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by the dying sun.' His air was audacious, his attitude formidable, and that head about to fall had still, says M. Arnault, an air of authority and dictation. His last words addressed to the executioner, were- Don't forget to show my head to the people; 'tis worth looking at.' Danton is a kind of hero with the Liberals now-a-days, just because Robespierre survived him; as Brissot and Vergniaud are still greater favourites and have their statues on bridges and in palaces, merely because Danton and Robespierre put them to death. In this there is a kind of injusticethey were all alike villains; and if they had all perished on the 31st of May, Marat, and Hebert, and Danton, and Robespierre, would have been universally lamented as more innocent at that period than the Brissotins! It was only by living a little longer that the Mountain attained its " bad pre-eminence'-he that lived longest had most scope for his natural ferocity; and Robespierre is become the scape-goat by which the reputations of all the rest are to be purified, because he happened to have better luck or more talents than the rest, and to have maintained his power a little longer. If one could make distinctions in extreme cases, we should, after a most attentive, and we might almost say personal, observation of the whole course of the Revolution, venture to pronounce that Robespierre, monster as he was, was not originally and substantially a worse man than Brissot, Louvet, Desmoulins, Danton, and fifty others, whom it is now the fashion to consider as comparatively innocent victims of the atrocities of which they were the prime inventors and hottest instigators. Robespierre fell, not because he carried those atrocities farther than his predecessors, but because he was suspected of a vague intention of putting a stop to them.
Amidst all these bloodstained anecdotes Arnault mingles, with the most Parisian indifference, the trash of his own little pursuits and the gossip of the theatres. When he followed Danton to the scaffold, he was within a moment of being too late, because he just looked in on Mehul, the musical composer, to say three words about one of his operas; and Mehul would have accompanied him to the last act of the tragedy, but that he happened to be in his night-gown and slippers. In such a state of society and feeling we are not surprised that one of the favourite exclamations of the Parisian public--who must always have a 'vive' something or other—was 'Vive la mort.'
Trembling, scribbling--shuddering, singing-vibrating between the coulisse and the scaffold, the café and the guillotine, Arnault contrived to carry his head on his own shoulders, through the reign of terror; and when Buonaparte began to take the lead, he, by the help of Regnauld (nicknamed de St. Jean
d'Angely), his brother-in-law, made some advances in the good graces of the Corsican conqueror, by whom he was entrusted with a mission to the Ionian islands, which he abandoned (we do not quite understand why) to make a tour in Italy; and this tour, in the dullest style of a guide-book, occupies about a volume of M. Arnault's Memoirs. The only thing remarkable in this portion of the work is the proof it affords of the bold and pertinacious mendacity with which Buonaparte afterwards belied his proper
name. When Arnault visits Vesuvius, he inscribed some lines in an album which is kept there :
• Soldat' (which he was not) • du fier Bonaparte,
Avec l'altier panache où resplendit sa gloire,
Les trois couleurs de la Victoire.'- vol. iii. The rhyme here puts the Italian pronunciation beyond all doubt; yet read the series of petty falsehoods which Buonaparte thought it worth while to dictate at St. Helena, in contradiction of this notorious fact. See also our former contradictions* of this falsehood-one which we cannot think trivial when we see what strenuous efforts Buonaparte made to give it vogue.
Arnault was one of the savans selected to accompany Buonaparte to Egypt, and he embarked with him in L'Orient. He however went no farther than Malta, where he, in a rather unceremonious manner, deserted, as Buonaparte afterwards reproached him. We shall select a few anecdotes of the passage from Toulon to Malta.
