NEW YORK AND LONDON
HARPER & BROTHERS PUBLISHERS
Entered, according to Act of Congress, in the year 1869, by
Harper & Brothers,
In the Clerk's Office of the District Court of the United States for
the Southern District of New York.
Copyright, 1897, by Susan Abbott Mead.
The writer trusts that he may be pardoned for relating the following characteristic anecdote of President Lincoln, as it so fully illustrates the object in view in writing these histories. In a conversation which the writer had with the President just before his death, Mr. Lincoln said:
"I want to thank you and your brother for Abbotts' series of Histories. I have not education enough to appreciate the profound works of voluminous historians, and if I had, I have no time to read them. But your series of Histories gives me, in brief compass, just that knowledge of past men and events which I need. I have read them with the greatest interest. To them I am indebted for about all the historical knowledge I have."
It is for just this purpose that these Histories are written. Busy men, in this busy life, have now no time to wade through ponderous folios. And yet every one wishes to know the general character and achievements of the illustrious personages of past ages.
A few years ago there was published in Paris a life of King Joseph, in ten royal octavo volumes of nearly five hundred pages each. It was entitled "Mémoires et Correspondance, Politique et Militaire, du Roi Joseph, Publiés, Annotés et Mis en Ordre par A. du Casse, Aide-de-camp de S. A. I. Le Prince Jerome Napoleon." These volumes contained nearly all the correspondence which passed between Joseph and his brother Napoleon from their childhood until after the battle of Waterloo. Every historical statement is substantiated by unequivocal documentary evidence.
From this voluminous work, aided by other historical accounts of particular events, the author of this sketch has gathered all that would be of particular interest to the general reader at the present time. As all the facts contained in this narrative are substantiated by ample documentary proof, the writer can not doubt that this volume presents an accurate account of the momentous scenes which it describes, and that it gives the reader a correct idea of the social and political relations existing between those extraordinary men, Joseph and Napoleon Bonaparte. It is not necessary that the historian should pronounce judgment upon every transaction. But he is bound to state every event exactly as it occurred.
No one can read this account of the struggle in Europe in favor of popular rights against the old dynasties of feudal oppression, without more highly appreciating the admirable institutions of our own glorious Republic. Neither can any intelligent and candid man carefully peruse this narrative, and not admit that Joseph Bonaparte was earnestly seeking the welfare of the people; that, surrounded by dynasties strong in standing armies, in pride of nobility, and which were venerable through a life of centuries, he was endeavoring to promote, under monarchical forms, which the posture of affairs seemed to render necessary, the abolition of aristocratic usurpation, and the establishment of equal rights for all men. Believing this, the writer sympathizes with him in all his struggles, and reveres his memory. The universal brotherhood of man, the fundamental principles of Christianity, should also be the fundamental principles in the State. Having spared no pains to be accurate, the writer will be grateful to any critic who will point out any incorrectness of statement or false coloring of facts, that he may make the correction in subsequent editions.
This volume will soon be followed by another, "The History of Queen Hortense," the daughter of Josephine, the wife of King Louis, the mother of Napoleon III.
John S. C. Abbott.
Fair Haven, Conn.,
|I.||SCENES IN EARLY LIFE||13|
|III.||JOSEPH THE PEACE-MAKER||67|
|IV.||JOSEPH KING OF NAPLES||93|
|V.||THE CROWN A BURDEN||135|
|VI.||THE SPANISH PRINCES||166|
|VII.||JOSEPH KING OF SPAIN||199|
|VIII.||THE SPANISH CAMPAIGN OF NAPOLEON||229|
|IX.||THE WAR IN SPAIN CONTINUED||264|
|X.||THE EXPULSION FROM SPAIN||291|
|XI.||LIFE IN EXILE||319|
|XII.||LAST DAYS AND DEATH||365|
|JOSEPH AND NAPOLEON—TOUR IN CORSICA||28|
|JOSEPH GIVING HIS CLOAK TO HIS BROTHER LOUIS||41|
|CORNWALLIS AND JOSEPH||88|
|JOSEPH AT MALMAISON||98|
|JOSEPH ON HIS NEAPOLITAN TOUR||155|
|QUEEN JULIE LEAVING NAPLES||187|
|JOSEPH RECEIVING THE ADDRESSES OF THE SPANISH
|JOSEPH ENTERING MALAGA||261|
|SACK OF CIUDAD RODRIGO||286|
|ANGUISH OF MARIA LOUISA||314|
|DEATH OF THE DUKE OF REICHSTADT||363|
The island of Corsica, in the Mediterranean Sea, sixty miles from the coast of Tuscany, is about half as large as the State of Massachusetts. In the year 1767 this island was one of the provinces of Italy. There was then residing, in the small town of Corté, in Corsica, a young lawyer nineteen years of age. He was the descendant of an illustrious race, which could be traced back, through a succession of distinguished men, far into the dark ages. Charles Bonaparte, the young man of whom we speak, was tall, handsome, and possessed strong native powers of mind, which he had highly cultivated. In the same place there was a young lady, Letitia Raniolini, remarkable for her beauty and her accomplishments. She also was of an ancient family. When but sixteen years of age [Pg 14]Letitia was married to Charles Bonaparte, then but nineteen years old.
About a year after their marriage, on the 7th of January, 1768, they welcomed their first-born child, Joseph Napoleon Bonaparte. In nineteen months after the birth of Joseph, his world-renowned brother Napoleon was born. But in the mean time the island had been transferred to France. Thus while Joseph was by birth an Italian, his brother Napoleon was a Frenchman.
Charles Bonaparte occupied high positions of trust and honor in the government of Corsica, and his family took rank with the most distinguished families in Italy and in France. Joseph passed the first twelve years of his life upon his native island. He was ever a boy of studious habits, and of singular amiability of character. When he was twelve years of age his father took him, with Napoleon and their elder sister Eliza, to France for their education. Leopold, the grand duke of Tuscany, gave Charles Bonaparte letters of introduction to Maria Antoinette, his sister, who was then the beautiful and admired Queen of France.
Leaving Joseph at the college of Autun, in Burgundy, the father continued his journey to [Pg 15]Paris, with Napoleon and Eliza. Eliza was placed in the celebrated boarding-school of St. Cyr, in the metropolis, and Napoleon was taken to the military school at Brienne, a few miles out from the city. The father was received as a guest in the gorgeous palace of Versailles. Joseph and Napoleon were very strongly attached to each other, and this attachment continued unabated through life. When the two lads parted at Autun both were much affected. Joseph, subsequently speaking of it, says:
"I shall never forget the moment of our separation. My eyes were flooded with tears. Napoleon shed but one tear, which he in vain endeavored to conceal. The abbé Simon, who witnessed our adieus, said to me, after Napoleon's departure, 'He shed only one tear; but that one testified to as deep grief in parting from you as all of yours.'"
The two brothers kept up a very constant correspondence, informing each other minutely of their studies, and of the books in which they were interested. Joseph became one of the most distinguished scholars in the college of Autun, excelling in all the branches of polite literature. He was a very handsome young man, of polished manners, and of unblemished [Pg 16]purity of life. His natural kindness of heart, combined with these attractions, rendered him a universal favorite.
Autun was in the province of Burgundy, of which the Prince of Condé, grandfather of the celebrated Duke d'Enghien, was governor. The prince attended an exhibition at the college, to assist in the distribution of the prizes. Joseph acquitted himself with so much honor as to attract the attention of the prince, and he inquired of him what profession he intended to pursue.
Joseph, in the following words, describes this eventful incident:
"The solemn day arrived. I performed my part to admiration, and when we afterward went to receive the crown, which the prince himself placed on our heads, I was the one whom he seemed most to have noticed. The Bishop of Autun's friendship for our family, and no doubt also the curiosity which a little barbarian, recently introduced into the centre of civilization inspired, contributed to attract the prince's attention. He caressed me, complimented me on my progress, and made particular inquiries as to the intentions of my family with respect to me. The Bishop of Autun said that I was destined for the Church, and that he had a living [Pg 17]in reserve, which he would bestow upon me as soon as the time came.
"'And you, my lad,' said the prince, 'have you your own projects, and have you made up your mind as to what you wish?'
"'I wish,' said I, 'to serve the king.' Then seeing him disposed to listen favorably to me, I took courage to tell him that it was not at all my wish, though it was that of my family, that I should enter the Church, but that my dearest wish was to enter the army.
"The Bishop of Autun would have objected to my project, but the prince, who was colonel-general of the French infantry, saw with pleasure these warlike dispositions on my part, and encouraged me to ask for what I wanted. I then declared my desire to enter the artillery, and it was determined that I should. Imagine my joy. I was proud of the prince's caresses, and rejoiced more in his encouragement than I have since in the two crowns which I have worn.
"I immediately wrote a long letter to my brother Napoleon, imparting my happiness to him, and relating in detail all that had passed; concluding by begging him, out of friendship for me, to give up the navy and devote himself [Pg 18]to the artillery, that we might be in the same regiment, and pursue our career side by side. Napoleon immediately acceded to my proposal, abandoned from that moment all his naval projects, and replied that his mind was made up to dedicate himself, with me, to the artillery—with what success the world has since learned. Thus it was to this visit of the Prince of Condé that Napoleon owed his resolution of entering on a career which paved the way to all his honors."
In 1784, Joseph, then sixteen years of age, returned to Corsica. During his absence he had entirely forgotten the Italian, his native language, and could neither speak it nor understand it. After a few months at home, during which time he very diligently prosecuted his studies, his father, whose health was declining, found it necessary to visit Paris to seek medical advice. He took his son Joseph with him. Arriving at Montpellier, after a tempestuous voyage, he became so ill as to be unable to proceed any farther. After a painful sickness of three months, he died of a cancer in the stomach, on the 24th of February, 1785. The dying father, who had perceived indications of the exalted powers and the lofty character of his son [Pg 19]Napoleon, in the delirium of his last hours repeatedly cried out,
"Napoleon! Napoleon! come and rescue me from this dragon of death by whom I am devoured."
Upon his dying bed the father felt great solicitude for his wife, who was to be left, at the early age of thirty-five, a widow with eight children, six of whom were under thirteen years of age. Joseph willingly yielded to his father's earnest entreaties to relinquish the profession of arms and return to Corsica, that he might solace his bereaved mother and aid her in her arduous cares. Napoleon says of this noble mother:
"She had the head of a man on the shoulders of a woman. Left without a guide or protector, she was obliged to assume the management of affairs, but the burden did not overcome her. She administered every thing with a degree of sagacity not to be expected from her age or sex. Her tenderness was joined with severity. She punished, rewarded all alike. The good, the bad, nothing escaped her. Ah, what a woman! where shall we look for her equal? She watched over us with a solicitude unexampled. Every low sentiment, every ungenerous [Pg 20]affection was discouraged and discarded. She suffered nothing but that which was grand and elevated to take root in our youthful understandings. She abhorred falsehood, and would not tolerate the slightest act of disobedience. None of our faults were overlooked. Losses, privations, fatigue had no effect upon her. She endured all, braved all. She had the energy of a man combined with the gentleness and delicacy of a woman."
Madame Permon, mother of the Duchess of Abrantes, a Corsican lady of fortune who resided at Montpellier, immediately after the death of Charles Bonaparte, took Joseph, the orphan boy, into her house. Madame Permon and Letitia Raniolini had been companions and intimate friends in their youthful days. "She was to me," says Joseph, "an angel of consolation; and she lavished upon me all the attentions I could have received from the most tender and affectionate of mothers."
Joseph soon returned to Corsica. Napoleon had just before been promoted to the military school in Paris, in which city Eliza still continued at school. Lucien, the next younger brother, had also now been taken to the Continent, where he was pursuing his education. [Pg 21]The four remaining children were very young.
"My mother," says Joseph, "moderated the expression of her grief that she might not excite mine. Heroic and admirable woman! the model of mothers; how much thy children are indebted to thee for the example which thou hast given them!"
Joseph remained at home about a year, devoting himself to the care of the family, when Napoleon obtained leave of absence, and, to the great joy of his mother, returned to Corsica. He brought with him two trunks, a small one containing his clothing, and a large one filled with his books. Seven years had now passed since the two affectionate brothers had met. Napoleon had entirely forgotten the Italian language; but, much chagrined by the loss, he immediately devoted himself with great energy to its recovery. "His habits," says Joseph, "were those of a young man retiring and studious." For nearly a year the two brothers prosecuted their studies vigorously together, while consoling, with their filial love, their revered mother. After some months Napoleon left home again, to rejoin his regiment at Valence. During this brief residence on his native [Pg 22]island, with his accustomed habits of industry, he employed the hours of vacation in writing a history of the revolutions in Corsica. At Marseilles he showed the manuscript to the abbé Raynal. The abbé was so much pleased with it that he sent it to Mirabeau. This distinguished man remarked that the essay indicated a genius of the first order.
Joseph decided, being the eldest brother, to remain at home with his mother, to study law, and commence its practice in Ajaccio, where his mother then resided. He accordingly went to Pisa to attend lectures in the law school connected with the celebrated university in that place. His rank and character secured for him a distinguished reception, and he was presented by the French minister to the grand duke. Here Joseph became deeply interested in the lectures of Lampredi, who boldly advocated the doctrine, then rarely heard in Europe, of the sovereignty of the people. There were many illustrious patriots at Pisa, and many ardent young men, whose minds were imbued with new ideas of political liberty. Freely and earnestly they discussed the themes of aristocratic usurpation, and of the equal rights of all men. Joseph, with enthusiasm, embraced the [Pg 23]cause of popular freedom, and became the unrelenting foe of that feudal despotism which then domineered over all Europe. His associates were the most illustrious and cultivated men of the liberal party. At that early period Joseph published a pamphlet advocating the rights of the people.
Having finished his studies and taken his degree, Joseph returned to Corsica. He was admitted to the bar in 1788, being then twenty years of age, and commenced the practice of law in Ajaccio. Upon this his return to Corsica he met his brother Napoleon again, who, a few days before, had landed upon the island. Napoleon was then intensely occupied in writing a treatise upon the question, "What are the opinions and the feelings with which it is necessary to inspire men for the promotion of their happiness?"
"This was the subject of our conversations," says Joseph, "in our daily walks, which were prolonged upon the banks of the sea; in sauntering along the shores of a gulf which was as beautiful as that of Naples, in a country fragrant with the exhalations of myrtles and oranges. We sometimes did not return home until night had closed over us. There will be [Pg 24]found, in what remains of this essay, the opinions and the characteristic traits of Napoleon, who united in his character qualities which seemed to be contradictory—the calm of reason, illumined with the flashes of an Oriental imagination; kindliness of soul, exquisite sensibility; precious qualities which he subsequently deemed it his duty to conceal, under an artificial character which he studied to assume when he attained power, saying that men must be governed by one who is fair and just as law, and not by a prince whose amiability might be regarded as weakness, when that amiability is not controlled by the most inflexible justice.
"He had continually in view," continues Joseph, "the judgment of posterity. His heart throbbed at the idea of a grand and noble action which posterity could appreciate.
"'I would wish to be myself my posterity,' he said to me one day, 'that I may myself enjoy the sentiments which a great poet, like Corneille, would represent me as feeling and uttering. The sentiment of duty, the esteem of a small number of friends, who know us as we know ourselves, are not sufficient to inspire noble and conscientious actions. With [Pg 25]such motives one can make sages, but not heroes. If the movement now commenced continue in France, she will draw upon herself the entire of Europe. She can only be defended by men passionate for glory, who will be willing to die to-day, that they may live eternally. It is for an end remote, indeterminate, of which no definite account is taken, that the inspired minority triumphs over the inert masses. Those are the motives which have guided the legislators, who have influenced the destinies of the world.'"
It is remarkable that at so early a period Napoleon so clearly foresaw that the opinions of political equality, then struggling for existence in Paris, and of which he subsequently became so illustrious an advocate, would, if successful, combine all the despots of Europe in a warfare against regenerated France. Joseph and Napoleon both warmly espoused the cause of popular liberty, which was even then upheaving the throne of the Bourbons.
At this time, June, 1789, the Constituent Assembly commenced its world-renowned session in Paris. As soon as the liberal constitution, which it adopted, was issued, Joseph, who was then president of the district in Ajaccio, [Pg 26]published an elementary treatise upon the constitution both in French and Italian, for the benefit of the inhabitants of his native island. This work conferred upon him much honor, and greatly increased his influence.
The mayor of the city, Jean Jerome Levie, was a very noble man, and a particular friend of the Bonapartes. Very liberally he contributed of his large fortune to aid the poor. "Napoleon," says Joseph, "honored him at Saint Helena in his last hour, and left him a hundred thousand francs. This proves the truth of what I have often said of the kindness and tenderness of Napoleon's heart. It was this which led him in his last moments to remember the abbé Recco, Professor of the Royal College of Ajaccio, who in our early childhood, before our departure for the Continent, kindly admitted us to his class, and devoted to us his attention. I recall the incident when the pupils were arranged facing each other upon the opposite sides of the hall under an immense banner, one portion of which represented the flag of Rome, and the other that of Carthage. As the elder of the two children, the professor placed me by his side under the Roman flag.
"Napoleon, annoyed at finding himself beneath [Pg 29]the flag of Carthage, which was not the conquering banner, could have no rest until he obtained a change of place with me, which I readily granted, and for which he was very grateful. And still, in his triumph, he was disquieted with the idea of having been unjust to his brother, and it required all the authority of our mother to tranquilize him. This abbé Recco was also remembered in his will."
On one occasion Napoleon accompanied Joseph on horseback to a remote part of the island, to attend a Convention, where Joseph was to address the assembly.
"Napoleon was continually occupied," says Joseph, "in collecting heroic incidents of the ancient warriors of the country. I read to him my speech, to which he added several names of the ancient patriots. During the journey, which we made quite slowly, without a change of horses, his mind was incessantly employed in studying the positions which the troops of different nations had occupied, during the many years in which they had combatted against the inhabitants of the island. My thoughts ran in another direction. The singular beauty of the scenery interested me much more."
Louis Napoleon, in an article which he wrote [Pg 30]while a prisoner at Ham, upon his uncle, King Joseph, just after his death, says:
"Joseph was born to embellish the arts of peace, while the spirit of his brother found itself at ease only amid events which war introduces. From their earliest years this difference of capacity and of inclination was clearly manifested. Associated in the college at Autun with his brother, Joseph aided Napoleon in his Latin and Greek compositions, while Napoleon aided Joseph in all the problems of physics and mathematics. The one made verses, while the other studied Alexander and Cæsar."[A]
During the meeting of the Convention at Bastia, above alluded to, the tidings came of the death of Mirabeau. By the request of the President, Joseph Bonaparte announced the event to the Convention in an appropriate eulogy. The two brothers had but just returned to Ajaccio when the grand-uncle of the Bonaparte children died. He had been a firm friend of the family, and was greatly revered by them all. A few moments before his death he assembled them around his dying bed, and took an affectionate leave of each one. Joseph was [Pg 31]now a member of the Directory of the department. We have the testimony of Joseph that the dying uncle said to his sobbing niece,
"Letitia, do not weep. I am willing to die since I see you surrounded by your children. My life is no longer necessary to protect the family of Charles. Joseph is at the head of the administration of the country; he can therefore take care of the interests of the family. You, Napoleon, you will be a great man."
The French Revolution was now in full career. Napoleon returned to Paris, and witnessed the awful scenes of the 10th of August, 1792, when the palace of the Tuileries was stormed, the royal family outraged, and the guard massacred. He wrote to Joseph,
"If the king had shown himself on horseback at the head of his troops, he would have gained the victory; at least so it appeared to me, from the spirit which that morning seemed to animate the groups of the people.
"After the victory of the Marseillaise, I saw one of them upon the point of killing one of the body-guard; 'Man of the South,' said I, 'let us save the poor fellow.' 'Are you from the South?' said he. 'Yes,' I replied. 'Very well,' he rejoined, 'let him be saved then.'"
The French monarchy was destroyed. France, delivered from the despotism of kings, was surrendered to the still greater despotism of irreligion and ignorance. Faction succeeded faction in ephemeral governments, and anarchy and terror rioted throughout the kingdom. Thousands of the nobles fled from France and joined the armies of the surrounding monarchies, which were on the march to replace the Bourbons on the throne. The true patriots of the nation, anxious for the overthrow of the intolerable despotism under which France had so long groaned, were struggling against the coalition of despots from abroad, while at the same time they were perilling their lives in the endeavor to resist the blind madness of the mob at home. With these two foes, equally formidable, pressing them from opposite quarters, they were making gigantic endeavors to establish republican institutions upon the basis of those then in successful operation in the United States. Joseph and his brother Napoleon with all zeal joined the Republican party. They were irreconcilably hostile to despotism on the one hand, and to Jacobinical anarchy upon the other. In devotion to the principles of republican liberty, they sacrificed their fortunes, and [Pg 33]placed their lives in imminent jeopardy. Anxious as they both were to see the bulwarks of the old feudal aristocracy battered down, they were still more hostile to the domination of the mob.
"I frankly declare," said Napoleon, "that if I were compelled to choose between the old monarchy and Jacobin misrule, I should infinitely prefer the former."
General Paoli had been appointed by Louis XVI. lieutenant-general of Corsica. This illustrious man, disgusted with the lawless violence which was now dominant in Paris, and despairing of any salutary reform from the revolutionary influences which were running riot, through an error in judgment, which he afterward bitterly deplored, joined the coalition of foreign powers who, with fleets and armies, were approaching France to replace, by the bayonet, the rejected Bourbons upon the throne. Both Joseph and Napoleon were exceedingly attached to General Paoli. He was a family friend, and his lofty character had won their reverence. Paoli discerned the dawning greatness of Napoleon even in these early years, and on one occasion said to him,
"O Napoleon! you do not at all resemble [Pg 34]the moderns. You belong only to the heroes of Plutarch."
Paoli made every effort to induce the young Bonapartes to join his standard; but they, believing that popular rights would yet come out triumphant, resolutely refused. The peasantry of Corsica, unenlightened, and confiding in General Paoli, to whom they were enthusiastically attached, eagerly rallied around his banner. England was the soul of the coalition now formed against popular rights in France. Paoli, in loyalty to the Bourbons, and in treason to the French people, surrendered the island of Corsica to the British fleet.
The Bonaparte family, in wealth, rank, and influence, was one of the most prominent upon the island. An exasperated mob surrounded their dwelling, and the family narrowly escaped with their lives. The house and furniture were almost entirely destroyed. At midnight Madame Bonaparte, with Joseph, Napoleon, and all the other children who were then upon the island, secretly entered a boat in a retired cove, and were rowed out to a small vessel which was anchored at a short distance from the shore. The sails were spread, and the exiled family, in friendlessness, poverty, and dejection, were [Pg 35]landed upon the shores of France. Little did they then dream that their renown was soon to fill the world; and that each one of those children was to rise to grandeur, and experience reverses which will never cease to excite the sympathies of mankind.
It was the year 1793. On the 21st of January the unfortunate and guilty Louis XVI. had been led to the guillotine. The Royalists had surrendered Toulon to the British fleet. A Republican army was sent to regain the important port. Joseph Bonaparte was commissioned on the staff of the major-general in command, and was slightly wounded in the attack upon Cape Brun. All France was in a state of terrible excitement. Allied Europe was on the march to crush the revolution. The armies of Austria, gathered in Italy, were threatening to cross the Alps. The nobles in France, and all who were in favor of aristocratic domination, were watching for an opportunity to join the Allies, overwhelm the revolutionists, and replace the Bourbon family on the throne.
The National Assembly, which had assumed the supreme command upon the dethronement of the king, was now giving place to another assembly gathered in Paris, called the National [Pg 37]Convention. Napoleon was commissioned to obtain artillery and supplies for the troops composing the Army of Italy, who, few in numbers, quite undisciplined and feeble in the materials of war, were guarding the defiles of the Alps, to protect France from the threatened Austrian invasion in that quarter. He was soon after named general of brigade in the artillery, and was sent to aid the besieging army at Toulon. Madame Bonaparte and the younger children were at Marseilles, where Joseph and Napoleon, the natural guardians of the family, could more frequently visit them. On the last day of November of this year the British fleet was driven from the harbor of Toulon, and the city recaptured, as was universally admitted, by the genius of Napoleon.
In the year 1794 Joseph married Julie Clary, daughter of one of the wealthiest capitalists of Marseilles. Her sister Eugenie, to whom Napoleon was at that time much attached, afterward married Bernadotte, subsequently King of Sweden. Of Julie Clary the Duchess of Abrantes says:
"Madame Joseph Bonaparte is an angel of goodness. Pronounce her name, and all the indigent, all the unfortunate in Paris, Naples, and [Pg 38]Madrid, will repeat it with blessings. Never did she hesitate a moment to set about what she conceived to be her duty. Accordingly she is adored by all about her, and especially by her own household. Her unalterable kindness, her active charity, gain her the love of every body."
The brothers kept up a very constant correspondence. These letters have been published unaltered. They attest the exalted and affectionate character of both the young men. Napoleon writes to Joseph on the 25th of June, 1795:
"In whatever circumstances fortune may place you, you well know, my dear friend, that you can never have a better friend, one to whom you will be more dear, and who desires more sincerely your happiness. Life is but a transient dream, which is soon dissipated. If you go away, to be absent any length of time, send me your portrait. We have lived so much together, so closely united, that our hearts are blended. I feel, in tracing these lines, emotions which I have seldom experienced; I feel that it will be a long time before we shall meet again, and I can not continue my letter."
Again Napoleon writes on the 12th of August: "As for me, but little attached to life, I contemplate it without much anxiety, finding myself constantly in the mood of mind in which one finds himself on the eve of battle, convinced that when death comes in the midst to terminate all things, it is folly to indulge in solicitude."
In these letters we see gradually developed the supremacy of the mind of Napoleon, and that soon, almost instinctively, he is recognized as the head of the family. On the 6th of September he writes from Paris:
"I am very well pleased with Louis.[B] He responds to my hopes, and to the expectations which I had formed for him. He is a fine fellow; ardor, vivacity, health, talent, exactness in business, kindness, he unites every thing. You know, my friend, that I live for the benefits which I can confer upon my family. If my hopes are favored by that good-fortune which has never abandoned my enterprises, I shall be able to render you happy, and to fulfill your desires. I feel keenly the absence of Louis. He was of great service to me. Never was a man more active, more skillful, more [Pg 40]winning. He could do at Paris whatever he wished."
None of the members of the Bonaparte family were ever ashamed to remind themselves of the days of their comparative poverty and obscurity. "One day," writes Louis Napoleon, now Napoleon III., "Joseph related that his brother Louis, for whom he had felt, from his infancy, all the cares and tenderness of a father, was about to leave Marseilles to go to school in Paris. Joseph accompanied him to the diligence. Just before the diligence started he perceived that it was quite cold, and that Louis had no overcoat. Not having then the means to purchase him one, and not wishing to expose his brother to the severity of the weather, he took off his own cloak and wrapped it around Louis. This action, which they mutually recalled when they were kings, had always remained engraved in the hearts of them both, as a tender souvenir of their constant intimacy."[C]
On the 6th of March, 1796, Napoleon was married to Josephine Beauharnais. "Thus vanished," writes Joseph Bonaparte, "the hope which my wife and I had cherished, for several [Pg 43]years, of seeing her younger sister Eugenie united in marriage with my brother Napoleon. Time and separation disposed of the event otherwise."
A few days after Napoleon's marriage he took command of the Army of Italy, and hastened across the Alps to the scene of conflict. After the victory of Mondovi, Napoleon, cherishing the hope of detaching the Italians from the Austrians, sent Joseph to Paris to urge upon the Directory the importance of making peace with the Court of Turin. General Junot accompanied Joseph, to present to the Directory the flags captured from the enemy. The astonishing victories which Napoleon had gained excited boundless enthusiasm in Paris. Carnot, one of the Directors, gave a brilliant entertainment in honor of the two ambassadors, Joseph and Junot. During the dinner he opened his waistcoat and showed the portrait of Napoleon, which was suspended near his heart. Turning to Joseph, he said,
"Say to your brother that I wear his miniature there, because I foresee that he will be the saviour of France. To accomplish this, it is necessary that he should know that there is no one in the Directory who is not his admirer and his friend."
The measures which Napoleon had suggested were most cordially approved by all the members of the Government. One of the most important members of the Cabinet proposed that Joseph Bonaparte should immediately, upon the ratification of peace, be appointed ambassador of the French Republic to the Court of Turin. Joseph, with characteristic modesty, replied, that though he was desirous of entering upon a diplomatic career, he did not feel qualified to assume at once so important a post. He was however prevailed upon to enter upon the office.
From this mission, so successfully accomplished, Joseph returned to his brother, and joined him at his head-quarters in Milan. Napoleon pressed forward in his triumphant career, drove the Austrians out of Italy, and soon effected peace with Naples and with Rome.
Having accomplished these results, Napoleon immediately fitted out an expedition for the reconquest of Corsica, his native island, which the British fleet still held. The expedition was placed under the command of General Gentili. The troops sailed from Leghorn, and disembarked at Bastia. Joseph accompanied [Pg 45]them. Immediately upon landing, the Corsicans generally rose and joined their deliverers, and the English retired in haste from the island. Joseph gives the following account of his return to his parental home:
"I was received by the great majority of the population at the distance of a league from Ajaccio. I took up my residence in the mansion of Ornano, where I resided for several weeks, until our parental homestead, which had been devastated, was sufficiently repaired to be occupied. I could not detect the slightest trace of any unfriendly feelings toward our family. All the inhabitants, without any exception, hastened to greet me. In my turn, I reorganized the government without consulting any other voice than the public good. A commissioner from the Directory soon arrived, and he sanctioned, without any exception, all the measures which I had adopted.
"Having thus fulfilled, according to my best judgment, the mission which fraternal kindness had intrusted to me, and leaving our native island tranquil and happy in finding itself again restored to the laws of France, I prepared to return to the Continent, having made a sojourn in Corsica of three months."
On the 27th of March, 1797, Joseph was appointed ambassador to the Court of Parma. He presented to the duke credentials from the Directory of the French Republic, containing the following sentiments:
"The desire which we have to maintain and to cherish the friendship and the kind relations happily established between the French Republic and the Duchy of Parma, has induced us to appoint Citizen Bonaparte to reside at the Court of your Royal Highness in quality of ambassador. The knowledge which we have of his principles and his sentiments is to us a sure guarantee that the choice which we have made of his person to fulfill that honorable mission will be agreeable to you, and we are well persuaded that he will do every thing in his power to justify the confidence we have placed in him. It is in that persuasion that we pray your Royal Highness to repose entire faith in every thing which he may say in our behalf, and particularly whenever he may renew the assurance of the friendship with which we cherish your Royal Highness."
The Duke of Parma had married an Austrian duchess, sister of Maria Antoinette. She was an energetic woman, and in conjunction [Pg 47]with the ecclesiastics, who crowded the palace, had great control over her husband. But the spirit of the French Revolution already pervaded many minds in Parma. Not a few were restive under the old feudal domination of the duke and the arrogance of the Church. One day Joseph was walking through the gardens of the ducal palace with several of the dignitaries of the Court. He spoke with admiration of the architectural grandeur and symmetry of the regal mansion.
"That is true," one replied, "but turn your eyes to the neighboring convent; how far does it surpass in magnificence the palace of the sovereign! Unhappy is that country where things are so."
