The Mirror of Literature, Amusement, and Instruction, Vol. 10, Supplementary Number, Issue 263, 1827




* * * * *


(_Continued from page 5._ [Note: see Mirror 262])

Robespierre was a coward, who signed death-warrants with a hand that
shook, though his heart was relentless. He possessed no passions on
which to charge his crimes; they were perpetrated in cold blood, and
upon mature deliberation.

Marat, the third of this infernal triumvirate, had attracted the
attention of the lower orders, by the violence of his sentiments in the
journal which he conducted from the commencement of the revolution, upon
such principles that it took the lead in forwarding its successive
changes. His political exhortations began and ended like the howl of a
blood-hound for murder; or, if a wolf could have written a journal, the
gaunt and famished wretch could not have ravened more eagerly for
slaughter. It was blood which was Marat's constant demand, not in drops
from the breast of an individual, not in puny streams from the slaughter
of families, but blood in the profusion of an ocean. His usual
calculation of the heads which he demanded amounted to two hundred and
sixty thousand; and though he sometimes raised it as high as three
hundred thousand, it never fell beneath the smaller number. It may be
hoped, and for the honour of human nature we are inclined to believe,
there was a touch of insanity in this unnatural strain of ferocity; and
the wild and squalid features of the wretch appear to have intimated a
degree of alienation of mind. Marat was, like Robespierre, a coward.
Repeatedly denounced in the assembly, he skulked instead of defending
himself, and lay concealed in some obscure garret or cellar among his
cut-throats, until a storm appeared, when, like a bird of ill omen, his
death-screech was again heard. Such was the strange and fatal
triumvirate, in which the same degree of cannibal cruelty existed under
different aspects. Danton murdered to glut his rage; Robespierre to
avenge his injured vanity, or to remove a rival whom he envied; Marat,
from the same instinctive love of blood, which induces a wolf to
continue his ravage of the flocks long after his hunger is appeased.

Passing by the horrors of the reign of terror, we shall close the second
volume with a vivid and powerful picture, which we cannot refrain


Meantime the convention continued to maintain the bold and commanding
front which they had so suddenly and critically assumed. Upon learning
the escape of the arrested deputies, and hearing of the insurrection at
the Hotel de Ville, they instantly passed a decree outlawing Robespierre
and his associates, inflicting a similar doom upon the mayor of Paris,
the procureur and other members of the commune, and charging twelve of
their members, the boldest who could be selected, to proceed with the
armed force to the execution of the sentence. The drums of the National
Guards now beat to arms in all the sections under authority of the
convention, while the tocsin continued to summon assistance with its
iron voice to Robespierre and the civic magistrates. Every thing
appeared to threaten a violent catastrophe, until it was seen clearly
that the public voice, and especially amongst the National Guards, was
declaring itself generally against the Terrorists.

The Hotel de Ville was surrounded by about fifteen hundred men, and
cannon turned upon the doors. The force of the assailants was weakest in
point of number, but their leaders were men of spirit, and night
concealed their inferiority of force.

The deputies commissioned for the purpose read the decree of the
assembly to those whom they found assembled in front of the city-hall,
and they shrunk from the attempt of defending it, some joining the
assailants, others laying down their arms and dispersing. Meantime the
deserted group of Terrorists within conducted themselves like scorpions,
which, when surrounded by a circle of fire, are said to turn their
stings on each other, and on themselves. Mutual and ferocious upbraiding
took place among these miserable men. "Wretch, were these the means you
promised to furnish?" said Payan to Henriot, whom he found intoxicated
and incapable of resolution or exertion; and seizing on him as he spoke,
he precipitated the revolutionary general from a window. Henriot
survived the fall only to drag himself into a drain, in which he was
afterwards discovered and brought out to execution. The younger
Robespierre threw himself from the window, but had not the good fortune
to perish on the spot. It seemed as if even the melancholy fate of
suicide, the last refuge of guilt and despair, was denied to men who had
so long refused every species of mercy to their fellow-creatures. Le Bas
alone had calmness enough to despatch himself with a pistol-shot. Saint
Just, after imploring his comrades to kill him, attempted his own life
with an irresolute hand, and failed, Couthon lay beneath the table
brandishing a knife, with which he repeatedly wounded his bosom, without
daring to add force enough to reach his heart. Their chief, Robespierre,
in an unsuccessful attempt to shoot himself, had only inflicted a
horrible fracture on his under-jaw.

In this situation they were found like wolves in their lair, foul with
blood, mutilated, despairing, and yet not able to die. Robespierre lay
on a table in an anti-room, his head supported by a deal-box, and his
hideous countenance half-hidden by a bloody and dirty cloth bound round
the shattered chin.[1]

[1] It did not escape the minute observers of this scene, that
he still held in his hand the bag which had contained the fatal
pistol, and which was inscribed with the words, _Au grand
monarque_, alluding to the sign, doubtless, of the gunsmith who
sold the weapon, but singularly applicable to the high
pretensions of the purchaser.

The captives were carried in triumph to the convention, who, without
admitting them to the bar, ordered them, as outlaws, for instant
execution. As the fatal cars passed to the guillotine, those who filled
them, but especially Robespierre, were overwhelmed with execrations from
the friends and relatives of victims whom he had sent on the same
melancholy road. The nature of his previous wound, from which the cloth
had never been removed till the executioner tore it off, added to the
torture of the sufferer. The shattered jaw dropped, and the wretch
yelled aloud, to the horror of the spectators.[2] A mask taken from that
dreadful head was long exhibited in different nations of Europe, and
appalled the spectator by its ugliness, and the mixture of fiendish
expression with that of bodily agony.

[2] The fate of no tyrant in history was so hideous at the
conclusion, excepting perhaps that of Jugurtha.

Thus fell Maximilian Robespierre, after having been the first person in
the French republic for nearly two years, during which time he governed
it upon the principles of Nero or Caligula. His elevation to the
situation which he held involved more contradictions than perhaps
attach to any similar event in history. A low-born and low-minded
tyrant was permitted to rule with the rod of the most frightful
despotism a people, whose anxiety for liberty had shortly before
rendered them unable to endure the rule of a humane and lawful
sovereign. A dastardly coward arose to the command of one of the bravest
nations in the world; and it was under the auspices of a man who dared
scarce fire a pistol, that the greatest generals in France began their
careers of conquest. He had neither eloquence nor imagination; but
substituted in their stead a miserable, affected, bombastic style,
which, until other circumstances gave him consequence, drew on him
general ridicule. Yet against so poor an orator, all the eloquence of
the philosophical Girondists, all the terrible powers of his associate
Danton, employed in a popular assembly, could not enable them to make an
effectual resistance. It may seem trifling to mention, that in a nation
where a good deal of prepossession is excited by amiable manners and
beauty of external appearance, the person who ascended to the highest
power was not only ill-looking, but singularly mean in person, awkward
and constrained in his address, ignorant how to set about pleasing even
when he most desired to give pleasure, and as tiresome nearly as he was
odious and heartless.

To compensate all these deficiencies, Robespierre had but an insatiable
ambition, founded on a vanity which made him think himself capable of
filling the highest situation; and therefore gave him daring, when to
dare is frequently to achieve. He mixed a false and over-strained, but
rather fluent species of bombastic composition, with the grossest
flattery to the lowest classes of the people; in consideration of which,
they could not but receive as genuine the praises which he always
bestowed on himself. His prudent resolution to be satisfied with
possessing the essence of power, without seeming to desire its rank and
trappings, formed another art of cajoling the multitude. His watchful
envy, his long-protracted but sure revenge, his craft, which to vulgar
minds supplies the place of wisdom, were his only means of competing
with his distinguished antagonists. And it seems to have been a merited
punishment of the extravagances and abuses of the French revolution,
that it engaged the country in a state of anarchy which permitted a
wretch such as we have described, to be for a long period master of her
destiny. Blood was his element, like that of the other Terrorists, and
he never fastened with so much pleasure on a new victim, as when he was
at the same time an ancient associate. In an epitaph, of which the
following couplet may serve as a translation, his life was represented
as incompatible with the existence of the human race:--

"Here lies Robespierre--let no tear be shed;
Reader, if he had lived, thou hadst been dead."

