Imagens das páginas
PDF
ePub

tunately, more truly his own, than the ers and forces. Washington aimed at no code which bears his name.

elevation of his family, and dies a justice Washington was strictly institutional of the peace; Napoleon writes to Joseph: in his character, and never dreamed of I want a family of kings (il me faut une concentration of power. If Satan ever famille de rois.) Washington divests appeared to him showing him the glory himself of the chief magistracy, voluntaand power of a kingdom on earth, it was rily and gracefully, leaving to his people buried in his noble breast, and no act a document which after-ages honor like a or word of his has ever shown even a political gospel; Napoleon, in his last struggle to beat down the tempter. Na- days, is occupied with the idea of family poleon had no instinct for institutional aggrandizement, or with the means by government whatever,* and constantly which his house may be prevented from struck out new paths of brilliancy to mingling again with common men. Durmake hiin and his people more glorious. ing his closing illness he directs General Wasbington was a citizen, and states- Bertrand to advise, in his name, the man, a patriot and also a soldier; Napo- members of his family to settle chiefly in leon was soldier above all. He acknow- Rome, where their children ought to be ledges it, and is proud of it. To be the married to the princely families of the greatest captain was his greatest glory. Colonnas, &c., and where some Bona

We Americans acknowledge that parte would not fail to become pope. Washington plainly served his country, Jerome and Caroline onght to reside in to which he bowed as the great thing Switzerland, where, in Berne, they must above him and above all; the greatest establish themselves in the Swiss “Oliadmirers of Napoleon say that “soldiers, garchy," and where a landamman-shipt money, peoples, were in his hands but would be certain to fall to the family; means to establish un système gran- and the children of Joseph, should he diose."? Washington never was a dic- remain in America, might marry into the tator, and never aimed at a dictatorship; great families of the Washingtons and Napoleon claims the title to explain or Jeffersons, and a Bonaparte would beexcuse his despotism and centralism. come President of the United States. Washington never compared himself to Washington was all that this country at any one; Napoleon compares himself to the time required, and no more; he was him. Washington's policy was strictly thus, and remains, a political blessing domestic, and in leaving public life he to our country. Was Napoleon all that urges the abstaining from foreign policy France required, and no more? Did the as a most essential point in the whole desires of his genius and his personal American State-system. Napoleon's po- greatness not present themselves as ley became from year to year more fo- France to his enormous mind? Even teign, until it ended almost exclusively Louis Napoleon has said on his throne in conquest, and an absolute supremacy that his uncle, it must be owned, bad of France, to which all else was sacri- loved war too much. ficed. Washington was a modest man; Both Washington and Napoleon have Napoleon looked upon himself as a sort been men of high action, and some points of Fare. Washington was one of the of similarity undoubtedly exist, but to beginners of the Revolution; Napoleon find them is a work of ingenuity, rather steps in when the revolution of his coun- than one that naturally presents itself to try had already developed immense pow- an ingenuous mind.

* We take the word institution and institutional government in the sense in which it has lately been defined in Lieber's Civil Liberty and Self-Government. Words

of the editors of the Memoirs quoted before, and cited here because they only express what thousands say, and what pervades the whole ten volumes of imperial correspondence. : The Landamman of Switzerland is the chief magistrate. The word implies magistrate of the land.

This extraordinary communication of the dying emperor to his family, will be found in the 10th volume the mentioned memoirs, page 264, and sequel. It proves, in addition, how deplorably mistaken Napoleon frequently was on subjects, on which, nevertheless, he formed absolute opinions on which he acted. spessons on England, her institutions and the facility of her conquest, because the people would rush into be arms against their own “oligarchy,”

were frequently no less absurd than his idea of "les Washington les Jefferson" as familles princières. That there are no families of the Washingtons and Jeffersons” sy be passed over, but who would ever dream of marrying into the family of the Vaa Burens, Adamses, ez Porks in order to increase the chance of come issue, to arrive at the White House? The whole is so kiedrical, and built on so utterly unfounded an analogy, with a hastiness and violence, as it were, that it creates a feeling of discomfort to find that so great a man has been capable of harboring so pitiful an idea; a topicion accompanies this feeling, that if he has erred so egregiously once, he may have been grievously mistaked at other times. Did he know more of the East than of us ? It cabdot be said that this extraordinary advice was owing to a failing mind. On the contrary, Bertrand, Mentholon, and all the companions of Napoleon at St. Helena state, that his mind remained remarkably clear to the last day, aad Bertrand states, that he repeatedly spoke of these family settlements.