After the peace of Leoben Napoleon returned to Milan and established himself, for several months, at the chateau of Montebello. Joseph soon joined his brother there. In the mean time their eldest sister, Eliza, had been married to M. Bacciochi, a young officer of great distinction. He was afterward created a prince by Napoleon. He was a man of elegant manners, and had attained no little distinction in literary and artistic accomplishments.
"We have often been amused," say the authors [Pg 48]of the "Napoleon Dynasty," "to see British writers, some of whom doubtless never passed beyond the Channel, speak depreciatingly of the manners and refinement of these new-made princes and nobles of Napoleon's Empire. Those who are familiar with the elegant manners of the refined Italians read such slurs with a smile. Whatever may be the crimes of the Italians, they have never been accused, by those who know them, of coarseness of manner, or lack of refinement of mind and taste. Eliza is said to have possessed more of her brother's genius than any other one of the sisters. Chateaubriand, La Harpe, Fontanes, and many other of the most illustrious men of France sought her society, and have expressed their admiration of her talents."
At Montebello the second sister, Pauline, was married to General Leclerc. Pauline was pronounced by Canova to be the most peerless model of grace and beauty in all Europe. The same envenomed pen of slander which has dared to calumniate even the immaculate Josephine has also been busy in traducing the character of Pauline. We here again quote from the "Napoleon Dynasty," by the Berkeley men:
"No satisfactory evidence has ever been adduced, in any quarter, that Pauline was not a virtuous woman. Those who were mainly instrumental in originating and circulating these slanders at the time about her, were the very persons who had endeavored to load the name of Josephine with obloquy. Those who saw her could not withhold their admiration. But the blood of Madame Mère was in her veins, and the Bonapartes, especially the women of the family, have always been too proud and haughty to degrade themselves. Even had they lacked what is technically called moral character, their virtue has been intrenched behind their ancestry, and the achievements of their own family; nor was there at any time an instant when any one of the Bonapartes could have overstepped, by a hair's breadth, the bounds of decency without being exposed. None of them pursued the noiseless tenor of their way along the vale of obscurity. They were walking in the clear sunshine, on the topmost summits of the earth, and millions of enemies were watching every step they took.
"The highest genius of historians, the bitterest satire of dramatists, the meanest and most malignant pens of the journalists have assailed [Pg 50]them for more than half a century. We have written these words because a Republican is the only one likely to speak well even of the good things of the Bonaparte family. It was, and is, and will be, the dynasty of the people standing there from 1804 a fearful antagonism against the feudal age, and its souvenirs of oppression and crime."
On the 7th of May, 1797, Joseph was promoted to the post of minister from the French Republic to the Court at Rome. He received instructions from his Government to make every effort to maintain friendly relations with that spiritual power, which exerted so vast an influence over the masses of Europe. Pope Pius VI. gave him a very cordial reception, and seemed well disposed to employ all his means of persuasion and authority to induce the Vendeans in France to accept the French Republic. The Vendeans, enthusiastic Catholics, and devoted to the Bourbons, were still, with amazing energy, perpetuating civil war in France. The Allies, ready to make use of any instrumentality whatever to crush republicanism, were doing every thing in their power to encourage the Vendeans in their rebellion. The Austrian ambassador at the Papal Court [Pg 51]was unwearied in his endeavors to circumvent the peaceful mission of Joseph.
Though the Pope himself and his Secretary of State were inclined to amicable relations with the French Government, his Cabinet, the Sacred College, composed exclusively of ecclesiastics, was intent upon the restoration of the Bourbons, by which restoration alone the Catholic religion could be reinstated with exclusive power in France.
By the intrigues of Austria, General Provera, an Austrian officer, was placed in command of all the Papal forces. Joseph immediately communicated this fact to the Directory in Paris, and also to his brother. This Austrian officer had been fighting against the French in Italy, and had three times been taken prisoner by the French troops.
Napoleon, who had lost all confidence in the French Directory, and who, by virtue of his victories, had assumed the control of Italian diplomacy, immediately wrote as follows to Joseph:
"Milan, Dec. 14, 1797.
"I shared your indignation, citizen ambassador, when you informed me of the arrival of General Provera. You may declare positively [Pg 52]to the Court of Rome that if it receive into its service any officer known to have been in the service of the Emperor of Austria, all good understanding between France and Rome will cease from that hour, and war will be already declared.
"You will let it be known, by a special note to the Pope, which you will address to him in person, that although peace may be made with his majesty the Emperor, the French Republic will not consent that the Pope should accept among his troops any officer or agent belonging to the Emperor of any denomination, except the usual diplomatic agents. You will require the departure of M. Provera from the Roman territory within twenty-four hours, in default whereof you will declare that you quit Rome."
The spirit of the French Revolution at this time pervaded to a greater or less degree all the kingdoms of Europe. In Rome there was a very active party of Republicans anxious for a change of government. Napoleon did not wish to encourage this party in an insurrection. By so doing, he would exasperate still more the monarchs of Europe, who were already [Pg 53]combined in deadly hostility against republican France; neither did he think the Republican party in Rome sufficiently strong to maintain their cause, or the people sufficiently enlightened for self-government. Thus he was not at all disposed to favor any insurrectionary movements in Rome; neither was he disposed to render any aid whatever to the Papal Government in opposing those who were struggling for greater political liberty. He only demanded that France should be left by the other governments in Europe in entire liberty to choose her own institutions. And he did not wish that France should interfere, in any way whatever, with the internal affairs of other nations.
While Joseph was officiating as ambassador at Rome, endeavoring to promote friendly relations between the Papal See and the new French Republic, he was much embarrassed by the operations of two opposite and hostile parties of intriguants at that court. The Austrians, and all the other European cabinets, were endeavoring to influence the Pope to give his powerful moral support against the French Revolution. On the other hand there was a party of active revolutionists, both native and foreign, in Rome, struggling to rouse the populace [Pg 54]to an insurrection against the Government, to overthrow the Papal power entirely, as France had overthrown the Bourbon power, and to establish a republic. These men hoped for the countenance and support of France. But Joseph Bonaparte could lend them no countenance. He was received as a friendly ambassador at that court, and could not without ignominy take part with conspirators to overthrow the Government. He was also bound to watch with the utmost care, and thwart, if possible, the efforts of the Austrians, and other advocates of the old régime.
On the 27th of December three members of the revolutionary party called upon Joseph and informed him that during the night a revolution was to break out, and they wished to communicate the fact to him, that he might not be taken by surprise. Joseph reproved them, stating that he did not think it right for him, an ambassador at the Court of Rome, to listen to such a communication; and moreover he assured them that the movement was ill-timed, and that it could not prove successful.
They replied that they came to him for advice, for they hoped that republican France would protect them in their revolution as soon [Pg 55]as it was accomplished. Joseph informed them that, as an impartial spectator, he should give an account to his Government of whatever scenes might occur, but that he could give them no encouragement whatever; that France was anxious to promote a general peace on the Continent, and would look with regret upon any occurrences which might retard that peace. He also repeated his assurance that the revolutionary party in Rome had by no means sufficient strength to attain their end, and he entreated them to desist from their purpose.
The committee were evidently impressed by his representations. They departed declaring that every thing should remain quiet for the present, and the night passed away in tranquillity. On the evening of the next day one of the Government party called, and confidentially informed Joseph that the blunderheads were ridiculously contemplating a movement which would only involve them in ruin. The Papal Government, by means of spies, was not only informed of all the movements contemplated, but through these spies, as pretended revolutionists, the Government was actually aiding in getting up the insurrection, which it would promptly crush with a bloody hand.
At 4 o'clock the next morning Joseph was aroused from sleep by a messenger who informed him that about a hundred of the revolutionists had assembled at the villa Medici, where they were surrounded by the troops of the Pope. Joseph, who had given the revolutionists good advice in vain, turned upon his pillow and fell asleep again. In the morning he learned that there had been a slight conflict, that two of the Pope's dragoons had been killed, and that the insurgents had been put to flight; several of them having been arrested. These insurgents had assumed the French national cockade, implying that they were acting, in some degree of co-operation, with revolutionary France.
Joseph immediately called upon the Secretary of State, and informed him that far from complaining of the arrest of persons who had assumed the French cockade, he came to make the definite request that he would arrest all such persons who were not in the service of the French legation. He also informed the secretary that six individuals had taken refuge within his jurisdiction. At Rome the residences of the foreign ambassadors enjoyed the privilege of sanctuary in common with most [Pg 57]of the churches. Joseph informed the secretary, that if those who had taken refuge in his palace were of the insurgents, they should be given up. As he returned to his residence he found General Duphot, a very distinguished French officer, who the next day was to be married to Joseph's wife's sister, and several other French gentlemen, eagerly conversing upon the folly of the past night. Just as they were sitting down to dinner, the porter informed him that some twenty persons were endeavoring to enter the palace, and that they were distributing French cockades to the passers-by, and were shouting "Live the Republic." One of these revolutionists, a French artist, burst like a maniac into the presence of the ambassador, exclaiming "We are free, and have come to demand the support of France."
Joseph sternly reproved him for his senseless conduct, and ordered him to retire immediately from the protection of the Embassy, and to take his comrades with him, or severe measures would be resorted to. One of the officers said to the artist scornfully, "Where would your pretended liberty be, should the governor of the city open fire upon you?"
The artist retired in confusion. But the tumult [Pg 58]around the palace increased. Joseph's friends saw, in the midst of the mob, well-known spies of the Government urging them on, shouting Vive la Republique, and scattering money with a liberal hand. The insurgents were availing themselves of the palace of the French ambassador as their place of rendezvous, and where, if need be, they hoped to find a sanctuary. Joseph took the insignia of his office, and calling upon the officers of his household to follow him, descended into the court, intending to address the mob, as he spoke their language. In leaving the cabinet, they heard a prolonged discharge of fire-arms. It was from the troops of the Government; a picket of cavalry, in violation of the established usages of national courtesy, had invaded the jurisdiction of the French ambassador, which, protected by his flag, was regarded as the soil of France, and, without consulting the ambassador, were discharging volleys of musketry through the three vast arches of the palace. Many dropped dead; others fell wounded and bleeding. The terrified crowd precipitated itself into the courts and on the stairs, pursued by the avenging bullets of the Government. Joseph and his friends, as they boldly forced their way through the flying multitude, encountered [Pg 59]the dying and the dead, and not a few Government spies, who they knew were paid to excite the insurrection and then to denounce the movement to the authorities.
Just as they were stepping out of the vestibule they met a company of fusileers who had followed the cavalry. At the sight of the French ambassador they stopped. Joseph demanded the commander. He, conscious of the lawlessness of his proceedings, had concealed himself in the ranks, and could not be distinguished. He then demanded of the troops by whose order they entered upon the jurisdiction of France, and commanded them to retire. A scene of confusion ensued, some advancing, others retiring. Joseph then facing them, said, in a very decisive tone, "that the first one who should attempt to pass the middle of the court would encounter trouble."
He drew his sword, and Generals Duphot and Sherlock and two other officers of his escort, armed with swords or pistols and poniards, ranged themselves at his side to resist their advance. The musketeers retired just beyond pistol-shot, and then deliberately fired a general discharge in the direction of Joseph and his friends. None of the party immediately surrounding [Pg 60]the ambassador were struck, but several were killed in their rear.
Joseph, with General Duphot, boldly advanced as the soldiers were reloading their muskets, and ordered them to retire from the jurisdiction of France, saying that the ambassador would charge himself with the punishment of the insurgents, and that he would immediately send one of his own officers to the Vatican or to the Governor of Rome, and that the affair would thus be settled. The soldiers seemed to pay no regard to this, and continued loading their muskets. General Duphot, one of the most brave and impetuous of men, leaped forward into the midst of the bayonets of the soldiers, prevented one from loading and struck up the gun of another, who was just upon the point of firing. Joseph and General Sherlock, as by instinct, followed him.
Some of the soldiers seized General Duphot, dragged him rudely beyond the sacred precincts of the ambassador's palace and the flag of France, and then a soldier discharged a musket into his bosom. The heroic general fell, and immediately painfully rose, leaning upon his sabre. Joseph, who witnessed it all, in the midst of this scene of indescribable confusion [Pg 61]called out to his friend, who the next day was to be his brother-in-law, to return. General Duphot attempted it, when a second shot prostrated him upon the pavement. More than fifty shots were then discharged into his lifeless body.
The soldiers now directed their fire upon Joseph and General Sherlock. Fortunately there was a door through which they escaped into the garden of the palace, where they were for a moment sheltered from the bullets of the assassins. Another company of Government troops had now arrived, and was firing from the other side of the street. Two French officers, from whom Joseph had been separated, now joined him and General Sherlock in the garden. There was nothing to prevent the soldiers from entering the palace, where Joseph's wife and her sister, who the next day was to have become the wife of General Duphot, were trembling in terror. Joseph and his friends regained the palace by the side of the garden. The court was now filled with the soldiers, and with the insurgents who had so foolishly and ignominiously caused this horrible scene. Twenty of the insurgents lay dead upon the pavement.
"I entered the palace," Joseph writes in his dispatch to Talleyrand; "the walks were covered with blood, with the dying, dragging themselves along, and with the wounded, loudly groaning. We closed the three gates fronting upon the street. The lamentations of the betrothed of Duphot, that young hero who, constantly in the advance-guard of the armies of the Pyrenees and of Italy, had always been victorious, butchered by cowardly brigands; the absence of her mother and of her brother, whom curiosity had drawn from the palace to see the monuments of Rome; the fusillade which continued in the streets, and against the gates of the palace; the outer apartments of the vast palace of Corsini, which I inhabited, thronged with people of whose intentions we were ignorant: these circumstances and many others rendered the scene inconceivably cruel."
Joseph immediately summoned the servants of the household around him. Three had been wounded. The French officers, impelled by an instinct of national pride, heroically emerged from the palace, with the aid of these domestics, to rescue the body of their unfortunate general. Taking a circuitous route, notwithstanding the fusillade which was still continued, they succeeded [Pg 63]in reaching the spot of his cowardly assassination. There they found the remains of this truly noble young man, despoiled, pierced with bullets, clotted with blood, and covered with stones which had been thrown upon him.
It was six o'clock in the evening. Two hours had elapsed since the assassination of Duphot; and yet not a member of the Roman Government had appeared at the palace to bring protection or to restore order. Joseph was, properly, very indignant, and resolved at once to call for his passports and leave the city. He wrote a brief note to the Secretary of State, and sent it by a faithful domestic, who succeeded in the darkness in passing through the crowd of soldiers. As the firing was still continued, Joseph and his friends anxiously watched the messenger from the attic windows of the palace till he was lost from sight.
An hour passed, and some one was heard knocking at the gate with repeated blows. They supposed that it was certainly the governor or some Roman officer of commanding authority. It proved to be Chevalier Angiolini, minister from Tuscany, the envoy of a prince who was in friendly alliance with the French Republic. As he passed through the [Pg 64]soldiery they stopped his carriage, and sarcastically asked him "if he were in search of dangers and bullet-wounds." He courageously and reproachfully replied, "There can be no such dangers in Rome within the jurisdiction of the ambassador of France." This was a severe reproach against the officers of a nation who were indebted to the moderation of the French Republic for their continued political existence. The minister of Spain soon also presented himself, braving all the dangers of the street, which were truly very great. They were both astonished that no public officer had arrived, and expressed much indignation in view of the violation of the rights of the Embassy.
Ten o'clock arrived, and still no public officer had made his appearance. Joseph wrote a second letter to the cardinal. An answer now came, which was soon followed by an officer and about forty men, who said that they had been sent to protect the ambassador's communications with the Secretary of State. But they had no authority or power to rescue the palace from the insurgents, who were crowded into one part of it, and from the Government troops, who occupied another part. No [Pg 65]attention had been paid to Joseph's reiterated demands for the liberation of the palace from the dominion of the insurgents and the troops.
Joseph then wrote to the secretary, demanding immediately his passport. It was sent to him two hours after midnight. At six o'clock in the morning, fourteen hours after the assassination of General Duphot, the investment of the palace by the troops and the massacre of the people who had crowded into it, not a single Roman officer had made his appearance charged by the Government to investigate the state of affairs.
Joseph, after having secured the safety of the few French remaining at Rome, left for Tuscany, and in a dispatch to the French Government minutely detailed the events which had occurred. In the conclusion of his dispatch he wrote:
"This Government is not inconsistent with itself. Crafty and rash in perpetrating crime, cowardly and fawning when it has been committed, it is to-day upon its knees before the minister Azara, that he may go to Florence and induce me to return to Rome. So writes to me that generous friend of France, worthy [Pg 66]of dwelling in a land where his virtues and his noble loyalty may be better appreciated."
In reply to this dispatch the French minister, Talleyrand, wrote to Joseph, "I have received, citizen, the heart-rending letter which you have written me upon the frightful events which transpired at Rome on the 28th of December. Notwithstanding the care which you have taken to conceal every thing personal to yourself during that horrible day, you have not been able to conceal from me that you have manifested, in the highest degree, courage, coolness, and that intelligence which nothing can escape; and that you have sustained with magnanimity the honor of the French name. The Directory charges me to express to you, in the strongest and most impressive terms, its extreme satisfaction with your whole conduct. You will readily believe, I trust, that I am happy to be the organ of these sentiments."
Joseph, after a short tarry at Florence, returned to Paris, where he again met his brother. Napoleon was much disappointed with the result of the embassy to Rome, for he had ardently hoped to cultivate the most friendly relations with that power. Joseph was favored with a long interview with the Directory, by whom he was received with great cordiality. In testimony of their satisfaction, they offered him the embassy to Berlin. He, however, declined the appointment, as he preferred to enter the Council of Five Hundred, to which office he had been nominated by the Electoral College of one of the departments. The Government of France then consisted of an Executive of five Directors, a Senate, called the Council of Ancients, and a House of Representatives, called the Council of Five Hundred.
Preparations were now making for the expedition [Pg 68]to Egypt. The command was offered to Napoleon. For some time he hesitated before accepting it. One day he said to his brother Joseph,
"The Directory see me here with uneasiness, notwithstanding all my efforts to throw myself into the shade. Neither the Directory nor I can do any thing to oppose that tendency to a more centralized government, which is so manifestly inevitable. Our dreams of a republic were the illusions of youth. Since the ninth Thermidor,[D] the Republican instinct has grown weaker every day. The efforts of the Bourbons, of foreigners, sustained by the remembrance of the year 1793, had re-united against the Republican system an imposing majority. But for the thirteenth Vendemiaire[E] and the eighteenth Fructidor,[F] this majority [Pg 69]would have triumphed a long time ago. The feebleness, the dissensions of the Directory, have done the rest. It is upon me that all eyes are fixed to-day. To-morrow they will be fixed upon some one else. While waiting for that other one to appear, if he is to appear, my interest tells me that no violence should be done to fortune. We must leave to fortune an open field.
"Many persons hope still in the Republic. Perhaps they have reason. I leave for the East, with all means for success. If my country has need of me—if the number of those who think with Talleyrand, Siéyes, and Roederer should increase, should war be resumed, and prove unfriendly to the arms of France, I shall return more sure of the opinion of the nation. If, on the contrary, the war should be favorable to the Republic, if a military statesman like myself should rise and gather around him the wishes of the people, very well, I shall render, perhaps, still greater services to the world in the East than he can do. I shall probably overthrow English domination, and shall arrive more surely at a maritime peace, than by the demonstrations which the Directory makes upon the shores of the Channel.
"The system of France must become that of Europe in order to be durable. We see thus very evidently what is required. I wish what the nation wishes. Truly I do not know what it wishes to-day, but we shall know better hereafter. Till then let us study its wishes and its necessities. I do not wish to usurp any thing. I shall, at all events, find renown in the East; and if that renown can be made serviceable to my country, I will return with it. I will then endeavor to secure the stability of the happiness of France in securing, if it is possible, the prosperity of Europe, and extending our free principles into neighboring states, who may be made friends if they can profit from our misfortunes."
"Such," says Joseph, "were the habitual thoughts of General Bonaparte. His happiness was not to depend merely upon the possession of power. He wished to merit the gratitude of his country and of posterity by his deeds, and to conform his life to duty, sure that it was by such renown alone that his name could pass down to future ages."
Joseph was now a member of the Council of Five Hundred. His brother Lucien, though he was still very young, had also been elected [Pg 71]a member of the same body. The brilliant achievements of the young conqueror in the East roused the enthusiasm of France. The conquest of Malta, the landing at Alexandria, the battle of the Pyramids, and the entrance into Cairo, had been reported through France, rousing in every hill and valley shouts of exultation. Napoleon was rapidly gaining that renown which would enable him to control and to guide his countrymen.
The Directory still nominally governed France, though the affairs of the nation, under their inefficiency and misrule, were passing rapidly to ruin. The Directors contemplated with alarm the rising celebrity which Napoleon was acquiring in the East. They made a formidable attack upon him, through a committee, in the Council of Five Hundred. Joseph defended his absent brother with so much eloquence and power, as to confound his accusers, and he obtained a unanimous verdict in his favor.
The state of things in France was now very deplorable. The Allies with vigor had renewed the war. The Austrian armies had again overrun Italy, and were threatening to scale the Alps, and to rush down upon the plains of France. The British fleet, the most [Pg 72]powerful military arm the world has ever known, had swept the commerce of France from all seas, had captured many of her colonies, and was bombarding, with shot and shell, every city of the Republic within reach of its broadsides. The five Directors were quarrelling among themselves, some favoring monarchy, others republicanism. The two councils, that of the Ancients and that of the Five Hundred, were at antagonism. Many formidable conspiracies were formed, some for the support of the Allies and the restoration of the Bourbons, others for the re-introduction of the Jacobinical Reign of Terror.
France was in a state of general anarchy. There was no man of sufficient celebrity to gain the confidence of the people, so that he could assume the office of leader, and bring order out of chaos. The once mighty monarchy of France was in the condition of a mob, without a head, careering this way and that way, in tumultuous and inextricable confusion. Joseph sent a special messenger, a Greek by the name of Bourbaki, to Jean d'Acre, to communicate to Napoleon the state of affairs.
Informed of these facts, at this momentous crisis Napoleon, having attained renown which [Pg 73]caused every eye in France to be fixed upon him, landed at Frejus, and was borne along, with the acclamations of the multitude, to Paris. Immediately upon the young general's arrival, General Moreau hastened to his humble residence in the Rue de la Victoire, and earnestly said to him,
"Disgusted with the government of the lawyers, who have ruined the Republic, I come to offer you my aid to save the country."
A number of the most distinguished men of France crowded the small parlors of General Bonaparte. As he was speaking, with that genius which ever commanded attention and assent, of the political condition and wants of France, Moreau interrupted him, saying,
"I only desire to unite my efforts with yours to save France. I am convinced that you only have the power. The generals and the officers who have served under me are now in Paris, and are ready to co-operate with you." The little saloon was crowded. General Macdonald was present. Generals Jourdan and Augereau had conversed with Salicetti, and reported that Bernadotte and a majority of the Council of Five Hundred were in favor of the movement.
Joseph co-operated diligently with Napoleon in the measures now set on foot to rescue France from destruction. Joseph dined with Siéyes. At the table Siéyes said to his guests,
"I wish to unite with General Bonaparte, for of all the military men he is the most of a statesman."
On the 18th Brumaire[G] the Directory was overthrown, and, without one drop of blood being shed, a new government was organized, and Napoleon was made consul. The world is divided, and perhaps may forever remain divided, in its judgment of this event. Some call Napoleon a usurper. France then called him, and still calls him, the saviour of his country.
In the midst of these tumultuary scenes, when it was uncertain whether Napoleon would gain his ends or fall upon the scaffold, General Augereau came, in great alarm, to St. Cloud, and informed Napoleon that his enemies in the two councils were proposing to vote him an outlaw.
"Very well," said Napoleon calmly, "you and I, General Augereau, have long been acquainted with each other. Say to your friends [Pg 75]the cork is drawn, we must now drink the wine."
Joseph Bonaparte, who a little before these events had withdrawn from the Council of Five Hundred, was with his brother constantly through these momentous scenes. Immediately after the establishment of the new government he was appointed a member of the legislative body, and soon after of the Council of State. Joseph had become a very wealthy man, having acquired a large fortune by his marriage. He owned a very beautiful estate at Mortfontaine, but a few leagues from Paris. Both Joseph and his wife were extremely fond of the quiet, domestic pleasures of rural life. Neither of them had any taste for the excitement and the splendors of state. But France, in her condition of peril, assailed by the allied despotism of Europe without, and agitated by conspiracies within, demanded the energies of every patriotic arm. Joseph was thus constrained to sacrifice his inclinations to his sense of duty. He rendered his brother invaluable assistance by the energy and the conciliatory manners with which he endeavored to carry out the plans of the First Consul. Lucien Bonaparte, eight years younger than [Pg 76]Joseph, accepted the post of Minister of the Interior.
Before the overthrow of the Directory mob law had reigned triumphant in Paris. Napoleon, as first consul, immediately took up his residence in the palace of the Tuileries. It was proposed to him that he should close the gates of the garden of the Tuileries, that it might no longer be a place of public resort. Joseph strenuously opposed the measure, and it was renounced. The great object Napoleon aimed at was to ascertain the wishes of the people, that he might be the executor of their will. His only power consisted in having cordially with him the masses of the population. He was untiring in his endeavors to ascertain public sentiment, and endeavored to adopt those measures which should, from their manifest wisdom and justice, secure public approbation. In this service Joseph was invaluable to his brother. He gave brilliant entertainments at his chateau at Mortfontaine; and being a man of remarkably amiable spirit and polished manners, he secured the confidence of all parties, and exerted a very powerful influence in healing the wounds of past strife. At these entertainments Joseph made it his constant object [Pg 77]to study the wishes and the opinions of the different classes of society.
The Directory had involved the public in serious difficulties with the United States. Napoleon immediately appointed Joseph, with two associates, to adjust all the differences between the two countries. As both parties were disposed to friendly relations, all difficulties were speedily terminated, and a treaty was signed on the 30th of September, 1800, at Joseph's mansion at Mortfontaine.
England and Austria, with great vigor, still pressed the war upon France, notwithstanding the earnest appeals of Napoleon to the King of England and the Emperor of Austria in behalf of peace. This refusal to sheathe the sword rendered the campaign of Marengo a necessity. Napoleon crossed the Alps, and upon the plains of Marengo almost demolished the armies of Austria. The haughty Emperor was compelled to sue for that peace which he had so scornfully rejected. The commissioners of the two powers met at Luneville. Napoleon, highly gratified at the skill which Joseph had displayed in adjusting the difficulties in the United States, appointed him as the ambassador from France to secure a treaty with Austria. [Pg 78]The two brothers were in daily, and sometimes in hourly conference in reference to the questions of vast national importance which this treaty involved. But Joseph was again entirely successful. On the 9th of February, 1801, the peace of Luneville was concluded, to the great satisfaction of the Emperor, and to the great gratification of France. Napoleon says, in the conclusion of a letter which he wrote to Joseph upon this subject, "The nation is satisfied with the treaty, and I am exceedingly pleased with it."
France was now at peace with all the Continent. England alone implacably continued the war. But England was inaccessible to any blows which France could strike without making efforts more gigantic than nation ever attempted before. Napoleon resolved to make these efforts to attain peace. He prepared almost to bridge the Channel with his fleet and gun-boats, that he might pour an army of invasion upon the shores of the belligerent isle, and thus compel the British to sheathe the sword. While these immense preparations were going on, the First Consul devoted his energies to the reconstruction of society in France.
Revolutionary fury had swept all the institutions of the past into chaotic ruin. The good and the bad had been alike demolished. Christianity had been entirely overthrown, her churches destroyed, and her priesthood either slaughtered upon the guillotine, or driven from the realm. France presented the revolting aspect of a mighty nation without morality, without religion, and without a God. The masses of the people, particularly in the rural districts of France, had become disgusted with the reign of vice and misery. They longed to enjoy again the quietude of the Sabbath morning, the tones of the Sabbath bell, the gathering of the congregations in the churches, and all those ministrations of religion which cheer the joyous hours of the bridal, and which convey solace to the chamber of death. The overwhelming majority of the people of France were Roman Catholics. Among the millions who peopled the extensive realm there were but a few thousands who were Protestants. Napoleon had not the power, even had he wished it, of establishing Protestantism as the national religion.
He therefore, in accordance with his policy of adopting those measures which were in accordance [Pg 80]with the wishes of the people, resolved to recognize the Catholic religion as the religion of France, while at the same time he enforced perfect liberty of conscience for all other religious sects. He also determined that all the high dignitaries of the Church should be appointed by the French Government, and not by the Pope. He deemed it not befitting the dignity of France, or in accordance with her interests, that a foreign potentate, by having the appointment of all the places of ecclesiastical power, should wield so immense an influence over the French people.
But to re-establish the Catholic religion, and to invest it with the supremacy which it had gained over the imaginations of men, it was necessary to bring the system under the paternal jurisdiction of the Pope, who throughout all Europe was the recognized father and head of the Church.
But the Pope was jealous of his power. He would be slow to consent that any officers of the Church should be appointed by any voice which did not emanate from the Vatican. It was also an established decree of the Church that heresy was a crime, meriting the severest punishment, both civil and ecclesiastical. The [Pg 81]Pope, therefore, could not consent that anywhere within his spiritual domain freedom of conscience should be tolerated. Under these circumstances, nothing could be more difficult than the accomplishment of the plan which Napoleon had proposed for the promotion of the peace and prosperity of France.
The eyes of the First Consul were immediately turned to his brother Joseph, as the most fitting man in France to conduct negotiations of so much delicacy and importance. He consequently was appointed, in conjunction with M. Cretet, Minister of the Interior, and the abbé Bernier, subsequently Bishop of Orleans, as commissioner on the part of France to a conference with the Holy See. The Pope sent, as his representatives, the cardinals Consalvi and Spina, and the father Caselli. Here again Joseph was entirely successful, and accomplished his mission by securing all those results which the First Consul so earnestly had desired.
The celebrated Concordat[H] was signed July [Pg 82]15th, 1801, at the residence of Joseph in Paris, in the Rue Faubourg St. Honoré. It was two o'clock in the morning when the signatures of the several commissioners were affixed to this important document.
"At the same hour," writes Joseph, "I became the father of a third infant, whose birth was saluted by the congratulations of the plenipotentiaries of the two great powers, and whose prosperity was augured by the envoys of the vicar of Christ. Their prayers have not been granted. A widow at thirty years of age, separated from her father, proscribed, as has been all the rest of her family, there only remains to her the consolation of reflecting that she has not merited her misfortunes."[I]
Thus did Napoleon re-establish the Christian religion throughout the whole territory of France. In this measure he was strenuously opposed by many of his leading officers, and by [Pg 83]the corrupt revolutionary circles of France, yet throughout all the rural districts the restoration of religion was received with boundless enthusiasm.
"The sound of the village bells," writes Alison, "again calling the faithful to the house of God, was hailed by millions as the dove with the olive-branch, which first pronounced peace to the green, undeluged earth. The thoughtful and religious everywhere justly considered the voluntary return of a great nation to the creed of its fathers, from the experienced impossibility of living without its precepts, as the most signal triumph which has occurred since it ascended the imperial throne under the banners of Constantine."
Nearly all the powers upon the Continent of Europe were now at peace with France. England alone still refused to sheathe the sword. But the people of England began to remonstrate so determinedly against this endless war, which was openly waged to force upon France a detested dynasty, that the English Government was compelled, though with much reluctance, to listen to proposals for peace.
