Our Ambassador to the United States, General Turreaux, is far from being contented with our friend, the President Jefferson, whose patriotic notions have not yet soared to the level of our patriotic transactions. He refused both to prevent the marriage of Jerome Bonaparte with a female American citizen, and to detain her after her marriage when her husband returned to Europe. To our continual representation against the liberties which the American newspapers take with our Government, with our Emperor, with our Imperial Family, and with our Imperial Ministers, the answer has always been, "Prosecute the libeller, and as soon as he is convicted he will be punished." This tardy and negative justice is so opposite to our expeditious and summary mode of proceeding, of punishing first and trying afterwards, that it must be both humiliating and offensive. In return, when the Americans have complained to Turreaux against the piracy of our privateers, he has sent them here to seek redress, where they also will, to their cost, discover that in civil cases our justice has not the same rapid march as when it is a question of arresting or transporting suspected persons, or of tormenting, shooting, or guillotining a pretended spy, or supposed conspirator.
Had the peace of Europe continued, Bernadotte was the person selected by Bonaparte and Talleyrand as our representative in America; because we then intended to strike, and not to negotiate. But during the present embroiled state of Europe, an intriguer was more necessary there than either a warrior or a politician. A man who has passed through all the mire of our own Revolution, who has been in the secrets, and an accomplice of all our factions, is, undoubtedly, a useful instrument where factions are to be created and directed, where wealth is designed for pillage, and a State for overthrow. General Turreaux is, therefore, in his place, and at his proper post, as our Ambassador in America.
The son of a valet of the late Duc de Bouillon, Turreaux called himself before the Revolution Chevalier de Grambonville, and was, in fact, a 'chevalier d'industrie' (a swindler), who supported himself by gambling and cheating. An associate of Beurnonville, Barras, and other vile characters, he with them joined the colours of rebellion, and served under the former in 1792, in the army of the Moselle, first as a volunteer, and afterwards as an aide-de-camp. In a speech at the Jacobin Club at Quesnoy, on the 20th of November, 1792, he made a motion—"That, throughout the whole republican army, all hats should be prohibited, and red caps substituted in their place; and that, not only portable guillotines, but portable Jacobin clubs, should accompany the soldiers of Liberty and Equality."
A cousin of his was a member of the National Convention, and one of those called Mountaineers, or sturdy partisans of Marat and Robespierre. It was to the influence of this cousin, that he was indebted, first for a commission as an adjutant-general, and afterwards for his promotion to a general of brigade. In 1793, he was ordered to march, under the command of Santerre, to La Vendee, where he shared in the defeat of the republicans at Vihiers. At the engagement near Roches d'Erigne he commanded, for the first time, a separate column, and the capacity and abilities which he displayed on that occasion were such as might have been expected from a man who had passed the first thirty years of his life in brothels and gambling-houses. So pleasant were his dispositions, that almost the whole army narrowly escaped having been thrown and pushed into the River Loire. The battle of Doux was the only one in which he had a share where the republicans were not routed; but some few days afterwards, near Coron, all the troops under him were cut to pieces, and he was himself wounded.
The confidence of his friends, the Jacobins, increased, however, in proportion to his disasters, and he was, in 1794, after the superior number of the republican soldiers had forced the remnants of the Royalists to evacuate what was properly called La Vendee, appointed a commander-in-chief. He had now an opportunity to display his infamy and barbarity. Having established his headquarters at Mantes, where he was safe, amidst the massacres of women and children ordered by his friend Carriere, he commanded the republican army to enter La Vendee in twelve columns, preceded by fire and sword; and within four weeks, one of the most populous departments of France, to the extent and circumference of sixty leagues, was laid waste-not a house, not a cottage, not a tree was spared, all was reduced to ashes; and the unfortunate inhabitants, who had not perished amid the ruin of their dwellings, were shot or stabbed; while attempting to save themselves from the common conflagration. On the 22d of January, 1794, he wrote to the Committee of Public Safety of the National Convention: "Citizen Representatives!—A country of sixty leagues extent, I have the happiness to inform you, is now a perfect desert; not a dwelling, not a bush, but is reduced to ashes; and of one hundred and eighty thousand worthless inhabitants, not a soul breathes any longer. Men and women, old men and children, have all experienced the national vengeance, and are no more. It was a pleasure to a true republican to see upon the bayonets of each of our brave republicans the children of traitors, or their, heads. According to the lowest calculation, I have despatched, within three months, two hundred thousand individuals of both sexes, and of all ages. Vive la Republique!!!" In the works of Prudhomme and our republican writers, are inserted hundreds of letters, still more cruelly extravagant, from this ci-devant friend of Liberty and Equality, and at present faithful subject, and grand officer of the Legion of Honour, of His Imperial Majesty Napoleon the First.
After the death of Robespierre, Turreaux, then a governor at Belleisle, was arrested as a terrorist, and shut up at Du Plessis until the general amnesty released him in 1795. During his imprisonment he amused himself with writing memoirs of the war of La Vendee, in which he tried to prove that all his barbarities had been perpetrated for the sake of humanity, and to save the lives of republicans. He had also the modesty to announce that, as a military work, his production would be equally interesting as those of a Folard and Guibert. These memoirs, however, proved nothing but that he was equally ignorant and wicked, presumptuous and ferocious.
During the reign of the Directory he was rather discarded, or only employed as a kind of recruiting officer to hunt young conscripts, but in 1800 Bonaparte gave him a command in the army of reserve; and in 1802, another in the army of the interior. He then became one of the most assiduous and cringing courtiers at the Emperor's levies; while in the Empress's drawing-room he assumed his former air and ton of a chevalier, in hopes of imposing upon those who did not remember the nickname which his soldiers gave him ten years before, of Chevalier of the Guillotine.
At a ball of the Bonaparte family to which he was invited, the Emperor took the fancy to dance with his stepdaughter, Madame Louis. He, therefore, unhooked his sword, which he handed to a young colonel, D' Avry, standing by his side. This colonel, who had been a page at the Court of Louis XVI., knew that it would have been against etiquette, and even unbecoming of him, to act as a valet to Napoleon while there were valets in the room; he therefore retreated, looking round for a servant. "Oh!" said the Emperor, "I see that I am mistaken; here, generals," continued he (addressing himself to half a dozen, with whose independent principles and good breeding he was acquainted), "take this sword during my dance." They all pushed forward, but Turreaux and La Grange, another general and intriguer, were foremost; the latter, however, received the preference. On the next day, D' Avry was ordered upon service to Cayenne.
Turreaux has acquired, by his patriotic deeds in La Vendee, a fortune of seven millions of livres. He has the highest opinion of his own capacity, while a moment's conversation will inform a man of sense that he is only a conceited fool. As to his political transactions, he has by his side, as a secretary, a man of the name of Petry, who has received a diplomatic education, and does not want either subtlety or parts; and on him, no doubt, is thrown the drudgery of business. During a European war, Turreaux's post is of little relative consequence; but should Napoleon live to dictate another general pacification, the United States will be exposed, on their frontiers, or in their interior, to the same outrages their commercial navy now experiences on the main.
PARIS, September, 1805.
MY LORD:—A general officer, who has just arrived from Italy, has assured me that, so far from Bonaparte's subjects on the other side of the Alps being contented and attached to his person and Government, were a victorious Austrian army to enter the plains of Lombardy a general insurrection would be the consequence. During these last nine years the inhabitants have not enjoyed a moment's tranquillity or safety. Every relation or favourite whom Napoleon wished to provide for, or to enrich, he has saddled upon them as in free quarters; and since 1796, when they first had the honour of our Emperor's acquaintance, they have paid more in taxes, in forced loans, requisitions, and extortions of every description, than their ancestors or themselves had paid during the one hundred and ninety-six preceding years.
Such is the public spirit, and such have been the sufferings of the people in the ci-devant Lombardy; in Piedmont they are still worse off. Having more national character and more fidelity towards their Sovereign than their neighbours, they are also more cruelly treated. Their governor, General De Menou, has caused most of the departments to be declared under martial law, and without right to claim the protection of our happy constitution. In every city or town are organized special tribunals, the progeny of our revolutionary tribunals, against the sentences of which no appeal can be made, though these sentences are always capital ones. Before these, suspicion is evidence, and an imprudent word is subject to the same punishment as a murderous deed. Murmur is regarded as mutiny, and he who complains is shot as a conspirator.
There exist only two ways for the wretched Piedmontese to escape these legal assassinations. They must either desert their country or sacrifice a part of their property. In the former case, if retaken, they are condemned as emigrants; and in the latter they incur the risk that those to whom they have already given a part of their possessions will also require the remainder, and having obtained it, to enjoy in security the spoil, will send them to the tribunals and to death. De Menou has a fixed tariff for his protection, regulated according to the riches of each person; and the tax-gatherers collect these arbitrary contributions with the regular ones, so little pains are taken to conceal or to disguise these robberies.
