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trians, Prussians, and Bavarians, are on the east. Sbame! Wellington is in France, and ye have not risen, in maite, to drive him back. There must be an impulse given. All must march. It is f1r you, counselors, fathers of families, heads of the nation, to set the example. People speak of peace, when all should echo to the call of war."
The emigrants, members of the old royalist party, whom Napoleon had generously permitted to return to France, and to enter again upon their estates, basely, in this hour of disaster, turned against their benefactor. They organized a wide-spread conspiracy, opened communications with the Allies, distributed arms among their adherents, extolled the Bourbons, and defamed, in every possible way, the good character of Napoleon.
The priests, hoping by the restoration of the Bourbons to regain the enormous church possessions which had been confiscated by the Revolution, in large numbers joined the conspirators, and endeavored to sting the bosom which had Vol. IX.—No. 49.—C
warmed them into life. In many districts their influence over the peasantry was almost omnipotent.
The Count of Artois, afterward Charles X., hastened to join the army of the Austrians. His son, the Duke of Angouleme, who had married the unhappy daughter of Louis XVI., whose tragic imprisonment with her brother, the Dauphin, in the Temple, has moved the sympathies of the world, hastened to the head-quarters of the Duke of Wellington. The Count of Provence, subsequently Louis XVIII., was residing at Hartwell, England. He was an infirm, unwieldy, gouty old man, of three score years. Unable to make any exertions himself, he sat, lolling in his chair, while the Allies deluged France i* blood and flame, to place him on the throne. Talleyrand, the wily diplomatist, clearly discerning the fall of the empire, entered into communication with the Allies, to secure the best possible terms for himself. He did every thing in his power to thwart the exertions of Napoleon, and of the nation. In the Council of S:ate, and
in the saloons of the capital, he incessantly advised submission.
On the 20th of December Napoleon assembled the Senate. He opened the session in person, and thus addressed the members:
"Splendid victories have illustrated the French armies in this campaign. Defections, without a parallel, have rendered those victories unavailing, or have turned them against us. France would now have been in danger but for the energy and the union of the.French. In these momentous circumstances, my first thought has been to summon you around me. My heart has need of the presence and affection of my subjects. I have never been seduced by prosperity. Adversity will find me superior to its strokes. I have often given peace to the nations, when they had lost every thing. With a part of my conquests I have raised up monarchs, who have since abandoned me. I had conceived and executed great designs for the happiness of the world. A monarch and a father, I feel that peace adds to the security of thrones as well as families. Nothing, on my part, is an obstacle to the re-establishment of peace. You are the natural organs of the throne. It is for you to give an example of energy, which may dignify our generation in the eyes of our posterity. Let them not say of us, 'They have sacrificed the first interests of our country; they have submitted to laws, which England has sought in vain, during four centuries, to impose upon France.' I am confident that, in this crisis, the French will show themselves worthy of themselves and of me."
At the same time, Napoleon communicated to the Senate and to the Legislative Assembly the correspondence which had taken place with the Allies, both before and after the battle of Lcipsic. He wished to prove to the nation that he had neglected no honorable exertions to arrest the calamities of war. A committee was appointed, by both bodies, to examine and report upon the documents. The report of the Senate was favorable to Napoleon, and yet the influence of that report was to weaken the Emperor's hold on the democracy. He had sought to identify himself with the ancient order of things. It was the policy of his government to conciliate antagonistic principles, to engraft democratic rights upon monarchical forms. He hoped thus to secure popular rights on the one hand, and to abate the hostility of monarchical Europe on the other. This policy might have been unwise; but there is every evidence that he sincerely thought it the best which could be adopted, under then existing circumstances. He knew that France would not submit again to place her neck under the yoke of the old feudal aristocracy. He believed it impossible to maintain republican forms in France, with a Jacobin mob at one extremity of society, with royalist conspirators at the other extremity, and with all Europe in amis against the republic.
Though the overwhelming majority of the people of France were strongly in favor of the policy of Napoleon, yet the Jacobins on the one hand, ] and the royalists on the other, a small but busy j
minority, were ever ready to join hands for his overthrow. The President of the senatotial cemmission, M. Fontanes, concluded his report respecting the continued assault of (he Allies, with the following words: "Against whom is that attack directed? Against that great man who has merited the gratitude of all kings; for he it w as, who, in re-establishing the throne of France, extinguished the voleano with which they were all menaced." The people did not relish this declaration, that Napoleon had become an advocate of the rights of kings. Napoleon had achieved all his victories, and attained his supremacy, as the recognized advocate of the rights of the people. His rejection of Josephine, and his matrimonial alliance with the proud house of Hapsburg, also operated against him. They had secured for his cause no monarchical friends, but had wilted the enthusiasm of the people.
