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FrRevol_451-500.indd 41 3/16/12 1:12 PM CHAPTER XII Ofthe Conduct ofNapoleon Toward the Continent ofEurope. Two very different plans of conduct presented themselves to Bonaparte when he was crowned Emperor of France. He might confine himself to the barrier ofthe Rhine and the Alps, which Europe did not dispute with him after the battle of Marengo, and render France, thus enlarged, the most powerful empire in the world. The example ofconstitutional liberty in France would have acted gradually, but with certainty, on the rest of Europe. It would no longer have been said that freedom is suitable only for England because it is an island; or for Holland because it is a plain; or for Switzerland because it is a mountainous country; and a Continental monarchy would have been seen flourishing under the shadow ofthe law, than which there is nothing more holy upon earth except the religion from which it emanates. Many men of genius have exerted all their efforts to do a little good and to leave some traces of their institutions behind them. Destiny, in its prodigality toward Bonaparte, put into his hands a nation at that time containing forty million men, a nation whose amiable manners gave it a powerful influence on the opinions and taste of Europe. An able ruler at the opening ofthe present century might have rendered France happy and free without any effort, merely by a few virtues. Napoleon is guilty no less for the good which he has not done than for the evils of which he is accused. In short, ifhis devouring activity felt itselfrestrained in the finest monarchy in the world, if to be merely Emperor of France was too pitiful a lot for a Corsican who, in 1790, was a second lieutenant, he should at least have stirred up Europe by the pretext ofsome great advantages to herself. 49Z FrRevol_451-500.indd 42 3/16/12 1:12 PM PART IV The re-establishment ofPoland, the independence ofitaly, and the deliverance ofGreece were schemes that had an air ofgrandeur; peoples might have felt an interest in the revival of other peoples. But was the earth to be inundated with blood that Prince Jerome might fill the place of the Elector of Hesse;1 and that the Germans might be governed by French rulers who took to themselves fiefs of which they could scarcely pronounce the titles, though they bore them, but on the revenues of which they easily laid hold in every language? Why should Germany have submitted to French influence? This influence communicated no new knowledge and established no liberal institutions within her limits, except contributions and conscriptions still heavier than all that had been imposed by her ancient masters. There were, without doubt, many reasonable changes to be made in the constitutions of Germany; all enlightened men knew it; and for a long time accordingly they had shown themselves favorable to the cause of France, because they hoped to derive from her an improvement of their own condition. But without speaking of the just indignation which every people must feel at the sight of foreign soldiers in their territory, Bonaparte did nothing in Germany but with the view of establishing there his own power and that of his family: was such a nation made to serve as a footstool to his vanity? Spain too could not but reject with horror the perfidious means which Bonaparte employed to enslave her. What, then, did he offer to the empires which he wished to subjugate? Was it liberty? Was it strength? Was it riches? No; it was himself , always himself, with whom the world was to be regaled in exchange for every earthly blessing. The Italians, in the confused hope ofbeing finally united in one state; the unfortunate Poles, who implore Hell as well as Heaven that they may again become a people, were the only nations who served the Emperor voluntarily. But he had such a horror for the love of liberty that, though he needed the Poles as auxiliaries, he hated in them the noble enthusiasm 1. In 1807 Jerome Bonaparte (1784-186o), the youngest brother of Napoleon, became king of Westphalia (which included Hesse); his reign ended in 1813. When his nephew, Prince Louis Napoleon, became president ofthe French Republic in 1848, Jer6me was made governor ofLes Invalides, in Paris, and was later appointed marshal of France and president of the Senate. 492 FrRevol_451-500.indd 43 3/16/12 1:12...


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