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one cause of which, we apprehend, was the very circumstance of the author's being the great novelist. “Scott's last romance” was so taking a phrase! It furnished so smart a piece of ready made wit, that the temptation to use it was irresistible; and we all know how strong an impression a current mot always makes upon the
general mind. We grant that the extravagant anticipations which were naturally awakened in reference to the life of the greatest warrior by the greatest writer of the era, were by no means completely answered, and that occasionally national partialities and political prejudices are strongly exhibited; but whilst, in a literary point of view, it is undeniably a work such as few other pens of the period were capable of inditing, it is also, on the whole, we do not hesitate to affirm, one which renders ample justice to the character of its subject. For our own part, we must confess, we closed the volumes with the suspicion that Sir Walter had sometimes allowed a desire of being impartial to get the better of his judgment, and had exercised a degree of leniency, as well as indulged in a strain of encomium, not always to be jus. tified. Every thing, of course, depends upon the idea which the reader entertains of the emperor. If his enthusiastic admiration of his genius blinds him to its concomitants, he will doubtless be prompted to anger by the picture which is offered to his eyes; but if his vision be sufficiently strong to resist the dazzling influence of the warrior's exploits, to penetrate through the glitter and the prepotence of his intellect to the darkness and the feebleness of his morale—if he beholds in the light which he casts, not the genial radiance of the sun diffusing cheerfulness and vitality over the face of nature, but the lurid glare of a comet shooting madly athwart the firmament, and bearing pestilence and ruin in its train—if he contemplates in his career not the course of a majestic stream, on whose banks the laughing flowers “ drink life and fragrance as it flows,” and whose very inundations are a source of fertility and fruitfulness, but the rush of a fearful torrent sweeping away every thing that it encounters with remorseless violence-if, in a word, he perceives not an illusion but a reality, he will regard the deep shadows of the portrait as an evidence of the limner's fidelity and truth, instead of deeming them the offspring of a teeming imagination, and propensity for fiction.
Be this, however, as it may—even supposing that Sir Walter's volumes are replete with the errors imputed to them, is it so unusual a thing to mistake, are men so rarely liable to err, that he must be accused of wilful perversion and falsehood ? Why should his motives be impugned any more than those of the writer who chaunts an invariable pæan to the immaculate glories of the man of destiny? Is not such an individual entitled to form and express an opinion upon any subject, however repugnant to the sentiments of others, without rendering himself obnoxious to the foulest charge? Of all persons, indeed, who have communicated their thoughts to the world, Sir Walter Scott is one of the last whose objects should be vilified. Misled he might be by the fervour of his fancy–deceived he might be by the influence of prepossessions--but that he ever would knowingly have prostituted his pen to the propagation of calumny and lies, is an idea which we could not allow even to enter our mind. It requires a melancholy conviction of the frailty of human na. ture, to believe that a man whose whole life was spent in sustaining and emblazoning the cause of virtue, whose other productions all bespeak the utmost kindness of heart and elevation of soul, who has done more to delight and refine his fellow beings than almost any “light of the world” that has ever been granted to it by a beneficent Providence, could have been capable, by any possibility, of such miserable baseness. It would be far better for the interests of humanity, that some even unmerited blots should be suffered to remain upon an escutcheon already stained to a repulsive degree, than that a spot should be thrown upon one attractive
eye and inspiring to the mind by its unsullied purity and brightness. The name of Napoleon is not more glorious than that of Scott, notwithstanding the assertion of Mr. Leeman assertion, by the way, which smacks more of the major than the author. Which of the two “ demi-gods of fame” would men be most willing to erase from the records of existence? by the oblivion of whose works would they most lose? which has produced the greatest happiness and benefit, the victory of Austerlitz or the story of Waverley? who has reflected the greatest glory upon his species, the scourge and the destroyer, or the blessing and the creator. The one swept from the face of the earth myriads of fellow creatures, entitled as much as himself to the breath of life, formed by the same hand and endowed with the same attributes the other peopled it with beings who seem to be in constant communion with us of the most intimate and beneficial kind, warning us from evil, enticing us to good, friends and instructors illumining our thoughts, vivifying our feelings, and exalting our sentiments—the one spread desolation and death, the other exhilaration and good—the one combined with a towering mind a petty soul, the other presented a rare example of a beautiful intellectual and moral pre-eminence. No man can leave a glorious name, though master of the world, who is passion's slave:
s Puissant dominateur de la terre et de l'onde
Il dispose à son gré du monde,