De Menou, by turns a nobleman and a sans-culotte, a Christian and a Mussulman, is wicked and profligate, not from the impulse of the moment or of any sudden gust of passion, but coldly and deliberately. He calculates with sangfroid the profit and the risk of every infamous action he proposes to commit, and determines accordingly. He owed some riches and the rank of the major-general to the bounty of Louis XVI., but when he considered the immense value of the revolutionary plunder, called national property, and that those who confiscated could also promote, he did not hesitate what party to take. A traitor is generally a coward; he has everywhere experienced defeats; he was defeated by his Royalist countrymen in 1793, by his Mahometan sectaries in 1800, and by your countrymen in 1801.
Besides his Turkish wife, De Menou has in the same house with her one Italian and two French girls, who live openly with him, but who are obliged to keep themselves by selling their influence and protection, and, perhaps, sometimes even their personal favours. He has also in his hotel several gambling-tables, where those who are too bashful to address themselves to himself or his mistresses may deposit their donations, and if they are thought sufficient, the hint is taken and their business done. He never pays any debts and never buys anything for ready money, and all persons of his suite, or appertaining to his establishment, have the same privilege. Troublesome creditors are recommended to the care of the special tribunals, which also find means to reduce the obstinacy of those refractory merchants or traders who refuse giving any credit. All the money he extorts or obtains is brought to this capital and laid out by his agents in purchasing estates, which, from his advanced age and weak constitution, he has little prospect of long enjoying. He is a grand officer of Bonaparte's Legion of Honour, and has a long claim to that distinction, because as early as on the 25th of June, 1790, he made a motion in the National Assembly to suppress all former Royal Orders in France, and to create in their place only a national one. Always an incorrigible flatterer, when Napoleon proclaimed himself Ali the Mussulman, De Menou professed himself Abdallah the believer in the Alcoran.
The late vice-president of the Italian Republic, Melzi-Eril, is now in complete disgrace with his Sovereign, Napoleon the First. If persons of rank and property would read through the list of those, their equals by birth and wealth, who, after being seduced by the sophistry of impostors, dishonoured and exposed themselves by joining in the Revolution, they might see that none of them have escaped insults, many have suffered death, and all have been, or are, vile slaves, at the mercy of the whip of some upstart beggar, and trampled upon by men started up from the mud, of lowest birth and basest morals. If their revolutionary mania were not incurable, this truth and this evidence would retain them within their duty, so corresponding with their real interest, and prevent them from being any longer borne along by a current of infamy and danger, and preserve them from being lost upon quicksands or dashed against rocks.
The conduct and fate of the Italian nobleman and Spanish grandee, Melzi-Eril, has induced me to make these reflections. Wealthy as well as elevated, he might have passed his life in uninterrupted tranquillity, enjoying its comforts without experiencing its vicissitudes, with the esteem of his contemporaries and without reproach from posterity or from his own conscience. Unfortunately for him, a journey into this country made him acquainted both with our philosophers and with our philosophical works; and he had neither natural capacity to distinguish errors from reality, nor judgment enough to perceive that what appeared improving and charming in theory, frequently became destructive and improper when attempted to be put into practice. Returned to his own country, his acquired half-learning made him wholly dissatisfied with his Government, with his religion, and with himself. In our Revolution he thought that he saw the first approach towards the perfection of the human species, and that it would soon make mankind as good and as regenerated in society as was promised in books. With our own regenerators he extenuated the crimes which sullied their work from its first page, and declared them even necessary to make the conclusion so much the more complete. When, therefore, Bonaparte, in 1796, entered the capital of Lombardy, Melzi was among the first of the Italian nobility who hailed him as a deliverer. The numerous vexations and repeated pillage of our Government, generals, commissaries, and soldiers, did not abate his zeal nor alter his opinion. "The faults and sufferings of individuals," he said, "are nothing to the goodness of the cause, and do not impair the utility of the whole." To him, everything the Revolution produced was the best; the murder of thousands and the ruin of millions were, with him, nothing compared with the benefit the universe would one day derive from the principles and instruction of our armed and unarmed philosophers. In recompense for so much complacency, and such great patriotism, Bonaparte appointed him, in 1797, a plenipotentiary from the Cisalpine Republic to the Congress at Rastadt; and, in 1802, a vice-president of the Italian Republic. As Melzi was a sincere and disinterested republican fanatic, he did not much approve of the strides Bonaparte made towards a sovereignty that annihilated the sovereignty of his sovereign people. In a conference, however, with Talleyrand, at Lyons, in February, 1802, he was convinced that this age was not yet ripe for all the improvements our philosophers intended to confer on it; and that, to prevent it from retrogading to the point where it was found by our Revolution, it was necessary that it should be ruled by enlightened men, such as he and Bonaparte, to whom he advised him by all means never to give the least hint about liberty and equality. Our Minister ended his fraternal counsel with obliging Melzi to sign a stipulation for a yearly sum, as a douceur for the place he occupied.
The sweets of power shortly caused Melzi to forget both the tenets of his philosophy and his schemes of regeneration. He trusted so much to the promises of Bonaparte and Talleyrand, that he believed himself destined to reign for life, and was, therefore, not a little surprised when he was ordered by Napoleon the First to descend and salute Eugene de Beauharnais as the deputy Sovereign of the Sovereign King of Italy. He was not philosopher enough to conceal his chagrin, and bowed with such a bad grace to the new Viceroy that it was visible he would have preferred seeing in that situation an Austrian Archduke as a governor-general. To soften his disappointment, Bonaparte offered to make him a Prince, and with that rank indemnify him for breaking the promises given at Lyons, where it is known that the influence of Melzi, more than the intrigues of Talleyrand, determined the Italian Consulta in the choice of a president.
Immediately after Bonaparte's return to France, Melzi left Milan, and retired to an estate in Tuscany; from that place he wrote to Talleyrand a letter full of reproach, and concluded by asking leave to pass the remainder of his days in Spain among his relatives. An answer was presented him by an officer of Bonaparte's Gendarmes d'Elite, in which he was forbidden to quit Italy, and ordered to return with the officer to Milan, and there occupy his office of Arch-Chancellor to which he had been nominated. Enraged at such treatment, he endeavoured to kill himself with a dose of poison, but his attempt did not succeed. His health was, however, so much injured by it that it is not supposed he can live long. What, a lesson for reformers and innovators!
PARIS, September, 1805.
MY LORD:—A ridiculous affair lately occasioned a great deal of bustle among the members of our foreign diplomatic corps. When Bonaparte demanded for himself and for his wife the title of Imperial Majesty, and for his brothers and sisters that of Imperial Highness, he also insisted on the salutation of a Serene Highness being given to his Arch-Chancellor, Cambaceres, and his Arch-Treasurer, Lebrun. The political consciences of the independent representatives of independent Continental Princes immediately took the alarm at the latter innovation, as the appellation of Serene Highness has never hitherto been bestowed on persons who had not princely rank. They complained to Talleyrand, they petitioned Bonaparte, and they even despatched couriers to their respective Courts. The Minister smiled, the Emperor cursed, and their own Cabinets deliberated. All routs, all assemblies, all circles, and all balls were at a stop. Cambaceres applied to his Sovereign to support his pretensions, as connected with his own dignity; and the diplomatic corps held forward their dignity as opposing the pretensions of Cambaceres. In this dilemma Bonaparte ordered all the Ambassadors, Ministers, envoys, and agents 'en masse' to the castle of the Tuileries. After hearing, with apparent patience, their arguments in favour of established etiquette and customs, he remained inflexible, upon the ground that he, as master, had a right to confer what titles he chose within his own dominions on his own subjects; and that those foreigners who refused to submit to his regulations might return to their own country. This plain explanation neither effecting a conversion nor making any, impression, he grew warm, and left the refractory diplomatists with these remarkable words: "Were I to create my Mameluke Rostan a King, both you and your masters should acknowledge him in that rank."
After this conference most of Their Excellencies were seized with terror and fear, and would, perhaps, have subscribed to the commands of our Emperor had not some of the wisest among them proposed, and obtained the consent of the rest, to apply, once more to Talleyrand, and purchase by some douceur his assistance in this great business. The heart of our Minister is easily softened; and he assented, upon certain conditions, to lay the whole before his Sovereign in such a manner that Cambaceres should be made a Prince as well as a Serene Highness.
It is said that Bonaparte was not easily persuaded to this measure, and did not consent to it before the Minister remarked that his condescension in this insignificant opposition to his will would proclaim his moderation and generosity, and empower him to insist on obedience when matters of the greatest consequence should be in question or disputed. Thus our regicide, Cambaceres, owes his princely title to the shallow intrigues of the agents of legitimate Sovereigns. Their nicety in talking of innovations with regard to him, after they had without difficulty hailed a sans-culotte an Emperor, and other sans-culottes Imperial Highnesses, was as absurd as improper. Report, however, states, what is very probable, that they were merely the duped tools of Cambaceres's ambition and vanity, and of Talleyrand's corruption and cupidity.
