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The Reign of George III. - (Continued.) page 14

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Another council was immediately summoned to determine on the choice of the new empress. All had been arranged before betwixt the house of Austria and Napoleon, and the cue was given to the council to suggest accordingly. Eugene Beauharnais was again strangely appointed to propose to prince Schwartzenberg for the hand of the arch- duchess, and, having his instructions, his proposal was accepted, and the whole of this formality was concluded in four-and-twenty hours. Josephine set out for her new estate in Navarre, and marshal Berthier was appointed to act as proxy for his master in the espousals of the bride at Vienna. There were difficulties in the case which, strictly catholic as the Hapsburg family is, it is surprising that they could be so easily got over, and show, at least, how much that imperial family was under the control of what they familiarly, amongst themselves, styled " the upstart." The pope had been too grievously insulted and persecuted by Buonaparte for it to be possible for him to pronounce the former marriage invalid; had it not been also contrary to the canons of the church to abrogate marriage, which it regards as an entirely sacred and indissoluble ceremony. To remove this difficulty, it was stated to the Austrian family that Buonaparte's marriage with Josephine had been merely a revolutionary marriage before a magistrate, and, therefore, no marriage at all - the fact being originally true, but it had ceased to be so some days previous to Buonaparte's coronation, when, to remove the pope's objection, they had been privately married by Buonaparte's uncle, cardinal Fesch.

The wedding took place at Vienna, on the 11th of March, 1810, and a few days afterwards the young empress set out for France, accompanied by the queen of Naples. It was an awkward circumstance, that just as Berthier was officiating as Napoleon's proxy at this marriage, the news arrived at Vienna that the brave Andrew Hofer, the faithful and patriotic subject of the emperor of Austria, had been shot at Mantua, by order of the new French son-in-law! Berthier denied the order of the emperor, and declared it an " unlucky accident." However this explanation might be received within the court, it did not tend to recommend the marriage to the people, who were before sufficiently averse to it. They regarded it as a deep dishonour to the nation. They looked with terror on the union of the young. princess with a man of such restless ambition and covered with so many crimes, and on her entrance into France amongst a people who had heaped on her aunt such un- paralleled miseries and indignities, terminating them only by sending her to the guillotine. As the carriage drove away from the palace, there were loud cries that she was going to be sacrificed as her aunt had been, and it required the calling out of the soldiers to prevent a riot. Buonaparte, with the view of propitiating the catholic people of Austria, and persuading them that the same man who had proclaimed himself a good Mussulman at Cairo, had now become an equally good papist, this year caused the pretended seamless coat of the Saviour, which, during the révolution, had sought refuge at Augsburg, to be carried in magnificent procession to Treves, and to be exposed for eighteen days to two hundred and fifty thousand pilgrims, who flocked from all parts.

Buonaparte - who maintained the strictest etiquette at his court - had had all the ceremonies which were to attend his marriage in Paris arranged with the most minute exactness. He then set out himself to meet the bride, very much in the manner that he had gone to meet the pope. Near Soissons - riding alone, and in an ordinary dress - Buonaparte met the carriage of his new wife, got in, and went on with her to Soissons, and thence to the old château of Compiègne, where they spent the night. Then they proceeded to St. Cloud, where the marriage was again celebrated by cardinal Fesch. Spite of the despotic power of the emperor, the heads of the church generally absented themselves from the ceremony, which, according to their creed, they regarded as in the highest degree wicked, and as simply the performance of an act of bigamy. Buonaparte looked very grimly at that part of the assembled circle which ought to have been occupied by the higher clergy, and, seeing very few, muttered, " The fools! they brave me still!" To give an air of joy to the occasion, the most splendid illuminations, concerts, and festivals took place at St. Cloud and at Paris. In the capital, the prince Schwartzenberg, the Austrian ambassador, gave a great ball in honour of the marriage, at which both Napoleon and the young empress were present. A fire broke out in the dancing-room, which was erected in the garden, and several persons were burnt to death; amongst them the sister-in-law of the ambassador, the princess Pauline Schwartzenberg, who, rushing into the flaming building to rescue her daughter, perished. This ominous event recalled gloomily to the memory of both French and Austrians the like fatal occurrence at the marriage of Marie Antoinette, in 1770, when several hundreds of people lost their lives during a display of fireworks. The gloomiest presages were drawn from it, and Napoleon himself was strongly impressed by it. The people generally augured fresh misfortunes from this alliance: " Austrian alliances," they said, "always produced them." Those who still held in their heads the sentiments of the révolution, observed that it was monstrous for a child of that révolution to ally himself with the " old corporation of tyrants." Mignet, one of the shrewdest of the French historians, characterises this marriage as " a capital mistake." It separated the rule of Napoleon farther from the feelings and sympathies of the people, without depriving the Austrians of the will and determination to fight him again; at the same time, it in no way checked that fatal internal dreaming after fresh campaigns- in himself, which, in the end, overwhelmed him. He was at this moment planning new and more extended enterprises. " The good Citizens rejoice sincerely at my marriage, monsieur?" he said to Decrés, his minister. " Very much, sire! " " I understand they think the lion will go to slumber, eh? " " To speak the truth, sire, they entertain some hopes of that nature." " They are mistaken," said Napoleon; u yet it is not the fault of the lion." But, however he might disguise it to himself, the lion's nature never could rest under any circumstances. So well convinced was Alexander of Russia of this, that he no sooner heard of Napoleon's Austrian match, than he remarked, " Then the next task will be to drive me back to my forests;" for he was certain that he would use his alliance with Austria as a stepping-stone to his designs on Russia. At a later day, Napoleon himself termed the Austrian marriage " a precipice covered with flowers."