Poor Arnault, being only a pekin-civilian-underwent great contempt, and consequently suffered many hardships. The military men shoved him to the far end of the dinner table, seized his cabin, unslung his cot, and left him to sleep upon the bare deck. This ill-treatment, however, and an extra glass of punch, saved, in fact, L'Orient, the fleet, the expedition, and the embryo-emperor. Troubled with insomnie and indigestion, Arnault arose one night from his hard pallet, and went to the upper deck, where his experienced eyes beheld what the naval officers of the watch had not seen that the ship was nearly ashore. He gave the alarm-like the goose of the Capitol--and the world was saved. But the French are not so grateful as the Romans; the latter almost deified their saviour geese-Buonaparte told his goose to hold his tongue; the matter was hushed up, and is now only told when there is no one to contradict it, or, may we add, to believe it. The secret was so well kept, says our goose, that, ten years after, Ganthaume (the admiral, in whose ear Arnault says he cackled his alarm) forgot and denied it. * Quart. Rev., Vol. XII. p. 239; and Vol. XXVIII., p. 254.
To alleviate the tedium of the voyage, Buonaparte used to hold, in the evenings, what he called an Institute in the great cabin, at which the savans, and followers, and naval and military officers were expected, that is, ordered, to attend. There Buonaparte, seated on a kind of throne, would give a theme for discussion. It is evident that he was already-indeed he had been from an early stage of his Italian successes-playing the autocrat.
Déjà Napoléon perçait sous Bonaparte.' These formal discussions were clearly intended to relieve the haughty general from the indignity of taking a share in social amusements—from that equality which stood at the head of all his public acts, but never entered into his presence; but they were dreadfully dull to all but the great man and the savans. The members of the Institute sat round a table, covered with a green cloth, at the head of which sat Buonaparte, as president; the military myrmidons were placed on back seats round the cabin. Junot, very ill-bred, very unlettered, but giddy and candid, could not abide these sermons, and often disturbed them. One evening he insisted that Lannes—just as illiterate as himself, but a graver personage, who had the fear of the general ever before his eyes-was entitled to a seat at the green
tablevery name'(l'Ane), says Junot, proclaims him to be of the Institute. This passed off, and the debate continued. By-and-by it was interrupted by a loud snoring, which drowned the voice of the speaker. “Who is that,' exclaimed the General, indignantly, “ who snores here?'-'Tis Junot,' replied Lannes, taking his revenge for the late joke. "Wake him, ordered the commander-inchief : but a moment after the snoring began louder than ever. · Wake him, I say ;' and then, with a tone of impatience, why do
you snore here at such a rate ?’General,' answered the harebrained Junot (who was always half mad, and died wholly so), ' 'tis your sacre fichu Institute, which sets every body asleep but yourself.'— Go, then, and sleep in your bed.' • That's all I want,' rejoined Junot; who immediately departed, and was no more pressed to assist at the sittings of the Institute.
Arnault next gives us a specimen of Buonaparte's taste and temper, which, from so devoted a worshipper, is of some little value towards estimating the real talents and character of that eniperor of mountebanks. One day during the voyage, he summoned Arnault to read to him :
• Arn. What will you have me read-philosophy-politics—poetry? Buon. Poetry.- Arn. Choose. Buon. What you will.—Arn. Shall it be Homer, the father of all poets? Buon. Homer let it be. Arn. The Iliad, the Odyssey, or the Batrachomyomachia ? Buon.
