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wish (I may say passion) of the people and soldiers, in every part of the country I have seen, is peace, which the ignorant sanguinary statesmen of congress will not see or allow, because they are in want of war themselves.
- DISASTERS OF LIBERTY.
We had passed Macon, and had arrived at the little town of St. Albin, the next stage : the horses were put to our carriage, when a man on horseback begged to say a word to us, and asked in a whisper whether we had heard the news. What news & Why, bad news, the worst. The Emperor had returned to Paris— bad abdicated. Two merchants, passing through Tournus on their way to Lyons, had shewn a Paris journal stating the fact. What journal The Journal Général. It was natural that we should add, “You must not believe that journal, it is a suspected paper.” Our informant replied that he thought so too, and that the merchants had been followed by a gendarme and taken to the prefect; who, however, upon examining their paper, had suffered them to depart. The fact was the more unaccountable, as the telegraph at Lyons had that morning announced a second victory gained over the allies, in which their cavalry had been nearly annihilated. Our informant assigned no cause for the event, but said there had been some insigne trahison at the bottom of it; so the merchants had averred. He did not believe the story, but was evidently much disturbed, and accompanied us to the next stage to meet the courier from Paris. At Tournus we we were stopped in the streets for the examination of our passports, and found every one in extreme anxiety. The post-house was surrounded with crowds, who, although they knew we came from the opposite quarter, wished to know our opinion on the subject ; and who were . a little pleased at hearing our arguments on the improbability of the fact. Tournus is one of the towns which distinguished itself last year, in the defence made against against the allies. At Sennecy, the next stage, in the road to which place we met the courier, the truth burst upon us. Wepaused,butdid not still altogether resign our incredulity, for we could
only see a paper called Le Journal des
&agnes in a small tavern, where some
country fellows and people of the town were dining, and joined with us in still wishing to wait for the Moniteur itself, of which, however, an extract was given in this journal. The fatal intelligence was read aloud—Napoleon had gained victopies on the 16th and 17th, attacked the English on the 18th, and beat them up to half-past eight in the evening, when a desperate charge being made on some . English batteries by four battalions of the middle guard, and these battalions being thrown into confusion by a charge of cavalry, a route took place. The French army thought the old guard had been repulsed, la vieille garde est repoussee was the cry, which was followed up by shouts of sauve qui peut ; the whole army began to run : in vain the old guard tried to stop them, and was itself borne down by the mass of the fugitives; even the squadrons of the body guard about the emperor were borne backwards; als rushed to the point of communication, and a complete defeat ensued. Cannons, carriages, all the park of artillery, all the reserve of the whole army, was left and taken on the field of battle. The emperor returned to Paris. His abdication was not mentioned. At the close of the recital, the persons present said it was not—could not be true. One added, “if so, the Bourbons will come back—they may—but they shall reign over stones; the men will die, or depart to some happier country.” We spoke to the postmaster, and asked him if the emperor had really been defeated ; it will require some time to forget the air and accent with which he replied, mais, out-completement battu. At Chalons sur Saone we read the Journal de l'Empire of the 22d. All was confirmed relative to the total defeat of the French army at Mont St. Jean. But we travelled all that night and the next day, and the following night, before we saw the paper of the 23d, at Sens, which indeed contained the abdication of Napoleon, in a declaration to the French people, dated the 22d of the month. I know not how you feel, but his expression, ma vie politique est terminee, cut me to the heart. I recalled him to my mind at the opening of his parliament, at the commencement of a new career so glorious, now so terminated ; and in witnessing
Napoleon.—Measures of Defence. 599
the close of such a life, felt the sensations which the great author of the Idler describes as attendant upon the contemplation of the last in any effort. The news, however, was known to be orue as far to the southward as Autun. We witnessed no disturbances in any of the towns, but were informed that 1500 troops of the line had passed Sens yesterday morning, shouting Vive l’Empereur, and a bas les Royalistes. At Melun we saw, in the Journal de l'Empire, that Napoleon Bonaparte had retired provisionally to Malmaison. The change of style spoke a volume to us. They had told us at
Montereau that he was gone, or going, to
England. We had before, as far down as Villeneuve, met with soldiers, individually and in small parties, without arms, and some wounded in the hand or head, returning from the beaten army. Advancing a little further, we learnt who were the nominal masters of France, and that we were now in the empire of the Duke of Otranto, administered in the name of the French people. At Charenton we passed through soldiers who were receiving their rations; and, entering Paris by the gate of Marengo, saw, in the crowds, and charlatans, and theatres, and coffeehouses of the boulevards, no sign of the fall, although some people might from such a sight conjecture the moral degradation of France. NAPOLEON. Napoleon is fallen for ever! Incredible as you may think it, he is almost forgotten l No one, except the immediate friends of the government, pretends to know for certain whether he is still at Malmaison, or seems to think it a question of importance to ask. On Saturday last, Count M saw him there : he was tranquil, but quite lost. His friends now pretend that, since his return from Elba, he has never been the man he used to be. Certain it is, that he was employed for fifteen hours a day, at an average, during his three months' reign ; and that he owned to one of his aide-de-camps, an acquaintance of mine, who observed him several times fall asleep in his carriage when on the road to the army, that he was exhausted by continual application. There is only one opinion here as to his quitting the army and his return to Paris; a plan which I know he was implored
with tears not to follow, and which alone has been the immediate cause of his fall.
