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The Reign of George III. - (Concluded.) page 12

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Las Cases and Mr. O'Meara, the surgeon, were sent from the island in consequence of breaking the regulations - Las Cases by keeping up intrigues with the islanders, and O'Meara by forwarding Buonaparte's secret correspondence with Europe. As Buonaparte's disease increased, Sir Hudson Lowe offered him the services of the best physicians in the island, but he refused their attendance, and, in September, 1818, arrived Dr. F. Autommarchi, as his medical attendant; but Buonaparte refused to take medicine, declaring that the human being was a machine made to live, and that doctors only interrupted the provisions of nature to set herself right. It was not till the 2nd of April, 1821, that Dr. Autommarchi prevailed on Napoleon to allow Dr. Arnott to see him, and it was then too late, if, indeed, medicine could have done anything for him at any time. The disease was cancer at the stomach. His father died of the same com- plaint, and Napoleon had long asserted that this was his ailment, and no other; that the physicians of Montpelier had declared that it would be hereditary in his family. On; his body being opened in the presence of five English medical men, including Drs Shortt and Arnott, as well as Dr. Autommarchi and several distinguished officers, both French and English, this was demonstrated to be the case. The stomach presented a fearful appearance; the rest of the viscera was sound. Buonaparte expired on the 5th of May, 1821, like Oliver Cromwell, amid tempests of wind and rain, so violent that nearly all the trees about Longwood were torn up by the roots, and amongst them a weeping-willow, which was a great favourite of his, and under which he used often to sit. And thus closed that life which had been death to millions. " Napoleon's passing spirit," says Sir Walter Scott, " was deliriously engaged in a still more terrible strife than that of the elements around. The words ' tête d'armée ' - the last which escaped his lips - intimated that his thoughts were watching the current of a heady fight. About eleven' minutes before six in the evening, after a struggle which indicated the original strength of his constitution, he breathed his last." His convulsions were emblematic of those in which he had kept all Europe for above twenty years.

One of the worst features of Napoleon's character was his vindictiveness. This was especially shown in his latter days against the duke of Wellington, who had finally put him down. He delighted in nothing so much as in depreciating his military talents, and in attributing his captivity to his 'counsels. If we do owe it to lord Wellington that Napoleon was sent to St. Helena, we will remain his debtors for the obligation. But, to his very last hour, Buonaparte brooded over this fall before the man with whom he said, on going to Waterloo, that he meant to measure himself with, and he left in his will the most shocking proof of a more undying enmity than ever before disgraced human nature. It has been said that his bequest to Cantillon for attempting to assassinate the duke of Wellington, of ten thousand francs, was a myth; but it stands only too really in the fourth codicil of his will, paragraph five, added only eleven days before his death. " Item. - Ten thousand francs to the subaltern officer, Cantillon, who has undergone a trial upon the charge of having endeavoured to assassinate lord Wellington, of which he was pronounced innocent. Cantillon had as much right to assassinate that oligarchist as the latter had to send me to perish upon the rock of St. Helena. Wellington, who proposed this outrage, attempted to jus- tify himself by pleading the interests of Great Britain. Cantillon, if he had really assassinated that lord, would have excused himself, and have been justified by the same motives - the interest of France - to get rid of a general who, moreover, had violated the capitulation of Paris, and by that had rendered himself responsible for the blood of the martyrs Ney, Labédoyère, &c., and for the crime of having pillaged the museums, contrary to the text of the treaties."

It should be remembered that the museums here referred to as pillaged by authority of Wellington, were those of the Louvre, and others in Paris, glutted with the pillage of all nations, which they reclaimed, and with which lord Wellington had nothing to do; for Britain, never having been overrun by Buonaparte, had nothing to reclaim; and, as for lord Wellington, he even refused the statue of Napoleon taken from the top of the column in the Place Vendôme, which was offered to him to place in his house in London. If, after tracing his amazing career, we still needed any proofs that the genius of Buonaparte resembled the lightning - quick, brilliant, and deadly - and had no resemblance to the sun - permanent, genial, and beneficent - we have them in these lamentably petty sentiments in his last solemn hours. There never was a mind so vigorous, which was so wholly destitute of true greatness.

