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The Reign of George III. - (Continued.) page 12


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The sentences were pronounced on Sunday, the 10th of June. They were death to Georges Cadoudal, Lozier, Lajolais, Armand de Polignac, and sixteen others; two years' imprisonment to Moreau, Jules Polignac, and three others. The remainder, twenty-two in number, were acquitted, but were immediately seized again by order of Buonaparte, and thrown into prison.

No sooner were these sentences passed, than Napoleon's wife and sisters, supported by Murat, entreated him to shed no more blood, but to pardon them all. Probably, Buonaparte was not anxious for the deaths of any except Pichegru and Georges, with some of his chasseurs, whom he deemed particularly dangerous. Of Pichegru he was rid already; and he now reprieved the rest, except Georges and Coster-Saint-Victor, with eleven of the inferior persons, who were ordered for execution. Those reprieved were kept in different fortresses for longer or shorter periods, and some died there. Georges and his companions were guillotined in the Place de Grève, on the 25th of June, and died with a courage in keeping with their characters. Of course, Lajolais was soon at liberty; but the new emperor was terribly puzzled with the sentence of Moreau. Its mildness was a confession of his innocence, and therefore threw the greater shame on Napoleon for detaining him at all. He was equally afraid of keeping a man so muck beloved and admired in prison, and of setting him at liberty. Having put Georges and part of his comrades to death, he now confessed privately to Bourrienne that the charges of intending to assassinate him were sheer fiction; but as for Moreau, what, he asked, was lie to do with him? He said lie had long before told him that he would some day run his head against the pillars of the Tuileries, and, now that he had done it, it was no fault of his. That is, he knew long ago that Moreau would never consent to his usurpation of the supreme power. " Let him sell his property," he added, " and quit France; that will be the best for all of us."

Moreau, no doubt, felt the same; he could not continue to live in safety,- or even comfort, with Buonaparte on the throne, and his myrmidons all around him. He consented to this arrangement; the government purchased his house and grounds, and he was escorted by Savary's gens-d'armes to Cadiz, where he was joined by his wife and family, and embarked for the United States, to reappear and aid in the final fall of the usurper.

The murder of the duke d'Enghien, and the mysterious fates of Pichegru and Wright, had sunk the character of Buonaparte to the lowest degree amongst all foreign nations and amongst all the better class of minds in France. It was seen that, in the pursuit of his ambitious objects, he was not deterred by the darkest and most bloody crimes. He could no longer be regarded as the noble victor and the honourable legislator; he had classed himself with the despots to whom must for ever cling the dark blood-stains of oppression. But, on the other hand, as these conspiracies had been purposely evoked by himself and his agents, so they were made, by the same machinery, to pour in a host of sympathising addresses from every part of France, especially from the army. The Moniteur was kept actively employed in spreading alarm, and in expressing the unspeakable calamities which would befall France if the great hero and first magistrate of the country were cut off by assassins. These assassins were represented as the bribed agents of England, and thus the odium due to himself for his murderous deeds was diverted from himself and made to fall on the country which, from the first, had stood aloof from him, and still regarded with suspicion his career.

In the midst of these deeply-planned manœuvres Buonaparte proceeded to make his last move in his great game. He had intimidated the royalists by the seizure and fusillading of the duke d’Enghien; he had deprived the republicans of their leader in Moreau; the nation was passive; all its brandling lines of authority were in his hands; and there remained only to erect a throne and seat himself upon it. It must not be a regal throne, because that would too much remind the world of the claims of the Bourbons: it should, therefore, be an imperial one, and mark a totally new era in France. It was one which was especially calculated to flatter the French vanity.

Accordingly, on the 30th of April, Curée - a man of no particular note, and perhaps selected on that account for the occasion, as his proposal might be the more easily disavowed, if it were resisted - rose in the tribunate, and proposed that Napoleon Buonaparte should be invested with the title of emperor. This Curée had been a member of the convention, and one of those who had sworn the most bitter oaths for the destruction of monarchy, and against everything but the most perfect equality; but he now represented that the internal condition of France had been purified and renovated by the process of the revolution; victory had purchased peace with foreign nations, and the laws and the finances had been restored on a superior basis. There required nothing more now than to abandon mere theories, and embrace a single great fact - the enjoyment of their liberties under the protection of one eminent man and one distinguished family. The man to whom he alluded was Napoleon, who had done so much to earn France glory and to bring back internal vigour and tranquillity.

