Page images

And turning round, he saw as an ebullition in the water, and he heard a hissing noise, like that emitted by a red-hot iron plunged into cold water. ' 1

And his daughter had disappeared, and in three vaults bis noble courser carried him upon the rock of Ganec, higher than the highest towers of the accursed city.

And the storm still continued, and the buildings, sapped by the waters, tumbled down upon one another with a frightful noise. Soon the cries of the dying were hushed. The loud voice of the tempest was heard once more, and then all was still.

But from the bottom of the waters there came forth a voice saying, “ Justice is done. Blessed be the Lord.”

This legend does not tell us at what period of time the Sodom of Armorica was destroyed. There are two Grallons in the history of Brittany. The first was Grallon, Earl of Cornwall, known for his struggles against the Romans, 439—445 ; the second, Grallon II., who, of all the countries possessed by his ancestors, was only able to preserve Cornwall. He lived in 690.

It is a relief to turn from ghost-stories and lugubrious legends to the prophecies for 1853. The harmlessness of these predictions is truly gratifying.

In the absence of political predictions, we are treated to such innocuous prophecies as that caoutchoue will be used to soften the spine, and to cure distortions and rheumatism. Programmes will be sold at the Opera on occasions of Bals masqués, which will supply dominos and other masques with wit, good taste, and manners. At a general congress of the Peace Society, the public of all countries shall be particularly requested to drop the use of all words which are calculated to vex, annoy, or insult their neighbours, or to turn good citizens into ridicule. Goverments will be particularly requested to put a stop to the disturbance of public repose effected by itinerant musicians, and the sum of 100,000 francs will be voted to whosoever shall invent an instrument that shall supersede the use of boot-hooks, too frequently the cause of bellicose expressions in the bosom of families.

New invasions will take place in fashions, and in female apparel. An actress of the Théâtre des Variétés, at that time the theatre of tragic vaudevilles, will take the initiative in the reform of the female costume. She will walk the Boulevard in a transparent tunic, after the fashion of Syrian stuffs, and her shoulders will be covered with a saffron-coloured shawl, dotted with silver spangles. Her hair will be powdered with golddust, and sewn with bees of the same metal, like those of the Athenians in the time of Pericles and Alcibiades. There will be a great day of reception at the Académie, upon which occasion the newly-elected member will occupy three hours in an oration, recanting all that he has written since his early youth, and panegyrising his illustrious predecessor, author of a poem “ On the Pleasures of Angling.” A learned astronomer will discover a new planet. As usual, an Englishman will assert that he had seen it before. “A report will be made to the Academy of Medicine on the pernicious effects of extracting gelatine from cast-off old buttons which will be in future proscribed from the soup of the poor. The members of the Jockey Club will continue to speak l'Anglais du Turf. Stockbrokers' clerks will continue to transform themselves into gentlemenriders, and to make fabulous bets, in which coins of twenty centimes will be spoken of as guineas and pounds sterling. An orchestra will be completed, in which Autes will be replaced by sax-tubes and mortiers trombones, the effect of which will surpass that of the loudest tempest, and will be attended by a prodigious paroxysm of success.

The Empire, we have observed, was not predicted by the almanacks. Louis Napoleon has been his own Nostradamus, and has arranged that he should be proclaimed by the united voices of the civil and military authorities on the occasion of his triumphal procession through the provinces, to be confirmed by 60,000 infantry, and twenty squadrons of the choicest cavalry of France, on his re-entrance into the capital of the civilised world. The event, however, has not been wanting its literary inauguration ; a pamphlet has been published, entitled “Du Rétablissement de l'Empire,' every sheet of which is duly stamped, so that no doubt it has circulated free to the remotest corners of France.

“ It is evident,” says this authoritative document, “ that the irresistible movement of opinion, the unanimous impulse of the nation manifested on all sides by the wishes of the general councils, the progress of ideas on political matters, the lessons of contemporaneous experience, the interests of France, of Europe, and of the world (!)-everything combines to bring about at an early period the re-establishment of the Empire.”

The Great Napoleon and Napoleon III. have both risen to power upon revolution, and so, also, the distinction is claimed for each of having frankly accepted the revolution, and of having caused such to penetrate into the interior by the laws, and to have spread it over Europe by their victories. “Thus it is that, notwithstanding its reverses, France continues to be Napoleonic, and Europe is French!"

It is this idea which Napoleon III. feels himself, according to the same authentic document, called upon to carry out. “Let," it says, “ the proclamations and discourses of Strasbourg and Boulogne be read over again, and it will be seen that it was less a right that Louis Napoleon invoked, than a political conviction that he was prepared to realise after having overthrown the citizen monarchy of Louis Philippe.”

