Imatges de pÓgina


Buonaparte's Return to Paris.-His Motives for this Measure.-Rise of the Funds at Paris-Meeting of the Chamber of Deputies.-Motion of La Fayette. They command the Attendance of the Ministers.- Debates in the Secret Committee.-The Chamber intimate their desire that Buonaparte should abdicate.-Reflections on their Right to require this Sacrifice.-Conduct of Napoleon, and his Indecision.—He holds a Council.- Ferment in the Chamber of Deputies.-The Emperor's Abdication is presented to them. Their Address on the Occasion.-Ney's Speech in the House of Peers.-Furious Debate on acknowledging Napoleon II.-Labedoyere's violent Harangue.-Debate on the same Subject in the other Chamber.-Napoleon II. is indirectly acknowledged-Buonaparte's farewell Proclamation to the Army. He is removed to Malmaison.-His Situation there.-Placed under the Superintendance of General Beker, and removed to Rochefort.-Proclamation of Louis XVIII.-Reflections on the Principle of Legitimacy, as applied to Mo. narchical Right.

THE most important effects of the victory of Waterloo were of course expected to manifest themselves at Paris, which is to France what Rome was to the Roman empire. To distant politicians it seemed as if the war was already ended, and that France, to avoid the humiliation of actual in vasion and conquest, had no other course than to "unthread the eye of rude rebellion," recall King Louis XVIII., lay the blame of Buonaparte's usurpation on the army which had just perished, and, as the popular phrase goes, make a virtue out of necessity. But Buonaparte had, in the jacobins, evoked out of obscurity a party, who possessed his own skill, his own ambition, with more than his hatred at the house of Bourbon; and

now his downfall seemed to give rise to new competitors for the sovereignty of France, as in some tale of chivalry, when the adventurous knight has no sooner slain a giant, than the carcase of his deceased antagonist is converted into a dragon, and opposes him anew. Let us, however, take these events according to their progress.

Buonaparte himself brought to Paris the news of his own defeat. On the 19th of June the public ear had been stunned by the report of a hundred pieces of cannon, which announced the victory at Ligny, and the public prints had contained the most gasconading accounts of that action; of the forcing the passage of the Sambre, the action at Charleroi, and the battle of Quatre Bras. The impe

rialists were in the highest state of exultation, the republicans doubtful, and the royalists dejected. On the morning of the 21st, the third day after the fatal action, it was at first whispered, and then openly said, that Napoleon had returned alone from the army on the preceding night, and was now in the palace of BourbonElysée. The fatal truth was not long in transpiring-he had lost a dreadful pitched battle, and the French army, which had left the capital so confident, so full of hope, pride, and determination, was totally destroyed.

Buonaparte's abandonment of his army in such a crisis, seemed so absolute a dereliction of his own cause, that the public were at a loss to account for it. It was for some time ascribed to the rash and hasty advice of Labedoyere; but, till the hour of his death, that unfortunate man professed that he had exhausted every sort of entreaty to persuade Napoleon to abide with his army. By some, it has been suggested that Buonaparte's return to the capital had been hastened by a false statement from La Vendee, which the royalists had caused to be inserted in one of the journals, announcing a great victory on the part of the insurgents, in consequence of which General Travot was averred to have come to Paris to request supplies. But though such a false statement was unquestionably published, it is difficult to reconcile the date of its appearance with the supposed influence ascribed to the intelligence over Buonaparte's motions. The real reason of his return, was his jealousy of the measures which the Chambers might adopt in his absence, and the apprehension of being sacrificed, as the Jonah for whose sake the vessel of the republic was endangered. He remembered, that from the arrival of the declaration of Vienna, in which the war was alleged to be made against him per


sonally, there had been opinions expressed among the jacobins, that he ought to resign the crown at the Champ de Mai, and relieve the nation from the impending danger. He was aware, that what they had ventured to advise in his moment of strength, they would not hesitate to require and extort from him in the hour of his weakness, and that the Chamber of Representatives would endeavour to obtain peace for themselves by sacrificing his power. "He is known," says an author already quoted, friendly to his fame, "to have said, after the disasters of the Russian campaign, that he would confound the Parisians by his presence, and fall among them like a thunderbolt.-But there are things which succeed only because they have never been done before, and for that reason ought never to be attempted again. His fifth flight from his army was an entire abandonment of him and his cause by all who might have forgiven him his misfortune, but required that he should be the first to arise from the blow."

