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This age thinks better of a gilded fool,
Than of a threadbarc saint in wisdom's school.
I will be strong: then I refuse long life;
And though mine arm should conquer twenty worlds,
The greatest strength expires with loss of breath,
Therefore, dread sacred empress, make me rich;
My choice is store of gold; the rich are wise:
For. Thy latest words confine thy destiny;
Then shalt thou want; but that can ne'er be done,
Fort. Thanks, great deity!
For. The virtue ends when thou and thy sons end. This path leads thee to Cyprus, get thee hence:
Farewell, vain covetous fool, thou wilt repent
That for the love of dross thou hast despised
Wisdom's divine embrace; she would have borne thee
But now go dwell with cares and quickly die.
[The following acute and discriminating character of Washington is from the pen of his fellow-labourer in the cause of American independence-Thomas Jefferson. As a contrast to the character of Washington, we subjoin a sketch of Napoleon Bonaparte, by an anonymous writer, published in 1821.]
His mind was great and powerful, without being of the very first order; his penetration strong, though not so acute as that of a Newton, Bacon, or Locke; and as far as he saw, no judgment was ever sounder. It was slow in operation, being little aided by invention or imagination, but sure in conclusion. Hence the common remark of his officers, of the advantage he derived from councils of war, where, hearing all suggestions, he selected whatever was best; and certainly no general ever planned his battles more judiciously. But if deranged during the course of the action, if any member of his plan was dislocated by sudden circumstances, he was slow in a re-adjustment. The consequence was, that he often failed in the field, and rarely against an enemy in station, as at Boston and York. He was incapable of fear, meeting personal dangers with the calmest unconcern. Perhaps the strongest feature in his character was prudence, never acting until every circumstance, every consideration, was maturely weighed; refraining if he saw a doubt, but when once decided, going through with his purpose, whatever obstacles opposed. His integrity was most pure, his justice the most inflexible I have ever known; no motives of interest or consanguinity, of friendship or hatred, being able to bias his decision. He was, indeed, in every sense of the word, a wise, a good, and a great man. His temper was naturally irritable and high toned; but reflection and resolution had obtained a firm and habitual ascendancy over it. If ever, however, it broke its bounds, he was most tremendous in his wrath. In his expenses he was honourable, but exact; liberal in contributions to whatever promised utility; but frowning and unyielding on all visionary projects, and all unworthy calls on his charity. His heart was not warm in its affections; but he exactly calculated every man's value, and gave him a solid esteem proportioned to it. His person, you know, was fine, his stature exactly what one would wish; his deportment easy, erect, and noble, the best horseman of his age, and the most graceful figure that could be seen on horseback. Although in the circle of his friends, where he might be unreserved with safety, he took a free share in conversation, his colloquial talents were not above mediocrity, possessing neither copiousness of ideas nor fluency of words. In public, when called on for a sudden opinion, he was unready, short, and embarrassed. Yet he wrote readily, rather diffusely, in an easy and correct style. This he had acquired by conversation with the world, for his education was merely reading, writing, and common arithmetic, to which he added surveying at a later day. His time was employed in action chiefly, reading little, and that only in agriculture and English history. His correspondence became necessarily extensive, and with journalizing his agricultural proceedings, occupied most of his leisure hours within doors. On the whole, his character was, in its mass, perfect, in nothing bad, in a few points indifferent; and it may truly be said, that never did nature and fortune combine more completely to make a man great, and to place him in the same constellation with whatever worthies have merited from man an everlasting remembrance. For his was the singular destiny and merit of leading the armies of his country successfully through an arduous war, for the establishment of its independence; of conducting its councils through the birth of a government, new in its forms and principles, until it had settled down into a quiet and orderly train; and of scrupulously obeying the laws through the whole of his career, civil and military, of which the history of the world furnishes no other example
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 in 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 revolutionary 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, what is more important to a selfish mind, by an apprehension for 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 calculating, 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 habitshis 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 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 every thing by risking every thing; 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 was 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 close-from 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 England and her allies to beat him by the adoption of those weapons, and yet leave him in the exclusive possession of his system of plunder and bloodshed.
If we could divest ourselves of the abhorrence which we feel 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.
