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C.D. Warner, et al., comp.  The Library of the World’s Best Literature.
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes.  1917.
 
On the Downfall of Bonaparte
By Henry Grattan (1746–1820)
 
From the Speech of May 25th, 1815

THE FRENCH government is war; it is a stratocracy, elective, aggressive, and predatory; her armies live to fight, and fight to live; their constitution is essentially war, and the object of that war the conquest of Europe. What such a person as Bonaparte at the head of such a constitution will do, you may judge by what he has done: and first he took possession of a greater part of Europe; he made his son King of Rome; he made his son-in-law Viceroy of Italy; he made his brother King of Holland; he made his brother-in-law King of Naples; he imprisoned the King of Spain; he banished the Regent of Portugal, and formed his plan to take possession of the Crown of England. England had checked his designs; her trident had stirred up his empire from its foundation. He complained of her tyranny at sea; but it was her power at sea which arrested his tyranny on land,—the navy of England saved Europe. Knowing this, he knew the conquest of England became necessary for the accomplishment of the conquest of Europe, and the destruction of her marine necessary for the conquest of England. Accordingly, besides raising an army of 60,000 men for the invasion of England, he applied himself to the destruction of her commerce, the foundation of her naval power. In pursuit of this object and on his plan of a Western empire, he conceived and in part executed the design of consigning to plunder and destruction the vast regions of Russia. He quits the genial clime of the temperate zone; he bursts through the narrow limits of an immense empire; he abandons comfort and security, and he hurries to the Pole to hazard them all, and with them the companions of his victories and the fame and fruits of his crimes and his talents, on speculation of leaving in Europe, throughout the whole of its extent, no one free or independent nation. To oppose this huge conception of mischief and despotism, the great potentate of the north from his gloomy recesses advances to defend himself against the voracity of ambition, amid the sterility of his empire. Ambition is omnivorous; it feasts on famine and sheds tons of blood, that it may starve in ice in order to commit a robbery on desolation. The power of the north, I say, joins another prince, whom Bonaparte had deprived of almost the whole of his authority,—the King of Prussia; and then another potentate, whom Bonaparte had deprived of the principal part of his dominions,—the Emperor of Austria. These three powers, physical causes, final justice, the influence of your victories in Spain and Portugal, and the spirit given to Europe by the achievements and renown of your great commander [the Duke of Wellington], together with the precipitation of his own ambition, combine to accomplish his destruction; Bonaparte is conquered. He who said, “I will be like the Most High,” he who smote the nations with a continual stroke,—this short-lived son of the morning, Lucifer,—falls, and the earth is at rest; the phantom of royalty passes on to nothing, and the three kings to the gates of Paris: there they stand, the late victims of his ambition, and now the disposers of his destiny and the masters of his empire. Without provocation he had gone to their countries with fire and sword; with the greatest provocation they came to his country with life and liberty: they do an act unparalleled in the annals of history, such as nor envy, nor time, nor malice, nor prejudice, nor ingratitude can efface; they give to his subjects liberty, and to himself life and royalty. This is greater than conquest! The present race must confess their virtues, and ages to come must crown their monuments, and place them above heroes and kings in glory everlasting….  1
  Do you wish to confirm this military tyranny in the heart of Europe,—a tyranny founded on the triumph of the army over the principles of civil government, tending to universalize throughout Europe the domination of the sword,—and to reduce to paper and parchment, Magna Charta and all our civil constitutions? An experiment such as no country ever made and no good country would ever permit: to relax the moral and religious influences; to set heaven and earth adrift from one another, and make God Almighty a tolerated alien in his own creation; an insurrectionary hope to every bad man in the community, and a frightful lesson to profit and power, vested in those who have pandered their allegiance from king to emperor, and now found their pretensions to domination on the merit of breaking their oaths and deposing their sovereign. Should you do anything so monstrous as to leave your allies in order to confirm such a system; should you forget your name, forget your ancestors, and the inheritance they have left you of morality and renown; should you astonish Europe by quitting your allies to render immortal such a composition, would not the nations exclaim: “You have very providently watched over our interests, and very generously have you contributed to our service,—and do you falter now? In vain have you stopped in your own person the flying fortunes of Europe; in vain have you taken the eagle of Napoleon and snatched invincibility from his standard, if now, when confederated Europe is ready to march, you take the lead in the desertion and preach the penitence of Bonaparte and the poverty of England.”  2
 
 
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