Again, in the celebrated enunciation of principles made before the Chamber of Peers on the occasion of his successful appeal to universal suffrage, the Emperor-elect proclaimed, as is here again announced to us, and that in a more formal manner than ever, written, as it were, on cloth of gold (may it never be stained with the blood of innocent people), at the threshold of the Empire:

“I represent before you a principle, a cause, a defeat. The principle is the sovereignty of the people; the cause that of the Empire ; the defeat Waterloo. The principle you have admitted it, the cause you have served, and you will revenge the defeat.”

This revenge to be taken for the defeat of Waterloo is not, as some have supposed, to be effected by an invasion of England. The objects to be gained are the frontiers of France, as determined by the treaty of Campo-Formio, and the peace of Amiens. These include the left bank of the Rhine and all Belgium, so that France shall have for natural limits the Pyrenees, the Alps, the Rhine, and the sea. Many English statesmen, notoriously the Earl of Liverpool, have not been averse to this arrangement, and England, we are reminded, signed the treaty of Amiens. It is to be observed upon this, that the Bordeaux programme declares that we are not to have war—that the energies of the Emperor will be directed to the material interests of France-its agriculture, its manufactures, its railroads, its shipping, and its commerce. Happy for mankind if Louis Napoleon shall be a Napoleon of Peace! But do programmes invariably realise all they promise ? Did Louis Napoleon hand over his powers intact to his successor at the end of four years, as he declared he would do in 1848 ? When he was re-elected for ten years, did he not declare, only seven months ago, that he would not accept the Empire except in the event of hostile parties forcing him to do so ? Then, again, the programme at Strasbourg was the Rhine !--the programme at Marseilles, the Mediterranean !—the programme at Bordeaux, peace! The three do not tally. We have a declaration of a Protectorship of the “Holy Places,” including Rome, Mount Sion, Mount Carmel, and Acre, at the very moment that a Muhammadan saint and warrior is commissioned to the East to light up the smouldering embers of religious bigotry and religious wars. Well may, the old diplomatists of the Continent-Burleigh-like-shake their heads, doubting whether it will be England, Belgium, the Rhine, Italy, Morocco, Tunis, or the Levant, first ; but none doubting that circumstances will be stronger than either men or programmes. In the mean time, France is to be once more consulted by means of “universal suffrage,” in accordance with the Constitution ; she will proclaim the Empire, and will, no doubt, work out her destiny. Only let Napoleon III. remember that the first Empire received France from the hands of the First Republic with the frontier of the Rhine and the Alps, and it left her weaker in 1815 than royalty itself had done. Napoleon III. receives France from the hands of a Second Republic, with Algiers and the “Holy Places.” By peace these may be retained, and the power and prosperity of France ensured by war, both Algiers and the “Holy Places” may be perilled.

The following portrait of the Emperor-elect," from the Almanach de Napoléon, will not be without its interest at the present moment :

The impassibility which he manifests during the great circumstances of life is only the result of serious studies and of long meditations. The calmness is that of strong minds. Study, exile, and captivity have modified his generous nature to such an extent, that Louis Napoleon is now entirely master of himself; but it would be most erroneous to suppose that his moral nature is circumscribed or kept down by physical incapacity. It is, on the contrary, will and strength of mind which with him rule the senses. He is accustomed to say, that to bustle is not to make progress. This is profoundly true, and most especially so in politics. His language, sober and precise, is the result of the system of conduct that he has imposed upon himself, and which, in the grave and difficult circumstances in which he has been placed, has succeeded so well. No one approaches men and things quicker or better, and the first opinion that he forms is generally correct. He rarely comes back from his first impression, for he knows that it is almost always a correct one. A perspicuous observer, he sees with a rapid eye all that passes around him, without allowing any of the impressions which he receives to show themselves. The memory, however, of these in pressions, and the opinion he has formed of men, class themselves in his memory, and are always at his command at an opportune moment. It is a frequent source of surprise to see him remembering things accomplished a long time ago, and giving important trusts to men whom no one thought of, and whose suitable dispositions he had alone found out. This was the Emperor's system, and it is well known what bappy results flowed from it. Add to this, he has so often had the means of judging men, and of making their acquaintance in the character of political intriguers, and of selfimportant and importunate courtiers of all descriptions, who hastened to surround him during the first days of his greatness, that the verse of a celebrated poet,

Que du faîte ou nous sommes,

Le spectacle qu'on a nous dégoûte des hommes, must have come frequently to his mind.

It has been seen with what discernment and success he selected the men who were to assist in bringing about and carrying out the events of the 2nd of December.

Previous to that epoch, he used to go out and drive or ride in the Bois de Boulogne at two o'clock in the afternoon. He was always accompanied in these rides by an officer on duty. A good and beautiful horseman, he lias always in his stables horses of the very best breed. These excursions in the Bois de Boulogne would be prolonged to four, sometimes to five o'clock. When he went out in his tilbury, he always drove himself.