France was now disheartened. One army had perished upon the snows of Russia ; another upon the plains of Saxony. The conscription and taxation had borne heavily upon all classes. All Europe had been combining in an interminable series of wars against revolutionary France. It seemed impossible any longer to protract the conflict. The majority of the legislative body adopted the report of their committee, containing the following sentiments deeply wounding to tho Emperor:
"In order to prevent the coalesced powers from accusing France of any wish to maintain a too extensive territory, which they seem to fear, would it not exhibit real greatness to undeccivo them by a formal declaration? It is for the government to propose the measures which may be considered most prompt and safe for repelling the enemy, and establishing peace on a solid basis. These measures must be effectual, if the French people be convinced that their blood will be shed only in defense of their country and of its laws. It appears indispensable, thercloie, that his Majesty shall be entreated to maintain the full and constant execution of the laws, which guarantee to the nation the free exercise of its political rights."
Napoleon regarded these insinuations as peculiarly unfriendly, and ordered the printing of tho report to be suppressed. He immediately assembled the Council of State, and thus expressed bis sentiments on the subject:
"You arc aware, gentlemen, of the dangers to which the country is exposed. Without any obligation to do so, I thought it right to consult the deputies of the legislative body. They have converted this act of my confidence into a weapon against me, that is to say, against the country. Instead of assisting me, they obstruct my efforts. We should assume an attitude to check the advance of the enemy. Their attitude invites him. Instead of showing to him a front of brass, they unvail to him our wounds. They stun me with clamors for peace, while the only means to obtain it is to prepare for war. They speak of griev| ances. But these are subjects to be discussed in | private, and not in the presence of an enemy.
Was I inaccessible to them? Did I ever show myself averse to rational argument? It is time to come to a conclusion. The legislative body, instead of assisting to save France, has concurred to accelerate her ruin. It has betrayed its duty. I fulfill mine. I proro;ruc the Assembly, and call for fresh elections. Were I sure that this act would bring the people of Paris in a crowd to the Tuileries, to murder me this day, I would still do my duty. My determination is perfectly legal. If every one here will act worthily, I shall yet be invincible, as well bef1rc the enemy, as behind the shelter of the law."
Notwithstanding this prorogation, a few days after, on the first of January, a deputation from the legislative body attended court, to present the congratulations of the season to the Emperor. As they entered the room, Napoleon advanced to meet them. In earnest tones, which were subdued by the spirit of seriousness and sadness, he thus spoke:
"Gentlemen of the Chamber of Deputies! you arc about to return to your respective departments. I had called you together, with perfect reliance upon your concurrence in my endeavors to illustrate this period of our history. You might have rendered roe a signal service, by giving me the support of which I stood in need, instead of attempting to confine me within limits, which you would be the first to extend when you
had discovered the fatal effects of your internal dissensions. By what authority do you consider yourselves entitled to limit the action of government at such a moment as the present. Am I indebted to you for the authority which is invested in me! I hold it from God and the people only. Havo you forgotten in what manner I ascended the throne, which you now attack? There existed, at that period, an Assembly like your own. Had I deemed its authority and its choice sufficient for my purpose, do you think that I wanted the means to obtain its votes. I have never been of opinion that a sovereign could be elected in that manner. I was desirous, therefore, that the wish, so generally expressed, for my being invested with the supreme power, should be submitted to a national vote, taken from every person in the French dominions. By such means only did I accept of a throne. Do you imagine that I consider the throne as nothing more than a piece of velvet spread over a chair! The throne consists in the unanimous wish of the nation in favor of their sovereign. Our position is surrounded with difficulties. By adhering to my views, you might have been of the greatest assistance to me. Nevertheless, I trust that, with the help of God and of the army. I shall extricate myself, if I am not doomed to be betrayed. Should I fall, to you alone will be ascribed the evils which will desolate our common country."
The Duke of Kovigo, who has recorded the above interview, says that the Emperor, on returning to his cabinet, showed no particular indications of displeasure against the legislative body. With that wonderful magnanimity which ever characterized him, he gave them credit for the best intentions. He, however, observed that he could not safely allow the existence of this state of things behind him, when he was on the point of proceeding to join the army, where he would find quite enough to engage his attention.
It was the special aim of the Allies, aided by their copartners the royalists of France, to create a division between Napoleon and the French people, and to make the Ejnperor as odious as possible. Abusive pamphlets were circulated like autumn leaves all over the Empire. The treasury of England and that of all the Allies was at the disposal of any one, who could wage effective warfare against the dreaded republican Emperor. The invading kings, at the head of their locust legions, issued a proclamation, to be spread throughout Europe, full of the meanest and the most glaring falsehoods. They asserted that they were the friends of peace, and Napoleon the advocate for war; that they were struggling for liberty and human rights, Napoleon for tyranny and oppression. They declared that they earnestly desired peace, but that the despot Napoleon would not sheathe the sword. They assured the French people that they waged no war against France, but only against the usurper, who, to gratify his own ambition, was deluging Europe in blood. The atrocious falsehood was believed in England, on the Continent, and in America. Its influence still poisons thousands of minds.