The commencement of the third volume introduces us to the family of
Bonaparte, who resided in the island of Corsica, which was, in ancient
times, remarkable as the scene of Seneca's exile, and in the last
century was distinguished by the memorable stand which the natives made
in defence of their liberties against the Genoese and French, during a
war which tended to show the high and indomitable spirit of the
islanders, united as it is with the fiery and vindictive feelings proper
to their country and climate.


Charles Bonaparte, the father of Napoleon, died at the age of about
forty years, of an ulcer in the stomach, on the 24th of February, 1785.
His celebrated son fell a victim to the same disease. During Napoleon's
grandeur, the community of Montpellier expressed a desire to erect a
monument to the memory of Charles Bonaparte. His answer was both
sensible and in good taste. "Had I lost my father yesterday," he said,
"it would be natural to pay his memory some mark of respect consistent
with my present situation. But it is twenty years since the event, and
it is one in which the public can take no concern. Let us leave the dead
in peace."

The subject of our narrative was born, according to the best accounts,
and his own belief, upon the 15th day of August, 1769, at his father's
house in Ajaccio, forming one side of a court which leads out of the Rue
Charles.[3] We read with interest, that his mother's good constitution,
and bold character of mind, having induced her to attend mass upon the
day of his birth, (being the Festival of the Assumption,) she was
obliged to return home immediately, and as there was no time to prepare
a bed or bedroom, she was delivered of the future victor upon a
temporary couch prepared for her accommodation, and covered with an
ancient piece of tapestry, representing the heroes of the Iliad. The
infant was christened by the name of Napoleon, an obscure saint, who had
dropped to leeward, and fallen altogether out of the calendar, so that
his namesake never knew which day he was to celebrate as the festival of
his patron. When questioned, on this subject by the bishop who
confirmed him, he answered smartly, that there were a great many saints,
and only three hundred and sixty-five days to divide amongst them. The
politeness of the pope promoted the patron in order to compliment the
god-child, and Saint Napoleon des Ursins was accommodated with a
festival. To render this compliment, which no one but a pope could have
paid, still more flattering, the feast of Saint Napoleon was fixed for
the fifteenth August, the birthday of the emperor, and the day on which
he signed the Concordat. So that Napoleon had the rare honour of
promoting his patron saint.

[3] Benson's "Sketches of Corsica," p. 4.


The young Napoleon had, of course, the simple and hardy education proper
to the natives of the mountainous island of his birth, and in his
infancy was not remarkable for more than that animation of temper, and
wilfulness and impatience of inactivity, by which children of quick
parts and lively sensibility are usually distinguished. The winter of
the year was generally passed by the family of his father at Ajaccio,
where they still preserve and exhibit, as the ominous play-thing of
Napoleon's boyhood, the model of a brass cannon, weighing about thirty
pounds.[4] We leave it to philosophers to inquire, whether the future
love of war was suggested by the accidental possession of such a toy; or
whether the tendency of the mind dictated the selection of it; or,
lastly, whether the nature of the pastime, corresponding with the taste
which chose it, may not have had each their action and reaction, and
contributed between them to the formation of a character so warlike.

[4] "Sketches of Corsica," p. 4.

The same traveller who furnishes the above anecdote, gives an
interesting account of the country retreat of the family of Bonaparte
during the summer.

Going along the sea-shore from Ajaccio towards the Isle Sanguiniere,
about a mile from the town, occur two stone pillars, the remains of a
doorway, leading up to a dilapidated villa, once the residence of Madame
Bonaparte's half-brother on the mother's side, whom Napoleon created
Cardinal Fesch.[5] The house is approached by an avenue, surrounded and
overhung by the cactus and other shrubs, which luxuriate in a warm
climate. It has a garden and a lawn, showing amidst neglect vestiges of
their former beauty, and the house is surrounded by shrubberies,
permitted to run to wilderness. This was the summer residence of Madame
Bonaparte and her family. Almost enclosed by the wild olive, the cactus,
the clematis, and the almond-tree, is a very singular and isolated
granite rock, called Napoleon's grotto, which seems to have resisted the
decomposition which has taken place around. The remains of a small
summer-house are visible beneath the rock, the entrance to which is
nearly closed by a luxuriant fig-tree. This was Bonaparte's frequent
retreat, when the vacations of the school at which he studied permitted
him to visit home. How the imagination labours to form an idea of the
visions, which, in this sequestered and romantic spot, must have arisen
before the eyes of the future hero of a hundred battles!

[5] The mother of Letitia Ramolini, wife of Carlo Bonaparte,
married a Swiss officer in the French service, named Fesch,
after the death of Letitia's father.

Bonaparte's ardour for the abstract sciences amounted to a passion, and
was combined with a singular aptitude for applying them to the purposes
of war, while his attention to pursuits so interesting and exhaustless
in themselves, was stimulated by his natural ambition and desire of
distinction. Almost all the scientific teachers at Brienne, being
accustomed to study the character of their pupils, and obliged by their
duty to make memoranda and occasional reports on the subject, spoke of
the talents of Bonaparte, and the progress of his studies, with
admiration. Circumstances of various kinds, exaggerated or invented,
have been circulated concerning the youth of a person so remarkable. The
following are given upon good authority.[6]

[6] They were many years since communicated to the author by
Messrs. Joseph and Louis Law, brothers of General Baron
Lauriston, Bonaparte's favourite aid-de-camp. These gentlemen,
or at least Joseph, were educated at Brienne, but at a later
period than Napoleon. Their distinguished brother was his

The conduct of Napoleon among his companions was that of a studious and
reserved youth, addicting himself deeply to the means of improvement,
and rather avoiding than seeking the usual temptations to dissipation of
time. He had few friends, and no intimates; yet at different times, when
he chose to exert it, he exhibited considerable influence over his
fellow-students, and when there was any joint plan to be carried into
effect, he was frequently chosen dictator of the little republic.

In the time of winter, Bonaparte, upon one occasion, engaged his
companions in constructing a fortress out of the snow, regularly
defended by ditches and bastions, according to the rules of
fortification. It was considered as displaying the great powers of the
juvenile engineer in the way of his profession, and was attacked and
defended by the students, who divided into parties for the purpose,
until the battle became so keen that their superiors thought it proper
to proclaim a truce.

The young Bonaparte gave another instance of address and enterprise upon
the following occasion. There was a fair held annually in the
neighbourhood of Brienne, where the pupils of the Military School used
to find a day's amusement; but on account of a quarrel betwixt them and
the country people upon a former occasion, or for some such cause, the
masters of the institution had directed that the students should not on
the fair-day be permitted to go beyond their own precincts, which were
surrounded with a wall. Under the direction of the young Corsican,
however, the scholars had already laid a plot for securing their usual
day's diversion. They had undermined the wall which encompassed their
exercising ground, with so much skill and secrecy, that their operations
remained entirely unknown till the morning of the fair, when a part of
the boundary unexpectedly fell, and gave a free passage to the
imprisoned students, of which they immediately took the advantage, by
hurrying to the prohibited scene of amusement.

But although on these, and perhaps other occasions, Bonaparte displayed
some of the frolic temper of youth, mixed with the inventive genius and
the talent for commanding others by which he was distinguished in after
time, his life at school was in general that of a recluse and severe
student, acquiring by his judgment, and treasuring in his memory, that
wonderful process of almost unlimited combination, by means of which he
was afterwards able to simplify the most difficult and complicated
undertakings. His mathematical teacher was proud of the young islander,
as the boast of his school, and his other scientific instructors had the
same reason to be satisfied.

In languages Bonaparte was less a proficient, and never acquired the art
of writing or spelling French, far less foreign languages, with accuracy
or correctness; nor had the monks of Brienne any reason to pride
themselves on the classical proficiency of their scholar. The full
energies of his mind being devoted to the scientific pursuits of his
profession, left little time or inclination for other studies.

