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and he gained his point, no matter how ridiculous that point might be. In considering Napoleon, it is amazing to find how often people fall into the error of estimating the profundity and grandeur of his conceptions by the great effects their execution had upon the world. The decree of Berlin, for instance, was anything but a great conception, yet it directly brought about some of the greatest movements in history.
Looking at the matter from an unprejudiced point of view, we really cannot understand why Napoleon should be called a great diplomatist any more than we can see why a robber, who holds a pistol to your head and demands your money or your life, should be called a persuasive man, because you give him what he asks for. There is scarcely an instance where this "great diplomatist" brought a diplomatic negotiation to a successful close without the employment of threats or force. To put it paradoxically, he won his peaceful victories at the point of his sword. Nor will his most important political measures bear scrutiny if examined on their own merits. The decree of Berlin, the formation of the Confederation of the Rhine, the establishment of Joseph on the Spanish throne, the marriage with Austria, are now admitted, even by his most ardent admirers, to have been stupendous blunders which would have ruined any other ruler, and which even his extraordinary military genius could only partially repair. His domestic administration during the two years of nominal peace that followed upon the conclusion of the Treaty of Amiens is often pointed at with admiration, though with what reason we fail to see, unless a systematic endeavor to centralize despotism in the person of a ruler be regarded as an evidence of good government.
Napoleon certainly was, what Lanfrey calls him, a wonderful organizer of despotism, and he devoted all his tremendous powers, during those short years, to reducing the personal and political liberties of his countrymen to a minimum. He was so successful that, had his insane ambition allowed him a few more years of peace, he would undoubtedly have reduced the French people to a deeper state of degradation than that in which they had lived before the great revolution. In return for their liberties he built them some excellent roads and dug a few canals-facts which his admirers are continually bringing forward in proof of his greatness as a ruler, just as defenders of the Second Empire replied to all criticism upon
the state of the country by triumphantly saying, "See what a magnificent city Napoleon III. has made of Paris."
Napoleon's fame as a legislator is shown to be built on a still weaker foundation of fact than his fame as a diplomatist and statesman. Many people probably imagine that the great code that bears his name was, in the main, the product of his single mind, whereas it was, in reality, the collective work of a body composed of the best jurists in France. He cannot even lay claim to the merit of having first recognized the necessity for the framing of such a code. The_governments of the Convention and the Directory both passed laws to the effect that this great work should be entered on as speedily as possible; but the stormy state of the times and the presence of more pressing affairs caused these laws to remain a dead letter. Napoleon is entitled to great gratitude for having revived and carried them out-but for little else. Lanfrey gives us a most amusing account of the share Napoleon took in the composition of the code. It consisted in occasionally attending the meetings of the board, delivering, in a loud and pompous voice, ridiculous opinions upon subjects of which he knew nothing, and throwing, generally, as much obstruction as he possibly could in the way of the jurists. He even went so far as sometimes to make corrections-corrections which in almost every instance were exceedingly puerile, and without which the code would have been much nearer perfect than it now is. He was perpetually striving to introduce, into laws framed for all time, clauses having a special bearing upon present incidents. Indeed, few men were ever so eminently unfitted for the post of legisla
"As soon as he wished to touch upon matters of pure legislation, his legal knowledge somewhat resembled the Greek and Latin of the médecin malgré lui." His genius, as Lanfrey admits, was prodigious, but it moved in a very narrow channel.
The third volume of the English edition gives us the history of the Emperor's career from 1806 to 1810. It is, in many respects, the most interesting, because it presents a new phase of the great struggle-Napoleon versus the liberties of mankind. Before the invasion of Spain, he had to do only with princes and governments. The uprising of the Spanish people was the signal for a general popular awakening all over Europe. For the first time Napoleon was forced to deal with moral forces, which he despised,
In no instance is his fairness of mind and elevation above all national prejudices more strikingly shown than in his account of the growth of that great anti-Napoleonic movement that ended in the birth of the German nation. Let us give his own words:
"In Germany, the rebound of the events in Spain caused throughout the land a kind of electric shock which gave birth to what had never before existed, namely, the German nation. The great intellectual renaissance of Germany during the eighteenth century had, it is true, prepared the way by forming the moral individuality of the people, but it was amidst the throes of defeat and foreign occupation that this glorious birth took place, and the word German country was pronounced for the first time in the world. All the old antagonism, all the superannuated feuds between Northern and Southern Germany, between the larger and smaller states, between the princes and the higher ranks of the ancient aristocracy, between the noble and the citizen, between
the House of Austria and the House of Brandenburg, disappeared instantaneously, to make way for one single sentiment-hatred of the French yoke. The initiative belonged to no class in particular-it was universal and simultaneous."
