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

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Affairs in Spain remained in the same unsatisfactory state. Cadiz was defended from the French, under marshal Victor, by the English, and there, as the only place where they could sit in security, the Cortes met They removed the old council of regency, and appointed a new council of three members, two of whom, Blake and Ciscar, being absent with the army, the sole authority remained with the marquis del Palacio and Don José Puig, who were appointed to act for them with the third member, Don Pedro Agar. But the marquis del Palacio, as the bishop Oreuse had done before, scrupled to take the oath which acknowledged the sovereignty of the people, for the Cortes, though they swore allegiance to Ferdinand VH., had imbibed some of the French principles. He was therefore thrown into prison, and the real power remained with the cortes, who jumbled together the legislative and executive powers, and did nothing but boast of the power of the Spanish nation, and leave the English and the guerrillas to do all that was done in its defence. There was not a single army of any account in the country. The marquis de la Romana had been compelled to take up his quarters with Wellington, in Portugal, to save his troops from starvation. Wellington, in his dispatches, declared that the Cortes had passed bombastic acts for the raising of troops, but that they had not done a single thing towards raising them, much less providing pay and clothing for them; and that, unless he could hold his position in Portugal, the game in Spain was at an end.

In the course of this year the French were expelled completely from the East and West Indies, and the Indian ocean. Guadaloupe, the last of their West India islands, was captured in February, by an expedition conducted by general Beckford and admiral Sir A. Cochrane. In July an armament, sent out by lord Minto from India, and headed by lieutenant-colonel Keating, reduced the isle of Bourbon; and, being reinforced by a body of troops from the Cape of Good Hope, under major-general John Abercrombie and admiral Bertie, the isle of France, much the more important, and generally called the Mauritius, surrendered on the 3rd of December. Besides a vast quantity of stores and merchandise, five frigates and about thirty merchantmen were taken; and the Mauritius became a permanent British colony. From this place a squadron proceeded to destroy the French factories on the coast of Madagascar, and finished by completely expelling them from those seas.

Our forces in Sicily had an encounter, in the autumn, with those of Murat, king of Naples. Murat was ambitious of driving us out of Sicily, and Ferdinand IV. and his court with us. From spring till September he had an army lying at Scylla, Reggio, and in the hills overlooking the straits of Messina, but he did not attempt to put across till the 18th of September. Seizing then the opportunity, when our flotilla of gunboats and our cruisers were off the station, he pushed across a body of three thousand five hundred men, under general Cavaignac. These troops were chiefly Neapolitans, but there were two battalions of Corsicans, and they were furnished with an embroidered standard, to present to the Corsicans in our service, whom they hoped to induce to desert to them. General Cavaignac managed to land about seven miles to the south of Messina, and attacked the British right wing. Sir John Stuart made haste to bring up other troops to the support of the right, but before he could arrive, colonel C. Campbell defeated the invaders, taking prisoners a colonel, a lieutenant-colonel, and forty other officers, with eight hundred men. There was a rapid retreat to their boats by the intruders, but the British pursued and cut to pieces great numbers of them, besides what were killed by the Sicilian peasantry. One boat full of soldiers was sunk as it went off, and the Neapolitans in another deserted to their old king. Colonel Campbell did not lose a single man, and had but three wounded, so that the flight of the enemy must have been instantaneous and universal. Murat made no further attempt to seize Sicily, though he kept his camp on the heights behind Reggio and Scylla for two years longer. This was the whole of the transactions in that quarter except that the Spartan frigate, commanded by captain Jahleel Brenton, had a stout fight with a Neapolitan squadron, consisting of one frigate, one corvette, one brig, and a cutter, the whole carrying ninety- six guns and one thousand four hundred men, whilst Brenton had only forty-six guns and two hundred and fifty-eight men; yet he captured the brig, and greatly damaged the corvette and frigate. He kept a sharp look-out for the frigate and the corvette, but they escaped under the batteries, which had been much strengthened since the similar exploit of captain Staines the year before.