Though of Italian origin, Bonaparte had not a decided taste for the fine
arts, and his taste in composition seems to have leaned towards the
grotesque and the bombastic. He used always the most exaggerated
phrases; and it is seldom, if ever, that his bulletins present those
touches of sublimity which are founded on dignity and simplicity of

Notwithstanding the external calmness and reserve of his deportment, he
who was destined for such great things had, while yet a student at
Brienne, a full share of that ambition for distinction and dread of
disgrace, that restless and irritating love of fame, which is the spur
to extraordinary attempts. Sparkles of this keen temper sometimes showed
themselves. On one occasion, a harsh superintendant imposed on the
future emperor, for some trifling fault, the disgrace of wearing a
penitential dress, and being excluded from the table of the students,
and obliged to eat his meal apart. His pride felt the indignity so
severely, that it brought on a severe nervous attack; to which, though
otherwise of good constitution, he was subject upon occasions of
extraordinary irritation. Father Petrault, the professor of mathematics,
hastened to deliver his favourite pupil from the punishment by which he
was so much affected.

It is also said that an early disposition to the popular side
distinguished Bonaparte even when at Brienne. Pichegru, afterwards so
celebrated, who acted as his monitor in the military school, (a singular
circumstance,) bore witness to his early principles, and to the peculiar
energy and tenacity of his temper. He was long afterwards consulted
whether means might not be found to engage the commander of the Italian
armies in the royal interest. "It will be but lost time to attempt it,"
said Pichegru. "I knew him in his youth--his character is inflexible--he
has taken his side, and he will not change it."

In 1783, Napoleon Bonaparte, then only fourteen years old, was, though
under the usual age, selected by Monsieur de Keralio, the inspector of
the twelve military schools, to be sent to have his education completed
in the general school of Paris. It was a compliment paid to the
precocity of his extraordinary mathematical talent, and the steadiness
of his application. While at Paris he attracted the same notice as at
Brienne; and among other society, frequented that of the celebrated Abbé
Raynal, and was admitted to his literary parties. His taste did not
become correct, but his appetite for study in all departments was
greatly enlarged; and notwithstanding the quantity which he daily read,
his memory was strong enough to retain, and his judgment sufficiently
ripe to arrange and digest, the knowledge which he then acquired; so
that he had it at his command during all the rest of his busy life.
Plutarch was his favourite author; upon the study of whom he had so
modelled his opinions and habits of thought, that Paoli afterwards
pronounced him a young man of an antique caste, and resembling one of
the classical heroes.

Some of his biographers have about this time ascribed to him the
anecdote of a certain youthful pupil of the military school, who desired
to ascend in the car of a balloon with the aëronaut Blanchard, and was
so mortified at being refused, that he made an attempt to cut the
balloon with his sword. The story has but a flimsy support, and indeed
does not accord well with the character of the hero, which was deep and
reflective, as well as bold and determined, and not likely to suffer its
energies to escape in idle and useless adventure.

A better authenticated anecdote states, that at this time he expressed
himself disrespectfully towards the king in one of his letters to his
family. According to the practice of the school, he was obliged to
submit the letter to the censorship of Monsieur Domairon, the professor
of belles lettres, who, taking notice of the offensive passage, insisted
upon the letter being burnt, and added a severe rebuke. Long afterwards,
in 1802, Monsieur Domairon was commanded to attend Napoleon's levee, in
order that he might receive a pupil in the person of Jerome Bonaparte,
when the first consul reminded his old tutor good-humouredly, that times
had changed considerably since the burning of the letter.

Napoleon Bonaparte, in his seventieth year, received his first
commission as second lieutenant in a regiment of artillery, and was
almost immediately afterwards promoted to the rank of first lieutenant
in the corps quartered at Valence. He mingled with society when he
joined his regiment, more than he had hitherto been accustomed to do;
mixed in public amusements, and exhibited the powers of pleasing, which
he possessed in an uncommon degree when he chose to exert them. His
handsome and intelligent features, with his active and neat, though
slight figure, gave him additional advantages. His manners could
scarcely be called elegant, but made up in vivacity and variety of
expression, and often in great spirit and energy, for what they wanted
in grace and polish.

He became an adventurer for the honours of literature also, and was
anonymously a competitor for the prize offered by the Academy of Lyons
on Raynal's question, "What are the principles and institutions, by
application of which mankind can be raised to the highest pitch of
happiness?" The prize was adjudged to the young soldier. It is
impossible to avoid feeling curiosity to know the character of the
juvenile theories respecting government, advocated by one who at length
attained the power of practically making what experiments he pleased.
Probably his early ideas did not exactly coincide with his more mature
practice; for when Talleyrand, many years afterwards, got the essay out
of the records of the academy, and returned it to the author, Bonaparte
destroyed it after he had read a few pages. He also laboured under the
temptation of writing a journey to Mount Cenis, after the manner of
Sterne, which he was fortunate enough finally to resist. The affectation
which pervades Sterne's peculiar style of composition was not likely to
be simplified under the pen of Bonaparte.

Sterner times were fast approaching, and the nation was now fully
divided by those factions which produced the revolution. The officers of
Bonaparte's regiment were also divided into royalists and patriots; and
it is easily to be imagined, that the young and friendless stranger and
adventurer should adopt that side to which he had already shown some
inclination, and which promised to open the most free career to those
who had only their merit to rely on. "Were I a general officer," he is
alleged to have said, "I would have adhered to the king; being a
subaltern, I join the patriots."

There was a story current, that in a debate with some brother officers
on the politics of the time, Bonaparte expressed himself so
outrageously, that they were provoked to throw him into the Rhone, where
he had nearly perished. But this is an inaccurate account of the
accident which actually befell him. He was seized with the cramp when
bathing in the river. His comrades saved him with difficulty, but his
danger was matter of pure chance.

Napoleon has himself recorded that he was a warm patriot during the
whole sitting of the National Assembly; but that on the appointment of
the Legislative Assembly, he became shaken in his opinions. If so, his
original sentiments regained force, for we shortly afterwards find him
entertaining such as went to the extreme heights of the revolution.

Early in the year 1792, Bonaparte became a captain in the artillery by
seniority; and in the same year, being at Paris, he witnessed the two
insurrections of the 20th of June and 10th of August. He was accustomed
to speak of the insurgents as the most despicable banditti, and to
express with what ease a determined officer could have checked these
apparently formidable, but dastardly and unwieldy masses. But with what
a different feeling of interest would Napoleon have looked on that
infuriated populace, those still resisting though overpowered Swiss, and
that burning palace, had any seer whispered to him, "Emperor that shall
be, all this blood and massacre is but to prepare your future empire!"
Little anticipating the potent effect which the passing events were to
bear on his own fortune, Bonaparte, anxious for the safety of his mother
and family, was now desirous to change France for Corsica, where the
same things were acting on a less distinguished stage.


Napoleon's first military exploit was in the civil war of his native
island. In the year 1793, he was despatched from Bastia, in possession
of the French party, to surprise his native town Ajaccio, then occupied
by Paoli or his adherents. Bonaparte was acting provisionally, as
commanding a battalion of National Guards. He landed in the Gulf of
Ajaccio with about fifty men, to take possession of a tower called the
Torre di Capitello, on the opposite side of the gulf, and almost facing
the city. He succeeded in taking the place; but as there arose a gale of
wind which prevented his communicating with the frigate which had put
him ashore, he was besieged in his new conquest by the opposite faction,
and reduced to such distress, that he and his little garrison were
obliged to feed on horse-flesh. After five days he was relieved by the
frigate, and evacuated the tower, having first in vain attempted to blow
it up. The Torre di Capitello still shows marks of the damage it then
sustained, and its remains may be looked on as a curiosity, as the first
scene of _his_ combats, before whom

--"Temple and tower
Went to the ground.--"

A relation of Napoleon, Masserio by name, effectually defended Ajaccio
against the force employed in the expedition.

The strength of Paoli increasing, and the English preparing to assist
him, Corsica became no longer a safe or convenient residence for the
Bonaparte family. Indeed, both Napoleon and his brother Lucien, who had
distinguished themselves as partisans of the French, were subjected to a
decree of banishment from their native island; and Madame Bonaparte,
with her three daughters, and Jerome, who was as yet but a child, set
sail under their protection, and settled for a time, first at Nice, and
afterwards at Marseilles, where the family is supposed to have undergone
considerable distress, until the dawning prospects of Napoleon afforded
him the means of assisting them.

