« السابقةمتابعة »
homogeneous particles; or, as it is sometimes expressed, every whole is made of similars: that is, the lungs are composed of infinitely small lungs; the liver, of infinitely small livers; the kidney, of little kidneys, &c. Following this analogy, if any man is found to carry with him the power and affections of vast numbers, if Napoleon is France, if Napoleon is Europe, it is because the people whom he sways are little Napoleons.
In our society, there is a standing antagonism between the conservative and the democratic classes; between those who have made their fortunes, and the young and the poor who have fortunes to make; between the interests of dead labor, — that is, the labor of hands long ago still in the grave, which labor is now entombed in money-stocks, or in land and buildings owned by idle capitalists, - and the interests of living labor, which seeks to possess itself of land and buildings and money-stocks. The first class is timid, selfish, illiberal, hating innovation, and continually losing numbers by death. The second class is selfish also, encroaching, bold, self-relying, always outnumbering the other, and recruiting its numbers every hour by births: it desires to keep open every avenue to the competition of all, and to multiply avenues,
- the class of business-men in America, in England, in France, and throughout Europe, - the class of industry and skill. Napoleon is its representative. The instinct of active, brave, able men, throughout the middle class everywhere, has pointed out Napoleon as the incarnate democrat. He had their virtues and their vices; above all, he had their spirit or aim. That tendency is material, pointing at a sensual success, and employing the richest and most various means to that end, conversant with mechanical powers, highly intellectual, widely and accurately learned and skillful, but subordinating all intellectual and spiritual forces into means to a material success. To be the rich man is the end. “ God has granted,” says the Koran, “ to every people, a prophet in its own tongue.” Paris and London and New York, the spirit of commerce, of money, and material power, were also to have their prophet; and Bonaparte was qualified and sent.
Every one of the million readers of anecdotes or memoirs or lives of Napoleon delights in the page, because he studies in it his own history. Napoleon is thoroughly modern, and, at the highest point of his fortunes, has the very spirit of the newspapers. He is no saint; to use his own word, “no capuchin :" and he is no hero in the high sense. The man in the street finds in him the qualities and powers of other men in the street. He finds him, like himself, by birth a citizen, who by very intelligible merits arrived at such a commanding position, that he could indulge all those tastes which the common man possesses, but is obliged to conceal and deny. Good society, good books, fast traveling, dress, dinners, servants without number, personal weight, the execution of his ideas, the standing in the attitude of a benefactor to all persons about him, the refined enjoyments of pictures, statues, music, palaces, and conventional honors, – precisely what is agreeable to the heart of every man in the nineteenth century, - this powerful man possessed.
It is true that a man of Napoleon's truth of adaptation to the mind of the masses around him becomes not merely representative, but actually a monopolizer and usurper of other minds. Thus Mirabeau plagiarized every good thought, every good word, that was spoken in France. Dumont relates that he sat in the gallery of the Convention, and heard Mirabeau make a speech. It struck Dumont that he could fit it with a peroration, which he wrote in pencil immediately, and showed it to Lord Elgin, who sat by him. Lord Elgin approved it; and Dumont, in the evening, showed it to Mirabeau. Mirabeau read it, pronounced it admirable, and declared he would incorporate it into his harangue to-morrow to the Assembly. “It is impossible,” said Dumont, “as, unfortunately, I have shown it to Lord Elgin.” — “ If you have shown it to Lord Elgin, and to fifty persons beside, I shall still speak it to-morrow." And he did speak it, with much effect, at the next day's session; for Mirabeau, with his overpowering personality, felt that these things which his presence inspired were as much his own as if he had said them, and that his adoption of them gave them their weight. Much more absolute and centralizing was the successor to Mirabeau's popularity and to much more than his predominance in France. Indeed, a man of Napoleon's stamp almost ceases to have a private speech and opinion. He is so largely receptive, and is so placed, that he comes to be a bureau for all the intelligence, wit, and power of the age and country. He gains the battle; he makes the code ; he makes the system of weights and measures; he lovels the Alps; he builds the road. All distinguished engineers, savans, statists, report to him: so, likewise, do all good heads in every kind. He adopts the best measures, sets his stamp on them, and not these alone, but on every happy and memorable expression. Every sentence spoken by Napoleon, and every line of his writing, deserves reading, as it is the sense of France.
Bonaparte was the idol of common men because he had in transcendent degree the qualities and powers of common men. There is a certain satisfaction in coming down to the lowest ground of politics ; for we get rid of cant and hypocrisy. Bonaparte wrought, in common with that great class he represented, for power and wealth ; but Bonaparte, specially, without any scruple as to the means. All the sentiments which embarrass men's pursuit of these objects he set aside. The sentiments were for women and children. Fontanes, in 1804, expressed Napoleon's own sense, when, in behalf of the Senate, he addressed him, “Sire, the desire of perfection is the worst disease that ever afflicted the human mind." The advocates of liberty and of progress are “ideologists," – a word of contempt often in his mouth. “Necker is an ideologist;" "Lafayette is an ideologist."
An Italian proverb, too well known, declares, that, “ if you would succeed, you must not be too good.” It is an advantage, within certain limits, to have renounced the dominion of the sentiments of piety, gratitude, and generosity; since what was an impassable bar to us, and still is to others, becomes a convenient weapon for our purposes, — just as the river, which was a formidable barrier, winter transforms into the smoothest of roads.
