Imatges de pÓgina

as the temporary enthusiasm in favour of the Bourbons faded into indifference and aversion, the general horror of Buonaparte's ambitious and tyrannical disposition began to give way to the recollection of his active, energetic, and enterprizing qualities.

be sensible of the extravagance of their generosity at the treaty of Paris. It was in France and Naples only that Buonaparte could look for allies and confederates.


This change must soon have been known to him who was its object. An expression is said to have escaped from him during his passage to Eiba, which marked, at least, a secret feeling that he might one day recover the high dignity from which he had fallen. "If Marius," he observed, "had slain himself in the marshes of Minturnæ, he would never have enjoyed his seventh consulate." What was perhaps originally but the vague aspirations of an ardent spirit striving against adversity, became, from the circumstances of France, a plausible and well-grounded hope. It required but to establish communications among his numerous and zealous partizans, to hold out such hopes as might lure the jacobins to his standard, to profit by and inflame the growing discontents and divisions of France, and a conspiracy was ready formed, with little exertion on the part of him who soon became its object and its centre. It has been gravely stated, that the Exile of Elba even intrigued with the foreign powers of Europe, in order to induce them to undo the work which, with such labour, they had accomplished, and replace Napoleon on the throne of the Bourbons. To England he is said to have offered the sovereignty of Holland, and to have made proposals of equally extravagant advantage to Russia and Austria. We know this report to be false, so far as Britain is concerned, and we do not believe it in other respects. Such overtures could only have served to sharpen the suspicion with which the Congress regarded Buonaparte, when the allied powers began, too late, to

The situation of Murat, partly owing to his own ambitious views, and partly to the persevering enmity of Talleyrand, was becoming daily more eritical. The state of Italy afforded him the most flattering hopes of suc cess in a daring enterprize; the views of France and Austria menaced him with the loss of his kingdom. These causes, which will be more fully developed when we treat of the Italian campaign, rendered Murat peculiarly accessible to the daring suggestions of Napoleon, who, it must be remembered, was at once his master, his brother-in-law, and the author of his fortune. The confidante of their correspondence was the sister of Napoleon, Pauline Borghèse. Lively, bold, active, an intriguer in every sense of the word, this lady performed several voyages betwixt Elba and Naples, the object of which was to re-establish an intimate union of interests betwixt How Murat's the brothers-in-law. share of the adventure terminated, we will detail hereafter.

In France, Buonaparte had doubtless many correspondents; and if his power had lasted longer, we should have heard them make a merit of their share in scheming and forwarding his enterprize. But the term of his success was so short, that although it afforded innumerable reports of this kind, there was no time to discover which of them were true, which forged by the vanity of the narrators, which invented by the government to serve temporary purposes. The materials for this vast conspiracy seem to have lain so ready for combination, the moral sense of the people was so depraved, and their passions so much inflamed, that its ramifications soon

extended, like those of an immense net, over the whole kingdom of France, and the cord for drawing it was in the hands of Buonaparte. Paris was, of course, the centrical point from which the subordinate agents received their secret instructions; committees of the disaffected were established in the different quarters of the city. The most active members were women, who, having held rank at the court of Buonaparte, had been repulsed or treated with neglect at that of Louis. They were, in general, the wives of Buonaparte's generals and nobles and statesmen, to whom the aristocratic pride of the court-ladies denied the honours of the drawing-room. It is astonishing how much the passions of female emulation and revenge influenced the feelings of their relations, and influenced a grand national catastrophe. A quarrel betwixt two ladies of Queen Anne's household occasioned the peace of Utretcht; and the aristocratic state maintained by the fe. male attendants of the Duchess d'Angouleme, had some share in bringing on the battle of Waterloo. One remarkable agent and victim of the short-lived revolution acknowledged how much he was influenced by such considerations. "I shall no longer," said Ney, when he deserted the cause of his sovereign for that of Buonaparte, "see my wife return from the Tuilleries in tears, on account of the neglect with which she has been treated;" and many, besides the Marechal, felt, though they might not acknowledge, the impulse they received from these womanish grievances. Offended pride hesitates at no measures for gratifying vengeance. Be sides the purses of their husbands, or lovers, which, of course, they commanded, many of these female intriguers devoted their jewels to the cause of revolution, and the sale produced considerable sums. The chief of these