Napoleon never again revisited Corsica, nor does he appear to have
regarded it with any feelings of affection. One small fountain at
Ajaccio is pointed out as the only ornament which his bounty bestowed on
his birthplace. He might perhaps think it impolitic to do any thing
which might remind the country he ruled that he was not a child of her
soil, nay, was in fact very near having been born an alien, for Corsica
was not united to, or made an integral part of France, until June, 1769,
a few weeks only before Napoleon's birth. This stigma was repeatedly
cast upon him by his opponents, some of whom reproached the French with
having adopted a master, from a country from which the ancient Romans
were unwilling even to choose a slave; and Napoleon may have been so far
sensible to it, as to avoid showing any predilection to the place of his
birth, which might bring the circumstance strongly under the observation
of the great nation, with which he and his family seemed to be
indissolubly united. But, as a traveller already quoted, and who had the
best opportunities to become acquainted with the feelings of the proud
islanders, has expressed it,--"The Corsicans are still highly patriotic,
and possess strong local attachment--in their opinion, contempt for the
country of one's birth is never to be redeemed by any other qualities.
Napoleon, therefore, certainly was not popular in Corsica, nor is his
memory cherished there."[7]

[7] Benson's "Sketches of Corsica," p. 121.

The feelings of the parties were not unnatural on either side. Napoleon,
little interested in the land of his birth, and having such an immense
stake in that of his adoption, in which he had every thing to keep and
lose,[8] observed a policy towards Corsica which his position rendered
advisable; and who can blame the high-spirited islanders, who, seeing
one of their countrymen raised to such exalted eminence, and disposed to
forget his connexion with them, returned with slight and indifference
the disregard with which he treated them?

[8] Not literally, however: for it is worth mentioning, that
when he was in full-blown possession of his power, an
inheritance fell to the family, situated near Ajaccio, and was
divided amongst them. The first consul, or emperor, received an
olive-garden as his share.--_Sketches of Corsica_.

The siege of Toulon was the first incident of importance which enabled
Bonaparte to distinguish himself in the eyes of the French government
and of the world at large. Shortly afterwards he was appointed chief of
battalion in the army of Italy, and on the fall of Robespierre,
Bonaparte superseded in command. At the conflict between the troops of
the Convention under Napoleon, and those of the Sections of Paris under
Damican, the latter was defeated with much slaughter, and Bonaparte was
appointed general-in-chief in command of the army of the interior.


Meantime circumstances, which we will relate according to his own
statement, introduced Bonaparte to an acquaintance, which was destined
to have much influence on his future fate. A fine boy, of ten or twelve
years old, presented himself at the levee of the general of the
interior, with a request of a nature unusually interesting. He stated
his name to be Eugene Beauharnois, son of the ci-devant Vicomte de
Beauharnois, who, adhering to the revolutionary party, had been a
general in the republican service upon the Rhine, and falling under the
causeless suspicion of the committee of public safety, was delivered to
the revolutionary tribunal, and fell by its sentence just four days
before the overthrow of Robespierre. Eugene was come to request of
Bonaparte, as general of the interior, that his father's sword might be
restored to him. The prayer of the young supplicant was as interesting
as his manners were engaging, and Napoleon felt so much interest in him,
that he was induced to cultivate the acquaintance of Eugene's mother,
afterwards the empress Josephine.

The lady was a Creolian, the daughter of a planter in St. Domingo. Her
name at full length was Marie Joseph Rose Tascher de la Pagerie. She had
suffered her share of revolutionary miseries. After her husband, General
Beauharnois, had been deprived of his command, she was arrested as a
suspected person, and detained in prison till the general liberation,
which succeeded the revolution of the 9th Thermidor. While in
confinement, Madame Beauharnois had formed an intimacy with a companion
in distress, Madame Fontenai, now Madame Tallien, from which she derived
great advantages after her friend's marriage. With a remarkably graceful
person, amiable manners, and an inexhaustible fund of good-humour,
Madame Beauharnois was formed to be an ornament to society. Barras, the
Thermidorien hero, himself an ex-noble, was fond of society, desirous of
enjoying it on an agreeable scale, and of washing away the dregs which
Jacobinism had mingled with all the dearest interests of life. He loved
show, too, and pleasure, and might now indulge both without the risk of
falling under the suspicion of incivism, which, in the Reign of Terror,
would have been incurred by any attempt to intermingle elegance with the
enjoyments of social intercourse. At the apartments which he occupied,
as one of the Directory, in the Luxemburg Palace, he gave its free
course to his natural taste, and assembled an agreeable society of both
sexes. Madame Tallien and her friend formed the soul of these
assemblies, and it was supposed that Barras was not insensible to the
charms of Madame Beauharnois,--a rumour which was likely to arise,
whether with or without foundation.

When Madame Beauharnois and General Bonaparte became intimate, the
latter assures us, and we see no reason to doubt him, that although the
lady was two or three years older than himself,[9] yet being still in
the full bloom of beauty, and extremely agreeable in her manners, he was
induced, solely by her personal charms, to make her an offer of his
hand, heart, and fortunes,--little supposing, of course, to what a pitch
the latter were to arise.

[9] Bonaparte was then in his twenty-sixth year. Josephine gave
herself in the marriage contract for twenty-eight.

Although he himself is said to have been a fatalist, believing in
destiny and in the influence of his star, he knew nothing, probably, of
the prediction of a negro sorceress, who, while Marie Joseph was but a
child, prophesied she should rise to a dignity greater than that of a
queen, yet fall from it before her death.[10] This was one of those
vague auguries, delivered at random by fools or impostors, which the
caprice of fortune sometimes matches with a corresponding and conforming
event. But without trusting to the African sibyl's prediction, Bonaparte
may have formed his match under the auspices of ambition as well as
love. The marrying Madame Beauharnois was a mean of uniting his fortune
with those of Barras and Tallien, the first of whom governed France as
one of the Directors; and the last, from talents and political
connexions, had scarcely inferior influence. He had already deserved
well of them for his conduct on the Day of the Sections, but he required
their countenance to rise still higher; and without derogating from the
bride's merits, we may suppose her influence in their society
corresponded with the views of her lover. It is, however, certain, that
he always regarded her with peculiar affection; that he relied on her
fate, which he considered as linked with and strengthening his own; and
reposed, besides, considerable confidence in Josephine's tact and
address in political business. She had at all times the art of
mitigating his temper, and turning aside the hasty determinations of his
angry moments, not by directly opposing, but by gradually parrying and
disarming them. It must be added to her great praise, that she was
always a willing and often a successful advocate in the cause
of humanity.

[10] A lady of high rank, who happened to live for some time in
the same convent at Paris, where Josephine was also a pensioner
or boarder, heard her mention the prophecy, and told it herself
to the author, just about the time of the Italian expedition,
when Bonaparte was beginning to attract notice. Another clause
is usually added to the prediction--that the party whom it
concerned should die in an hospital, which was afterwards
explained as referring to Malmaison. This the author did not
hear from the same authority. The lady mentioned used to speak
in the highest terms of the simple manners and great kindness
of Madame Beauharnois.

They were married 9th of March, 1796; and the dowry of the bride was the
chief command of the Italian armies, a scene which opened a full career
to the ambition of the youthful general. Bonaparte remained with his
wife only three days after his marriage, hastened to see his family, who
were still at Marseilles, and, having enjoyed the pleasure of exhibiting
himself as a favourite of fortune in the city which he had lately left
in the capacity of an indigent adventurer, proceeded rapidly to commence
the career to which fate called him, by placing himself at the head of
the Italian army.

The renowned Italian campaigns occupy the remainder of the third, and
some part of the fourth volume, to which we now proceed. It will be
remembered that the war in Egypt being triumphantly concluded on the
part of Great Britain, the news of the contest reached France some time
before the English received it. Napoleon, on learning the tidings, is
reported to have said, "Well, there remains now no alternative but to
make the descent on Britain."


