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Reign of George III. (Continued.) page 26

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Buonaparte found that, during his absence in Syria, Egypt had been disturbed by insurrections, which Desaix had put down, and had again defeated, and driven back into Upper Egypt, Murad Bey, who had made a descent thence. Soon after his return, however, Murad was once more in motion, descending the Nile in two bodies, and Ibrahim Bey was moving on the frontiers of Syria, as if to form a union with Murad. La Grange was dispatched against Ibrahim, and Murat against Murad. Scarcely were they repulsed when the cause of their manœuvres became evident. A Turkish fleet, containing eighteen thousand men, appeared in the Bay of Alexandria, commanded by Mustapha Pacha. They seized the fort, and, landing, began to fortify themselves, expecting the arrival of the Mamelukes, as had been concerted. On the 25th of July Buonaparte attacked them, and drove in all their outposts; but, on coming within reach of their batteries and their gunboats, in the bay, the French were checked, and the Turks, rushing out, with their muskets slung at their backs, made terrible havoc amongst them with their sabres, poniards, and pistols. The defeat of Napoleon must have been complete had not the Turks stopped to cut off the heads of the slain, for which they were offered a reward. This gave time for the French to rally. It was now the turn of the Turks to give way, and Murat, who had fought at the head of the troops, followed them so impetuously with the bayonet, that the confusion and panic became general. The Turks threw themselves en masse into the sea to regain their ships; and, by drowning, and the bayonets and bullets of the French, ten thousand out of the eighteen thousand perished. Mustapha Pacha himself was taken, and carried in triumph before Buonaparte. This battle had been fought at Aboukir, near the spot where Nelson had so signally triumphed over them. The victory was the event which Buonaparte needed to enable him to return with credit to France. He immediately embraced it. All his plans and brilliant visions of empire in the East had perished for the present, but private letters from his brothers in Paris, and a number of news- papers, which Sir Sidney Smith had furnished him with to mortify him, roused him to instant action. From these he learnt that the directory had, as he expected, consummated their unpopularity; that Italy, which he had won to France, was again lost by the other generals. To remain in Egypt was to sink into a sort of provincial or proconsular general; to return to Paris was, by a bold and adroit stroke, to make himself the master of France.

He immediately ordered admiral Gantheaume to have ready a couple of frigates, which lay in the harbour of Alexandria; and, taking with him his favourite generals, Murat, Lannes, Marmont, Berthier, Desaix, Andréossy, and Bessieres, and the two principal savans, Monge and Denon, to give an account of the scientific results of the expedition, he rushed on board. He had left the care of the army to Kleber and Menou; and he issued a short proclamation, saying that events in Paris demanded his presence there, but that he would return with all possible expedition.

We are told that Nelson, in quitting Egypt, had left the bay of Alexandria well blockaded. With this French army in Egypt, and the most victorious general of France there cut off from return, if due vigilance had been observed, a most active blockade and watch ought to have been maintained There appears to have been little or none at all. Buonaparte, prevented from returning to France, or seized on his way back, would have given a totally different face to history. But Buonaparte was enabled to traverse the Mediterranean against contrary winds, from the 22nd of August to the 30th of September, when they touched at Ajaccio, in Corsica, Buonaparte's native place, and again till the 9th of October, in all, eight-and-forty days, without interruption from any English vessels. So great does the negligence of the British navy appear to have been - so great the neglect of Nelson, forgetting his duties in the smiles of lady Hamilton, at Naples - that, as they approached the French coast, and saw a considerable English fleet, the admiral would have put about, but Buonaparte ordered him to sail right through them, and they did so without challenge, and they landed safely at Rapheau, near Frejus. The English seemed to have imagined that they had annihilated Buonaparte by the battle of Aboukir, and to have given themselves no further anxiety about him; but he was once more in Paris, prepared to give them more trouble than ever,

Though Buonaparte had been absent, his family had taken care to keep public opinion alive to his importance. His wife, Josephine, lived at great expense, and collected around her all that was distinguished in society. His brother, Lucien, had become président of the council of five hundred; and Joseph, a man much respected, kept a hospitable house, and did much to maintain the Buonaparte prestige. Talleyrand and Pouche were already in Napoleon's interest, and Bernadotte, now minister at war, Jourdan, and Augereau, as generals, were prepared to act with him. The abbé Sièyes, with his perpetual constitution-making, had also been working in a way to facilitate his schemes. He had planned a new and most complicated constitution, which was to consist of four successive bodies: - First, a tribunate of a hundred members, who discussed all legislative measures in the presence of a legislative council, which did not interfere in the discussions, but listened, and then voted in silence upon the measure discussed, the tribunate, which had discussed, not voting at all. The act passed by the legislative council was handed to a body of three consuls, of whom one was to be the head, or first consul, who signed and promulgated it. The third body, a Senate of one hundred members, apparently placed betwixt the legislative council and the consuls, sat with closed doors, and appeared intended as a check on the consuls, any of whom, who appeared inclined to exceed his due authority, they might elect into their own body, whereupon he ceased to be consul, and became merely one of them.

Of the five directors Buonaparte left in office, the most active had been removed: abbé Sièyes bad succeeded Rewbell, and two men of no ability, Gohier and Moulins, bad succeeded others. Roger Ducos, also in the interest of Buonaparte, made the fifth. All measures being prepared, on the 18th Brumaire, that is, the 10th of November, Buonaparte proceeded to re-act the part of Cromwell, and usurp the chief authority of the State, Converting the republic into a military dictatorship. The army had shown, on his return, that they were devoted to his service. Jourdan, Bernadotte, Moreau, and Augereau were Willing to co-operate in a coup-de-main, which should make the army supreme. He therefore assembled three regiments of dragoons on pretence of reviewing them, and, everything being ready, he proceeded to the council of ancients, in which the moderate, or reactionary, party predominated, on the evening of the 10th of November. The republican party in the council of ancients had already taken the alarm, and some of its members were urging it to prompt measures of safety, when Buonaparte entered in full military costume, and attended by his staff. He warned them of some vague danger, and the moderate majority in the council immediately carried two decrees - one to remove the sittings to St. Cloud, and the other to appoint general Buonaparte to See this done. This was all that he could desire; he with- drew, and announced this fact to the military. But the directors not in the secret - Barras, Gohier, and Moulins - caught the alarm, and sent to remonstrate with Buonaparte against any invasion of the constitution. He replied in tones that seemed to paralyse them. The two councils assembled the next day at St. Cloud in a State of great confusion, and the council of five hundred in the highest excitement and indignation. The majority was intensely republican. The Orangerie was cleared for their place of meeting, but was full of workmen when they arrived. Buonaparte also arrived with his troops. He entered the council of ancients, which met in the gallery of Mars. The minority of republicans were in earnest remonstrance against the threatened danger when Buonaparte entered, told them they were sitting on a volcano, that they were calumniated, and he himself styled a Caesar, a Cromwell; but that he came only to save liberty, had he wished to seize on absolute power, he could have done it long ago. He swore to them that the country had no more disinterested patriot; but there was a party which wished to throw them back on revolutionary committees, insurrections, and scaffolds. He would save them from such horrors; he would appeal on their behalf to the valour of his comrades, with whom he had fought and conquered for liberty!

He retired amid shouts of " Vive Buonaparte! " from his soldiers in the court-yard. The council of five hundred was in the midst of a most excited debate on the menaced danger, and every member, including Lucien Buonaparte, who was the president, had just been compelled to take an oath to maintain inviolable the constitution of the year Three, when Napoleon entered, attended by four grenadiers of the constitutional guard of the councils. The soldiers remained near the door, Napoleon advanced up the hall uncovered. There were loud murmurs. " What! " exclaimed the members, " soldiers - drawn swords in the sanctuary of the laws! " They rushed upon him, and seized him by the collar, shouting, " Outlawry! outlawry! proclaim him a traitor! " The grenadiers, followed by others, rushed forward, and rescued him, conducting him out of the hall. Then arose a storm of fury. Lucien Buonaparte, called on to put the outlawry of his brother to the vote, threw off his robes of office, and demanded to be heard as a simple member. The uproar became terrible; a fresh body of soldiers entered, and bore Lucien away with them. No sooner was Lucien outside than he mounted on horseback, and, as president of the council of five hundred, announced to the soldiers that factious members with drawn draggers had interrupted the deliberations of the council, and attempted the life of their general. The soldiers were furious, and, headed by Murat, they entered the Orangerie, and drove the members at the point of the bayonet out of the windows. The place was cleared in a moment, the members flying without their caps and gowns for their lives; the place was shut up, and the operation of Cromwell on the long parliament was once more complete in the person of Buonaparte and the national assembly of France.

Out of doors there were abundance of rumours propagated to excite the interest of the public in favour of Buonaparte. It was said that Arena, a Corsican, had attempted to stab the general with a dagger; that he and other deputies had attacked him with swords and pistols; and that he was severely wounded. Arena publicly denied the whole of these assertions. But Thome, one of the grenadiers, who was said to have rescued Buonaparte from the most imminent peril, was invited by him to dinner, and was received by Josephine with a salute, and the present of a valuable jewel. The two councils were remodelled by excluding all the republican members. The directors all, excepting Sièyes and Ducos, resigned. Buonaparte was made chief consul, and the dictatorship was complete. Sieyès retired into the senate with a salary of twenty-five thousand francs, and the estate of Crôsne, in the park of Versailles, whereupon some wag observed: -

"Buonaparte to Sièyes has given du Crôsne,
But Sièyes to Buonaparte has given a throne."

