« AnteriorContinua »
Arrived at the palace, he presented himself before the queen, pale, hagard, and bearing all the signs of extreme fatigue and dejection. His first salutation was in the affecting words, "Madam, I have been unable to find death." On this score Murat had nothing to reproach himself; for, contrary to the custom of his brother-in-law, he had been foremost in every action, and exposed his person with such daring audacity, as induced most of his attendants to believe, that he really sought to end his misfortunes by the death of a soldier. Death, however, so unwelcome to most, comes not always to relieve those who seek him, even in his most frequent haunts, and he was to meet Murat under other features. Joa chim was speedily convinced, that there was no hope of redeeming his fortunes, and that his stay in Naples might compromise the safety of his wife and family. Horace says, that heroes, in their exile, lay aside their swelling language; Murat, formerly so splendid in his apparel, now cut off his hair, and left Naples alone, dressed in a plain grey frock.
In this disguise he gained the little isle of Ischia. From thence he obtained the means of transporting himself, with one or two of his most faithful adherents, and particularly the Duke of Rocca Romana, to Cannes, where he landed on the May 25. same beach which had received Napoleon a few weeks before. A courier announced his arrival to Buonaparte, who, instead of sending consolation to his unhappy relative, is said to have asked with bitter scorn, "Whether Naples and France had made peace since their war of 1814?" The answer seems to imply, that although the attempts of Joachim and Napoleon coincided in time, and in other circumstances, so punctually as to make
VOL. VIII. PART I.
it evident they had been undertaken in concert, yet there had been no precise correspondence, far less any formal treaty, betwixt the adventurous brothers. Each seems to have rested on his own fortunes, well knowing that his claim to the other's assistance would depend chiefly upon his success, and unwilling, besides, to relinquish the privilege of making peace, should it be necessary, by disowning the kindred enterprize of his brother-in-law. Notwithstanding the splendid details which the Moniteur gave of Murat's undertaking while it yet seemed to promise success, it is certain that Buonaparte endeavoured to propitiate Austria, by the offer of abandoning Murat, and that Murat, could his offers have obtained a hearing after the repulse of Occhiobello, was ready once more to have deserted Napoleon, whose name he had so lately reassumed. Involved in this maze of selfish policy, Murat had now the mortification to find himself contemned by Napoleon, when he might, indeed, be a burthen, but could afford him no aid. Had he arrived at Milan as a victor, and extended a friendly hand across the Alps, how different would have been his reception! But Buonaparte refused to see him in his distress, or to permit him to come to Paris, satisfied that the sight of his misery would be a bitter contradiction to the fables which the French journals had, for some time, published of his success. Fouché sent him a message, much like that which enjoined the dishonoured ambassadors of Solomon to tarry at Jericho till their beards grew. It recommended to Murat to remain in seclusion till the recollection of bis disgrace was abated by newer objects of general interest. The unfortunate Joachim took up his residence accordingly in a small country-house near Toulon, an inactive attendant upon the course of important events,
to be in the Austrian armies, a party
which were now in rapid progress to a grand catastrophe.
Britain, according to her engagements with Austria, had lent the aid of her trident✶ to shake the founda. tions of Murat's tottering throne. Commodore Campbell, of the Tre mendous, with a ship of the line and two frigates, had formed the blockade of Naples, and the Melpomene, a French frigate, which endeavoured to elude his vigilance, was taken by the Rivoli, after a brief action, the only naval engagement by which this war was distinguished. The British commodore next entered the Bay of Naples, and, under the threat of a bombardment, demanded possession and naof the arsenal, vessels of war, val stores. Fortune reserved for him a more complete surrender on the part of the enemy, than even that which he demanded. Caroline Buo naparte, the late Queen of Naples, in momentary apprehension of the fury of the populace, who were with difficulty restrained from attacking the citadel, in which she had taken refuge, surrendered her person and property to the British commodore. She embarked under the escort of a guard of marines, and could hear from the deck of the vessel the shouts of her late subjects, as they plundered the effects which remain ed in the palace. "Death to the French and their faction!" was the cry of the mob of Naples, always one of the most formidable in Europe; and as they threatened to inforce this decree against the persons and property of such nobles and citizens as were alleged to be Muratists, it was hourly to be apprehended that this splendid capital would have been sacked and burned to the ground. The only prospect of succour seemed
muros, magnoque emota tridenti Fundamenta quatit.—Eneid, lib. 2..