And this from a Frenchman!
In the noble tribute the historian pays to the memory of Toussaint L'Ouverture, of San Domingo, he says:
"He [L'Ouverture] could die, for he had accomplished a great thing. He had proved to the world that the blacks were men, and men capable of governing themselves."
One can say with equal truth of Pierre Lanfrey that he, too, has proved a great fact which the world has heretofore declined to admit, namely: that there is at least one French historian whose love of truth and justice is far above the reach of national prejudice.
"Why was not this book written before?" is a question we constantly find ourselves asking. Had it appeared thirty years sooner, we sincerely believe the French people would never have patiently submitted to twenty years' degradation under the Second Empire. In no nation have historians more power to shape the destinies of their country than in France. Thiers, for instance, by glorifying the first Napoleon, probably did more than any one man in France to help the third Napoleon to his throne.
It may not be out of place to give a specimen of the different way in which these two historians, Lanfrey and Thiers, regard lish press at the time of the projected invathe same subject. In speaking of the Engsion of England, Lanfrey says:
"There was one corner of the earth, and but one, where his [Napoleon's] acts and person could be freely criticised-where one could (a thing a thousand times worse than injuries) speak the truth to him-to him, the man before whom the universe was silent."
"The British press, insulting and arrogant as the whole press is in a free country, ridiculed Napoleon and his preparations; but it was the ridicule of a mocker who trembles while he laughs."
It certainly is one of the most hopeful signs of the new era in France that Thiers's work is gradually being superseded by that of Lanfrey. This is a significant fact, for no man handles the weaknesses of his He has countrymen more unsparingly.
far too high an idea of the dignity of an historian to attempt to gain popularity by flattery. Severe as he is upon Napoleon, he never attempts to make him a scapegoat for those faults that belong to the people at large. Indeed, he frankly declares that a large share of Napoleon's success was due to the skill with which he flattered the "incurable vanity" of the national character. He says:
"History has another mission than that of pleasing. She is no more made to be the courtesan of a people than to be the courtesan of a king."
In conclusion, we would say that this is a book to be read through, rather than to be read in. Its style is far more argumentative than narrative. The reader who misses a single link in the chain of evidence will be sure to consider the writer exceedingly unjust and one-sided-a conclusion he will never reach, in our opinion, if he read the book from the very beginning to the very end.
One thing is certain: However much opinions may differ as to the literary merits. of the work, no earnest person can put it down without saying of its author, "This
was a man!"
Could Lanfrey have lived but a few years. longer, he would, without doubt, have experienced a keen sense of satisfaction after having read the two posthumous works of Metternich and Rémusat that have recently been given to the public. The certainty
afforded by these new sources that he had divined truly in cases where it was impossible for him to speak absolutely, the confirmation of a judgment that many critics had pronounced positively wrong, and many more had considered bitterly onesided and prejudiced, and, above all, the triumph of truth and justice for truth and justice's sake, would all have combined to cheer the last moments of a sick and wearied man. When we add to this the fact that the appearance of one of these works, at least, would have put an end to the isolation of his position as a man who had dared to lift up his voice against an idol blindly worshiped by the majority of his countrymen, we can hardly refrain from accusing fate of cruelty, or from calling his death untimely. The least we can do is to recall his memory at this time, when the sensation created by Metternich and Rémusat is at its height, and when his own services to history and humanity are in too great danger of being overlooked. Let us not forget that the accusing voices of the former come to us from the tombs, while that of the latter rang out clear and strong from the lips of a living man, at a moment when the name and the system of the tyrant whom he so ruthlessly exposed were once again enslaving the liberties of his countrymen. The debt that France owes to him is great, and will appear ever greater as the years roll on. When the bitterness of party spirit has passed away, when time has dimmed, as it must and will, the blinding splendor of the Napoleonic star, the name of Lanfrey will be pronounced with gratitude by every patriotic Frenchman, and by every friend of humanity throughout the world.
It would be hard to find three works dealing with the same subject, and pronouncing a verdict so singularly in accord, that differ more from one another than do those of Metternich, Rémusat, and Lanfrey. The intense moral motive, and the breadth of view and freedom from national and personal prejudice that inspire every page of Lanfrey, are wanting to the two former; while, on the other hand, the lack of these qualities is partly made up by the fact that their judgment was formed from actual personal experience, and gives us a view of Napoleon that has all the warmth of a picture copied from life; yet, although each writer regards Napoleon from an entirely different stand-point, he is painted in black by them all.