The latter part of the year 1801, the plenipotentiaries [Pg 84]of France and England met at Amiens, an intermediate point between London and Paris. England appointed, as her ambassador, Lord Cornwallis, a nobleman of exalted character, and whose lofty spirit of honor was superior to every temptation. "The First Consul," writes Thiers, "on this occasion made choice of his brother Joseph, for whom he had a very particular affection, and who, by the amenity of his manners, and mildness of his character, was singularly well adapted for a peace-maker, an office which had been constantly reserved for him."
Napoleon, who had nothing to gain by war, was exceedingly anxious for peace with all the world, that he might reconstruct French society from the chaos into which revolutionary anarchy had plunged it, and that he might develop the boundless resources of France. Lord Cornwallis was received in Paris, with the utmost cordiality by Napoleon. Joseph Bonaparte gave, in his honor, a magnificent entertainment, to which all the distinguished Englishmen in France were invited, and also such Frenchmen of note as he supposed Lord Cornwallis would be glad to meet.
La Fayette was not invited. Cornwallis had [Pg 85]commanded an army in America, where he had met La Fayette on fields of blood, and where he subsequently, with his whole army, had been taken prisoner. Joseph thought that painful associations might be excited in the bosom of his English guest by meeting his successful antagonist. He therefore, from a sense of delicacy, avoided bringing them together. But Cornwallis was a man of generous nature. As he looked around upon the numerous guests assembled at the table, he said to Joseph,
"I know that the Marquis de la Fayette is one of your friends. It would have given me much pleasure to have met him here. I do not, however, complain of your diplomatic caution. I suppose that you did not wish to introduce to me at your table the general of Georgetown. I thank you for your kind intention, which I fully appreciate. But I hope that when we know each other better, we shall banish all reserve, and not act as diplomatists, but as men who sincerely desire to fulfill the wishes of their governments, and to arrive promptly at a solid peace. Moreover, the Marquis de la Fayette is one of those men whom we can not help loving. During his captivity I presented myself before the Emperor [Pg 86](of Germany) to implore his liberation, which I did not have the happiness of obtaining."
Cornwallis left Paris for Amiens. Joseph immediately after proceeded to the same place. As he alighted from his carriage in the court-yard of the hotel which had been prepared for him, one of the first persons whom he met was Lord Cornwallis. The English lord, disregarding the formalities of etiquette, advanced, and presenting his hand to Joseph, said,
"I hope that it is thus that you will deal with me, and that all our etiquette will not retard for a single hour the conclusion of peace. Such forms are not necessary where frankness and honest intentions rule. My Government would not have chosen me as an ambassador, if it had not been intended to restore peace to the world. The First Consul, in choosing his brother, has also proved his good intentions. The rest remains for us."
Louis Napoleon gives the following rather amusing account of this incident. "When Joseph, plenipotentiary of the French Republic, journeyed with his colleagues toward Amiens, to conclude peace with England, in 1802, they were much occupied, he said, during the [Pg 89]route, as to the ceremonial which should be observed with the English diplomatists. In the interests of their mission they desired not to fail in any proprieties. Still, being representatives of a republican state, they did not wish to show too much attention, prévenance, to the grand English lords with whom they were to treat.
"The French ambassadors were therefore much embarrassed in deciding to whom it belonged to make the first visit. Quite inexperienced, they were not aware that foreign diplomatists always conceal the inflexibility of their policy under the suppleness of forms. Thus they were promptly extricated from their embarrassment; for, to their great astonishment, they found, upon their arrival at Amiens, Lord Cornwallis waiting for them at the door of his hotel, and who, without any ceremony, himself opened for them the door of their carriage, giving them a cordial grasp of the hand."[J]
Lord Cornwallis, however, found himself incessantly embarrassed by instructions he was receiving from the ministry at London. They were very reluctantly consenting to peace, being forced to it by the pressure of public opinion. [Pg 90]They were, therefore, hoping that obstacles would arise which would enable them, with some plausibility, to renew the war. Napoleon continually wrote to his brother urging him to do every thing in his power to secure the signing of the treaty. In a letter on the 10th of March, he writes,
"The differences at Amiens are not worth making such a noise about. A letter from Amiens caused the alarm in London by asserting that I did not wish for peace. Under these circumstances delay will do real mischief, and may be of great consequence to our squadrons and our expeditions. Have the kindness, therefore, to send special couriers to inform me of what you are doing, and of what you hear; for it is clear to me that, if the terms of peace are not already signed, there is a change of plans in London."
The treaty was signed on the 25th of March, 1802. Joseph immediately prepared to return to Paris. Lord Cornwallis, in taking leave of Joseph, said,
"I must go as soon as possible to London, in order to allay the storm which will there be gathering against me."
"When I arrived in Paris," writes Joseph, [Pg 91]"the First Consul was at the opera; he caused me to enter into his box, and presented me to the public in announcing the conclusion of the peace. One can easily imagine the emotions which agitated me, and also him, for he was as tender a friend, and as kind a brother, as he was prodigious as a man and great as a sovereign."
Bernardin de St. Pierre, in his preface to "Paul and Virginia," renders the following homage to the character of Joseph at this time:
"About a year and a half ago I was invited by one of the subscribers to the fine edition of Paul and Virginia to come and see him at his country-house. He was a young father of a family, whose physiognomy announced the qualities of his mind. He united in himself every thing which distinguishes as a son, a brother, a husband, a father, and a friend to humanity. He took me in private, and said, 'My fortune, which I owe to the nation, affords me the means of being useful. Add to my happiness by giving me an opportunity of contributing to your own.' This philosopher, so worthy of a throne, if any throne were worthy of him, was Prince Joseph Napoleon Bonaparte."
While the treaty of Amiens was under discussion, Talleyrand wrote to Joseph: "Your lot will indeed be a happy one if you are able to secure for your brother that peace which alone his enemies fear. I embrace you, and I love you. I think that this affair will kill me unless it is closed as we desire."
At the conclusion of the treaty, Talleyrand again wrote: "My dear Joseph,—Citizen Dupuis has just arrived. He has been received by the First Consul as the bearer of such good, grand, glorious news as you have just sent by him should be received. Your brother is perfectly satisfied (parfaitement content").
Madame de Staël wrote to Joseph: "Peace with England is the joy of the world. It adds to my joy that it is you who have promoted it, and that every year you have some new occasion to make the whole nation love and applaud you. You have terminated the most important negotiation in the history of France. That glory will be without any alloy."
The peace of Amiens was of short duration. In May, 1803—but fourteen months after the signing of the treaty—England again renewed hostilities without even a declaration of war. This was the signal for new scenes of blood and woe. Napoleon now resolved to assail his implacable foe by carrying his armies into the heart of England. Enormous preparations were made upon the French coast to transport a resistless force across the Channel. Joseph Bonaparte was placed in command of a regiment of the line, which had recently returned, with great renown, from the fields of Italy.
In the midst of these preparations, which excited fearful apprehensions in England, the British Government succeeded in organizing another coalition with Austria and Russia, to fall upon France in the rear. The armies of [Pg 94]these gigantic Northern powers commenced their march toward the Rhine. Napoleon broke up the camp of Boulogne and advanced to meet them. The immortal campaigns of Ulm and Austerlitz were the result. Incredible as it may seem, England represented this as an unprovoked invasion of Germany by Napoleon. This incessant assault of the Allies upon France was a great grief to the Emperor. In the midst of all the distractions which preceded this triumphant march, he wrote to his Minister of Finance:
"I am distressed beyond measure at the necessities of my situation, which, by compelling me to live in camps, and engage in distant expeditions, withdraw my attention from what would otherwise be the chief object of my anxiety, and the first wish of my heart—a good and solid organization of all which concerns the interests of banks, manufactures, and commerce."
While Napoleon was absent upon this campaign, Joseph was left in Paris, to attend to the administration of home affairs. This he did, much to the satisfaction of Napoleon, and with great honor to himself. Napoleon was now [Pg 95]Emperor of France, and the Senate and the people had declared Joseph and his children heirs of the throne, on failure of Napoleon's issue.
A gigantic conspiracy was formed in England by Count d'Artois, subsequently Charles X., and other French emigrants, for the assassination of Napoleon. The plan was for a hundred resolute men, led by the desperate George Cadoudal, to waylay Napoleon when passing, as was his wont, with merely a small guard of ten outriders, from the Tuileries to Malmaison. The conspirators flattered themselves that this would be considered war, not assassination. The Bourbons were then to raise their banner in France, and the emigrants, lingering upon the frontiers, were to rush into the empire with the Allied armies, and re-establish the throne of the old régime. The Princes of Condé grandfather, son, and grandson, were then in the service and pay of Great Britain, fighting against their native land, and, by the laws of France traitors, exposed to the penalty of death. The grandson, the Duke d'Enghien, was on the French frontier, in the duchy of Baden, waiting for the signal to enter France arms in hand.
It was supposed that he was actively engaged in the conspiracy for the assassination, as he was known frequently to enter France by night and in disguise. But it afterward appeared that these journeys were to visit a young lady to whom the duke was much attached.
Napoleon, supposing that the duke was involved in the conspiracy, and indignant in view of these repeated plots, in which the Bourbons seemed to regard him but as a wild beast whom they could shoot down at their pleasure, resolved to teach them that he was not thus to be assailed with impunity. A detachment of soldiers was sent across the border, who arrested the duke in his bed, brought him to Vincennes, where he was tried by court-martial, condemned as a traitor waging war against his native country, and, by a series of accidents, was shot before Napoleon had time to extend that pardon which he intended to grant. The friends of Napoleon do not severely censure him for this deed. His enemies call it wanton murder. Joseph thus speaks of this event:
"The catastrophe of the Duke d'Enghien requires of me some details too honorable to [Pg 99]the memory of Napoleon for me to pass them by in silence. Upon the arrival of the duke at Vincennes, I was in my home at Mortfontaine. I was sent for to Malmaison. Scarcely had I arrived at the gate when Josephine came to meet me, very much agitated, to announce the event of the day. Napoleon had consulted Cambaceres and Berthier, who were in favor of the prisoner; but she greatly feared the influence of Talleyrand, who had already made the tour of the park with Napoleon.
"'Your brother,' said she, 'has called for you several times. Hasten to interrupt this long interview; that lame man makes me tremble.'
"When I arrived at the door of the saloon, the First Consul took leave of M. de Talleyrand, and called me. He expressed his astonishment at the great diversity of opinion of the two last persons whom he had consulted, and demanded mine. I recalled to him his political principles, which were to govern all the factions by taking part with none. I recalled to him the circumstance of his entry into the artillery in consequence of the encouragement which the Prince of Condé had given me to commence a military career. I still remembered the quatrain [Pg 100]of the verses composed by the abbé Simon:
"'Condé! quel nom, l'univers le vénère;
A ce pays il est cher à jamais;
Mars l'honore pendant la guerre,
Et Minerve pendant la paix.'[K]
"Little did we then think that we should ever be deliberating upon the fate of his grandson. Tears moistened the eyes of Napoleon. With a nervous gesture, which always with him accompanied a generous thought, he said, 'His pardon is in my heart, since it is in my power to pardon him. But that is not enough for me. I wish that the grandson of Condé should serve in our armies. I feel myself sufficiently strong for that.'
"With these impressions I returned to Mortfontaine. The family were at the dinner-table. I took a seat by the side of Madame de Staël, who had at her left M. Mathieu de Montmorency. Madame de Staël, with the assurance which I gave her of the intention of the First Consul to pardon a descendant of the great Condé, exclaimed in characteristic language,
"'Ah! that is right; if it were not so, we should not see here M. Mathieu de Montmorency.'
"But another nobleman present, who had not emigrated, said to me, on the contrary: 'Will it then be permitted to the Bourbons to conspire with impunity? The First Consul is deceived if he think that the nobles who have not emigrated, and particularly the historic nobility, take any deep interest in the Bourbons.' Several others present expressed the same views.
"The next day, upon my return to Malmaison, I found Napoleon very indignant against Count Real; whose motives he accused, reproaching him with having employed in his government certain men too much compromised in the great excesses of the Revolution. The Duke d'Enghien had been condemned and executed even before the announcement of his trial had been communicated to Napoleon.
"Subsequently he was convinced of the innocence of Real, and of the strange fatality which had caused him for a moment to appear culpable in his eyes. In the mean time, resuming self-control, he said to me, 'Another opportunity has been lost. It would have been admirable to have had, as aid-de-camp, [Pg 102]the grandson of the great Condé. But of that there can be no more question. The blow is irremediable. Yes; I was sufficiently strong to allow a descendant of the great Condé to serve in our armies. But we must seek consolation. Undoubtedly, if I had been assassinated by the agents of the family, he would have been the first to have shown himself in France, arms in his hands. I must take the responsibility of the deed. To cast it upon others, even with truth, would have too much the appearance of cowardice, for me to be willing to do it.'
"Napoleon," continues Joseph, "has never appeared with greater éclat than under these sad and calamitous circumstances. I only learned, several years afterward, in the United States, from Count Real himself, the details of that which passed at the time of the death of the Duke d'Enghien. It was at New York, in the year 1825, at Washington Hall, where we met, by an arrangement with M. Le Ray de Chaumont, the proprietor of some lands, a portion of which he had sold to me and to M. Real, that he informed me how a simple emotion of impatience on his part had very involuntarily the effect of preventing the kindly [Pg 103]feeling which the First Consul cherished in favor of the Duke d'Enghien.
"M. Real, one of the four counsellors of state charged with the police of France, had charge of the arrondissement of Paris and of Vincennes. A dispatch was sent to him in the night, informing him of the condemnation of the prince. The police clerk, attending in the chamber which opened into his apartment, had already awoke him twice for reasons of but little importance, which had quite annoyed M. Real. The third dispatch was therefore placed upon his chimney, and did not meet his eye until a late hour in the morning.
"Opening it, he hastened to Malmaison, where he was preceded by an officer of the gendarmerie, who brought information of the condemnation and execution of the prince. The commission had judged, from the silence of the Government, that he was not to be pardoned. I need not dwell upon the regret, the impatience, the indignation of Napoleon."
The crown of Lombardy was, about this time, offered to Joseph, which he declined, as he did not wish to separate himself from France. The kingdom of Naples was now influenced by England to make an attack upon [Pg 104]Napoleon. The King of Naples supposed that France could be easily vanquished, with England, Russia, Austria, and Naples making a simultaneous attack upon her. But the great victory of Austerlitz, which compelled Austria and Russia to withdraw from the coalition, struck the perfidious King of Naples with dismay. France had done him no wrong, and the only apology the Neapolitan Court had for commencing hostilities was, that if the French were permitted to dethrone the Bourbons and to choose their own rulers, the Neapolitan might claim the same privilege.
A few days after the battle of Austerlitz Joseph received orders from his brother to hasten to the Italian Peninsula, and take command of the Army of Italy, and march upon Naples. The King of Naples had, in addition to his own troops, fourteen thousand Russians and several thousand English auxiliaries. Joseph placed himself at the head of forty thousand French troops, and in February, 1806, entered the kingdom of Naples. The Neapolitans could make no effectual resistance. Joseph soon arrived before Capua, a fortified town about fifteen miles north of the metropolis of the kingdom. Eight thousand of the [Pg 105]Neapolitan troops took refuge in the citadel, and made some show of resistance. They soon, however, were compelled to surrender.
The Neapolitan Court was in a state of consternation. The English precipitately embarked in their ships and fled to Sicily. The Russians escaped to Corfu. The Court, having emptied the public coffers, and even the vaults of the bank, took refuge in Palermo, on the island of Sicily. The prince royal, with a few troops of the Neapolitan army, who adhered to the old monarchy, retreated two or three hundred miles south, to the mountains of Calabria. On the 15th of February, Joseph, at the head of his troops, marched triumphantly into Naples. He not only encountered no resistance, but the population, regarding him as a liberator, received him with acclamations of joy.
On the 30th of March, 1806, Napoleon issued a decree, declaring Joseph king of Naples. The decret was as follows:
"Napoleon, by the grace of God and the constitutions, Emperor of the French and King of Italy, to all those to whom these presents come, salutation.
"The interests of our people, the honor of [Pg 106]our crown, and the tranquillity of the Continent of Europe requiring that we should assure, in a stable and definite manner, the lot of the people of Naples and of Sicily, who have fallen into our power by the right of conquest, and who constitute a part of the grand empire, we declare that we recognize, as King of Naples and of Sicily, our well-beloved brother, Joseph Napoleon, Grand Elector of France. This crown will be hereditary, by order of primogeniture, in his descendants masculine, legitimate, and natural," etc.
The former Government of Naples was detested by the whole people. The warmest advocates of the Allies have never yet ventured to utter a word in its defense. Even the grandees of the realm were heartily glad to be rid of their dissolute, contemptible, and tyrannical queen, who regarded the inhabitants of the kingdom but as her slaves, and the wealth of the kingdom but as her personal dowry, to be squandered for the gratification of herself and her favorites. With great energy Joseph immediately commenced a reform in all the administrative departments. He carefully sought out Neapolitan citizens of integrity, intelligence, and influence, to occupy the important [Pg 107]public stations. Accompanied by a guard of chosen men, he made a tour of the country; thus informing himself, by personal observation, of the character of the inhabitants, and of the wants and capabilities of the kingdom. It was indeed a gloomy prospect of indolence and poverty which presented itself to his eye, though the climate was enchanting, with its genial temperature, its brilliant skies, and its fertile soil. The landscape combined all the elements of sublimity and of beauty, with towering mountains and lovely meadows, streams and lakes watering the interior, and harbors inviting the commerce of the world. But the condition of the populace was wretched in the extreme. The Government, despotic and corrupt, seized all the earnings of the people, and consigned nearly the whole population to penury and rags. King Ferdinand and his dissolute queen, Louisa, made an effort to rouse the people to resist the French. Their efforts were, however, entirely in vain. Joseph issued the following proclamation to the Neapolitans, which they read with great satisfaction:
"People of the kingdom of Naples; the Emperor of the French, King of Italy, wishing [Pg 108]to save you from the calamities of war, had signed, with your Court, a treaty of neutrality. He believed that in that way he could secure your tranquillity, in the midst of the vast conflagration with which the third coalition has menaced Europe. But the Court of Naples has zealously allied itself with our enemies, and has opened its states to the Russians and to the English.
"The Emperor of the French, whose justice equals his power, wishes to give a signal example, commanded by the honor of his crown, by the interests of his people, and by the necessity of re-establishing in Europe the respect which is due to public faith.
"The army which I command is on the march to punish this perfidy. But you, the people, have nothing to fear. It is not against you that our arms are directed. The altars, the ministers of your religion, your laws, your property, will be respected. The French soldiers will be your brothers. If, contrary to the benevolent intentions of his majesty, the Court which excites you will sacrifice you, the French army is so powerful that all the forces promised to your princes, even if they were on your territory, could not defend it. People! [Pg 109]have no solicitude. This war will be for you the epoch of a solid peace, and of durable prosperity."
Ferdinand, upon retiring to the island of Sicily, had swept the continental coast of every vessel and even boat. Joseph thus found it quite impossible to transport his troops across the strait of Messina to pursue the fugitive king. He, however, made a very thorough survey of the continental kingdom, and having planned many measures of internal improvement of vast magnitude, which were subsequently executed, he returned to Naples. He was here received with congratulations by all classes of his subjects.
The clergy, led by Cardinal Ruffo, and even the nobility, vied with each other in their expressions of satisfaction in a change of dynasty. The great majority of the most intelligent people in the kingdom were weary of the corrupt Court which, swaying the sceptre of feudal despotism, had consigned Naples to indolence, dilapidation, and penury. Joseph immediately selected the most distinguished Neapolitans as members of his council. He made every effort to introduce into his kingdom all the benefits which the French Revolution had [Pg 110]brought to France, while he carefully sought to avoid the evils which accompanied that great popular movement.
Though Joseph soon found himself firmly seated on the throne, war still lingered along the coasts, and in the more remote parts of his kingdom. The fortress of Gaëta, almost impregnable, was still held by a garrison of Ferdinand's troops. Marauding bands of Neapolitans, lured by love of plunder, infested and pillaged the unprotected districts. The English fleet was hovering along the coast, watching for opportunities of assault. It landed an army at the Gulf of St. Euphemia, and discomfited a small division of Joseph's troops. Thus the kingdom was in a general state of disorder wherever the influence of Joseph was not sensibly felt.
But the wise and energetic measures he adopted removed one after another of these evils. He found but little difficulty in persuading all those who co-operated with him in the government, both French and Neapolitans, that the interests of each individual class in the community were dependent upon the elevation and improvement of the whole country; and it is a remarkable fact that the principal [Pg 111]noblemen in Naples were among the first to appreciate and adopt the great ideas of reform which Joseph introduced. Influenced by his arguments, they, of their own accord, relinquished their feudal privileges, and adopted those principles of equal rights upon which the empire of Napoleon was founded, and which gave it its almost omnipotent hold upon popular affections. Even the ecclesiastics, men of commanding character and intelligence, who had been introduced into the Council of State, voted for the suppression of monastic orders, and for the use of their funds to place the credit of the kingdom upon a solid basis.
Reform was thus extended, wisely and efficiently, through all the departments of Government. And though the masses of the people, being illiterate peasants, incapable of any intelligent administration of public affairs, had but little voice in the Government, every thing was done for their welfare that enlightened patriotism could suggest. All writers, friends and foes, agree alike in their testimony to the wise measures adopted by Joseph. He founded colleges for the instruction of young men, and many other institutions of a high character for male and female education. Splendid [Pg 112]roads were constructed from one extremity of the kingdom to the other; manufactories of various kinds were established and encouraged; the arts were rewarded; agriculture received a new impulse; the army was efficiently organized and brought under salutary discipline; a topographical bureau was created, the whole kingdom carefully surveyed, and a fine map constructed. The mouldering ramparts of the city were rebuilt, and new fortresses reared.
Naples had for ages been filled with a miserable idle population, called lazzaroni. They infested the streets and the squares, and were devoured by vermin, and half-covered with rags. With no incitement to industry, indeed with hardly the possibility of obtaining any work, they had fallen into the most abject state of vice and despair. These men, in large numbers, were collected, comfortably clothed, well fed, well paid, and were employed in constructing a new and splendid avenue to the metropolis. Made happy by industry, and inspired by its sure reward, they became contented and useful subjects.
The Ministry of the Interior was confided to Count Miot. It was his duty to devote all [Pg 113]his energies to promote the interests of agriculture, commerce, manufactures, the arts, the sciences, public instruction, and all liberal institutions. The country had been filled with brigands, rioting in violence, robbery, and murder. To repress their excesses, Joseph established a military commission with each army corps, whose duty it was to judge and execute, without appeal, the brigands taken with arms in their hands.
The English fleet commanded the Mediterranean. The Neapolitan troops, under the command of Ferdinand, had fled to Calabria, and, under the protection of the English fleet had crossed the straits of Messina to the island of Sicily. The British squadron then swept the coasts of Calabria, applying the torch to all the public property which could not be carried away. While these scenes were transpiring, Napoleon wrote to Joseph almost daily, giving him very minute directions. He wrote to him on the 12th of January, 1806: "Speak seriously to M—— and to L——, and say that you will have no robberies. M—— robbed much in the Venetian country. I have recalled S—— to Paris for that reason. He is a bad man. Maintain severe discipline."
Again he wrote on the 19th: "It is my intention that the Bourbons should cease to reign at Naples. I wish to place upon that throne a prince of my family; you first, if that is agreeable to you; another, if that is not agreeable to you. The country ought to furnish food, clothing, horses, and every thing that is necessary for your army; so that it shall cost me nothing."
Again, on the 27th, Napoleon wrote from Paris: "I have only to congratulate myself with all that you did while you remained in Paris. Receive my thanks, and, as a testimony of my satisfaction, my portrait upon a snuff-box, which I will forward by the first officer I send to you. Tolerate no robbers. I have just received a letter from the Queen of Naples. I shall not reply. After the violation of the treaty, I can no longer trust her promises."
Again, on the 3d of February, 1806, he writes: "Believe in my friendship. Do not listen to those who wish to keep you out of fire, loin du feu. It is necessary that you should establish your reputation, if there should be opportunity. Place yourself conspicuously. As to real danger, it is everywhere in war."
The Prince-royal of Naples wrote a letter to [Pg 115]Joseph, with the hope of regaining his crown. He stated that the King and Queen had abdicated in favor of their son. Joseph replied that he could not listen to the appeal; that he could only execute the orders which he received, and that the application was too late.
The city of Gaëta was one of the strongest positions in Europe. The troops of Ferdinand maintained a siege there for many months. They were very efficiently aided by the British fleet, which brought them continual re-enforcements and supplies. Its capture was considered one of the most brilliant achievements in modern warfare. There was now not a spot upon the Continent of Europe where a flag floated in avowed hostility to France. Ferdinand of Naples, with a small army, had fled to the island of Sicily, where, for a short time, he was protected by the British fleet.
In the mean time King Joseph was devoting himself untiringly and with great wisdom to the development of the new institutions of reform, and of equal rights for all, which everywhere accompanied the French banners. Marshal Massena was sent to the provinces of Calabria to put a stop to brigandage. The brigands were merciless. Severe reprisals became necessary. [Pg 116]The British fleet, under Sir Sidney Smith, hovered along the shores of the gulfs of Salerno and of Naples, striving to rouse and encourage resistance to the new Government.
There was a renowned bandit, named Michael Pozza, who, from his energy and atrocities, had acquired the sobriquet of Fra Diavolo, or brother of the devil. His bands, widely scattered, were at times concentrated, and waged fierce battle. Gradually French discipline gained upon them. Large numbers of the Neapolitans, hating the old régime, and glad to be rid of it, enlisted in defense of the new institutions. The robbers were at length cut to pieces. Fra Diavolo escaped to the mountains, where he was taken and shot. In this warfare with the brigands, the Neapolitan troops, emboldened by the presence and protection of the French army, displayed very commendable courage.
While engaged in these warlike operations, through his able generals, Joseph was much occupied with the employment, more congenial to him, of conducting the interior administration. It was his first endeavor to eradicate every vestige of the old despotism of feudalism—a system perhaps necessary in its day, but which time had outgrown. The whole political [Pg 117]edifice was laid upon the foundation of the absolute equality of rights of all the citizens—a principle until then unknown in Naples. There had been no gradations in society. There were a few families of extreme opulence, enjoying rank and exclusive privileges, and then came the almost beggared masses, with no incentives to exertion. The enervating climate induced indolence. Life could be maintained with but little clothing, and but little food. The cities and villages swarmed with half-clad multitudes, vegetating in a joyless existence.
Joseph gave his earnest attention to rousing the multitude from this apathy. He thought that one of the most important means to awaken a love of industry was to make these poor people, as far as possible, landed proprietors. The man who owns land, though the portion may be small, is almost resistlessly impelled to cultivate it. His ambition being thus roused, his intellectual and social condition becomes ameliorated, and he is prepared to take part, as a citizen, in the administration of affairs. A new division of territory was created into provinces and districts, in which the prominent men, who were imbued with the spirit of reform, were appointed to the administration of local interests. [Pg 118]Still many of the old nobility struggled hard to maintain their feudal power. But resolutely Joseph proceeded in laying the foundations of a national representation, derived from popular election, which should be the organ of the whole nation, to make known to the King the wishes and necessities of the people.
This was an immense stride in the direction of a popular government It endangered the feudal privilege, which upheld the throne and the castle, in other lands. Hence it was that the throne and the castle combined to overthrow institutions so republican in their tendencies.
The whole system of administration had been awfully corrupt. Justice was almost unknown. All the tribunals were concentrated in the city of Naples. There were tens of thousands of prisoners, very many for political offenses, awaiting trial. In the provinces of Calabria Joseph appointed judicial commissions to attend to these cases. In three months about five thousand prisoners had a hearing. Many of them had been detained over twenty years. Not a few were incarcerated through malicious accusations. Those guilty of some slight offense were imprisoned with assassins, all alike [Pg 119]exposed to the damp of dungeons and infected air.
A system of very effective prison reform was immediately established by Joseph. The prisoners were placed in apartments large and well-ventilated. They were separated in accordance with the nature of the offenses of which they were accused. Distinct prisons were appropriated to females. Hospitals were established for the sick of both sexes, with every necessary arrangement for the restoration of health.
A thorough reform was introduced into the finances. Under the old régime, all had been confusion and oppression. The only object of the Government seemed to be to get all it could. In the country the people often were compelled to pay their lords not only money, but also very onerous personal services. This was all remedied by the adoption of an impartial system of taxation. And it was found that the new imposts, honestly collected, were far less oppressive to the people, and more in amount.
The overthrow of the feudal system placed at the disposal of the State a vast amount of land which had been uncultivated. This was divided among a large number of people, who [Pg 120]paid for it an annual sum into the treasury. Thus the welfare of these individuals was greatly promoted, and the resources of the State increased.
And now Joseph turned his attention to public instruction. The last Government had been opposed to education. It had entered into open warfare against the sciences, prohibiting the introduction of the most important foreign publications. Joseph immediately established schools for primary instruction all over the realm. Normal schools were organized for the education of teachers. In the smallest hamlets teachers were provided to instruct the children in the elements of the Christian religion, and school-mistresses, who, in addition to the same lessons, were to teach the young girls the duties proper to their sex.
This impulse to education spread rapidly through all the provinces. The free schools established in Naples were soon so crowded that it became necessary to add to their number. The university at Naples, frowned upon by the former Government, had fallen into deep decline. Nineteen chairs of professors were vacant. Others were occupied, but their duties quite neglected. The university was [Pg 121]reorganized in accordance with the enlightenment of modern times. New professorships were endowed in the place of those which had become useless. Especial efforts were made to secure learned men for those chairs from the kingdom of Naples. But education was at so low an ebb that it was necessary to obtain several professors from abroad. Everywhere a thirst for knowledge seemed to manifest itself.
These reforms were exceedingly popular with the great majority of the Neapolitans. But there were not wanting those who opposed them. There were those of the privileged class who had been enriched by the ignorance and debasement of the people. These men began gradually to develop their opposition. Joseph had endeavored to employ Neapolitans as much as possible in the Government. He employed Frenchmen in the military and civil service only where he could find no Neapolitans equal to the post. Some of the Neapolitans, jealous of French influence, while also secretly clinging to ancient abuses, began cautiously the attempt to retard these reforms. Joseph listened patiently to their objections in cabinet council, and then said:
"I have carefully followed a discussion which relates so intimately to the public welfare. I had hoped to hear reasons. I have heard only passions. I look in vain for any indications of love of country in the objections to the proposed laws. I must say that I see only the spirit of party."
He then examined, one by one, the objections which had been brought forward, and added, "Do you think, gentlemen, that I am willing to sustain these exclusive privileges? We have not destroyed these Gothic institutions, the remnants of barbarism, in order to reconstruct them under other forms. And can any of you cherish the thought that this resistance, which ought to surprise me, can induce me to retrograde toward institutions condemned by the spirit of the age? No; too long have the people groaned under the weight of intolerable abuses. They shall be delivered from them. If obstacles arise, be assured that I shall know how to remove them."
The fine arts were also languishing, with every thing else, under the execrable régime of the Bourbons of Naples. But the taste for the fine arts survived their decay. The new Government instituted schools of art under [Pg 123]the direction of the most skillful masters. Painting, drawing, sculpture, engraving, all received a new impulse.
