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ordinary, perhaps, that, in the annals of this world, ever rose, or reigned, or fell.
Flung into life, in the midst of a Revolution, that quickened every energy of a people who acknowledged no superior, he commenced his course, a stranger by birth, and a scholar by charity!
With no friend but his sword, and no fortune but bis talents, he rushed into the lists where rank, and wealth, and genius had arrayed themselves, and competition fled from him as from the glance of destiny. He knew no motive but interest-he acknowledged no criterion but success -he worshipped no God but ambition, and with an eastern devotion he knelt at the shrine of his idolatry. Subsidiary to this, there was no creed that he did not profess, there was no opinion that he did not promulgate; in the hope of a dynasty, he upheld the crescent; for the sake of a divorce, he bowed before the Cross : the orphan of St. Louis, he became the adopted child of the Republic: and with a parricidal ingratitude, on the ruins both of the throne and the tribune, he reared the throne of his despotism.
A professed Catholic, he imprisoned the Pope; a pretended patriot, he impoverished the country; and in the name of Brutus,* he grasped without
* In his hypocritical cant after Liberty, in the commencement of the Revolution, he assumed the name of Brutus --Proh Pudor!
remorse, and wore without shame, the diadem of the Cæsars !
Through this pantomime of his policy, Fortune played the clown to his caprices. At his touch, crowns 'crumbled, beggars reigned, systems vanished, the wildest theories took the colour of his whim, and all that was venerable, and all that was novel, changed places with the rapidity of a drama. Even apparent defeat assumed the appearance of victory-his flight from Egypt confirmed his destiny-ruin itself only elevated him to empire.
But if his fortune was great, his genius was transcendent ; decision flashed upon his councils ; and it was the same to decide and to perform. To inferior intellects, his combinations appeared perfectly impossible, his plans perfectly impracticable; but, in his hands, simplicity marked their developement, and success vindicated their adoption. His
person partook the character of his mindif the one never yielded in the cabinet, the other never bent in the field.
Nature had no obstacles that he did not surmount-space no opposition that he did not spurn; and whether amid Alpine rocks, Arabian sands, or polar snows, he seemed proof against peril, and empowered with ubiquity! The whole continent of Europe trembled at beholding the audacity of his designs, and the miracle of their execution. Scepticism bowed to the prodigies of his performance; romance assumed the air of history; nor
was there aught too incredible for belief, or too fanciful for expectation, when the world saw a subaltern of Corsica waving his imperial flag over her most ancient capitals. All the visions of antiquity became common places in his contemplation; kings were his people-nations were his outposts; and he disposed of courts, and crowns, and camps, and churches, and cabinets, as if they were the titular dignitaries of the chess-board !
Amid all these changes he stood immutable as adamant. It mattered little whether in the field or the drawing-room—with the mob or the levee -wearing the jacobin bonnet or the iron crownbanishing a Braganza, or espousing a Hapsburghdictating peace on a raft to the czar of Russia, or contemplating defeat at the gallows of Leipsiche was still the same military despot!
Cradled in the camp, he was to the last hour the darling of the army; and whether in the camp or the cabinet he never forsook a friend or forgot a favour. Of all his soldiers, not one abandoned him, till affection was useless, and their first stipulation was for the safety of their favourite.
They knew well that if he was lavish of them, he was prodigal of himself; and that if he exposed them to peril, he repaid them with plunder. For the soldier, he subsidized every people; to the people he made even pride pay tribute. The victorious veteran glittered with his gains ; and the capital, gorgeous with the spoils of art, became the miniature metropolis of the universe. In this worderful combination, his affectation of literature must
not be omitted. The gaoler of the press, he af . fected the patronage of letters the proscriber of books, he encouraged philosophy—the persecutor of authors, and the murderer of printers, he yet pretended to the protection of learning !-the assassin of Palm, the silencer of De Stael, and the denouncer of Kotzebue, he was the friend of David, the benefactor of De Lille, and sent his academic prize to the philosopher of England.*
Such a medley of contradictions, and at the same time such an individual consistency, were never united in the same character. A Royalist-a Republican and an Emperor--a Mahometan—a Catholic and a patron of the Synagogue—a Subaltern
Sovereign-a Traitor and a Tyrant-a Christian and an Infidel-he was, through all his vicissitudes, the same stern, impatient, inflexible original—the same mysterious incomprehensible self-the man without a model, and without a shadow.
His fall, like his life, baffled all speculation. In short, his whole history was like a dream to the world, and no man can tell how or why he was a wakened from the reverie.
Such is a faint and feeble picture of NAPOLEON BUONAPARTE, the first (and it is to be hoped the last) Emperor of the French.
That he has done much evil there is little doubt; that he has been the origin of much good, there is
* Sir Humphry Davy was transmitted the first prize of the Academy of Sciences.
just as little. Through his means, intentional or not, Spain, Portugal, and France have arisen to the blessings of a Free Constitution ; Superstition has found her grave in the ruins of the Inquisition*; and the Feudal system, with its whole train of tyrannic satellites, has fled for ever. Kings may learn from him that their safest study, as well as their noblest, is the interest of the people; the people are taught by him that there is no despotism so stupendous against which they have not a resource; and to those who would rise upon the ruins of both, he is a living lesson that if ambition can raise them from the lowest station, it can also
prostrate them from the highest.
* What melancholy reflections does not this sentence awaken! But three years have elapsed since it was written, and in that short space all the good effected by Napoleon has been erased by the Legitimates, and the most questionable parts of his character badly imitated !--His Successors want nothing but his Genius.