On his return he had an account given to him, by a person to whom this particular duty was delegated, of the sittings of the Assembly. He also received a few visits at that hour.

Dinner takes place at six o'clock; several times a week persons of high importance, ministers, generals, public functionaries, and others, are invited. The list of persons to be invited is arranged by himself most carefully.

In the evening, the days when there are not parties, the prince goes to the Opera, to the Théâtre Français, or to the Italians, and even to the minor theatres. Other evenings are employed by him in the study or development of the great political and administrative questions of the day.

Some days before the events of the 2nd of December, and since their accomplishment, the prince has given himself up to a prodigious amount of labour : daylight has often overtaken him in these self-imposed tasks, which have had no object but the future prosperity of France.

All the official acts of the 2nd of December, proclamations, decrees, appeals to the people, &c., were either dictated or written by him. It has been the same with respect to the greater part of the decrees which have appeared since that time.

The Constitution lately published is entirely his own work. The eve of the day on which it first appeared he corrected the proofs himself with the most careful attention, in the presence of the chancellor, the minister of justice, and the director of the press. The meeting did not break up till two o'clock in the morning.

Such is the man to whom France has just confided her destinies. As may be seen, even from this slight sketch, Louis Napoleon follows out seriously and scrupulously the great mission that he has imposed upon himself—that of restoring to France its prosperity, as in good times of old, and God-as he says himself, and as we ourselves hope-God will bless his work.

Like the great Napoleon, he believes in his destiny, and he loves the people who have faith in theirs.

And in truth, in political life as on the field of battle, there must be good fortune to succeed. This constant confidence in his star, which has never abandoned him, even under the most critical circumstances, explains and justifies all the acts of his life ; it derives its strength from religious faith. Louis Napoleon is a believer in the full acceptation of the word. In the great political events that have taken place during the last three years he has never failed to invoke the assistance of religion. The name of God is to be met with in almost all his speeches. During the different journeys that he has undertaken in France, his first care has always been, on going into a town, to repair to the metropolitan church, and ask for the blessings of heaven. This was not, as was thought at one time, a political proceeding; it arose from a purely religious motive. “That which constitutes my strength,” he said one day to a general, who has for some time back been one of his ministry, “ is, that I have religious faith, which yon have not."

Lonis Napoleon gets up regularly at seven o'clock in summer and at eight in winter. His first attentions are given to the perusal of the important letters which are brought to him by his valet Thélin, and which all bear a mark, arranged beforehand, with those who are in his confidence. He then takes two or three turns in the garden, and comes back at nine to his study, which is next to his bedroom. His aide-de-camps are then admitted, after them the officers on duty, who receive their orders for the day. Doctor Conneau, his physician, also pays him a visit, as well as M. Mocquard, his chef de cabinet, and M. Buré (foster-brother to Louis Napoleon) steward of the palace.

When each has received his instructions, the prince often enters into familiar conversation with them, which, however, is not prolonged beyond a few minutes; he then busies himself with the more urgent affairs : those concerning which he will have to speak to his ministers, who generally assemble at the Elysée at noon. He runs through the papers, the more important passages of which have been previously marked with red chalk. He especially reads the English papers carefully. The attacks of the Charivari and of the Journal pour Rire on his person and those of his ministers, at the time when they were allowed to publish such, used to afford him much amusement. He often laughed at the caricatures in which his appearance was far from being flattered.

At ten o'clock the prince grants a few audiences. Breakfast is served up at eleven precisely. Louis Napoleon eats very moderately. On quitting the breakfast-table he repairs to the council-chamber, and takes his seat at the table where his ministers are assembled. He listens to the discussions attentively, but only takes part in them to the extent of a few decisive words, which generally resume the whole question, and intimate the line of conduct which he wishes to be pursued. The prince is in the habit, during these sittings of his council, of drawing with a pen sketches of landscapes or fancy portraits, which the employés of the Elysée secure with anxiety. The council over, he dismisses the ministers, and receives the other persons of his household. He also receives at or about the same time (that is to say, between one and two o'clock) persons who have received letters of audience.

And now to conclude with the summary of the author of the pamphlet 6 Du Rétablissement de l'Empire.” “Integrity and candour are the two leading features in the character of this young hero, whom six years of captivity and twenty-five years of exile have ripened for power, and who may already be with justice compared to Augustus and to Titus!”

• France !” adds the same writer, “ whose heart still bleeds at the mere memory of Waterloo and of St. Helena ; glorious mother of civilisation; nation of heroes; Gauls, whom the Emperor made the conquerors of the Franks, salute this fourth dynasty, of which he never ceased to speak at St. Helena, and which, in his estimation, could alone assure for ever the safety, the prosperity, and the repose of France. Let us hail the Empire, constitutional, French. Let us hail the Empire and the Emperor!

“It is the will of the people and of God.”

« PreviousContinue »