« ForrigeFortsæt »
Parisians confined itself to these menacing denunciations, or evaporated in them. Affecting still a ridiculous show of deliberation and authority, the chamber of representatives demanded of the allies the acknowledgment of Napoleon II., pursuant to their declarations. Fouché began to take off the mask. He informed his colleagues and the chamber that the allied sovereigns acknowledged none but Louis XVIII., who would make his solemn entry into Paris on the following day, and that the provisional government was dissolved. The chamber of representatives now began to discuss with ludicrous gravity a bill of rights, which should be dictated to Louis XVIII. as the condition of his re-ascending the throne; and made a solemn declaration that they would maintain the post which the nation had assigned them. “ We are here,” said Manuel, repeating the memorable expression of Mirabeau, “ by the will of the people, and nothing but bayonets shall remove us.” The value of such expressions depends wholly upon the occasion. That which was sublime from the lips of Mirabeau in 1789 was ridiculous from those of Manuel in 1815. The representatives soon separated for that day, but came next morning, in number about a hundred, to re-assemble in their hall of sitting, found it occupied as a military post by the Prussians, and went away objects of derision rather than of pity or respect, to record an impotent protest at the house of the president Lanjuinais.
Louis XVIII. made his entry into Paris escorted for the second time, to the throne of France by foreign bayonets, on the 8th of July. The hired or hypocritical vociferations with which he was saluted could not conceal from him his utter debasement as a sovereign. He found the Prussians bivouacked in the court of the Tuileries, and obtained their removal only by abject prayers. One of the many noble works of Napoleon was the bridge of Jena, over the Seine. Blucher commenced operations for blowing up this monument of a battle which had been disastrous to Prussia. The duke of Wellington was appealed to, but would not interfere, or could not prevail with Blucher to desist. Louis XVIII. requested to be informed when the match was to be applied, in order that he might place himself upon the centre arch and be blown up with it. This canting gasconade would have had no effect upon Blucher, if the emperor of Russia had not opportunely arrived in Paris. At his intercession the bridge was spared, but newnamed, by a royal ordonnance, that of the Invalids.
The wretched Louis, powerless for all but the vengeance over which he was brooding, reconstituted his cabinet, with Fouché as minister of police. This noted personage appears to have been the most immoral of mankind. He was a sort of utilitarian in politics. The words “right” and “wrong' were banished from his vocabulary. The deepest hue of crime in human action was indifferent to him. He asked himself only whether it was or not what he called “ a fault.” Fouché shed blood in the revolution with the recklessness of a jacobin ; but cherished his own life with what Madame Roland called “the poltroonery of a Capuchin;" and saved it through so many wrecks of party by
his cowardly but sagacious sense of coming danger, his promptitude in betraying, and his dexterity in intriguing.
Upon the near approach of Louis XVIII. to the capital, Fouché openly avowed his traitorous correspondence with the duke of Wellington, and was rewarded with the ministry of police, through the grateful patronage of the duke, aided by lord Castlereagh, who had just arrived at the British headquarters. Louis XVIII., a suffering pitiable mass of gastronomic corpulency, disease, and years, was scarcely recovered from the fatigue of his ignominious procession in the rear of the British army, when he issued two tables of proscription. The first, denouncing capital punishment, contained nineteen names, among which were Ney, Labedoyère, Grouchy, Lavallette, the two Lallemands, Lefebvre Desnouettes, and Savary. The second denounced exile against thirty-nine persons, among whom were Carnot, Soult, Maret, St. Jean d'Angely; and below the signature of Louis figured that of Fouché, jacobin, regicide, conspirator, traitor, duke of Otranto, and minister of police. Carnot, upon receiving Fouché's official intimation to quit Paris in three days, addressed to him the following laconic note: -“ Où veux-tu que j'aille, traître ?” Fouché as laconically replied, “ Où tu voudras, imbécille ;" plainly intimating, in the triumph of successful villany, that an honest man and an idiot were synonymous terms.
Several of the French marshals had observed a calculating recreant neutrality during the hundred days. After bowing Louis XVIII. across the frontier,
they retired to their estates and awaited the event. Two of the least degraded, or most politic of this class, St. Cyr and Macdonald, were appointed; the former minister of war, the latter commander-inchief of the French army, in place of Davoust. The minister's first act was to order, and the commander's to execute, the disbanding of the French army, in pursuance of an ordonnance of Louis XVIII., dated Ghent, March 23d. Among the many instances of selfishness and demoralisation which disgraced France during the trying periods of 1814 and 1815, it is not the least striking that two French generals of reputation were found willing to pass the French army under the yoke of an ordonnance, distressing and degrading as the furcæ caudinæ of the Samnites.
Napoleon, in the mean time, was a prisoner on his way to the rock of St. Helena. He left Malmaison, it has been stated, on the 29th of June, and arrived at Rochfort on the 7th of July, with the intention of proceeding to the United States. Two dominant ideas haunted his imagination from the moment when he abdicated to his arrival at the coast. One was, that he had missed his destiny by not remaining in Egypt, and founding a new empire in the East. J'ai manqué à ma destinée! was his constant exclamation to others and to himself. The second was the idea already mentioned, which as frequently escaped him, of throwing himself upon the hospitality of England, as Themistocles had thrown himself
that of Persia. On the 8th of July he embarked with his suite, including Montholon and Bertrand, with their wives and families, Lascasas,
Lallemand, Gourgaud, and Savary, on board two French frigates, and was about to sail for America next day, when a British fleet was observed cruising before the roadstead of the Isle of Aix. The duke of Wellington had refused the provisional government a safe-conduct for him; the English cruisers. could not be eluded, and he came to the resolution of placing himself voluntarily in the hands of the British admiral. After some previous negotiation, Napoleon was received on board the Bellerophon by Captain Maitland, on the 14th of July. His first step was to address the following letter to the prince regent:-“ A mark to the factions which distract my country, and to the enmity of the greatest powers of Europe, I have terminated my political career, and I come like Themistocles to seat myself at the hearth of the British people. I place myself under the protection of their laws, which I claim of your royal highness, as the most powerful, the most constant, and the most generous of my enemies."
General Gourgaud, whom Napoleon charged with this letter, to be placed by him, if possible, in the prince regent's own hands, was not permitted to land, and the letter was returned; but a duplicate of it was forwarded to the British government. Napoleon, in the mean time, was brought over in the Bellerophon off Torbay, and thence to Plymouth Sound. Multitudes assembled from considerable distances to obtain a sight of the conqueror of so many nations, reduced to seek protection under the only flag of Europe which had never been lowered before him. Boats, crowded with spectators,