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any armorial, royal, or established marks of power. The heat was excessive, and expectation, wearied with the pause, began to droop, when the doors opened, and the Prefect du Palais announced to the Cardinal Caprara, that the First Consul was ready. He afterwards called upon M. d'Azara, upon which every one followed without regular order, or distinction of rank. As we ascended the great stair-case of the Thuilleries, between files of musketeers, what a sentiment was excited.
"As the assumption of the Consulship for life was a decisive step, tending not only to exclude every branch of the old dynasty, but to erect a new one, every sensible man considered this day as the epoch of a new and regular Government. Buonaparte was virtually King henceforth. As we passed through the lofty fete rooms of the former Kings of France, still hung with the ancient tapestry, very little, if at all, altered, the instability of human grandeur was recalled to the mind more forcibly than it had yet been.
"The long line of the Bourbons started to the view!-I breathed with difficulty!-Volumes of history were reviewed in a glance. Monarchs! risen from the mouldering tomb, where is your royal race? The last who held the sceptre dyed the scaffold with his blood, and sleeps forgotten and unknown, without tomb or memorial of his name! Rapid was the transition succeeding. -We reached the interior apartment, where Buonaparte, First Consul, surrounded by his Generals, Ministers, Senators, and Officers, stood between the Second and Third Consuls, Le Brun and Cambaceres, in the centre of a semicircle at the head of the room. The numerous assemblage from the Salle des Ambassa deurs, formed into another semicircle, joined themselves to that, at the head of which stood the First Consul.
"Buonaparte, of a small, and by no means commanding figure. dressed plainly, though richly, in the embroidered Consular coat, without powder in his hair, looked at the first view like a private gentleman, indifferent as to dress, and devoid of all haughtiness in his air. The two Consuls, large and heavy men, seemed pillars too cumbrous to support themselves, and during the levee, were sadly at a loss what to do-whether the snuff-box or pocket handkerchief were to be appealed to, or the left leg exchanged for the right.
"The moment the circle was formed, Buonaparte began with the Spanish Ambassador, then went to the American, with whom he spoke some time, and so on, performing his part with ease, and very agreeably, until he came to the English Ambassador, who, after the presentation of some English noblemen, announced to him Mr. Fox! He was a good deal flurried, and after indicating some emotion, very rapidly said- Ah, Mr. Fox! I have
heard with pleasure of your arrival; I have desired much to see you; I have long admired in you the orator and friend of his country, who is constantly raising his voice for peace, consulting that country's best interests, those of Europe, and of the human race; the two great nations of Europe require peace, they have nothing to fear, they ought to understand and value one another. In you, Mr. Fox, I see, with much satisfaction, that great statesman, who recommended peace, because there was no first cause of war; who saw Europe desolated to no purpose, and who struggled for its relief."
"Mr. Fox said little, or rather nothing, in reply to a complimentary address to himself; he always found invincible repugnance to answer, nor did he bestow one word of admiration upon the extraordinary and elevated character who addressed him. A. few questions and answers relative to Mr. Fox's tour terminated the interview.
"Among the distinguished English presented to Buonaparte on that day was Mr. now Lord Erskine. I am tempted to think that he felt disappointed at not being recognized by the First Consul. There was some difficulty at first, as Lord Erskine was under stood to speak little French. M. Talleyrand's impatient whisper to me I think I yet hear- Parle-t-il François? Parle-t-il Fran çois Mr. Merry, already fatigued with his presentations, and dreading a host to come, imperfectly designated Lord Erskine, when the killing question followed, Etes vous legiste ?, was pronounced by Buonaparte with great indifference, or at least without any marked attention.
"Lord Erskine, truly great as he is in England, was, however, * himself deceived, if he imagined that his well-earned reputation had extended into foreign nations.. The province of the advocate is to defend the equivocal cause of a client; this necessarily creates a confined and technical species of oratory. The municipal laws of one nation do not concern or interest another: a lawyer from Vienna or Petersburgh, however eminent at home, would be unknown and unnoticed at the British court; it is only, and this rarely happens, when the lawyer greatly rising into the philosopher, statesman, and senator, displays new and more general abilities, that he ranks with the great men of other nations. The lawyer's habits and pursuits are, besides, adverse to the formation and expansion of greatness of character; his investigations are too microscopic, his subjects of study too low and jejune; his accumulations of wealth are too grovelling; and the restrictions placed upon the efforts of his genius, by the narrow spirit, the prejudice, or envy of Judges, disqualify him for bold or liberal exertions.
Buonaparte went round the circle a second time, addressing a
few words here and there without form, and finally placing himself between the two Consuls, he bowed slightly, but expressively, when the company withdrew. It would be superfluous to speak much of a matter so well known or so much canvassed. I shall mention a few ideas only which occured to me, and make but few observations on this celebrated person. His stature being small, and his person, though not ill, yet not well formed, he cannot on that account be supposed to have a very striking air, but his countenance has powerful expression, and decision and determination, when he is grave and thoughtful, are most emphatically marked in it. His eyes are common grey, and have nothing remarkable in them. I am disposed to think that the lower part of his face, which is the most striking in that of Buonaparte, is the most decisive indication of an inexorable and prompt line of conduct.
"In performing the honours of the levee this was not at all observable; his smile was extremely engaging, his general expres. sion very pleasing, and his manner devested of all haughtiness, without manifesting the least of that studied condescension which, in persons of great rank, is often more offensive even than arrogance and rudeness. Admiring him as a great military_character, whose reputation was undoubted and hard-earned, I looked upon Buonaparte as a superior man, born to command the destinies of millions, and felt incredible satisfaction at beholding this great General. His presence, however, inspired me with awe. The military exploits of the warrior have their exclusive merit, as demonstrations of genius and talent, irresistibly influencing the fate of society, but falling short of the exertions of the poet, the orator, and legislator. That which adorns and gives resplendent lustre to the military character is the love of liberty, impelling the warrior to beat down the iron hand of oppression and despotism, and accomplishing the independence and happiness of millions.
