Imatges de pÓgina

sumed a tone unusually rancorous. In theatres and public places every scurrilous reflection and conmonplace satire on English customs was applied personally to our countrymen who chanced to be present, by an audience calling themselves the most civilized in the civilized world.

It was unreasonably argued, that the British government had excited, or at least aggravated, this irritation, by sending the Duke of Wellington, on whom no Frenchman could look without feelings of national humiliation, to be the resident ambassador of his Majesty at the court of France. But, not to mention that no such effects were to be apprehended, from the unbounded applause with which Paris had at first received the British general, we see no reason that our country should have lost the advantage of the duke's diplomatic talents, in deference to the unreasonable sensibility of the French, to which perhaps but too much respect had been paid in other respects. It is generally known, that Wellington, like Marlborough, (the only name in British history which approaches his own) has been as successful in treaties as in battles. Not that he possesses the winning address of Churchill, which almost gained the iron heart of Charles of Sweden; but because, open, manly, and decisive, in the cabinet as in the field, he has substituted strong reason and plain sense for artifice and finesse, and carried his point in political discussion, as in war, by marching straight up to it. He had claims upon the gratitude of many of the French generals, from his active interference with Louis in their behalf; and if his presence at Paris was disagreeable to the French, it was only because they hated in him the representative, as he had been the sustainer, of the honour of his country.

France, by the intrigues, and even open declaration of Talleyrand, her minister at the Congress, held a course hostile to Britain, and endeavoured by various means to force upon the Congress the revisal, or rather alteration, of the maritime law of nations, in hopes of arriving at the establishment of the long desiderated principle, that free bottoms make free goods. With what plausibility such a discussion could be proposed, or how it was expected that England, triumphant, and over whom not one of the powers whose plenipotentiaries were assembled in Congress, could pretend to exercise a coercive influ ence, should yield rights to which she had adhered as her palladium in the darkest hour of her history, it is not for us to conjecture. The attempt was probably made to shew, that the heads of the Bourbons were entirely French at heart, and free from any partiality in favour of England; or perhaps they gave way to the ebullition of national feeling, as a timid horseman contents himself with an attempt to guide the run-away steed, whose course he cannot check.

Other intrigues of France at the Congress were more consistent with the interests, or at least the feelings, of the royal family. An attempt was made to instigate the other powers against Bernadotte and Murat, whose authority in Sweden and Naples emanated originally from that of Buonaparte, and shared his taint of usurpation. Bernadotte lay distant from France, and had besides, in the campaign of 1813, deserved well of the European league. The merits of Murat were more questionable, and there were hopes of embittering against him Austria, always jealous of her Italian possessions. Various documents were exhibited to the Duke of Wellington, as tending to establish that King Joachim had play

ed a double part during the Italian campaign of 1814, and continued to maintain an under-hand correspondence with Buonaparte. But, in the Duke of Wellington's opinion, these documents failed to make out the case founded upon them. They indicated, he allowed, that Murat acted with reluctance against his brother-in-law; but did not imply his being untrue to the allies. The repulse of the British minister did not prevent the Bourbons from assuming an hostile attitude towards Joachim. His name was not permitted to appear as King of Naples in the Royal Almanack of France, a trifle in itself, but one of those trifles which are important among sovereigns. A proclamation of Louis recalled all Frenchmen, civil and military, from the service of Murat, and numbers left Naples in consequence. This was a measure decidedly hostile. Talleyrand, instigated, it is said, partly by personal resentment for the loss of his principality of Beneventum, the revenues of which had been confiscated by Murat, urged his ruin by every art of persuasion, and we shall presently see that the versatile imprudence of Joachim himself precipitated his catastrophe.

In the mean while, Murat was not without friends and abettors in France, as appeared from a remarkable incident, peculiarly illustrative of the discontent of the army, and the weakness of the government. Lord Oxford, with his lady, had resided for some time in the court of King Joachim, where they were treated with the distinction which their rank required. His lordship, leaving his family at Naples, had proceeded to England apparently on important business, where he demanded and obtained from the Prince Regent an audience, in his capacity of a peer of the realm, in which his lordship is supposed to have reclaimed the protection

