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about our conclusions on the subject, and will be better pleased if he shall have toiled through the prolix article with which we have presented him, to be left to the undisturbed exercise of his own judgment.
Art. VIII. Jugement sur Buonaparte, addresse par le General Dumourier a la nation Frangaise, et a 1'Europe.
Analysis of the CJiaracter and Conduct of Bonaparte, addressed to the French Soldiery, and the People of Europe, by General Du~ mourier. Translated from the French by Mr Elder; to which is subjoined the original text, 8yo. pp. 122. London, Hatchard. 1807.
Mr Elder states in the dedication of his translation, that he requested a friend, who lives in habits of intimacy with Ge* neral Dumourier, to inquire whether or not he was the real author of this piece. The General answered that he was, and that he gave full liberty to publish his declaration to this purpose? adding, at the same time, a good deal of invective, in the style of the pamphlet itself. Satisfied with this evidence, Mr Elder was anxious to make the work known in our language, conceiving that it is calculated to produce an excellent effect in the present crisis, by giving • a most intelligent and faithful exposition of the conduct and character of a usurper, whose flagitious darings have spread ruin and desolation throughout a great portion of the European world, and even menaced Great Britain with invasion '—and by proving most satisfactorily, that 'notwithstand-. ing his successes have been unusually rapid, he is not entitled to the character of a general on whose judgment an army can safer ly rely in any pressing emergency.' Such are Mr Elder's views of his subject; and as for his author, he is 'universally considered the most skilful, experienced and gallant officer of the present age, and hath likewise been distinguished in France, and on the Continent, as the most profound statesman that has ever adorned the annals of his country.' Bonaparte and Dumourier being thus satisfactorily disposed of, we may just mention, before proceeding to the original work, that Mr Elder's proper task of translation, is very ill executed. He nowhere does justice to the spirit of his author,—frequently mistakes his meaning,—and in almost every paragraph, takes liberties with the composition, which are as much beyond his province, as to pass judgments on the military character of these two celebrated. men.
The 'Jugement sur Buonaparte,' is distinguished by most of the qualities which may be remarked in the former productions of General Dumourier,—great fluency of argument—such ingenuity as always convinces the reader that he could have said an equal number of equally plausible things on the opposite side of every question which he discusses—considerable rashness in stating decided opinions upon very difficult subjects—and, on all occasions, an exclusive attention to his own side of the argument—a certain facility in bringing together various details, which is apt sometimes to pass for the talent of forming large and comprehensive views, when in reality it may only be an enumeration of particulars seen partially through the medium of some theory—a style, frequently declamatory, but always lively. Those who chuse to peruse this tract in the original, will at least be entertained by it; and it would be in no small degree interesting, could we believe that it contained the sober and matured opinion of one distinguished commander upon the genius of another, and that no considerations of interest, with reference to the people of this country, whose prejudices it flatters—and no- feelings of personal irritation towards the government of France had entered into the author's mind, while preparing to pronounce sentence upon the professional merits of his great contemporary. At any rate, the subject is extremely important* The fortunes of the world hang, at this moment, in a far greater degree than at any former period of its history, upon the will, and the destiny of a single individual; and, unhappily, there is no point of material consequence in the situation of any European country, which may not be discussed, without a digression, under the title of General Dumourier's work. We shall, therefore, lay before our readers the opinions of this clever speculatist, and shall suggest the remarks to which they lead, both respecting the individual who is the more immediate subject of the treatise, and the present state of Europe in general.
Our author sets out with some remarks upon the unfairness and the folly of judging by the event. He inveighs, in the common way, against the thoughtlessness of mankind, who estimate merit only by the standard of success, and give those honours to fortune which should be reserved for talents and virtues. The uniform good luck which has attended Bonaparte, has, it seems, dazzled the world, and prevented them from perceiving that he is merely a fortunate adventurer; one who owes to pure accident, whatever he has not gained from the weakness of his adversaries. He does nothing according to principle or system; his rashness cpujd only be kept from working his mftant deliruction, by the infatuation fatuation of his enemies. His whole career has been a feries of defperate blunders, the lead of which, in any other period of the world, muft have proved fatal. His crimes are (till more aftonifhing than his temerity; and as his fortune cannot hold out much longer in fpite of the latter, fo his punifhment is furely preparing by means of the former. In government, violence and caprice ;— in policy, falfehood and precipitancy ;—in military affairs, want of fcience, of circumfpe&ion, of felf-command,—fupplied by nothing but a blind and headlong reliance on his own fortune. Such are the boafted talents which have made Buonaparte illuftrious, becaufe men have been dazzled by the mere accident of his fuccefs, and never inquired how little he deferved it.
