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Reign of George III. (Continued.) page 17


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This day's work was to make him brother-in-law of Buonaparte and king of Naples. He dashed away with a party of three hundred horse, and seized the cannon, at the very moment that a body of troops from the section Lepelletier had arrived to take possession of them. We may take Napoleon's own account of what followed as being as correct, and more concise, than any other: - " At six, in the Tuileries. From six to nine, Napoleon visited all the posts, and arranged the positions of his cannon. All the matches were lighted, and the whole of the little army, consisting of only five thousand men, was distributed at the different posts, or in reserve at the garden and the Place Carrousel. The generale beat through Paris, and the national guards formed at all the debouches, thus surrounding the palace and gardens. The danger was imminent. Forty thousand national guards, well armed and trained, presented themselves as the enemies of the convention, which, in order to increase its forces, armed fifteen hundred individuals, called the patriots of 1789. These men fought with the greatest valour, and were of the greatest importance to the success of the day. General Cartaux, who had been stationed at the Pont Neuf with four hundred men and four pieces of cannon, with Orders to defend the two sides of the bridge, abandoned his post, and fell back under the wickets. At the same time, the national guard occupied the garden of the infanta. They professed to be well affected towards the convention, and, nevertheless, seized on this post without orders. The sectionaries every moment sent women, or themselves advanced unarmed, to fraternise with the troops of the line. On the 13th of Vendemiaire (5th of October) Danican, general of the sections, sent a flag of truce to summon the convention to dismiss the troops, and disarm the terrorists. This messenger traversed the posts blind- folded, with all the forms of war. He was then introduced into the committee of forty, in which he caused a great sensation by his threats. He was sent back towards four o'clock. About the same time, seven hundred muskets, belts, and cartridge-boxes were brought into the hall of the Convention, for the members to arm themselves as a corps de reserve. At a quarter after four some muskets were discharged from the hotel de Noailles, into which the sectionaries had introduced themselves: the balls reached the steps of the Tuileries. At the same instant Lafond's column debouched by the Quai Voltaire, marching even to the Pont Royal. The batteries were then ordered to fire. After several charges, the church of St. Roch was carried, and Lafond's column routed. The Rue St. Honoré, the Rue St. Florentin, and the adjacent places were swept by the guns. About a hundred men attempted to make a stand at the Theatre de la République, but a few shells from the howitzers dislodged them in an instant. At six all was over. There were about two hundred killed and wounded on the part of the sectionaries, and about as many on the side of the convention. The faubourgs, if they did not rise in favour of the convention, certainly did not act against it. It is untrue that, in the commencement of the action, the troops were ordered to fire with powder only; but it is a fact that, when once engaged, and success ceased to be doubtful, they fired without bail. On the 14th of Vendemiaire some assemblages continued to take place in the section Lepelletier; they were, however, promptly dislodged, and the rest of the day was employed in going over the city, visiting the houses of sections, gathering in arms, and reading proclamations. In the evening, order was completely established, and Paris once more was perfectly quiet."

The grape-shot of Buonaparte, sternly and unhesitatingly applied to sweep the streets, had shown that, if Louis XVI. had just used the same remedy, there would have been no revolution. The sections hastened to dissolve themselves; the ringleaders effected their escape for the most part, except young Lafond, who had made himself very conspicuous, and who was arrested and shot. The convention then sent for Barras and Buonaparte, and thanked them publicly for their decisive services. Barras was confirmed as general-in-chief of the army of the interior, and Buonaparte as his second. The young Corsican, no longer in distress, took a fine house in the Rue des Capucines, set up a handsome carriage, and paid more attention to his dress. He always, however, professed to regret that day. " He told me," says Bourrienne, "that be would give years of his life to blot it out from the page of his history." It had been well if he had never had more sanguinary and unjustifiable massacres to answer for.

The convention now dissolved itself, or, rather, assumed the shape of two councils; proceeding to elect such of the one-third of the members as the sections had not elected. They then published an amnesty for political offences, and changed the name of the Place de la Revolution to Place de la Concorde. On the 30th of September they decreed the Austrian Netherlands incorporated for ever with the republic. The directory also offered to give up the only remaining individual of the family of the late king, still in the Temple, his daughter, the princess-royal, in exchange for the commissioners of the convention whom Dumouriez had surrendered to Austria. The terms were accepted by the emperor, and this unfortunate girl, who had passed through such horrors, and such bereavements of all that were dear to her, was released from the Temple on the 19th of December, and made all possible haste out of France. She arrived in Vienna on the 9th of January, 1796, carrying with her only some relies, such as miniatures, and some hair of her murdered parents, aunt, and brother - the latter murdered by slow and unheard-of barbarities.

