Page:English Caricaturists and Graphic Humourists of the nineteenth century.djvu/78

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26
ENGLISH CARICATURISTS.

They mistake the character of Bonaparte.called satire of James Gillray, which he dubs "a fact," is nothings than a poisonous libel. As for le petit Caporal himself, everyone now knows, that while he viewed the carnage of the battlefield with the indifference of a conqueror, he shrank in horror from the murderers of the Swiss; from Danton and his satellites, the Septembrist massacrists; from the mock trials and cold-blooded atrocities of the Terrorists. Standing apart from these last by right of his unexampled genius, with Danton, Marat, Robespierre, Couthon, Carrier, Napoleon Bonaparte has nothing whatever in common. Looking back upon the ruins of his empire, the mistakes he had made, the faults he had committed, Napoleon, with reference at least to his own personal elevation, might say with truth: "Nothing has been more simple than my elevation. It was not the result of intrigue or crime. It was owing to the peculiar circumstance of the times, and because I fought successfully against the enemies of my country. What is most extraordinary is, that I rose from being a private person to the astonishing height of power I possessed, without having committed a single crime to obtain it. If I were on my death-bed I could make the same declaration."[1]

To these facts, of course, James Gillray (if indeed he knew them) closed his eyes. In his sketch of the 12th of May, 1800, he shows us the young lieutenant at the head of tattered legions directing the destruction of the royal palaces. Blinded by the prejudice of his times, he seems apparently ignorant of the fact that Napoleon although a spectator of the attack on the Tuileries, had no power; that if he had, he would (as he himself expressed it at the time) have swept the sanguinary canaille into the gutters with his grape shot. Again, in his satires, he connects him repeatedly with the guillotine, to all appearance unconscious of the fact that between Napoleon and the guillotine no possible sympathy existed.

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A good idea of the appearance and costume of "the general"


  1. O'Meara, vol. i, p. 250.