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(evidently puzzled) What's that you say?-Arn. The Battle of the Frogs and Mice, the War of Troy, or the Travels of Ulysses ? Buon. No battles just now; we are on a voyage, let us have the voyagebesides, I know little of the Odyssey, let us read the Odyssey.'— vol. iv. p. 38. Now it is quite clear, from Arnault's being obliged to explain the subject of the Iliad as well as the Odyssey, that the hero knew as much about the one as about the other
that is to say, just nothing at all ; which, as we shall see presently, did not prevent his giving a very decided critical opinion on the father of poetry. Arnault was dispatched to fetch-a French translation, no doubt, of — the Odyssey, and when he returned, Buonaparte rang the bell for Duroc, and gave him orders not to let any one come in, and not to come himself till called. Then began the reading : but after Arnault had read a few lines, describing the feastings of the Suitors, Buonaparte burst out into ridicule of those ancient manners :
That's what you call fine !' he cried; these heroes are nothing but marauders, scullions, and kitchen-pilferers : if our army cooks were to be guilty of such conduct, I should order them to be shot.' In vain did Arnault endeavour in measured phrases to correct this style of criticism—he seems ashamed of it; and indeed we think, for mingled absurdity, ignorance, and stupidity, it exceeds anything we have ever read—the mistake of the Suitors for the heroes of the piece—the confounding the merits of a description with the nature of the thing described the overlooking the higher qualities of the poem for the inferior accidents-neglecting the countenance of the Apollo to examine his sandal—and measuring the manners of the mythological ages, by the standard of the suttlers and provost-marshals of the army of Italy— with fifty other corollaries which could be deduced from this short text, are, we think, wholly unparalleled, and only faintly shadowed, in the description of that other great military criticEnsign Northerton, in Tom Jones, who • damned Homo,' upon about the same degree of acquaintance, and with as much good sense, as Napoleon the Great. That's what you call sublime;' added he- but how different is Ossian from your Homer!' and taking up a volume of Ossian which lay on his table, says Arnault
like Homer, by the bedside of Alexander'-he began to read or rather to recite' his favorite poem of Temora.
. The education of this imperial Zoilus had been, however, somewhat neglected; everybody knows that he could scarcely write or spell *—Arnault lets us into the secret that he could scarcely read -hence we suppose
it is that we find in all the Memoirs about * See Quarterly Review, Vol. XIV. p. 77.
him, that he was generally, if not always, read to. But we shall give the curious passage in Arnault's own words :
• He began to read or rather recite Temora. Now he was very far from setting off (faire valoir) what he read. For want of practice in reading aloud, his tongue would make many slips (lui tournait souvent.) Sometimes by reading a t instead of an s, and again, an s instead of a the would make liaisons, which one might well call dangereuses--disfiguring the words—(estropiant les mots)- and sometimes putting one word for another--the effect of a hurry, which gare a character. rather burlesque than epic to his Ossianic enthusiasm and the swollen emphasis with which he uttered his text.'-vol. iv. p. 85.
Here is a perfect description of a clever child endeavouring to follow in print the lesson which he had already learned by s rote. We always knew that Buonaparte was almost illiterate;
but of so serious a deficiency in the mechanical art of reading we were not before aware. Now that the fact comes out, it explains to us a variety of little personal circumstances, which before passed unobserved in the various Memoirs of his life. While, however, he was thus delighting himself, and boring the obsequious Arnault, by calling Macpherson a sublime genius, and · Homer a dotard--the door opened it was Duroc.
6What's the matter ?” asked Buonaparte with a frown. “I have not Called-I have not rung." “ General,” answered Duroc, squadron is lying-to, General Kleber (the second in command) has taken the favourable opportunity of coming on board to see you-he is in the outer cabin.” Buon.“ Did I not tell you to wait till should ring-have I rung-why have you dared to disobey my orders ?” Duroc“I thought, General, that the peculiarity of the circumstance" Buon.-" You thought wrong-nothing justifies your disobedience-begone, and don't return till I call you-begone!"-vol. iv. p. 86.