There were difficulties to be encountered in this attempt to regenerate an utterly depraved state more than can now be easily imagined. He who should attempt to erect a modern mansion upon the ruins of the Castle of Heidelberg would find more difficulty in removing the old foundations than in rearing the new structure. Thus Joseph found ancient abuses, hallowed by time, and oppressive institutions interwoven with the very life of the people, which it was necessary utterly to abolish or greatly to modify. The monastic institution was one of these. The land was filled with gloomy monasteries, crowded with idle, useless, and often dissolute monks. There had been in past ages seasons of persecution, in which the refuge of these sanctuaries was needed, but the spirit of the age no longer required them. They had rendered signal service in times of barbarism, but it was no longer needful for religion to hide in the obscurity of the cloister.
"Altars," said Joseph, "are now erected in the interior of families. The regular clergy respond to the wants of the people. The love [Pg 124]of the arts and of the sciences, widely diffused, and the colonial, commercial, and military spirit constrain all the Governments of Europe to direct to important objects the genius, activity, and pecuniary resources of their nations. The support of considerable land and sea forces involves the necessity of great reforms in other departments of the general economy of the State. The first duty of peoples and princes is to place themselves in a condition of defense against the aggressions of their enemies. Still we do not forget that we ought to reconcile these principles with the respect with which we should cherish those celebrated places which, in barbaric ages, preserved the sacred fire of reason, and which became the dépôt of human knowledge."
The debates upon this subject in the Council of State were long and animated. The peasantry, ignorant and superstitious, clung to their old prejudices, and could not easily throw aside the shackles of ages. Many of these religious communities were wealthy, the recipients of immense sums bequeathed to them by the dying. There was no legal right, no right but that of revolution and the absolute necessities of the State, for wresting this property [Pg 125]from them. But it was manifest to every intelligent mind that the Neapolitan kingdom could never emerge from the stagnation of semi-barbarism without the entire overthrow of many, and the radical reform of the remainder of these institutions.
At length a law, very carefully matured, was enacted, suppressing a large number of these religious orders, and introducing essential changes into those which were permitted to survive. The possessions of those which were abolished, generally consisting of large tracts of land, reverted to the State, and were sold at auction in small farms. The money thus raised helped replenish the bankrupt treasury. The poor monks, expelled from their cells, with no habits of industry, and no means of obtaining a support, received a life pension, amounting to a little more than one hundred dollars a year.
The three abbeys of Mount Cassin, Cava, and Monte Verginè contained very considerable libraries, and were the dépôts of important records and manuscripts. These were intrusted to the keeping of a select number of the most intelligent monks. It was their duty to arrange and catalogue the books and manuscripts, [Pg 126]and to search out those works which could throw light upon the sciences, the arts, and the past history of the realm. They retained the buildings, the necessary furniture, and received a small additional stipend.
There were some passes through the mountains which were perilous in the winter season. Upon these bleak eminences houses of refuge were erected, to shelter travellers and to help them on their way. In each of these twenty-five monks were placed. Their labors were arduous, as often all the necessaries of life had to be brought upon their backs from the plains below. They received a frugal but comfortable support.
The salaries of the hard-working clergy were increased. The vases and ornaments from the suppressed convents were distributed among those poorer parishes which were in a state of destitution. The furniture of the convents was transferred to the civil and military hospitals. The pictures, bas-reliefs, statuary, and other objects of art were collected for the national museum which the King wished to establish. The mendicant friars, who had sufficient education, were intrusted with the instruction of the children.
The number of priests under the old régime had increased to a degree entirely disproportioned to the wants of the community. They were consequently wretchedly poor. A fixed salary was assigned to the rectors, that they might live respectably, and the ordinations in each diocese were so regulated that there should be but one priest for about one thousand souls.
It is not to be supposed that such changes could be effected without much friction. Not only bigotry opposed them, but there was a deep-seated, though unintelligent religious sentiment, which remonstrated against them. The advocates of the old régime availed themselves, in every possible way, of this sentiment, while the British fleet, continually hovering around the coasts, and occasionally landing men at unguarded points, contributed much toward keeping the spirit of insurrection alive, and preventing the tranquillity of the country.
New public works were commenced in the capital, to employ the idle and starving multitudes there. The country roads, so long infested with robbers, were in a wretched condition. The entire stagnation of all internal commerce had left them unused and almost impassable. [Pg 128]The old roads were repaired, and new ones vigorously opened. The inhabitants of the provinces, and even the soldiers who could be conveniently spared, were employed in these enterprises. The soldiers, receiving slight additional pay, cheerfully contributed their labors. French officers of engineers, of established ability, superintended these national works.
King Joseph was but the agent of his brother Napoleon. Though himself a man of superior ability, and imbued with an ardent spirit of humanity, in these great enterprises he was carrying out the designs with which the imperial mind of his brother was inspired. Thus the kingdom of Naples, in a few months, under the reign of Joseph, made more progress than had been accomplished in scores of years under the dominion of the Neapolitan Bourbons.
On the 8th of May, 1806, Joseph wrote to Napoleon: "My previous letters have announced to your Majesty that perfect order is restored in the Calabrias. I am not less pleased with the inhabitants of Apulia. They are more enlightened, less passionate, but equally zealous with the Calabrians to withdraw their country from the debasement into which it is [Pg 129]plunged. I am particularly satisfied with the priests, the nobles, and the landed proprietors.
"I now fully recognize the justice of the principles which I have so often heard from the lips of your Majesty. And I confess that experience has proved to me how true it is that it is necessary to see to every thing one's self; that not a moment of time must ever be lost; that we can not rely upon the activity of any person, and that every thing is possible, with a determined will on the part of the chief. I say to myself, ten times a day, the Emperor was right.
"I have established in each province a president, or prefect, who is entirely independent of the military commandant. I have decreed the formation in each province of a legion whose organization I will soon send to your Majesty. It is not paid. It is commanded by those men who are the most opulent, the most respectable, and the most attached to the present order of things. In each province I form a company of gendarmerie, composed of Frenchmen and Neapolitans. It is with some pride that I see that all the measures which your Majesty has prescribed to me I have adopted in advance.
"Whatever I may say, your Majesty can form no conception of the state of oppression, barbarism, and debasement which existed in this realm. And I can assure your Majesty that the Neapolitan officers returning to their homes become well pleased in witnessing the spirit which animates their fellow-citizens. I derive much advantage from the knowledge I have of the language, the manners, and customs of the country. The inhabitants of the mountains and of the villages resemble closely those of Corsica. And I do not think that I can be mistaken when I assure your Majesty that the people regard themselves as happy in being governed by a man who is so nearly related to your Majesty, and who bears a name which your Majesty rendered illustrious before he became an emperor, and which has for them the advantage of being Italian."
On the 22d of June, 1806, Napoleon wrote to Joseph, "My Brother—the Court of Rome is entirely surrendered to folly. It refuses to recognize you, and I know not what sort of a treaty it wishes to make with me. It thinks that I can not unite profound respect for the spiritual authority of the Pope, and at the same time repel his temporal pretensions. It forgets [Pg 131]that Saint Louis, whose piety is well known, was almost always at war with the Pope, and that Charles V., who was a very Christian prince, held Rome besieged for a long time, and seized it, with every Roman state."
On the 28th of February, 1806, M. de Meneval, the Emperor's secretary, had written to Joseph, "The Emperor works prodigiously. He holds three or four councils every day, from eight o'clock in the morning, when he rises, until two or three o'clock in the morning, when he goes to bed."
Napoleon well knew the fickle, unreliable, debased character of the Italian populace. He was sure that Joseph, in the kindness of his heart, was too confiding and unsuspicious. He wrote reiteratedly upon this subject: "Put it in your calculations," said he, "that sooner or later you will have an insurrection. It is an event which always happens in a conquered country. You can never sustain yourself by opinion in such a city as Naples. Be sure that you will have a riot or an insurrection. I earnestly desire to aid you by my experience in such matters. Shoot pitilessly the lazzaroni who plunge the dagger. I am greatly surprised that you do not shoot the spies of the [Pg 132]King of Naples. Your administration is too feeble. I can not conceive why you do not execute the laws. Every spy should be shot. Every lazzaroni who plies the dagger should be shot. You attach too much importance to a populace whom two or three battalions and a few pieces of artillery will bring to reason. They will never be submissive until they rise in insurrection, and you make a severe example. The villages which revolt should be surrendered to pillage. It is not only the right of war, but policy requires it. Your government, my brother, is not sufficiently vigorous. You fear too much to indispose people. You are too amiable, and have too much confidence in the Neapolitans. This system of mildness will not avail you. Be sure of that. I truly desire that the mob of Naples should revolt. Until you make an example, you will not be master. With every conquered people a revolt is a necessity. I should regard a revolt in Naples as the father of a family regards the small-pox for his children. Provided it does not weaken the invalid too much, it is a salutary crisis."
Such were the precautions which Napoleon was continually sending to Joseph. His amiable [Pg 133]brother did not sufficiently heed them. He fancied that the most ignorant, fanatical, and debased of men could be held in control by kind words and kind deeds alone. But he awoke fearfully to the delusion when a savage insurrection broke out among the peasants and the brigands of the Calabrias, and swept the provinces with flame and blood. Then scenes of woe ensued which can never be described. It became necessary to resort to the severest acts of punishment. Much, if not all of this, might have been saved had the firm government which Napoleon recommended been established at the beginning. It is cruelty, not kindness, to leave the mob to feel that they can inaugurate their reign of terror with impunity.
The following extracts from a letter which Joseph wrote his wife, dated Naples, March 22d, 1806, throw interesting light upon the characters of both the King and the Emperor.
"I repeat it, the Emperor ought not to remain alone in Paris. Providence has made me expressly to serve as his safeguard. Loving repose, and yet able to support activity; despising grandeurs, and yet able to bear their burden with success, whatever may have been [Pg 134]the slight differences between him and me, I can truly say that he is the man of all the world whom I love the best. I do not know if a climate and shores very much resembling those which I inhabited with him, have given back to me all my first love for the friend of my childhood; but I can truly say that I often find myself weeping over the affections of twenty years' standing as over those of but a few months.
"If you can not come to me immediately, send Zénaïde[L]. I would give all the empires of the world for one caress of my tall Zénaïde, or for one kiss of my little Lolotte. As for you, you know very well that I love you as their mother, and as I love my wife. If I can unite a dispersed family and live in the bosom of my own, I shall be content; and I will surrender myself to fulfill all the missions which the Emperor may assign to me, provided they can be temporary, and that I may cherish the hope of dying in a country in which I have always wished to live."
The close of the year 1806 was rendered memorable by the victories of Jena and Auerstadt, and the occupation of Prussia by the armies of Napoleon. The war was wantonly provoked by Prussia. Napoleon wrote to Joseph from St. Cloud, on the 13th of September:
"Prussia makes me a thousand protestations. That does not prevent me from taking my precautions. In a few days she will disarm, or she will be crushed. Austria protests her wish to remain neutral. Russia knows not what she wishes. Her remote position renders her powerless. Thus, in a few words, you have the present aspect of affairs."
A few days after he wrote again to Joseph from St. Cloud: "My Brother,—I have just received the tidings that Mr. Fox is dead. Under present circumstances, he is a man who dies regretted by two nations. The horizon is somewhat [Pg 136]clouded in Europe. It is possible that I may soon come to blows with the King of Prussia. If matters are not soon arranged, the Prussians will be so beaten in the first encounters, that every thing will be finished in a few days."
Napoleon cautioned his brother against making the contents of his letters known to others, saying, "I repeat to you, that if this letter is read by others than yourself, you injure your own affairs. I am accustomed to think three or four months in advance of what I do, and I make arrangements for the worst."
England, Russia, and Prussia entered into a new alliance to crush the Empire in France. The armies of Prussia, two hundred thousand strong, commenced their march by entering Saxony, one of the allies of Napoleon. Alexander of Russia was hastening to join Prussia, with two hundred thousand men in his train. England was giving the most energetic co-operation with her invincible fleet and her almost inexhaustible gold. Upon the eve of this terrible conflict, Napoleon, in the following terms, addressed Europe, to which address no reply was returned but that of shot and shell:
"Why should hostilities arise between France and Russia? Perfectly independent of each other, they are impotent to inflict evil, but all-powerful to communicate benefits. If the Emperor of France exercises a great influence in Italy, the Czar exerts a still greater influence over Turkey and Persia. If the Cabinet of Russia pretends to have a right to affix limits to the power of France, without doubt it is equally disposed to allow the Emperor of the French to prescribe the bounds beyond which Russia is not to pass.
"Russia has partitioned Poland. Can she then complain that France possesses Belgium and the left banks of the Rhine? Russia has seized upon the Crimea, the Caucasus, and the northern provinces of Persia. Can she deny that the right of self-preservation gives France a title to demand an equivalent in Europe. Let every power begin by restoring the conquests which it has made during the last fifty years. Let them re-establish Poland, restore Venice to its Senate, Trinidad to Spain, Ceylon to Holland, the Crimea to the Porte, the Caucasus and Georgia to Persia, the kingdom of Mysore to the sons of Tippoo Saib, and the Mahratta States to their lawful owners, and [Pg 138]then the other powers may have some title to insist that France shall retire within her ancient limits."
It was important to prevent the union of these mighty hosts, now combined to overthrow the new system in France. As Napoleon left Paris, to strike the Prussian army before it could be strengthened by the arrival of the Russians, he wrote to Joseph:
"Give yourself no uneasiness. The present struggle will be speedily terminated. Prussia and her allies, be they who they may, will be crushed. And this time I will settle finally with Europe. I will put it out of the power of my enemies to stir for ten years."
In his parting message to the Senate, he said, "In so just a war, which we have not provoked by any act, by any pretense, the true cause of which it would be impossible to assign, and where we only take arms to defend ourselves, we depend entirely upon the support of the laws, and upon that of the people, whom circumstances call upon to give fresh proof of their devotion and courage."
The Prussian army was overwhelmed at Jena and Auerstadt, and then Napoleon, pressing on to the north, met the Russians at Friedland, [Pg 139]and annihilated their forces also. The atrocities perpetrated by the Italian bandits were so terrible, that the exasperated soldiers often retaliated with fearful severity. Joseph, by nature a very humane man, endeavored in every way in his power to mitigate this ferocity. The revolt in Calabria was attended with almost every conceivable act of perfidy and cruelty. The wounded French were butchered in the hospitals; the dwellings of Neapolitans friendly to the new government were burnt, and their families outraged; treachery of the vilest kind was perpetrated by those acting under the mask of friendship. The crisis, which Napoleon had been continually anticipating and warning his brother against, had come. The case demanded rigorous measures. It was necessary to the very existence of the Government that it should prove, by avenging crime, that it was determined to protect the innocent. Still the amiable Joseph was disposed to leniency. Napoleon wrote him:
"The fate of your reign depends upon your conduct when you return to Calabria. There must be no forgiveness. Shoot at least six hundred rebels. They have murdered more soldiers than that. Burn the houses of thirty [Pg 140]of the principal persons in the villages, and distribute their property among the soldiers. Take away all arms from the inhabitants, and give up to pillage five or six of the large villages. When Placenza rebelled, I ordered Junot to burn two villages and shoot the chiefs, among whom were six priests. It will be some time before they rebel again."
Where there is this energy to punish crime, the good repose in safety. This apparent inhumanity may be, with a ruler who has millions to protect, the highest degree of humanity. When a lawless mob is rioting through the streets of a city, robbing, burning, murdering, it is not well for the Government affectionately to address them with soothing words. It is far more humane to mow down the insurgents with grape and canister.
The English fleet still menaced and assailed the kingdom of Naples at every available point. It held possession of the island of Capin, near the mouth of the gulf of Naples. There was a Neapolitan, by the name of Vecchioni, who had professed the warmest attachment to the new government, and whom Joseph had appointed as one of his counsellors of state. This man entered into a conspiracy [Pg 141]with the English, to betray to them the King to whom he had perfidiously sworn allegiance. His treason was clearly proved. But he was an old man. His life had hitherto been pure. The tender heart of Joseph could not bear to inflict upon him merited punishment. He said compassionately, "The poor old man has suffered enough already. Let him go." To govern an ignorant, fanatical, and turbulent nation swarming with brigands, requires a character of stern mould. But for the energies communicated to Joseph by Napoleon, Joseph could not long have retained his throne. The Emperor at Saint Helena, speaking of his brother, said:
"Joseph rendered me no assistance, but he is a very good man. His wife, Queen Julia, is the most amiable creature that ever existed. Joseph and I were always attached to each other, and kept on good terms. He loves me sincerely, and I doubt not that he would do every thing in the world to serve me; but his qualities are only suited to private life. He is of a gentle and kind disposition, possesses talent and information, and is altogether a most amiable man. In the discharge of the high duties which I confided to him, he did the best [Pg 142]he could. His intentions were good, and therefore the principal fault rested not so much with him as with me, who raised him above his proper sphere. When placed in important circumstances, he found himself unequal to the task imposed upon him."
On another occasion, the Emperor at Saint Helena, speaking of the different members of his family, said, "In their mistaken notions of independence, the members of my family sometimes seemed to consider their power as detached, forgetting that they were merely parts of a great whole, whose views and interests they should have aided, instead of opposing. But, after all, they were very young and inexperienced, and were surrounded by snares, flatterers, and intriguers with secret and evil designs.
"And yet, if we judge from analogy, what family, in similar circumstances, would have acted better? Every one is not qualified to be a statesman. That requires a combination of powers that does not often fall to the lot of one. In this respect, all my brothers are singularly situated. They possessed at once too much and too little talent. They felt themselves too strong to resign themselves blindly [Pg 143]to a guiding counsellor, and yet too weak to be left entirely to themselves. But, take them all in all, I have certainly good reason to be proud of my family.
"Joseph would have been an ornament to society in any country; and Lucien would have been an honor to any political assembly. Jerome, as he advanced in life, would have developed every qualification requisite in a sovereign. Louis would have been distinguished in every rank and condition in life. My sister Eliza was endowed with masculine powers of mind; she must have proved herself a philosopher in her adverse fortune. Caroline possessed great talents and capacity. Pauline, perhaps the most beautiful woman of her age, has been, and will continue to be to the end of her life, the most amiable creature in the world. As to my mother, she deserves all kind of veneration.
"How seldom is so numerous a family entitled to so much praise? Add to this that, setting aside the jarring of political opinions, we sincerely loved each other. For my part, I never ceased to cherish fraternal affection for them all; and I am convinced that, in their hearts, they felt the same sentiments toward [Pg 144]me, and that, in case of need, they would have given me proof of it."
The soil of Italy presented widely, upon its surface, impressive monuments of the past. The grand memories inspired by these creations of olden time tended to arouse the sluggish spirit of the degenerate moderns. To promote these ennobling studies, and to increase the taste for the fine arts, Joseph established "The Royal Academy of History and Antiquities." The number of members was fixed at forty. The King appointed the first twenty members, and they nominated, for his appointment, the rest. A museum was formed for the collection of antique works of art found in the excavations. An annual fund, of about ten thousand dollars, was appropriated to the expenses of the institution. Two grand sessions were to be held each year, at which time prizes were awarded by the Academy to the amount of about two thousand dollars for the most important literary works which had been produced. The first sessions were held in the hall of the palace. The King wished thus to manifest his interest in the objects of the Academy, to co-operate in their labors, and to avail himself of the advantages of their researches. [Pg 145]The clergy, and the medical and legal professions, were alike represented in this learned body.
It is an interesting fact, illustrative of the state of learning at the time, that of the twenty academicians first appointed by the King, eleven were ecclesiastics. Two only were nobles. This class, rioting in sensual indulgence, disdained any intellectual labor. Notwithstanding all these expenses, such system and economy were introduced into the finances, that they were rapidly becoming extricated from the chaos in which they had long been plunged.
In the midst of these incessant and diversified labors, letters were almost daily passing between Joseph and his brother the Emperor. On the first day of the year 1807, Napoleon was, with his heroic and indomitable army, far away amidst the frozen wilds of Poland. Joseph sent a special deputation to his brother, with earnest wishes for "a happy new year." Napoleon thus replied, under the date of Warsaw, January 28, 1807:
"My Brother,—I have not received the letter of your Majesty and his wishes for my happiness without lively emotion. Your destinies [Pg 146]and my successes have placed a vast country between us. You touch, on the south, the Mediterranean. I touch the Baltic. But, by the harmony of our measures, we are seeking the same object. Watch over your coasts; shut out the English and their commerce. Their exclusion will secure tranquillity in your states. Your realm is rich and populous. By the aid of God it may become powerful and happy. Receive my most sincere wishes for the prosperity of your reign, and rely at all times upon my fraternal affection. The deputation which your Majesty has sent to me has honorably fulfilled its mission. I have requested it to bear to your Majesty the assurance of my sincere attachment. Whereupon, my brother, I pray that God may ever have you in his holy and worthy keeping."
Some reference was made in one of Joseph's letters to the sufferings which the army in Naples endured. Napoleon replied, "The members of my staff, colonels, officers, have not undressed for two months, and some for four. (I myself have been fifteen days without taking off my boots), in the midst of snow and mud, without bread, without wine, without brandy, eating potatoes and meat; making [Pg 147]long marches and counter-marches, without any kind of rest; fighting with the bayonet, and very often under grapeshot: the wounded being borne on sledges in the open air one hundred and fifty miles.
"It is then ill-timed pleasantry to compare us with the Army of Naples, which is making war in the beautiful country of Naples, where they have bread, oil, cloth, bedclothes, society, and even that of the ladies. After having destroyed the Prussian monarchy, we are now contending against the rest of the Prussians, against the Russians, the Cossacks, the Calmucks, and against those tribes of the north which formerly overwhelmed the Roman empire. In the midst of these great fatigues, every body has been more or less sick. As for me, I was never better, and am gaining flesh.
"The Army of Naples has no occasion to complain. Let them inquire of General Berthier. He will tell them that their Emperor has for fifteen days eaten nothing but potatoes and meat, whilst bivouacking in the midst of the snows of Poland. Judge from that what must be the condition of the officers. They have nothing but meat."
On the 26th of March, 1807, Joseph wrote, in a letter to his brother Napoleon, urging the promotion of Colonel Destrees, who, by his probity, had won the affections of the people.
"Here, sire, an honest man is worth more to me than a man of ability. When I find both qualities united in the same person, I esteem him of more value than a regiment. It is for this reason that I value so highly Reynier, Partouneaux, Donzelot, Lamarque, Jourdan, Saligny, and Mathieu; it is this which leads me to prize so highly Roederer and Dumas."
Again he wrote to his brother on the 29th of March: "Sire, as I see more of men and become better acquainted with them, I recognize more and more the truth of what I have heard from your Majesty during the whole of my life. The experience of government has confirmed the truth of that which your Majesty has so often said to me. I hope your Majesty will not regard this as flattery. But it is true; and I never cease to repeat, and particularly to myself, that you have been born with a superiority of reason truly astonishing, and now I recognize fully that men are what you have always told me that they were. How many [Pg 149]abuses, which I confess still astonish me, have I encountered, in the journey which I have just made. A prince confiding and amiable is a great scourge from heaven. I am instructed, sire, and I hope ere long to be a better ruler by not giving the majority of men the credit for that spirit of justice and humanity which I hope your Majesty recognizes in me. I have assembled the notables of this province. How docile these people are! but they are very badly governed. I have dismissed the prefect, the sub-prefect, the general, the commandant, a set of rascals who were here the instruments and the agents of an honest prince. This province, the most tranquil in the realm, had become, in the opinion of notables, the most disaffected and the most ready to desire the arrival of the enemy. I journeyed from village to village, and speedily repaired the evil. These people have so much vivacity of spirit and ardor of soul, that both good and evil operate easily upon them. Their inconstancy is not so much the result of their character as of their topographical and military position.
"I am aware, sire, that I have not, as your Majesty has, the art of employing all kinds of [Pg 150]men. I need honest men, in whom I can repose some confidence. Sire, I am in that mood of mind, which your Majesty recognizes in me, in which I love to say whatever I think right. Your Majesty ought to make peace at whatever price. Your Majesty is victorious, triumphant everywhere. You ought to recoil before the blood of your people. It is for the prince to hold back the hero. No extent of country, be it more or less, should restrain you. All the concessions you may make will be glorious, because they will be useful to your peoples, whose purest blood now flows; and victorious and invincible as you are, by the admission of all, no condition can be supposed to be prescribed to you by an enemy whom you have vanquished.
"Sire, it is the love which I bear for a brother who has become a father to me, and the love which I owe to France and to the people whom you have given me, which dictates these words of truth. As for me, sire, I shall be happy to do whatever may be in my power to secure that end."
This strain of remark must have been not a little annoying to the Emperor. While Joseph did not deny that the Emperor was waging [Pg 151]war solely in self-defense, he assumed that he was now so powerful that he could make peace at any time upon his own terms. But dynastic Europe was allying itself, coalition after coalition, in an interminable series, with the avowed object of driving Napoleon from the throne, reinstating the Bourbons, re-establishing the old feudal despotisms, and of then overthrowing the regenerated kingdoms of Italy and of Naples, and all the other popular governments established under the protection of Napoleon. Against these foes the Emperor was contending, not for France alone, but for the rights of humanity throughout Europe and the world. As Napoleon left Paris for the campaigns of Jena and Auerstadt, he said to the Senate,
"In so just a war, which we have not provoked by any act, by any pretense, the true cause to which it would be impossible to assign, and where we only take up arms to defend ourselves, we depend entirely upon the support of the laws and of the people."
No man could deny the truth of this statement. Napoleon was driven to all the rigors of a winter's campaign in the wilds of Poland. To have received, by the side of his bleak bivouac, [Pg 152]whilst thus struggling to defend the rights of humanity throughout Europe, a letter from his amiable brother, written in such a strain of implied reproach, must have been extremely annoying. One would look for an outburst of indignation in response. We turn to the Emperor's reply. It was as follows.
"My Brother,—I have received your letter of the 29th of March, and I thank you for all that you have said. Peace is a marriage which depends upon a union of wills. If it be necessary still to wage war, I am in a condition to do so. You will see, by my message to the Senate, that I am about to raise additional troops."
Joseph had expressed the opinion that the Neapolitans truly loved him. Napoleon, in his reply, said,
"I am not of the opinion that the Neapolitans love you. It is all resolved to this. If there were not a French soldier in Naples, could you raise there thirty thousand men to defend you against the English and the partisans of the Queen? As the contrary is evident to me, I can not think as you do. Your people will love you undoubtedly, but it will be after eight or ten years, when they will truly [Pg 153]know you, and you will know them. To love, with the people, means to esteem; and they esteem their prince when he is feared by the bad, and when the good have such confidence in him that he can, under all circumstances, rely upon their fidelity and their aid."
In a letter to Joseph, written a few days before this, the Emperor made the following striking remarks: "Since you wish me to speak freely of what is done at Naples, I will say to you that I was not just pleased with the preamble to the suppression of the convents. In referring to religion, the language should be in the spirit of religion, and not in that of philosophy. Why do you speak of the services rendered to the arts and the sciences by the religious orders? It is not that which has rendered them commendable; it is the administration of the consolations of religion. The preamble is entirely philosophical, and I think that it should not be so. It ought to have been said that the great number of the monks rendered their support difficult; that the dignity of the State required that they should be maintained in a condition of respectability: hence the necessity for reform, that a portion of the clergy must be retained for the administration [Pg 154]of the sacraments, that others must be dismissed. I give this as a general principle."
Joseph was well aware how difficult it is for truth to reach the steps of the throne. In his tour through the provinces, he often, on foot, penetrated the crowd which surrounded him, and conversed with any one whose intelligence attracted his attention. He listened to every well-founded complaint, and avowed himself deeply moved in view of the oppression which the people had suffered even from his own agents. But for this personal observation, he would have remained in ignorance of these wrongs which he promptly and vigorously repressed. Joseph was a man of the purest morals, and, as a husband and father, was a model of excellence. While engaged in these labors at Naples, his wife, Julie, who was in delicate health, remained in Paris, occupying the palace of the Luxembourg. They exchanged daily letters. The following extract from one of Joseph's letters, written on the 26th of April, 1807, will give the reader some insight to the nature of this correspondence, and to the heart of Joseph.
"My dear Julie,—I have received no letter [Pg 157]from you to-day. I pray you not to fail to write to me. I can not but feel anxious when I receive no letter, since your correspondence is otherwise regular. I wrote you yesterday of the rumors which malevolence had set in circulation, but that facts will gradually destroy them. I can give you the positive assurance that you need have no solicitude upon that point.
"I have come to pass Sunday here. It is somewhat remarkable that fête days are the seasons which I choose for a little recreation. This shows with what constancy I am employed on other days in the labors of the Cabinet. Moreover, the response to every accusation is the result which has already been attained here. Notes upon the Bank of Naples, which were twenty-five per cent. below par when I came here, are now at par. I have, with my own resources, conducted the war and the siege of Gaëta, which has cost six millions of francs ($1,200,000); I have found the means to support and pay ninety thousand men, for I have, besides sixty thousand land soldiers, thirty thousand men as marines, invalids, pensioners of the ancient army, coast guards, shore gunners; and I have fifteen hundred leagues [Pg 158]of coast, all beset, blockaded, and often attacked by the enemy.
"With all this, I have not so much increased the taxes as to excite the discontent of the landed proprietors and the people. There is so little dissatisfaction that I can travel almost anywhere alone without imprudence; that Naples is as tranquil as Paris; that I can borrow here whatever one has to lend; that I have not a single class of society discontented; and it is generally admitted that if I do not do better it is not my fault; that I set the example of moderation, of economy; that I indulge in no luxuries; that I make no expenses for myself; that I have neither mistresses, minions, nor favorites; that no person leads me, and, indeed, that every thing is so well ordered here that the officers and other Frenchmen whom I am compelled to send away complain, when they are absent, that they can not remain in Naples.
"Read this, my good Julie, to mamma and to Caroline, since they are anxious, and say to them that if they knew me better, they would feel less solicitude. Say to them that one does not change at my age; remind mamma that at every period of my life, an obscure citizen, cultivator, magistrate, I have always sacrificed [Pg 159]with pleasure my time to my duties. It surely is not I, who prize grandeurs so little, who can fall asleep in their bosom. I see in them only duties, never privileges.
"I work for the kingdom of Naples with the same good faith and the same self-renunciation with which, at the death of my father, I labored for his young family, whom I never ceased to bear in my heart, and all sacrifices were for me enjoyments. I say this with pride, because it is the truth. I live only to be just; and justice requires that I should render this people as happy as the scourge of war will render possible. I venture to say, notwithstanding their situation, that the people of Naples are perhaps more happy than any other people.
"Be tranquil, then, my love, and be assured that these sentiments are as unchanging in my soul as the immortal attachment which I bear for you and for my children; if there be any sacrifice which they cost me, it is being separated from you. Ambition certainly would not have led me away two steps if I could have remained tranquil. But honor and the sentiment of my duty induce me, three times a year, to make the tour of my realm to solace the unhappy.
"Under these circumstances, I thank Heaven for having given me health and ability to bear the burden of affairs, and moderation which does not permit me to be dazzled by grandeur, and energy which does not allow me to slumber at my post; and a good conscience and a good wife to pronounce judgment upon what I ought to do. I embrace you all tenderly."
