At an opportune moment on one of these reviewing expeditions, Napoleon, surrounded by all the splendors of his power, was approached by a hurrying courier, who put into his hands despatches announcing the overthrow of the Sultan Selim. "It is a decree of Providence, announcing the end of Ottoman empire!" he cried. Thenceforth he talked incessantly of the Orient. As if inspired by prophetic fire, he sketched a missionary enterprise for the liberation and regeneration of Greece, and for the emancipation and reorganization of the lands and peoples on the Danube and in the Levant by distributing them among enlightened sovereigns. It was language identical with that which Catherine the Great employed to inspire her people and her descendants for Russia's policy. But the millennium must wait; for the present the barbarous Turks must be driven back, not by force, but by a steady, continuous application of the policy thus outlined; the consummation, when reached, would be permanent. For the moment more immediate and pressing matters must be settled; when Alexander should pay his promised visit to Paris they would have more abundant leisure to discuss ulterior plans. These dazzling prospects were a part of the Czar's consideration. He promised in return to conclude a separate peace with Turkey, which, in the absence of French support, he doubted not he could make most favorable. But in case the Porte should prove obdurate, a provisional plan of partition was drawn up to indicate approximately what Russia might expect.
As the days passed, a routine life was gradually established. The two emperors met privately in the morning, and chatted about every conceivable point, pacing the floor or bending with heads touching over the map of Europe to consider its coming divisions. Alexander had said at the outset that his prejudice against Napoleon disappeared at first sight, and later he exclaimed, "Why did we not meet sooner?" He now repudiated any fondness whatever for the "legitimate" politics of Europe; he had visited the Bourbon pretender, the so-called Louis XVIII, at Mittau, and had found him of no account; he even accepted the light suggestion of his new-found friend that the Russian councilor Budberg should have no share in the conferences, as being possibly too closely wedded to old ideas. "You be my secretary," said Napoleon, "and I will be yours." In the afternoon the King of Prussia, with his staff, was generally invited to join their cavalcade for a ride. The Emperor of the French gave in later years a malicious account of these jaunts. Himself a fearless though awkward horseman, he spurred his charger to full speed, and the Czar followed with glee, while the King, as timid in the saddle as in the cabinet, jounced and bounced, often knocking Napoleon's arms with his elbows. The French and Russian officers paired in good-fellowship, while the few Prussians rode together. Constantine gathered Murat, Berthier, and Grouchy about him, and treating them on equal terms, displayed the strongest proofs of his regard. The dinners which followed, though always large and stately, were made short, for the emperors wished to be alone as quickly and as long as possible. The Czar was full of curiosity. How did Napoleon win victories? How did he rule men? What were his family relations? How did he regulate his inner life? The Emperor was full of good humor: he told again and again the tale of his victories, and expounded the principles on which he had won them; he explained with candor and in detail the structure and workings of his administrative machine; he opened his heart, and told how its strings had been wrung by the death of the "Little Napoleon," the eldest son of Queen Hortense.
In such pleasant converse the hours of ease rolled swiftly by, and then the work of negotiation began once more. Where differences appeared, Napoleon evaded close discussion and passed to other matters. Next morning early, the Czar would receive a carefully worded, concise note on the points at issue, together with an argument. Sometimes he replied in writing, more frequently not. When they met again, Napoleon sought, or appeared to seek, a compromise, and never in vain. The council of ministers, in which there was not a single man of force except Talleyrand, received the conclusions from time to time, and elaborated the details.
THE TREATY OF TILSIT
[Footnote 11: References as before. Further: Lefebvre: Histoire des cabinets de l'Europe. Tatistcheff: Alexandre Ier et Napoleon. Ranke: Hardenberg und die Geschichte des Preussischen Staates von 1793-1813. Pingaud: Les Francais en Russie et les Russes en France.]
Two Equal Empires — Central Europe and the Orient — Prussia as a Second-rate Power — The Grand Duchy of Warsaw and the Kingdom of Westphalia — Napoleon and Frederick William — Queen Louisa of Prussia — The Meeting of Napoleon and Louisa — Courtesy and Diplomacy — The Bitterness of Disappointment — The Last Plea — Prussia's Humiliation — The Parting of the Emperors — Alexander's Disenchantment — Napoleon's Gains and Losses.
By such hitherto unknown simplicity and address diplomacy at Tilsit was rendered most expeditious. The negotiations were complete, the treaties drawn up, and the signatures affixed on July seventh. There were three different documents: a treaty of peace, a series of seven separate and secret articles, and a treaty of alliance. The first point gained by Napoleon was the recognition of all his conquests before 1805. The Czar admitted for the first time absolute equality between the two empires, and recognized the limits of the French system as it then existed: first, the Confederation of the Rhine, with any additions yet to be made; second, the kingdom of Italy, including Dalmatia; third, the vassalage of Holland, Berg, Naples, and Switzerland. There was a verbal understanding, it is said, that Napoleon might do as he liked in Spain and the Papal States, while the Czar should have the same liberty in regard to Finland. Subsequent events attested the probability of this statement. To illustrate Napoleon's attitude toward the recent, but now dissolved alliance, Prussia was given to understand that she owed to Russia what remnants of territory she retained; the stipulations with regard to her were therefore included in the treaty with Russia.
Still, there was to be a Prussia. Between the two great empires was to lie, in realization of a long-cherished plan, a girdle of neutral states like the "marches" established by Charles the Great. In this line Silesia was the only break. Prussia and Austria, one on each side of this mark, shorn of their strength and prestige, might await their destiny. France was to mediate for peace between Russia and Turkey, Russia between England and France. In case Great Britain should not prove tractable,—that is, admit the sanctity of all flags on the high seas, and restore all the colonies of France and her allies captured since 1805,—then Russia, in common with France, Denmark, Sweden, Portugal, and Austria, would declare commercial war on England, and complete the continental embargo on British trade. Should Turkey refuse favorable terms, the two empires would divide between them all her European lands except Rumelia and the district of Constantinople. Alexander afterward declared that Napoleon gave a verbal promise that Russia should have a substantial increment on the Danube. The rumor was that Bessarabia, Moldavia, Wallachia, and Bulgaria were indicated to the Czar as his share.
No mention was made of Austria, which the treaty of Presburg had sufficiently dismembered. But Prussia? In order to complete the great "march" between east and west, Silesia was essential. At first Napoleon thought of combining it with Prussian Poland to form a kingdom. This would not restore the real Poland, but it would create a Poland, and give him a Polish army. It was already decided that the Elbe should form Frederick William's western frontier; to weaken his strength still further would destroy all balance between Prussia and Austria. Moreover, Alexander made a tender appeal, and adroitly suggested a distasteful counter-proposition. Accordingly it was settled that the great province should remain Prussian. This was a large concession to the Czar.
To make some pretense of fulfilling the lavish but indefinite promises made to the Poles, the lands of Warsaw and the province of Posen, with a considerable tract not now contained in it, were erected into the grand duchy of Warsaw. Under the influence of historical reminiscence this was given, not as a province but as a separate sovereignty to the Elector of Saxony, who was simultaneously made king and a member of the Rhine Confederation. The Czar, in return for his cessions to the grand duchy of Warsaw, received the Prussian district of Bielostok. As a compensation for the Bocche di Cattaro and the Ionian Islands, Dantzic was restored to its position of a free city. The Prussian lands of the Elbe, together with Hesse-Cassel and many minor domains, were erected into the kingdom of Westphalia for the Emperor's brother Jerome. We have almost forgotten in our day how, less than a century ago, Germany was divided into insignificant fragments. It is instructive to recall that the formation of this new kingdom beneficently ended the separate existence of no fewer than twenty-four more or less autonomous powers—electorates, duchies, counties, bishoprics, and cities. It contained the all-important fortress of Magdeburg, the possession of whose frowning walls carried with it the command of the Elbe, and virtually made Prussia a conquered and tributary state.
This seemed to Frederick William the climax of his misfortunes. He had daily information from the Czar of what was under consideration, and the rescue of Silesia by his mediator gave him high hopes for the preservation of Magdeburg. But his poor-spirited behavior wearied even Alexander, who, willing at the outset to atone for desertion by intervention, became toward the end very cold. When the King desired permission to plead in person for Magdeburg, Napoleon refused. The Prussian case might be presented by counsel. Goltz was speedily summoned to the task, but though he was always about to have an interview with the French emperor, he never secured it.
It was at this crisis of Prussia's affairs that the King, after much urging, consented to summon his Queen. The rumors and insinuations concerning the Czar's undue admiration of her, so industriously spread by Napoleon, had made him over-sensitive; but as a last resort he felt the need of her presence. She came with a single idea—to make the cause of Magdeburg her own. She had suffered under the malicious innuendos of Napoleon regarding her character; she had shared the disgrace of the Berlin war party in the crushing defeat at Jena and Auerstaedt; she had been a wayfarer among a disgraced and helpless people; but her spirit was not broken, and she announced her visit with all the dignity of her station. The court carriage in which she drove, accompanied by her ladies in waiting, reached Tilsit on July sixth, and drew up before the door of the humble miller under whose roof were the rooms of her husband. Officers and statesmen were gathered to receive and encourage her with good advice; but she waved them away with an earnest call for quiet, so that she might collect her ideas.
