OREALD.COM - An Old Electronic Library
eng: a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z

The Reign of George III. - (Continued.) page 13

Pages: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 <13>

The next day, the 19th of May, the brand-new emperor and empress proceeded from St. Cloud to the Tuileries, to hold their first grand levée. A decree of the senate had ordained the offices of grand-elector, arch-chancellor of the empire, arch-chancellor of state, high constable, and great admiral of the empire, as fixed appendages of the empire. Those officers had to appear in their new dignities 011 this occasion. Louis Buonaparte, as high constable of the empire, presented to his imperial brother all the great officers of the army that were in Paris; and Napoleon at once named eighteen of his chief generals marshals of the empire. These were Berthier, Murat, Moncey, Jourdan, Massena, Augereau, Bernadotte, Soult, Brune, Lannes, Mortier, Ney, Davoust, Bessières, Kellermann, Lefevre, Perignon, and Serrurier. Most of these had been as thorough jacobins as their new master. Their title was to be monsieur le maréchal, and, when addressed in writing, monseigneur, or my lord. The princes and princesses of the blood - namely, the brothers and sisters of Buonaparte - were to be styled imperial highness, and the grand dignitaries of the empire serene highness. The secretary of state and the président of the senate were styled your excellence. Buonaparte ordered the senate to proclaim his accession by publishing their senatus consultum, which was done on the 20th of May. This Was followed by all public functionaries and municipal bodies taking the necessary oaths. Dessaix was named grand marshal of the palace; Caulaincourt, grand huntsman; and the count de Ségur, master of ceremonies. By this latter appointment, and by that of the count de Narbonne to another honourable office, it was expected that the various parvenus fresh dignitaries would be soon enabled to go through their duties with some degree of propriety.

Thus Napoleon had stepped into the throne of what was absurdly still called a republic without Consulting the people at ail. When, therefore, the senatus consultum Was pro- claimed, it was received most chillingly, says Fouché, in all quarters: - " There were fêtes without animation and without joy." It seemed, according to several writers, as if the shades of d'Enghien and Pichegru hovered over the ceremony, and shed a gloom over it. Yet Buonaparte Would not omit the sanction drawn from the votes of the people, though lie did not choose to wait for it. He took care, however, to have the machinery of election properly adjusted, so as to be confident of the result, and he sought previously the sanction of the army, of which he Was certain. In July lie went to Boulogne to review the grand army of England, assembled on the heights above the town, over- looking the British Channel, and from which the white cliffs of England were conspicuous.

Everything had been elaborately got up for this occasion, on which the enthusiasm of the soldiers Was to be raised to the highest pitch. The common people believed that he was going to lead the army at once across the channel, and return loaded with the enormous wealth of London, and with the king, queen, royal family, William Pitt, and the beads of the aristocracy, as prisoners in his train. Buonaparte had 110 such wild idea; but, since the duke d'Enghien's murder, the powers of almost all Europe had manifested unequivocally their abhorrence of the act, and of the man who perpetrated it, and he now designed, by the display of enthusiasm in his army, at once to awe his own people, and the sovereigns of other nations. The army of England Was encamped on the high ground above Boulogne, close to the tower before called La Tour d'Ordre, but now Caesar's Tower, because the remains of a Roman camp had been discovered on the spot, and therefore it was convenient to assume that Julius Caesar had encamped there. and had from thence passed over to England, whose cliffs he could descry. Buonaparte had the army drawn up around a mound - probably an ancient cairn, or barrow, in the centre of the table-land - and there he seated himself on an iron chair, said to have belonged to king Dagobert, having in front of him the channel, and the hostile coasts of England. All this had been carefully arranged, with the utmost regard to scenic effect, by the great tragedian, Talma, who was accustomed to represent Roman kings and pageants. From this throne Buonaparte delivered the oath to be taken by the legion of honour: " Commanders, officers, legionaries, citizens, soldiers, swear, upon your honour, to devote yourselves to the service of the empire; to the defence of the emperor, of the laws of the republic, and of the property which they have made sacred; swear to combat, by all the means which justice, reason, and the laws authorise, every attempt to re-establish the feudal system; in short, swear to concur, with all your might, in maintaining liberty and equality - which are the bases of all our institutions. Swear! "

There was a simultaneous shout of "We swear! " from the whole army. Buonaparte, to ingratiate himself with the soldiers, had taken care beforehand to have all such men as had served in Egypt picked out, and put in the front line of their regiments. He had a list of them, and probably the officers of the regiments acted as prompters, for, as he rode along, he was sure to address each of these men, as if familiarly recognising them. He would stop and say, " Ah! so you are here. I saw you at Aboukir. How is your old father? What! a brave fellow like you not have the cross! Stay, I will give it you." And so he went on. The soldiers were enchanted. They said, " You see, the emperor knows us all. He knows our families; he knows where we have served! " They all imagined that, some day or other, they should become marshals of the empire, like the lucky fellows they saw commanding them. Heaven seemed to smile on the occasion. The weather was very stormy, but, when he ascended the throne, the sky cleared, and all was bright sunshine. The review over, the storm returned; and the vessels of the flotilla, having been steered a little out of port, to add to the completeness of the spectacle, were in danger of wreck; kit Buonaparte hastened down to the harbour to assist in the orders for their return to port. No sooner did he arrive on the pier than the sun broke out again, and the vessels all came in safely. The army considered it a certain omen that they would make a successful descent on England.

From Boulogne, Buonaparte proceeded to Brussels, Ostend, Antwerp, and s® through Belgium, where Josephine met him, to the Rhine. Wherever he appeared, the authorities of the towns, both then and on his return through France, presented him the most adulatory addresses. You would no longer believe it the same people who had, for ten years, committed such unexampled horrors to destroy the royalty they were now again adoring. The mayor of Arras, Robespierre's own town, a M. de la Chaise, put the climax to all this civic incense by declaring, in his address, that "God made Napoleon and then rested!"

<<< Previous page <<<
Pages: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 <13>

Pictures for The Reign of George III. - (Continued.) page 13

Island of Malta
Island of Malta >>>>
Napoleon Buonaparte
Napoleon Buonaparte >>>>
French troops
French troops >>>>
Naples >>>>
Shuja ud Dowlah
Shuja ud Dowlah >>>>
Battle of Assaye
Battle of Assaye >>>>
Spencer Perceval
Spencer Perceval >>>>
Execution of the Duc dEnghien
Execution of the Duc dEnghien >>>>
British volunteers
British volunteers >>>>

Home | Privacy Policy | Copyright | About