Imatges de pÓgina
PDF
EPUB

While thefe arrangements took place, preparations for executing the projects were carrying on at Paris. A counter-police was efta, blifhed; feveral news papers were taken into pay, and a correfpond ence opened with Pichegru. This ftep was followed by another, which was that of a direct negotiation with the first conful, and the minifter of foreign affairs, in order to determine the former to efpoufe the interefts of Lewis XVIII., and the fuccefs of which was far from being defpaired of, if the English minifter were fteadfaft in fpurning at every idea of peace with France. As this interview was aubors d'œuvre, an accidental circumftance arifing from the facility given by the French government to the chiefs of the infurgents to explain their fentiments, and afford them the means of coming to terms of peace and reconciliation, it is not extraordinary that the committee of Paris fhould have feized on the occafion of hazarding thefe

It is especially with Lebas (Talleyrand) that these interviews have taken place. The actual pofition of the friends (the western infurgents) is the pretence; but we have dared to go further in the converfation, and there have been objections made, to which arfwers have been given too vague and indeterminate to permit any great hope of fuccefs.

propofitions; efpecially with Talleyrand, who was accuftamed to hear and make all kinds of propo fals, and whofe delicacy, or patriotifm, they understood was not to be offended, or affected, either by the nature or extent of whatever plans or measures should be proposed. This negotiation, which was undertaken without the confent or knowledge of the London committee, met, however, but withlittle fuccefs. Talleyrand appeared to them far from indexible; but their arguments had no effect whatever on Bonapartes. It was determined, therefore, to continue, with more activity than ever, the operations which had been agreed on in London to over turn the ufurper; and, in addition to thofe which had been projected. for the fall of his predeceffors the directory, it was propofed to fend for Pichegru to Paris, from whence he was to haften to take the command, in the infurgent departments, of 15 or 18,000 Ruffian troops, who

"The great motives alleged by Talleyrand to engage the friends to come to an arrangement is, that they were going, lays he, to be entirely abandoned by the English miniftry Pitt, he afferted, had already made fome advances to the conful for a deft nitive arrangement. Hyde had the boldnes to maintain the contrary; differences, took place on this point, and it is certain that if a well conceived and very pofitive declaration on this head were made with respect to England, we thould have an inconceivable advantage with Felix (Bonaparte); for he is not blinded with refpect to the embarraffments of his fituation. Talleyrand is agreed, and we have on that part the most circumftantial details."-Letter from Hyde to the Count d'Artois. No date in the copy, except "anfwered 16th Nivote."..

"I have the honour to inform you, in the name of Dubois (De Coigny), of the refuls of our proseedings, and of thofe made by the friends (the infurgents) with Lebas and Felix (Talleyrand and Sonaparte). The firft might have finished by coming to terms for he begins tofte that there is no great folidity in the building newly conflructed; but the Lecond, binded by his position, seems to be farther off than ever from all kind of retrac¬ tationHe has explained himself in a very påfitive manner in his fecond conve fation with Pau Berry (Hyde). The further he proceeds, the more his intoxication augments; he affects that Tote (Pitt) has made h m propofitions, and that he fhall foon come to a definitive arrangement. All this is only to mislead the friends (the insurgents), whom he fecks in every mode to intimidate."

25 11.12.

4 Hous

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

were

were to be landed from the islands of Jerfey and Guernsey, where they were in garrifon.

The projected negotiation with Talleyrand and Bonaparte had given great difpleafure at London; and the committee had well conjectured, as the event proved, that fuch an undertaking could be crowned with no fuccefs "till the star of Bonaparte began to grow dim." The count d'Artois refufed, therefore, and very wifely, to fend the letter to Bonaparte which had been dictated for him, and of which the copy is among the letters already cited; the count infifted, on the contrary, on the only means of action which the experience of the revolution evinced could be attended with any fuccefs-thofe of corruption. But a greater project, and to which the London committee attached infinitely more importance, was the feizing on the port of Breft, by means of agents who were employed in that quarter. While this grand enterprife was preparing, of which the fuccefs appeared to them infallible, and which, indeed, was far from impoffible, if their means of execution be not exaggerated, the anfwer of lord Grenville to the letter of Bonaparte, refufing all negotiations for peace, except on the condition of the re-establishment of monarchy, was announced to the Paris committees.

