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The Reign of George III. - (Concluded.) page 10


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" By whom," asks Wellington, " were these properties and persons to be respected? By the allied generals and their troops mentioned in the 10th and 11th articles, and not by other parties, to whom the convention did not relate in any manner." That it did not so relate the duke had, as we have shown, most clearly and repeatedly made known beforehand. Still in the same mind, he wrote to the British government the very next day that " the convention decided all the military points then existing at Paris, and touched nothing political." And to leave no question of this being well understood, he quotes Carnot's " Exposé de la conduite politique de M. Carnot," where he says: - " Il fut résolut d'envoyer, aux genereaux Anglais et Prussiens, une commission, spéciale chargée de leur proposer une convention parement militaire, pour la remise de la ville de Paris entre leurs mains; eu écartant toute question politique, puis qu'on ne pouvait préjuger quelles seraient les intentions des alliés, lorqu'ils seraient réunis."

That Ney himself, that Fouché, that Talleyrand, and every one on both sides, perfectly understood this was evident by Fouché and Talleyrand urging Ney to lose no time in getting out of the country, and Ney himself accepting a passport for Switzerland from Fouché in a false name, and quitting Paris in disguise. All that applies to Ney applies to Labédoyère. This is amply sufficient to settle this question for ever, and so convincing is it that all the French writers who have endeavoured to blacken the character of Wellington on this point, have taken care to avoid referring to this memorial.

By a strange fatality, however, Ney and Labédoyère neglected the ample opportunity which they had of escaping. Ney fled in disguise on the 6th of July, the day before Wellington and Blucher entered Paris; but instead of placing himself in safety by going to Switzerland, he went to Auvergne, where he was discovered by M. Locard, a zealous loyalist, and prefect of the department. He found him in an obscure public-house in Cantal, and he was seized, brought to Paris, and a commission of his old associates - marshals Massena, Augereau. Mortier, and others - were appointed to try him. From this unwelcome office they were relieved by Ney's advocates contending that, having been a peer at the period of his alleged treason, he ought to be tried by the chamber of peers. This was acceded to, but he gained nothing by it, for the peers unanimously condemned him to die, and he was shot in the great walk of the Luxembourg gardens, leading to the observatory, on the morning of the 7th of December.

Labédoyère had long preceded Ney to the tomb. He had fled to the army behind the Loire, and the way to escape out of the kingdom was open to him; but lie returned to Paris at a time when there were rumours of Buonapartist plots very rife, and in which he was most likely engaged. He was discovered, seized, tried by a court-martial, and shot on the 19th of August.

The third condemned general was Lavalette. He had been director-general of the post-office under Buonaparte, and, being permitted to remain in Paris, he had used that lenity to engage in an active conspiracy for the return of Buonaparte from Elba. No sooner was this enterprise in motion than he was ready to seize again on his old office, and to employ it in facilitating Napoleon's plans and overturning those of the Bourbons. The moment that Louis quitted the capital he resumed the director-generalship, made himself acquainted with all the proceedings and intentions of the royalists by opening all letters, and at the same time spread throughout the country the proclamations of Buonaparte, S and suppressed those of Louis. He was seized some time after the king's return, tried by the ordinary court of assize on the 22nd of November, and condemned to die. Madame Lavalette, by means of marshal Marmont, one of Lavalette's old companions in arms, obtained access to Louis, and on her knees implored her husband's pardon. She did not succeed. Immediate steps were, therefore, taken for effecting his escape. Lavalette had many friends, and these were freely admitted to visit him in prison. Ho I was to be executed on the 22nd of December, but, on the day before, madame Lavalette went to pay her last visit to him, and contrived to change dresses with him, and thus let him go out as herself. The stratagem was a very old, thread-bare one, too notorious since the days of the countess of Nithsdale not to excite suspicion, and might have been supposed particularly liable to failure from madame Lavalette being tall and thin, and the general short and stout. It is well known that the gaolers had been deeply bribed, and probably the sentinels too, for Lavalette walked out unchallenged. But the difficulty was to get out of Paris, for the alarm was given, the police were all on the alert, and actively beating up every nook of the city in quest of him. But in this difficulty three Englishmen came to the rescue. These were no other than major-general Sir Robert Wilson, captain Hely Hutchinson, and Mr. Michael Bruce. Sir Robert Wilson was not in active service, but captain Hutchinson was, and that in Paris itself, with his regiment. Set there to defend the Bourbons, it was not exactly the business of such a man to aid in the escape of their enemies. But passports for Belgium were procured by Sir Robert Wilson, from Sir Charles Stuart, the British ambassador, for a pretended general and colonel. Lavalette was disguised as a British general, and thus driven out of Paris in Sir Robert Wilson's carriage, in Company with Sir Robert, and with captain Hutchinson riding by the carriage side, conversing loudly in English with Wilson within. By these means they eluded all recognition of the police, and thus Sir Robert delivered Lavalette safe at Mons, in Belgium. He then drove back to Paris, and within sixty hours the whole affair had been accomplished. The truth, however, soon flashed on the police, and the letters of Englishmen, particularly such as were addressed to the members of the opposition at home, were carefully opened at the post-office, and the narrative of the whole proceeding was found detailed in a letter from Sir Robert Wilson to earl Grey.