Cambaceres expected to have been elevated to a Prince on the same day that he was made a Serene Highness; but Joseph Bonaparte represented to his brother that too many other princedoms would diminish the respect and value of the princedoms of the Bonaparte family. Cambaceres knew that Talleyrand had some reason at that period to be discontented with Joseph, and, therefore, asked his advice how to get made a Prince against the wishes of this Grand Elector. After some consideration, the Minister replied that he was acquainted with one way, which would, with his support, certainly succeed; but it required a million of livres to set the wheels in motion, and keep them going afterwards. The hint was taken, and an agreement signed for one million, payable on the day when the princely patent should be delivered to the Arch-Chancellor.
Among the mistresses provided by our Minister for the members of the foreign diplomatic corps, Madame B——s is one of the ablest in the way of intrigue. She was instructed to alarm her 'bon ami', the Bavarian Minister, Cetto, who is always bustling and pushing himself forward in the grand questions of etiquette. A fool rather than a rogue, and an intriguer while he thinks himself a negotiator, he was happy to have this occasion to prove his penetrating genius and astonishing information. A convocation of the diplomatic corps was therefore called, and the suggestions of Cetto were regarded as an inspiration, and approved, with a resolution to persevere unanimously. At their first audience with Talleyrand on this subject, he seemed to incline in their favour; but, as soon as he observed how much they showed themselves interested about this trifling punctilio, it occurred to him that they, as well as Cambaceres, might in some way or other reward the service he intended to perform. Madame B——s was again sent for; and she once more advised her lover, who again advised his colleagues. Their scanty purses were opened, and a subscription entered into for a very valuable diamond, which, with the millions of the Arch-Chancellor, gave satisfaction to all parties; and even Joseph Bonaparte was reconciled, upon the consideration that Cambaceres has no children, and that, therefore, the Prince will expire with the Grand Officer of State.
Cambaceres, though before the Revolution a nobleman of a Parliamentary family, was so degraded and despised for his unnatural and beastly propensities, that to see him in the ranks of rebellion was not unexpected. Born in Languedoc, his countrymen were the first to suffer from his revolutionary proceedings, and reproached him as one of the most active instruments of persecution against the clergy of Toulouse, and as one of the causes of all the blood that flowed in consequence. A coward as well as a traitor, after the death of Louis XVI. he never dared ascend the tribune of the National Convention, but always gave a silent vote to all the atrocious laws proposed and carried by Marat, Robespierre, and their accomplices. It was in 1795, when the Reign of Terror had ceased, that he first displayed his zeal for anarchy, and his hatred to royalty; his contemptible and disgusting vices were, however, so publicly reprobated, that even the Directory dared not nominate him a Minister of Justice, a place for which he intrigued in vain, from 1796 to 1799; when Bonaparte, either not so scrupulous, or setting himself above the public opinion, caused him to be called to the Consulate; which, in 1802, was ensured him for life, but exchanged, in 1804, for the office of an Arch-Chancellor.
He is now worth thirty millions of livres—all honestly obtained by his revolutionary industry. Besides a Prince, a Serene Highness, an Arch-Chancellor, a grand officer of the Legion of Honour, he is also a Knight of the Prussian Black Eagle! For his brother, who was for a long time an emigrant clergyman, and whom he then renounced as a fanatic, he has now procured the Archbishopric of Rouen and a Cardinal's hat. His Eminence is also a grand officer of the Legion of Honour in France, and a Pope in petto at Rome.
PARIS, September, 1805.
MY LORD:—No Sovereign Prince has more incurred the hatred of Bonaparte than the present King of Sweden; and I have heard from good authority that our Government spares neither bribes nor intrigues to move the tails of those factions which were dissolved, but not crushed, after the murder of Gustavus III. The Swedes are generally brave and loyal, but their history bears witness that they are easily misled; all their grand achievements are their own, and the consequence of their national spirit and national valour, while all their disasters have been effected by the influence of foreign gold and of foreign machinations. Had they not been the dupes of the plots and views of the Cabinets of Versailles and St. Petersburg, their country might have been as powerful in the nineteenth century as it was in the seventeenth.
That Gustavus IV. both knew the danger of Europe, and indicated the remedy, His Majesty's notes, as soon as he came of age, presented by the able and loyal Minister Bildt to the Diet of Ratisbon, evince. Had they been more attended to during 1798 and 1799, Bonaparte would not, perhaps, have now been so great, but the Continent would have remained more free and more independent. They were the first causes of our Emperor's official anger against the Cabinet of Stockholm.
When, however, His Swedish Majesty entered into the Northern league, his Ambassador, Baron Ehrensward, was for some time treated with no insults distinct or different from those to which all foreign diplomatic agents have been accustomed during the present reign; but when he demanded reparation for the piracies committed during the last war by our privateers on the commerce of his nation, the tone was changed; and when his Sovereign, in 1803, was on a visit to his father-in-law, the Elector of Baden, and there preferred the agreeable company of the unfortunate Duc d'Enghien to the society of our Minister, Baron Ehrensward never entered Napoleon's diplomatic circle or Madame Napoleon's drawing-room without hearing rebukes and experiencing disgusts. One day, when more than usually attacked, he said, on leaving the apartment, to another Ambassador, and in the hearing of Duroc, "that it required more real courage to encounter with dignity and self-command unbecoming provocations, which the person who gave them knew could not be resented, than to brave a death which the mouths of cannon vomit or the points of bayonets inflict." Duroc reported to his master what he heard, and but for Talleyrand's interference, the Swedish Ambassador would, on the same night, have been lodged in the Temple. Orders were already given to that purpose, but were revoked.
This Baron Ehrensward, who is also a general in the service of his country, has almost from his youth passed his time at Courts; first in his own country, and afterwards in Spain, where he resided twelve years as our Ambassador. Frank as a soldier, but also polite as a courtier, he was not a little surprised at the new etiquette of our new court, and at the endurance of all the members of the diplomatic corps, of whom hardly one had spirit enough to remember that he was the representative of one, at least nominally, independent Prince or State. It must be added that he was the only foreign diplomatist, with Count Markof, who was not the choice of our Cabinet, and, therefore, was not in our secrets.
As soon as His Swedish Majesty heard of the unexpected and unlawful seizure of the Duc d'Enghien, he wrote a letter with his own hand to Bonaparte, which he sent by his adjutant-general, Tawast; but this officer arrived too late, and only in time to hear of the execution of the Prince he intended to save, and the indecent expressions of Napoleon when acquainted with the object of his mission. Baron Ehrensward was then recalled, and a Court mourning was proclaimed by Gustavus IV., as well as by Alexander the First, for the lamented victim of the violated laws of nations and humanity. This so, enraged our ruler that General Caulincourt (the same who commanded the expedition which crossed the Rhine and captured the Duc d' Enghien) was engaged to head and lead fifty other banditti, who were destined to pass in disguise into Baden, and to bring the King of Sweden a prisoner to this capital. Fortunately, His Majesty had some suspicion of the attempt, and removed to a greater distance from our frontiers than Carlsruhe. So certain was our Government of the success of this shameful enterprise, that our charge d'affaires in Sweden was preparing to engage the discontented and disaffected there for the convocation of a diet and the establishment of a regency.
According to the report in our diplomatic circle. Bonaparte and Talleyrand intended nevermore to, release their royal captive when once in their power; but, after forcing him to resign the throne to his son, keep him a prisoner for the remainder of his days, which they would have taken care should not have been long. The Duke of Sudermania was to have been nominated a regent until the majority of the young King, not yet six years of age. The Swedish diets were to recover that influence, or, rather, that licentiousness, to which Gustavus III., by the revolution of the 19th of August, 1772, put an end. All exiled regicides, or traitors, were to be recalled, and a revolutionary focus organized in the North, equally threatening Russia and Denmark. The dreadful consequences of such an event are incalculable. Thanks to the prudence of His Swedish Majesty, all these schemes evaporated in air.
Not being able to dethrone a Swedish Monarch, our Cabinet resolved to partition the Swedish territory, to which effect I am assured that proposals were last summer made to the Cabinets of St. Petersburg, Berlin, and Copenhagen. Swedish Finland was stated to have been offered to Russia, Swedish Pomerania to Prussia, and Scania and Blekinge to Denmark; but the overture was rejected.
