Imatges de pàgina

ly followed on learning the defection at Grenoble, and Soult, the minister at war, was its first object It was remarked, that the arrangement of the troops in the south had been such as had completely answered Buonaparte's plan. It was remembered that Soult had precipitated the king upon the affair of Excelman, which his presiecessor had bushed up, and that many of his words and actions were particularly calculated to disgust the officers on half-pay, to whom, when they became clamorous in their petitions, he used to recommend to go and drown themselves. Yet now, one of the same minister's favourite resources was to call out these very half-pay officers, as if, having first rendered them the king's enemies by his conduct, he was determined they should not want the means and opportunity of acting effectually to his ruin. Having heard that there was a design to impeach him before the Chamber of Deputies, Soult took the measure of resigning his situation of minister, and offered his sword to the king, with the portfolio of his office. Louis accepted his resignation with apparent reluctance, for it might have been dangerous to express doubts of the fidelity of a popular general at this trying crisis, and returned his sword with expressions of confidence, to which the marshal probably listened with haughty indifference and contempt. The port-folio of the war-minister was given to Clerk, (called Duke of Feltré) a more worthy man, though less known as a soldier than his predecessor. To accept a situation so responsible at a moment of such danger, and on such brief warning, was in itself an act of loyal devotion, with which every action of the new minister corresponded. Daily instances now occurred to shew the danger of the task he had undertaken.

north of France might be induced to declare for Buonaparte, whilst those in Dauphiné joined his standard. The principal agents in this quarter were the dishonoured Lefebre Desnouettes, (known in England by his breach of parole) and General Allemand, with his brother. Had this part of the scheme succeeded like the others, the person of Louis must have fallen into the power of his enemy, since his retreat to Belgium, which he afterwards accomplished with difficulty, would have been totally intercepted. On the 10th of March, Lefebre, arriving from Lisle at Cambray, announced to his regiment of chasseurs the royal orders that they should advance to Compeigne. Various occurrences on the route tended to excite the sus

Measures had been concerted among the conspirators that the troops in the

picions of Baron Lyons, the major, and other officers; and on their arrival at Compeigne, they compelled their commanding officer to throw off the mask, and announce his intention to lead them over to the emperor. The officers refused to listen to his ar. guments, and Lefebre was obliged to make a hasty escape from the arrest with which they threatened him. The plan of General Allemand corresponded with that of Lefebre. Six thousand men of the garrison of Lisle were put in motion by forged orders, under pretext that there was an insurrecThis part of the contion at Paris. spiracy was deranged by the accidental arrival of Marechal Mortier, who, meeting the troops on the march, detected and defeated the conspiracy. The two Allemands fled, but were taken by the police. To have executed them instantly as traitors, might have struck terror into such as wavered in their allegiance; but the ministers dared not venture on a measure of such energy.

Meanwhile the enemy, although the northern conspiracy had failed, became more formidable every day.

When Monsieur and the Duke of Orleans arrived at Lyons, where they were joined by Marechal Macdonald, they used every effort to awaken a spirit of loyalty among the troops and people. The national guard seemed favourably disposed, but the mob of the large suburb of La Guillotiere, where the lower order of manufacturers dwelt, openly raised the cry of Vive l'Empereur. The troops of the line were mournful and silent; and to the personal appeals which Monsieur made to individuals among them, they answered plainly, that they would not fight against their ancient commander. "You, at least," said Monsieur, addressing himself to a soldier, scarred with marks of combat, and wearing three badges of military distinction," You, at least, as becomes a brave Frenchman, will cry Vive le Roi?" "I will not," answered the veteran sternly,-" not a soldier here will fight against their father. I will cry Vive l'Empereur!" While matters were in this state, the advanced guard of the enemy approached the suburbs. Marechal Macdonald marched against them with two battalions, and occupied the bridge which divides the city from the suburb La Guillotiere. But on the advance of Napoleon, Macdonald's troops broke their ranks, and deserted their leader, so soon as they beheld the well-known eagles and the tri-coloured cockades of Buonaparte's followers. After exerting every effort to bring back his soldiers to better sentiments, and having very nearly become their prisoner in the attempt, the marechal carried back news to the princes that all was lost. The temper of the troops which remained in the city was the same, or even worse, than that of the battalions which Maçdonald had led forward, and Monsieur had no alternative but a speedy and almost a solitary flight. The ancient

capital of the Gauls, with its wealth, population, military stores, and materials of every kind, was abandoned to the invader, who entered amid the shouts of Vive l'Empereur, and might now be said, for the first time, to head an army, whose numerical strength, though it did not exceed seven thousand men, bore some proportion to his high pretensions. In public opinion he was yet more formidable, since the princes of the house of Bourbon, after their utmost efforts, having been completely foiled, saw themselves obliged to retreat before him. All hope was now over that the invader could be destroyed by a single blow, and the most sanguine royalists saw before them the bloody and doubtful prospect of a civil war. Maçon, Chalons, Dijon, and almost all Burgundy followed the example of Lyons, and declared for the emperor. On the other hand, Provence, animated with the same spirit which pervaded the town of Marseilles, raised troops in the royal name; and the south of France, influenced by the example of Bourdeaux, seemed to espouse the same cause.