Gaeta, where Murat's children were lodged, held out for two months, and only surrendered on the 8th August. The Neapolitan army was placed by the convention at the disposition of the victors, and thus the whole of this fine kingdom was restored to Ferdinand, its lawful monarch. He embarked at Palermo, on hearing of these brilliant successes, and, on the 17th June, made his public entry into Naples, his ancient capital, after an absence of nine years. He was received by the lower classes with the most ardent acclamations; and the grandees of the realm thought it necessary to evince a share of the enthusiasm, which, it was suspected, they did not in reality feel..
Lord Exmouth having, in the meanwhile, arrived in the bay of Naples, the treaty between Caroline Buonaparte and Commodore Campbell underwent some modification. That officer had proposed to transport her to Antibes, and to guarantee her possession of the crown-jewels of Naples. In these two points he was judged by the admiral to have exceeded his powers. Caroline was obliged to surrender the property of the crown of Sicily, retaining only what she could claim as her own. She was transported with her family to Trieste, and from thence to Prague, there to reside, under the name of the Countess Lipona, and the protection of the Austrian government. But to complete this singular history, it is proper that we here anticipate the order of time, in order that Murat's catastrophe may follow the tale of his ambitious enterprise.
cealed himself in a secret retreat, giving out that he had embarked for Tunis. He endeavoured to negociate for himself an asylum in England, but Lord Exmouth declined to receive him' on board of his fleet, unless as an un-' conditional prisoner. In the meanwhile, the royalists of the Bouches de Rhine were in active search of the exmonarch, under the idea that he had considerable treasures about his person. He was driven from the retreat he had chosen, and compelled, after wandering several days in the woods and vineyards, to throw himself on the doubtful faith of a farmer, whose house he entered, compelled by weariness and hunger. The owner respected the hospitality due to so singular a suppliant, and procured him a place of asylum in a villa in the neighbourhood, then unoccupied. On the 13th of August, a party of sixty royalists, headed by the son of General Moçaud, upon some suspicion or information, surrounded the house by night, and made a strict search through it. The late King of Naples, armed with a poniard and two pair of pistols, had but just time to throw himself among the vines, about thirty yards from the house, where the royalists repeatedly passed within a few yards of them. He heard them talk of cutting him to pieces, and dividing his treasures, and could only bend up his mind to make the most desperate resistance, and when all failed, to discharge his last pistol at his own head, rather than fall alive into their hands. But his destiny was different. He remained undiscovered, and shortly afterwards escaped in a small open boat to Corsica.
The state of this singular island, divided, from feudal as well as politi cal quarrels, into a hundred factions, of which each is willing to protect any person whatsoever against the others, afforded Murat a temporary
Joachim Murat resided privately, and in discouragement, in the vicinity of Toulon, until the news of the battle of Waterloo, and the subsequent de thronement of Buonaparte, rendered it no longer a safe neighbourhood; when he dismissed his train, and con
he would live as a private individual of distinction, subject, however, to the laws of these states. On these conditions he was offered a passport to proceed to Trieste, for the purpose of joining his wife and family.
