—[Manuel Godoy, originally a private in the guards, became the paramour of Charles IV.'s Queen; then a grandee; and then the supreme ruler of the State.—Editor of 1836 edition.]—
Godoy's ascendancy over the royal family was boundless; his power was absolute: the treasures, of America were at his command, and he made the most infamous use of them. In short, he had made the Court of Madrid one of those places to which the indignant muse of Juvenal conducts the mother of Britanicus. There is no doubt that Godoy was one of the principal causes of all the misfortunes which have overwhelmed Spain under so many various forms.
The hatred of the Spaniards against the Prince of the Peace was general. This hatred was shared by the Prince the Asturias,—[Afterwards Ferdinand VII.]—who openly declared himself the enemy of Godoy. The latter allied himself with France, from which he hoped to obtain powerful protection against his enemies. This alliance gave rise to great dissatisfaction in Spain, and caused France to be regarded with an unfavourable eye. The Prince of the Asturias was encouraged and supported by the complaints of the Spaniards, who wished to see the overthrow of Godoy's power. Charles IV., on his part, regarded all opposition to the Prince of the Peace as directed against himself, and in November 1807 he accused his son of wishing to dethrone him.
The King of Spain did not confine himself to verbal complaints. He, or rather the Prince of the Peace, acting in his name, arrested the warmest partisans of the Prince of the Asturias. The latter, understanding the sentiments of his father, wrote to Napoleon, soliciting his support. Thus the father and son, at open war, were appealing one against another for the support of him who wished only to get rid of them both, and to put one of his brothers in their place, that he might have one junior more in the college of European kings: but, as I have already mentioned, this new ambition was not premeditated; and if he gave the throne of Spain to his brother Joseph it was only on the refusal of his brother Louis (King of Holland) to accept it.
The Emperor had promised to support Charles IV against his son; and, not wishing to take part in these family quarrels, he had not answered the first letters of the Prince of the Asturias. But finding that the intrigues of Madrid were taking a serious turn, he commenced provisionally by sending troops to Spain. This gave offence to the people, who were averse to the interference of France. In the provinces through which the French troops passed it was asked what was the object: of the invasion. Some attributed it to the Prince of the Peace, others to the Prince of the Asturias; but it excited general indignation, and troubles broke out at Madrid accompanied by all the violence peculiar to the Spanish character.
In these fearful circumstances Godoy proposed that Charles IV. should remove to Seville, where he would be the better enabled to visit the factious with punishment. A proposition from Godoy to his master was, in fact, a command, and Charles IV. accordingly resolved to depart. The people now looked upon Godoy as a traitor. An insurrection broke out, the palace was, surrounded, and the, Prince of the Peace was on the point of being massacred in an upper apartment, where he had taken refuge.
—[French troops had appeared in again some months before, on their way to Portugal, the conquest of which country by Junot was to be aided by Godoy and a Spanish force of 27,000 men, according to a treaty (more disgraceful to the Court of Spain than to Bonaparte) which had been ratified at Fontainebleau on the 27th of October 1807. Charles IV. was little better than an idiot, and Godoy and the French made him believe that Bonaparte world give part, or the whole of Portugal, to Spain. At the time of Junot's march on Lisbon a reserve of 40,000 French troops were assembled at Bayonne— a pretty clear indication, though the factious infatuated Court of Madrid would not see it, that Bonaparte intended to seize the whole of the Peninsula.—Editor of 1838 edition.]—
One of the mob had the presence of mind to invoke in his favour the name of the Prince of the Asturias: this saved his life.
Charles IV. did not preserve his crown; he was easily intimidated, and advantage was taken of a moment of alarm to demand that abdication which he had not spirit to refuse. He surrendered up his rights to his son, and thus was overthrown the insolent power of the Prince of the Peace; the favourite was made prisoner, and the Spaniards, who, like all ignorant people, are easily excited, manifested their joy on the occasion with barbarous enthusiasm. Meanwhile the unfortunate King, who had escaped from imaginary rather than real dangers, and who was at first content with having exchanged the right of reigning for the right of living, no sooner found himself in safety than he changed, his mind. He wrote to the Emperor protesting against his abdication, and appealed. to him as the arbiter of his future fate.
During these internal dissensions the French army was continuing its march towards the Pyrenees. Those barriers were speedily crossed, and Murat entered Madrid in the beginning of April 1808. Before I received any despatch from our Government I learned that Murat's presence in Madrid, far from producing a good effect, had only increased the disorder. I obtained this information from a merchant of Lubeck who came to Hamburg on purpose to show me a letter he had received from his correspondent in Madrid. In this letter Spain was said to be a prey which Murat wished to appropriate to himself; and all that afterwards came to my knowledge served only to prove the accuracy of the writer's information. It was perfectly true that Murat wished to conquer Spain for himself, and it is not astonishing that the inhabitants of Madrid should have understood his designs, for he carried his indiscretion so far as openly to express his wish to become King of Spain. The Emperor was informed of this, and gave him to understand, in very significant terms, that the throne of Spain was not destined for him, but that he should not be forgotten in the disposal of other crowns.
However, Napoleon's remonstrances were not sufficient to restrain the imprudence of Murat; and if he did not gain the crown of Spain for himself he powerfully contributed to make Charles IV. lose it. That monarch, whom old habits attached to the Prince of the Peace, solicited the Emperor to liberate his favourite, alleging that he and his family would be content to live in any place of security provided Godoy were with them. The unfortunate Charles seemed to be thoroughly disgusted with greatness.
Both the King and Queen so earnestly implored Godoy's liberation that Murat, whose vanity was flattered by these royal solicitations, took the Prince of the Peace under his protection; but he at the same time declared that, in spite of the abdication of Charles IV., he would acknowledge none but that Prince as King of Spain until he should receive contrary orders from the Emperor. This declaration placed Murat in formal opposition to the Spanish people, who, through their hatred of Godoy, embraced the cause of the heir of the throne; in whose favour Charles IV. had abdicated.
It has been remarked that Napoleon stood in a perplexing situation in this conflict between the King and his son. This is not correct. King Charles, though he afterwards said that his abdication had been forced from him by violence and threats, had nevertheless tendered it. By this act Ferdinand was King, but Charles declared it was done against his will, and he retracted. The Emperor's recognition was wanting, and he, could give or withhold it as he pleased.
In this state of things Napoleon arrived at Bayonne. Thither Ferdinand was also invited to go, under pretence of arranging with the Emperor the differences between his father and himself. It was some time before he could form his determination, but at length his ill-advised friends prevailed on him to set off, and he was caught in the snare. What happened to him, as well as to his father, who repaired to Bayonne with his inseparable friend the Prince of the Peace is well known. Napoleon, who had undertaken to be arbiter between the father and son, thought the best way of settling the difference was to give the disputed throne to his brother Joseph, thus verifying the fable of the "Two Lawyers and the Oyster." The insurrection in Madrid on the 2d of May accelerated the fate of Ferdinand, who was accused of being the author of it; at least this suspicion fell on his friends and adherents.
Charles IV., it was said, would not return to Spain, and solicited an asylum in France. He signed a renunciation of his rights to the crown of Spain, which renunciation was also signed by the Infantas.
Napoleon now issued a decree, appointing "his dearly beloved brother Joseph Napoleon, King of Naples and Sicily, to the crowns of Spain and the Indies." By a subsequent decree, 15th of July, he appointed "his dearly-beloved cousin, Joachim Murat, Grand Duke of Berg, to the throne of Naples and Sicily, which remained vacant by the accession of Joseph Napoleon to the kingdoms of Spain and the Indies." Both these documents are signed Napoleon, and countersigned by the Minister Secretary of State, Maret.
The Prince Royal of Sweden, who was at Hamburg at this time, and the Ministers of all the European power, loudly condemned the conduct of Napoleon with respect to Spain. I cannot say whether or not M. de Talleyrand advised the Emperor not to attempt the overthrow of a branch of the house of Bourbon; his good sense and elevated views might certainly have suggested that advice. But the general opinion was that, had he retained the portfolio of foreign affairs, the Spanish revolution would have terminated with more decorum and good faith than was exhibited in the tragi-comedy acted at Madrid and Bayonne.
After the Treaty of Tilsit and the bonds of friendship which seemed likely to produce a permanent union between the Emperors of France and Russia, the cause of the Bourbons must have been considered irretrievably lost. Indeed, their only hope consisted in the imprudence and folly of him who had usurped their throne, and that hope they cherished. I will here relate what I had the opportunity of learning respecting the conduct of Louis XVIII. after his departure from France; this will naturally bring me to the end of November 1807, at which time I read in the Abeille du Nord published on the 9th of the same month, that the Comte de Lille and the Due d'Angouleme had set off for England.
The Comte de Provence, as Louis' title then went, left Paris on the 21st of June 1791. He constantly expressed his wish of keeping as near as possible to the frontiers of France. He at first took up his abode at Coblentz, and I knew from good authority that all the emigrants did not regard him with a favourable eye. They could not pardon the wise. principles he had professed at a period when there was yet time to prevent, by reasonable concession, the misfortunes which imprudent irritation brought upon France. When the emigrants, after the campaign of 1792, passed the Rhine, the Comte de Provence resided in the little town of Ham on the Lippe, where he remained until he was persuaded that the people of Toulon had called him to Provence. As he could not, of course, pass through France, Monsieur repaired to the Court of his father-in-law, the King of Sardinia, hoping to embark at Genoa, and from thence to reach the coast of Provence. But the evacuation of Toulon, where the name of Bonaparte was for the first time sounded by the breath of fame, having taken place before he was able to leave Turin, Monsieur remained there four months, at the expiration of which time his father-in-law intimated to him the impossibility of his remaining longer in the Sardinian States. He was afterwards permitted to reside at Verona, where he heard of Louis XVI.'s death. After remaining two years in that city the Senate of Venice forbade his presence in the Venetian States. Thus forced to quit Italy the Comte repaired to the army of Conde.