In a moment Napoleon was announced. As he climbed the narrow stairway she rose to meet him. Friend and foe agree as to her beauty, her taste, and her manners; her presence, in a white dress embroidered with silver, and with a pearl diadem on her brow, was queenly. In her husband's apartments she was the hostess, and as such she apologized for the stair. "What would one not do for such an end!" gallantly replied the somewhat dazzled conqueror. The suppliant, after making a few respectful inquiries as to her visitor's welfare, and the effect of the Northern climate on his health, at once announced the object of her visit. Her manner was full of pathos and there were tears in her eyes as she recalled how her country had been punished for its appeal to arms, and for its mistaken confidence in the traditions of the great Frederick and his glory. The Emperor was abashed by the lofty strain of her address. So elevated was her mien that she overpowered him; for the instant his self-assurance fled, and he felt himself but a man of the people. He felt also the humiliation of the contrast, and was angry. Long afterward he confessed that she was mistress of the conversation, adding that she stood with her head thrown back like Mlle. Duchesnois in the character of Chimene, meaning by this comparison to stigmatize her attitude and language as theatrical. So effective was her appeal that he felt the need of something to save his own role, and accordingly he bowed her to a chair, and in the moment thus gained determined to strike the key of high comedy. Taking up the conversation in turn, he scrutinized the beauties of her person, and, complimenting her dress, asked whether the material was crape or India gauze. "Shall we talk of rags at such a solemn moment?" she retorted; and then proceeded with her direct plea for Magdeburg. In the midst of her eloquence, when the Emperor seemed almost overcome by her importunity, her meddling husband most inopportunely entered the room. He began to argue and reason, citing his threadbare grievance, the violation of Ansbach territory, and endeavoring to prove himself to be right. Napoleon at once turned the conversation to indifferent themes, and in a few moments took his leave. "You ask much," he said to the Queen on parting; "but I promise to think it over." The courageous woman had done her best, but her cause—if, indeed, it was ever in the balance—was lost from the moment she put her judge in an inferior position. Her majestic bearing was fine, but it was not diplomacy. She might, nevertheless, have succeeded had she been the wife of a wiser man. Long afterward Napoleon thought her influence on the negotiations would have been considerable if she had appeared in their earlier stages, and congratulated himself that she came too late, inasmuch as they were already virtually closed when she arrived.
The remainder of the day passed for the Queen in a whirl of excitement, receiving messengers from Napoleon with the pardons of Prussian prisoners and accepting polite attentions from his adjutants. She gladly consented to dine with Napoleon, and Berthier was chosen to escort her to his Emperor's lodging. On arrival she was received with distinction, and assigned at table to the seat of honor between the host and the Czar. The Emperor was all politeness, offering unwelcome consolations to Frederick William, and expressing astonishment at the Queen's courage. "Did you know my hussars nearly captured you?" he said to her. "I can scarcely believe it, sire," was the reply; "I did not see a single Frenchman." "But why expose yourself thus? Why did you not wait for me at Weimar?" "Indeed, sire, I was not eager." There is a tradition that Talleyrand, whose work the treaty really was, grew anxious and whispered to Napoleon later in the evening that surely he would not surrender the benefits of his greatest conquest for the sake of a pretty woman. Whether this admonition was given or not, the Emperor was respectful and polite, but non-committal. After dinner he conversed long with his fair guest. To her lady in waiting, the Countess Voss, he offered snuff—a singular mark of condescension. Next day, in a note to Josephine, he said that he had been compelled continually to stand on his guard; and the day following, July eighth, he again wrote to his Empress: "The Queen is really charming, using every art to please me; but be not jealous: I am like a waxed cloth from which all that glides off. It would cost me too much to play the gallant." The Emperor's courtesy had deceived the poor Queen entirely, and she is said to have returned to her husband's lodgings at Piktupoenen in the highest spirits.
On that very night, immediately after the dinner, the step she so much dreaded was taken, and orders were given to conclude the treaty as it stood. At the last hour Goltz secured his interview to plead the expectations awakened in the Queen, but the Emperor coldly explained that his conduct had been politeness, and nothing more; the house of Prussia might be glad to recover a crown at all. Talleyrand showed a completed and final draft of the treaty ready for signature, and said that his master was in haste, that in two days the documents would be signed. This was the news which greeted Louisa next morning. She returned at once to Tilsit, her eyes swollen with weeping; but she appeared in a stately dress, and with a smile on her lips. Again she was the object of the most distinguished courtesy from Napoleon's adjutants, but the expected visit from himself was not made. However, she was again the Emperor's honored guest at dinner. The host at once began to speak of her costume. "What, the Queen of Prussia with a turban! Surely not to gratify the Emperor of Russia, who is at war with the Turks!" "Rather, I think," replied the Queen, "to propitiate Rustan," rolling her large, full eyes toward the swarthy Mameluke behind his master's chair. She had the air, according to Napoleon's account, of an offended coquette. After the meal it was Murat who took the part filled the previous evening by the Emperor. "How does your Majesty pass the time at Memel?" "In reading." "What does your Majesty read?" "The history of the past." "But our own times afford actions worthy of commemoration." "It is already more than I can endure to live in them."
Before parting, Napoleon spent a few moments at her side, and at the end, turning, pulled from a bunch a beautiful rose, which he offered with gestures of gallantry and homage. Hesitating a moment, the Queen at last put out her hand, and said as she accepted it, "At least with Magdeburg." "Madame," came the frigid reply, "it is mine to give and yours to accept." But he gave his arm to conduct her to the carriage, and as they descended the stair together the disappointed guest said, in a sentimental and emotional voice, "Is it possible that, having had the happiness to see so near the man of the century and of all history, he will not afford me the possibility and the satisfaction of being able to assure him that he has put me under obligations for life?" With solemn tones Napoleon replied, "Madame, I am to be pitied; it is a fault of my unlucky star." Queen Louisa's own lady in waiting related that her sovereign's bitterness overcame her at the last, and as she stepped into the carriage she said, "Sire, you have cruelly deceived me." It is certain that next day she overwhelmed Duroc with reproaches; but she afterward frankly confessed that she could recall no definite promise made by Napoleon. To Talleyrand she said, with fine sarcasm, that only two persons regretted her having come to Tilsit—he and she. Her duty, she believed, as a loving wife, as a tender mother, as the queen of her people, was fulfilled; but her heart was broken. Queen Mary of England said of the loss of Calais, "Should they open my heart, they will find the name of Calais inscribed in bloody letters within." Queen Louisa pathetically recalled this moan; she could say the same of Magdeburg.
The treaty with Prussia, signed two days later, did not modify in the least the terms arranged with Alexander, and for six years that country remained in a mutilated and conquered condition, compelled to obey with outward respect the behests of Napoleon. Every domain she had owned west of the Elbe went to the kingdom of Westphalia, the circle of Kottbus went to Saxony, the Polish provinces of south Prussia and new east Prussia to the grand duchy of Warsaw, the circle of Bielostok to Russia. Napoleon is said to have urged the Czar to seize Memel and the strip of Prussian land east of the Niemen; but this is denied, and in any case, Alexander, desiring to be at peace with his neighbor, firmly refused; moreover, he verbally stipulated for the evacuation of the Hohenzollern lands by French troops at an early date. Nominally, therefore, the King of Prussia regained sovereignty over less than half of his former territory. For this consideration he was to pay an indefinite but enormous and almost impossible indemnity, which was to cover the total cost of the war. To guarantee this a large portion of the French army was, in spite of Alexander's demand, still left quartered in the Hohenzollern lands, so that the Prussian people were daily reminded of their disgrace, as well as irritated by extortionate taxation. First and last, the war cost Prussia, in the support of the French army and in actual contributions to France, over a billion of francs—about the gross national income of thirteen years. The process of Prussian consolidation begun three years before was thus hastened. What Pozzo di Borgo called a masterpiece of destruction turned out in the end to be the beginning of a new birth for the nation. But the royal pair were stricken down: the high-souled Queen died, three years later, of chagrin; the King lived to see his people strong once more, but in a sort of obstructing stupor, being always an uncompromising conservative. When he died, in 1840, he left to his successor a legacy of smothered popular discontent.
The treaties of Tilsit between France and Russia were signed, as was said, on July seventh. The principal personages engaged on both sides in this grand scene of reconciliation were on that day reciprocally decorated with the orders of the respective courts, while the imperial guards of both emperors received food and drink for a great festivity. Next day Napoleon paid his farewell visit. At his morning toilet he had his valet loosen the threads which fastened the cross of the Legion of Honor to his coat, and as the Czar advanced to meet him he asked in audible tones permission to decorate the first grenadier of Russia. A veteran named Lazaref was summoned from the ranks, and with a wrench the Emperor tore off his cross, and fastened it on the breast of the peasant. The welkin rang with applause, while Lazaref kissed his benefactor's hands and the hem of his coat. Next day Alexander crossed the Niemen. Savary went with him as a French envoy, partly to keep up the Czar's courage and spirits, which would be endangered by the sullen humor of the court circles in St. Petersburg, partly to study the temper of the Russian people.
To the last moment of their intercourse the Czar appeared to be under the spell of Napoleon's seductive powers. He came as a conquered prince; he left with an honorable peace, with the friendship of his magnanimous conqueror, and with an unsmirched imperial dignity. He had saved his recent ally from destruction, and had secured a small increase of territory for himself; for the future there were Finland and the fairest portion of Turkey. But in a few days the magic began to pass. He had not secured Constantinople, and he had promised to evacuate Wallachia and Moldavia; he had not secured the complete evacuation of Prussia; he had risked a rupture with England; he had, above all, submitted to the creation of a state which, under the thin disguise of another name, was but the germ of a reconstructed Poland. It began to appear as if he had been wheedled. There is sufficient evidence that such bitter reflections made their appearance very soon; but they were repressed, at first from pure shame, and afterward from stern necessity, when England began to vent her anger. But the Russians themselves could not be repressed. Before long Savary was hated and abused by the public, the more because he maintained his ascendancy over the Czar. The reports sent home by the former police agent were clever and instructive, but their pictures of factional disputes and Oriental plots at court, of aristocratic luxury and general poverty, of popular superstition and barbarous manners, were not reassuring, and confirmed in his Emperor's mind doubts felt from the beginning as to the stability of the alliance consummated at Tilsit, an alliance outwardly fair, but, like all Talleyrand's diplomacy, more showy than substantial.
