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BARON ANTOINE HENRI JOMINI (1779-1869)

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Originally appearing in Volume V15, Page 496 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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BARON ANTOINE HENRI JOMINI (1779-1869), general in the French and afterwards in the Russian service, and one of the most celebrated writers on the art of war, was born on the6th of March 1779 at Payerne in the canton of Vaud, Switzerland, where his father was syndic. His youthful preference for a military life was disappointed by the dissolution of the Swiss regiments of France at the Revolution. For some time he was a clerk in a Paris banking-house, until the outbreak of the Swiss revolution. At the age of nineteen he was appointed to a post on the Swiss headquarters staff, and when scarcely twenty-one to the command of a battalion. At the peace of Luneville in r8or he returned to business life in Paris, but devoted himself chiefly to preparing the celebrated Traite des grandes operations militaires, which was published in 1804-1805. Introduced to Marahal Ney, he served in the campaign of Austerlitz as a volunteer aide-de-camp on Ney's personal staff. In December 1805 Napoleon, being much impressed by a chapter in Jomini's treatise, made him a colonel in the French service. Ney thereupon made him his principal aide-de-camp. In 1896 Jomini published his views as to the conduct of the impending war with Prussia, and this, along with his knowledge of Frederick the Great's campaigns, which he had described in the Traite, led Napoleon to attach him to his own headquarters. He was present with Napoleon at the battle of Jena, and at Eylau won the cross of the Legion of Honour. After the peace of Tilsit he was made chief of the staff to Ney, and created a baron. In the Spanish campaign of 1808 his advice was often of the highest value to the marshal, but Jomini quarrelled with his chief, and was left almost at the mercy of his numerous enemies, especially Berthier, the emperor's chief of staff. Overtures had been made to him, as early as 1807, to enter the Russian service, but Napoleon, hearing of his intention to leave the French army, compelled him to remain in the service with the rank of general of brigade. For some years thereafter Jomini held both a French and a Russian commission, with the consent of both sovereigns. But when war between France and Russia broke out, he was. in a difficult position, which he ended by taking a command on the line of communication. He was thus engaged when the retreat from Moscow and the uprising of Prussia transferred the seat of war to central Germany. He promptly rejoined Ney, took part in the battle of Liitzen and, as chief of the staff of Ney's group of corps, rendered distinguished services before and at the battle of Bautzen, and was recommended for the rank of general of division. Berthier, however, not only erased Jomini's name from the list, but put him under arrest and censured him in army orders for failing to supply certain returns that had been called for. How far Jomini was held responsible for certain misunderstandings which prevented the attainment of all the results hoped for from Ney's attack (see BAUTZEN) there is no means of knowing. But the pretext for censure was trivial and baseless, and during the armistice Jomini did as he had intended to do in 1809-10, and went into the Russian service. As things then were, this was tantamount to deserting to the enemy, and so it was regarded by Napoleon and by the French army, and by not a few of his new comrades. It must be observed, in Jomini's defence, that he had for years held a dormant commission in the Russian army, that he had declined to take part in the invasion of Russia in 1812, and that he was a Swiss and not a Frenchman. His patriotism was indeed unquestioned, and he withdrew from the Allied Army in 1814 when he found that he could not prevent the violation of Swiss neutrality. Apart from love of his own country, the desire to study, to teach and to practise the art of war was his ruling motive. At the critical moment of the battle of Eylau he exclaimed, " If I were the Russian commander for two hours !" On joining the allies he received the rank of lieutenant-general and the appointment of aide-de-camp from the tsar, and rendered important assistance during the German campaign, though the charge that he betrayed the numbers, positions and intentions of the French to the enemy was later acknowledged by Napoleon to be without foundation. He declined as a Swiss patriot and as a French officer to take part in the passage of the Rhine at Basel and the subsequent invasion of France. In 1815 he was with the emperor Alexander in Paris, and attempted in vain to save the life of his old commander Ney. This almost cost him his position in the Russian service, but he succeeded in making head against his enemies, and took part in the congress of Vienna. Resuming, after a period of several years of retirement and literary work, his post in the Russian army, he was about 1823 made a full general, and thenceforward until his retirement in 1829 he was principally employed in the military education of the tsarevich Nicholas (afterwards emperor) and in the organization of the Russian staff college, which was opened in 1832 and still bears its original name of the Nicholas academy. In 1828 he was employed in the field in the Russo-Turkish War, and at the siege of Varna he was given the grand cordon of the Alexander order. This was his last active service. In 1829 he settled at Brussels where he chiefly lived for the next thirty years. In 18J3, after trying without success to bring about a political understanding between France and