Duroc retired disconcerted and mortified---Arnault was little less 50-at such a specimen of rigorous despotism, which would have been brutal anywhere, but was absolutely absurd at sea---in a fleet and when the report to be made was of an unexpected event, the lying-to of the fleet-and the arrival of the second in command, who took advantage of an opportunity which might not occur again during the voyage, and which might not itself last five minutes! and while, as Arnault says, Kleber might have thought the great inan was busied in arranging the affairs of the world, he was only stammering out Macpherson's fustian, and calling · Homer a dotard.' But we think (although it seems to have escaped
* L'Abbé de Pradt pronounced him to be profoundly ignorant. (See Quarterly Review, Vol. XIV. p. 94.) We take the liberty of referring to that article for a character of Buonaparte, which every subsequent work published about him seems to confirm.
Arnault) that we can-(not excuse, but)—explain this burst of brutality, that seems at first sight so unaccountable. Buonaparte, conscious of the little defect we have just alluded to, knew or fancied, that others might suspect it, and he was enraged that Duroc's intrusion should discover him taking his reading lesson from his (perhaps unconscious) preceptor! All the circumstances corroborate this suspicion—the sending Arnault (in order to conceal the real object) for a book, of which ten lines were not read-the strict orders not to be interrupted-the taking up the other book which lay ready on the table-(aboard-ship, books do not lie about accidentally the reading to the man who had been summoned to read to him, and the (on any other hypothesis unaccountable) rage at being discovered at these studies-all these circumstances satisfy us that our solution is the true one; and it is by such accidental traits that we are enabled to pierce through the cloud of flattery and falsehood with which Buonaparte took such incessant and infinite pains to surround, and to magnify, by obscuring it, his real character.
Arnault, as we have said, left the expedition at Malta, and on his return to France, was captured in the Sensible frigate by H.M.S. Seahorse. He gives a very fair narrative of the action and the results; and we are glad to find that M. Arnault's story not merely corroborates, but adds something to the short and modest account which Captain Foote officially gave of his victory. Capt. Foote's letter in the · Gazette' gives 18 killed and 37 woundedtotal 55 ; while Arnault states the total at 60, of which 15 were killed; the difference of the numbers of the killed was probably that three of the French died of their wounds after the prisoners had been removed. M. Arnault speaks with admiration of the beautiful order in which he finds the English vessel after the action, though she had been two years at sea--and with becoming gratitude of the generous and delicate attentions which he personally, as well as all his companions in misfortune, received from Captain Foote and his officers. The prisoners were released under a special cartel, at Cagliari, and Arnault finds his way back to Paris, where he resumes the very unimportant story of his literary life and society. In 1799 he produced his tragedy of the Venetians, which had considerable success. On Buonaparte's return, after a slight sneer at Arnault's desertion-which would probably have been more serious had not Buonaparte been so recently guilty of a still more heinous desertion he was again taken into a kind of subordinate confidence, through the influence, we suspect, of his brother-in-law, Regnauld, who now became the chief of Buonaparte's literary clique.
In the 18th of Biumaire, Arnault was, he tells us, one of the conspirators- how we apples swim!'-He was desired, it
seems, to write articles in the journals, and was even en : trusted with the composition of a song which was to rally the troops and the populace round the new standard ; he was also employed to carry messages and to do other little jobs connected with the plot; and from what he then knew, and what all the world has since known, he has compiled an account of that affair, which however has little or no novelty. One episode, which has something dramatic, we shall endeavour to abridge.
The affair, which had been frequently postponed, appeared at last definitively fixed for the 16th Brumaire; and, on the evening of the 15th, all seemed ready. Talleyrand, Roederer, Regnauld, and Arnault, were assembled at Talleyrand's house, waiting the word of command—but it did not come. Arnault, as least liable to be suspected, was sent to inquire of Buonaparte whether the affair stood for the morrow. In the meanwhile, Bertrand-Talleyrand,* to deceive any one who might chance to call in, made his rubber of whist, and Raton-Arnault was, on his return, to make a sign, to be understood only by the initiated. Arnault, on arriving at Buonaparte's, • found his salon full of everybody of every fashion--generals, legislators, jacobins, royalists, lawyers, abbés--a minister, a director, nay, the President of the Directory himself, against whom the plot was
and it seemed as if all parties knew what was going on and as if they were all conspirators. To see the superiority of Buonaparte's air in this motley assemblage, one would have said that they were all in his confidence.'- vol. iv. p.
