« PreviousContinue »
naparte. By Captain John Barnes, Town Major, and Civil and Military Surveyor in the Hon. Company's Services on the Island. 12mo. pp. 239. London. 1817.
4. Manuscrit venu de St. Hélène d'une manière inconnue. Troisième Edition. Svo. pp. 151. London. 1817.
WE have perused Santini's publication and Montholon's Let
ter with considerable satisfaction.-Whatever proves the discontent of Buonaparte and his satellites is to us an additional pledge for the peace of the world. The ill humour of one man is the security of millions; and when Buonaparte complains of the treatment he receives, we are satisfied that it is only because he finds his means and opportunities of doing mischief essentially restricted. We wonder, indeed, that he should be so far deceived by the flattery of his followers or his own vanity as to imagine that his complaints would find any sympathy in this part of the world. He should have remembered the epitaph on his predecessor Robespierre,
Passant, ne plaigne pas son sort,
We do not believe that there is one man in Europe who feels the slightest personal regard for the ex-Emperor: individually he is odious to all parties, at least in France. Talleyrand deposed him, Fouché betrayed him, De Staël and Constant libelled him, Lanjuinais and the moderate republicans feared him, Lainé and the constitutional monarchists hated him; all his Marshals abandoned him; even his own creatures deserted him; Bertrand himself offered to transfer his allegiance to the King; and, what we believe affected Buonaparte more than all the rest, his very cook refused to follow him to St. Helena.
But personally despised or hated as he may be, he is not on that account innoxious. He is the representative of the Revolution-the lineal descendant and heir of all the Neckers and Rolands, the Marats and Robespierres, the Tom Paynes and Anarcharsis Cloots, the Talliens and Barrères, the Henriots and the Hoches. All that survives of jacobinism in Europe looks up to him as its child and champion.' The turbulent and disaffected of all nations,never in any times an inconsiderable number, but after such convulsions as Europe has lately suffered, a very dangerous party,-all turn towards him-he is
The cynosure of jaundiced eyes.'
And however all the various classes and shades of turbulence may differ amongst themselves, and however soon their differences might burst out into mutual violence, yet-for a season, and to overturn their common enemies, good order, legitimacy and religion-they
would cordially and unanimously unite under the tri-coloured banner of Buonaparte; the authors of the Political Register and the Nain Jaune would coalesce, and Spafields and the Fauxbourg St. Antoine would renew the alliance which existed twenty years ago between Copenhagen-house and the Jacobin Club.
These are the causes which now give importance to Buonaparte; and when we see that he himself still dreams of being an emperor, and endeavours, by all the means with which intrigue or accident can supply him, to keep alive the criminal expectations to which we have alluded, we feel it to be our duty to expose the danger of his pretensions, the magnitude of the object he has in view, and the fraud and falsehood which he employs to attain it.
We think we shall be able to satisfy our readers that, instead of any relaxation of the already too loose custody in which Buonaparte is held, some further restrictions should be imposed. Does any man alive think that the ordinary parole of a prisoner of war would restrain Buonaparte, or that for him there can be any tie of honour or gratitude? He never possessed these qualities himself, and always, discountenanced them in others. The chosen of his heart were men of the most infamous character; and Lefebre Desnouettes, we all know, was overwhelmed with his favour and associated to his intimate society, for no other reason than that he had broken his parole of honour to this country.
When Buonaparte was first deposed at Fontainebleau in 1814, we rather desired than hoped that he might be brought to justice. The alliances and treaties which he had made from time to time with the Emperors of Russia and Austria appeared to justify a certain degree of deviation from the strict rule of retribution which might have been applied to an usurper-but while his life was spared, his power should have been put to death. Stripped of the titles and rank to which he had waded through seas of blood, he should have considered himself fortunate in being permitted to expiate in a close and safe, if not rigorous, confinement, the injuries he had inflicted on the world. Such an arrangement would have met, at that moment, we believe, universal concurrence; and we are confident that no public act of these latter days ever filled Europe with so much astonishment and disgust as that joint production of weakness and vanity, the treaty of Fontainebleau; which continued to Buonaparte not only a titular but a territorial sovereignty; which revived and encouraged the revolutionary spirit then about to expire under the arms of allied Europe, and to which nothing but this lamentable treaty could have given the vivacity and force in which we now see and feel it.
Instead, however, of a close imprisonment, such as he (wisely for his bad purposes) had inflicted upon others, he received, by
this treaty, the guarantee of every thing which good taste or common sense (to say nothing of retributive justice) should have denied him.
Let us recal to our readers' recollection some of its principal provisions.
1st. He is permitted to treat as an equal with the Emperors of Russia and Austria, and the King of Prussia; and his name is even allowed to precede theirs in the enumeration of the contracting parties.
2d. After the defeat of his armies, the capture of his capital, the disavowal of his power by the French nation itself, Buonaparte is permitted to renounce for himself and his descendants the throne of St. Louis :-this was an admission that, though no longer de facto sovereign of France, (for the senate and people had deposed him on the 2d April, 1814, and this treaty is dated the 11th,) he was so de jure, and had therefore a right to dispose of the crown: for it is plain, that he who has a free right to renounce, has also, if he will, a free right to retain.
3d. He and his second wife are not only to keep their titles as long as they live, but his mother, dame Letzia Raniolini; his brothers, Mr. Joseph, Mr. Louis, Mr. Jerome Buonaparte; his sisters, the widow Le Clerc, Mrs. Bacciochi, and tutti quanti, are to preserve, in all circumstances, the rank and titles of the imperial family.