[Footnote 12: For an interesting comment on Talleyrand's diplomacy, see Sorel: L'Europe et la Revolution Francaise, Vol. VI, pp. 23-25.]
Napoleon left for Koenigsberg the same day on which he bade adieu to Alexander. His route was by way of Dresden. He was not in the slightest degree deceived. The peace of Europe, he said, was in St. Petersburg; the affairs of the world were there. But he had gained much. The outposts of his empire were established, and from one of them he could touch with his hand the enchanted East. He had secured the temporary cooeperation of Russia, and with that as a beginning he might consolidate the Continent against England, and complete the stage in his progress now gained. Above all, he could at once restore the confidence of France by the proclamation of peace and the upbuilding of her prosperity. To be sure, he had forecast a division of his prospective Eastern empire with Russia, he had left Prussia outraged and bleeding, and Austria was uneasy and suspiciously reserved; but he had checkmated them all in the menace of a restored Poland, while their financial weakness and military exhaustion, combined with the reciprocal jealousies of their dynasties, might be relied on to prevent their immediate hostility. Besides, while he had sung a certain tune at Tilsit, in the future he would, as he sarcastically said somewhat later, have to sing it only according to the written score.
THE PATH OF NAPOLEONIC EMPIRE
[Footnote 13: References: Jauffret: Memoires historiques sur les affaires ecclesiastiques de France pendant les premieres annees du XIXe siecle. Thorsoe: Den danske Statspolitiske Historie 1800-1864. Lemoine: Napoleon et les Juifs. Lemann: Napoleon et les Israelites; La preponderance juive.]
Napoleon and the Neutral Powers — The Protectorate of Portugal and the End of Etruria — Annexation of the Papal Legations — Seizure of the Danish Fleet by Great Britain — The Degradation of Spain — Godoy's Impolicy — The Spanish Court and the Heir Apparent — Effects of the Russian Alliance in Paris — Napoleon's Commentary on the Treaty — His Administrative Wisdom — Public Works in France — The Jews in France — The Sanhedrim — Napoleon's Successful Reforms — War Indemnities and Finance — Annoyances of the Continental System.
But in order to fulfil the purposes and realize the possibilities which were indicated in the treaties of Tilsit, no time was to be lost. The fate of Sweden and the Hanse towns having been virtually settled, there remained three small maritime states in Europe which still maintained a nominal neutrality—Denmark, Portugal, and Etruria. One and all, they must choose between England and France. To each a summons was to be addressed, and Napoleon wrote the preliminary directions at Dresden. Between the lines of his despatches it was clear that the precious naval armaments of all three powers—ships, arsenals, stores, and men—must be put at the disposal of France. "A thing must needs be done before the announcement of your plan," was one of Napoleon's own principles, and it was his intention so to proceed in this case. At Dresden, also, was promulgated the new constitution of Warsaw. Modeled on that of France, it was far from liberal; but it abolished serfdom, made all citizens equal before the law, and introduced the civil code.
In 1804 Portugal had purchased her neutrality for the duration of the war with the sum of sixteen million francs. She was now ordered to close her ports to the British, to seize all their goods and ships, and finally to declare war against Great Britain. Junot, formerly imperial ambassador at Lisbon, was despatched with twenty-seven thousand men, designated as a "corps of observation," to be ready on the frontier to enforce the command. In reply, England seized the Portuguese fleet, and kept it in security until the close of the war. During the late campaigns in Poland and Prussia, King Louis of Etruria had died, and his helpless widow, the Spanish infanta, Maria Louisa, acting as regent for her young son, had admitted the English to the harbor of Leghorn. Prince Eugene was now ordered to take another "corps of observation" of six thousand men, and drive them out. He did so promptly. Duroc at once suggested to the Spanish minister that Napoleon would like some proposition for the indemnification of Maria Louisa for the loss of Etruria—say one portion of Portugal for her, and the rest for Godoy, the Prince of the Peace.
This "deformity" removed from the Italian peninsula, it revealed a still greater one—the fact that the Papal States disturbed the connection between the two kingdoms of Italy and Naples. Pius VII, returning disillusioned and embittered after the coronation ceremony, and finding that his temporal weapons had failed him, had taken a stand with his spiritual armor. It has already been recalled that he began to refuse everything Napoleon desired,—the coronation as Western emperor, the extension of the Concordat to Venice, the confirmation of bishops appointed in France and Italy by the temporal power, the annulment of Jerome's marriage, the recognition of Joseph's royalty,—except in return for a guarantee of his own independence and neutrality; in short, he feebly abjured the French alliance and all its works. There now came a demand from Napoleon that henceforth there should be as many French cardinals as Roman, that the agents of hostile powers should be banished from the Papal States, and that the papal ports should be closed to England. The Emperor was weary, too, of the petty squabbles in connection with the Church, of the threats to excommunicate him and declare his throne vacant. Did they mean to put him in a convent and whip him like Louis the Pious? If not, let the full powers of an ambassador be sent to the cardinal legate at Paris; in any case, let there be an end to menaces. At the same time Eugene showed to Pius a personal letter from his stepfather, which, though marked confidential, was intended to be thus shown. It contained the threat that the Emperor contemplated calling a council of the Gallican, Italian, German, and Polish churches to liberate those peoples from the domination of Roman priests. The Pontiff was terrified, and hastened to yield the most pressing demands made in the message which he had himself received, among them the nomination of a negotiator. But he childishly refused the letter of the Emperor's demand, and commissioned, not the French cardinal legate at Paris, but an Italian cardinal. Napoleon notified the See that he would treat only with Bayanne, the French cardinal at Paris, and that longer dallying would compel him to annex Ancona, Urbino, and Macerata to the kingdom of Italy. Pius yielded at once, nominating Bayanne, agreeing to enter the federation with France, and promising to crown Napoleon; but the annexation took place quite as expeditiously as the surrender—was, in fact, complete before it!
Of the three minor sea powers, Denmark, commanding as she did the gateway of the Baltic, was far the most important. Bernadotte was already on her borders with an army. She was notified by him that she must declare war against England immediately, or lose all her continental possessions. Her government promised to obey, but procrastinated. It has been claimed that English spies at Tilsit had caught scraps of the bargain contained in the secret articles, and that the Portland cabinet, in which Canning was secretary for foreign affairs and Castlereagh for war and the colonies, had divined the rest. It is now known that Canning believed there were no secret articles, but was convinced that the two emperors had reached a secret understanding hostile to England. During the summer the ministry received what they called the most positive information—what was its extent and how it was obtained have never been made known—that the French intended to invade Holstein and force Denmark to close the Sound to British commerce. The danger seemed imminent: the Danish fleet contained no fewer than twenty ships of the line, eighteen frigates, nine brigs, and a number of gunboats. Such a reinforcement of the French navy would put it again on a war footing. The English ministry, therefore, offered to defend Denmark, guarantee her colonies, and give her every means of defense, naval, military, pecuniary, if only she would surrender her fleet to England, to be restored in the event of peace. The Danish regent was already committed to France, and did not accept. Accordingly the English army under Cathcart landed, and laid siege to Copenhagen, while the fleet bombarded it for three days, until the government agreed to their stipulations. This shameful deed of high-handed violence must be laid at Canning's door. It was the first step in the humiliation of a fine people, to their loss of Norway, and ultimately of Schleswig and Holstein. Moreover, it was impolitic in the highest degree, making the Czar a bitter enemy of England for four years. The wretched country, in distraction, threw itself into the arms of Bernadotte. Christian VII had long been an imbecile, and his son, Frederick VI, though energetic and well-meaning, turned Denmark into another vassal state of France by the treaty of Fontainebleau, signed October thirtieth, 1807.
[Footnote 14: See discussion of this question by J. H. Rose, "A British Agent at Tilsit," in English Historical Review, Oct., 1901.]
In none of their many sovereignties had the incapacity of the Bourbons been more completely demonstrated than in Spain. With intermittent flickerings, the light of that famous land had been steadily growing dimmer ever since Louis XIV exultingly declared that the Pyrenees had ceased to exist. Stripped of her colonial supremacy, shattered in naval power, reduced to pay tribute to France, she looked silently on while Napoleon trafficked with her lands, mourning that even the memory of her former glories was fading out in foreign countries. The proud people themselves had, however, never forgotten their past; with each successive humiliation their irritation grew more extreme, and soon after Trafalgar they made an effort to organize under the crown prince against the scandalous regime of Godoy. Both parties sought French support, and the quarrel was fomented from Paris until the whole country was torn by the most serious dissensions.