Uis

If Napoleon really was a dictator, just made a king, of communicating his forced by France, or by foreign combi- ideas of statesmanship to him, and of nations to assume that character-if the informing him of the great ends of what establishment of liberty was a merely we will call Napoleonism. We think suspended work with him, we would that these letters are invaluable as to a find the element of freedom in his cha- clearer understanding of Napoleon. The racter and psychological configuration, French editors justly consider them so; at some time or other in his life. But only, they and we differ regarding the the more closely we examine the charac- opinions and ends of Napoleon, disclosed ter of that gigantic man, the more we in this precious correspondence---a colbecome convinced that, as we expressed lection, the like of which is not to be it before, he was eminently destitute of found in all history. No emperor like a civic character. There was no ingre- him ever wrote letters under such cirdient of freedom in the brass of that co- cumstances to a cherished, thongh frelossus. He was bred a soldier; his quently abused brother of his. The bisyouth was imbued with Rousseauism, as torian cannot be sufficiently thankful it has been called; his early manhood, that they have been preserved. when his ideas became, to use one of his What, then, was it that floated as the own favorite expressions, bien arrêté, and great ideal over the depth of his soul ? “his soul ripened,” fell in a period at What was the fundamental idea of which which popular absolutism was revelling “the honor of my crown," " the glory in anarchy; all his instincts were towards of France," " the grand nation," * the the grand, the effective in history, with- grand empire," "the grande armée," and out any reference to the solemn mean- all similar terms and things were but ing of the individual, without which, emanations? What was the “ grand real liberty cannot be imagined. We système que la dirine Proridence nous a find, secondly, that in no case did he destiné à fonder," as he calls it in the lay the foundation of institutions in decree of the thirtieth of March, 1806, which liberty may be said to have lain by which he recognizes his brother Joundeveloped, as the whole organism of seph as King of Naples ? the future independent individual is fore- Throughout his proclamations, laws, shadowed in the fætus, dependent though letters, and whole administration, we it be, for the time, upon the mother. find a clear and determined hostility to We find that wherever he changed laws the ancient system of feudal privileges, or institutions, established by the revo- and of administrative corruption and lution, he curtailed, or extinguished lib- mismanagement. We find a pretty clear erty in them, substituting everywhere idea of equality of all citizens before the an uncompromising centralism. When law, and of their equal legal capacity to Napoleon was liberal, we believe it will be called to the different public employbe generally found that it amounts ra- ments. Joseph generally adds the dether to this—that he was not small, not struction of the influence of priests, but

He was too great a man to be Napoleon took good care not to proclaim puny in any sphere; but we do not it, as indeed he often vaunts that he was know that he ever acknowledged free- the restorer of throne and altar. dom of action as a substantive thing, These ideas Napoleon bad received and independent of himself. Lastly, ii* from the revolution, and gradually he Napoleon really aimed at ultimate liber- came to believe that the destruction of ty, we must necessarily find some indi- feudalism and the establishment of legal cation that his measures were purely equality had been the sole object of provisional, in his abundant correspond- "notre belle récolution," as he called it ence with his brother Joseph, as given on one occasion. The identical error in the work repeatedly cited.

