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Napoleon finished it, and the Russian departed. He was to be the bearer of the news of this disaster to his sovereign, whose only answer was this conflagration.
Day-light favoured the efforts of the Duke of Treviso; be subdued the fire. The incendiaries kept themselves concealed. Doubts were entertained of their existence. At length, strict injunctions being issued, order restored, and alarm suspended, each took possession of a commodious house, or sumptuous palace, under the idea of there find.. ing comforts that had been dearly purchased by long and excessive privations.
There was no time to be lost. The roaring of the flames around us became every moment more violent. A single narrow winding street, all on fire, appeared to be rather the entrance than the outlet to this hell. The Emperor rushed on foot and without hesitation into this narrow passage. He advanced amid the crackling of the flames, the crash of floors, and the fall of burning timbers, and of the red-hot iron roofs which tumbled around him. These ruins impeded his progress. The flames which, with impetuous roar, consumed the edifices between which we were proceeding, spreading beyond the walls, were blown about by the wind, and formed an arch over our beads. We walked on a ground of fire, beneath a fiery sky, and between two walls of fire. The intense heat burnt our eyes, which we were nevertheless obliged to keep open and fixed on the danger. A consuming atmosphere, glowing ashes, detached flames, parched our throats, and rendered our respiration short and dry; and we were already almost suffocated by the smoke. Our hands were burnt, either in endeavouring to protect our faces from the insupportable heat, or in brushing off the sparks which every moment covered and penetrated our garments.
In this inexpressible distress, and when a rapid advance seemed to be our only means of safety, our guide stopped in uncertainty and agitation. Here would probably have terminated our adventurous career, had not some pillagers of the first corps recognized the Emperor amidst the whirling flames: they ran up and guided him towards the smoking ruins of a quarter which had been reduced to ashes in the morning.
It was then that we met the Prince of Eckmuhl. This marshal, who had been wounded at the Moskwa, had desired to be carried back among the flames to rescue Napoleon, or to perish with him. He threw himself into his arms with transport; the Emperor received him kindly, but with that composure which in danger he never lost for a moment.
To escape from this vast region of calamities, it was further necessary to pass a long convoy of powder which was defiling amidst the fire. This was not the least of his dangers, but it was the last, and by nightfall he arrived at Petrowsky.
Next morning, the 17th of September, Napoleon cast his first looks at Moscow, hoping to see that the conflagration had subsided. He beheld it again raging with the utmost violence: the whole city appeared like a vast spout of fire rising in whirling eddies to the sky, which it deeply coloured. Absorbed by this melancholy contemplation, he observed a long and gloomy silence, which he broke only by the exclamation, “ This forbodes great misfortunes to us!”
And Napoleon was rightThe misfortunes, which he ap-> prehended, fell upon him, but with a weight and intensity that he could not have foreseen. We have not left ourselves room to make many extracts from the narrative of this distressful retreat; and our readers may not be unwilling to be spared the recital of such painful circumstances. As the winter became more severe, the attacks of the enemy more frequent and violent, and the want of supplies more urgent, almost every species and degree of suffering was endured. Nothing relieves the gloom of these details, but those instances of peculiar energy, gallantry, or skill, which not unfrequently occurred, and displayed ihe characters of individuals in striking lights. Stories like the following alternate through the last half of the volume.
At the gates of the city an infamous action struck them with a degree of horror which was still undiminished. A mother had abandoned her little son, only five years old ; in spite of his cries and tears, she had driven him away from her sledge which was too heavily laden. She herself cried out with a distracted air, “ that he had never seen France ! that he would not regret it! as for her, she knew France ! she was re. solved to see France once more !” Twice did Ney himself replace the unfortunate child in the arms of his mother, twice did she cast him off on the frozen snow.
This solitary crime amidst a thousand instances of the most devoted and sublime tenderness, they did not leave unpunished. The unnatural mother was herself abandoned to the same snow from which her infant was snatched, and entrusted to another mother; this little orphan was exhibited in their ranks; he was afterwards seen at the Berezina, then at Wilna, even at Kowno, and finally escaped from all the horrors of the retreat.
But amidst all these horrors, there were noble acts of devotion. Some there were, who abandoned every thing to save some unfortunate wounded, by carrying them on their shoulders; several others being unable to extricate their half-frozen comrades from this medley, lost their lives in defending them from the attacks of their countrymen, and the blows of their enemies.
On the most exposed part of the mountain, an officer of the Emperor, Colonel the Count de Turenne, repulsed the Cossacks, and in defiance of their cries of rage and their fire, he distributed before their eyes the private treasure of Napoleon to the guards whom he found within his reach. These brave men fighting with one hand, and collecting the spoils of their leader with the other, succeeded in saving them. Long afterwards, when they were out of all danger, each man faithfully restored the depot which had been entrusted to him. Not a single piece of money was lost.
Napoleon appears to have preserved, amidst all the horrors of his retreat, the affection and respect of his soldiers, as per
fectly as when they followed him to uninterrupted victories. We cannot better illustrate the kind of power which he maintained over them and the reliance which they continued to place upon him, than by the following extract.
