Slike strani

demnities, to be arranged on such a footing as would suit the finances of the state, and which would provide for the wants, not only of the emigrants, but of the military veterans whose pensions had remained unpaid since the disastrous campaign of Moscow. In his speech upon the proDec. 6, posed plan of the ministers, 1814. he gave his full assent to the restoration of the unsold estates, as a measure dictated by justice; since, the grounds of sequestration or confiscation no longer subsisting, the forfeiture ended from the moment France received in her bosom her banished children; but he complained, that the imprudent discussions which had taken place on the delicate topic had re-opened the wounds and awakened the rankling jealousies of the country. "One would," said the marshal, "be almost tempted to believe, that it is the secret intentions of some persons to poison the national feeling, if one were not aware to what an extent the spirit of party may lead astray the most correct minds. On the arrival of the son of St Louis, France was strewed with flowers, and now all the spots which witnessed our civil dissensions are marked by monuments of mourning; though, after so many calamities, what place may not in its turn claim the melancholy honour of exciting painful recollections?

"There cannot be a doubt, that millions of purchasers of national property are alarmed at the direction which some individuals endeavour to give to public opinion; and some people have rejoiced at their alarm, as if it would occasion a voluntary abandonment. Chimerical hopes are even cherished, that fears, skilfully insinuated into men's minds, will anew occasion changes of property, which all the power of the strongest government of which history contains any record would have failed to effect. Are

the spectators of the rapid fall of that government still so stupified by that catastrophe, as not to have meditated on its causes? Are they ignorant that neither constitutions, nor laws, nor armies, defend governments against the mass of social interests? Are they ignorant that when these interests are in imminent peril, governments feel the first effects?"

Having thus pointed out the hazard of any attempt to disturb the present state of property which had passed into the hands of third persons, he announced his intention of bringing forward a double plan for indemnifying, upon a liberal principle, the emigrants whose property had been transferred to third parties, and for paying the donations or pensions of the army which had, during Buonaparte's prosperity, been paid from countries beyond the verge of France, and since the retreat of Moscow had not been paid at all.

Upon the 10th December, Marshal Macdonald resumed the subject, and brought forward his proposed plan. Its particulars are of less consequence than the speech which introduced it, and which throws considerable light upon the state of France at this momentous period, and the nature of the internal convulsions with which she was menaced.

There had been concluded directly with the government 1,055,889 sales. Giving each purchaser a family of three persons, considerably upwards of three millions of persons were interested in the stability of these sales from the outset; and allowing that number to be trebled by the common proportion of sales and partition, the number of persons so interested would in twenty-five years amount to betwixt nine and ten millions, "Against this Colossus, whose height the eye cannot measure, some impotent efforts would affect to direct themselves;

that pride, the companion of the unfortunate: and instead of sharing the common complaints upon the reception of our brethren restored to us, let us recognise Frenchmen in the disinterested calm of the greater part of them, and in the nobleness of their attitude."

but the wisdom of the king has foreseen this danger, even for the sake of those imprudent persons who might expose themselves to it."-The national sales respected either the lands of the church or of private property. The former the marshal discussed in a summary manner. "France has groaned over the misfortunes of her clergy; but in giving them her tears she has confirmed the alienation of their property. It was otherwise with the private property of individuals.

"The miracles of Providence," said Marshal Macdonald," which have raised up the empire of the lilies, have attached a particular character to a numerous class of citizens; they appear in the midst of us, protected by age and misfortune; they are a kind of crusaders, who have followed the standard of the cross into foreign countries, and they relate to us those long vicissitudes, those storms and tempests which had at length driven them into the port where they had lost all hope of reaching. Which of us could refuse to give them our hand in token of eternal alliance? Our hearts have been moved. If theirs have remained colder, can we be astonished? The return of the king, the bearer of the olive of peace, exceeded all our hopes-one only of theirs is realized. In truth, the first of their wishes is accomplished. The towers of St Louis have seen again their heir. But what changes have been operated in France!-What destruction consummated! What monuments overthrown! What others erected upon their ruins!-What prosperous dreams vanished in one day, after having been for so many nights the consolations of the exile! Let us dive into our hearts to judge our fellow men. Let us place ourselves, in thought, in the position I have described: let us add to the sentiments with which they inspire us,