One of the greatest obftacles to the carrying on the civil war in the infurgent departments, with decifion and vigour, was the uncertain

ty of the difpofitions of the English miniftry. The French government was thoroughly convinced that this canker, preying on the vitals, would palfy, in a greater or lefs degree, all exertions on the enemy without. Every means, therefore, of menace or feduction, on the part of the French government, was employed to fubdue or foften thofe dangerous inmates; and none had been found, in general, more effective, than the attempts which had been made to perfuade the chiefs, as well as the followers, that it was the intention of England to abandon them, and that even propofitions for a definitive arrangement had been made. That confiderable impreffion was produced on the minds of great numbers is evident from the negotiations entered into with general Hedonville; nor had the agents of the pretender, or the English miniftry, any documents fufficiently authentic to counteract the affertions, fo boldly advanced by the French government, of the little attention paid by the English miniftry to their interefts. A public declaration was therefore judged effential by the Paris committee, who had earnestly requested that the English parliament fhould be made the organ of the government in favour of the royalifts, and particularly of the infurgents. The letter of Bonaparte furnished a more favourable occasion for such a declaration; the answer of the Britifh government to the letter was precife, and formal on that head, but thefe affurances came too late*. The

"Thus, after the declaration of the English ministry, contrary to every thing that has been faid by Talleyrand to Hyde, the count d'Artois feels the greateft uneafinefs for the imprudent and dangerous fituation in which Hyde and the chevalier de Coigny have placed themselves, by endeavouring to open negotiations with individuals of fuch bad faith as Talleyrand and Bonaparte evidently are. And to convince, those two individuals, as well as France and all Europe, that the loyalty of the British minister is equal to the perfidy of the conful and his minifter, the count d'Artois has obtained from

Mr.

The activity of the French govern ment had outstripped the tardy deliberations of thefe royalift committees, which might have produced fome effect had they been earlier put into execution. When the anfwer of the British government was published in Paris, the negotiations with the infurgents, for a general pacification, were too far advanced, and lord Grenville's letter ferved no other purpofe than to furnish the most plaufible pretexts for the French government to continue the war, and excite the general indignation of the people against conditions fo humiliating. The French appeared now to be perfuaded, that the only chance left for restoring peace to their country was by making one great and more general exertion, to which their enthufiafm, fo long fubdued, feemed once more awakened; from the perfuafion that nothing was impoffible to the fortune and genius of Bonaparte.

The pacification of the weft was followed by a general fubmiffion of the mafs of royalifts throughout France; for it would be dishonouring that name to apply it to thofe fcattered bands by whom it was ftill retained, and who continued to evince their energy in the fupport of the regal caufe, by depredations on individuals who had incurred their hatred, either by holding pub

lie functions, or purchafing national domains, against whom a fort of predatory war was ftill carried on, which became rather the object of aftrong police than of the operations of an army. The chief of the Paris committee, the chevalier de Coigny, and the perfon who conducted the counter-police, were foon after arrefted, with the whole of their correfpondence. Their lives were for. feited; but they chofe rather to redeem them by ample avowals of their plans, and the denunciation of their affociates. Previoufly to this difcovery, the French government had fuppreffed the great mafs of journals, a meafure which excited murmurs, and no fmall uneafinefs, among thofe who recollected the fatal confequences which had arisen from the fame step taken by the late directory. It appeared, however, from the confeffion of thofe men, and from their correfpondence, that most of those journalists were in the pay of foreign powers, or of the royalift party; and the neceflity of this fufpenfion, and its juftice, was acknowledged as foon as the evidence was produced, that this violation of the liberty of the prefs was an arm taken from the common

enemy. Twelve political journals only were permitted to be published in Paris.

But although the restoration of

Mr. Pitt and lord Grenville, that Bonaparte's letter, and the answer made to it, fhould be printed at Paris, in order to put the royaliis in the way of knowing what are the true intentions of England with refpect to the king :-Now that these intentions are well known, no pretence can remain to the wavering or the tremblers to hold back, or - ftand neuter between the king and the enemies of the throne. I hope that the answer

of the British miniftry will appear, to the chevalier de Coigny and to Hyde, of a very different kind of importance from all the vague and infignificant declaratious which might be made in the parliament of England, and on which they fet fo infinite a value. Every thing contained in the letter of lordGrenville leaves nothing to defire with respect to the explanations demanded from the fociety in general, and from the English government in particular. The count d'Artois ha, not the fmaileft doubt but that thefe expla ..nations will produce the brit and greatest effect.

5th January, 1800. "Approved and figned, CHARLES PHILIPE, Count d'Artois." internal

1

internal tranquillity doubled as it were the force of the French government, from the acceffion of fo confiderable a part of hoftile territory to the cause of the republic; although its most formidable enemy had been foftened, if not into cordial friendfhip, at least into pofitive forbearance; the combination of foreign powers against France was yet too potent not to leave ferious apprehenfions on the minds of those who reflected on the great mats of phyfical force which yet menaced the frontier in the Auftrian armies, poffeffed of the whole of Italy except certain portions of the Ligurian republic, and the Ruffians, who ftill lingered on the confines of Switzerland, and whofe legions might be renewed and become more numerous than before. The peremptory tone of the anfwer from the English cabinet ferved alfo to confirm thofe fears; for it was naturally concluded that offers of negotiation would not have been fo .conftantly refused, and conditions of peace fo inadmiffible been propofed, had there not been a fecret affirance on the part of the British miniftry that the experience and evidence refulting from facts, which they talked of as the term of hoftility, was to have been procured by measures more ftrenuous than ever, fuch at least as a renewed coalition of the powers of Europe, and the acceffion of those who as yet had taken no part in the conteft.

