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The Reign of George III. - (Continued.) page 11

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On the sentence being read, the duke asked for a confessor, but he received the curt reply: - " Would you die like a monk? " Without noticing the insult, the duke knelt down a few minutes, and seemed absorbed in devotion. He then rose, cut off a lock of his hair, and handing it, with a miniature and a gold ring, to an officer, requested that they might be conveyed, through the womanly hands of Josephine, the wife of Buonaparte, to the princess de Rohan. Then, turning to the soldiers, he said: - " I die for my king and for France." Savary, from the parapet said: - "Give it!" - a phrase which he had hit upon to enable himself afterwards to deny that he gave the word to fire - and the duke fell dead, pierced by seven bullets. He was immediately flung into the grave, dressed as he was. The man who was employed to fill up the grave took the precaution to drop in a considerable stone near the duke's head, presuming that the body would some day be sought after. A little dog, belonging to the duke, which had been allowed to follow him, and to accompany him in the carriage, laid himself down on the grave, when filled in, and lay whining for its master. It was carried away, lest it should excite the imagination of the public by the story of its attachment, and, being sold, was for many years preserved by the gentleman who purchased it in memory of the unhappy victim. A small cross afterwards marked the spot of the grave, but the body itself was removed on the restoration of the Bourbons, and deposited with funeral ceremonies in the chapel of the castle.

The news of this most audacious kidnapping of the duke in a foreign territory, and his murder at Vincennes, soon transpired, and filled Europe with horror and execration against its perpetrators. It is true that few in Paris dared to speak out, and scarcely a man, except the writer Chateaubriand, abandoned the service of the assassin, but not the less was the memory of this dark deed reprobated in secret. Everywhere else throughout the civilised world, the press and public conversation branded the man and his deed in the terms which he merited. The whole proceeding was - equally defiant of all the laws of nations and of morals. A prince, quietly residing in the territory and under the protection of a foreign power, was suddenly, by an armed forced seized in his house, hurried away to Paris, and murdered in a castle-ditch, without scarcely the mock form of a trial. No real cause for so flagrant a violation of another kingdom, for so atrocious a treatment of the distinguishes individual, could be assigned: he was allowed no person to be present with him, or to defend him; no evidence of whatever kind was produced against him; it was simply a brutal, foul, and unexampled murder. All that infamy which Josephine had predicted fell on Buonaparte with a crushing weight. In England, the deed was treated by parliament, by the press, by the whole country, as " the odious and ineradicably bloodstain" which it was. In all other countries it met with the like expression. The margrave of Baden and the German princes in the diet alone were silent; bat theirs was the silence of cowardice. They dreaded to excite the anger of a man who might cross the Rhine and inflict signal vengeance on them for a remonstrance against so outrageous an invasion of Germans soil. In vain did the emperor of Russia and the king of Sweden stimulate them to a proper declaration of their sense of the offence; and Buonaparte, seizing on this cowardly silence, asked the czar, insolently, why he troubled himself about a matter which only concerned Germany, and which Germany did not complain of. He even upbraided the czar with having been an accomplice in the murder of his own father.

But bitterly did Buonaparte rue this deed. Time only seemed to imprint deeper and deeper the sense of the world's abhorrence of this murder on his soul. There never was a cheerful and lightsome spirit in his court any more, The cloud of blood always seemed to hang about it, and the vengeance of Providence to follow and abide its time to strike its suspended blow, and which fell at last, crushing all his piled-up dreams of empire, and sending him to finish his days in a far-off, lonely, and thought-haunted exile. Many were the excuses which he invented to exculpate himself; many the lies which he invented for that purpose. At one time, he affected to believe that the duke d'Enghien had been in Paris conspiring his death, and then to have discovered, too late, that this was Pichegru; at another, he pretended that the duke had written a letter to him front Strasburg, which Talleyrand had wilfully detained from him - Talleyrand, who had been kept ignorant of the affair. It has been fully, and by différent evidence, shown that the duke never did write, and was not the man to write, begging for his life, as Napoleon pretended lie did. All these pretences, indeed, were rendered impossible by the written documents issued by Buonaparte himself - the Orders for the duke's arrest, all the arrangements laid down for the journey there and back, and the warrant issued for instant execution, with the execution immediately following. But when all these false-hoods had proved vain, and Buonaparte had seen them fall successively away, leaving the foul truth staring in the public eye, in his last days at St. Helena, he daringly avowed the deed, and endeavoured to justify it on the ground of state policy! " I caused the duke d'Enghien to be arrested and judged, because it was necessary to the security, the interest, and the honour of the French people. In the same circum- stances, I would act in the same manner." On another occasion, he said he had only acted on the law of nature: the Bourbons aimed at his existence, and he, therefore, Struck at theirs. Unhappily, the Bourbons codified them- selves to legitimate warfare; he condescended to kidnapping and assassination. Robert Lindo, the jacobin and disciple of Marat, had, before him, defended the wholesale murders of September, 1792, on the same plea; and the plea had often been urged to palliate similar atrocities, but never yet was admitted by the moral sense of mankind.

