« AnteriorContinua »
tional domains, as annuities equal either to one third of the revenues of the alienated property, valued as in 1790, or more simply by an annuity of two and a half per cent. on the value of the lands. The limitation of the claim to one-third of its original extent, was to put the emigrants on a footing with other creditors of France, to whom she had only paid that composition on their full claims.
The great and obvious difficulty in the existing state of France, was, to find funds for paying these annuities, or indemnities, which he computed might amount to twelve millions of livres, (or L.500,000 sterling) yearly. This difficulty Marshal Macdonald left unsolved, and contented himself with referring generally to the sum of thirty millions, (being a third part of the produce of the duties, on registering sales of land) as the assured pledge of the indemnities. This was a branch of revenue, he observed, which was on the eve of being ruined by the discredit cast upon property of this nature; whereas by satisfying the claim of the emigrants, and putting them to rest for ever, security would be restored to the actual proprietors, sales and transferences would multiply more than ever, and the income arising from the registration of these transactions would be not only preserved to the state, but greatly increased. There therefere was a fund for defraying the expence of the proposed plan, which, without some such measures were carried into effect, would soon cease to make part of the income of the state.
The Marshal concluded with adverting to the pensions of the military, which, having been charged upon funds payable from conquered countries which had now been regained from France, had not been paid since the Russian campaign. He drew a picture of the misery to which the veteran soldiers, pensioners of the
state, were reduced, by the disconti nuance of their endowments, which they had bought with their blood in a thousand battles. France, he said, would require only to expend three millions of livres more to acquit herself of this sacred debt.
Marshal Macdonald might have several motives for uniting in the same proposal, the indemnities of the veteran soldiers with those of the emigrant nobles. He might think it became his rank in the army, to shew that, in recommending the claims of the emigrants to consideration, he had not forgot those of his unfortunate bre threnin arms; or perhaps, that treating both parties as if their claims were on a parity, might have some effect in extinguishing their natural hatred and jealousy of each other. But this union of two subjects, not very naturally connected, in the same motion, gave rise to a singular misconception, or rather wilful misrepresentation, in the Journal de Paris. The Marshal's speech, as reported in that paper, was made to conclude "with a declaration in the name of the French armies, that in order to give the emigrants deprived of property a mark of cons deration and interest, the armies had resolved to form a fund of twelve millions out of their pay from generals down to the soldiers."
As nothing could be more improbable than that the army should voluntarily assess themselves, to form a fund for the subsistence of the despoiled emigrants, a class of men with whom of all others they had the least sympathy, so nothing could be calculated to make a worse impression on the minds and tempers of the soldiers, than the idea that such a measure was proposed to be carried into execution at their expence. Government endeavoured to repair the mischief, by an exertion of arbitrary authority, and suppressed the publication of the offending journal.
for publishing falsehood, or for promulgating truths, which the government did not desire should be made known. And as the greater part of mankind are disposed to believe the very worst of their rulers, the false report spread by the Journal de Paris obtained some credit from the very means used to suppress it. Thus does arbitrary power often ever-shoot its own object of aim.
The punishment was not undeserved, for it seems impossible that a misrepresentation so gross, and so hazardous in its consequences, could flow from any thing but premeditated malice. But if, as would have been the case in England, the printer had been called to account for breach of privilege, and his defence heard, the malicious report would have experienced a complete refutation in the public discussion which must have taken place. As it was managed in France, the arbitrary suppression of the paper became the principal feature in the case, and served only to show that free discussion, on the part of the French press, was at an end, leaving the public uncertain whether the journal had been suppressed
To conclude this chapter with the same metaphor which commenced it, the throne of France was situated on the crest of a volcano, firm indeed in outward appearance, but with torrents of lava boiling beneath, and deceitful ashes for its sole foundation.
Leaders of the Jacobins.-Carnot-His History-His Memorial against the Bourbons.-Fouché-His Share in the Massacres of the Revolution-His Conduct on the King's Restoration.-Intrigues and Misrepresentations of the Disaffected under these Leaders.-Warlike Preparations in FranceNational Dislike to the English.-Duke of Wellington's Residence in Paris. -Policy of Talleyrand at the Congress.-He endeavours to direct the Resentment of the Allies against Bernadotte-Against Murat.-Arrest of Lord Oxford, and Seizure of his Papers.-Affair of General Excelman.— His Petition to the Chamber of Deputies-That of General Grissoles.-Exselman is tried by a Court Martial, and acquitted.-Insubordination of the Army-Life of Napoleon at Elba-His Conversations with his Visitors. His Character begins to be more favourably considered.-Arts of his Emissaries to fix the public Mind of France upon him.-His Correspondence with Murat-With France.-Females engaged in the Plot.-Organization of the Conspiracy.-Imperfect State of the Parisian Police.-Correspondence with Elba maintained through the Royal Post-Office.-Every thing is prepared for the bursting forth of the Conspiracy.