The cold and timid policy of the Austrian Cabinet afforded no asylum to the Comte de Provence, and he was obliged to pass through Germany; yet, as Louis XVIII. repeated over and over again, ever since the Restoration, "He never intended to shed French blood in Germany for the sake of serving foreign interests." Monsieur had, indeed, too much penetration not to see that his cause was a mere pretext for the powers at war with France. They felt but little for the misfortunes of the Prince, and merely wished to veil their ambition and their hatred of France under the false pretence of zeal for the House of Bourbon.
When the Dauphin died, Louis XVIII. took the title of King of France, and went to Prussia, where he obtained an asylum.
—[His brother, Charles X., the youngest of the three grandsons of Louis XV. (Louis XVI., Louis XVIII. Charles X.), the Comte d'Artois, afterwards Charles X. emigrated in 1789, and went to Turin and Mantas for 1789 and 1790. In 1791 and 1792 he lived at Coblenta, Worms, Brussels, Vienna, and at Turin. From 1792 to 1812 he lived at Ham on the Lippe at Westphalia at London, and for most of the time at Holyrood, Edinburgh. During this time he visited Russia and Germany, and showed himself on the coast of France. In 1818 he went to Germany, and in 1814 entered France in rear of the allies. In risking his person in the daring schemes of the followers who were giving their lives for the cause of his family he displayed a circumspection which was characterised by them with natural warmth.
"Sire, the cowardice of your brother has ruined all;" so Charette is said to have written to Louis XVIII.]—
But the pretender to the crown of France had not yet drained his cup of misfortune. After the 18th Fructidor the Directory required the King of Prussia to send away Louis XVIII., and the Cabinet of Berlin, it must be granted, was not in a situation to oppose the desire of the French Government, whose wishes were commands. In vain Louis XVIII. sought an asylum in the King of Saxony's States. There only remained Russia that durst offer a last refuge to the descendant of Louis XIV. Paul I., who was always in extremes, and who at that time entertained a violent feeling of hatred towards France, earnestly offered Louis XVIII., a residence at Mittau. He treated him with the honours of a sovereign, and loaded him with marks of attention and respect. Three years had scarcely passed when Paul was seized with mad enthusiasm for the man who twelve years later, ravaged his ancient capital, and Louis XVIII. found himself expelled from that Prince's territory with a harshness equal to the kindness with which he had at first been received.
It was during, his three, years' residence at Mittau that Louis XVIII., who was then known by the title of Comte de Lille, wrote to the First Consul those letters which have been referred to in these Memoirs. Prussia, being again solicited, at length consented that Louis XVIII. should reside at Warsaw; but on the accession of Napoleon to the Empire the Prince quitted that residence in order to consult respecting his new situation with the only sovereign who had not deserted him in his misfortune, viz. the King of Sweden. They met at Colmar, and from that city was dated the protest which I have already noticed. Louis XVIII. did not stay long in the States of the King of Sweden. Russia was now on the point of joining her eagles with those of Austria to oppose the new eagles of imperial France. Alexander offered to the Comte de Lille the asylum which Paul had granted to him and afterwards withdrawn. Louis XVIII. accepted the offer, but after the peace of Tilsit, fearing lest Alexander might imitate the second act of his father as well as the first, he plainly saw that he must give up all intention of residing on the Continent; and it was then that I read in the 'Abeille du Nord' the article before alluded to. There is, however, one fact upon which I must insist, because I know it to be true, viz. that it was of his own free will that Louis XVIII. quitted Mittau; and if he was afraid that Alexander would imitate his father's conduct that fear was without foundation. The truth is, that Alexander was ignorant even of the King's intention to go away until he heard from Baron von Driesen, Governor of Mittau, that he had actually departed. Having now stated the truth on this point I have to correct another error, if indeed it be only an error, into which some writers have fallen. It has been falsely alleged that the King left Mittau for the purpose of fomenting fresh troubles in France. The friends of Louis XVIII., who advised him to leave Mittau, had great hopes from the last war. They cherished still greater hopes from the new wars which Bonaparte's ambition could not fail to excite, but they were not so ill-informed respecting the internal condition of France as to expect that disturbances would arise there, or even to believe in the possibility of fomenting them. The pear was not yet ripe for Louis XVIII.
On the 29th of November the contents of a letter which had arrived from London by way of Sweden were communicated to me. This letter was dated the 3d of November, and contained some particulars respecting the Comte de Lille's arrival in England. That Prince had arrived at Yarmouth on the 31st of October 1807, and it was stated that the King was obliged to wait some time in the port until certain difficulties respecting his landing and the continuance of his journey should be removed. It moreover appeared from this letter that the King of England thought proper to refuse the Comte de Lille permission to go to London or its neighbourhood. The palace of Holyrood in Edinburgh was assigned as his place of residence; and Mr. Ross, secretary to Mr. Canning, conveyed the determination of the King of England to Louis XVIII., at Yarmouth.
The precaution of the English Ministry in not permitting the refugee King to go near London appeared to me remarkable, considering the relative position of the Governments of France and England, and I regarded it as a corroboration of what the Prince Wittgenstein had told me respecting Mr. Canning's inclination for an amicable arrangement. But the moment was approaching when the affairs of Spain were to raise an invincible obstacle to peace, to complicate more than ever the interests of the powers of Europe, and open to Napoleon that vast career of ambition which proved his ruin. He did not allow the hopes of the emigrants to remain chimerical, and the year 1814 witnessed the realization of the prophetic remark made by M. Lemereier, in a conversation with Bonaparte a few days before the foundation of the Empire: "If you get into the bed of the Bourbons, General, you will not lie in it ten year." Napoleon occupied it for nine years and nine months.
Fouche, the grand investigator of the secrets of Europe, did not fail, on the first report of the agitations in Spain, to address to me question on question respecting the Comte de Rechteren, the Spanish Minister at Hamburg, who, however, had left that city, with the permission of his Court, four months after I had entered on my functions. This was going back very far to seek information respecting the affairs of the day. At the very moment when I transmitted a reply to Fouche which was not calculated to please him, because it afforded no ground for suspicion as to the personal conduct of M. de Rechteren, I received from the amiable Josephine a new mark of her remembrance. She sent me the following note:
"M. Milon, who is now in Hamburg, wishes me, my dear Bourrienne, to request that you will use your interest in his favour. I feel the more pleasure in making this request as it affords me an opportunity of renewing the assurance of my regard for you."
Josephine's letter was dated from Fontainebleau, whither the Emperor used to make journeys in imitation of the old Court of France. During these excursions he sometimes partook of the pleasures of the chase, but merely for the sake of reviving an old custom, for in that exercise he found as little amusement as Montaigne did in the game of chess,
At Fontainebleau, as everywhere else, his mind was engaged with the means of augmenting his greatness, but, unfortunately, the exactions he imposed on distant countries were calculated to alienate the affections of the people. Thus, for example, I received an order emanating from him, and transmitted to me by M. Daru, the Intendant-General of the army, that the pay of all the French troops stationed in the Hanse Towns should be defrayed by these towns. I lamented the necessity of making such a communication to the Senates of Bremen, Lubeck, and Hamburg; but my duty compelled me to do so, and I had long been accustomed to fulfil duties even more painful than this. I tried every possible means with the three States, not collectively but separately, to induce them to comply with the measure, in the hope that the assent of one would help me to obtain that of the two others. But, as if they, had been all agreed, I only received evasive expressions of regret.
Knowing as I did, and I may say better than any one else, the hopes and designs of Bonaparte respecting the north of Germany, it was not without pain, nor even without alarm, that I saw him doing everything calculated to convert into enemies the inhabitants of a country which would always have remained quiet had it only been permitted to preserve its neutrality. Among the orders I received were often many which could only have been the result of the profoundest ignorance. For example, I was one day directed to press 3000 seamen in the Hanse Towns. Three thousand seamen out of a population of 200,000! It was as absurd as to think of raising 500,000 sailors in France. This project being impossible, it was of course not executed; but I had some difficulty in persuading the Emperor that a sixth of the number demanded was the utmost the Hanse Towns could supply. Five hundred seamen were accordingly furnished, but to make up that number it was necessary to include many men who were totally unfit for war service.
Departure of the Prince of Ponte-Corvo—Prediction and superstition —Stoppage of letters addressed to the Spanish troops—La Romana and Romanillos—Illegible notifications—Eagerness of the German Princes to join the Confederation of the Rhine—Attack upon me on account of M. Hue—Bernadotte's successor in Hamburg—Exactions and tyrannical conduct of General Dupas—Disturbance in Hamburg—Plates broken in a fit of rage—My letter to Bernadotte—His reply—Bernadotte's return to Hamburg, and departure of Dupas for Lubeck—Noble conduct of the 'aide de camp' Barrel.
In the spring of 1808 a circumstance occurred which gave, me much uneasiness; it was the departure of Bernadotte, Prince of Ponte-Corvo, who received orders to repair to Copenhagen. He left Hamburg on the 8th of March, as he was to reach his destination on the 14th of the same month. The Danish charge d'affaires also received orders to join the Prince, and discharge the functions of King's commissary. It was during his government at Hamburg and his stay in Jutland that hernadotte unconsciously paved his way to the throne of Sweden. I recollect that he had also his presages and his predestinations. In short, he believed in astrology, and I shall never forget the serious tone in which he one day said to me, "Would you believe, my dear friend, that it was predicted at Paris that I should be a King, but that I must cross the sea to reach my throne?" I could not help smiling with him at this weakness of mind, from which Bonaparte was not far removed. It certainly was not any supernatural influence which elevated Bernadotte to sovereign rank. That elevation was solely due to his excellent character. He had no other talisman than the wisdom of his government, and the promptitude which he always, showed to oppose unjust measures. This it was that united all opinions in his favour.
The bad state of the roads in the north prolonged Bernadotte's journey one day. He set out on the 8th of March; he was expected to arrive at Copenhagen on the 14th, but did not reach there till the 15th. He arrived precisely two hours before the death of Christian, King of Denmark, an event with which he made me acquainted by letter written two days after his arrival.
On the 6th of April following I received a second letter from Bernadotte, in which he desired me to order the Grand Ducal postmaster to keep back all letters addressed to the Spanish troops, who had been placed under his command, and of which the corps of Romana formed part. The postmaster was ordered to keep the letters until he received orders to forward them to their destinations. Bernadotte considered this step indispensable, to prevent the intrigues which he feared might be set on foot in order to shake the fidelity of the Spaniards he commanded. I saw from his despatch that he feared the plotting of Romanillos, who, however, was not a person to cause much apprehension. Romanillos was as commonplace a man as could well be conceived; and his speeches, as well as his writings, were too innocent to create any influence on public opinion.
In addition to the functions with which the Emperor at first invested me, I had to discharge the duties of French Consul-General at Hamburg, and in that character I was obliged to present to the Minister for Foreign Affairs a very singular request, viz. that the judicial notifications, which as Consul-General I had to make known to the people of Hamburg, might be written in a more legible hand. Many of these notifications had been disregarded on account of the impossibility of reading them: With respect to one of them it was declared that it was impossible to discover whether the writing was German, French, or Chinese.
I shall not record all the acts of spoliation committed by second-rate ambitious aspirants who hoped to come in for their share in the division of the Continent: The Emperor's lieutenants regarded Europe as a twelfthcake, but none of them ventured to dispute the best bit with Napoleon. Long would be the litany were I to enregister all the fraud and treachery which they committed, either to augment their fortunes or to win the favour of the chief who wished to have kings for his subjects. The fact is, that all the Princes of Germany displayed the greatest eagerness to range themselves under the protection of Napoleon, by, joining the Confederation of the Rhine. I received from those Princes several letters which served to prove at once the influence of Napoleon in Germany and the facility with which men bend beneath the yoke of a new power. I must say that among the emigrants who remained faithful to their cause there were some who evinced more firmness of character than the foreign Princes. I may mention, for example, M. Hue, the 'valet de chambre' of Louis XVI. I do not intend to deny the high regard I entertained for that faithful servant of the martyred King; but the attentions which I congratulate myself on having shown to an excellent man should not have subjected me to false imputations.
I have read the following statement in a publication:
"M. Hue retired to Hamburg, where he passed nine, months in perfect obscurity. He afterwards went to Holland, provided with a passport from Bourrienne, who was Napoleon's Minister, though in disgrace, and who, foreseeing what was to happen, sought to ingratiate himself in the favour of the Bourbons."
The above passage contains a falsehood in almost every line. M. Hue wished to reside in Hamburg, but he did not wish to conceal himself. I invited him to visit me, and assured him that he might remain in Hamburg without apprehension, provided he acted prudently. He wished to go to Holland, and I took upon myself to give him a passport. I left M. Hue in the free management of his business, the nature of which I knew very well, and which was very honourable; he was deputed to pay the pensions which Louis XVIII. granted to the emigrants. As for myself, I had tendered my resignation of private secretary to Bonaparte; and even admitting I was in disgrace in that character, I was not so as Minister and Consul-General at Hamburg. My situation, which was of little consequence at the time I was appointed to it, was later on rendered exceedingly important by circumstances. It was, in fact, a sort of watch-tower of the Government, whence all the movements of northern Germany were observed; and during my residence in the Hanse Towns I continually experienced the truth of what Bonaparte said to me at my farewell audience—"Yours is a place independent and apart."
It is absurd to say that the kindness I showed to M. Hue was an attempt to ingratiate myself with the Bourbons. My attentions to him were dictated solely by humanity, unaccompanied by any afterthought. Napoleon had given me his confidence, and by mitigating the verity of his orders I served him better than they who executed them in a way which could not fail to render the French Government odious. If I am accused of extending every possible indulgence to the unfortunate emigrants, I plead guilty; and, far from wishing to defend myself against the charge, I consider it honourable to me. But I defy any one of them to say that I betrayed in their favour the interests with which I was entrusted. They who urged Bonaparte to usurp the crown of France served, though perhaps unconsciously, the cause of the Bourbons. I, on the contrary, used all my endeavours to dissuade him from that measure, which I clearly saw must, in the end, lead to the restoration, though I do not pretend that I was sufficiently clear-sighted to guess that Napoleon's fall was so near at hand. The kindness I showed to M. Hue and his companions in misfortune was prompted by humanity, and not by mean speculation. As well might it be said that hernadotte, who, like myself, neglected no opportunity of softening the rigour of the orders he was deputed to execute, was by this means working his way to the throne of Sweden.
Bernadotte had proceeded to Denmark to take the command of the Spanish and French troops who had been removed from the Hanse Towns to occupy that kingdom, which was then threatened by the English. His departure was a great loss to me, for we had always agreed respecting the measures to be adopted, and I felt his absence the more sensibly when I was enabled to make a comparison between him and his successor. It is painful to me to detail the misconduct of those who injured the French name in Germany, but in fulfilment of the task I have undertaken, I am bound to tell the truth.
In April 1808 General Dupas came to take the command of Hamburg, but only under the orders of Bernadotte, who retained the supreme command of the French troops in the Hanse Towns. By the appointment of General Dupas the Emperor cruelly thwarted the wishes and hopes of the inhabitants of Lower Saxony. That General said of the people of Hamburg, "As long as I see those . . . driving in their carriages I can get money from them." It is, however, only just to add, that his dreadful exactions were not made on his own account, but for the benefit of another man to whom he owed his all, and to whom he had in some measure devoted his existence.
I will state some particulars respecting the way in which the generals who commanded the French troops at Hamburg were maintained. The Senate of Hamburg granted to the Marshals thirty friederichs a day for the expenses of their table exclusive of the hotel in which they were lodged by the city. The generals of division had only twenty friederichs. General Dupas wished to be provided for on the same footing as the Marshals. The Senate having, with reason, rejected this demand, Dupas required that he should be daily served with a breakfast and a dinner of thirty covers. This was an inconceivable burden, and Dupas cost the city more than any of his predecessors.
I saw an account of his expenses, which during the twenty-one weeks he remained at Hamburg amounted to 122,000 marks, or about 183,000 francs. None but the most exquisite wines were drunk at the table of Dupas. Even his servants were treated with champagne, and the choicest fruits were brought from the fine hothouses of Berlin. The inhabitants were irritated at this extravagance, and Dupas accordingly experienced the resistance of the Senate.
Among other vexations there was one to which the people could not readily submit. In Hamburg, which had formerly been a fortified town, the custom was preserved of closing the gates at nightfall. On Sundays they were closed three-quarters of an hour later, to avoid interrupting the amusements of the people.
While General Dupas was Governor of Hamburg an event occurred which occasioned considerable irritation in the public mind, and might have been attended by fatal consequences. From some whim or other the General ordered the gates to be closed at seven in the evening, and consequently while it was broad daylight, for it was in the middle of spring; no exception was made in favour of Sunday, and on that day a great number of the inhabitants who had been walking in the outskirts of the city presented themselves at the gate of Altona for admittance. To their surprise they found the gate closed, though it was a greater thoroughfare than any other gate in Hamburg. The number of persons, requiring admittance increased, and a considerable crowd soon collected. After useless entreaties had been addressed to the chief officer of the post the people were determined to send to the Commandant for the keys. The Commandant arrived, accompanied by the General. When they appeared it was supposed they had come for the purpose of opening the gates, and they were accordingly saluted with a general hurrah! which throughout almost all the north is the usual cry for expressing popular satisfaction. General Dupas not understanding the meaning of this hurrah! supposed it to be a signal for sedition, and instead of ordering the gates to be opened he commanded the military to fire upon the peaceful citizens, who only wanted to return to their homes. Several persons were killed, and others more or less seriously wounded. Fortunately, after this first discharge the fury of Dupas was appeased; but still he persisted in keeping the gates closed at night. Next day an order was posted about the city prohibiting the cry of hurrah! under pain of a severe punishment. It was also forbidden that more than three persona should collect together in the streets. Thus it was that certain persons imposed the French yoke upon towns and provinces which were previously happy.
Dupas was as much execrated in the Hanse Towns as Clarke had been in Berlin when he was governor of that capital during the campaign of 1807. Clarke had burdened the people of Berlin with every kind of oppression and exaction. He, as well as many others, manifested a ready obedience in executing the Imperial orders, however tyrannical they might be; and Heaven knows what epithets invariably accompanied the name of Clarke when pronounced by the lips of a Prussian.
Dupas seemed to have taken Clarke as his model. An artillery officer, who was in Hamburg at the time of the disturbance I have just mentioned, told me that it was he who was directed to place two pieces of light-artillery before the gate of Altona. Having executed this order, he went to General Dupas, whom he found in a furious fit of passion, breaking and destroying everything within his reach. In the presence of the officer he broke more than two dozen plates which were on the table before him: these plates, of course, had cost him very little!
On the day after the disturbance which had so fatal a termination I wrote to inform the Prince of Porte-Corvo of what had taken place; and in my letter I solicited the suppression of an extraordinary tribunal which had been created by General Dupas. He returned me an immediate answer, complying with my request. His letter was as follows:
I have received your letter, my dear Minister: it forcibly conveys the expression of your right feeling, which revolts against oppression, severity, and the abase of power. I entirely concur in your view of the subject, and I am distressed whenever I see such acts of injustice committed. On an examination of the events which took place on the 19th it is impossible to deny that the officer who ordered the gates to be closed so soon was in the wrong; and next, it may be asked, why were not the gates opened instead of the, military being ordered to fire on the people? But, on the other hand, did not the people evince decided obstinacy and insubordination? were they not to blame in throwing stones at the guard, forcing the palisades, and even refusing to listen to the voice of the magistrates? It is melancholy that they should have fallen into these excesses, from which, doubtless, they would have refrained had they listened to the civil chiefs, who ought to be their first directors. Finally, my dear Minister, the Senator who distributed money at the gate of Altona to appease the multitude would have done better had he advised them to wait patiently until the gates were opened; and he might, I think, have gone to the Commandant or the General to solicit that concession.
Whenever an irritated mob resorts to violence there is no safety for any one. The protecting power mast then exert its utmost authority to stop mischief. The Senate of ancient Rome, so jealous of its prerogatives, assigned to a Dictator, in times of trouble, the power of life and death, and that magistrate knew no other code than his own will and the axe of his lictors. The ordinary laws did not resume their course until the people returned to submission.
The event which took place in Hamburg produced a feeling of agitation of which evil-disposed persons might take advantage to stir up open insurrection. That feeling could only be repressed by a severe tribunal, which, however, is no longer necessary. General Dupas has, accordingly, received orders to dissolve it, and justice will resume her usual course. J. BERNADOTTE DENSEL, 4th May, 1808.
When Bernadotte returned to Hamburg he sent. Dupas to Lubeck. That city, which was poorer than Hamburg, suffered cruelly from the visitation of such a guest.
Dupas levied all his exactions in kind, and indignantly spurned every offer of accepting money, the very idea of which, he said, shocked his delicacy of feeling. But his demands became so extravagant that the city of Lubeck was utterly unable to satisfy them. Besides his table, which was provided in the same style of profusion as at Hamburg, he required to be furnished with plate, linen, wood, and candles; in short, with the most trivial articles of household consumption.
The Senate deputed to the incorruptible General Dupas M. Nolting, a venerable old man, who mildly represented to him the abuses which were everywhere committed in his name, and entreated that he would vouchsafe to accept twenty Louis a day to defray the expenses of his table alone. At this proposition General Dupes flew into a rage. To offer him money was an insult not to be endured! He furiously drove the terrified Senator out of the house, and at once ordered his 'aide de camp' Barrel to imprison him. M. de Barrel, startled at this extraordinary order, ventured to remonstrate with the General, but in vain; and, though against his heart, he was obliged to obey. The aide de camp accordingly waited upon the Senator Notting, and overcome by that feeling of respect which gray hairs involuntarily inspire in youth, instead of arresting him, he besought the old man not to leave his house until he should prevail on the General to retract his orders. It was not till the following day that M. de Barrel succeeded in getting these orders revoked—that is to say, he obtained M. Notting's release from confinement; for Dupas would not be satisfied until he heard that the Senator had suffered at least the commencement of the punishment to which his capricious fury had doomed him.
In spite of his parade of disinterestedness General Dupas yielded so far as to accept the twenty Louis a day for the expense of his table which M. Notting had offered him on the part of the Senate of Lubeck; but it was not without murmurings, complaints, and menaces that he made this generous concession; and he exclaimed more than once, "These fellows have portioned out my allowance for me." Lubeck was not released from the presence of General Dupes until the month of March 1809, when he was summoned to command a division in the Emperor's new campaign against Austria. Strange as it may appear, it is nevertheless the fact, that, oppressive as had been his presence at Lubeck, the Hanse Towns soon had reason to regret him.
Promulgation of the Code of Commerce—Conquests by Status-consulte— Three events in one day—Recollections—Application of a line of Voltaire—Creation of the Imperial nobility—Restoration of the university—Aggrandisement of the kingdom of Italy at the expense of Rome—Cardinal Caprara'a departure from Paris—The interview at Erfurt.
The year 1808 was fertile in remarkable events. Occupied as I was with my own duties, I yet employed my leisure hours in observing the course of those great acts by which Bonaparte seemed determined to mark every day of his life. At the commencement of 1808 I received one of the first copies of the Code of Commerce, promulgated on the 1st of January by the Emperor's order. This code appeared to me an act of mockery; at least it was extraordinary to publish a code respecting a subject which it was the effect of all the Imperial decrees to destroy. What trade could possibly exist under the Continental system, and the ruinous severity of the customs? The line was already extended widely enough when, by a 'Senatus-consulte', it was still further widened. The Emperor, to whom all the Continent submitted, had recourse to no other formality for the purpose of annexing to the Empire the towns of Kehl, Cassel near Mayence, Wesel, and Flushing, with the territories depending on them.
—[A resolution of the senate, or a "Senatus-consulte" was the means invented by Napoleon for altering the imperial Constitutions, and even the extent of the Empire. By one of these, dated 21st January 1808, the towns of Kehl, Cassel, and Wesel, with Flushing, all already seized, were definitely united to France. The loss of Wesel, which helonged to Murat's Grand Duchy of Berg, was a very sore point with Murat.]—
These conquests, gained by decrees and senatorial decisions, had at least the advantage of being effected without bloodshed. All these things were carefully communicated to me by the Ministers with whom I corresponded, for my situation at Hamburg had acquired such importance that it was necessary I should know everything.
At this period I observed among the news which I received from different places a singular coincidence of dates, worthy of being noted by the authors of ephemrides. On the same day-namely, the 1st of February Paris, Lisbon, and Rome were the scenes of events of different kinds, but, as they all happened on one day, affording a striking example of the rapidity of movement which marked the reign of Bonaparte. At Paris the niece of Josephine, Mademoiselle de Tascher, whom Napoleon had lately exalted to the rank of Princess, was married to the reigning Prince of Ahremberg, while at the same time Junot declared to Portugal that the house of Braganza had ceased to reign, and French troops were, under the command of General Miollis, occupying Rome. This occupation was the commencement of prolonged struggles, during which Pins VII. expiated the condescension he had shown in going to Paris to crown Napoleon.
Looking over my notes, I see it was the day after these three events occurred that Bonaparte gave to his brother-in-law, Prince Borghese, the Governorship-General of the departments beyond the Alps which he had just founded; and of which he made the eighth Grand Dignitary of the Empire. General Menou, whom I had not seen since Egypt, was obliged by this appointment to leave Turin, where he had always remained. Bonaparte, not wishing to permit him to come to Paris, sent Menou to preside over the Junta of Tuscany, of which he soon afterwards made another General-Governorship, which he entrusted to the care of his sister Elisa.
—[Prince Camille Philippe Louis Borghese (1755-1832), an Italian, had married, 6th November 1808, Pauline Bonaparte, the sister of Napoleon, and the widow of General Leclerc. He had been made Prince and Duke of Guastalla when that duchy was given to his wife, 30th Marsh 1806. He separated from his wife after a few years. Indeed Pauline was impossible as a wife if half of the stories about her are true. It was she who, finding that a lady was surprised at her having sat naked while a statue of her was being modelled for Canova, believed she had satisfactorily explained matters by saying, "but there was a fire in the room."]—
My correspondence relative to what passed in the south of France and of Europe presented to me, if I may so express myself, merely an anecdotal interest. Not so the news which came from the north. At Hamburg I was like the sentinel of an advanced post, always on the alert. I frequently informed the Government of what would take place before the event actually happened. I was one of the first to hear of the plans of Russia relative to Sweden. The courier whom I sent to Paris arrived there at the very moment when Russia made the declaration of war. About the end of February the Russian troops entered Swedish Finland, and occupied also the capital of that province, which had at all times been coveted by the Russian Government. It has been said that at the interview at Erfurt Bonaparte consented to the usurpation of that province by Alexander in return for the complaisance of the latter in acknowledging Joseph as King of Spain and the Indies.
The removal of Joseph from the throne of Naples to the throne of Madrid belongs, indeed, to that period respecting which I am now throwing together a few recollections. Murat had succeeded Joseph at Naples, and this accession of the brother-in-law of Napoleon to one of the thrones of the House of Bourbon gave Bonaparte another junior in the college of kings, of which he would have infallibly become the senior if he had gone on as he began.
I will relate a little circumstance which now occurs to me respecting the kings manufactured by Napoleon. I recollect that during the King of Etruria's stay in Paris—the First Consul went with that Prince to the Comedie Francaise, where Voltaire's 'OEdipus' was performed. This piece, I may observe, Bonaparte liked better than anything Voltaire ever wrote. I was in the theatre, but not in the First Consul's box, and I observed, as all present must have done, the eagerness with which the audience applied to Napoleon and the King of Etruria the line in which Philoctetes says—
"J'ai fait des souverains et n'ai pas voulu l'etre."
["I have made sovereigns, but have not wished to be one myself."]
The application was so marked that it could not fail to become the subject of conversation between the First Consul and me. "You remarked it, Bourrienne?" . . . "Yes, General." . . "The fools! . . . They shall see! They shall see!" We did indeed see. Not content with making kings, Bonaparte, when his brow was encircled by a double crown, after creating princes at length realised the object he had long contemplated, namely, to found a new nobility endowed with hereditary rights. It was at the commencement of March 1808 that he accomplished this project; and I saw in the 'Moniteur' a long list of princes, dukes, counts, barons, and knights of the Empire; there were wanting only viscounts and marquises.
At the same time that Bonaparte was founding a new nobility he determined to raise up the old edifice of the university, but on a new foundation. The education of youth had always been one of his ruling ideas, and I had an opportunity of observing how he was changed by the exercise of sovereign power when I received at Hamburg the statutes of the new elder daughter of the Emperor of the French, and compared them with the ideas which Bonaparte, when General and First Consul, had often expressed to me respecting the education which ought to be given youth. Though the sworn enemy of everything like liberty, Bonaparte had at first conceived a vast system of education, comprising above all the study of history, and those positive sciences, such as geology and astronomy, which give the utmost degree of development to the human mind. The Sovereign, however, shrunk from the first ideas of the man of genius, and his university, confided to the elegant suppleness of M. de Fontaines, was merely a school capable of producing educated subjects but not enlightened men.
Before taking complete possession of Rome, and making it the second city of the Empire, the vaunted moderation of Bonaparte was confined to dismembering from it the legations of Ancona, Urbino, Macerata, and Camerino, which were divided into three departments; and added to the Kingdom of Italy. The patience of the Holy See could no longer hold out against this act of violence, and Cardinal Caprara, who had remained in Paris since the coronation, at last left that capital. Shortly afterwards the Grand Duchies of Parma and Piacenza were united to the French Empire, and annexed to the government of the departments beyond the Alps. These transactions were coincident with the events in Spain and Bayonne before mentioned.
After the snare laid at Bayonne the Emperor entered Paris on the 14th of August, the eve of his birthday. Scarcely had he arrived in the capital when he experienced fresh anxiety in consequence of the conduct of Russia, which, as I have stated, had declared open war with Sweden, and did not conceal the intention of seizing Finland. But Bonaparte, desirous of actively carrying on the war in Spain, felt the necessity of removing his troops from Prussia to the Pyrenees. He then hastened the interview at Erfurt, where the two Emperors of France and Russia had agreed to meet. He hoped that this interview would insure the tranquillity of the Continent, while he should complete the subjection of Spain to the sceptre of Joseph. That Prince had been proclaimed on the 8th of June; and on the 21st of the same month he made his entry into Madrid, but having received, ten days after, information of the disaster at Baylen, he was obliged to leave the Spanish capital.
—[The important battle of Daylen, where the French, under General Dupont, were beaten by the Spaniards, was fought on the 19th of July 1808.]—
Bonaparte's wishes must at this time have been limited to the tranquillity of the Continent, for the struggle between him and England was more desperate than ever. England had just sent troops to Portugal under the command of Sir Arthur Wellesley. There was no longer any hope of a reconciliation with Great Britain: The interview at Erfurt having been determined on, the Emperor, who had returned from Bayonne to Paris, again left the capital about the end of September, and arrived at Metz without stopping, except for the purpose of reviewing the regiments which were echeloned on his route, and which were on their march from the Grand Army to Spain.
I had heard some time previously of the interview which was about to take place, and which was so memorable in the life of Napoleon. It excited so much interest in Germany that the roads were covered with the equipages of the Princes who were going to Erfurt to witness the meeting. The French Emperor arrived there before Alexander, and went forward three leagues to meet him. Napoleon was on horseback, Alexander in a carriage. They embraced, it is said, in a manner expressive of the most cordial friendship. This interview was witnessed by most of the sovereign Princes of Germany. However, neither the King of Prussia nor the Emperor of Austria was present. The latter sovereign sent a letter to Napoleon, of which I obtained a copy. It was as follows:
SIRE, MY BROTHER,—My Ambassador in Paris informs me that your Majesty is about to proceed to Erfurt to meet the Emperor Alexander. I eagerly seize the opportunity of your approach to my frontier to renew those testimonials of friendship and esteem which I have pledged to you; and I send my Lieutenant-General, Baron Vincent, to convey to you the assurance of my unalterable sentiments. If the false accounts that have been circulated respecting the internal institutions which I have established in my monarchy should for a moment have excited your Majesty's doubts as to my intentions, I fatter myself that the explanations given on that subject by Count Metternich to your Minister will have entirely removed them. Baron Vincent is enabled to confirm to your Majesty all that has been said by Count Metternich on the subject, and to add any further explanations, you may wish for. I beg that your Majesty will grant him the same gracious reception he experienced at Paris and at Warsaw. The renewed marks of favour you may bestow on him will be an unequivocal pledge of the reciprocity of your sentiments, and will seal that confidence which will render our satisfaction mutual.
Deign to accept the assurance of the unalterable affection and respect with which I am, Sire, my Brother, Your imperial and royal Majesty's faithful brother and friend, (Signed) FRANCIS. PRESBURG, 8th September 1808.
This letter appears to be a model of ambiguity, by which it is impossible Napoleon could have been imposed upon. However, as yet he had no suspicion of the hostility of Austria, which speedily became manifest; his grand object then was the Spanish business, and, as I have before observed, one of the secrets of Napoleon's genius was, that he did not apply himself to more than one thing at a time.
At Erfurt Bonaparte attained the principal object he had promised himself by the meeting. Alexander recognized Joseph in his new character of King of Spain and the Indies. It has been said that as the price of this recognition Napoleon consented that Alexander should have Swedish Finland; but for the truth of this I cannot vouch. However, I remember that when, after the interview at Erfurt, Alexander had given-orders to his ambassador to Charles IV. to continue his functions under King Joseph, the Swedish charge d'affaires at Hamburg told me that confidential letters received by him from Erfurt led him to fear that the Emperor Alexander had communicated to Napoleon his designs on Finland, and that Napoleon had given his consent to the occupation. Be this as it may, as soon as the interview was over Napoleon returned to Paris, where he presided with much splendour at the opening of the Legislative Body, and set out in the month of November for Spain.
The Spanish troops in Hamburg—Romana's siesta—His departure for Funen—Celebration of Napoleon's birthday—Romana's defection— English agents and the Dutch troops—Facility of communication between England and the Continent—Delay of couriers from Russia— Alarm and complaints—The people of Hamburg—Montesquieu and the Minister of the Grand Duke of Tuscany—Invitations at six months— Napoleon's journey to Italy—Adoption of Eugene—Lucien's daughter and the Prince of the Asturias—M. Auguste de Stael's interview with Napoleon.
Previous to the interview at Erfurt an event took place which created a strong interest in Hamburg and throughout Europe, an event which was planned and executed with inconceivable secrecy. I allude to the defection of the Marquis de la Romans, which I have not hitherto noticed, in order that I might not separate the different facts which came to my knowledge respecting that defection and the circumstances which accompanied it.
The Marquis de la Romans had come to the Hanse Towns at the head of an army corps of 18,000 men, which the Emperor in the preceding campaign claimed in virtue of treaties previously concluded with the Spanish Government. The Spanish troops at first met with a good reception in the Hanse Towns. The difference of language, indeed, occasionally caused discord, but when better acquainted the inhabitants and their visitors became good friends. The Marquis de la Romans was a little swarthy man, of unprepossessing and rather common appearance; but he had a considerable share of talent and information. He had travelled in almost every part of Europe, and as he had been a close observer of all he saw his conversation was exceedingly agreeable and instructive.
During his stay at Hamburg General Romans spent almost every evening at my house, and invariably fell asleep over a game at whist. Madame de Bourrienne was usually his partner, and I recollect he perpetually offered apologies for his involuntary breach of good manners. This, however, did not hinder him from being guilty of the same offence the next evening. I will presently explain the cause of this regular siesta.
On the King of Spain's birthday the Marquis de la Romans gave a magnificent entertainment. The decorations of the ballroom consisted of military emblems. The Marquis did the honours with infinite grace, and paid particular attention to the French generals. He always spoke of the Emperor in very respectful terms, without any appearance of affectation, so that it was impossible to suspect him of harbouring disaffection. He played his part to the last with the utmost address. At Hamburg we had already received intelligence of the fatal result of the battle of the Sierra Morena, and of the capitulation of Dupont, which disgraced him at the very moment when the whole army marked him out as the man most likely next to receive the baton of Marshal of France.
Meanwhile the Marquis de la Romans departed for the Danish island of Funen, in compliance with the order which Marshal Bernadotte had transmitted to him. There, as at Hamburg, the Spaniards were well liked, for their general obliged them to observe the strictest discipline. Great preparations were made in Hamburg on the approach of Saint Napoleon's day, which was then celebrated with much solemnity in every town in which France had representatives. The Prince de Ponte-Corvo was at Travemunde, a small seaport near Lubeck, but that did not prevent him from giving directions for the festival of the 15th of August. The Marquis de la Romana, the better to deceive the Marshal, despatched a courier, requesting permission to visit Hamburg on the day of the fete in order to join his prayers to those of the French, and to receive, on the day of the fete, from the hands of the Prince, the grand order of the Legion of Honour, which he had solicited, and which Napoleon had granted him. Three days after Bernadotte received intelligence of the defection of de la Romana. The Marquis had contrived to assemble a great number of English vessels on the coast, and to escape with all his troops except a depot of 600 men left at Altona. We afterwards heard that he experienced no interruption on his passage, and that he landed with his troops at Corunna. I now knew to what to attribute the drowsiness which always overcame the Marquis de la Romana when he sat down to take a hand at whist. The fact was, he sat up all night making preparations for the escape which he had long meditated, while to lull suspicion he showed himself everywhere during the day, as usual.
On the defection of the Spanish troops I received letters from Government requiring me to augment my vigilance, and to seek out those persons who might be supposed to have been in the confidence of the Marquis de la Romans. I was informed that English agents, dispersed through the Hanse Towns, were endeavouring to foment discord and dissatisfaction among the King of Holland's troops. These manoeuvres were connected with the treason of the Spaniards and the arrival of Danican in Denmark. Insubordination had already broken out, but it was promptly repressed. Two Dutch soldiers were shot for striking their officers, but notwithstanding this severity desertion among the troops increased to an alarming degree. Indefatigable agents in the pay of the English Government laboured incessantly to seduce the soldiers of King Louis (of Holland) from their duty. Some of these agents being denounced to me were taken almost in the act, and positive proof being adduced of their guilt they were condemned to death.
These indispensable examples of severity did not check the manoeuvres of England, though they served to cool the zeal of her agents. I used every endeavour to second the Prince of Ponte-Corvo in tracing out the persons employed by England. It was chiefly from the small island of Heligoland that they found their way to the Continent. This communication was facilitated by the numerous vessels scattered about the small islands which lie along that coast. Five or six pieces of gold defrayed the expense of the passage to or from Heligoland. Thus the Spanish news, which was printed and often fabricated at London, was profusely circulated in the north of Germany. Packets of papers addressed to merchants and well-known persons in the German towns were put into the post-offices of Embden, Kuipphausen, Varel, Oldenburg, Delmenhorst, and Bremen. Generally speaking, this part of the coast was not sufficiently well watched to prevent espionage and smuggling; with regard to smuggling, indeed, no power could have entirely prevented it. The Continental system had made it a necessity, so that a great part of the population depended on it for subsistence.
In the beginning of December 1808 we remarked that the Russian courier who passed through Konigsberg and Berlin, was regularly detained four, five, and even six hours on his way to Hamburg. The trading portion of the population, always suspicious, became alarmed at this chance in the courier's hours, into which they inquired and soon discovered the cause. It was ascertained that two agents had been stationed by the postmaster of the Grand Duchy of Berg at Hamburg, in a village called Eschburg belonging to the province of Lauenburg. There the courier from Berlin was stopped, and his packets and letters opened. As soon as these facts were known in Hamburg there was a general consternation among the trading class-that is to say, the influential population of the city. Important and well-grounded complaints were made. Some letters had been suppressed, enclosures had been taken from one letter and put into another, and several bills of exchange had gone astray. The intelligence soon reached the ears of the Prince of Ponte-Corvo, and was confirmed by the official report of the commissioner for the Imperial and Royal Post-office, who complained of the delay of the courier, of the confusion of the packets, and of want of confidence in the Imperial Post-office. It was impolitic to place such agents in a village where there was not even a post-office, and where the letters were opened in an inn without any supervision. This examination of the letters, sometimes, perhaps, necessary, but often dangerous, and always extremely delicate, created additional alarm, on account of the persons to whom the business was entrusted. If the Emperor wished to be made acquainted with the correspondence of certain persons in the north it would have been natural to entrust the business to his agents and his commissioner at Hamburg, and not to two unknown individuals—another inconvenience attending black cabinets. At my suggestion the Prince of Ponte-Corvo gave orders for putting a stop to the clandestine business at Eschburg. The two agents were taken to Hamburg and their conduct inquired into. They were severely punished. They deserved this, however, less than those who had entrusted them with such an honourable mission; but leaders never make much scruple about abandoning their accomplices in the lower ranks.
But for the pain of witnessing vexations of this sort, which I had not always power to prevent, especially after Bernadotte's removal, my residence at Hamburg would have been delightful. Those who have visited that town know the advantages it possesses from its charming situation on the Elbe, and above all, the delightful country which surrounds it like a garden, and extends to the distance of more than a league along the banks of the Eyder. The manners and customs of the inhabitants bear the stamp of peculiarity; they are fond of pursuing their occupations in the open air. The old men are often seen sitting round tables placed before their doors sipping tea, while the children play before them, and the young people are at their work. These groups have a very picturesque effect, and convey a gratifying idea of the happiness of the people. On seeing the worthy citizens of Hamburg assembled round their doors I could not help thinking of a beautiful remark of Montesquieu. When he went to Florence with a letter of recommendation to the Prime Minister of the Grand Duke of Tuscany he found him sitting at the threshold of his door, inhaling the fresh air and conversing with some friends. "I see," said Montesquieu, "that I am arrived among a happy people, since their Prime Minister can enjoy his leisure moments thus."
A sort of patriarchal simplicity characterises the manners of the inhabitants of Hamburg. They do not visit each other much, and only by invitation; but on such occasions they display great luxury beneath their simple exterior. They are methodical and punctual to an extraordinary degree. Of this I recollect a curious instance. I was very intimate with Baron Woght, a man of talent and information, and exceedingly amiable manners. One day he called to make us a farewell visit as he intended to set out on the following day for Paris. On Madame de Bourrienne expressing a hope that he would not protract his absence beyond six months, the period he had fixed upon, he replied, "Be assured, madame, nothing shall prevent me getting home on the day I have appointed, for I have invited a party of friends to dine with me on the day after my return." The Baron returned at the appointed time, and none of his guests required to be reminded of his invitation at six months' date.
Napoleon so well knew the effect which his presence produced that after a conquest he loved to show himself to the people whose territories he added to the Empire. Duroc, who always accompanied him when he was not engaged on missions, gave me a curious account of Napoleon's journey in 1807 to Venice and the other Italian provinces, which, conformably with the treaty of Presburg, were annexed to the Kingdom of Italy.
In this journey to the Kingdom of Italy Napoleon had several important objects in view. He was planning great alliances; and he loaded Eugene with favours for the purpose of sounding him and preparing him for his mother's divorce. At the same time he intended to have an interview with his brother Lucien, because, wishing to dispose of the hand of his brother's daughter, he thought of making her marry the Prince of the Asturias (Ferdinand), who before the Spanish war, when the first dissensions between father and son had become manifest, had solicited an alliance with the Emperor in the hope of getting his support. This was shortly after the eldest son of Louis had died in Holland of croup. It has been wrongly believed that Napoleon had an affection for this child beyond that of an uncle for a nephew. I have already said the truth about this.
However this may be, it is certain that Napoleon now seriously contemplated a divorce from Josephine. If there had been no other proof of this I, who from long habit knew how to read Napoleon's thoughts by his acts, found a sufficient one in the decree issued at Milan by which Napoleon adopted Eugene as his son and successor to the crown of Italy, in default of male and legitimate children directly descended from him. Lucien went to Mantua on his brother's invitation, and this was the last interview they had before the Cent Tours. Lucien consented to give his daughter to the Prince of the Asturias, but this marriage did not take place. I learned from Duroc to what a height the enmity of Lucien towards the Beauharnais family, an enmity which I have often had occasion to speak of, had been renewed on this occasion. Lucien could not pardon Josephine for the rebuff of the counsels which he had given her, and which she had rejected with such proper indignation. Lucien had besides another special reason for giving his daughter to the Prince of the Asturias. He particularly wished to prevent that Prince marrying Mademoiselle de Tascher, the niece of Josephine, a marriage for which M. de Beauharnais, then Ambassador of France at Madrid, was working with all his might. Lucien also, with his Republican stolidity, submitted without too much scruple to the idea of having a Bourbon King as son-in-law. It was also during this journey of Napoleon that he annexed Tuscany to the Empire.
Bonaparte returned to Paris on the 1st of January 1808. On his way he stopped for a short time at Chambery, where a young man had been waiting for him several days. This was Madame de Stael's son, who was then not more than seventeen years of age. M. Auguste de Stael lodged at the house of the postmaster of Chambery, and as the Emperor was expected in the course of the night, he gave orders that he should be called up on the arrival of the first courier. The couriers, who had been delayed on the road, did not arrive until six in the morning, and were almost immediately followed by the Emperor himself, so that M, de Stael was awakened by the cries of Vive l'Empereur! He had just time to dress himself hastily, and fly to meet Napoleon, to whom he delivered a letter, which he had prepared beforehand for the purpose of soliciting an audience. Lauriston, the aide de camp on duty, took the letter, it being his business to receive all the letters and petitions which were presented to Napoleon on his way. Before breakfast the Emperor opened the letters which Lauriston had laid on the table; he merely looked at the signatures, and then laid them aside. On opening M. de Stael's letter he said, "Ah! ah! what have we here? a letter from M. de Stael! . . . He wishes to see me: . . . What can he want? . . . Can there be anything in common between me and the refugees of Geneva?"— "Sire," observed Lauriston, "he is a very young man; and, as well as I could judge from the little I saw of him, there is something very prepossessing in his appearance."—"A very young man, say you? . . . Oh, then I will see him. . . . Rustan, tell him to come in." M. de Stael presented himself to Napoleon with modesty, but without any unbecoming timidity. When he had respectfully saluted the Emperor a conversation ensued between them, which Duroc described to me in nearly the following manner.
As M. de Stael advanced towards the Emperor the latter said, "Whence do you come?"—"From Geneva, Sire."—"Where is your mother?"—"She is either in Vienna or will soon be there."—"At Vienna! . . . Well, that is where she ought to be; and I suppose she is happy. . . . She will now have a good opportunity of learning German."—"Sire, how can you imagine my mother is happy when she is absent from her country and her friends? If I were permitted to lay before your Majesty my mother's confidential letter you would see how unhappy she is in her exile."— "Ah, bah! your mother unhappy, indeed! . . . However, I do not mean to say she is altogether a bad woman. . . . She has talent—perhaps too much; and hers is an unbridled talent. She was educated amidst the chaos of the subverted monarchy and the Revolution; and out of these events she makes an amalgamation of her own! All this might become very dangerous. Her enthusiasm is likely to make proselytes. I must keep watch upon her. She does not like me; and for the interests of those whom she would endanger I must prohibit her coming to Paris."
Young De Stael stated that his object in seeking the interview with the Emperor was to petition for his mother's return to Paris. Napoleon having listened without impatience to the reasons he urged in support of his request, said, "But supposing I were to permit your mother to return to Pairs, six months would not elapse before I should be obliged to send her to the Bicetre or to the Temple. This I should be sorry to do, because the affair would make a noise, and injure me in public opinion. Tell your mother that my determination is formed, that my decision is irrevocable. She shall never set foot in Paris as long as I live."— "Sire, I cannot believe that you would arbitrarily imprison my mother if she gave you no reason for such severity."—"She would give me a dozen! . . . I know her well."—"Sire, permit me to say that I am certain my mother would live in Paris in a way that would afford no ground of reproach; she would live retired, and would see only a very few friends. In spite of your Majesty's refusal I venture to entreat that you will give her a trial, were it only for six weeks or a month. Permit her, Sire, to pass that time in Paris, and I conjure you to come to no final decision beforehand."—"Do you think I am to be deceived by these fair promises? . . . I tell you it cannot be. She would serve as a rallying point for the Faubourg St. Germain. She see nobody, indeed! Could she make that sacrifice? She would visit and receive company. She would be guilty of a thousand follies. She would be saying things which she may consider as very good jokes, but which I should take seriously. My government is no joke: I wish this to be well known by everybody."— "Sire, will your Majesty permit me to repeat that my mother has no wish whatever to mingle in society? She would confine herself to the circle of a few friends, a list of whom she would give to your Majesty. You, Sire, who love France so well, may form some idea of the misery my mother suffers in her banishment. I conjure your Majesty to yield to my entreaties, and let us be included in the number of your faithful subjects."—"You!"—"Yes, Sire; or if your Majesty persist in your refusal, permit a son to inquire what can have raised your displeasure against his mother. Some say that it was my grandfather's last work; but I can assure your Majesty that my mother had nothing to do with that."— "Yes, certainly," added Napoleon, with more ill-humour than he had hitherto manifested. "Yes, certainly, that work is very objectionable. Your grandfather was an ideologist, a fool, an old lunatic. At sixty years of age to think of forming plans to overthrow my constitution! States would be well governed, truly, under such theorists, who judge of men from books and the world from the map."—"Sire, since my grandfather's plans are, in your Majesty's eyes, nothing but vain theories, I cannot conceive why they should so highly excite your displeasure. There is no political economist who has not traced out plans of constitutions."—"Oh! as to political economists, they are mere-visionaries, who are dreaming of plans of finance while they are unfit to fulfil the duties of a schoolmaster in the most insignificant village in the Empire. Your grandfather's work is that of an obstinate old man who died abusing all governments."—"Sire, may I presume to suppose, from the way in which you speak of it, that your Majesty judges from the report of malignant persons, and that you have not yourself read it."
"That is a mistake. I have read it myself from beginning to end."— "Then your Majesty must have seen how my grandfather renders justice to your genius."—"Fine justice, truly! . . . He calls me the indispensable man, but, judging from his arguments, the best thing that could be done would be to cut my throat! Yes, I was indeed indispensable to repair the follies of your grandfather, and the mischief he did to France. It was he who overturned the monarchy and led Louis XVI. to the scaffold."—"Sire, you seem to forget that my grandfather's property was confiscated because he defended the King."—"Defended the King! A fine defence, truly! You might as well say that if I give a man poison and present him with an antidote when he is in the agonies of death I wish to save him! Yet that is the way your grandfather defended Louis XVI..... As to the confiscation you speak of, what does that prove? Nothing. Why, the property of Robespierre was confiscated! And let me tell you that Robespierre himself, Marat, and Danton did much less mischief to France than M. Necker. It was he who brought about the Revolution. You, Monsieur de Stael, did not see this; but I did. I witnessed all that passed in those days of terror and public calamity. But as long as I live those days shall never return. Your speculators trace their Utopian schemes upon paper; fools read and believe them. All are babbling about general happiness, and presently the people have not bread to eat; then comes a revolution. Such is usually the fruit of all these fine theories! Your grandfather was the cause of the saturnalia which desolated France. He is responsible for all the blood shed in the Revolution!"
Duroc informed me that the Emperor uttered these last words in a tone of fury which made all present tremble for young De Stael. Fortunately the young man did not lose his self-possession in the conflict, while the agitated expression of his countenance evidently showed what was passing in his mind. He was sufficiently master of himself to reply to the Emperor in a calm though rather faltering voice: "Sire, permit me to hope that posterity will judge of my grandfather more favourably than your Majesty does. During his administration he was ranked by the side of Sully and Colbert; and let me repeat again that I trust posterity will render him justice."—"Posterity will, probably, say little about him."— "I venture to hope the contrary, Sire."
Then, added Duroc, the Emperor turning to us said with a smile, "After all, gentlemen, it is not for me to say too much against the Revolution since I have gained a throne by it." Then again turning to M. de Stael he said, "The reign of anarchy is at au end. I must have subordination. Respect the sovereign authority, since it comes from God. You are young, and well educated, therefore; follow a better course, and avoid those bad principles which endanger the welfare of society."—"Sire, since your Majesty does me the honour to think me well educated, you ought not to condemn the principles of my grandfather and my mother, for it is in those principles that I have been brought up."—"Well, I advise you to keep right in politics, for I will not pardon any offences of the Necker kind. Every one should keep right in politics."
This conversation, Duroc informed me, had continued the whole time of breakfast, and the Emperor rose just as he pronounced these last words: "Every one should keep right in politics." At that moment young De Stael again renewed his solicitations for his mother's recall from exile. Bonaparte then stepped up to him and pinched his ear with that air of familiarity which was customary to him when he was in good humour or wished to appear so.
"You are young," said he; "if you had my age and experience you would judge of things more correctly. I am far from being displeased with your frankness. I like to see a son plead his mother's cause. Your mother has given you a difficult commission, and you have executed it cleverly. I am glad I have had this opportunity of conversing with you. I love to talk with young people when they are unassuming and not too fond of arguing. But in spite of that I will not hold out false hopes to you. Murat has already spoken to me on the subject, and I have told him, as I now tell you, that my will is irrevocable. If your mother were in prison I should not hesitate to liberate her, but nothing shall induce me to recall her from exile."—"But, Sire, is she not as unhappy in being banished from her country and her friends as if she were in prison?"— "Oh! these are your mother's romantic ideas. She is exceedingly unhappy, and much to be pitied, no doubt! . . . With the exception of Paris she has all Europe for her prison."—"But, Sire, her friends are in Paris."—"With her talents she may make friends anywhere. After all, I cannot understand why she should be so anxious to come to Paris. Why should she wish to place herself immediately within the reach of my tyranny? Can she not go to Rome, to Berlin, to Vienna, to Milan, or to London? Yes, let her go to London; that is the place for her. There she may libel me as much as she pleases. In short, she has my full liberty to be anywhere but in Paris. You see, Monsieur de Stael, that is the place of my residence, and there I will have only those who are attached to me. I know from experience that if I were to allow your mother to come to Paris she would spoil everybody about me. She would finish the spoiling of Garat. It was she who ruined the Tribunate. I know she would promise wonders; but she cannot refrain from meddling with politics."—"I can assure your Majesty that my mother does not now concern herself about politics. She devotes herself exclusively to the society of her friends and to literature."—"Ah, there it is! . . . Literature! Do you think I am to be imposed upon by that word? While discoursing on literature, morals, the fine arts, and such matters, it is easy to dabble in politics. Let women mind their knitting. If your mother were in Paris I should hear all sorts of reports about her. Things might, indeed, be falsely attributed to her; but, be that as it may, I will have nothing of the kind going on in the capital in which I reside. All things considered, advise your mother to go to London. That is the best place for her. As for your grandfather, I have not spoken too severely of him. M. Necker knew nothing of the art of government. I have learned something of the matter during the last twenty years."—"All the world, Sire, renders justice to your Majesty's genius, and there is no one but acknowledges that the finances of France are now more prosperous than ever they were before your reign. But permit me to observe that your Majesty must, doubtless, have seen some merit in the financial regulations of my grandfather, since you have adopted some of them in the admirable system you have established."—"That proves nothing; for two or three good ideas do not constitute a good system. Be that as it may, I say again, I will never allow your mother to return to Paris."—"But, Sire, if sacred interests should absolutely require her presence there for a few days would not—"—"How! Sacred interests! What do you mean?"—"Yes, Sire, if you do not allow her to return I shall be obliged to go there, unaided by her advice, in order to recover from your Majesty's Government the payment of a sacred debt."—"Ah! bah! Sacred! Are not all the debts of the State sacred?"—"Doubtless, Sire; but ours is attended with circumstances which give it a peculiar character."—"A peculiar character! Nonsense! Does not every State creditor say the same of his debt? Besides, I know nothing of your claim. It does not concern me, and I will not meddle with it. If you have the law on your side so much the better; but if you want favour I tell you I will not interfere. If I did, I should be rather against you than otherwise."—"Sire, my brother and myself had intended to settle in France, but how can we live in a country where our mother cannot visit us?"—"I do not care for that. I do not advise you to come here. Go to England. The English like wrangling politicians. Go there, for in France, I tell you candidly, that I should be rather against you than for you."
"After this conversation," added Duroc, "the Emperor got into the carriage with me without stopping to look to the other petitions which had been presented to him. He preserved unbroken silence until he got nearly opposite the cascade, on the left of the road, a few leagues from Chambery. He appeared to be absorbed in reflection. At length he said, 'I fear I have been somewhat too harsh with this young man. . . . But no matter, it will prevent others from troubling me. These people calumniate everything I do. They do not understand me, Duroc; their place is not in France. How can Necker's family be for the Bourbons, whose first duty, if ever they returned to France, would be to hang them all.'"
This conversation, related to me by Duroc, interested me so much that I noted it down on paper immediately after my interview.
The Republic of Batavia—The crown of Holland offered to Louis— Offer and refusal of the crown of Spain—Napoleon's attempt to get possession of Brabant—Napoleon before and after Erfart— A remarkable letter to Louis—Louis summoned to Paris—His honesty and courage—His bold language—Louis' return to Holland, and his letter to Napoleon—Harsh letter from Napoleon to Louis—Affray at Amsterdam—Napoleon's displeasure and last letter to his brother— Louis' abdication in favour of his son—Union of Holland to the French Empire—Protest of Louis against that measure—Letter from M. Otto to Louis.
When Bonaparte was the chief of the French Republic he had no objection to the existence of a Batavian Republic in the north of France, and he equally tolerated the Cisalpine Republic in the south. But after the coronation all the Republics, which were grouped like satellites round the grand Republic, were converted into kingdoms subject to the Empire, if not avowedly, at least in fact. In this respect there was no difference between the Batavian and Cisalpine Republics. The latter having been metamorphosed into the Kingdom of Italy, it was necessary to find some pretext for transforming the former into the Kingdom of Holland. The government of the Republic of Batavia had been for some time past merely the shadow of a government, but still it preserved, even in its submission to France, those internal forms of freedom which console a nation for the loss of independence. The Emperor kept up such an extensive agency in Holland that he easily got up a deputation soliciting him to choose a king for the Batavian Republic. This submissive deputation came to Paris in 1806 to solicit the Emperor, as a favour, to place Prince Louis on the throne of Holland. The address of the deputation, the answer of Napoleon, and the speech of Louis on being raised to the sovereign dignity, have all been published.
Louis became King of Holland much against his inclination, for he opposed the proposition as much as he dared, alleging as an objection the state of his health, to which certainly the climate of Holland was not favourable; but Bonaparte sternly replied to his remonstrance, "It is better to die a king than live a prince." He was then obliged to accept the crown. He went to Holland accompanied by Hortense, who, however, did mot stay long there. The new King wanted to make himself beloved by his subjects, and as they were an entirely commercial people the best way to win their affections was not to adopt Napoleon's rigid laws against commercial intercourse with England. Hence the first coolness between the two brothers, which ended in the abdication of Louis.
I know not whether Napoleon recollected the motive assigned by Louis for at first refusing the crown of Holland, namely, the climate of the country, or whether he calculated upon greater submission in another of his brothers; but this is certain, that Joseph was not called from the throne of Naples to the throne of Spain until after the refusal of Louis. I have in my possession a copy of a letter written to him by Napoleon on the subject. It is without date of time or place, but its contents prove it to have been written in March or April 1808. It is as follows:—
BROTHER:—The King of Spain, Charles IV., has just abdicated. The Spanish people loudly appeal to me. Certain of obtaining no solid peace with England unless I cause a great movement on the Continent, I have determined to place a French King on the throne of Spain. The climate of Holland does not agree with you; besides, Holland cannot rise from her rains. In the whirlwind of events, whether we have peace or not, there is no possibility of her maintaining herself. In this state of things I have thought of the throne of Spain for you. Give me your opinions categorically on this measure. If I were to name you King of Spain would you accept the offer? May I count on you? Answer me these two questions. Say, "I have received your letter of such a day, I answer Yes," and then I shall count on your doing what I wish; or say "No" if you decline my proposal. Let no one enter into your confidence, and mention to no one the object of this letter. The thing must be done before we confess having thought about it.
Before finally seizing Holland Napoleon formed the project of separating Brabant and Zealand from it in exchange for other provinces, the possession of which was doubtful, but Louis successfully resisted this first act of usurpation. Bonaparte was, too intent on the great business in Spain to risk any commotion in the north, where the declaration of Russia against Sweden already sufficiently occupied him. He therefore did not insist upon, and even affected indifference to, the proposed augmentation of the territory of the Empire. This at least may be collected from another letter, dated St. Cloud, 17th August, written upon hearing from M. Alexandre de la Rochefoucauld, his Ambassador in Holland, and from his brother himself, the opposition of Louis to his project.
The letter was as follows:—
BROTHER—I have received your letter relating to that of the Sieur de la Rochefoucauld. He was only authorised to make the proposals indirectly. Since the exchange does not please you, let us think no more about it. It was useless to make a parade of principles, though I never said that you ought not to consult the nation. The well-informed part of the Dutch people had already acknowledged their indifference to the loss of Brabant, which is connected with France rather than with Holland, and interspersed with expensive fortresses; it might have been advantageously exchanged for the northern provinces. But, once for all, since you do not like this arrangement, let no more be said about it. It was useless even to mention it to me, for the Sieur de la Rochefoucauld was instructed merely to hint the matter.
Though ill-humour here evidently peeps out beneath affected condescension, yet the tone of this letter is singularly moderate,—I may even say kind, in comparison with other letters which Napoleon addressed to Louis. This letter, it is true, was written previously to the interview at Erfurt, when Napoleon, to avoid alarming Russia, made his ambition appear to slumber. But when he got his brother Joseph recognised, and when he had himself struck an important blow in the Peninsula, he began to change his tone to Louis. On the 20th of December he wrote a very remarkable letter, which exhibits the unreserved expression of that tyranny which he wished to exercise over all his family in order to make them the instruments of his despotism. He reproached Louis for not following his system of policy, telling him that he had forgotten he was a Frenchman, and that he wished to become a Dutchman. Among other things he said:
Your Majesty has done more: you took advantage of the moment when I was involved in the affairs of the Continent to renew the relations between Holland and England—to violate the laws of the blockade, which are the only means of effectually destroying the latter power. I expressed my dissatisfaction by forbidding you to come to France, and I have made you feel that even without the assistance of my armies, by merely closing the Rhine, the Weser, the Scheldt, and the Meuse against Holland, I should have placed her in a situation more critical than if I had declared war against her. Your Majesty implored my generosity, appealed to my feelings as brother, and promised to alter your conduct. I thought this warning would be sufficient. I raised my custom-house prohibitions, but your Majesty has returned to your old system.
Your Majesty received all the American ships that presented themselves in the ports of Holland after having been expelled from those of France. I have been obliged a second time to prohibit trade with Holland. In this state of things we may consider ourselves really at war. In my speech to the Legislative Body I manifested my displeasure; for I will not conceal from you that my intention is to unite Holland with France. This will be the most severe blow I can aim against England, and will deliver me from the perpetual insults which the plotters of your Cabinet are constantly directing against me. The mouths of the Rhine and of the Meuse ought, indeed, to belong to me. The principle that the 'Thalweg' (towing-path) of the Rhine is the boundary of France is a fundamental principle. Your Majesty writes to me on the 17th that you are sure of being able to prevent all trade between Holland and England. I am of opinion that your Majesty promises more than you can fulfil. I shall, however, remove my custom-house prohibitions whenever the existing treaties may be executed. The following are my conditions:—First, The interdiction of all trade and communication with England. Second, The supply of a fleet of fourteen sail-of the line, seven frigates and seven brigs or corvettes, armed and manned. Third, An army of 25,000 men. Fourth, The suppression of the rank of marshals. Fifth, The abolition of all the privileges of nobility which are contrary to the constitution which I have given and guaranteed. Your Majesty may negotiate on these bases with the Due de Cadore, through the medium of your Minister; but be assured that on the entrance of the first packetboat into Holland I will restore my prohibitions, and that the first Dutch officer who may presume to insult my flag shall be seized, and hanged at the mainyard. Your Majesty will find in me a brother if you prove yourself a Frenchman; but if you forget the sentiments which attach you to our common country you cannot think it extraordinary that I should lose sight of those which nature created between us. In short, the union of Holland and France will be of all things, most useful to France, to Holland, and the whole Continent, because it will be most injurious to England. This union must be effected willingly or by force. Holland has given me sufficient reason to declare war against her. However, I shall not scruple to consent to an arrangement which will secure to me the limit of the Rhine, and by which Holland will pledge herself to fulfil the conditions stipulated above.
—[Much of the manner in which Napoleon treated occupied countries such as Holland is explained by the spirit of his answer when Beugnot complained to him of the harm done to the Grand Duchy of Berg by the monopoly of tobacco. "It is extraordinary that you should not have discovered the motive that makes me persist in the establishment of the monopoly of tobacco in the Grand Duchy. The question is not about your Grand Duchy but about France. I am very well aware that it is not to your benefit, and that you very possibly lose by it, but what does that signify if it be for the good of France? I tell you, then, that in every country where there is a monopoly of tobacco, but which is contiguous to one where the sale is free, a regular smuggling infiltration must be reckoned on, supplying the consumption for twenty or twenty-five miles into the country subject to the duty. That is what I intend to preserve France from. You must protect yourselves as well as you can from this infiltration. It is enough for me to drive it back more than twenty or twenty-five miles from my frontier." (Beugnot, vol. ii. p. 26).]—
Here the correspondence between the two brothers was suspended for a time; but Louis still continued exposed to new vexations on the part of Napoleon. About the end of 1809 the Emperor summoned all the sovereigns who might be called his vassals to Paris. Among the number was Louis, who, however, did not show himself very willing to quit his States. He called a council of his Ministers, who were of opinion that for the interest of Holland he ought to make this new sacrifice. He did so with resignation. Indeed, every day passed on the throne was a sacrifice made by Louis.
He lived very quietly in Paris, and was closely watched by the police, for it was supposed that as he had come against his will he would not protract his stay so long as Napoleon wished. The system of espionage under which he found himself placed, added to the other circumstances of his situation, inspired him with a degree of energy of which he was not believed to be capable; and amidst the general silence of the servants of the Empire, and even of the Kings and Princes assembled in the capital, he ventured to say, "I have been deceived by promises which were never intended to be kept. Holland is tired of being the sport of France." The Emperor, who was unused to such language as this, was highly incensed at it. Louis had now no alternative but to yield to the incessant exactions of Napoleon or to see Holland united to France. He chose the latter, though not before he had exerted all his feeble power in behalf of the subjects whom Napoleon had consigned to him; but he would not be the accomplice of the man who had resolved to make those subjects the victims of his hatred against England. Who, indeed, could be so blind as not to see that the ruin of the Continent would be the triumph of British commerce?
Louis was, however, permitted to return to his States to contemplate the stagnating effect of the Continental blockade on every branch of trade and industry formerly so active in Holland. Distressed at witnessing evils to which he could apply no remedy, he endeavoured by some prudent remonstrances to avert the utter, ruin with which Holland was threatened. On the 23d of March 1810 he wrote the following letter to Napoleon:—