It may appear presumptuous to state his
real motive for such a fatal proceeding ; but the one assigned by his friends is, that he wished to be himself the messenger of the ill news, and to prevent, by his presence, any strong measures which the chambers might feel inclined to take against his crown. However, the effect of this fifth retreat from his armies, although an actin itself of but little importance, is an entire abandonment of him and his cause by all those who could have forgiven him a misfortune, but required that he should be the first to recover from the blow. Even in the army he has lost his best partisans; and, although his name may be made the rallying word of some future discontent, he cannot be pardoned by the brave men who have seen themselves deserted at their first disaster by him. It cannot be concealed that there is in the flight of Napoleon a precipitancy which nothing can excuse ; and we must sigh, as Montesquieu did over the suicide of Brutus, to see the cause of liberty so easily abandoned. Had the chambers dethroned him upon receiving the news of his defeat, the despair would have been theirs, and their decree might not have been ratified by the nation in arms; but by his return he has saved them from that disgrace and danger, and has preserved their characters, whatever injury he may have done to his own. It was not to be expected that any future sacrifices should be made in the behalf of one whose conduct in this decisive instance has shown him unwilling to appreciate the value of their exertions. MEASURES OF DEFENCE. In an hour, the return of Napoleon had spread over the whole capital. It was known to every member of the two chambers, which assembled, the peers at half pastone, and the representatives at a quarterpast twelve; and,after hearing the procés verbal of the former sitting, proceeded at once to the consideration of the immediate necessities of the country. After the first tumult of meeting, and of listening to the tales which every one told, had subsided, General Lafayette mounted the tribune, and delivered himself in these words : “Gentlemen, when, for the first time since many years, I raise a voice which
the ancient friends of liberty will even yet recognise, I feel myself called upon to speak to you of the danger of our country, which you alone at this juncture have the power to save. Sinister rumours have gone abroad : unfortunately they are all confirmed. Now, then, is the time to rally round the old tri-coloured standard, the standard of eighty-nine ; the standard of liberty, of equality, of public order; the standard which alone we have to defend against foreign pretensions and internal treason. Permit gentlemen, a veteran in this sacred cause, who has always been a stranger to the spirit of faction, to submit to you some preliminary resolutions, of which you will appreciate, I hope, the necessity. Article 1. “The chamber of representatives declares, that the independence of the nation is menaced. 2dly. “The chamber declares its sitting permanent. All attempts to dissolve it is a crime of high treason : whoever shall show himself capable of this attempt shall be regarded as a traitor to his country, and be arraigned as such. 3dly. “The army of the line and the national guards who have fought, and still fight, to defend the liberty, the independence, and the territory of France, have deserved well of their country. 4thly. “The minister of the interior is invited to call together the general staff, the commanders, and legionary majors of the national guard of Paris, to advise on the means of arming and completing that urban guard, whose pátriotism and approved zeal, for six and twenty years, offer a sure guarantee to the liberty, the prosperity, and tranquillity of the capital, and to the inviolability of the representatives of the nation. 5thly. “The minister of war, of soreign affairs, of police, and of the interior, are invited to present themselves instantly to the assembly.” The propositions of General Lafayette were listened to in profound silence, and received at the end with applause. The three first were immediately adopted; the fourth was considered premature; but the latter received the unanimous support of the chamber, as a measure which the urgency of the case demanded. One of the members went so far as to say, that these steps must be taken without delay,