When, in the previous year, Prussia declared war, and the French legions were about to face those trained in the school of Frederick the Great, a vigorous attempt was made by the Russian envoy in Madrid to win the support of Spain for the coalition. England, too, at the same moment, threatened to make the South American colonies independent if she did not consent. Godoy was persuaded that Napoleon had at last found his match, if not his master, and on October fourteenth issued a manifesto couched for the most part in ambiguous terms, but clearly announcing war as an immediate necessity. By a strange coincidence, its date was that of the day on which was fought the battle of Jena, and after hearing the news of that event the Prince of the Peace hastened to make his submission in the name of the King. Napoleon turned pale as he read the news of the contemplated defection, which reached him at Berlin; he never forgave the treachery, although for the time he feigned ignorance of its existence. The renewal of Charles IV's submission gave him the opportunity to demand that the Spanish fleet should proceed to Toulon, that the King should send fifteen thousand men to oppose a possible English landing at the mouth of the Elbe, and at the same time undertake the sustenance of twenty-five thousand Prussian prisoners of war, while thenceforward he must rigidly enforce the embargo on English trade in all Spanish ports and markets.
These demands the weak and contemptible government could not resist. Godoy and the Queen resumed their scandalous living, while the King joined in a conspiracy to cut off his son Ferdinand from the succession. The young prince had the people's sympathy; but although he had sought Napoleon's favor, and wished to marry the Empress Josephine's niece, there was no response, and he remained impotent before an administration apparently supported by France. He was, in the sequel, arrested on a charge of conspiring against his father's life. Before the summer of 1807 closed, everything was ripe for Napoleon's contemplated intervention to "regenerate" Spain.
Such was the harvest of Tilsit in the field of foreign relations—a harvest which to the last the Emperor claimed that Talleyrand had sown. As to its effect in France, Metternich, then Austrian ambassador in Paris, declared that men sat in the cafes coldly discussing an entire reconstruction of Europe—two empires, and seventeen new kingdoms with new sovereigns either from or in the interest of the imperial houses! "Rhapsodies," he said, "which proved that all Europe might crumble without exciting a single emotion of sorrow, astonishment, or satisfaction in a people degraded beneath all others, beneath all imagination, and which, worn out, demoralized to the point where every trace of even national feeling is wiped out, by nineteen years of revolution and crimes, now looks on with cold-blooded indifference at what is passing beyond its own frontiers. Wise men think that the treaties, being as advantageous to Russia as to France, necessarily contain a germ which in developing will prove dangerous to the latter." In reality there was not now a state in Europe toward which the French empire did not stand in strained relations, not a nationality besides the French which did not feel its self-respect wounded, and resent the abasement.
This, however, was not the panorama which the Emperor unfolded in Paris. He reached St. Cloud quietly on the evening of July twenty-seventh. The people of Paris learned the news incidentally, and burst into spontaneous rejoicings, illuminating the city, and sending addresses in which the terms of adulation were exhausted. Napoleon was no longer an actor in merely human history: he was a man of the heroic age; he was beyond admiration; nothing but love could rise to his lofty place. On August sixteenth the Emperor opened the legislature in person. "Since your last session," he said, "new wars, new triumphs, new treaties, have changed the face of Europe." If the house of Brandenburg still reigned, he continued, it was due to the sincere friendship he felt for the Czar. A French prince would rule on the Elbe, and would know how to conciliate his subjects, while ever mindful of his most sacred duties. Saxony had recovered her independence, the peoples of Dantzic and the duchy of Warsaw their country and their rights. All nations rejoiced to see the direful influence of England destroyed. France was united to the Confederation of the Rhine by its laws, by the federative system to the countries of Holland, Switzerland, and Italy; her new relations with Russia were cemented by reciprocal esteem. In all this, he affirmed, his pole-star had been the happiness of his people, dearer to him than his own glory. He would like maritime peace, and for its sake would overlook the exasperations caused by a people tossed and torn by party strife. Whatever happened, he would be worthy of his people, as they had shown themselves to be worthy of him. Their behavior in his absence had only increased his esteem for their character. He had thought of several measures to simplify and perfect their institutions.
This picture of martial and political renown, painted by a master who had on one campaign changed the meaning of his title from its primitive sense of military ruler to its later and grander one of chief among and over princes, thus realizing the revival of the Western Empire, could not but please the fancy and arouse the enthusiasm of a generous, imaginative, forgiving people. The impression was heightened by their Emperor's activity in keeping faith as to their own prosperity. As after Austerlitz, his first care was now finance. The new commercial code was promulgated, and it proved scarcely less satisfactory to the merchants than the civil code had been to the people at large. The Bank of France was immediately compelled to lower its rate of discount, and a council was held to consider how Italy and the Rhine Confederation could be made tributary to French industry and commerce. Recourse was also had to those measures of internal development by the execution of great public works which had been begun after Austerlitz, but were suspended before Jena.
Before the last campaign the Emperor and Empress had been accustomed to visit various portions of France. During every halt the Emperor would mount his horse, and, attended occasionally by one or more of the local officials, but usually only by Rustan or an adjutant, would gallop hither and thither, gathering information, examining conditions, and making suggestions. Immediately afterward he would throw off a sketch of needed improvements: public buildings, almshouses, roads, canals, aqueducts, town streets, mountain roads—anything, in short, which would arouse local enthusiasm and benefit the country at large. Many—most, perhaps—of these schemes remained inchoate; but many of the grandest were executed, and Napoleon has left his impress as indelibly upon France itself as upon its society. The routes of the Simplon and Mont Cenis, the great canals which bind together the river systems, the restoration of the cathedral at St. Denis, the quays of the Seine in Paris, the great Triumphal Arch, the Vendome Column, the Street of Peace, the Street of Rivoli, the bridges of Austerlitz, Jena, and the Arts—these are some of the magnificent enterprises due to his initiative. Such works were pushed throughout the summer of 1807 by employing large numbers of laborers and artisans, while local workshops were opened in every department to furnish employment to all who could not otherwise find it. The political economist may lift his eyebrows and shrug his shoulders in contemplating such shifts; but they were imperial shifts, and created a high degree of comfort at the time, while they satisfied in permanency that passion for beauty in utility which does not sufficiently enter as an element into economic science.
Closely connected with this policy was a measure of Napoleon's already referred to, but little known. In some respects it was more successful than any other; it certainly is most characteristic of the man. The evil aimed at was cured at the time, and the permanent question is less acute in modern France than in any other European country. For years past there had been chronic distress among the agricultural classes in some of the most fertile districts of France, notably in the northeast. This was attributed to the presence of Jews in large numbers. The stringent laws of the old regime had crowded that unfortunate people out of all occupations but two—peddling and money-lending. In both of these they became experts, and when emancipated by the Revolution they used their liberty, not to widen their activities, but to intensify the evils of the monopoly which they had secured. Since 1791 large numbers of Polish and German Jews had established themselves on the right bank of the Rhine; and reaching hands across that stream to their kinsfolk on the left bank, they combined to strip the French peasantry by the familiar arts of barter and usury, which need not be described here, until in a few years they were creditors to the extent of twenty-three million francs, and had become extensive landed proprietors. They were never seen to labor with their hands, and having no family name, they evaded the conscription laws with impunity, while the courts of justice became their humble servants in enforcing the collection of scandalous debts or in the foreclosure of inflated mortgages.
In 1806 a temporary decree had suspended all legal executions in certain districts, and many Jews of the better class made ready to bow before the coming tempest and come to the assistance of the government. Napoleon, aware that the Old Testament law was civil and political as well as religious, shrewdly asked advice from these and other men of the more enlightened sort. It was agreed to call a council. The Emperor summoned his prefects to name its members, and appointed a committee to represent the government at its sessions. Decisions taken by this assembly were to be submitted to a general Sanhedrim of all Europe. The assembly of French Israelites met in Paris during the latter part of 1806, and after due deliberation gave satisfactory answers to a carefully prepared set of questions propounded by the government commission. In 1807 the economic situation had nevertheless become graver. The Sanhedrim met early in February. Its members vied in flattery with the Roman priesthood, setting the imperial eagle above the ark of the covenant, and blending the letters N and J with those of the Jehovah in a monogram for the adornment of their meeting-place. On March fourth they issued a decree which is still the basis of religious instruction among Jewish youth. They forbade polygamy, and admitted the principle of civil marriage without anathema; they ordered all Israelites to treat those who believe that God is the Creator of heaven and earth as fellow-citizens and brothers; to obey the civil and military laws, including that of conscription, and to train their children to industry and handiwork; they also invited them to enter the learned professions, and to attach themselves to the country by the purchase of public obligations. Usury was absolutely forbidden, the Israelite being enjoined as a religious precept to make no distinction in money transactions between Hebrew and Christian. The minutest details of the whole transaction were foreseen and regulated by Napoleon, and may be studied in his correspondence with his ministers.
A year later, after careful and mature deliberation, there appeared an imperial decree, not only organizing the Jewish Church and regulating its relations with the state, but defining the civil and political status of Hebrews. They were pronounced to be citizens like other men; but they could not exact higher interest than five per cent., while if they should demand over ten they should be punished for usury. Every Jew in the northeastern department must have a license to do business, and a notarial authorization for pawnbrokerage. Any Jew not domiciled at the moment in Alsace might not thereafter acquire domicile in that department, and could do so in others only by becoming a landowner and tilling the soil. Every Jew should be liable to military service, and, unlike his Christian fellow-citizens might not provide a substitute; moreover, he must adopt and use a family name. This stringent law was rigidly enforced, except in Bordeaux, the Gironde, and the Landes, where no offense had been given. Its effect was steady and sure. Before long, first one and then another Israelite was exempted from its rigors, until finally, in 1812, the department or the man still subject to its provisions was the exception and not the rule. From that day to this there has scarcely been in France what is known elsewhere as the Jewish question. Hebrews are found in every line of human activity; they have the same civil, political, and religious standing as men of other blood and confessions; they are illustrious in finance, in politics, in science, and in the arts. They are, moreover, passionate patriots, and to the casual observer scarcely distinguishable in mien and appearance from other citizens. The temporary contravention of the civil code, both as to spirit and letter, by the notorious decree above referred to has been so beneficent that it has for the most part escaped any criticism or even remark.
