ORACLES OF NOSTRADAMUS - Napoleonic Rule
Century III.--Quatrain 35. [I. 205.]
Du plus profond de l'Occident d'Europe,
De pauvres gens un jeune enfant naistra,
Qui par sa langue seduira grande troupe,
Son bruit au regne d'Orient plus croitra.
In the Southern extremity of Western Europe
A child shall be born of poor parents,
Who by his tongue shall seduce the French army;
His bruit shall extend to the kingdom of the East.
IN the island of Corsica was born, of an ancient but impoverished family, a child, Napoleon Bonaparte, whose proclamations electrified the French troops. His expedition, by order of the Directory, to Egypt, which was meant to ruin his career, conferred upon him a world-wide renown. This man was not eloquent as orators are eloquent; verbosity is their gift. Even the endowment of Cicero lay much in words; and in their multitude, which wanteth not folly: Solomon says sin. A plethora of words becomes the apoplexy of reason. But this man's phrases are all portable, made for the knapsack: they fly to the lip as lightning does to metal; poetry, passion, and energy are in them, but fused to an aerolite, till they fall like a luminous bolt, only to burn in man's memory for ever after. They are not winged, but lightning-shod. Fulminants are matter etherealized to an
interlinking with spirit. But this man's words are spirit itself, and burn their niche in Time, to last as long as that will. Take two of them: "Soldiers, forty centuries look down upon you!" and again, "Behold the sun of Austerlitz!" When you speak, speak thus to men; such words are deeds; and come not as from one who beateth the air to the pitchpipe of the tibicen Ciceronical, but as the bullet to its butt; speak swordpoints, that press between the joints and marrow. But I will stop here, to escape oratory. That may still fetch its price, and seduce the zebra troup in the courts of legal falsity, or in the Babel-room down by the river-Minster.
Century I.--Quatrain 76. [I. 206.]
Of a savage name there shall be such publishing
That the three sisters shall have by Fate the same name:
Then he will lead a great nation by tongue and deed,
And have more glory and fame than any other.
Here M. le Pelletier takes le proferé for a thing placed before, and understands it as being the prenomen of Bonaparte, viz. Napoleon. But I cannot see how that is shown to be the meaning of proferé. That word, if from the Latin proferre, never was used for cognomen or prænomen. One of the meanings of proferre is palam facere, to make public or publish, and I think it would be safer to render it as I have done. It will still equally draw attention to the name
[paragraph continues] Napoleon, in contradistinction to the name of Bonaparte; because, when he mounted the throne as Emperor, he adopted the new name and abandoned the previous one. This selection of a new name seems to be a natural instinct of humanity on entering upon a new phase of life. The popes take a new name on assuming the pontifical rank; monks and nuns do so on entering the religious life; commoners leave their name behind when created peers; women do so when they marry; and here Napoleon does it. But I do not think it desirable to consider this to be indicated by the word proferé. Nostradamus says that it is such a fatal name that the Parcæ themselves will adopt it. He then repeats that he will lead,--I think it should be seduce (séduira),--the grande nation by speech and deeds, and raise a name unrivalled in the universe. This was certainly true, and the prefiguration of it is, beyond the denial of prejudice, marvellous.
We have now to deal with the word itself, which will furnish to investigation a few interesting hints. Of course some may think them intricate and far-fetched. There is no great importance to be attached to them perhaps, but they must interest the curious; and curiosity that is innocent has a value of its own. Who could see in Sloane's strange Chelsea gallery the shape, dimension, and value of the museum of Bloomsbury and its affiliations?
Century IX.--Quatrain 33. [I. 208.]
Hercules, King of Rome and Denmark,
Surnamed the triple Giant of France,
Shall make Italy tremble and the wave of St. Mark,
First in renown of all monarchs.
There was a Celtic Hercules fabled to draw men by their ears: Par langue et faict il conduira, as we have just seen, so that this Hercules means the Napoleonic dynasty. As to King of Rome, Napoleon actually assumed that title, and later on he conferred it upon his son by Marie Louise. In the "Memorial de Sainte-Helene," 1840 [i. 79], by Las Cases, it is said that during his consulate somebody published a genealogy connecting his family with the ancient kings of the north. This Napoleon ridiculed in the public journals, stating that his nobility dated only from Montenotte or the 18th Brumaire. Things were not yet ripe for royal pretensions. The Bonaparte family in Italy can trace to the thirteenth century. One branch was settled at Treviso, the other at Florence, and both held an honourable position; a third was at Sarzana, in Genoa. A Charles Bonaparte settled in Corsica in 1612, and lived in obscurity, says Le Pelletier, till this family of kings was born. Taine has discovered that the family was of condottiere stock, and De Staël and Stendal had, before that, both of them found Napoleon's character more analogous to that, than to any other type known to them. Taine finds him to be a Sforza or a Malatesta born belated by three centuries. He is as unscrupulous, searching, and ambitious as Macchiavelli; and, curiously enough, the only book 1 he is known to have ever annotated profusely is
[paragraph continues] Macchiavelli's "Prince," which was found in his baggage at Waterloo, and has since been published; and an intensely interesting book it is; enormously wicked and shrewd, but diabolically wise in the Devil's gay antics. It is a scientific treatise on government without God in the world. Its moral axiom would seem to be that even murder should be directed by good sense in the hands of a craft-master. In this respect I think it is even superior to the clemency of César. The "Prince" evidently fascinated him deeply. He treats his author quite imperially, as Bentley or any other great critic might do, and points out condescendingly where the priest is but a theorist and errs for want of knowledge, such as can only be gained from the practical handling of affairs by a man of the Napoleon calibre. I don't know that you can read so deep into the very spirit (for I will not mention heart in the same breath with Napoleon) of the man of blood and brain, as you may by the pencil interlineations by him jotted down in this his Italian vade mecum; from time to time as he recurs to the book, enlarging in view from general to first consul, and from first consul to emperor. You seem to sit with him, as in a magical cave, with terrible writings that come and go upon the wall before you, writings which are the words of this book, and are lit up with a lurid phosphoresence, the light of which emanates from his own putrescent brain.