Russia, Jomini was called to St Petersburg to act as a military adviser to the tsar during the Crimean War. He returned to Brussels on the conclusion of peace in 1856 and some years afterwards settled at Passy near Paris. He was busily employed up to the end of his life in writing treatises, pamphlets and open letters on subjects of military art and history, and in 1859 he was asked by Napoleon III. to furnish a plan of campaign in the Italian War. One of his last essays dealt with the war of 1866 and the influence of the breech-loading rifle, and he died at Passy on the 24th of March 1869 only a year before the Franco-German War. Thus one of the earliest of the great military theorists lived to speculate on the tactics of the present day. Jonah, but how different a man is he ! It is, however, the later Jonah who chiefly interests us. New problems have arisen out of the book which relates to him, but here we can only attempt to consider what, in a certain sense, may be called the surface meaning of the text. This, then is what we appear to be told. The prophet Jonah is summoned to go to Nineveh, a great and wicked city (cf. 4 Esdras ii. 8, 9), and prophesy against it. Jonah, however, is afraid (iv. 2) that the Ninevites may repent, so, instead of going to Nineveh, he proceeds to Joppa, and takes his passage in a ship bound for Tarshish. But soon a storm arises, and, supplication to the gods failing, the sailors cast lots to discover the guilty man who has brought this great trouble. The lot falls on Jonah, who has been roughly awakened by the captain, and when questioned frankly owns that he is a Hebrew and a worshipper of the divine creator Yahweh, from whom he has sought to flee (as if He were only the god of Canaan). Jonah advises the sailors to throw him into the sea. This, after praying to Yahweh, they actually do; at once the sea becomes calm and they sacrifice to Yahweh. Meantime God has " appointed a great fish " which swallows up Jonah. Three days and three nights he is in the fish's belly, till, at a word from Yahweh, it vomits Jonah on to the dry ground. Again Jonah receives the divine call. This time he obeys. After delivering his message to Nineveh he makes himself a booth outside the walls and waits in vain for the destruction of the city (probably iv. 5 is misplaced and should stand after iii. 4). Thereupon Jonah beseeches Yahweh to take away his worthless life. As an answer Yahweh " appoints " a small quickly-growing tree with large leaves (the castor-oil plant) to come up over the angry prophet and shelter him from the sun. But the next day the beneficent tree perishes by God's " appointment " from a worm-bite. Once more God " appoints " something; it is the east wind, which, together with the fierce heat, brings Jonah again to desperation. The close is fine, and reminds us of Job. God himself gives short-sighted man a lesson. Jonah has pitied the tree, and should not God have pity on so great a city? Two results of criticism are widely accepted. One relates to the psalm in ch. ii., which has been transferred from some other place; it is in fact an anticipatory thanksgiving for the deliverance of Israel, mostly composed of phrases from other psalms. The other is that the narrative before us is not historical but an imaginative story (such as was called a Midrash) based upon Biblical data and tending to edification. It is, however, a story of high type. The narrator considered that Israel had to be a prophet to the " nations" at large, that Israel had, like Jonah, neglected its duty and for its punishment was " swallowed up " in foreign lands. God had watched over His people and prepared its choicer members to fulfil His purpose. This company of faithful but not always sufficiently charitable men represented their people, so that it might be said that Israel itself (the second Isaiah's " Servant of Yahweh "—see ISAIAH) had taken up its duty, but in an ungenial spirit which grieved the All-merciful One. The book, which is post-exilic, may therefore be grouped with another Midrash, the Book of Ruth, which also appears to represent a current of thought opposed to the exclusive spirit of Jewish legalism. Some critics, however, think that the key of symbolism needs to be supplemented by that of mythology. The " great fish " especially has a very mythological appearance. The Babylonian dragon myth (see COSMOGONY) is often alluded to in the Old Testament, e.g. in Jer. IL 44, which, as the present writer long since pointed out, may supply the missing link between Jonah i. 17 and the original myth. For the " great fish " is ultimately Tiamat, the dragon of chaos, represented historically by Nebuchadrezzar, by whom for a time God permitted or " appointed " Israel to be swallowed up. For further details see T. K. Cheyne, Ency. Bib., " Jonah "; and his article " Jonah, a Study in Jewish Folklore and Religion," Theological Review (1877), pp. 211–219. Konig, Hastings's Diet. Bible, " Jonah," is full but not lucid; C. H. H. Wright, Biblical Studies (1886) argues ably for the symbolic theory. Against Cheyne, see Marti's work on the Minor Prophets (1894) ; the " great fish " Amongst his numerous works the principal, besides the Traite, are: Histoire critique et militaire des campagnes de la Revolution (1806; new ed. 1819–1824); Vie politique et militaire de Napoleon racontee par lui-me"me (1827) and, perhaps the best known of all his publications, the theoretical Precis de l'art de la guerre (1836). See Ferdinand Lecomte, Le General Jomini, sa vie et ses ecrits (1861; new ed. 1888) ; C. A. Saint-Beuve, Le General Jomini (1869) ; A. Pascal, Observations historiques sur la vie, &c., du general Jomini (1842).
End of Article: BARON ANTOINE HENRI JOMINI (1779-1869)
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