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Elba to the French shores, it was evidently all too late. His
star" had first paled before the fires of Moscow, and at last set amid the snows of his flight from it.
Of the private character of Napoleon, there are many contradictory opinions. Indeed, properly speaking, he had no private character at all. For the greater part of his life, he was as public as the sun. He ate and drank, read and wrote, snuffed and slept in a glare of publicity. The wrinkles, darkening into gloom, on that massive forehead, did indeed conceal many a dark and secret thought; but his mere actions and habitudes were all public property. How tell what he was in private, since in private he never was? He was like the man who had lost his shadow.” No sweet relief, no dim and tender background in his character. Whatever private virtues he might have possessed, never found an atmosphere to develope them in; nay, they withered and died in the surrounding sunshine. He had no time to be a good son, or husband, or father, or friend. The idea which devoured him devoured all such ties too. Still, we believe that he never ceased to possess a heart, and that much of his apathy and apparent hardness of nature was the effect of policy or of absence of mind. A thousand different spectators report differently of his manner in private. To some, he appeared all grace and dignity-to others, a cold, absent fiend, lost in schemes of far-off villany—to a third class, an awkward and unmannered blunderer--and to a fourth, the very demon of curiosity, a machine of questions, an embodied inquisition.One acute spectator, the husband of Madame Rahel, reports a perpetual scowl on his brow, and a perpetual smile on his lips. We care very little for such representations, which rather describe the man's moods than the man himself. We heard once, we protest, a more edifying picture of him from the lips of a Scotch innkeeper, who declared that he believed “Boney, when he was at leisure, aye sat, wi' his airm in a bowl o'water, resting on a cannon-ball, an' nae doubt meditauting mischief !” It were difficult to catch the features of an undeveloped thought-and what else was Napoleon ?
As concentration was the power of his mind, so it was the . peculiarity of his person. His body was a little vial of intense existence. The thrones of Europe seemed falling before
a nincpin! He seemed made of skin, marrow, bone and fire. Had France been in labor, and brought forth a mouse? But it was a frame formed for endurance. It took no punishment, it felt no fatigue, it refreshed itself by a wink, its tiny hand shivered kingdoms at a touch, and its voice, small as the “ treble of a fay," was powerful and irresistible as the roar of Mars, the homicidal god. Nature is often strange in her economies of power. She often packs her poisons and her glorious essences alike into small bulk. In Napoleon, as in Alexander the Great and Alexander Pope, a portion of both was strangely and inextricably mingled.
We might deduce many lessons from this rapid sketch of the Emperor of the French. That “moral of his story," of which Symmons speaks, would require seven thunders fully to express it. We will not dwell on the common-places about “vaulting ambition,” “diseased pride," “ fallen greatness," "lesson to be humble and thankful in our own spheres,” and so on. Napoleon was a brave, great man ; in part mistaken, perhaps also in part insane, and also in a large part guilty. But he did a work—not his full work, but still a work that he only could have accomplished. He continued that shaking of the sediments of the nations, which the French Revolution began. He pointed attention with his bristling guns to the danger the civilization of Europe is exposed to from the Russian silent conspiracy of ages—cold, vast, quietly progressive, as a glacier gathering round an Alpine valley. He shook the throne of the Austrian domination, and left that of his own successors tottering to receive them. He drew out, by long antagonism, the resourees of Britain. He cast a ghastly smile of contempt, which lingers still, around the papal crown. While he proved the disadvantages, as well as advantages, of the domination of a single human mind, he unconsciously shadowed forth the time when one divine hand shall take the kingdom-his empire, during its palmy days, forming a feeble earthly emblem of the reign of the Universal King.
