This victory produced a very extraordinary effect upon the whole French army, and inspired the soldiers with unbounded confidence in their young leader. Some of the veterans of the army, immediately after the battle, met together and jocosely promoted their General, who had so distinguished himself by his bravery, and who was so juvenile in his appearance, to the rank of corporal. When Napoleon next appeared upon the field, he was greeted with enthusiastic shouts by the whole army, "Long live our little Corporal! It was not till after the terrible passage of the bridge of Lodi, that the idea shot across my mind that I might become a decisive actor in the political arena.
Then arose, for the first time, the spark of great ambition. Lombardy was now at the mercy of Napoleon, and the discomfited Austrians fled into the Tyrol. The Archduke Ferdinand and his duchess, with tears in their eyes, abandoned to the conqueror their beautiful capital of Milan, and sought refuge with their retreating friends. As the carriages of the ducal pair, and those of their retinue passed sadly through the streets of the metropolis, the people looked on in silence, uttering not a word of sympathy or of insult. But the moment they had departed, republican zeal burst forth unrestrained.
The tricolored cockade seemed suddenly to have fallen, as by magic, upon the hats and the caps of the multitude, and the great mass of the people prepared to greet the French Republicans with every demonstration of joy. A placard was put upon the palace—"This house to let; for the keys apply to the French Commissioner. On the fifteenth of May, just one month after the opening of the campaign at Montenotte, Napoleon entered Milan in triumph. He was welcomed by the great majority of the inhabitants as a deliverer. The patriots, from all parts of Italy, crowded to the capital, sanguine in the hope that Napoleon would secure their independence, and confer upon them a Republican government, in friendly alliance with France.
A numerous militia was immediately organized, called the National Guard, and dressed in three colors, green, red, and white, in honor of the tri-colored flag. A triumphal arch was erected, in homage of the conqueror. The whole population of the city marched out to bid him welcome; flowers were scattered in his path; ladies thronged the windows as he passed, and greeted him with smiles and fluttering handkerchiefs, and with a shower of bouquets rained down at his feet. Amidst all the pomp of martial music, and waving banners, the ringing of bells, the thunders of saluting artillery, and the acclamations of an immense concourse of spectators, Napoleon took possession of the palace from whence the duke had fled.
Napoleon granted him an armistice, upon the payment of two millions of dollars, twenty of his choicest pictures, and an abundant supply of horses and provisions. When in treaty with the Duke of Modena, the Commissary of the French army came to Napoleon and said, "The brother of the duke is here with eight hundred thousand dollars in gold, contained in four chests.
He comes, in the name of the duke, to beg you to accept them. And I advise you to do so. The money belongs to you. Take it without scruple. A proportionate diminution will be made in the duke's contribution, and he will be very glad to have obtained a protector. Napoleon now issued another of those spirit-stirring proclamations, which roused such enthusiasm among his own troops, and which so powerfully electrified the ardent imagination of the Italians. You have overwhelmed every thing which opposed your progress.
Piedmont is delivered from the tyranny of Austria; Milan is in your hands, and the Republican standards wave over the whole of Lombardy. The Dukes of Parma and Modena owe their existence to your generosity. The army which menaced you with so much pride, can no longer find a barrier to protect itself against your arms. The Po, the Ticino, the Adda have not been able to stop you a single day. These boasted bulwarks of Italy have proved as nugatory as the Alps. Such a career of success has carried joy into the bosom of your country.
There your parents, your wives, your sisters, your lovers rejoice in your achievements, and boast with pride that you belong to them. Yes, soldiers! Shall posterity say that we knew how to conquer, but knew not how to improve victory? Shall we find a Capua in Lombardy?
We have forced marches to make, enemies to subdue, laurels to gather, injuries to revenge. Let those who have whetted the daggers of civil war in France, who have assassinated our ministers, who have burned our ships at Toulon—let those tremble. The hour of vengeance has struck. But let not the people be alarmed. We are the friends of the people every where; particularly of the Brutuses, the Scipios, and the great men whom we have taken for our models. To re-establish the Capitol; to replace the statues of the heroes who rendered it illustrious; to rouse the Romans, stupefied by centuries of slavery—such will be the fruit of our victories.
They will form an epoch with posterity. To you will pertain the immortal glory of changing the face of the finest portion of Europe. The French people, free and respected by the whole world, will give to Europe a glorious peace. You will then return to your homes, and your fellow-citizens will say, pointing to you, He belonged to the army of Italy. Such were the proclamations which Napoleon dashed off, with inconceivable rapidity, in the midst of all the care, and peril, and clangor of battle. Upon reading these glowing sentences over at St. Helena, twenty years after they were written, he exclaimed, "And yet they had the folly to say that I could not write.
On the contrary, he was a ripe and an accomplished scholar. His intellectual powers and his intellectual attainments were of the very highest order. His mind had been trained by the severest discipline of intense and protracted study. His ideas must flow faster than his hand can trace. He has only time to place his points. He must compress words into letters, and phrases into words, and let the scribes make it out afterward. His handwriting was composed of the most unintelligible hieroglyphics. He often could not decipher it himself. Lombardy is the garden of Italy. The whole of the extensive valley, from the Alps to the Apennines, is cultivated to the highest degree, presenting in its vineyards, its orchards, its waving fields of grain, its flocks and herds, one of the most rich and attractive features earth can exhibit.
Milan, its beautiful capital, abounding in wealth and luxury, contained a population of one hundred and twenty thousand souls. Here Napoleon allowed his weary troops, exhausted by their unparalleled exertions, to repose for six days. Napoleon himself was received by the inhabitants with the most unbounded enthusiasm and joy. He was regarded as the liberator of Italy—the youthful hero, who had come with almost supernatural powers, to re-introduce to the country the reign of Roman greatness and virtue.
His glowing words, his splendid achievements, his high-toned morals so pure and spotless, the grace and beauty of his feminine figure, his prompt decisions, his imperial will, and the antique cast of his thoughts, uttered in terse and graphic language, which passed, in reiterated quotation, from lip to lip, diffused an universal enchantment. From all parts of Italy the young and the enthusiastic flocked to the metropolis of Lombardy.
The language of Italy was Napoleon's mother tongue. His name and his origin were Italian, and they regarded him as a countryman. They crowded his footsteps, and greeted him with incessant acclamations. He was a Cato, a Scipio, a Hannibal. The ladies, in particular, lavished upon him adulations without any bounds. But Napoleon was compelled to support his own army from the spoils of the vanquished.
He could not receive a dollar from the exhausted treasury of the French Republic. With great reluctance he imposed upon the Milanese a contribution of four millions of dollars, and selected twenty paintings from the Ambrosian Gallery, to send to Paris as the trophies of his victory. It was with extreme regret that he extorted the money, knowing that it must check the enthusiasm with which the inhabitants were rallying around the Republican standard.
It was, however, indispensable for the furtherance of his plans. It was his only refuge from defeat and from absolute destruction. The Milanese patriots also felt that it was just that their government should defray the expenses of a war which they had provoked; that since Lombardy had allied itself with the powerful and wealthy monarchies of Europe, to invade the infant Republic in its weakness and its poverty, Napoleon was perfectly justifiable in feeding and clothing his soldiers at the expense of the invaders whom he had repelled.
