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the least effusion of blood. Ney, like Murat, with all his intrepidity in the field, had no moral courage, and could not combine two political ideas. He manifested irresolution. General Lecourbe and the noted Bourmont, who were present when he received the letter, advised him to proclaim the emperor. He acted upon their advice; and issued his well known order of the day, which was drawn up, Savary asserts, by Bourmont.
Ney might, and ought to, have personally withdrawn himself; but this was all he could have done for the Bourbons. The troops, already in a ferment, not only would not fire upon their former chief, but were prepared to join him.
On the evening of the 9th, Napoleon presented himself before Lyons, was received with acclamations, and entered the second city of France in triumph; whilst the count d'Artois and the duke of Orleans fled before him with an escort of only a few gendarmes. He halted at Lyons three days, which he passed in reviewing the troops, receiving the public authorities, and performing various acts of sovereignty. Among his exercises of sovereign power were, the abolition of feudal nobility, the dissolution of the two chambers, the announcement of a new and free constitution, the proscription of the Bourbons and Talleyrand, and the abolition, entire and for ever, of the African slave trade.
The news of his progress spread consternation at Vienna. Talleyrand, in dismay, imagined himself already in the clutches of Napoleon, and invoked the emperor of Russia to save his life. The congress of ministers, which affected at first to proceed
if nothing had occurred to disturb or alarm them
now abandoned the work of spoliation: Saxony dropped from the talons of Russia and Prussia; the duke of Wellington, who had taken the place of lord Castlereagh, left Vienna for the British, and marshal Blucher, Berlin, for the Prussian head-quarters, in the Netherlands.
In Paris, the state of interior commotion and outward quiet was such as cannot be conceived by those who did not witness it. Terror and dismay, hope and joy, intrigue and apostacy, hatred and revenge, strove vainly to disguise themselves under masks, the effect of which was exaggeration and distortion rather than concealment. Louis XVIII. repeated his grovelling appeals and hollow promises. His miserable successor,
the count d'Artois, pledged himself to the constitution by an oath in the presence of the two chambers. It was too late. Napoleon was already at Fontainbleau. At one o'clock in the morning of the 20th of March, the Bourbons stole out of the Tuilleries; and at seven in the evening of the same day, the emperor (for such he now was, emphatically,) drove into the court-yard of the palace, escorted by a squadron of cavalry, galloping round him in disorderly martial array, with shouts which were soon drowned in the tumultuous cheers of the vast multitude which filled the carousel. The postilions, obstructed by the dense crowd, could not reach the Tuilleries. He opened the chaise door to make his way on foot; but, before he touched the ground, was borne by men's arms to his very cabinet, and in a few hours found himself surrounded by his household officers and ministers of state, as if Napoleon's first gradual ascent to a throne, as a successful soldier, favoured by events, was within the common range of example ; but to become from a powerful monarch an almost captive exile, under the ban of the confederated world, — to compass against such odds the re-conquest of a great kingdom, and to accomplish this by the electric power of his genius upon the opinions and imaginations of great masses of men, without shedding one drop of their blood, — this is an achievement unparalleled and unique in the known annals of mankind — it is the acme of human glory.
The re-appearance of Napoleon in France, and his resumption of the sceptre, created in England a strong sensation, but not quite equal to the singularity and importance of the event.
The period was one of tumultuary discontent throughout the country; and the week in which the intelligence arrived was signalised by the most serious riot which had disturbed the metropolis since the days of lord George Gordon. The owners and occupiers of land complained of ruin, and clamoured for a prohibitory duty upon foreign corn: the consumers of bread were partly alarmed, partly infuriated, at the prospect of high prices and starvation. The ministers, taking part with what is called the landed interest, introduced the memorable corn bill; and for several nights the mob, chiefly of Spitalfields, going forth in organised detachments, intimidated and maltreated the lords and commons on their way to their respective houses, and attacked the residences of several of the most obnoxious supporters of the bill. Under these circumstances, an incident the most surprising in itself, and compromising the peace of Europe, arrested, rather than diverted, the popular mind.
The effect was stronger upon parliament and the ministry. Henceforth the proceedings of both turned chiefly upon questions of foreign policy, and the prospects of war or peace. Mr. Whitbread, in postponing a motion respecting the congress of Vienna, took occasion to deprecate any interference with the internal affairs of France. Lord Castlereagh replied with his usual ambiguity. The memorable declaration against Napoleon by the congress of Vienna arrived, and, for a moment, seemed to remove all doubts. This manifesto, unexampled in diplomacy, and unexceeded in atrocity, excited in England horror and disgust. The case was simply and shortly as follows:- Napoleon had concluded the treaty of Fontainbleau with the allies, as between independent powers: the full sovereignty of Elba was conceded to him. In violation of the treaty he invaded France; and, upon this violation, the ministers of the several powers assembled in congress
themselves to declare him out of the pale of civil and social relations an object for summary destruction, like the tiger or the wolf. “ By breaking,” says the declaration, “ the convention which established him in the island of Elba, Bonaparte destroys the only legal title upon which his existence depended. The powers therefore declare, that Napoleon Bonaparte has placed himself out of the protection of civil and social relations, and, as an enemy, and disturber of the repose of execution.” The premise, it will have been observed, assumes that the treaty of Fontainbleau was his only legal title to his life : the conclusion places the declaration of Vienna as a good and sufficient warrant in the hands of the assassin and the murderer; and the savage enthymem was subscribed with the names of four British ministers ! *
It is seldom that the essential and sacred principles of morality among men have been outraged with impunity. There is a retributive action, sooner or later, in the moral order of things. Dispensers of summary justice on behalf of the people may one day adopt the logic of the declaration of Vienna, and the victims most probably would be ministers and kings.
A message from the regent to parliament was presented by lords Liverpool and Castlereagh, in their respective places, on the 6th of April. It set forth with insidious moderation, that recent events in France were dangerous to the tranquillity and independence of Europe; that an augmentation of his majesty's sea and land forces became advisable; that the prince regent had entered into communications with his majesty's allies ; and that he confidently relied on the support of parliament. An address, echoing the message, was voted in the house of lords unanimously.
In the house of commons, Mr. Whitbread moved an amendment, expressly recommending peace. He regarded the address as covertly pledging the house to war. Mr. Ponsonby, on the other hand, construed it as ex
* Wellington, Clancarty, Cathcart, Stewart.