The motion of Curée appeared independent, but everything had been prepared with the utmost exactness beforehand. Fouché tells us that he had already recommended it to Buonaparte, and that he had himself resolved upon it. Curée was a well-known frequenter of the salons of Eliza Buonaparte, and it could not escape the members of the tribunate that he was put forward on the occasion. He did not content himself with arguing that the succession of convulsions and of horrors which had marked the revolution through a terrible term of fifteen years had made all men anxious for security under one head, but he impudently asserted that this result was the object at which the whole race of revolutionists had been aiming. They had sought, he said, to put down feudality and establish equality. As if they had not abolished and trodden out feudality long before they had destroyed monarchy; as if an emperor and equality were the same thing - an emperor who, the moment he was created, would be surrounded by all the old ranks, offices, privileges, and pageantries of monarchy. But Curée knew at what crisis and to whom he was speaking. The military dictatorship, certain to follow a scene of chaos and blood, like that of the French revolution, was now accomplished; all measures and means were prepared to introduce the absolute master. Accordingly, no sooner had Curée proposed that Napoleon should be made emperor, and that the crown should be made hereditary in his family, than he was surrounded by cries of, " True! true! we want an hereditary monarch! Let us vote at once for Napoleon as emperor!"

Whence did these cries proceed? From numbers of men who had shouted as loudly, on former occasions, for sansculottism, for the death of the monarch, for the proscription of every man who advocated, or was suspected of advocating, anything but the most prostrate equality. And they called creating an emperor and a court instituting equality! This was on a par with Napoleon's boasting of securing the freedom of the press, when he lately put it into the most absolute thraldom. Simeon, a lawyer, from Aix, who had been active in the convention, had been a member of the council of five hundred, and had been transported as a violent conspirator, in return for being recalled under the consular government, seconded the motion, declaring that the only safe termination of the misery of ten years was the government of one sole man. There were loud acclamations, and not a dissentient voice, but, to avoid the appearance of hurrying on so grave a matter rashly, they adjourned its final decision to the 10th of April. On the 6th, however, the senate received a message from the first consul, which was an incentive to that body to speak out. It was the day on which Pichegru was found strangled in his cell - a significant reminder of the fate of those who dared to oppose the present imperious ruler; they appointed a committee to prepare a report on the message, that the tribunate might, in the meantime, give its decided verdict. On the 10th the tribunate went into the question: Curée, again taking the lead, quoting Roman history to prove how admirable a way to escape having a master it was to choose an hereditary chief - an unfortunate reference, if any one there dared to have stated the real results of imperialism in the Roman empire. But a long succession of speeches followed in the same strain, and only one man was honest enough and rash enough to dissent. This was Carnot, who had been only too notorious in the reign of terror, and as a member of the committee of salut public, but who now showed that, however violent his opinions, they were sincere. He knew at the moment that he was condemning himself to poverty, neglect, or perhaps worse; for as real a reign of terror now existed as under Robespierre, and this honest deed makes amends for many crimes.

No sooner had the tribunate sent up its decision to the senate, signed by all, except Carnot, than the senate hastened at once to adopt it, and to sign the answer to the message of the first consul, which had been drawn up by Fouché for the committee of ten appointed by the senate. In this answer the senate echoed the declaration of the tribunate, that the choice of Napoleon, as emperor, was the only security against the agitation which had so I»ng desolated France, and the rendering this choice hereditary the only means of at once demonstrating the gratitude of the nation to Napoleon for the glory and the benefits with which he had crowned it, as well as of preserving all the rights of the republic; for they still retained the mockery of that name, leaving it to Buonaparte himself to expunge it. In their public answer all the guarantee which they took for the preservation of their liberties and rights was the use of the phrase, that " the social contract should be respected." What social contract was meant, it did not specify; but to the public answer was appended a private list of conditions, no doubt made private by the management of Fouché and his colleagues, and by their very nature. These conditions did not concern the nation at large - that was left to its fate - but merely the senate. It was an attempt at a private bargain on its own account. By these, the senate was to be hereditary, like the house of lords in England - it was to possess the right to originate laws, if not to have a veto upon them; that the council of state should and have the power to alter any senatus consultum; and that the senate should have the authority to appoint two permanent committees of its members: one for guarding the liberty of the press, and the other the liberty of the subject. Buonaparte accepted the address graciously, but said not a word of the conditions; and, when privately reminded of them, asked the reminders, sarcastically, how they could attempt to overthrow equality by attempting to set up an hereditary aristocracy?

