Billeder på siden

of common interest, as from reliance upon

the personal fidelity of king Augustus as an ally. He had even thought of choosing a Saxon princess for his wife. The king of Saxony observed his engagements faithfully to the last ; but his troops, at the battle of Leipsic, went over, in the hour of battle, and decided the victory. Desertion from the French standard might, in any other troops of Germany, have been pardoned. The Saxons betrayed, not only their military honour, but their country. It might be expected that the useful infamy of their desertion would atone for the obnoxious fidelity of their king, and propitiate the allied sovereigns. But the scutcheon of the king of Saxony was pure. He had neither crouched nor betrayed; and royal probity was a sort of direct reproach which they punished as an offence. He was accordingly sent a prisoner to Berlin, and his kingdom occupied by the troops of the emperor of Russia. This occupation was presumed to be but momentary. It was, however, protracted for several months, until the meeting of the congress of Vienna. The Russian governor of the Saxon capital, prince Repnin, then yielded up his provisional occupation of Saxony to the troops of the king of Prussia; and England was proclaimed a consenting party to this barefaced transaction by the British minister at Vienna. * The king of Saxony published a mournful appeal to the world, in the form of a

* “ The king of Saxony,” said one of the satellites of lord Castlereagh, in parliament, from mere imbecility of intellect, attached himself to the cause of the Corsican impostor, He,


declaration. He spoke of the justice and magnanimity of the allied sovereigns in such a manner as to suggest the idea of their dishonesty and

“ We were compelled,” says he, “ to depart from our states, and proceed to Berlin. His majesty, the emperor of Russia, nevertheless, made known to us, that our removal from Saxony was dictated only by military interests; and his majesty invited us, at the same time, to repose in him entire confidence.” The emperor of Russia was equally ready to invite confidence and to betray it. That “ true Greek of the lower empire” yielded to the king of Prussia the spoils of the king of Saxony, in order to secure the aid of a crawling and rapacious compeer in his own designs on Poland.

The fate of the Poles was still pending: but they were obviously marked for Russian prey. The emperor Alexander occupied the grand duchy of Warsaw with his troops ; cajoled the Poles with his usual tone of adroit hypocrisy and deceitful promise; and overawed the other great powers, or their representatives, by calling on the Poles to take arms for their independence, and by reinforcing his army on the Polish frontier. *

Whilst this confederacy of the strong against the

therefore, is unfit and unworthy to reign; and to deprive him of his crown, is an act of simple justice.” Quam facile in nosmet legem sancimus iniquam !

* In the following order of the day, addressed to the Polish army, by his gentle brother Constantine, the national and military spirit of the Poles is doubly played upon to cheat them into bondage, and to intimidate the other powers :

weak was thus pursuing its course of oppression, partition, and spoliation, checked only by the disputes of the confederates respecting the division of the spoil, an unexpected event exploded like an alarm gun through Europe.

Napoleon broke his chain, and took his daring flight from Elba back to France.

A conspiracy was supposed to explode in this memorable adventure. Circumstances, not men, had conspired to produce it. The Bourbons were at

“ His majesty, the emperor Alexander, your powerful prótector, calls upon you.

Assemble round your standards ; let your hands be armed for the defence of your country, for the maintenance of your political existence.

While this august monarch is occupied with the happiness which he designs for your country, show that you are ready to support his generous endeavours with your blood. The same chiefs who for these twenty years have led you to the fields of honour, will still show you the way. The emperor knows how to appreciate your valour. Amidst the disasters of an unfortunate war, he has seen that your honour survived events, which it did not depend upon you to alter. Glorious deeds have distinguished you in a conflict, the cause of which was frequently foreign to you. Now that your exertions are dedicated to your country, you will be invincible. Soldiers, and warriors of all descriptions, give the first example of the virtues that must inspire all your countrymen; unlimited devotion to the emperor, whose only object is the good of your country ; love towards his august person, obedience, discipline, unanimity; by these you will promote the welfare of your country, which is now under his mighty ægis; by these you will attain that prosperity which others might promise you, but which he alone can procure you. His power and his virtues are the pledges.


and some,

once dreaded and despised by the great mass of the French nation : dreaded, for their treacherous intention to restore the régime of privilege and feudalism, which the revolution had overturned ; and despised for their weakness and timidity. The public mind of France was in a state of feverish excitement. There were several distinct parties, with their respective views. Some, chiefly military, sought the return of Napoleon ; some, a regency, governing in the name of his son ; some, the substitution of the duke of Orleans ; the republic. But all, however different their views, were affected with a common nausea, which sought relief in throwing off the reigning Bourbons. Fouché, tormented by his inveterate spirit of intrigue, and piqued by the just scorn of the Bourbons for his proffered services, brought the chiefs of these several parties into a plot to subvert the restored dynasty. He affected, in turn, the opinions and views of each, in his separate conferences with them, but entered only into those of the Jacobins, who were themselves divided between the republic and a regency. If reliance may be placed on the

. memoirs of Savary, the plot extended to Vienna, and embraced not only Talleyrand, who had already served every government and every faction, in turn, but the Austrian minister, Metternich. The chiefs of this conspiracy were Fouché, duke of Otranto; Maret, duke of Bassano; marshal Davoust, prince of Echmul ; Thibaudeau, Boulay de la Meurthe, the two brothers Lallement, and Lefebvre Desnouettes. They had proceeded so far, that a military movement in the department of the north


was organised to take place at the end of February ; but all was done without concert or communication with the emperor, as he was called, of Elba. The partisans of Napoleon were the minority in the plot; and even they wished to be in a situation to dictate to him the liberty of France and peace of Europe as the conditions of his return. *

But after, as before, the arrival of Napoleon in Elba, the two ports of the island, Porto Ferrajo and Porto Longone, were freely entered by the vessels of every nation. Strangers landed there without question, coming not only from the ports of Italy, but direct from Toulon and Marseilles. An English man of war, with the British commissioner, Campbell, on board, looked on without interfering. Napoleon had thus the means of learning, from confidential as well as casual visitors, the state of parties in France, and the progress of the allied sovereigns in what they called the settlement of Europe. He was, at the same time, apprised t, by a foreign military officer of high rank, then at Vienna, that Louis XVIII. had succeeded in obtaining, through Talleyrand, a resolution of the congress for transporting him as a prisoner to St. Helena or St. Lucie. Two of the strongest impulses of every strong mind — the desire of power,

[ocr errors]

* It is necessary to observe here, in justification of this brief version, that most of the English accounts of “the conspiracy of 1815," are but so much romance, founded chiefly on the soi-disant “ Posthumous Memoirs of Fouché;" one of the many self-convicting and contemptible fabrications of the Parisian press.

+ Memoirs of Savary

« ForrigeFortsæt »