The money was paid, and the conqueror was still the idol of the people. His soldiers were now luxuriating in the abundance of bread, and meat, and wine. They were, however, still in rags, wearing the same war-worn and tattered garments with which they had descended from the frozen summits of the Alps. With the resources thus obtained, Napoleon clothed all his troops abundantly, filled the chests of the army, established hospitals and large magazines, proudly sent a million of dollars to the Directory in Paris, as an absent father would send funds to his helpless family; forwarded two hundred and fifty thousand dollars to Moreau, who, with an impoverished army, upon the Rhine, was contending against superior forces of the Austrians.
He also established an energetic and efficient municipal government in Mi [Pg ] lan, and made immediate arrangements for the organization and thorough military discipline of the militia in all parts of Lombardy. This was the work of five days, and of five days succeeding a month of such toil of body and of mind as, perhaps, no mortal ever endured before. Had it not been for a very peculiar constitutional temperament, giving Napoleon the most extraordinary control over his own mind, such Herculean labors could not have been performed.
When I wish to interrupt one train of thought, I close the drawer which contains that subject, and open to that which contains another. They do not mix together, and do not fatigue me or inconvenience me. I have never been kept awake by an involuntary pre-occupation of the mind. If I wish repose, I shut up all the drawers and I am asleep. I have always slept when I wanted rest, and almost at will. I feel more cool to receive the reports which are brought to me, and to give fresh orders when awaking in this manner from a transient slumber. While in Milan, one morning, just as he had mounted his horse, a dragoon presented himself before him, bearing dispatches of great importance.
Napoleon read them upon the saddle; and, giving a verbal answer, told the courier to take it back with all possible dispatch. The man hesitated to mount the magnificent charger of the general-in-chief. Never mind, comrade, there is nothing too magnificent for a French soldier. The lofty intellectual character of Napoleon was also developed at the same time, in the midst of all the cares, perplexities, and perils of these most terrible conflicts, in a letter publicly addressed to Oriani, the celebrated mathematician.
They lived secluded in their libraries, too happy if they could escape the persecution of kings and priests. It is so no longer. Religious inquisition and despotic power are at an end. Thought is free in Italy. I invite the literary and the scientific to consult together and propose to me their ideas on the subject of giving new life and vigor to the fine arts and sciences. All who desire to visit France will be received with distinction by the government. The citizens of France have more pride in enrolling among their citizens a skillful mathematician, a painter of reputation, a distinguished man in any class of letters, than in adding to their territories a large and wealthy city.
Napoleon having thus rapidly organized a government for Lombardy, and having stationed [Pg ] troops in different places to establish tranquillity, turned his attention again to the pursuit of the Austrians. But by this time the Directory in Paris were thoroughly alarmed in view of the astonishing influence and renown which Napoleon had attained. In one short month he had filled Europe with his name. They determined to check his career. Kellerman, a veteran general of great celebrity, they consequently appointed his associate in command, to pursue the Austrians with a part of the army, while Napoleon, with the other part, was to march down upon the States of the Pope.
This division would have insured the destruction of the army. Napoleon promptly but respectfully tendered his resignation, saying, "One bad general is better than two good ones. War, like government, is mainly decided by tact. The commander-in-chief of the Army of Italy was now too powerful to be displaced, and the undivided command was immediately restored to him.
In the letter he wrote to the Directory at this time, and which must have been written with the rapidity of thought, he observes, with great force of language and strength of argument. The expedition to the Papal States is a very inconsiderable matter, and should be made by divisions in echelon, ready at any moment to wheel about and face the Austrians. To perform it with success both armies must be under one general.
I have hitherto conducted the campaign without consulting any one.
The result would have been very different if I had been obliged to reconcile my views with those of another. If you impose upon me embarrassments of various kinds; if I must refer all my steps to the commissaries of government; if they are authorized to change my movements, to send away my troops, expect no further success. If you weaken your resources by dividing your forces, if you disturb in Italy the unity of military thought, I say it with grief, you will lose the finest opportunity that ever occurred of giving laws to that fine peninsula.
In the present posture of the affairs of the Republic it is indispensable that you possess a general who enjoys your confidence. If I do not do so I shall not complain. Every one has his own method of carrying on war. Kellerman has more experience, and may do it better than I. Together we should do nothing but mischief. Your decision on this matter is of more importance than the fifteen thousand men the Emperor of Austria has sent to Beaulieu.
On the 22d of May Napoleon left Milan, in pursuit of the Austrians. Beaulieu, in his retreat to the mountains of the Tyrol, had thrown fifteen thousand men into the almost impregnable fortress of Mantua, to arrest the progress of the conqueror. He knew that Napoleon could not follow him leaving such a fortress in the possession of his enemies in his rear. Austria was raising powerful reinforcements, and the defeated general intended soon to return with overwhelming numbers, and crush his foe. Napoleon had hardly advanced one day's march from Milan when a formidable insurrection broke out.
The priests, incited by the Pope, had roused the peasants, who were very much under their influence, to rise and exterminate the French. They appealed to all the motives of fanaticism which the papal church has so effectually at its command, to rouse their military ardor.
They assured the ignorant peasants that Austria was pouring down an overwhelming army upon the invader; that all Italy was simultaneously rising in arms; that England, with her powerful fleet, was landing troops innumerable upon the coasts of Sardinia; that God, and all his angels, were looking down from the windows of Heaven to admire the heroism of the faithful, in ridding the earth of the enemies of the true religion, and that the destruction of Napoleon was sure.
The enthusiasm spread from hamlet to hamlet like a conflagration. The friends of republicanism were, for the most part, in the cities. The peasantry were generally strongly attached to the church, and looked up with reverence to the nobles. The tocsin was sounded in every village. In a day thirty thousand peasants, roused to frenzy, grasped their arms. The danger was most imminent. Napoleon felt that not an hour was to be lost. He took with him twelve hundred men and six pieces of cannon, and instantly turned upon his track.
He soon came up with eight hundred of the insurgents, who were intrenching themselves in the small village of Banasco. There was no parleying. There was no hesitancy. The ear was closed to all the appeals of mercy. The veteran troops, inured to their work, rushed with bayonet and sabre upon the unwarlike Italians, and, in a few moments, hewed the peasants to pieces. The women and children fled in every direction, carrying the tidings of the dreadful massacre. The torch was applied to the town, and the dense volumes of smoke ascending into the serene and cloudless skies, from this altar of vengeance, proclaimed, far and wide over the plains of Italy, how dreadful a thing it was to incur the wrath of the conqueror.
Napoleon and his troops, their swords still dripping in blood, tarried not, but moving on with the sweep of a whirlwind, came to the gates of Pavia. This city had become the head-quarters of the insurgents. It contained thirty thousand inhabitants. Napoleon had left there a garrison of three hundred men. The insurgents, eight thousand strong, had thrown themselves into the place, and, strengthened by all of the monarchical party, prepared for a desperate resistance.
Napoleon sent the Archbishop of Milan, with a flag of truce, offering pardon to all who would lay down their arms. Its fate shall be that of every town which persists in revolt. He swept the [Pg ] ramparts with grape shot, while the soldiers, with their hatchets, hewed down the gates. They rushed like an inundation into the city. The peasants fought with desperation from the windows and roofs of the houses, hurling down upon the French every missile of destruction. The sanguinary conflict soon terminated in favor of the disciplined valor of the assailants.
The wretched peasants were pursued into the plain and cut down without mercy. The magistrates of the city were shot; the city itself given up to pillage. Their names were called over and none found missing. If the blood of a single Frenchman had been shed, my determination was to erect a column on the ruins of Pavia, bearing this inscription, ' Here stood the city of Pavia!