Ducos also retired into the senate. Thus Buonaparte, with an army at his back, was openly dictator. He removed to the palace of the Luxembourg, and assumed a state little inferior to royalty. He revised the constitution of the abbé Sièyes, concentrating all the power of the state in the chief consul, instead of making him, as he expressed it, a personage whose only duties were to fatten, like a pig, upon so many millions a-year. Sièyes had hoped that Buonaparte would be satisfied with directing the military power of the state, and leave the civil power to him. He was soon undeceived. On the very first meeting of the three consuls, Ducos said: - " General, the presidency belongs to you of right." Sièyes hoped Buonaparte would insist on his taking it, but Napoleon seated himself, as a matter of course; and, on his return from the meeting, Sièyes said to Talleyrand, and the rest of those who had planned the revolution of the 18th of Brumaire: - " Gentlemen, you have a master. Give yourselves no further trouble about the affairs of state; Buonaparte can and will manage them all at his own pleasure." It is to the credit of Napoleon that, contrary to the sanguinary disposition which he had displayed in Syria and Egypt, ho now showed the utmost clemency. He refused any proscriptions of those who had resisted this coup-d’état; he conciliated the Chouans and the inhabitants of La Vendée; caused a decree to be passed for the return of La Fayette, Latour-Maubourg, and others, who had been banished by the ultra-revolutionists. The same man who had professed himself a Mohammedan in Egypt now restored the exercise of the Christian religion, and relaxed the rigour of the law against the clergy and the royalists. When Sièyes, in conversation, spoke of Louis XVI., in the usual phrase, as the tyrant, he replied: - " He was no tyrant, or I should have been a subaltern officer of artillery, and you, monsieur l'Abbé, would still be saying mass." On one point alone he was immovable - that of his own power. When some persons advised him to put himself at the head of the army, and renew his splendid victories, he replied: - " I shall remain at Paris - I am chief consul." And he set himself actively to appoint effective ministers, and to reform the lamentable abuses and disorders in both the executive and the army.

In concluding the remarkable events of this year, we must turn to India, and witness the termination of the career of Tippoo Sultaun. This prince, for ever restless under the losses which he had suffered from the English, though nominally at peace with them, was seeking alliances to enable him once more to contend with them. He sought to engage the Affghans in his favour, and to bring over the English ally, the nizam of the Deccan. Failing in this, he made overtures to the French republic through the governor of the Isle of France. Buonaparte had Tippoo in his mind when he proposed to march to India and conquer it, but only a few hundreds of French of the lowest caste reached Seringapatam from the Isle of France, and those immediately set up a tree of liberty, surmounted by a red night-cap, vowed vengeance to all tyrants, except their ally, whom they called citizen Tippoo. Lord Mornington, afterwards the marquis of Wellesley, determined to anticipate the plans of Tippoo, and dispatched general Harris with twenty-four thousand men into Mysore, at the same time ordering another force of seven thousand, under general Stuart, from Bombay, to co-operate with him. To these also was added a strong reinforcement of British troops in the pay of the nizam, and some regiments of sepoys, commanded by English officers. The united forces of Harris and the nizam came into conflict with Tippoo's army on the 22nd of March, 1799, when within two days' march of Seringapatam. In this action, colonel Wellesley, afterwards the duke of 'Wellington, greatly distinguished himself, and the success of the action was ascribed to his regiment, the 34th. On the 5th of April general Harris invested Seringapatam, and, on the 14th, general Stuart arrived with the Bombay army. Tippoo soon made very humble overtures for peace, but the English, having no faith in him, continued the siege, and the city was carried by storm on the 4th of May, and Tippoo himself was found amongst the slain. Two of his sons fell into the hands of the English; his territories were divided betwixt themselves and the nizam. They retained Seringapatam and the island on which it is situated, and the whole of his territory on the Malabar coast, with Coimbra, and all the rest of his possessions stretching to the company's territories west and east, thus completing their dominion from sea to sea. The nizam received equally valuable regions in the interior, and a province was bestowed on the descendant of a Hindoo rajah, who had been dispossessed of it by Hyder Ali, Tippoo's father. Thus was the English empire of India freed from its most formidable enemy, and thus was it enabled, soon after, to send an armament up the Red Sea to assist in driving the French from Egypt.

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