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France is indebted to Napoleon for many works of great utility and splendor; for military roads; for canals and bridges; for museums of natural history, and repositories of the fine arts; for palaces and hospitals; for triumphal arches and statues. But all these Egypt possessed in her Pharaohs; in those nameless tyrants who erected the pyramids, and excavated the lake Moris. When a man has at command the wealth and service of forty millions of the human race, it requires no great enterprise or philanthropy, to construct magnificent public works. Even the licentious Phryne coveted the glory of rebuilding Thebes from her private wealth. She only required an inscription, that “Phryne rebuilt what Alexander destroyed."
But it is in the moral condition of the people, that the true effect of Napoleon's administration is to be sought. There his splendors all vanish, or appear like the sickly light that is sometimes emitted by vegetable matter, the effect of decay and rottenness. By centring all authority in his own person, or in assemblies immediately nominated by himself, he destroyed healthful excitement and emulation in the distant parts of his empire. Paris became a new Rome. All that Europe possessed of talents or enterprise, flocked thither for employment; and all employment depended upon his will. He exacted the most servile flattery from all who approached him, not from vanity, but because it gave him proof of his power. He sent abroad the spirit of servitude, and was never pleased but when he saw it extending, and diffusing itself through every rank in society, and affecting every institution. It is apparent that he had a
thorough contempt for mankind, and regarded them merely as the instruments of his personal advancement. Hence his neglect of promises and engagements; his disregard of all laws and treaties. Even his own Napoleon Code was a dead letter, when it interfered with his personal views. By that code a trial by jury is provided in all criminal But what jury had Pichegru or Moreau? What trial had the bookseller Palm, or the Duc d'Enghien?
His expedition to Egypt and Syria probably formed his taste for oriental manners. Certain it is, no sovereign in Europe preserved so much state and ceremony. His own brothers were never permitted to sit in his presence. The literary journals of Paris, which were published under his immediate inspection, contained perpetual praises and adorations of the emperor, that bordered upon blasphemy, and such as no monarch had received since the dark ages. The very children were taught a catechism, in which they were instructed, that resistance to the will of the emperor put in hazard their eternal salvation. That France resisted at last, shows that some virtue still remained in her; that she submitted for fifteen years, proves that she was corrupt almost to the core.
I have summoned from the pages of history, the distinguished men who have been the destroyers, or benefactors, of their race. I have placed them in groups before me, and have endeavoured to trace in their lineaments, the features of Napoleon Buonaparte. In many I find some resemblance; and as I contemplate his character under different lights, I am reminded successively of the ambition of Alexander, the
promptness of Casar, the stern self-confidence of Marius ; I see him now affecting the splendor and literary taste of the Medici; and again surpassing Charles of Sweden in presumption and fool-hardiness. But as a conqueror, I think he is best compared with Mohammed. He made war in the spirit of the Arabian prophet; the Koran or the sword, the alternative of the one; war or submission, the threat of the other. In his treatment of the conquered, while he affected to imitate the Romans by admitting them to an alliance, it was not the Romans of the elder republic, but degenerate Romans, who had been corrupted by the conquest of Carthage. He took no pains to conciliate his fallen enemies. It was sufficient that they feared him; and terror was employed to enforce the most merciless exactions.
As a statesman he was rather adroit and cunning, than wise and magnanimous. The acquisition of power had corrupted his moral sentiments without enlarging his views. Having no belief in the existence of human virtue, he used no other means to compass his end than intimidation or corruption. Hence all his treaties were false and hollow, full of trick and knavery. He addressed himself to the vices of those around him; to their basest passions, their cowardice, their avarice, or their love of debauchery; for, as I have already stated, all his projects centred in his personal aggrandizement.
But all this has passed away. He, who made the nations to tremble, has died in confinement and obscurity. He, whose taste and magnificence created palaces and trium
phal monuments, has found a solitary grave in a distant and barren rock!
Of the effect of Napoleon Buonaparte upon the character and happiness of mankind, it is yet too early to form any opinion. We know that in the natural world, the lightning and tempest, however desolating in their immediate effects, are necessary to the purity and healthfulness of the atmosphere. And so in the moral world, the occasional appearance and success of a conqueror and usurper, may in the providence of God, be productive of ultimate good. But whatever opinion may be entertained of his personal character, or the effect of his administration, one reflection irresistibly presses upon us. What is the value of ambition, when directed to personal aggrandizement? We have been considering one instance of the most successful ambition that the world ever saw. But what has it all come to? How is Napoleon Buonaparte better than the nameless thousands, who are fattening the fields of Austerlitz and Jena? What is now the value of his iron crown and imperial sceptre? What was ever their value in the eyes of Him, at whose glance crowns and sceptres crumble into dust, and thrones and empires flee away as a shadow? Oh, there is nothing in life worth pursuit but personal improvement; there is nothing in life can give happiness, but personal virtue!
THE SUPPORT OF PUBLIC RELIGIOUS
66 WHETHER LAWS WHICH COMPEL A MAN TO PAY TAXES FOR THE SUPPORT OF PUBLIC WORSHIP, AND LEAVE THE APPLICATION OF THE MONEY TO THE WILL OF A
MAJORITY, BE FOUNDED ON SOUND PRINCIPLES ?
THE right of private property is founded upon the wants of our nature, and the necessity of having some motive and reward for industry. In what manner we get the first notion of property, or how the present distribution of property was first made in society, it is unnecessary now to inquire. It is sufficient for my purpose to state the general principle, which can hardly be controverted,-that the whole society has a right to the whole property which it possesses, and that this whole property should be employed for the advancement of the common good. Among a horde of savages, where property is consumed as fast as it is produced, there is no accumulation, and consequently no distribution of property. But among nations who have enjoyed the blessings of civilization, there is a great accumulation of