Fresh horrors followed fast on the heels of this tragedy, and the assumption of the imperial purple by Buonaparte was inaugurated by fresh murders, of a kind which sent a shudder throughout Europe. During this time, Pichegru and his fellow-prisoners had been awaiting their doom in the dungeons of Paris. The public mind was yet occupied with the atrocious violence to the duke d'Enghien, when there came the rumour that general Pichegru had strangled himself in prison. The death of d'Enghien took place on the 21st of March, this of Pichegru on the 7th of April, with only seventeen days' interval. The next day a report was issued, signed by six surgeons of no note, declaring if; a case of suicide. They had examined the turnkeys and the gens-d'armes on guard at the prison, who deposed that the prisoner's cell was locked, and that no one could have, by any means, entered it without their knowledge. But thi8 evidence just amounted to nothing at ail, for it was known that all the turnkeys about these state prisons were picked men, ready to do the will of the first consul and his agents, and that no one dared to give any statement contrary to their wishes. As for the gens-d'armes, they were Savary's myrmidons, ready to murder any one as they were ordered, and as they had done in the case of the duke d'Enghien. From the moment that Pichegru declared that he would exculpate Moreau, and criminate Buonaparte and many of his subordinates, on his trial, his doom was certain. He had vowed that lie would expose the whole conspiracy against Moreau; that lie would detail all the means by which himself and his companions had been inveigled from England, and entrapped in Paris; and would enlighten the country on the late tampering of Buonaparte with the Bourbons for the sale of their claims on the crown to him. That Pichegru should commit suicide whilst waiting with impatience to blaze forth with all these dénouements on the public ear - Pichegru, the eloquent and the undaunted - Pichegru, burning for revenge on the perfidious enemies who had en- snared him to his doom - is an impossible supposition; but that Pichegru, who was certain to do all this if brought to an open tribunal, should ever be allowed to come to that open tribunal, was equally an impossible supposition. It was known that Real, the manager of police, had spent a long time with Pichegru the very day before in his cell, and had come away muttering, " What a man this Pichegru is! there is no moving him! " The next morning, when the turnkey entered his cell, lie was found with his black silk cravat twisted tightly round his neck by means of a stick, which he was assumed to have secreted from amongst his firewood, and the stick put under his head, to keep it in its place. It has been observed that it was almost impossible that the prisoner could have had sense left so to fix the stick, for lie must have lost consciousness when the cravat was drawn tight enough to suffocate him; but it is still more impossible that Pichegru should have attempted suicide at ail. Every motive in him was opposed to it: every motive in Buonaparte was in favour of his secret death; and, though the agents in the murder were too well trained and too much under terror ever to blab, no reason- able mortal ever, for one moment, believed anything else than that the brave Pichegru was a noble victim of the unprincipled tyrant now grasping at the crown. The world was the more revolted by this dark deed, as Pichegru and Buonaparte had been school-fellows at the military school at Brienne, where Pichegru, who was the elder, had been extremely kind to the little friendless Corsican, had assisted him in his studies, taught him the first four rules of arithmetic, and had afterwards received his commission of lieutenant with him on the same day. To murder such an early friend in such a manner, marked a callousness of heart and a lawlessness of ambition that was capable of any crime.