The spring of this year witnessed one of the most important events of the reign of Napoleon, and one which, no doubt, had a decided influence on his fate - his divorce from Josephine and his marriage with Maria Louisa, the princess of Austria. It had long been evident to those about Napoleon that a change of this kind would take place. Josephine had brought the emperor no child, and, ambitious in every way, he was as much so of leaving lineal successors to the throne and empire which he had created, as he was of making that empire co-extensive with Europe. Josephine, strongly attached to him, as well as to the splendour of his position, had long feared such a catastrophe, and had done all in her power to divert his mind from it. She proposed to him that he should adopt an heir, and she recommended to him her own son, Eugene Beauharnais. But this did not satisfy Buonaparte. She then turned his attention on a child of her daughter, Hortense Beauharnais, by his brother Louis, the king of Holland. This would have united her own family to his, and to this scheme Buonaparte appeared to consent. He showed great affection for the child, and especially as the boy displayed great pleasure in looking at arms and military manoeuvres; and, on one occasion of this kind, Buonaparte exclaimed, " There is a child fit to succeed, perhaps to surpass me! " But neither was this scheme destined to succeed. The child sickened and died, and with it almost the last hope of Josephine. She exerted, however, ail her energies and endearments to secure the sliding and political mind of her husband. There is no doubt that there had existed a strong mutual attachment between them; and in ail his fortunes, accepting him at the lowest, Josephine had conducted herself in a manner calculated to promote his interests. During his absence in Egypt she had omitted no measure to keep him in the public mind, and to foster the idea that he was the man on whom the destinies of France hung. When he had risen to the height of empire, she contributed greatly to render his government popular by breaking, by her happy artifices, the effects of his violent acts and bursts of temper. Napoleon himself had a secret persuasion that his fortunes and the prosperous star of Josephine were indissolubly united. To keep this feeling alive in his mind she shunned no labour or sacrifice. She accompanied him in many of his most rapid and abrupt journeys, hesitating at no severity or inclemency of weather, and being always ready at a moment's notice to depart. At home, in the palace, no woman could have acted the part of an empress with more grace and splendour. She had naturally a passion for pageant and display, and, had she been born to the purple, she could not have moved with more dignity and grace in the brilliant scenes of the imperial court.

But ail these circumstances could not avert the dreaded crisis - could not drive from the mind of Napoleon the ever present thought that he had erected a mighty fame and empire, and that there was no child of his own to receive and perpetuate them. Whilst at Erfurt with the emperor Alexander, in 1808, Buonaparte had actually proposed for a Russian arch- duchess; nay, in 1807, he had made such overtures at the treaty of Tilsit. Thus the idea had been settled in his mind three years, at least, before it was realised. The Russian match had on both occasions been evaded, on the plea of the difference of religion; but the truth was, that the notion of such an alliance was by no means acceptable to the imperial family of Russia. The empress and the empress-mother decidedly opposed it; and though the plea of difference of religion was put forward, Buonaparte could not but feel that the real reasons Were very différent - that he was looked on as a successful adventurer, whose greatness might some day dissolve as speedily as it had grown, and that, be this as it might, the Russian family were not disposed to receive him, a parvenu monarch, into their old régal status.

Fouché claims the merit of having first proposed the necessity of a new marriage to his master, but he confessed that Napoleon received the suggestion in such a manner as to let him know that he had already determined on this step. In fact, Fouché was too adroit a courtier to venture on such a course without having assured himself of the safety of it. He came forward, or, perhaps, was put forward to break the disagreeable topic, to Josephine, and to see whether she could not be brought to originate the measure herself, as a noble sacrifice to the good of France and of her husband. Accordingly, Fouché seized the opportunity one evening, at Fontainebleau, to open the delicate matter to Josephine, representing with ail his art the certain necessity of the measure, and how great would be her glory in voluntarily making the sacrifice. Josephine, as may be supposed, was violently agitated. She demanded of Fouché who had authorised him to hold such language to her. He replied, " Nobody; " he had ventured to draw her attention to the question as one which so concerned her happiness and glory. Josephine hastened to Buonaparte, and a most passionate scene took place. Buonaparte disavowed having given Fouché any authority to introduce such a topic; but when Josephine demanded that he should be dismissed, Napoleon declined to discharge him - a sufficient indication to Josephine of the fate which awaited her,

The Austrian campaign, and Buonaparte's sojourn at Schönbrunn, gave him a sight of the archduchess Maria Louisa, and determined his conduct. The house of Haps- burg, however ancient and however proud, was under the foot of the conqueror, and the sacrifice of an archduchess might be considered a cheap one for more favourable terms than Austria was otherwise likely to receive. It had the fate of Prussia before its eyes, and the bargain was concluded.

