Chap, assassination of the Duke de Berri, the projected assassiIX' nation of the Cabinet Ministers in London, the attempted 18'21, insurrection in the streets of Paris, opened the ejes of all to the means by which the hoped-for change was to be effected. The alteration in the Electoral Law in France was itself an effect of this change in the public mind; for it took place in a Chamber heretofore decidedly Liberal. A similar modification had taken place in the views of the constituency, for the Royalists were now, for the first time for five years, in a majority in the arrondissements with regard to which no change had been made. It is Louvel, Thistlewood, and Riego, who stand forth as the real authors of this great reaction in Europe, and of the long stop to the progress of freedom which resulted from it—a memorable instance of the eternal truth, that no cause is in the end advanced by means at which the general mind revolts, and that none are such sufferers from the effects of crime as those for whose interest it was committed.

112 While France was thus undergoing the political throes Death of and changes consequent on its great Revolution, and the May's!0"' forcible change of the dynasty which governed it, and at the very moment when the infant prince was baptised who, it was hoped, would continue the ancient race of the Bourbon princes, that wonderful man breathed his last upon the rock of St Helena who had so long chained the destinies of the world to his chariot-wheels. Since his transference, by the unanimous determination of the allied sovereigns, to that distant and melancholy place of exile, he had alternately exhibited the grandeur of a lofty, the weaknesses of a little, and the genius of a i Hut. of highly gifted mind. He said at Fontainebleau, when he fuTxix. leave °f his faithful guards, that what "they had

§26. done together he would write;"1 and he had fulfilled the promise, in part at least, with consummate ability. It is hard to say whether his fame does not now rest Chap.

nearly as much on his sayings and thoughts recorded at

St Helena, as on all the mighty deeds which he achieved mu in Europe. Yet even here, and when his vast genius alternately revealed the secrets of the past, and pierced the depths of the future, the littlenesses of a dwarf appeared in striking contrast to the strength of a giant. He was irritable, jealous, and spiteful, not less than able, discriminating, and profound; his serenity was disturbed by his being addressed with the title of General, or attended, at a distance, by an English orderly in the course of his rides; and exaggeration, falsehood, and envy, appeared in his thoughts and writings, not less than genius, capacity, and depth. His character, as revealed by misfortune, that touchstone of the human heart, affords the most striking proof of the truth of Dr Johnson's observation, that no man ever yet raised himself from a private station to the government of mankind, in whom great and commanding qualities were not blended with littlenesses which would appear inconceivable in ordinary men.

Without doubt, it must ever be a matter of deep regret to every generous mind, and to none so much so as Reflections to the inhabitants of Great Britain, that it was necessary twuy!**^ to impose any restraint at all on the latter years of so great a man. How much more grateful would it have been to every honourable mind, to every feeling heart, to have acted to him as Xerxes did, in the first instance at least, to Themistocles, and in the spirit to which he himself appealed when he said, that he placed himself on the hearth of the "greatest, the most powerful, and the most persevering of his enemies." But there was this essential difference between the two cases—Themistocles, when he took refuge in the dominions of the great king, had not given his word and broken it. Napoleon had been treated with signal lenity and generosity when, after having

Chap, devastated Europe by his ambition, be was allowed the 1 x splendid retirement of Elba; and the only return he

mu made for it was, to invade France, overturn Louis XVIII., and cause his kingdom to be overrun by a million of armed men. He had signed the treaty of Fontainebleau, and the first thing he did was to break it.* When chained to the rock of St Helena, he was still an object of dread to the European powers; his name was more powerful than an army of a hundred and fifty thousand men; he was too great to be forgotten, too little to be trusted. Every imaginable precaution was necessary to prevent the escape of a man who had shown that he regarded the faith of treaties only till it was his interest to break them; and of whom it had been truly said by exalted genius, that "his cocked hat and great-coat, placed on a stick on the bruad. coast of Britanny, would cause Europe to run to arms from one end to another."1

Great was the sensation excited in Europe, and espeGreate'xag- cially England, by the publication of the St Helena MegarfiiTJthT moirs, and the loud and impassioned complaints made of treatment *ne aueged harsh treatment of the exiled Emperor by the of him. English authorities. They were re-echoed in Parliament by Lord Holland and the leaders of the Opposition, and even the most moderately disposed men were led to doubt the necessity of the rigid precautions which were adopted, and to regret that more generous feelings had not been shown to a fallen enemy. Time, however, has now exercised its wonted influence over these mournful

* The author is well aware of the ground alleged by the partisans of Napoleon for this infraction, viz., that the payments stipulated by the treaty had not been made by the French Government to him. But supposing that there was some foundation for this complaint, it could afford no justification for so desperate and outrageous an act as invading France, without the slightest warning or declaration of war, and overturning the Government The excessive pecuniary diificulties under which France at that period laboured, owing to the calamities in which he himself had involved and left her, were the cause of this backwardness in making some of the payments ; and the last man iu the world who had any title to complain of them was the person whose insatiable ambition had caused them all.

topics: it has demonstrated that the conduct of the Chap.