Colonel Napier, though an officer in the allied army, and marching under the Duke of Wellington for the invasion of France, with noble candor admits, that the Allies in this declaration were utterly insincere, that they had no desire for peace, and that their only object was to rouse the hostility of the people of Europe against Napoleon. He says the negotiations of the Allies, with Napoleon, were "a deceit from the beginning." "This fact," he says "was placed beyond a doubt, by Lord Castlercagh's simultaneous proceedings in London.*
Napoleon sent Caulaincourt to the head-quarters of the Allies to make every effort in his power to promote peace. They had consented to a sort of conference, in order to gain time to bring up their reserves. France was exhausted. The Allies had slain so many of the French, in these iniquitous wars, that the fields of France were left untilled, for want of laborers. More than a million of men were now on the march to invade the almost defenseless Empire. It is utterly impossible but that Napoleon must have wished for peace. But nobly he resolved that he would perish, rather than submit to dishonor. Every
* For the conclusive proof of this hypocrisy on the part of the Allies, see Napier's Peninsular War, vol. iv. pp. 327, 328.
generous heart will throb in sympathy with this decision.
"The Emperor," says Caulaincourt, "closed his last instructions to me, with the following words! I wish for peace. I wish for it, without any reservation or after-thought. But Caulaincourt, I will never accede to dishonorable conditions. It is wished that peace shall be based on the independence of all nations; be it so. This is one of those Utopian dreams of which experience will prove the fallacy. My policy is more enlightened than that of those men who were born kings. Those men have never quitted their gilded cages, and have never read history except with their tutors. Tell them —I impress upon thom, with all the authority we are entitled to exercise, that peace can be durable only inasmuch as it shall be reasonable and just to all parties. To demand absurd concessions, to impose conditions which can not be acceded to consistently with the dignity and importance of France, is to declare a deadly war against me. I will never consent to leave France less than I found her. Were 1 to do so, the whole nation, cu masse, would be entitled to call me to account. Go, Caulaincourt. You know the difficulties of my position. Heaven grant that you may succeed! Do not spare couriers. Send me intelligence every hour. You know how anxious I shall be.
"Our real enemies," continues Caulaincourt, "they who had vowed our destruction, were England, Austria and Sweden. There was a determined resolution to exterminate Napoleon, and consequently all negotiations proved fruitless. Every succeeding day gave birth to a new conflict. In proportion as we accepted what was offered, new pretensions rose up, and no sooner was one difficulty smoothed down, than we had to encounter another. I know not how I mustered sufficient firmness and forbearance, to remain calm amidst so many outrages. I accordingly wrote to the Emperor, assuring him that these conferences, pompously invested with the title of a congress, served merely to mask the irrevocably fixed detcimination, not to treat with France; that the time we were thus losing, was employed by the Allied powers, in assembling their forces, for the purpose of invading us on all points at once; that by further temporizing, we should unavoidably augment the disadvantages of our position."
In a private interview with Caulaincourt, as reported by the Duke of Rbvigo, Napoleon said, '' France must preserve her natural limits. All the powers of Europe, including England, have acknowledged these bases at Frankfort. France, reduced to her old limits, would not possess twothirds of the relative power she possessed twenty years ago. What she has acquired toward the Alps and the Rhine, does not compensate for what Russia, Austria and Prussia have acquired, by the mere act of the partition of Poland. All these powers have aggrandized themselves. To pretend to bring France back to her former state, would be to lower and to degrade her. Neither the Emperor, nor the republic if it should spring out anew from this state of agitation, can ever subscribe to such a condition. I have taken my determination, which nothing can change. Can I consent to lc "e France less powerful than I found her? If, therefore, the Allies insist upon this reduction of France, the Emperor has only one of three choices left: either to fight and conquer; to die honorably in the struggle; or, lastly, to abdicate, if the nation should not support me. The throne has no charms for me. I will never attempt to purchase it at the price of dishonor."* In the midst of these days of disaster, when Napoleon's throne was crumbling beneath him, there were exhibited many noble examples of disinterestedness and fidelity. The illustrious and virtuous Camot, true to his republican principles, had refused to accept office under the Empire. Napoleon had earnestly, hut in vain.
'Memoirs of the Duke of Rovigo, vol. iv. p. 193.
sought his aid. Carnot, retiring from the allurements of the Imperial court, was buried in seclusion and poverty. His pecuniary embarrassments at length became so great, that they reached t^e ears of the Emperor. Napoleon, though deeming Camot in error, yet highly appreciating the universally recognized integrity of the man, immediately sent him, with a touching letter, ample funds for the supply of his wants. Years had rolled away; gloom was gathering around the Emperor; foreign armies were crowding upon France; all who advocated the cause of Napoleon, were in danger of ruin. In that hour Carnot came to the rescue, and offered himself to Napoleon, for the defense of the country. Napoleon gratefully accepted the offer, and intrusted him with the command of Antwerp, one of ths keys of the empire In the defense of this place, Carnot exhibited all those noble traits of character, which were to be expected of such a man.