This terrible example crushed the insurrection over the whole of Lombardy. Such are the inevitable and essential horrors of war. Napoleon had no love for cruelty. But he never hesitated to adopt any measures, however decisive and sanguinary, which he deemed essential for the accomplishment of his purposes. In such dreadful scenes he claimed to be acting upon the same principle which influences the physician to cut, with an unflinching hand, through nerves and tendons, for the humane design of saving life.
If war is right this was right. This bloody vengeance was necessary for the salvation of Napoleon's army. He was about to pursue the Austrians far away into the mountains of the Tyrol, and it was necessary to his success that, by a terrible example, he should teach those whom he left behind, that they could not rise upon him with impunity. War is necessarily a system of cruelty and of blood.
Napoleon was an energetic warrior. He recoiled not from any severities which he deemed indispensable to the success of his horrible mission. I promised that the soldiers should have it, at their mercy, for twenty-four hours. But after three hours I could bear such scenes of outrage no longer, and put an end to them.
Policy and morality are equally opposed to the system. Nothing is so certain to disorganize and completely ruin an army. It is wonderfully characteristic of this most extraordinary man, that in the midst of these terrible scenes, and when encompassed by such perils and pressed by such urgent haste, he could have found time and the disposition to visit a literary institution.
When the whole city of Pavia was in consternation, he entered the celebrated university, accompanied by his splendid military suite. With the utmost celerity he moved from class to class, asking questions with such rapidity that the professors could hardly find time or breath to answer him. Napoleon, who had but little respect for the uncertain deductions of mental philosophy, exclaimed, very emphatically, "Bah! Turning to one of the pupils, he inquired, "What is the difference between sleep and death? The professor plunged into a learned disquisition upon death.
The uncourteous examiner left him in the midst of his sentences, and hastened to another room. It was his favorite science. His eye sparkled with pleasure, and seizing a book from one of the pupils, he hastily turned over the leaves and gave him a very difficult problem to solve. He chanced to fall upon an excellent scholar, who did the work very promptly and correctly.
Napoleon glanced his eye over the work and said, "You are wrong. Napoleon took the slate and sat down to work the problem himself. In a moment he saw his own error, and returning the slate to the pupil, with ill-concealed chagrin, exclaimed, "Yes? The President of the University, in a very eulogistic address to the young general, said, "Charles the Great laid the foundations of this University. May Napoleon the Great give it the completion of its glory.
Having quelled the insurrection, in flames and blood, the only way in which, by any possibility it could have been quelled, Napoleon turned proudly again, with his little band, to encounter the whole power of the Austrian empire, now effectually aroused to crush him. The dominions of Venice contained three millions of souls. Its fleet ruled the Adriatic, and it could command an army of fifty thousand men. The Venetians though unfriendly to France preferred neutrality.
Beaulieu had fled through their territories, leaving a garrison at Mantua. Napoleon pursued them. To the remonstrances of the Venetians he replied: "Venice has either afforded refuge to the Austrians, in which case it is the enemy of France, or it was unable to prevent the Austrians from invading its territory, and is consequently too weak to claim the right of neutrality. They at last decided, if possible, to continue neutral. They sent to Napoleon twelve hundred thousand dollars, as a bribe or a present to secure his friendship.
He decisively rejected it. To some friends who urged the perfect propriety of his receiving the money, he replied:. They had expected to find only a stern warrior. To their surprise they met a statesman, whose profoundness of views, power of eloquence, extent of information, and promptness of decision excited both their admiration and amazement. They were venerable men, accustomed to consideration and power. Napoleon was but twenty-five.
Yet the veterans were entirely overawed by his brilliant and commanding powers. No man ever had more wealth at his disposal than Napoleon, or was more scrupulous as to the appropriation of any of it to himself. For two years he maintained the army in Italy, calling upon the government for no supplies whatever. He sent more than two millions of dollars to Paris to relieve the Directory from its embarrassments.
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Without the slightest difficulty he might have accumulated millions of dollars for his own private fortune. His friends urged him to do so, assuring him that the Directory, jealous of his fame and power, would try to crush rather than to reward him. But he turned a deaf ear to all such suggestions, and returned to Paris, from this most brilliant campaign, comparatively a poor man.
He had clothed the armies of France, and replenished the impoverished treasury of the Republic, and filled the Museum of Paris with paintings and statuary. But all was for France. He reserved neither money, nor painting, nor statue for himself. I have a taste for founding not for possessing. My riches consist in glory and celebrity. The Simplon and the Louvre were in the eyes of the people and of foreigners more my property than any private domains could possibly have been.
Napoleon soon overtook the Austrians. He found a division of the army strongly intrenched upon the banks of the Mincio, determined to arrest his passage. Though the Austrians were some fifteen thousand strong, and though they had partially demolished the bridge, the march of Napoleon was retarded scarcely an hour. Napoleon was that day sick, suffering from a violent headache.
Having crossed the river and concerted all his plans for the pursuit of the flying enemy, he went into an old castle, by the river's side, to try the effect of a foot-bath. He had but a small retinue with him, his troops being dispersed in pursuit of the fugitives. He had but just placed his feet in the warm water when he heard the loud clatter of horses' hoofs, as a squadron of Austrian dragoons galloped into the court-yard.
The sentinel at the door shouted, "To arms! The appearance of their commander-in-chief among them in [Pg ] such a plight roused the soldiers from their camp-kettles, and they rushed in pursuit of the Austrians, who, in their turn, retreated. This personal risk induced Napoleon to establish a body guard, to consist of five hundred veterans, of at least ten years' service, who were ever to accompany him.
This was the origin of that Imperial Guard, which, in the subsequent wars of Napoleon, obtained such a world-wide renown. Napoleon soon encamped before the almost impregnable fortress of Mantua. About twenty thousand men composed its garrison. As it was impossible to surmount such formidable defenses by assault, Napoleon was compelled to have recourse to the more tedious operations of a siege. The Austrian government, dissatisfied with the generalship of Beaulieu, withdrew him from the service and sent General Wurmser to assume the command, with a reinforcement of sixty thousand men.
Napoleon's army had also been reinforced, so that he had about thirty thousand men with whom to meet the eighty thousand which would compose the Austrian army when united. It would require, however, at least a month before Wurmser could arrive at the gates of Mantua.
Napoleon resolved to improve the moments of leisure in disarming his enemies in the south of Italy. The kingdom of Naples, situated at the southern extremity of the peninsula, is the most powerful state in Italy. A Bourbon prince, dissolute and effeminate, sat upon the throne. Its fleet had been actively allied with the English in the attack upon Toulon.
Her troops were now associated with the Austrians in the warfare against France. The king, seeing the Austrians, and his own troops united with them, driven from every part of Italy except the fortress of Mantua, was exceedingly alarmed, and sent to Napoleon imploring peace. Napoleon, not being able to march an army into his territory to impose contributions, and yet being very anxious to detach from the alliance the army of sixty thousand men which Naples could bring into the field, granted an armistice upon terms so easy as to provoke the displeasure of the Directory.
But Napoleon was fully aware of the impending peril, and decided wisely. The Pope, now abandoned by Naples, was in perfect consternation. He had anathematized republican France. He had preached a crusade against her, and had allowed her embassador to be assassinated in the streets of Rome. He was conscious that he deserved chastisement, and he had learned that the young conqueror, in his chastisings, inflicted very heavy blows.