English Government towards their illustrious captive was .1X'

not only, in the circumstances, unavoidable, but highly I821, liberal and considerate; and so clearly is this demonstrated, that it is now admitted by the ablest and most impassioned of the French historians of the period.* England bore the whole brunt of the storm, because she was in the front rank, and held the Emperor in her custody; but she did not act singly in the matter—she was only the executor of the general resolutions of the Allies. These were to treat Napoleon with all the respect and consideration due to his rank, but under such precautions as should render his escape a matter of impossibility. The conduct of his partisans, to which he was no stranger, added to the necessary rigour of these precautions; for several plots were formed for his escape, and only failed of success by the vigilance of the military and naval authorities on the island. Yet, even in the presence of these difficulties, the indulgence with which he was treated was such as now to excite the surprise of the, Forsvth,s most impassioned historians of the Revolution. The ac- Nt"g>11,,0Iiat count shall be given in the words of the ablest and most in. 343,345. eloquent of their number.1

"The sum of 300,000 francs (£12,000) a-year," says Lamartine, "often added to by additional grants, was

* "Après la crise de 181 S, lorsque l'Europe, encore une fois menacée par Napoléon, crut nécessaire de prendre une mesure de précaution qui empêchât une seconde tourmente, Sainte-Hélène fut choisie commo prison d'état. Les puissances durent arrêter un système de surveillance à l'égard du prisonnier, car elles craignaient par-dessus tout le retour de Napoléon. L'Angleterre pourvut largement à ses besoins; la table seule de Napoléon coûtait à la Trésorerie 12,000 livres sterling. 11 y a quelque chose qui dépasse mes idées, quand j'examine le grandiose du caractère de Napoléon, et sa vie immense d'administration et de batailles; c'est cet esprit qui s'arrête tant à Sainte-Hélène aux petites difficultés d'étiquette. Napoléon boude si l'on s'assied en sa présenco, et si l'on ne le traite pas de Majesté, et d'Empereur; il Be drape perpétuellement: il no voit pas que la grandeur est en lui et non dans la pourpre et de vains titres. À Austerlitz, au conseil d'État, Napoléon est un monument de granit, et de bronze: à Sainte-Hélène, c'est encore un colosse, mais paré d'un costume de cour."—Capefique, JJUtoire de la Reitauratiott, vii. 209. Chap, consecrated by the English Government to the cost of IX' the table of the little court of the exiled Emperor. BerI821, trand the marshal of the palace, his wife and son; Lamartine's M. and Madame de Montholon, General Gourgaud and hUwdL. Dr O'Meara; the valet-de-chambre Marchand, Cypriani maitre-d'hotel, Pre'rion chief of office, Saint-Denys, Noverras, his usher Santini, Rousseau keeper of the plate, and a train of valets, cooks, and footmen, formed the establishment. A library, ten or twelve saddle-horses, gardens, woods, rural labours, constant and free communication at all times between the exiles, correspondence under certain regulations with Europe, receptions and audiences given to travellers who arrived in the island, and were desirous to obtain an audience of the Emperor— such were the daily amusements of Longwood. Piquets of soldiers under the command of an officer watched the circuit of the building and its environs; a camp was established at a certain distance, but out of sight of the house, so as not to offend the inmates. Napoleon and his officers were at liberty to go out on foot or on horseback from daybreak to nightfall, and to go over the whole extent of the island accompanied only by an officer at a distance, so as to prevent all attempt at escape. Such was the respectful captivity which the complaints of Napoleon and his companions in exile styled the dungeon JLamartine, and martyrdom of St Helena."1 To this it may be "'Restaur? added, that the entire establishment at St Helena was m°4i3.' kept UP by the English Government on so splendid a scale that it cost them £400,000 a-year; that champagne and burgundy were the daily beverage—the best French cookery the fare of the whole party; that the comfort and luxuries they enjoyed were equal to those of any duke in England; and that, as the house at Longwood had been inconvenient, the English Government had provided, at a cost of £40,000, a house neatly constructed of wood in London, which arrived in the

« ForrigeFortsett »