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The Reign of George III. - (Continued.) page 16

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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.

Mörner next imparted the secret to general Wrede, whom Charles XIII. had employed to deliver his letter to Napoleon. General Wrede was a man of an ancient and honour- able family, possessed great influence, and was attached to France, and particularly to Bernadotte, in whose house he was a familiar guest. He had left Sweden before the death of the duke of Augustenburg, readily gave credit to Mörner as to the state of the public feeling in Sweden, and was on the very point of returning thither. He at once spoke frankly to Bernadotte on the subject, who, assured by this second overture from such a quarter that the proposition came from the Swedish people, agreed that Mörner should submit it in writing, and that he would lay it before the emperor. Napoleon replied, with affected carelessness, that he would not interfere with the wishes of Sweden. No sooner was this done than Bernadotte accepted the offer; and general Wrede, on the very day that he left for Stockholm, informed M. Lagerbielke of the fact. It was as if a thunder-bolt had fallen at the feet of the ambassador. A transaction of such immense importance negotiated without his knowledge! He looked upon himself as lost. Meantime, Mörner returned in all haste to Stockholm, and spread the report that Napoleon desired to present to the favour of the Swedish nation his able marshal and relative, the prince of Ponte Corvo. General Wrede appeared immediately on his heels, confirming the news. The excitement in town and country became excessive. Each différent party was thrown into terror, anger, or exultation. The aristocratic party, with the king at its head, had resolved on electing the brother of the duke of Augustenburg; the party of Russia and the old dynasty was equally bent on the young prince Wasa. The old king was especially annoyed at this new project, which had sprung he knew not whence. On the very day that the committee of the diet had voted for the duke of Augustenburg, there arrived a message from the consul-general in France, with the formal acceptance of Bernadotte of the proposal on the part of Sweden to make him crown prince, accompanied by his grateful acknowledgments, and portraits of the prince and princess Ponte Corvo and their son, which general Wrede was commissioned to present to the king.

Here was an embarrassment! But Wrede and Mörner set actively to work. The letter of the consul-general and the portraits were presented to the king between eleven and twelve o'clock at night. Numerous copies of the letter were Struck off, and circulated amongst the différent orders of the diet. The letter to the deputies of the peasantry was accompanied by a little picture of prince Oscar, the son of Bernadotte, playing with his father's sword. Poems, songs, and addresses were improvised, and distributed in all directions. A report was spread, with equal rapidity, that the emperor of Russia, disappointed in his hopes of placing his nephew on the throne, was resolved on a fresh invasion, and that Napoleon had determined to defeat it by giving Sweden one of his most wise and valiant marshals as prince royal. The ruse succeeded; and it was amid acclamations and enthusiasm which scarcely permitted the tardiness of legal forms, that the diet, on the 21st of August, 1810, elected the prince of Ponte Corvo prince royal of Sweden, and heir-presumptive to the throne.

Such were the unparalleled circumstances by which Bernadotte, the quondam serjeant of marines, was made king of Sweden; and it would be difficult to say whether the election was more repugnant to the feelings of the main body of the Swedish people, who desired to see their country equally independent of France and Russia - to those of Alexander, who beheld with natural dread a prince and general of France, and a most able and politic one, placed so near to him - or to those of Buonaparte, who had regarded Bernadotte with jealousy and suspicion, and would rather have seen him any where than at the head of a powerful and independent kingdom.

The prince royal elect made his public entry into Stockholm on the 2nd of November. The failing health of the king, the confidence which the talents of Bernadotte had inspired, the prospect of a strong alliance with France through him - ail these causes united to place the national power in his hands, and to cast upon him, at the same time, a terrible responsibility. The very crowds and cries which surrounded him expressed the thousand expectations which his presence raised. The peasantry, who had heard so much of his humble origin and popular sentiments, looked to him to curb the pride and oppression of the nobles; the nobles flattered themselves that he would support their cause, in the hope that they would support him; the mass of the people believed that a republican was the most likely to maintain the principles of the révolution of 1809; the merchants trusted that he would be able to obtain from Napoleon freedom for the trade with England, so indispensable to Sweden; and the army felt sure that, with such a general, they should be able to seize Norway and re- conquer Finland. Nor was this all. Bernadotte knew that there existed a legitimist party in the country, which might long remain a formidable organ in the hands of internal factions or external enemies. How was he to lay the foundation of a new dynasty amid ail these conflicting interests? - how satisfy at once the demands of France, England, and Russia? Nothing but firmness, prudence, and sagacity could avail to surmount the difficulties of his situation; but these Bernadotte possessed.

Napoleon, seeing that Bernadotte was become king of Sweden contrary to his secret will and to his expectations, determined, however, that he should still serve him. He gave him no respite. He demanded incessantly, and with his usual impetuosity, that Bernadotte should declare war against England, and shut out of the Baltic both English and American merchandise. Alexander regarded him first with suspicion, but his spies soon dissipated his fears. They soon perceived that Bernadotte was not disposed to be at once master of a powerful kingdom, and the vassal of France. Alexander made offers of friendship; they were accepted by Bernadotte with real or affected pleasure, and his course became clearer. For the next two years there was a great strife to secure the alliance of the crown prince; and the proud, disdainful, imperious temper of Napoleon, who could not brook that one who bad been created by him out of nothing but a serjeant of marines should présumé to exercise an independent will, threw the prize into the hands of the more astute Russian, and decided the fate of Europe and of himself.

England, which had made some show of restoring the legitimate prince, soon became satisfied that Bernadotte would lean to its alliance. Meantime Alexander of Russia displayed more and more decided symptoms of an intention to break with France. He hastened to make peace with the Turks, and to pour his sentimental assurances into the ear of count Stadingk, the Swedish ambassador. As he called God to witness, in 1807, that he had no wish to touch single Swedish village, so now he professed to be greatly troubled that he had been obliged to seize all Finland- " Let us forget the past," said the czar. " I find myself in terrible circumstances, and I swear, upon my honour, that I never wished evil to Sweden. But now that unhappy affair of Finland is over, and I wish to show my respect to your king, and my regard for the crown prince. Great misfortunes are frequently succeeded by great prosperities- A Gustavus Adolphus issued from Sweden for the salvation of Germany, and who knows what may happen again? " and he began to unveil his disgust at the encroachments of Buonaparte. "What does he mean," he said, " by his attempt to add the north of Germany to his empire, and all its mercantile towns? He might grasp a dozen cities of Germany, but Hamburg, Lübeck, and Bremen, 'our Holy a Trinity,' as Romanoff says! - I am weary of his perpetual vexations! "

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Pictures for The Reign of George III. - (Continued.) page 16

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