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Source global Wall Street Journal     time 2022-01-14 21:30:23
Typefacelarge in Small

There's the cast of a medal on the top of that cabinet which will bring it all close home to you. It is taken from the die of the medal which Napoleon had arranged to issue on the day that he reached London. It serves, at any rate, to show that his great muster was not a bluff, but that he really did mean serious business. On one side is his head. On the other France is engaged in strangling and throwing to earth a curious fish-tailed creature, which stands for perfidious Albion. "Frappe a Londres" is printed on one part of it, and "La Descente dans Angleterre" upon another. Struck to commemorate a conquest, it remains now as a souvenir of a fiasco. But it was a close call.

"Now there are fine tales in the volumes of the Magi—in the iron-bound melancholy volumes of the Magi. Therein, I say, are glorious histories of the heaven and of the earth, and of the mighty sea—and of the genius that overruled the sea, and the earth, and the lofty heaven. There were much lore, too, in the sayings which were said by the Sybils, and holy, holy things were heard of old by the dim leaves which trembled round Dodona, but as Allah liveth, that fable which the Demon told me as he sat by my side in the shadow of the tomb, I hold to be the most wonderful of all." Or this sentence: "And then did we, the seven, start from our seats in horror, and stand trembling and aghast, for the tones in the voice of the shadow were not the tones of any one being, but of a multitude of beings, and, varying in their cadences from syllable to syllable, fell duskily upon our ears in the well-remembered and familiar accents of many thousand departed friends."

Here we are at the final seance. For the last time, my patient comrade, I ask you to make yourself comfortable upon the old green settee, to look up at the oaken shelves, and to bear with me as best you may while I preach about their contents. The last time! And yet, as I look along the lines of the volumes, I have not mentioned one out of ten of those to which I owe a debt of gratitude, nor one in a hundred of the thoughts which course through my brain as I look at them. As well perhaps, for the man who has said all that he has to say has invariably said too much.

His mind, which was comprehensive and alert in warfare, was singularly limited in civil affairs. As a statesman he was so constant an example of devotion to duty, self-sacrifice, and high disinterested character, that the country was the better for his presence. But he fiercely opposed Catholic Emancipation, the Reform Bill, and everything upon which our modern life is founded. He could never be brought to see that a pyramid should stand on its base and not on its apex, and that the larger the pyramid, the broader should be the base. Even in military affairs he was averse from every change, and I know of no improvements which came from his initiative during all those years when his authority was supreme. The floggings which broke a man's spirit and self-respect, the leathern stock which hampered his movements, all the old traditional regime found a champion in him. On the other hand, he strongly opposed the introduction of the percussion cap as opposed to the flint and steel in the musket. Neither in war nor in politics did he rightly judge the future.


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