As the words of the first consul appeard to intimate, preparations were
resumed on the French coast for the invasion of Great Britain. Boulogne
and every harbour along the coast was crowded with flat-bottomed boats,
and the shores covered with camps of the men designed apparently to fill
them. We need not at present dwell on the preparations for attack, or
those which the English adopted in defence, as we shall have occasion to
notice both, when Bonaparte, for the last time, threatened England with
the same measure. It is enough to say, that, on the present occasion,
the menaces of France had their usual effect in awakening the spirit
of Britain.

The most extensive arrangements were made for the reception of the
invaders should they chance to land, and in the meanwhile, our natural
barrier was not neglected. The naval preparations were very great, and
what gave yet more confidence than the number of vessels and guns,
Nelson was put into command of the sea, from Orfordness to Beachy-head.
Under his management, it soon became the question, not whether the
French flotilla was to invade the British shores, but whether it was to
remain in safety in the French harbours. Boulogne was bombarded, and
some of the small craft and gun-boats destroyed--the English admiral
generously sparing the town; and not satisfied with this partial
success, Nelson prepared to attack them with the boats of the squadron.
The French resorted to the most unusual and formidable preparations for
defence. Their flotilla was moored close to the shore in the mouth of
Boulogne harbour, the vessels secured to each other by chains, and
filled with soldiers. The British attack in some degree failed, owing to
the several divisions of boats missing each other in the dark; some
French vessels were taken, but they could not be brought off; and the
French chose to consider this result as a victory, on their part, of
consequence enough to balance the loss at Aboukir;--though it amounted
at best to ascertaining, that although their vessels could not keep the
sea, they might, in some comparative degree of safety, lie under close
cover of their own batteries.

The preliminaries of peace, however, were signed, and the treaty was
confirmed at Amiens, on the 27th of March, 1802. Napoleon still
prosecuted his ambitious projects, extended his power in Italy, and
caused himself to be appointed consul for life, with the power of naming
his successor.


It must be in the memory of most who recollect the period, that the
kingdom of Great Britain was seldom less provided against invasion than
at the commencement of this second war; and that an embarkation from the
ports of Holland, if undertaken instantly after the war had broken out,
might have escaped our blockading squadrons, and have at least shown
what a French army could have done on British ground, at a moment when
the alarm was general, and the country in an unprepared state. But it
is probable that Bonaparte himself was as much unprovided as England
for the sudden breach of the treaty of Amiens--an event brought about
more by the influence of passion than of policy; so that its
consequences were as unexpected in his calculations as in those of Great
Britain. Besides, he had not diminished to himself the dangers of the
undertaking, by which he must have staked his military renown, his
power, which he held chiefly as the consequence of his reputation,
perhaps his life, upon a desperate game, which, though he had already
twice contemplated it, he had not yet found hardihood enough seriously
to enter upon.

He now, however, at length bent himself, with the whole strength of his
mind, and the whole force of his empire, to prepare for this final and
decisive undertaking. The gun-boats in the Bay of Gibraltar, where calms
are frequent, had sometimes in the course of the former war been able to
do considerable damage to the English vessels of war, when they could
not use their sails. Such small craft, therefore, were supposed the
proper force for covering the intended descent. They were built in
different harbours, and brought together by crawling along the French
shore, and keeping under the protection of the batteries, which were now
established on every cape, almost as if the sea-coast of the channel on
the French side had been the lines of a besieged city, no one point of
which could with prudence be left undefended by cannon. Boulogne was
pitched upon as the centre port, from which the expedition was to sail.
By incredible exertions, Bonaparte had rendered its harbour and roads
capable of containing two thousand vessels of various descriptions. The
smaller sea-ports of Vimereux, Ambleteuse, and Etaples, Dieppe, Havre,
St. Valeri, Caen, Gravelines, and Dunkirk, were likewise filled with
shipping. Flushing and Ostend were occupied by a separate flotilla.
Brest, Toulon, and Rochefort, were each the station of as strong a naval
squadron as France, had still the means to send to sea.

A land army was assembled of the most formidable description, whether we
regard the high military character of the troops, the extent and
perfection of their appointments, or their numerical strength. The
coast, from the mouth of the Seine to the Texel, was covered with
forces; and Soult, Ney, Davoust, and Victor, names that were then the
pride and the dread of war, were appointed to command the army of
England, (for that menacing title was once more, assumed,) and execute
those manoeuvres, planned and superintended by Bonaparte, the issue of
which was to be the blotting out of Britain from the rank of
independent nations.

Far from being alarmed at this formidable demonstration of force,
England prepared for her resistance with an energy becoming her ancient
rank in Europe, and far surpassing in its efforts any extent of military
preparation before heard of in her history. To nearly one hundred
thousand troops of the line, were added eighty thousand and upwards of
militia, which scarce yielded to the regulars in point of discipline.
The volunteer force, by which every citizen was permitted and invited to
add his efforts to the defence of the country, was far more numerous
than during the last war, was better officered also, and rendered every
way more effective. It was computed to amount to three hundred and fifty
thousand men, who, if we regard the shortness of the time and the nature
of the service, had attained considerable practice in the use and
management of their arms. Other classes of men were embodied, and
destined to act as pioneers, drivers of wagons, and in the like
services. On a sudden, the land seemed converted to an immense camp, the
whole nation into soldiers, and the good old king himself into a
general-in-chief. All peaceful considerations appeared for a time to be
thrown aside; and the voice, calling the nation to defend their dearest
rights, sounded not only in Parliament, and in meetings convoked to
second the measures of defence, but was heard in the places of public
amusement, and mingled even with the voice of devotion--not unbecoming
surely, since to defend our country is to defend our religion.

Beacons were erected in conspicuous points, corresponding with each
other, all around and all through the island; and morning and evening,
one might have said, every eye was turned towards them to watch for the
fatal and momentous signal. Partial alarms were given to different
places, from the mistakes to which such arrangements must necessarily be
liable; and the ready spirit which animated every species of troops
where such signals called to arms, was of the most satisfactory
description, and afforded the most perfect assurance, that the heart of
every man was in the cause of his country.

Amidst her preparations by land, England did not neglect or relax her
precautions on the element she calls her own. She covered the ocean with
five hundred and seventy ships of war of various descriptions.
Divisions of her fleet blocked up every French port in the channel; and
the army destined to invade our shores, might see the British flag
flying in every direction on the horizon, waiting for their issuing from
the harbour, as birds of prey may be seen floating in the air above the
animal which they design to pounce upon. Sometimes the British frigates
and sloops of war stood in, and cannonaded or threw shells into Havre,
Dieppe, Granville, and Boulogne itself. Sometimes the seamen and marines
landed, cut out vessels, destroyed signal posts, and dismantled
batteries. Such events were trifling, and it was to be regretted that
they cost the lives of gallant men; but although they produced no direct
results of consequence, yet they had their use in encouraging the
spirits of our sailors, and damping the confidence of the enemy, who
must at length have looked forward with more doubt than hope to the
invasion of the English coast, when the utmost vigilance could not
prevent their experiencing insults upon their own.

During this period of menaced attack and arranged defence, Bonaparte
visited Boulogne, and seemed active in preparing his soldiers for the
grand effort. He reviewed them in an unusual manner, teaching them to
execute several manoeuvres by night; and experiments were also made upon
the best mode of arranging the soldiers in the flat-bottomed boats, and
of embarking and disembarking them with celerity. Omens were resorted to
for keeping up the enthusiasm which the presence of the First Consul
naturally inspired. A Roman battle-axe was said to be found when they
removed the earth to pitch Bonaparte's tent or barrack; and medals of
William the Conqueror were produced, as having been dug up upon the same
honoured spot. These were pleasant bodings, yet perhaps did not
altogether, in the minds of the soldiers, counterbalance the sense of
insecurity impressed on them by the prospect of being packed together in
these miserable chaloupes, and exposed to the fire of an enemy so
superior at sea, that during the chief consul's review of the
fortifications, their frigates stood in shore with composure, and fired
at him and his suite as at a mark. The men who had braved the perils of
the Alps and of the Egyptian deserts, might yet be allowed to feel alarm
at a species of danger which seemed so inevitable, and which they had no
adequate means of repelling by force of arms.

