• English in Belgium; but the mi‘nisters cannot engage in a foreign “war, unless the parliament has • deliberated upon it. I have before * me all the time necessary. I shall * look to the matter of the Droits réunis, (excise) which the na*tion does not like; but I have • promised nothing. The king and ‘the princes have violated their “promises. The Bourbons, have, “perhaps, been too easy for times * like the present, yes, to govern * France requires a strong hand. I “was well in my island, but I saw “a terrible revolution about to “break out in France. I have read * all the pamphlets written against ‘me. They have diverted me • much. The king has outlawed ‘me. The king had no right to do “this. I am sovereign as well as ‘ himself, acknowledged by all the ‘powers of Europe. I am the so“vereign of the island of Elba, * who come with six hundred men • to attack the king of France and ‘ his six hundred thousand men. I • conquer his kingdom. Is not that * allowed among sovereigns!—I * have heard many complaints • about the pride of the nobility, • and much has been said to me “about the priests; I will see to all • this.-I wished to spare the evils * of a civil war to France, after the ‘ capture of Paris, and I had re“course to a ruse de guerre, which • would preserve me for my peo‘ple, and save France from dis* memberment. I have been a hun“dred times solicited by the Ita‘lians to land among them;—I an“swered them that I was content “with the island of Elba; I was • not obliged to tell them my se“crets. From Lyons, I have regu“lated every thing, I have sup“pressed the feudal nobility, and “dissolved the king's household.” The discourse of which we have

here given some few of the loose remarks, lasted for an hour and an half, and formed a medley both as to temper and matter, only to be paralleled by others from the same mouth. Although there was, in general, more of pleasantry in the tone than anger, the mayor to whom it was chiefly addressed,— from time to time with the most encouraging familiarity, was divested of his office the same evening, and we are told in the official narrative, that the emperor ordered the sub-prefect of Sémur, to be thrown into the prison at Avallon. The next morning, Friday 17th, he caused all the letters that had arrived at the post-office from Paris and other quarters to be brought to him, for the purpose of being examined. At noon, he bent his steps towards Vermanton, where he took some refreshment, and afterwards proceeded as far as Murerre, whose prefect was ready with his complimentary address, at the head of the municipal authorities. He had scarcely arrived, when he issued an order to the vicar general to present himself, with a deputation of the clergy. Menaces were found necessary to induce them to obey, and their report of the treatment which they experienced, would seem to account for their reluctance. “The priests are all factious,” said the courteous sovereign —“The peasantry detest you. You talk only of tithes.—the priests— the priests!—it is nevertheless I who made their fortune. They have not more in any part of Europe; they should have no more; the gospel prescribes self-denial.” “Go-you may retire.” These last words were accompanied with a significative movement of the foot. It was at Auxerre, that marshal Ney joined his master, after hav

[ocr errors]

ing, as the official narrative boasts, caused the tri-coloured flag to wave over the whole extent of the district, confided to him by Louis XVIII.” From JAuxerre the next stage of Bonaparte was to Joigny, and afterwards Sens, in both of which cities he sound the public authorities prepared to offer him their sincere congratulations. The size to, which his army had grown at this period, converted all the civil power into a body of devoted subjects who had constantly sighed in secret at his absence, and were impatient to satisfy their joy at his return! He reposed for some hours at Pont-sur-Yonne, from which he set out at one in the morning, and arrived at Fontainbleau, at four o'clock of the same day. We shall leave him here to cast a glance on what had been passing in Paris, from the period when the fatal news of the debarkation reached that capital. It was received by the government on Sunday the 5th March, began to transpire on the 6th, and was officially announced in the Moniteur on the 7th —at the same time that the two deliberative assemblies were convoked. By the bulk of the community and the friends of the monarch, the enterprise of Bonaparte was at first regarded rather as a subject of pleasantry than alarm. It gave rise to innumerable witticisms, and to volleys of promissory addresses from every quarter. The civil and military authorities contended emulously in a race of loyal

deputation, and were lavish of their protestations of unbounded attachment to the dynasty of the Bourbons. Yet the officers who had been in the habit of assembling daily in the coffee houses, to drink the health of their idol Le Pere Violette, the soldiery who, for six months, had constantly used this as a watch-word in their barracks, the confidants and colleagues of Bonaparte in the mighty plot, betrayed at once an arrogant satisfaction, sufficient to fill with apprehension the more sagacious observers, who reflected at the same time on the general circumstances of the country. Before the end of the week, the entry of the invader into Grenoble was proclaimed. The meteor, hitherto, but a speck as it were in the horizon, then wore an appearance fitted to shake the strongest nerves. Still the loyal addresses poured in on every side, the gazettes and journals of every description overflowed with terms of hate and indignation applied to the “ tyrant and his atrocious enter“prise;” the two chambers of Parliament passed the most vigorous and loyal resolutions; the national guard was organized, and the garrison plied with incessant exhortations, promises, and benefactions. Marshal Soult, minister at war, affected to co-operate in the preparations for defence. He published an order of the day on the eighth, in which he denounced Bonaparte as a usurfer and adventurer," but

