Imatges de pÓgina
PDF
EPUB

went, bearing the lily on their breasts, to swear perjury, if I may so speak, to him who had so often proved himself a disloyal traitor and a felon.”

bellious subjects, bad Frenchmen, false chevaliers! scarcely had the oaths which they had proffered to you, expired on their lips, when they

CHAP. X.

The Cities and Provinces of France declare for Buonaparte.-Failure of the Duke of Bourbon's Enterprize in La Vendee.-Duchess of Angouleme driven from Bourdeaux.-Duke of Angouleme compelled to surrender in the South. -Buonaparte proposes Peace to the Allies. Declaration of the Congress at Vienna. Treaty of Alliance between Austria, Prussia, Russia, and Great Britain. -Message of the Prince Regent to the House of Commons, and Debate which followed thereupon.-Motion respecting Buonaparte's Escape from Elba-And Debate which ensued.-Mr Whitbread's Motion against War with France, and the Debate.-Debate on the Treaty of Alliance.-Mr Whitbread's Amendment.

THE Occupation of Paris has, during all revolutionary changes, decided the fate of France. No country so little possesses the wish or the power of holding different opinions from those which emanate from the capital. At the instigation of treacherous magistrates, or under fear of their garrisons, or by the acclamation of the mob, the principal cities of France declared successively their adhesion to Buonaparte. In some cities, and particularly in Orleans, where General Gouvion de St Cyr acted for the king, and General Pajol for Buonaparte, the two parties alternately obtained the superiority, and the walls were covered at the same time with royal and imperial proclamations; but the Buonapartists evinced most energy, and possessed most military strength; and therefore, in this and all other instances, finally triumphed.

The Duke of Bourbon had gone to La Vendee, in hopes to levy a royalist

army in that faithful province. But
owing, as has been asserted, to the
previous measures of Marechal Soult,
while minister at war and governor of
this department, La Vendee was filled
with soldiers attached to Buonaparte,
so judiciously posted as effectually to
prevent any immediate rising of the
inhabitants, and the Duke of Bourbon
saw himself under the necessity of
abandoħing his enterprise.
He sailed from Nantes, ac- March 26.
companied by about forty
officers, and the town was
instantly afterwards occupied by Gen.
Morand, an aid-de-camp of Buona-
parte, who published a most violent
proclamation against the Bourbons
and their adherents.

In the south, the cause of the Bourbons seemed to have been best supported, and the conduct of the Duchess of Angouleme, in particular, was worthy the descendant of a long line of monarchs. This princess, with her

husband, was on a progress through the south of France, when they were surprised by the intelligence of Buonaparte's disembarkation. The Duke of Angouleme hastened to avail himself of the zeal which the inhabitants of Provence, and particularly of Marseilles, testified for the royal cause; while the duchess remained to encourage the inhabitants of Bourdeaux, who had so early declared for the Bourbons in the preceding campaign. The inhabitants and national guard of that city, under the direction of Lynch, their loyal and faithful mayor, showed the best possible disposition; and the princess stood forth, among them, like one of those heroic women of the age of chivalry, whose looks and words were able in moments of peril to give double edge to men's swords, and double constancy to their hearts. If shouts and vows of fidelity could have been a warrant for the faith of Frenchmen, it was impossible that this high-minded princess should have been forced to give way. But the troops which formed the garrison of Bourdeaux caught the contagion of revolt. General Decaen, who possessed the batteries which commanded the city, declared himself for the usurper; while Clausel advanced to the gates with a considerable force in the same cause. The duchess made a last effort, assembled around her the officers, and laid their duty before them in the most touching and pathetic manner. But when she saw their coldness, and heard their faul tering excuses, she turned from them in disdain," You fear," she said"I pity you, and release you from your oaths." On the 30th March, she arrived at the little port of Poillac, to embark on board an English frigate, and the following minute circumstances of her departure are

given by an eye-witness. She had three or four carriages along with her, filled with her attendants, and was escorted by a party of the national guards. Their entry into Poillac formed a very mournful procession; she herself looked deadly pale, although seemingly calm and collected. We saw many of the officers of the national guard crowding round her with tears in their eyes. There was a little chapel close to where we were lodged, and while the other ladies went down to the frigate to prepare for the embarkation, we heard that the duchess herself had gone to mass. After we imagined that the service would be nearly concluded, two of the ladies of our party entered the chapel, and placed themselves near to where they knew she would pass. As she came near them, observing that they were English, and much affected, she held out her hand to them; one of them said, 'Oh, ge to our England, you will be cherished there.' Yes, yes,' replied she; I am now going to your country;' and when they expressed a wish that this storm would be quickly over, and that when she again returned to France, it would be for lasting happiness, the duchess replied, with an expression which was almost cheerful,

Indeed, I hope so.' This was the last time that any of us saw her. There was then in her expression a look of sweet and tranquil suffering, which was irresistibly affecting.". Lynch and other loyalists took the same opportunity of escaping from the tyranny of Buonaparte. Bourdeaux was instantly occupied by General Clausel, whose arrival, in despite of the scenes which had preceded it, was welcomed with shouts of Vive l'Empereur !

Toulouse soon shared the fate of

* Travels in France during the years 1814-15. Edin. 1816. Vol. ii. p. 107.