The existence of the old proprie, tors in the presence of the acquirers of their property, is a fact which they themselves must be aware cannot and ought not to cease to exist, The necessary consequence the marshal inferred was, "that we remove the difficulty, instead of vainly trying to conquer it to change the present situation for a new one in a word, to dare to make known the abyss opened before us, to leap it, and, armed with all the generosity and force of the nation, to launch into a vast system of indemnity."

From various calculations, through which we cannot follow him, Marshal Macdonald concluded that on the most forced supposition, the va lue of the forfeitures or sales could not exceed three hundred millions of livres, (L.12,500,000 sterling) and to this extent, therefore, at the utmost, were indemnities to be provided. "This value," he proceeded, "though immense in the eyes of those who have lost it, and intolerable to them as they witness the property which it represents in the possession of others, would be almost unperceived in the calculations of a great nation, if its first want, in reviving to order, were not the sentiment of justice and generosity. This sentiment requires that the country should place itself, by an indemnity, between the ancient proprietors and the acquirers, and that, by its liberality toward the one, it put an end to the recollections of all.”

Marshal Macdonald proposed to calculate the indemnities to be granted to the original proprietors of the na

tional domains, as annuities equal either to one third of the revenues of the alienated property, valued as in 1790. or more simply by an annuity of two and a half per cent. on the vaJue of the lands. The limitation of the claim to one-third of its original extent, was to put the emigrants on a footing with other creditors of France, to whom she had only paid that composition on their full claims.


The great and obvious difficulty in the existing state of France, was, to find funds for paying these annuities, or indemnities, which he computed might amount to twelve millions of livres, (or L.500,000 sterling) yearly. This difficulty Marshal Macdonald left unsolved, and contented himself with referring generally to the sum of thirty millions, (being a third part of the produce of the duties, on registering sales of land) as the assured pledge of the indemnities. This as a branch of revenue, he observed, which was on the eve of being ruined by the discredit cast upon property of this nature; whereas by satisfying the claim of the emigrants, and putting them to rest for ever, security would be restored to the actual proprietors, sales and transferences would multiply more than ever, and the income arising from the registration of these transactions would be not only preserved to the state, but greatly increased. There therefore was a fund for defraying the expence of the proposed plan, which, without some such measures were carried into effect, would soon cease to make part of the income of the state,

The Marshal concluded with adverting to the pensions of the military, which, having been charged upon funds payable from conquered countries which had now been regained from France, had not been paid since the Russian campaign. He drew picture of the misery to which the veteran soldiers, pensioners of the


state, were reduced, by the discontinuance of their endowments, which they had bought with their blood in a thousand battles. France, he said, would require only to expend three millions of livres more to acquit herself of this sacred debt.

Marshal Macdonald might have several motives for uniting in the same proposal, the indemnities of the veteran soldiers with those of the emigrant nobles. He might think it became his rank in the army, to shew that, in recommending the claims of the emigrants to consideration, he had not forgot those of his unfortunate brethren in arms; or perhaps, that treating both parties as if their claims were on a parity, might have some effect in extinguishing their natural hatred and jealousy of each other. But this union of two subjects, not very naturally connected, in the same motion, gave rise to a singular misconception, or rather wilful misrepresentation, in the Journal de Paris. The Marshal's speech, as reported in that paper, was made to conclude "with a declaration in the name of the French armies, that in order to give the emigrants depriv ed of property a mark of cons deration and interest, the armies had resolved to form a fund of twelve millions out of their pay, from generals down to the soldiers."