It is lingular enough, that our author, after thefe fatisfaftory obfervaticns, immediately falls into the very train of reasoning which he bad been condemning fo fharply. The term of Buonaparte's unaccountable fuccefs, he fays, is at laft arrived ; Providence has refcrved for the Emperor of Ruffia to ftay this fcourge of nations.; he is ftopt in his career, and about to receive his punifhment. And now, he adds, when the falfe glare of good fortune is for the firlt time removed, we are enabled to form a juft eftimate of his pretenfions to the character of greatnefs. In fhort, this tract was written immediately after the news arrived of the battle of Eylau. General Dumourier then concluded, that every thing was going wrong for the French caufe. He faw the tide of fortune turned, and he immediately formed, or at lead pronounced, his judgment upon Buonaparte, entering, as was then fuppofed, on a long courfe of difafters. So that this extraordinary man, while covered with unparalleled triumphs for ten years of almoft conftant victory, is only to be marvelled at, becaufe he fucceeds without deferving it; and as foon as he receives fomething like a check, it is no longer fortune, but defert. Let him fucceed a hundred times; it is all good luck. If he fail but once, it is his own fault; and this finale failure is made the rule for judging of all his former fuccelTes. It may, however, at once expofe the futility of our author's reasoning, if we mention the following topic, to which indeed, in common with other declaimers on this fubject, he frequently recurs. After afierting, that he owes every thing to good fortune, and to the weaknefs of his enemies, that 'all the powers of the Continent have fupplied the ftones of which the pedeftal of this coloflus is built,' and that ' his career has been brilliant but eafy ;' our author adds, ' if indeed he could have ftopt after the peace of Amiens,—if he had not feized the iron crown,—if he had not affaffinated the Duke d'Enghien?—if he had pardoned Pichegru and Georges,—if he had pteferved, by cultivating the arts of peace, the beft fruits of his victories, and had reftored the lawful princes to the throne of France—' alors Buonaparte eut ete le plus grand homme que I'hifloire pa/see, prefente et future, eut prefente h Fadmiration des Jiecles.' This at once deftroys his whole doctrine of Buonaparte having only an ordinary genius; for furely, the addition of extraordinary moderation and virtue, to common• rate talents, cannot conftitute 'fuch greatnefs as the world never faw.' And if our author means to tell us, that true greatnefs of character depends as much upon worth as genius, he is only repeating a verbal criticifm, as trite as it is trivial; which, if admitted to its utmoft extent, merely proves, that a character may be very great, without attaining the utmoft conceivable pitch of greatnefs.
General Dumourier proposes to justify his disbelief of Buonaparte's military talents, by a particular analysis of his conduct and that of his enemies, during the three last campaigns;—the War with Austria in 1805; with Prussia in 1806; and the present war with Russia, down to the battle of Eylau. It is unnecessary, and might perhaps appear presumptuous, to follow this analysis minutely. Certain general considerations, which occur to persons not conversant with military affairs, are sufficient answers to the author's inferences, even were we to admit the whole of his details, through respect for so great an authority. But there are also defects in his reasoning, on points of military science, too obvious to have escaped him, had he not been warped by his theory, and set out predetermined to find every thing wrong which both Buonaparte and the allies have done, and every thing quite practicable which either party has omitted.
The campaign of 1S05, according to our author, was a contest which party should commit most mistakes. England having done nothing to create alarm on the North coast of France, and Prussia shewing no symptoms of hostility, but, on the contrary, remaining firm in her neutrality, as Buonaparte well knew, from the venality of the cabinet of Berlin;—he was enabled to reinforce Massena, and to march with all his troops into Suabia. The blunders of Austria at the outset were obvious; they have never been denied. But the hostile seizure of the Elector of Bavaria's person, and the forcible incorporation of his army with the Emperor's, are surely not the omissions which we have most reason to regret. General Dumourier forgets, that the Elector accused the Emperor of having suddenly demanded the dismission and incorporation of his army; and of having, on a refusal, seized upon the electorate.. The Emperor too admitted, that, whatever ever were his demands, he had ordered his army to march, whether they should be complied with or not.* Here, then, was just as much violence as heart could wish; but the execution was not so prompt as such violent policy requires; and Austria had the full credit, without reaping the benefit, of those reprehensible councils. We take the liberty of suggesting, that the grand error, in so far as regarded Bavaria, was the omitting to ascertain, beforehand, whether the influence acquired by France over the court of Munich, from the affair of the indemnities, had been extinguished,—or, indeed, expecting that it should be extinguished,—or ever imagining that the Elector could hesitate which of the two dangers he should chiefly shun, a rupture with France, or a breach with Austria. Then, if the war could not safely be commenced without Bavaria, it should have been delayed ; or, if it must be commenced, and in spite of Bavaria, it should only have been begun, when Austria was able, at one and the same time, to give France the alarm, and to march through that electorate. Such movements, indeed, require a certain time; and Buonaparte must necessarily have learnt that they were in preparation. Then, he could hurry his army through Flanders and cross the Rhine, as soon as he was assured of the dispositions of Austria. But in what does superiority of policy, aye, and of military address, consist? Is there no skill in moving exactly at the right time,—and to the proper place,—and with the requisite degree of celerity? The plain truth is, that Austria went to war too soon;—and, having resolved on war, she delayed her operations too long. France committed no such mistakes; and beat her accordingly.
But, though the campaign in Suabia occasioned the loss of Vienna and the retreat from Italy, our author says, that, until the battle of Austerlitz, the affairs of the allies might easily have been retrieved. Buonaparte had advanced to a vast distance from home,—both armies were in want of provisions,—a general engagement alone could have saved the French. The allies, therefore, should have left a garrison in Olmutz, and an army of observation in Teschen ;—they should have rapidly marched oft towards the Upper Palatinate, by Prague and Egra. In that country they would have found abundant supplies, and might have fallen upon the camp at Schellenberg on the Danube without delay; thus forcing the enemy to retreat, in order to avoid being cut off from his communication with the Rhine. This retreat, our author conceives, would have proved fatal to him, pursued
* See Hi/iarical Rrfrefentation, Sept. 29. 1805, and dujlrian Apfiver, Oftober 16,