It is in the nature of things that the memoirs of Madame de Rémusat will be read a hundred times where those of Metternich will be read once; the former will have the most interest for the special biographer, the latter for the general historian. Madame de Rémusat tells us many circumstances about Napoleon that are interesting, striking, and valuable, but few, if any, that have not been related before, though never in such detail or upon such good authority. Metternich, on the other hand, though much more concise, much more dry, and much less pleasing, gives us some facts that he alone could know, and that change the whole current of historical opinion. His exact account of the Dresden interviewthe famous "hat" interview, to use a Carlylism-is in itself enough to make his work of incalculable value.
It gives us in
a few words the key to Napoleon's whole character and policy. Here, when disguise was of no further use, when no witness but Metternich was present to hear his words, he throws aside his mask and stands boldly forth-the brutal egotist that he really was. "You are no soldier," he shrieked out to the Austrian statesman, who had vainly endeavored to make him listen to reason, "and you do not know what goes on in the mind of a soldier. I was brought up in the field, and a man such as I am does not concern himself much about the lives of a million of men," only he used here a brutal expression that the courtly Austrian does not venture to repeat.* Even Metternich-the cold and calculating Metternich-was deeply shocked and moved. You are lost, sire!' I said, quickly. "I had a presentiment of it when I came; now, in going, I have the certainty.'' Notwithstanding the fact that Napoleon has said of Metternich," He approaches to being a statesman-he lies very well," there is not the slightest reason to doubt that this interview was reported precisely as it happened. That Napoleon's judgment of Metternichthough meant to be complimentary-was as grossly unjust as most of the judgments he passed upon his contemporaries, is beyond question. His own mendacity was so great that he could afford to be generous, and almost the only trace we can discover of that magnanimity for which his admirers are fond of giving him credit is the willing
ness with which he concedes to others a share of that attribute which he justly considered to be a prominent feature of his own character. One of his uncles, he used to say with pride, had predicted that he would one day govern the world, because he was an habitual liar. As an instance of the superlative degree of proficiency he had attained in this art, let us give another extract from Metternich's memoirs. The last words of Lannes, as given by Napoleon's official bulletins, have gone the rounds of history. Farewell, sire!" he is reported to have said. "Live for the world, but think at times of your best friend, who in a few hours will be no more. * * * Would that I might live to serve you and my country!" "You have read," complacently remarked Napoleon to Metternich, "the "the sentence I put into Lannes's mouth-he never thought of it. When the marshal pronounced my name, they came to tell me, and immediately I declared he must be dead. Lannes hated me cordially. He spoke my name as atheists do the name of God when they come to die. Lannes having called for me, I looked upon his case as hopeless."
Surely, it is not strange that such a man should himself predict that the world would relieve itself of an "Ouf!" upon hearing of his death.
It is with no intention of belittling the importance of these memoirs of Metternich and Madame de Rémusat that we say that their greatest value, in our eyes, consists in the fact that they so strikingly confirm and supplement the judgment pronounced by Lanfrey. His study of Napoleon's character and methods was so profound that he has, without the aid of these new sources, and by the simple process of deduction, anticipated the result of the disclosures that they make. Yet, if their appearance should effect no other good than to enlarge the circle of Lanfrey's readers, and to silence those critics who have sought to weaken the effect of his verdict by pronouncing it exaggerated and unjust, the world would still owe a hearty vote of thanks to their authors. It is Lanfrey who has given us the real picture of Napoleon. Others may add touches here and there, but the great central figure, with its bold outlines and gigantic proportions, will always remain his work.
PETER THE GREAT AS RULER AND REFORMER.* XII.
THE END OF THE WAR, 1718–1721.
WHEN the Tsar returned to Holland from Paris, in August, 1717, he had an interview with Görtz in the château of Loo, and a proposal was made and agreed to, which Charles XII. subsequently accepted, for a peace congress to be held in the Aland Isles. This congress began its sessions in May, 1718, with Bruce and Ostermann as the plenipotentiaries on the Russian, and Görtz and Gyllenborg on the Swedish, side. Negotiating was difficult. The Russians offered to give up Finland, with the exception of Viborg, but nothing more. It was even hard to conciliate the interests of Russia with those of the allies, who were suspicious, although
the Tsar had promised to deal openly and uprightly with them. All wanted more than the Swedes were willing to grant. Görtz went to the King, and after a month's absence came back with his consent to cede Livonia, provided he got an equivalent in Denmark. Neither the Swedes nor the Russians wished to abandon Kexholm. Twice more Görtz went back to Sweden, twice Ostermann traveled to St. Petersburg for instructions from the Tsar. It was seen that Görtz, as a foreigner, favored though he was by the King, did not enjoy the confidence of the Swedish Government. At the same time the Swedes hesitated to give concessions, because they were expecting almost daily the outbreak of a vast insurrection in Russia. Ostermann finally came to the conclusion that an invasion was necessary to bring Sweden
By request of Mr. Schuyler, we desire to state to readers of "Peter the Great" that it was found necessary, on account of the late arrival of the MS., to publish the August installment in a condensed form. The September and October installments were condensed by Mr. Schuyler himself. All three parts will be considerably amplified in the preparation of the book, which Messrs. Charles Scribner's Sons will publish as soon as possible after the issue of this number of the magazine.-ED, S. M.
