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became, to the conclusion of the period of his influence, the chief preoccupation of his mind. It is really astonishing that a man of his prodigious powers of intellect did not see what lay at the root of the whole matter; and even in our own day journalists often revert to the decline of the French maritime and colonial power, and to the diminution of the French spirit to emigrate. The evil was done during the Revolution by the strictly prohibitive tariff adopted by the democratic legislature. This annihilated the commerce of France at one blow. So much for the "illuminism " of the eighteenth century.
No doubt that other causes conspired to inflict injury on French maritime prospects. The sudden increase of wealth in England, accruing from the conquests of Clive in India, and the inventions of Watt and Arkwright at home, had necessarily reacted upon our mercantile navy. No such phenomenon was visible in France. Then, when the Revolution came, the blow struck at the aristocracy, deprived the navy of a large number of its most experienced and scientific officers. Whatever faults Louis XVI. may have had, it cannot be said that he was indifferent to the navy; on the contrary, he had a great taste for geography and the conversation of practical navigators. The expedition of La Perouse was, in a great measure, of his suggestion, and in the details of its preparation he evinced the greatest interest.
It was these decrees of the revolutionary legislature, substituting prohibitive customs laws to the previous tariff, which, at one blow, almost annihilated the French mercantile navy, which is the basis of all warlike maritime power. Bonaparte not only did nothing to alter or alleviate this system; but he committed more serious faults on the same side. He clearly saw that a peace with England, and a tariff regulated with a view to revenue, would procure him ample funds; but his apprehension was that we would be the chief gainers by a system which would flood France with British manufactures, which he erroneously supposed would be paid for solely by specie. As one evil propagates another, we find that towards the close of his career, among the causes which most powerfully nerved the north of Germany to arise up as one man, after the disasters of Russia, we find most prominent the Berlin and Milan decrees and their consequences—the aggravating destruction of so much British property, paid for by German money, mixed up with a political system, which, utterly useless to France, exasperated the Germans by the daily spectacle of a degrading bondage to a people who, however brilliant, were aliens in blood, in language, and in religion.
Napoleon erroneously imagined that by mere force of will a navy could be created after its destruction—as he himself, at a subsequent period, with marvellous celerity, reconstructed the armies of France after the disasters of Moscow and the Beresina. "The first year of a ministry," writes he on the the 14th of February, 1803, to his Minister of Marine, "is a year of apprenticeship; the second of your ministry is commencing. You have the French navy to re-establish. What a fine career for a man in the prime of life; and so much the more, as our past misfortunes have been so evident." The consul forgot that a sailor or naval officer cannot be formed like an infantry private or captain, after a few months' preparation.
In sheer activity no man in ancient or modern history can be compared to Bonaparte. Talleyrand used to say,—even condemning his errors, his sanguine temperament, his terrible irascibility, and the radical unsoundness of his judgment in the belief that there were no limits to the favours of fortune,—that in production, or the attainment of tangible results out of elements within his power, he knew no one to compare with him. In this respect, his pre-eminence was colossal, even when measured by the highest known standard. It is in his reverses that we find this quality particularly to come out. Take, for instance, the period that succeeded the terrible battle of Aspernn, when he was shut up in the island of Lobau, after having been so very nearly driven into the Danube by the Archduke Charles. Many another less active commander would, under such circumstances, have given way to despair, and regarded himself as check-mated. Not so Napoleon, whom we find full of resources and foresight, becoming a carpenter on the grandest scale, and day and night preparing that prodigious number of pontoons by which his army was so suddenly to appear on the northern bank of the Danube, and finish the campaign by the decisive battle of Wagram. Surrounded by his enemies he turned this island of Lobau into a temporary fortress, in which he was virtually unassailable, while the vast resources in pontoons which he prepared with such secrecy and expedition, rendered him at will the assailant. In the eighteenth century the whole art of war was reduced to dogmatical rules, from which the pedants would not depart; but here was a case for which no rules previously known were at all applicable. The problem had to be solved by extraordinary means, to which the previous history of the art of war offered no parallel. The secrecy with which the means were prepared, the ingenuity with which the enemy was deceived as to the points of passage, and the suddenness with which a whole army was thrown across a river at several points, overwhelming the advanced posts of the enemy so as to insure the passage of the rest, and a firm basis for ulterior operations, constituted altogether one of the most original undertakings in military history.