354. While Raton was waiting to deliver his message, he witnessed a curious scene. The President of the Directory, honest Gohier, was sitting on a sofa with Madame Buonaparte, when Fouché, the minister of police, came in, and took, by invitation, his seat on the same sofa. • Well, what news, citizen-minister ? asked the citizen-president, sipping his tea with a satistied pomposity very comic under all the circumstances. • News ? nothing at all !' replied Fouché; 'only the usual gossip - What about ?' -Oh, of course, the conspiracy.' The conspiracy!' exclaimed Josephine, in a tone of alarm. • The conspiracy ! repeated the good president, incredulously shrugging up his shoulders. • Yes,' said Fouché, smiling, the conspiracy--but I know all about it. Give yourself no trouble, citizen-president; trust me, I am not the man to be caught napping. If there had been a conspiracy, I promise you that you should, before this, have had evidence of it on the Place de la Révolution (the site of the guillotine), or the Plain de Grenelle' (the scene of military execution); and
* Everybody knows that the chief success of M. Scribe's comedy' Bertrand and Raton,' arises from the resemblance which the Parisians see between Talleyrand and Bertrand.
he burst into a loud laugh. Fie, citizen Fouché!' said Josephine, “how can you laugh at such things ?' • Citoyenne, replied the imperturbable Gobier—who thought it gallant to say something to quiet the evident alarm of the lady, of the real source of which, however, he had evidently not the most remote idea—Citoyenne, the minister knows what he is about. Be at your ease; when one talks of such extreme measures before ladies, 'tis a proof that there is no occasion for them. Do as the government does—laugh at such rumours and sleep in peace ! After this singular conversation, which Buonaparte, who was standing by, heard with a smile, the guests retired, and Arnault had an opportunity of delivering his message. The affair, replied the general, is adjourned to the 18th. time to ascertain that I can do without them, what however I am willing to do with them.' Them, no doubt, meant the two councils, which Napoleon and Lucien were endeavouring to dupe, buy, or intimidate. Arnault returned to Talleyrand's, whom he found at his whist with Madame Grant, (not yet Madame de Talleyrand,) Madame de Cambis, and Regnauld. After reporting the results of his mission, Arnault and Regnauld stole away to an obscure printing-house to correct the proofs of the proclamation which was to announce the new revolution. The rest is known. Poor Gohier, who slept but too sound, was awakened by the guard which took him into custody. The councils were removed to St. Cloud; the Five Hundred were dispersed as the Long Parliament was, and as all similar assemblies must eventually be; Buonaparte became sole governor of France ; and when Regnauld and Arnault waited on him in the evening to congratulate him, he replied* If within one month we have not a general peace, in four we shall be on the Adige. In any case it is peace-peace--that this day has
That is what must be announced to-night at all the theatresthat is what must be published to-morrow in all the journals—that is what must be repeated in prose and in verse, and even in songs—and that's your affair (addressing Arnault); all variety of means must be used to fit the variety of tastes and intellects.'—vol. iv. p. 380.
Fifteen years of war-war-the bloodiest, the most extensive, the most aggressive, and the most unprincipled-are the best commentary on Buonaparte's pretended anxiety for peace ; his intended peace was indeed fit only to be announced on buffoon stages, and promised to the world in the street songs of hired ballad-singers.
Here M. Arnault closes the fourth of his volumes; the whole pith and substance of which might, as we stated in the outset, be comprised in one. He concludes by saying that he has now to tell the story of his former associates and friends-become emperors, kings, dukes, marshals, what not-shall he have,' he asks, leisure and time to tell it? We are not so inhuman as VOL. LI. NO, CI.