The King of Sweden possesses both talents and information superior to most of his contemporaries, and he has surrounded himself with counsellors who, with their experience, make wisdom more firm, more useful, and more valuable. His chancellor, D'Ehrenheim, unites modesty with sagacity; he is a most able statesman, an accomplished gentleman, and the most agreeable of men. He knows the languages, as well as the constitutions, of every country in Europe, with equal perfection as his native tongue and national code. Had his Sovereign the same ascendency over the European politics as Christina had during the negotiation of the Treaty of Munster, other States would admire, and Sweden be proud of, another Axel Oxenstiern.
Count Fersen, who also has, and is worthy of, the confidence of his Prince, is a nobleman, the honour and pride of his rank. A colonel before the Revolution of the regiment Royal Suedois, in the service of my country, his principles were so well appreciated that he was entrusted by Louis XVI. and Marie Antoinette, when so many were so justly suspected, and served royalty in distress, at the risk of his own existence. This was so much the more generous in him as he was a foreigner, of one of the most ancient families, and one of the richest noblemen in his own country. To him Louis XVIII. is indebted for his life; and he brought consolation to the deserted Marie Antoinette even in the dungeon of the Conciergerie, when a discovery would have been a sentence of death. In 1797, he was appointed by his King plenipotentiary to the Congress of Rastadt, and arrived there just at the time when Bonaparte, after the destruction of happiness in Italy, had resolved on the ruin of liberty in Switzerland, and came there proud of past exploits and big with future schemes of mischief. His reception from the conquerer of Italy was such as might have been expected by distinguished loyalty from successful rebellion. He was told that the Congress of Rastadt was not his place! and this was true; for what can be common between honour and infamy, between virtue and vice? On his return to Sweden, Count Fersen was rewarded with the dignity of a Grand Officer of State.
Of another faithful and trusty counsellor of His Swedish Majesty, Baron d'Armfeldt, a panegyric would be pronounced in saying that he was the friend of Gustavus III. From a page to that chevalier of royalty he was advanced to the rank of general; and during the war with Russia, in 1789 and 1790, he fought and bled by the side of his Prince and benefactor. It was to him that his King said, when wounded mortally, by the hand of a regicide, at a masquerade in March, 1792, "Don't be alarmed, my friend. You know as well as myself that all wounds are not dangerous." Unfortunately, his were not of that description.
In the will of this great Monarch, Baron d'Armfeldt was nominated one of the guardians of his present Sovereign, and a governor of the capital; but the Duke Regent, who was a weak Prince, guided by philosophical adventurers, by Illuminati and Freemasons, most of whom had imbibed the French revolutionary maxims, sent him, in a kind of honourable exile, as an Ambassador to Italy. Shortly afterwards, under pretence of having discovered a conspiracy, in which the Baron was implicated, he was outlawed. He then took refuge in Russia, where he was made a general, and as such distinguished him self under Suwarow during the campaign of 1799. He was then recalled to his country, and restored to all his former places and dignities, and has never since ceased to merit and obtain the favour, friendship, and approbation of his King. He is said to be one of the Swedish general officers intended to serve in union with the Russian troops expected in Pomerania. Wherever he is employed, I am convinced that he will fight, vanquish, or perish like a hero. Last spring he was offered the place of a lieutenant-general in the Austrian service, which, with regard to salary and emoluments, is greatly superior to what he enjoys in Sweden; he declined it, however, because, with a warrior of his stamp, interest is the last consideration.
PARIS, September, 1805.
MY LORD:—Believe me, Bonaparte dreads more the liberty of the Press than all other engines, military or political, used by his rivals or foes for his destruction. He is aware of the fatal consequences all former factions suffered from the public exposure of their past crimes and future views; of the reality of their guilt, and of the fallacy of their boasts and promises. He does not doubt but that a faithful account of all the actions and intrigues of his Government, its imposition, fraud, duplicity, and tyranny, would make a sensible alteration in the public opinion; and that even those who, from motives of patriotism, from being tired of our revolutionary convulsions, or wishing for tranquillity, have been his adherents, might alter their sentiments when they read of enormities which must indicate insecurity, and prove to every one that he who waded through rivers of blood to seize power will never hesitate about the means of preserving it.
There is not a printing-office, from the banks of the Elbe to the Gulf of Naples, which is not under the direct or indirect inspection of our police agents; and not a bookseller in Germany, France, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Holland, or Switzerland, publishes a work which, if contrary to our policy or our fears, is not either confiscated, or purchased on the day it, makes its appearance. Besides our regular emissaries, we have persons travelling from the beginning to the end of the year, to pick up information of what literary productions are printing; of what authors are popular; of their political opinions and private circumstances. This branch of our haute police extends even to your country.
Before the Revolution, we had in this capital only two daily papers, but from 1789 to 1799 never less than thirty, and frequently sixty journals were daily printed. After Bonaparte had assumed the consular authority, they were reduced to ten. But though these were under a very strict inspection of our Minister of Police, they were regarded still as too numerous, and have lately been diminished to eight, by the incorporation of 'Le Clef du Cabinet' and 'Le Bulletin de l'Europe' with the 'Gazette de France', a paper of which the infamously famous Barrere is the editor. According to a proposal of Bonaparte, it was lately debated in the Council of State whether it would not be politic to suppress all daily prints, with the sole exception of the Moniteur. Fouche and Talleyrand spoke much in favour of this measure of security. Real, however, is said to have suggested another plan, which was adopted; and our Government, instead of prohibiting the appearance of our daily papers, has resolved by degrees to purchase them all, and to entrust them entirely to the direction of Barrere, who now is consulted in everything concerning books or newspapers.
All circulation of foreign papers is prohibited, until they have previously obtained the stamp of approbation from the grand literary censor, Barrere. Any person offending against this law is most severely punished. An American gentlemen, of the name of Campbell, was last spring sent to the Temple for lending one of your old daily papers to a person who lodged in the same hotel with him. After an imprisonment of ten weeks he made some pecuniary sacrifices to obtain his liberty, but was carried to Havre, under an escort of gendarmes, put on board a neutral vessel, and forbidden, under pain of death, ever to set his foot on French ground again. An American vessel was, about the same time, confiscated at Bordeaux, and the captain and crew imprisoned, because some English books were found on board, in which Bonaparte, Talleyrand, Fouche, and some of our great men were rather ill-treated. The crew have since been liberated, but the captain has been brought here, and is still in the Temple. The vessel and the cargo have been sold as lawful captures, though the captain has proved from the names written in the books that they belonged to a passenger. A young German student in surgery, who came here to improve himself, has been nine months in the same state prison, for having with him a book, printed in Germany during Bonaparte's expedition to Egypt, wherein the chief and the undertaking are ridiculed. His mother, the widow of a clergyman, hearing of the misfortune of her son, came here, and has presented to the Emperor and Empress half a dozen petitions, without any effect whatever, and has almost ruined herself and her other children by the expenses of the journey. During a stay of four months she has not yet been able to gain admittance into the Temple, to visit or see her son, who perhaps expired in tortures, or died brokenhearted before she came here.
A dozen copies of a funeral sermon on the Duc d'Enghien had found their way here, and were secretly circulated for some time; but at last the police heard of it, and every person who was suspected of having read them was arrested. The number of these unfortunate persons, according to some, amounted to one hundred and thirty, while others say that they were only eighty-four, of whom twelve died suddenly in the Temple, and the remainder were transported to Cayenne; upwards of half of them were women, some of the ci-devant highest rank among subjects.
A Prussian, of the name of Bulow, was shot as a spy in the camp of Boulogne, because in his trunk was an English book, with the lives of Bonaparte and of some of his generals. Every day such and other examples of the severity of our Government are related; and foreigners who visit us continue, nevertheless, to be off their guard. They would be less punished had they with them forged bills than, printed books or newspapers, in which our Imperial Family and public functionaries are not treated with due respect. Bonaparte is convinced that in every book where he is not spoken of with praise, the intent is to blame him; and such intents or negative guilt never escape with impunity.
As, notwithstanding the endeavours of our Government, we are more fond of foreign prints, and have more confidence in them than in our own, official presses have lately been established at Antwerp, at Cologne, and at Mentz, where the 'Gazette de Leyden', 'Hamburg Correspondenten', and 'Journal de Frankfort' are reprinted; some articles left out, and others inserted in their room. It was intended to reprint also the 'Courier de Londres', but our types, and particularly, our paper, would detect the fraud. I have read one of our own Journal de Frankfort, in which were extracts from this French paper, printed in your country, which I strongly suspect are of our own manufacture. I am told that several new books, written by foreigners, in praise of our present brilliant Government, are now in the presses of those our frontier towns, and will soon be laid before the public as foreign productions.
