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NAPOLEON BONAPARTE. grandeur-greatness | extraordinary-unusual occurrence-event
period—time despondency-sadness oblivion—forgetfulness abdicated-gave up career-course, fate distinction-fate
cxpedients—tricks consistent-regular prejudices—failings dictates-orders
infallible-unfailing acceptation meaning obligations—ties tenacious—careful
imbecile-weak conscription—press gang tactics—plans declension—fall
recruit-young soldier fabulous-false
guilt-crime To trace the wild and irregular grandeur of his career, to mark the splendour of his rise or the gloom of his declension, would be to record those extraordinary events which have rendered the last thirty years the most important period of the history of the world. The memory of these occurrences comes upon us as the remembrance of a fearful vision. It is scarcely of the earth. It is like the dim legend of a fabulous generation. We might almost doubt of the important part which this man has acted on the great stage of the world, because the last act of his “ strange eventful history,” has been one of oblivion and obscurity ; because he has lain down, like the commonest among us, pining with despondency and wasting, with disease, to die in silence and solitude, with not a recollection of his glory about him. But his career has been one which can never be forgotten, either in its power or in its guilt. He will be the great mark of the age. For this is the man that carried revolution
ary France in triumph through Europe this is he that raised himself to the consular chair-this is he that sat down on the throne of the ancient kings of France, and put the iron crown of Italy upon his brow—this is he that kings and emperors bowed before, and that held queens captive, and gave princesses in dower-this is he that conquered at Jena and Austerlitz—this is he that seized upon the crown of Spain
—this is he that defied the frosts, as well as the hardy soldiers of the north, and fell before their united fury .--this is he that the power of England drove out of
Spain-this is he that abdicated the throne to which the revolution had raised him—this is he that leapt a second time into the seat of his usurpation, and whose power crumbled into dust on the day of Waterloo.
The character of Bonaparte was in itself remarkable but it is probable under ordinary circumstances, and in a tranquil state of society, he would have acquired only a secondary distinction. He naturally possessed talents of a superior order, but they were not the talents of a man who would have made himself great in any situation. He was ready in expedients, acute, and penetrating. He understood the human heart, and knew how to assail mankind through their passions, their vanities, or their prejudices; above all, he was intensely selfish, and when possessed of power, that selfishness stood him in the place of solid principles and consistent modes of action, by setting up his own will as his infallible guide, and determining him to act up to its dictates, however warned by the common obligations of humanity or justice, by the fear of God, or, by what is more im. portant to a selfish mind, by an apprehension of his own security. But Bonaparte was not a great man, in the proper acceptation of greatness. He possessed
no heart and no imagination; he was ignorant in some of the commonest branches of human knowledge; he wanted eloquence to sway individuals and bodies of men to his purposes; he was cunning and calcu. lating, but his prudence did not grasp any wide extent of action; he was almost ridiculously tenacious of his personal safety: he was as imbecile in adversity, as he was tyrannous in prosperity.
Bonaparte was a man that could not have succeeded except in a revolutionary period, amongst a people led away by pretence and arrogance, and in a state of society where there was no great strength of moral perception. Had he appeared in England, he would probably have died a captain of artillery. His morose habits-his reserve—his contempt of the decencies of life, would have been an infallible bar to his advancement. Amongst a moral people the post of honour is not to be taken by storm. But Bonaparte rose in France by the very force of those qualities which, under ordinary circumstances, would have kept him down. In the revolutionary war he soon acquired opportunities of distinguishing himself, and he soon contrived to render services to the republic which any other than one sacrificing every thing to ambition would willingly have avoided. He obtained the command of the army of Italy; his own character and the character of the revolution led him on to go to success. The secret of his triumphs is now easily understood. He fought against commanders conducting the great game of warfare upon a regular and formal system of tactics, at the least expense, at the least possible waste of human life, and with a prudence which, if it did not insure victory, did not render retreat hopeless. Bonaparte always set his fortune "upon a cast.” He won everything by risk
ing everything; he would assign thousands and tens of thousands of his own men to certain destruction, to insure the safety of the remainder; where other generals paid for the subsistence of their forces, Bonaparte plundered. Such a system was new, and therefore terrific. The world saw the activity with which he moved great masses of men, the fearlessness with which he attacked superior force, his contempt of the elements and of the barriers opposed by rivers and mountains to military movements—and whilst they wondered they were lost. He continued this practice from the commencement of his career to its closefrom the passage of the Alps to the flight from Moscow. We may form some idea of the wholesale destruction of human life which this system induced, by knowing that the annual addition to the French army, by conscription, was for many years upwards of 150,000 men, whilst in England the recruits of each year were not more than 5000. The world at last learned to imitate the boldness and the rapidity of his military movements, and it was reserved for Eng. land and her allies to beat him by the adoption of those weapons, and yet leave him in the exclusive possessiou 0. his system of plunder and bloodshed.
If we could divest ourselves of the abhorrence which we teel of Bonaparte's merciless principles of warfare, we should be ready to acknowledge that he was the greatest general of modern times. But it required even greater military abilities to defeat him, without sacrificing the principles of justice and humanity. This was accomplished by the Englishman who freed Spain from the yoke of his oppression.
THE BARD. haughty-high
i sanguine-blood red Conway-River in Wales Shewolf of France - Isabel sable-black
wife of Edward II. haggard-wearied | unrelenting-unpitying Cambria—Wales
fang-tooth sable warrior, the Black | obsequies-funeral rites Prince
zephyr-breeze towers of Julius— Tower rose--badgeof royal claim. of London
ants boar-Richard III. infant—the son of Edward Snowdon — mountain in IV. Wales
gorgeous-splendid attempered- tuned
On a rock, whose haughty brow
Robed in the sable garb of woe,
Sighs to the torrent's awful voice beneath ! O'er thee, 0 king! their hundred arms they wave,
Revenge on thee in hoarser murmurs breathe; Vocal no more, since Cambria's fatal day, To high-born Hoel's harp, or soft Llewellyn's lay. “ Mark the year, and mark the night, When Severn shall re-echo with affright The shrieks of death thro' Berkeley's roof that ring, Shrieks of an agonizing king !