renowned for his military, than his civil poliey. He
rose to power, as it was said of Augustus, neither by
election, usurpation, or conquest, but by a mixture of
the three. He rose from the lowest ranks of the peo..
ple, to sovereign power, and though his government,
in its spirit, was essentially republican, yet there can
be no doubt but that he wished to be the founder of
new dynasties and thrones, and to combat against the
freedom of the age. He humbled the old monarchies
to his feet, he raised them up, formed alliances with,
and was finally overthrown by them. He rose with
the words “ liberty and equality" in his mouth, and
these were the rallying cry of his enemies when he fell.
He sought to aggrandise himself anc' his family by
riches, titles, and power, yet was the projector of new
roads, new canals, new harbours, new laws, and

every thing that could add to the accommodation of his sub

[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]

jects. His ambition, though uncircumscribed, was, as he says, of a cold nature, and he fought not like the son of Ammon, for glory, nor like Julius, to attain power and a name. He was a mixture of the good and bad qualities of both; for

The force of nature could no farther go,
To make a third, she joined the other two.

He united the romantic enthusiasm of Alexander, with the cautious policy of Julius; he partook of the hasty, spirit of the former, and was not free from the hesitation of the latter. Cæsar hesitated to pass the Rubicon, which Napoleon would not have done, nor would Alexander, Cæsar hesitated to assume the name of Emperor, when he possessed the power, and thus fell a prey to the conspirators. Napoleon hesitated, when fortune seemed adverse, and thus hastened his own fate. There is one point in which Napoleon and He of Rome assimilate remarkably, and that is the promptitude with which they took advantage of casual circumstances, ever ready to profit by that tide in the affairs of men, which taken at the flood, leads on to fortune. Both restless in their elevation, and uniting the manners of the plain citizen, with the magnificence of Emperors, they fell, the orie by his friends, the other by his over reaching ambition. Na-. poleon was a disbeliever in human principles, he thought all men actuated by their own selfish interests, and thus he had no one to rely upon in the hour of adversity He was a believer io days and destipies, and fortunate times, and seasons, which present many remarkable coincidences in the period of his career.

No one will doubt his military genius as superior to those of his contemporaries; no one will deny that he possessed talents, of the highest order. His mind he could adapt to the greatest, and to the minutest affairs; he could plan a conquest or an opera ballet, with the same ease and vivacity. He was temperate in his personal indulgencies; omitting nothing which could insure or extend his power, he was plain

« PředchozíPokračovat »