At Lyons Buonaparte made a pause, and was joined by some of the civili ans of his party, while he received communications and assurances of fi

delity from others. In the course of his rapid march, his guards had dispersed an address, in their own name, to their ancient companions in arms, and others, in the name of their master, addressed to the army and to the people. They were of a martial character,-spoke of recovering the glory of France, and promised that victory should march at the charging step, and the eagle, with the national colours, fly from steeple to steeple, even to the towers of Notre Dame. It was now necessary to give to his cause such a colour as should have a shade of civil right as well as of military power. He commenced the organi

eighth and last decree was the most important of all. Under pretence that emigrants who had borne arms against France had been introduced into the body of the peers, and that the Chamber of Deputies had already sate for the legal time, it dissolved both Chambers, and convoked the Electoral Colleges of the Empire, in order that they might hold, in the ensuing month of May, an extraordinary assembly of the Champ-de-Mai. This convocation, for which the inventor found a name in the history of the ancient Franks, was to have two objects: First, to make such alterations and reformations in the constitution of the empire as circumstances should render advisable. Secondly, to assist at the coronation of the Empress and of the King of Rome.

zation of his government and administration. Cambaceres was named minister of justice; Carnot, of the interior; Fouché, of the police; and Davoust, minister at war. Decrees upon decrees issued forth with a rapidity which shewed how Buonaparte had employed those studious hours at Elba, which he was supposed to have dedicated to the composition of his Memoirs. They ran in the name of Napoleon, by the grace of God, Emperor of France, and were dated on the 13th of March, although not promulgated until the 21st of that month. The first of these decrees abrogated all changes in the courts of justice and tribunals which had taken place during the absence of Napoleon. The second displaced all officers belonging to the class of emigrants, and introduced into the army by the king. The third suppressed the order of St Louis, the white flag and cockade, and other royal emblems, and restored the threecoloured banner, and the imperial symbols of Buonaparte's authority. The same decree abolished the Swiss guard and the household troops of the king. The fourth sequestered the effects of the Bourbons. And a similar ordinance sequestered the restored property of emigrant families, and was so artfully worded as to represent great changes of property having taken place in this manner. The fifth decree of Lyons suppressed the ancient nobility and feudal titles, and formally confirmed proprietors of national domains in their possessions., The sixth declared sentence of banishment against all emigrants not erased from the list previous to the accession of the Bourbons, to which was added confiscation of their property. The seventh respect ed the Legion of Honour, and restored that order in every respect as it had existed under the emperor, uniting to its funds the confiscated revenues of the order of St Louis. The

We cannot pause to criticize these various enactments. In general, however, it may be remarked, that they were admirably calculated to serve Napoleon's cause. They flattered the army, and at the same time heated their resentment against the emigrants, by insinuating that they had been sacrificed by Louis to the interest of these his followers. They held out to the republicans a speedy prospect of confiscations, proscriptions, and revolutions of government; while the imperialists were gratified with a view of ample funds for pensions, offices, and honorary decorations. To the proprietors of national domains was promised security, to the Parisians, the spectacle of the Champ-de-Mai; and to all France, peace and tranquillity, since the arrival of the empress and her son, so confidently asserted to be at hand, must be considered as a pledge of the friendship of Austria. Russia was also said to be friendly to Napoleon, and the conduct of Alexander toward the members of Buonaparte's family was boldly appealed to as evidence of the fact. England, it

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was said, befriended him, else how could he have escaped from an isle surrounded by her naval force? Prussia, therefore, alone, might be hostile and unappeased; but, unsupported by the other belligerent powers, Prussia must remain passive, or would soon be reduced to reason. The very pleasure in mortifying one, at least, of the late victors of Paris, gave a zest and poignancy to the revolution, which the concurrence of the other great states would, according to Buonaparte, render easy and peaceful. Such news were carefully disseminated through France by Buonaparte's adherents. They preceded his march, and prepared the minds of men to receive him as their destined master.

On the 13th, Buonaparte recommenced his journey, and, advancing through Maçon, Chalons, and Dijon, he reached Auxerre on the 17th March. His own mode of travelling rather resembled that of a prince, who, weary of the fatigue of state, wishes to extricate himself as much as possible from its trammels, than that of an adventurer coming at the head of an army of insurgents to snatch a crown from the head of a lawful monarch who wore it. He travelled several hours in advance of his army, often without any guard, or, at most, attended only by a few Polish lancers. The country through which he journied was favourable to his pretensions. It had been severely treated by the allies during the military manœuvres of the last campaign, and the dislike of the suffering inhabitants extended itself to the family who had mounted the throne by the influence of these strangers. When, therefore, they saw the late emperor among them alone, without guards, enquiring, with his usual appearance of active interest, into the extent of their losses, and making liberal promises to repair them, it is no wonder that they should rather

remember the battles he had fought in their behalf against the foreigners, than think on the probability that his presence among them might be the precursor of a second invasion.