To follow the great actor in the vast drama which we have been witnessing to his exit, we have overstepped other events, and even the bounds of the reign narrated by this history. We must return to the entrance of the allies into Paris. The Buonapartists were loud in their assertions of the sufferings and spoliations which their unhappy country was about to undergo at the hands of the allies. They had had very little feeling for all the miseries which France, under their favourite leader, had inflicted on almost every country in Europe.

The congress of Vienna, which had been interrupted by the last razzia of Buonaparte, resumed its sittings, and, finally, the conditions betwixt France and the allies were settled, and treaties embodying them were signed at Paris by Louis XVIII. on the 20th of November. France was to retain the limits settled at the former treaty in 1814; but, to prevent any danger of a recurrence of the calamities which had called the allies thus a second time to Paris, they were to retain in their hands seventeen of the principal frontier fortresses, and one hundred and fifty thousand of their soldiers were to be quartered and maintained by France in différent parts of the kingdom. The term of their stay was not to exceed five years, and that term might be curtailed should the aspect of Europe warrant it. The allied sovereigns also insisted on the payment of the enormous expenses which had been occasioned by this campaign of the hundred days - the amount of which was estimated at seven hundred millions of francs. This sum, however, was not to be exacted at once, but to be paid by easy instalments.

There was one restitution, however, which the allies had too delicately passed over on their former visit to Paris - that of all the works of art which Buonaparte and his generals had carried off from every town in Italy, Germany, and the Netherlands, during their rapacious wars. This was the pillaging of museums to which Buonaparte, the wholesale pillager, alluded. Accordingly, there was a great stripping of the Louvre, and other places, of the precious pictures and statues which the hands of the greatest marauder that the world had ever seen had accumulated there. The " Horses of the Sun," from St. Mark's, Venice, the "Venus de Medici," the "Apollo Belvedere," the " Horses of the Car of Victory," which Buonaparte had carried away from Berlin, and many a glorious painting by the old masters, precious books, manuscripts, and other objects of antiquity, now travelled back to their respective original localities, to the great joy of their owners, and the infinite disgust of the French, who deemed themselves really robbed by this defeat of robbery.

Louis XVIII., having raised an army of thirty thousand men, thought that he could protect himself, and was anxious that France might be spared the expense of supporting the one hundred -and fifty thousand men. Accordingly, one- fifth of the army was withdrawn in 1817. In the following year a congress was held, in the month of September, at Aix-la-Chapelle, at which the emperors of Russia and Austria, and the king of Prussia attended; on the part of France, the duke of Richelieu; and of England, the duke of Wellington and lord Castlereagh, when it was determined that a complete evacuation of France might and should take place by the 20th of November, when the three years terminated. At this congress, it was determined also that, besides the seven hundred million francs for the charges incurred by the allied armies, another seven hundred millions should be paid in indemnification of damages to private individuals in the different countries overrun by France. These and other items raised the total to be paid by France for Napoleon's outbreak of the hundred days to about sixty million pounds sterling.

England, who had amassed so enormous a debt in aiding the continental sovereigns against Napoleon, played the magnanimous to the last. She gave up her share of the public indemnities, amounting to five million pounds, to the king of Holland and the Netherlands, to enable him to restore that line of fortresses along the Belgian frontiers which our Dutch king, William III., had planned, and which Joseph II. of Austria had suffered to fall to decay, thus rendering invasion from France especially easy. Nor was this all: she advanced five million pounds to enable the different sovereigns to march their troops home again, as she had advanced the money to march them up, the money demanded of France not being ready. Truly might Napoleon, in St. Helena, say that England, with her small army, had no business interfering in continental wars. "That with our fleet, our commerce, and our colonies, we are the strongest power in the world, so long as we remain in our natural position; but that our gains in continental wars are for others, our losses are for ourselves, and are permanent." Regarded, however, from the magnanimous point of view, no nation ever acted with a like generosity. Truly England may be said, in this gigantic contest, to have loved her neighbours better than herself. She charged herself for them with debts wnich Appear likely to be more immortal than her fame, or the gratitude of those she served, who now, as every one who has lived on the continent knows, attribute her enormous outlay to a selfish, trading regard to her own commercial interests.