A circumstance which seemed to render the expedition in a great measure
hopeless, was the ease with which the English could maintain a constant
watch upon their operations within the port of Boulogne. The least
appearance of stir or preparation, to embark troops, or get ready for
sea, was promptly sent by signal to the English coast, and the numerous
British cruisers were instantly on the alert to attend their motions.
Nelson had, in fact, during the last war, declared the sailing of a
hostile armament from Boulogne to be a most forlorn undertaking, on
account of cross tides and other disadvantages, together with the
certainty of the flotilla being lost if there were the least wind
west-north-west. "As for rowing," he adds, "that is impossible.--It is
perfectly right to be prepared for a mad government," continued this
incontestable judge of maritime possibilities; "but with the active
force which has been given me, I may pronounce it almost impracticable."

Before quitting the subject, we may notice, that Bonaparte seems not to
have entertained the least doubts of success, could he have succeeded in
disembarking his army. A single general action was to decide the fate of
England. Five days were to bring Napoleon to London, where he was to
perform the part of William the Third; but with more generosity and
disinterestedness. He was to call a meeting of the inhabitants, restore
them what he calls their rights, and destroy the oligarchical faction. A
few months would not, according to his account, have elapsed, ere the
two nations, late such determined enemies, would have been identified by
their principles, their maxims, their interests. The full explanation of
this gibberish, (for it can be termed no better, even proceeding from
the lips of Napoleon,) is to be found elsewhere, when he spoke a
language more genuine than that of the _Moniteur_ and the bulletins.
"England," he said, "must have ended, by becoming an appendage to the
France of _my_ system. Nature has made it one of our islands, as well as
Oleron and Corsica."

It is impossible not to pursue the train of reflections which Bonaparte
continued to pour forth to the companion of his exile, on the rock of
Saint Helena. When England was conquered, and identified with France in
maxims and principles, according to one form of expression, or rendered
an appendage and dependency, according to another phrase, the reader may
suppose that Bonaparte would have considered his mission as
accomplished. Alas! it was not much more than commenced. "I would have
departed from thence [from subjugated Britain] to carry the work of
European regeneration [that is, the extention of his own arbitrary
authority] from south to north, under the Republican colours, for I was
then Chief Consul, in the same manner which I was more lately on the
point of achieving it under the monarchical forms." When we find such
ideas retaining hold of Napoleon's imagination, and arising to his
tongue after his irretrievable fall, it is impossible to avoid
exclaiming, Did ambition ever conceive so wild a dream, and had so wild
a vision ever a termination so disastrous and humiliating!

It may be expected that something should be here said, upon the chances
which Britain would have had of defending herself successfully against
the army of invaders. We are willing to acknowledge that the risk must
have been dreadful; and that Bonaparte, with his genius and his army,
must have inflicted severe calamities upon a country which had so long
enjoyed the blessings of peace. But the people were unanimous in their
purpose of defence, and their forces composed of materials to which
Bonaparte did more justice when he came to be better acquainted with
them. Of the three British nations, the English have since shown
themselves possessed of the same steady valour which won the fields of
Cressy and Agincourt, Blenheim and Minden--the Irish have not lost the
fiery enthusiasm which has distinguished them in all the countries of
Europe--nor have the Scots degenerated from the stubborn courage with
which their ancestors for two thousand years maintained their
independence against a superior enemy. Even if London had been lost, we
would not, under so great a calamity, have despaired of the freedom of
the country; for the war would in all probability have assumed that
popular and national character which sooner or later wears out an
invading army. Neither does the confidence with which Bonaparte affirms
the conviction of his winning the first battle, appear go certainly well
founded. This, at least, we know, that the resolution of the country was
fully bent up to the hazard; and those who remember the period will bear
us witness, that the desire that the French would make the attempt, was
a general feeling through all classes, because they had every reason to
hope that the issue might be such as for ever to silence the threat
of invasion.

The next most important occurrence that claims our notice in this
volume, and which fully delineates the nature and character of this
wonderful and ambitious individual, is the account of his declaration as
Emperor of France, and his subsequent Coronation.


Measures were taken, as on former occasions, to preserve appearances, by
obtaining, in show at least, the opinion of the people, on this radical
change of their system. Government, however, were already confident of
their approbation, which, indeed, had never been refused to any of the
various constitutions, however inconsistent, that had succeeded each
other with such rapidity. Secure on this point, Bonaparte's accession to
the empire was proclaimed with the greatest pomp, without waiting to
inquire whether the people approved of his promotion or otherwise. The
proclamation was coldly received, even by the populace, and excited
little enthusiasm. It seemed, according to some writers, as if the
shades of D'Enghien and Pichegru had been present invisibly, and spread
a damp over the ceremony. The Emperor was recognised by the soldiery
with more warmth. He visited the encampments at Boulogne, with the
intention, apparently, of receiving such an acknowledgment from the
troops as was paid by the ancient Franks to their monarchs, when they
elevated them on their bucklers. Seated on an iron chair, said to have
belonged to king Dagobert, he took his place between two immense camps,
and having before him the Channel and the hostile coasts of England. The
weather, we have been assured, had been tempestuous, but no sooner had
the Emperor assumed his seat, to receive the homage of his shouting
host, than the sky cleared, and the wind dropt, retaining just breath
sufficient gently to wave the banners. Even the elements seemed to
acknowledge the imperial dignity, all save the sea, which rolled as
carelessly to the feet of Napoleon as it had formerly done towards those
of Canute the Dane.

The Emperor, accompanied with his Empress, who bore her honours both
gracefully and meekly, visited Aix-la-Chapelle, and the frontiers of
Germany. They received the congratulations of all the powers of Europe,
excepting England, Russia, and Sweden, upon their new exaltation; and
the German princes, who had everything to hope and fear from so powerful
a neighbour, hastened to pay their compliments to Napoleon in person,
which more distant sovereigns offered by their ambassadors.

But the most splendid and public recognition of his new rank was yet to
be made, by the formal act of coronation, which, therefore, Napoleon
determined should take place with circumstances of solemnity, which had
been beyond the reach of any temporal prince, however powerful, for
many ages. His policy was often marked by a wish to revive, imitate, and
connect his own titles and interest with, some ancient observance of
former days; as if the novelty of his claims could have been rendered
more venerable by investing them with antiquated forms, or as men of low
birth, when raised to wealth and rank, are sometimes desirous to conceal
the obscurity of their origin under the blaze of heraldic honours. Pope
Leo, he remembered, had placed a golden crown on the head of
Charlemagne, and proclaimed him Emperor of the Romans. Pius VII. he
determined should do the same for a successor to much more than the
actual power of Charlemagne. But though Charlemagne had repaired to Rome
to receive inauguration from the hands of the Pontiff of that day,
Napoleon resolved that he who now owned the proud, and in Protestant
eyes profane, title of Vicar of Christ, should travel to France to
perform the coronation of the successful chief, by whom the See of Rome
had been more than once humbled, pillaged, and impoverished, but by whom
also her power had been re-erected and restored, not only in Italy, but
in France itself.

Humiliating as the compliance with Bonaparte's request must have seemed
to the more devoted Catholics, Pius VII. had already sacrificed, to
obtain the Concordat, so much of the power and privileges of the Roman
See, that he could hardly have been justified if he had run the risk of
losing the advantages of a treaty so dearly purchased, by declining to
incur some personal trouble, or, it might be termed, some direct
self-abasement. The Pope, and the Cardinals whom he consulted, implored
the illumination of heaven upon their councils; but it was the stern
voice of necessity which assured them, that, except at the risk of
dividing the Church by a schism, they could not refuse to comply with
Bonaparte's requisition. The Pope left Rome on the 5th of November. He
was everywhere received on the road with the highest respect, and most
profound veneration; the Alpine precipices themselves had been secured
by parapets wherever they could expose the venerable Father of the
Catholic Church to danger, or even apprehension. Upon the 25th of
November, he met Bonaparte at Fontainbleau; and the conduct of the
Emperor Napoleon was as studiously respectful towards him, as that of
Charlemagne, whom he was pleased to call his predecessor, could have
been towards Leo.