Napoleon, taking with him but six thousand men, entered the States of the Pope. The provinces subject to the Pope's temporal power contained a population of two and a half millions, most of whom were in a state of disgraceful barbarism. He had an inefficient army of four or five thousand men. His temporal power was nothing. It was his spiritual power alone which rendered the Pope formidable. The Pontiff immediately sent an embassador to Bologna, to implore the clemency of the conqueror.
Napoleon referred the Pope to the Directory in Paris for the terms of a permanent peace, granting him however an armistice, in consideration of which he exacted the surrender of Ancona, Bologna, and Ferrara to a French garrison, the payment of four millions of dollars in silver and gold, and the contribution of one hundred paintings or statues and five hundred ancient manuscripts for the Museum in Paris.
The Pope, trembling in anticipation of the overthrow of his temporal power, was delighted to escape upon such easy terms. The most enlightened of the inhabitants of these degenerate and wretchedly governed states welcomed the French with the utmost enthusiasm. They hated the Holy See implacably, and entreated Napoleon to grant them independence.
But it was not Napoleon's object to revolutionize the states of Italy, and though he could not but express his sympathy in these aspirations for political freedom, he was unwilling to take any decisive measures for the overthrow of the established government. He was contending simply for peace. Tuscany had acknowledged the French Republic, and remained neutral in this warfare. But England, regardless of the neutrality of this feeble state, had made herself master of the port of Leghorn, protected by the governor of that city, who was inimical to the French.
The frigates of England rode insultingly in the harbor, and treated the commerce of France as that of an enemy. Napoleon crossed the Apennines, by forced marches proceeded to Leghorn, and captured English goods to the amount of nearly three millions of dollars, notwithstanding a great number of English vessels escaped from the harbor but a few hours before the entrance of the French.
England was mistress of the sea, and she respected no rights of private property upon her watery domain. Wherever her fleets encountered a merchant ship of the enemy, it was taken as fair plunder. Napoleon, who regarded the land as his domain, resolved that he would retaliate by the capture of English property wherever his army encountered it upon the Continent. It was robbery in both cases, and in both cases equally unjustifiable. And yet such is, to a certain degree, one of the criminal necessities of war. He seized the inimical governor, and sent him in a post-chaise to the Grand Duke at Florence, saying, "The governor of Leghorn has violated all the rights of neutrality, by oppressing French commerce, and by affording an asylum to the emigrants and to all the enemies of the Republic.
Out of respect to your authority I send the unfaithful servant to be punished at your discretion. He left a garrison at Leghorn, and then proceeded to Florence, the capital of Tuscany, where the duke, brother of the emperor of Austria, received him with the greatest cordiality, and gave him a magnificent entertainment. He then returned to Mantua, having been absent just twenty days, and in that time, with one div [Pg ] ision of his army, having overawed all the states of southern Italy, and secured their tranquillity during the tremendous struggles which he had still to maintain against Austria.
In these fearful and bloody conflicts Napoleon was contending only to protect his country from those invading armies, which were endeavoring to force upon France the despotism of the Bourbons. He repeatedly made the declaration, that he wished only for peace; and in every case, even when states, by the right of conquest, were entirely in his power, he made peace, upon the most lenient terms for them, simply upon condition that they should cease their warfare against France. Helena, "filling the world with your fame, must have been a source of great delight to you.
The victory of to-day was instantly forgotten in preparation for the battle which was to be fought on the morrow. The aspect of danger was continually before me. I enjoyed not one moment of repose. No good trying to jump off when the train has left the station. Here we wallow in prosperous pasture. Piggies sipping from a shallow trough. Tired old ways to modify and alter; greener hands both on and off.
From crucible by slim pipette, flask and dropper, petri dish. Out of wedlock, ill-conceived? But now she will eat her fill. Transgenic, cool mechanic. Think botanic, still organic. Busy beaver, lab-rat manic; to you I might seem quite satanic Delivering the fruits of Frankenfield. I breathe the heady air. A deep infusion. I feel furtive roots a-stirring.
No brief illusion.
Shout Eureka, hide and seeker. Giver, taker, money-maker. Offered half a decent chance, this could be a real earth-shaker. Delivering the fruits of Frankenfield. Nothing grows like this. Turn away from dark suspicion. No ill wind blows like this. Let me bring you songs from the wood: poppies red and roses filled with summer rain. Let me bring you all things refined: Golden wheat and barley bright in palest ale. Greetings well-met fellow, hail!
I am the wind to fill your sail. When wet winds blow and harvests fail. Inventor of new ageless times, in kitchen prose and gutter rhymes. Let me bring you love from the field: germination, growth and yields beyond your dreams. It is precisely what it seems. We are the cats who licked the cream; the engineers who raised the steam. Glad bringers of these ageless times with kitchen prose and gutter rhymes.
The luminous light of the darkened laboratory bathes him, cajoles him, nurtures and raises him up from obscurity, muddling non-entity climbs to new pinnacles where the clear view amazes him. In strange and wonderful ways, some things combine to make sweet alchemy. Through grey and dangerous days, I walked a line stretching out to the west of me,.
Following the sun. Chasing the milky moon. Investment morning, return in the afternoon. I make my name and fortune, my name in history. I feed the world and the world feeds me. Patents and copyright laws exist to protect and ensure my destiny. Lawyers with sharp teeth and claws further my aims to monetise botany. I hide, you seek.
I worked my proverbials off to do right by you. Hi-tech to reap what we sow; my gift and my legacy there in plain sight of you. I miss those old days when we simpletons sallied through woody leaf mould and as new lovers dallied by trickly streams and tickly nettles to lie where the whirling seed sycamore settles. Once, I used to join in; every boy and girl was my friend.
Let us close our eyes; outside their lives go on much faster. Have you seen Jack-In-The-Green with his long tail hanging down? He quietly sits under every tree in the folds of his velvet gown. He drinks from the empty acorn cup the dew that dawn sweetly bestows. No place to dance, no time for song. He wears the colours of the summer soldier, carries the green flag all the winter long. Jack, do you never sleep?
Does the green still run deep in your heart? Or will these changing times, motorways, power lines, keep us apart? The rowan, the oak and the holly tree are the charges left for you to groom. Each blade of grass whispers Jack-In-The-Green. And we are the berries on the holly tree. Oh, the Mistlethrush is coming; Jack, put out the light.
Get out of these clutches; escape while you can. Oh, lend me your ear while I call you a fool. You were kissed by a witch one night in the wood. And later insisted your feelings were true. Believing, you listened while laughing she flew. Leaves falling, red, yellow, brown, all look the same. And the love we had found lay outside in the rain. Washed clean by the water but nursing its pain. Keep looking, keep looking for somewhere to be.
My old man never followed the obvious choice. My old man stood into the wind and begged it blow harder. In his way, he became the measure of where we must go to fill up the larder. Brave new world of chemical bending DNA helical twist never-ending. Good morning Weathercock: how did you fare last night? Did the cold wind bite you, did you face up to the fright when the leaves spin from October and whip around your tail?
Did you shake from the blast, did you shiver through the gale? Give us direction, the best of goodwill: put us in touch with fair winds. Tell us what the blacksmith has done for you. Do you simply reflect changes in the patterns of the sky, or is it true to say the weather heeds the twinkle in your eye?