It was clear that the statesmanship of Napoleon was the controlling influence in Joseph's administration, for in reading the details of his interior policy, we find that the institutions of regenerated France were taken as the models. To invest with honor the profession of a soldier, no one who had been condemned for crime was permitted to enter the army. Degrading punishments were abolished; distinctions and rewards were accorded to eminent merit. Promotion depended no longer upon the accident of birth, but upon services rendered, so that every office of honor or emolument was alike within the reach of all. Joseph, in his tour through the provinces, received very touching proofs of the affections of the people. It was indeed manifest to all that a new era of prosperity had dawned upon Naples. Still no devotion to the interests of [Pg 161]the people can save a ruler from enemies. Two assassins attempted the life of the King. They were arrested, tried, condemned, and executed.[M]
On the 14th of May, 1807, Joseph set out on a tour through the provinces of the Abruzzes, a mountainous region traversed by the Apennines. He found the government admirably administered under the authority of the French General, Guvion Saint Cyr. The people were everywhere prosperous and happy. The region, abounding in precipitous crags and gloomy defiles, with communications often rendered impracticable by the rains and the melting snows cutting gullies through the soil of sand and clay, had become quite isolated.
The inhabitants spontaneously arose to celebrate the arrival of the King by constructing durable roads. Joseph promptly lent the enterprise [Pg 162]his royal support. He appointed a committee of able men, selected from each of the capitals of the three provinces, with three road engineers, to secure the judicious expenditure of the money and the labor; and offered rewards to those communes which should push the improvements with the greatest vigor. A system of irrigation and drainage was also adopted which contributed immensely to the prosperity of the region, checking emigration by opening wide fields to agricultural industry.
During all this time Joseph kept up almost a daily correspondence with his brother. The letters of Napoleon were written hurriedly, in the midst of overwhelming cares, intended to be entirely private, with no idea that their unstudied expressions, in which each varying emotion of his soul, of hope, of disappointment, of irritation, found utterance, would be exposed to the malignant comments of his foes. The friends of Napoleon appeal triumphantly to this unmutilated correspondence, running through the period of many long and eventful years, to prove that Napoleon was animated by a high ambition to promote the interests of humanity; that he was one of the most philanthropic as well as one of the greatest of men. [Pg 163]Joseph himself, whose upright character no intelligent man has yet questioned, says, in his autobiography, written at Point Breeze, New Jersey, when sixty-two years of age:
"Having attained a somewhat advanced age, and enjoying good health, disabused of many of the illusions which enable me to bear the storms of life, and replacing those illusions by that tranquillity of soul which results from a good conscience, and from the security which is afforded by a country admirably constituted, I regard myself as having reached the port. Before disembarking upon the shores of eternity, I wish to render an account to myself of the long voyage, and to search out the causes which have borne so high, in the ranks of society, my family, and which have terminated in depriving us of that which appertains to the humblest individual—a country which was dear to us, and which we have served with good faith and devotion.
"It is neither an apology nor a satire which I write. I render an account to myself of events, and I wish to place upon paper the recollections which they have left behind. There are some transactions which I now condemn, after having formerly approved of them; there [Pg 164]are others of which I to-day approve, after having formerly condemned them. Such is the feebleness of our nature, dependent always upon the circumstances which surround us, and which frequently govern us—a thought which ought to lead every true and reflective man to charity.
"I venture to affirm that it is the love of truth which leads me to undertake this writing. It is a sentiment of justice which I owe to the man who was my friend, and whom human feebleness has disfigured in a manner so unworthy. Napoleon was, above all, a friend of the people, and he was a just and good man, even more than he was a great warrior and administrator. It is my duty, as his elder brother, and one who has not always shared in his political opinions, to speak of that which I know, and to express convictions which I profoundly cherish. I am now in a better situation to appreciate what were the causes foreign to his nature, which forced him to assume a factitious character—a character which made him feared by the instruments which he had to employ, in order to sustain against Europe the war which the oligarchy had declared against the principles of the revolution, and which the British Cabinet waged against that [Pg 165]France whose supremacy it could prevent only by exciting against her Continental wars and civil dissensions, and those despotic principles of government which no longer belonged to the nation or the age in which we lived."
Toward the close of the year 1807 brigandage was entirely suppressed, all traces of insurrection had disappeared, and tranquillity and prosperity reigned throughout the kingdom of Naples. In July Joseph wrote from Capo di Monte to Queen Julie, who was then at Mortfontaine, as follows:
"My dear Julie,—I have received your letter of the 15th from Mortfontaine. The sentiment which you have experienced in returning to that beautiful place, where we have been so happy for so long a time, and at so little expense, needs not the explanation of any supernatural causes. You perceive that there you have been happier than you are now, than you will be for a long time. The happiness which you have there enjoyed is sure as the past; that which is destined for you here is as uncertain as the future. Life at Mortfontaine is that of innocence and peace; it is that of the [Pg 167]patriarchs. The life at Naples is that of kings. It is a voyage over a sea, often calm, but sometimes stormy. The life at Mortfontaine was a promenade as placid as its waters. It flowed noiselessly like the light skiff which a slight effort of the oars of Zénaïde[N] sufficed to push forward around the isle of Molton.[O]
"But after all these regrets of a good heart, gentle and reasonable, there come the results of the reflections of a strong mind and an elevated soul which owes itself entirely to the will of Providence, manifested by the spontaneous coming, and not desired by us, of grandeurs which point us to other duties. I console myself, in this new career, by seeing it traversed by my wife and my children. The most unpleasant part of the voyage is over, that which I have taken without them. Now peace will reunite us. And if you do not find here your own country, our reunion will give us the illusion of it. As we shall be the same to each other, I believe that, come what may, you will find Mortfontaine, where you see me happy in the love of my family, and in the happiness which I shall be able to confer, and in that [Pg 168]still greater happiness of which I shall dream. Adieu, my dear Julie. I embrace you tenderly."
The victories of the Emperor, the peace of Tilsit, the Russian alliance, had greatly diminished the influence of the British Cabinet upon the Continent, and, in the same proportion, had increased that of France. Still the Cabinet of St. James was unrelenting in opposition to Napoleon. The British cruisers ran along the coast of Italy, landing here and there Sicilian or Calabrian brigands, who were under the pay of Ferdinand and Caroline. It was also proved that assassins were in the employ of Ferdinand and his queen.
Toward the end of November Napoleon visited Venice, and, by appointment, met his brother Joseph there. It has generally been affirmed that there was a secret article in the treaty of Tilsit authorizing Napoleon to dethrone the Bourbons of Spain, who had treacherously endeavored to strike him in the back when, in the campaigns of Jena, Auerstadt, and Austerlitz, he was contending against England, France, and Russia. But that secret article, if there were such, has been kept so secret, that no sufficient evidence has yet been adduced that [Pg 169]it existed. Joseph, however, wrote, when an exile in America:
"At the time of my interview with the Emperor at Venice, he spoke to me of troubles in the royal family of Spain as probably leading to events which he dreaded. 'I have enough work marked out,' he said. 'The troubles in Spain will only aid the English to impair the resources, which I find in this alliance, to continue the war against them.'"
On the 16th of December Joseph returned to Naples, and the next day presided at the council of ministers. He did not make any communication of importance. "It is only known," writes the Count of Melito, "that he sent one of his aides on a mission to the Emperor Alexander. It was hence concluded that arrangements of some nature had been entered into at Venice in harmony with the views of the Emperor of Russia." Joseph, however, writes, in reference to this mission, "General Marie took letters to Russia and congratulations, and brought me back letters, affectionate even, from the Emperor Alexander, and his compliments; that was all."
Lucien Bonaparte, a very independent and impulsive young man, was not disposed to submit [Pg 170]to the dictation of his elder brother Napoleon. He had entered into a second marriage, which displeased Napoleon, as it very seriously interfered with his plans of forming a dynasty. Joseph was sent to meet the refractory brother at Modena, and to endeavor to promote reconciliation. The following letter from Eliza, written to her brother Lucien upon this subject will be read with interest. It was dated Marlia, June 20th, 1807:
"My dear Lucien,—I have received your letter. Permit, to my friendship, a few reflections upon the present state of things. I hope that you will not be annoyed by my observations.
"Propositions were made to you, a year ago, which you should have found seasonable, and which you should immediately have accepted, for the happiness of your family and of your wife. You now refuse them. Do you not see, my dear friend, that the only means of placing obstacles in the way of adoption is, that his Majesty should have a family of which he can dispose? In remaining near Napoleon, or in receiving from him a throne, you will be useful to him. He will marry your daughters; [Pg 171]and so long as he can find, in the members of his family, the instruments for executing his projects and his policy, he will not choose strangers. We must not treat with the master of the world as with an equal. Nature made us the children of the same father, and his prodigies have rendered us his subjects. Although sovereigns, we hold every thing from him. It is a noble pride to acknowledge this; and it seems to me that our only glory should be to prove by our manner of governing that we are worthy of him and of our family.
"Reflect then anew upon the propositions which are made to you. Mamma and we all should be so happy to be re-united, and to make only one political family. Dear Lucien, do that for us, who love you, for the people whom my brother has given for you to govern, and to whom you will bring happiness.
"Adieu. I embrace you. Do not feel unkindly to me for this; and believe that my tenderness will always be the same for you. Embrace your wife and your amiable family. Chevalier Angelino, who has come to see me, has often spoken to me of you and of your wife. My little one is charming. I have weaned her. [Pg 172]I shall be very happy if she is soon able to play with all the family. Adieu.
"Your sister and friend, Eliza."
The letters of the Emperor were sometimes severe in reproof of the policy of his brother. It is evident that Joseph was, at times, quite wounded by these reproaches. At the conclusion of a long letter, written on the 19th of October, 1807, Joseph says:
"I am far from complaining of any one. The people and the enemy are what they must be. But it would be pleasant to me, could your Majesty truly know my position, and render some justice to the efforts and to the privations of every kind which I impose upon myself to do the best I can. Although the present state of affairs may not be good, still I hope for better times. No person desires it more than I do. When I have a thousand ducats I give them; and I can assure your Majesty that I have never in my life, which has been composed of so many different shades, found less opportunity to gratify my private inclinations. I have no expenses but for the public wants. I occupy myself day and night in the administration. I think the administration as good as [Pg 173]possible; but it has no more the power than have I to correct the times, and to create that which does not exist and can not exist, except where there is interior tranquillity and external peace."
On the 13th of August, 1806, Joseph wrote to his brother, "I remain here till your Majesty's birthday, on which I wish you joy. I hope that you may receive with some little pleasure this expression of my affection. The glorious Emperor will never replace to me the Napoleon whom I so much loved, and whom I hope to find again, as I knew him twenty years ago, if we are to meet in the Elysian Fields."
Napoleon replied from Rambouillet, on the 23d of August,
"My Brother,—I have received your letter of the 13th of August. I am sorry that you think that you will find your brother again only in the Elysian Fields. It is natural that at forty he should not feel toward you as he did at twelve. But his feelings toward you are more true and strong. His friendship has the features of his mind."
In December Napoleon had a personal interview with Lucien, and he gives the following [Pg 174]account of it, in a letter to Joseph, dated Mantua, 17th December, 1807:
"My Brother,—I have seen Lucien at Mantua. I talked with him several hours. He undoubtedly will inform you of the disposition in which he left. His thoughts and his language are so different from mine that I found it difficult to get an idea of what he wished. I think that he told me that he wished to send his eldest daughter to Paris, to be near her grandmother. If he continue in that disposition, I desire to be immediately informed of it. And it is necessary that that young person should be in Paris in the course of January, either accompanied by Lucien, or intrusted by him to the charge of a governess, who will convey her to Madame.[P] Lucien seems to be agitated by contrary sentiments, and not to have sufficient strength to come to a decision.
"I have exhausted all the means in my power to recall Lucien, who is still in his early youth, to the employment of his talents for me and for the country. If he wish to send his daughter, she should leave without delay, and he should send a declaration by which he places her entirely at my disposal, for there is [Pg 175]not a moment to be lost; events hurry onward, and I must accomplish my destiny. If he has changed his opinion, let me immediately be informed of it, for then I must make other arrangements.
"Say to Lucien that his grief and the parting sentiments which he manifested moved me; that I regret the more that he will not be reasonable, and contribute to his own repose and to mine. I await with impatience a reply clear and decisive, particularly in that which relates to Charlotte."
On the 31st of January, 1808, a fiend-like attempt was made to blow up the palace of Salicetti, Joseph's minister of police. About one o'clock in the morning, just as the minister was entering his chamber, there was a terrific explosion. An infernal machine had been placed in the cellar. The whole palace was shattered and rent, while large portions were thrown into utter ruin. Salicetti, severely wounded, heard the shrieks of his daughter, the Duchess of Lavello, and rushed to her aid. He found her buried five or six feet deep in the débris which had been thrown upon her. It was more than a quarter of an hour before her agonized father, aided by the domestics, [Pg 176]could succeed in extricating her. Though alive, she was sadly maimed. Two of the inmates of the palace were killed, and others were severely injured.
Napoleon, when informed of the event, wrote to Joseph, under date of February 11th, 1808: "The terrible misfortune which has happened to Salicetti seems to me to have been the result of over-indulgence. When were traitors ever before allowed to live free in a capital—wretches who had plotted against the State? Their lives ought not to be spared; but if that is done, at least you ought to send them sixty leagues from the capital or shut them up in a fortress. Any other conduct is madness."
Napoleon, having gained a glorious peace upon the plains of Poland, which disarmed the nations of the north, now turned his special attention to the south—to Portugal, Spain, Italy, Rome, and Naples. The possession of the kingdom of Naples, instead of being a source of profit to the Emperor, occasioned him continued and heavy expense. Joseph was ever calling for money to meet the innumerable demands involved in carrying on war with the English, and in urging forward those reforms [Pg 177]which were essential to the regeneration of a realm which former misgovernment had plunged to a very low abyss of poverty and ruin. The Emperor, bearing the burden of the exhaustive wars ever waged against him, while continually aiding Joseph, still often and severely reproached him with the manner in which his finances were conducted. On the 11th of February, 1808, he wrote:
"My Brother,—The administration of the realm of Naples is very bad. Roederer makes brilliant projects, ruins the country, and pays no money into your treasury. This is the opinion of all the French who come from Naples. Roederer is upright, and has good intentions, but he has no experience."
Again, on the 26th of February, he wrote: "Roederer is of the race of men who always ruin those to whom they are attached. Is it want of tact, is it misfortune? No matter which; there is not one of your friends who does not detest Roederer. He is at Naples as at Paris, without credit with any party; a man of no sagacity, of no tact, whom, however, I esteem for many good qualities, but whom, as a statesman, I can make nothing of."
Joseph, however, earnestly defended his [Pg 178]financial agent as an able and an honest man, who made enemies only of those who wished to plunder the treasury. This led Joseph, whose constant effort it was to promote the happiness of his people, to whose interests he was entirely devoted, to order a minute statement to be drawn up of the condition of the realm in all respects. This remarkable document was written by Count Melito, the Minister of the Interior. It gave an accurate narrative of all the ameliorations which had been introduced by Joseph, and will ever remain a monument of his goodness and tireless energies as a sovereign. As none of the statements could be doubted, the document at the time produced a profound impression throughout Europe.
Queen Julie now came to Naples with her children to join her husband. She was received with great enthusiasm. There has seldom been found, in the history of the world, a worse woman than Caroline, the wife of Ferdinand, the former King of Naples. And history records the name perhaps of no better woman than Julie, the wife of Joseph. The King met the Queen on the 4th of April at Saint Lucie, and conducted her, greeted by the [Pg 179]acclamations of their rejoicing subjects, into their beautiful capital.
The treachery of the Court of Spain, which, like an assassin, endeavored to strike the Empire of France stealthily, with a poisoned dagger, in the back, was known throughout Europe. These proud dynasties regarded Napoleon, because he was an elected, not a legitimate sovereign, as an outlaw, with whom no treaties were binding, and whom they could betray, entrap, and shoot at pleasure.
When Napoleon was far away, in his winter campaign, bivouacking upon the cold summit of the Landgrafenberg, the evening before the battle of Jena he received information that the Bourbons of Spain, then professing friendship, and bound to him by a treaty of alliance, were secretly entering into a contract with England to assail him in the rear. Napoleon had neither done nor meditated aught to injure Spain. His crime was that he had accepted the crown from the people, and was ruling in behalf of their interests, and not in the interests of the nobles alone.
"A convention," says Alison, "was secretly concluded at Madrid between the Spanish Government and the Russian ambassador, to [Pg 180]which the Court of Lisbon was also a party, by which it was agreed that, as soon as the favorable opportunity was arrived, by the French armies being far advanced on their road to Berlin, the Spanish Government should commence hostilities in the Pyrenees, and invite the English to co-operate."
Napoleon, by his camp-fire, upon the eve of a terrible battle, read the account of this perfidy. As he folded the dispatches, he said calmly, but firmly, "The Bourbons of Spain shall be replaced by princes of my own family."
"The Spanish Bourbons," says Napier, "could never have been sincere friends to France while Bonaparte held the sceptre; and the moment that the fear of his power ceased to operate, it was quite certain that their apparent friendship would change to active hostility."
"When I made peace on the Niemen," said Napoleon, "I stipulated that if England did not accept the mediation of Alexander, Russia should unite her arms with ours, and compel that power to peace. I should be indeed weak if, having obtained that single advantage from those whom I have vanquished, I should permit [Pg 181]the Spaniards to embroil me afresh on my weak side. Should I permit Spain to form an alliance with England, it would give that hostile power greater advantages than it has lost by the rupture with Russia. I wish, above all things, to avoid war with Spain. Such a contest would be a species of sacrilege. If I can not arrange with either the father or the son, I will make a clean sweep of them both."
Rumor was busy throughout Europe in discussing the plans of Napoleon. The report soon became general that the crown of Spain was to be offered to Joseph. His kindness of heart, his nobleness of character, and the immense benefits which he had conferred upon the Neapolitan realm, had secured for him almost universal respect and affection. The Neapolitans were greatly alarmed from fears that he would be transferred to Spain.
"The King," writes his very able biographer, A. du Casse, "was universally beloved, because he began to be appreciated at his true value. His good qualities, the love with which he cherished his subjects, had won all hearts. His departure was dreaded. Joseph, however, did not slacken the reins of government. The Councils of State and the ministers, presided [Pg 182]over by him, continued their labors to ameliorate the administration of the realm, to embellish Naples, to encourage discoveries, to unite the learned in a literary corps. The King wished that, even after his departure, the impulse which he had given should continue uninterrupted."
It was at Naples, under the encouragement of Joseph, that the art of lithography was discovered. On the 23d of May, 1808, the King, by the request of Napoleon, left Naples for France. He left his family behind him, and hastened through Turin and Lyons to meet his brother at Bayonne. His departure caused great anxiety and sadness throughout the kingdom of Naples. Who would wear the crown about to be vacated? Would the Two Sicilies be annexed to the kingdom of Italy under Eugene? Would Louis, Lucien, or one of Napoleon's marshals succeed Joseph?
On the journey Joseph met the Bishop of Grenoble, formerly the abbé Simon, his ancient professor of mathematics and philosophy in the College of Autun. Joseph had ever cherished the memory of his teacher with great affection, and, upon meeting, threw his arms around him in a tender embrace. As the [Pg 183]bishop complimented him upon his high destiny, and congratulated him upon the probability of his immediate elevation to the throne of Spain, Joseph replied sadly,[Q]
"May your felicitations, Monsieur the Bishop, prove of happy augury to your former pupil. May your prayers avert the calamities which I foresee. As for me, ambition does not blind me. The joys of the crown of Spain do not dazzle my eyes. I leave a country in which I think that I have done some good, where I flatter myself to have been beloved, and that I leave behind me some regrets. Will it be the same in the new realm which awaits me?
"The Neapolitans have, so to speak, never known nationality. By turns conquered by the Normans, the Spaniards, the French, it was little matter to them who their masters were, provided that these masters left them their blue skies, their azure sea, their spot in the sunshine, and a few pence for their macaroni.
"Arriving among them, I found every thing to do. I stimulated their natural apathy, gave nerve to the administration, introduced [Pg 184]some order everywhere. They were pleased with my good intentions, with my efforts. They loved me with the same fervor with which they hated the King of Sicily and his odious ministers. In Spain, on the contrary, I shall labor in vain; I can not so completely lay aside my title of a foreigner that I can escape the hatred of a people proud and sensitive upon the point of honor; of a people who have known no other wars but wars of independence, and who abhor, above all things, the French name.
"The Peninsula contains at this moment, under arms, nearly one hundred thousand national soldiers, who will excite, at the same time, against my government, the monks, the clergy, the friends (and they are still numerous) of legitimacy, the ancient and faithful servants of old Charles IV., the gold and the intrigues of England. Every thing will prove an obstacle to my plans of amelioration. They will be misrepresented, calumniated, disowned.
"In view of the insurrection of which the Prince of Asturias has recently given an example against his own father, in the midst of license and anarchy, the natural consequence of long demoralization and the disorders of a [Pg 185]dissolute court, of a dynasty used up, will not all wise and well-moderated liberty be regarded as the equal of tyranny? Monsieur the Bishop, I see a horizon charged with very black clouds. They contain in their bosom a future which terrifies me. The star of my brother, will it always shine luminous and brilliant in the skies? I do not know; but sad presentiments oppress me in spite of myself. They besiege me; they govern me. I greatly fear that, in giving me a crown more illustrious than that which I lay aside, the Emperor will place upon my brow a burden heavier than it can bear. Pity me, then, my dear teacher, pity me; do not felicitate me."
The brigands in the kingdom of Naples, and the eternal and natural enemies of repose which are to be found in all countries, availing themselves of the absence of King Joseph, and encouraged by the presence of the British fleet and the gold of the British Cabinet, redoubled their efforts in local insurrections, and committed cowardly assassinations. The bandits would land here and there, and perpetrate the most atrocious crimes, burning, plundering, murdering.
Joseph was anxious, before leaving Naples, [Pg 186]to establish institutions of liberty which might be permanent. On the 21st of July, the Council of State received from the King a constitution, which he had drawn up with the aid of his ministers. It contained the clear announcement of the principles which had animated him during his reign, and was founded upon the constitutions in France and in the kingdom of Italy. Though the constitution was not perfect—for the world is ever making progress—it was greatly in advance of any thing which had been known in the kingdom of Sicily before, and conferred immense advantages upon the realm. There was but one legislative body. It consisted of five sections, equal in number: the clergy, the nobility, the landed proprietors, the philosophers, and the merchants. The Council of State chose five of the most distinguished persons, of the various classes, to convey to Joseph their thanks for the constitution he had conferred upon the realm.
On the 6th of July, Queen Julie, with her children, left Naples to join her husband in Spain. A numerous cortége escorted her from the city with every testimonial of regret. On the 8th Joseph abdicated the crown, which [Pg 189]was subsequently transferred to the brow of Napoleon's cavalry leader, Murat, who had married Caroline Bonaparte.
"Here terminates," writes M. du Casse, "our task relative to the short reign of Joseph in Naples. That prince had rendered to that beautiful country services which, long after his departure, conferred blessings upon the realm, which had been surrendered until then to the sad régime of a feudalism crushing to the people. His successor found the ground clear, war extinct almost everywhere, the conquest assured, tranquillity established, abuses reformed, civil administration organized, the monks suppressed, the finances restored, credit consolidated, public instruction and legislation founded upon liberal bases, and wisely adapted to the manners of the inhabitants.
"The army was formed under the shade of the flag of France; the marine commenced to be regenerated. The sciences and the arts, encouraged, were beginning to diffuse themselves; brigandage was breathing its last sigh. There remained for Murat only to reap the fruits of the wise and paternal conduct of the older brother of the Emperor. He inherited a country of rich and fertile soil, with a delightful [Pg 190]climate, inhabited by a population blessing the guardian hand which had delivered them from the ignorance into which the ancient Government seemed to have plunged them by design. The task of the new sovereign seemed to be only to complete the work of the philosophic King."
It was the implacable hostility of the British Government, ever ready to avail itself of the treachery of Spain, which in the view of Napoleon rendered it necessary for him, as an act of self-preservation, to place the government of the Spanish Peninsula in friendly hands. On the 18th of April, 1808, Napoleon had written to Joseph,
"England begins to suffer. Peace with that power alone will enable me to sheathe the sword and restore tranquillity to Europe."
Before we accompany Joseph to Spain, let us briefly review the condition of Europe at this time. By the peace of Tilsit, the Emperor Alexander had recognized all the changes which the sword of Napoleon had effected upon the Continent of Europe. The Czar was on terms of personal friendship with Napoleon, and it was understood that he had given his consent to Napoleon's design to dethrone the Bourbons [Pg 191]of Spain. The infamous British expedition to Copenhagen, with the bombardment of the city and the destruction of the Danish fleet, had created general indignation throughout the European world. England had but one single ally left, the half-mad King of Sweden. The ships of England, excluded from every port upon the Continent, wandered idly over the seas.
Austria, humiliated by the treaty of Presburg, was sullen and silent, watching for an opportunity to regain its former ascendency and military prestige. In Prussia the House of Brandenburg had been terribly punished. Though it still reigned, it was with diminished territory, with its military strength nearly destroyed, and with all its strong places held by French troops. The Cabinet at Berlin could not venture in any way to oppose the will of Napoleon. All the kings and princes of the Confederation of the Rhine were united to France by the closest alliance.
Jerome, Napoleon's youngest brother, was king of Westphalia. Louis reigned in Holland. French influence was supreme in Switzerland. The Emperor Napoleon was king of Italy, and Joseph, reigning at Naples, was about to be [Pg 192]transferred to Spain. Turkey was allied with France, seeking from the Emperor protection from the encroachments of Russia. Consequently England was at war with the Porte.
Spain occupied a peculiar position. The King, Charles IV., a near relative of Louis XVI., had united with allied Europe in the war against the French Republic. Terribly punished by the French armies, Spain had made peace at the treaty of Basle in July, 1795. Soon after, the two powers entered into an alliance, offensive and defensive, engaging to assist each other with both land and sea forces.
This brought down upon Spain the vengeance of the British Government, which, with its invincible fleet, swept all seas. Spanish commerce at once became the prey of English privateers. Cadiz was bombarded, and the Spanish naval fleet encountered very severe loss. The peace of Amiens, to which the British Government had been very reluctantly compelled to assent by the pressure of English public opinion, gave peace to Spain. But when the Court of Saint James, by the rupture of the peace of Amiens, renewed its assault upon France, the Spanish Court, anxious to [Pg 193]avoid a war with England, proposed to Napoleon that, instead of aiding him directly by fleet and army, according to the terms of the alliance, Spain should pay France an annual subsidy of six million francs. The proposition was accepted.
The English minister, ascertaining this, without any declaration of war, seized every thing belonging to Spain which could be found afloat. As Spain, supposing that her assumed neutrality would be respected, had her fleet and merchandise everywhere exposed, her loss was very severe.
When the Bourbons of Spain saw that the British Government had succeeded in forming a new alliance against Napoleon, which would compel the French Emperor to take his armies hundreds of leagues north to struggle against the united armies of Prussia and Russia, it was thought that Napoleon must inevitably fall. Spain decided again to make common cause with the Allies, as we have before mentioned. A vehement proclamation was issued, calling the Spaniards to arms. The utter crushing of Prussia on the fields of Jena and Auerstadt literally frightened Spain out of her wits. She sent an ambassador extraordinary to congratulate [Pg 194]Napoleon upon his victory, and to assure him of the continued friendship of the Spanish Government. Napoleon concealed his just resentment. The time to rectify the wrong had not yet come.
Queen Caroline, the wife of Charles IV. of Spain, was one of the most infamous of women; still she could not be worse than her husband. There was a very handsome young fellow in the body-guard, named Godoy. Caroline fell in love with him, made him her intimate friend, lavished upon him titles and wealth and posts of responsibility. He was called the Prince of Peace, in consequence of the agency he had in effecting the treaty of Basle. He was in all respects a very weak and worthless creature, but he had become in reality the sovereign of Spain, governing with unlimited power. This man, in his anxiety to disarm the anger of Napoleon, sent an ambassador to the Emperor to renew his pledges of friendship, and to give assurance of his entire submission in all things to Napoleon's will. A secret treaty was accordingly made on the 27th of October, 1807, which enabled Napoleon, among other concessions, to station large bodies of French troops within the Spanish territory.
The King's eldest son, Ferdinand, the heir to the throne, was then twenty-five years of age, and bore the title of the Prince of Asturias. His mother had truly characterized him as having "a mule's head and a tiger's heart." He hated Godoy, and was accused of attempting to poison his father and mother, that he might get the crown. His arrest and threatened execution by his father roused the masses of Madrid to a fury of insurrection. Much as they detested Ferdinand, they hated still more implacably the King and Queen, and the Queen's infamous paramour, Godoy. A raging insurrection swept the streets of Madrid. The King was terror-stricken, and implored help from Napoleon. He wrote:
"Sire, my Brother,—I have discovered with horror that my eldest son, the heir presumptive to the throne, has not only formed the design to dethrone me, but even to attempt the life of myself and his mother. Such an atrocious attempt merits the most exemplary punishment. I pray your Majesty to aid me by your light and council."
Ferdinand also appealed to the Emperor. He wrote, "The world more and more daily admires the greatness and goodness of Napoleon. [Pg 196]Rest assured that the Emperor shall ever find in Ferdinand the most faithful and devoted son. Ferdinand implores, therefore, his powerful protection, and prays that he will grant him the honor of an alliance with some august princess of his family."
Thus Napoleon suddenly and unexpectedly found the King of Spain, Godoy, and the Ferdinands, all kneeling at his feet. Speaking upon this subject at Saint Helena, he said:
"The fact is, that had it not been for their broils and quarrels among themselves, I should never have thought of dispossessing them. When I saw those imbeciles quarrelling and trying to dethrone each other, I thought I might as well take advantage of it, and dispossess an inimical family. Had I known at first that the transaction would have given me so much trouble, or that even it would have cost the lives of two hundred men, I would never have attempted it. But being once embarked, it was necessary to go forward."
After a series of the wildest, most tumultuous, and frantic scenes of which even Spanish history gives any account, Charles IV. abdicated in favor of his son Ferdinand. On the 20th of March, 1808, the new King, Ferdinand VII., was saluted by the acclamations of the people and the soldiers, and received the homage of the Court. One of his first acts was to arrest the hated Manuel Godoy. Murat was then in command of the French troops in Spain, and was about entering Madrid. Junot, with a French army, had taken possession of Portugal. Spain was nominally in alliance with France. England was consequently waging war against Spain. The French troops were in Spain to protect the kingdom from the English.
The young King Ferdinand immediately dispatched the Duke of Pargue to convey assurances of friendship to Murat, and to sound his intentions. At the same time he sent three [Pg 200]of the grandees of Spain to announce his accession to the throne to Napoleon, and to give him renewed pledges of his friendship and devotion. On the 23d of April Murat took military possession of Madrid. The next day Ferdinand made his triumphal entrance into the metropolis. He was received with boundless exultation, so greatly were the people rejoiced to be delivered from the detestable Godoy. Thus far Napoleon did not recognize the accession of Ferdinand. He however sent the Duke of Rovigo to Madrid to ascertain the circumstances of the abdication. In the mean time the old King, who had retired with the Queen to Aranjuez, wrote a letter to the Emperor, in which he said that he had been forced to abdicate in favor of his son by the clamors of the people and the insurrection of the soldiers, threatening him with instant death if he refused.
"I protest and declare," he said, "that my decree of the 19th of March, in which I abdicated the crown in favor of my son, is an act to which I have been forced to prevent the greatest misfortunes and the effusion of the blood of my well-beloved subjects. It ought consequently to be regarded as of no value."
The Queen also wrote to Murat, entreating him, in the most supplicating terms, to rescue her paramour Godoy from prison, and stating that they had abdicated only to save their lives. While Charles IV. and Caroline were making these secret protestations to Napoleon and Murat, the abdicated King, to lull the suspicions of Ferdinand, was reiterating the public declaration that the abdication was free and unconstrained, and that never in his life had he performed an act more agreeable to his inclinations.