Et ne peut disposer de soi”and such inability to command himself must prevent every right-thinking and rightfeeling person from desiring to wear him in his heart of hearts. The monument erected by Napoleon is one of human woe, drenched with the tears of the widow and the orphan, which“ smells to heaven;" but frail as it is offensive, every day undermines it and threatens its fall-whilst that of Scott, constructed with materials equally beautiful and durable, the admiration and gratitude of the world, is cemented and strengthened by the passage of years, and can only at last perish when sound sentiment and judgment shall be destroyed. If we could suppose (and why may we not?) that the spirits of the departed are conscious of the effects of the actions which they performed in this inferior state of existence, what difference must there be between the feelings of such beings as those about whom we speak! Contemplating the almost universal and absolute dominion of the proudest character which the productions of his mind exert, hearkening to the enthusiastic strains of grateful panegyric which are ever rising, like incense, from all quarters of the civilized world, perceiving that the knowledge and the appreciation of his works will extend with the advance of information and refinement, to the confines of the earth, and that his name will continue to be an object of praise and benediction to millions and millions yet unborn, until the globe itself which they will inhabit shall be dissolved -conscious of all this, with what rapture must not the spirit of Scott be forever filled! How sad the contrast presented by the spectacle which offers itself to the spirit of the conqueror! No “grateful memory of the good,” the richest reward of noble deeds, no blessings save such as can impart no satisfaction to one from whose eyes the delusions of mortality have been removed, are wafted towards him-he beholds the efforts of mankind engaged in effacing the effects of his exploits--the throne to which he had waded through slaughter, overturned, “no son of his succeeding”--the nation whose near prospect of freedom he had blasted, straining again to accomplish its holy purpose~the fields which he had ensanguined with his victories, resuming their verdant hue, and once more putting forth their fruit--the countries which he had prostrated before his footstool, again erect, and repairing the evils he had inflicted-all his great works, in fine, destroyed or daily disappearing, until naught but the recollection of them will survive, which, itself, will soon serve
no other object than that of pointing a moral, or adorning a tale! No, Major Lee, the name of Napoleon is not more glorious than that of Scott, unless the abuse of genius be more glorious than its use.
• Genius and Art, ambition's boasted wings,
Our boast but ill deserve. A feeble aid!
The remarks in which we have indulged, are by no means irrelevant: for the object of the volume before us seems to be quite as much the vilification of Scott, as the biography of Napoleon. It comprises five hundred and eighty-five pages, of which more than a half are accorded to an appendix, devoted mainly to the former pnrpose. Making allowance, indeed, for the difference in the type, the history embraces, perhaps, not so much as a third of the matter, though the whole is but a rivulet of text running through a broad meadow of margin. No inaccuracy of Sir Walter, however trivial, escapes the clutches of the author, or is ascribed to aught save the most malignant or paltry desire of misrepresentation, until the reader becomes as wearied with the minuteness and insignificance of the details, as displeased with the uncompromising tone of the censure. But if Major Lee has proved his ability in depreciating, he has also furnished conclusive evidence that he possesses at least equal faculties in the way of panegyric. The book is a perfect apotheosis of its subject—a resolute glorification from beginning to end, not only of the warrior, but the man. Scarce a virtue under heaven can be named, military, civil, or private, which is not vehemently attributed to the impeccable hero. Whilst his deeds are emblazoned as superhuman, the motives of them are paraded as worthily in unison, by their exalted, etherial character. No idea of self ever entered into his calculations --no! it was “ intense patriotism which animated his whole life; which warmed his boyish indignation; directed his youthful studies; inspired his greatest actions; and sanctified the dignity of his last request”—which being doubtless the case, the less intense patriotism there is in the world, the better. All the blood, too, which his intense patriotism constrained him to shed, appears to have rendered him an object of much deeper commiseration than the persons from whose veins it gushed—“instinct with heroic fire, his soul shuddered at scenes of cruelty and murder.” Unfortunate Napoleon! Sympathizing Major Lee! As an evidence of his abhorrence of murder, and freedom from all other frailties, the following anecdote may be cited from our author's text:
“ But his time was not altogether engrossed by the toils of war or the rude grandeur of mountain prospects. Scenes less inclement and softer contests occasionally engaged him. Among the members of the convention in attendance on the army
of Italy, was M. Thurreau—a gentleman whose personal insignificance in the deputation, was redeemed by the wit and beauty of his wife. This lady was not insensible to the merit, nor unkind to the devotion of the young general of artillery, who proud of his success, ventured to manifest his adoration, by ordering for her amuseinent, as they walked out on the great theatre of the Alps, an attack of the advance posts stationed below them.