During this time England was suffering severely from the effects of the insane war into which its ministers had plunged it. The nation was indignant under the disgrace of the complete defeat of its army on the continent, at the defection of those very allies who had been so profusely subsidised, at the perfidy by which these despot powers had made England the efficient party in the dismemberment of Poland, and at the heavy taxes imposed here in consequence, Political meetings were held in most large towns, and in the metropolis, expressing the most decided disapprobation of the policy of ministers and at the refusal of all reforms. At the end of June a monster meeting had been held in St. George's Fields, and, on the 26th of October, another, of fifty thousand people, near Copenhagen House, at which the lately prosecuted but acquitted agitators, Thelwall, Gale Jones, and others, were the speakers. The numbers and tone of these meetings, which were accompanied with loud cries of " Bread! Bread! " and " Down with Pitt! " greatly alarmed government, and there was a summons of parliament at the unusually early date of October 29th, only three days after the meeting in Copenhagen Fields. On going to the house to open the session, the king - who had become very unpopular from his eager support of the war, and his going about saying, "The French won't leave a single crowned head in Europe! " - was shot at by an air-gun in Margaret Street, opposite to the ordnance office, the bail from which passed through the windows of the carriage, betwixt his majesty and the earl of Westmoreland. The king appeared greatly alarmed, and, on entering the house, exclaimed to the lord chancellor, " My lord, I have been shot at! " In the speech from the throne, the reverses in the Netherlands were passed over as quickly as possible, and much said of the check which the French had experienced on the Rhine. It was now, too, for the first time, declared that government was disposed to treat for peace with France, though that country was as revolutionary, as unsettled, and as destitute of a government, according to the notions of the English ministers, as ever.

As the king returned, he was again furiously hissed; there was the same vociferous shouting of " Bread! Bread! " and " No Pitt! " Stones were thrown at the royal carriage; and, in the haste and confusion to escape into the palace of St. James's, one of the royal grooms was thrown to the ground, and had his thigh broken. The king got into a private coach to regain Buckingham House, where his family was; but he was recognised, and pursued by the same cries of "Bread! Bread! "and "Peace!" To show himself where the mob would not be the majority, and where the popular effect of applause might be enjoyed, that evening the king accompanied the queen and three of his daughters to Covent Garden Theatre, where he was received with zealous acclamations; the actors sang " God save the king! " three times over. Some of the people in the gallery were, however, pretty vehement in their hisses, but were attacked and turned out. Nothing could have been done so effectually to restore the royal popularity as an attempt so atrocious as the murder of the sovereign.

The ministers, instead of making rational concessions to the demands of the people for reform, proceeded without delay to fresh aggressions on their liberties. Not contented with the existing suspension of the habeas corpus act, and with introducing into the lords a bill for the protection of the king's person and government, they passed a bill prohibiting all political meetings; they re-commenced arrests and prosecutions, and sent out shoals of spies and informers, so that all the safeguards of the public liberty were completely annihilated. These despotic measures did not pass without energetic opposition; but all remonstrance was useless against Pitt's standing and purchased majority. Still the alarm of government was not allayed. On the 8th of December the king sent a message to both houses, reiterating his assurances of an earnest desire to negotiate a peace with France. The opposition very properly pointed out that, so far as France was concerned, victorious in its armies, and as anti-monarchical in its government as ever, there were less hopes of any consent on its part to peace, than when the opposition had so repeatedly urged the same measure. In this un- satisfactory state closed the year 1795.