A clerk of a banking-house had lately the imprudence to mention, during his dinner at the restaurateur's of 'Cadran Vert', on the Boulevards, some doubt of the veracity of an official article in the 'Moniteur'. As he left the house he was arrested, carried before Fouche, accused of being an English agent, and before supper-time he was on the road to Rochefort on his way to Cayenne. As soon as the banker Tournon was informed of this expeditious justice, as it is called here, he waited on Fouche, who threatened even to transport him if he dared to interfere with the transactions of the police. This banker was himself seized in the spring of last year by a police agent and some gendarmes, and carried into exile forty leagues from this capital, where he remained six. months, until a pecuniary douceur procured him a recall. His crime was having inquired after General Moreau when in the Temple, and of having left his card there.
PARIS, September, 1805.
MY LORD:—The Prince Borghese has lately been appointed a captain of the Imperial Guard of his Imperial brother-in-law, Napoleon the First, and is now in Germany, making his first campaign. A descendant of a wealthy and ancient Roman family, but born with a weak understanding, he was easily deluded into the ranks of the revolutionists of his own country, by a Parisian Abbe, his instructor and governor, and gallant of the Princesse Borghese, his mother. He was the first secretary of the first Jacobin club established at Rome, in the spring of 1798; and in December of the same year, when the Neapolitan troops invaded the Ecclesiastical States, he, with his present brother-in-law, another hopeful Roman Prince, Santa Cruce, headed the Roman sans-culottes in their retreat. To show his love of equality, he had previously served as a common man in a company of which the captain was a fellow that sold cats' meat and tripe in the streets of Rome, and the lieutenant a scullion of his mother's kitchen. Since Imperial aristocracy is now become the order of the day, he is as insupportable for his pride and vanity as he, some years ago, was contemptible for his meanness. He married, in 1803, Madame Leclerc, who, between the death of a first and a wedding with a second husband—a space of twelve months—had twice been in a fair way to become a mother. Her portion was estimated at eighteen millions of livres—a sum sufficient to palliate many 'faux pas' in the eyes of a husband more sensible and more delicate than her present Serene Idiot, as she styles the Prince Borghese.
The lady is the favourite sister of Napoleon, the ablest, but also the most wicked of the female Bonapartes. She had, almost from her infancy, passed through all the filth of prostitution, debauchery, and profligacy before she attained her present elevation; rank, however, has not altered her morals, but only procured her the means of indulging in new excesses. Ever since the wedding night the Prince Borghese has been excluded from her bed; for she declared frankly to him, as well as to her brother, that she would never endure the approach of a man with a bad breath; though many who, from the opportunities they have had of judging, certainly ought to know, pretend that her own breath is not the sweetest in the world. When her husband had marched towards the Rhine, she asked her brother, as a favour, to procure the Prince Borghese, after a useless life, a glorious death. This curious demand of a wife was, made in Madame Bonaparte's drawing-room, in the presence of fifty persons. "You are always 'etourdie'," replied Napoleon, smiling.
If Bonaparte, however, overlooks the intrigues of his sisters, he is not so easily pacified when any reports reach him inculpating the virtues of his sisters-in-law. Some gallants of Madame Joseph Bonaparte have already disappeared to return no more, or are wandering in the wilds of Cayenne; but the Emperor is particularly attentive to everything concerning the morality of Madame Louis, whose descendants are destined to continue the Bonaparte dynasty. Two officers, after being cashiered, were, with two of Madame Louis's maids, shut up last month in the Temple, and have not since been heard of, upon suspicion that the Princess preferred their society to that of her husband.
Louis Bonaparte, whose constitution has been much impaired by his debaucheries, was, last July, advised by his physicians to use the baths at St. Amand. After his wife had accompanied him as far as Lille, she went to visit one of her friends, Madame Ney, the wife of General Ney, who commanded the camp near Montreuil. This lady resided in a castle called Leek, in the vicinity, where dinners, concerts, balls, and other festivities celebrated the arrival of the Princess; and to these the principal officers of the camp were invited. One morning, about an hour after the company had retired to bed, the whole castle was disturbed and alarmed by an uproar in the anteroom of Princesse Louis's bedchamber. On coming to the scene of riot, two officers were found there fighting, and the Princesse Louis, more than half undressed, came out and called the sentries on duty to separate the combatants, who were both wounded. This affair occasioned great scandal; and General Ney, after having put the officers under arrest, sent a courier to Napoleon at Boulogne, relating the particulars and demanding His Majesty's orders. It was related and believed as a fact that the quarrel originated about two of the maids of the Princess (whose virtue was never suspected), with whom the officers were intriguing. The Emperor ordered the culprits to be broken and delivered up to his Minister of Police, who knew how to proceed. The Princesse Louis also received an invitation to join her sister-in-law, Madame Murat, then in the camp at Boulogne, and to remain under her care until her husband's return from St. Amand.
General Murat was then at Paris, and his lady was merely on a visit to her Imperial brother, who made her responsible for Madame Louis, whom he severely reprimanded for the misconduct of her maids. The bedrooms of the two sisters were on the same floor. One night, Princesse Louis thought she heard the footsteps of a person on the staircase, not like those of a female, and afterwards the door of Madame Murat's room opened softly. This occurrence deprived her of all desire to sleep; and curiosity, or perhaps revenge, excited her to remove her doubts concerning the virtue of her guardian. In about an hour afterwards, she stole into Madame Murat's bedroom, by the way of their sitting-room, the door in the passage being bolted. Passing her hand over the pillow, she almost pricked herself with the strong beard of a man, and, screaming out, awoke her sister, who inquired what she could want at such an unusual hour.
"I believe," replied the Princess, "my room is haunted. I have not shut my eyes, and intended to ask for a place by your side, but I find it is already engaged:
"My maid always sleeps with me when my husband is absent," said Madame Murat.
"It is very rude of your maid to go to bed with her mistress without first shaving herself," said the Princess, and left the room.
The next morning an explanation took place; the ladies understood each other, and each, during the remaining part of her husband's absence, had for consolation a maid for a bedfellow. Madame Murat also convinced the Emperor that his suspicions with regard to the Princesse Louis were totally unfounded; and he with some precious presents, indemnified her for his harsh treatment.
It is reported that the two maids of the Princesse Louis, when before Fouche, first denied all acquaintance with the officers; but, being threatened with tortures, they signed a 'proces verbal', acknowledging their guilt. This valuable and authentic document the Minister sent by an extra courier to the Emperor, who showed it to his stepdaughter. Her generosity is proverbial here, and therefore nobody is surprised that she has given a handsome sum of money to the parents of her maids, who had in vain applied to see their children; Fouche having told them that affairs of State still required their confinement. One of them, Mariothe, has been in the service of the Princess ever since her marriage, and is known to possess all her confidence; though during that period of four years she has twice been in a state of pregnancy, through the condescending attention of her princely master.
PARIS, September, 1805.
MY LORD:—When preparations were made for the departure of our army of England for Germany, it excited both laughter and murmuring among the troops. Those who had always regarded the conquest of England as impracticable in present circumstances, laughed, and those who had in their imagination shared the wealth of your country, showed themselves vexed at their disappointment. To keep them in good spirits, the company of the theatre of the Vaudevilles was ordered from hence to Boulogne, and several plays, composed for the occasion, were performed, in which the Germans were represented as defeated, and the English begging for peace on their knees, which the Emperor of the French grants upon condition that one hundred guineas ready money should be paid to each of his soldiers and sailors. Every corps in its turn was admitted gratis to witness this exhibition of the end of all their labours; and you can form no idea what effect it produced, though you are not a stranger to our fickle and inconsiderate character. Ballads, with the same predictions and the same promises, were written and distributed among the soldiers, and sung by women sent by Fouche to the coast. As all productions of this sort were, as usual, liberally rewarded by the Emperor, they poured in from all parts of his Empire.
Three poets and authors of the theatre of the Vaudevilles, Barrel, Radet, and Desfontaines, each received two hundred napoleons d'or for their common production of a ballad, called "Des Adieux d'un Grenadier au Camp de Boulogne." From this I have extracted the following sample, by which you may judge of the remainder:
THE GRENADIER'S ADIEU
TO THE CAMP AT BOULOGNE
The drum is beating, we must march, We're summon'd to another field, A field that to our conq'ring swords Shall soon a laurel harvest yield. If English folly light the torch Of war in Germany again The loss is theirs—the gain is ours March! march! commence the bright campaign.
There, only by their glorious deeds Our chiefs and gallant bands are known; There, often have they met their foes, And victory was all their own: There, hostile ranks, at our approach, Prostrate beneath our feet shall bow; There, smiling conquest waits to twine A laurel wreath round every brow.
Adieu, my pretty turf-built hut * Adieu, my little garden, too! I made, I deck'd you all myself, And I am loth to part with you: But since my arms I must resume, And leave your comforts all behind, Upon the hostile frontier soon My tent shall flutter in the wind.
My pretty fowls and doves, adieu! Adieu, my playful cat, to thee! Who every morning round me came, And were my little family. But thee, my dog, I shall not leave No, thou shalt ever follow me, Shalt share my toils, shaft share my fame For thou art called VICTORY.