But the story of suicide, though it convinced nobody, was almost immediately afterwards adopted in a case quite as improbable. Captain Wright, whom we have stated to have been taken prisoner on the 8th of May, near Morbihan, was carried to Paris and thrown into the Temple. His crew, as well as himself, had previously undergone separate examinations, to draw from them some revelations regarding their landing Pichegru and his companions on the coast of Brittany, in order to implicate Pichegru as much as possible, but nothing had been gained by this proceeding. What transpired in the Temple can never be known; but from words which fell from captain Wright, on his only public examination, and from admissions by Buonaparte himself, there is every reason to believe that he underwent severe treatment, if not actual torture. Captain Wright had served under Sir Sidney Smith at Acre - a circumstance sufficient to envenom the mina of Buonaparte to the utmost against him. Buonaparte, in after years, speaking of Wright, admitted that he had been threatened with death to extort confessions from him; and Wright, when he was examined on the 2nd of June, on the trial of Georges-Cadoudal, had not only refused to answer any interrogatories, on the ground that he was a British officer, a prisoner of war, and only amenable to his own government, but when the examinations by the police were read over to him, he said they had omitted to state that they had threatened to have him shot by a military commission if he did not betray the secrets of his country.

Wright, like Pichegru, was too independent, and there- fore dangerous, for public trial, and, consequently, was found in his cell with his throat cut. This was also declared to be suicide, though all who knew Wright asserted that he was the last man to perpetrate such an act. His death was concealed for some time, no doubt, because it too quickly succeeded that of Pichegru. Buonaparte always persisted in denying any knowledge of the death of Pichegru and Wright, and Savary, who could have told a true tale, endeavoured to throw the guilt on Pouche, calling it a dark and mysterious deed. But this only tends to fix the fact on Buonaparte; for, assuredly, Pouche would not have murdered them, except at the instigation of the master whom he served, and to whom their power of exposure was perilous.

Being freed from the menacing disclosures of Pichegru, Buonaparte advanced to the trials of Moreau, Georges, and his associates. But, before proceeding to this extremity, Napoleon had done all in his power to tempt Moreau and Georges to submit and devote themselves to his service. He sent his brothers and his most trusted ministers and generals to Moreau, offering him any honour or commands, on condition of his acquiescing in the supremacy of Buonaparte. " Only bring me," he said, " the adhesion of that man, and he shall have whatever he desires, and all will go well." But Moreau refused all such terms. Whilst he was thus tempted in secret to abandon his republican notions, he was mercilessly attacked in public by the same unscrupulous man, who was resolved to ruin him or to crush him. In the Moniteur, and in pamphlets - a peculiar institution of Buonapartism - Moreau was cruelly accused of intrigues with Pichegru, who could no longer appear to speak the truth, and with Georges and his associates. Moreau, in that candid and impolitic manner which was natural to him, wrote a letter to Buonaparte, deprecating and refuting these charges. He admitted that, in 1799, he had made the discovery of Pichegru's correspondence with the Bourbons, but that Pichegru had already been removed from the command of the army, peace had been established, and he could do no more mischief, and therefore lie intended to have been silent, not liking the office of an informer; but that the events of the 18th Fructidor taking place, he felt that he could not remain innocently silent, and then communicated to government all that he knew. He also admitted that he had, at différent times, received overtures from the Bourbons, but that he had uniformly treated them with contempt. And this, lie said, was all that he knew, and, reminding the first consul of his services to the country and to himself on the 18th Brumaire, he concluded by expressing his assurance that Napoleon must see that very false and hasty inferences had been drawn from conduct which might have been imprudent, but Which had always been honest and zealous for the republic.

But Moreau must have known little of Buonaparte if he supposed that this very candour Would not be immediately wrested by him to his own purposes, and that it Was not the republic Which lie regarded, for he was then engaged in destroying it. This letter was immediately sent to the Moniteur, with comments, which must have made Moreau see the danger of any intercourse whit Buonaparte, if he had not learned that before. Similar offers had been made to Georges Gadoudal, whose bold and outspoken character Buonaparte professed to admire. He said to Bourrienne, " Georges is a man of the right stamp. In my hands, he would do great things; I would make him one of my aides- de-camp. i4ut lie is a bar of iron; I can do nothing with him; he must die - that is my necessity." In fact, Georges declared boldly that he had sword war against the revolutionary government and the enemies of the old line, and that he Would preserve it, if at liberty, to the death. He kept up the courage of his Breton companions by singing their Chouan songs whit them; telling them that he was with them, and they would have all the same fate; that they were only just as God intended them to be.

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