of the British government in behalf of his royal friend of Naples. It is probable that Lord Oxford received no other answer than is usually given at a compulsory audience. But his lordship, however, directed his course again to Naples, as a mediator, who returned to give an account of his mission, and he took Paris in his road. Those to whom the noble earl is known will not suspect him of hatching or abetting high treason, and the British public therefore learned with surprize, that his lordship had been arrested by the French police at a stage beyond Paris, called Ville Juif, and compelled to deliver up his papers, from which was taken by the commissary of police a quantity of letters addressed to different persons at Naples, and elsewhere beyond the bounds of France. This violence was slightly covered by the intimation, that his lordship had no title to diminish the revenue of the French post-office by taking so voluminous a correspondence under his charge; and with this supercilious explanation the commissary acquainted his lordship he might proceed on his journey. Lord Oxford chose rather to return to Paris, and carry his complaint to the Duke of Wellington. Apparently the French government alleged serious grounds for this strong measure against a British nobleman; for the explanations which were given were satisfactory to the British ambassador, and the letters were not returned to Lord Oxford, or any apology made for the manner in which he had been treated. Extraordinary precautions were adopted for the satety of the Tuilleries, as if some extraordinary conspiracy had been discovered; the gates of the gardens, and of the Place de Carousel, were shut at an unusually early hour; ballcartridges were served out to the guards of the palace, and an air of

apprehension, real or assumed, characterized all the movements of the government. About the same time, General Maison published an order for the regular observance of the patroles of Paris, which breathed a spirit of greater apprehension of insurrection than the king had yet manifested. This intercepted packet is also supposed to have given rise to the arrest of General Dufour and others; but no case was completely canvassed before the public, excepting that of Count Excelman.

This officer, long colonel of the first regiment of the chasseurs-à-cheval, had been created by Buonaparte a general of division and count of the empire, and now resided at Paris as inspector-general of the first division. It appears, that among the letters of which Lord Oxford condescended to be the bearer, was one from General Excelman to Murat, expressive of his own devoted attachment, and assuring him, "that thousands of brave officers, formed in his school, and under his eye, would have been ready at his call, had matters not taken a turn in his favour." Dupont, then minister at war, contented him self with admonishing General Excelman to be more cautious in his correspondence in future; but his successor Soult, affecting greater rigour, placed the general on half-pay, and ordered him to retire to Bar-surOrnain, which he named as the place where he was in future to receive it. Excelman alleged the situation of his wife, then on the eve of being confined, as an excuse for delaying his departure, and entered into farther expostulations, which terminated in his formal refusal to obey the order for leaving Paris, and in his escape from the officers sent to arrest him, in consequence of his disobedience. While thus in open resistance to the authority, which, as a soldier, he was

bound to acknowledge, Excelman petitioned the Chamber of Deputies for redress against what he termed an abuse of power, and violation of domicile, and his wife lodged a similar petition, complaining of the rigour exercised by the officers while searching for her husband. After a warm debate, in which the opposition members voted for receiving both petitions, the general's was rejected, and that of Madame Excelman was referred to the government.

By a singular coincidence, while the Chamber was occupied in deliberating whether they ought to entertain a petition from an officer, who, being accused of military disobedience, had fled from arrest and trial, one of a very different nature came under their cognizance, serving to remind them how similar dilinquencies, nay, even the disproved suspicion of them, was treated under the government of Buonaparte. Field-Marshal Grissolles had been tried as a Vendean by a special commission, and solemnly acquitted. But, instead of regaining his liberty, he was for three years imprisoned in the Temple, and from thence transferred to the Bicetre. Here he was loaded with irons, and immured in a dungeon eight feet square, which had been recently plastered, lest his constitution should resist the mere confinement, and the ordinary damp of the den. For two years he suffered tortures only equalled by those of the celebrated Baron Trenck, and his petition (which was referred to the government), set forth in the most horrid colours the secrets of Buonaparte's prison-house. It may seem impossible, that, comparing the case of Marshal de Grissoles with that of General Excelman, there should exist such blinded folly and prejudice, as would prefer the domination of the iron-handed despot to that of the legitimate, and perhaps too feeble mo

narch, and proclaim that in doing so, they favoured the cause of liberty. Yet the event showed that prejudice and faction could achieve this extraordinary conquest over reason and

was the nature of the delict inferred in the last article of accusation. It is manifest from the high and scornful tone assumed by the accused party, that he was already certain of his acquittal, which, accordingly, was un animously pronounced by the court martial. "General Excelman seized the first opportunity," (we are inform ed by the Journal of Debates) "which his freedom afforded to present himself at the foot of the throne, return thanks to his majesty for the justice which had been rendered him, and swear fidelity a toute epreuve." How he kept his oath we shall presently learn.

common sense.