[Footnote 15: See Lemoine: Napoleon et les Juifs.]
While in ways like these the clutch of the usurer was relaxed and the general well-being promoted, measures were taken to crown the work by a stable system of finance. It will be recalled that two years before the Emperor had saved the public credit by the direct expenditure of the Austrian war indemnity. It was his fixed principle that France should not pay for his wars, except with her children. He knew too well the thrift of the whole nation and the greed of the lower classes to jeopardize their good will either by the emission of paper money or by the increase of tax rates. The panic of 1805 had been precipitated by the virtual failure of a bankers' syndicate which made advances to the government on its taxes and on the annual Spanish contribution as well. In 1807 the war indemnity exacted from Prussia, Poland, and Westphalia was used for a double purpose, the creation of two funds: one to furnish an immediate supply of cash on the outbreak of war, the other to replace the bankers' syndicate by making advances on the taxes whenever required. There was therefore no increase in the rate of taxation, work was abundant, and under the forcing process the wheels were moving in almost every department of trade and industry. The price of the imperial bonds on the Bourse rose to ninety-nine, a price never afterward reached in Napoleon's day.
There was one sharp pinch. Coffee and sugar were no longer luxuries, but necessities; and through the continental embargo colonial wares had become, and were likely to remain, very dear and very scarce. Such substitutes as ingenuity could devise were gradually accepted for the former; to provide the latter the beet-root industry was fostered by every means. The Emperor kept a sample of sugar made from beets on his chimney-piece as an ornament, and occasionally sent gifts of the precious commodity to his fellow-sovereigns. The story is told that an official who had been banished from favor recovered his standing entirely by planting a whole estate with beets. Such traits were considered evidence of plain, homely common sense by the people, who enjoyed the sensation that their Emperor shared their feelings and participated in their daily shifts.
THE NEW FEUDALISM
[Footnote 16: See Blanc: Napoleon Ier. Taine: Le regime moderne. Pasquier: Memoires, Histoire de mon temps. Meneval: Napoleon et Marie-Louise. V^te de Broc: La vie en France sous le premier empire. Metternich: Memoires. Mme. de Remusat: Memoires.]
Imperial France — The Aristocracy — The Vassal Sovereigns — Suppression of the Tribunate — The Right of Entail — Evasions of Law — The New Nobility — Titles and Emoluments — Style in the First Empire — Theory of the University — Its Establishment — The Lycees — Effects of the System — Regulation of the Court — The Emperor's Moods — Matrimonial Alliances with Royalty — Gloom at Court — Decline of Talleyrand's Influence — His New Role.
It was not long before the people of Paris and of all France were in the best possible humor; they were busy, they were clothed, they were fed, they were making and saving money. With every hour grew the feeling that their unity and strength were embodied in the Emperor. Mme. de Remusat was tired of his ill-breeding: it shocked her to observe his coarse familiarity, to see him sit on a favorite's knee, or twist a bystander's ear till it was afire; to hear him sow dissension among families by coarse innuendo, and to see him crush society that he might rule it. But such things would not have shocked the masses of plain burgher Frenchmen at all. When the querulous lady opened her troubles to the sympathetic Talleyrand, and bemoaned the sad fate which kept her at the imperial court to gain a living, his reply was not consoling. As time passed, the gulf between the ruler and his venal but soft-spoken minister had been widening, and the Prince of Benevento had oftentimes to hear taunts and reproaches in scenes of such violence as were unsuspected even by the complaining lady in waiting. But nevertheless Talleyrand replied to her that Napoleon still stood for the unity of France, and it was both his and her duty to endure and support their monarch.
No doubt the Emperor was perfectly aware of the situation. But he felt that what was a new aristocracy in truth, though not yet so in name, must be appeased as well as the people. He was furious at times with the venality of his associates. Talleyrand once admitted that he had taken sixty millions from various German princes. Massena, Augereau, Brune, and Junot were not so colossal in their greed, but they were equally ill-disposed, and very successful in lining their coffers. With Talleyrand Napoleon never joked; but when he wished to give a warning to the others he drew a bill for some enormous sum on one or other of them, and deposited it with a banker. There is no evidence that such a draft was ever dishonored. On one occasion Massena disgorged two millions of francs in this way. Of the ancient nobility the Emperor once said, with a sneer: "I offered them rank in my army, they declined the service. I opened my antechambers to them, they rushed in and filled them." To this sweeping statement there were many noteworthy exceptions, but on the whole Napoleon never classed the estate of the French nobles lower than they deserved. Still they had a power which he recognized, and it was with a sort of grim humor that he began to distribute honors and the sops of patronage among both the old and the new aristocracy—a process which only made the latter independent and failed to win the affections of the former.
It was in the hope of securing the good will of the ancient nobility that he took two steps radical in their direct negation of Revolutionary principles: the destruction of the tribunate and the restoration of the right of entail. The connection between the two lies in the tendency of both: merging tribunate and legislature made it easy to substitute for an elective senate a hereditary house of lords. Feeling himself sufficiently strong, Napoleon clearly intended to gratify in others the weak human pride which, as Montesquieu says, desires the eternity of a name, and thereby to erect a four-square foundation for the perpetuity of his own dynasty. The brothers Joseph, Louis, and Jerome were now no longer Bonapartes, but Napoleons, ruling as Joseph Napoleon, Louis Napoleon, Jerome Napoleon, over their respective fiefs. Murat, the brother-in-law, was already provided for in the same way, and there were three reigning princes among the satellites of the imperial throne. All these could transmit their name and dominions in the line of hereditary succession. It may be read in the "Moniteur" of July, 1810, that, in whatever position they were placed by Napoleon's politics and the interest of his empire, their first duty was to him, their second to France. "All your other duties, even those to the people I may intrust to you, are only secondary."
Ten years earlier General Bonaparte had declared that what the French wanted was glory and the gratification of their vanity; of liberty, he said, they knew nothing. The Emperor Napoleon, in one of his spoken musings, applied the same conception to all continental Europeans, saying that there were everywhere a few men who knew what freedom was and longed to secure it; but that the masses needed paternal guidance, and enjoyed it as long as they were comfortable. The asylum of this enlightened minority in France was for a time the tribunate; to many it seemed that, if free government be government by discussion, in the tribunate alone was any semblance of freedom left; its name had consequently retained a halo of nobility, and its mere existence was a comfort to the few who still recalled the ideals of the Revolution. But, in truth, the body itself had ceased to have any dignity whatsoever. The system of legislation was briefly this: from the throne came a message exposing the situation of the country, the council of state then formulated the measures set forth as necessary, the tribunate approved them in one or other of its sections, and the legislature gave the enacting vote. The suppression of the tribunate, therefore, appeared to the general public like final proceedings in bankruptcy. Some of the members went into the legislature, some into official administrative positions, and the right of discussion in committee behind closed doors was transferred to certain sections of the legislature. By way of compensation it was "decreed by the senate," as the formality was called, that no man could thenceforth sit in the legislature until he had reached the age of forty. Perhaps Napoleon remembered that his own fiery ambition had made him emperor before he was thirty-six. The measure was announced to the tribunes as a mere matter of course, and created no stir at the time. In later years it was recalled that the English Parliament under the Plantagenets had never entirely perished, and so was ready for powerful deeds in more propitious days. But in France's later crisis the French tribunate could not be revived; with it disappeared forever the last rallying-point for the scattered remnant still true to the Revolution.
The complement of this negative measure was the creation of the right to transmit together, and for an indefinite time, a title and the realty on which its dignity reposed. Though the restoration of this institution was slightly anterior in time to the other as to its beginnings, yet the final decree was not published until 1808, and logically it is complementary and subsequent to it. To this day many men of ancient and honorable name in France have not ceased to bemoan the destruction of primogeniture by the Revolution and the Code Napoleon. They are proud to transmit their title untarnished to their descendants, are ready to make serious sacrifices in its behalf, to exercise the rigid self-denials of family control for its sake, and to engrave the motto of "noblesse oblige" on their hearts in order to sustain it; but they bitterly complain that without the majorat, and the transmission of outward, visible supports in land and houses to strengthen it, the empty sound carries little weight. The compulsory subdivision of estates at the death of the owner enables every scion to live, if not to thrive, on the home stock. The failure of France in colonization is largely due to the absence of men from good families among the colonizers, while England sends her younger sons to the ends of the earth, there to found new houses and perpetuate the old line under favorable conditions. Hence, too, the petty dimensions of aristocratic French life: little fortunes, little ambitions, little establishments, little families, among that very class in society which by cultivating the sentiment of honor should leaven the practical, materialistic temper of the multitude. At the present time, when the burghers amass in trade far greater fortunes than the aristocracy possess, when the learned secure greater power by intellectual vigor, when the demagogues grow mightier by the command of votes, titles alone carry little weight, and the virtues of honor, of chivalry, of elegance, can with difficulty display their example.
