previous next

A historical Parallel.
[from the New York World.]

In one respect there is a perfect analogy between the advance of the Federal army into the revolted States and that of Bonaparte into Russia — we mean the terrible servile alliance in each case offered Says Hazlett, in his ‘"Life of Napoleon:"’ ‘"One great fear of the Russians was that their slaves would rise up and throw off their bondage; and it was, therefore, an object to prevent their having any communication with the French. They made use of the most improbable and disgusting fables to excite their terror and hatred, and of their ignorance and degradation to perpetuate that ignorance and degradation."’ ‘"Those serfs,"’ as Moutholon says, ‘"who inhabited the little towns, were well disposed to head an insurrection against the noblesse.--This was the reason why the Russians resolved to set fire to all the towns on the route of the army."’

Such is the perfectly analogous situation in the two cases. We believe that our true policy is precisely that which commended itself to the greatest practical publicist of his age.--Bonaparte refused to avail himself of the disposition of the serfs to rise against their masters. And why? For precisely the identical reasons that force themselves upon us.--‘"The serfs,"’ said he, ‘"are unfit to be trusted with the liberty they desire. If I encourage the subjects of the Czar to rise against him, I cannot hope that he will ever again become my friend."’ He subsequently made use of this language to the Senate of France: "By proclaiming the emancipation of the slaves, I could have armed the greater portion of the Russian population against himself. In several villages this enfranchisement was demanded of me. But the war I made upon Russia was political; and, besides, the brutality of this numerous class of the Russian people is such that this measure would devote many families to the most horrid barbarities.

Well, we are engaged in just such a political war, in spite of our own will, against an adversary that has been, and whom it is of great consequence should again be, our ‘"friend,"’ In neither case was subjugation the purpose, but simply the restoration of affairs to the status quo ante bellam. That being the object of Bonaparte, as he himself declared, he did not doubt that his true policy was to prevent his ‘"political war"’ from being the occasion of a social and servile war. He held to his policy to the last, even up to the time he left Moscow. As is said by Sir Robert Wilson, an English writer, who was present during the most of the campaign: ‘"There is no question that a civil war could have been fomented in Russia; and it was Bonaparte who rejected the offers of insurrection which were made to him during the time he was in Moscow."’

Now, if Bonaparte was impelled by the importance of not permanently alienating the Czar, and also by considerations of humanity, to avoid all incitement to servile war, the same policy is most assuredly incumbent upon us. The recovered friendship of the Czar was necessary to him simply that an external ally might be won; but the regained friendship of the Southern people is necessary to us that our internal oneness may be saved.--The humane inducements in his case referred only to distant foreigners, of alien blood, strange religion, and barbarous language; in our case they refer to our own kith and kin, speakers of the same mother tongue, worshippers at the same altar, and fellow-citizens under the same free rule. The reasons which pressed so powerfully upon the great French Emperor press with far more force upon us.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

hide Places (automatically extracted)

View a map of the most frequently mentioned places in this document.

Sort places alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a place to search for it in this document.
Russia (Russia) (3)
Moscow, Tenn. (Tennessee, United States) (2)
France (France) (1)
hide People (automatically extracted)
Sort people alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a person to search for him/her in this document.
Bonaparte (5)
Robert Wilson (1)
Napoleon (1)
Hazlett (1)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: