In this strain Blucher constantly spoke to me; and as I never thought it right to play the part of the public functionary in the drawing-room I replied to him with the reserve necessary in my situation. I could not tell him how much my anticipations frequently coincided with his; but I never hesitated to express to him how much I wished to see a reasonable peace concluded.
Blucher's arrival at Hamburg was preceded by that of Prince Paul of Wutrtemberg, the second son of one of the two kings created by Napoleon, whose crowns were not yet a year old. This young Prince, who was imbued with the ideas of liberty and independence which then prevailed in Germany, had taken a headlong step. He had quitted Stuttgart to serve in the Prussian campaign without having asked his father's permission, which inconsiderate proceeding might have drawn Napoleon's anger upon the King of Wurtemberg. The King of Prussia advanced Prince Paul to the rank of general, but he was taken prisoner at the very commencement of hostilities. Prince Paul was not, as has been erroneously stated, conducted to Stuttgart by a captain of gendarmerie. He came to Hamburg, where I received many visits from him. He did not yet possess very definite ideas as to what he wished; for after he was made prisoner he expressed to me his strong desire to enter the French service, and often asked me to solicit for him an interview with the Emperor. He obtained this interview, and remained for a long time in Paris, where I know he has frequently resided since the Restoration.
The individuals whom I had to observe in Hamburg gave me much less trouble than our neighbours at Altona. The number of the latter had considerably augmented, since the events of the war had compelled a great number of emigrants who had taken refuge at Munster to leave that town. They all proceeded to Altona. Conquered countries became as dangerous to them as the land which they had forsaken. The most distinguished amongst the individuals assembled at Altona were Vicomte de Sesmaisons, the Bailly d'Hautefeuille, the Duchess of Luxembourg, the Marquis de Bonnard, the Due d'Aumont (then Due de Villequier), the wife of Marshal de Brogue and her daughter, Cardinal de Montmorency, Madame de Cosse, her two daughters and her son (and a priest), and the Bishop of Boulogne.
Bonaparte stayed long enough at Berlin to permit of the arrival of a deputation from the French Senate to congratulate him on his first triumphs. I learned that in this instance the Senatorial deputation, departing from its accustomed complaisance, ventured not to confine itself to compliments and felicitations, but went so far as to interfere with the Emperor's plan of the campaign, to speak of the danger that might be incurred and finally to express a desire to in passing the Oder, see peace concluded. Napoleon received this communication with a very bad grace. He thought the Senators very bold to meddle with his affairs, treated the conscript fathers of France as if they had been inconsiderate youths, protested, according to custom, his sincere love of peace, and told the deputation that it was Prussia, backed by Russia, and not he, who wished for war!
All the German Princes who had taken part against Napoleon fled to Altona after the battle of Jena with as much precipitation as the emigrants themselves. The Hereditary Prince of Weimar, the Duchess of Holstein, Prince Belmonte-Pignatelli, and a multitude of other persons distinguished for rank and fortune, arrived there almost simultaneously. Among the persons who took refuge in Altona were some intriguers, of whom Fauche-Borel was one. I remember receiving a report respecting a violent altercation which Fauche had the audacity to enter into with Comte de Gimel because he could not extort money from the Count in payment of his intrigues. Comte de Gimel had only funds for the payment of pensions, and, besides, he had too much sense to suppose there was any utility in the stupid pamphlets of Fauche-Borel, and therefore he dismissed him with a refusal. Fauche was insolent, which compelled Comte de Gimel to send him about his business as he deserved. This circumstance, which was first communicated to me in a report, has since been confirmed by a person who witnessed the scene. Fauche-Borel merely passed through Hamburg, and embarked for London on board the same ship which took Lord Morpeth back to England.
—[Louis Fauche-Borel (1762-1829), a Swiss who devoted himself to the cause of the Royalists. As Louis stepped on the shore of France in 1814, Fauche-Borel was ready to assist him from the boat, and was met with the gracious remark that he was always at hand when a service was required. His services were however left unrewarded]—
Alarm of the city of Hamburg—The French at Bergdorf—Favourable orders issued by Bernadotte—Extortions in Prussia—False endorsements—Exactions of the Dutch—Napoleon's concern for his wounded troops—Duroc's mission to the King of Prussia—Rejection of the Emperor's demands—My negotiations at Hamburg—Displeasure of the King of Sweden—M. Netzel and M. Wetteratedt.
At this critical moment Hamburg was menaced on all sides; the French even occupied a portion of its territory. The French troops, fortunately for the country, were attached to the corps commanded by the Prince de Ponte-Corvo. This military occupation alarmed the town of Hamburg, to which, indeed, it proved very injurious. I wrote to Marshal Bernadotte on the subject. The grounds on which the Senate appealed for the evacuation of their territory were such that hernadotte could not but acknowledge their justice. The prolonged stay of the French troops in the bailiwick of Bergdorf, which had all the appearance of an occupation, might have led to the confiscation of all Hamburg property in England, to the laying an embargo on the vessels of the Republic, and consequently to the ruin of a great part of the trade of France and Holland, which was carried on under the flag of Hamburg. There was no longer any motive for occupying the bailiwick of Bergdorf when there were no Prussians in that quarter. It would have been an absurd misfortune that eighty men stationed in that bailiwick should, for the sake of a few louis and a few ells of English cloth, have occasioned the confiscation of Hamburg, French, and Dutch property to the amount of 80,000,000 francs.
Marshal Bernadotte replied to me on the 16th of November, and said, "I hasten to inform you that I have given orders for the evacuation of the bailiwick of Bergdorf and all the Hamburg territory. If you could obtain from the Senate of Hamburg, by the 19th of this month, two or three thousand pairs of shoes, you would oblige me greatly. They shall be paid for in goods or in money."
I obtained what Bernadotte required from the Senate, who knew his integrity, while they were aware that that quality was not the characteristic of all who commanded the French armies! What extortions took place during the occupation of Prussia! I will mention one of the means which, amongst others, was employed at Berlin to procure money. Bills of exchange were drawn, on which endorsements were forged, and these bills were presented to the bankers on whom they were purported to be drawn. One day some of these forged bills to a large amount were presented to Messrs. Mathiesen and Silleine of Hamburg, who, knowing the endorsement to be forged, refused to cash them. The persons who presented the bills carried their impudence so far as to send for the gendarmes, but the bankers persisted in their refusal. I was informed of this almost incredible scene, which had drawn together a great number of people. Indignant at such audacious robbery, I instantly proceeded to the spot and sent away the gendarmes, telling them it was not their duty to protect robbers, and that it was my business to listen to any just claims which might be advanced. Under Clarke's government at Berlin the inhabitants were subjected to all kinds of oppression and exaction. Amidst these exactions and infamous proceedings, which are not the indispensable consequences of war, the Dutch generals distinguished themselves by a degree of rapacity which brought to mind the period of the French Republican peculations in Italy. It certainly was not their new King who set the example of this conduct. His moderation was well known, and it was as much the result of his disposition as of his honest principles. Louis Bonaparte, who was a King in spite of himself, afforded an example of all that a good man could suffer upon a usurped throne.
When the King of Prussia found himself defeated at every point he bitterly repented having undertaken a war which had delivered his States into Napoleon's power in less time than that in which Austria had fallen the preceding year. He wrote to the Emperor, soliciting a suspension of hostilities. Rapp was present when Napoleon received the King of Prussia's letter. "It is too late," said he; "but, no matter, I wish to stop the effusion of blood; I am ready to agree to anything which is not prejudicial to the honour or interests of the nation." Then calling Duroc, he gave him orders to visit the wounded, and see that they wanted for nothing. He added, "Visit every man on my behalf; give them all the consolation of which they stand in need; afterwards find the King of Prussia, and if he offers reasonable proposals let me know them."
Negotiations were commenced, but Napoleon's conditions were of a nature which was considered inadmissible. Prussia still hoped for assistance from the Russian forces. Besides, the Emperor's demands extended to England, who at that moment had no reason to accede to the pretensions of France. The Emperor wished England to restore to France the colonies which she bad captured since the commencement of the war, that Russia should restore to(o) the Porte Moldavia and Wallachia, which she then occupied; in short, he acted upon the advice which some tragedy-king gives to his ambassador: "Demand everything, that you may obtain nothing." The Emperor's demands were, in fact, so extravagant that it was scarcely possible he himself could entertain the hope of their being accepted. Negotiations, alternately resumed and abandoned, were carried on with coldness on both sides until the moment when England prevailed on Russia to join Prussia against France; they then altogether ceased: and it was for the sake of appearing to wish for their renewal, on bases still more favourable to France, that Napoleon sent Duroc to the King of Prussia. Duroc found the King at Osterode, on the other side of the Vistula. The only answer he received from His Majesty was, "The time is passed;" which was very much like Napoleon's observation; "It is too late."
Whilst Duroc was on his mission to the King of Prussia I was myself negotiating at Hamburg. Bonaparte was very anxious to detach Sweden from the coalition, and to terminate the war with her by a separate treaty. Sweden, indeed, was likely to be very useful to him if Prussia, Russia, and England should collect a considerable mass of troops in the north. Denmark was already with us, and by gaining over Sweden also the union of those two powers might create a diversion, and give serious alarm to the coalition, which would be obliged to concentrate its principal force to oppose the attack of the grand army in Poland. The opinions of M. Peyron, the Swedish Minister at Hamburg, were decidedly opposed to the war in which his sovereign was engaged with France. I was sorry that this gentleman left Hamburg upon leave of absence for a year just at the moment I received my instructions from the Emperor upon this subject. M. Peyron was succeeded by M. Netzel, and I soon had the pleasure of perceiving that his opinions corresponded in every respect with those of his predecessor.
As soon as he arrived M. Netzel sought an interview to speak to me on the subject of the Swedes, who had been taken prisoners on the Drave. He entreated me to allow the officers to return to Sweden on their parole. I was anxious to get Netzel's demand acceded to, and availed myself of that opportunity to lead him gradually to the subject of my instructions. I had good reason to be satisfied with the manner in which he received my first overtures. I said nothing to him of the justice of which he was not previously convinced. I saw he understood that his sovereign would have everything to gain by a reconciliation with France, and he told me that all Sweden demanded peace. Thus encouraged, I told him frankly that I was instructed to treat with him. M. Netzel assured me that M. de Wetterstedt, the King of Sweden's private secretary, with whom he was intimate, and from whom he showed me several letters, was of the same opinion on the subject as himself. He added, that he had permission to correspond with the King, and that he would; write the same evening to his sovereign and M.. de Wetterstedt to acquaint them with our conversation.
It will be perceived, from what I have stated, that no negotiation was ever commenced under more favourable auspices; but who could foresee what turn the King of Sweden would take? That unlucky Prince took M. Netzel's letter in very ill part, and M. de Wetterstedt himself received peremptory orders to acquaint M. Netzel with his sovereign's displeasure at his having presumed to visit a French Minster, and, above all, to enter into a political conversation with him, although it was nothing more than conversation. The King did not confine himself to reproaches; M. Netzel came in great distress to inform me he had received orders to quit Hamburg immediately, without even awaiting the arrival of his successor. He regarded his disgrace as complete. I had the pleasure of seeing M. Netzel again in 1809 at Hamburg, where he was on a mission from King Charles XIII.
The Continental system—General indignation excited by it—Sale of licences by the French Government—Custom-house system at Hamburg— My letter to the Emperor—Cause of the rupture with Russia— Bernadotte's visit to me—Trial by court-martial for the purchase of a sugar-loaf—Davoust and the captain "rapporteur"—Influence of the Continental system on Napoleon's fall.
I have a few remarks to make on the famous Continental system, which was a subject of such engrossing interest. I had, perhaps, better opportunities than any other person of observing the fraud and estimating the fatal consequences of this system. It took its rise during the war in 1806, and was brought into existence by a decree; dated from Berlin. The project was conceived by weak counsellors, who; perceiving the Emperor's just indignation at the duplicity of England, her repugnance to enter, into negotiations with him, and her constant endeavours to raise enemies against France, prevailed upon him to issue the decree, which I could only regard as an act of madness and tyranny. It was not a decree, but fleets, that were wanting. Without a navy it was ridiculous to declare the British Isles in a state of blockade, whilst the English fleets were in fact blockading all the French ports. This declaration was, however, made in the Berlin Decree. This is what was called the Continental system! which, in plain terms, was nothing but a system of fraud and pillage.
One can now scarcely conceive how Europe could for a single day endure that fiscal tyranny which extorted exorbitant prices for articles which the habits of three centuries had rendered indispensable to the poor as well as to the rich. So little of truth is there in the pretence that this system had for its sole and exclusive object to prevent the sale of English goods, that licences for their disposal were procured at a high price by whoever was rich enough to pay for them. The number and quality of the articles exported from France were extravagantly exaggerated. It was, indeed, necessary to take out some of the articles is compliance with the Emperor's wishes, but they were only thrown into the sea. And yet no one had the honesty to tell the Emperor that England sold on the continent but bought scarcely anything. The speculation in licences was carried to a scandalous extent only to enrich a few, and to satisfy the short-sighted views of the contrivers of the system.
This system proves what is written in the annals of the human heart and mind, that the cupidity of the one is insatiable, and the errors of the other incorrigible. Of this I will cite an example, though it refers to a period posterior to the origin of the Continental system. In Hamburg, in 1811, under Davoust's government, a poor man had well-nigh been shot for having introduced into the department of the Elbe a small loaf of sugar for the use of his family, while at the same moment Napoleon was perhaps signing a licence for the importation of a million of sugar-loaves.
—[In this same year (1811) Murat, as King of Naples, not only winked at the infringement of the Continental system, but almost openly broke the law himself. His troops in Calabria and all round his immense line sea coast, carried on an active trade with Sicilian and English smugglers. This was so much the case that an officer never set out from Naples to join, without, being, requested by his wife, his relations or friends, to bring them some English muslins, some sugar and coffee, together with a few needles, pen-knives, and razors. Some of the Neapolitan officers embarked in really large commercial operations, going shares with the custom house people who were there to enforce the law, and making their soldiers load and unload the contraband vessels. The Comte de ——-, a French officer on Murat's staff, was very noble, but very poor, and excessively extravagant. After making several vain efforts to set him up in the world, the King told him one day he would give him the command of the troops round the Gulf of Salerno; adding that the devil was in it if he could not make a fortune in such a capital smuggling district, in a couple of years.—The Count took the hint, and did make a fortune.—Editor 1836 edition.]—
Smuggling on a small scale was punished with death, whilst the Government themselves carried it on extensively. The same cause filled the Treasury with money, and the prisons with victims:
The custom-house laws of this period, which waged open war against rhubarb, and armed the coasts of the Continent against the introduction of senna, did not save the Continental system from destruction. Ridicule attended the installation of the odious prevotal courts. The president of the Prevotal Court at Hamburg, who was a Frenchman, delivered an address, in which he endeavoured to prove that in the time of the Ptolemies there had existed extraordinary fiscal tribunals, and that it was to those Egypt owed her prosperity. Terror was thus introduced by the most absurd folly. The ordinary customhouse officers, formerly so much abhorred in Hamburg, declared with reason that they would soon be regretted, and than the difference between them and the prevotal courts would soon be felt. Bonaparte's counsellors led him to commit the folly of requiring that a ship which had obtained a licence should export merchandise equivalent to that of the colonial produce to be imported under the authority of the licence. What was the consequence? The speculators bought at a low price old stores of silk-which change of fashion had made completely unsaleable, and as those articles were prohibited in England they were thrown into the sea without their loss being felt. The profits of the speculation made ample amends for the sacrifice. The Continental system was worthy only of the ages of ignorance and barbarism, and had it been admissible in theory, was impracticable in application.
—[Sydney Smith was struck with the, ridiculous side of the war of tariffs: "We are told that the Continent is to be reconquered by the want of rhubarb and plums." (Essays of Sydney Smith, p. 533, edition of 1861).]—
It cannot be sufficiently stigmatised. They were not the friends of the Emperor who recommended a system calculated to rouse the indignation of Europe, and which could not fail to create reaction. To tyrannize over the human species, and to exact uniform admiration and submission, is to require an impossibility. It would seem that fate, which had still some splendid triumphs in store for Bonaparte, intended to prepare beforehand the causes which were to deprive him of all his triumphs at once, and plunge him into reverses even greater than the good fortune which had favoured his elevation.
The prohibition of trade, the habitual severity in the execution of this odious system, made it operate like a Continental impost. I will give a proof of this, and I state nothing but what came under my own observation. The fiscal regulations were very rigidly enforced at Hamburg, and along the two lines of Cuxhaven and Travemunde. M. Eudel, the director of that department, performed his duty with zeal and disinterestedness. I feel gratified in rendering him this tribute. Enormous quantities of English merchandise and colonial produce were accumulated at Holstein, where they almost all arrived by way of Kiel and Hudsum, and were smuggled over the line at the expense of a premium of 33 and 40 per cent. Convinced of this fact by a thousand proofs, and weary of the vexations of the preventive system, I took upon myself to lay my opinions on the subject before the Emperor. He had given me permission to write to him personally, without any intermediate agency, upon everything that I might consider essential to his service. I sent an extraordinary courier to Fontainebleau, where he then was, and in my despatch I informed him that, notwithstanding his preventive guard, every prohibited article was smuggled in because the profits on the sale in Germany, Poland, Italy, and even France, into which the contrabrand goods found their way, were too considerable not to induce persons to incur all risks to obtain them. I advised him, at the very time he was about to unite the Hanse Towns to the French Empire, to permit merchandise to be imported subject to a duty of 33 per cent., which was about equal to the amount of the premium for insurance. The Emperor adopted my advice without hesitation, and in 1811 the regulation produced a revenue of upwards of 60,000,000 francs in Hamburg alone.
This system, however, embroiled us with Sweden and Russia, who could not endure that Napoleon should enact a strict blockade from them, whilst he was himself distributing licences in abundance. Bernadotte, on his way to Sweden, passed through Hamburg in October 1810. He stayed with me three days, during which time he scarcely saw any person but myself. He asked my opinion as to what he should do in regard to the Continental system. I did not hesitate to declare to him, not as a French Minister, but as a private individual to his friend, that in his place, at the head of a poor nation, which could only subsist by the exchange of its territorial productions with England, I would open my ports, and give the Swedes gratuitously that general licence which Bonaparte sold in detail to intrigue and cupidity.
The Berlin decree could not fail to cause a reaction against the Emperor's fortune by raising up whole nations against him. The hurling of twenty kings from their thrones would have excited less hatred than this contempt for the wants of nations. This profound ignorance of the maxims of political economy caused general privation and misery, which in their turn occasioned general hostility. The system could only succeed in the impossible event of all the powers of Europe honestly endeavouring to carry it into effect. A single free port would have destroyed it. In order to ensure its complete success it was necessary to conquer and occupy all countries, and never to evacuate them. As a means of ruining England it was contemptible. It was necessary that all Europe should be compelled by force of arms to join this absurd coalition, and that the same force should be constantly employed to maintain it. Was this possible? The captain "rapporteur" of a court-martial allowed a poor peasant to escape the punishment due to the offence of having bought a loaf of sugar beyond the custom-house barrier. This officer was some time afterwards at a dinner given by Marshal Davoust; the latter said to him, "You have a very scrupulous conscience, sir; go to headquarters and you will find an order there for you." This order sent him eighty leagues from Hamburg. It is necessary to have witnessed, as I have, the numberless vexations and miseries occasioned by the unfortunate Continental system to understand the mischief its authors did in Europe, and how much that mischief contributed to Napoleon's fall.
—[The so-called Continental system was framed by Napoleon in revenge for the English very extended system of blockades, after Trafalgar had put it out of his power to attempt to keep the seas. By these decrees all ports occupied by the French were closed to the English, and all English goods were to be destroyed wherever found in any country occupied by the French. All States under French influence had to adopt this system. It must be remembered that Napoleon eventually held or enforced his system on all the coastlines of Europe, except that of Spain and Turkey; but as Bourrienne shows the plan of giving licences to break his own system was too lucrative to be resisted by him, or, still more, by his officers. For the working of the system in the occupied lands, Laffite the banker told Savary it was a grand idea, but impracticable (Savary, tome v. p. 110). The Emperor Alexander is reported to have said, after visiting England in 1814, that he believed the system would have reduced England if it had lasted another year. The English, who claimed the right of blockading any coast with but little regard to the effectiveness of the blockade, retaliated by orders in Council, the chief of which are dated 7th January 1807, and 11th November 1807, by which no ships of any power were allowed to trade between any French ports, or the ports of any country closed to England. Whatever the real merits of the system, and although it was the cause of war between the United States and England, its execution did most to damage France and Napoleon, and to band all Europe against it. It is curious that even in 1831 a treaty had to be made to settle the claims of the United States on France for unjust seizures under these decrees.]—
New system of war—Winter quarters—The Emperor's Proclamation— Necessity of marching to meet the Russians—Distress in the Hanse Towns—Order for 50,000 cloaks—Seizure of Russian corn and timber— Murat's entrance into Warsaw—Re-establishment of Poland—Duroc's accident—M. de Talleyrand's carriage stopped by the mud—Napoleon's power of rousing the spirit of his troops—His mode of dictating— The Duke of Mecklenburg-Schwerin—His visits to Hamburg—The Duke of Weimar—His letter and present—Journey of the Hereditary Prince of Denmark to Paris—Batter, the English spy—Traveling clerks—Louis Bonaparte and the Berlin decree—Creation of the Kingdom of Saxony— Veneration of Germany for the King of Saxony—The Emperor's uncertainty respecting Poland—Fetes and reviews at Warsaw—The French Government at the Emperor's head quarters—Ministerial portfolios sent to Warsaw.—Military preparations during the month of January—Difference of our situation daring the campaigns of Vienna and Prussia—News received and sent—Conduct of the Cabinet of Austria similar to that of the Cabinet of Berlin—Battle of Eylau—Unjust accusation against Bernadotte—Death of General d'Hautpoult—Te Deum chanted by the Russians—Gardanne's mission to Persia
Bonaparte was not only beyond all comparison the greatest captain of modern times, but he may be said to have wrought a complete change in the art of war. Before his time the most able generals regulated the fighting season by the almanac. It was customary in Europe to brave the cannon's mouth only from the first fine days of spring to the last fine days of autumn; and the months of rain, snow, and frost were passed in what were called winter quarters. Pichegru, in Holland, had set the example of indifference to temperature. At Austerlitz, too, Bonaparte had braved the severity of winter; this answered his purpose well, and he adopted the same course in 1806. His military genius and activity seemed to increase, and, proud of his troops, he determined to commence a winter campaign in a climate more rigorous than any in which he had yet fought. The men, chained to his destiny, were now required to brave the northern blast, as they had formerly braved the vertical sun of Egypt. Napoleon, who, above all generals, was remarkable for the choice of his fields of battle, did not wish to wait tranquilly until the Russian army, which was advancing towards Germany, should come to measure its strength with him in the plains of conquered Prussia; he resolved to march to meet it, and to reach it before it should arose the Vistula; but before he left Berlin to explore and conqueror, Poland and the confines of Russia; he addressed a proclamation to his troops, in which he stated all that had hitherto been achieved by the French army, and at the same time announced his future intentions. It was especially advisable that he should march forward, for, had he waited until the Russians had passed the Vistula, there could probably have been no winter campaign, and he would have been obliged either to take up miserable winter quarters between the Vistula and the Oder, or to recross the Oder to combat the enemy in Prussia. Napoleon's military genius and indefatigable activity served him admirably on this occasion, and the proclamation just alluded to, which was dated from Berlin before his departure from Charlottenburg; proves that he did not act fortuitously, as he frequently did, but that his calculations were well-made.
—[Before leaving the capital of Prussia Bonaparte stole from the monument, of Frederick the Great his sword and military orders. He also plundered the galleries of Berlin and Potsdam of their best pictures and statues, thus continuing the system he had began is Italy. All those things he sent to Paris as trophies of victory and glory.—Editor of as 1836 edition.]
A rapid and immense impulse given to great masses of men by the, will of a single individual may produce transient lustre and dazzle the eyes of the multitude; but when, at a distance from the theatre of glory, we flee only the melancholy results which have been produced. The genius of conquest can only be regarded as the genius of destruction. What a sad picture was often presented to my eyes! I was continually doomed to hear complaints of the general distress, and to execute orders which augmented the immense sacrifices already made by the city of Hamburg. Thus, for example, the Emperor desired me to furnish him with 50,000 cloaks which I immediately did. I felt the importance of such an order with the approach of winter, and in a climate—the rigour of which our troops had not yet encountered. I also received orders to seize at Lubeck (Which town, as I have already stated, had been alternately taken and retaken try Blucher and Bernadotte) 400,000 lasts of corn,—[A last weighs 2000 kilogrammes]—and to send them to Magdeburg. This corn belonged to Russia. Marshal Mortier, too, had seized some timber for building, which also belonged to Russia; and which was estimated at 1,400,000 francs.
Meanwhile our troops continued to advance with such rapidity that hefore the end of November Murat arrived at Warsaw, at the head of the advanced guard of the Grand Army, of which, he had the command. The Emperor's headquarters, were then at Posen, and, he received deputations from all parts soliciting the re-establishment and independence of the Kingdom of Poland.
Rapp informed me that after receiving the deputation from Warsaw the Emperor said to him, "I love the Poles; their enthusiastic character pleases me; I should like to make them independent, but that is a difficult matter. Austria, Russia, and Prussia have all had a slice of the cake; when the match is once kindled who knows where, the conflagration may stop? My first duty, is towards France, which I must not sacrifice to Poland; we must refer this matter to the sovereign of all things—Time, he will presently show us what we must do." Had Sulkowsky lived Napoleon might have recollected what he had said to him in Egypt, and, in all probability he would have raised up a power, the dismemberment of which; towards the close of the last century, began to overturn the political equilibrium which had subsisted in Europe since the peace of Westphalia in 1648.
It was at the headquarters at Posen that Duroc rejoined the Emperor after his mission to the King of Prussia. His carriage overturned on the way, and he had the misfortune to break his collar-bone. All the letters I received were nothing but a succession of complaints on the bad state of the roads. Our troops were absolutely fighting in mud, and it was with extreme difficulty that the artillery and caissons of the army could be moved along. M. de Talleyrand had been summoned to headquarters by the Emperor, in the expectation of treating for peace, and I was informed that his carriage stuck in the mud and he was detained on his journey for twelve hours. A soldier having asked one of the persons in M. de Talleyrand's suite who the traveller was, was informed that he was the Minister for Foreign Affairs. "Ah! bah!" said the soldier, "why does he come with his diplomacy to such a devil of a country as this?"
The Emperor entered Warsaw on the 1st of January 1807. Most of the reports which he had received previous to his entrance had concurred in describing the dissatisfaction of the troops, who for some time had had to contend with bad roads, bad weather, and all aorta of privations.' Bonaparte said to the generals who informed him that the enthusiasm of his troops had been succeeded by dejection and discontent, "Does their spirit fail them when they come in sight of the enemy?"—"No, Sire."— "I knew it; my troops are always the same." Then turning to Rapp he said, "I must rouse them;" and he dictated the following proclamation:
SOLDIERS—It is a year this very hour since you were on the field of Austerlitz, where the Russian battalions fled in disorder, or surrendered up their arms to their conquerors. Next day proposals, of peace were talked of; but they were deceptive. No sooner had the Russians escaped, by perhaps, blamable generosity from the disasters of the third coalition than they contrived a fourth. But the ally on whose tactics they founded their principal hope was no more. His capital, his fortresses; his magazines; his arsenals, 280 flags, and 700 field-pieces have fallen into our power. The Oder, the Wartha, the deserts of Poland, and the inclemency of the season have not for a moment retarded your progress. You have braved all; surmounted all; every obstacle has fled at your approach. The Russians have in vain endeavoured to defend the capital of ancient and illustrious Poland. The French eagle hovers over the Vistula. The brave and unfortunate Poles, on beholding you, fancied they saw the legions of Sobieski, returning from their memorable expedition.
Soldiers, we will not lay down our arms until a general peace has secured the power of our allies and restored to us our colonies and our freedom of trade. We have gained on the Elbe and the Oder, Pondicherry, our Indian establishments, the Cape of Good Hope, and the Spanish colonies. Why should the Russians have the right of opposing destiny and thwarting our just designs? They and we are still the soldiers who fought at Austerlitz.
Rapp thus describes the entrance of the French into Warsaw, and adds a few anecdotes connected with that event:
"At length we entered the Polish capital. The King of Naples had preceded us, and had driven the Russians from the city. Napoleon was received with enthusiasm. The Poles thought that the moment of their regeneration had arrived, and that their wishes were fulfilled. It would be difficult to describe the joy thus evinced, and the respect with which they treated us. The French troops, however, were not quite so well pleased; they manifested the greatest repugnance to crossing the Vistula. The idea of want and bad weather had inspired them with the greatest aversion to Poland, and they were inexhaustible, in their jokes on the country."
When Bonaparte dictated his proclamations—and how many have I not written from his dictation!—he was for the moment inspired, and he evinced all the excitement which distinguishes the Italian improvisatori. To follow him it was necessary to write with inconceivable rapidity. When I have read over to him what he has dictated I have often known him to smile triumphantly at the effect which he expected any particular phrase would produce. In general his proclamations turned on three distinct points—(1) Praising his soldiers for what they had done; (2) pointing out to them what they had yet to do; and (3) abusing his enemies. The proclamation to which I have just now alluded was circulated profusely through Germany, and it is impossible to conceive the effect it produced. on the whole army. The corps stationed in the rear burned too pass, by forced marches, the space which still separated them from headquarters; and those who were nearer the Emperor forgot their fatigues and privations and were only anxious to encounter the enemy. They frequently could not understand what Napoleon said in these proclamations; but no matter for that, they would have followed him cheerfully barefooted and without provisions. Such was the enthusiasm, or rather the fanaticism, which Napoleon could inspire among his troops when he thought proper to rouse them, as he termed it.
When, on a former occasion, I spoke of the Duke of, Mecklenburg-Schwerin and his family, I forgot a circumstance respecting my intercourse with him which now occurs to my memory. When, on his expulsion from his States, after the battle of Jena, he took refuge in Altona, he requested, through the medium of his Minister at Hamburg, Count von Plessen, that I would give him permission occasionally to visit that city. This permission I granted without hesitation; but the Duke observed no precaution in his visits, and I made some friendly observations to him on the subject. I knew the object of his visits. It was a secret connection in Hamburg; but in consequence of my observations he removed the lady to Altona, and assured me that he adopted that determination to avoid committing me. He afterwards came very seldom to Hamburg; but as we were on the best understanding with Denmark I frequently saw his daughter, and son-in-law, who used to visit me at a house I had in Holstein, near Altona.
There I likewise saw, almost every day, the Duke of Weimar, an excellent old man. I had the advantage of being on such terms of intimacy with him that my house was in some measure his. He also had lost his States. I was so happy as to contribute to their restitution, for my situation enabled me to exercise some influence on the political indulgences or severities of the Government. I entertained a sincere regard for the Duke of Weimar, and I greatly regretted his departure. No sooner had he arrived in Berlin than he wrote me a letter of, thanks, to which he added the present of a diamond, in token of his grateful remembrance of me. The Duke of Mecklenburg was not so fortunate as the Duke of Weimar, in spite of his alliance with the reigning family of Denmark. He was obliged to remain at Altona until the July following, for his States were restored only by the Treaty of Tilsit. As soon as it was known that the Emperor had returns to Paris the Duke's son, the Hereditary Prince, visited me in Hamburg, and asked me whether I thought he could present himself to the Emperor, for the purpose of expressing his own and his father's gratitude. He was a very well-educated young man. He set out, accompanied by M. Oertzen and Baron von Brandstaten. Some time afterwards I saw his name in the Moniteur, in one of the lists of presentations to Napoleon, the collection of which, during the Empire, might be regarded as a general register of the nobility of Europe.
It is commonly said that we may accustom ourselves to anything, but to me this remark is subject to an exception; for, in spite of the necessity to which I was reduced of employing spies, I never could surmount the disgust I felt at them, especially when I saw men destined to fill a respectable rank in society degrade themselves to that infamous profession. It is impossible to conceive the artifices to which these men resort to gain the confidence of those whom they wish to betray. Of this the following example just now occurs to my mind.
One of those wretches who are employed in certain circumstances, and by all parties, came to offer his services to me. His name was Butler, and he had been sent from England to the Continent as a spy upon the French Government. He immediately came to me, complaining of pretended enemies and unjust treatment. He told me he had the greatest wish to serve the Emperor, and that he would make any sacrifice to prove his fidelity. The real motive of his change of party was, as it is with all such men, merely the hope of a higher reward. Most extraordinary were the schemes he adopted to prevent his old employers from suspecting that he was serving new ones. To me he continually repeated how happy he was to be revenged on his enemies in London. He asked me to allow him to go to Paris to be examined by the Minister of Police. The better to keep up the deception he requested that on his arrival in Paris he might be confined in the Temple, and that there might be inserted in the French journals an announcement in the following terms:
"John Butler, commonly called Count Butler, has just been arrested and sent to Paris under a good escort by the French Minister at Hamburg."
At the expiration of a few weeks Butler, having received his instruction's, set out for London, but by way of precaution he said it would be well to publish in the journals another announcement; which was as follows:
"John Butler, who has been arrested in Hamburg as an English agent, and conveyed to Paris, is ordered to quit France and the territories occupied by the French armies and their allies, and not to appear there again until the general peace."
In England Butler enjoyed the honours of French prosecution. He was regarded as a victim who deserved all the confidence of the enemies of France. He furnished Fouche with a considerable amount of information, and he was fortunate enough to escape being hanged.
Notwithstanding the pretended necessity of employing secret agents, Bonaparte was unwilling that, even under that pretext, too many communications should be established between France and England: Fouche, nevertheless, actively directed the evolutions of his secret army. Ever ready to seize on anything that could give importance to the police and encourage the suspicions of the Emperor, Fouche wrote to me that the government had received certain—information that many Frenchmen traveling for commercial houses in France were at Manchester purchasing articles of English manufacture. This was true; but how was it to be prevented? These traveling clerks passed through Holland, where they easily procured a passage to England.
Louis Bonaparte, conceiving that the King of Holland ought to sacrifice the interests of his new subjects to the wishes of his brother, was at first very lenient as to the disastrous Continental system. But at this Napoleon soon manifested his displeasure, and about the end of the year 1806 Louis was reduced to the necessity of ordering the strict observance of the blockade. The facility with which the travelers of French commercial houses passed from Holland to England gave rise to other alarms on the part of the French Government. It was said that since Frenchmen could so easily pass from the Continent to Great Britain, the agents of the English Cabinet might, by the same means, find their way to the Continent. Accordingly the consuls were directed to keep a watchful eye, not only upon individuals who evidently came from England, but upon those who might by any possibility come from that country. This plan was all very well, but how was it to be put into execution ? . . . The Continent was, nevertheless, inundated with articles of English manufacture, for this simple reason, that, however powerful may be the will of a sovereign, it is still less powerful and less lasting than the wants of a people. The Continental system reminded me of the law created by an ancient legislator, who, for a crime which he conceived could not possibly be committed, condemned the person who should be guilty of it to throw a bull over Mount Taurus.
It is not my present design to trace a picture of the state of Europe at the close of 1806. I will merely throw together a few facts which came to my knowledge at the time, and which I find in my correspondence. I have already mentioned that the Emperor arrived at Warsaw on the 1st of January. During his stay at Posen he had, by virtue of a treaty concluded with the Elector of Saxony, founded a new kingdom, and consequently extended his power in Germany, by the annexation of the new Kingdom of Saxony to the Confederation of the Rhine. By the terms of this treaty Saxony, so justly famed for her cavalry, was to furnish the Emperor with a contingent of 20,000 men and horses.
It was quite a new spectacle to the Princes of Germany, all accustomed to old habits of etiquette, to see an upstart sovereign treat them as subjects, and even oblige them to consider themselves as such. Those famous Saxons, who had made Charlemagne tremble, threw themselves on the protection of the Emperor; and the alliance of the head of the House of Saxony was not a matter of indifference to Napoleon, for the new King was, on account of his age, his tastes, and his character, more revered than any other German Prince.
From the moment of Napoleon's arrival at Warsaw until the commencement of hostilities against the Russians he was continually solicited to reestablish the throne of Poland, and to restore its chivalrous independence to the ancient empire of the Jagellons. A person who was at that time in Warsaw told me that the Emperor was in the greatest uncertainty as to what he should do respecting Poland. He was entreated to reestablish that ancient and heroic kingdom; but he came to no decision, preferring, according to custom, to submit to events, that he might appear to command them. At Warsaw, indeed, the Emperor passed a great part of his time in fetes and reviews, which, however, did not prevent him from watching, with his eagle eye, every department of the public service, both interior and exterior. He himself was in the capital of Poland, but his vast influence was present everywhere. I heard Duroc say, when we were conversing together about the campaign of Tilsit, that Napoleon's activity and intelligence were never more conspicuously developed.
One very remarkable feature of the imperial wars was, that, with the exception of the interior police, of which Fouche was the soul, the whole government of France was at the headquarters of the Emperor. At Warsaw Napoleon's attention was not only occupied with the affairs of his army, but he directed the whole machinery of the French Government just the same as if he had been in Paris. Daily estafettes, and frequently the useless auditors of the Council of State, brought him reports more or less correct, and curious disclosures which were frequently the invention of the police. The portfolios of the Ministers arrived every week, with the exception of those of the Minister for Foreign Affairs and the Minister of the War Department; the former had first stopped at Mayence with the Empress, but had been called on to Warsaw; and the latter, Clarke, was, for the misfortune of Berlin, governor of that city. This state of things lasted during the ten months of the Emperor's absence from Paris. Louis XIV. said, "I am myself the State." Napoleon did not say this; but, in fact, under his reign the Government of France was always at his headquarters. This circumstance had well-nigh proved fatal to him, on the occasion of the extraordinary conspiracy of Malet, with some points of which I alone, perhaps, am thoroughly acquainted. The Emperor employed the month of January in military preparations for the approaching attack of the Russians, but at the same time he did not neglect the business of the cabinet: with him nothing was suffered to linger in arrear.
While Napoleon was at Warsaw a battle was not the only thing to be thought about; affairs were much more complicated than during the campaign of Vienna. It was necessary, on the one hand, to observe Prussia, which was occupied; and on the other to anticipate the Russians, whose movements indicated that they were inclined to strike the first blow. In the preceding campaign Austria, before the taking of Vienna, was engaged alone. The case was different now: Austria had had only soldiers; and Prussia, as Blucher declared to me, was beginning to have citizens. There was no difficulty in returning from Vienna, but a great deal in returning from Warsaw, in case of failure, notwithstanding the creation of the Kingdom of Saxony, and the provisional government given to Prussia, and to the other States of Germany which we had conquered. None of these considerations escaped the penetration of Napoleon: nothing was omitted in the notes, letters, and official correspondence which came to me from all quarters. Receiving, as I did, accurate information from my own correspondents of all that was passing in Germany, it often happened that I transmitted to the Government the same news which it transmitted to me, not supposing that I previously knew it. Thus, for example, I thought I was apprising the Government of the arming of Austria, of which I received information from headquarters a few days after.
During the Prussian campaign Austria played precisely the same waiting game which Prussia had played clueing the campaign of Austria. As Prussia had, before the battle of Austerlitz, awaited the success or defeat of the French to decide whether she should remain neutral or declare herself against France, so Austria, doubtless supposing that Russia would be more fortunate as the ally of Prussia than she had been as her ally, assembled a corps of 40,000 men in Bohemia. That corps was called an army of observation; but the nature of these armies of observation is well known; they belong to the class of armed neutralities, like the ingenious invention of sanitary cordons. The fact is, that the 40,000 men assembled in Bohemia were destined to aid and assist the Russians in case they should be successful (and who can blame the Austrian Government for wishing to wash away the shame of the Treaty of Presburg?). Napoleon had not a moment to lose, but this activity required no spur; he had hastened the battle of Austerlitz to anticipate Prussia, and he now found it necessary to anticipate Russia in order to keep Austria in a state of indecision.
The Emperor, therefore, left Warsaw about the end of January, and immediately gave orders for engaging the Russian army in the beginning of February; but, in spite of his desire of commencing the attack, he was anticipated. On the 8th of February, at seven in the morning, he was attacked by the Russians, who advanced during a terrible storm of snow, which fell in large flakes. They approached Preussich-Eylau, where the Emperor was, and the Imperial Guard stopped the Russian column. Nearly the whole French army was engaged in that battle-one of the most sanguinary ever fought in Europe. The corps commanded by Bernadotte was not engaged, in the contest; it had been stationed on the left at Mohrungen, whence it menaced Dantzic. The issue of the battle would have been very different had the four, divisions of infantry and the two of cavalry composing Bernadotte's corps arrived in time; but unfortunately the officer instructed to convey orders to Bernadotte to march without delay on Preussich-Eylau was taken by a body of Cossacks; Bernadotte, therefore, did not arrive. Bonaparte, who always liked to throw blame on some one if things did not turn out exactly as he wished, attributed the doubtful success of the day to the absence of Bernadotte; in this he was right; but to make his absence a reproach to that Marshal was a gross injustice. Bernadotte was accused of not having been willing to march on Preussich-Eylau, though, as it was alleged, General d'Hautpoult had informed him of the necessity of his presence. But how can that fact be ascertained, since General d'Hautpoult was killed on that same day? Who can assure us that that General had been able to communicate with the Marshal?
Those who knew Bonaparte, his cunning, and the artful advantage he would sometimes take of words which he attributed to the dead, will easily solve the enigma. The battle of Eylau was terrible. Night came on—Bernadotte's corps was instantly, but in vain, expected; and after a great loss the French army had the melancholy honour of passing the night on the field of battle. Bernadotte at length arrived, but too late. He met the enemy, who were retreating without the fear of being molested towards Konigsberg, the only capital remaining to Prussia. The King of Prussia was then at Memel, a small port on the Baltic, thirty leagues from Konigsberg.
After the battle of Eylau both sides remained stationary, and several days elapsed without anything remarkable taking place. The offers of peace made by the Emperor, with very little earnestness it is true, were disdainfully rejected, as if a victory disputed with Napoleon was to be regarded as a triumph. The battle of Eylau seemed to turn the heads of the Russians, who chanted Te Deum on the occasion. But while the Emperor was making preparations to advance, his diplomacy was taking effect in a distant quarter, and raising up against Russia an old and formidable enemy. Turkey declared war against her. This was a powerful diversion, and obliged Russia to strip her western frontiers to secure a line of defence on the south.
Some time after General Gardanne set out on the famous embassy to Persia; for which the way had been paved by the success of the mission of my friend, Amedee Jaubert. This embassy was not merely one of those pompous legations such as Charlemagne, Louis XIV., and Louis XVI. received from the Empress Irene, the King of Siam, and Tippoo Saib. It was connected with ideas which Bonaparte had conceived at the very dawn of his power. It was, indeed, the light from the East which fast enabled him to see his greatness in perspective; and that light never ceased to fix his attention and dazzle his imagination. I know well that Gardanne's embassy was at first conceived on a much grander scale than that on which it was executed. Napoleon had resolved to send to the Shah of Persia 4000 infantry, commanded by chosen and experienced officers, 10,000 muskets, and 50 pieces, of cannon; and I also know that orders were given for the execution of this design. The avowed object of the Emperor was to enable the Shah of Persia to make an important diversion, with 80,000 men, in, the eastern provinces of Russia. But there was likewise another, an old and constant object, which was always, uppermost in Napoleon's mind, namely the wish to strike at England in the very heart of her Asiatic possessions. Such was the principal motive of Gardanne's mission, but circumstances did not permit the Emperor, to, give, it, all the importance he desired. He contented himself with sending a few officers of engineers and artillery, to Persia, who, on their arrival, were astonished at the number of English they found there.
Abuse of military power—Defence of diplomatic rights—Marshal Brune —Army supplies—English cloth and leather—Arrest on a charge of libel—Dispatch from M. Talleyrand—A page of Napoleon's glory— Interview between the two Emperors at Tilsit,—Silesia restored to the Queen of Prussia—Unfortunate situation in Prussia— Impossibility of reestablishing Poland in 1807—Foundation of the Kingdom of Westphalia—The Duchy of Warsaw and the King of Saxony.
Meanwhile the internal affairs of the towns over which my diplomatic jurisdiction extended soon gave me more employment than ever. The greatest misfortune of the Empire was, perhaps, the abuse of the right arrogated by the wearers of epaulettes. My situation gave me an opportunity of observing all the odious character of a military government. Another in my place could not have done all that I did. I say this confidently, for my, situation was a distinct and independent one, as Bonaparte had told me: Being authorised to correspond directly with the Emperor; the military chiefs feared, if they did not yield to my just representations, that I would made private reports; this apprehension was wonderfully useful in enabling me to maintain the rights of the towns, which had adopted me as their first citizen.
A circumstance occurred in which I had to defend the rights of the diplomatic and commercial agents against the pretensions of military power. Marshal Brune during his government at Hamburg, went to Bremman. to watch the strict execution of the illusive blockade against England. The Marshal acting no doubt, in conformity with the instructions of Clarke, then Minister of War and Governor of Berlin, wished to arrogate the right of deciding on the captures made by our cruisers.
He attempted to prevent the Consul Lagau from selling the confiscated ships in order to sell them himself. Of this M. Lagau complained to me. The more I observed a disposition to encroach on the part of the military authorities, the more I conceived it necessary to maintain the rights of the consuls, and to favour their influence, without which they would have lost their consideration. To the complaints of M. Lagau I replied, "That to him alone belonged the right of deciding, in the first instance, on the fate of the ships; that he could not be deprived of that right without changing the law; that he was free to sell the confiscated Prussian ships; that Marshall Brune was at Bremen only for the execution of the decree respecting the blockade of England, and that he ought not to interfere in business unconnected with that decree." Lagau showed this letter to Brune, who then allowed him to do as he wished; but it was an affair of profit, and the Marshal for a long time owed me a grudge.
Bernadotte was exceedingly disinterested, but he loved to be talked about. The more the Emperor endeavoured to throw accusations upon him, the more he was anxious to give publicity to all his actions. He sent to me an account of the brilliant affair of Braunsburg, in which a division of the first corps had been particularly distinguished. Along with this narrative he sent me a note in the following terms:—"I send you, my dear. Minister, an account of the affair of Braunsburg. You will, perhaps, think proper to publish it. In that case I shall be obliged by your getting it inserted in the Hamburg journals," I did so. The injustice of the Emperor, and the bad way in which he spoke of Bernadotte, obliged the latter,—for the sake of his own credit, to make the truth known to the world.
I have already mentioned that I received an order from the Emperor to supply 50,000 cloaks for the army. With this order, which was not the only one I received of the same kind, some circumstances were connected which I may take the present opportunity of explaining.
The Emperor gave me so many orders for army clothing that all that could be supplied by the cities of Hamburg, Bremen, and Lubeck would have been insufficient for executing the commissions. I entered into a treaty with a house in Hamburg, which I authorised, in spite of the Berlin decree, to bring cloth and leather from England. Thus I procured these articles in a sure and cheap way. Our troops might have perished of cold had the Continental system and the absurd mass of inexecutable decrees relative to English merchandise been observed.
The Director of the Customs at Hamburg got angry, but I held firm: my cloths and my leather arrived; cloaks, coats; boots, all were promptly made, and our soldiers thus were sheltered from the severity of the season. To preserve peace with the Imperial Custom-house I wrote to M. Collie, then Director-General, that M. Eudel having wished to put in execution the law of the 10th Brumaire and complaints had been made on every side. Marshal Brune asked for my opinion on this matter, and I gave it to him. I declared to M. Collie that the full execution of the decree of 31st October 1796 was impracticable, injurious to France, and to the Hanseatic Towns, without doing harm to England. Indeed, what said article 5 of this law? "All goods imported from foreign countries, whatever may be their origin, are to be considered as coming from English manufacturers." According to this article France was a foreign country for the Hanseatic Towns, and none of the objects enumerated in this article ought to enter Hamburg! But the town received from England a large quantity of fine cloths, buttons; ironmongery, toys, china; and from France only clocks, bronzes, jewellery, ribbons, bonnets, gauzes and gloves. "Let," said I to M. Eudel, "the Paris Duane be asked what that town alone exports in matters of this sort and it will be seen how important it is not to stop a trade all the more profitable to France, as the workmanship forms the greatest part of the price of the goods which make up this trade. What would happen if the importation of these goods were absolutely prohibited in Hamburg? The consignments would cease, and one of the most productive sources of trade for France, and especially for Paris would be cut off."
At this time neither Hamburg nor its territory had any manufacture of cloth. All woollen stuffs were prohibited, according to M. Eudel, and still my duty was to furnish, and I had furnished, 50,000 cloaks for the Grand Army. In compliance with a recent Imperial decree I had to have made without delay 16,000 coats, 37,000 waistcoats, and the Emperor required of me 200,000 pairs of boots, besides the 40,000 pairs I had sent in. Yet M. Eudel said that tanned and worked leather ought not to enter Hamburg! If such a ridiculous application of the law of 1796 had been made it would have turned the decree of 21st November 1796 against France, without fulfilling its object.
These reflections, to which I added other details, made the Government conclude that I was right, and I traded with England to the great advantage of the armies, which were well clothed and shod. What in the world can be more ridiculous than commercial laws carried out to one's own detriment?
At the beginning of 1807 my occupations at Hamburg were divided between the furnishing of supplies for the army and the inspection of the emigrants, whom Fouche pretended to dread in order to give greater importance to his office.
I never let slip an opportunity of mitigating the rigour of Fouche's orders, which, indeed, were sometimes so absurd that I did not attempt to execute them. Of this an instance occurs to my recollection. A printer at Hamburg had been arrested on the charge of having printed a libel in the German language. The man was detained in prison because, very much to his honour, he would not disclose the name of the writer of the pamphlet. I sent for him and questioned him. He told me, with every appearance of sincerity, that he had never but once seen the man who had brought him the manuscript. I was convinced of the truth of what he said, and I gave an order for his liberation. To avoid irritating the susceptibility of the Minister of Police I wrote to him the following few lines:—"The libel is the most miserable rhapsody imaginable. The author, probably with the view of selling his pamphlet in Holstein, predicts that Denmark will conquer every other nation and become the greatest kingdom in the world. This alone will suffice to prove to you how little clanger there is in rubbish written in the style of the Apocalypse."
After the battle of Eylau I received a despatch from M. de Talleyrand, to which was added an account in French of that memorable battle, which was more fatal to the conqueror than to the other party,—I cannot say the conquered in speaking of the Russians, the more especially when I recollect the precautions which were then taken throughout Germany to make known the French before the Russian version. The Emperor was exceedingly anxious that every one should view that event as he himself viewed it. Other accounts than his might have produced an unfavourable impression in the north. I therefore had orders to publish that account. I caused 2000 copies of it to be issued, which were more than sufficient for circulation in the Hanse Towns and their territories.
The reader will perhaps complain that I have been almost silent with respect to the grand manoeuvres of the French army from the battle of Eylau to that of Friedland, where, at all events, our success was indisputable. There was no necessity for printing favourable versions of that event, and, besides, its immense results were soon felt throughout Europe. The interview at Tilsit is one of the culminating points of modern history, and the waters of the Niemen reflected the image of Napoleon at the height of his glory. The interview between the two Emperors at Tilsit, and the melancholy situation of the King of Prussia, are generally known. I was made acquainted with but few secret details relative to those events, for Rapp had gone to Dantzic, and it was he who most readily communicated to me all that the Emperor said and did, and all that was passing around him.—
—[Savory gives the following account of the interview between Napoleon and Alexander at Tilsit.
"The Emperor Napoleon, whose courtesy was manifest in all his actions, ordered a large raft to be floated in the middle of the river, upon which was constructed a room well covered in and elegantly decorated having two doors on opposite aides, each of which opened into an antechamber. The work could not have been better executed in Paris. The roof was surmounted by two weathercocks: one displaying the eagle of Russia, and the other the eagle of France. The two outer doors were also surmounted by the eagles of the two countries.
"The raft was precisely in the middle of the river, with the two doors of the salon facing the two opposite banks.
"The two sovereigns appeared on the banks of the river, and embarked at the same moment But the Emperor Napoleon having a good boat, manned by marines of the Guard, arrived first on the raft, entered the room, and went to the opposite door, which he opened, and then stationed himself on the edge of the raft to receive the Emperor Alexander, who had not yet arrived, not having each good rowers as the Emperor Napoleon.
"The two Emperors met in the most amicable way, et least to all appearance. They remained together for a considerable time, and then took leave of each other with as friendly an air as that with which they had met.
"Next day the Emperor of Russia established himself at Tilsit with a battalion of his Guard. Orders were given for evacuating that part of the town where he and his battalion were to be quartered; and, though we were very much pressed for room, no encroachment on the space allotted to the Russians was thought of.
"On the day the Emperor Alexander, entered Tilsit the whole army was under arms. The Imperial Guard was drawn out in two lines of three deep from the landing-place to the Emperor Napoleon's quarters, and from thence to the quarters of the Emperor of Russia. A salute of 100 guns was fired the moment Alexander stepped ashore on the spot where the Emperor Napoleon was waiting to receive him. The latter carried his attention to his visitor so far as to send from his quarters the furniture for Alexander's bedchamber. Among the articles sent was a camp-bed belonging to the Emperor, which he presented to Alexander, who appeared much pleased with the gift.
"This meeting; the first which history records of the same kind and of equal importance, attracted visitors to Tilsit from 100 leagues round. M. de Talleyrand arrived, and after the observance of the usual ceremonies business began to be discussed." (Memoirs of the Due de Rovigo, tome iii. p. 117).
"When," said Napoleon, "I was at Tilsit with the Emperor Alexander and the King of Prussia, I was the most ignorant of the three in military affairs. These two sovereigns, especially the King of Prussia, were completely 'au fait' as to the number of buttons there ought to be in front of a jacket, how many behind, and the manner in which the skirts ought to be cut. Not a tailor in the army knew better than King Frederick how many measures of cloth it took to make a jacket. In fact," continued he laughing, "I was nobody in comparison with them. They continually tormented me about matters belonging to tailors, of which I was entirely ignorant, although, in order not to affront them, I answered just as gravely as if the fate of an army depended upon the cut of a jacket. When I went to see the King of Prussia, instead of a library, I found that he had a large room, like an arsenal, furnished with shelves and pegs; on which were hung fifty or sixty jackets of different patterns. Every day he changed his fashion and put on a different one. He attached more importance to this than was necessary for the salvation of a kingdom." (O'Meara's Napoleon in Exile.)]—
I, however, learned one circumstance peculiarly worthy of remark which occurred in the Emperor's apartments at Tilsit the first time he received a visit from the King of Prussia. That unfortunate monarch, who was accompanied by Queen Louisa, had taken refuge in a mill beyond the town. This was his sole habitation, whilst the Emperors occupied the two portions of the town, which is divided by the Niemen. The fact I am about to relate reached me indirectly through the medium of an offices of the Imperial Guard, who was on duty in Napoleon's apartments and was an eye-witness of it. When the Emperor Alexander visited Napoleon they continued for a long time in conversation on a balcony below, where as immense crowd hailed their meeting with enthusiastic shouts. Napoleon commenced the conversation, as he did the year preceding with the Emperor of Austria, by speaking of the uncertain fate of war. Whilst they were conversing the King of Prussia was announced. The King's emotion was visible, and may easily be imagined; for as hostilities were suspended, and his territory in possession of the French, his only hope was in the generosity of the conqueror. Napoleon himself, it is said, appeared moved by his situation, and invited him, together with the Queen, to dinner. On sitting down to table Napoleon with great gallantry told the beautiful Queen that he would restore to her Silesia, a province which she earnestly wished should be retained in the new arrangements which were necessarily about to take place.
—[Las Cases mentions that at the time of the treaty of Tilsit Napoleon wrote to the Empress Josephine as follows:
"'The Queen of Prussia is really a charming woman. She is fond of coquetting with me; but do not be jealous: I am like oilcloth, along which everything of this sort elides without penetrating. It would cost me too dear to play the gallant'
"On this subject an anecdote was related in the salon of Josephine. It was said that the Queen of Prussia one day had a beautiful rose in her hand, which the Emperor asked her to give him. The Queen hesitated for a few moments, and then presented it to him, saying, 'Why should I so readily grant what you request, while you remain deaf to all my entreaties?' (She alluded to the fortress of Magdeburg, which she had earnestly solicited)." (Memorial de St. Helene).]—
The treaty of peace concluded at Tilsit between France and Russia, on the 7th of July, and ratified two days after, produced no less striking a change in the geographical division of Europe than had been effected the year preceding by the Treaty of Presburg. The treaty contained no stipulation dishonourable to Russia, whose territory was preserved inviolate; but how was Prussia treated? Some historians, for the vain pleasure of flattering by posthumous praises the pretended moderation of Napoleon, have almost reproached him for having suffered some remnants of the monarchy of the great Frederick to survive. There is, nevertheless, a point on which Napoleon has been wrongfully condemned, at least with reference to the campaign of 1807. It has been said that he should at that period have re-established the kingdom of Poland; and certainly there is every reason to regret, for the interests of France and Europe, that it was not re-established. But when a desire, even founded on reason, is not carried into effect, should we conclude that the wished-for object ought to be achieved in defiance of all obstacles? At that time, that is to say, during the campaign of Tilsit, insurmountable obstacles existed.
If, however, by the Treaty of Tilsit, the throne of Poland was not restored to serve as a barrier between old Europe and the Empire of the Czars, Napoleon founded a Kingdom of Westphalia, which he gave to the young 'ensigne de vaisseau' whom he had scolded as a schoolboy, and whom he now made a King, that he might have another crowned prefect under his control. The Kingdom of Westphalia was composed of the States of Hesse-Cassel, of a part of the provinces taken from Prussia by the moderation of the Emperor, and of the States of Paderborn, Fulda, Brunswick, and a part of the Electorate of Hanover. Napoleon, at the same time, though he did not like to do things by halves, to avoid touching the Russian and Austrian provinces of old Poland, planted on the banks of the Vistula the Grand Duchy of Warsaw, which he gave to the King of Saxony, with the intention of increasing or destroying it afterwards as he might find convenient. Thus he allowed the Poles to hope better things for the future, and ensured to himself partisans in the north should the chances of fortune call him thither. Alexander, who was cajoled even more than his father had been by what I may call the political coquetry of Napoleon, consented to all these arrangements, acknowledged 'in globo' all the kings crowned by the Emperor, and accepted some provinces which had belonged to his despoiled ally, the King of Prussia, doubtless by way of consolation for not having been able to get more restored to Prussia. The two Emperors parted the best friends in the world; but the Continental system was still in existence.
Effect produced at Altona by the Treaty of Tilsit—The Duke of Mecklenburg-Schwerin's departure from Hamburg—English squadron in the Sound—Bombardment of Copenhagen—Perfidy of England—Remark of Bonaparte to M. Lemercier—Prussia erased from the map—Napoleon's return to Paris—Suppression of the Tribunate—Confiscation of English merchandise—Nine millions gained to France—M. Caulaincourt Ambassador to Russia—Repugnance of England to the intervention of Russia—Affairs of Portugal—Junot appointed to command the army— The Prince Regent's departure for the Brazils—The Code Napoleon— Introduction of the French laws into Germany—Leniency of Hamburg Juries—The stolen cloak and the Syndic Doormann.
The Treaty of Tilsit, as soon as it was known at Altona, spread consternation amongst the emigrants. As to the German Princes, who were awaiting the issue of events either at Altolna or Hamburg, when they learned that a definitive treaty of peace had been signed between France and Russia, and that two days after the Treaty of Tilsit the Prussian monarchy was placed at the mercy of Napoleon, every courier that arrived threw them into indescribable agitation. It depended on the Emperor's will whether they were to be or not to be. The Duke of Mecklenburg- Schwerin had not succeeded in getting himself re-established in his states, by an exceptional decision, like the Duke of Weimar; but at length he obtained the restitution of his territory at the request of the Emperor Alexander, and on the 28th of July he quitted Hamburg to return to his Duchy.
The Danish charge d'affaires communicated to me about the same time an official report from his Government. This report announced that on Monday, the 3d of August, a squadron consisting of twelve ships of the line and twelve frigates, commanded by Admiral Gambier, had passed the Sound. The rest of the squadron was seen in the Categat. At the same time the English troops which were in the island of Rugen had reembarked. We could not then conceive what enterprise this considerable force had been sent upon. But our uncertainty was soon at an end. M. Didelot, the French Ambassador at Copenhagen, arrived at Hamburg, at nine o'clock in the evening of the 12th of August. He had been fortunate enough to pass through the Great Belt, though in sight of the English, without being stopped. I forwarded his report to Paris by an extraordinary courier.
The English had sent 20,000 men and twenty-seven vessels into the Baltic; Lord Cathcart commanded the troops. The coast of Zealand was blockaded by ninety vessels. Mr. Jackson, who had been sent by England to negotiate with Denmark, which she feared would be invaded by the French troops, supported the propositions he was charged to offer to Denmark by a reference to this powerful British force. Mr. Jackson's proposals had for their object nothing less than to induce the King of Denmark to place in the custody of England the whole of his ships and naval stores. They were, it is true, to be kept in deposit, but the condition contained the words, "until the conclusion of a general peace," which rendered the period of their restoration uncertain. They were to be detained until such precautions should be no longer necessary. A menace and its execution followed close upon this demand. After a noble but useless resistance, and a terrific bombardment, Copenhagen surrendered, and the Danish fleet was destroyed. It would be difficult to find in history a more infamous and revolting instance of the abuse of power against weakness.
Sometime after this event a pamphlet entitled "Germania" appeared, which I translated and sent to the Emperor. It was eloquently written, and expressed the indignation which the conduct of England had excited in the author as in every one else.
—["That expedition," said Napoleon at St. Helena, "showed great energy on the part of your Ministers: but setting aside the violation of the laws of, nations which you committed—for in fact it was nothing but a robbery—I think that it was; injurious to your interests, as it made the Danish nation irreconcilable enemies to you, and in fact shut you out of the north for three years. When I heard of it I said, I am glad of it, as it will embroil England irrecoverably with the Northern Powers. The Danes being able to join me with sixteen sail of the line was of but little consequence. I had plenty of ships, and only wanted seamen, whom you did not take, and whom I obtained afterwards, while by the expedition your Ministers established their characters as faithless, and as persons with whom no engagements, no laws were binding." (Voice from St. Helena.)]—
I have stated what were the principal consequences of the Treaty of Tilsit; it is more than probable that if the bombardment of Copenhagen had preceded the treaty the Emperor would have used Prussia even worse than he did. He might have erased her from the list of nations; but he did not do so, out of regard to the Emperor Alexander. The destruction of Prussia was no new project with Bonaparte. I remember an observation of his to M. Lemercier upon that subject when we first went to reside at Malmaison. M. Lemercier had been reading to the First Consul some poem in which Frederick the Great was spoken of. "You seem to admire him greatly," said Bonaparte to M. Lemercier; "what do you find in him so astonishing? He is not equal to Turenne."—"General," replied M. Lemercier, "it is not merely the warrior that I esteem in Frederick; it is impossible to refrain from admiring a man who was a philosopher even on the throne." To this the First Consul replied, in a half ill-humoured tone, "Certainly, Lemercier; but Frederick's philosophy shall not prevent me from erasing his kingdom from the map of Europe." The kingdom of Frederick the Great was not, however, obliterated from the map, because the Emperor of Russia would not basely abandon a faithful ally who had incurred with him the chances of fortune. Prussia then bitterly had to lament the tergiversations which had prevented her from declaring herself against France during the campaign of Austerlitz.
Napoleon returned to Paris about the end of July after an absence of ten months, the longest he had yet made since he had been at the head of the French Government, whether as Consul or Emperor. The interview at Tilsit, the Emperor Alexander's friendship, which was spoken of everywhere in terms of exaggeration, and the peace established on the Continent, conferred on Napoleon a moral influence in public opinion which he had not possessed since his coronation. Constant in his hatred of deliberative assemblies, which he had often termed collections of babblers, ideologists, and phrasemongers, Napoleon, on his return to Paris, suppressed the Tribunate, which had been an annoyance to him ever since the first day of his elevation. The Emperor, who was 'skillful above all men in speculating on the favourable disposition of opinion, availed himself at this conjuncture of the enthusiasm produced by his interview on the Niemen. He therefore discarded from the fundamental institutions of the government that which still retained the shadow of a popular character. But it was necessary that he should possess a Senate merely to vote men; a mute Legislative Body to vote money; that there should be no opposition in the one and no criticism in the other; no control over him of any description; the power of arbitrarily doing whatever he pleased; an enslaved press;—this was what Napoleon wished, and this he obtained. But the month of March 1814 resolved the question of absolute power!
In the midst of these great affairs, and while Napoleon was dreaming of universal monarchy, I beheld in a less extensive sphere the inevitable consequences of the ambition of a single man. Pillage and robbery were carried on in all parts over which my diplomatic jurisdiction extended. Rapine seemed to be legally authorised, and was perpetrated with such fury, and at the same time with such ignorance, that the agents were frequently unacquainted with the value of the articles which they seized. Thus, for example, the Emperor ordered the seizure at Hamburg, Bremen, and Lubeck of all English merchandise, whatever might be its nature or origin. The Prince of Neufchatel (Berthier) wrote to me from the Emperor that I must procure 10,000,000 francs from the Hanse Towns. M. Daru, the Intendant-General, whose business it was to collect this sort of levy, which Napoleon had learned to make in Egypt, wrote to urge me to obtain a prompt and favourable decision. The unfortunate towns which I was thus enjoined to oppress had already suffered sufficiently. I had obtained, by means of negotiation, more than was demanded for the ransom of the English merchandise, which had been seized according to order. Before I received the letters of M. Darn and the Prince of Neufchatel I had obtained from Hamburg 16,000,000 instead of 10,000,000, besides nearly 3,000,000 from Bremen and Lubeck. Thus I furnished the Government with 9,000,000 more than had been required, and yet I had so managed that those enormous sacrifices were not overoppressive to those who made them. I fixed the value of the English merchandise because I knew that the high price at which it sold on the Continent would not only cover the proposed ransom but also leave a considerable profit. Such was the singular effect of the Continental system that when merchandise was confiscated, and when afterwards the permission to sell it freely was given, the price fetched at the sale was so large that the loss was covered, and even great advantage gained.
Peace being concluded with Russia it was necessary to make choice of an Ambassador, not only to maintain the new relations of amity between Napoleon and Alexander, but likewise to urge on the promised intervention of Russia with England,—to bring about reconciliation and peace between the Cabinets of Paris and London. The Emperor confided this mission to Caulaincourt, with respect to whom there existed an unfounded prejudice relating to some circumstances which preceded the death of the Duc d'Enghien. This unfortunate and unjust impression had preceded Caulaincourt to St. Petersburg, and it was feared that he would not experience the reception due to the French Ambassador and to his own personal qualities. I knew at the time, from positive information, that after a short explanation with Alexander that monarch retained no suspicion unfavourable to our Ambassador, for whom he conceived and maintained great esteem and friendship.
Caulaincourt's mission was not, in all respects, easy of fulfilment, for the invincible repugnance and reiterated refusal of England to enter into negotiations with France through the medium of Russia was one of the remarkable circumstances of the period of which I am speaking. I knew positively that England was determined never to allow Napoleon to possess himself of the whole of the Continent,—a project which he indicated too undisguisedly to admit of any doubt respecting it. For two years he had indeed advanced with rapid strides; but England was not discouraged. She was too well aware of the irritation of the sovereigns and the discontent of the people not be certain that when she desired it, her lever of gold would again raise up and arm the Continent against the encroaching power of Napoleon. He, on his part, perceiving that all his attempts were fruitless, and that England would listen to no proposals, devised fresh plans for raising up new enemies against England.
It probably is not forgotten that in 1801 France compelled Portugal to make common cause with her against England. In 1807 the Emperor did again what the First Consul had done. By an inexplicable fatality Junot obtained the command of the troops which were marching against Portugal. I say against Portugal, for that was the fact, though France represented herself as a protector to deliver Portugal from the influence of England. Be that as it may, the choice which the Emperor made of a commander astonished everybody. Was Junot, a compound of vanity and mediocrity, the fit man to be entrusted with the command of an army in a distant country, and under circumstances in which great political and military talents were requisite? For my own part, knowing Junot's incapacity, I must acknowledge that his appointment astonished me. I remember one day, when I was speaking on the subject to Bernadotte, he showed me a letter he had received from Paris, in which it was said that the Emperor had sent Junot to Portugal only for the sake of depriving him of the government of Paris. Junot annoyed Napoleon by his bad conduct, his folly, and his incredible extravagance. He was alike devoid of dignity—either in feeling or conduct. Thus Portugal was twice the place of exile selected by Consular and Imperial caprice: first, when the First Consul wished to get rid of the familiarity of Lannes; and next, when the Emperor grew weary of the misconduct of a favourite.
The invasion of Portugal presented no difficulty. It was an armed promenade and not a war; but how many events were connected with the occupation of that country! The Prince Regent of Portugal, unwilling to act dishonourably to England, to which he was allied by treaties; and unable to oppose the whole power of Napoleon, embarked for Brazil, declaring that all defence was useless. At the same time he recommended his subjects to receive the French troops in a friendly manner, and said that he consigned to Providence the consequences of an invasion which was without a motive. He was answered in the Emperor's name that, Portugal being the ally of England, we were only carrying on hostilities against, the latter country by invading his dominions.
It was in the month of November that the code of French jurisprudence, upon which the most learned legislators had indefatigably laboured, was established as the law of the State, under the title of the Code Napoleon. Doubtless this legislative monument will redound to Napoleon's honour in history; but was it to be supposed that the same laws would be equally applicable throughout so vast an extent as that comprised within the French Empire? Impossible as this was, as soon as the Code Napoleon way promulgated I received orders to establish it in the Hanse Towns.
—[This great code of Civil Law was drawn up under Napoleon's orders and personal superintendence. Much had been prepared under the Convention, and the chief merits of it were due to the labours of such men as Tronchet; Partatis, Bigot de Preameneu, Maleville, Cambaceres, etc. But it was debated under and by Napoleon, who took a lively interest in it. It was first called the "Code Civil," but is 1807 was named "Code Napoleon," or eventually "Les Cinq Codes de Napoleon." When completed in 1810 it included five Codes—the Code Civil, decreed March 1803; Code de Procedure Civile, decreed April 1806; Code de Commerce, decreed September 1807; Code d'Instruction Criminelle, decreed November 1808; and the Code Penal, decreed February 1810. It had to be retained by the Bourbons, and its principles have worked and are slowly working their way into the law of every nation. Napoleon was justly proud of this work. The Introduction of the Code into the conquered countries was, as Bourrienne says, made too quickly. Puymaigre, who was employed in the administration of Hamburg after Bourrienne left, says, "I shall always remember the astonishment of the Hamburgers when they were invaded by this cloud of French officials, who, under every form, made researches is their houses, and who came to apply the multiplied demands of the fiscal system. Like Proteus, the administration could take any shape. To only speak of my department, which certainly was not the least odious one, for it was opposed to the habits of the Hamburgers and annoyed all the industries, no idea can be formed of the despair of the inhabitants, subjected to perpetual visits, and exposed to be charged with contraventions of the law, of which they knew nothing.
"Remembering their former laws, they used to offer to meet a charge of fraud by the proof of their oath, and could not imagine that such a guarantee could be repulsed. When they were independent they paid almost nothing, and such was the national spirit, that in urgent cases when money was wanted the senate taxed every citizen a certain proportion of his income, the tenth or twentieth. A donator presided over the recovery of this tax, which was done in a very strange manner. A box, covered with a carpet, received the offering of every citizen, without any person verifying the sum, and only on the simple moral guarantee of the honesty of the debtor, who himself judged the sum he ought to pay. When the receipt was finished the senate always obtained more than it had calculated on." (Puymaigre, pp, 181.)]—
The long and frequent conversations I had on this subject with the Senators and the most able lawyers of the country soon convinced me of the immense difficulty I should have to encounter, and the danger of suddenly altering habits and customs which had been firmly established by time.
The jury system gave tolerable satisfaction; but the severe punishments assigned to certain offences by the Code were disapproved of. Hence resulted the frequent and serious abuse of men being acquitted whose guilt was evident to the jury, who pronounced them not guilty rather than condemn them to a punishment which was thought too severe. Besides, their leniency had another ground, which was, that the people being ignorant of the new law were not aware of the penalties attached to particular offences. I remember that a man who was accused of stealing a cloak at Hamburg justified himself on the ground that he committed the offence in a fit of intoxication. M. Von Einingen, one of the jury, insisted that the prisoner was not guilty, because, as he said, the Syndic Doormann, when dining with him one day, having drunk more wine than usual, took away his cloak. This defence per Baccho was completely successful. An argument founded on the similarity between the conduct of the Syndic and the accused, could not but triumph, otherwise the little debauch of the former would have been condemned in the person of the latter. This trial, which terminated so whimsically, nevertheless proves that the best and the gravest institutions may become objects of ridicule when suddenly introduced into a country whose habits are not prepared to receive them.
The Romans very wisely reserved in the Capitol a place for the gods of the nations they conquered. They wished to annex provinces and kingdoms to their empire. Napoleon, on the contrary, wished to make his empire encroach upon other states, and to realise the impossible Utopia of ten different nations, all having different customs and languages, united into a single State. Could justice, that safeguard of human rights, be duly administered in the Hanse Towns when those towns were converted into French departments? In these new departments many judges had been appointed who did not understand a word of German, and who had no knowledge of law. The presidents of the tribunals of Lilbeck, Stade, Bremerlehe, and Minden were so utterly ignorant of the German language that it was necessary to explain to them all the pleadings in the council-chamber. Was it not absurd to establish such a judicial system, and above all, to appoint such men in a country so important to France as Hamburg and the Hanse Towns? Add to this the impertinence of some favourites who were sent from Paris to serve official and legal apprenticeships in the conquered provinces, and it may be easily conceived what was the attachment of the people to Napoleon the Great.
Disturbed state of Spain—Godoy, Prince of the Peace—Reciprocal accusations between the King of Spain and his son—False promise of Napoleon—Dissatisfaction occasioned by the presence of the French troops—Abdication of Charles IV.—The Prince of the Peace made prisoner—Murat at Madrid—Important news transmitted by a commercial letter—Murat's ambition—His protection of Godoy— Charles IV, denies his voluntary abdication—The crown of Spain destined for Joseph—General disapprobation of Napoleon's conduct— The Bourbon cause apparently lost—Louis XVIII. after his departure from France—As Comte de Provence at Coblentz—He seeks refuge in Turin and Verona—Death of Louis XVII—Louis XVIII. refused an asylum in Austria, Saxony, and Prussia—His residence at Mittan and Warsaw—Alexander and Louis XVIII—The King's departure from Milan and arrival at Yarmouth—Determination of the King of England—M. Lemercier's prophecy to Bonaparte—Fouche's inquiries respecting Comte de Rechteren—Note from Josephine—New demands on the Hanse Towns—Order to raise 3000 sailors in Hamburg.
The disorders of Spain, which commenced about the close of the year 1807, in a short time assumed a most complicated aspect. Though far from the theatre of events I obtained an intimate knowledge of all the important facts connected with the extraordinary transactions in the Peninsula. However, as this point of history is one of the most generally, though I cannot say the best, known, I shall omit in my notes and memoranda many things which would be but repetitions to the reading portion of the public. It is a remarkable fact that Bonaparte, who by turns cast his eyes on all the States of Europe, never directed his attention to Spain as long as his greatness was confined to mere projects. Whenever he spoke of his future destiny he alluded to Italy, Germany, the East, and the destruction of the English power; but never to Spain. Consequently, when he heard of the first symptoms of disorder in the Peninsula he paid but little attention to the business, and some time elapsed before he took any part in events which subsequently had so great an influence on his fate.
Godoy reigned in Spain under the name of the imbecile Charles IV. He was an object of execration to all who were not his creatures; and even those whose fate depended upon him viewed him with the most profound contempt. The hatred of a people is almost always the just reward of favourites. What sentiments, therefore, must have been inspired by a man who, to the knowledge of all Spain, owed the favour of the king only to the favours of the queen!