It was a curious indication of public spirit in Paris, that, upon the news of this appalling misfortune, the national funds rose so soon as the first shock of the tidings was past; so soon, that is, as men had time to consider the probable consequence of the success of the allies. It seemed as if public credit revived upon any intelligence, however fatal otherwise, which promised to abridge the reign of Buonaparte.

The two Chambers hastily assembled. In that of the Representatives, after a few minutes spent in bustle, and in receiving and communicating intelligence, La Fayette addressed the assembly. "Gentlemen, while for the first time, for many years, you hear a voice which the old friends of liberty may yet recognise, I feel myself called upon to speak to you of the dan


gers of the country which you at present alone have the power of saving. Sinister reports have been spread; they are unfortunately confirmed. This is the moment to rally round the old tri-coloured standard, that of 89, that of liberty, equality, and public order; it is that alone which can protect us from foreign attacks and internal dissensions. Allow, gentlemen, a veteran in that sacred cause, who was ever an enemy to faction, to submit to you some resolutions, which, I flatter myself, you will feel the necessity of adopting.

"Art. 1. The Chamber declares that the independence of the nation is menaced.

"2. The Chamber declares its sittings permanent. All attempts to dissolve it shall be considered high treason: Whosoever shall render himself capable of such an attempt, shall be considered a traitor to his country, and condemned as such.

"3. The army of the line, the national guards who have fought, and still fight, for the liberty, the independence, and the territory of France, have merited well of the country.

"4. The minister of the interior is invited to assemble the etat-major-general, the commanders, and majors of legion, of the Parisian national guard, in order to consult on the means of providing it with arms, and of completing this guard of citizens, whose tried patriotism and zeal offer a sure guarantee for the liberty, prosperity, and tranquillity of the capital, and for the inviolability of the national representatives.

"5. The minister of war, of foreign affairs, of police, and of the interior, are invited to repair to the hall of the assembly."

In the exordium of this speech, it would appear that the orator, at once an apostle and a victim of the revolution, had forgotten how short time he

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was permitted to sustain the tri-coloured banner of 1789, and how little the days which followed its elevation resembled those of liberty, equality, and, above all, of public order. The resolutions which he moved indicated the purpose of his party, that the Representatives should assume at this crisis the reins of authority, for which Buonaparte's defeat gave them both apology and opportunity to deprive him. They were seconded by Flaugergues, and were all adopted excepting the fourth, concerning the national guard, which was considered as premature. But it was obvious, from the Chamber's declaring its sittings permanent, and from the whole tenor of the debate, that the members regarded the measures of Buonaparte with doubt and suspicion, and were apprehensive that he would dissolve their sitting by an armed force. An anxiety was evinced that the language used towards the imperial ministers should mark the paramount authority of the Chamber, and instead of inviting them to repair to the assembly, as in the fifth article, a member moved the substitution of the phrase," the miniters shall repair hither." This alteration was rejected, not on the ground that the Chamber's authority was doubted, but because the softer phrase was considered as the most decorous. Regnault de St Jean D'Angely next read to them a bulletin, which stated "that the emperor had arrived at 11 o'clock. He had convoked the council of ministers: He announced that the army, after a signal victory on the plains of Fleurus, where the élité of the Prussian army was destroyed, fought a great battle four days after, within four leagues of Brussels. The English army was beaten throughout the whole day, and obliged to yield the field of battle. Six English standards were taken, and the day was decided, when, on the approach of night,

some disaffected persons spread an alarm, and occasioned a disorder, which the presence of his majesty could not, on account of the night, recover. The consequence has been, disasters which could not be arrested. The army is rallying under the walls of Avesnes and Philippeville. His majesty proceeded to Laon. He there gave orders that the levy in mass of the national guards should stop the fugitives. He has returned to Paris to confer with the ministers on the means of replacing the materiel of the army. It is also his majesty's intention to confer with the Chambers on the legislative measures which circumstances require, and he is at this moment preparing propositions to be transmitted to both Chambers." Thus far the Chamber listened with attention; but when Regnault proposed to read the singular bulletin published in the Moniteur, in which, amongst a tissue of falsehoods inconsistent not only with truth and common sense, but with each other, there only gleams forth the absolute certainty that all was lost, the Representatives refused to listen. They became clamorous for the instant attendance of the ministers. They dispatched a second message, no longer to invite, but, as it was of purpose worded, to command their instant appearance. "Had you commanded at first, instead of inviting," said the member who proposed this alteration," you would ere now have been obeyed." After a delay of two or three hours, the four ministers, Caulaincourt, Davoust, Fouché, and Carnot, entered the hall with Lucien Buonaparte.