Soon after his marriage Buonaparte made a tour with his imperial bride. It was very much the same that he had made with Josephine shortly before their coronation - namely, through the northern provinces of France, through Belgium and Holland. He decided, during this journey, on the occasion of his uniting the part of the low countries called Zealand with a department called the Department of the Mouths of the Scheldt, on annexing it to France for ever. But whilst conversing with Louis Buonaparte, his Holland king-brother at Antwerp, he suddenly stumbled on a discovery of some daring proceedings of Fouché, his minister of police, which sent him back to Paris in haste, and ruined that subtle diplomatist with him for ever. In the earlier part of Buonaparte's royal career he had employed the ablest men that he could find in his cabinet, as well as in the field. Talleyrand and Pouche had stood pre-eminent with him; and more able or daring agents it was impossible for him to have for the execution of his plans of universal dominion, or more suitable ones on whom to throw the odium of his many unprincipled measures. But these statesmen had run through all the dark scenes of the révolution, and still retained at bottom a fixed attachment to its principles. They had seen Buonaparte climb over their heads, suppress that révolution, and establish his own absolute power. They were not able to resist this; they were supple enough, and serpent-wise enough to outwardly conform, and to find their interest in serving him. He had heaped wealth and titles upon them with a liberal hand, and they certainly rendered him no trivial services in return. Bat, as he grew more triumphant over neighbouring monarchs, they saw with alarm the unbounded wildness of his ambition leading to a course which must certainly end in the ruin of his power, if not of France. They ventured to remonstrate, and the now incurably inflated man - inflated with his unprecedented success beyond cure-resented it, and gave them sharp proofs of his resentment. Talleyrand he at once discarded; but Fouché was too necessary to him for the present, and was too compliant to be dismissed abruptly. But Buonaparte felt persuaded that both Talleyrand and Fouché had all along retained their connection with an association of old republicans, called Philadelphes, and he was ready to pounce on Fouché on the first moment of his discovery of any secret act opposed to his interests. Such an occasion occurred during his absence in Spain. The legislative assembly, which he permitted to exert an appearance of independence, and which voted by ballot, opposed, to the amount of one-third of its members, a measure on which he was particularly bent. He immediately let them know that this was an act of presumption; that he and his ministers were the originating source of all national measures; they were merely a legislative council, whose office it was to consider and advise, but not to determine. On his return, he immediately asked Fouché whether he agreed with this reprimand given to the legislative assembly. Fouché, who had had sufficient warning in that letter, declared that he approved it entirely; that it was the only way to govern; and that, had Louis XVI. acted thus, he would have been king still. " And yet," said Napoleon, astonished at the unabashed avowal of a sentiment that he did not give him credit for, " I think, duke of Otranto, you were one of those whose votes sent Louis XVI. to the scaffold." "I was," replied the imperturbable Fouché, " and that was the first service that I had the honour to render to your majesty."