* On the first entrance of the count D'Artois into Paris, Ney delivered an address to him in the name of all the marshals of France. It runs thus— “Your highness and his royal majesty, will see with what fidelity, and with what devotion, we can serve our legitimate king,” &c. &c.

* In his order of the day of the first of June following, the marshal does not scruple to hold this language: “All ‘the efforts of an impious league can “no longer separate the interests of a ‘great people from the hero (the em‘peror) whom the most brilliant tri‘umphs have caused the whole universe at the same time he called into the service of the king, the half-pay officers, the description of the military notoriously the most disloyal, and whom particularly, he had before, by language and measures of great harshness, exasperated in the highest degree against the royal government. When he understood that the chamber of deputies had taken umbrage at this proceeding, he tendered his resignation to the king—at a moment when, if he had wished to evince or exert fidelity, he should have, at all hazards, maintained his station. Louis at first resisted his application, but yieldcd on a repetition of the request. The duke of Feltre—General Clarke, succeeded him, and the public confidence revived with the exchange. It is necessary to have been in Paris, and studied closely the extraordinary composition and character of its population, the parties, classes, and pursuits into which it is divided, to form any idea of the aspect which it wore at this epoch;-the groupings in the streets, the assemblages in the coffee-houses, the hourly revolutions of opinion and interests, the political debates and cabals, the incredible multitude and contrariety of the rumours put in circulation. The declarations of Bonaparte, concerning the sovereignty of the people, and the re-establishment of liberty, had penetrated into the Palais Royal and the Faubourgs, and awakened into activity the hopes and designs of thousands of inveterate jacobins and revolutionary enthusiasts, whom his “imperial eagles” had, in 1806, thrown

“to admire. The struggle in which we “are about to be engaged is not above • the genius of Napoleon; Napoleon will 'guide our steps, &c.!!’

prostrate, and, as it were, benumbed in all their faculties. It was the voice of Æolus letting loose the tempestuous winds to desolate the earth. Whatever expectations may have resulted from the accounts occasionally given of advantages gained by the royal princes over Bonaparte, they were all dissipated by the return of the count d’Artois, on the 13th, from Lyons. This was the signal of general despair. The melancholy fact was too manifest, that the instruments, employed for protection, became means in the hands of the assailant; only served to accelerate, instead of retarding his progress. Every corps of the army set in array against him, took immediately the character of a reinforcement. It was too late to arm the citizens, and this expedient, if practicable, must have proved ineffectual, in opposition to veteran forces. The dispositions of the garrison were not to be mistaken, even by the most sanguine. The treason lurking in all the departments of government, assumed, at every moment, a bolder attitude. The insignia of the royal orders, and the image of the lily, rapidly disappeared to give place to the violet, and the ribbon of the legion. The general despondency was, however, lightened in some degree when the intelligence was received, that the atto mpt of Lefebvre-Desnouettes (whom the duke of Feltre, in his report to the legislative body, styles the injamous) to march upon Paris, from Cambray, had been frustrated; that the brothers, Lallemand, had been arrested at Ferté-Miton, and general Drouet at l ille. Some revelations, as to the conspiracy, were expected to be obtained, which would facilitate its disconcertion. The news from the north were altogether encouraging, and the minister of the interior announced that marshal Ney was marching upon Lyons,—the very day on which the marshal consummated his treason. Each quarter of an hour gave a new impulse to the public mind, and a new aspect to the fortunes of the country. These rapid and varying emotions were, in some sort, all concentrated, and simultaneously expressed, on Thursday, the 16th, when the king delivered his eloquent speech to the two chambers, who still declared themselves the inflexible enemies of him, whom they styled the insatiable enemy of France. On the same day, the count d’Artois reviewed the national guard, and made a solemn appeal to that, upon which he saw he had no reason to rely—the fidelity of the twelve legions assembled in Paris.