Here, then, our history of the political transactions of the reign of George III. terminates. That reign really terminated in 1811, with the appointment of the regency, which continued the ruling power during the remainder of his life. From that date it is really the history of the Regency that we have been prosecuting. But this was necessary to maintain the unity of the narrative of that most unexampled struggle which was involving the very existence of every nation in Europe. Of all this the poor old, blind, and deranged king knew nothing - had no concern with or in. The reins of power had fallen from his hands for ever, his kingdom was taken from him, and given to another. He had lived to witness the rending away of the great western branch of his empire, and the sun of his intellect went down in the midst of that tempest which threatened to lay in ruins every dynasty around him. We have watched and detailed that mighty shaking of the nations to its end. The events of the few remaining years during which George III. lived but did not rule, were of a totally different character, and belong to a totally different story. They are occupied by the national distresses consequent on the war, and the efforts for reform, stimulated by these distresses, the first chapter of which did not close till the achievement of the Reform Bill in 1832.

The government and parliament which, with so lavish a hand, had enabled the continental monarchs to fight their battles, which had spent above two thousand millions of money in these wars, of which eight hundred millions remained as a perpetual debt, with the perpetual necessity of twenty-eight millions of taxation annually to discharge the interest - that burden on posterity which Napoleon had, with such satisfaction, at St. Helena, pronounced permanent - this same government and parliament, seeing the war concluded, were in great haste to stave off the effects of this burden from the landed aristocracy, the party which had incurred this, and to lay it upon the people. They saw that the ports of the world, once more open to us, would, in exchange for our manufactures, send us abundance of corn; and, that the rents might remain during peace at the enormous rate to which war prices had raised them, they must keep out this foreign corn. True, this exclusion of foreign corn must raise the cost of living to the vast labouring population to a ruinous degree, and threatened fearful convulsions from starving people in the manufacturing districts; but these considerations had no weight with our land-holding government and its parliamentary majority. In 1814 they were in haste to pass a corn law excluding all corn except at famine prices; but the lateness of the season, and an inundation of petitions against it, put it off for that session. But in 1815 it was introduced again, and carried by a large majority. By this all corn from abroad was excluded, except when the price was eighty shillings per quarter. By this law it was decreed that the people who fought the battles of the world, and who would bear the bulk of the weight of taxation created by these wars, were never, so long as this law continued, to eat corn at less than four pounds per quarter. This was, in fact, not only a prohibition of cheap bread, but a prohibition of the sale of the labours of the people to foreign nations to the same extent. It was an enactment to destroy the manufacturing interest for the imagined benefit of land-owners; and it was done on this plea, as stated by Mr. Western, one of the leading advocates of the bill - "That, if there is a small deficiency of supply, the price will rise in a ratio far beyond any proportion of such deficiency: the effect, indeed, is almost incalculable. So, likewise, in a surplus of supply beyond demand, the price will fall in a ratio exceeding almost ten-fold the amount of such surplus." The avowed object, therefore, was to prevent the manufacturing population reaping the benefit of that continental peace which they had purchased at such a cost, and consequently to repress the growth of their trade to the same degree. Mr Tooke, in his " History of Prices," confirms this view of the matter, asserting that " the price of corn in this country has risen from one hundred to two hundred per cent, and upwards, when the utmost computed deficiency of the crops has not been more than between one- sixth and one-third below an average, and when that deficiency has been relieved by foreign supplies." Mr. Western candidly showed that, to the farmer, years of deficiency were the most profitable, from this principle of enormous rise from a small cause; that if the produce of an acre of wheat in a good year is thirty-three bushels at six shillings, the Amount realised would be only nine pounds eighteen shillings; but, if the produce were reduced by an unfavourable season one-sixth, and the price raised from six shillings to twelve shillings, the produce of twenty-seven and a half bushels would realise sixteen pounds ten shillings, the difference being profit!

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Pictures for The Reign of George III. - (Concluded.) page 12

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