George Croly.

Marston, or, The soldier and statesman (Volume 3) online

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once, to the rank and to the humiliation of his victims.
In some of those wild moments, in which the spirit of
the man irrestrainably broke forth, he has told me, that
o 2


he would not hJive surrendered the enjoyment of this
contemptuous revenge, for the throne of the Czars ;
that, when he glanced round his grim and lonely
chamber, and saw the names of so many nobles of
his own country, as well as of ours, inscribed on the
boxes which contained their title-deeds; he could
almost imagine himself sitting in judgment on their
pride ; or even an avenging spirit, sent to smite the
great ones of the world for the bitter pains which their
arrogance had made him feel ; punishing the cold
neglect, which to a man of genius is the deepest of
all insults; and paying back the cruel injury, done
by the partiality of patronage, to faculties once glow-
ing with zeal for the good of his country, enamoured
with the passionate love of honour, and swelhng
with high-toned benevolence to mankind.

But, time had softened him ; a growing sense of
the trivialities of all things earthly had extinguished
the thirst of vengeance ; and his mind had now found
leisure to recover its original tranquillity, and look
with the purified eye of experience on the fluctu-
ations of governments, nations, and men.

His letter, after some personal inquiries, and
tilling me that it was " his tribute to the birthday of
one whom years had only taught him to esteem,"
broke off into his own contemplations. — "I am writing
at the dawn of day. All the household are hushed.
The early rising peasantry alone are seen in motion,
driving their sheep up to the hills. I see the whole
extent of Pau from my chamber window, but not a
smoke rises from a city of twenty thousand people.


The pure air of this early hour shows me the chateau
of Henri Quatre, hke a model, with every tint of
time on the stone, every lichen clinging to the cre-
vices of the towers, and every coat of arms on the
gates and battlements. But before me, throwing
all the works of man into immeasurable littleness,
sweeps the whole amphitheatre of the Pyrenees, a
range of a hundred and fifty miles, a magnificent suc-
cession of vast slopes coloured with every successive
hue, of tillage, forest, green pasture, rock glittering in
the sun, and, above all, the snowy range, glowing with
the pm'ple and rose of morning. In what a glorious
world do we live ! What splendours are lavished on
this wilderness of mountains ! Yet I am at this mo-
ment, perhaps, the only being who sees this profu-
sion of natural loveliness. There is no stir of life,
except in the few shepherds and their sheep, round the
whole horizon. In the course of an hour, the sun
will be up, and this view will be lost in vapour. Yet,
here are lights and colours, lustres and sparklings, to
which pyramids of jewels would scarcely be a rival ;
here are ascending circles of radiance, fixed rainbows,
to which the bow in the clouds would be pale.

" The thought occurs to me at this moment ; may
not all Nature be but a display for beings superior
to man, whose eye is never closed, and whose faculties
never slumber. Are the brilliancies of the diamond
in its matrix to be lost, until it falls into the hands
of man ? For what purpose are the infinite varieties of
beauty which vegetation exhibits on untrodden shores
— the grandeurs of sunset on the ocean — the thousand


powerful and rich phenomena of Nature, the meteor,
the aurora, and the comet, passing as they do, when
the senses of man are closed in sleep ? Can they be
meant for the eye of man alone? Are there not
other beings that walk the earth — forms nobler than
our own, yet invisible ; with senses more powerful,
refined, and vivid than ours ; and carrying on the
great designs of Providence, without our knowledge,
or our help ; as man would carry on the little works
and watchings of this world, while all his children
were slumbering in their cradles around him ?"

The letter then adverted to the state of European
politics, on which he cast a foreboding glance ; and
in which he seemed to think that England was de-
stined, to take, as she had already done so often, the
leading place in the general trial.

" Yet," said he, " I have seen in the whole course
of the past trial of nations, a guardian hand so
palpably stretched over England, that I have strong
faith in her security.

"In the great war of our time, the greatest since
the fall of the Roman empire, the war of the French
Revolution — I think, that I can trace a divine pro-
tection, distinctly given to England, as the champion
of Europe. I offer but the outline of my view ; but
to me the proof is demonstrative. — In every instance
in which France aimed an especial blow at England,
that blow was retorted by an especial retribution ;
while her assaults on the continental kingdoms were
made with triumphant impunity.

" Let me give the examples. — The French expedi-


tion to Egypt was formed with the express object of
breaking down the influence of England in the East,
and ultimately subverting her Indian empire. — That
expedition was the first which tarnished the military
renown of the Republic, it cost her a fleet, and lost
her an army. Of the army which Napoleon led to
Egypt, not a battalion returned to Europe, but as
the prisoners of England !

" The French invasion of Spain was a blow aimed
eoepressly at England. Its object was the invasion
of England. — The Spanish war broke down the mili-
tary renown of the Empire, and was pronounced by
Napoleon to be the origin of his ruin !

"The invasion of Russia was a blow aimed expressly
at England. Its object was the extinction of En-
glish commerce in the whole sea-line of the north.
— That invasion was punished, by the ruin of the
whole veteran army of France !

"Napoleon himself at length met the troops of
England. He met them with an arrogant assump-
tion of victory — " Ah ! je les tiens, ces Anglais." —
Never was presumption more deeply punished. That
one conflict destroyed him ; his laurels, his diadem,
and his dynasty, were blasted together !

" It is not less memorable, that during the entire
Revolutionary war, France was never suffered to
inflict an injury on England ; with one exception
the perfidious seizm'e of the English travelling in the
French territories under the safeguard of the Imperial
passports. But this, too, had its punishment — and
one marked by the most especial and characteristic


retribution. — Napoleon himself was sent to a dungeon!
By a fate unheard of among fallen princes, the man
who had treacherously made prisoners of the English,
was himself made a prisoner, was delivered into En-
glish hands, was consigned to. captivity in English
chains, and died the prisoner of England !"


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Online LibraryGeorge CrolyMarston, or, The soldier and statesman (Volume 3) → online text (page 19 of 19)