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The Reign of George III. - (Continued.) page 10

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Could Napoleon have drawn any one of the Bourbons in to assist in such expedients, lie would immediately have blazoned it to the world, and it would have afforded some sanction to his intended assassinations; but, failing, he was compelled to perpetrate his hideous projects without such sanction, and to make up for the want by impudent false-hoods.

Accordingly, he determined to seize the unsuspecting duke d'Enghien. The project was so odious, so certain to cover both Napoleon and France with inextinguishable infamy, that it startled the not very sensitive mind of Talleyrand, who gave the duke secret warning of his danger, and advised him to remove farther from the Rhine. In consequence, the duke applied to Sir Charles Stuart to get him a passport from the Austrian minister, to enable him to cross the Austrian territory to rejoin his grandfather, then at Warsaw with Louis XVIII. Sir Charles Stuart applied to M. de Cobenzel for this purpose, and, had the Austrian court been quicher in its movements than a German court usually is, the duke would have been safe enough from the myrmidoms of Buonaparte; but, whilst lingering at Ettenheim for the necessary passport, the duke had so little suspicion of the prompt and deadly nature of the usurper's design against him, that lie took no means to conceal himself, or he might still have escaped. But, in the middle of the night of the 14th of March, he was aroused by the sound of horses' hoofs, and, looking out, saw that the château was surrounded by a troop of French cavalry. Buonaparte had dispatched his aide-de-camp, Caulaincourt, to Strasburg to execute this capture, and lie had sent on colonel Ordenner to surprise the duke and bring him away.

Throwing on part of his clothes, the duke d’Enghien summoned his servants, and determined to resist to the utmost. His servants were soon armed with fowling-pieces, pistols, and side-arms, and, as there was no hope of pre- venting the French bursting in the outer door, the duke took his post at the head of the stairs, in front of his suite. He ordered the servants to hand the loaded guns to him, that lie might fire them rapidly at the assailants, and thus prevent them scaling the stairs alive. But, at the moment that the French appeared at the foot of the staircase, and the duke was about to fire, the baron Grinstein, the first gentleman of the duke, threw himself upon him, and dragged him into an adjoining room, declaring that the attempt to resist such a troop was madness. Had the duke been allowed to resist, he would, to a certainty, have been shot, and then the full infamy of Buonaparte would never have appeared, for he would have asserted that he contemplated nothing more than the safe detention of the duke's person. It was better as it was.

No sooner did the French enter the Chamber, and demand which was the duke d'Enghien, than the duke himself said, " If you have a warrant, that ought to describe his person." They again demanded which was the duke, and, no one answering, Ordenner said, " Then I arrest you all." They seized and bound the whole party, half dressed as they were, and, refusing to let them complete their dressing, they hurried them away from the castle, and through the town of Ettenheim, to a mill at some distance. It is said that the princess de Rohan, aroused by the noise, looked out of her window, and saw her lover being dragged along in merely his slippers, trousers, and waistcoat, by the soldiers, but did not, at the moment, recognise him as the duke. At the mill, d’Enghien entreated that lie might be allowed to send back to the castle for his clothes and some money, for, by this time, the French had discovered him, through the unsuspecting words of the peasants who had crowded around. This was complied with; the duke completed his dress, and the troop set forward at a rapid pace towards the Rhine. On crossing that river between Cappell and Rheinau, they found carriages waiting for them. Ordenner would have put the baron von Grinstein into the carriage with the duke, but he refused to admit him; he probably suspected that there had been treachery in the baron's preventing him firing. He requested to have his faithful valet, Joseph, and this was conceded. The duke was secured in the citadel at Strasburg, and detained there till the night of the 18th, when he was suddenly ordered to rise at midnight, and prepare for a journey. He was told that two shirts would be sufficient linen, and here he was compelled to leave all his servants, even his valet, Joseph, being told ominously that lie would require no valet where he was going. He distributed what little money he had about him, excepting one rouleau, amongst his attendants, and they were then thrust unceremoniously out of the apartment. The prince was chained, and hurried into a carriage; and, escorted by a strong body of cavalry, all speed was made towards Paris. No stop was made, except to change horses and escort, or for the duke to take rest or refreshments; and, in the evening of the 20th, the carriage rolled over the drawbridge into the gloomy castle of Vincennes, only a mile and a half from the capital.