The Chamber formed itself into a secret committee, before which the ministers laid the full extent of the disaster, and announced that the emperor had named Caulaincourt, Fouché, and Carnot, as commissioners to treat

of peace with the allies. They were bluntly reminded by the republican members, and particularly by Henry Lacoste, that they had no basis for any negociations which could be proposed in the emperor's name, since the allied powers had declared war against Napoleon, who was now in plain terms pronounced, by more than one member, the sole obstacle betwixt the nation and peace. Universal applause followed from all parts of the hall, and left Lucien no longer in doubt that the Representatives intended to separate their cause from that of his brother. He omitted no art of conciliation or intreaty, and, more eloquent probably in prose than in poetry, appealed to their love of glory, their generosity, their fidelity, and the oaths which they had so lately sworn. "We have been faithful," replied Fayette; "we have followed your brother to the sands of Egyptto the snows of Russia. The bones of Frenchmen scattered in every region. attest our fidelity." All seemed to unite in one sentiment, that the abdication of Buonaparte was a measure absolutely necessary. Davoust, the minister at war, arose, and disclaimed, with protestations, any intention of acting against the freedom or independence of the Chamber. This was, in fact, to espouse their cause. Carnot and Fouché were the natural leaders of the popular party, and Caulaincourt was supposed to be on indifferent terms with Napoleon, whose ministers, therefore, seemed to adopt the interest of the Chamber in preference to his. Lucien saw that his brother's authority was ended, unless it could be maintained by violence. Chamber of Peers might have been more friendly to the imperial cause, but their constitution gave them as little confidence in themselves as weight with the public. They adopt


ed the three first resolutions of the lower Chamber, and named a committee of public safety.

The line of conduct which the Representatives meant to pursue was now obvious; they had spoken out, and named the sacrifice which they exacted from Buonaparte. It remained to be known if Buonaparte would adopt measures of resistance, or submit to this encroachment. If there could be a point of right, where both were so far wrong, it certainly lay with Napoleon. These very representatives were, by voluntary consent, as far as oaths and engagements can bind men, his subjects, convoked in his name, and having no political existence excepting as a part of his constitutional government. However great his faults to the people of France, he had committed none towards these accomplices of his usurpation, nor were they legislators otherwise than as he was their emperor. Their right to discard and trample upon him in his adversity, consisted only in their having the power to do so; and the readiness which they showed to exercise that power, speaks as little for their faith as for their generosity. At the same time, our commiseration for fallen greatness is lost in our sense of that justice, which makes the associates and tools of an usurper the readiest implements of his ruin.

The vacillations of Buonaparte's mind are said to have amounted to agony, when it was announced that his sway was melting from him. Upon his return to his palace he had sent for Carnot, who found him in a bath, refreshing himself with a bouillon. He demanded, with his wonted tone of authority, an instant supply of money, and a levy of three hundred thousand The minister replied, that it was impossible to comply with either request. The fallen despot hastened


to hold consultation with more devoted adherents. The Duke of Bassano spoke of defence, which extorted from Napoleon the bitter exclamation, “Ah, my Old Guard! could my courtiers defend themselves like you!" a sad confession that the military truncheon, which was his real sceptre, had been broken in his gripe. Lucien, remembering the successful violence with which he had prompted his brother to dissolve the Council of Five Hundred on the 18th Brumaire, urged a repetition of a similar coup-de-main, A battalion, he said, would be sufficient to silence and disperse the mutinous Chamber. Buonaparte hesitated, the national guard would probably have espoused the cause of the Chamber, and offered opposition.Fouché and Carnot deprecated violence, but held out to Napoleon some hope that the Chambers might, in this emergency of the estate, permit him to assume the dictatorship. While he was amused with this expectation, thrown out, doubtless, to prevent his rushing upon instant violence, (for both Fouché and Carnot knew too well the temper of the representatives, to suppose it possible they would go into such a measure,) he received intelligence of what had passed at the interview between his ministers and the secret committee of the Chamber.

The gauntlet was now thrown down, and it was necessary that Napoleon should resist or yield, declare himself absolute, and dissolve the Chambers by violence, or abdicate the authority he had so lately resumed. Lucien, finding him still undetermined, hesitated not to say, that the smoke of the battle of Mont Saint Jean had turned his brain. In fact, his conduct at this crisis was not that of a great man. He dared neither venture on the desperate measures

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