Do you fight the rush of winter, do you hold snowflakes at bay? Do you lift the dawn sun from the fields and help him on his way? Good morning Weathercock: make this day bright. Put us in touch with your fair winds. We see, by the thirty—second article, that those pretended free men owed their lords certain servitude. Such a liberty as this smelled very rank of slavery. By the twenty—first Edition: current; Page: [ 14 ] article, the king ordains, that from henceforth officers shall be restrained from forcibly seizing the horses and carriages of free men, except on paying for the same.
This regulation was considered by the people as real liberty, because it destroyed a most intolerable kind of tyranny. Henry VII. By this means the villeins, who afterward acquired property by their industry, bought the castles of the great lords, who had ruined themselves by their extravagance; and by degrees nearly all the estates in the kingdom changed masters. The house of commons daily became more powerful; the families of the ancient peerage became extinct in time; and as, in the rigor of the law, there is no other nobility in England besides the peers, the whole order would have been annihilated had not the kings created new barons from time to time; and this expedient preserved the body of the peers they had formerly so much dreaded, in order to oppose the house of commons, now grown too powerful.
All the new peers, who form the upper house, receive nothing besides their titles from the crown; scarcely any of them possessing the lands from which those titles are derived. The duke of Dorset, for example, is one of them, though he possesses not a foot of land in Dorsetshire; another may be earl of a village, who hardly knows in what quarter of the island such a village lies.
They have only a certain power in parliament, and nowhere out Edition: current; Page: [ 15 ] of it, which, with some few privileges, is all they enjoy. Here is no such thing as the distinction of high, middle, and low justice in France; nor of the right of hunting on the lands of a citizen, who has not the liberty of firing a single shot of a musket on his own estate.
A peer or nobleman in this country pays his share of the taxes as others do, all of which are regulated by the house of commons; which house, if it is second only in rank, is first in point of credit. The lords and bishops, it is true, may reject any bill of the commons, when it regards the raising of money; but are not entitled to make the smallest amendment in it: they must either pass it or throw it out, without any restriction whatever.
When the bill is confirmed by the lords, and approved by the king, then every person is to pay his quota without distinction; and that not according to his rank or quality, which would be absurd, but in proportion to his revenue. Here is no taille, or arbitrary poll—tax, but a real tax on lands; all of which underwent an actual valuation under the famous William III. The taxes remain always the same, notwithstanding the fact that the value of lands has risen; so that no one is stripped to the bone, nor can there be any ground of complaint; the feet of the peasant are not tortured with wooden shoes; he eats the best wheaten bread, is well and warmly clothed, and is in no apprehension on account of the increase of his herds and flocks, or terrified into a thatched house, instead of a convenient slated roof, for fear of an augmentation Edition: current; Page: [ 16 ] of the taille the year following.
There are even a number of peasants, or, if you will, farmers, who have from five to six hundred pounds sterling yearly income, and who are not above cultivating those fields which have enriched them, and where they enjoy the greatest of all human blessings, liberty. Never has any people, since the fall of Carthage, been at the same time powerful by sea and land, till Venice set the example. The Portuguese, from their good fortune in discovering the passage by way of the Cape of Good Hope, have been for some time great lords on the coasts of the East Indies, but have never been very respectable in Europe.
Even the United Provinces became warlike, contrary to their natural disposition, and in spite of themselves; and it can in no way be ascribed to their union among themselves, but to their being united with England, that they have contributed to hold the balance in Europe at the beginning of the eighteenth century. Carthage, Venice, and Amsterdam were undoubtedly powerful; but their conduct has been exactly like that of merchants grown rich by traffic, who afterward purchase lands with the dignity of lordship annexed to them.
Neither Carthage, Venice, nor Holland have, from a warlike and even conquering beginning, ended in a commercial nation. The English are the only people existing who have done this; they were a long time warriors before they learned to cast accounts. This science alone has rendered the nation at once populous, wealthy, and powerful. London was a poor countrytown when Edward III. The Scottish are born warriors, and, from the purity of their air, inherit good sense. Whence comes it then that Scotland, under the name of a union, has become a province of England?
It is because Scotland has scarcely any other commodity than coal, and that England has fine tin, excellent wool, and abounds in corn, manufactures, and trading companies. When Louis XIV. He was in want of money, without which cities can neither be taken nor defended. He had recourse to the English merchants. Thus the younger son of a peer of the realm is not above traffic. Lord Townshend, secretary of state, has a brother who is satisfied with being a merchant in the city. At the time when Lord Oxford ruled all England, his younger brother was a factor at Aleppo, whence he could never be prevailed on to return, and where he died.
This custom, which is now unhappily dying out, appears monstrous to a German, whose head is full of the coats of arms and pageants of his family. They can never conceive how it is possible that the son of an English peer should be no more than a rich and powerful citizen, while in Germany they are all princes. I have known more than thirty highnesses of the same name, whose whole fortunes and estate put together amounted to a few coats of arms, and the starving pride they inherited from their ancestors.
The merchant again, by dint of hearing his profession despised on all occasions, at last is fool enough to blush at his condition. I will Edition: current; Page: [ 19 ] not, however, take upon me to say which is the most useful to his country, and which of the two ought to have the preference; whether the powdered lord, who knows to a minute when the king rises or goes to bed, perhaps to stool, and who gives himself airs of importance in playing the part of a slave in the antechamber of some minister; or the merchant, who enriches his country, and from his countinghouse sends his orders into Surat or Cairo, thereby contributing to the happiness and convenience of human nature.
The rest of Europe, that is, the Christian part of it, very gravely assert that the English are fools and madmen; fools, in communicating the contagion of smallpox to their children, in order to hinder them from being subject to that dangerous and loathsome disorder; madmen, in wantonly exposing their children to this pestilence, with the design of preventing a contingent evil. The English, on their side, call the rest of Europe unnatural and cowardly; unnatural, in leaving their children exposed to almost certain death by smallpox; and cowardly, in fearing to give their children a trifling matter of pain for a purpose so noble and so evidently useful.
In order to determine which of the two is in the right, I shall now relate the history of this famous practice, which is in France the subject of so much dread. The women of Circassia have from time immemorial Edition: current; Page: [ 20 ] been accustomed to give their children smallpox, even as early as at six months of age, by making an incision in the arm, and afterward inserting in this incision a pustule carefully taken from the body of some other child. This pustule so insinuated produces in the body of the patient the same effect that leaven does in a piece of dough; that is, it ferments in it, and communicates to the mass of blood the qualities with which it is impregnated.
The pustules of the child infected in this manner serve to convey the same disease to others. This disorder, therefore, is perpetually circulating through the different parts of Circassia; and when, unluckily, there is no infection of smallpox in the country, it creates the same uneasiness as a dearth or an unhealthy season would have occasioned. What has given rise to this custom in Circassia, and which is so extraordinary to other nations, is, however, a cause common to all the nations on the face of the earth; that is, the tenderness of mothers, and motives of interest.
The Circassians are poor, but have handsome daughters; which, accordingly, are the principal article of their foreign commerce. It is they who furnish beauties for the seraglios of the grand seignior, the sufi of Persia, and others who are rich enough to purchase and to maintain these precious commodities. These people bring up their children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord; that is, in virtuous and honorable principles, which contain the whole science of wheedling the male part of the creation; the art of dancing, with gestures expressive of uncommon effeminacy and lasciviousness; Edition: current; Page: [ 21 ] and lastly, that of rekindling, by the most bewitching artifices, the exhausted appetites of those haughty lords to whom their fates have destined them.