The three gentlemen were arrested, and committed to the prison of La Force, bail being refused. They were afterwards transferred to the Conciergerie, the prison from which Lavalette had escaped. On the 22nd of April, 1816, they were brought to trial. Sir Robert Wilson appeared in full uniform, and decorated with a number of Orders conferred by différent sovereigns of Europe; captain Hutchinson was also in uniform. The prisoners had rejected all attempts to induce them to confess their guilt - attempts which, contrary to our custom, are always made in France - and they declared that this was to compel the French authorities to admit that they had opened their letters in the post-office. But they now avowed all that they had done, and Mr. Bruce, to whom Lavalette had first applied, stated that " he could not repulse a man who had put his life into his hands." But the prisoners were not satisfied with this very reason- able plea; they went on to justify their conduct by declaiming against the folly of England and the other European countries in restoring the Bourbons, and Sir Robert Wilson joined in the condemnation of the duke of Wellington for the breach of the 12th article of the convention, and the betrayal of Lavalette, Ney, and Labédoyère; with what justice the reader may judge. The court was crowded with Buonapartists, and this style of defence was applauded by them by loud clapping of hands. The prisoners were found guilty, and were liable to an imprisonment of two years, but were let off with one of three months, in addition to the three months which they had already spent in prison. The two officers had rendered themselves also liable to be cashiered from the English service; but the prince regent caused them to be informed that he censured their conduct, but forbore to inflict any further punishment.

The heroism of madame Lavalette and of the three Englishmen was greatly celebrated in England, and especially so by the party - and it then was a large one - who sympathised with Buonaparte and his fortunes. Madame Lavalette had been allowed to go free immediately on the discovery, but the turnkeys and sentinels were put on their trial, and the chief turnkey, Eberlé, was condemned to two years' imprisonment, and afterwards to ten years of police surveillance; the rest were acquitted.

It remains only to notice the terminating scene of the once gay Murat, Buonaparte's gallant leader of cavalry in so many campaigns, and finally king of Naples. In consequence of plans laid with Buonaparte in Elba, as we have stated, Murat rose on the 22nd of March of this year, and pushed forward with the intention of driving the Austrians out of Upper Italy. But Austria was well aware of what had been in progress, and, though Murat proclaimed the independence of Italy, the Italians fled from him, rather than joined him. On the Po he was met by the Austrians, under general Fremont, fifty thousand strong, and defeated. He retreated rapidly towards Naples again, receiving other discomfitures, and, at the same time, receiving a notice from lord William Bentinck that, as lie had broken his convention with the European powers, England was at war with him. To keep the Neapolitans in his interest, he drew up a liberal constitution, of the 12th of May, amid the mountains of the Abruzzi, and sent it to Naples, where his queen, Caroline Buonaparte, proclaimed it. It was of no avail; the people, instead of assisting him, were ready to rise against him, and his soldiers every day rapidly deserted, and went to their homes. He soon received the news that the mother of Buonaparte, the sister of Buonaparte, Pauline, and cardinal Fesch, had fled from Naples to France, and that his own wife had entered into an arrangement to go on board a British vessel with her children, and be conveyed to some place of safety.

Murat hastened in disguise to Naples to consult with Ida wife, who had as much courage and more judgment than he had; but this availed him nothing. On the 20th of May his generals signed a convention with the Austrians at Casa Lanza, a farmhouse near Capua, to surrender Capua on the 21st, and Naples on the 23rd, on condition that all the Neapolitan officers who took the oath of allegiance to king Ferdinand should retain their respective ranks, honours, and estates. At this news Murat fled out of Naples, and, with a very small attendance, crossed over in a fisherman's boat to the island of Ischia, and his wife went on board the vessel of commodore Campbell, which, however, she was only able to effect by a guard of three hundred English sailors and marines, for the lazzaroni were all in insurrection. Commodore Campbell, having received on board his squadron Caroline Buonaparte, her property and attendants, then sailed to Gaeta, where were the four children of Murat, took them on board, and conveyed them altogether to Trieste, the emperor of Austria having given madame Murat free permission to take up her residence in Austria, under the name of the countess of Lipano.

