Last Days of Napoleon at St. Helena by Vincenzo vela
Last Days of Napoleon at St. Helena by Vincenzo Vela Versailles

LAST DAYS OF NAPOLEON AT ST. HELENA VERSAILLES By Vincenzo Vela — It is not merely the dying Napoleon whom we here behold — it is the Exile, the dethroned Emperor, the heart-broken Captive, forgotten by those whom he had raised from the dust and made illustrious, abandoned by his Austrian wile, deprived of any communication with his idolized child, and stung by daily provocations from his English jailer. The grand Napoleonic head is here, which always shows so admirably in marble. The forehead is the same as that which wore the coronet of France and the iron crown of Charlemagne, but his temples are sunken and his cavernous eyes seem gazing down the vista of the years of captivity to the time when he was master of Europe and made or unmade kings at will. In his lap is the out-spread map of Europe, upon which rests his nerveless hand. That hand once carved out kingdoms there. It is now powerless to trace his name! Surely this statue (true to life and history) tells us that if Napoleon greatly sinned, he suffered correspondingly. To rise from the position of an obscure lieutenant of artillery to be the conqueror of half of Europe and sovereign of France and Italy; to place his family on the thrones of Holland, Spain, Naples and Westphalia, to equal Caesar in his victories, to wed a daughter of the Austrian Emperor, to plan to have his son succeed him in his glorious dynasty, and then to lose it all and linger on, chained like Prometheus to a barren rock, his heart continually gnawed by the implacable vulture of Regret — what tragedy has the world beheld to equal it? Better to fall like the first Caesar ’neath the daggers of conspirators, than die by inches on a seagirt cliff, as did the Caesar of the Nineteenth Century. (from John L. Stoddard, Glimpses of the world; a portfolio of photographs of the marvelous works of God and man – 1892)


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