As nothing could be more improbable than that the army should voluntarily assess themselves, to form a fund for the subsistence of the despoiled emigrants, a class of men with whom of all others they had the least sympathy, so nothing could be calculated to make a worse impression on the minds and tempers of the soldiers, than the idea that such a measure was proposed to be carried into execution at their expence. Government endeavoured to repair the mischief, by an exertion of arbitrary authority, and suppressed the publication of the offending journal.

for publishing falsehood, or for promulgating truths, which the government did not desire should be made known. And as the greater part of mankind are disposed to believe the very worst of their rulers, the false report spread by the Journal de Paris obtained some credit from the very means used to suppress it. Thus does arbitrary power often ever-shoot its own object of aim.

The punishment was not undeserved, for it seems impossible that a misrepresentation so gross, and so hazardous in its consequences, could flow from any thing but premeditated malice. But if, as would have been the case in England, the printer had been called to account for breach of privilege, and his defence heard, the malicious report would have experienced a complete refutation in the public discussion which must have taken place. As it was managed in France, the arbitrary suppression of the paper became the principal feature in the case, and served only to show that free discussion, on the part of the French press, was at an end, leaving the public uncertain whether the journal had been suppressed

To conclude this chapter with the same metaphor which commenced it, the throne of France was situated on the crest of a volcano, firm indeed in outward appearance, but with torrents of lava boiling beneath, and deceitful ashes for its sole foundation.


Leaders of the Jacobins.-Carnot-His History-His Memorial against the Bourbons.-Fouché-His Share in the Massacres of the Revolution-His Conduct on the King's Restoration.-Intrigues and Misrepresentations of the Disaffected under these Leaders.-Warlike Preparations in FranceNational Dislike to the English.-Duke of Wellington's Residence in Paris. -Policy of Talleyrand at the Congress. He endeavours to direct the Resentment of the Allies against Bernadotte-Against Murat.-Arrest of Lord Oxford, and Seizure of his Papers.-Affair of General Excelman. His Petition to the Chamber of Deputies-That of General Grissoles.-Exeelman is tried by a Court Martial, and acquitted.-Insubordination of the Army.-Life of Napoleon at Elba-His Conversations with his Visitors. His Character begins to be more favourably considered.-Arts of his Emissaries to fix the public Mind of France upon him.-His Correspondence with Murat-With France.-Females engaged in the Plot.-Organization of the Conspiracy.-Imperfect State of the Parisian Police.-Correspondence with Elba maintained through the Royal Post-Office.-Every thing is prepared for the bursting forth of the Conspiracy.

AMONG the intriguers by whose machinations the Bourbon dynasty was endangered, two leaders of the jacobin party were chiefly remarkable. Both were distinguished by audacity, activity, and talents, as well as by an experimental knowledge of the revolutionary springs, and of the complicated movements on which their efficiency depends; but Carnot was esteemed a staunch unyielding republican; Fouché, a statesman capable of temporizing and accommodating his service to the party which was uppermost. In the various and flitting scenes of the French Revolution, each had played important parts; and as we are not among those who think a politician can change his nature, as a stage-player does his clothes with every new character in which he is called upon to appear, we will briefly recal to the mind of our readers what these parts were.

Carnot was the associate and colleague of Robespierre during the whole of that monster's reign. His admirers pretend, that charging himself only with the conduct of the foreign war, he left to his brethren of the committee of public safety the sole charge of those measures, for which no human language affords epithets of sufficient horror, through which they originally rose to power, and by which they maintained it. According to these fond advocates, their hero held his course through the reign of terror unsullied by a bloody spot, as Arethusa rolled her waters through the ocean without mingling with its waves! and the faith of most readers will swallow the ancient miracle as easily as the modern. That Carnot voted for the murder of one of the most well meaning and guiltless monarchs that ever reigned, will by his favourers be con

« PrejšnjaNaprej »