It is not historically true to say, as M. le Pelletier does, that the family lived in obscurity in Corsica. The house at Ajaccio was the largest in the place, a palace even as compared with the other residences. The title of King of Rome was precious to Napoleon, as it enabled him to claim succession to the Empire of Charlemagne. Although Garencières, in his interpretation, fails of attaching any individual fulfilment to the words, he is able, from this title, to say that whoever it belongs to will attain to the Roman Empire.
Guion is equivalent to Terræfilius or Earthborn, and means giant; in fact, it almost seems a variant of géants; but why three giants of France? I do not know that this has ever been explained. Hercules mythologically was distinguished by three symbols (Martinii, "Etymologicon," s.v. Hercules),--a lion's skin, key, and three apples. The three apples were, not to get angry, not to love money, not to love pleasure. This need only be mentioned for the sake of the double triplication and as marking so far the propriety of the term Hercules. Master of Rome, i.e. Italy; of Venice, i.e. Austria; of Paris, i.e. France; as ruled over by Napoleon as General, Consul, Emperor. That he was "the first of monarchs over all renowned" needs no elucidation.
Century VIII.--Quatrain 61. [I. 209.]
Never shall he in broad daylight
Reach to the symbol of sceptre-bearing rule.
Of all his positions none will be of a settled permanency,
Conferring on the Gallic cock a gift of the armed Legion.
In other words, the Emperor will never enjoy a settled seat of firmly established government, and he will confer upon France, either the ruinous legacy or bequest or gift of the legionary conscription, which converts Europe into an armed camp,--an evil gift, indeed; or those who prefer it, may render it as the gift to France of a huge burial-place in Spain and Portugal, where so many thousands of men, her best blood, fell. But conscription is of the wider issue, and the more permanent evil, as it affects Europe to this hour. It makes peace an interlude to war, and very little less costly than war.
Our next quatrain is a great rarity, for it seems to be in pure Provençal, and extremely pleasing it is, a great deal more honied, to the ear in sound than the present French language; which is excellent for conversation and the salon, where society grimaces, but where true souls are struck dumb and poetry has ceased to be possible; or only possible to rebellion, such as that of Victor Hugo.
Century IV.--Quatrain 26. [I. 211.]
Lou grand eyssame se lèvera d'abelhos,
Que non sauran don te siegen venguddos.
De nuech l'embousq. Lou gach dessous les treilhos,
Ciutad trahido per cinq langos non nudos.
"A peacock moulted, and a jay
Assumed the feathers fine,
And, strutting in a peacock-way,
Thought 'now I look divine.'
"The first who met him laughed outright;
Others he found to sneer;
The peacocks voted him a fright,
His brother jays all quizzed 'the sight,'
But none would have him near.
"Of biped jays like this, there are
Thousands from here to Zanzibar;
We call them 'plagiarist!'
But hush! For setting souls ajar
Is not my line, I wist."
The bees stand for the Bonapartist army and the Empire. The second line is understood, by M. le Pelletier, to refer to the origin of the family, and it may be so; but I think it refers to the surprising suddenness with which the rouges, sans-culottes, and republicans,--in pretended love with equality and freedom,--were found to welcome tyranny and Rule of One, that used to be spoken of as Monarchy. Guillotined in that form, Frenchmen hailed it as a sword-saviour in the new dictator. It seems to me to be the sudden conversion of such opposed principles to Bonapartism on the night of the 18th Brumaire [November 9, 1799],--De neuch l'embousq, an ambuscade of night,--that startles Nostradamus. Certainly there was no doubt whatever whence the Napoleon family sprang; a family with a history more or less traceable for five hundred years can scarcely be described with propriety as one "whose origin
is lost in the night of time." Yet this is the meaning M. le Pelletier would have us put upon it.
Next, like the jay in the fable, tricked out in pea-cock feathers and spoils of the Capetian kings, Napoleon makes their palace of the Tuileries [Treilhos] his head-quarters. The city is given over to him by cinq langos, five prodigious talkers of the long robe. Far from naked as to words or clothing were they, but as to principles very nude and bare, quite unable to cope face to face with the audacity of this unscrupulous cut-throat, this gunner of Ajaccio.
The men of no principles and no practice were simply ciphers before this man of practice, par langue et faict; this ethnic Hercules of tongue and sword; this servant, as Daniel has it, of "the God of Forces;" this fly-pest Beelzebub, man of Vespres et mouches, grown to a dynamic King. Where men have lost their virtue, the poor sceptics are given over to believe a lie of their own making; tongues have they to lie withal, but never a hand amongst them to furnish help at need.
Century VII.--Quatrain 13. [I. 213.]
The short-haired man shall assume authority
In maritime Toulon tributary to the enemy:
He will afterwards dismiss as sordid all who oppose him;
And for fourteen years direct a tyranny.
The English had seized Toulon in the name of Louis XVII., and held it a few months till Bonaparte retook it. He overturned the Directory (sordide), and suppressed its partisans with the Republic, and enjoyed the tyranny for fourteen years, from 18th Brumaire, November 9, 1799, to April 13, 1814. We have already seen (p. 238) that the cité marine is Toulon. Garencières fancies this to have been fulfilled when Richelieu made himself governor of Havre de Grace, where he kept his treasure and tyrannized for about fourteen years.
Century VIII.--Quatrain 57. [I. 214.]
De soldat simple parviendra en empire,
De robbe courte parviendra à la longue:
Vaillant aux armes, en Eglise, où plus pire,
Vexer 1 les prestres comme l'eau fait l'esponge.
From a simple soldier he will rise to the empire,
From the short robe he will attain the long:
Able in arms, in Church government he shows less skill;
He raises or depresses the priests as water a sponge.
This is a very remarkable quatrain, that Bouys and Le Pelletier, and I suppose all French commentators, pronounce to belong to Napoleon; and it certainly fits him very well. But, with almost as little injury to historical fact, it may be applied to Cromwell, and accordingly Garencières does so apply it. He writes:
"I never knew nor heard of anybody to whom this stanza might be applied, than to the late usurper Cromwell; for from a simple soldier he became to be Lord Protector, and from a student in the University he became a graduate in Oxford, he was valiant in arms, and the worst Churchman that could be found; as for vexing the priests, I mean the prelatical clergy, I believe none went beyond him."