female conspirators was Hortensia Beauharnois, daughter of Josephine, and wife of Louis Buonaparte, whom his brother created King of Holland, and afterwards deposed. To this person, at once his step-daughter and sister-in-law, Buonaparte was so tenderly attached as to give room for scandal, notwithstanding the propinquity of this double connection. She had been created by Louis, Duchess of St Leu, at the request, it was believed, of the Emperor Alexander, who had magnanimously extended. his protection to several of the fallen house of Buonaparte. At Nanterre, Neuilly, and St Leu, meetings of the principal conspirators were held: and her confidential friend, Madame Hamelin, is said to have assisted in concealing the agents whom Buonaparte sent from Elba. The Duchess of Bassano, wife of that Maret, Duke of Bassano, who was considered for some time as Buonaparte's favourite counseilor; with the Duchess of Montebello, (wife of Marechal Lanne,) and other ladies, whose rank at the royal court was inferior to that which they had held at the emperor's, were engaged in the plot. Seductions of every species were used to draw the discontented within the vortex of conspiracy; nor was it safe to become possessed of the secret without joining their measures. It is said that such a confidence was fatal to General Quesnel, who, having repulsed with indignation the treasonable proposals made to him at one of these societies, was soon afterwards assassi nated and flung into the Seine.

At the meetings held in the houses of these intriguing females, the whole artillery of conspiracy was forged and put in order, from the political lie, which does its work if believed but for an hour, to the political song or squib, which, like the fire-work from which it derives its name, expresses

love of frolic or of mischief, accord-
ing to the nature of the materials
amongst which it is thrown. From
these places of rendezvous the agents
of the plot sallied out upon their re-
spective rounds, furnished with every
lure that could rouse the suspicious
landholder, attract the idle Farisian,
seduce the Ideologue, who longed to
try the experiments of his Utopian
theories upon
real government, and
above all, secure the military, from
the officer, before whose eyes trun-
cheons, coronets, and even crowns,
were disposed in ideal prospect, to
the grenadier, whose hopes only aim-
ed at blood, brandy, and free quarters.

The lower orders of the populace, particularly those inhabiting the two great suburbs of Saint Marçeau and Saint Antoine, were disposed to the cause from their natural restlessness and desire of change; from the apprehension that the king would discontinue the expensive buildings in which Buonaparte was wont to employ them; from a jacobinical dislike to the lawful title of Louis, joined to some tender aspirations after the happy days of liberty and equality; and Jastly, from the disposition which the lees of society every where manifest to get rid of the law, their natural curb and enemy. The influence of Richard Lenoir was particularly useful to the conspirators. He was a wealthy cotton-manufacturer, who combined and disciplined no less than three thousand workmen in his employment, so as to be ready at the first signal of the conspirators. Le Noir was called by the royalists Santerre the Second; being said to aspire, like that celebrated suburbian brewer, to become a general of Sans Culottes. He was bound to Buonaparte's interest by his daughter having married General Lefebre Desnouettes, who was not the less the favourite of Napoleon that he had

broken his parole, and fled from Eng-
land when a prisoner of war.
agitated like a lake by a subterranean
earthquake, revolutionary movements
began to shew themselves amongst
the populace. At times, under pre-
tence of scarcity of bread or employ-
ment, tumultuous groups assembled
on the terrace of the Tuilleries, with
clamours which reminded the Duchess
D'Angouleme of those which prece-
ded the imprisonment and death of
her parents. The police dispersed
them for the moment; but, if any ar-
rests were made, it was only of such
wretches as shouted when they heard
others shout, and no efforts were made
to ascertain the real cause of symp-
toms so alarming.

The police of Paris was at this time under the direction of Mons. D'André, formerly a financier. His loyalty does not seem to have been doubted, but his prudence and activity are very questionable; nor does he seem ever to have been completely master either of the duties of his office, or the tools by which it was to be performed. These tools, in other words, the subordinate agents and officers and clerks, the whole machinery as it were of the police, had remained unchanged since that dreadful power was administered by Savary, Buonaparte's head spy and confidential kidnapper. This body, as well as the army, felt that their honourable occupation was declined in emolument and importance since the fall of Buonaparte, and looked back with regret to the days when they were employed in agencies, dark, secret, and well-recompensed, unknown to a peaceful and constitutional administration. Like evil spirits employed by the spells of a benevolent enchanter, these police-officers seem to have served the king grudgingly and unwil lingly; to have neglected their duty, when that could be done with impu

[merged small][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]

nity; and to have shewn that they had lost their activity and omniscience, so soon as embarked in the service of legitimate monarchy.

