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The Reign of George III. - (Continued.)


The French Republic acknowledged by England - Buonaparte's Expedition against the Negroes of St. Domingo - Buonaparte elected First Consul of the Cisalpine Republic - Marriages of the Dukes of Sussex and Cambridge - Prince of Wales's Debts - Attempts on the Life of Buonaparte - The Infernal Machine - Buonaparte's Concordat with the Pope - Buonaparte made First Consul for Life - Prepares the " Code Napoleon " - Seizure, Imprisonment, and Death of Toussaint L'Ouverture - Sebastiani's Mission in the East - Invasion of Switzerland - Trial of Colonel Despard and others, for Conspiracy - War imminent with France and Holland - Act for a Levy era masse - The Prince of Wales demands to take a Leading Rank in the Army, which is refused by the King - Trial of Peltier, Editor of L'Ambigu - Insolent Conduct of Buonaparte to Lord Whitworth, the English Ambassador - The English seize French and Dutch Ships in their Harbours - Buonaparte seizes English Travellers in France - Invades Hanover - Emmett's Rebellion in Ireland - Bombardment of Dieppe - Campaign in India against the Mahrattas - Return of the King's Malady - The Addington Ministry resign - Pitt again in Power - Vast Preparations for War - Attempt with the Catamarans at Boulogne - Seizure of Spanish Ships - War with Spain - Pichegru, Georges Cadoudal, &c., inveigled into France, and seized - Seizure and Murder of the Duke d'Enghien - Pichegru and Captain Wright found Dead in Prison - Moreau banished from France - Execution of Georges Cadoudal, and other Royalists - Buonaparte becomes Emperor.
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The remaining business of the session was chiefly that of providing money for the royal family. Whilst the enormous war taxes had been draining the country, no spirit of economy had been displayed in the royal household. Notwithstanding the repeated recurrence to parliament to make up the deficiencies of a most magnificent civil list - namely, nine hundred thousand pounds per annum - the king, whilst by no means extravagant in his own habits, showed an utter incapacity for restraining the waste and embezzlement of his establishment. He had, again, not only run greatly into debt, but had absorbed and spent the proper income of the prince of Wales from the duchy of Cornwall. The income of this duchy, which ought to have been carefully husbanded by the crown till the prince's majority, and thus have rendered him independent of any parliamentary allowance, had all been spent by George III. When called on to account for it, he replied that he had spent it on the prince's education. What an education, then, must the prince have had, for the aggregate sum for the twenty-one years was stated at nine hundred thousand pounds, or nearly forty thousand pounds a-year; and this, added to the capital, ought to have amply provided for the prince. But, now, both the king and prince came again to parliament for relief!

A new speaker, the right honourable Charles Abbot, then chief secretary for Ireland, having been chosen in the place of Sir John Mitford, who was made lord chancellor of Ireland, on the 17th of May Mr. Addington moved for a committee to inquire into the necessities of the civil list. No sooner was this motion submitted than Mr. Manners Sutton, solicitor to the prince of Wales, stated to the house that the prince had a claim of nine hundred thousand pounds for arrears of the duchy of Cornwall, which had been improperly expended by the king, and praying that it might be taken into account, and the balance paid over to the prince; that the house, since the prince's majority, had, at different times, voted him two hundred and twenty-one thousand pounds; that there remained a balance of six hundred and seventy- nine thousand pounds, which, as the king had enjoyed it, and would, had he not had it, have come to the country for that, in addition to his other deficiencies, the account now lay not between the king and prince, but between the parliament and the prince. Fox strongly supported this motion, but it was objected that the prince could try his legal right in Chancery, whereas Addington knew very well the prince had made this attempt in vain, his petition of right having been lying, now, for six years in the court of chancery, with the persevering refusals of the lord chancellor to let it be heard. Erskine, Tierney, and others, strongly pressed the prince's rights, but the consideration of them was negatived by passing to the order of the day. On the contrary, the debts of his majesty were taken into discussion, and a vote of nine hundred and ninety thousand and fifty- two pounds passed for their liquidation.

Scarcely was this done ere a fresh demand was made by the king for a provision for their royal highnesses the dukes of Sussex and Cambridge, and twelve thousand a-year each was allowed. The prince of Wales's friends then pressed his claims once more, and parliament voted sixty thousand pounds a-year for three years and a half, commencing on the 5th January, 1803, and ending on the 5th of July, 1806. On this, Mr. Manners Sutton, for the prince, announced that he gave up all further claim on his father for the arrears of the duchy of Cornwall; but, no sooner did the first payment to the prince become due, than his private secretary, on the 28th of February, 1803, announced to the house that the addition of sixty thousand pounds a-year, for three years and a half, would by no means clear the prince's debts, and he pressed for more. Though strongly supported by the prince's friends, Fox, Sheridan, Tierney, and the rest, parliament resisted the claim by a large majority, the country being then about again to plunge into a new and still more expensive war.

