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 12


Pages: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 <12> 13 14 15 16 17 18 19

Having now kidnapped and disposed of the old dynasty of Spain, Buonaparte had to inaugurate the new one by the appointment of a king. For this purpose, he pitched on his brother Lucien, who, next to himself, was the ablest of the family, and who had rendered him signal services in the expulsion of the Council of Five hundred from St. Cloud. But Lucien was of too independent a character to become a mere puppet of the great man, like the rest of his brothers. As Napoleon grew haughty and imperious in the progress of his success, Lucien had dared to express disapprobation of his conduct. He declared that Napoleon's every word and action proceeded, not from principle, but from mere political considerations, and that the foundation of his whole system and career was egotism. He had married a private person to please himself, and would not abandon his wife to receive a princess and a crown, like Jerome. Lucien had, moreover, literary tastes, was fond of collecting Works of art, and had a fortune ample enough for these purposes. When, therefore, Napoleon sent for him to assume the crown of Spain, he declined the honour. Napoleon then resolved to take Joseph from Naples, and confer on him the throne of Spain and the Indies. Joseph, who was indolent and self-indulgent, and who at Naples could not exempt himself from continual fears of daggers and assassination, received with consternation the summons to assume the crown of Spain, as ominous of no ordinary troubles. He declared that it was too weighty for his head, and showed no alacrity in setting out. Napoleon was obliged to summon him several times, and at length to dispatch one of his most active and trusted aides-de-camp to hasten his movements.

And truly the prospects of the reign before him were such as might have daunted a much bolder and wiser man than Joseph. The people of Madrid had watched with increasing resentment the spiriting away of the different members of this royal family to Bayonne. They were wrathful that Godoy had been carried beyond the reach of their vengeance, and they every day were on the look-out for news from Bayonne as to the cause of Ferdinand, and that news grew even more unfavourable. On the evening of the 30th of April the populace had retired in gloomy discontent, because no Courier had arrived bringing intelligence of Buonaparte's intentions towards Ferdinand. On the morning of the 1st of May, numbers of men assembled about the gate of the inn and the post-office, with dark looks, and having, as was supposed, arins under their capas or long cloaks. The French mustered strongly in the streets, and the day passed over quietly. But the next morning, the 2nd of May, the same ominous-looking crowds, as they assembled, were agitated by reports that the only remaining members of the royal family, the widowed queen of Etruria and her children, and the youngest son of king Charles, don Francisco, were about to be sent off also to Bayonne. They presently saw these royal personages conducted to their carriages; don Francisco, a youth of only fourteen, weeping bitterly, and the sight roused the people to instant fury. They fell on the French, chiefly with their long knives, massacred seven hundred soldiers of the line, and wounded upwards of twenty of the imperial guard. The French, in return, fired on the people, and killed a hundred and twenty of them. Murat poured in troops to suppress the riot, but could not disperse them till after several volleys of grape-shot and repeated charges of cavalry. Some members of the Spanish government assisted to quiet the people, and a general amnesty was proclaimed, in spite of which Murat shot a considerable number of Spaniards, who had been made prisoners in the mêlée. He shot them in parties of forty or fifty at a time, and these military executions went on for three days, till upwards of three hundred people had been thus killed. During this time, the dead bodies of those who had fallen in the insurrection were seen lying about in the streets. Murat thus put an end to the résistance for the moment, but he had only augmented by it the spirit of more general and permanent resistance in the people. The news of the insurrection and of the bloody butcheries Murat flew with lightning speed to every distant corner the country; every where the most determined resolve to drive out the invaders burst forth. Unprepared as the country was, the people felt by no means daunted. The alcalde of Mostoles, about ten miles south of Madrid, hearing the firing, and understanding the cause, sent a bulletin to the south in these words, " The country is in danger: Madrid is perishing through the perfidy of the French: all Spaniards come to deliver it! " That was all that was necessary. The fact of being in possession of Madrid was a very different thing to being in possession of Paris, Spain consisting of various provinces, originally kingdoms, and Biscay, Galicia, Catalonia, Andalusia, Valencia, &c., having their separate capitals, and everywhere was a martial people, just as ready and able to maintain a struggle against an invader as if Madrid was free. At Valencia, the populace, headed by a priest, fell on the French, and massacred two hundred of them. Solano, the governor of Cadiz, suspected of favouring the French, was dragged out of his house and murdered. Even before the insurrection at Madrid there had been one at Toledo, and the French had been menaced with destruction.