The duke was immediately recognised by the wife of the commandant of the fortress, for her mother had been the duke's nurse, and, as children, they had played together. This woman, indeed, had been pensioned by the family before the revolution. She communicated this intelligence to her husband, who was no other than the infamous Harrel, who had encouraged Ceracchi, Anna, Diana, and the rest, to attempt the life of Buonaparte, on the 10th of October, 1800, and then betrayed them, for which he had received this post. It soon became known that it was the duke d'Enghien who was brought in, and not only the attendants belonging to the prison, but the officers and men of the regiment on guard there, were greatly excited, and expressed much respect for him. This alarmed Savary, who was there to execute the diabolical will of Buonaparte, and he had the regiment marched out, and bivouacked for the night on the heights of Belle Ville.

The information of the duke's consignment to the fortress of Vincennes being communicated to Buonaparte at Malmaison, he immediately issued an order to Murat, the military governor of Paris, to deliver the duke over to a military tribunal, to consist of seven members, on the charge of being in the pay of England, and engaged in plots against the republic. Murat, as governor-general of Paris, the grand judge, and minister of war, were charged with the execution of the decree. Murat said afterwards that both he and his wife, Buonaparte's sister Marie Caroline, were horrified at the order, and implored the first consul not to incur the crime and odium of the duke's death. But this, if true, had already been attempted by Josephine, who had, on her knees, implored him to abstain from shedding the duke's blood, which would cause all the world to exclaim against him, and bring down upon him the sure judgments of Heaven. Nothing, however, moved the ruthless soul of Buonaparte, who gave stern and peremptory orders for prompt obedience to his command, and Murat countersigned the order already signed by Napoleon and by Maret, secretary to the council of state, and afterwards duke of Bassano. Murat seems to have appointed the military commission himself, which consisted of general Hulin as president, colonels Bazancourt, Barrois, Guiton, Ravier, Rabbe, captain Nolan as secretary, and captain d'Autancourt as military judge-advocate. Neither the grand-judge, Regnier, nor the minister of war, Berthier, named in the order, seems to have been consulted at all on the occasion. Talleyrand, and even Fouché, appear to have been left ignorant of the whole proceeding till it was over. So determined was Buonaparte to have the murder effected quickly, and without remonstrance from any quarter, that the commission was assembled immediately; the president, Hulin, is said to have gone with a sentence of death ready written in his pocket, and the grave was already dug in the castle ditch. Savary, who was charged by Buonaparte to see this detestable transaction accomplished, has denied the fact of the ready-dug grave; but he has, in his laboured endeavour to clear himself from the damning infamy of his part in the murder, denied many things which were only too true. Others, who were present in the castle, reported this to have been the case, and the rapidity with which the whole affair was hurried over is the best proof of the truth of the statement. The grave was there when the duke was taken out to be shot, and he was tumbled into it the moment he fell.

So thoroughly had everything been prepared, that scarcely had the duke, worn out by his journey of two days and two nights, fallen asleep, when he was summoned to attend the tribunal already assembled. Hulin, the president, in the pamphlet which, like others concerned, he published to exculpate himself when Buonaparte was deposed and sent to St. Helena, bears testimony to the noble manner in which the duke, thus fatigued and roused from sleep, appeared before them. He denied, indignantly, the charges of conspiring to assassinate the first consul. He said he was a Condé - by birth, by feeling, by opinion, the eternal enemy of the present government; that no Condé could enter France except with arms in his hands; but that a Condé could never stoop to assassinate, or to be the colleague of assassins. He denied that he had fixed his residence at Ettenheim on account of its vicinity to France, but that he had first gone there at the invitation of cardinal de Rohan, and had remained there because he found much amusement in the forest; that he was living there by permission of the margrave of Baden, but was on the point of moving far away into Poland, when he was thus seized, contrary to the laws of nations, Baden being aï profound peace with France. He was accused of having conspired with Pichegru, but he declared that he had never seen Pichegru, or had any correspondence with him; and that, if it were true, us they stated, that Pichegru had conspired to assassinate the first consul, he was glad that he never had known him. When charged with having been in England, and with being in its pay, he denied ever having been there, but admitted that he received an allowance from that country, as he had nothing else left him. He was then desired to sign the process-verbal, but he demanded, before doing that, to have a private interview with the first consul, declaring that his name, his rank, his well-known opinions, and the horror of his situation entitled him to this. The prince, however, consented to sign the process, or it was forged for him. He was then led away, and had so little idea of the fate that awaited him, that he lay down and was presently asleep.