But no farewell I bid to you, Ye prams and boats, which, o'er the wave, Were doom'd to waft to England's shore Our hero chiefs, our soldiers brave. To you, good gentlemen of Thames, Soon, soon our visit shall be paid, Soon, soon your merriment be o'er 'T is but a few short hours delay'd.
* During the long continuance of the French encampment at Boulogne the troops had formed, as it were, a romantic town of huts. Every hut had a garden surrounding it, kept in neat order and stocked with vegetables and flowers. They had, besides, fowls, pigeons, and rabbits; and these, with a cat and a dog, generally formed the little household of every soldier.
As I am writing on the subject of poetical agents, I will also say some words of our poetical flatterers, though the same persons frequently occupy both the one office and the other. A man of the name of Richaud, who has sung previously the glory of Marat and Robespierre, offered to Bonaparte, on the evening preceding his departure for Strasburg, the following lines; and was in return presented with a purse full of gold, and an order to the Minister of the Interior, Champagny, to be employed in his offices, until better provided for.
ON THE RUMOUR OF A WAR WITH AUSTRIA
Kings who, so often vanquish'd, vainly dare Menace the victor that has laid you low— Look now at France—and view your own despair In the majestic splendour of your foe.
What miserable pride, ye foolish kings, Still your deluded reason thus misleads? Provoke the storm—the bolt with lightning wings Shall fall—but fall on your devoted heads.
And thou, Napoleon, if thy mighty sword Shall for thy people conquer new renown; Go—Europe shall attest, thy heart preferr'd The modest olive to the laurel crown.
But thee, lov'd chief, to new achievements bold
The aroused spirit of the soldier calls; Speak!—and Vienna cowering shall behold Our banners waving o'er her prostrate walls.
I received, four days afterwards, at the circle of Madame Joseph Bonaparte, with all other visitors, a copy of these stanzas. Most of the foreign Ambassadors were of the party, and had also a share of this patriotic donation. Count von Cobenzl had prudently absented himself; otherwise, this delenda of the Austrian Carthage would have been officially announced to him.
Another poetaster, of the name of Brouet, in a long, dull, disgusting poem, after comparing Bonaparte with all great men of antiquity, and proving that he surpasses them all, tells his countrymen that their Emperor is the deputy Divinity upon earth—the mirror of wisdom, a demi-god to whom future ages will erect statues, build temples, burn incense, fall down and adore. A proportionate share of abuse is, of course, bestowed on your nation. He says:
A Londres on vit briller d'un eclat ephemere Le front tout radieux d'un ministre influent; Mais pour faire palir l'etoile d'Angleterre, Un SOLEIL tout nouveau parut au firmament, Et ce soleil du peuple franc Admire de l'Europe entiere Sur la terre est nomme BONAPARTE LE GRAND.
For this delicate compliment Brouet was made deputy postmaster-general in Italy, and a Knight of the Legion of Honour. It must be granted that, if Bonaparte is fond of flattery, he does not receive it gratis, but pays for it like a real Emperor.
It has lately become the etiquette, not only in our Court circle and official assemblies, but even in fashionable societies of persons who are, or wish to become, Bonaparte's public functionaries, to distribute and have read and applauded these disinterested effusions of our poetical geniuses. This fashion occasioned lately a curious blunder at a tea-party in the hotel of Madame de Talleyrand. The same printer who had been engaged by this lady had also been employed by Chenier, or some other poet, to print a short satire against several of our literary ladies, in which Madame de Genlis and Madame de Stael (who has just arrived here from her exile) were, with others, very severely handled. By mistake, a bundle of this production was given to the porter of Madame de Talleyrand, and a copy was handed to each visitor, even to Madame de Genlis and Madame de Stael, who took them without noticing their contents. Picard, after reading an act of a new play, was asked by the lady of the house to read this poetic worship of the Emperor of the French. After the first two lines he stopped short, looking round him confused, suspecting a trick had been played upon him. This induced the audience to read what had been given them, and Madame de Talleyrand with the rest; who, instead of permitting Picard to continue with another. scene of his play, as he had adroitly begun, made the most awkward apology in the world, and by it exposed the ladies still more who were the objects of the satire; which, an hour afterwards, was exchanged for the verses intended for the homage of the Emperor, and the cause of the error was cleared up.
I have read somewhere of a tyrant of antiquity who forced all his subjects to furnish one room of their houses in the best possible manner, according to their circumstances, and to have it consecrated for the reception of his bust, before which, under pain of death, they were commanded to prostrate themselves, morning, noon, and night. They were to enter this room, bareheaded and barefooted, to remain there only on their knees, and to leave it without turning their back towards the sacred representative of their Prince. All laughing, sneezing, coughing, speaking, or even whispering, were capitally prohibited; but crying was not only permitted, but commanded, when His Majesty was offended, angry, or unwell. Should our system of cringing continue progressively to increase as it has done these last three years, we, too, shall very soon have rooms consecrated, and an idol to adore.
PARIS, September, 1805.
MY LORD:—Portugal has suffered more from the degraded state of Spain, under the administration of the Prince of Peace, than we have yet gained by it in France. Engaged by her, in 1793, in a war against its inclination and interest, it was not only deserted afterwards, but sacrificed. But for the dictates of the Court of Madrid, supported, perhaps, by some secret influence of the Court of St. James, the Court of Lisbon would have preserved its neutrality, and, though not a well-wisher of the French Republic, never have been counted among her avowed enemies.
In the peace of 1795, and in the subsequent treaty of 1796, which transformed the family compact of the French and Spanish Bourbons into a national alliance between France and Spain, there was no question about Portugal. In 1797, indeed, our Government condescended to receive a Portuguese plenipotentiary, but merely for the purpose of plundering his country of some millions of money, and to insult it by shutting up its representative as a State prisoner in the Temple. Of this violation of the laws of civilized nations, Spain never complained, nor had Portugal any means to avenge it. After four years of negotiation, and an expenditure of thirty millions, the imbecile Spanish premier supported demands made by our Government, which, if assented to, would have left Her Most Faithful Majesty without any territory in Europe, and without any place of refuge in America. Circumstances not permitting your country to send any but pecuniary succours, Portugal would have become an easy prey to the united Spanish and French forces, had the marauders agreed about the partition of the spoil. Their disunion, the consequence of their avidity, saved it from ruin, but not from pillage. A province was ceded to Spain, the banks and the navigation of a river to France, and fifty millions to the private purse of the Bonaparte family.
It might have been supposed that such renunciations, and such offerings, would have satiated ambition, as well as cupidity; but, though the Cabinet of Lisbon was in peace with the Cabinet of St. Cloud, the pretensions and encroachments of the latter left the former no rest. While pocketing tributes it required commercial monopolies, and when its commerce was favoured, it demanded seaports to ensure the security of its trade. Its pretensions rose in proportion to the condescensions of the State it, oppressed. With the money and the value of the diamonds which Portugal has paid in loans, in contributions, in requisitions, in donations, in tributes, and in presents, it might have supported, during ten years, an army of one hundred thousand men; and could it then have been worse situated than it has been since, and is still at this moment?
But the manner of extorting, and the individuals employed to extort, were more humiliating to its dignity and independence than the extortions themselves were injurious to its resources. The first revolutionary Ambassador Bonaparte sent thither evinced both his ingratitude and his contempt.
Few of our many upstart generals have more illiberal sentiments, and more vulgar and insolent manners, than General Lasnes. The son of a publican and a smuggler, he was a smuggler himself in his youth, and afterwards a postilion, a dragoon, a deserter, a coiner, a Jacobin, and a terrorist; and he has, with all the meanness and brutality of these different trades, a kind of native impertinence and audacity which shocks and disgusts. He seems to say, "I am a villain. I know that I am so, and I am proud of being so. To obtain the rank I possess I have respected no human laws, and I bid defiance to all Divine vengeance. I might be murdered or hanged, but it is impossible to degrade me. On a gibbet or in the palace of a Prince, seized by the executioner or dining with Sovereigns, I am, I will, and I must, always remain the same. Infamy cannot debase me, nor is it in the power of grandeur to exalt me." General, Ambassador, Field-marshal, First Consul, or Emperor, Lasnes will always be the same polluted, but daring individual; a stranger to remorse and repentance, as well as to honour and virtue. Where Bonaparte sends a banditto of such a stamp, he has resolved on destruction.
A kind of temporary disgrace was said to have occasioned Lasnes's first mission to Portugal. When commander of the consular guard, in 1802, he had appropriated to himself a sum of money from the regimental chest, and, as a punishment, was exiled as an Ambassador, as he said himself. His resentment against Bonaparte he took care to pour out on the Regent of Portugal. Without inquiring or caring about the etiquette of the Court of Lisbon, he brought the sans-culotte etiquette of the Court of the Tuileries with him, and determined to fraternize with a foreign and legitimate Sovereign, as he had done with his own sans-culotte friend and First Consul; and, what is the more surprising, he carried his point. The Prince Regent not only admitted him to the royal table, but stood sponsor to his child by a wife who had been two years his mistress before he was divorced from his first spouse, and with whom the Prince's consort, a Bourbon Princess and a daughter of a King, was also obliged to associate.
