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[408] spring upon the one that was nearest to him. When badly whipped he made no change in the system of war which he had conceived, but only made it more effective. It was the system of concentration, to operate against fractions. He never was tempted to disseminate his forces for the purpose of protecting any portion or the whole of his provinces with the fragments of a broken and insufficient shield. The army, gathered around his person, was the seat of government, and that government became as nomadic as the army. The whole of Prussia was repeatedly overrun and plundered. Berlin was taken and sacked several times. He made no attempt to cover scattered localities because they clamored for it, and, rising above sectional wish and interest, he occupied no point that was not of extreme strategic importance. He abandoned the limbs and provided only for the safety of the heart. His camp was the heart of Prussia. As long as that heart was kept pulsating, the blood might again return to the withered limbs. He allowed whole provinces to be depopulated, and any number of cities and towns and villages to be devastated. It was terrible, but it was comparatively nothing to him, provided he had a horse to mount, a crust of bread to eat, an army to command, and could keep his forces concentrated in the palm of his heroic hand, ready to strike in every direction; and after seven years of as bloody a war as ever was fought, during which he never deviated from his system of concentration and incessant aggression against his enemies, whom he contrived to attack when isolated and separated from one another, he succeeded, by his own genius and by an unexpected turn of the wheel of fortune, in securing an honorable and advantageous peace, although he had been hopeless during the whole struggle, and had carried poison in his pocket to end his life rather than be taken prisoner, so tremendous were the odds against this man of iron. Thus it may be sometimes prudent to be bold, and safe to cast the die in the face of danger.

When Bonaparte took the command of the army of Italy, composed, if our memory is correct, of thirty thousand men, he had to contend against about one hundred and fifty thousand Austrians, divided into several corps, but each one superior in numbers and equipment to his own forces. If he had prudently kept on the defensive, to wait for reinforcements and all the materials of war which he needed, what might have been the result? Far from it—he said to his troops: ‘Soldiers, you have neither shoes, nor food, nor clothes, and the Republic cannot relieve you. Hence you must help yourselves. Before you lie the Austrians. In their camps alone you ’

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