« AnteriorContinuar »
Arnault) that we can—(not excuse, but)-explain this burst of brutality, that seems at first sight so unaccountable. Buonaparte, conscious of the little defect we have just alluded to, knew or fancied, that others might suspect it, and he was enraged that Duroc's intrusion should discover him taking his reading lesson from his (perhaps unconscious) preceptor! All the circumstances corroborate this suspicion—the sending Arnault (in order to conceal the real object) for a book, of which ten lines were not read the strict orders not to be interrupted—the taking up the other book which lay ready on the table-(aboard-ship, books do not lie about accidentally)—the reading to the man who had been summoned to read to him, and the (on any other hypothesis unaccountable) rage at being discovered at these studies-all these circumstances satisfy us that our solution is the true one; and it is by such accidental traits that we are enabled to pierce through the cloud of flattery and falsehood with which Buonaparte took such incessant and infinite pains to surround, and to magnify, by obscuring it, his real character.
Arnault, as we have said, left the expedition at Malta, and on his return to France, was captured in the Sensible frigate by H.M.S. Seahorse. He gives a very fair narrative of the action and the results; and we are glad to find that M. Arnault's story not merely corroborates, but adds something to the short and modest account which Captain Foote officially gave of his victory. Capt. Foote's letter in the 'Gazette' gives 18 killed and 37 woundedtotal 55; while Arnault states the total at 60, of which 15 were killed; the difference of the numbers of the killed was probably that three of the French died of their wounds after the prisoners had been removed. M. Arnault speaks with admiration of the beautiful order in which he finds the English vessel after the action, though she had been two years at sea--and with becoming gratitude of the generous and delicate attentions which he personally, , as well as all his companions in misfortune, received from Captain Foote and his officers. The prisoners were released under a special cartel, at Cagliari, and Arnault finds his way back to Paris, where he resumes the very unimportant story of his literary life and society. In 1799 he produced his tragedy of the Venetians, which had considerable success. On Buonaparte's return, after a slight sneer at Arnault's desertion, which would probably have been more serious had not Buonaparte been so recently guilty of a still more heinous desertion—he was again taken into a kind of subordinate confidence, through the influence, we suspect, of his brother-in-law, Regnauld, who now became the chief of Buonaparte's literary clique.
In the 18th of Brumaire, Arnault was, he tells us, one of the conspirators- how we apples swim !'~He was desired, it
seems, to write articles in the journals, and was even en trusted with the composition of a song which was to rally the troops and the populace round the new standard ; he was also employed to carry messages and to do other little jobs connected with the plot; and from what he then knew, and what all the world has since known, he has compiled an account of that affair, which however has little or no novelty. One episode, which has something dramatic, we shall endeavour to abridge.
The affair, which had been frequently postponed, appeared at last definitively fixed for the 16th Brumaire ; and, on the evening of the 15th, all seemed ready. Talleyrand, Ræderer, Regnauld, and Arnault, were assembled at Talleyrand's house, waiting the word of command—but it did not come. Arnault, as least liable to be suspected, was sent to inquire of Buonaparte whether the affair stood for the morrow. In the meanwhile, Bertrand-Talleyrand,* to deceive any one who might chance to call in, made his rubber of whist, and Raton-Arnault was, on his return, to make a sign, to be understood only by the initiated. Arnault, on arriving at Buonaparte's, • found his salon full of everybody of every fashion--generals, legislators, jacobins, royalists, lawyers, abbés—a minister, a director, nay, the President of the Directory himself, against whom the plot was laid ; and it seemed as if all parties knew what was going on-and as if they were all conspirators. To see the superiority of Buonaparte's air in this motley assemblage, one would have said that they were all in his confidence.'—vol. iv. p. 354.
While Raton was waiting to deliver his message, he witnessed a curious scene.
The President of the Directory, honest Gohier, was sitting on a sofa with Madame Buonaparte, when Fouché, the minister of police, came in, and took, by invitation, his seat ou the same sofa. • Well, what news, citizen-minister ? asked the citizen-president, sipping his tea with a satisfied pomposity very comic under all the circumstances.
· News ? nothing at all ? replied Fouché ; only the usual gossip — What about ?!
- Oh, of course, the conspiracy.' • The conspiracy ! exclaimed Josephine, in a tone of alarm.
tone of alarm. The conspiracy ! repeated the good president, incredulously shrugging up his shoulders.
