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called the great,' lay in the scale of their respective exploits, in the narrowness or boundlessness of the field on which the common faculty for mischief and lust of rapine was displayed. Nor, if Jonathan had not committed the mistake of getting hanged, it is by any means clear to our minds that he would have failed to command a considerable amount of admiration from the modern school of hero-worshippers, whose sole criterion of merit is success. With them, the means or instruments are little or nothing; the results everything. In their eyes, it is comparatively immaterial whether the coveted celebrity, elevation, or aggrandisement is attained by appealing to the noblest or the basest feelings, by the unbought suffrages of the wise and good or by flattering and corrupting the foolish and the bad
“Flectere si nequeo superos, Acheronta movebo.' Let the aspirant only climb or creep to the highest pinnacle, let him become the enslaver of his country or one of the arbiters of the world's destiny, and he receives full absolution for the past. He has done no wrong; he do none.
Let him, on the other hand, be checked, like Washington, by patriotism or public virtue, and he is relegated at once to the second or third rank of greatness; if, indeed, he is admitted to be in any sense great. Cæsar, Cromwell, and Napoleon are the three self-raised men, the three architects of their own fortunes, who have filled the largest space in history. None of these was ever troubled by a scruple when a decisive step was to be taken or his personal position was at stake; and it is a remarkable fact that the one amongst them whose rise and career
are the most wonderful, was the freeest from any sort of moral restraint whatever.
Some thirty years since a prize was offered at an Italian university for the best essay on the thesis : •What man since the creation of the world has acquired the most extended celebrity?' The pre-eminence was awarded to Napoleon, and a similar pre-eminence would be awarded to him if the question had been, What man since the creation of the world has combined so much that is mean, petty, wicked, and reprehensible, with such lofty ambition, such comprehensiveness of view, such grasp of mind, such superhuman energy, such versatility of genius and capacity?'
It may fairly be assumed that M, Lanfrey had this or some such question in his mind when he planned his history, for its clear scope and tendency throughout are to disabuse the public mind of a cherished error and at least compel a discriminating judgment from posterity. He is the most useful and enlightened of iconoclasts. Improving on Oxenstierna, he says in effect: “Go and see with how little principle the world is governed; by what paltry arts it may be deluded and enslaved: how power, rank, titles, honours, may be won and kept by talents and qualities combined with knavery and effrontery, which would have been missed or forfeited by the same talents and qualities combined with a sense of honour and self-respect: how often men
are exalted by their worst qualities and depressed by their best!' For it is not simply the central figure, with its colossal proportions, that is made to point the moral. The attendant groups are graphically sketched as illustrations of the epoch, and,
as was to be anticipated, the circling satellites reflect the spots without the splendour of their sun.
The discriminating estimate of Napoleon's character and conduct which now bids fair to become the recognised one, was formed and expressed half a century ago by English writers and statesmen, whose earnest warnings and high-toned protests were attributed to national antipathy and prejudice. * How little progress had been made till recently in dissipating the delusive halo that enveloped his name, is shown by the influence of M. Thiers’ ‘History,' which made that name again a spell to conjure with, a thing of life and motion, which wafted back in triumph the cherished freight of bones (not ashes) from St. Helena [?], blew the slumbering embers of Imperialism into a flame, and led by an obvious train of causes to the restoration of the dynasty. Factitious effects are never lasting. A rude shock was given to the military infallibility of the idol by Colonel Charras, when he ruthlessly exposed the blunders of the campaign of 1815, with the falsification of facts, dates and documents subsequently perpetrated to cover them. Messrs. Erckmann-Chatrian, the authors of "Le Conscrit de 1813' and 'Waterloo', did good service by showing the cost of glory in national suffering and privation, and the terrible retribution that may be exacted when the parts of vanquished and victor, invaded and invader, are reversed.
But it was reserved for M. Lanfrey to complete the disenchantment, to cast down the brazen image, and compel even worshippers to acknowledge that their adoration has been often miserably misplaced.
* We may refer our readers to some of the earlier numbers of the Quarterly Review' in which the real character of Napoleon was exposed.
The contrasted characters of the two writers, approaching their subject from diametrically opposite directions, rendered inevitable the startling discrepancy between M. Thiers and M. Lanfrey. The brilliant historian of the Consulate and Empire started with a determination to award the entire credit of success to Napoleon when he succeeded, and to throw the entire blame on his subordinates when he failed; to praise everything that could be praised with a semblance of reason or plausibility, and to excuse or palliate everything that by no possibility of construction could be made to bear praise. He rarely, if ever, thinks of submitting any Napoleonic scheme or exploit to the ordeal of principle, until it has been condemned by what he calls la justice des temps,' i. e. by the event; when he blames it (as Fo hé blamed the execution of the Duc d'Enghien) more as a blunder than a crime. Now, it is the intensity of the moral sense, the love of right, the hatred of injustice, the scorn of falsehood, that constitute the strength of M. Lanfrey, and have enabled him to move among the accumulated mass of trustworthy and apocryphal materials at his disposal, armed, as it were, with the Ithuriel spear of truth. Incomparably the most important of these, constituting, indeed, the groundwork and main dependence of his work, is the Correspondence of Napoleon,' of which the 28th volume, bringing it down to July, 1815, has recently appeared. But a startling amount of new
* Correspondance de Napoléon Ier., publiée par Ordre de l'Empereur Napoléon III. The first sixteen volumes, ending August, 1807, were published without alteration or reserve, and it is these which have been principally laid under requisition by M. Lanfrey, whose fourth volume material for Napoleonic history has been brought to light within a few years in the shape of Memoirs, Letters, and Despatches, and the whole of these have been subjected to the minutest investigation by M. Lanfrey, who has thereby been enabled to light up his varrative with numerous traits and touches that give it an air of novelty, even when the scene is crowded with familiar faces and the main action is well known. In his pages the boyhood and early youth of Napoleon arrest attention, although one would have thought that there was nothing new to be said or suggested till we come to the period when the germs of ambition began to stir in him and the distinctive features of his character were fixed.
'I was born,' to use his own words, when my country was perishing; the cries of the dying, the groans of the oppressed, the tears of despair, surrounded my cradle from my birth.' So ingrained were these Corsican influences, that he narrowly missed becoming a patriot on a small scale, the vindicator of the oppressed of his native contry, instead of the oppressor of half the countries of the globe. To re-enact the part of Paoli and restore the independence of Corsica, was more than the dream of his boyhood. It was his highest ambition for five years after he received his first commission; and for the realization of this project closes with the battle of Essling (May, 1809). The efiect of this unreserved publication on the great man's memory having disappointed expectation, a fresh Commission was issued in 1864, with instructions to be more cautious. The last twelve volumes, therefore, are by no means so promising or so valuable. A capital selection has appearer? under the title of Napoléon Ier Peint par Lui-même. M. Raudot, Ancien Représentant de l'Yonne.' Paris, English Essays III.