These poor creatures repeat their lesson every day with their mothers, in the same manner as our girls do their catechism; that is, without understanding a single syllable of what is taught them. Now it often happened that a father and mother, after having taken an infinite deal of pains in giving their children a good education, suddenly see their hopes frustrated. Smallpox getting into the family, one daughter perhaps died; another lost an eye; a third recovered, but with a disfigured nose; so that here was an honest couple hopelessly ruined.
Often, too, an entire stagnation of all kinds of commerce has ensued, and that for several years running, when the disorder happened to be epidemic, to the no small detriment of the seraglios of Turkey and Persia. A commercial people are always exceedingly vigilant with regard to their interest, and never neglect those items of knowledge that may be of use in the carrying on of their traffic. They further remark, that when the disease is mild, and the Edition: current; Page: [ 22 ] eruption has only to pierce through a thin and delicate skin, it leaves no mark on the face.
From these natural observations they concluded, that if a child of six months or a year old was to have a mild kind of smallpox, not only would the child certainly survive, but it would get better without bearing any marks of it, and would assuredly be immune during the remainder of its life. The experiment could hardly fail. The Turks, a very sensible people, soon adopted this practice; and, at this day, there is scarcely a pasha in Constantinople who does not inoculate his children while they are at the breast.
There are some who pretend that the Circassians formerly learned this custom from the Arabians. We will leave this point in history to be elucidated by some learned Benedictine, who will not fail to compose several volumes in folio upon the subject, together with the necessary vouchers. All I have to say of the matter is that, in the beginning of the reign of George I. This lady, on her return to London, communicated the experiment she had made to the princess of Wales, 1 now queen of Great Britain.
It must be acknowledged that, setting crowns and titles aside, this princess is certainly born for the encouragement of arts, and for the good of the human race, to whom she is a generous benefactor. She is an amiable philosopher seated on a throne, who has improved every opportunity of instruction, and who has never let slip any occasion of showing her innate generosity. It is she who, on hearing that a daughter of Milton was still living, and in extreme misery, immediately sent her a valuable present; she it is who encourages the celebrated father Courayer; in a word, it is she who deigned to become the mediatrix between Dr.
Clarke and Mr. As soon as she heard of inoculation for smallpox, she caused it to be tried on four criminals under sentence of death, who were thus doubly indebted to her for their lives: for she not only rescued them from the gallows, but, by means of this artificial attack of smallpox, prevented them from having it in the natural way, which they, in all human probability, would have had, and of which they might have died at a more advanced age.
The princess, thus assured of the utility of this proof, caused her own children to be inoculated. All England, or rather Britain, followed her example; so Edition: current; Page: [ 24 ] that from that time at least six thousand children stand indebted for their lives to Lady Mary Wortley Montagu, as do all the fair of the island for preserving their beauty.
In a hundred persons that come into the world, at least sixty are found to contract smallpox; of these sixty, twenty are known to die, in the most favorable times, and twenty more wear very disagreeable marks of this cruel disorder as long as they live. Here is then a fifth part of the human species assuredly killed, or, at least, horribly disfigured. Among the vast numbers inoculated in Great Britain, or in Turkey, none are ever known to die, except such as were in a very ill state of health, or given over before.
No one is marked with it; no one is ever infected a second time, supposing the inoculation to be perfect, that is, to have taken place as it ought. It is, therefore, certain that, had some French lady imported this secret from Constantinople into Paris, she would have rendered an inestimable and everlasting piece of service to the nation. The twenty thousand persons who died at Paris in would have been now alive. What shall we say then?
Is it that the French set a lower value upon life? It is true, and it must be acknowledged, that we are a very odd kind of people! It is possible, that in ten years we may think of adopting this British custom, provided the doctors and curates allow us this indulgence; or, perhaps, the French will inoculate their children, out of mere whim, should those islanders leave it off, from their natural inconstancy.
I learn that the Chinese have practised this custom for two hundred years; the example of a nation that has the first character in point of natural good sense, as well as of their excellent internal police, is a strong prejudice in its favor. It is true, the Chinese follow a method peculiar to themselves; they make no incision, but take smallpox up the nose in powder, just as we do a pinch of snuff: this method is more pleasant, but amounts to much the same thing, and serves equally to prove that had inoculation been practised in France, it must assuredly have saved the lives of thousands.
It is some years since a Jesuit missionary having read this chapter, and being in a province of America, where smallpox makes horrible ravages, bethought himself of causing all the Indian children he baptized to be inoculated, so that they are indebted to him not only for this present life, but also for life eternal at the same time; what inestimable gifts for savages!
The bishop of Worcester has lately preached up the doctrine of inoculation at London; he has proved, like a good citizen and patriot, what a vast Edition: current; Page: [ 26 ] number of subjects this practice preserves to a nation; a doctrine which he has also enforced by such arguments as might be expected from a pastor and a Christian.
It will require some time before a true spirit of reason and a particular boldness of sentiment will be able to make their way over the Straits of Dover. It must not, however, be imagined that no persons are to be met with from the Orkneys to the South Foreland but philosophers; the other species will always form the greater number. Inoculation was at first opposed in London; and a great while before the bishop of Worcester preached this gospel from the pulpit, a certain curate had taken it into his head to declaim against this practice: he told his congregation that Job had certainly been inoculated by the devil.
This man spoiled a good Capuchin, for which nature seems to have intended him; he was certainly unworthy the honor of being born in this island. So we see prejudice, as usual, first got possession of the pulpit, and reason could not reach it till long after; this is no more than the common progress of the human mind. Somebody said that it must undoubtedly be Sir Isaac Newton. This man was certainly in the right; for if true greatness consists in having received from heaven the advantage of a superior genius, with the talent of applying it for the interest of the possessor and of mankind, a man like Newton—and such a one is hardly to be met with in ten centuries—is surely by much the greatest; and those statesmen and conquerors which no age has ever been without, are commonly but so many illustrious villains.
It is the man who sways our minds by the prevalence of reason and the native force of truth, not they who reduce mankind to a state of slavery by brutish force and downright violence; the man who by the vigor of his mind, is able to penetrate into the hidden secrets of nature, and whose capacious soul can contain the vast frame of the universe, not those who lay nature waste, and desolate the face of the earth, that claims our reverence and admiration. Therefore, as you are desirous to be informed of the great men that England has produced, I shall begin with the Bacons, the Lockes, and the Newtons.
The generals and ministers will come after them in their turn. I must begin with the celebrated baron Verulam, known to the rest of Europe by the name of Bacon, Edition: current; Page: [ 28 ] who was the son of a certain keeper of the seals, and was for a considerable time chancellor under James I. Notwithstanding the intrigues and bustle of a court, and the occupations incident to his office, which would have required his whole attention, he found means to become a great philosopher, a good historian, and an elegant writer; and what is yet more wonderful is that he lived in an age where the art of writing was totally unknown, and where sound philosophy was still less so.
This personage, as is the way among mankind, was more valued after his death than while he lived. His enemies were courtiers residing at London, while his admirers consisted wholly of foreigners. You have been told in what manner Bacon was accused of a crime which is very far from being the sin of a philosopher; 1 of being corrupted by pecuniary Edition: current; Page: [ 29 ] gifts; and how he was sentenced by the house of peers to pay a fine of about four hundred thousand livres of our money, besides losing his office of chancellor, and being degraded from the rank and dignity of a peer.
