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That love to hear the midnight serenades
Hark! they come !
Now ye crawling reptiles that abide
In fens and bogs, or slide along the grass,
And, like the whiteskin, sting us as ye creep;
Lizards, and toads, and adders, whose fork'd tongues Are tipped with mortal poisons-blasted race, Appear!
They obey! I hear the leader's rattle
They come the heralds of the white-man's doom.
Of our Great Spirit's wrath, that we may crawl
Bring us your bags of poison for our arrows,
Hark! I hear their music!
It is pure nature's language of revenge,
As in his wiles. Away! and do our bidding.
Now ye potent spirits of the air,
The last and greatest of pale mischief's train;
Where lightning is engendered, and the storms
And open her wide bosom to receive
The race of seaborn robbers. Come! let us hear ye!
Swift as the leapings of the mountain stream;
They'll bite in time. Women breed young wolves
Spare not one, that when the sun shall rise
The Indians resume their arms and retire.
WAS THERE EVER A NAPOLEON ?*
AFTER having been called upon by the Reverend Mr. Hawks to believe in a French Dauphin of Indian parentage, it is refreshing to be again invited by the Right Reverend Mr. Whately to disbelieve in Napoleon Bonaparte. We have to thank the latter gentleman most sincerely for recalling us to the recollection of our privilege as doubters, of which of late we have suffered ourselves to become quite oblivious. Is it too much to expect that the reaction from our credulity will be as violent as the credulity was intense: and that from nearly believing in Mr. Williams, we shall go entirely over to a profound skepticism in Napoleon?
Was there ever, indeed, such a man as Napoleon Bonaparte? The fact of his existence having been generally undisputed since the time at which he is represented to have lived, does not at all prove that he actually did exist. It was undisputed by the Royal Society of England that a basin of water weighed no more when a live fish was put into it, than before and yet, after the society had for a long time puzzled themselves to explain this phenomenon, some blundering ignoramus *Historic doubts relative to Napoleon Bonaparte. Boston. James Munroe & Co. 1853.
amused himself by trying the experiment of weighing the basin before and after the fish was put in, and discovered to his astonishment that a fish in water did not entirely escape the attraction of gravitation. In the time of Copernicus it was undisputed that a stone dropped from the mast-head of a ship in full sail did not fall at the foot of the mast, but towards the stern, and it was not till one hundred years after the death of Copernicus that the experiment was tried, and it was ascertained that the stone thus dropped from the head of the mast did fall at the foot of it.
Who are the witnesses in whose testimony we are required to believe in the existence of Napoleon Bonaparte? The individuals who have been most prominent in chronicling the actions of this famous hero derive all their information of him from the newspapers of the time at which they suppose him to have lived, and from the records of writers immediately preceding themselves. As the statements of the latter were of course drawn from the newspapers also, we will dismiss them from notice at once, and proceed to the newspapers themselves. And what means had their editors for gaining correct information? We all know that the means now employed by editors are public rumors and private correspondents. The authenticity of public rumors in general is too trifling for remark. The reliability of private correspondents may be inferred from the manifold and constant contradictions which they report to the respective journals of one another, and even of themselves. Correspondents, moreover, are, for the most part, anonymous, and no one ought to be required to put faith in writers who do not give their names. We regard the man who believes the newspapers, now-a-days, as insane, and there is no reason to suppose that they were any more truthful or respectable fifty and sixty years ago. In fact, the newspapers, themselves, would have us imagine that they have vastly improved since that time. Taking their word in this case, what possible credence can we put in what they then said?
The great discrepancies and manifest contradictions displayed in the statements concerning Napoleon Bonaparte cause us to doubt very strongly whether such an individual ever existed. Not only the most trivial, but even the most important acts attributed to him by one set of historians are disputed by another. Some say that he charged at the bridge of Lodi, while others affirm that Augereau performed that exploit, while Bonaparte skulked behind the baggage. He is
said by some to have poisoned a hospital full of soldiers, while others resolutely deny that he was ever guilty of such an enormity. It is asserted by some that he conquered at Borodino, and by others that he received a most disastrous repulse on that identical battle-field. His character is even more in dispute than his actions, According to Scott, a more tyrannical and infamous monster never distressed the earth. The Rev. Jacob Abbott has made him a subject on which he has recently discoursed very many pages of pious panegyric to the "five hundred thousand readers" of "the Giant of the Monthlies." According to Mr. Abbott, no better christian or General or Emperor could have been desired by the French nation*French writers will have it that he possessed extraordinary bravery, and military ability, while many English writers deny these qualifications entirely, and declared him to have been an arrant coward and poltroon. Amid all this conflicting testimony, what are we to believe? Shall we believe that this personage possessed at one and the same time several different characters, or shall we believe that there were two or three Bonapartes, or shall we refuse to believe that there was any Bonaparte at all?