A new Napoleon, were he rising, would not long continue to reign. But even as the ancient polypharmist and mistaken alchemist was the parent and the prophecy of those modern chemists, who may yet advance the science cven to its ideal limits, so in this age, Napoleon has been the unwitting pioneer
and imperfect prophet of a Sovereign, the extent and the duration of whose kingdom shall equal and surpass his wildest dreams. Did he, by sheer native genius, nearly snatch from the hands of all kings their time-honored sceptres-nearly confirm his sway into a concentrated and iron empire-and prove the advantages of centralization, as they were never proved before? And why should not "another king, one Jesus," exerting a mightier might, obtain a more lasting empire, and form the only real government which, save the short theocracy of the Jews, ever existed on earth? We pausenay, nature, the world, the church, poor afflicted humanity, distracted governments, falling thrones, earth and heaven together, seem to pause with us, to hear the wherefore to this why.
A Constellation of Sacred Authors.
NO. 1.-EDWARD IRVING.
WE have often asked, and have often too, of late, the question asked us, Why have we no life of Edward Irving? Why no full or authentic record of that short, eccentric, but most brilliant and instructive career? What has become of his papers, which, we believe, were numerous—of his sermons, private letters, and journal ? (if such a thing as a journal he ever kept-think of the journal of a comet!) Why have none of his surviving friends been invited to overlook these, and construct from them a life-like image of the man? Or, failing them, why has not some literary man of eminence-even although not imbued with all Irving's peculiar opinions, yet, if possessing a general and genial sympathy with him—been employed on the task? We know that many think this arises from the impression that Irving died under a cloud, being felt by his admirers to be general. But does not the silence of bis relatives and friends serve to deepen this impression ? We have heard it hinted, on the other hand, that the real reason is connected with the peculiar views of Irving, some imagining that no man can write his life well, if not what is called an Irvingite, and that no Irvingite has the literary qualifications. These statements, however, we do not believe. Some of the Irvingites are men of very considerable talent, and why-although most of his very eminent literary friends be either dead or have departed farther and farther from his point of viewalthough Chalmers be gone, De Quincey otherwise occupied, Thomas Carlyle become a proclaimed Pantheist, and Thomas
Erskine, of Linlathen, ceased to lay much if any stress on the Personal Reign, and forsaken other Irvingite peculiaritiesdoes not some one of his own party attempt a biography of this eagle-winged man ? Meanwhile, we propose to give what we know to be an honest and believe to be a true outline of his character and peculiar genius.
We have had not a few disappointments in our career, but none in one small department—that of sight-seeing and herohearing-equal to that which befell us in Edinburgh, in the year 1834. We were told that Edward Irving was to hold forth in Mr. Tait's chapel, Canongate, on the forenoon of a February Sabbath-day. We went accordingly, and with some difficulty procured standing room in the gallery of a small chapel in an obscure and very dirty close. It was not he! The lofty, once black, but now blanched head did not appear over the throng, like the white plume of a chieftain over the surge of battle. Another came—(good Mr. Tait, who had left the sweet moorland solitudes of Tealing, and resigned his living to follow Irving)—and we never had another opportunity of seeing and hearing the giant of pulpit oratory. In the close of that year he died in Glasgow, a weary, worn, greyheaded, and broken-hearted man of forty-two.
What a life his had been ! Short, if years are the only measurement of time; but long, if time be computed by the motion of the higher stars of thoughts, feelings, and sorrows ! His life, too, was a strangely blended one. It was made up of violent contrasts, contradictions, and vicissitudes. At college his career was triumphant; he carried all easily before him. Then, after he obtained license, came two great reverses -unpopularity as a preacher, and, if general report be credited, a love-disappointment. He was discouraged by these to the extent of preparing to leave his native land, and undertake the duties of a missionary to the heathen. In this case he would probably have perished early, and his fame had been confined to the corner of an obituary in a missionary magazine. Then in a moment-whether fortunate or unfortunate, how shall we decide ?-Chalmers heard him preach, and got him appointed as his colleague in Glasgow. Then London rose up to welcome him, as one man, and his pulpit became a throne of power, reminding you of what Knox's was in Edinburgh in