At present the English revere his memory to such a degree that only with great difficulty can one imagine him to have been in the least guilty. They happened to be talking of the avarice with which the duke of Marlborough had been taxed, and quoted several instances of it, for the truth of which they appealed to Lord Bolingbroke, who, as being of a contrary party, might, perhaps, without any trespass against the laws of decorum, freely say what he thought.
Chancellor Bacon was still unacquainted with nature, but he perfectly knew, and pointed out extraordinarily well, all the paths which lead to her recesses. This great man is the father of experimental philosophy. They had gone in search of, discovered, and conquered a new world in another hemisphere. Who would not have thought that these sublime discoveries had been made by the greatest philosophers, and in times much more enlightened than ours?
By no means; for all these astonishing revolutions happened in the ages of scholastic barbarity. Chance alone has brought forth almost all these inventions; it is even pretended that chance has had a great share in the discovery of America; at least, it has been believed that Christopher Columbus undertook this voyage on the faith of a captain of a ship who had been cast by a storm on one of the Caribbee islands. Be this as it will, men had learned to penetrate to the utmost limits of the habitable Edition: current; Page: [ 31 ] globe, and to destroy the most impregnable cities with an artificial thunder, much more terrible than the real; but they were still ignorant of the circulation of the blood, the weight and pressure of the air, the laws of motion, the doctrine of light and color, the number of the planets in our system, etc.
The most wonderful and useful inventions are by no means those which do most honor to the human mind. And it is to a certain mechanical instinct, which exists in almost every man, that we owe far the greater part of the arts, and in no manner whatever to philosophy. The discovery of fire, the arts of making bread, of melting and working metals, of building houses, the invention of the shuttle, are infinitely more useful than printing and the compass; notwithstanding, all these were invented by men who were still in a state of barbarity.
What astonishing things have the Greeks and Romans since done in mechanics? Yet men believed, in their time, that the heavens were of crystal, and the stars were so many small lamps, that sometimes fell into the sea; and one of their greatest philosophers, after many researches, had at length discovered that the stars were so many pebbles, that had flown off like sparks from the earth.
In a word, there was not a man who had any idea of experimental philosophy before Chancellor Bacon; and of an infinity of experiments which have Edition: current; Page: [ 32 ] been made since his time, there is hardly a single one which has not been pointed out in his book. He had even made a good number of them himself. He constructed several pneumatic machines, by which he discovered the elasticity of the air; he had long brooded over the discovery of its weight, and was even at times very near to catching it, when it was laid hold of by Torricelli.
A short time after, experimental physics began to be cultivated in almost all parts of Europe. This was a hidden treasure, of which Bacon had some glimmerings, and which all the philosophers whom his promises had encouraged made their utmost efforts to lay open.
We see in his book mention made in express terms of that new attraction of which Newton passes for the inventor. If the force of the weight diminishes on the mountain, and increases in the mine, it is probable the earth has a real attracting quality. This precursor in philosophy was also an elegant writer, a historian, and a wit.
His moral essays are in high estimation, though they seem rather calculated Edition: current; Page: [ 33 ] to instruct than to please; and as they are neither a satire on human nature, like the maxims of Rochefoucauld, nor a school of skepticism, like Montaigne; they are not so much read as these two ingenious books. His life of Henry VII. Speaking of that famous impostor Perkin, son of a Jew convert, who assumed so boldly the name of Richard IV. When the duchess of Burgundy had instructed Perkin, she began to consider with herself in what region of the heavens she should make this comet shine, and resolved immediately that it should make its appearance in the horizon of Ireland.
There surely never was a more solid and more methodical understanding, nor a more acute and accurate logician, than Locke, though he was far from Edition: current; Page: [ 34 ] being an excellent mathematician. He never could bring himself to undergo the drudgery of calculation, nor the dryness of mathematical truths, which offer no sensible image to the understanding: and no one has more fully evinced than he has, that a man, without the smallest assistance from geometry, might still possess the most geometrical intellect possible.
The great philosophers before his time had made no difficulties in determining the essence or substance of the human soul; but as they were wholly ignorant of the matter, it was but reasonable they should all be of different opinions. In Greece, which was at one time the cradle of arts and of errors, where the greatness and folly of the human mind were pushed to so great a height, they reasoned on the soul exactly as we do. The divine Anaxagoras, who had altars erected to him for teaching men that the sun was bigger than the Peloponnessus, that snow was black, that the sky was of stone, affirmed that the soul was an aerial spirit, though immortal.
Diogenes, a different person from him, who became a cynic from a counterfeiter of money, asserted that the soul was a portion of the substance of God; a notion which had at least something striking. Epicurus maintains the soul is composed of parts, in the same manner as matter. Aristotle, whose works have been interpreted a thousand different ways, because they were in fact absolutely unintelligible, was of opinion, if we may trust some of his disciples, that the understandings of all mankind were but one and the same substance.
The divine Plato, master of the divine Aristotle, and the Edition: current; Page: [ 35 ] divine Socrates, master of the divine Plato, said that the soul was at the same time corporeal and eternal. There are actually some who pretend that a fellow who boasted of having a familiar was most assuredly either knave or fool; possibly they who say so may be rather too squeamish. As for our fathers of the Church, several of them, in the first ages were of opinion that the human soul, as well as the angels, and God himself, were all corporeal.
The world is every day improving. Bernard, as Father Mabillon is forced to own, taught, with respect to the soul, that after death it did not behold God in heaven, but was obliged to rest satisfied with conversing with the humanity of Jesus Christ. Possibly they took it for once on his bare word; though the adventure of the crusade has somewhat lessened the credit of his oracles.
Our Descartes, born to discover the mistakes of antiquity, only that he might substitute his own in their place, and borne down by the stream of system, which hoodwinks the greatest men, imagined he had demonstrated Edition: current; Page: [ 36 ] that the soul was the same thing with thought, in the same manner as matter is the same with extension. Father Malebranche, of the oratory, in his sublime illusions, admits of no such thing as innate ideas, though he had no doubt of our seeing everything in God; and that God Himself, if it is lawful to speak in this manner, was the very essence of our soul.
After so many speculative gentlemen had formed this romance of the soul, one truly wise man appeared, who has, in the most modest manner imaginable, given us its real history. Locke has laid open to man the anatomy of his own soul, just as some learned anatomist would have done that of the body. He avails himself throughout of the help of metaphysical lights; and although he is sometimes bold enough to speak in a positive manner, he is on other occasions not afraid to discover doubts.
Instead of determining at once what we were entirely ignorant about, he examines, step by step, the objects of human knowledge; he takes a child from the moment of its birth; he accompanies him through all the stages of the human understanding; he views what he possesses in common with the brutes, and in what he is superior to them. Above all, he is solicitous to examine the internal evidence of consciousness. For my own part, I am proud of the honor of being every whit as stupid on this point as Mr. Locke, after demolishing the notion of innate ideas; after having renounced the vain opinion that the mind always thinks; having fully established this point, that the origin of all our ideas is from the senses; 1 having examined our simple and compound ideas; having accompanied the mind in all its operations; having shown the imperfection of all the languages spoken by men, and what a gross Edition: current; Page: [ 38 ] abuse of terms we are every moment guilty of; Locke, I say, at length proceeds to consider the extent, or rather the nothingness, of human knowledge.