He used to say that the best theoretical school for the soldier was to read with care the campaigns of Caesar, Turenne, and Frederick, and other commanders; but, in truth, the record of his own singular career and of the other remarkable men of his own period—a Wellington, a Moreau, and a Massena—have now, in a great measure, superseded the memoirs of previous periods. How luminous are some of his brief sentences on this difficult art—"To disperse in order to subsist; and to concentrate in order to fight," and other such apothegms, in which we have the quintessence of the most valuable experience. Even where he utterly failed, we are struck with the magnitude and ingenuity of the operations, evincing such complexity without confusion. Witness the design to gather up all his scattered fleets and squadrons and nnite them to his Boulogne flotilla for the projected invasion of England. The scheme broke down through the matchless decision of Nelson, and the indecision of his own naval commander; bat it is impossible not to be struck with the boldness of the scheme and the probability of its success, although that success might have led to results in England, with the national spirit roused, utterly fatal to the imperial military power.
As a mere intellectual machine, there probably never was such a phenomenon. This showed itself not only in the grand operations of war, but even in the details of the lowest and least reputable operations of police. Witness, for instance, how one of our agencies in Germany was over-reached; how this person, anxious to get at the secrets of Napoleon and his military plans, was amused by a French agent who pretended to have access to the most secret papers of Bonaparte, and for whom the French ruler furnished simulated police reports, giving true details of unimportant matters relating to his own person, in order to colour false reports as to the more important parts of his policy.
This curious mixture of the possession of large views, and the practice of low cunning, colours all his career. He knew perfectly how and when to dissemble. The proposal in April, 1804, to make him Emperor seemed to take him by surprise: and, in fact, the artful and managing Fouche did take by surprise Cambaceres, the consul adjunct, and other ex-republicans, who saw and felt the fact of supreme power being in Bonaparte's hands, but could not make up their minds to so sudden a dereliction of republican appearances. The feigned hesitation of the first consul to have thrust upon him insignia and titles of empire remind us of the witty saying of a Roman soldier to Tiberius, after the death of Augustus—" Others," said he, "hesitated to perform what they have promised; but you hesitate to promise to accept what is already in your possession." The bold step once taken of both the outward signs and the reality of power, he at once showed that nature had designed him to be pre-eminently "a leader among men." Shakespeare says—" That new honours like new garments cleave not to their mould but with the aid of use." No probationary epoch is visible in the first year of the empire. The instinct of all the requirements of his new position showed itself the day after his nomination. From that hour the semicameraderie of his relations with the republican statesmen was at once laid aside for the dignity of imperial protection. The account which M. Thiers gives of the first levee almost creates a smile :—" Le personage admis au serment jurait ensuite, et 1' Empereur, se levant a moiti£ sur son fauteul imperial, rendait un leger salut a celui dont il venait de recevoir l'hommage. Cette subite difference introduite dans les relations entre des sujets et un souverain, qui la veille etait leur £gal, produisit quelque sensation sur les membres des corps de l'etat. Apres avoir donnd la couronne par une sorte d'entrainement, on dtait surpris, en voyant les premieres consequences de ce qu'on avait fait."
His stumbling-block was clearly his intolerable pride and insolence interwoven with his insincerity—the excess of the expression of the energy which we all admire. It was this, as shown in his speech of February, 1803, that had produced the rupture of the peace of Amiens, which, in fact, both parties had felt to be a truce. We say that this extraordinary insolence in which a nominal ally was, contrary to all diplomatic etiquette, pronounced incapable of contending with France, directly precipitated the rupture; but the continued surveillance of our arsenals by French agents, and a variety of other indications, had left no doubt that peace was not to be lasting. We find that, during the peace of Amiens, the government of Pondicherry and Chandernagore had been given to General Decaen, one of the most active and intelligent officers of the army of the Rhine, at once indicating that there was to be, at all events, an attempt at a renewal of the military and political rivalry with Great Britain. This officer had instructions not to give any umbrage to the English by revealing the designs of France. He was to put up with a subordinate position which destiny had made for the French in India, no longer able to contend with us as they had done a generation before, but all the relations with the princes were to be studied, their manners, their resources, and the means of communicating with them in case of war, so that, at a convenient time, use might be made of this information. Six months after his arrival, the results of these studies were to be sent home by an officer enjoying the confidence of the general, and able to give verbal answers on the points treated. Six months afterwards these questions were again to be treated, and communication a second time made by another officer equally able to inspire confidence and furnish the requisite information. This consummate mastery of what is called the Italian school of politics, as practised by the republics and princes of Italy in tho sixteenth century, was of great use to him in the early part of his career, but was at the same time one of the chief causes of his ultimate ruin. It was most conspicuous in the transactions of Bayonne, when Ferdinand was inveigled into a dishonourable captivity, and Spain, which was destined to engulph army after army, was fatally appended to the Bonaparte dominion. The intoxication and presumption of empire is nowhere more evident than on finding that he had made the most fatal of conquests; begun in perfidy, persevered in through enormous sacrifices; never once achieved, and wrenched from him when men and material were all essential to the maintenance of his very existence on the Rhine!" Soyez done digne de votre frere," he writes to Joseph, "sachez avoir 1'attitude convenable a votre position. Que me font quelques in surges, dont je viendrai a bout avec mes dragons, et qui apparemment ne vaincront pas des armees dont en l'Autriche, ni la Russie, ni la Prusse, n'ont prevenir a bout! Je trouverai en Espagne les colonnes d'Hercule, mais non pas les bornes de ma puissance!"