The circumstances of the French Revolution and the English Commonwealth times are so much alike in many respects that it is not surprising that such a description as this of a soldier who seized power and afflicted the clergy should fit both the usurpers, Napoleon and Cromwell, almost equally well.
Napoleon was a plain lieutenant in 1785, Consul for life in 1799, and Emperor from 1804 to 1814. He changed the short robe for the long, is understood by M. le Pelletier as being the consular robe for the imperial. There is no need to interpret thus. The military dress or that of the civilian is the short robe. Nostradamus takes but little heed, so far as we have yet seen, of the consular dignity. In the last quatrain he designates the duration of the tyranny, not as one of ten years, which would represent the Empire, but of fourteen, which regards the consulship and empire as one period. If we take Cromwell's protectorate, however, from the death of Charles I. to the death of Cromwell, the term will correspond with Napoleon's imperial career. But the interregnum in England was a period of twelve years, and that in France under Napoleon was of fourteen (quatorze ans); hence this quatrain must not be applied to Cromwell, though it in other respects is as true of him as of Napoleon.
Valiant in arms, but in ecclesiastical matters less successful, still he thoroughly vexes them, penetrating into every place and corner, as water does into a sponge. We cannot accept M. le Pelletier's rendering of vexare as meaning to raise and cast down. It was used in the sense of to trouble,
cruciare,--to anger, commovere; or to harass with care, curarum œstu fluctuare; but never to alternately swell and depress, as in filling or squeezing out a sponge.
Century II.--Quatrain 69. [I. 215.]
The Gallic King by means of the Celtic sword-hand,
Seeing the discord of the great monarchy,
Shall make his sceptre flourish by restoring the three parts,
As against the Capets, and the Popedom.
Garencières understands as "the Cap of the great Hierarchy," Spain in the Netherlands, which was the great upholder of the Popedom. His application of this to history is of no value. But if we understand Cap as Capet, and the ancient connection of the French crown with the Papal Hierarchy, I think we elicit a better sense than that of M. le Pelletier, which makes the Capet and the Hierarchy one. The three parts restored, M. le Pelletier makes to consist of clergy, nobility, and tiers état. I feel that the three parts under Napoleon were Emperor, Senate, and Chamber of Deputies, which would be head (or Caput instead of
[paragraph continues] Capet), Senate representing the higher classes, and the Chambers the people. That would constitute les trois parts of the quatrain.
Century I.--Quatrain 88. [I. 216.]
He shall have married a woman just before
The divine wrath falleth on the great Prince;
And his support shall dwindle in a sudden atrophy;
Counsel shall perish from this shaven head.
This divine evil that surprises the Prince a little after his marriage with Marie-Louise of Austria and his mean-spirited repudiation of Josephine, is most excellently rendered by Garencières as "the falling sickness, called by the Greeks Epilepsia, and by the Latins Morbus sacer." Garencières was a Fellow of the London College of Physicians, and a man versed in the medical nomenclature of his day; so that le mal divin should here be rendered epilepsy. It has never yet been so rendered, except by Garencières, and he has no application to make of it whatever, though, as a mere matter of translation, he says, "the construction of the whole is easie." It strikes me that this forecast, thus interpreted, will throw light from Nostradamus on what history has heretofore overlooked, and will necessitate the re-writing of
[paragraph continues] Napoleon's life from the date of his wicked prostitution of the marriage rite. Napoleon, Cromwell, Mahomet, César, were all epileptic, and probably Alexander. But this particular scoundrel first committed, from the purely sordid motive of self-aggrandisement, a moral crime, and that brought on the convulsion of the brain, that practically discharged for ever the mighty Leyden jar or electric battery, with which this potent brain-fiend had dealt out merciless torpedo-shocks to Europe, and death as from the hot wind Samyel. Inflated vanity, the epileptic stroke, the reaction of external forces on the weakened centre, made the cerebral pap, still of gigantic power, entertain new Phantasms huger than ever, with a terribly diminished power of reason, to bring them to birth by the practical handling of circumjacent facts and time-tendencies. Now, said the fool of this western parable, now am I master of events, and may swim against the sea,--not with it, as I and common mortals heretofore have done, but against it, and to win. Well, he did carry the big dream into Russia, and as far as the nightmare of Borodino. He also still found a mighty utterance of lurid glory, with which to pin that evil minute in letters of fire and phosphorus upon the curtain of eternity, "Behold the sun of Austerlitz!" The looming mot d'ordre, the old work, the old guards, and the old drillings, guided once again to a Pyrrhic victory; two such will damn a kingdom. Reader, read Ségur [Comte de Ségur, "Napoléon et la Grande Armée," liv. vii. ch. viii. p. 179], and there perceive the giant unbrained and drivelling about his bastard boy called "King of Rome," and what else belongs to mon étoile effacée. "All the supports dwindle," says Nostradamus, "and counsel will perish from the shaven head." Garencières is right, and the diagnosis true. It is the falling sickness. It is
not Jove fulminant that strikes the reeling Pagod from without, as with César 'twas, but an epiletic withdrawal of electricity from within, backwards. Emperor and empire will soon roll together in the dust; man's posthumous analysis, and that of all the evil works wrought by him, though the good live after.
Century I.--Quatrain 4. [I. 127.]
Throughout the universe a monarch shall arise,
Who will not be long in peace nor life;
The bark of St. Peter will then lose itself,
Being directed to its greatest detriment.
The Emperor Napoleon, reviving pretensions to the old Roman empire or universe, will neither enjoy peace nor life for very long. In his time the Holy Seat, la piscature barque, shall so guide itself to greatest detriment as to be cast away and lost (under Pius VII.).
Pope Plus was made a prisoner by General Miollis, July 6, 1809, and carried to Savone, then to Fontainebleau, and kept under strict guard by Napoleon till March 10, 1814, when he was set at liberty. Garencières interprets this as being fulfilled in the time of Henri II. of France, who was slain by Montgomery in the tilt yard. Through all his reign he was at war with the Emperor Charles V. This Emperor sacked Rome, and Pope Clement VII. was made a prisoner (vide Garencières, "Tiber," p. 77).