Friday, the 17th, the garrison and all the regular troops made a movement in advance, by order of count Maison. The two following days were consumed in distributing them between Paris and Fontainbleau, although no doubt remained of their immediate defection. This is evident from the conduct of the king, who, with the princes, and the royal household, abandoned his capital at one in the morning of the 20th, a few hours before the arrival of Bonaparte at Fontainbleau. At the same time, orders were transmitted, that the troops should fall back on Paris. The Swiss, alone, obeyed, and returned, unshaken, to a man, in their fidelity. At eight o'clock the tri-coloured cockade was already displayed by the regiments of the garrison. The official narrative relates that, on the approach to Paris, the emperor was mct by the whole army, which had been under

the command of the duke de Berri. Each soldier bore the tri-coloured cockade, which he had concealed in his knafisack, and all trampled under foot the white cockade. The flight of the king needs no better explanation, or justification, than this statement. Bonaparte received, at 7 o'clock in the morning, as he alleges in his narrative, information of the departure of the royal family, and set out immediately for Paris. Yet, he did not reach it until nine at night. No other motive can be assigned for this delay, than his consciousness of the spectacle of gloom and consternation which he must witness in entering by the light of day. If what marshal Soult says in his justificatory memoir, be true, as to the people at large— “that, doubtless, a great number of Frenchmen regretted their king, and beheld the new sovereign with terror,” it was eminently so as to the population of Paris. It is impossible to describe the stupor and affright with which the great majority of them were seized at the neighbourhood of the emperor, and in which they remained throughout the 20th of March, a day more memorable for its terrors and consequences, than any other, perhaps, of the revolutionary annals. For twenty-four hours the capital was without government, save, if we may so express ourselves, the influence of the general grief and dismay, which were of power to restrain the disorderly and preserve quiet. The ministers of the king had thrown up the reins of administration, and those of Bonaparte had not ventured to seize them. Lavalette, alone, had, before the dawn, usurped the functions of post-master general, dispatched the public couriers to Bo

naparte, and converted the postoffice to the service of the latter by allowing such intelligence to depart only as was favourable to the common design. About one in the afternoon, a body of half-pay officers entered Paris, with a train of artillery, which they dragged to the court yard of the Thuileries, and then hoisted the imperial flag over the palace. At their head was general Ercelmans, who, after his unmerited acquittal on the 23d January, from a charge of treason, obtained, at his own solicitation, an audience of the king, to thank him for having done justice, and to swear to him an inviolable fidelity—une sidelité à toute *fireuve!!" At nine o’clock, as we have said, Bonaparte himself arrived at the Thuileries, where he found a host of agents, ministers, dignitaries, and expectants, awaiting him on the great stair-case. When he had received their congratulations and embraces, he ascended to his apartments, and was there welcomed by the ex-queen of Holland, the firincess Julia, and the principal officers of his household, who came to share the fruits of their joint labours. To characterise this consummation properly, it is enough, perhaps, to remark, that on the 20th March, France was at fleace, and, on the 21st, at war— with all Europe. Louis XVIII. directed his footsteps from Paris to Abbeville. He arrived there at five in the after-noon, and was disposed to remain; -but the counsel of marshal Mac

* General Drouet D'Erlon, the first who gave the signal of revolt in the north of France, presided at the trial of Excelmans. This accounts sufficiently for the acquittal. Earcelmans was at the head of the advanced guard sent by Bonaparte to drive Louis out of France.

Vol, I

donald, who joined him the next day, led him immediately to Lille, where he was received with the most lively demonstrations of attachment by the inhabitants. Upon the representations of marshal Mortier, as to the insubordination of the garrison, he consented to continue his retreat to Ostend, and, finally, established himself at Ghent. On his arrival at Ostend, he learned that an order had reached marshal Mortier to arrest him and all the royal princes. An officer of the staff, charged with a dispatch of marshal Davoust, to the same effect, reached Lille, after the king had left that place. The fact is stated in the official narration of the Bourbons. It should be compared with that passage of the letter inserted in the Moniteur, of Bonaparte to count Grouchy, relative to the duke D’Angoulême— which says, “ constant in the disflositions which induced me to order that the members of the family of the Bourbons should defiart unmolested from France,” &c. The king had the satisfaction to see about him at Ghent, marshals Berthier, Victor, Marmont, Oudinot;-generals Clarke, Maison, Dessole, &c. The conduct of Macdonald, Mortier, and Gouvion St. Cyr, who firotected the retreat of the king—after their return to Paris, would seem to justify the remark of an able English writer, “that several of the marshals, apparently penetrated with devotion to their unfortunate, infirm, and well-intentioned monarch, attended him on his retirement from Paris, merely, it seems, to cajole him out of the French territory, and to take care that his cause should not be supported. The most hideous feature of France, which she has acquired under the influence of Bonaparte, is the utter

« ForrigeFortsett »