On the 2nd of December, the ceremony of the coronation took place in
the ancient cathedral of Notre Dame, with the addition of every ceremony
which could be devised to add to its solemnity. Yet we have been told
that the multitude did not participate in the ceremonial with that
eagerness which characterises the inhabitants of all capitals, but
especially those of Paris, upon similar occasions. They had, within a
very few years, seen so many exhibitions, processions, and festivals,
established on the most discordant principles, which, though announced
as permanent and unchangeable, had successively given way to newer
doctrines, that they considered the splendid representation before them
as an unsubstantial pageant, which would fade away in its turn.
Bonaparte himself seemed absent and gloomy, till recalled to a sense of
his grandeur by the voice of the numerous deputies and functionaries
sent up from all the several departments of France, to witness the
coronation. These functionaries had been selected with due attention to
their political opinions; and many of them holding offices under the
government, or expecting benefits from the Emperor, made up, by the
zealous vivacity of their acclamations, for the coldness of the good
citizens of Paris.

The Emperor took his coronation oath, as usual on such occasions, with
his hands up on the scripture, and in the form in which it was repeated
to him by the Pope. But in the act of coronation itself, there was a
marked deviation from the universal custom, characteristic of the man,
the age, and the conjuncture. In all other similar solemnities, the
crown had been placed on the sovereign's head by the presiding spiritual
person, as representing the Deity, by whom princes rule. But not even
from the head of the Catholic Church would Bonaparte consent to receive
as a boon the golden symbol of sovereignty, which he was sensible he
owed solely to his own unparalleled train of military and civil
successes. The crown having been blessed by the Pope, Napoleon took it
from the altar with his own hands, and placed it on his brows. He then
put the diadem on the head of his Empress, as if determined to show that
his authority was the child of his own actions. _Te Deum_ was sung; the
heralds, (for they also had again come into fashion,) proclaimed, "that
the thrice glorious and thrice august Napoleon, Emperor of the French,
was crowned and installed." Thus concluded this remarkable ceremony.
Those who remember having beheld it, must now doubt whether they were
waking, or whether fancy had framed a vision so dazzling in its
appearance, so extraordinary in its origin and progress, and so
ephemeral in its endurance.

The very day before the ceremony of coronation, (that is, on the 1st of
December,) the senate had waited upon the Emperor with the result of the
votes collected in the departments, which, till that time, had been
taken for granted. Upwards of three millions five hundred thousand
citizens had given their votes on this occasion; of whom only about
three thousand five hundred had declared against the proposition. The
vice-president, Neufchateau, declared, "this report was the unbiassed
expression of the people's choice. No government could plead a title
more authentic."

Sir Walter occupies his sixth volume with details of the celebrated
battles that were fought between the French and English armies in the
Spanish territories, and which are told with great truth and develope
the extraordinary powers of this celebrated writer. The divorce of
Josephine, and marriage of Maria Louisa, commence the succeeding volume.
The sterility of Bonaparte's wife was now an irremediable evil; and
political motives were to supersede the ties of endearment, affection,
talents, and virtue. Fouché the minister of police, made Josephine the
means of suggesting to Napoleon, the measure of her own divorce, and
subsequently Napoleon made Josephine acquainted with the cruel
certainty, that the separation was ultimately determined upon.


When this sentence had finally dissolved their union, the emperor
retired to St. Cloud, where he lived in seclusion for some days.
Josephine, on her part, took up her residence in the beautiful villa of
Malmaison, near St. Germains. Here she principally dwelt for the
remaining years of her life, which were just prolonged to see the first
fall of her husband; an event which might have been averted had he been
content to listen more frequently to her lessons of moderation. Her life
was chiefly spent in cultivating the fine arts, of which she collected
some beautiful specimens, and in pursuing the science of botany; but
especially in the almost daily practice of acts of benevolence and
charity, of which the English _detenus_, of whom there were several at
St. Germains, frequently shared the benefit. Napoleon visited her very
frequently, and always treated her with the respect to which she was
entitled. He added also to her dowry a third million of francs, that
she might feel no inconvenience from the habits of expense to which it
was her foible to be addicted.


This important state measure was no sooner completed, than the great
council was summoned, on the 1st of February, to assist the emperor in
the selection of a new spouse. They were given to understand, that a
match with a grand duchess of Russia had been proposed, but was likely
to be embarrassed by disputes concerning religion. A daughter of the
king of Saxony was also mentioned, but it was easily indicated to the
council that their choice ought to fall upon a princess of the house of
Austria. At the conclusion of the meeting, Eugene, son of the repudiated
Josephine, was commissioned by the council to propose to the Austrian
embassador a match between Napoleon and the archduchess Maria Louisa.
Prince Schwarzenberg had his instructions on the subject; so that the
match was proposed, discussed, and decided in the council, and
afterwards adjusted between plenipotentiaries on either side, in the
space of twenty-four hours. The espousals of Napoleon and Maria Louisa
were celebrated at Vienna, 11th March, 1810. The person of Bonaparte was
represented by his favourite Berthier, while the archduke Charles
assisted at the ceremony, in the name of the emperor Francis. A few days
afterwards, the youthful bride, accompanied by the queen of Naples,
proceeded towards France.

With good taste, Napoleon dispensed with the ceremonies used in the
reception of Marie Antoinette, whose marriage with Louis XVI., though
never named or alluded to, was in other respects the model of the
present solemnity. Near Soissons, a single horseman, no way
distinguished by dress, rode past the carriage in which the young
empress was seated, and had the boldness to return, as if to reconnoitre
more closely. The carriage stopped, the door was opened, and Napoleon,
breaking through all the tediousness of ceremony, introduced himself to
his bride, and came with her to Soissons. The marriage ceremony was
performed at Paris by Bonaparte's uncle, the Cardinal Fesch. The most
splendid rejoicings, illuminations, concerts, festivals, took place upon
this important occasion. But a great calamity occurred, which threw a
shade over these demonstrations of joy. Prince Schwarzenberg had given a
distinguished ball on the occasion, when unhappily the dancing-room,
which was temporary, and erected in the garden, caught fire. No efforts
could stop the progress of the flames, in which several persons
perished, and particularly the sister of Prince Schwarzenberg himself.
This tragic circumstance struck a damp on the public mind, and was
considered as a bad omen, especially when it was remembered that the
marriage of Louis XVI. with a former princess of Austria had been
signalized by a similar disaster.

As a domestic occurrence, nothing could more contribute to Bonaparte's
happiness than his union with Maria Louisa. He was wont to compare her
with Josephine, by giving the latter all the advantages of art and
grace; the former the charms of simple modesty and innocence. His former
empress used every art to support or enhance her personal charms; but
with so much prudence and mystery, that the secret cares of her toilette
could never be traced--her successor trusted for the power of pleasing
to youth and nature. Josephine mismanaged her revenue, and incurred debt
without scruple. Maria Louisa lived within her income, or if she desired
any indulgence beyond it, which was rarely the case, she asked it as a
favour of Napoleon. Josephine, accustomed to political intrigue, loved
to manage, to influence, and to guide her husband; Maria Louisa desired
only to please and to obey him. Both were excellent women, of great
sweetness of temper, and fondly attached to Napoleon. In the difference
between these distinguished persons, we can easily discriminate the
leading features of the Parisian, and of the simple German beauty; but
it is certainly singular that the artificial character should have
belonged to the daughter of the West Indian planter; that marked by
nature and simplicity, to a princess of the proudest court in Europe.

Bonaparte, whose domestic conduct was generally praiseworthy, behaved
with the utmost kindness to his princely bride. He observed, however,
the strictest etiquette, and required it from the empress. If it
happened, for example, as was often the case, that he was prevented from
attending at the hour when dinner was placed on the table, he was
displeased if, in the interim of his absence, which was often prolonged,
she either took a book, or had recourse to any female occupation,--if,
in short, he did not find her in the attitude of waiting for the signal
to take her place at table. Perhaps a sense of his inferior birth made
Napoleon more tenacious of this species of form, as what he could not
afford to relinquish. On the other hand, Maria Louisa is said to have
expressed her surprise at her husband's dispensing with the use of arms
and attendance of guards, and at his moving about with the freedom of
an individual; although this could be no great novelty to a member of
the imperial family of Austria, most of whom, and especially the Emperor
Francis, are in the habit of mixing familiarly with the people of
Vienna, at public places, and in the public walks.

