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Reign of George III. (Continued.) page 32


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In France he was bent on making his power permanent. But he began, first, by constituting himself consul for life of the Cisalpine republic in Italy. This territory, which included Lombardy and other parts of the north of Italy, had been declared by the treaty of Luneville, concluded betwixt Buonaparte and the emperor of Austria, independent of both Austria and France. But now it was arranged that this stipulation should be impudently violated, and that nominally at the request of the leading inhabitants of those districts themselves. The whole having been prepared by M. Petiet, the French minister at Milan, and by Talleyrand, four hundred and fifty deputies from the Cisalpine republic - nobles, bishops, officers of the army, ministers of state, literati, &c. - proceeded to Lyons to hold a consultum on the propriety of electing the first consul of France their first consul also. " It seemed a strange thing," said Carlo Botto, the Italian historian, " that an Italian nation should go into France to settle its government and fate." But it was the will of Buonaparte, and in Italy the will of himself and his armies was law. Talleyrand had drawn up a form of memorial from the deputies to Buonaparte, in which they asked him to become consul for life, on the plea that they had no men of sufficient ability and influence amongst themselves. Buonaparte arrived at Lyons on the 11th of January, 1802, made a triumphant entrance, met the deputies, and accepted their offer, the words, " for life," being politically omitted, and the term of " ten years, with re-eligibility," being substituted, as meaning the same thing, but more covertly. All power in the government of the republic was vested in him, and he appointed Melzi d'Eril as his vice- president. The republican constitution was a copy of that of France, and thus the Cisalpine state became really an appanage of France, in open defiance of Austria, who was in no condition to dispute the matter.

This being completed by the 26th of January, Buonaparte returned to Paris, and put in motion a similar process there. The whole having been planned by himself, Chabot de l'Allier proposed in the tribunate a proper mark of honour to the great hero of France. It was well under- stood what was meant, and the Senate received the proposal favourably. It passed a decree electing Napoleon for another ten years - making the whole term from the present moment seventeen years. Buonaparte thanked the senate, but eluded the acceptance of the offer by pretending that he thought the question should be sent to the people. This was agreed to; but the second and third consuls, Buonaparte's humble servants, took the liberty of altering the form of the decree ere they issued it to the public, and it then really stood, not whether they would elect Napoleon for another ten years, but for life. The senate took the hint, and let the altered decree pass. It was sent down to the departments, registers were regularly opened, and the whole voting proceeded with great solemnity, and ministers, with whom the registers were ultimately deposited, reported a majority of upwards of three millions of votes in favour of the election of the first consul for life, and only a few hundreds in the minority. Nothing was easier than this juggle, conducted as it was, which Buonaparte's nephew, the present French emperor, has so successfully imitated, both in his own election to the presidentship, to the imperial rank, and in the annexation of Savoy. Carnot was one of those who voted against this measure, and he observed that, in recording his vote, he signed his transportation to

Cayenne; but he was mistaken - Buonaparte was so secure that he could afford to allow a few dissenters; in fact, they gave all the more reality to the affair. Fouché candidly avows how the business was managed. " For six weeks," he says, " the ministry was busily engaged in collecting and transcribing the registers. Got up by a special committees the report presented three millions five hundred and sixty- eight thousand one hundred and eighty-five votes in the affirmative, and only nine thousand and seventy-four in the negative. On the 2nd of August a senatus consultum, called organic, conferred the perpetual power on the first consul Buonaparte; and on the 15th, the anniversary of hic birth, solemn prayers were offered up to God, for having, in his ineffable bounty, granted to France a man who had deigned to consent to bear the bürden of supreme power for his whole life! " Thus France, having, in about twelve years, run through a variety of phases of revolution and republicanism, more violent, sanguinary, and indignant of all restraints than the world had ever before witnessed or conceived an idea of, now calmly and indifferently received the yoke of military despotism, soon to be changed into an imperial one.

The negotiations for peace betwixt France and England, meantime, had been slowly progressing, ever and anon being arrested by the conduct of the first consul. Without waiting for the ratification of peace, he sent off, on the 14th of December, 1801, only ten days after the signing of the preliminaries, a strong fleet and army to the West Indies to reduce the independent black republic in St. Domingo. England was obliged to send reinforcements to our own West Indian fleet by admiral Martin - so that it looked much more like war than peace. Again, in January, 1802, came the news of the election of Buonaparte to the presidency of the Cisalpine republic, directly contrary to the treaty of Luneville, and betraying the aspiring aims of Napoleon. Immediately followed the intelligence that Buonaparte had exacted from Spain a treaty by which Parma and the island of Elba were made over to France on. the death of the present, already aged, duke; that Spain had been compelled to cede part of the province of Louisiana, in North America, by the same treaty; and that Portugal, though, by the preliminaries of peace, the integrity of her dominions had been carefully guaranteed, had, by a secret article, given up to France her province of Guiana. These revelations startled the British ministers,. but did not deter them from concluding the peace - the present cabinet seemed as determined to make peace, on any terms or of any kind, as Pitt and his colleagues had been to make war. It was not that the chief consul, who every day betrayed some fresh symptom of an insatiable ambition was disposed to offer them tempting terms; on the contrary, though we never were more able to dictate measure, at sea, and he never less so, he was as haughty and dictatorial in his demands as if Great Britain had been completely under his feet. Yet the treaty went on, and was concluded and signed on the 25th of March, 1802.