The revolutionary fever preceded Buonaparte like an epidemic disorder. The 14th regiment of lancers, quartered at Auxerre, trampled under foot the white cockade at the first signal; the sixth regiment of lancers declared also for Napoleon, and, without waiting for orders, drove a few soldiers of the household troops from Montereau, and secured that important post, which commands the passage of the Seine. The infectious disorder did not, however, reach the clergy. The Abbé Viart, vicar-general of the cathedral of Auxerre, had a remarkable interview with Buonaparte at that place. "You priests," said Buonaparte, "are all factious." "I know none of this diocese," answered the vicar-general, "who deserve such a reproach." "The peasants detest you." "If you will enquire among the superior classes of society, you will find we possess their confidence and esteem." "You speak of nothing but tithes." "It is, perhaps, the first time," was the reply, "that the word has been mentioned here, and it does not now come from the mouth of a priest." "Of a priest!" said Buonaparte; "it was I who established the fortune of the priesthood." "The benefit," replied Viart," should not be forgotten, however inadequate that fortune has proved." "They have as ample provision as in other states of Europe," rejoined Napoleon. "In other states," replied Viart," their appointments may be aided by local resources; in France, as is well known, they cannot." "Priests ought to have no more; the gospel prescribes that they detach their thoughts from worldly things." "It prescribes the same self-denial to all men," replied

in Russia his gallantry preserved the reliques of Napoleon's army during their disastrous retreat, particularly at the battle of Krasnoc. On that occasion he forced his way, with a handful of men, through such dispropor tioned force of the Russians, that he appeared before Buonaparte when all had given him up for lost. Napoleon threw his arms around his neck, and exclaimed, that he no longer regret. ted his losses, since fortune had preserved his dear cousin, the undaunted Duke of Elchingen. Since the acces sion of the Bourbons, Ney had resided chiefly at his country seat of Cou dreaux, and seemed estranged from the court, though it was much fre quented by his wife. Upon the landing of Buonaparte, Ney was summoned to Paris by an aid-de-camp of the minister of war. On the 7th March he had a personal interview with Louis, and expressed himself in the strong. est terms of devotion and fidelity. The Prince de Poix, who was present at the interview, deposed upon the Marechal's trial, that, in answer to the king's expression that he relied on his devoted faith, Ney stooped, and kissed with emotion the hand which Louis held out to him, exclaiming, "I hope to bring him to your majesty in a cage of iron. His destination was to command an army of reserve, which, it was imagined, his interest with the troops might render wor

the Abbé, firmly; "but the clergy would not complain of their poverty, did it not impede their usefulness among the rude common people, who contemn their indigence." "Enough, enough," said Buonaparte; "retire." At this angry expression, which he accompanied with a stamp, the vicargeneral signed the cross, and, saying "Blessed be his name who humbleth us," left the apartment. Buonaparte was speedily consoled for the inflexibility of the churchman by a most remarkable instance of defection which took place ere he left Auxerre.

When Louis cast his eyes around him for a general whose interest in the hearts of the soldiers might be opposed to that of Buonaparte, the name of Ney had not escaped him. This officer, bred to the trade of a cooper in the little village of Sarre Louis, had elevated himself, by his desperate bravery and military skill, to the rank of Mareschal, Duke, and Prince of Buonaparte's empire. He He learned the rudiments of war as a partisan in a regiment of hussars, and retained, through his whole career, a tincture of that wild service. He was licentious in every particular, but brave to the most determined degree, active, skilful, unwearicd, and ardent, and indisputably the best general of light troops in the French service. His name appears in the most brilliant campaigns of the revolution; and

* Mademoiselle Ney was the second daughter of Mademoiselle Auguié, waiting-wo man to Marie Antoinette, and so faithful to her mistress that she precipitated herself from a high window upon hearing of the queen's execution, and died in consequence. But she was also the niece of a certain Mademoiselle de Compans, who kept a boarding-school near St Cloud, an institution favourable, it was said, both to the politics and pleasures of Buonaparte.

+Ney, upon his trial, endeavoured to explain away this phrase. He admitted he had said something about an iron cage, but only meant that Buonaparte deserved such a re ward for his temerity. But it was a favourite expression with the Marechal. He said to Monsieur Dranges de Bourcia, the sub-prefect of Poligny, that Buonaparte should be attacked like a wild animal, and brought in a cage of iron to Paris. "A tumbril would do better," said the sub-prefect. "By no means," answered Ney, ❝ you do not understand the Parisians; they must have a sight of him through the bars."


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