Summary (Masterplots, Fourth Edition)
The Spirit of Years, Shade of Earth, Spirit Sinister, Spirit Ironic, Spirit of Pities, and their accompanying choruses forgather somewhere above the earth to watch the larger movements of humans in western Europe in 1805. The design of the Immanent Will manifests itself at the time in Napoleon’s preparations for the invasion of England.
In England, Sir William Pitt contends with isolationist members of Parliament to secure proper defense against the invasion, while Napoleon goes to Milan to be crowned king of Italy. The spirits make light of the chicanery and pomp that attends the coronation. The Spirit of Pities descends to earth and disturbs Napoleon by reminding him of his original intention to champion liberty.
At sea, a Pyrrhic victory of the French and Spanish over the English prevents the support required for the planned invasion. On the south coast of England, the Phantoms of Rumor cause great disturbance. A fleet of fishing craft is mistaken for the invasion fleet, and civilians flee from the coastal towns as signal fires flare upon the cliffs and hills.
When Napoleon learns that his admiral, Villeneuve, has returned to Cadiz, he discards his invasion plan and moves eastward against Austria and Russia, countries that Pitt enlisted in the English cause. The Spirit of Years remarks that the ensuing campaign will be a model in tactics for all time. At Ulm, Napoleon defeats the Austrians, who hoped that the English fleet...
(The entire section is 1163 words.)
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