Century V.--Quatrain 60. [I. 218.]
In the shorn head France will have made so bad a choice;
It will be heavier than its force will enable it to endure.
So great fury and rage will make men say
That he will exterminate the male sex by fire and sword.
The period of the fulfilment of this event M. le Pelletier gives as extending from 1813 to 1815. It asks no further interpretation than that afforded by the translation.
Century IV.--Quatrain 82. [I. 219.]
A troop approaches, coming through Sclavonia;
The destroyer will ruin an old city;
He will see all Romania desolated,
Nor will he know how to extinguish such a blaze.
A mass of troops is wending from Sclavonia. The destroyer, Napoleon, will ruin old Moscow altogether, and see
[paragraph continues] Roumania desolated; such a conflagration he will not know how to extinguish. It was Rostopchin, in 1812, fired Moscow to prevent the French from wintering there, and it settled the fate of the campaign.
Century II.--Quatrain 44. [I. 220.]
The eagle, drifting in her cloud of flags,
By other circling birds is beaten home.
Till war's hoarse trumpet and the clarion shrill,
Recall her senses to th' insenate dame.
This is one of the few quatrains that lend themselves freely to a poetic rendering. The Napoleonic eagle driven back to France with all its retreating flags about it, or chased by a surrounding of other eagles, Austrian, Russian, Prussian. The din of cymbals, trumpets, and clarions restore France to reason, the insensate dame.
Garencières's annotation here is extremely funny, and should not be unrecorded. He says: "It is an eagle driven from the tents by other birds, when a mad lady shall recover her senses by the noise of cymbals, trumpets, and bells."
Century X.--Quatrain 86. [I. 221.]
Like a griffin the King of Europe will come, Accompanied with those of the north. Of red and white there will be a great number, And they will go against the King of Babylon.
The King of Europe is Louis XVIII.; shall come like 2 griffin (Griffon, γρύχ γρύπος, a fabulous animal, with hooked beak: v. Liddell and Scott; v. Griffe, Noel; Griffeau, Roquefort, Littré, Gwillim, Brunet, etc.), accompanied with those of the north. He will conduct grand battalions of red and white uniforms, i.e. English and Austrian, and they will march as one against the King of Babylon, which is Paris. Louis, as the descendant of Hugh Capet, may be styled the first of European Kings. The King of Paris is Napoleon, who ruled the Revolution there, and brought order to confusion or Babel. But we can bring it home to Paris even more intimately than this, for the old name of Paris was Lutetia, or mud-place, where the toads, crapauds, or Frankish frogs dwelt, and out of whose mud, or bourbe, came the Bourbon family. So that Paris, their chief city, en calembour, yields Bourbe ville, Babyl, Babel.
Garencières thinks to see Gustavus Adolphus here as the most eminent King of Europe in his day, and he came from Aquilon, the north, and warred upon the Emperor, who was King of Babylon, from propping the popedom, or from the Babel of confusion. He had regiments red, white, blue, and yellow and green, in the hope of creating emulation amongst them. If he had only had regiments red and white we might have hesitated, and gone further to examine
where the clue would lead to. But what begins by proving too much is like other overshooting, and misses the mark entirely.
Century VI.--Quatrain 89. [I. 222.]
We have now rather laboriously cleared the way for a
Between two prisons, bound hand and foot,
With his face anointed with honey, and fed with milk,
Exposed to wasps and flies, and tormented with the love of his child,
His cupbearer will false the cup that aims at suicide.
M. le Pelletier renders this: Napoleon, after being consecrated by Pius VII., and anointed from the sacred ampulla with honey and milk, underwent a double imprisonment in Elba and St. Helena. The imperial bees--for so he translates the wasps and flies--are desolated as to their love for the child, and his surgeon, Yvan (pocillator), has falsified the death by poison, on the night of April 12 to 13, 1814. Now, as it was not his own soldiers that tormented him, I think we ought to read it faché: he was desolated by wasps, flies, his child, and love. His soldiers are called abeilles before, never guêpes; these are the enemy tormenting, who will not let him abdicate in favour of his son (φυτόν). We shall do better here to follow Garencières's example, drawn from the life of Artaxerxes, King of Persia. The Persians used to punish poisoners by laying them between two troughs, here called boats, with their face uncovered, bedaubed with honey to attract the wasps and flies, and fed them with milk to prolong the torment, which if they refused, they ran needles into their eyes most persuasively, and then left them till vermin ate them up. So that it means: he was tormented between two prisons bodily and mentally, with the ruin of his family, insomuch that he would have been glad to have escaped it all by poison. Whenever Napoleon was thoroughly frustrated in his plans, he evidently tried to fall back upon, what he had never deserved, human sympathy; which in prosperity he had never thought
of nor desired. He first showed this softening, rather of the brain than heart, at Borodino, as we have said before.
We will now take the substance of what happened at the abdication, as given by M. le Pelletier from the Manuscrit de 1814, by the Baron Faim. He abdicated [here may we say, "Woe unto him that buildeth a town with blood" (Habakkuk, ii. 12)] at Fontainebleau April 4, 1814, reserving the Regency for the Empress Marie Louise, and his son. He was thrown into despair when he found the allies to be masters of Paris, and to reject any such conditions. Baron Faim was his private secretary, and describes what occurred on the night of the 12th and 13th of April, before the day of his unconditional abdication. Fontainebleau really became a prison under the surveillance of strangers. There were no terms left to him to save even his life. Still he let the day close without yielding.
For some days previously he had seemed altogether preoccupied in revolving some design. His conversation turned always upon the voluntary death that the great men of antiquity courted when in situations such as his. The Empress had reached Orleans on her way to rejoin him, but he had given orders not to allow her to do so. He dreaded such an interview as likely to unman him for the resolution he meditated.
It was a terrible night of suspense; the long corridors of the palace resounded with the footsteps of servants going and coming, the candles were burning in the private apartments. Doctor Yvan is suddenly called upon to attend, the Duc de Vincence is sent for, and they hurry to fetch the Duc de Bassano from the Chancellory; they are all taken to the bedroom as they drop in one after another. Sobs and sighs escape, but not a word is yet dropped to satisfy curiosity. On a sudden the doctor leaves the apartment, descends
to the courtyard, finds a horse ready saddled, and quits the place at a hand-gallop.