The addresses of the tribunate and senate being made public was the signal for pouring in a deluge of congratulations. Fontanes, the poet, and an adorer of Eliza Buonaparte, and Curée, the chief mover of this scheme, collected all the members of the corps législatif who were in Paris, and got them also to send in the necessary addresses to complete those of the legislative bodies. Cambacères, the second consul, was amongst the foremost to express his happiness in sinking himself from consular rank into the subject of so illustrious a monarch; for which flattery he expected, and not vainly, his reward.

On the 18th of May was passed a formal senatus consultum, conferring, or, as it was phrased, deferring the crown on Napoleon and his family for ever, " in compliance with the addresses of the tribunals, the administrative bodies, the municipalities, the army, and the spontaneous cry of ah good citizens." The horrible plots of the English and the emigrants were cited as a grand reason for hastening this measure, thus affording additional reasons for ascribing those plots to Buonaparte himself and his agents, seeing how they made use of them. In discussing the provision of the senatus consultum on the point, that the power should be hereditary, the senators argued at great length, and their arguments were amusing contrasts with those which many of these same men had advanced with even convulsive energy against all kingly and all hereditary power whatever, from time to time, from 1789 to the present hour. It was at first proposed to give to Buonaparte the authority to nominate his successor, because, as lie had no children by Josephine, it was supposed that lie might choose to adopt her son. But this was altered, and the throne was made hereditary in the male line of the Buonapartes. Some have imagined that even already Buonaparte contemplated divorcing Josephine and marrying the daughter of some royal house, so as to leave an heir to the throne. In failure of such issue, then Buonaparte's brothers, Joseph and Louis, or their male heirs, were to succeed. The female line was expressly excluded, according to the old Salie law, in these words: - "Amongst a people essentially warlike, women must, of necessity, be perpetually excluded." Buonaparte's second brother, Lucien, and his fourth, Jerome, had both offended the great man by their marriages with women of ordinary rank, and they were therefore excluded from the succession, except in the case that all male heirs in the other branches had failed, when it was put into the power of the emperor to name his successor from any of the sons or grandsons of the excluded brothers who had reached his eighteenth year. Lucien had married twice, in defiance of his family, women of low condition; the second time, a vender of lemonade, and Was refused by Buonaparte the title of prince; but Jerome, who had married a beautiful and clever woman, the daughter of Mr. Paterson, a merchant of New York, was induced by him to abandon her, on the plea that the marriage was invalid, and was married to princess of Wurtemberg, and made king of Holland. We have just now seen the consequence of this separation of Jerome Buonaparte from his American wife, in that wife trying the validity of her marriage in Paris, and with the singular result of the court of law pronouncing the children of both marriages legitimate.

The senatus consultum being passed, Cambacères headed the senate, who went in a body, to present it, to congratulate the new emperor, and afterwards the empress. In return for this compliment, Buonaparte immediately issued an imperial mandate, appointing Cambacères arch-chancellor of the empire, and Lebrun, the third consul, arch-treasurer. In this mandate Buonaparte assumed at once the imperial style - " Given at the Palace of St. Cloud, the 28th Floreal, year XII. - Napoleon, emperor. H.B. Maret, secretary of State." The republican calendar used in the date, and the word "republic" 011 the coins, were now the only vestiges of that anti-monarchical state of things which had cost some millions of lives.

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