More mild and honourable conditions were surely never proposed to a man in Murat's situation, and they were such as he would gladly have accepted, when he transmitted from Toulon to the hands of Fouché his resolution to submit his person to the disposal of the allies. But upon his arriving at Corsica, he had unfortu nately found about four hundred of his followers, chiefly officers discharged from the Neapolitan army, or who had fled upon the return of Ferdinand. A desperate man, surrounded by desperadoes, he now assumed once more the regal character, took possession of the town of Ajaccio, and proceeded to levy soldiers with the avowed purpose of an attempt to recover Naples. For this purpose, he purchased five small vessels, and a quantity of arms and ammunition. Macirone, the bearer of Prince Metternich's proposal, found Joachim at Ajaccio in mimic state, having sentinels mounted, and his colours displayed before the door of his house. His reception of Prince Metternich's articles plainly shows, that his offer to retire into England was with the secret purpose of waiting a favourable opportunity again to assert his supposed right to his kingdom. But Austria afforded no facilities of this kind : There was there neither an opposition, to whom he might appeal,-nor a disaffected jacobinical faction, with whom he might intrigue, nor the opportunity of maintaining a correspondence with the malcontents of France and Italy. If Murat accepted the terms of the emperor, it could only be with the certainty that he would not be permitted to elude them in letter or
refuge, which was prolonged, notwithstanding the attempts of the French commandant of Bastia to secure his person, until he heard the final resolution of the allied powers on his behalf. This had been solicited at Paris by one of his former aidde-camps, an Anglo-Italian, named Macirone, through whom Murat desired permission to reside in England. The request was most prudently rejected on the part of Lord Castlereagh. The British laws, customs, and particularly the habits of the people, render our island a most improper place of residence for persons whom it is desirable to seclude from political intrigues, or from unrestrained intercourse with the rest of Europe. Murat, in the power of the allies, must always have been regarded as a prisoner of state, although at large, and on his parole; and such a prisoner can be only kept with perfect safety under a government, which possesses strong powers of coercion, in case the personal freedom permitted to him should be found liable to abuse. There was, however, due respect paid to the misfortunes of a king, who had once been the ally of Britain and Austria. The agent of Murat was supplied by Prince Metternich with a. note of the conditions, upon compliance with which the EmSept. 1. peror of Austria was willing to grant an asylum to King Joachim. I. That he should assume the name of a private person; and that which the queen had adopted was proposed to him. II. That he might chuse his residence in any town, either in Bohemia, Moravia, or Upper Austria; or should he prefer a country residence in any of these provinces, his wishes would not be opposed. III. King Joachim was to engage his word to the emperor, that he would not quit the Austrian states without his express consent, and that
in spirit. Life, safety, opulence, all to be enjoyed in the society of his family, seemed tasteless to this victim of ambition, who, having experienced that chance could raise to a throne the waiter of a pot-house, was unwilling to admit that fortune could resume the grandeur she had Sept. 25. conferred. While, by a letter addressed to Macirone, he pretended to accept the conditions proposed to him, by anoSept. 28. ther, dated only three days later, he refused them with contempt. "I will not accept," were his expressions, "the conditions which you are charged to offer me. I perceive nothing in them but an absolute abdication, on the mere condition that I shall be permitted to exist, but in eternal captivity, subjected to the arbitrary action of the laws under a des potic government." He expressed himself confident in the attachment of his army. "I am going to join them-They are all eager to see me again at their head-They, and every class of my well-beloved subjects, have preserved to me their affections-I have not abdicated-I have a right to recover my crown, if God gives me the force and means."
that Neapolitan army, which was composed of the flower of the nation. He then resumed his resolution, and, heading the brave men who had formerly fought under him, was come to maintain the honour of the army, and his own rights." The nation was exhorted to fly to arms; the amaranth was appointed as the national colour, and the Neapolitan ladies were invited to adorn themselves therewith. The proclamation would not have been faithful to the style of the great original, had it not exhibited a sufficient portion of falsehood. The Neapolitans were thereby assured, that the allied powers would not again arm themselves against King Joachim. The emperor, formerly deceived with respect to the real political state of Naples, would now, it was averred, become his ally, and it would be an insult to the good faith of the British cabinet to suppose it would hesitate to repair the injury it had done, by taking up arms against the rightful sovereign of Naples. All this eloquence, and much more to the same purpose, was doomed to reach no farther than the deafened and thankless ears of a few rude Calabrian fishers. A storm dispersed the five small vessels in their passage from Corsica to the coast of Naples, and when it subsided, Murat found the felucca in which he was embarked separated from the others, and at the entrance of the Gulf of St Euphemia. The chance of any force he might obtain by waiting to collect his flotilla, was not to be balanced with the risk of delay. Joachim, dressed in a rich uniform, and attended by about thirty officers, among whom was General Franceschetti, disembarked at Pizzo. On his entering Oct. 8. the market-place of the little town, numbers came to gaze on him, but none to join him. He collected horses, mounted his retinue, and proceeded towards Monteleone, the ca
The truth was, that, forgetting alike the difference of times, circumstances, countries, and personal talents, Murat had imagined to himself the possibility of effectuating a second revolution in Naples, such as Buonaparte Sept. 28. had so lately accomplished in France. For this purpose, he sailed, with his flotilla of five vessels, with the purpose of disembarking at Salerno. In imitation of his grand prototype, he had prepared a proclamation, which might almost be regard ed as a parody on those of Buonaparte. He had determined," he said, "to retire from public life, when he learned that the insulting term 'hostile banditti,' had been applied to