“The emperor arrived at 11 o'clock;
he has called a council of ministers; he has announced that the army, after a signal victory in the plains of Flaurus, in which the flower of the Prussian forces was destroyed, fought a great battle two days afterwards, four leagues from Brussels. The English army was beaten during the whole day, and obliged to give up the field of battle. We had taken six English colours and the day was decided, when, at night, some malcontents spread an alarm, and occasioned a disorder which the presence of his Majesty could not allay on account of the darkness. The consequence has been a disaster which nothing could immediately repair. The army is rallying under the walls of Avesnes and Philippeville. His Majesty passed by Laon ; and there gave orders that the levy in mass of the national guards of the department should stop the fugitives. He is returned to Paris, to confer with his ministers on the means of re-establishing the material of the army. The intention of his majesty is also to concert with the chamber those legislative measures which circumstances require. His Majesty is, at this moment, occupied in framing propositions for the consideration of the chamber.” i M. Regnault proposed to read likewise a supplement to the Moniteur of the 21st,
containing an account of the fatal battle .
of Mont St. Jean : in which no attempt
was made to conceal that the defeat had
been decisive. FATAL DIVISIONS. The four ministers, and Prince Lucien, entered the hall. The latter informed the chamber that he had been named
Fatal Divisions. 601
sage was then read from the emperor, informing the chamber of the loss of the battle in all its extent; and of the nomination of the Duke of Vicenza and Otranto, and Count Carnot, as commissaries, to treat of peace with the allies. The profound silence which reigned for some moments at the close of the message was interrupted by a member, Mr. M. H. L., who solemnly ascended into the tribune, and, to the astonishment of the whole assembly (each individual of which had felt perhaps the necessity of the same boldness and decision) addressed himself to the minister for foreign affairs. “You talk of peace. What new means of communication have you in your power What new basis do you give to your negotiation What is it that you call the national independence 2 Europe has declared war against Napoleon. Do you henceforward separate the chief from the nation ? As to myself, I distinctly declare that I hear no voice but that of the nation; that I see nothing but one man between us and peace. In the name of the public safety, unveil the secrets of your new policy; show us all the depth of the abyss, and perchance there may be still left in our courage some resources, and our country will be saved.” The remonstrance of the orator was applauded from all parts of the hall with an unanimity which left no doubt on the mind of Prince Lucien that the fate of his brother was decided : he resolved, however, to make one desperate effort, and addressed the representatives of the people in a speech which left untried no art of oratory. He appealed to their honour, to their love of glory, to their generosity, to their oaths; but here he was interrupted by M. de Lafayette, who exèlaimed, “We have followed your brother to the sands of Africa—to the deserts of Russia: the bones of Frenchmen, scattered in every region, bear witness to our fidelity.” And at this moment Messrs. M. N. and M. D., together with other voices, declared that the alternative was inevitable ; the requisite remedy was no less manifest than the calamity. The prince continued to harangue, and there were some moments when he seemed to threaten, and at others to implore—but in vain. The min, 4H.
