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The Reign of George III. - (Continued.) page 15


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Napoleon, notwithstanding the resistance of his brother Lucien to the arrogance of his will, seems never to have contemplated such a proceeding in the case of the more gentle Louis. When he received the intelligence of his abdication and flight he appeared thunderstruck, and then broke out into a violent agitation, upbraiding Louis with his ingratitude, declaring that, when himself but a poor lieutenant of artillery, he brought him up, dividing his scanty pay with him. But even Napoleon might have felt that there were means of cancelling the tenderest obligations in the heart of a brother. He paid no regard to the abdication of Louis in favour of his son. He proceeded to annex Holland at once to France, and contented himself with making his nephew, Napoleon Louis, grand duke of Berg; and, though he was but a child, he admonished him solemnly that his first of ail duties was allegiance to himself, the emperor, the second to France, and the third to his subjects!

On the 9th of July, only eight days after the abdication of Louis, Buonaparte issued a decree, declaring Holland " re-united to France! " Oudinot marched into Amsterdam, and took possession of it in the name of his master. It was declared the third city of the French empire. The French ministers issued reports to vindicate this annexation, which was a disgraceful breach of Napoleon's pledge to the Senate - that the Rhine should be the boundary of France - and also of his repeated assurances that Holland should remain an independent kingdom. They declared that " Holland was but a continuation of France, which may be defined as being formed out of the alluvia of the Rhine, the Meuse, and the Scheldt, which are the great arteries of our empire." " Holland," said Champagny, " is, in a manner, an emanation from the territory of France, and is necessary to the full complement of the empire. To possess the Rhine, your majesty must extend the frontier to the Zuyder Zee. Thus the course of ail the rivers which arise in France, or which bathe her frontier, will belong to her as far as the sea. To leave in the hands of strangers the mouths of our rivers would be, sire, to confine your power to an ill-bounded monarchy, instead of extending its limits to the natural frontiers befitting an imperial throne." By this, the reasoning of bloated power, any aggression on neighbouring nations might be justified, and it would have more justly warranted Switzerland in claiming both Germany and France, because the Rhine, the Rhone, and the Danube rise in its mountains.

The annexation of Holland was made without any of that tierce opposition which was displayed by the Spaniards in his attempt on their country; but, nevertheless, the deed sunk deep into the heart, not of the Dutch only, but of every power in Europe, and undoubtedly hastened the day of reclamation. The world saw that Buonaparte was be- come drunk with succe3s; that his grasping ambition could set no bounds to its desires; that what he set up one day he pulled down another, on the most puerile pretences; that he had even now begun to pull down his own puppets, because they were not obsequious enough, and had not hesitated to brand his own brother in doing this as mentally imbecile. He said to the son of Louis himself - " Your father's con- duct is accounted for only by his disorder."

This conviction of ail Europe that the ambition of Buonaparte would swell till it burst in ruin, quickly received fresh confirmation. The trans-Rhenish provinces of Holland did not form a proper frontier for him. He immediately gave orders to form Oldenburg, Bremen, and all the line of coast between Hamburg and Lübeck, into additional departments of France, which was completed by a senatus consultum of the 13th of December of this year. Thus the French empire now extended from Denmark to S-icily; for Naples, though it was nominally the kingdom of Murat, was only nominally so; for the fate of the kingdom of Holland had dissipated the last delusion regarding the reality of any separate kingdom of Napoleon's erection. Italy, Jerome's kingdom of Westphalia, the grand-duchy of Berg - now given to the infant son of Louis - ail the territories of the confederation of the Rhine, and Austria itself were really subject to Buonaparte, and any day he could assert that dominion. More than eighty millions of people in Europe owned this quondam lieutenant of artillery as their lord and master, whose will disdained all control. No such empire had existed under one autocrat, if. not under one single sceptre, since the palmiest days of the Roman supremacy. Denmark retained its nominal independence only by humbly following the intimations of the great man's will. And now Sweden appeared to add another realm to his vast dominions; but, in reality, the surprising change which took place there created a final barrier to his progress in the north, and became the immediate cause of his utter overthrow. The story is one of the most singular and romantic in ail the wonderful events of the Napoleonic career.