After a nine years' war, began and undertaken less for our own security - though Pitt declared that to have been the object - than for the interests of all other nations, such a peace could never have been agreed to by any other kingdom.

except when utterly conquered. When we read the conditions of it, we can with difficulty believe them. We had set out by championing almost every continental nation, Holland, Belgium, Austria, Prussia, and Italy especially. In subsidising and fighting for them, we had spent four hundred and sixty-one millions of money, and shed the blood of above a hundred thousand of our men! And what had we accomplished? Had we maintained the independence of any one of these nations? By no means. All had retired discomfited into ignominious peace, or remained in the grasp of France, and had left us to maintain the strife alone. Austria and Prussia had made their separate and miserable peace; Italy was, in part, in the direct and avowed power of France, in part under terror of its influence. To Spain and Portugal, Napoleon had dictated his own terms. Belgium and Holland had long been armed by him against us; but, even whilst fighting for these recreant powers, we had defended our own shores and our colonies at a comparatively trivial cost, and had, moreover, conquered most of the colonies of France, Spain, and Holland. All these circumstances pointed out to us as clearly as possible what was our proper policy in regard to the continent. It was to adopt the noble sentiment of Addison -

" Thrice happy Britain, from the kingdoms rent,
To sit the guardian of the continent."

To be ready, at all times, to be its umpire, to promote its peace, but not to be its universal and self-sacrificing combatant.

But we had won great colonies and territories in every quarter of the world; those would remain as a partial compensation, or they must be purchased back by France for herself and her allies, and France must return within her former boundaries. No such thing: France claimed to keep everything, and insisted on our giving up everything; and, however strange and incredible it may seem, we consented. In the indignant language of lord Grenville, when discussing the infamous, the inconceivable terms of this peace, on the 13th of May, " France gave up nothing; she retained everything! She was left in actual possession of, or with the most absolute control over, the greatest or richest part of the continent of Europe. She kept Savoy, she kept Belgium, she kept the Germanic states on the left bank of the Rhine; she kept, under a fiction of independence, the whole of Upper Italy and the whole of Holland - she kept whatever she had gained. And yet she was to be repossessed of all that she had lost; and, moreover, to be allowed to acquire immense territories from her submissive and helpless allies. In Asia, she was to have Pondicherry, Cochin, Negapatam, and the Spice islands; in Africa, the Cape of Good Hope and Senegal - for it was idle to talk of the Batavian republic having or holding anything; in the West Indies, Martinique, St. Lucia, Guadeloupe, Tobago, Curaçoa, and a part, if not the whole of St. Domingo; in America, she was to be repossessed of St. Pierre and Miguelon; and, as new possessions, whence die could press upon both the Anglo-American states, the Spanish-American and Portuguese-American ones, Louisiana, was to be exacted from Spain, and Portuguese-Guiana from Portugal to round off French Guiana. And, besides this territory of Guiana, extending to the Amazon river, she was to have, in South America, Surinam, Demerara, Berbice, and Essequibo.

" In the Mediterranean, too, where our naval superiority was most important, we had dispossessed ourselves of Malta, Minorca, and the isle of Elba, which France wanted merely in order to exclude us from the neighbouring port of Leghorn. We were now, in fact, excluded from all the ports of Italy, and all that inland sea seemed converted into a French lake."

Never, indeed, had there been such a self-stripping of any nation. Instead of our victorious and costly expeditions to the most distant parts of the globe, to conquer colonies and valuable territories, France herself might have done all this, and so have kept them as her rightful spoils. We retained nothing except the islands of Ceylon and Trinidad, in the West Indies. We gave up all that we had won by so many millions of money, such tens of thousands of lives, lost in battle, or which had perished in pestilential climates, and that without any compensation. Malta, which was, in fact, the key to Egypt, and the most direct highway to our Indian dominions, we gave up to France by a fiction. The knights of St. John were nominally restored, but neither English nor French were to be hereafter members of the order; Malta was to be occupied by Neapolitan troops, under a neutrality guaranteed by all the chief European powers; but it was well known that Napoleon, when it suited him, would cease to respect the conditions, and would readily dispossess the troops of Naples.

Such was the famous peace of Amiens; the most ignominious which a nation, starting with such lofty pretensions, could possibly have stooped to accept. We retained nothing, for all our labours and costs, but Ceylon, Trinidad, and - the Debt! For that we had spent four hundred and sixty-one million eight hundred thousand pounds, and one hundred thousand lives. Besides the enormous extra taxation, we had raised the debt, during those nine years, from two hundred and forty-four million pounds to five hundred and twenty million pounds. Our army had been raised to one hundred and sixty-eight thousand regulars, eighty thousand militia, one hundred and twenty thousand volunteers, and one hundred and thirty thousand sepoys in India; altogether four hundred and ninety-eight thousand, or nearly half a million of men. What was most extraordinary, Pitt, who had prosecuted this war with a perseverance and a zeal unprecedented, now supported his successors in the ministry in this strange self-sacrificing peace. Fox, Sheridan, and those who had all along denounced the war, prided themselves on all their predictions being realised, but this was poor consolation for the waste of such enormous wealth and life, for such fruitless and dishonourable results. Grey, Whitbread, lord Holland, and other whigs, denounced the whole war as unjust in its origin, disgraceful in its conduct, and calamitous in its termination.

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