All that transpires on the occasion is that, at the retreat from Moscow, Napoleon had provided himself with a means of escape, should he fall alive into the hands of the enemy. Yvan, his surgeon, had given him a packet of opium, which he had ever since carried round his neck. The valet heard him rise in the night, and saw through the half-opened door that he mixed something in a glass of water, drank it off, and returned to bed. He quickly felt that his end was approaching, and had his most trusted followers called to his bedside, Yvan amongst the rest; but, when he heard Napoleon complain that the action of the poison was too slow, he precipitately quitted Fontainebleau, as we have seen.
A very heavy slumber supervened, accompanied with profuse perspiration, and when he awoke the symptoms had disappeared, the dose having proved of insufficient quantity, or time had deprived it of its efficacy. Napoleon, astonished at the failure, simply exclaimed, "Dieu ne le veut pas!" and professing, perhaps for the first time in his life, to yield to Providence, resigned himself quietly to his new destiny, On board the Northumberland he strongly reprobated suicide. It would have been instructive to have heard the arguments employed by this intellectual giant, merely as a mental acrobat exhibiting, and as showing how far the intellect may be effective in illustrating the path of duty. But on nothing could Napoleon's opinion be worth so little as on a question of morals, where the soul's instinct is chief guide. The rats ate his heart, it is said, in an interim of the medical dissection. I doubt it; he had eaten it himself long before he left Brienne.
On the morning of the 13th, Napoleon rose and dressed
as usual. His objections had vanished, and his next act was to ratify the treaty--a solemn act, which he took the earliest opportunity that offered to betray and break.
Century X.--Quatrain 24. [I. 227.]
The captive prince, conquered, is sent to Elba;
He will sail across the Gulf of Genoa to Marseilles.
By a great effort of the foreign forces he is overcome,
Though he escapes the fire, his bees yield blood by the barrel.
He ran the blockade, March 1, 1815, and landed at Cannes, close to Marseilles, crossing the Gulf of Genoa, till defeated at Waterloo on the 18th of June, "seeking death," says Le Pelletier, "without being able to find it," (où il sera sauf de coups de feu). When the smoke rises from the bottomless pit, "shall men seek death and not find it; and shall desire to die, and death shall flee from them" (Rev. ix. 6). Napoleon comes out of the island Æthalia, or metallic smoke, and escapes the murderous artillery that kills his men, though it were far fitter he should die. His beehive is not burned with fire, but other liquor than honey flows freely,--the life-blood of his bees.
Century II.--Quatrain 70.
The third and fourth lines will neither of them scan. La fiere genit should be written la fier' gent, fier being read as one syllable.
Bruit, in the fourth line, is to be read as one syllable. Garencières has Brait, which, though it have no meaning, shows perhaps that it was one syllable.
The thunderbolt shall strike his standard;
He shall die speaking proud words, great is the execution.
The stone is in the tree, the proud nation yields,
The monster purges his human fame by expiation.
The thunderbolt from heaven shall strike down his standard, and he fails or dies 3 uttering haughty words. There is terrible execution done. The stone 4 is in the tree. The proud nation yields. The hero purges by expiation his human renown.
In spite of all these doubts interposed, this yields us a quatrain of a sufficiently clear sense, in conveying two leading ideas; a providential and mighty overthrow of a giant leader and braggart of swelling words; and of a proud nation split in battle, as a tree is by thunder-stroke. The forcible picture is not unworthy of Waterloo or the Battle of Mont Saint-Jean, as the French call it; even though it may not be impossible to find some other battle since the death. of Nostradamus that it might represent almost as well, if not quite so fully, as the tremendous day of Waterloo, June:
[paragraph continues] 18, 1815. Englishmen seem half afraid now to mention the day with pride, for fear of hurting French susceptibilities. To mention it insultingly, or in a hostile spirit, is unpardonable; but to speak of it modestly and thankfully, and of Wellington as a great soldier and benefactor to us, is only manly and proper. The man who has not the courage to do this firmly and inoffensively in the company of Frenchmen is only one of the many cowards amongst us, who lead the French to think that, however great things our fathers may have done in the past, the spirit has fled from us that would repeat them in the future.
Century IX.--Quatrain 86. [I. 230.]
From Bourg la Reine they shall march on Chartres,
They shall camp close to Pont Anthony:
Seven chiefs for peace, cautious as martens,
Shall enter Paris cut off from its army.
The generals of the seven nations coalesced shall, under pretext of peace, but really out of jealousy of France, says M. le Pelletier, and in virtue of the capitulation of the 3rd of July, enter Paris; now cut off from her army (clos d'armee), which retreats upon Chartres, passing by Bourg la Reine and Pont d'Anthony, where it camps. The quatrain does not at all obviously read so, but we must suppose that it is the French army which goes to Chartres. We are not, however, bound to believe that the marten-like and cunning seven only pretended to establish peace out of jealousy to France. All Europe and France herself sighed for peace;
and if, when victorious, the enemies were inclined to take back what France had robbed them of severally, that would not be very wonderful. The seven nations signatory to the treaties of 1815 were England, Austria, Prussia, Russia, Spain, Sweden, and Portugal.
This is a very remarkable forecast, and shows that although Nostradamus is a national prophet of France, and nearly all his one thousand quatrains turn upon her and her interests, he seldom exhibits a particle of partisanship, and you would not know he was a Frenchman from any word that he lets fall. He strictly limits himself to the utterance of his vision in the tersest phrase, and the most forcible words that he can bring to bear for that purpose. I think there is no other instance known of such inviolable temperance. A man sits down in his study and prophecies; commits his visions to paper in prose; turns them deliberately afterwards, and in cold blood, into the pithiest poetry he knows how; shakes up in a hat, as we have previously remarked, all the quatrains together, and, when he has effectually destroyed all sequence and order, counts them out into even hundreds; then, without a word of note or comment, he sends them forth in type into the world to sink or swim; be ridiculed or admired, be understood or mistaken, perish or endure; until such period as their fulfilment in the centuries of time is realized, and the sleeping world awakens to the miracle, that has slept also, beside the sleeping world, till light arose to make both clear qt once.