Buonaparte could not find occasion to quarrel with Fouché on this ground, but he was growing more and more suspicious of him, and Fouché felt it, and determined to do something to make Napoleon feel how necessary he was to him. Formerly, when dismissed, he had got up the plot which involved the fates of Pichegru and others, and then opened them up to Napoleon, to show him what designs might be surrounding the throne if he were not on the watch for him. He now entered on another scheme of a most daring kind. He thought if he could obtain from the English ministry secretly the terms on which they would be willing to make peace, he should be able to state this fact to Napoleon - who had never been able in his own person to open a correspondence with the king of England - as a very satisfactory piece of intelligence, and therefore to his own advantage. He calculated that the English ministry, weakened by the secession of Canning, and discouraged by the dispersion of the Spanish armies, might be willing to listen to a peace on some such terms as these: - France to retain its dominions on land without colonies, and without a navy; and England to retain the empire of the seas, with ail the eastern and western colonies. If these terms did not satisfy England, he proposed that Holland and Spain should be declared independent kingdoms, and Sicily should remain the property of Ferdinand IV., and Portugal of the house of Braganza. This, in truth, would be making very little additional concession, if Buonaparte's deputy kings, Louis and Joseph, remained in Holland and Spain - especially as Sicily was already in the possession of Ferdinand, and the house of Braganza of Portugal, through the means of the British arms. But ail these offers were merely the offers of Fouché, and they came to a sudden check by an accident.

Whilst Louis Buonaparte was in Paris, in 1809, he was instructed by his brother, the emperor, to send over from Amsterdam M. Labouchère, the agent of a great mercantile house, to London, to see the marquis Wellesley, and to sound him as to the possibility of arranging the conditions of peace. This Louis did, and, soon after his return to Amsterdam, he received a request from Fouché to allow M. Ouvrard, a banker of Paris, passports to England for a like purpose. This also Louis Buonaparte did, supposing that it was only in continuance of the negotiations of which he had before made M. Labouchère the medium. But this was Fouché's own private agent, and, this fact being concealed from the marquis of Wellesley, he was surprised at finding two agents from the French government, employed on the same mission, and yet without any apparent knowledge of each other. He became naturally suspicious, and declined entering into any communication with either of them. This gave great offence to Napoleon; and when at Antwerp, on his tour with his new bride, Louis adverted to the order to furnish M. Ouvrard with passports for England. The astonishment of Buonaparte was intense, and not less so that of his brother Louis, when he learned that he was totally ignorant of the sending of M. Ouvrard. It was at once seen that Fouché had been sounding the government of England on his own account, and from that moment his disgrace was sealed.

Napoleon arrived in Paris only on the 1st of June, and on the 2nd he sent for Fouché, and, charging him with this seeret negotiation, he said, " So, then, you make peace or war without my leave? " He dismissed the tricky minister instantly from his office, and appointed Savary to take his place; but it was with the utmost difficulty that he extorted from him the confidential notes and imperial warrants which he had written to him on affairs of great political moment. Fouché steadily protested that he had regularly committed these papers to the flames as the safest place; but Buonaparte, who knew better, gave him the alternative of a dungeon, and what might take place there, or yielding up these autographs, and they were duly produced. To hide the real cause of Fouché's disgrace, he was appointed governor-general of Rome; but this was merely a blind, and in a few days his appointment was revoked, and he was ordered to retire to his estate, and live quietly there.

The dismissal of Fouché, however, occasioned many uneasy thoughts. Destitute of principle as the man was, and his history charged with many dark deeds, yet he was regretted by the republicans - for he was still deemed favourable to their views - and by many of the legitimists, for he had been mild, and even courteous to them. Others regarded his dismissal as an indication of measures of a more arbitrary kind at home, and of a more hazardous one abroad being in progress; for most men gave him credit for a certain prudence and moderation. The arbitrary nature of Napoleon had developed in full accompaniment of his fortune. The state prisons had increased from one - Vincennes - to six, situated in différent parts of France. They were numerously tenanted by persons supposed to be averse to Napoleon's government. On the 3rd of March of this year he had restored the ancient and detested lettres de cachet; and, though this had been done in the name of Fouché, it was well understood that the obloquy of it only was his. The object was to gratify the personal desire of Buonaparte to put his hand on any one that displeased him at his pleasure.

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