• Yes,' said Fouché, smiling, the conspiracy—but I know all about it. Give yourself no trouble, citizen-president ; trust me, I am not the man to be caught napping. If there had been a conspiracy, I promise you that you should, before this, have had evidence of it on the Place de la Révolution (the site of the guillotine), or the Plain de Grenelle' (the scene of military execution); and
* Everybody knows that the chief success of M. Scribe's comedy' Bertrand and Raton,' arises from the resemblance which the Parisians see between Talleyrand and Bertrand.
he burst into a loud laugh. Fie, citizen Fouché!' said Jo-
and even in that's your affair (addressing Arnault); all variety of means must be used to fit the variety of tastes and intellects.'—vol. iv. p. 380.
Fifteen years of war-war—the bloodiest, the most extensive, the most aggressive, and the most unprincipled--are the best commentary on Buonaparte's pretended anxiety for peace ; his intended peace was indeed fit only to be announced on buffoon stages, and promised to the world in the street songs of hired ballad-singers.
Here M. Arnault closes the fourth of his volumes; the whole pith and substance of which might, as we stated in the outset, be comprised in one. He concludes by saying that he has now to tell the story of his former associates and friends-become emperors, kings, dukes, marshals, what not-shall he have,' he asks, - leisure and time to tell it ?' We are not so inhuman as VOL. LI. NO, CI.
to reply, we hope not; but we may venture to express a wish that, if he does ' pursue the swelling theme,' he may be less diffuse, less trivial, less partial; and rather more solicitous to amuse or inform his readers, than to increase, by every artifice of amplification, the bulk of his volumes, and the consequent amount of his copyright.
Art. II.-1. Pindar in English Verse. By the Rev. Henry
Francis Cary, A.M. London. 12mo. 1833. 2. The Odes of Pindar, translated from the Greek, with Notes
Critical and Explanatory. By Abraham Moore, Esq. Part II. 3. Bibliotheca Græca, curantibus Frid. Jacobs et V. C. F. Rost.
Vol. VI. continens Pindari carmina, edente Ludolpho Dis
senio, Professore Gottingensi. Gothæ et Erfordiæ. 1830. 'IF Fa man should undertake,' says Cowley, 'to translate Pindar
word for word, it would be thought that one madman had translated another; as may appear when he that understands not the original, reads the vulgar traduction of him into Latin prose, than which nothing seems more raving. And sure, rhyme, without the addition of wit and the spirit of poetry—(quod nequeo monstrare, et sentio tantum)—would but make it ten times more distracted than it is in prose.' He adds, I have in these two odes of Pindar taken, left out, and added what I please; nor make it so much my aim to let the reader know precisely what he spoke, as what was his way and manner of speaking.' And then, by way of letting the English reader know precisely the way and manner in which Pindar was accustomed to speak, Cowley proceeds to render the commencement of the second Olympic Ode in the following terms :
• Queen of all harmonious things,
Begin, begin thy noble choice,
• Ye harp-controlling hymns !
What man shall we resound ?'
in our plain English. Pindar at times bitterly reviles his enemies, and calls them crows, and daws, and worse ; yet their malignity did him small harm with his contemporaries, and none with posterity; but, strange to say, the admiration of a poet of exquisite genius and fancy—the very model, upon occasion, of pure diction in his own language, has been well nigh fatal' to him in modern Britain. Pindar would have loved Cowley had he known him in the flesh, for they were both pure, religious, loyal, and learned men; yet his self-love must have been less active than we thinks it was, if he would not have considered the friendship even of Cowley purchased too dearly at the expense of having his great Olympic song so handled by our countryman as it was destined to be.
That Cowley did not understand the construction of Pindar's odes, is apparent from the argument which he prefixes to his translation of this second Olympic, where he says that * this ode (according to the constant custom of the poet) consists more in digressions than in the main subject.' The manner which he thus mistakenly imputes to Pindar, Cowley adopted himself in the composition of those odes of his own, which, from a supposed similarity of style, he called Pindarique Poems,-not worthless, but yet of little worth, and which, by popular association, have largely contributed to throw the poetry of Pindar into that discredit or neglect which they themselves excited, and partly deserved. Some particular passages in the works of the Theban poet have indeed been excepted by scholars, and noted for general admiration ; but the 'fine passages' are not the finest things in Pindar, and the charge of general obscurity and want of unity has been gathering for a long time so thickly round his name, that it may seem worse than idle to attempt at this time of day to dispel the settled gloom.
The fame of Pindar amongst the ancients was transcendant and unique. Horace, who had but little of his spirit, had nevertheless a deep sense of his unapproachable majesty. Cowley, who was much nearer akin to the Latin than the Greek poet, expresses his own and Horace's feelings upon this point with great prettiness, after his peculiar manner :
• Lo! how the obsequious wind and swelling air
Whilst, alas ! my timorous muse