SUNDAY, AUGUST 6, 1815. PRICE 8d
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THE DISPOSAL OF BONAPARTE.
Why let the stricken deer go weep,
The Hart ungalled to play;
For some must weep while some must sleep,
- Thus runs the world away.
We live not in an age of philosophy. The days of chivalry are gone by. Barbarism itself had its magnanimity; but we are dropped on an age of business, in which the meanness of commerce has crept upon the heart, and absorbed all the nobleness of the national mind. From the first moment that the person of BONAPARTE has been in our power, the general talk has been nothing but how much he was worth as a shew! What a vast property might be realized, by exhibiting him in a cage at 5s. per head! The Premier has been barricadoed with numerous propositions, on this subject; and it has been said that a serious tender was made, offering to secure that sum annually to the REGENT'S favourite brother the Duke of CUMBERLAND, which the House of Commons lately so parsimoniously refused; and also to furnish Carlton-house and the Windsor Cottage with various nick-nacks,- such as golden Cupids, silver Venussses, &c. &c. provided full possession of the person of NAPOLEON was duly made over to the Contractors. The Bard's fancy of "tracing the noble spirit of an ALEXANDER, till you found it stopping a bung-hole," were dignity itself compared with such a six-penny shew of BONAPARTE, all alive,o! But to come back to his personal surrender.
We last week gave such particulars relative to the affair of NAPOLEON'S surrender, as had transpired.- When this extraordinary man supposed that the first personage of this State was a fair sample of the spirit of England; or that he possessed any trait of character which could give him a resemblance to the heroes of that age to which the letter to his Royal Highness recalls our attention: when it was conceived that the arena of our Court, or Administration, offered to his circumstances, the bold and generous characters of the days of THEMISTOCLES, - he woefully and fatally deceived himself.*1 We have no Molossian Prince, who can sympathize with the humbled fortunes of a great enemy; we have no ARTAXERXES, who can be so magnificent as to give up three of his richest cities as ministering resources to the table of a captive General! It were more on a level with our state politics, rather to seize the opportunity of making three sinecures for some of our political danglers at Court; and farming out the keep of this THEMISTOCLES of the age, by a contract with the crumbs of the gaoler's table. However the semblance betwixt BONAPARTE and THEMISTOCLES may hold good, it is certainly nearer than that betwixt his conquerors, and the noble enemies of the great ATHENIAN. Unfortunately, however, for the ribaldry of The Courier, BONAPARTE does not compare himself to THEMISTOCLES. He speaks only as to the act of surrendering himself to the generosity of an enemy. "Je viens comme THEMISTOCLE, m'asseior sur les foyers du peuple Britannique," &. He uses the words of the British nation, or people, instead of his enemies. The parallel does not go beyond the act of throwing himself on his enemy- here it ceases, and here it is intended to cease. But if it were continued, it holds firmer in point of fact, on the side of BONAPARTE, than it does in any other particular, in respect to persons, or results. In the hands of the present Administration, he will feel the wrath of the least generous of his enemies. On what plea they bottom the right of banishing him to St. Helena, we know not. He is outlawed, if the congregated Monarchs of Europe possess the right of outlawing one of their own number, of which we have much doubt, only as a Sovereign; but he has ceased to be, either a King or a foe. He has nothing of the character of a prisoner of war. He pays a compliment to the nation, by throwing himself on its protection; and the character of the country is outraged by a sentence of banishment, where no offence is declared, or even premised. The more our recollection is recalled to the wars of other times, the more are we destined to lament an increasing departure from the true moral grandeur of the warriors of old; men who commonly respected a fallen enemy, in proportion to the power and effect with which he had wielded the advantages of war against them. But those were the days in which Princes and Governors, were warriors also. There is something in danger which sublimes sentiment, and elevates principles of hostility. The feeling of enmity terminates with the battle. But when we come down to the mercantile principle of making war by deputy; where the persons who originate and terminate the contests of arms, sit in the distance of frigid and unsympathetic calculation, making jobbing estimates of defeat or conquest, in the true spirit of trade; where this empire-mongring spirit is left in plodding security, fretting and fluctuating with the tide of success, but partaking not in its danger- all the bad passions of enmity seize upon the heart, without any portion of that generous feeling, with which actual combat, as with a providential design, never fails to brighten the horrors of strife. If we look for ferocity and cruelty, towards an humbled enemy, it is not among our brave soldiers, or sailors, that we shall find it.