has been expressed by Louis Napoleon, We certainly do not agree with the who, shortly before he ascended the dictum, that a man necessarily shows his throne, declared that there was not a character in the truest light in his letters. single day during which he did not study Many a genial man writes arid letters; the works of his uncle, and endeavored many a morose husband writes affection- to mould all his ideas and measures in ately to his wite; many a liberal man conformity with that great model. On writes as if he were penurious ; but the another occasion, when he ushered in many letters of Napoleon to his brother his new constitution, the imitative emare written for the very purpose of im- peror spoke of the great * génie," which, parting his system to the brother he had as by inspiration, had brought the true

mean,

*

and only national system for France, being of the army, for both which pur. treating, at the same time, in terms of poses he must frapper le pays with a derogation and ridicule, all those who heavy contribution, and raise the taxes were of a different opinion, thus fore- of Naples from fifty millions to at least stalling every idea of self-development

a hundred millions. This is repeated from below upward. We do not believe o gain and again, for Joseph was slow in in political Mahometanisin.

cppressing.* Napoleon's hostility to " Gothic insti. We do not believe that a candid and tutions" extended to all institutions, if reflecting man can read the volumes we understand by them, legal establish- of Napoleon's correspondence, without ments, with an independent organisma : coming to the conclusion, that with life and progress within themselves. whatever ideas and intentions that exHe became the very apostle of absorbire traordinary man may have set out, he centralism, the declared and uncompra.

ended as a worshipper of power, raising, mising enemy of self-government in eil as millions do in their different spheres, its details, to self-development-in 09 the means into the end--the great and word, to institutiocal, that is, to real ever-repeated fallacy of men and nations. liberty. We beliove we are strictly cor- The fundamental idea that the people rect in this opinion, and if we are, it is are the substantive, and governments, obvious that Napoleon was anything but systems, armies, nothing but means, a dictator. He was an absolute ruler- wholly vanished from his mind. Force, very brilliant, very great, and, for that power, glory, French glory, centered in reason, only the more absolute and dan- bim, came to be his idols; and soldiers, gerous, and he established and wished to money, people, system, were mere means establish absolutism, with unprivileged to serve them. equaliiy, in some degree, beneath it. We do not recollect in all these voEverything for the people, nothing by lumes, one expression about the meliorait.” Napoleon unfortunately represent- tion of the people. If there be, it has ed, intensely and absolutely, the vanity escaped us. The constant advice, iteraof the French, which maintained that ted to the satiety of the reader, is : acan entire new era must needs be ushered quire force, so that the méchants fear, in, and be ushered in through the French, and the loyal esteein you. “Strength is forgetting to do the needful round-about, what makes the people esteem governand that no introducer of a new era, has ments, and love with nations only means ever said so of himself. Self-praise is esteem." These are his words. ruinous in the individual; in history it At this stage, it may well be asked, is a proof of inefficiency regarding the was Napoleon a great statesinan ? Evobject of sell-praise.

ery one knows that he was a gifted poliIt is unnecessary to show here, how- tician; but was be a great statesman, ever instructive to the political philoso- taking this comprehensive terin in the pher it would be, how the very system highest meaning which it has acquired ? pursued by Napoleon insensibly led him Great statesmanship, in the advanced into many of the abuses of the decried state of our race, consists, in our opinion, feudalism, against which he set out. of three main elements-of being what The military superiority, his re-establish- Schlegel said the true historian must be, ment of fiefs, and of a nobility, chiefly namely, “the prophet of the past;" founded on military merit, show this secondly, of using the given means for among many other things. Nor did his the highest purpo-es; of eroking new hostility to corruption remain more con- means, and of effecting great things vith sistent. He hated the coleurs, the pecu- small means; lastly, of so shaping all lators; but he allowed his generals to measures and organizing all institutions, ex!ort money in foreign parts, and he that by their inherent character they repeats, time after timne, to Joseph, that will lead to a higher future, which, in he should enrich the generals, and see the political sphere of all nations belongbefore all to the greatest possible well- ing to the European family, is liberty, or

* The imperial notions of political economy, which, as it is well known, were very uncouth, present thein. selves in this correspondence, in a ludicrous light. Joseph constantly replied to Napoleon's demands of higher taxes and heavy contributions, that, so long as Sicily was not conquered, and peace established, all commerce was at an end, and the important products of the country, wine, vil, silk, and coarse cloth, would And no issue. Whereupon Napoleon answers that Joseph's reply announted to nothing, for if the English blockade put a stop to all exports, it also prevented specie (renumertir-) from leaving ihe country; what reason, then, was there that the government could not get at this wealth? And he was in the habit of ridiculing political economists!