Two works lately published throw a great deal of light on the unhappy relations existing between the Emperor Napoleon I. and his brothers—the Memoirs of King Joseph, and the Memoirs of Marshal Marmont, of still more recent date. Their position was a most false one; in order to remain French, and to conciliate the French armies, they were obliged to sacrifice and alienate their own subjects. If they studied the interests of their subjects, and sought to make themselves popular, they disgusted the French armies, who taxed them with ingratitude to the cause of their elevation. In the money and provision straits of Spain, we find Marmont utterly disrespectful of the new dynasty at Madrid—levying contributions for his army almost at the gates of the capital, and rousing the indignation of Joseph, who saw taken from before his eyes the immediate resources not only for the support of the moderate splendour of his glimmering crown, but even the actual necessaries for his palace and his household troops. It is impossible not to admire the conduct of King Louis in such a dilemma. He not only had the good feeling to resign a monarchy in which he could not fulfil its first function of subserving the interests of the governed, but also the good sense to perceive that so falsely a constituted royalty added nothing to the power and prestige of France herself.
With the enormous genius and intelligence of Napoleon, with such unparalleled active powers, the balancing qualities of measured judgment and discretion present a frightful blank, which rendered the catastrophe perfectly inevitable. Long before the Russian expedition the Marquis Wellesley, with a glance of sure prophecy, predicted that such profuse expenditure of the favours of fortune were sure to end in military bankruptcy. At the time of the vast speculations of M. Ouvrard, and of their sudden failure, a Ion mot made the circle of Paris, "Que peut on s'attendre d'un millionaire qui vent devenir milliardaire." The imperial millionaire wished to become milliardaire, and the end was, first, the rules of the Elba Bench, and, lastly, the still more circumscribed precincts of St. Helena.
This unsoundness of his judgment, side by side with those powers of warrior, administrator, and legislator, in which he takes the very highest rank that history has assigned to mortal man, is most conspicuous in his policy towards Prussia. It was quite clear that France could not have all the leading powers of Europe as natural rivals or enemies. A rivalry existed at that time between Russia and Austria relative to the prospective shares of the spoils of the Ottoman Empire; for at that period nobody dreamt of the Porte becoming an integral member of the European family. Talleyrand, therefore, always counselled a moderate treatment of the Austrian Empire against the contingency of her being necessary to check-mate Russia. On the other hand, if the policy of France at that time made it requisite that Austria should be null in Italy, and not preponderant in Germany, it was equally clear that Prussia was the most obvious means of attaining this object. The Prussia of 1806 did not menace or interfere with the German possessions of France on the left bank of the Rhine. And her alliance with the France of the empire was not only the great barrier to Austrian ascendancy in Germany, but it separated Prussia from Russia. This was not only the sound view of Talleyrand and Cambaceres, but on going back over the history of that period it is impossible to come to any other conclusion than that this was the really statesman-like view. We see, in fact, how the most brilliant successes of Napoleon were the germs of his utter destruction. He inclined to this view himself while Austria was still a formidable military power, as is proved by the coquetry of his half-gift of Hanover to Prussia. But after the utter prostration of Austria by Ulm and Austerlitz, the other view (ultimately fatal to himself) took possession of his mind. Thus all the three great military powers of Europe were alienated, and, as his victories were accumulated and his dominion visibly extended, the moral isolation of France was the more frightful, and the elements of future universal explosion more dangerously accumulated. As to the campaign of Jena which followed, it was certainly, in a