From this date may be traced the declination of Napoleon's greatness. In
the field he was generally unsuccessful, and occasionally murmurs of
discontent were whispered by citizen and soldier. The plot thickens in
the eight volume, and his abdication of the throne of France, and
subsequent journey to Elba, are feelingly narrated by our author.


Maria Louisa made more than one effort to join her husband, but they
were discouraged on the part of Napoleon himself, who, while he
continued to ruminate on renewing the war, could not desire to have the
empress along with him in such an adventure. Shortly afterwards, the
emperor of Austria visited his daughter and her son, then at
Rambouillet, and gave her to understand that she was, for some time at
least, to remain separate from her husband, and that her son and she
were to return to Vienna along with him. She returned, therefore, to her
father's protection.

It must be also here mentioned, as an extraordinary addition to this
tale of calamity, that Josephine, the former wife of Bonaparte, did not
long survive his downfall. It seemed as if the Obi-woman of Martinico
had spoke truth; for at the time when Napoleon parted from the sharer of
his early fortunes, his grandeur was on the wane, and her death took
place but a few weeks subsequent to his being dethroned and exiled. The
emperor of Russia had visited this lady, and showed her some attention,
with which Napoleon, for reasons we cannot conjecture, was extremely
displeased. She was amply provided for by the treaty of Fontainbleau,
but did not survive to reap any benefit from the provision, as she
shortly after sickened and died at her beautiful villa of Malmaison. She
was buried on the 3rd of June, at the village of Ruel. A vast number of
the lower class attended the obsequies; for she had well deserved the
title of patroness of the poor.

The residence at Elba, the return, the treachery of Ney, the arrival at
Paris, and Napoleon's repossession of the throne, now occupy the page.
The battle of Waterloo is briefly, but finely described, and indeed the
whole of the ninth volume, to which we have now arrived, is deeply
interesting. We find, however, that we have nearly reached our limits,
and as we shall take an early opportunity of again referring to this
elaborate history, we shall now close with the following extracts;--


Upon the Northumberland crossing the line, the emperor desiring to
exhibit his munificence to the seamen, by presenting them with a hundred
louis d'or, under pretext of paying the ordinary fine, Sir George
Cockburn, considering this tribute to Neptune as too excessive in
amount, would not permit the donative to exceed a tenth part of the sum;
and Napoleon offended by the restriction, paid nothing at all. Upon
another occasion, early in the voyage, a difference in national manners
gave rise to one of those slight misunderstandings which we have
noticed. Napoleon was accustomed, like all Frenchmen, to leave the table
immediately after dinner, and Sir George Cockburn, with the English
officers, remained after him at table; for, in permitting his French
guests their liberty, the admiral did not choose to admit the right of
Napoleon to break up the party at his, Sir George's, own table. This
gave some discontent. Notwithstanding these trifling subjects of
dissatisfaction, Las Cases informs us that the admiral, whom he took to
be prepossessed against them at first, became every day more amicable.
The emperor used to take his arm every evening on the quarter-deck, and
hold long conversations with him upon maritime subjects, as well as past
events in general.

While on board the Northumberland, the late emperor spent his mornings
in reading or writing; his evenings in his exercise upon deck, and at
cards. The game was generally _vingt un_. But when the play became
rather deep, he discouraged that amusement, and substituted chess. Great
tactician as he was, Napoleon did not play well at that military game,
and it was with difficulty that his antagonist, Montholon, could avoid
the solecism, of beating the emperor.

During this voyage, Napoleon's _jour de fête_ occurred, which was also
his birthday. It was the 15th of August; a day for which the Pope had
expressly canonized a St. Napoleon to be the emperor's patron. And now,
strange revolution, it was celebrated by him on board of an English
man-of-war, which was conducting him to his place of imprisonment, and,
as it proved, his tomb. Yet Napoleon seemed cheerful and contented
during the whole day, and was even pleased at being fortunate at play,
which he received as a good omen.

Upon the 15th of October, 1815, the Northumberland reached St. Helena,
which presents but an unpromising aspect to those who design it for a
residence, though it may be a welcome sight to the seaworn mariner. Its
destined inhabitant, from the deck of the Northumberland, surveyed it
with his spy-glass. St. James' Town, an inconsiderable village, was
before him, enchased, as it were in a valley, amid arid and scarped
rocks of immense height; every platform, every opening, every gorge, was
bristled with cannon. Las Cases, who stood by him, could not perceive
the slightest alteration of his countenance. The orders of government
had been, that Napoleon should remain on board till a residence could be
prepared suitable for the line of life he was to lead in future. But as
this was likely to be a work of time, Sir George Cockburn readily
undertook, on his own responsibility, to put his passengers on shore,
and provide in some way for the security of Napoleon's person, until the
necessary habitation should be fitted up. He was accordingly transferred
to land upon the 16th of October; and thus the emperor of France, nay,
wellnigh of Europe, sunk into the recluse of St. Helena.


During the 3rd of May, it was seen that the life of Napoleon was drawing
evidently to a close; and his followers, and particularly his physician,
became desirous to call in more medical assistance;--that of Dr. Shortt,
physician to the forces, and of Dr. Mitchell, surgeon of the flag-ship,
was referred to. Dr. Shortt, however, thought it proper to assert the
dignity belonging to his profession, and refused to give an opinion on a
case of so much importance in itself, and attended with so much
obscurity, unless he were permitted to see and examine the patient. The
officers of Napoleon's household excused themselves, by professing that
the emperor's strict commands had been laid on them, that no English
physician, Dr. Arnott excepted, should approach his dying bed. They
said, that even when he was speechless they would be unable to brook his
eye, should he turn it upon them in reproof for their disobedience.

About two o'clock of the same day, the priest Vignali administered the
sacrament of extreme unction. Some days before, Napoleon had explained
to him the manner in which he desired his body should be laid out in
state, in an apartment lighted by torches, or what Catholics call _une
chambre ardente_. "I am neither," he said in the same phrase which we
have formerly quoted, "a philosopher nor a physician. I believe in God,
and am of the religion of my father. It is not everybody who can be an
atheist. I was born a Catholic, and will fulfil all the duties of the
Catholic church, and receive the assistance which it administers." He
then turned to Dr. Antommarchi, whom he seems to have suspected of
heterodoxy, which the doctor, however, disowned. "How can you carry it
so far?" he said. "Can you not believe in God, whose existence every
thing proclaims, and in whom the greatest minds have believed?"

As if to mark a closing point of resemblance betwixt Cromwell and
Napoleon, a dreadful tempest arose on the 4th of May, which preceded the
day that was to close the mortal existence of this extraordinary man. A
willow, which had been the exile's favourite, and under which he had
often enjoyed the fresh breeze, was torn up by the hurricane; and almost
all the trees about Longwood shared the same fate.

The 5th of May came amid wind and rain. Napoleon's passing spirit was
deliriously engaged in a strife more terrible than that of the elements
around. The words "_tête d'armée_" the last which escaped his lips,
intimated that his thoughts were watching the current of a heady fight.
About eleven minutes before six in the evening, Napoleon, after a
struggle which indicated the original strength of his constitution,
breathed his last.


Bonaparte was buried on the 8th of May, in a small secluded recess
called Slane's, or Haine's Valley, where a fountain arose, at which his
Chinese domestics used to fill the silver pitchers, which they carried
to Longwood for Napoleon's use. "All the troops were under arms upon the
solemn occasion. As the road did not permit a near approach of the
hearse to the place of sepulture, a party of British grenadiers had the
honour to bear the coffin to the grave. The prayers were recited by the
priest, Abbé Vignali. Minute guns were fired from the admiral's ship.
The coffin was then let down into the grave, under a discharge of three
successive volleys of artillery, fifteen pieces of cannon firing fifteen
guns each. A large stone was then lowered down on the grave, and covered
the moderate space now sufficient for the man for whom Europe was once
too little."

* * * * *

_Printed and published by J. LIMBIRD, 143, Strand, (near Somerset
House,) and sold by all Newsmen and Booksellers._


Back to Full Books