Murat took the old King and Queen under his protection, provided them with a suitable guard, and demanded the liberation of Godoy. Ferdinand, convinced that he could not maintain the throne without the support of Napoleon, sent his younger brother, Don Carlos, to intercede with the Emperor in his favor. While these scenes were transpiring, Savary, Duke of Rovigo, arrived at Madrid. He assured Ferdinand that it was the Emperor's desire to unite France and Spain in the closest alliance. He proposed that Ferdinand should visit Napoleon, that in a personal interview they might the better mutually understand each other. The counsellors of Ferdinand urged the adoption of this [Pg 202]measure, as one which would secure the confidence of the Emperor, and which might induce him to give a princess of his family to Ferdinand. Such was the condition of affairs in April, 1808. The great object of Napoleon was to secure a government in Spain whose treachery he need not fear, and upon whose friendly co-operation he could rely. Charles IV., the weakest of weak men, enslaved by long habit, was the obsequious tool of his stronger-minded wife. The Queen, Caroline, sought, at whatever price, to save her lover Godoy. Ferdinand wished to crush Godoy, his implacable foe.
Ferdinand decided to visit the Emperor, and on the 10th of April left Madrid for that purpose. When he reached his frontiers he wrote a very suppliant letter to Napoleon, entreating the recognition of his right to the throne, and pledging his friendship. Napoleon replied that he was ready to recognize the Prince of Asturias as King of Spain if it should appear that Charles IV. had not been compelled to abdicate through fear of his life. By this extraordinary concurrence of circumstances Napoleon became the judge between the father and the son, both of whom had appealed to his decision.
Ferdinand, with his suite, crossing the frontiers, [Pg 203]hastened to Bayonne, and entered the city on the morning of the 20th of April. He was received by the Emperor with distinguished marks of attention and kindness, but not with regal honors. The Prince of Peace, whose liberation Murat had secured, came hurrying on to Bayonne, to plead his cause before the Emperor; and he was followed, in a few hours, by Charles IV. and the Queen. Thus the whole family was assembled at Bayonne. The result of several stormy interviews, in which the King, the Queen, and their son exhausted upon each other the language of vituperation, and in which the enraged old King was with difficulty restrained from a violent personal attack upon his son, the parties all agreed to cede to Napoleon the crown of Spain. Ferdinand first renounced his rights in favor of his father, and Charles IV. transferred the sceptre to Napoleon. The imperial palace of Campiegne, its parks and forests, were placed at the disposition of Charles IV. for himself, his Queen, and Godoy, during his life, with an annual pension of thirty million reals. He was also given the proprietorship of the chateau of Chambord, with its parks, forests, and farms, to dispose of as he pleased. Upon the death of the King, the Queen was to [Pg 204]receive a pension of two million reals. The two princes, Ferdinand and Don Carlos, were assigned to the castle of Valençay, its park, forests, and farms, with an income amounting to about half a million dollars.
It is said that Napoleon obtained at Bayonne such developments of the character of Ferdinand that he saw that it was utterly in vain to attempt to make a respectable king of him; one upon whom he could repose the slightest reliance; and he could no longer think of sacrificing the daughter of Lucien to so worthless a creature. Speaking upon this subject at Saint Helena, Napoleon said to Las Casas:
"Ferdinand offered, on his own account, to govern entirely at my devotion, as much so as the Prince of Peace had done in the name of Charles IV. And I must admit that if I had fallen into their views I should have acted much more prudently than I have actually done. When I had them all assembled at Bayonne, I found myself in command of much more than I could have ventured to hope for. The same occurred there, as in many other events of my life, which have been ascribed to my policy, but in fact were owing to my good-fortune.
"Here I found the Gordian knot before me. [Pg 205]I cut it. I proposed to Charles IV. and the Queen that they should cede to me their rights to the throne. They at once agreed to it, I had almost said voluntarily; so deeply were their hearts ulcerated toward their son, and so desirous had they and their favorite now become of security and repose. The Prince of Asturias did not make any extraordinary resistance. Neither violence nor menaces were employed against him. And if fear decided him, which I well believe was the case, it concerns him alone."
On the 8th of May Charles IV. issued a proclamation to the Spanish nation, informing them that he had ceded the crown to Napoleon, and enjoining it upon them to transfer their homage to him. "We have," said he, "ceded all our rights over Spain to our ally and friend the Emperor of the French, by a treaty signed and ratified, stipulating the integrity and independence of Spain and the preservation of our holy religion, not only as dominant, but as alone tolerated in Spain."
As the throne was thus transferred without any action of the people whatever, Napoleon felt the necessity of obtaining something like a national sanction of the deed, and an expression [Pg 206] of the national will in respect to the sovereign who should be placed over them. Murat, at Madrid, announced to the council-general of Castile, to the junta or council of the Government, and to the municipality, that the Emperor desired to know their opinion in reference to the choice of a sovereign from the princes of his own family. All these three bodies united in the expression of the wish that the choice should fall upon Prince Joseph, King of Naples. A deputation of distinguished men was sent to convey this wish to the Emperor. Fortified by these documents, Napoleon, on the 6th of June, proclaimed that the crown of Spain was transferred to his brother Joseph.
Joseph was at that time on the road to Bayonne, not yet knowing the decision of his brother, and in heart very reluctant to assume the crown of Spain. Napoleon rode out from Bayonne to meet Joseph, whom he sincerely loved, and who was so ready to sacrifice his inclinations and his happiness to aid the Emperor in his gigantic plans. The Emperor made the following statement to Joseph as they rode back together to Bayonne:
"The passions of the princes of the House [Pg 207]of Spain have precipitated a crisis which has arrived too soon. They could no more agree together at Bayonne than they could in Spain. Charles IV. preferred to retire to France upon certain conditions, rather than go back to Spain without the Prince of Peace. The Queen also preferred to see a stranger ascend the throne rather than Ferdinand. Neither Ferdinand nor any other Spaniard wished for Charles IV. if the reign of Godoy were to be recommenced; they preferred a stranger to him. I am fully satisfied," said the Emperor, "that it would require greater efforts to sustain Charles and the Prince of Peace than to change the dynasty. Ferdinand has shown himself so moderate in ability, and so unreliable in character, that it would be inconsistent for me to commit myself for him in sustaining a son who has dethroned his father. This dynasty is no longer suitable for Spain. With it no regeneration is possible. The most prominent personages of the monarchy, in rank, in intelligence, and in character, assembled at Bayonne in a national junta, are, in general, convinced of this truth. Since destiny has so ordered it, and since it is in my power now to do that which I had no wish to undertake, I [Pg 208]have designed to regenerate Spain by placing over it my brother, the King of Naples, who is agreeable to the junta, and who will be also so to the nation. Ferdinand has, for a long time, sought one of my nieces in marriage. But since the interview at Bayonne, knowing more intimately the character of the prince, I can not think it proper to accede to his demands.
"The Spanish princes have already left for France. They have ceded their rights to the crown. I wish to transfer the crown to my brother, the King of Naples. It is important that he should not hesitate. The Spaniards, as also foreign sovereigns, will think that I wish to place that crown upon my head, as I have done with that of Lombardy when Joseph refused to accept it. The tranquillity of Spain, of Europe, the reconciliation of all the members of the family[R] depend upon the decision which Joseph now makes. I will not cherish the thought that the regret to leave a beautiful country, where there are no longer any dangers to be encountered, can induce Joseph to refuse a throne, where there are [Pg 209]great obstacles to be overcome, and much good to be accomplished."
When they reached Bayonne, Joseph found all the members of the Junta assembled in the chateau of Marrac. He responded vaguely to the address of congratulation the Junta made to him, wishing first to converse with each individual member of that body. The Spanish princes left for Valençay, and Charles IV. had no partisans whatever. The Duke of Infantado and M. Cevallos had been considered the warmest advocates of Ferdinand. They both called upon Joseph, and held a long interview with him. The duke offered him his services, saying that he had possessions in the kingdom of Naples, and that his agents there had informed him of the wonders which Joseph had wrought. "If Joseph," said he, "can be in Spain what he has been in Naples, there is no doubt that the entire nation will rally around him." M. Cevallos expressed the same views. Joseph then saw every member of the Junta individually, nearly one hundred in number. They all, without exception, described the wretchedness into which Spain had fallen, and the apparent facility with which it could be regenerated. Upon one point they all agreed: [Pg 210]that it would be impossible to live in peace under either the father or the son; that Joseph alone, sacrificing the throne of Naples that he might ascend that of Spain, would meet the wishes of all parties, and bring back prosperity to the distracted realm.
These assurances, which were given to Joseph by all the members of the Spanish Junta assembled at Bayonne, that his acceptance of the throne would calm all troubles, assure the independence of the monarchy, the integrity of its territory, its liberty, and its happiness, roused his generous enthusiasm. "He yielded," writes his biographer, "sacrificing his dearest interests to the hope of doing good to a greater number of people, and decided to accept the crown which was offered him. He considered it his duty to occupy the most dangerous post. Virtue, not ambition, led Joseph to Spain."
The Emperor wished to introduce into Spain the same advanced principles of popular liberty which Joseph, by the Constitution, had conferred upon Naples. With that object he convoked at Bayonne, on the 15th of June, a Spanish assembly, called the Constitutional Junta. This Congress was to consist of one hundred and [Pg 211]fifty persons of the most distinguished orders in the state, though but about one hundred were actually convened. A large number had already assembled when Joseph reached Bayonne. They hastened to welcome him. Many of them, however, afterward proved his most inveterate enemies. The Duke of Infantado, addressing him in the name of the grandees of Spain, said,
"Sire, the Spaniards expect, from the reign of your Majesty, all their happiness. They ardently desire your presence in Spain to fix ideas, to conciliate all interests, and to establish that order so necessary for the regeneration of the country. Sire, the grandees of Spain have always been distinguished by their fidelity to their sovereigns. Your Majesty will experience this, as also our personal affection. Receive, sire, these testimonies of our loyalty with that kindliness so well known by your people of Naples, the renown of which has reached even to us."
The deputation of the Royal Council of Castile said to the new King: "Sire, your Majesty is a branch of a family destined by Heaven to reign. May Heaven grant that our prayers may be heard, and that your Majesty [Pg 212]may become the most happy King in the universe, as we desire for him in the name of the supreme tribunal of which we are the deputies."
Even the Inquisitor, Don Raymond Estenhard, organ of the councils of the Inquisition, declared in their name "that they were full of fidelity and of affection; that they offered their prayers for Joseph, who was charged to govern the country, that he might find happiness in his own heart by contributing to the happiness of his subjects, and that he might elevate them to that degree of prosperity which might be expected from him, particularly when aided by the genius and power of his august brother, Napoleon the Great."
The Duke of Pargue, at the head of a deputation representing the army, gave the same assurances of homage and support. Even Ferdinand wrote Joseph a letter of congratulation, dated Valençay, June 22. It was as follows:
"Sire,—Permit me, in the name of my brother and of my uncle,[S] as well as in my own, to testify to your Majesty the part which we have taken in his induction to the throne of Spain. The object of all our desires having ever been the happiness of the generous nation which he [Pg 213]is called to govern, that happiness is now complete, in view of the accession to the throne of Spain of a prince whose virtues have rendered him so dear to the Neapolitans. We hope your Majesty will accept our prayers for his happiness, to which is united that of our country, and that he will grant to us his friendship, to which we are entitled, for the friendship which we feel for your Majesty. I pray your Catholic Majesty to receive the oath which I owe him as King of Spain, and also the oath of the Spaniards who are now with me. From your Catholic Majesty's affectionate brother."
The Constitutional Junta of Spain commenced its session at Bayonne on the 15th of June. Ninety-one members were present. A constitution was presented very much resembling that which had been conferred upon Naples. It was discussed and voted upon with perfect freedom. Finally, on the 7th of July, it was accepted as amended by the signature of all the members; "considering," as the act said, "that we are convinced that under the régime which the Constitution establishes, and under the government of a prince as just as the one whom we have the happiness to possess, [Pg 214]Spain and all its possessions will be as happy as we can desire it to be."
The Constitution being accepted, Joseph appointed his ministry and constituted his court; placing all the important offices in the hands of distinguished Spaniards. On the 9th of July Joseph left Bayonne and entered Spain, accompanied by the members of the Junta, many grandees of Spain, his ministers, and the officers of his household.
Many have reproached Joseph for having accepted the crown. But it should be remembered that when he arrived at Bayonne, the treaty of abdication by the Spanish princes had already been signed. An assemblage of Spanish notables met him there, and entreated him to accept the crown, to rescue Spain from ruin. There seemed to be no dissent from the opinion that his presence would be the signal of peace and harmony, that it would calm agitation, and unite all parties. In a word, they declared that it was the only way to rescue the country from anarchy, and from those calamities which menaced its entire ruin. The intelligence of the nation exulted in the change, as promising a new era of equality and prosperity.
On the 20th of July Joseph arrived in Madrid. [Pg 215]There were about eighty thousand French troops in Spain. Much to Joseph's surprise and disappointment, he found, all over the kingdom, in the provinces, insurrection rising against him. These scattered bands soon amounted, it was estimated, to one hundred and fifty thousand men. The fanatic monks, alarmed in view of the changes which had been effected in Naples, were very active in rousing the peasantry to resistance. The British Government, which was then at war with Spain because it was the ally of Napoleon, instantly espoused the cause of the insurgents, and contributed all its energies of fleet and army and money to drive Joseph out of Spain.
The new sovereign had entered Madrid without being greeted with any signal demonstrations of enthusiasm. In accordance with the established etiquette of the realm, he was received at the foot of the grand stairs of the palace by the nobility of the country, and was proclaimed king in the public squares and principal streets of Madrid with the accustomed ceremonies upon the advent of a new sovereign. Intensely occupied with the cares of his new government, Joseph did not, for some time, fully comprehend the perils which menaced him. [Pg 216]Step by step he was led on, as he quelled here and there a popular insurrection, until he found himself involved in a stern war with the great mass of the Spanish peasantry, with all the priesthood fanning the flames of opposition, and the British Government energetically co-operating with purse and sword. It would require volumes to describe, with any degree of minuteness, the tremendous struggle. Napier has performed that task in his immortal work upon the Peninsular War.
Joseph soon awoke to a full realization of the peril of his position. On the 13th of July he wrote to the Emperor from Burgos at three o'clock in the morning, "It seems to me that no person has been willing to tell the exact truth to your Majesty. I ought not to conceal it. The task undertaken is very great. To accomplish it with honor will require immense resources. Fear does not make me see double.
"In leaving Naples, I have indeed yielded my life to the most hazardous events. My life is of but little consequence. I surrender it to you. But in order not to live with the shame attached to failure, great resources are requisite in men and money. I am not alarmed, in [Pg 217]view of my position. But it is unique in history. I have not here a single partisan."
Again, on the 19th, he wrote, "It is evident that we have not the soil, since all the provinces are in insurrection or occupied by considerable armies of the enemy."
On the 28th of July he wrote, "I have no need to inform your Majesty that one hundred thousand men are necessary to conquer Spain. I repeat it, that we have not a partisan, and the entire nation is exasperated, and decided to sustain with arms the part which it has embraced.
"All my Spanish officers except five or six have abandoned me. The disposition of the nation is unanimous against that which has been done at Bayonne."
On the 6th of August he wrote, "Your Majesty recommends me to be happy. Never have I been so tranquil and so well, and so indefatigable; and if I have occasion to envy in your Majesty a superior genius which has always enabled him to command victory, I have that in common with all the world. But I have no need to envy any person for composure and tranquillity of soul. And I must avow that I find that adversity enables me to experience [Pg 218]a sentiment which is not without a certain charm; it is to be above adversity."
The Emperor endeavored to cheer his despondent brother with hopeful words. On the 19th of July he wrote him, "I see with pain that you are troubled. It is the only misfortune which I fear. You have a great many partisans in Spain, but they are intimidated. They are all the honest people. I do not the less admit that your task is great and glorious. You ought not to consider it extraordinary that you have to conquer your kingdom. Philip V. and Henry IV. were obliged to conquer theirs. Be happy. Do not permit yourself to be easily affected, and do not doubt for an instant that every thing will end sooner and more happily than you think."
Again, on the 1st of August, Napoleon wrote, "Whatever reverses fortune may have in store for you, do not be uneasy; in a short time you will have more than one hundred thousand men. All is in motion, but it must have time. You will reign. You will have conquered your subjects, in order to become their father. The best of kings have passed through this school. Above all, health to you and happiness, that is to say, strength of mind."
On the 3d of August the Emperor again wrote, "You can not think, my friend, how much pain the idea gives me, that you are struggling with events as much above what you are accustomed to, as they are beneath your natural character.... Tell me that you are well, in good spirits, and are becoming accustomed to the soldier's trade. You have a fine opportunity to study it."
General Junot, with a small French force, at that time held possession of Portugal. The Cabinet of Saint James offered to the Spanish Junta at Seville to send an army of about thirty thousand men to co-operate with the Spaniards in their struggle against the French. For some unknown reason the offer was declined, and the troops were sent to Portugal. These British troops, acting in vigorous co-operation with the Portuguese, greatly outnumbered the French, and, after a severe battle at Torrès Vedras, Junot capitulated at the Convention of Cintra, and his army re-embarked, and was transported to France. This event added greatly to the embarrassment of Joseph. Junot had afforded him much moral and even material support. Now Junot was driven from the Peninsula, and a British army of over [Pg 220]thirty thousand men, under the ablest officers, and flushed with victory, was on the frontiers of Spain, ready in every way to co-operate with the Spaniards.
This roused Napoleon. He was the last man to recoil before difficulties. He had the honor of his arms to avenge, and his policy to justify by success. Never before, in the history of the world, was there such a display of energy, sagacity, and power. He well knew that all dynastic Europe was hostile to those principles of popular liberty which were represented by his name, and that, notwithstanding the obligations of treaties, they were ever ready to spring to arms against him whenever they should see an opportunity to strike him a fatal blow.
Napoleon at once ordered eighty thousand veteran troops of the grand army from the north to assemble at Bayonne. He hastened to Erfurt to hold an interview with Alexander to strengthen their alliance, and to prevent, if possible, a new coalition from being formed against him while absent with his troops in Spain. The Spanish insurgents, as they were called—for they had no established government—were everywhere triumphant. The French [Pg 221]army was driven out of Madrid, and, in a state of great destitution, was standing on the defensive. Joseph and all his generals were thoroughly disheartened, and were only anxious to devise some honorable way by which they could abandon the enterprise. The priests, with a crucifix in one hand and a dagger in the other, had traversed the realms of Spain and Portugal, rousing the religious fanaticism of the unenlightened masses almost to frenzy. Charles IV., his Queen, and Ferdinand had all been intensely devoted to the interests of the Church. The French were represented as infidels, and as the foes of the Church. The whole nation was roused against them. Even the women took an active part in the conflict, perilling their own lives upon the field, and inspiring the men with the courage of desperation. The English, victorious in Portugal, were now welcomed into Spain. They lavished their gold in paying the Spanish armies. Their fleet was busy in transporting supplies. To all Europe the position of Joseph seemed utterly hopeless.
On the 25th of October, Napoleon, on the eve of leaving Paris for Spain, said, at the opening of the Legislative Corps:
"A part of my troops are marching against the armies which England has formed or disembarked in Spain. It is an especial favor of Providence, which has constantly protected our arms, that passion has so blinded the counsels of the English, that they have renounced the protection of the seas, and at length present their armies on the Continent.
"I leave in a few days, to place myself at the head of my army, and, with the aid of God, to crown in Madrid the King of Spain, and to plant my eagles upon the forts of Lisbon.
"The Emperor of Russia and I have met at Erfurt. Our first thought has been of peace. We have even resolved to make many sacrifices that, if possible, the hundred millions of men whom we represent may enjoy the benefits of maritime commerce. We are in perfect harmony, and unchangeably united for peace as for war."
In the mean time Joseph, struggling heroically against adversity, and exceedingly embarrassed by the false position in which he found himself placed, received many consoling messages of confidence and affection from prominent men in the Spanish nation. We present the following extract from a letter addressed [Pg 223]to him on the 2d of September, 1808, by M. M. Azanza and Urquijo, as a specimen of many others which might be quoted:
"We do not doubt that your Majesty contemplates, with deepest grief, the disasters with which Spain is menaced, by the obstinacy of those people who will not know the true interests of the realm. But at least no one is ignorant that your Majesty has done and is doing every thing which is humanly possible to avoid such calamities for his subjects. The day will come when they will recognize the benevolent intentions and paternal kindness of your Majesty; and they will respond to it by testimonies of gratitude and of fidelity which will fill with contentment the noble heart of your Majesty."
The almost supernatural power of the Emperor was never more conspicuously displayed than in the brief, triumphant, overwhelming campaign which ensued. He wrote to Joseph from Erfurt, "I leave to-morrow for Paris, and within a month shall be at Bayonne. Send me the exact position of the army, that I may form a definite organization by making as little displacement as possible. In the present state of affairs, we may conclude that the presumption [Pg 224]of the enemy will lead him to remain in the positions which he now occupies. The nearer he remains to us the better it will be. The war can be terminated in a single blow by a skillfully-combined manœuvre, and for that it is necessary that I should be there."
The single blow Napoleon contemplated would unquestionably have annihilated his foes, but for an inopportune movement of Marshal Lefebre. As it was, it required three or four blows, which were delivered with stunning and bewildering power and rapidity. On the 29th of October Napoleon took his carriage for Bayonne. Madrid was distant from Paris about seven hundred miles. The rains of approaching winter had deluged the roads. He soon abandoned his carriage, and mounted his horse. Apparently insensible to exposure or fatigue, he pressed forward by night and by day, until, at two o'clock in the morning of the 3d of November, he reached Bayonne. He found that his orders had not been obeyed, and that the troops, instead of being concentrated, had been dispersed. Instantly, at the very hour of his arrival, new life was infused into every thing. He seemed by instinct to comprehend the posture of affairs, and to know [Pg 225]just what was to be done. Orders were issued with amazing rapidity; couriers flew in all directions. Barracks were erected; the troops were reviewed; unexecuted contracts were thrown up; agents were sent in every direction to purchase all the cloths in the south of France; hundreds of hands were busy in cutting and making garments; and at the close of a day of such work as few mortals have ever accomplished, Napoleon leaped into his saddle and galloped sixty miles over the mountains to Tolosa, on the Spanish side of the Pyrenees. Here he indulged in an hour or two of rest, and then galloped on thirty miles farther to Vittoria. He encamped with the Imperial Guard outside of the city.
The Spaniards have always been accused of a tendency to vainglorious boasting. The trivial successes which they had attained, in alliance with the English, quite intoxicated them. "We have conquered," they said, "the armies of the great Napoleon. We will soon trample all his hosts in the dust. With an army of five hundred thousand indignant Spaniards we will march upon Paris, and sack the city. The powers of Russia, Austria, and Prussia have fallen before Napoleon; but [Pg 226]Spanish peasants, headed by the priests and the monks, will roll back the tide of victory." Such was the insane boasting.
Napoleon was, at the same time, the boldest and the most cautious of generals. He ever made provision for every possible reverse. Stationing two strong forces to guard his flanks, he took fifty thousand of the élite of his army, and plunged upon the centre of the Spanish troops. Such an onset none but veterans could withstand. There was scarcely the semblance of a battle. The Spaniards fled, throwing down their arms, and leaping like goats amidst the crags of the mountains. Pressing resistlessly forward, Napoleon reached Burgos on the night of the 11th. Here the Spaniards attempted another stand upon some strongly intrenched heights. A brief conflict scattered them in the wildest confusion, defeated, disbanded, leaving cannon, muskets, flags, and munitions of war.
Onward he swept, without a check, without delay, crushing, overwhelming, scattering his foes, over the intrenched heights of Espinosa, through the smouldering streets of the town, across the bridge of Trueba, choked with terrified fugitives, through the pass of Somosierra, [Pg 227]in one of the most astounding achievements which war has ever witnessed, till he led his victorious troops, with no foe within his reach, into the streets of Madrid. He commenced the campaign at Vittoria on the 9th of November, and on the 4th of December his army was encamped in the squares of the Spanish metropolis. Europe gazed upon this meteoric phenomenon with astonishment and alarm.
The Spanish populace had been roused mainly by the priests. In their frenzy, burning and assassinating, they overawed all who were in favor of regenerating Spain by a change of dynasty. It is the undisputed testimony that the proprietors, the merchants, the inhabitants generally who were rich, or in easy circumstances, and even the magistrates and military chiefs, were quite disposed to listen to the propositions of the Emperor. But overawed by the populace, who threatened to carry things to the last extremity, they dared not manifest their sentiments.
As the French army took possession of the city, order was immediately restored. The theatres were re-opened, the shops displayed their wares, the tides of business and pleasure flowed unobstructed along the streets. Numerous deputations, [Pg 228]embracing the most wealthy and respectable inhabitants of Madrid, waited upon the Emperor with their congratulations, and renewed their protestations of fidelity to Joseph. The Emperor then issued a proclamation to the Spanish nation, in which he said,
"I have declared, in a proclamation of the 2d of June, that I wished to be the regenerator of Spain. To the rights which the princes of the ancient dynasties have ceded to me, you have wished that I should add the rights of conquest. That, however, shall not change my inclination to serve you. I wish to encourage every thing that is noble in your exertions. All that is opposed to your prosperity and your grandeur I wish to destroy. The shackles which have enslaved the people I have broken. I have given you a liberal constitution, and, in the place of an absolute monarchy, a monarchy mild and limited. It depends upon yourselves whether that constitution shall still be your law."
In less than five weeks from the time when Napoleon first placed his foot upon the soil of Spain he was master of more than half the kingdom. Sir John Moore, with an army of about 30,000 Englishmen, was marching rapidly from Portugal, to form a junction with another English army of about 10,000 men under Sir David Baird, who were advancing from Corunna. It was supposed in England that the co-operation of these highly-disciplined troops with the masses of the Spaniards who had already fought so valiantly, would speedily secure the overthrow of the French.
But when Sir John Moore and Sir David Baird learned that Napoleon himself was in Spain, that he had scattered the Spanish armies before him as the tornado drives the withered leaves of the forest, that he was already in possession of Madrid, and would soon be ready to direct all his energies against them, they were both greatly alarmed, and, turning about, fled precipitately back to their ships. A deputation [Pg 230]of about twelve hundred of the notables of Spain called upon Napoleon, to confer with him respecting the affairs of the kingdom. He informed them very fully of the benefits he wished to confer upon Spain by rescuing the people from the dominion of the old feudal lords, and bringing them into harmony with the more enlightened views of modern times. He closed his remarks to them by saying,
"The present generation will differ in opinion respecting me. Too many passions have been called into exercise. But your posterity will be grateful to me as their regenerator. They will place in the number of memorable days those in which I have appeared among you. From those days will be dated the prosperity of Spain. These are my sentiments. Go consult your fellow-citizens. Choose your part, but do it frankly, and exhibit only true colors."
General Moore was retreating toward Corunna. An English fleet had repaired to that port to receive the troops on board. On the 22d of December Napoleon left Madrid, with 40,000 men, to pursue the flying foe. The Spaniards, instead of rallying to the support of the English, whom they never loved, dispersed in all directions, leaving them to their fate. "The [Pg 231]Spanish insurgents," says Napier, "were conscious that they were fighting the battles of England. To restore Spain to Ferdinand, England expended one hundred millions sterling ($500,000,000) on her own operations. She subsidized Spain and Portugal besides, and with her supply of clothing, arms, and ammunition, maintained the armies of both, even to the guerrillas."[T]
By forced marches the Imperial troops rushed along, threading the defiles of the mountains of Gaudarrama in mid-winter, through drifts and storms of snow. Napoleon climbed the mountains on foot, sharing all the toil and peril of his troops. Such a leader any army would follow with enthusiasm. In one of the wildest passes of the mountains he passed a night in a miserable hut. Savary, who was with him, writes:
"The single mule which carried his baggage was brought to this wretched house. He was provided with a good fire, a tolerable supper, and a bed. On those occasions the Emperor was not selfish. He was quite unmindful of the next day's wants when he alone was concerned. He shared his supper and his fire [Pg 232]with all who had been able to keep up with him, and even compelled those to eat whose reserve kept them back."
General Moore was straining every nerve to escape. The weather was frightful, and the miry roads almost impassable. The advance-guard of Napoleon was soon within a day's march of the foe. General Moore, as he fled, blew up the bridges behind him, and recklessly plundered the wretched inhabitants. His troops became exceedingly exasperated against the Spaniards for their cowardly desertion, and reproached them with ingratitude.
"We ungrateful!" the Spaniards replied; "you came here to serve your own interests, and now you are running away without defending us."
So bitter was the hostility which thus arose between the English and the Spaniards, and the brutality of the drunken English soldiers was so insupportable, that the Spaniards often welcomed the French troops, who were under far better discipline, as their deliverers. Sir Archibald Alison, in his account of these scenes, says:
"The native and uneradicable vice of northern climates, drunkenness, here appeared in [Pg 233]frightful colors. The great wine-vaults of Bembibre proved more fatal than the sword of the enemy. And when the gallant rear-guard, which preserved its ranks unbroken, closed up the array, they had to force their way through a motley crowd of English and Spanish soldiers, stragglers and marauders, who reeled out of the houses in disgusting crowds, or lay stretched upon the roadside, an easy prey to the enemy's cavalry, which thundered in close pursuit.
"The condition of the army became daily more deplorable; the frost had been succeeded by the thaw; rain and sleet fell in torrents; the roads were almost broken up; the horses foundered at every step; the few artillery-wagons which had kept up fell, one by one, to the rear; and being immediately blown up to prevent their falling into the hands of the enemy, gave melancholy tokens, by the sound of their explosions, of the work of destruction which was going on."
On the 2d of January Napoleon's advance-guard had reached Astorga. Notwithstanding the condition of the roads, and all the efforts of the retreating foe, an army of forty thousand men had marched two hundred miles in ten [Pg 234]days. It was a cold and stormy winter morning when Napoleon left Astorga, in continuance of the pursuit. He had proceeded but a few miles on horseback, when he was overtaken by a courier from France, bearing important dispatches. The Emperor alighted by the roadside, and, standing by a fire which his attendants kindled, read the documents. His officers gathered anxiously around him, watching the expression of his countenance as he read.
The dispatches informed Napoleon that Austria had entered into a new alliance with England to attack him on the north, and that the probability was, that Turkey, exasperated by Napoleon's alliance with Russia, would also be drawn into the coalition. It was also stated that, though Alexander personally was strong in his friendship for Napoleon, the Russian nobles, hostile to the principle of equal rights, inscribed upon the French banners, were raising an opposition of such daily increasing strength, that it was feared the Czar also might be compelled to join in the new crusade against France.
To conduct the war in Spain, Napoleon had withdrawn one hundred thousand of his best troops from the Rhine. His frontiers were [Pg 235]thus greatly exposed. For a moment it was said that Napoleon was staggered by the blow. The vision of another European war, France struggling single-handed against all the combined powers of the Continent, appalled him. Slowly, sadly he rode back to Astorga, deeply pondering the awful question. There was clearly but one of two courses before him. He must either ignobly abandon the conflict in favor of equality of rights, and allow the chains of the old feudal despotism to be again riveted upon France, and all the new governments in sympathy with France, or he must struggle manfully to the end. All around him were impressed with the utter absorption of his mind in these thoughts. As he rode back with his retinue, not a word was spoken. Napoleon seldom asked advice.