(evidently puzzled) What's that you say?-Arn. The Battle of the Frogs and Mice, the War of Troy, or the Travels of Ulysses ? Buon. No battles just now; we are on a voyage, let us have the voyage-besides, I know little of the Odyssey, let us read the Odyssey.'vol. iv. p. 38. Now it is quite clear, from Arnault's being obliged to explain the subject of the Iliad as well as the Odyssey, that the hero knew as much about the one as about the other
that is to say, just nothing at all; which, as we shall see presently, did not prevent his giving a very decided critical opinion on the father of poetry.' Arnault was dispatched to fetch-a French translation, no doubt, of — the Odyssey, and when he returned, Buonaparte rang the bell for Duroc, and gave him orders not to let any one come in, and not to come himself till called. Then began the reading : but after Arnault had read a few lines, describing the feastings of the Suitors, Buonaparte burst out into ridicule of those ancient - That's what you call fine !' he cried; these heroes are nothing but marauders, scullions, and kitchen-pilferers : if our army cooks were to be guilty of such conduct, I should order them to be shot.' In vain did Arnault endeavour in measured phrases to correct this style of criticism—he seems ashamed of it; and indeed we think, for mingled absurdity, ignorance, and stupidity, it exceeds anything we have ever read—the mistake of the Suitors for the heroes of the piece-the confounding the merits of a description with the nature of the thing described the overlooking the higher qualities of the poem for the inferior accidents--neglecting the countenance of the Apollo to examine his sandal and measuring the manners of the mythological ages, by the standard of the suttlers and provost-marshals of the army of Italy, with fifty other corollaries which could be deduced from this short text, are, we think, wholly unparalleled, and only faintly shadowed, in the description of that other great military criticEnsign Northerton, in Tom Jones, who • damned Homo,' upon about the same degree of acquaintance, and with as much good sense, as Napoleon the Great. That's what you call sublime ;' added hem but how different is Ossian from your Homer!' and taking up a volume of Ossian which lay on his table, says Arnault • like Homer, by the bedside of Alexander '—he began to read or rather to recite' his favorite poem of Temora.
The education of this imperial Zoilus had been, however, somewhat neglected ; everybody knows that he could scarcely write or spell *—-Arnault lets us into the secret that he could scarcely read -hence we suppose it is that we find in all the Memoirs about
* See Quarterly Review, Vol. XIV. p. 77.
him, that he was generally, if not always, read to. But we shall give the curious passage in Arnault's own words ::
• He began to read or rather recite Temora. Now he was very far from setting off (faire valoir) what he read. For want of practice in reading aloud, his tongue would make many slips (lui tournait souvent.) Sometimes by reading a t instead of an s, and again, an s instead of a the would make liaisons, which one might well call dangereuses--disfiguring the words--(estropiant les mots)—and sometimes putting one word for another-the effect of a hurry, which gave a character rather burlesque than epic to his Ossianic enthusiasm and the swollen emphasis with which he uttered his text.'—vol. iv. p. 85.
Here is a perfect description of a clever child endeavouring to follow in print the lesson which he had already learned by rote. We always knew that Buonaparte was almost illiterate ; but of so serious a deficiency in the mechanical art of reading we were not before aware.* Now that the fact comes out, it explains to us a variety of little personal circumstances, which before passed unobserved in the various Memoirs of his life. While, however, he was thus delighting himself, and boring the obsequious Arnault, by calling Macpherson a sublime genius, and - Homer a dotard'--the door opened-it was Duroc. "" What's the matter ?" asked Buonaparte with a frown. “ I have not called—I have not rung." General," answered Duroc, squadron is lying-to, General Kleber (the second in command) has taken the favourable opportunity of coming on board to see you-he is in the outer cabin.” Buon.--"Did I not tell you to wait till I should ring have I rung--why have you dared to disobey my orders ? ' Duroc~"I thought, General, that the peculiarity of the circumstance." Buon.--"You thought wrong-nothing justifies your disobedience-begone, and don't return till I call you-begone!"-vol. iv. p. 96.
Duroc retired disconcerted and mortified-Arnault was little less so-at such a specimen of rigorous despotism, which would have been brutal anywhere, but was absolutely absurd at sea-in a fleet
and when the report to be made was of an unexpected event, the lying-to of the fleet-and the arrival of the second in command, who took advantage of an opportunity which might not occur again during the voyage, and which might not itself last five minutes ! and while, as Arnault says, Kleber might have thought the great man was busied in arranging the affairs of the world, he was only stammering out Macpherson's fustian, and calling - Homer a dotard.' But we think (although it seems to have escaped
* L'Abbé de Pradt pronounced him to be profoundly ignorant. (See Quarterly Review, Vol. XIV. p. 94.) We take the liberty of referring to that article for a character of Buonaparte, which every subsequent work published about him seems to confirm.