Page images



Napoleon Bonaparte,






IN transcribing the following letter for the press, though the original sentiments are retained, the stile and arrangement have been considerably altered. Still however, it appears in a very different form from that, which existing cir. cumstances seem now' to require. To the foreknowledge of future contingences I make no pre"tensions. But I cannot forbear to say, that, at the time of writing the letter, I had anticipations and forebodings of mind, which recent occurrences have woefully realized. What a melancholy proof of the instability, the ambition, the treachery of the human heart, is, the official conduct of the French consul! That the brave people of France, that the nations of Europe, should so long have submitted to his despotism and tyranny, I confess, is to me matter of no small astonishment. Is it possible to think of the present state of France, and not to recollect the situation of the ancient Roman commonwealth? Was not that great commonwealth, after subsisting for ages, defrauded and robbed of all its rights, privileges, and liberties, by a set of ambitious adventurers, crafty traitors, and political despots, After they had precipitated into all manner of luxury and dissipation, which inevitably proved a prelude to their fall, their barbarous, but valiant, invaders and invincible usurpers, found them an easy prey. , Was not Rome at one period, literally sold to the highest bidder? Was not the will of the despot, literally the law of the people? By a succession of despots and tyrants, that great people were forcibly subjected to the military yoke ; and degraded to the very lowest pitch. At last, scarcely did the name of liberty exist among them. Shall I draw the parallel between the two republics? I need not do it. My readers will do it for themselves.

Is not the conduct of the French republic truly astonishing ? No sooner had she asserted her just claims, established her natural rights, her liberty, and a representative government, and done all this at an immense expence; an immense expence of both blood and treasure, than she permitted an obscure stranger, a Corsican adventurer, to rivet her former fetters and chains; nay, fetters and chains, if possible, still heavier. Is not this a phenomenon in the history of nations, that has not, perhaps, had a precedent, nor may never have a parallel? Is there not here a combi. nation of the energy and the lassitude, the dignity and the degradation of the human character, that has seldom, if ever been equalled on the theatre of our world ? It has been, and is, my opinion, that the French consul, and his hipocritical parasites, are, by long strides, hastening their own ruin. Till I be convinced, that the French nation are totally deprived of patriotism, and of a memory to recollect former times, and former occurrences, I cannot think otherwise. - Philadelphia, 1804.



Napoleon Bonaparte.


PERMIT me, in the epistolary form, to address you on a few topics, highly interesting to yourself, to the great nation over which you preside, and to the whole world of mankind. Sensible of my unequal abilities, and of your distinguished penetration, I write with no small diffidence in the former, and great deference to the latter. Conscious, however, of the goodness of the cause for which I plead, and of the purity of my intentions, I am emboldened to proceed.

The idea of writing to you was first suggested to me in the course of last war; but finding my mind in a state of suspense and uncertainly concerning the propriety of the step, I have till now postponed it. I now do it from a conviction of duty; and, therefore, in whatever light it may appear to you, your candour, doubtless, will excuse it. To your discerning inind, it must at once be

« PreviousContinue »