A strong remonstrance being made against the continuance of the property tax in a time of peace, it having been passed expressly as a war tax, on the 5th of April, when Mr. Addington brought forward his budget, he announced the intention of government to abolish this tax, and substitute others in its place; but, at the same time, it would be necessary to carry to the debt the sum due from this tax - namely, fifty-six million pounds - so that, with another twenty-five million pounds, which he called for, the addition to the public debt, this year, would be ninety-eight million pounds. The militia was put on an increased scale, on the plea that a large regular army, in time of peace, was contrary to the constitution, and yet that the augmented power and sea-board of France, which now virtually included Holland and Belgium, necessitated a strong home force of some kind. The militia was therefore raised to sixty thousand strong, forty thousand of these men to be called out at once. There were energetic representations of the injustice of the rate of paying for substitutes to this force, the nobleman paying no more than the honest labourer on his estates, nor the richest merchant than the poorest porter in his employ; but the objection was overruled. On the 28th of June parliament was prorogued by the king in person, who congratulated the country on its peace and prosperity. The next day parliament was dissolved by proclamation, and writs issued for a new one.

Amongst the English that, flocked to Paris on the establishment of peace were Charles James Fox, his nephew, lord Holland, Erskine, and numbers of the opposition party, who were received with great cordiality, and many of them with honour, as the steady enemies of the late war, and the assumed admirers of France and of the first consul. In fact, it was a singular circumstance that the ultra-liberals of England - those who had idolised the jacobins, and all the levellers of monarchy, and every ancient institution and title - had now changed their idol, and were as enthusiastic worshippers of Buonaparte, who had put down jacobinism, and was steadily and undisguisedly proceeding to restore everything that they had been applauded for destroying. As the most awful atrocities of the republicans and sans- culottes had not cooled the homage of the admirers of the philosophy of liberty, equality, and fraternity, so the destruction of this favourite system did not check their ardour of applause for the victorious soldier who had seated himself complacently on the very ruins of the principles of their late beloved sans-culotte philosophers and statesmen. Buonaparte now occupied the Tuileries - the residence of a long line of kings, whom they had gloried in seeing insulted, stripped of power and pageantry, and put to death. Were they tyrannical? - so was he. Had they hated and assaulted England? - so did he. Had they put the press and the tongue in fetters? - he had done it still more so. Did they maintain their despotism by means of a secret, inquisitorial, and odious police? - so did he; and that on a still more subtle system, under the detestable jacobin, Fouché. Had they menaced the rights of surrounding nations? - so did Napoleon, tenfold. But all this was overlooked in the fortunate soldier, who, as a great military genius, was then, and long after, worshipped by thousands of our countrymen, even whilst wading through the blood and trampling on all the rights of surrounding nations. The possession of genius was deemed a full title to exemption from the guilt of the most wholesale crimes, and the infliction of infinite miseries for the simple gratification of his ambition.

Fox was received with particular honour by Napoleon, whom he found occupying the Tuileries with a state equal to Louis XVI.. who had been hated and destroyed because he bore the name of king. He went about in a carriage drawn, on high occasions, by six white horses, and attended by a splendid body of guards. Those titles of monsieur and madame, of my lord and your highness, which had been heard with execrations not so long ago, were all in full use again. The palace swarmed with menials and officers, civil and military; and galas, masqued balls, and levees, and crowded drawing-rooms were in as full action as in the days of Marie Antoinette. In fact, the monarch was there again, though yet without the name. Napoleon, whilst heaping courtesies on Fox, did not hesitate to avow his detestation of Pitt, and to charge him and Windham with the absurd myth of being instigators of the infernal machine. Fox exposed the folly of such an aspersion of such men, who, though determined enemies of what they thought hostile to their country, could never stoop to practise anything so odious as assassination. Fox received from Buonaparte every facility for examining the French archives for materials for his history of the reign of James II.; but, in his usual neglect of the policy of the diplomatist, he incurred much odium, not only by his familiar conversations with the first consul, bus by accepting the hospitalities of madame Tallien, who was now living separated from her husband, and with a character for too much licence, and of Miss Helen Maria Williams, who had, by her pen, praised all the wildest extravagances of the revolution. At these places he also imprudently met and conversed, without any appearance of repugnance as to their conduct and principles, with Mr. Arthur O'Connor, and other risk insurgents, who had not only promoted rebellion in the sister isle, but were still stimulating Buonaparte to the invasion of it and of England.

Paris, and, in fact, all France and Italy, now swarmed with English, who had been so long excluded from the continent. Numbers of these were liberal of their encomiums, of the first consul, who, amid his ambitious projects, had, as we have stated, introduced many useful changes into the system of administration. He had put the finances into a better condition; had able men busily employed in codifying the laws; had promoted the love of science and the works of art, which jacobinism had denounced and destroyed; was eager for the promotion of trade and navigation, ac- cording to his favourite phrase of " ships, colonies, and commerce," as the great members of a nation; and, had he been so disposed, might now have raised France to unexampled prosperity. Never had he, or any other man, so fair an opportunity of creating a name of imperishable glory as the benefactor of a great nation. He had extended his boundaries to the Rhine and beyond the Alps, and might have spent a long life in building up France, by wise and beneficent institutions, into the admiration of the world. But the more sagacious visitor already saw predominating the curse of a restless, insatiable military ambition, which would defeat and extinguish in his career every more god- like element.