It was now merely the shadow of an army, but it was the shadow of the grand army. fi felt conscious that nature alone had vanquished it. The sight of its emperor revived it. It had been long accustomed not to look to him for its means of support, but solely to lead it to victory. This was its first unfortunate campaign, and it had had so many fortunate ones ! it only required to be able to follow him. He alone, who had elevated his soldiers so high, and now sunk them so low, was yet able to save them. He was still, therefore, cherished in the heart of his arıny, like hope in the heart of man.
Thus, amid so many beings who might have reproached him with their misfortunes, he marched on without the least fear, speaking to one and all without affectation, certain of being respected as long as glory could command our respect. Knowing perfectly that he belonged to us, as much as we to him, his renown being a species of national property, we should sooner have turned our arms against ourselves, (which was the case with many,) than against him, and it was a minor suicide.
Some of them fell and died at his feet, and though in the most frightful delirium, their sufferings never gave its wanderings the turn of reproach, but of entreaty. And in fact did not he share the common danger? Which of them all risked so much as he? Who suffered the greatest loss in this disaster ?
If any imprecations were uttered, it was not in his presence; it seemed, that of all misfortunes, that of incurring his displeasure was still the greatest, so rooted were their confidence in, and submission to that man who had subjected the world to them; whose genius, hitherto uniformly victorious and infallible, bad assumed the place of their freewill, and who having so long in his hands the book of pensions, of rank, and of history, found wherewithal to satisfy not only covetous spirits, but also every generous heart.
In concluding our review of this work, we would remark, that although it has entertained us exceedingly, we should not be altogether disposed to rely upon it as a work of unquestionable authority in doubtful matters.
We do not mean to accuse the author of intentional misstatement, for there is nothing in his work which would justify a charge of that magnitude; but his partialities and prejudices are obviously very strong; he is too enthusiastic for an historian, and sometimes writes so loosely, one cannot help suspecting a little confusion in his thoughts; and he is quite too often elegant at the expense of exaciness.
Reform of Harvard College.
[CONTINUED.] We come now to the consideration of the memorial of the resident Professors and Tutors, relative to the mode of constituting the Corporation of the University. This memorial was brought forward at an unseasonable moment. It found the friends of the College, particularly the two boards of the Corporation and the Overseers, engaged on the various subjects detailed in our preceeding articles. Considering the nature of the questions agitated in the memorial, it is also unfortunate that those who preferred it, did not have recourse to the professional assistance of legal counsel. It is not possible, in the present organization of our tribunals, public or private, that a question can be equally argued by lawyers on one side and laymen on the other. "We think it would be highly inexpedient now, and particularly in this place, to revive this controversy ;-we were about to say this settled controversy; settled however we do not regard it. The circumstance, which we have just mentioned, that it was not professionally argued on the side of the memorialists, and the caution of the overseers in the form of their decision, have left the question still open; and we regard nothing as more probable, if the doctrines of the memorial are not put in practice sub silentio, in future elections to the Corporation, than that they will be revived under auspices favourable to their thorough consideration; and in that case we are strongly inclined to think it will prevail.
The Corporation at present consists, and for about twenty years past has consisted of the President of the College, residing at Cambridge, and six gentlemen, one of whom is ex officio the treasurer, the remaining five bearing the name of Fellows, hut receiving no stipend from the College nor living in Cambridge. Of these five Fellows, two have usually, since 1806, been settled clergymen, of high standing in the profession, and three have as usually been lawyers or civil characters of eminence. The efficient government of the College, till the late changes, was exclusively in the hands of this Corporation, subject to the concurrence of the Overseers. No law or order not purely executive could be passed by the President, Professors, and Tutors; but every thing of great or small moment, the arrangement of studies, the selection of books, the assignment of degrees, the appointment to all offices, and in short the entire government of the institution, was in the hands of this board, acting in concurrence with the Overseers; but in some important articles claiming the exclusive right of originating measures. The objections to such an organization are numerous and evident." That of locality was obvious. States of college affairs have often existed and will often exist, when the Corporation needs to be in almost perpetual session; or at least in condition to be promptly convened.
; But residing in different towns, its meetings are necessarily by previous appointment and comparatively infrequent. Add to this, that a majority of its members have been men, who had other official duties, numerous and arduous, to perform. And the very best authority, that of more than one of these gentlemen candidly expressing themselves since the subject has been laid to sleep, might be quoted in proof of the proposition, that the duties of the Corporotion are of a nature not to be punctually and comfortably discharged by non-resident gentlemen in the busy and laborious professions. These were previous objections. Besides it could not but continually occur that the questions presented to the decision of the Corporation were such as that body was not competent to decide, composed as it necessarily was of men, who were not practically conversant with the government and instruction of literary institutions. This produced irresolution and delay in some cases, and when delay could not take place, it threw the sole decision of questions upon the President, as being the only member of the Corporation, who was intimately acquainted with the business of the College. There was further a manifest incongruity and want of fitness, in carrying the efficient government of an institution away from its walls or from immediate and convenient access to them. The true principle of organizing any government, partaking the nature of a trust, is to unite the greatest energy and responsibility, on the part of the active governors, with the most perfect accountableness to a suitable board of Overseers. The present constitution of the Cor: poration singularly defeats both ends, without substituting any thing valuable--no valuable substitute could be made in their place. As the President, Professors, and Tutors have no final
. power, they have of course no responsibility for the wisdom of the college system. They are purely executive officers. On the other hand, the board of Overseers being a numerous