But Bonaparte is not to be looked at only as a general;-he aspired to and filled the character of a sovereign, and a head of sovereigns. His merits in this particular are easily summed up. He had but one notion of government, and that was founded upon the fear, not the love, of the governed. He was one of the greatest enemies to liberty that ever appeared in the world. He found the French people in the possession of the wildest and most unbridled principles of republicanism, and he made them the willing slaves of his absolute monarchy. Under his rule there was no representation of the people, no freedom of the press, no appeal from the enormities of his cruel and all-pervading police. His sway was a despotism of the most arbitrary character. But he gilded the chains of the French. He filled them with the intoxication of national vanity—he astounded them by his victories—he flattered them by his insolent demeanour to other nations-he imposed no restraints upon their licentious habits, except when they interfered with the even progress of his government-he obtained the suffrages of men of letters by his patronage-and he took care to raise many splendid public works, amongst a people who enjoy themselves only in public, and are insensible to the comforts and securities of domestic life. In his private demeanour as a sovereign he was haughty and repulsive;— coarse and offensive, except upon occasions of show ;—overbearing and insolent even to the fair sex. But he appears to have been affectionate to his relations;—and the force of his talents, and the magnificence of his power, could not fail to procure him many warm and faithful friends.
In a word, Bonaparte was the living symbol of the French Revolution. He was the representative of its ferocity, its selfishness, its contempt of ordinary restraints, its mighty daring, its defiance of God, its cruelty to man. What Cromwell was in a fanatical age, Bonaparte was in an atheistical. The world will never again behold
two such men, because the circumstances that made them can never again exist. They were both, to a certain extent, impostors; and they both exhausted the materials of their deceptions.
82.-DEATH OF CARDINAL WOLSEY
[AMONGST the earliest memoirs on English history, and certainly far exceeding most memoirs in interest and importance, is 'The Life of Wolsey, by George Cavendish, his Gentleman Usher.' It was long a question who wrote this remarkable book; but the doubt was satisfactorily cleared up by Mr. Hunter, who found that it was written by the brother of Sir William Cavendish, a faithful follower of the great Cardinal. There are ten MSS. in existence of this ancient work; but it has been very carefully edited by Mr. Singer. We confine our extracts to those striking passages which relate to the death of the great Cardinal.]
Wolsey had been dismissed from Court and had retired to his palace at Cawood, previous to his installation at York as Archbishop. He was suddenly arrested on a charge of high treason, by the Earl of Northumberland, and was forced to set out for the metropolis. Very soon the Cardinal fell ill; and it is evident, from the cautions observed, that those about him suspected that he intended to poison himself. Ill as he was, the Earl of Shrewsbury put the fallen man under the charge of Sir William Kingston, the lieutenant of the Tower, whom the king had sent for the Cardinal, with twenty-four of his guard; and with this escort he departed on his last journey. "And the next day he took his journey with Master Kingston and the guard. And as soon as they espied their old master in such a lamentable estate, they lamented him with weeping eyes. Whom my lord took by the hands, and divers times, by the way, as he rode, he would talk with them, sometime with one, and sometime with another; at night he was lodged at a house of the Earl of Shrewsbury's, called Hardwick Hall*, very evil at ease. The next day he rode to Nottingham, and there lodged that night, more sicker, and the next day he rode to Leicester Abbey; and by the way he waxed so sick that he was divers times likely to have fallen from his mule, and being night before we came to the Abbey of Leicester, where at his coming in at the gates the Abbot of the place with all his convent met him with the light of many torches; and whom they right honourably received with great reverence. To whom my lord said, 'Father Abbot, I am come hither to leave my bones among you;' whom they brought on his mule to the stairs' foot of his chamber, and there alighted, and Master Kingston then took him by the arm, and led him up the stairs; who told me afterwards that he never carried so heavy a burden in all his life. And as soon as he was in his chamber, be went incontinent to his bed, very sick. This was upon Saturday at night; and there he continued sicker and sicker.
"Upon Monday in the morning, as I stood by his bedside, about eight of the clock, the windows being close shut, having wax-lights burning upon the cupboard, I beheld him, as me seemed, drawing fast to his end. He perceiving my shadow upon the wall by his bedside, asked who was there: 'Sir, I am here,' quoth I; 'How do you?' quoth he to me: 'Very well, sir,' quoth I, 'if I might see your grace well:' 'What is it of the clock?' said he to me; 'Forsooth sir, said I, 'it is past eight of the clock in the morning.' 'Eight of the clock?' quoth he: 'that cannot be;' rehearsing divers times 'Eight of the clock, eight of the clock; Nay, nay,' quoth he at last, it cannot be eight of the clock: for by eight of the clock ye shall lose your master; for my time draweth near that I must depart out of this world.""
The rapacity of the king is strikingly exhibited in the following passage: "And after dinner, Master Kingston called for me (Cavendish) into his chamber, and at • Not the Hardwick of Derbyshire, but of Nottinghamshire.