Soon his decision was formed, and all dejection and hesitation disappeared. It was necessary for him immediately to direct all his energies toward the Rhine. He consequently relinquished the personal pursuit of the English; and commissioning Marshal Soult to press them with all vigor, he prepared to return to France. Rapidly retracing his steps to Valladolid, he spent five days in giving the most [Pg 236]minute directions for the movements of the army, and for the administration of affairs in Spain. In those few days he performed an amount of labor which seems incredible. He had armies in France, Spain, Italy, and Germany, and he guided all their movements, even to the minute details.
On the first day of the year Joseph had written to Napoleon, and, in the expression of those kindly sympathies which the advent of a new year awakens, had said, "I pray your Majesty to accept my wishes that, in the course of this year, Europe, pacified by your efforts, may render justice to your intentions."
Napoleon replied, "I thank you for what you say relative to the new year. I do not hope that Europe can this year be pacified. So little do I hope it, that I have just issued a decree for levying one hundred thousand men. The rancor of England, the events of Constantinople, every thing, in short, indicates that the hour of rest and quiet is not arrived."
The Emperor, having finished his dispatches at Valladolid, mounted his horse, and set out for Paris. Mr. J. T. Headley thus describes this marvellous ride:
"In the first five hours he rode the astonishing [Pg 237]distance of eighty-five miles, or seventeen miles the hour. This wild gallop was long remembered by the inhabitants of the towns through which the smoking cavalcade of the Emperor passed. Relays of horses had been provided on the road; and no sooner did he arrive at one post, than he flung himself on a fresh horse, and, sinking his spurs in his flanks, dashed away in headlong speed. Few who saw that short figure, surmounted with a plain chapeau, sweep by on that day, ever forgot it. His pale face was calm as marble, but his lips were compressed, and his brow knit like iron; while his flashing eye, as he leaned forward, still jerking impatiently at the bridle as if to accelerate his speed, seemed to devour the distance. No one spoke, but the whole suite strained forward in the breathless race. The gallant chasseurs had never had so long and so wild a ride before."
Napoleon had acted a very noble part toward his brother. The masses of the Spanish people were very ignorant and fanatical. The priests, wielding over them supernatural terrors, controlled them at will. There were certain reforms which were essential to the regeneration of Spain. But these reforms would [Pg 238]exasperate the priests, and, through them, the people. Napoleon, anxious to save his brother from the odium of these necessary measures, took the responsibility of them upon himself. He issued a series of decrees when he entered Madrid as a conqueror, and by virtue of the acknowledged rights of conquest, in which, after proclaiming pardon for all political offenses, he introduced the following reforms.
The execrable institution of the Inquisition was abolished. The number of convents, which had been thronged with indolent monks, was reduced one-half. One-half of the property of these abolished convents was appropriated to the payment of the salary of the laboring clergy. The other half was set apart to the payment of the public debt. The custom-houses between the several provinces of the kingdom, which had been a great source of national embarrassment, were removed, and imposts were collected only on the frontiers. All feudal privileges were annulled.
These measures, of course, exasperated the priests and the nobles. Unfortunately the people were too ignorant to appreciate their full value. As Joseph returned to Madrid, under the protection of the arms of his imperial [Pg 239]brother, though the bells rang merrily, and pealing cannon uttered their voices of welcome, and though the most respectable portion of the middle class received him with satisfaction, there was no enthusiasm among the populace, and the clergy and the nobility received him with suspicion and dislike. The Emperor, upon his departure, had confided to Joseph the command of the army in Spain. But the great generals of Napoleon, ever ready to bow to the will of the Emperor, whose superiority they all recognized, yielded a reluctant obedience to Joseph, whom they did not consider their superior in the art of war.
Sir John Moore continued his precipitate flight, vigorously pursued by Marshal Soult. "There was never," says Napier, "so complete an example of a disastrous retreat. Abandoning their wagons, blowing up their ammunition, and strewing their path with the débris of an utterly routed army, they finally, with torn, bleeding, and greatly-diminished columns, escaped to their ships."
The new coalition in Germany against Napoleon rendering it necessary for him to withdraw a large part of his troops from Spain, greatly encouraged the foes of the new régime. [Pg 240]The British Government, animated by its success in inducing Austria again to co-operate in an attack upon France, and sanguine in the hope of drawing Russia and Turkey into the coalition, which would surely bring the armies of Prussia into the same line of battle, redoubled its efforts in Spain and Portugal. Emissaries were sent everywhere to rouse the populace. Gold was lavished, and arms and ammunition were transmitted by the British fleet to important points.
A central junta was assembled at Seville. It issued a proclamation, calling upon the people everywhere to rise in guerrilla bands. The whole male population was summoned to the field. Death was the penalty denounced upon all those who, by word or deed, favored the French. Twenty thousand troops in Portugal were taken under British pay, and placed under British officers, so that, while nominally it was a Portuguese army, it was in reality but a British force of mercenaries. Numerous transports conveyed a large body of troops from England under Sir Arthur Wellesley, which was landed in Lisbon.
Where the French army had control, there seemed to be a disposition, especially among [Pg 241]the most intelligent and opulent portion of the people, to accept the new régime of Joseph. The bitterest foe of Joseph will not deny that the reforms which he was endeavoring to introduce were admirable, and absolutely essential to the regeneration of Spain. The British Government wished to restore the old régime under Ferdinand; for that Government was in sympathy with the British rule of aristocratic privilege. The French Government wished to maintain the new régime under Joseph, because that Government would bring Spain into sympathy with France, in her defensive struggle against the combined despotisms of Europe. Popular opinion in Spain seemed now to be upon one side, and again upon the other, according to the presence of the different armies.
"At Madrid," says Alison, "Joseph reigned with the apparent consent of the nation. Registers having been open for the inscription of those who were favorable to his government, no less than twenty-eight thousand heads of families in a few days enrolled themselves. And deputations from the Municipal Council, the Council of the Indies, and all the incorporations, waited upon him at Valladolid, to entreat that he would return to the capital and reassume [Pg 242]the royal functions, to which he at length complied."
At Saragossa, on the other hand, Joseph was opposed with persistence and bravery, which has rendered the siege of Saragossa one of the most memorable events in the annals of war. A very determined leader, Parafox, with about thirty thousand men, threw himself into that city. A proclamation was issued, declaring that no mercy would be shown to those who manifested any sympathy for the reign of Joseph. Suspicion was sufficient to doom one to mob violence and a cruel death.
"Terror," says Alison, "was summoned to the aid of loyalty. And the fearful engines of popular power, the scaffold and the gallows, were erected on the public square, where some unhappy wretches, suspected of a leaning to the enemy, were indignantly executed.
"The passions of the people were roused to the very highest pitch by the dread of treason, or any accommodation with the enemy. And popular vehemence, overwhelming all restraints of law or order, sacrificed almost every night persons to the blind suspicions of the multitude, who were found hanging in the morning on the gallows erected in the Corso and market-place."
The priests summoned the peasants from all the region around, so that soon there were fifty thousand armed men within the walls, inspired by as determined a spirit of resistance as ever possessed the human heart. The siege was commenced about the middle of December with thirty-five thousand men, according to the statement of Napier. It is generally understood in warfare that one man, acting upon the defensive within a fortress, is equal to at least five men making the assault from the outside. But in the memorable siege of Saragossa, the besieged had a third more men than the besiegers. Alison thinks Napier incorrect, and makes the besieging force forty-three thousand. This gives the besieged a superiority of seven thousand men. It surely speaks volumes for the courage and skill of the French army, that under such circumstances the siege could have been conducted to a successful issue, especially when the determination and bravery of the people of Saragossa are represented as almost without a parallel.
The scenes of woe which ensued within the walls of Saragossa no pen can describe, no imagination can conceive. In addition to the garrison of fifty thousand men, the city was [Pg 244]crowded with women and children, the aged and the infirm. For fifty days the storm of war raged, with scarcely a moment's intermission. Thirty-three thousand cannon shots and sixteen thousand bombs were thrown into the thronged streets. Fifty-four thousand human beings perished in the city during these fifty days—more than a thousand a day. Many perished of famine and of pestilence. When the French marched into the town, there were six thousand dead still unburied. There were sixteen thousand helplessly sick, and many of them dying. Only twelve thousand of the garrison remained, pale, emaciate, skeleton men, who, as captives of war, were conveyed to France. When we reflect that all this heroism and bravery were displayed, and all these unspeakable woes endured, to re-introduce the reign of as despicable a monarch as ever sat upon a throne, and to rivet the chains of despotism upon an ignorant, debased, and enslaved people, one can not but mourn over the sad lot of humanity.
The rank and file of armies is never composed of men of affectionate, humane, and angelic natures. It is the tiger in the man which makes the reckless soldier. Familiarity with [Pg 245]crime, outrage, misery, renders the soul callous. There is no rigor of army discipline which can prevent atrocities that should cause even fiends to blush. The story of the sweep of armies never can be truly told.
As all the physical strength of the region for leagues around Saragossa had been gathered in that city, its fall secured the submission of the surrounding country. Lannes was called to join the grand army in Germany. Junot, who was left in command of the troops at Saragossa, prepared for an expedition against Valencia. City after city passed, with scarcely any resistance, into the hands of the French. The campaign in Germany rendered it necessary for Napoleon to withdraw all his best troops, leaving Joseph to maintain his position in Spain, with a motley group of Italians, Swiss, and Germans, who were by no means inspired either with the political intelligence or the martial enthusiasm of the French.
The Spanish peasants, depressed by failure, and inspired, not by intelligent conviction, but by momentary religious fanaticism, threw down their arms and returned to their homes. There was but little integrity or sense of honor to be found in Spain, long demoralized by a [Pg 246]wretched government; and the immense supplies which England furnished were embezzled or misapplied. The Spaniards are not cowards. The feeble resistance they often made proved that they took but little interest in the issues of the war. Ferdinand had done nothing to win their regard. But he was a Spanish prince, in the regular line of descent from their ancient kings. Joseph Bonaparte was a stranger, a foreigner, about to be imposed upon them by the aid of foreign arms. It was easy, under these circumstances, to rouse a transient impulse for Ferdinand, but not an abiding devotion.
General Duhesme was in Barcelona with a few thousand troops, cut off from communication with his friends by the English fleet, and a large army of Spanish peasants which was collected to secure his capture. General St. Cyr, with about sixteen thousand infantry and cavalry, marched to his relief. In a narrow defile, amidst rocks and forests, he encountered a Spanish force forty thousand strong, drawn up in a most favorable position to arrest his progress. St. Cyr formed his troops in one solid mass, and charging headlong, without firing a shot, in half an hour dispersed the foe, [Pg 247]killing five hundred, wounding two thousand, and capturing all their artillery and ammunition. The next day St. Cyr entered Barcelona. The Spaniards were so utterly dispersed that not ten thousand men could be re-assembled two days after the battle.
But the English fleet was upon the coast, with encouragement and abundant supplies. After a little while, another Spanish army, twenty thousand strong, was rendezvoused at Molinas del Rey. St. Cyr again fell upon these troops. They fled so precipitately that but few were hurt. Their supplies, which the British had furnished them, were left upon the field. St. Cyr gathered up fifty pieces of cannon, three million cartridges, sixty thousand pounds of powder, and a magazine containing thirty thousand stand of English arms. Lord Collingwood, who commanded the British fleet, declared that all the elements of resistance in the province were dissolved. These events took place just before the fall of Saragossa.
In the middle of February of this year, 1809, St. Cyr had twenty-three thousand men concentrated at Villa Franca. Forty thousand Spaniards were collected to attack him. Almost contemptuously, he took eleven thousand [Pg 248]of his troops, surprised the Spaniards, and scattered them in the wildest flight. He pursued the fugitives, and wherever they made a stand dispersed them with but little effort or loss upon his own side. There was no longer any regular resistance in Catalonia, though guerrilla bands still prowled about the country.
Thus the wretched, desolating warfare raged, month after month. Nothing of importance toward securing the abiding triumph of either party was gained. Whenever the French army withdrew from any section of country, British officers entered, to re-organize, with the aid of the Spanish priests, the peasants to renewed opposition, and British gold was lavished in paying the soldiers. Junot was taken sick, and Suchet, whom Napoleon characterized at Saint Helena as the first of his generals, was placed in command. We have not space to describe the numerous battles which were fought, and the patience of our readers would be exhausted by the dreary narration. The siege of Gerona by St. Cyr occupied seven months.
Joseph was still in Madrid. As we have said, the more intelligent and opulent classes rallied around him. Sir Archibald Alison, ever the advocate of aristocratic privilege, while [Pg 249]admitting the fact of Joseph's apparent popularity in Madrid, in the following strain of remark endeavors to explain that fact:
"Addresses had been forwarded to Joseph Bonaparte at Valladolid from all the incorporations and influential bodies at Madrid, inviting him to return to the capital and resume the reins of government. Registers had been opened in different parts of the city for those citizens to inscribe their names who were favorable to his cause. In a few days thirty thousand signatures, chiefly of the more opulent classes, had been inscribed on the lists. In obedience to these flattering invitations, the intrusive King had entered the capital with great pomp, amidst the discharge of a hundred pieces of cannon, and numerous, if not heartfelt, demonstrations of public satisfaction; a memorable example of the effect of the acquisition of wealth, and the enjoyments of luxury, in enervating the minds of their possessors, and of the difference between the patriotic energy of those classes who, having little to lose, yield to ardent sentiments without reflection, and those in whom the suggestions of interest and the habits of indulgence have stifled the generous emotions of nature."
The great defect in Joseph's character as an [Pg 250]executive officer, under the circumstances in which he was placed, was his apparent inability fully to comprehend the grandeur of Napoleon's conceptions. Instead of looking upon Spain as an essential part of the majestic whole, and which, by its money and its armies, must aid in sustaining the new principle of equal rights for all, he forgot the general cause, and sought only to promote the interests of his own kingdom. Napoleon, having secured the reign of the new régime of equality in France, in antagonism to the old régime of privilege, immediately found all Europe banded against him. France could not stand alone against such antagonism. Hence it became essential that alliances should be formed for mutual protection. The genius of Napoleon was of necessity the controlling element in these alliances.
In that view, he had enlarged and strengthened the boundaries of France. He had created the kingdoms of Italy and Naples. He had, impelled by the instinct of self-preservation, bought out the treacherous Bourbons of Spain, and was endeavoring to lift up the Spaniards from ages of depressing despotism, that Spain, under an enlightened ruler, rejoicing in the intelligence and prosperity which existed under [Pg 251]all the new governments, might contribute its support to the system of equal rights throughout Europe.
England, Russia, Prussia, Austria, and the aristocratic party throughout all Europe, were in deadly hostility to the principle of abolishing privileged classes, and instituting equal rights for all. They were ever ready to squander blood and treasure, to violate treaties, to form open or secret coalitions, in resisting these new ideas. Regarding Napoleon as the great champion of popular rights, and conscious that there was no one of his marshals who, upon Napoleon's downfall, could take his place, all their energies were directed against him personally.
Thus we have the singular spectacle, never before witnessed in the history of the world, never again to be witnessed, of the combined monarchs of more than a hundred millions of men waging warfare against one single man. And therefore Napoleon called upon all the regenerated nations in sympathy with his views to rally around him. He regarded them as wings of the great army of which France was the centre. In combating the coalition, he was fighting battles for them all. They stood or [Pg 252]fell together. In the terrific struggle which deluged all Europe in blood, Napoleon was the commander-in-chief of the whole army of reform. He was such by the power of circumstances. He was such by innate ability. He was such by universal recognition.
When therefore Napoleon regarded the sovereigns appointed over the nations whom his genius had rescued from despotism but as the generals of his armies, who were to co-operate at his bidding in defense of the general system of dynastic oppression, it was not arrogance, it was wisdom and necessity that inspired his conduct. Louis in Holland, Jerome in Westphalia, Eugene in Italy, Murat in Naples, Joseph in Spain, all were bound, under the leadership of Napoleon, to contribute their portion to the general defense.
Very strangely, Joseph seemed never to be able fully to comprehend this idea. He was a man of great intelligence, of high culture, and a more kindly, generous heart never throbbed in a human bosom; and yet, notwithstanding all Napoleon's arguments, it seemed impossible for him to comprehend why he should not be as independent as the King of Spain, as Napoleon was in the sovereignty of France. Fully [Pg 253]recognizing the immeasurable superiority of his brother to any other man, and loving him with a devotion which has seldom if ever been exceeded, he was still disposed to regard himself as placed in Spain only to promote the happiness of the Spanish people, without regard to the interests of the general cause. Instead of being ready to contribute of men and money from Spain to maintain the conflict against coalesced Europe, he was continually writing to his brother to send him money to carry on his own Government, and to excuse him from making any exactions from the people. He was exceedingly reluctant to deal with severity, or to quell the outrages of brigands with the necessary punishment. His letters to the Emperor are often filled with complaints. He deplores the sad destiny which has made him a king. He longs to return, with his wife and children, to the quiet retreat of Mortfontaine.
Napoleon dealt tenderly with his brother. He fully understood his virtues; he fully comprehended his defects. Occasionally an expression of impatience escaped his pen, though frequently he made no allusion, in his reply, to Joseph's repinings.
The Duke of Wellington is reported to have [Pg 254]said that "a man of refined Christian sensibilities has no right to enter into the profession of a soldier." A successful warrior must often perform deeds at which humanity shudders. Joseph was, by the confession of all, one of the most calm and brave of men upon the field of battle. Still, he was too modest a man, and had too little confidence in himself to perform those hazardous and heroic deeds of arms which war often requires. Napoleon, conscious that his brother was not by nature a warrior, and also wishing to save him from the unpopularity of military acts in crushing sedition, left him as much as possible to the administration of civil affairs in Madrid. His statesmanship and amiability of character could here have full scope.
To his war-scarred veterans, Junot, Soult, Jourdan, Suchet, the Emperor mainly intrusted the military expeditions. Still, to save Joseph from a sense of humiliation, the Emperor acted as far as possible through his brother, in giving commands to the army. But the marshals, obedient as children to the commands of Napoleon, whose superior genius not one of them ever thought of calling in question, often manifested reluctance in executing operations [Pg 255]directed by Joseph. At times they could not conceal from him that they considered their knowledge of the art of war superior to his. Joseph was king of Spain, and was often humiliated by the impression forced upon him that he was something like a tool in the hands of others.
During the year 1809 Joseph remained most of the time in Madrid. There were innumerable conflicts during the year, from petty skirmishes to pretty severe battles, none of which are worthy of record in this brief sketch.
The latter part of April the Duke of Wellington landed in Portugal, with English re-enforcements of thirty thousand men. With these, aided by such forces as he could raise in Portugal and rally around him in Spain, he was to advance against the French. Napoleon had been compelled to withdraw all of the Imperial Guard, and all of his choicest troops, to meet the war on the plains of Germany. Marshal Soult was on the march for Oporto. With about twenty thousand troops he laid siege to the city. The feebleness of the defense of the Portuguese may be inferred from the fact that the city was protected by two hundred pieces of cannon, and by a force of [Pg 256]regular troops and armed peasants amounting to about seventy thousand men. Soult, having made all his preparations for the assault, and confident that the city could not resist his attack, wrote a very earnest letter to the magistrates, urging that by capitulation they should save the city from the horrors of being carried by storm. No reply was returned to the summons except a continued fire.
The attack was made. The Portuguese peasants had tortured, mangled, killed all the French prisoners that had fallen into their hands. Both parties were in a state of extreme exasperation. The battle was short. When the French troops burst through the barriers, a general panic seized the Portuguese troops, and they rushed in wild confusion through the streets toward the Douro. The French cavalry pursued the terrified fugitives, and, with keen sabres, hewed them down till their arms were weary with the slaughter.
A bridge crossed the river. Crowded with the frenzied multitude, it sank under their weight, and the stream was black with the bodies of drowning men. Those in the rear, by thousands, pressed those before them into the yawning gulf. Boats pushed out from the [Pg 257]banks to rescue them, but the light artillery of the French was already upon the water's edge, discharging volleys of grape upon the helpless, compact mass. Before the city surrendered, four thousand of these unhappy victims of war, torn with shot, and suffocated by the waves, were swept down the stream. Though the marshal exerted himself to the utmost to preserve discipline, no mortal man could restrain the passions of an army in such an hour. The wretched city experienced all the horrors of a town taken by storm. The number of the slain, according to the report of Marshal Soult, was more than eighteen thousand, not including those who were engulfed in the Douro. Multitudes of the wounded fled to the woods, where they perished miserably of exposure and starvation. But two hundred and fifty prisoners were taken. The French took two hundred thousand pounds of powder, a vast amount of stores, and tents for the accommodation of fifty thousand men. They captured also in the port thirty English vessels loaded with wine. The loss of the French in capturing Oporto, according to the report of the general-in-chief, was but eighty killed, and three hundred and fifty wounded.
It is heart-sickening to proceed with the recital of these horrors. Similar scenes took place in Tarancon, where General Victor destroyed the remains of the regular Spanish army with terrible slaughter. A band of about twelve thousand men were cut to pieces by General Sebastiani. Again the Spaniards met with a fearful repulse upon the plains of Estremadura. The Spanish general, Cuesta, with twenty thousand infantry and four thousand horse, was attacked by General Victor with fifteen thousand foot and three thousand horse. As usual, the French cut to pieces their despised foes, capturing all their artillery, inflicting upon them a loss in killed, wounded, and prisoners, of ten thousand men, while the French lost but about one thousand.
While these scenes were transpiring, Joseph, at Madrid, not only occupied himself with the general direction of the war, so far as the instructions which he perpetually received from Paris enabled him to do, but labored incessantly, as he had done in Naples, in promoting all needful reforms, and in forming and executing plans for the happiness of his subjects. He caused a constitution, which had been formed at Bayonne, to be published and widely circulated, [Pg 259]that the Spaniards might be convinced that it was his desire to reign over them as a father rather than as a sovereign.
Napoleon, speaking of his brother Joseph to Dr. O'Meara at Saint Helena, said:
"Joseph is a very excellent man. His virtues and his talents are appropriate to private life. Nature destined him for that. He is too amiable to be a great man. He has no ambition. He resembles me in person, but he is much better than I. He is extremely well educated."
"I have always observed," O'Meara remarks, "that he spoke of his brother Joseph with the most ardent affection."
The fickleness of the multitude was very conspicuous during all these stormy scenes. Joseph made a short visit to the southern provinces. Everywhere he was received with the greatest enthusiasm, the people crowding around him, and greeting him with shouts of "Vive le Roi." Deputations from the cities and villages hastened to meet him with protestations of homage and fidelity. Joseph responded, in those convincing accents which the honesty of his heart inspired, that he wished to forget all the past, to maintain the salutary [Pg 260]institutions of religion, and to confer upon Spain that constitutional liberty which would secure its prosperity. Joseph and the friends who accompanied him were so much impressed with the apparent cordiality of their greeting that they were sanguine in the hope that the nation would rally around the new dynasty. On the 4th of March the King entered Malaga. The enthusiasm of his reception could scarcely have been exceeded. The streets through which he passed were strewn with flowers, and the windows filled with the smiling faces of ladies. He remained there for eight days, receiving every token of regard which affection and confidence could confer.
But in other parts of the country where Joseph was not present it seemed as if the whole population, without a dissenting voice, was rising against him. His embarrassments became extreme. He not only had no wish to impose himself upon a reluctant people, but no earthly consideration could induce him to do so. It was his sincere and earnest desire to lift up Spain from its degradation, and make it great and prosperous. The emissaries of Great Britain were everywhere busy recruiting the Spanish armies, lavishing gold in payment, [Pg 263]supplying the troops abundantly with clothing and all the munitions of war, and giving them English officers. Guerrilla bands were organized, with the privilege of plundering and destroying all who were in favor of the new régime. The friends of the new régime dared not openly avow their attachment to the government of Joseph, unless protected by French troops. It was thus extremely difficult to ascertain the real wishes of the nation.
The Duke of Wellington was upon the frontiers, with an army of seventy thousand English and Portuguese. If Joseph remained in Spain, it was clear that he had a long and bloody struggle before him. If he threw down the crown and abandoned the enterprise, it was surrendering Spain to England, to be forced inevitably into the coalition against France. Thus the existence of the new régime in France seemed to depend upon the result of the struggle in Spain. Joseph could not abandon the enterprise without being apparently false to his brother, to his own country, and to the principle of equal rights for all throughout Europe.
In July of 1809 Joseph was in Madrid, with an army of about forty thousand men. The rest of the French army was widely dispersed. The Duke of Wellington thought this a favorable opportunity to make a rapid march and seize the Spanish capital. Collecting a force of eighty-five thousand troops, he pressed rapidly forward to Talavera, within two days' march of Madrid. Joseph, being informed of the approach of this formidable allied army, and that they were expecting still very considerable re-enforcements, resolved to advance and attack them before those new troops should arrive. By great exertions he collected about forty-five thousand veterans, and on the 27th of July found himself facing his vastly-outnumbering foes, very formidably posted among the groves and hills of Talavera. For two days the battle raged. It was fearfully destructive. The allied army lost between six [Pg 265]and seven thousand men, the French between eight and nine thousand. The tall grass took fire, and, sweeping along like a prairie conflagration, fearfully burned many of the wounded. The Spaniards and Portuguese were easily dispersed. They seemed to care but little for the conflict, regarding themselves as the paid soldiers of England, fighting the battles of England. But the British troops fought with the determination and bravery which has ever characterized the men of that race.
At the close of the second day's fight the French troops drew off in good order, and encamped about three miles in the rear. Though unable to disperse the army of Wellington, Joseph had accomplished his purpose in so crippling the enemy as to arrest his farther advance, and thus to save Madrid. Joseph waited in his encampment for the arrival of Soult, Ney, and Mortier, who were hastening to his aid. Wellington, finding that he could place but very little reliance upon his Portuguese and Spanish allies, decided to retreat, abandoning his wounded to the protection of some Spanish troops whom he left as a rear-guard, who in turn abandoned the sufferers entirely and returned to Portugal.
The British complained bitterly of the lukewarmness and even treachery of their Spanish allies. Alison gives utterance to these complaints in saying:
"From the moment the English troops entered Spain, they had experienced the wide difference between the promises and the performance of the Spanish authorities. We have the authority of Wellington for the assertion that if the Junta of Truxillo had kept their contract for furnishing two hundred and forty thousand rations, the Allies would, on the night of the 27th of July, have slept in Madrid. But for the month which followed the battle of Talavera their distresses in this respect had indeed been excessive, and had reached a height which was altogether insupportable. Notwithstanding the most energetic remonstrances from Wellington, he had got hardly any supplies from the Spanish generals or authorities from the time of his entering Spain. Cuesta had refused to lend him ninety mules to draw his artillery, though at the time he had several hundred in his army doing nothing. The troops of all arms were literally starving. During the month which followed the junction of the two armies, on the 22d of July, they [Pg 267]had not received ten days' bread. On many days they got only a little meat without salt, on others nothing at all. The cavalry and artillery horses had not received, in the same time, three deliveries of forage, and in consequence a thousand had died, and seven hundred were on the sick list.
"These privations were the more exasperating that, during the greater part of the time, the Spanish troops received their rations regularly, both for men and horses. The composition of the Spanish troops, and their conduct at Talavera and upon other occasions, was not such as to inspire the least confidence in their capability of resisting the attack of the French armies. The men, badly disciplined and without uniform, dispersed the moment they experienced any reverse, and permitted the whole weight of the contest to fall on the English soldiers, who had no similar means of escape. These causes had gradually produced an estrangement, and at length a positive animosity between the privates and officers of the two armies. An angry correspondence took place between their respective generals, which widened the breach."
A few skirmishes ensued between the contending [Pg 268]parties until the 3d of November, when Joseph, with thirty thousand men, encountered fifty-five thousand Spaniards. The odds in favor of the Spaniards was so great that they rushed vigorously upon the French. A battle of four hours ensued. The Spanish army was broken to pieces, dispersed, trampled under foot. Twenty thousand prisoners, fifty-five pieces of cannon, and the whole ammunition of the army were captured by the French.
"Wearied with collecting prisoners," says Alison, "the French at length merely took the arms from the fugitives, desiring them to go home, telling them that war was a trade which they were not fit for."
From this conflict Joseph returned in triumph to his capital. It seemed for a time that no more resistance could be offered, and that his government was firmly established. Wellington was driven back into Portugal, and loudly proclaimed that he could place no reliance upon the promises or the arms of the Spaniards or the Portuguese.
Napoleon had returned from the triumphant campaign of Wagram. Again he had shattered the coalition in the north, and was upon the pinnacle of his greatness. The total failure [Pg 269]of Wellington's campaign had greatly disappointed the British people. The Common Council of London petitioned Parliament for an inquiry into the circumstances connected with this failure.
"Admitting the valor of Lord Wellington," they said in their address, "the petitioners can see no reason why any recompense should be bestowed on him for his military conduct. After a useless display of British valor, and a frightful carnage, that army, like the preceding one, was compelled to seek safety in a precipitous flight before an enemy who we were told had been conquered, abandoning many thousands of our wounded countrymen into the hands of the French. That calamity, like the others, has passed without any inquiry, and, as if their long-experienced impunity had put the servants of the Crown above the reach of justice, ministers have actually gone the length of advising your majesty to confer honorable distinctions on a general who has thus exhibited, with equal rashness and ostentation, nothing but a useless valor."
Still, after an angry debate, in which there was very strong opposition presented against carrying on the war in Spain, it was finally [Pg 270]decided to prosecute hostilities against Napoleon in the Peninsula with renewed vigor. The advocates of the measure urged that there was no other point in Europe where they could gain a foothold to attack Napoleon, and that by protracting the war there, and drawing down the French armies, they might afford an opportunity for the Northern powers again to rise in a coalition against the new régime. These views were very strenuously urged in the House of Lords by Lord Wellesley, Lord Castlereagh, and Lord Liverpool. The vote stood sixty-five for the war, thirty-three against it. It was resolved to concentrate the whole force of England for a new campaign in the Peninsula. One hundred millions of dollars were voted to the navy, one hundred and five millions to the army, and twenty-five millions for the ordnance. The British navy engaged in the enterprise consisted of a thousand and nineteen vessels of war. In addition to these forces, the English were to raise all the troops they could from Spain and Portugal, offering them the most liberal pay, and encouraging them to all those acts of guerrilla warfare for which they were remarkably adapted, and which might prove most annoying to the French communications.
Napoleon, to meet the emergency, had in the Peninsula an army of two hundred and eighty thousand men ready for service. Slowly the months of the year 1810 rolled away over that wretched land. There were battles on the plains and among the hills, sieges, bombardments, conflicts hand to hand in the blood-stained streets, outrages innumerable, pestilence, famine, conflagration, misery, death. The causes of the conflict were clearly defined and distinctly understood by the leading men on each side. Never was there a more momentous question to be decided by the fate of armies. England was fighting to perpetuate in England and on the Continent the old régime of aristocratic privilege. France was fighting to defend and maintain in France and among the other regenerated nations of Europe, the new régime of equal rights for all men. The intelligent community everywhere distinctly comprehended the nature of the conflict, and chose their sides. The unintelligent masses, often blinded by ignorance, deluded by fanaticism, or controlled by power, were bewildered, and swayed to and fro, as controlled by circumstances.