VOL. 1.-2

a higher and higher degree of freedom. magnifying power of historical nearness, Every political measure, no matter how or else they take the word greatness in brilliant, that does not aim at this ulti- a different sense from what we do. mate end, is but meteoric, passing, futile. What constitutes a great man? The political destiny of all Europides is Greatness implies elevation of soul Freedom. It cannot be too often re- and nobleness of mind, above common peated; and, as we believe that it is the influences; but so soon as we apply the destiny of this peculiar race to cover the word great to individual characters-to earth, so we believe that the gospel and the artist, the author, the captain, the liberty are destined to spread over the statesman or the religionist, we always globe, or, which amounts to the same, mean conception and production on a as Christianity and liberty are destined large scale and of a high order, combined to be preached and worshipped one of with masterly execution-we mean these days, over the whole face of the action, not merely vast, but high, wide earth, we believe that the Europides will and of permanent effect. Erostratus was cover all lands.

no great man, though his name is menNow, Napoleon was totally deficient tioned to this day. in that element of high statesmanship He is a great man that produces with of the white race, which has been men- means insignificant in the hands of others, tioned as the third. He quieted France, comprehensive effects; that discovers a he developed many resources, he estab- continent in a crazy craft. He is greater lished order in mary cases, he concen- that becomes the representative of his trated, he stimulated, he ruled many age and utters forth clearly and boldly mirds, and attached them to himself, as the unspoken and discomforting yearnMahomet did, in a wonderful degree. ings of his own times—who delivers Napoleon knew how to give the electric his age of new ideas, and aids them shock to large masses—à sure attribute to struggle into institutional existence of greatness. He was brilliant beyond and permanency; he is the greatest any man of his and many other ages; who adds to this the perfection of but, with all this, he unfitted France for wholly new ideas and instils them political self-evolvement, for a real inter- into his age, and who organizes for the dal productive life, for freedom, and, in advent of a new future. The greater a exactly the same degree as he succeeded, man is the more he impresses, with his so he made it necessary for her to re- stamp, rot only the people of his own trace her steps, and to undo what he had period, but through it all future times. done, would she attain to liberty. As a The deeper you study history the surer matter of course, the same is proportion- you find the truly great man and his era ally true of the present emperor, whose

like threads interwoven in the tissue of avowed object it is, as we have seen, to the whole successive history of their Napoleonize France once more. Napo- race or nation. There is yet Miltiades leon's government was not, and never in the atmosphere we breathe in this was intended to be a mere bridge to a country, and there is Alfred in our daily better state of things. If it had been, doings. we must consider him a man much infe- With reference to this subject, and rior to what we have been accustomed speaking exclusively as historians, we to consider him ; for in that case, he has call Christ the greatest man.

His chosen means contrary to his ends. means were the smallest, his conceptions

Was Napoleon a great statesman with the greatest, his imprints the deepest, reference to that characterestic which his effects the vastest, the changes he we have given as the first? Did he find produced the most searching and es. the “ blue thread" of French history? sential. The merest deist, the total Our preceding remarks show that we disbeliever in Christ's gospel, must acdo not believe he has.

knowledge it as a historical fact, proAnd now as a last question connected vided he be a candid and a studious with our theme, we may ask :-Was, historian. then, Napoleon not the greatest man of If we apply these tests, it does not all history? Was he not, at least, the appear why Alexander was not at least greatest man of modern times, or of the as great as Napoleon, in conceptions last five centuries? Not only many as well as in doing comprehensive French, but even many others, consider things with small means. As a captain, bim the grea'est man of all ages. We was Hannibal not as great! What, inbelieve that they are blinded by the deed, makes Mohammed less great than “SIR,

him? As a ruler over a new empire Char- downfall was necessary if Europe was to lemagne was greater. He was greater, march towards liberty. If new difficultoe, as a seminator and preparer for ties have arisen, tbey must be overcome, new times.