Meantime, the military judges appeared to shrink from the task assigned them - that of simply signing the form of sentence prepared for them. In this sentence blanks had been left to name the law by which he was condemned. They proposed that the first consul should be requested to grant the prisoner's request of a private audience; but Savary, who stood behind the president's chair, said it was useless wasting time and troubling the first consul - it must be signed; and, seeing that it was already determined, they all signed the sentence. No sooner, however, had they done this than their hearts misgave them, and they drew up another sentence. In the first sentence stood the words immediate execution; in the second sentence was no mention of execution at all; but it directed that copies of the sentence should be sent, within the time prescribed by law, to the grand- judge, the minister of war, and the military governor of Paris. And all this agrees with the Statement published by Hulin, the président of the tribunal, in his old age, that the members of the tribunal had done this in Order that there should be appeal to the authorities mentioned in it; and that he believed the first sentence to have been destroyed on the signing of the second. He adds, that the moment the second sentence was signed, he began a letter to the first consul, expressing the unanimous wish of the court that the prisoner should be admitted to the interview which he craved. But he said Savary asked him what he was writing, and then took the pen from his hand, saying: - " You have done your business, what remains is mine." That, supposing Savary intended to convey this request himself, he and the other judges were hoping that the prisoner would have the benefit of this request, when, as they were asking permission to go to their carriages, they were horrified by the report of fire-arms in the Castle moat, and understood the fearful catastrophe which had taken place.

Considering all the circumstances, there appears no reason to doubt this Statement of Hulin. The judges showed, by rejecting the first sentence, and preparing another without mention of execution, that they were anxious to exempt them- selves from the crime of the duke's death. Unfortunately, they had not taken care to destroy the first fatal sentence, and Savary had secured it, and immediately put it in force: Excusing the judges, this throws a deeper blackness of guilt on the head of Savary, who had declared that, had the first consul ordered him to shoot his own father, he would have done it, and who throughout showed that he had come prepared to execute Buonaparte's murderous resolve to the letter.

The unfortunate prisoner was immediately roused again from his sleep, and ordered to attend the gens-d'armes who surrounded his bed. He asked where they wanted to take him. No answer was given by the gens-d'armes, who were men purposely picked by Savary as amongst the most hardened by such secret and illegal murders, but he was forced away, and they descended the rough staircase leading down to the castle-ditch. The duke, feeling the cold air, asked Harrel, who walked by his side with a lantern, whether they were going to immure him in an oubliette - that is, one of those dungeons in all such old fortresses, into which certain prisoners were thrown, never to come out again alive, but to remain, as the word implies, forgotten.

On arriving in the ditch, the duke must have at once perceived his doom, for there lay his grave yawning at his feet, and, beyond that, a file of gens-d'armes with their muskets ready. Savary had placed himself on a parapet, above the heads of the gens-d'armes; captain d'Autancourt read to the duke the sentence by the light of the lantern which Harrel carried, and then it is said that the lantern was kung to the button-hole of the duke, in order that the gens-d'armes might see the better to take aim. This fact of 4he lantern was denied by both Savary and Bourrienne, who say that it was six o'clock in the morning, and that it was daylight. But we are told, at the same time, that the morning was foggy, and in the deep castle-ditch, in the month of March, it could not be very light, especially as other accounts assert that it was only five o'clock, and not six. Probably, the prince himself may have hung the lantern to his breast, to enable the gens-d'armes to give him a more complete death; but this is a matter of little moment, neither aggravating nor ameliorating the murder.

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