Amid these popular outbursts, the great body of the Spaniards were calmly organising the country for defence. A junta or select committee was elected in each district, and these juntas established communications with each other all over the land. They called on the inhabitants to furnish contributions, the clergy to send in their church plate to the mint, and the common people to enrol themselves as soldiers and to labour at the fortifications. The Spanish soldiers, to a man, went over to the popular side, and, in a few days, the whole nation was in arms. The crisis of which Buonaparte had warned Murat was come at once, and the fight in Madrid on the 2nd of May was but the beginning of a war which was to topple the invader from his now dizzy height. The news of the combat at Madrid arrived at Bayonne on the very day of the hideous scene betwixt Ferdinand and his parents, and this is said by Cevallos to have caused Buonaparte to menace Ferdinand with death if he did not at once surrender his Claims to the crown. This also made Buonaparte hasten a mock national junta, or assembly of notables, to sanction the abdication, and the appointment of Joseph Buonaparte as the new monarch.

Murat, as governor of the country by commission from king Charles, and, by a second authority, from Napoleon, summoned such an assembly, and dispatched them in all haste to Bayonne. These men, summoned under the terror of two hundred thousand French bayonets to betray their, country, and swear to a new constitution which Buonaparte had concocted on the model of the servile one which he had given to France, were a base and miserable crew, who dared not refuse the execrable task imposed upon them, and, on their arrival in Bayonne, their number was augmented by some of the servants of the king and queen, and of Godoy. To conciliate the bigotry of the Spaniards, and make them forget their patriotism, the condition stipulated for by Charles on his abdication, that the catholic religion only should be tolerated, was carefully promulgated.

On the 6th of June Joseph arrived, and, on the 23rd, he issued a proclamation, addressed to his late Neapolitan subjects, in which he told them that Providence, whose ways were inscrutable, had called him to fill the throne of Spain and the Indies; that he felt cruelly the pain of leaving them, and he sent them a new constitution, which his august brother, who had plenty of such ready on all occasions, had prepared for them. On the 7th of July the junta assembled to receive the new constitution and king Joseph. The ex-merchant's clerk appeared on the throne before these renegade miscreants, styled the representatives of their country, and a Spanish prelate, the archbishop of Burgos, was found base enough to perform high mass on the occasion. Joseph then made a speech, the gist of which was, that the English, the eternal enemies of the continent, were endeavouring to excite the country against the new constitution, and calling on them to rally round the throne, and disappoint them; and he impiously said: - " We confidently take the engagement that it shall be so at the feet of Almighty God, who reads the hearts of men, who disposes of them at his pleasure, and who never abandons the man that loves his country, and fears only his own conscience."

The new constitution being read, the members of the junta swore to maintain it. Murat, the son of the innkeeper, looked with jealous eye on the bestowal of this splendid kingdom on the ex-merchant's clerk, thinking, by his share in the seizure of the country, he had a greater claim on its favour - so little do mortals know what is for their own good. Neither Joseph nor his suzerain, the emperor, ever knew another quiet hour during the holding of this most troublesome crown, which became the destruction of a million of Frenchmen, and of the restless agitator himself. Murat, on the 15th of July, received the far more enviable crown of Naples, which he continued to hold, in comparative ease, till the whole of Buonaparte's ambitious pile of new crowns and thrones fell together.

These changes being accomplished, Napoleon dismissed his obsequious junta in a speech which marked the unsettled state of his own mind. He seemed embarrassed by a consciousness of his own despicable deed in the seizure of Spain, and probably by an inward foreboding of the world-wide tempest that it was about to raise. He was conscious that already the Spaniards were courting the favour of England; that zealous courtesies were going on between them and the officers of the garrison of Gibraltar, and his auditors could not avoid seeing, with astonishment, that he had lost his usual presence of mind, spoke confusedly, and sometimes unintelligibly, and with a strange repetition of particular phrases. Yet he had sent the most florid accounts to the Moniteur of the joy testified by the Spaniards at the happy change of dynasty; of the serenades by which king Joseph was welcomed, whilst in reality the only music that greeted him was the note of indignant martial preparation which came from every part of the kingdom. Buonaparte returned to Paris as through a triumphant procession, the whole way. The different towns received him in the fullest festal pageantry and rejoicing, not caring to reflect that he was returning from the commission of a great crime, and a folly which threatened France with inconceivable calamities. Bourdeaux alone was sullen and silent, but Nantes and La Vendee forgot themselves like the rest of France, and crowded to congratulate the man who had plucked from the throne the last branch of that family for which they had shed so much loyal blood.