Mr. Grey seized the professed desire of peace by government, so soon as parliament met after the Christmas recess, to bind them to it by a resolution. He complained that, so far from any intentions of peace, ministers were making fresh preparations for the prosecution of the war. Pitt denied this, and asserted that the government was really anxious for peace, but could not consent to it unless France agreed to yield up its conquests of Belgium, Holland, Savoy, and Nice. On the 10th of March, Mr. Grey moved for an inquiry into the state of the kingdom, and the facts which he brought forward were enough to have made any prudent nation recoil from the course which it was pursuing. He showed that this contest, so unsuccessful, had already, in three years, added seventy-seven millions to the national debt; more than the whole expense for the American war, which had cost sixty-three millions. He commented severely on the wasteful manner in which this money had been thrown away on monarchs who had badly served the cause, or had perfidiously betrayed it; and on the plunder of the country by jobbers, contractors, commissaries, and other vampires, who had left the poor soldiers to neglect, starvation, and death amid the horror of winter, and inhospitable, pretended friends, for whom they had been sent to fight. Grey and Fox followed this up by fresh resolutions and motions condemning ministers for their misconduct of the war, and enormous waste of the public money; but all these were triumphantly got rid of by overwhelming majorities; and in the face of this just but ineffectual exposure, Pitt introduced his budget, calling for fresh loans, amounting to no less than twenty-five millions five hundred thousand pounds, and for supplies to the amount of upwards of forty- five millions. The items of this enormous sum were - navy, seven millions five hundred and twenty-two thousand five hundred and fifty-two pounds; army, eleven millions nine hundred and eleven thousand eight hundred and ninety- nine pounds; ordnance, one million nine hundred and fifty- four thousand six hundred and sixty-five pounds; miscellaneous and extraordinary, thirteen millions eight hundred and twenty-one thousand, four hundred and thirty pounds The last item alone amounted to more than the whole national expenditure before the commencement of this war,• yet the whole of these starting sums were readily voted away by the ministerial majority; and, with these funds in hand for fresh prosecution of the war, the session was closed, on the 19th of May, with a speech from the throne, congratulating the country on its subjection to measures which must render it incapable of resisting this torrent of expense, that is, on the success of the measure to suppress what it called sedition and principles subversive of order - that meant, of the destruction of all reform.

In the course of the summer, Mr. Wickham, the English envoy to Switzerland, asked of M. Barthelemy, by direction of Pitt, whether the French directory were desirous of entertaining the question of peace. Barthelemy replied that the directory would enter into negotiations on the basis of France retaining all the Netherlands won from Austria, which were now annexed to the republic, and which France would never restore. This was sufficiently plain to have prevented England, in common prudence, proceeding further in that direction, unless she meant to treat without her allies, which she did not. But, besides this, France was as busy as ever by her emissaries undermining the loyalty of all the populations around her on pretence of liberating them. She had sans-culotted the Swiss, so that it was evident that they would soon fall into her net. She had entered into a treaty with the disaffected in Ireland, namely, lord Edward Fitzgerald, Wolfe Tone, Arthur O'Connor, and their fellow- conspirators, and the treaty was already signed, and a large fleet and force preparing for the invasion of Ireland. Now, if Pitt, who has been so much praised for his sagacity, did not know of these facts, his government must have been grossly negligent; if he did know of them, nothing but the most consummate folly could have led him to the step which he adopted, namely, to demand passports to Paris for an envoy extraordinary to treat for peace. This overture was received with exultation by the directory, at the head of which was Carnot, for it afforded the certain opportunity of insulting England, with which France never had had less intention to make peace. Not only was France on the very eve of invading Ireland, but she had issued a decree prohibiting all English manufactures into Holland, Belgium, and the German states on the Rhine, as well as into any of the French colonies, on the severest penalties. Yet, in the face of all these hostile demonstrations, did Pitt, who had hitherto refused all conciliation towards France, send over lord Malmesbury to endeavour to negotiate a peace. It looked as though he would put the opposition to shame by following their suggestions, and, at the same time, add fresh matter for the prosecution of the war. If this was his policy, it was entirely successful. Lord Malmesbury arrived in Paris, on the 22nd of October, with a splendid retinue. The directory received him haughtily, and commissioned M. Delacroix to discuss the matter with him. Lord Malmesbury insisted on the restoration of the Netherlands to Austria, a point on which the French government had declared there could be no treaty, and which rendered the embassy, from the first moment, utterly absurd. Delacroix communicated the proposal to the directory, and the directory immediately published it, contrary to all the rules of diplomacy, in the Moniteur. Instead of proceeding further with England, the directory immediately dispatched general Clarke, an officer of Irish extraction, and afterwards made duke of Feltre, under Buonaparte, to Vienna, to treat separately with Austria. This failed, and, of course, with it all failed; though there was much talk betwixt Malmesbury and the directory on the subject of England restoring the French colonies in the East and West Indies, since the restoration of Belgium and Holland was a sine qua non. Thus, as might have been seen from the first, the negotiation was at a dead lock. the king of Sardinia was already in negotiation for peace for himself; and therefore English ministers did not add to his difficulties by demanding the restoration of Savoy and Nice.

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