“ The French party was victorious, but they lost some of their number, and as the affair could lead to no result, it was in every sense of the term a wanton sacrifice of brave men's lives. In his youth, his infatuation, and the compunction with which he remembered and confessed this criminal folly, indulgent readers may find some excuse for it. The incident is worthy of being recorded, because the faults of such a man are sacred to history, and because the intimacy out of which it sprung was the means probably of saving his life."
How the lover must have "shuddered” at being obliged to give this manifestation of his intense patriotism for the amusement of his mistress! “Criminal folly" in a hero, it is worthy of remark, means, according to our author's dictionary, adultery and wholesale slaughter in a common man. We live to learn. This was not the first time, by the way, that Napoleon was caught in the toils of the blind god, though the previous instance was not quite so much in keeping with his usual purity. Whilst in garrison at Valence in Dauphiny, he had been smitten with the charms of a Mademoiselle Colombier, and having engaged her affections, the two “ met one morning by day break in an orchard, where their passionate indulgence consisted in eating cherries together!" The loves of Francesca da Rimini and her swain, fade into insignificance before the attachment of this tender couple. Had they lived prior to the time of Dante, Mademoiselle Colombier would doubtless chiefly have claimed the poet's compassion and attention to her melancholy tale of guilt, as he passed through the città dolente, and been immortalized in his verse instead of the unfortunate Italian! Two lovers indulging their affection by a repast upon cherries! Horrible!
Besides his patriotism, aversion to blood, and chastity, "had Bonaparte cultivated rhetoric, he would have rivaled the greatest masters of eloquence.” His veracity also, maugre the proverbial phrase-tu ments comme un bulletin de l'empereur—is as pertinaciously vindicated as his other virtues. To uphold it, our author has the cruelty, to use the mildest term, even to enter into an elaborate argument, more remarkable for coarseness than strength, in support of the aspersion cast upon the unfortunate Marie Antoinette, that she was frightened from the arms of a paramour by the attack of the Paris mob upon the palace of Versailles, because the charge had been propagated by Napoleon. Now this monotonous strain of panegyric is not history, and if it be continued throughout the remaining volumes, as we fear is more than probable, the desideratum, in the words of Mr. Lee, of "an impartiał and accurate biography of the Emperor Napoleon,” will not be supplied by his production. It might be excusable in an oraison funébre, where it is understood to be a sort of duty to pour whole vials of sweetest perfume upon the memory of the deceased without any commixture of acid; but such a proceeding in a work aspiring to historical sobriety and dignity, immediately awakens suspicion, and injures the effect of even the merited encomium it may contain.
The merely narrative portions of Mr. Lee's volume are by far the best. He fully sustains in them the reputation he has earned of being one of the most spirited and vigorous writers of the day. His military acquirements impart a satisfactory clearness to his relations of battles and campaigns, whilst the con amore spirit with which he tells them, arouses a corresponding sentiment in the bosom of the reader.. He here exchanges, moreover, the measured march of his style in other parts, for a quick step, if we may so speak, more in harmony with the rapid movements par
ticularly of Napoleon's warfare. We may quote his account of the victory over the sections of Paris as a fair sample.