No argument can ever restore general confidence in the institution of primogeniture, but it dies hard, even in England. In the United States the absolute liberty of testamentary disposition enables a wealthy father to found a family almost as perfectly as if the right of entail existed, and the bulk of large fortunes is constantly left by will to the most capable son, in order that he may keep up the family name, the family estates, and the family pride. But under the provisions of the Code Napoleon such a course is impossible. As the lawgiver did not hesitate to contravene his own legislation in the case of the Jews, so he again disregarded it in order to consolidate that aristocracy of which he hoped to make another strong prop to his throne; for he already had the Church and the people. "The code," he said, "was made for the welfare of the people; and if that welfare demands other measures, we must take them." This was not difficult, because the imperial power had gradually shaped two instruments wherewith to act: one was the laws sanctioned by the legislature and pertaining ordinarily to abstract questions of jurisprudence; the other was the Emperor's personal decrees, which, though discussed by the council of state, were the expression of the Emperor's will, and covered in their scope the whole field of authority.
It was by the latter course that he had intended to create the new nobility. Ostensibly the measure was to be the last blow of the ax at the root of feudalism. The new dignities carried no privilege with them; they were, it was explained, a sort of civic crown to which any one might aspire, and their creation was therefore in no way derogatory to the principle of equality. The holders might become too independent and self-reliant, they might even display a class spirit; but the Emperor felt himself to be striving upward, these creatures of his would have to run fast before they could outstrip their master. At St. Helena the prisoner, recalling with bitterness the ingratitude of his beneficiaries, declared that he took the unfortunate step in order to reconcile France with the rest of Europe. He was by that time aware that though the Legion of Honor was, and would continue to be, an institution dear to the French heart, this one was not so, and needed an apology; for his imperial nobility had never been taken seriously or kindly by the people, who could not draw the nice distinction between a feudal and an imperial aristocracy. Even in the first steps of his enterprise he was made to feel the need of caution, and it was by statute, after all, not by decree, that the whole matter was finally regulated. So curious is popular fickleness that an Emperor who could boldly tyrannize in almost any other direction felt that he dared not take the risk of constituting himself a fountain of honor, such as legitimate monarchs were.
The system was for the world outside like some fairy wonder completed overnight, since the duchies had been ready the year before. The Italian titles were the most honorable and the most highly endowed. They were either at once or later given as follows: Soult, Duke of Dalmatia; Mortier, Duke of Treviso; Savary, Duke of Rovigo; Bessieres, Duke of Istria; Duroc, Duke of Friuli; Victor, Duke of Belluno; Moncey, Duke of Conegliano; Clarke, Duke of Feltre; Massena, Duke of Rivoli; Lannes Duke of Montebello; Marmont, Duke of Ragusa; Oudinot, Duke of Reggio; Macdonald, Duke of Taranto; Augereau, Duke of Castiglione; Bernadotte, Prince of Ponte Corvo. In Germany there were created three similar duchies—Auerstaedt for Davout, Elchingen for Ney, and Dantzic for Lefebvre. Berthier was made Prince of Neufchatel. So much for the military officials. In civil life there were corresponding distinctions: Cambaceres, Duke of Parma; Maret, Duke of Bassano; Lebrun, Duke of Piacenza; Fouche, Duke of Otranto; Champagny, Duke of Cadore. The members of the senate, the councilors of state, the presiding officers of the legislature, and the archbishops were all created counts. Each one of these titles was, like the others, richly endowed with land from the public domains in Poland, Germany, and Italy. But the distinction bestowed on the soldiers was marked in the difference between the accompanying gifts to them and those to civilians. The only portion of the great force which had returned to France was the guard, who were instructed to keep themselves as exclusive as possible. A most lavish pension-system, as it was considered even in that age of military splendor, drew from the army chest five hundred francs a year for soldiers who had lost a limb; officers received as high as ten thousand francs, according to the nature of their disabilities. But the marshals were showered with gold. Berthier had a million; Ney, Davout, Soult, and Bessieres, six hundred thousand each; Massena, Augereau, Bernadotte, Mortier, and Victor, four hundred thousand apiece; and the rest two hundred thousand. But even this was nothing to what some of them secured later by holding several offices at once. At one time Berthier had a yearly income of a million three hundred and fifty-five thousand francs; Davout, of nine hundred and ten thousand; Ney, of seven hundred and twenty-eight thousand; Massena, of six hundred and eighty-three thousand. The ministers were able to secure salaries averaging about two hundred thousand francs, and ambassadors had incomes corresponding to their dignity. Caulaincourt, the ablest of all the latter class, had eight hundred thousand francs at St. Petersburg wherewith to support the imperial state of France. It is interesting to note from Napoleon's letters that he had occasionally to admonish some of these gentlemen to make use of their titles.
The Revolution had chosen to find its artistic expression in the correct and strict severity of classical forms. Napoleon had from the beginning of his career been under the spell of Greek and Roman examples. Thus it happened that the art of the First Empire was what it is—heavy, conventional, and reminiscent. With the ever-growing rigidity of censorship, literature sometimes took refuge in abstractions, or, what is much the same thing, in the contemplation of events so remote that their discussion could give no offense. Sometimes authors accepted the curious task of defending the external forms and results of the Revolution as expressed in the Empire, while combating every principle from which the movement had sprung. Able men like Chenier published some of their writings, and locked others in their desks against a brighter day. In religion the Emperor's principle was that his subjects should hate the English because they were heretics, and the Pope because he was a fanatic. The "ideologues" and "metaphysicians" were anarchists, for the public order was endangered by their teachings. The newspapers were not only gagged, but metamorphosed—the "French Citizen" into the "French Courier," the "Journal of Debates" into the "Journal of the Empire." Their columns were filled with laudations of the Emperor; their political articles were virtually composed in the Foreign Office; and there was not a symptom of anything like the existence of party feeling. A certain journalist having been allowed to make statements concerning the luxury at court, the editor of the offending paper was given to understand that the Emperor would tolerate no such criticism nor any remarks contrary to his interests.
[Footnote 17: In general, for the censorship of the press see Welschinger: La censure sous le Premier Empire. Sorel: Essais d'histoire et de critique.]
But the crowning work of this period was the final realization of the plan for organizing public instruction in what was designated by the head of the state as the Imperial University. Though somewhat changed in name and character, it exists to-day virtually as it came from the maker's hand. Like the institution of the prefecture, it is a faultless machine of equalization and centralization, molding the mass of educated Frenchmen into one form, rendering them responsive and receptive to authoritative ideas from their youth upward, and passive in their attitude toward instruction. Joseph de Maistre used to preach that, all social order depending on the authority of beliefs as well as on the authority of behavior, no man who denied the supremacy of the Pope would permanently admit the sovereignty of the state. Napoleon furnished a standing refutation of this thesis. The whole system of public instruction in France has under the third republic not merely been secularized, but it has been made, and for a quarter of a century has remained, substantially infidel. Twenty-five academic generations of living French citizens, reckoning each year's output as a generation, have come out from its laboratory with a minimum of faith; but state supremacy and state socialism are, in a moderate form, more prevalent among them than among any similar body of men elsewhere.
The University of France means literally the totality of all instruction in the country, organized by successive stages into a single system, and rigidly controlled from above. The outlines sketched in the law passed in 1802, and supplemented in 1806, were carefully followed by Napoleon in his final step, and neither the theory nor the method need be again discussed. It is significant that it was an imperial decree, and not a statute, which on March seventeenth, 1808, created the organism. There was an endowment of four hundred million francs, and a separate budget, "in order that instruction might not suffer by passing disturbances in imperial finances." In order, also, that its doctrine might not feel the influence of every passing philosophical fashion, the corporation was subordinate to, but separate from, the ministry, with a grand master, chancellor, and treasurer of its own, and thirty members, of whom ten were appointed for life by the Emperor, the rest being annually designated by the grand master. They made rules for the discipline, revised the textbooks, and chose the instructors of all the institutions of learning in all France, except some of the great ecclesiastical seminaries and a few of the technical schools. At the outset it was ordered that all the masters, censors, and teachers in the great intermediate schools or lyceums should be celibates! The professors might marry, but in that case they could not live in the precincts of what was virtually a military barrack.
Liberal culture, so far as given, was provided in the lyceums, and they really form the heart of the university. Under the Empire their instruction was largely in mathematics, with a sprinkling of Latin. It is now greatly broadened and elevated. The pupils of the primary schools felt a quasi-dependence on the Emperor; those of the lyceums were the very children of patronage, for the cheapness of their education, combined with their semi-military uniforms and habits, impressed at every turn on them and their families the immanence of the Empire. They entered by government examinations; all their letters passed through the head master's hands; they were put under a threefold system of espionage culminating in the grand master; the one hundred and fifty scholarships and bourses in each were paid by the state; the punishments were, like those of soldiers, arrest and imprisonment. With the acquisition of military habits the young lyceen could look forward to military promotion, for two hundred and fifty of the most select were sent every year to the military schools, where they lived at the Emperor's expense, expecting professional advancement by the Emperor's patronage. Others of less merit were detached for the civil service, and in that also their careers were at the imperial mercy. They were daily and hourly reminded of Napoleon's greatness, for twenty-four hundred foreigners from the vassal states of the Empire were scattered among these institutions, where they were turned into Frenchmen and docile subjects at the Emperor's expense, while being virtually held as hostages for the good behavior of their parents. These powerful engines did not work in vain. During the comparatively short existence of the Empire their product assumed enormous proportions, and largely modified the temper of society throughout France. The youth educated by priests or tutors were found unable to keep pace with their favored contemporaries from the government schools, and from the first no prophet was needed to foretell the destiny of private institutions and ecclesiastical seminaries. Little by little they made way for or became annexed to the lyceums which one after another were founded wherever needed. The charges of the latter were, and are, very low; and thrifty fathers appreciate the fact. The state is at enormous cost to support them; but public sentiment, preferring indirect to direct taxation, approves of the expenditure, while crafty statesmen, whether royalist, imperialist, or republican, employ them to create citizens of the kind in power at the time.