Century II.--Quatrain 67. [I. 232.]
The light-haired one will come to blows with the hooked nose
For the second time, and chase him out:
The exiled will replace him within,
Consigning the strongest of the party to a fortress in the sea.
Louis XVIII. is designated Le blond au nez fourchu according to Le Pelletier. Le blond is, no doubt, the sign of the Capets, as shown by several other stanzas in Nostradamus, but not the aquiline nose, I think; that, I believe, is intended for Napoleon. So that Louis XVIII. comes to blows with the hooked nose, or Napoleon, for the second time and drives him out; he who was exiled before now replacing him within. The strongest, that is Napoleon and his officers, are committed aux lieux marins; which either means to the English, who go down to the sea in ships, or else to St. Helena, a prison in the sea.
Century X.--Quatrain 90. [I. 233.]
Cent fois mourra le tyran inhumain;
Mis à son lieu sçavant et debonnaire:
Tout le senat sera dessous sa main,
Fasché sera par malin 3 temeraire.
The inhuman tyrant shall die a hundred times;
A learned and debonnaire King shall take his place:
All the senate shall be under his control,
And he shall be grieved by a bold criminal.
Napoleon is the inhuman tyrant to die a hundred deaths: one his suicidal attempt; another Elba, with its cinerary and fuliginous ashes; another Waterloo; and lastly St. Helena, with its ten times ten remorseful hours, regrets, and studious
falsifications of the history of his life. Debonnaire is, with Nostradamus, an epithet of the Capet family, and stands doubtless for Louis XVIII. put into his place. The King finds the Senate quite submissive to his will, but he is cut to the heart by the daring attempt of the criminal Louvel upon the Duc de Berri, February 13, 1820.
This is the excellent interpretation of M. le Pelletier. Bouys (p. 80), writing in 1806 under the full influence of the demon of Napoleon, gives it a very different reading. The inhuman tyrant with him can be nobody but Robes pierre, who, with a pistol shot, endeavoured to put an end to himself ineffectually, but blew away half his face, suffering thirty hours of fearful torment, and finally was dragged to the place of execution amidst the maledictions of the populace. The sçavant et debonnaire to Bouys is, of course, Napoleon. The malin teméraire is a forgotten Georges, whose conspiracy gave a little momentary anxiety to Napoleon. Here terminate the oracles assigned to Napoleon by A le Pelletier. But Bouys adduces several others, which sufficiently relate to the Emperor to be enumerated here. It is painful to see how men manipulate these things to suit their theories. We will give now a quatrain that Bouys cites, as he thinks it favourable to Napoleon; but he carefully omits the one next to it in the same Century, purely, as it seems, because it is unfavourable to Napoleon,
Century II.--Quatrain 29. [Bouys, 82.]
L'oriental sortira de son siège,
Passer les monts Apennons voir la Gaule:
Transpercera le ciel, les eaux et neige,
Et un chacun frappera de sa gaule.
The oriental will quit his post,
To cross the Apennines and see after Gaul: p. 278
He will transfix the heaven, the mountain ice and snows,
Striking each of them with his magic wand.
The Oriental, i.e. Napoleon in Egypt, will leave his army behind there, after almost turning Mahometan; return and cross the Apennines and Alps to look after the Directory and their doings in France. He will soon even subdue the elements and Nature by his marvellous roads over the mountains of ice and snow, and will strike each as with the rod of Moses, or the wand of a magician; for the archaic and unusual word gaule may mean that, as well as a riding switch. Bouys misses the plainer meaning of the first line, but is determined it shall represent Napoleon, so he takes Oriental to be Corsica, as being east of Toulon. The passage of Mont St. Bernard with cavalry and artillery he gives rightly enough; the Alps have to be introduced for the Apennines. The quatrain following next to this he passes sub silentio, for the reason above assigned, though it is pregnant with meaning; and how this should have been over. looked by M. le Pelletier, I cannot quite understand; but so it is.
Century II.--Quatrain 30. [II. 45.]
One whom the gods of Hannibal from the lower regions
Shall cause to be born again [shall be], a terror to mankind.
Never will more horror, nor more evil days,
Come upon the Romans. The confusion will be like that before from Babel.
Hannibal and Napoleon are the only great generals who
ever forced their military way over the Alps successfully; Hannibal, with his acetum, vinegar, or hatchet, as some have interpreted Livy; and Napoleon for cavalry and heavy pieces of artillery. He seemed to be the marvellous Carthaginian born again out of the shades of Hades, a scourge and flail of men: Babel itself not worse in the confusion that fell upon Rome, and the Church of Rome through him. We have given this before, at p. 199, but repeat it here with further enlargement, as it belongs more to Napoleon than to the Revolution. Garencières thinks it was fulfilled when Charles V. sacked Rome. If we consider, as I do, that the two stanzas are inseparable, they will fit only Napoleon.
We come now to a quatrain that M. le Pelletier has overlooked, but which Bouys (p. 83) with some reason attributes to Napoleon.
Century IV.--Quatrain 54.
Of a name that never belonged to Gallic king,
Never was there so terrible a thunderbolt.
He made Italy tremble, Spain and the English.
He wooed a foreign lady with assiduity.
Bouys introduces into his interpretation of this a good deal of foolish adulation of Napoleon; pretending that he was not only crantif towards his enemies, which we must render a cause of terror, but also that he was himself crantif,
very tender of the lives of his troops. To prove this monstrous proposition, he quotes the claptrap uttered by him before the battle of Austerlitz: "I regret to think how many of these brave fellows I shall lose. I feel for them as if veritably they were my own children. Indeed I sometimes reproach myself for this sentiment of tenderness; I sometimes fear it may end in rendering me unfit to carry on war." This was, indeed, an heroic fear, says Bouys. We are content to let its heroism wrestle with its hypocrisy; we foresee which will come by the first fall.
Garencières translates that the warrior, whoever he may be, will follow after strange women; and that would fit Napoleon, though not specially. But we think it better to render it with Bouys as indicating the Empress Josephine, who was of Creole blood, and therefore foreign; or Marie Louise, equally foreign. If the latter, Estrange would stand for Austrian (v. Century I., Quatrain 83).