Bourdeaux. On the evening of the 3d of April, the citizens had celebrated, with apparent enthusiasm, an ephemeral success of the Duke of Angouleme. At break of day on the 4th, they saw, to their astonishment, the cannon of the ramparts turned upon the town, the artillery-men under arms with lighted matches, and heard the emperor proclaimed by the acclamations of the soldiery. The citizens of Toulouse offered no resistance, but submitted quietly to the

usurper.

The Duke of Angouleme did not prove more fortunate than his heroic consort. At first, some glimpse of success seemed to shine on his arms. Some regiments expressed a disposition to remain faithful to the king; and there was a general disposition among the national guards to be forward in the royal cause.

The little army which the Duke d'Angouleme had thus assembled, amounted to nearly six thousand men, and their first enterprize was successful. They routed April 2. a considerable body of Buonapartists at the passage of the river Drome, and took cannon, colours, and about eight hundred prisoners, and obtained possession of the course of the Isere.

The revolt, however, continued around them, and many of the troops of the line went over to the enemy. Generals Grouchy and Piré advanced npon the duke from different points. He received intelligence of the fate of Bourdeaux and Toulouse, and that Montpellier and Nismes had, in like manner, fallen. Under those circumstances, the duke opened a negociation, by which he agreed to dismiss his army, and lay down his arms, on condition that his officers and soldiers should not be molested. For himself, he stipulated that he should be safely escorted to Cette, there to

VOL. VII. PART I.

embark for Spain. This convention was concluded with General Gilly; but Grouchy refused to give it his sanction, and the Duke of Angouleme was detained until Buonaparte's pleasure was known. Napoleon was not sorry to have this opportunity to make an imposing show of generosity. He commanded Grouchy to dismiss the duke, upon his granting his promise to use his endeavours to procure recovery of the crown jewels, which the king had carried with him to Ghent. He embarked at Cette, as had been agreed upon, to sail for Barcelona, and was the last of the royal family of France who left the kingdom.

April 16.

The stand made by the Duke of Angouleme might have been more successful, but for the treachery of Massena, who conducted himself so, as effectually to prevent the spirit of loyalty, expressed by the great seaports of Toulon and Marseilles, from having any beneficial effect on the king's cause. Marseilles had been so zealous for the king as to put a price, by proclamation, on the head of Buonaparte; and the wealth, as well as the population of this great sea-port, might have given a vigorous impulse to the royal cause. But Massena contrived to thwart their measures, and check their enthusiasm, until it subsided under the discouraging news which arrived from every quarter, as well as under fear of the garrison. He discouraged all attempts to embody the royalists, or organize the national guard; and thus contrived that, in those cities, as well as elsewhere, no party should be in arms, except the troops of the line, whose disposition was the same there, as through all France. Both Marseilles and Toulon were surrendered af- April 11, 12. ter the Duke of An

act of the French people, and expressing his desire to maintain peace on the same principles as it had been settled with the Bourbons. These pacific overtures were, in general, referred to the Congress by the sovereigns to whom they were addressed, and it was the unanimous opinion of that assembly, that no answer should be returned to them.

The allied powers had too strong a recollection of the mode in which Buonaparte had formerly exercised his authority, to connive for an instant at his resuming it. The news of his disembarkation at Cannes had no sooner reached Vienna, than the representatives of the powers assembled in the European Congress sent forth the following denunciation of his person and purposes. "The powers who have signed the treaty of Paris, assembled at the Congress of Vienna, being informed of the escape of Napoleon Buonaparte, and of his entrance into France with an armed force, owe it to their own dignity, and the interest of social order, to make a solemn declaration of the sentiments which this event has excited in them.

gouleme's capitulation, and the conquest of France was, for the present, absolute and complete. We must now consider the effect which those wonderful tidings produced upon the sovereigns and the nations of Eu

rope.

Buonaparte's apprehensions on this account were visible, from the great pains which he took to assure the people of France that there was no occasion to fear foreign war. At first his friends and creatures confidently averred, that the emperor had brought with him a truce, concluded with all the nations in Europe, for twenty years. Afterwards he had recourse to other averments. He at one time affirmed, that Austria was sending his wife and child to Paris, and even named the day of their arrival, and directed the ceremonies of their reception. At another time, Ney had directions to traverse the north of France, and impress on the people a belief, that Maria Louisa and her son were detained at Vienna only as pledges for Buonaparte's sincerely keeping a promise, which he had made to his father-in-law, to bestow a free constitution on the French. To such bare-faced imposture was he reduced, rather than admit that in his return the French were to reap the dreadful harvest of a new invasion.

In the mean while, he used such exertions as were in his power to procure peace, or at least to show that he desired it. Although the cession of Belgium had been a point of grievous accusation brought against the Bourbons, both by his creatures, and in his own proclamation, Buonaparte hesitated not to offer to the allied sovereigns his willingness to submit to the treaty of Paris. He sent a letter to this purpose to each principal court of Europe, acquainting the potentates with his restoration, as the unanimous

"By thus breaking the convention which had established him in the island of Elba, Buonaparte destroys the only legal title on which his existence depended; and, by appearing again in France with projects of confusion and disorder, he has deprived himself of the protection of the law, and has manifested to the universe, that there can be neither peace nor truce with him.

"The powers consequently declare, that Napoleon Buonaparte has placed himself without the pale of civil and social relations, and that, as an enemy and disturber of the tranquillity of the world, he has rendered himself liable to public vengeance. They declare at the same time, that,

« AnteriorContinua »