At the moment I saw Buonaparte in the midst of Generals, Ambassadors, and courtiers, Aloys Reding, labouring to emancipate the Swiss from the yoke of foreigners, was to me a far more respectable and more truly elevated object. The wicked attempt to subdue Spain had not then commenced; an attempt far less excusable than the subjugation of Switzerland, and productive of infinitely more misery and bloodshed. It has since taken place, and has for ever tarnished the fame of Buonaparte.-When black ambition stains a public cause, we no longer revere and applaud the consummate General or able Monarch. I had heard too, that Toussaint, the friend and hope of his country, had been seized, and was on his way to France. I did not then know that he had there languished and died; but I pitied the sable chieftain, and could
not esteem his oppressor. An enlightened mind, and a just appreciation of the rights of men, had distinguished this character. Could I have seen him pining in a lonely dungeon-his hopes extinguished-his friends and family far distant-ignorant of his country's fate, and surrounded by men who little sympathised with him; could I have seen him languishing out his few remaining days his dark visage saddened and withering, and his groans hourly growing fainter-how little then should I have enjoyed this splendid levee, how gladly should I have withdrawn. As it was I left the Thuilleries with my curiosity gratified, but without feeling any impression of pleasure or admiration from having seen the First Consul.
To entertain such sentiments was unavoidable, and would have been inexcusable in me, living, as I did at the time, in the society of Mr. Fox. The sterling superiority of that great man's character, then a simple individual, devested of all power, but still the advocate and supporter of liberty and peace, the philosopher, scholar, and orator, untainted by ambition, vanity, or avarice, full of humanity, and hating cruelty as well in governments as in individuals. Even his mild domestic virtues conspired to make me view the astonishing spectacle at the Thuilleries with indifference and calmness. The very research at the Depot des Archives contributed to produce such a frame of mind. I was daily reading the letters of Louis XIV., once styled the Great, whose meanness of soul and narrowness of spirit, as well as his total want of generous views, and of liberality in his estimate of human nature, had sufficiently disgusted me with a great arbitrary monarch. After the levee, a very pleasant party of English, invited by Lord R. Spencer, dined at Roberts's, the first Restorateur's in Paris; as it consisted of ladies and gentlemen, it was pleasant. The entertainment was sumptuous, and served up with the same order and elegance as in a private house. Among others, Mr. Kemble, the monarch of the English stage, was there; but accustomed as I was to the ease and elegance of the French, as also to the unaffected nobleness of manner in English persons of high rank, Mr. Kemble did not strike me as agreeable. There was an air of self-consequence which repelled; a manner which did not harmonize with the tone of Paris. Mr. Kemble, when he was civil was condescending; and when he spoke, it was a little in the style of an oracle. He was a polite gentleman, however, well informed, and desirous of information; paying a just tribute to the French stage, and wanting only six or twelve months residence in France to soften the oracle into a pleasing companion, and the monarch into a friendly one. The company was select and agreeable, and among his old friends and eminent countrymen, Mr. Fox, in particular, was quite cheerful and hap
py. The fatiguing ceremony of the day, and the grandeur of the new court of France, were forgotten in the social converse of the evening. The simplicity and dignified manners of the English nobility never appeared to me to greater advantage. Their independent minds made them review with philosophic indifference the pageant of the Thuilleries. They met it as a matter of course ; as a thing resulting from the inevitable consequences of war; not however without reflections upon the mistakes and ignorance of that ministry who had so essentially contributed to place Buonaparte on his new throne, and to raise the French nation to so unexampled an height.
"Some time after the levee, we dined at M. Talleyrand's, at Neuilly; we went between six and seven, but did not dine till eight. The dinner hour at Paris had become ridiculously late, and as in London, in fashionable life, resembled more the Roman supper than what accords with the modern term dinner. M. Talleyrand was at Malmaison transacting business with the First Consul, and the dinner waited for him. Every thing was in a profuse and elegant style; M. Talleyrand and Madame sat on the sides of the table; the company, amounting to between thirty and forty (and this I believe did not much exceed the ordinary daily number), were attended by almost as many servants, without any livery. Behind Madame Talleyrand's chair two young blacks, splendidly habited in laced clothes, were placed. The master of the feast devoted himself to a few distinguished personages around him; on them he bestowed his most chosen and precious wines, and to them he directed all his conversation.
"Several emigres and ex-nobles who had made their peace with government, and were desirous of advancement, or sought relief or compensation under the new regime, were at the lower end of the table. They were little noticed, or if I said were altogether neglected, I should be more correct. As I sat near some of them, I was filled with concern for their altered state; those who have never had an elevated station in life do not feel, comparatively speaking, half the stings and arrows of outrageous fortune, when calamity and misfortune fall upon them. The Duc d'Uzeze, formerly one of the first and most ancient Peers of old France, was close to me; he was now a humble and distressed individual, devested of title and property, and seeking at the table of the Minister for Foreign Affairs, under the Consular Government, for notice and assistance. He had come to Neuilly in a hired one-horse cabriolet, without a servant or companion. He was of a genteel, prepossessing, and rather youthful appearance, and seemed to bear his change of fortune with an admirable degree of philosophy and good humour, and was even playful upon his own situation, and spoke of the splendour and ele