Century VIII.--Quatrain 53. [I. 269.]
In Boulogne he would make up for his shortcomings,
But cannot penetrate the temple of the sun.
He hastens away to perform the very highest things.
In the hierarchy he never had an equal.
This is a singularly interesting quatrain. It has received three different interpretations; all three somewhat curious, Garencières opens the ball. He says there are two towns called Bolloin, one in Italy, one in France; that is, Bologna
in Italy, and Boulogne in France. He thinks Boulogne is intended, and that Richelieu, a man of high things, and beyond the hierarchy, vowed, a little before his death, that if he recovered he would make a pilgrimage to Boulogne; to the Temple of Miracles there, dedicated to the Virgin, here described as the Sun, from that passage in the Revelation, "And there appeared a woman clothed with the sun;" but the cardinal took the road of death, which led, not through Boulogne, to the shades below, and certainly not to the Temple of the Sun. This has an interest of its own, but, as an interpretation, is utterly wide of the mark. Richelieu on a repentant pilgrimage to the Temple of the Sun would have been admirable as a caricature in Rabelais; but, would be no fitter subject for Nostradamus's pen, than if a lady of title went to Aix-les-Bains to take the waters there. And observe, he had to invent a Temple of the Sun to send him to, for never was there such a temple at Boulogne.
We have also Le Pelletier trying his hand, and he realizes it in Louis Napoleon, in his escapade of 1840. When he was made Emperor, his Italian exploit is represented as a flight to the Temple of the Sun. But how he could suppose that inferior mortal, to be referred to in n'en fut oncq un pareil, I cannot divine.
Bouys and others attribute it to Napoleon, and his intention to descend upon England from Boulogne in the flotilla. Is there not a column there, ridiculously built to commemorate the failure? Is there not also a Boulogne medal struck (Ford's "Spain," i. 272) with one of the Napoleonic falsehoods (an endless series) imprinted on its face, which runs, "Descente en Angleterre frappé à Londres"? These are the ridiculous touches; but now let us enter on the serious interpretation and see what that will yield us.
At Boulogne the Emperor will endeavour to blot England from the map of Europe, and so redeem all his previous shortcomings in that direction. He promises himself the satisfaction of dictating his terms in London, and possibly entertained, in that strange brain of his, some dream that he would be crowned on that royalty-confirming stone of Scone in Westminster Abbey; where, tradition tells, the Temple of Apollo was shaken down by earthquake, A.D. 154, the Temple of the Sun. But Il ne pourra au temple du soleil, says Nostradamus: and history has thought fit in this as on so many other occasions to endorse the forecast of the prophet. Bouys adds, "Napoléon finira par faire la conquête de l'Angleterre;" but Bouys is not Nostradamus; and Napoleon, like Richelieu, went to the shades below from St. Helena, and did not go to the Temple of the Sun nor to the Stone of Scone. He went away, however, from Boulogne to very great things, as men count greatness; and was quite without an equal in the hierarchy of kings.
251:1 Seur = sœur.
251:2 Fatum, Latin, fate, destiny.
251:3 Duira, for conduira.
252:1 Δαν-αρχή, Princedom of Dan. The old Kings of Denmark pretended to derive from Dan, seventh son of Jacob, it is said.
252:2 Γῆς υἰόσ, son of earth. Terræfilius, giant.
252:3 Unda, wave, onde.
253:1 The title of this book is "Machiavel Commenté par Non Buonaparte," 1816, published by H. Nicolle, 12, Rue de Seine. I have a copy, but there is none in the British Museum. The Preface and the Introductory Discourse on Macchiavelli are full of ability. The translation of the "Prince" in French occupies the left-hand column of each page, and seems well done; on the right-hand column are given the emperor's annotations, p. 254 where they occur, otherwise it stands blank. They are severally initialled G., R. C., or E--General, Republican Consul, Emperor,--according to the period at which Napoleon may be supposed to have written them. Some of the remarks are clever, but perhaps scarcely show the grip of Napoleon; which, whether right or wrong, was always that of an iron vice. I now imagine it to be an ingenious forgery, but it is quite curious enough to merit further inquiry. This footnote, it will be seen, does not correspond with what I have said in the text. I wrote that under the impression that the document was genuine, and it would be just, if the book were true. But I leave it as it is, though it tells slightly against myself, as the contrast, between the first and second thoughts seems to me instructive. It shows that, let a man walk by right faith or by wrong, he must steer by the belief that is present with him.
255:1 Signum, ensign, standard, or perhaps symbol of rule or domination.
255:2 Sceptrum ferre, sceptre-bearing, reigning.
255:3 Siége, position, situation.
255:4 En séjour, permanent, durable.
255:5 Coq, the Gallic cock.
255:6 Tago, or tango, to touch or take, le Pelletier says; but it does not yield very good sense. Perhaps τάγμα, a regular body of soldiers, in Dion Cassius it stands for the Roman legion. Garencières reads here TAG à misère, "The tag to misery," and says it is wretchedness to come from p. 256 Portugal to France, Tag being the Tagus, on which Lisbon is situated. This might be interpreted well to mean the mischief arising to the empire from the successes of Wellington in the Peninsular war.
257:1 The jay, of course, is Esop's Fable of that bird, tricked out in finer feathers than its own. The elegant rendering by La Fontaine [iv. 9, Ed., 1838] of Le Geai paré des plumes du Paon had, when Nostradamus wrote, not then taken shape. The original is so accessible, that it may suffice to give here the English version.
258:1 This curious phrase manifestly points to Napoleon wearing short hair, in military fashion, as distinguished from the flowing locks of the line of Capet,--shaven as contrasted with bewigged. This is one of the many coincidences that connect the Commonwealth of England with the French repetition of it at the Revolution. Croppies, or Roundheads, distinguished the sanctimonious insurgents of the Commonwealth from the cavaliers with their flowing locks. The Tory cavaliers wore wigs; the Whigs undermined the bewigged.
258:2 Sordide should be written sordid', and teste, test', if we wish the line to scan.
258:3 Puis, for depuis.
258:4 Latin, per, pendant.