The termination of General Excelman's affair consisted in his surrender ing himself to a court-martial, in which Count D'Erlon presided, and undergoing a trial at Lisle. In the 14 Jan. letter announcing his sur 181t. render, he states, that it was made in consequence of his acquaintance with the justice and enlightened sentiments" of the members of the court-martial; an intimation which seemed to anticipate the issue of the trial. The accusations against him were, 1. That he had corresponded with the public enemy, namely, with Joachim Murat, whose sovereignty had not been recognised by France. 2. That he had committed an act of espionage, by acquainting Murat with the dispositions of the French officers in his favour. 3. That he had written things derogatory to the king's person and authority. 4. That he had disobeyed the orders of the minister at war. 5. That he had violated his oath as a Chevalier de St Louis. Interrogated by the court on these heads of accusation, he replied to them in order. 1. That he could not be guilty of corresponding with the enemies of France, since France, at this moment, was at peace with all the powers of Europe. 2. That he disdained to make any reply to the article accusing him of espionage. 3. That his profound respect for the king rendered it impossible he could be guilty of the third charge, and that in his letter there was not a word applicable to his majesty. 4. That he had resisted an order to exile himself, because the minister of war had no law ful authority to issue such a mandate, 5. That he did not understand what

The reflecting part of the nation could not but see, in the conduct of General Excelman, and that of the court-martial who gave it their sanc tion, a resolution formed by the army to shake themselves free of subordination to the king. If a government has any authority over its soldiers, it must consist in the power of assigning them their posts and places of residence, and such authority is exercised wherever a standing army is known. Yet so much was this point of discipline disputed, or at least regarded as a grievance, by the French officers, that General Flahault having expressed himself on the subject of Excelman's disgrace in a manner disagreėable to the minister at war, and being commanded to retire from Paris, immediately sent in the resignation of his decorations and military rank. Every thing seemed to indicate that an understanding pervaded the army of their independent existence as a separate order of the state, subject to no external authority, not even to that of the sovereign whom they acknowledged as their master. Yet the correspondence of Excelman with Murat, seems to exclude the idea that he had at that time hopes of the re-appearance of his ancient master,

since he would otherwise have naturally addressed Buonaparte himself. And although the fact of an actual organized and existing conspiracy, having the Isle of Elba for its object, and its centre, is strongly averred by some of the French writers, and is even said to have existed within a few weeks after the restoration of the Bourbons, no direct proof has been produced on that subject, and what evidence was adduced on the trials of Labedoyere and Lavallette would rather authorize a contrary conclusion. Still, however, as discontents waxed more and more bitter, and the jarring interests of contending factions became less and less reconcileable, it is obvious that the thoughts and hopes of the malcontents of every description must finally have centered on Buonaparte, whose name had such charms for the soldiery, the lower class of mechanics, and all other Frenchmen who were "fools to fame."

The first reports from Elba seemed to imply, that Napoleon had devoted his life to the improvement of his limited dominions. He built, he planned, he improved; he erected bridges, palaces, hospitals, fortifications; cut roads and canals, constructed machines, and laid out pleasure-grounds. Nothing seemed either above his power or beneath his notice, if it could contribute to the improvement of his limited dominions. His natural activity of disposition divided his time into the hours of business, study, and recreation, and he seemed to pursue all with equal alacrity. He was affable, and even cordial, (in appearance,) to the numerous strangers whom curiosity led to visit him; spoke of his retirement as Dioclesian might have done in the gardens of Salonica; seemed to consider his political career as ended, and to be now chiefly anxious to explain such passages of

his life as met the harsh construction of the world. In giving free and easy answers to those who conversed with him, and especially to Englishmen of rank, Buonaparte found a ready means of communicating to the public such explanations concerning his past life as were best calculated to serve his wishes. More modest than his British apologists, he palliated, instead of denying, the poisoning of his prisoners in Egypt, the massacre at Jaffa, the murder of the Duke D'Enghien, and other enormities. An emperor, a conqueror retired from war, and sequestered from power, must be favourably listened to by those who have the romantic pleasure of hearing him plead his own cause. Milder editions of his crimes began to be circulated in Europe, and, in the curiosity to see and admire the chained tyger, men forgot the ravages which he had committed while at liberty.

In France, especially, there were many disposed to think more favourably of Napoleon in Elba, than of Napoleon on the throne; and gradually, even from the novelty and peculiarity of his situation, he began to excite a very different interest from that which attached to him who levied so many conscriptions, and sacrificed to his ambition so many millions of victims. Every instance of his activity within the little circle of his dominions was contrasted by his admirers with the constitutional inertness of the restored monarch. Excelling as much in the arts of peace as in those of war, it wanted but (they said) the fostering hand and unwearied eye of Napoleon to have rendered France the envy of the universe, had his military affairs permitted the leisure and opportunity which the Bourbons now enjoyed. These allegations, secretly insinuated, and at length loudly murmured, had their usual effects upon the fickle temper of the public; and,

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