*2 It is among the tools of faction- the retainers of corruption- the Paper and Debate-enemies- who would exterminate a people for no other reason than because such an act squared with the prophecy of their opinions- it is among such heroes as these that all which is disgraceful to the military character of the times, originates. And here, we cannot refrain from observing, that the Duke of WELLINGTON, himself, no sooner puts his hand to the political purpose of a Convention, than he is instantly assailed by the whole crew of our paper combatants, as a weak and credulous driveller. He was guilty of an unpardonable generosity. These are the precise expressions of the men who never fight; and who, having the "vantage ground," can see no policy beyond hanging and exterminating to the last man; to pour the vials of humiliation to the last dreg. Practical soldiers know a policy better than this, if a more generous hostility did not suggest it. They know that the chances of battle are dreadfully uncertain; and that they are more or less, constantly requiring and receiving from the foe, the noble and gallant remission of enmity, which justice, as well as generosity, sanction in return. It were only under the influence of our trading war-faction, that the prerogative of the Crown could be extended to an act disgraceful to the spirit and honour of the English people. We may indeed wield the power of a conqueror over an individual, with a shameful severity; but the battle with France may remain to be fought out under different circumstances. It were always becoming in a great nation, so to conduct herself in the period of prosperity, as to be able to meet the chances of adversity with the proud port and consciousness of not having deserved them; and reserving for the day of humility, no recollections that shall embitter it. In this point of view, the conduct of BONAPARTE, towards the Princes which he might have dethroned and banished with impunity, will remain a never-ending disgrace to them, and of honour to him. This will be the sentence of history; and events, yet hidden in the dark womb of time, may furnish a dreadful commentary on the unrelenting hostility of the Crowned Heads of Europe towards him. Cruelty and persecution will now only canonize BONAPARTE. It will speak more than a thousand victories, the fearful ascendancy of the man's mind over the legitimate Princes of our days.- They may hem him round by rocks and oceans, and station an army to watch him. This is but a humiliating confessional on their parts. In the mean time, the calm conduct of the captive- the preserved tranquillity of his mind, amid reverses without parallel, in their extremity- excite as much the astonishment of the philosopher, as the conquests have formerly astounded all military foresight and calculation. But we shall offer a few more observations on the peculiar traits of his moral character, in a future Number.
*1 Thucydides, the Historian, gives the following account of ancient hospitality, as experienced by THEMISTOCLES:-"It happened that when THEMISTOCLES arrived at the usual residence of ADMETUS, (a Greek prince, King of the Molossians, and his personal enemy) that Prince was absent. He applied, however, to the QUEEN, and having the good fortune to conciliate her favour, she furnished him with means to insure protection from her husband. Among the Greeks, some altar was the usual resource of fugitives; if they could reach one, their persons were generally secure against violence;- but the Queen of the Molossians delivered her infant son to THEMISTOCLES, and directed him to await the return of the King, sitting by the hearth, with the child in his arms. No manner of supplication was held by the Molossians so sacred. An audience being thus obtained, THEMISTOCLES won ADMETUS to receive him not only into protection but into friendship. The Lacedemonian and Athenian Messengers arriving soon after, the Molossian Prince urged the custom of his country in excuse for a decisive refusal to deliver up his supplicant. Molossia was not, however, a situation for THEMISTOCLES to remain in, and with the assistance of his protector he passed over into Asia, in the chance of protection from the great enemy of his country, ARTAXERXES, King of Persia, to whom he must have considered himself particularly obnoxious, as the principal cause of the disgraces and losses of the Persians in their attempts upon Greece; but as it had been long the policy of the Persian Court to protect and encourage Grecian refugees, he might hope that the acquisition of him as a future friend would be valued in proportion as he had been heretofore a formidable enemy. He accordingly addressed a letter to ARTAXERXES, to which he received a favourable answer. Having arrived at Susa, his reception at that Court was such as no Greek had ever before experienced. In the usual style of oriental magnificence, three of the most flourishing of the Grecian cities yet remaining under the Persian dominion, were, with their territories, assigned for the nominal purpose of supplying his table only: Magnesia was to furnish bread, Mycene meat, and Lampsacus, wine, &c. &c. &c."
*2 Such has been the general demeanour of BONAPARTE, on board a British ship of war, that he has acquired, among our brave sailors, the character of a devilish good fellow!