Imágenes de página

to conceal from our view the channel through which the work has been conveyed, and yet asserting its authenticity, in such a manner as almost inevitably leads to a discovery of it.

Upon the internal evidence afforded by the work itself, we are unwilling to waste much time. It would be a vain attempt to compare its style and manner with those of an author of whom we possess so few authentic productions. And then there are some topics always at hand, to meet any objections that might be urged from such intrinsic qualities. If we show some gross blunder in point of fact, which the alleged author never could have committed, the answer is, that this proves it no forgery,—for such errors would have been avoided by a fabricator. If inaccuracies in language, or even grammar, are detected, they are ascribed to clerical or typographical mistakes; if we say that many things are told unlike all that had ever before been known of the events in question, we are reminded that this is the real and secret history of those events, and that it may be expected to contain novelties; while, if we complain that there is nothing in the story beyond what was already known to every body, an inference is drawn in favour of its truth, from its unpretending simplicity, and its consistency with facts of common notoriety. Upon the source, therefore, from which this piece proceeds, we shall offer no further remarks. Its merits as a piece of composition, and its force as an argument in behalf of the late, and against the present dynasty, require a few observations.

The style of the work is vigorous, concise and rapid. Every sentence has some material fact or remark; and the effect of the whole is striking, not so much from any epigrammatic turn in the language, as from the nervous manner of the narrative or observation, and the fulness of the matter, which almost over-informs the diction. At the same time, with one or two exceptions, we look in vain for any new or even little known facts, or for any reflexions remarkable either by their originality or depth. We shall give a specimen or two of the composition as we proceed. Let us now attend a little to the train of the argument, which is extremely hollow and inconclusive, though specious.

The author begins with Henry IV., and gives a sketch of his changes of religion, probably in order to defend Buonaparte from the charge of trifling with it in Egypt and elsewhere. Undoubtedly that great prince is open to the accusation of making his belief, or at least the publick profession of it, subservient to political purposes. He was born and bred a protestant; forced to abandon that faith at his marriage, and eager to return to it as soon as he regained his liberty; for he then declared his abjuration to have been compulsory, "Ventre saint-gris,” said he afterwards, when he found there was no carrying his point with

out conforming to the national faith,-" Paris vant bien une Messe." He once more performed abjuration, was received into the bosom of the Catholic Church, and accused ever after by the Huguenots of ingratitude, and by the Romanists of insincerity. La caque sent toujours le hareng,' said the latter.

He then contends that the third dynasty of France, that of the Capet race, was extinguished in the same manner, with the two first dynasties; that every legitimate government begins by overturning a prior legitimate government; that the Capets having thus succeeded to the Carlovingian kings, as they did to the Merovingian race, were in their turn replaced by the Republick, -whose foundations were laid in the assent of the people, exactly as those of all the others had been. He enumerates the recognitions of twenty-three sovereign states, either by treaty or by embassy, or by solemn publick declaration. These acts of state were performed successively between the 15th June 1792, when Genoa acknowledged the Republick, and the 27th March 1802, when England herself made with it the treaty of Amiens. Soon after, the Concordat with the Pope, who had recognised it in his temporal capacity, added the sanction of the head of the Catholic church as such. The present King who had emigrated in 1791, took refuge first in Coblentz, then in Turin; then moved to Verona, to the Austrian dominions, to Russia, and afterwards was obliged to seek for safety in England; having been successively driven from all those retreats by the Princes to whom he applied for protection. Even in England, he was only allowed to take the title of Comte de Lille, and was never recognised as King. The Revolution, in short, had altered the state of things completely in every essential particular; it was no conflict of parties or families for power or for territory, but an insurrection of the whole nation against the unjust and oppressive privileges of a few. The change was complete, and, together with the civil and foreign wars that accompanied it, left the country new-modelled in constitution-legal and judicial system-distribution of property, honours, and employments, and ecclesiastical establishment. The author thus rapidly and nervously sketches the result of these prodigious changes.

"Tout ce qui était le résultat des événemens qui s'étaient succédés depuis Clovis, cessa d'être. Tous les changemens étaient si avantageux au peuple, qu'ils s'opérèrent avec la plus grande facilité, et qu'en 1800 il ne restait plus aucun souvenir ni des anciens priviléges des provinces, ni de leurs anciens souverains, ni des anciens parlemens et baillages, ni des anciens diocèses; et pour remonter à l'origine de tout ce qui existait, il suffisait d'aller rechercher la loi nouvelle qui l'avait établi. La moitié du territoire avait changé de propriétaires les paysans et les bourgeois s'en étaient enrichis. Les progrès de l'agriculture, des manufactures, et de l'industrie, surpas

sèrent toutes les espérances. La France présenta le spectacle de plus de trente millions d'habitans circonscrits dans des limites naturelles, ne composant qu'une seule classe de citoyens, gouvernés par une seule loi, un seul réglement, un seul ordre. Tous ces changemens étaient conformes au bien de la nation, à ses droits, à la justice, et aux lumières du siècle.' pp. 20, 21.

Buonaparte and his dynasty are here represented as equally legitimate (to use this newfangled phrase) with the Republick.The evils of turbulence, both at home and in relation to dangers from abroad, bad sickened the nation of the republican government- Une voix unanime, sorti du fond des campagnes, du milieu des villes, et du sein des camps, demanda qu'en conservant tous les principes de la republique, on etablit dans le gouvernement un systeme hereditaire qui mit les principes et les interêts de la Revolution à l'abri des factions et de l'influence de l'etranger.' By three several solemn acts of the people Buonaparte's dynasty, we are told, was called to the throne; it was consecrated by the head of the Catholic church, and acknowledged by all the powers of Europe except England. Even she recognised his consulship; and this author relates, on this subject, an anecdote, which is among the very few novelties in his work. There was, it seems, a proposition made by our government, through Lord Whitworth, offering to recognise him as King of France, if he would cede Malta. This strange offer is said to have been made to a Count Malhouet, who conveyed it, through Joseph Buonaparte, to his brother. However, there can be no doubt that we so far recognised his title, as to treat with him both in 1806 and 1814.