AMONG the intriguers by whose machinations the Bourbon dynasty was endangered, two leaders of the jacobin party were chiefly remarkable. Both were distinguished by audacity, activity, and talents, as well as by an experimental knowledge of the revolutionary springs, and of the complicated movements on which their efficiency depends; but Carnot was esteemed a staunch unyielding republican; Fouché, a statesman capable of temporizing and accommodating his service to the party which was uppermost. In the various and flitting scenes of the French Re. volution, each had played important parts; and as we are not among those who think a politician can change his nature, as a stage-player does his clothes with every new character in which he is called upon to appear, we will briefly recal to the mind of our readers what these parts were.
Carnot was the associate and colleague of Robespierre during the whole of that monster's reign. His admirers pretend, that charging himself only with the conduct of the foreign war, he left to his brethren of the committee of public safety the sole charge of those measures, for which no human language affords epithets of sufficient horror, through which they originally rose to power, and by which they maintained it. According to these fond advocates, their hero, held his course through the reign of terror unsullied by a bloody spot, as Arethusa rolled her waters through the ocean without mingling with its waves! and the faith of most readers will swallow the ancient miracle as easily as the modern. That Carnot voted for the murder of one of the most well meaning and guiltless monarchs that ever reigned, will by his favourers be con
sidered rather as matter of praise; and we have heard him lauded, because, after the fall of Robespierre, which he aided to accomplish so soon as he saw that the fate of Danton impended over his own head, he had exerted himself with the successful party to prevent re-action, a cant expression, which, in that case, meant to secure from condign punishment some of the most blood-thir-ty wretches who ever polluted the face of a land. Carnot was condemned to transporta tion on the ephemeral supremacy obtained by the Directory on the revolution of the 18th Fructidor, and restored by that of the 18th Brumaire. He was then created minister of war, and tribune; and let us not refuse him the praise, that when he perceived the ambitious views of Buonaparte, he resigned his offices, inscribed his vote against the Corsican's being created consul for life, and against his subsequent assumption of the imperial dignity, and retired to a voluntary exile at a time when Napoleon would have doubtless been glad to purchase his acknowledged talents at no low rate. From this period he led the life of a private citizen until the campaign of 1814, when, not without an insult which the times rendered perfectly safe, he offered Buonaparte his services for the defence of Antwerp, the events of which we have mentioned in our last volume. He gave in his adhe sion late and reluctantly to the Bourbon dynasty, and was restored to, or confirmed in, the rank of inspector-ge neral of the engineers.
was soon evident that Carnot had apprehensions for freedom during the mild and even feeble government of Louis XVIII., which had never stirred him into action under that of Buonaparte, under whom he lived a peaceful, if a reluctant subject. To ulcerate the wounds of the state, to inflame the giddy and headlong passions of the factious, which might otherwise have become gradually less violent, was a work worthy of the colleague of Robespierre, who, if his secret motives might be guessed, would have submitted to any species of government in preference to beholding on the throne of France a family whom he had most cruelly wronged, and under whose government decency forbade him to hope for more than safety and protection. It is thus that, in the commencement of civil commotion, men take up arms for principles, but seldom have long stood in opposition to each other, ere private interests and personal preju. dices are substituted for the public reasons of quarrel, and partizans turn their back without hesitation on the cause they have espoused, that they may still point their swords against the throats of those whom they consider as their personal antagonists.
The name of Carnot, and his high talents, weil shewn in the management of the wars of the republic, combined with the character he had acquired for independence by deserting Buonaparte in his rising, and adhering to him in his falling state, gave great weight to the opinions he expressed upon the state of public affairs under the Bourbons. They were embodied in a Memorial made public in the month of December, 1814, in which every fault committed by the restored family is exaggerated; and they, with the nobles, their personal adherents,
He who declares his solemn submission to a form of government, more especially who accepts rank of any kind from its favour, must, in honour and good faith, be considered as binding himself at least to abstain from conspiring its downfall; but it
* See Moniteur, 16th April, 1814:
veil of assumed respect towards the
are, under a thin and contemptuous The doctrine of regicide is said to