No sooner had the insurrection of Aranjuez taken place, and Ferdinand been proclaimed king, than, so early as April the 8th, general Castanos informed Sir Hew Dalrymple, the governor of Gibraltar, that there was an end of the policy of Godoy, which had made Spain the slave of France and the foe of England. Sir Hew sent a prompt dispatch to England with the news, and, till he could receive instructions from the British government, he maintained friendly relations with the Spaniards. When the junta of Seville was formed, and there was every reason to believe that Spain would make a determined resistance, on his own responsibility he encouraged the merchants of Gibraltar to make a loan of forty thousand dollars to the junta without premium; and captain Whittingham, an officer well acquainted with Spain, went to Seville to assist in planning the best means of preventing the French from passing the Sierra Morena. On the 8th of June Sir Hew received a dispatch from lord Castlereagh, informing him that the English government had determined to send ten thousand men immediately to the assistance of the Spanish patriots. But this was preceded four days by a proclamation which had outstripped lord Castlereagh's dispatch, stating that his majesty had ordered all hostilities towards Spain to cease, and all Spanish ships at sea to be unmolested. Admiral Collingwood took the command of the whole British fleet on the coast of Spain, ready to co-operate. He landed Mr. Cox to proceed to Seville as confidential agent, and, about the middle of June, general Spencer arrived at Cadiz with five thousand English soldiers. About the same time, the junta of Seville declared themselves at peace with England, and sent four commissioners to England to settle diplomatic relations betwixt the countries.

Meantime the French generals, though they saw insurrections rising in every quarter, and though they themselves were located in different parts of the country, distant from each other, entertained no fear but that the steady discipline of their troops, and their own experience, would easily put them down. Murat had left Spain to proceed to his new kingdom of Naples, and Savary was left at Madrid as commander-in- chief, and he found himself in a most arduous and embarrassing post, with so many points to watch and to strengthen for the suppression of the insurrection. The Spanish junta recommended their country, very prudently, to avoid regular engagements, with their yet raw forces, against the veteran armies of France, but to carry on a guerilla warfare, waylaying the enemy in mountains and defiles, cutting off their supplies, and harassing their rear, their outposts, and their foraging parties. The ardour and pride of the Spaniards only too much tempted the men to despise this advice, and whenever they did they severely paid for it. The relentless spirit of the people against the lawless invaders, on the other hand, incited the French to equal ferocity. They treated the Spaniards as rebels in arms against their king, the villages were given up to the plunder and licentiousness of the soldiers. This again fired the Spaniards to retaliation, and they put to death sick and wounded when they fell into their hands. The war thus commenced with features of peculiar horror. The character of the country rendered the conflict the more desperate to the invaders; the fertile regions were separated from each other by vast desert heaths and barren mountains, so that Henry IV. had said truly, if a general invaded Spain with a small army he would be defeated; if with a large one, lie would be starved. To collect provisions, the French had to disperse themselves over wide tracks, and thus exposed themselves to the ambuscades and surprises of the Spaniards, every peasant carrying his gun.

<<< Previous page <<< >>> Next page >>>
Pages: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 <12> 13 14 15 16 17 18 19

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

Hall of the council
Hall of the council >>>>
Chateau of Fontainebleau
Chateau of Fontainebleau >>>>
Napoleon extricating artillery
Napoleon extricating artillery >>>>
Turkish vessels
Turkish vessels >>>>
Attack on Seraglio
Attack on Seraglio >>>>
General Murat
General Murat >>>>
Napoleon and Alexander
Napoleon and Alexander >>>>
General Junot
General Junot >>>>
Ancona
Ancona >>>>
Borghese
Borghese >>>>
Royal shield of Spain
Royal shield of Spain >>>>
Ferdinand of Spain resigning his crows
Ferdinand of Spain resigning his crows >>>>
Dangan Castle
Dangan Castle >>>>
Sir Arthur Wellesley
Sir Arthur Wellesley >>>>
Marshal Soult
Marshal Soult >>>>
The defiles of Corunna
The defiles of Corunna >>>>
Burial of Sir John Moore
Burial of Sir John Moore >>>>

Home | Privacy Policy | Copyright | About