It might have seemed to require no little courage in an Austrian princess to venture on becoming empress of France after the awful experience of her aunt Marie Antoinette. But Maria Louisa was scarcely eighteen. She had seen Buonaparte, who had endeavoured to make himself agree- able to her; and so young a girl, of a military nation, might be as much dazzled with the conqueror's glory as much older, if not wiser, heads. She made no objection to the match. In appearance she was of light, fair complexion, with light-brown hair, of a somewhat tall figure, blue eyes, and with a remarkably beautiful hand and foot. Altogether, she was an animated and agreeable young lady.

Buonaparte does not seem to have made much delay, after his return to Paris from Schönbrunn, in communicating to Josephine the fact that the business of the divorce and the new marriage was settled. On the 30th of November he opened the unpleasant reality to her in a private interview, and she fell into such violent agitation, and finally into so deep a swoon, as to alarm Napoleon. He hastily called assistance, and M. de Bausset, the prefect of the palace, arrived, and helped him to carry her to her private apartment, where, as soon as they had laid her on a couch, the emperor sent for the physician, for queen Hortense, for Cambacérès, and Fouché. He blamed Hortense for not having broken the matter to her three days before, as he had desired. But however much Napoleon might be affected at this violent disruption of an old and endeared tie, his feelings never stood in the way of hi3 ambitious plans. The preparations for the divorce went on, and on the 15th of December a grand council was held in the Tuileries on the subject. At this important council ail the family of Napoleon, his brothers and sisters, now ail kings and queens, were summoned from their kingdoms to attend, and did attend, except Joseph, from Spain, Madame Bacciochi - that is, Elise - and Lucien, who had refused to be made a king. Cambacérès, now duke of Parma and arch-chancellor of the empire, and St. Jean d'Angély, the minister of state, attended to take the depositions. Napoleon then said a few words expressive of his grief at this sad but necessary act, of affection for and admiration of the wife he was about to put away, and of his hope of a posterity to fill his throne, saying he was yet but forty, and might reason- ably expect to live to train up children who should prove a i blessing to the empire. Josephine, with a voice choked with tears, arose, and made the act a voluntary one on her part, saying - " By the permission of our dear and august consort, I ought to declare that, not perceiving any hope of having children, which may fulfil the wants of his policy and the interests of France, I am pleased to give him the greatest proof of attachment and devotion which has ever been given on earth. I possess all from his bounty; it was his hand which crowned me; and from the height of this throne I have received nothing but proofs of affection and love from the French people. I think I prove myself grateful in consenting to the dissolution of a marriage which heretofore was an obstacle to the welfare of France - which deprived it of the happiness of being one day governed by the descendant of a great man, evidently raised up by Providence to efface the evils of a terrible révolution, and to re-establish the altar, the throne, and social order. But the dissolution of my marriage will in no way change the sentiments of my heart; the emperor will ever have in me his best friend. I know how much this act, demanded by policy and by interests so great, has chilled his heart; but both of us exult in the sacrifice which we make for the good of the country."

After these words, which had, no doubt, been prepared for her, the arch-chancellor presented the written instrument of divorce, which they signed, and to which all the family appended their signatures, Napoleon's mother signing in regal style simply Madame. This act was presented to the Senate the very next day by St. Jean d'Angély, and, strangely enough, Eugene Beauharnais, Josephine's son, was chosen to second it, which he did in a speech of some length. The Senate passed the necessary senatus consultum, certifying the divorce, and conferring on Josephine the title of empress- queen, with the estate of Navarre and two millions of francs per annum. They also voted addresses to both Napoleon and Josephine of the most complimentary character. This being done, Napoleon went off to St. Cloud, and Josephine retired to the beautiful abode of Malmaison, near St. Germains, where she continued to reside for the remainder of her life, and made herself beloved for her acts of kindness and benevolence, of which the English détenus, of whom there were several at St. Germains, were participants. No princess had conducted herself with more grace and goodness during her elevation, and Savary says that she drew all hearts after her to her retirement, for she was endeared to all by a kindness of disposition which was without a parallel. According to her ability she retained the same character to the last. Buonaparte frequently visited her in her retirement, and he added a third million of francs to her dowry, that she might feel no pecuniary difficulties.

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

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