Napoleon renounced, once for all, sentiments and affections, and would help himself with his hands and his head. With him is no miracle and no magic. He is a worker in brass, in iron, in wood, in earth, in roads, in buildings, in money, and in troops; and a very consistent and wise master-workman. He is never weak and literary, but acts with the solidity and the precision of natural agents. He has not lost his native sense, and sympathy with things. Men give way before such a man as before natural events. To be sure, there are men enough who are immersed in things, as farmers, smiths, sailors, and mechanics generally; and we know how real and solid such men appear in the presence of scholars and grammarians: but these men ordinarily lack the power of arrangement, and are like hands without a head. But Bonaparte superadded to this mineral and animal force insight and generalization; so that men saw in him combined the natural and the intellectual power, as if the sea and land had taken flesh, and begun to cipher. Therefore the land and sea seem to presuppose him. He came unto his own, and they received him. This ciphering operative knows what he is working with, and what is the product. He knew the properties of gold and iron, of wheels and ships, of troops and diplomatists, and required that each should do after its kind.
The art of war was the game in which he exerted his arithmetic. It consisted, according to him, in having always more forces than the enemy on the point where the enemy is attacked, or where he attacks; and his whole talent is strained by endless maneuver and evolution to march always on the enemy at an angle, and destroy his forces in detail. It is obvious that a very small force, skillfully and rapidly maneuvering, so as always to bring two men against one at the point of engagement, will be an overmatch for a much larger body of men.
The times, his constitution, and his early circumstances, combined to develop this pattern democrat. He had the virtues of
his class, and the conditions for their activity. That common sense, which no sooner respects any end than it finds the means to effect it; the delight in the use of means; in the choice, simplification, and combining of means; the directness and thoroughness of his work; the prudence with which all was seen, and the energy with which all was done, make him the natural organ and head of what I may almost call, from its extent, the modern party.
Nature must have far the greatest share in every success; and so in his. Such a man was wanted, and such a man was born, a man of stone and iron, capable of sitting on horseback sixteen or seventeen hours, of going many days together without rest or food except by snatches, and with the speed and spring of a tiger in action ; a man not embarrassed by any scruples ; compact, instant, selfish, prudent, and of a perception which did not suffer itself to be balked or misled by any pretenses of others, or any superstition, or any heat or haste of his own. “My hand of iron, he said, was not at the extremity of my arm: it was immediately connected with my head.” He respected the power of Nature and Fortune, and ascribed to it his superiority, instead of valuing himself, like inferior men, on his opinionativeness, and waging war with Nature. His favorite rhetoric lay in allusion to his star; and he pleased himself, as well as the people, when he styled himself the * Child of Destiny.” “ They charge me,” he said, “ with the commission of great crimes : men of my stamp do not commit crimes. Nothing has been more simple than my elevation : 'tis in vain to ascribe it to intrigue or crime. It was owing to the peculiarity of the times, and to my reputation of having fought well against the enemies of my country. I have always marched with the opinion of great masses, and with events. Of what use, then, would crimes be to me?” Again he said, speaking of his son, “My son can not replace me: I could not replace myself. I am the creature of circumstances."
He had a directness of action never before combined with so much comprehension. He is a realist, terrific to all talkers and confused truth-obscuring persons.
He sees where the matter hinges, throws himself on the precise point of resistance, and slights all other considerations. He is strong in the right manner; namely, by insight. He never blundered into victory, but won his battles in his head before he won them on the field. His principal means are in himself. He asks counsel of no other. In 1796, he writes to the Directory, “I have conducted the campaign without consulting any one. I should have done no good if I had been under the necessity of conforming to the notions of another person. I have gained some advantages over superior forces, and when totally destitute of every thing, because, in the persuasion that your confidence was reposed in me, my actions were as prompt as my thoughts."
History is full, down to this day, of the imbecility of kings and governors. They are a class of persons much to be pitied; for they know not what they should do. The weavers strike for bread; and the king and his ministers, not knowing what to do, meet them with bayonets. But Napoleon understood his business. Here was a man who in each moment and emergency knew what to do next. It is an inmense comfort and refreshment to the spirits, not only of kings, but of citizens. Few men have any next; they live from hand to mouth, without plan, and are ever at the end of their line, and, after each action, wait for an impulse from abroad. Napoleon had been the first man of the world if his ends had been purely public. As he is, he inspires confidence and vigor by the extraordinary unity of his action.
He is firm, sure, self-denying, self-postponing, sacrificing every thing to his aim,money, troops, generals, and his own safety also, to his aim; not misled, like common adventurers, by the splendor of his own means. “ Incidents ought not to govern policy,” he said, " but policy incidents.” “ To be hurried away by every event is to have no political system at all.” His victories were only so many doors; and he never for a moment lost sight of his way onward in the dazzle and uproar of the present circumstance. He knew what to do, and he flew to his mark. He would shorten a straight line to come at his object. Horrible anecdotes may no doubt be collected from his history, of the price at which he bought his successes : but he must not therefore be set down as cruel, but only as one who knew no impediment to his will; not bloodthirsty, not cruel; but woe to what thing or person stood in his way! Not bloodthirsty, but not sparing of blood, and pitiless. He saw only the object : the obstacle must give way. “ Sire, Gen. Clarke can not combine with Gen. Junot for the dreadful fire of the Austrian battery." ; " Let him carry the battery !” –“ Sire, every regiment that approaches the heavy artillery is sacrificed. Sire, what orders ? " Forward, forward !” Seruzier, a colonel of artillery, gives in his “ Military Memoirs” the following sketch of a scene after the battle of Austerlitz: “At the moment in which the Russian army was making its retreat, painfully, but in good order, on the ice of the lake, the Emperor Napoleon came riding at full speed toward the artillery. You are losing time,' he cried. Fire upon those masses ! thiey must be ingulfed : fire upon the ice!! The order remained unexecuted for ten minutes. In vain several officers and myself were placed on the slope of a hill to produce the effect: their balls and mine rolled upon the ice without breaking it up. Seeing that, I tried a simple method of elevating light howitzers. The almost perpendicular fall of the