4. The Emperor Napolione chooses the island of Elba for his residence, as a separate and sovereign principality. This article exceeds all the rest-before this, the treaty only acknowledges Buonaparte as rightful monarch of France; but here he seems to be the Sovereign of Europe, selecting out of the vast possessions which he condescends to renounce, an island which did not belong to France, and creating it, by his posthumous power, into a sovereign state.
5. But, as he was so modest as to choose an island, whose revenues do not exceed £20,000 a year, he retains for himself a portion of the revenues of France, to the annual amount of £200,000, and for the princes and princesses of his august family, a further sum of £350,000. Thus, without the consent of the French nation, without the concurrence of the French King, their Majesties the Emperors Napolione, Francis, and Alexander, and the King of Prussia, dispose of above half a million per annum of the revenues of France. This goes still farther to prove that Napolione was considered not as the late, nor merely the then sovereign of France, but as having claims and powers which extended over the future; for, it could only be by the authority of Napolione that France was required to pay the said sum during the life of the said Napolione and his wife and family, and for such payment, this expression of the will of the said Napolione was to be the King of France's sufficient warrant.
6. But, as if the treaty would be imperfect if it only recognized his imperial character and made provision for his financial concerns, some doubtful transactions of his domestic life and moral character are sanctified in this precious document; and his repudiated wife, her Majesty the Empress Josephine, ci-devant Madame Buonaparte, ci-devant Madame Barras, ci-devant Madame Beauharnais, ci-devant Mademoiselle Josephe-Rose Tascher, is recognized by her highest titles, and is gratified with an annuity of an hundred thousand pounds sterling, to be paid (nolens voleus) by Louis XVII. over and above all the property of all kinds which the aforesaid lady had before carefully appropriated to her own use. We believe that the barefaced profligacy of recognizing, in a public document, two wives living at the same time, is unexampled. Captain Macheath himself, at the conclusion of the Beggar's Opera, is more modest, and in his engagement before the public contents himself with one.
7. The Emperor Napolione, of his good grace and generosity, cedes to his Majesty the King of France (who is no party to the treaty) all the property, whether in lands or diamonds, &c. which is attached to the crown of France; in other words, Buonaparte consents to create Louis Capet, King of France.
Such are the chief articles of this monstrous treaty, which, by legitimatizing usurpation, sanctioning plunder, prostituting imperial rank and sovereign dignity to grooms, billiard markers, and filles de joie, by recognizing an impious divorce, and by setting at defiance, in the heart of France, the due authority of the French king and French nation, has done more mischief than any single act in which Buonaparte was ever before engaged, and was, in fact, the first if not the sole cause of the second invasion, and of that lamentable expenditure of blood and treasure in the year 1815, and of the consequent distressed and impoverished state of the greater part of Europe.
The crowning circumstance of this treaty was, that the signature of Lord Castlereagh was fraudulently affixed to the copies which were published on the continent, though the British minister was in no degree a party to it; so that it may be truly said to have commenced in folly and ended in falsehood.
We have thought it necessary to recal the circumstances of this treaty to our readers' recollection, because it affords a striking and melancholy lesson of the danger of compromising the great principles of politics or morals for any minor considerations, and of extending, under the specious names of candour and generosity, countenance to fraud, and impunity to crime. But there is another reason still more intimately connected with our present purpose for which we quote this document: this treaty, thus dic
tated by himself, scandalously favourable to all his views, Buonaparte wantonly violated, and has, indeed, always treated with such contempt, that he has never even deigned to apologize for having broken it.
Buonaparte now professes to have finished his political career, and to desire only a peaceful and quiet retirement-so he said at Elba-Why then did he leave that retirement which he himself had chosen? and is he now more entitled to credence and confidence than he was then?-can rivers flow backward?-can the hyæna be tamed?-can Buonaparte change his nature, and be bound by ties which he has over and over again broken, or restrained by feelings which confessedly he never felt ?—and are the lives and happiness of mankind to be risked upon the empty promises of a bankrupt in honour, whose only distinction is that he has failed so often and to such a frightful amount?
It is unfortunate for the world that when-after the breach of this treaty, after his new usurpation, and after having occasioned the death of an hundred thousand men he fell again into the power of his conquerors, it is unfortunate, we repeat, that his life was not the forfeit of his treason and his treachery. His public execution would have been a great and useful act of justice.More guilty than Ney, Labedoyère, or Murat, his punishment would have had an infinitely greater effect than theirs; and if HE, the great cause of all the evil, had been brought to the block, the blood of the other less guilty victims might have been sparedLabedoyère might have been permitted to make living reparation to his injured country; and Ney might, perhaps, by a long repentance have atoned for his crime and retrieved his dishonour. The king of France might then have gathered all his subjects (except the murderers of his brother) under the wings of amnesty and oblivion, and the sins of the whole people might have been buried in the
GRAVE OF THE GREAT OFFENDER.
But that better and juster course being rejected, we believe every sound head and uninfected heart in Europe will agree that there remained but one alternative to be adopted-that system of seclusion and safe custody of which Buonaparte now so vehemently complains.
This brings us to a nearer consideration of the works mentioned in the title to this Article: we say nearer-for we flatter ourselves that our readers will see that these introductory observations are intimately connected with the grounds and principles of the subject under discussion.
We shall begin with Montholon's Letter. To this tissue of falsehood we have reason to believe that Count Montholon has contributed nothing but his signature, and that it is the joint pro