Gustavus Adolphus IV. of Sweden, with ail the military ardour of Charles XII., but without his military talent - with ail the chivalry of an ancient knight, but at the head of a kingdom diminished and impoverished - had resisted Buonaparte as proudly as if he were monarch of a nation of the first magnitude. He refused to fawn on Napoleon; he did not hesitate to denounce him as the curse of ail Europe. He was the only king in Europe, except that of England, who withstood the marauder. He was at peace with Great Britain, and Alexander of Russia, who had for his own purposes made an alliance with Napoleon, called on him to shut out the English vessels from the Baltic. Gustavus indignantly refused, though he was at the same time threatened with invasion by France, whose troops, under Bernadotte, already occupied Denmark. At once he found Finland invaded by sixty thousand Russians, without any previous declaration of war. Finland was lost, and Alexander saw his treachery rewarded with the possession of a country larger than Great Britain, and with the whole eastern coast of the Baltic, from Tornea to Memel; the Aland Isles were also conquered and appropriated at this time. The unfortunate Gustavus, whose high honour and integrity of principle stood in noble contrast to those of most of the crowned heads of Europe, was not only deposed for his misfortunes, but his line deprived of the crown for ever. This took place in March, 1809. The unfortunate monarch was long confined in the castle of Gripsholm, where he was said to have been visited by the apparition of king Eric XIV. He was then permitted to retire into Germany, where, disdainfully refusing a pension, he divorced his wife, the sister of the empress of Russia; assumed the name of colonel Gustavson, and went, in proud poverty, to live in Switzerland. These events led to the last of Sweden's great transactions on the field of Europe, and which is by far the most extraordinary of ail.

Alexander of Russia, having obtained all that he hoped for from the peace of Tilsit and the alliance with Napoleon by the conquest of Finland, was looking about for a new ally to aid him in freeing himself from the insolent domination of Buonaparte, who was ruining Russia as well as the rest of Europe by his continental system, when these unexpected events in Sweden opened up to him a sudden and most marvellous ally. The Swedes had chosen the duke of Sudermania, the uncle of the deposed king. The brother of Gustavus III., who had been assassinated by count Ankarström, Charles XIII., was old, imbecile, and childish. A successor was named for him in the duke of Augustenburg, who was extremely popular in Norway, and who had no very distant expectations of the succession in Denmark. This prince - a member of an unlucky house - had scarcely arrived in Sweden when he died suddenly, and not without suspicion of being poisoned; in fact, various rumours of such a fate awaiting him preceded his arrival. Russia, as well as a powerful party in Sweden, was bent on restoring the line of Wasa. Alexander was uncle to the young prince, who, by no fault of his own, was excluded from the throne. Whatever was the real cause, Augustenburg died, as had been predicted; and while the public mind in Sweden was agitated about the succession, the aged king, Charles XIII., applied to Napoleon for his ad vice. But Napoleon had bound himself at Tilsit to leave the affairs of the north in the hands of Alexander, and especially not to interfere in those of Sweden. He, therefore, haughtily replied: - "Address yourself to Alexander; he is great and generous " - ominous words, which were, ere long, applied, to his astonishment and destruction.

Yet, on the first view of the case, the selection of the Swedes augured anything but Russian alliance; and showed on the surface everything in favour of Napoleon and France, for it fell on a French general and field-marshal, Bernadotte. The extraordinary manner in which this was brought about, and the eventful circumstance which it proved to France arid to Europe, have been recently placed in a new and very curious light by M. A. Geffroy, in the "Revue des Deux-Mondes," from the " Souvenirs de l'Historié Contemporaine de la Sue de." These souvenirs were compiled and arranged by M. Bergmann, the son-in-law of colonel Schinkel, aide-de-camp to the late king of Sweden, from the private papers left by his majesty in the hands of that officer, to serve as a basis for a history of his life. These revelations M. Geffroy has industriously compared and corrected by the official papers and dispatches preserved in the bureau of the foreign office in Paris; and the views which he presents, from these undoubted sources, of the causes which raised Bernadotte to the throne of Sweden, and hurled Napoleon from that of France, are most interesting and important.