Aristotle, Pope Gregory but they change nothing in the necessity the Seventh-that ecclesiastic Cæsar; of his downfall. We consider it pitiful -Luther and Shakespeare were greater to side in the present conflict with the men in conceiving, imprinting and plant- Russians, because, forsooth, we do not ing. In taking either of them out of the like the Turks. The Turks will one day history of our race, it would be far more be driven from Europe, and ought to changed than by striking out the name meet that fate, but Russian despotism of Napoleon. They bave tinctured all and arrogance must not on that account history; they have added elements be allowed to swell without repulse. which work and expand. Napoleon The fall of Napoleon was simply a histohas not. Even if the renewed empire rical consistency and necessity. were to last, which assuredly it will not, what advancing ideas does it add to the The following is the translation of the cultural treasures of our race? what letter we have promised to the reader. institutions ? Absolutisın is barren. Letter of Count Survillier (Joseph It produces great battles and great Bonaparte) to Francis Lieber. palaces. The whole system of what Lieber calls Anglican liberty is actually

Point Breeze,* 1st July, 1829. expanding and spreading without any ingredient of Napoleonism. Where are “I have only this day received your the vaunted idées Napoléoniennes ! The letter of the 22d of June, on my return Frenchman may connect some idea of from a jonrney of several days to New great enterprises with this term-an York. I have read the article which artificial harbor at Cherbourg, a road you have sent me; I return it immediever the Simplon-noble undertakings, ately as you desire. The number of but not as great as our ideas of a ship- works on the emperor Napoleon is so canal across the Isthmus or a rail way to large, that the catalogue of them alone California; still they are worthy enter- would be a work; you know many of prises, but where does the impartial them. I have under my eyes a work, historian find something he can call une entitled Commentarii di Napoleone, idée Napoléonienne, and put the mark on printed at Brussels in 1827, which is not it so that it can be recognized by all. mentioned in the list I return to you; We fear it will be found that every- nor is the work of Botta mentioned; thing truly deserving the name of an both are written in Italian. Among idee Napoléonienne, relates to stringent the works enumerated in the note in centralism, uniting, with the utmost pre- question, there are many which are cision, the administrative and executive evidently libels, payed for by the enepower of a vast country in the hands of mies of the revolution and the empire. one brilliant man--one of the weakest There are others-works of passion, governments, as history has shown; and dictated by disappointment and spite. well may Count Tribeaudeau say to Those of the writers of St. Helena Joseph, that certain it is, Napoleon fell themselves, contain details evidently with bis centralism, but it is not proved false; but they represent, in mass, suffithat the same would have befallen bim ciently well the general views of the with a truly representative government. emperor Napoleon. When these authors

From all we have said it will amply speak of individuals, aud when they appear that we no way agree with those write memoirs, they deceive themselves who deplore the fall of Napoleon, as an occasionally. I have the positive proof, irreparable loss for the people. The regarding that which concerns myself, in conduct of the monarchs who dethroned several cases. I have sent such evidence him led the people to sigh for the absent at the time even to Mr. Las Casas. The one, for his oppression was not felt work of general Petet, is that which when theirs pinched; but the acts of the seems to me to deserve the greatest consucceeding governments alter nothing fidence. Tbs younger Ségur has eviin the deeds and tendency of the dently had i'a view to reconcile himself emperor. His brilliant, crushing despot- with the rew court; grandson of the ism was worse, and whether or not, his marshal Ségur, who was minister of war

* Near Bordertown, New Jersey.

« AnteriorContinuar »