The inference intended to be deduced from these details is, that Buonaparte's dynasty was, in all respects, legitimate, and that he was deprived of his rightful crown. One short answer is sufficient: Neither upon his own principles, as evinced throughout his conduct, nor upon those of the restored family, nor upon those of more liberal politicians, can any wrong whatever be said to have been done by his dethronement. He cannot complain, who cared not for any title to power, nor any right to territory, except brute force; but despoiled all who stood in the way of his aggrandisement, nor ever consented to limit his ambition, except by his means of gratifying it. They cannot be expected to admit his claims who would, with perfect consistency, have objected to Hugh Capet's title, until long possession had cured its defects. Nor ought the foreign States, who, through fear of his arms, that is, under duress, acknowledged him, and even aided him in his projects, to be accused of inconsistency, if they have taken the earliest opportunity to throw off his yoke. But least of all do the arguments we have

been surveying affect the more enlightened views which ought to regulate all such inquiries; for, the best reason against permitting him to reign was the incompatibility of his sway with the peace of Europe, and the interests of France herself;-a reason which would apply to any tyrant and conqueror, whatever might be the strength of his title-a reason which justifies the resistance of neighbouring states to the most ancient dynasty, as clearly as it vindicates the resistance of any one people to their most legitimate oppressors. It is true, that this author forms a very different estimate of Buonaparte's government, and of the benefits which it was calculated to confer both upon its subjects and its neighbours. Les rois' (says he) s'empresserent de le reconnaître; tous virent avec plaisir cette modification faite à la Republique, qui mettoit la France en harmonie avec le reste de l'Europe, et consolidoit le bonheur de l'etat de cette Grande nation.' And again- Ce fut une monarchie constitutionelle et temperée.'


In the same strain of argument, he goes on to show how Buonaparte's family were allied with all the ancient royal families of Europe by marriage. With this statement we need not give ourselves much trouble, except to take notice of a story very confidently related relative to his own marriage with Maria Louisa. It seems that the question was for a considerable time debated in the council at Paris, whether he should marry the Grand Dutchess Anne of Russia, or a Princess of Saxony. The Emperor Alexander is represented as very willing to give his sister in marriage; but as anxious to have a stipulation made respecting her religion. Caulincourt is mentioned as the channel of this communication. Then it is asserted, that while those discussions were going on, the Emperor of Austria testified his surprise that his family were overlooked. The Count de Narbonne, the French governor of Trieste, and Prince Swartzenberg, his ambassador at Paris, are stated to have been the bearers of his wishes, that an Austrian princess should be chosen. These despatches were received at Paris, discussed in the council, and the determination formed by a majority in favour of the Austrian alliance, all in one day. The author positively denies the common report, of this marriage having been a secret article of the treaty of Vienna in 1809; and he enumerates all the great officers who assisted at the deliberations, and are, with one exception, still living and of various parties, as knowing the truth of the matter. Although we certainly are very far from thinking that the present conduct of the great powers should be influenced by the recollection of any thing which they were formerly compelled, by the force of Buonaparte's arms, to do or to bear, yet we cannot help thinking that any voluntary acts

of submission, to gain his favour, and profit by his influence, may fairly be cited as reasons for their showing him personally all the forbearance which their duty to their own subjects and the peace of Europe allows.


We pass over the sketch which the author next gives of the important campaigns that led to his hero's downfal, and of the different attempts at an accommodation before the first march to Paris. The failure of these is ascribed to his determination not to suffer the dismemberment of France; and the Allies are said never to have thought of the Bourbons down to the latest stage of their progress--not even in the negotiations of February 1814. The restoration is then charged with being merely an act of military power, performed by foreign armies, without the intervention of the nation. We are told that kings are made for the people, not the people for them; that Lewis XVIII. is an illegitimate prince, or usurper, because he did not appeal to the country, but only to a small minority of the senate, deliberating in a place occupied by foreign troops; and that the only way in which he could have confirmed his title, and made the Fourth Dynasty be forgotten, was by adopting all the changes of the Republic and the institutions of the Empire-cordially promoting to his favour those who had the confidence of the nation-following the example of Henry IV., who, to conciliate the people, turned his back on his own companions in arms—and recollecting always, that a King of France is nothing, who does not reign in the hearts of the French. Some of these principles are sound enough, no doubt; but we marvel that they should find a place in a dissertation pretending to proceed from Buonaparte, and, at any rate, written in his defence. We are then told, that Lewis XVIII. having ascended the throne by his older title, as representative of the third race, all the clergy, proprietors, and nobles who suffered by the Revolution, have the same rights to be restored; and are discontented accordingly; while the nation is alarmed at their claims, and the Court endeavours to keep them quiet by promising them that in time they will be satisfied. The concluding chapters of the tract thus sum up the charges against the King on the one hand, and the grounds of discontent among the people on the other. We only extract a small part of two passages, which are vehemently and not unsuccessfully composed.

'Le trône de la troisième dynastie a été réduit en cendres; il n'existe plus la prétention de s'y asseoir est insensée; c'est s'enfoncer au milieu d'un épais brouillard, pour tomber dans un précipice.- Le systême actuel qui régit la France, est tout orgueil, arbitraire, contradiction, et fausseté; ce qui a élevé une nouvelle barrière entre les Bourbons et le peuple. Orgueil et arbitraire-Louis règne par la grace

« AnteriorContinuar »