Throughout the late summer and autumn of 1807 the imperial court was more stately than ever before. The old nobility became assiduous in their attendance, and, as one of the Empress's ladies in waiting is said to have remarked they "received good company." On his return Napoleon had found Josephine's extravagance to be as unbounded as ever; but he could not well complain, because, although for the most part frugal himself, he had latterly encouraged lavishness in his family. Still, it was not agreeable to have dressmakers' bills flung into his carriage when driving in state with his consort, and on one occasion he sent an unprincipled but clever milliner to the prison of Bicetre for having disobeyed his orders in furnishing her wares to the Empress at exorbitant prices. The person was so indispensable to the court ladies, however, that they crowded her cell, and she was soon released. At St. Cloud, Malmaison, the Tuileries, and Fontainebleau the social vices of courts began to appear; but they were sternly repressed, especially high play. By way of contrast, the city of Paris was at that very moment debauched by a profusion of gambling-hells and houses of prostitution, all licensed at an enormous figure by Fouche and producing great revenues for the secret police. The gorgeous state uniforms of the marshals, the rich and elegant costumes of the ladies, the bespangled and begilt coats of the household, dancing, theatricals, concerts, and excursions—all these elements should have combined to create brilliancy and gaiety in the imperial circle, but they did not.
There was something seriously amiss with the central figure. He was often sullen and morose, often violent and even hysterical. To calm his nervous agitation the court physician ordered warm baths, which he spent hours in taking. Then again he was irregular in his habits, being often somnolent during the daytime, but as frequently breaking his rest at midnight to set the pens of his secretaries scampering to keep pace with the flow of his speech. With old friends he was coarse and severe: even the brutal Vandamme confessed that he trembled before that "devil of a man," while Lannes was the only human being who still dared to use the familiar "thou" in addressing his old comrade. To the face of his generals the Emperor was merely cold: behind their backs he sneered—saying, for instance, of Davout that he might give him never so much renown, he would not be able to carry it; of Ney that he was disposed to ingratitude and turbulence; of Bessieres, Oudinot, and Victor that they were mere mediocrities. Among all these dazzling stars he himself moved in simple uniform and in a cocked hat ornamented with his favorite cheap little cockade. It was a well-calculated vanity, for with increasing corpulence plainness of dress called less attention to his waddling gait and growing awkwardness of gesture.
The summer of 1807 saw the social triumph of the Bonaparte family, the sometime Jacobins, but now emperor and kings. Jerome Napoleon was married on August twenty-second to the Princess Catherine of Wuertemberg. The Emperor had already spoken at Tilsit with the Czar about unions for himself and family suitable to their rank, but the hint of an alliance with the Romanoffs was coldly received. In the Emperor's opinion this, however, was a really splendid match. The Rhine princes and subsidiary monarchs hastened to Paris, and one of them showed his want of perspicacity by marked attentions to Josephine, which he hoped would secure her husband's favor. When men of such lofty and undisputed lineage were joining what was apparently an irresistible movement, the recusant nobility of France itself could not well stand aloof any longer. It amused and interested the Emperor to see them obey Fouche's hint, and throng to be introduced in the correct way to the new and undisputed sovereign, not merely of France, but of western Europe.
Moreover, they were no longer impertinent. They remembered the fate meted out to Mme. de Stael for her solemn innuendos, and did not forget that the last item in the indictment on which Mme. de Chevreuse had been banished was a snippish remark to Napoleon's face. Astonished at the splendor of her diamonds, he had in his own court clumsily asked if they were all real. "Indeed, sire, I do not know," she replied; "but they are good enough to wear here." In consequence, therefore, of this new and now well-intentioned element the court swelled in numbers and gained in grace, but not in joyousness. The Empress was already foreboding her fate; there was the stiffness of inaptitude about everything, even the amusement, and the languid weariness of the ladies was an unforgiven imperial sin. The quick wit of the Emperor remarked this annoying fact, and demanded counsel of Talleyrand. The Prince of Benevento had by this time resigned his position as minister, and the relations between himself and the Emperor were strained, but he was not rebuked when he ventured on the old license of speech. "It is because pleasure will not move at the drum-tap," was his answer, "and you look as if you would command every one just as you do the army: 'Ladies and gentlemen, forward march!'"
Talleyrand's numberless intrigues, his venality and self-seeking, his cynicism and contemptuous airs, had finally destroyed his preponderance with Napoleon, although he still retained much influence. No one was better aware of the fact than he was. Thus far he had reckoned himself an indispensable factor in the administration of the Empire; now he saw that he was so no longer, that his time had come.
He had a sterile mind, and was destitute of principle. Constructive politics were beyond his powers, and he was hopelessly ignorant of social movements. The real Europe of his time was to him a closed book; and while Napoleon was well served in every other function of state, because he himself could assist and supervise, he was wretchedly betrayed in the matter of permanent gains by diplomacy, in which he was personally a blunderer and a tyro. Talleyrand was a distinguished and typical aristocrat of the old French school, elegant, adroit, smooth-spoken, and sharp. He was an unequaled courtier, influential by his moderation in word, gesture, and expression, but a feeble adviser, and utterly incapable of broad views. His character, being unequal to his skill, was not strong enough either to curb or guide a headstrong master, for his intellect was neither productive nor solid. No treaty ever made by him was lasting, and he must have known that even the peace of Tilsit would begin to crumble almost before the papers were signed. The balance of Europe was disturbed but temporarily by that agreement, not permanently, as had been intended; the attempted seclusion of Prussia by Napoleon destroyed her old antagonism to other German powers, and marked the beginning of amalgamation with all her sister states for the reconstruction of an avenging German nationality.
Something may be forgiven to an adventurer in the storms of revolution, but Talleyrand trimmed his sails to every wind, outrode every storm, and made gains in every port. He was a trusted official of the Republic, the Consulate, the Empire, and the restored monarchy. Wise in his day and generation, he had long before made ready to withdraw, if necessary, from active life, by the accumulation of an enormous fortune, heaped up by means which scandalized even imperial France. He had been embittered at the close of the Consulate by Napoleon's determination that his ministers should not be his highest dignitaries, his arch-officers. The title of "prince," with two hundred thousand francs a year, was a poor consolation when men like Lebrun and Cambaceres had the precedence as arch-treasurer and arch-chancellor, while—most unendurable of all—they drew salaries of three hundred and fifty thousand francs. Berthier, the Prince of Neufchatel, had recently been made vice-constable to represent Louis Bonaparte, who, though still constable, had left Paris to become Louis Napoleon, King of Holland. This was Talleyrand's opportunity to resign from the ministry on his own initiative. He demanded a dignity for himself similar to that accorded to Berthier. The Emperor told him that, accustomed to power as he had become, he would be unhappy in a station which precluded his remaining in the cabinet. But the minister knew his role in the little comedy, and, persisting, was on August ninth made vice-grand elector, while Champagny, an excellent and laborious official, took his seat at the council-board as minister of external relations. Talleyrand's withdrawal had not the slightest influence on the Emperor's foreign policy; in fact, the quidnuncs at Fontainebleau declared that he was seen limping into Napoleon's office almost every evening. But he was so well known in every court, his circle of personal acquaintances was so large, so timorous, and so reverential, that superstitious men believed his retirement augured the turn of Napoleon's fortunes.
[Footnote 18: Sorel, Vol. VII, pp. 191-2.]
THE EMPIRES OF LAND AND OCEAN
[Footnote 19: References as before, and Mahan: Influence of Sea Power upon the French Revolution and Empire. Loir: Etudes d'histoire maritime. Clowes: The Royal Navy. Stanhope: Life of Hon. William Pitt.]
Diplomacy at St. Petersburg — Internal Politics of Russia — Alexander's Perplexities — War between Great Britain and Russia — New Orders in Council — The Milan Decree — Position of the United States — The Regeneration of Prussia — Napoleon's Repressive Measures — Austria's New Army — Diplomatic Tension between Russia and France — Designs of Napoleon as to Egypt — He Temporizes with Alexander — Caulaincourt and Tolstoi — The Czar's Demands — Napoleon's Visit to Italy — Limitations of his Ambition — Visions of Oriental Empire — Control of the Mediterranean — His Proposition to Russia — His Complete Program.
The diplomatic intrigues at St. Petersburg were intensely amusing after the peace of Tilsit. Alexander coquetted with the English agents, and concealed his plans from the conservative Russians. His lips were sealed about what had occurred at the meeting with Napoleon, and the charge has been disproved that some of his suite blabbed enough to the British diplomats to enable them to divine the rest. Canning's acuteness and his conviction that Napoleon and Alexander had reached an understanding hostile to England sufficiently account for the bombardment of Copenhagen, and place the responsibility for it on his shoulders. But in the interval before that event the Czar cajoled the English embassy until they felt assured of a triumph, while almost simultaneously he assured Lesseps, the French consul-general, how precious Napoleon's society had been to him, and declared that if England did not yield the two allies would compel her. To the formal introductory communications of Russia concerning peace, Canning replied by a demand for the secret articles of Tilsit, and despatched the fleet to the Baltic. The successful stroke made in September at Copenhagen filled the Czar with solicitude; for, like his ally, he had hoped to gain time, and such promptness in imitating Napoleon's contempt for neutral rights dismayed him. It looked as though this were the first event in a maritime war which would end by destroying the shipyards at Cronstadt, or perhaps even St. Petersburg itself. But instead of further aggression came a new mission from the London cabinet asking for Alexander's good offices in appeasing Denmark, and offering every indemnity to that power except the restoration of the fleet. Great Britain, commanding the Baltic, could be magnanimous.
