H́nh ảnh trang

those of an epicure. He eats voraciously, and with the greatest celerity, of whatever is placed before him; drinks largely of coffee at all hours of the day, and takes an immense quantity of snuff. I had understood before I arrived in Paris, that he appeared but seldom in public, and then with multiplied precautions for the security of his person. This, however, is certainly an incorrect statement. He exposes himself without any appearance of apprehension, and in situations, in which his life might be at once assailed by a thousand hands. I have seen him in an open carriage, in the midst of a population of fifty thousand souls, in the park of St. Cloud.

I was prompted by a very natural curiosity to make many inquiries concerning the domestic temper and habits of " the Casar of Cæsars," as Bonaparte is now denominated in the journals of Paris. My sources of information were among the best, and the following is the summary of the copious details, which were given to me on this subject: From his earliest youth, his disposition was haughty, vindictive, overweening and ambitious. This character he displayed at the siege of Toulon, where he first distinguished himself in such a manner, as to induce his commanderin-chief, Dugommier, to make this remark, in speaking of him to one of the commissaries of the convention: "Let that young man engage your attention; if you do not promote him, I can answer for it, that he will know how to promote himself."-When he was appointed, at the early age of twenty-five, to the command of the army of Italy, he betrayed no emotion, either of surprise or of diffidence, at so sudden and dangerous an elevation, and answered those, who indulged in some remarks concerning his youth, in this way" At the expiration of six months, I shall either be an old general or a dead man."

Even in his boyhood, Bonaparte was passionately devoted to the military science, and took part with his young comrades, only in such exercises, as presented the most lively images of war.

He was not without social qualities in the earlier stages of his military career, and even after his elevation to the first posts of the army, could occasionally soften the natural sternness and solemnity of his manner, into an affable and communicative ease, which rendered his conversation somewhat attractive. He often indulged himself when first consul, after the public repasts of the Thuileries, in copious narratives concerning his campaigns in Egypt, about which he was extremely fond of talking. But on his accession to the imperial dignity, these glimmerings of the spirit of gentleness and courtesy were seen no more, and the innate dispositions of the man were displayed without disguise or control.

The consummate abilities of Bonaparte, both as a general and

a statesman, are now universally acknowledged. Until a few years past, his enemies were unwilling to allow him, that supremacy of genius which he undoubtedly possesses, and to which every individual, with whom I conversed on this subject in Paris, bore the amplest testimony. None of his counsellors, no functionary of his government approaches him, without feeling the ascendency of his mind; and there are but few about his person, who can penetrate into the recesses of his policy. His thoughts are perpetually occupied by vast schemes of conquest, and busied in all the most subtle refinements of elaborate fraud. His great strokes of policy, as well as the movements of his armies, originate with himself, and he displays, no less skill than despotism, in the application of the talents of others to his own purposes.

His ministers, however able or profligate, are scarcely equal to embrace, either the vast compass, or the gigantic depravity of his ambition. Although decorated with splendid titles, and enriched with an ample share of the public spoil, they are, nevertheless, the most miserable and laborious slaves in existence, under the inflexible dominion of the most capricious and insolent of all masters. They suffer personal indignities without number, and are at no one moment, secure of the favour, upon which they know their existence to depend. If the foreign enterprises of Bonaparte, as well as the internal organization of his empire, be attentively examined, it will be perceived that he acts, in almost all instances, from a profound knowledge of the history of mankind, and of human nature under all its phases. There is scarcely a successful device, in the catalogue of the means, employed by conquering nations for the extension of their dominion, or by the Philips, the Cæsars, the Constantines, and the Charlemagnes, for the consolidation of their power, of which he will not be found, to have made a skilful and efficacious use.

He has never felt, and is incapable of feeling, any influence, calculated to frustrate the views of his ambition, but that of an impetuous temper. To female blandishments he is utterly insensible, as far as they tend to subjugate the mind, although he has never deserved, the reputation for continency, which he has enjoyed beyond the limits of Paris. Josephine possessed not the slightest ascendant over his decisions, or his inclinations, in any one point, nor will the present Empress exert any larger share of influence, whatever may be the superiority of her titles, to deference or to love. For the whole house of Lorraine, he cherishes an unextinguishable hate, and meditates the most complete destruction. Motives of state policy alone, led to this union, and they alone will regulate his department towards the Austrian princess, who was sacrificed, unavailinly sacrificed, to the preservation of her father's crown.




THE following curious account of Dr. Johnson's courtship, is extracted from the Letters of Anna Seward, and forms part of one to James Boswell, Esq.; as it is not inserted in this gentleman's Life of Johnson, it may be interesting to many of our readers: "I have often heard my mother say she perfectly remembered his (Johnson's) wife. He has recorded of her that beauty which existed only in his imagination. She had a very red face, and very indifferent features, and her manners in advanced life, (for her children were all grown up when Johnson first saw her,) had an unbecoming excess of girlish levity, and disgusting affectation. The rustic prettiness, and artless manners of her daughter, the present Mrs. Lucy Porter, had won Johnson's youthful heart, when she was upon a visit at my grandfather's* in Johnson's school-days. Disgusted by his unsightly form, she had a personal aversion to him, nor could the beautiful versest he addressed to her, teach her to endure him. The nymph, at length, returned to her parents at Birmingham, and was soon forgotten. Business taking Johnson to Birmingham, on the death of his own father, and calling upon his coy mistress there, he found her father dying. He passed his leisure hours at Mr. Porter's, attending his sick-bed, and, in a few months, asked Mrs. Johnson's consent to marry the old widow. After expressing her surprise at a request so extraordinary-" No, Sam, my willing consent you will never have to so preposterous an union. You are not twenty-five, and she is turned fifty. If she had any prudence this request had never been made to me- -Where are your means of subsistence? Porter has died poor, in consequence of his wife's

The Rev. John Hunter, master of the Litchfield Free-school, by whom Johnson was educated.