Some English devotees as usual gave the alarm. The superstitious are in society what poltroons are in an army; they infect the rest with their own panics. They cried out that Mr. Locke wanted to turn all religion topsy—turvy: there was, however, not the smallest relation to religion in the affair, the question was purely philosophical, and altogether independent of faith and revelation. Doctor Stillingfleet has acquired the character of a moderate divine, only because he has refrained from abuse in his controversy with Mr.
He ventured to enter the lists with him, but was vanquished, because Edition: current; Page: [ 39 ] he reasoned too much like a doctor; while Locke, like a true philosopher, fully acquainted with the strength and weakness of human understanding, fought with arms of whose temper he was perfectly well assured. Philip Mordaunt, cousin—german to the famous earl of Peterborough, who was so well known in all the courts of Europe, and who made his boast that he had seen more postilions, and more crowned heads, than any other man in the world; this Philip Mordaunt, I say, was a young man about twenty—seven, handsome, well made, rich, of an illustrious family, and one who might pretend to anything; and, what was more than all the rest, he was passionately beloved by his mistress.
One would imagine he chose to die because he was weary of being happy. One Richard Smith has lately exhibited a most Edition: current; Page: [ 40 ] extraordinary instance of this nature to the world. This Smith was tired of being really unhappy; he had been rich, and was reduced to poverty; he had been healthy, and had become infirm; he had a wife, to whom he had nothing to give but a share in his misfortunes; and an infant in the cradle was the only thing he had left. I do not remember to have heard anywhere of such a scene of horrors committed in cold blood; but the letter which these unhappy wretches wrote to their cousin, Mr.
Brindley, before their death, is as remarkable as the manner of their death. We put an end to our lives because we were miserable, without any prospect of relief; and we have done our child that service to put it out of life, for fear it should have been as miserable as ourselves. It is to be observed that these people, after having murdered their child out of their paternal affection, wrote to a friend, recommending their dog and cat to his care.
They thought, probably, that it was easier to make their dog and cat happy in this world than their child, and that keeping them would not be any great expense to their friend. The earl of Scarborough has lately quitted life with the same indifference as he did his place of master of the horse. My lord Scarborough, therefore, killed himself to get rid of difficulty. The many tragical stories of this nature, with which the English newspapers abound, have made the greater part of Europe imagine that the English are fonder of killing themselves than any other people; and yet I question much whether there are not as many madmen at Paris as at London; and if our newspapers were to keep an exact register of those who have either had the folly, or unhappy resolution to destroy themselves, we might in this respect be found to vie with the English.
But our compilers of news are more prudent; the adventures of private persons are never set forth to public scandal in any of the papers licenced by the government; however, I believe I may venture to affirm that this rage of suicide will never become epidemic. Nature has sufficiently guarded against it, and hope and fear are the powerful curbs she makes use of to stop the hand of the wretch uplifted to be his own executioner. I know it may be said, that there have been countries Edition: current; Page: [ 42 ] where a council was established to give licence to the people to kill themselves, when they could give sufficient reasons for doing it.
To this I answer, that either the fact is false, or that such council found very little employment.
There is one thing indeed which may cause some surprise, and which I think deserves to be seriously discussed, which is, that almost all the great heroes among the Romans, during the civil wars, killed themselves when they lost a battle, and that we do not find an instance of a single leader, or great man, in the disputes of the League, the Fronde, or during the troubles of Italy and Germany, who put end to his life with his own hand. It is true, that these latter were Christians, and that there is great difference between a Christian soldier and a Pagan; and yet, how comes it that those very men who were so easily withheld by Christianity, from putting an end to their own lives, should be restrained either by that or any other consideration, when they had a mind to poison, assassinate, or publicly execute a vanquished enemy?
Does not the Christian religion forbid this manner of taking away the life of a fellow—creature, if possible more than our own? The advocates for suicide tell us that it is very allowable to quit our house when we are weary of it. Agreed: but most men had rather lie in a bad house than sleep in the open fields. I one day received a circular letter from an Englishman, in which he proposes a premium to the person who should the most clearly demonstrate that it was allowable for a man to kill himself. I made him Edition: current; Page: [ 43 ] no answer, for I had nothing to prove to him, and he had only to examine within himself if he preferred death to life.
But then let us ask why Cato, Brutus, Cassius, Antony, Otho, and so many others gave themselves death with so much resolution, and that our leaders of parties suffered themselves to be taken alive by their enemies, or waste the remains of a wretched old age in a dungeon? This may be very well in an ode, or as a figure in rhetoric; but it is very certain there must be some courage to resign a life coolly by the edge of a sword, some strength of mind thus to overcome the most powerful instinct of nature; in a word, that such an act shows a greater share of ferocity than weakness.
When a sick man is in a frenzy, we cannot say he has no strength, though we may say it is the strength of a madman. Self—murder was forbidden by the Pagan as well as by the Christian religion. There was even a place allotted in hell to those who put an end to their own lives. Witness these lines of the poet. This was the religion of the heathens; and notwithstanding the torments they were to endure in the other world, it was esteemed an honor to quit this by giving themselves death by their own hands: so contradictory are the manners of men!
Is not the custom of duelling still unhappily accounted honorable among us, though prohibited by reason, by religion, and by all laws, divine and human? If the duke of Montmorency, Marshal Marillac, de Thou, Cinq—Mars, and many others, rather chose to be dragged to execution like the vilest miscreants, than put an end to their own lives like Cato and Brutus, it was not that they had less courage than those Romans; the true reason is, that it was not then the fashion at Paris to kill oneself on such occasions; whereas it was an established custom with the Romans.
The women on the Malabar coast throw themselves alive into the flames, in which the bodies of their dead husbands are burning.
Is it because they have more resolution than Cornelia? No; but the custom of the country is for wives to burn themselves. The English had a regular theatre, as well as the Spaniards, while the French had as yet but booths.
Thompsonscare: Upton Sinclair s. After several minutes of debating how to hit the shot the old man finally said, "You know, when I was your age I'd hit the ball right over that tree. As Penny seems to be the most enthusiastic reader of your tales, are you aware that you can send private messages? Now she was escaping from her bedroom, her house, her town, her country. He was only coming for a year but doesn't look like returning home any time soon. Lost your bottle?
Shakespeare, whom the English consider as Edition: current; Page: [ 45 ] another Sophocles, flourished about the time of Lope de Vega; he was properly the creator of their theatre. His genius was at once strong and abundant, natural and sublime, but without the smallest spark of taste, and void of the remotest idea of the rules. I will venture to tell you a bold but yet undoubted truth; which is, that the merit of this author has been the ruin of the English stage: there are in him scenes so perfectly beautiful, and passages so very full of the great and terrible, spread up and down those monstrous farces of his which they have christened tragedies, that his pieces have always been played with prodigious success.
Time, which alone is capable of establishing the reputation of authors, serves at length to consecrate their very defects. The greater part of those extravagant passages, and of that bombast which abounds in his works, have, in the course of a hundred and fifty years, acquired a kind of title to pass for the true sublime. Their modern authors are, generally speaking, no more than copiers of him, though what succeeded in Shakespeare is hissed in them; and you know the veneration they entertain for this author increases in proportion to their contempt of the moderns. They never once reflect that it is absurd to pretend to imitate him; and it is wholly owing to the ill success of those copiers, and not to their want of capacity, that he is thought inimitable.
In the reign of Charles II. You will, no doubt, lament that those who have hitherto spoken to you of the English stage, and particularly of the celebrated Shakespeare, have pointed out only his errors, and that no one has translated those striking passages in this great man which atone for all his faults.