Well had it been for Murat could he have made up his mind to seek the same asylum; for it appears clear that it would have been granted him, for he was no longer dangerous. But he clung convulsively to the fortunes of Napoleon, and making his way in a small coasting vessel, he followed him to France, and reached the port of Frejus on the 28th or 29th of May, where Buonaparte had landed on his return from Elba. From this place Murat wrote to Buonaparte through Fouché, offering his services to him; but Buonaparte, who would have been duly sensible of the services of Murat had he succeeded in holding Italy against the Austrians, and thus acting as an important divider of the efforts of the Austrians, was equally sensible of the little value of Murat as a mere individual, defeated, and having lost Italy. He sternly asked Fouché, when he had read the letter, " What does he mean? Has peace been made betwixt us? " alluding to Murat's late defection to the allies. No question would have been made on this point had Murat been still at the head of a powerful army; and peace had virtually been made between them, by Buonaparte in Elba negotiating with Murat at Naples for cooperation in his new enterprise. But Murat had risen too soon, and his political existence was destroyed; therefore, he was to Buonaparte a mere broken weapon, to be flung aside. He refused to give him a word of reply. Murat accordingly lay in concealment with his followers, vainly hoping for a word of encouragement, till the news of the utter defeat of Buonaparte at Waterloo came upon him like the shock of an earthquake. The south of France was no longer a place for any who had been prominent amongst the retainers of Buonaparte; some of Murat's followers made haste to escape from the search and the vengeance of the royalists. As for Murat himself, he wrote again to Fouché, imploring his good offices with the allies to obtain him a passport for England. Receiving no response to this, Murat condescended to write a most imploring letter to Louis XVIII., but he had no time to wait for the slow progress of diplomatic life - he fled, and, after many adventures, reached Corsica. There he was allowed to remain, and a few weeks would have brought him the assurance of entire freedom from enmity on the part of the allies. But, unfortunately, by this time the shock of the utter overthrow and captivity of Buonaparte following on his own misfortunes, had overturned his intellect. He conceived the insane idea of recovering Naples by the same means that Buonaparte had for a while recovered Paris. A number of Neapolitan and Corsican refugees encouraged him in the mad project. In vain did his few prudent friends exert themselves to show him the folly of the scheme; in vain did they endeavour to recall to his remembrance how the people had remained deaf to his appeals to rise in his behalf; how his very soldiers had disbanded themselves. Two Neapolitan noblemen, who had so far followed most faithfully his fortunes, now quitted him in despair. Yet before he had fully committed himself, a courier arrived in Corsica from Fouché, bringing him a letter, and a passport from the emperor of Austria, permitting him to join his wife and family, and to select his residence in any part of Upper Austria, of Bohemia, or Moravia. Nothing but the most hopeless insanity could have induced him to reject this generous offer, but he did reject it, and on the night of the 28th of September he set sail with his little ragamuffin army of some hundred and fifty men, in six small vessels. But after knocking about some time at sea in stormy weather, all his vessels deserted him except two, carrying away to Algeria the arms and ammunition, prepared with the last funds of Murat, to sell them there.

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Pictures for The Reign of George III. - (Concluded.) page 10

Elba
Elba >>>>
Buonapartes return
Buonapartes return >>>>
Battle of Waterloo
Battle of Waterloo >>>>
Attack on the Chateau Hougomont
Attack on the Chateau Hougomont >>>>
Duke of Wellington
Duke of Wellington >>>>
Napoleons old guard
Napoleons old guard >>>>
Chateau Hougomont
Chateau Hougomont >>>>
Lord Somersets heavy brigade at Waterloo
Lord Somersets heavy brigade at Waterloo >>>>
General Bernadotte
General Bernadotte >>>>
Marshal Blucher
Marshal Blucher >>>>
Napoleons surrendering to Captain Maitland
Napoleons surrendering to Captain Maitland >>>>
Kingston, Canada
Kingston, Canada >>>>
Church of the Invalides
Church of the Invalides >>>>
Signing the treat of peace.
Signing the treat of peace. >>>>
Tomb of Napoleon
Tomb of Napoleon >>>>
The oasis in the desert.
The oasis in the desert. >>>>
William Cobbett
William Cobbett >>>>
Marriage of the Princess Charlotte with Prince Leopold
Marriage of the Princess Charlotte with Prince Leopold >>>>
George Frederick
George Frederick >>>>
Cawnpore, India
Cawnpore, India >>>>
Officers of the Bengal infantry.
Officers of the Bengal infantry. >>>>
Officers of the Bombay army
Officers of the Bombay army >>>>
Windsor Castle
Windsor Castle >>>>
Henry Hunt
Henry Hunt >>>>
Hunt and people at Manchester.
Hunt and people at Manchester. >>>>
Death of George III
Death of George III >>>>
Royal Vault
Royal Vault >>>>
Brighton Pavilion
Brighton Pavilion >>>>

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