259:1 Latin, vexare, raise, inflate, according to Le Pelletier; but Facciolati gives no such meaning. "Vexed Bermoothes" gives it.
261:1 Dextera, Latin, right hand, or sword hand.
261:2 Discorde should be discord', or the line will not scan. These may be minor matters, but those who think them unimportant are not wise. It is an excellent rule in literature to let nothing remain wrong that can be set right by a little scholarship and industry. In the world it is very different; there you should never put anything right, for everything wrong has a host of latent friends, that will fight very savagely in its defence.
261:3 Cappe, for Capet, says M. le Pelletier. The texte-type gives a variation here as la Chappe. This yields no help at all, except as showing by the variant that there is something wants altering. The line will not scan as it s. I think it should be altered to le Cap. If it stands for Capet it is Masculine, and when it occurred before, in Quatrain 20 of Century IX, it was given as Esleu Cap.
262:1 These two lines furnish an hyperbaton and will be best transposed, that the great Prince will have married a woman before the divine wrath falls upon him.
262:2 This is equivalent to tout d'un coup, suddenly.
262:3 This line is too long by a foot; appuy et credit mean the same thing, and one should be omitted. The line should be corrected thus:
Et son appuy à un coup viendra mince.
264:1 Par is Latin, per, throughout.
264:2 Equals qui en.
265:1 The texte-type furnishes porter, with porte as a variant. M. le Pelletier embodies this in his text. I should replace the word that he excludes. Further, I should regard passera as being a form of the Latin patior, and the French pâtir, and therefore read pâtira. Porter pâtira will then mean suffer it to bear. Charge, for the scansion, should be charg'.
265:2 Grande should be grand', for the scansion.
265:3 Tranchera should read il tranchena.
265:4 Esclavonie is put for modern Hungary
266:1 Poussée, for repoussé.
266:2 Entour should be entour', for entouré.
266:3 Entour here is for entourage.
266:4 Cymbres, κύμβη, cymbals.
266:5 Tube, tuba, trumpet.
266:6 Sonnaillons, literally, bell-ringing, but perhaps clarion may serve.
266:7 This line cannot be scanned; we must read de l'Aquillon.
267:1 This requires, for both grammar and scansion, grande.
267:2 The E in contre must suffer elision, thus: contr'. It is right in Garencières's.
268:1 κύμβη, is a cup, usually, in Greek. M. le Pelletier gives κύμβος as a cavity or precipice. I find no such meaning as precipice. There is a great difficulty to settle the meaning here. Κύμβη means a cup, a boat, a wallet, and also, is like κύβη, the head. We should perhaps simplify the issue by confining ourselves strictly to the Latin word, Cymba, which is boat or skiff. Always a light boat, as in the Georgics, i. 136, where the little boats were made of alnos cavatas, the riverside alders hollowed out. It is rather a craft for a small lake than for the sea; as Ovid charmingly puts it:
"Non ideo debet pelago se credere, signa
Audet in exiguo ludere cymba lacu."
But, then, what sense would it yield, "a man being between two boats, tied hand and foot?" Between two abysses, M. le Pelletier interprets; but, then, we do not find that, either in Greek or Latin, the word yields that meaning. He interprets it of Elba and St. Helena. But was an island ever called an abyss; I think as seldom as ever κύμβη meant one. Hesychius gives κοίλος μυχός, a hollow recess, the penetralia of the women's apartments, and he adds also βμθός, the depth of the sea, to explain κύμβος. In Martinius's "Lexicon Etymol.," there is a very curious quotation from Isidore, Bk. 19., which makes the cymba to be the space occupied by a ship in the displacement of the water beneath it. I think out of all this we may extract a meaning for the deux cymbes. As two places, or recessed prisons, hollowed out of the sea, he shall be put, bound hand and foot. The line, to scan correctly, should have the word et left out.
268:2 Fitine, φυτόν, plant, scion, child.
268:3 Pocillator is cupbearer.
268:4 Faucer is fauser, to trick.
268:5 Scyphus, cup. There is a singular appropriateness in this word, whether intended or not by Nostradamus, for Athenaeus describes the Bœotians as first using huge silver drinking-cups, or scyphi, which were denominated Herculean, because Hercules, who was very fond of feasting, used such, and first invented the cry of "no heel taps!" ut libantes nihil in calice vini relinquerent. The reader will bear in mind the Hercules de Gaule of a former quatrain.
272:1 Itales, Ætalia, Elba.
272:2 Par mer, Gulf of Genoa.
272:3 Forains, Latin, foris, strangers.
272:4 Sauf, Latin, sabous, English, safe.
272:5 Sauf de coup de feu.
272:6 Le dard du ceil is the thunderbolt.
272:7 Latin, ferire, to strike.
272:8 Estandue is standard.
273:1 Latin, gens, nation.
273:2 Latin, monstrum, prodigy.
273:3 Morts should be read Meurt, perhaps, as referring to Napoleon, who, showed great delight, it is said, when he found that Wellington intended. to fight him. It cannot refer, as Le Pelletier would have it to do, to, the celebrated mot of Cambronne or General Michel, as it has been proved that it was never uttered at all, but manufactured by a wit après coup.
273:4 The stone is in the tree. Le Pelletier would here understand silex, the flint axe of primitive ages. This seems to me to be very far fetched., and I would rather read, with Garencières, the stone into thunderstone or aerolite, which seems to be far less forced.
274:1 Hyperbaton. the construction is feront entrée a Paris clos d'armée.
274:2 Latin, clausus, shut, cut off from the French army.
275:1 Forche, fourchu, or forked. Latin, furca, hooked.
275:2 Commettre, ellipsis for se commettre, to come to blows with any one.
275:3 Latin, per, through, or by means of.
275:4 Latin, duo, a second repetition.
276:2 Plus fors, read plus forts.
276:3 Malignus, Latin, a criminal.
278:1 Fera should be feront, I think.
278:2 Avint I take to mean avant.
278:3 Viendra for viendront.
279:1 Onque should be oncq', to scan.
279:2 Italie is the reading of the texte-type. Bouys reads Itale, and then this line will scan.
279:3 Estrangiers was probably pronounced as of two syllables only, but it is difficult to make this line scan.
280:1 Fautes, to be taken as shortcomings.