But while the French nation in general were waiting fome dire difafter from thofe hoftile menaces, not only did the internal pacification take place, but at this period all incertitude ceafed refpecting the return of the Ruffian troops, who had now received pofitive orders to withdraw from Germany. The forces of the emperor and the empire were a fort of familiar and domestic ene

my, which caufed but comparatively little alarm; and the felfifl politics of the Auftrian cabinet, which aimed lefs at counter-revolution in France than acceffion of territory in Italy, were lefs ferocious than thofe of Paul, whofe ftern project was the ftatu quo, or the final annihilation of the republic. This army, which had been for three months past the object of fo many fears and hopes, to which fo much importance had been attached the foregoing year, and which it was confidently flated was about to be renewed with at least fifty thoufand men, began its retreat into Poland, in confequence of peremptory orders which reached Suwarrow about the middle of January.

Various have been the caufes ftated of this feceffion from the coalition, fuch as the quarrels which took place between the Ruffian and Auftrian commanders on the furrender of Ancona, the differences of opinion between the two imperial cabinets refpecting the object of the war;-fome more trifling arealfo recorded, but probably not lefs true. It has been often obferved that the greatest events are produced by the moft infignificant caufes; and this truth is obvious, fince the affairs of this world are directed by men, and too often by those who are the leaft capable of regulating them— men more fubject than others to the weakneffes of humanity, and under the dominion of more violent paffions and caprices, from the power which they poffefs of indulging them.

A final retreat from the coalition, however, feemed to be the fixed determination of the emperor of Rullia, notwithstanding the affurances given by the English chancellor of the exchequer that that monarch had not withdrawn himfelf from the common cause, and from

[ocr errors][ocr errors]

caufes of enmity are oftimes the moft fuperficial and trifling. The condition of peace impofed by the English miniftry-the restoration of the Bourbons-though humiliating to the nation, was not disrespectful to the individual, and found apologifts; but the attack on the character of Bonaparte was heard with furprife, fpurned with indignation, and confidered as a national infult.

from the intereft of Europe; and the infinuations, that, though he might not co-operate on the continent, his forces might be employed in maritime expeditions against the common enemy. But though Paul had at this time taken the refolution of leaving the care of reftoring focial order in Europe to his former allies, his abhorrence of French principles were not lefs manifefted than when he entered the field to oppose them. To fhow his confiftency, he published, at the time of his feceffion from the coalition, an ukafa, full of invectives and maledictions against the French, which enjoined every man who fhould receive either by the poft, or in any other mode, any gazette, or printed work whatever, to carry it immediately to the committee of cenfure, in order to be examined and ftamped, under pain of being declared and punished as a rebel.

Bona

But if the emperor of Ruffia's continental co-operation was to be lefs extenfive than the laft campaign, the emperor of Germany remained a faithful ally. parte, at the time that he tempted the British minifter to negotiation, had made the fame experiment alfo on the Auftrian cabinet. The text of this correfpondence has not been made public, but it contained propofitions of a fimilar nature to thofe fent to the Englifa cabinet, ftill more formal, however, and precife, and urged with more earneftnefs, from the greater probability of fucceeding in the negotiation, and the great importance of neutralifing fo formidable an enemy.

The certainty of the emperor's feceffion, if any thing which belonged to fo capricious and variable a character could be characterifed as certain, foftened thofe difagreeable impreffions which the minifterial fpeeches had made, where the perfonal characters of those who held the reins of power in France were held up with fo much eloquence to public animadverfion and obloquy. Thefe difcourfes, which in England were paffed over with the occafion to which they gave rife, were long remembered in France, and were refented with fo much the more indignation, as it was the general conviction that the perfonal imputations they contained were less the refult of misinformation and error, than a determined refolution to add infult to hoftility. The cabinets of ftatesmen are fuppofed to be regulated by grand and ferious confide

Prince Charles, whofe pacific in tentions were well known, was the intermediary of this correfpondence; and fo much effect was produced by the reprefentations which accompanied the confular letters, that the hefitation of the court of Vienna was officially as it were communicated to the public, who were advifed not to be hafty in their cenfures of the late changes which had taken place in France, and the new form of government adopted in that country; fince thefe events feemed to prove a return to ideas, and a mode of adminiftration the fartheft removed from revolutionary opini ons. Whether fentiments thus paci. fic, and fo diametrically oppofite rations; but the most provoking to thofe of the British ministry,

O

were

1,800.

« AnteriorContinua »