Avaricious as well as unprincipled, he pursued, as an Ambassador, his former business of a smuggler, and, instead of being ashamed of a discovery, proclaimed it publicly, deserted his post, was not reprimanded in France, but was, without apology, received back again in Portugal. His conduct afterwards could not be surprising. He only insisted that some faithful and able Ministers should be removed, and others appointed in their place, more complaisant and less honest.
New plans of Bonaparte, however, delivered Portugal from this plague; but what did it obtain in return?—another grenadier Ambassador, less brutal but more cunning, as abandoned but more dissimulating.
Gendral Junot is the son of a corn-chandler near the corn-market of this capital, and was a shopman to his father in 1789. Having committed some pilfering, he was turned out of the parental dwelling, and therefore lodged himself as an inmate of the Jacobin Club. In 1792, he entered, as a soldier, in a regiment of the army marching against the county of Nice; and, in 1793, he served before Toulon, where he became acquainted with Bonaparte, whom he, in January, 1794, assisted in despatching the unfortunate Toulonese; and with whom, also, in the autumn of the same year, he, therefore, was arrested as a terrorist.
In 1796, when commander-in-chief, Bonaparte made Junot his aide-de-camp; and in that capacity he accompanied him, in 1798, to Egypt. There, as well as in Italy, he fought bravely, but had no particular opportunity of distinguishing himself. He was not one of those select few whom Napoleon brought with him to Europe in 1799, but returned first to France in 1801, when he was nominated a general of division and commander of this capital, a place he resigned last year to General Murat.
His despotic and cruel behaviour while commander of Paris made him not much regretted. Fouche lost in him, indeed, an able support, but none of us here ever experienced from him justice, much less protection. As with all other of our modern public functionaries, without money nothing was obtained from him. It required as much for not doing any harm as if, in renouncing his usual vexatious oppressions, he had conferred benefits. He was much suspected of being, with Fouche, the patron of a gang of street robbers and housebreakers, who, in the winter of 1803, infested this capital, and who, when finally discovered, were screened from justice and suffered to escape punishment.
I will tell you what I personally have seen of him. Happening one evening to enter the rooms at Frascati, where the gambling-tables are kept, I observed him, undressed, out of regimentals, in company with at young man, who afterwards avowed himself an aide-de-camp of this general, and who was playing with rouleaux of louis d'or, supposed to contain fifty each, at Rouge et Noir. As long as he lost, which he did several times, he took up the rouleau on the table, and gave another from his pocket. At last he won, when he asked the bankers to look at their loss, and count the money in his rouleau before they paid him. On opening it, they found it contained one hundred bank-notes of one thousand livres each—folded in a manner to resemble the form and size of louis d'or. The bankers refused to pay, and applied to the company whether they were not in the right to do so, after so many rouleaux had been changed by the person who now required such an unusual sum in such an unusual manner. Before any answer could be given, Junot interfered, asking the bankers whether they knew who he was. Upon their answering in the negative, he said: "I am General Junot, the commander of Paris, and this officer who has won the money is my aide-de-camp; and I insist upon your paying him this instant, if you do not wish to have your bank confiscated and your persons arrested." They refused to part with money which they protested was not their own, and most of the individuals present joined them in their resistance. "You are altogether a set of scoundrels and sharpers," interrupted Junot; "your business shall soon be done."
So saying, he seized all the money on the table, and a kind of boxing-match ensued between him and the bankers, in which he, being a tall and strong man, got the better of them. The tumult, however, brought in the guard, whom he ordered, as their chief, to carry to prison sixteen persons he pointed out. Fortunately, I was not of the number—I say fortunately, for I have heard that most of them remained in prison six months before this delicate affair was cleared up and settled. In the meantime, Junot not only pocketed all the money he pretended was due to his aide-de-camp, but the whole sum contained in the bank, which was double that amount. It was believed by every one present that this was an affair arranged between him and his aide-de-camp beforehand to pillage the bank. What a commander, what a general, and what an Ambassador!
Fitte, the secretary of our Embassy to Portugal, was formerly an Abbe, and must be well remembered in your country, where he passed some years as an emigrant, but was, in fact, a spy of Talleyrand. I am told that, by his intrigues, he even succeeded in swindling your Ministers out of a sum of money by some plausible schemes he proposed to them. He is, as well as all other apostate priests, a very dangerous man, and an immoral and unprincipled wretch. During the time of Robespierre he is said to have caused the murder of his elder brother and younger sister; the former he denounced to appropriate to himself his wealth, and the latter he accused of fanaticism, because she refused to cohabit with him. He daily boasts of the great protection and great friendship of Talleyrand. 'Qualis rex, talis grex'.
PARIS, September, 1805.
MY LORD:—In some of the ancient Republics, all citizens who, in time of danger and trouble, remained neutral, were punished as traitors or treated as enemies. When, by our Revolution, civilized society and the European Commonwealth were menaced with a total overthrow, had each member of it been considered in the same light, and subjected to the same laws, some individual States might, perhaps, have been less wealthy, but the whole community would have been more happy and more tranquil, which would have been much better. It was a great error in the powerful league of 1793 to admit any neutrality at all; every Government that did not combat rebellion should have been considered and treated as its ally. The man who continues neutral, though only a passenger, when hands are wanted to preserve the vessel from sinking, deserves to be thrown overboard, to be swallowed up by the waves and to perish the first. Had all other nations been united and unanimous, during 1793 and 1794, against the monster, Jacobinism, we should not have heard of either Jacobin directors, Jacobin consuls, or a Jacobin Emperor. But then, from a petty regard to a temporary profit, they entered into a truce with a revolutionary volcano, which, sooner or later, will consume them all; for I am afraid it is now too late for all human power, with all human means, to preserve any State, any Government, or any people, from suffering by the threatening conflagration. Switzerland, Venice, Geneva, Genoa, and Tuscany have already gathered the poisoned fruits of their neutrality. Let but Bonaparte establish himself undisturbed in Hanover some years longer, and you will see the neutral Hanse Towns, neutral Prussia, and neutral Denmark visited with all the evils of invasion, pillage, and destruction, and the independence of the nations in the North will be buried in the rubbish of the liberties of the people of the South of Europe.
These ideas have frequently occurred to me, on hearing our agents pronounce, and their dupes repeat: "Oh! the wise Government of Denmark! Oh, what a wise statesman the Danish Minister, Count von Bernstorff!" I do not deny that the late Count von Bernstorff was a great politician; but I assert, also, that his was a greatness more calculated for regular times than for periods of unusual political convulsion. Like your Pitt, the Russian Woronzow, and the Austrian Colloredo, he was too honest to judge soundly and to act rightly, according to the present situation of affairs. He adhered too much to the old routine, and did not perceive the immense difference between the Government of a revolutionary ruler and the Government of a Louis XIII. or a Louis XIV. I am certain, had he still been alive, he would have repented of his errors, and tried to have repaired them.
His son, the present Danish Minister, follows his father's plans, and adheres, in 1805, to a system laid down by him in 1795; while the alterations that have occurred within these ten years have more affected the real and relative power and weakness of States than all the revolutions which have been produced by the insurrections, wars, and pacifications of the two preceding centuries. He has even gone farther, in some parts of his administration, than his father ever intended. Without remembering the political TRUTH, that a weak State which courts the alliance of a powerful neighbour always becomes a vassal, while desiring to become an ally, he has attempted to exchange the connections of Denmark and Russia for new ones with Prussia; and forgotten the obligations of the Cabinet of Copenhagen to the Cabinet of St. Petersburg, and the interested policy of the House of Brandenburgh. That, on the contrary, Russia has always been a generous ally of Denmark, the flourishing state of the Danish dominions since the beginning of the last century evinces. Its distance and geographical position prevent all encroachments from being feared or attempted; while at the same time it affords protection equally against the rivalry of Sweden and ambition of Prussia.
The Prince Royal of Denmark is patriotic as well as enlightened, and would rule with more true policy and lustre were he to follow seldomer the advice of his counsellors, and oftener the dictates of his own mind. Count von Schimmelmann, Count von Reventlow, and Count von Bernstorff, are all good and moral characters; but I fear that their united capacity taken together will not fill up the vacancy left in the Danish Cabinet by the death of its late Prime Minister. I have been personally acquainted with them all three, but I draw my conclusions from the acts of their administration, not from my own knowledge. Had the late Count von Bernstorff held the ministerial helm in 1803, a paragraph in the Moniteur would never have disbanded a Danish army in Holstein; nor would, in 1805, intriguers have been endured who preached neutrality, after witnessing repeated violation of the law of nations, not on the remote banks of the Rhine, but on the Danish frontiers, on the Danish territory, on the banks of the Elbe.