Mr. Whately tells us of the testimony of very many respectable persons, who went down to Plymouth on the arrival of the Bellerophon in that harbor, and saw Bonaparte with their own eyes, and remarks that it is not necessary to disparage either the eyesight or the veracity of these gentlemen. "I am ready to allow" says he, "that they went to Plymouth for the purpose of seeing Bonaparte; nay more, that they actually rowed out into the harbor in a boat, and came alongside of a man-of-war, on whose deck they saw a man in a cocked hat,
*NOTE.-We take occasion to express here our unqualified astonishment at the strange and anti-republican title which Mr. Abbott has bestowed on Napoleon, whom he styles repeatedly as the "Republican Emperor." Mr. Abbott writes for a large body of readers, certainly not less than half a million, and we might ask it of him, without any apologies, to write at least like an American, even if he may not consider it his duty to write like a minister of peace. Nothing could be more dangerously insidious among our population than the employment of this phrase. It is precisely such a phrase as the supporters of monarchic institutions would delight to have circulated in every bar-room, and crowd, in the United States. The expression is an absurd one when it is examined, but there are very few men who will stop to examine it. In raising his hero to the dignity of canonization, Mr. Abbott might have spared this additional lever. According to Mr. Abbott, an emperor may be a republican-emperor, provided he usurps the empire, whereas, if he be born to it, he is only a common vulgar despot, and deserves to be made to abdicate. The morality of such a distinction is quite beneath a respectable historic writer. But we do not complain so much of this, as of the use of an expression so utterly incompatible with truth and with the spirit of our institutions.
who, they were told, was Bonaparte. This is the utmost point to which this testimony goes; whence they ascertained that this man in the cocked hat, had gone through all the marvellous and romantic adventures with which we have so long been amused, we are not told. Did they perceive in his physiognomy, his true name, and authentic history? Truly this evidence is such as country people give one for a story of apparitions if you discover any signs of incredulity, they triumphantly show the very house which the ghost haunted, the identical dark corner where it used to vanish, and perhaps even the tombstone of the person whose death it foretold. Jack Cade's nobility was supported by the same irresistible kind of evidence; having asserted that the eldest son of Edmund Mortimer, Earl of March, was stolen by a beggarwoman, became a brick-layer when he became of age, and was the father of the supposed Jack Cade: one of his companions confirms the story by saying, "Sir, he made a chimney in my father's house, and the bricks are alive at this day to testify it, therefore deny it not."
The wonderful accounts which we have of this individual, called Napoleon Bonaparte, are of themselves sufficient to cause us to doubt his existence. By the nature of our mental constitution, we cannot believe anything which seems to us to be improbable; and yet what can be more improbable than the career of Napoleon Bonaparte. He lays waste the entire continent of Europe, and treats the monarchs of its various kingdoms with every possible disrespect, and yet we find both the people and their rulers forming alliances with him, and joining in endeavoring to augment his prosperity. He does nothing in an ordinary manner or by halves. His battles are all great battles, he overturns empires in a day, and builds them up again as readily. When he is conquered he is totally overthrown, and yet his defeats make no manner of difference in his progress, or in the estimation in which he is held. He loses an army in Egypt and goes back to France a vagabond, to be transformed at once into a ruler. He loses another army in Russia, and the French people immediately give him a third. He loses this at Leipsic, and they supply a fourth, and finally a fifth which he loses at Waterloo, and there is no knowing how many more they would have furnished him, had he not just then been carried off to a remote island, and guarded during the rest of his life by a squad of British soldiers. We are also told that after having been the means of decimating the French nation, they would still have risen in