isters were severally interrogated ; the opinion of the chamber was pronounced with a gravity and order that gave a weight to their determination, and convinced the prince that in four and twenty hours the authority either of his brother or of the house must be no more. The peers met at half past one, when Count Carnot read the abdication, which, being known to many of the members, excited no discussion. The count then gave the details of the minister of war, relative to the position of Marshal Grouchy ; when, to the surprise of all present, Marshal Ney rose, and said, “What you have just heard is false, as false can be, (fausse de toute faussété). Marshal Grouchy and the Duke of Dalmatia can not collect sixty thousand men. That number can not be brought together on the northern frontier. Marshal Grouchy, for his part, has been able to rally only seven or eight thousand men. The Duke of Dalmatia has not been able to make any stand at Rocroy. You have no other means of saving your country but by negotiation.” Hearing this point
ed contradiction from the marshal, the
Count Latour Maubourg exclaimed, “If the details are not true, I demand that the minister at war may be arraigned for an attempt to deceive the peers and the representatives of the people.” Count Carnot declared that the letter was written by the hand of Marshal Davoust; and Count Flahaut attested that he had shewn it to the emperor, who approved the account. The altercation still continued, and grew so warm between the minister Carnot and Marshal Ney, that the Count of Pontecoulant moved that a stop should be put to the scene, which ended by Ney positively asserting that forty thousand men could not be brought together by Grouchy at any point, or by any means. The messages from the chamber of representatives announced their several declarations, which were approved by the peers, but not entirely without opposition ; for Count La Bédoyère protested vehemently against the new executive government, as an infringement upon the right of Napoleon the Second, for whom alone his father had abdicated. The house adjourned from five to half past Mox. MAG, No. 286,
nine, when the president informed the peers that he had waited on the emperor with the acceptance of the abdication, and that his Majesty had answered, that he had received with pleasure their sentiments; but had added, “I repeat that which I have said to the president of the chamber of representatives, I have abdicated only for my son.” Immediately on hearing this, Prince Lucien, in an animated speech, in which he asserted that the chief of a constitutional monarchy never dies, exclaimed, “L’Empereur est mort, vive l'Empereur ! l'Empereur a abdiqué, vive l'Empereur !” and ended with proposing an oath of fidelity to Napoleon the Second, of which he gave the first example himself at the moment. The proposal was applauded by many ; but M. de Pontecoulant objected decisively to the measure, telling the mover that he was a Roman prince, not a Frenchman ; and that he himself would never vote for a captive monarch, an infant, the choice of whom might shut the door against all negotiation. Prince Lucien replied with no less acrimony ; and Count Boissy endeavoured to close the discussion by deferring the question, and by advising first to stop the progress of the foreign armies, but not to deprive themselves of any means of treating by a a premature decision. Count La Bédoyère here rose, and furiously exclaimed, that, if the peers and representatives did not proclaim Napoleon the Second, the abdication was null, and would be proved so by that sword which Napoleon,
surrounded by his faithful soldiers, would
then resolve to draw. “Let him,” he added, “be deserted by the vile generals who have already betrayed him. The emperor owes himself to the nation. Abandoned the first time, shall we quit him in his second disaster—we, who have sworn to defend him even in bis misfortunes : If, however, it shall be declared that every Frenchman who quits his colours shall be covered with infany, his house rased, his family proscribed, we shall then hear no more of traitors, no more of those manoeuvres that have occasioned our latter catastrophes, of which some of the authors, perhaps, have seats in this assembly.” A cry of order interrupted him : but he continued, “Listen to me.”—
“I will not listen to you,” said the Count, o
of Valence ; “retract what you have said.”—“I do not address myself to you, count,” replied the other, and continued his declamation with such vehemence against traitors and treason, that Marshal Massena reminded him of his intemperance. He was told, “Young man, you .. forget yourself—you are not at the corps de garde.” Notwithstanding, however, that the president calmed the tumult, the peers were on the point of declaring themselves in opposition to the chamber of representatives, which might have caused the re-assumption of the sceptre by Napoleon, and a civil war: for Count Segur said, “that he had hoped the question might be deferred until the negotiation had been opened, but, as the seal had been torn away, the naked truth must be exposed ; there could be no temporising; Napoleon had declared to the president that his abdication was null and void if his son was not proclaimed.” The president reminded him that Napoleon had said, only, that the abdication was in favour of his son. But M. de Segur continued his speech, and ended by proposing that the provisional government should take the title of regency. Prince Lucien, Prince Joseph, the Duke of Bassano, Count Roederer, supported this motion, as well as the oath proposed by Prince Lucien ; but the Counts Lameth and Cornudet opposed it, which induced Count Segur at once to move an adjournment, on the ground that the provisional government, proposed by the representatives, was in opposition to the constitution. This opinion would have been followed, if Counts Thibaudeau and Pontécoulant had not insisted on the necessity of not leaving Paris and France without a government for the mere dispute of a word, and for the sake of discussing a premature question. Count Flahaut continued to remind them of the rights of Napoleon the Second, when Count Decrés exclaimed with vehemence, “Is this the moment to occupy ourselves about individuals : Let our country be the first consideration—it is in danger ; let us not lose a moment in taking the measures which its safety requires. I demand the close of this discussion.” This appeal was triumphant. The president put the last question, which was