It certainly was no compliment to His Danish Majesty when our Government sent Grouvelle as a representative to Copenhagen, a man who owed his education and information to the Conde branch of the Bourbons, and who afterwards audaciously and sacrilegiously read the sentence of death on the chief of that family, on his good and legitimate King, Louis XVI. It can neither be called dignity nor prudence in the Cabinet of Denmark to suffer this regicide to serve as a point of rally to sedition and innovation; to be the official propagator of revolutionary doctrines, and an official protector of all proselytes and sectaries of this anti-social faith.
Before the Revolution a secretary to the Prince of Conde, Grouvelle was trusted and rewarded by His Serene Highness, and in return betrayed his confidence, and repaid benefactions and generosity with calumny and persecution, when his patron was obliged to seek safety in emigration against the assassins of successful rebellion. When the national seals were put on the estates of the Prince, he appropriated to himself not only the whole of His Highness's library, but a part of his plate. Even the wardrobe and the cellar were laid under contributions by this domestic marauder.
With natural genius and acquired experience, Grouvelle unites impudence and immorality; and those on whom he fixes for his prey are, therefore, easily duped, and irremediably undone. He has furnished disciples to all factions, and to all sects, assassins to the revolutionary tribunals, as well as victims for the revolutionary guillotine; sans-culottes to Robespierre, Septembrizers to Marat, republicans to the Directory, spies to Talleyrand, and slaves to Bonaparte, who, in 1800, nominated him a tribune, but in 1804 disgraced him, because he wished that the Duc d' Enghien had rather been secretly poisoned in Baden than publicly condemned and privately executed in France.
Our present Minister at the Court of Copenhagen, D' Aguesseau, has no virtues to boast of, but also no crimes to blush for. With inferior capacity, he is only considered by Talleyrand as an inferior intriguer, employed in a country ruled by an inferior policy, neither feared nor esteemed by our Government. His secretary, Desaugiers the elder, is our real and confidential firebrand in the North, commissioned to keep burning those materials of combustion which Grouvelle and others of our incendiaries have lighted and illuminated in Holstein, Denmark, Sweden, and Norway.
PARIS, October, 1805.
MY LORD:—The insatiable avarice of all the members of the Bonaparte family has already and frequently been mentioned; some of our philosophers, however, pretend that ambition and vanity exclude from the mind of Napoleon Bonaparte the passion of covetousness; that he pillages only to get money to pay his military plunderers, and hoards treasures only to purchase slaves, or to recompense the associates and instruments of his authority.
Whether their assertions be just or not, I will not take upon myself to decide; but to judge from the great number of Imperial and royal palaces, from the great augmentation of the Imperial and royal domains; from the immense and valuable quantity of diamonds, jewels, pictures, statues, libraries, museums, etc., disinterestedness and self-denial are certainly not among Napoleon's virtues.
In France, he not only disposes of all the former palaces and extensive demesnes of our King, but has greatly increased them, by national. property and by lands and estates bought by the Imperial Treasury, or confiscated by Imperial decrees. In Italy, he has, by an official act, declared to be the property of his crown, first, the royal palace at Milan, and a royal villa, which he now calls Villa Bonaparte; second, the palace of Monza and its dependencies; third, the palace of Mantua, the palace of The, and the ci-devant ducal palace of Modena; fourth, a palace situated in the vicinity of Brescia, and another palace in the vicinity of Bologna; fifth, the ci-devant ducal palaces of Parma and Placenza; sixth, the beautiful forest of Tesin. Ten millions were, besides, ordered to be drawn out of the Royal Treasury at Milan to purchase lands for the formation of a park, pleasure-grounds, etc.
To these are added all the royal palaces and domains of the former Kings of Sardinia, of the Dukes of Brabant, of the Counts of Flanders, of the German Electors, Princes, Dukes, Counts, Barons, etc., who, before the last war, were Sovereigns on the right bank of the Rhine. I have seen a list, according to which the number of palaces and chateaux appertaining to Napoleon as Emperor and King, are stated to be seventy-nine; so that he may change his habitations six times in the month, without occupying during the same year the same palace, and, nevertheless, always sleep at home.
In this number are not included the private chateaux and estates of the Empress, or those of the Princes and Princesses Bonaparte. Madame Napoleon has purchased, since her husband's consulate, in her own name, or in the name of her children, nine estates with their chateaux, four national forests, and six hotels at Paris. Joseph Bonaparte possesses four estates and chateaux in France, three hotels at Paris and at Brussels, three chateaux and estates in Italy, and one hotel at Milan, and another at Turin. Lucien Bonaparte has now remaining only one hotel at Paris, another at Bonne, and a third at Chambery. He has one estate in Burgundy, two in Languedoc, and one in the vicinity of this capital. At Bologna, Ferrara, Florence, and Rome, he has his own hotels, and in the Papal States he has obtained, in exchange for property in France, three chateaux with their dependencies. Louis Bonaparte has three hotels at Paris, one at Cologne, one at Strasburg, and one at Lyons. He has two estates in Flanders, three in Burgundy, one in Franche-Comte, and another in Alsace. He has also a chateau four leagues from this city. At Genoa he has a beautiful hotel, and upon the Genoese territory a large estate. He has bought three plantations at Martinico, and two at Guadeloupe. To Jerome Bonaparte has hitherto been presented only an estate in Brabant, and a hotel in this capital. Some of the former domains of the House of Orange, in the Batavian Republic, have been purchased by the agents of our Government, and are said to be intended for him.
But, while Napoleon Bonaparte has thus heaped wealth on his wife and his brothers, his mother and sisters have not been neglected or left unprovided for. Madame Bonaparte, his mother, has one hotel at Paris, one at Turin, one at Milan, and one at Rome. Her estates in France are four, and in Italy two. Madame Bacciochi, Princess of Piombino and Lucca, possesses two hotels in this capital, and one palace at Piombino and another at Lucca. Of her estates in France, she has only retained two, but she has three in the Kingdom of Italy, and four in her husband's and her own dominions. The Princess Santa Cruce possesses one hotel at Rome and four chateaux in the papal territory. At Milan she has, as well as at Turin and at Paris, hotels given her by her Imperial brother, together with two estates in France, one in Piedmont, and two in Lombardy. The Princesse Murat is mistress of two hotels here, one at Brussels, one at Tours, and one at Bordeaux, together with three estates on this, and five on the other side of the Alps. The Princesse Borghese has purchased three plantations at Guadeloupe, and two at Martinico, with a part of the treasures left her by her first husband, Leclerc. With her present husband she received two palaces at Rome, and three estates on the Roman territory; and her Imperial brother has presented her with one hotel at Paris, one at Cologne, one at Turin, and one at Genoa, together with three estates in France and five in Italy. For his mother, and for each of his sisters, Napoleon has also purchased estates, or lands to form estates, in their native island of Corsica.
The other near or distant relatives of the Emperor and King have also experienced his bounty. Cardinal Fesch has his hotels at Paris, Milan, Lyons, Turin, and Rome; with estates both in France and Italy. Seventeen, either first, second, or third cousins, by his father's or mother's side, have all obtained estates either in the French Empire, or in the Kingdom of Italy, as well as all brothers, sisters, or cousins of his own wife, and the wives of his brothers, or of the husbands of his sisters. Their exact number cannot well be known, but a gentleman who has long been collecting materials for some future history of the House of Bonaparte, and of the French Empire, has already shown me sixty-six names of individuals of that description, and of both sexes, who all, thanks to the Imperial liberality, have suddenly and unexpectedly become people of property.
When you consider that all these immense riches have been seized and distributed within the short period of five years, it is not hazardous to say that, in the annals of Europe, another such revolution in property, as well as in power, is not to be found.
The wealth of the families of all other Sovereigns taken together does not amount to half the value of what the Bonapartes have acquired and possess.
Your country, more than any other upon earth, has to be alarmed at this revolution of property. Richer than any other nation, you have more to apprehend; besides, it threatens you more, both as our frequent enemies and as our national rivals; as a barrier against our plans of universal dominion, and as our superiors in pecuniary resources. May we never live to see the day when the mandates of Bonaparte or Talleyrand are honoured at London, as at Amsterdam, Madrid, Milan, and Rome. The misery of ages to come will then be certain, and posterity will regard as comparative happiness, the sufferings of their forefathers. It is not probable that those who have so successfully pillaged all surrounding States will rest contented until you are involved in the same ruin. Union among yourselves only can preserve you from perishing in the universal wreck; by this you will at least gain time, and may hope to profit by probable changes and unexpected accidents.
PARIS, October, 1805.