to terms, and expressed the hope that the fool-hardy King would either be shot or soon break his own neck. After the Russian plenipotentiaries had decisively repelled the Swedish proposition that the Tsar should join King Charles in a war against Denmark, Görtz went again to Sweden. This was in November, 1718. He was expected back in four weeks, but instead of him came the news of the death of his master, Charles XII., and of his own arrest and execution. The King was then occupied with a war in Norway, then belonging to the Danish crown, and on the 11th of December was struck in the head by a bullet from the fortress of Fredriksten.*
The accession of Charles's sister, Ulrica Eleonora, made a great difference in the state of affairs. The Brigadier Lefort was sent by the Tsar to congratulate her, and both sides expressed a wish for peace. But still the negotiations made no progress. Finally, in July, 1719, a Russian fleet attacked the Swedish coasts in the neighborhood of Stockholm, and burnt two cities, one hundred and thirty villages, forty mills, and many iron-works. Apráxin came to within a few miles of Stockholm, and laid waste the neighborhood. Swedish loss was estimated at twelve millions of thalers. Ostermann was then sent to Stockholm, but his reception was cool, and he was asked how the Russians could, at the same time, negotiate for peace and permit the devastation of the country. The Russian plenipotentiaries were instructed to present an ultimatum that, within two weeks, the Russian propositions must be accepted or the negotiations broken off. The Swedes thereupon retired. Sweden had thrown herself into the hands of England, who, by her intrigues, gradually succeeded in alienating all of the allies of Russia. In November, 1719, Sweden concluded a treaty with George I. as King of England and Elector of Brunswick-Luneburg, by which the duchies of Bremen and Verden were ceded to him on condition of the payment of a million of rix dollars. In January, 1720, preliminaries were signed at Stockholm between Sweden and Poland,
*In August, 1859, in the presence of King Charles XV. and of his brother Oscar (the present King of Sweden, who has published a description of the circumstances), the coffin of King Charles XII. was opened. An examination of the head proved beyond a doubt that the wound which caused the King's death came from the bullet of an enemy, and that he was not murdered by one of his own men, as had often been maintained.
confirming the peace of Oliva and the independence of Poland, and recognizing Augustus II., though Stanislas was to preserve the title of king during his life-time, and to receive, once for all, a million of rix dollars. On the 1st of February, at Stockholm, peace was also signed between Sweden and Prussia, through the mediation of France and Great Britain. By this, Stettin and the district between the Öder and the Peene, including the islands of Usedom and Wollin, were ceded to Prussia. Even Denmark was at last induced to make peace, on the 14th of June, 1720. She gave up Stralsund, Wismar, and the island of Rügen, and contented herself with the cession of the small district of Bahus, together with the guarantee of her rights to Sleswig by England and France. Russia was thus left entirely alone, and, in view of these intrigues and changes, was preparing an alliance with Spain-then a by no means despicable ally-a project, however, which came to an end with the fall of Alberoni. England feared that the Tsar would support the party of the Pretender, and kept her fleet, under Admiral Norris, in the Baltic. It appeared there again in 1720, and the Tsar received information from London that Admiral Norris had come to protect the Swedish coasts and to assist in the conclusion of peace. Without allowing himself to be intimidated, he ordered all his officers to refuse to receive any communication whatever from the English admiral, and when a letter came to the commandant at Reval, it was sent back to Norris, and Apráxin asked him peremptorily the cause of the appearance of the English fleet. Norris spoke about mediation, and received the reply that in such would be better for the English to send a minister to St. Petersburg. At the same time, Russian troops again landed in Sweden and burnt several towns and villages, without the slightest opposition being offered by the English fleet, which gave an excellent subject of laughter to the opposition in Parliament. Again, in 1721, the English squadron appeared. Again the Russian fleet sailed to Sweden, and, in the presence of the English, engaged the Swedish fleet and beat it. Kurákin reported from The Hague about a letter from the King of England to Queen Ulrica, advising her to make peace, as these naval demonstrations were expensive, and were only carried through in the King's council by a small majority.