The generally-received version of these affairs is that baron Mörner went to France on an official embassy, authorised to solicit from Napoleon the appointment of one of his generals as crown prince of Sweden, and that Bernadotte was selected in consequence. Nothing of the kind! Bernadotte was one of the last persons whom Buonaparte would have selected for such a purpose. That general had always maintained a course somewhat independent of Napoleon. He had figured prominently in the war of the révolution before Buonaparte was heard of. On the 18th Brumaire, so far from joining Buonaparte in his enterprise against the Council of Five Hundred, he was on the spot at St. Cloud, armed and ready to head a strong body of military in favour of the directory, had circumstances permitted. He had submitted to the consular authority, and held the government of Holland under Buonaparte; but both then and afterwards he belonged to a set of officers who considered themselves rather as serving France than Napoleon. This the emperor knew, but was too politic to notice; on the contrary, he heaped favours upon men of this class, to set their interests in array against their political bias. He made Bernadotte prince of Ponte Corvo, and as he had married the sister of the wife of Joseph Buonaparte, a mademoiselle Cleri, he was, in fact a member of the imperial family. But this did not prevent the sturdy independence of Bernadotte, or allay the jealous feeling of Napoleon to- wards him. Buonaparte knew that Bernadotte's heart was not with him; that he was in secret an enemy to his throne; and he could not help frequently blaming him. He blamed him for letting Romana escape in Spain; for his conduct at the battle of Wagram, though he rendered great service there at the head of the Saxon troops; and again, when he went to repel the English from Antwerp, he found cause of offence, and remanded him to his command in the north of Germany. Bernadotte, so far from concealing his resentment, was remarked as a fiery Gascon, who, should occasion present itself, would be likely to do mischief.

Besides this, Napoleon, at this moment greatly doubting the sincerity of Alexander, was strongly inclined to the scheme of reviving the ancient Scandinavia, by raising his ally, Frederick YI. of Denmark, to the throne of Sweden. The ancient and inextinguishable rivalries of the Danes and Swedes did not deter him, and Frederick had promised to maintain the liberal constitution ceded by Charles XIII. in 1809, and to extend it to Denmark. At this moment, how- ever, the new candidate, Bernadotte, was proposed and accepted, equally to the astonishment of Sweden, Napoleon, and the king of Denmark. This election originated in circumstances the most amusing.

A simple lieutenant of the Swedish army, M. Mörner arrived in Paris in the middle of June, 1810, with dispatches for Herr von Lagerbielke, the Swedish ambassador. Mörner was young, ardent, and anxious, both regarding his own future and that of his country. Fond of France, an enthusiastic admirer of Napoleon, and his companions in arms, he conceived the idea of offering the crown of Sweden to one of these generals, certain that he should find in the Swedish nation and diet an extensive response to such a proposition, and persuaded that, if he succeeded, he should have saved his country. His whole soul occupied with his daring design, he had scarcely delivered the dispatches to M. Lagerbielke, to whom he took good care not to confide the secret, when he hastened to M. Lapie, the geographer, one of his Parisian friends. " In Sweden," said he, " we can think of nothing but how to repair our losses. There reigns amongst us a grand enthusiasm for Napoleon. We believe that he alone can solve our difficulties, and we are ready to accept the man he shall select for us."

Lapie was himself young and enthusiastic, proud of France, rejoicing in this widely-extended dependence on her sympathy and support; and foreseeing that a rupture between France and Russia could not be far off, he seized with avidity the idea. The two young officers thought over ail the distinguished generals of France. Whom should they make king? Eugene Beauharnais? Berthier? Massena? Davoust? Macdonald? No! ail those were but the supple instruments of their master. They wanted a great man. Mörner owned his predilection for Bernadotte. Lapie had nothing to say against it: a relative of the emperor, liberal, already known and loved in the north of Germany for his government of Hanover, already favourably known to the Swedes for his kindness to their prisoners in 1806, in Lübeck; a child of the révolution, a brave captain, having been minister of war and ambassador, possessed of great personal wealth and of a princedom: the affair was settled - that was the man! This was the first scene in the extraordinary drama which terminated on the plains of Leipsic in 1813.

Lapie hurried away to communicate the project to general Guilleminot, in order to learn through him how the emperor would be disposed. Mörner hastened to Signeul, who was ambitious of exchanging his post of consul-general for that of minister of legation, and who, fully taking in that this affair was the settled plan of Sweden, advised Mörner to go at once to the prince of Ponte Corvo, without saying anything to Lagerbielke. Mörner saw Bernadotte. He introduced himself as the organ of a large and influential party in Sweden - as a member of the diet, the wishes of which were well known to him, and that Charles XIII. would have no other will than that of the assembly. Bernadotte listened eagerly to this unexpected communication; but with an air of doubt, and of a polished reserve which embarrassed Mörner, at the same time that he him- self called to mind the strange prophecy of mademoiselle Lenormand, who assured him that he would wear a crown, but would have to cross the sea for it.

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Pictures for The Reign of George III. - (Continued.) page 15

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