Verses to a lady, on receiving from her a sprig of Myrtle :-
What hopes, what terrors does thy gift create,
Ambiguous emblem of uncertain fate;
The myrtle, ensign of supreme command,
Consign'd by Venus to Melissa's hand.
Nor less capricious than a reigning fair,
Now grants, and now rejects a lover's prayer.
In myrtle shades oft sings the happy swain,
In myrtle shades despairing ghosts complain;
The myrtle crowns the happy lovers' heads,
The unhappy lover's grave the myrtle spreads:
O then the meaning of thy gift impart,
And ease the throbbings of an anxious heart!
Soon must this bough, as you shall fix his doom,
Adorn Philander's head, or grace his tomb.
3 H

expensive habits. You have great talents, but, as yet, have turned them into no profitable channel."-" Mother, I have not deceived Mrs. Porter: I have told her the worst of me; that I am of mean extraction; that I have no money; and that I had an uncle hanged. She replied, that she valued no one more or less for his descent; and that she had no more money than myself; and that though she had not had a relation hanged, she had fifty who deserved hanging."-And thus became accomplished this very curious amour. Adieu, Sir, go on and prosper in your arduous task of presenting to the world the portrait of Johnson's mind and manners.




The parents of Peter the Great.

[ocr errors]

THE Czar Alexis Michaelowistch, was a widower; gentle and affable, he lived familiarly amongst his subjects, and often condescended to ask them to dine with him, without ceremony. One day, being at the house of a gentleman named Matweof, he found the table set, and he said to him, "Matweof, I will dine with thee; but on condition that I derange no one." Immediately after, the wife of Matweof entered the apartment, with a young man and a girl; they sat down to table; the Czar spoke little, ate much, and cast many looks on the young girl, who was a stranger to him. After dinner he said, "Matweof, I know thy wife, I have seen thy son, but I knew not thou hadst a daughThou never told me thou hadst." "My Lord, she whom. you have seen is not my daughter; she is the daughter of one of my friends."-"That girl is very pretty; she has much sweetness of countenance." "I can assure your Majesty, that she is yet more amiable than she is beautiful; she is a charming character; mild, modest, and industrious." "You must endeavour, Matweof, to settle her well; she merits it, from the picture you have drawn, and from such a countenance she deserves a good husband." "I think much about it, Sire; but it is not a very easy matter: all require fortune, now a-days (this was in 1670,) and she has none." "I will look out, myself, for a match that may suit her; think you well about it, and in a few days we shall see what is to be done."

The Czar went out, leaving Matweof equally charmed with his frankness and benevolence. When Alexis, some little time

after, saw Matweof again, he said to him:-" Well, hast thou found an husband for thy pretty protegée ?" "Sir, I have some prospect, but an opportunity is yet wanting to speak my mind; and I fear, as I told your Majesty, that want of fortune will be an obstacle." "I am farther advanced than thee, Matweof, for I think I have found what you wish. The match is, in every respect, eligible; and I hope she will not refuse the offer: it is an husband rich enough for both; a good tempered worthy man, in a very respectable situation."

Matweof, expressing himself in the highest terms of gratitude, said:"Sire, may I presume to ask on whom the choice is fallen?" "Thou shalt soon know; go and bring in the lovely girl; I will question her myself." The Czar addressed her, made her equivocal proposals, but without discovering his intentions; and when she went out, he took Matweof by the hand, and said :"My friend, I will not keep thee longer in suspense; I am every day more charmed with Natalia (so was she named) and the husband I intend for her is myself." Matweof immediately fell at his feet, and after having expressed an astonishment at the signal honour intended his young charge, he said:" My Lord, I have brought up Natalia; she is distantly related to me, and I am as much interested in her happiness as if she was my own child; but I should become an object of hatred and jealousy to the whole Court, who would think I had used stratagem and artifice to draw your Majesty into such an alliance. Put off, Sire, I beseech you, making known your intention. Assemble together, according to custom, the most beautiful young women of your empire; Natalia shall be admitted among the number, and you shall be master of your choice; it will be the same to your Majesty in the end, and I shall not be exposed to disgrace.' The Czar approved of this expedient, and in a short time proclaimed his intention of marrying again, and his wish to make his choice from the daughters of his noble subjects. Natalia was the subject he selected; he loved her, and he was beloved again. He sought a wife of simple and modest manners, he found such in Natalia, and she constituted the happiness of his life. He had by her Peter I.; her name was Natalia Kesilowna Narischin.

The difficulty of conquering natural Antipathies, exemplified in
Peter the First.

[ocr errors]

PETER had, from his cradle, two antipathies; a dread of water and of black beetles. His exalted mind triumphed over the former, because he found himself obliged to conquer it; he wished to establish a navy, and transport his people over a new element, and therefore he ought not to fear it himself. To conquer the

« TrướcTiếp tục »