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It was in seventeen hundred and ninety-
six, on the capitulation of the Grand
Duke of Parma, that Bonaparte's novel
svstem of pillage may be said in real
earnest to have commenced. It was there,
in a manner, solemnly inaugurated as a
portion of his new scheme of warfare.
Having compelled the vanquished Parmese
government, soon after the opening of that
ever-memorable Italian campaign, to pay
down some two million francs in silver, to
furnish the victors with sixteen hundred
artillery horses, and to supply them with a
considerable store of corn and other
provisions, Napoleon, in addition to all this,
constrained the luckless Grand Duke to give up
twenty of the principal paintings in his
metropolis, the boast of his little principality.
Among these - chief pride of all - the world-
renowned Saint Jerome of Correggio.
Already several of the reigning monarchs,
had vainly endeavoured, by offering large
sums of money, to obtain this one famous
production. Bonaparte, by a single sweep
of his sword, conjured it, and with it nineteen
other pictorial prizes, into the possession of
the Republican Directory. It is amusing
to observe how the incident of this first
" haul " of the art net is recorded by the
official annalist of the Musée de Napoléon:
he introduces the circumstance by
complacently remarking that Parma might still
have preserved the Correggio but for-
what?- that liberal spirit which presided
over the Gallic conquests, " cet esprit libéral
qui présidait aux conquêtes des Français."
His unfortunate and obtuse highness, the
sovereign Prince of Parma, not
appreciating sufficiently the magnanimity of
this liberal spirit of his conqueror,
offered to disburse another round million in
compensation to France, upon the simple
understanding that this Saint Jerome
still remained in its owner's possession.
" Mais un grand homme," exclaims the
annalist aforesaid, with quite a patriotic glow
in his words, " est supérieur aux cousidératious
pécuniaires " - meaning literally that
the later Hannibal took no more hard cash
from the Parmese treasury than the amount
he happened just then to require. So the
Correggio passed over, with the nineteen
other paintings, from the vanquished to the
vanquishers. Never - ejaculates the imperial
scribe naively when relating the occurrence
- never did heroism render nobler tribute to
arts and to national disinterestedness, "Jamais
I'héroisme ne rendit un plus noble
hommage aux arts et au désintéressement
national." Adding, that when the beloved Correggio
had actually taken its departure from
his dominions, the Grand Duke resolved never
again to enter the apartment where the pride
of his palace had hitherto been suspended,
and whither he himself had so often gone to
admire it in the happy days when young
General Bonaparte had not yet won the
opportunity to try his knack at conquering.
The resolution, we are told, was confirmed
by an oath, and the oath, we are next coolly
informed by this drily humorous historian
was kept by the Grand Duke (poor fellow!)
religiously. Our comical friend, being,
in truth, no other person than Monsieur
Antoine Michel Filhol, graveur et éditeur du
Musée Royal de France, as afterwards, of
course, right loyally, du Musée Impérial. A
magnificent testimony of whose skill, in which
capacity survives to this day in the ten
superb volumes published under his direction,
between eighteen hundred and four and
eighteen hundred and fifteen, under the title
of the Gallerie de Napoléon. Volumes comprising
within them, besides the explanatory
letterpress descriptions, from seven hundred
to eight hundred exquisite copperplate
engravings taken from the pick of the glorious
paintings and statuary in that truly sumptuous
collection. A gathering together of the
art triumphs of the world, here frankly
described by our amiable Filhol as the
"enormous collection of pictures from Italy (and
elsewhere), and of which France owes the
possession to the memorable victories of his
Majesty the Emperor and King, " l'immense
collection de tableaux apportés d'ltalie, et
dont la France doit la possession aux
mémorables victoires de Sa Majesté l'Empéreur et
Roi: " for which candid and accurate definition,
you have only to turn to the soixantedix-septième
livraison of Monsieur Filhol's
costly publication.
Unfortunately for the glory of the Louvre,
and for the pride of France, there came
at last, upon the second entrance of the
Allies into Paris, the terrible day of reckoning.
Talleyrand still clinging tenaciously in
eighteen hundred and fifteen to the ministry
for Foreign Affairs - it muttering little or
nothing, at any moment, to Mouseigneur le
Prince who chanced then to be the
sovereignty - ineffectually strove at that crisis to
preserve to France under the regal Bourbon
the works of art obtained for her under the
imperial Bonaparte. Talleyrand enforced his
appeal by an earnest reference to that
particular article in the capitulation of Paris
which distinctly provided for the preservation
of public and private property, if not of a
strictly military description. So vain,
however, was this momentary interposition, that
with as little delay as possible the despoiler
was, there and then, in turn, summarily
despoiled. The art treasures of Europe being
forthwith transmitted each to its original
destination - the soldiers of Britain and Prussia
bivouacking night and day in the Place du
Carrousel during the interval occupied in
their removal. A painful incident it was
felt to be - poignantly and undisguisedly-
among our gallant neighbours. And no
wonder: for even Monsieur de Lamartine
has remarked explicitly in reference to it, in
the thirtieth book of his History of the