Under the connivance, therefore, if not with the approbation of the police, conspiracy assumed a more open and daring aspect Several houses of dubious fame, but especially the Caffe Montanssier, in the Palais Royale, were chosen as places of rendezvous for the subordinate satellites of the cause, where the toasts given, the songs sung, the tunes performed, and the language held, all bore allusion to Buonaparte's glories, his regretted absence, and his desired return. To express their hopes that this event would take place in the spring, the conspirators adopt ed for their symbol the violet; and afterwards applied to Buonaparte him self the name of Corporal Violet. The flower and the colour were publicly worn as a party distinction, before it would seem the court had taken the least alarm; and the health of Buonaparte, under the name of Corporal Violet, or Jean d'Epée, was pledged by many a royalist without suspicion of the concealed meaning.

Paris was the centre of the conspiracy; but its ramifications extended through France. Clubs were formed in the chief provincial towns. Reguar correspondences were established between them and the capital; an intercourse much favoured, it has been asserted, by Lavallette, who, having been long director-general of the posts under Buonaparte, retained considerable influence over the subordibate agents of that department, none of whom had been displaced upon the king's return. It appears from the evidence of Mons. Ferrand, directorgeneral under the king, that the couners, who, like the soldiers and po

lice-officers, had found more advantage under the imperial than under the royal government, were several of them in the interest of their old master. And it is averred, that the correspondence relating to the conspiracy was carried on through the royal post-office, contained in letters sealed with the king's seal, and dispatched by public messengers wearing his livery.

Such open demonstrations of treasonable practices did not escape the observation of the royalists, and they appear to have been communicated to the ministers from different quarters. But each of these official personages seems scrupulously to have entrenched himself within the routine of his own particular department, so that what was only of general import to the whole, was not considered as the business of any one in particular. Thus, when the stunning catastrophe had happened, each endeavoured to shift the blame from himself, like the domestics in a large and ill-regulated family; and although all acknowledged that gross negligence had existed elsewhere, no one admitted that the fault lay with himself, This general infatuation surprises us upon retrospect; but Heaven, who frequently punishes mankind by the indulgence of their own foolish or wicked desires, had decreed that peace was to be restored to Europe by the extermination of that army to whom peace was a state so odious; and for that purpose it was necessary that they should be successful in their desperate attempt to dethrone their peaceful and constitutional sovereign, and to reinstate the despot who was soon to lead them to the completion of their destiny, and, it may be presumed, of his own.


ALL was now prepared in France, and waited but the presence of the head of the conspiracy. It is said, that for some time previous to his taking the last desperate step a gloom was observed to hang upon Buonaparte's mind. He shunned society, was solitary and moody, relinquished his usual exercises and amusements, and seemed to brood over some dark and important thoughts. That he deeply considered the consequence to others of the measure he was about to adopt, we cannot believe; but it was fraught with such personal risk and danger as might well have startled him. If he failed in making the desired impression on the mind of the French soldiers and the people, he could hardly expect to avoid death; and if he succeeded, he had still to oppose the force of a lately subdued and divided nation against the united strength of Europe, grown wise by experience, and familiar at once with

[ocr errors]

Fac bet

Buonaparte embarks at Elba-And lands in France-And marches to GapSuspicions of Treachery in the War Department.-Labedoyere joins Buona parte with his Regiment.-Revolt of the Troops at Grenoble.-Measures of the Royal Party-Soult is displaced from the Ministry.—The Treason of Lefebre Desnouettes, and Lallemand is discovered, and prevented.-Defection of the Troops under Macdonald-Decrees of Lyons.-Buonaparte's progress to Auxerre. His Interview with the Vicar-General.-Ney is appointed to command against Buonaparte.-He deserts and joins him.-The King visits the Chamber of Deputies.-Their Enthusiasm in the Royal Cause.-A Camp formed at Melun-But its Fidelity is doubted.-The King leaves Paris-Is expelled from Lisle-And compelled to Retreat to Ghent-Disasters of his Followers.-Defection of the Army at Melun.-State of Affairs at Paris.Buonaparte enters the Capital and completes the Revolution.-Fickleness of the People and their Leaders.

On Sunday, 26th February, the troops who had followed Buonaparte to the is

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]


[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]


the road to Paris and with the safest
path to peace through the temple of
victory. The die, however, was cast, and
it was no longer time to draw back.

Some previous steps had been cau-
tiously ventured upon. Three hun-
dred of Buonaparte's old guard had
been landed at Frejus, under the cha-
racter of disbanded soldiers. It was
by means of these men that the alle-
giance of the military was corrupted
and seduced, and their minds prepa-
red for what was to ensue. We cannot
suppose that such a number of persons
were positively entrusted with the se-
cret, but every one of them was pre-
pared to sound forth the praises of the
emperor in his exile, and all entertain-
ed and disseminated the persuasion
that he would soon appear to reclaim
his rights.

[ocr errors]

Feb. 26.

« AnteriorContinua »