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covered the sea, -- forming a vast and picturesque flotilla. His destination was the subject of much doubt and controversy, during several days which he passed in Plymouth Sound. Was he to receive a safe-conduct for the United States, or permission to reside in England, or was he to be sent a prisoner to St. Helena ? His own expectation appears to have been, that he should be permitted to live in England. Two courses were open to the regent and his cabinet; the one generous, the other secure. They made option of the latter. Sir H. Bunbury, an under secretary, officially communicated to Napoleon, that he and his suite, restricted to a certain number, would be sent prisoners of war to St. Helena. Lallemand and Savary were excluded, on the ungenerous ground of their proscription in France. Napoleon protésted vehemently against this treatment, and addressed a letter of remonstrance to the admiral, lord Keith. He was, however, virtually forced on board the Northumberland, and set sail in that ship, on the 8th of August, for St. Helena ; leaving behind him the following protest, which he had written on board the Bellerophon, when he was informed of his destination :
“ I here solemnly protest, in the face of heaven and men, against the violation of my most sacred rights, in the disposal by force of my person and liberty. I am the guest of England. Once seated on board the Bellerophon, I was under the protection of the hearth of the British people. If the government, in giving orders to the captain of the Bellerophon to receive me and my suite, sought only to decoy me, it has forfeited its honour, and tarnished its flag. Should this act be consummated,
let the English talk no more to Europe of their good faith, their laws, their liberty. British faith will be lost in the hospitality of the Bellerophon. I appeal to history. History will say that an enemy, who made war for twenty years upon the English people, came in his ill fortune, of his own accord, in search of an asylum under their laws. What more shining proof could he give of his esteem and confidence? But how did England answer such magnanimity as this? She feigned to hold out a hospitable hand to that enemy, and when he surrendered himself in good faith, she immolated him!” *
Why, it was asked, did not Napoleon play the Roman with his own hand ? This reproach was thrown pon him, in France, by those who themselves trembled whilst he continued to breathe, or who would consult the wallowing ease, and satiate the craven vengeance of the Bourbons and emigrants; in England, by a class of creatures whose canting hypocrisy would have charged it upon him as the crowning of his misdeeds, or whose pusillanimous bigotry would consign the suicide to the desecrations of interment in the highway.
The disposal of his person by the British government of that day is an open question, which has been, and will be, variously judged. It will be condemned by the fearlessly generous, - vindicated by
* Sir Walter Scott suggests a reason, curious only as coming from him, why Napoleon should have thought himself fortunate: it is that as an English prisoner of war his life was safe; whereas any other of the high allies would make "
“quick conveyance" of him by secret assassination.
the unscrupulously prudent; but there is something unequivocally despicable and ridiculous in the petty mortification of affecting to deny that he had been an emperor. Blucher acted consistently with the blind passions of a barbarian, when he thought, by blowing up a bridge, to obliterate from the page of history the
memory of a great battle; but what could have possessed British ministers --even such ministers as lords Bathurst and Castlereagh — when they set up their imbecility, against the annals of a memorable age, which will record Napoleon a crowned monarch, warrior, and statesman ; a tyrant and conqueror it is true, but also a benefactor of mankind ? In fine, Napoleon was marked out for sacrifice by a confederacy of crowned heads ; not because he was a tyrant, or even a conqueror, but because, as lord Holland is said to have expressed it, he wanted a royal pedigree; because he would establish in his person a perilous innovation, — the supremacy of mind and of the popular power. He fell, perhaps, because the time for new reigning dynasties in any enlightened and independent nation is gone by. The popular power seems disposed to manifest itself in another form, which cannot be placed beyond the pale of society and humanity, conquered in a single battle, or carried captive to a distant island. Whether it will break the thread, or await the euthanasia of the existing royal races, would be a curious rather than profitable enquiry.
The French people, it was said, were favourable to the house of Bourbon, and the army alone had restored Bonaparte. That army now no longer existed, Napoleon was removed, his adherents were
proscribed, Louis XVIII. was seated on his throne, with his whole machinery of government fully organised; did the allies withdraw their armies, and leave him to the loving-kindness of his people ? They did not commit a folly so egregious. It was arranged, or rather imposed by treaty, that sixteen fortresses of France should be occupied, for five years, by the allies, with 150,000 troops of the different nations, under the command of the duke of Wellington as generalissimo. But, in adopting this necessary precaution, they gave the lie both to their own declarations and to the declamations of their partisans. They practically avowed, that they had forced upon France the yoke of a family abhorrent to the French nation. It
may be inferred from the conduct of the allies, and even from their language, that Louis XVIII. was restored, not from affection or esteem for him or his family, so much as with a view to punish and humiliate the French. The emperor of Russia made no secret of his contempt for the Bourbons ; and it appeared to be the policy of the allies to render Louis already hated and despised — still more despicable and hateful. The supreme magistracy of a state was never more utterly debased. An usurper, so called, would have died rather than submit to the public and personal degradations of this “ legitimate king." He had to repeat his entreaties to the Prussian general for the removal of the Prussian bivouacs from beneath his palace windows, and for permission to enjoy the hollow and paltry pageant of a sentry in French uniform at his door. The government of his capital, mu
nicipal and military, was exercised by the Prussians, who, under the name of requisitions and quarters, indulged in all the excesses of military rapacity and insolence. Complaining magistrates and deputations could not even obtain access to the Tuileries by the Carrousel, whilst the mock monarch was communing on the other side of the palace, with a ragged group of both sexes earning a daily pittance by dancing and singing under his window, at the command of the police.
But that which stung the French to agony, and made them vent openly their impotent execration upon Louis XVIII., the Bourbons, and the allies, was the sight of the Louvre despoiled of the im. mortal remains of ancient sculpture, and the cone gregated chefs-d'ouvre of the Italian and Flemish schools. It was upon this occasion that the duke of Wellington, in a letter to lord Castlereagh, avowed the design of giving the French “a great moral lesson.” The rapacious and insolent domination with which the French exercised the right of conquest upon other countries merited a reprisal. But a truly moral lesson cannot be given by fraud and vio. lence, even though committed in retaliation. They who, professing respect to a sacred principle, so lemnly abjured the intention of imposing a government on France, and, when they had obtained all the advantages of this abjuration, flagrantly violated their pledge; they who bound themselves, by express convention, to respect public and private property, and yet acknowledged no right over it but that of the stronger,—talked of morality with a bad grace. Blucher, it is true, did not blow