At the very time that Fox was in Paris the most rooted despotism was in force. There were continual arrests of obnoxious individuals by the lurking agents of the atheist, Fouché. The concordat, though a pretended homage to Catholicism, was, in fact, the riveted slavery of the church and clergy. No priests were tolerated but the most com- pliant. A keen watch was kept by Fouché and his tools on that party of the clergy which had refused the serment civique, and the most honourable of these refused to return to Paris under such a regime. Buonaparte had, indeed, inaugurated the concordat at Notre Dame with great pomp, but it was merely for his own glorification. When urged to pay respect to catholic opinions, he brusquely refused, saying he had done enough by going to Notre Dame; and, though he at length consented to have mass said at the palace, he had it done in the room where he transacted business, and generally went on with business whilst it proceeded, which never lasted more than ten or twelve minutes. In fact, the man who had pretended to be a Mokammedan at Cairo could scarcely bring himself to pretend to be a Christian at Paris. He said to Cabanis, " Do you know what this concordat really is? It is the vaccination of religion; in fifty years there will be no more religion in France than small-pox."

Mignet has admirably described Buonaparte's government at this period. He had, he says, a certain class of the clergy devoted to him by the terms of the concordat; he had a military order in the legion of honour, an administrating body in the council of state, a decree-making machine in the legislative body, and a constitution-making machine in the Senate; he had an immense standing army, which looked to him to open up boundless fields of plunder and promotion, and another army of placemen, kept by pay and expectation, bound to him, and drilled into subservience by a system of centralisation of the most artful kind, and maintained in incessant activity by such men as Fouché, Talleyrand, and Cambacérès.

The peace of Amiens, instead of turning the attention of Buonaparte to internal improvements, seemed to give it opportunity to range, in imagination, over the whole world with schemes of conquest, and of the suppression of British dominion. There was no spot, however remote, that he did not examine on the map with reference to plans of conquest. Louisiana and Guiana, obtained from Spain and Portugal, were viewed as ports whence conquest should advance to Nova Scotia, Canada, the Brazils, Mexico, and Peru. Every station in the West India Isles was calculated as a point for this purpose, and for seizing, some day, all the British islands there. The Cape of Good Hope, Madagascar, the isles of France and Bourbon, the Dutch spice isles, and their Settlements in Java, Sumatra, &c., were regarded as a chain of ports which would enable Buonaparte to become master of India. He sent out expeditions, under différent officers, to examine every island and region where the English had a settlement, or where he might plant one, to oppose them. One of these expeditions sailed in a couple of corvettes, commanded by captain Baudin, who was accompanied by a staff of thirty-three naturalists, geologists, savans, &c., the ostensible object being science and discovery - the real one, the ascertaining of the exact possessions of England, and of the best means of becoming master of them. The head of the scientific staff was M. Peron. On their return, their report was published; and it is singular that, by this report, St. Helena, destined to be the prison of Napoleon, is described in rapturous terms as an earthly paradise.

Another expédition was that of colonel Sebastiani, a Corsican, who was dispatched to Egypt, Syria, and other countries of the Levant. Sebastiani reported to Buonaparte that the English were so detested in Egypt, that six thou- sand men would suffice to retake it; that Buonaparte's name was so venerated, that it had procured him the utmost honour everywhere, and especially with Djezzar Pacha, viceroy of Egypt. He asserted that general Stuart, the English envoy, had endeavoured to excite the Turks to assassinate him. He harangued the natives in the Ionian Isles, and assured them of the protection of Buonaparte; and, besides many calumnies against the British officers, assured Napoleon, that so hateful was the British rule, that both Greeks and Venetians in those islands were ready to rise against them at the first word from France. On the appearance of this base report, our ambassador at Paris made a strong remonstrance; but Napoleon only replied by complaining of the late account of the campaign in Egypt by Sir Robert Wilson, in which he had detailed the butchery of the Turks and Arnauts at Jaffa, and Napoleon's command to poison his own wounded on the retreat from Acre. Through M. Otto, the French envoy in London, Napoleon demanded that statements injurious to his character, made by the English press, should be stopped by government; that all French emigrants should be expelled from England; that Georges Cadoudal should be transported to Canada; and such princes of the house of Bourbon as remained there should be advised to repair to Warsaw, where the head of their house now resided. To these peremptory demands, the British government, through lord Hawkesbury, replied, that his Britannic majesty did not possess the absolute power necessary for these acts; and that, whilst the statements charging upon an English ambassador instigations to murder were published in the Moniteur, the official organ of the French government, the statements by the English press were protected by the freedom of that press guaranteed in England, which the king was not disposed to invade, but from which any man, English or foreign, might claim redress by an action at law. To show the first consul how readily this might be done, the English government commenced an action against M. Peltier, a French emigrant, for a libel on Napoleon in a newspaper published by him in London, called the Ambigu. Peltier was found guilty; but this by no means answered Buonaparte’s object. He wanted the accounts of his darkest actions suppressed by a power above the law, not thus made more public by the action of the law. As Sir Walter Scott has observed, he wanted darkness, and the English government gave him light.

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