This conjunction of affairs destroyed Alexander's self-control. He had played the friend of England to no advantage, and England now asked for new and impossible proofs of his friendship. He could neither disclose to her the secret articles nor mediate in her behalf with a country which had already joined his own system. On the other hand, Savary, the French ambassador, and Lesseps, the French consul-general, were daily reminding him of his engagements to Napoleon. There was little need, for the alliance meant to him the attainment of his most cherished ambitions: the acquisition of Finland to the westward, and of the great Danube principalities of Moldavia and Wallachia to the south. In all contingencies he had to reckon with the wealthy Russian proprietors, whose prosperity demanded the easy export of their enormous produce in timber and grain by the same British ships which supplied them with essential articles that were not manufactured in Russia. To them the continental blockade was a horror, and many in the army declared they would not shed their blood to undermine the national prosperity.
This tension could not last. The English secretly introduced into Russia a pamphlet charging that the peace of Tilsit had separated the Czar from both his people and his troops. Savary, mindful of his old detective arts, discovered its origin and adroitly laid the facts before Alexander, who burst into angry abuse of the "libel," and bemoaned the lack of able men to support him both in a wise foreign policy and in such internal reforms as the abolition of serfdom, which he was determined to accomplish. Moreover, Napoleon's conduct was such as to produce serious uneasiness. So far from evacuating Prussia, French troops still occupied all her harbor towns, and menaced the Russian frontier as if their commander were a foe and not a friend. The agreement made with Kalkreuth for the gradual withdrawal of the French army from Prussia was held to be null, for the Prussians could not raise the indemnity of a hundred and fifty million francs computed as the direct cost of the war. To this was added the fact that no move was made toward the dismemberment of Turkey. The Emperor of the French had seized and fortified Corfu, but in a preliminary armistice between Russia and Turkey, due to his intermediation, not a word was said about the Danubian principalities; although the Russian troops were still in Wallachia, it was clear that French influence was daily growing stronger at Constantinople, and might grow strong enough to thwart the Czar's plans entirely.
Such were the disquieting considerations which finally brought to a climax the relations of Russia with England. On October twenty-sixth, Lord Leveson-Gower, the English ambassador, received a note from Count Rumianzoff to the effect that twice Russia had taken up arms for England's advantage, and had in vain solicited even such cooeperation as would seem to have been in Great Britain's own interest. She had not even asked, said the writer, for reinforcements, but merely for a diversion, and had been chagrined to see that her ally, so far from maintaining the Czar's cause, had instead, like a cold observer of the bloody theater where war had been kindled at her behest, despatched expeditions on her own behalf to seize Egypt and to attack Buenos Ayres. After all this the Czar had still offered his mediation, but in vain: Great Britain had replied by an act of unheard-of violence, despoiling an ancient and dignified monarchy. Could the Czar apologize for such a deed? It was insulting to expect it. After reciting these grievances and asserting the principles of the armed neutrality, the paper announced a rupture of all diplomatic relations until reparation should be made to Denmark.
War was formally declared by Russia on November seventh, and England retorted by orders in council, issued on the eighteenth and twenty-sixth of the same month, which declared that every continental port closed to her flag was thereafter in a state of blockade. The neutral states were each and all notified that she would exercise the right of search to the fullest extent; that all neutral ships must put into English harbors before proceeding to their destination, and pay a duty in case of reexportation of their cargoes. An exception to this latter regulation was made in the case of the United States, they being graciously permitted to have direct commercial intercourse with Sweden, but with Sweden only. This, of course, meant that neutral states must either carry on England's trade under their own flags or abandon their commerce altogether.
This measure was in utter contempt of international law, even as then understood, and was a high-handed outrage against neutral powers, in particular against the United States. It was treating the ocean exactly as Napoleon had treated the lands of Europe. But it was a powerful weapon, for if successfully enforced it would destroy Napoleon's Continental System entirely. Accordingly, in pursuance of his policy that fire must be fought with fire, the Emperor retorted with equal ruthlessness, fulminating the terrible Milan Decree of December seventeenth, 1807. In it he declared that any vessel which obeyed the orders of the English admiralty or suffered itself to be searched was and would be regarded as an English ship. It was essential, therefore, that any nation desiring exemption from the enactments of the Berlin and Milan decrees on the one hand and of the English orders in council on the other must make itself respected by force of arms. The Americans must either accept the humiliating terms of England or enter the French system and seek in a maritime war to capture the continental markets for themselves.
Napoleon, as has already been narrated, intended to force them into the latter course immediately, but he was not well informed concerning American affairs. Jefferson was at that time in his second term as President of the United States. The Democratic party, of which he was the leader, was vastly more concerned with agricultural than with commercial interests. They were afraid to increase the public debt, cared little for the prosperity of New England commerce, and, seeking to avoid the dilemma arranged for them by England and France, passed the notorious embargo act forbidding all foreign commerce whatsoever. American ships must avoid foreign waters, which, like the land, had become the arena of a bloody duel in which the United States were not interested—so, at least, the Democrats fondly believed. Exports to England fell in a single year from forty-nine to nine millions of dollars. In other words, the embargo, though causing great distress, could not be perfectly enforced, since the Eastern merchants continued their humiliating submission to England for the sake of their lucrative speculations.
At the same time the farmers were suddenly awakened to the fact that in the end they suffered as much under the prohibition as the traders. In the resulting agitations Jefferson closed his public career without eclat. Madison wisely secured a modification of the embargo by the Non-intervention Act, which opened all foreign commerce except that with England and France. But the merchants of New England were rebellious and dissatisfied even with this. The Federalists wanted a navy and a place in the European system; in other words, a fair share in the world's carrying-trade for the seafarers of the Atlantic coast. Matters drifted on in general discontent and mutual recrimination until 1810. Napoleon in that year shrewdly announced that he had abandoned his policy, but for all that he actually continued to enforce it. This empty pretense of friendship embroiled the United States still further with England, and in the end led to a second war for independence.
The Czar had no sooner taken the decisive step of finally declaring war on England than the Napoleonic policy began further to unfold. Prussia was at once compelled to follow her protector's example, and before the ensuing season all her harbors were fortified and closed. In spite of the French occupation, a national reform movement had begun in this land. In Koenigsberg was formed the League of Virtue, which focused the new morality and patriotism of the masses. The pens of Fichte, Schleiermacher, and other great writers continued to build up public spirit. Stein accepted office, stipulating that the privy council should be abolished, and then freed the serfs. Among other important reforms he destroyed the old distinction between land tenures, and made transfers simple. Self-government was granted to the cities. The schools were entirely reconstructed under the direction of William von Humboldt, and the University of Berlin was founded as a nursery for the new national spirit.
Under these influences the monarchy of Frederick the Great ceased to exist; the authority of the "yunker" class which supported it and had rashly brought on the war with France was temporarily eclipsed by a wholesome expression of national vigor, and the enlightened liberalism of Prussia became the stimulus for a similar movement in all Germany. As to the army, Gneisenau and Scharnhorst entered with zeal upon the task of reorganization, and the latter was a very genius of reform. Napoleon at length showed his true colors, forbade his victim to maintain more than forty-two thousand troops, and declared to the face of Frederick William's brother in Paris that the occupation of the fortresses had passed from the narrow domain of particular politics into the great field of general policy. He meant, of course, that he was thereby virtually holding in check not merely Prussia, but Russia and Austria as well. The limitation set by him to the active military force of the captive state was easily evaded by the subterfuge of substituting new recruits for those who had completed their training in the ranks; but the French occupation seemed to be virtually permanent.
The military reorganization of Austria was already complete, and Metternich wrote on July twenty-sixth, 1807, to Stadion, the minister of state, that as the peace of Tilsit had sown broadcast the germs of its own destruction, the wisdom of his correspondent's administration would one day bring Austria to the point where three hundred thousand men united under one will and directed to one goal would play the first role in Europe, "in a moment of universal anarchy, at one of those epochs which always follow great usurpations, and wipe out the traces of the conquerors; an epoch of which no one can foretell the date, but which nothing postpones except the life of a single man, and which all the genius of that man can so much the less postpone as he has not yet taken the first step to preclude its certain results." This reference to Napoleon's childlessness and the dependence of his system on his single life is clear enough. The Emperor of the French was himself thoroughly aware of the influence exerted by such a consideration upon the course of affairs, and in consequence his dealing with Francis was somewhat less peremptory than that with Frederick William. Nevertheless, the results were exceedingly humiliating to Austria's pride. In a treaty concluded at Fontainebleau on October tenth, 1807, with reference to the Italian frontier, her dominions were shorn to the quick. At Napoleon's suggestion, Count Starhemberg, her ambassador in London, intimated that England, in the interest of peace, ought to restore the Danish fleet and make terms with France. On the prompt refusal of Great Britain to listen, the envoy withdrew from London; but he did not leave the English cabinet in doubt as to the cause. He knew and broadly hinted that though his master dared not trifle with a Franco-Russian alliance, his heart was with the English cause. To all outward appearance, therefore, Austria was quite as subservient as Prussia to the mighty coalition of France and Russia.