“While these vain discussions were prolonged, Lafond, at the head of a column of the insurgents who had intimidated Menou, marched about half-past two o'clock from the section Lepelletier to the bridge called Pont Neuf. At the same time, another column from the place de l'Odéon, approached in the opposite direction, and formed in the place Dauphine, at the south end of the bridge. General Cartaux, Bonaparte's former commander at Toulon, had been stationed at this bridge with four hundred men and four pieces of artillery, and with orders to defend both ends of it. But unwilling to come to blows, he retired down the quay to the railing of the Louvre, and allowed Lafond, without obstruction, to join in triumph his friends, in the place Dauphine. The insurgents, at the same time, took possession of the jardin des Infants, and occupied, in force, the front and steps of the church of St. Roch, the theatre Français, and the hotel de Noailles, so as to hold possession of the Palais Royal, and the great street of St. Honoré, and to close in upon the posts of Bonaparte as nearly as possible. Women were sent forward, at all points, to tempt the men from their colours, and even the popular leaders themselves advanced, with flourishing and fraternal gestures, in the hope of corrupting them.
“ Thus the day was passing away, one side threatening to attack, the other resolved on defence, when about half past three in the afternoon, the rebel commanders, apprized of the state of feeling in the mass of the nation and the ranks of the army, saw the necessity of precipitating matters. To cover their violence with the respectability of peaceful forms, and probably in hopes of overawing the convention, they summoned the government by a flag of truce, to remove the troops whose presence menaced the good citizens of Paris, and to disarm the men of terror as they denominated the volunteers, who were arrayed against them. Their herald was conducted blindfolded to Bonaparte, by whom he was introduced to the executive committee, as to the council of a besieged garrison. His threatening language agitated them sensibly, but did not overcome their resolution. The shades of evening were now approaching, and parties of the insurgents had glided from house to house, so as to get into windows within gun shot of the Tuileries. Bonaparte, with a view of strengthening his reserve, had eight hundred muskets and a supply of cartridges, conveyed to the hall of the convention; a measure which although it alarmed some of the members, by showing them the full extent of the danger, committed all irretrievably in the contest, and enabled the resolute in case of need, to give the modern Gauls a warmer reception, than their ancestors had experienced from the senate of Rome.
“About half past four, when an orderly dragoon had been already shot in the street St. Honoré, and a woman wounded on the steps of the Tuileries; and when the head of Lafond's column was seen approaching the Tuileries on the opposite side of the river, Bonaparte determined to put forth his strength. Sending orders to his posts on the Seine, to open a fire of artillery on Lafond, he hastened to the street Dauphin, where one of his detachments was menaced by a large body of the national guard, drawn up in front and on the steps of the church of St. Roch, and preparing to force their way to the Tuileries. To run forward his pieces, and pour upon this party repeated discharges of grape shot; to drive them with general Berruyer's volunteers from the front and steps of the church into its body; and then, pointing his cannon up and down the street, to clear that important avenue of the enemy, was the work of a few minutes. Leaving that post and a very guarded pursuit
, in charge of an approved officer, he galloped to the river. Danican and Maulevrier had united themselves by this time with Lafond, and they were all three, with about seven thousand men, advancing in close column and at the charging step, along the quay upon the Pont Royal, which, emboldened by Cartaux's indecişion at the other bridge, they hoped by one determined effort to carry. With the battery at the Louvre, that at the Pont Royal, and with pieces planted at intermediate points along the quay of the Tuileries, Bonaparte directed a rapid discharge of grape shot on the front, flank, and rear, of this dense mass. The effect was of course murderous. The insurgents showed no want of courage, and though they several times wavered and broke, were as often rallied. Lafond proved himself a hero. Remembering the weakness of Menou, and impelled by his own fierce valour,