The year 1811 opened sadly upon this war-deluged [Pg 272]land. It would only lacerate the heart of the reader to give an honest recital of the miseries which were endured. No one can read with pleasure the account of these scenes of blood, misery, and death. Equal bravery and equal determination were displayed by the French and by the English, and, alas for man, there was probably much conscientiousness on both sides. There were religious men in each army, men who went from their knees in prayer into the battle. There were men who honestly believed that the interests of humanity required that the government of the nations should be in the hands of the rich and the noble. There were others who as truly believed that the old feudal system was a curse to the nations, and that a new era of reform was demanded, at whatever expense of treasure and blood. And thus these children of a common father, during the twelve long months of another year, contended with each other in the death-struggle upon more battle-fields than history can record.
Joseph, in view of this slaughter and this misery, was at times extremely wretched. He knew not what to do. Nothing can exceed the sadness of some of his letters to his brother. [Pg 273]To abandon the conflict seemed like cowardice, and might prove the destruction of the popular cause all over Europe. To persevere was to perpetuate blood and misery. Seldom has any man been placed in a position of greater difficulty, but the integrity, the conscientiousness, and the humanity of the man were manifest in every word he uttered, in every deed he performed.
"My first duties," said Joseph, "are for Spain. I love France as my family, Spain as my religion. I am attached to the one by the affections of my heart, and to the other by my conscience."
Napoleon, wearied with these incessant wars, which were draining the treasure and the blood of France, thought that if he could connect himself by marriage with one of the ancient dynasties, he could thus bring himself into the acknowledged family of kings, and secure such an alliance as would prevent these incessant coalitions of all dynastic Europe against France. In March, 1810, the Emperor, having committed the greatest mistake of his life in the divorce of Josephine—a sin against God's law, though with him, at the time, a sin of ignorance and of good intentions—a mistake [Pg 274]which he afterward bitterly deplored as the ultimate cause of his ruin—married Maria Louisa, the daughter of the Emperor of Austria. This union seemed to unite Austria with France in a permanent alliance, and for a time gave promise of securing the great blessing which Napoleon hoped to attain by it. On the 20th of March, 1811, Napoleon wrote to Joseph:
"Monsieur mon Frere,—I hasten to announce to your Majesty that the Empress, my dear wife, has just been safely delivered of a prince, who at his birth received the title of the King of Rome. Your Majesty's constant affection towards me convinces me that you will share in the satisfaction which I feel at an event of such importance to my family and to the welfare of my subjects.
"This conviction is very agreeable to me. Your Majesty is aware of my attachment, and can not doubt the pleasure with which I seize this opportunity of repeating the assurance of the sincere esteem and tender friendship with which I am," etc.
On the same day, a few hours later, he wrote again to his brother giving a minute account of the accouchement, which was very severe. He closed this letter by saying:
"The babe is perfectly well. The Empress is as comfortable as could be expected. This evening, at eight o'clock, the infant will be privately baptized. As I do not intend the public christening to take place for the next six weeks, I shall intrust General Defrance, my equerry, who will be the bearer of this letter, with another in which I shall ask you to stand godfather to your nephew."
In May, Joseph, accompanied by a small retinue, visited Paris, to have a personal conference with his brother upon the affairs of Spain. He was much dissatisfied that the French marshals there were so independent of him in the conduct of their military operations. The result of the conversations which he held with his brother was, that he returned to Spain apparently satisfied. He entered Madrid on the 15th of July, in the midst of an immense concourse of people. The principal inhabitants of the city, in a long train of carriages, came out to meet him, a triumphal arch was constructed across the road, and joy seemed to beam from every countenance. He immediately consecrated himself with new ardor to the administration of the internal affairs of his realm.
There was very strong opposition manifested by the people of England against the Spanish war. There were many indications that the British Government might be forced, by the voice of the people, to relinquish the conflict. Animated by these hopes, Joseph announced his intention of calling a Spanish congress, in which the people should be fully represented, to confer upon the national interests. Wellington was thoroughly disheartened. His dispatches were full of bitter complaints against the incapacity of the British Government. Napoleon, in his address to the legislative body on the 18th of June, 1811, in the following terms alluded to the war in Spain:
"Since 1809 the greater part of the strong places in Spain have been taken, after memorable sieges, and the insurgents have been beaten in a great number of pitched battles. England has felt that the war is approaching a termination, and that intrigues and gold are no longer sufficient to nourish it. She has found herself, therefore, obliged to alter the nature of her assistance, and from an auxiliary she has become a principal. All her troops of the line have been sent to the Peninsula.
"English blood has, at length, flowed in [Pg 277]torrents in several actions glorious to the French arms. This conflict with Carthage, which seemed as if it would be decided on fields of battle on the ocean or beyond the seas, will henceforth be decided on the plains of Spain. When England shall be exhausted, when she shall at last have felt the evils which for twenty years she has with so much cruelty poured upon the Continent, when half her families shall be in mourning, then shall a peal of thunder put an end to the affairs of the Peninsula, the destinies of her armies, and avenge Europe and Asia by finishing this second Punic War."[U]
At the close of the year 1811 Napoleon stood upon the highest pinnacle of his power. Coalition after coalition had been shattered by his armies, and now he had not an avowed foe upon the Continent. The Emperor of Russia was allied to him by the ties of friendship; the Emperor of Austria by the ties of relationship. Other hostile nations had been too thoroughly vanquished to attempt to arise against him, or, by political regeneration, had been brought into sympathy with the new régime in France.
The English, aided by their resistless fleet, [Pg 278]still held important positions in Portugal. They however had no foothold in Spain excepting at Cadiz, situated upon the island of Leon, upon the extreme southern point of the Peninsula. The usual population of the city of Cadiz was one hundred and fifty thousand. But this number had been increased by a hundred thousand strangers, who had thrown themselves into the place. About fifty thousand troops under Marmont were besieging the city. The garrison defending Cadiz consisted of about twenty thousand men, five thousand of whom were English soldiers. The British fleet was also in its harbor, with encouragement and supplies. Here and there predatory bands occasionally appeared, but this was nearly all the serious opposition which was then presented to the reign of Joseph. The French lines encompassing the city were thirty miles in length, extending from sea to sea.
To the great chagrin of England, the Spanish leaders in Cadiz convened a Congress, which formed a constitution, called the Constitution of 1812, far more radically democratic than even Napoleon could advocate for Spain. Wellington was exceedingly vexed, and complained bitterly of this conduct on the part of [Pg 279]the men whose battle he assumed to be fighting. "The British Government were well aware," says Alison, "while democratic frenzy was thus reigning triumphant at Cadiz, from the dispatches of their ambassador there, the Honorable H. Wellesley, as well as from Wellington's information of the dangerous nature of the spirit which had been thus evolved, that they had a task of no ordinary difficulty to encounter in any attempt to moderate its transports."[V]
Joseph grew more and more disheartened. All his plans for the pacification of the country were baffled. On the 23d of March, 1812, he wrote to his brother from Madrid as follows:
"Sire,—When a year ago I sought the advice of your Majesty before coming back to Spain, you urged me to return. It is therefore that I am here. You had the kindness to say to me that I should always have the privilege of leaving the country if the hopes we had conceived should not be realized. In that case your Majesty assured me of an asylum in the south of the Empire, between which and Mortfontaine I could divide my residence.
"Events have disappointed my hopes. I [Pg 280]have done no good, and I have no longer any hopes of doing any. I entreat, then, your Majesty to permit me to resign to his hands the crown of Spain, which he condescended to transmit to me four years ago. In accepting the crown of this country, I never had any other object in view than the happiness of this vast monarchy. It has not been in my power to accomplish it. I pray your Majesty to receive me as one of his subjects, and to believe that he will never have a more faithful servant than the friend whom nature has given him."
The resignation was not then accepted, and circumstances soon became such that Joseph felt that he could not with honor withdraw from the post he occupied.
The Spaniards looked with great distrust upon the Duke of Wellington, who was the embodiment of the principles of aristocracy, the more to be feared in consequence of his inflexible will. The English deemed the re-enthronement of Ferdinand VII. and his despotic sway essential to the success of their cause. The uncrowned King and his brother Don Carlos were living very sumptuously and contentedly, chasing foxes and hares at Valençay, and cutting [Pg 281]down the park to build bonfires in celebration of Napoleon's victories.
The British Government, alarmed in view of the democratic spirit unexpectedly developed by a portion of the Spanish allies, sent a secret agent, Baron Rolli, a man of great sagacity, address, and intrepidity, to persuade Ferdinand to violate his pledge of honor, to escape from Valençay, and place himself at the head of the Spaniards who were in opposition to Joseph. It was hoped that this would awaken new enthusiasm on the part of the Church and the advocates of the old régime, and that it would check the spirit of ultra democracy which was threatening to sweep every thing before it.
The nearest approach to an honorable deed to which Ferdinand ever came, was in the very questionable act of revealing the plot to the French Government. Rolli was arrested and sent to Vincennes. The democratic leaders in Cadiz were so incensed against what Alison calls "the orderly spirit of aristocratic rule in England," that, burying their animosity against the French invasion, they almost welcomed those foreign armies, who bore everywhere upon their banners "Equal Rights for all Men." They opened secret negotiations [Pg 282]with Joseph, offering to surrender Cadiz to the French troops, and to secure the entire submission of the whole peninsula to the government of Joseph if he would accept the radical Constitution of 1812 in place of the more moderate Republicanism of the Constitution of Bayonne. The hostility of the Spanish generals and soldiers to Wellington and the English troops was bitter and undisguised.[W]
But more bloody scenes soon ensued. Napoleon, deeming the war in Spain virtually ended, had been induced to withdraw large numbers of his troops, and to embark in his fatal campaign to Moscow. Thus Russia became allied to England, and a new opportunity, under more favorable auspices, was afforded to renew the war in Spain. England concentrated her mightiest energies upon the Peninsula against the remnants of the French army which Napoleon had left there. The Emperor, with all his chosen troops, composing an army of over five hundred thousand men, was on the march thousands of miles toward the north. On the 9th of May, 1812, the Emperor left Paris, to place himself at the head of his troops in Dresden. The war in Spain was now urged by the British [Pg 283]Government with renovated fury. The mind is wearied and the heart is sickened, in reading the recital of sieges, and battles, and outrages which make a humane man to exclaim, in anguish of spirit, "O Lord, how long! how long!" Equal ferocity was upon both sides. French, English, Spanish, and Portuguese soldiers, maddened by passion and inflamed with intoxicating drinks, perpetrated deeds which fiends could scarcely exceed. Tortosa, Tarragona, Mauresa, Saguntum, Valencia, Badajoz, Ciudad Rodrigo, and a score of other places, testified to the bravery, often the tiger-like ferocity, of the contending parties, and to the misery which man can inflict upon his brother-man.
Physical bravery is the cheapest and most vulgar of all earthly virtues. The vilest rabble gathered from the gutters of any city can, by a few months of military discipline and experience in the horrors of war, become so reckless of danger that bullets, shells, and grapeshot are as little regarded as snowflakes. Robber bands and piratic hordes will often fight with ferocity and desperation which can not be surpassed. It is the cause alone which can ennoble the heroism of the battle-field. In [Pg 284]these terrific conflicts, especially when the French and the British troops were brought into contact, there often were exhibited all the energy and desperation of which human nature is capable.
As the Emperor set out on the Russian campaign, he invested Joseph with the command of the armies in Spain. These troops were widely dispersed, to protect different points in the kingdom. But few could be promptly rallied upon any one field of battle. The Emperor, burdened with the expense of his immense army, and far away amidst the wilds of Russia, could give but little attention to the affairs of Spain, and could send neither money nor supplies to his brother, who was so uneasily settled upon an impoverished throne. As days of darkness gathered around the Emperor, a sense of honor prevented Joseph from abandoning his post. His troops were everywhere in a state of great destitution and suffering. His humane heart would not allow him to wrest supplies from the people, who were often in a still greater state of poverty and want.
Marshal Massena had entered Portugal with an army of seventy-five thousand men. Reduced by sickness and destitution, he was compelled [Pg 287]to withdraw with but thirty-five thousand men. Thus the English army, no longer held in check, occupied Ciudad Rodrigo and Badajoz.[X]
Three thousand men were left in garrison at Ciudad Rodrigo. Forty thousand men under Wellington besieged it. After opening two practicable breaches, Wellington summoned a surrender. The French general, Barrie, replied:
"His Majesty, the Emperor, has intrusted me with the command of Ciudad Rodrigo. I and my garrison are resolved to bury ourselves beneath the ruins."
The place was taken by assault, the British troops rushing into the breaches with courage which could not have been surpassed. The French, after losing half their number, were overpowered. The victorious British soldiers, forgetting that the inhabitants of the city were their allies, pillaged the houses and the shops, and committed every conceivable outrage upon the inhabitants. Sir Archibald Alison thus describes the scene:
"The churches were ransacked, the wine and spirit cellars pillaged, and brutal intoxication [Pg 288]spread in every direction. Soon flames were seen bursting in several quarters. Some houses were burned to the ground, others already ignited. By degrees, however, the drunken men dropped down from excess of liquor, or fell asleep; and before morning a degree of order was restored."
Advancing from Ciudad Rodrigo, Wellington, at the head of a force then numbering sixty thousand men, laid siege to Badajoz, crossing the Guadiarra above and below the city. The garrison in the city consisted of but forty-five hundred combatants. The trenches were opened upon the night between the 17th and 18th of March. There was no more desperate fighting during all the wars of Napoleon than was witnessed within and around the walls of Badajoz. The British lost five thousand officers and men ere the city was captured. Again had the Spaniards bitter cause to mourn over the victory of those who called themselves their allies. As the British troops rushed into the streets of this Spanish city which they had professedly come to rescue from the government of Joseph Bonaparte, Alison says:
"Disorders and excesses of every sort prevailed, and the British soldiery showed, by [Pg 289]their conduct after the storm, that they inherited their full share of the sins as well as the virtues of the children of Adam. The disgraceful national vice of intemperance, in particular, broke forth in its most frightful colors. All the wine shops and vaults were broken open and plundered. Pillage was universal. Every house was ransacked for valuables, spirits, or wine; and crowds of drunken soldiers for two days and nights thronged the streets, while the breaking open of doors and windows, the report of casual muskets, and the screams of despoiled citizens resounded on all sides."
The throne of Joseph was now enveloped in gloom. To add to his trouble and anguish of spirit, a dreadful famine afflicted Spain. But the British fleet, in undisputed command of the seas, could convey ample supplies to the army of Wellington, and British gold was lavished in keeping alive the flames of insurrection. Troops were landed at various points, and resistance to the French was encouraged by every means in the power of the British Government. At Madrid every morning there were found in the streets many dead bodies of those who had perished during the night. The [Pg 290]French in the capital, animated by the benevolent spirit of Joseph, imposed upon themselves the severest sacrifices to succor the perishing. The situation of Joseph had become deplorable. The best troops were withdrawn for the Russian campaign. Those which remained were starving, and without means of transport. A new government, under the protection of the English, was organized at Cadiz, and guerrilla bands were springing up in all directions.
Joseph had but about twenty thousand troops in the vicinity of Cadiz, with which force he could be but little more than a spectator of events as they should occur. Wellington had a highly-disciplined army of sixty thousand men, independent of the guerrilla bands whom he could summon to his aid.
Joseph was much embarrassed. Should he leave his scattered forces in the south of Spain, there was danger that they would be attacked and destroyed piecemeal by Wellington. Should he withdraw them, and concentrate his forces in the north, the whole south of Spain would be instantly overrun by the English, and Joseph would lose one-half of his kingdom. His total force in Spain, garrisoning the forts and composing his detached bands in the south, the centre, the north, and the west, amounted to a little over two hundred and thirty thousand men.
In the early part of May of this year, 1812, the English, having taken the defenses which were erected for the fortification of the Tagus, became dominant in that region. Disaster followed disaster. The King's couriers were captured, so that his orders did not reach the marshals. It is hard to be amiable in seasons of [Pg 292]adversity, and the marshals reproached each other. Supplies and communications were cut off, and women and children were dying of famine. The deadly warfare of guerrilla bands increased rapidly. The most atrocious acts of vengeance and atrocity were multiplied, and Joseph had no power to prevent them. As Marmont was in danger of being cut off by Wellington, Joseph, leaving a small garrison behind him, took all the troops that could be spared, and marched rapidly to the relief of the marshal. Leaving the Escurial on the 23d of July, he reached Peneranda on the 25th, where he learned that Marmont had attacked Wellington on the 23d at Arapiles, and, after a desperate conflict, had been repulsed. Marmont was severely censured for not awaiting the arrival of Joseph, whom he knew to be at hand. He was accused, perhaps without reason, of precipitating the conflict from fear that Joseph might take the command and gain the renown. Marmont reported his total loss in the battle to have been about six thousand men and nine guns, which were left because their carriages were knocked to pieces. Wellington reported his own loss at five thousand two hundred and twenty.
Marmont retreated to Valladolid, to meet re-enforcements which would join him there. Joseph returned to Madrid, entering the city on the 2d of August. As the English approached, Joseph, with two thousand horse, met their advance-guard, and, with the courage of despair, drove them back in the wildest confusion. He then, at the head of but twelve thousand troops, commenced his retreat toward Valence. Twenty thousand Spaniards, men and women, dreading the vengeance of their enemies, followed, in his retreat, the King whom they had much cause to love. It was a mournful spectacle. Nobles of the highest rank, and the most intelligent and opulent of the city, toiled along in their weary march, the women and the children often unable to restrain their tears and sobs. The partisans of the English, who crowded into the city, received Wellington and his troops with every demonstration of joy. The friends of the new régime who remained behind, crushed in all their hopes, closed the shutters of their houses, retired to the remote apartments, and buried their griefs in silence.
Into whatever city the English or the French entered, they were alike received with unbounded [Pg 294]enthusiasm. In every large city there is a throng ready to shout hosanna to the conqueror, whoever he may be. When Wellington and his squadrons entered a Spanish city, the friends of the old régime gathered around them. And so it was with the French and their friends when they were the victors. Thus at Valence, where Joseph arrived on the 31st of August, he was received with all the honors which could be conferred upon the most beloved sovereign. An immense crowd thronged the streets, and lavished upon him every demonstration of gratitude. The devout King, much moved by this exhibition of popular affection in these dark hours of defeat and humiliation, repaired at once to the cathedral, and in a solemn Te Deum gave expression to his gratitude to God.
Joseph's first care was for the unhappy fugitives who, dreading the vengeance of the foe, had abandoned home and all, to accompany him in his flight. He had neither money, food, nor shelter to give them. He therefore sent this sorrow-stricken band, counting over twenty thousand, under an escort across the Pyrenees into France, where they would be protected and provided for.
At Valence Joseph concentrated his scattered forces, and early in November commenced his march back to Madrid. It is very difficult to ascertain the precise number of the forces on each side. Wellington's army was estimated at ninety-two thousand men. Joseph had collected superior numbers, and marched eagerly to attack him. Wellington rapidly retreated toward Ciudad Rodrigo, and on the 3d of December Joseph entered Madrid again in triumph.
Conciliation, kindness, deference to the wishes of others are not characteristic virtues of the English. They had long assumed, and with no little semblance of reason, that in wealth, power, arts, and arms they were the leading nation upon the globe. This assumption has made them unpopular as a people. They are so honest and plain-spoken that they never attempt to disguise their contempt for other nations. The victorious soldiers of Wellington particularly despised the Spaniards. This contempt neither officers nor soldiers attempted to conceal.
It is just the reverse with the French. The characteristic politeness of the nation leads them to compliment others, and to pay them [Pg 296]especial deference. They conceal the sense of superiority which they may perhaps cherish. It is frequently said, as characteristic of the two nations, that the stranger in London gets the impression that every Englishman he meets has taken a special dislike to him personally; in Paris, on the other hand, he receives the impression that every Frenchman with whom he is brought into contact has a special fancy for him, perceiving in him virtues and excellences which he never supposed that he possessed.
The Duke of Wellington himself was a haughty, overbearing man. No soldier loved him, but all bowed submissive to his inflexible will. The deportment of the British troops in the Spanish capital was such as to alienate those who at first welcomed them, and they soon became universally disliked. The Spaniards are proud, proverbially proud; and they could not endure this contemptuous assumption of superiority. So great became the dissatisfaction that many of the Spanish generals proposed to unite their troops with those of King Joseph if he would grant them independent commands.
Exultantly the English on the Peninsula [Pg 297]heard the tidings of the terrible disasters Napoleon was encountering in Russia. They could scarcely exaggerate them. It was manifest that for a long time, at least, Joseph could receive no assistance from France; on the contrary, many regiments of infantry and cavalry, and a number of companies of artillery, received orders immediately to leave Spain, and to hasten to the aid of the Emperor. Joseph, thus hopelessly crippled, was directed by the Emperor to concentrate his enfeebled forces upon the line of the Douro. Leaving a garrison of ten thousand men in Madrid, Joseph, with the remainder of his troops, retired toward the north.
In Wellington's retreat from Madrid, his troops committed all imaginable outrages. In his dispatch to his officers commanding his divisions and brigades, he said:
"From the moment the troops commenced their retreat from the neighborhood of Madrid on the one hand, and Burgos on the other, the officers lost all command over the men. Irregularities and outrages of all descriptions were committed with impunity, and losses have been sustained which ought never to have occurred. The discipline of every army, after a long and [Pg 298]active campaign, becomes in some degree relaxed; but I am concerned to observe that the army under my command has fallen off in this respect, in the late campaign, to a greater degree than any army with which I have ever been, or of which I have ever read."[Y]
Thus terminated the year 1812. The disappointment of the British Government, in view of the discomfiture and retreat of Wellington, was very great, and the indignation of that portion of the English people who were opposed to this interminable warfare against the new régime in France knew no bounds. That the English army had, through a long line of disastrous retreat, according to the testimony of its commander, inflicted outrages upon the Spanish people, its allies, greater than that commander had ever read of in history, keenly wounded the national pride.
As fresh tidings arose of the disasters which had befallen Napoleon in the north, the British Government renewed their zeal to assail him from the south. Large re-enforcements were sent out during the winter with such abundant supplies as to enable Wellington to [Pg 299]commence the spring campaign with every assurance of success. The Cortes in Cadiz, with ever-varying policy, much to the disgust of many of the Spanish generals, invested the British duke with the supreme command. The opposition, however, was so great that the duke's brother, Mr. Henry Wellesley, who was then British ambassador at Cadiz, advised him not to accept the office. But the energetic duke was confident that, by combining the whole military strength of the Peninsula with the army and fleet of England, he could drive the feeble remnants of the French from the kingdom. He therefore undertook the command.
The Cortes was led to this decisive measure from the fact that there was a strong and increasing party of their own number in favor of rallying to the support of Joseph. Their only choice lay between Joseph or Ferdinand, or the experiment of a democratic republic. Wellington's visit to Cadiz, says Alison, "brought forcibly under his notice the miserable state of the Government at that place, ruled by a furious democratic faction, intimidated by an ungovernable press, and alternately the prey of aristocratic intrigue and democratic fury. [Pg 300]He did not fail to report to the Government this deplorable state of things."
In the beginning of May Wellington was prepared to take the field with an allied army of two hundred thousand men. The navy of England actively co-operated with this immense force, conveying supplies and protecting the extreme flanks of the line, which stretched across the kingdom. The storm of war burst forth again in all its fury. Manfully Joseph contended to the last. In the vicinity of Valladolid he had concentrated fifty thousand men, and hoped to be able there to give battle. But Wellington came upon him with an army one hundred thousand strong, which was reported to be one hundred and ninety thousand.
The French on the 14th of June retreated to Vittoria. The garrison in Madrid and the civil authorities now abandoned the capital and took refuge with the army. Here a short but terrible battle ensued. The English had eighty thousand combatants on the field; the French, according to their statement, had but half as many. Alison states their force at sixty-five thousand. It was an awful battle. Both parties fought desperately. The loss of the French was six thousand nine hundred and sixty; that [Pg 301]of the English five thousand one hundred and eighty.[Z] The French army was impoverished after weary months of warfare, in a land stricken by famine, and wasted by the sweep of armies and the plundering of banditti. It was with very great difficulty that Joseph could support his destitute troops. Yet Alison, in that strain of exaggeration which sullies his often eloquent pages, writes:
"Independent of private booty, no less than five millions and a half of dollars in the military chest of the army were taken; and of private wealth the amount was so prodigious that for miles together the combatants may almost be said to have marched upon gold and silver, without stooping to pick it up."
In the hour of victory Wellington seemed to have no control over his soldiers, whom his pen describes as drunken and brutal. Reeling in intoxication, they wandered at will. Wellington states that three weeks after the battle above twelve thousand of his soldiers had abandoned their colors. "I am convinced," he [Pg 302]says in a dispatch to Lord Bathurst, "that we have out of our ranks doubled our loss in the battle, and have lost more men in the pursuit than the enemy have."
The retreat of the French was conducted with the firmness and admirable discipline characteristic of French soldiers. As the troops slowly and sullenly retired toward the French frontier, pressed by superior numbers, they turned occasionally upon their pursuers, and the advance-guard of the foe encountered several very bloody repulses.
We have not space to allude to these various conflicts, which only checked for a moment the onrolling tide of the victorious allied army. Wellington's troops took the town of San Sebastian by storm. This was a beautiful Spanish city, through which the French retreated, and where they made a short and desperate stand. We will leave it to Mr. Alison to describe the conduct of Lord Wellington's troops.
"And now commenced," writes Alison, "a scene which has affixed as lasting a stain on the character of the English and Portuguese troops, as the heroic valor they displayed in the assault has given them enduring and exalted fame. The long endurance of the assault [Pg 303]had wrought the soldiers up to perfect madness. The soldiers wreaked their vengeance with fearful violence on the unhappy inhabitants. Some of the houses adjoining the breaches had taken fire from the effects of the explosion. The flames, fanned by an awful tempest which burst on the town, soon spread with frightful rapidity. The wretched inhabitants, driven from house to house as the conflagration devoured their dwellings, were soon huddled together in one quarter, where they fell a prey to the unbridled passions of the soldiery.
"Attempts were at first made by the British officers to extinguish the flames, but they proved vain among the general confusion which prevailed. The soldiers broke into the burning houses, pillaged them of the most valuable articles they contained, and rolling numerous casks of spirits into the streets, with frantic shouts, emptied them of their contents, till vast numbers of them sank down like savages, motionless, some lifeless, from the excess.
"Carpets, tapestry, beds, silks and satins, wearing apparel, jewelry, watches, and every thing valuable, were scattered about upon the bloody pavements, while fresh bundles of them [Pg 304]were thrown from the windows above to avoid the flames, and caught with demoniac yells by the drunken crowds beneath. Amidst these scenes of disgraceful violence and unutterable woe, nine-tenths of the once happy, smiling town of St. Sebastian were reduced to ashes. And what has affixed a yet darker blot on the character of the victors, deeds of violence and cruelty were perpetrated hitherto rare in the British army, and which causes the historian to blush, not merely for his country, but for his species."
The account which is given by Spanish historians of these transactions is even far more dreadful than the above; so revolting that we can not pain our readers by transcribing it upon these pages. A document issued by the Constitutional Junta, after describing crimes as awful as even fiends could commit, adds:
"Other crimes more horrible still, which our pen refuses to record, were committed in that awful night, and the disorders continued for some days after without any efficient steps being taken to arrest them. Of above six hundred houses, of which St. Sebastian consisted on the morning of the assault, there [Pg 305]remained at the end of three days only thirty-six."[AA]
The Duke of Wellington, in his dispatch to the Spanish Minister of War, said, in reference to these excesses, that it was impossible for him to restrain the passions of his soldiers, that he and his officers did their utmost to stop the fire and to avoid the disorders, but that all their efforts were ineffectual.
Joseph, in his retreat, threw three thousand men into the citadel of St. Sebastian. They held back the British army sixty days. Their skill and valor extorted the commendation of their foes. The siege cost the allied army three thousand eight hundred men, and delayed for three months the invasion of the southern provinces of France.
Joseph slowly retreated, fighting his way, step by step, across the Pyrenees into France, pursued by the victors. On the 12th of April, Joseph, having crossed the mountains, and being thus driven from his kingdom, had no longer any legitimate power. The command of the French army devolved upon Soult. Utterly weary of the cares and harassments of [Pg 306]royalty, for which Joseph never had any inclination, he joined his wife and children at his estate at Mortfontaine. England had wrested the crown of Spain from Joseph Bonaparte, one of the best men whom a crown has ever adorned, and soon, with the aid of allied Europe, placed that crown upon the brow of Ferdinand VII., one of the worst men who has ever disgraced a throne. The result was that Spain was consigned to another half-century of shame, debasement, and misery.
Joseph had scarcely re-united himself with his wife and children in their much-loved home at Mortfontaine, when the allied armies, numbering more than a million and a half of bayonets, came crowding upon France from the north, from the east, and from the south; while the fleet of England, mistress of all the seas, lent its majestic co-operation on the west. Then ensued the sublimest conflict of which history gives us any account. Never before, in all Napoleon's world-renowned campaigns, had he displayed such vigor as in the masterly blows with which he struck one after another of his thronging assailants, and drove them, staggered and bleeding, before him.
France was exhausted. All Europe had [Pg 307]combined to crush the Republican Empire, and restore the despotism of the old régime. Through an almost uninterrupted series of victories, Napoleon lost his crown. When in any one direction he was driving his foes headlong before him, from all other points they were rushing on, till France and Paris were well-nigh whelmed in the mighty inundation. In these hours of disaster, Joseph offered life, property, all to the service of his brother. They held a few hurried interviews in Paris, and then separated, each to fulfill his appointed task in the terrible drama.
The Emperor confided to Joseph the defense of Paris, and the protection of his son and of the Empress. On the 16th of March, 1814, the Emperor wrote to his brother from Reims:
"In accordance with the verbal instructions which I gave you, and with the spirit of all my letters, you must not allow, happen what may, the Empress and the King of Rome to fall into the hands of the enemy. The manœuvres I am about to make may possibly prevent your hearing from me for several days. If the enemy should march on Paris with so strong a force as to render resistance impossible, send [Pg 308]off toward the Loire the Regent, my son, the great dignitaries, the ministers, the senators, the President of the Conseil d'Etat, the chief officers of the crown, and Baron de la Bouillerie, with the money which is in my treasury. Never lose sight of my son, and remember that I would rather know that he was in the Seine, than that he was in the hands of the enemies of France. The fate of Astyanax, prisoner to the Greeks, has always seemed to me the most lamentable in history."
Faithfully, energetically, wisely, Joseph fulfilled the mission intrusted to him. In every possible way he endeavored to aid the Emperor in his heroic efforts; recruiting troops, arming them, and hurrying them off to the points where they were most needed. It was not till the allied forces were upon the heights of Montmartre, and where further resistance would but have exposed the capital to the horrors of a bombardment, that he consented to a surrender. All the arms in the city had been given out to the new levies, as they had been sent to the seat of war, and none remained to place in the hands of the populace, even were it judged best to summon them to the defense of the metropolis. A grand council was called [Pg 309]on the 29th of March. The ministers, the grand dignitaries, the presidents of the sections, of the Council of State, and the President of the Senate were present.
The majority of the council were in favor of defending the city to the last possible moment. There were at hand the two corps of the dukes of Ragusa and Trévise, consisting of about seventeen thousand combatants, a few thousand of the National Guard, poorly armed, a few batteries served by the students of the schools and by the Invalides, and a few hundred recruits not yet organized. It was urged that the Empress, like another Maria Theresa, should remain with her son in the city, to assure the populace by her presence, and embolden the defense. She was to show herself to the people at the Hotel de Ville, with her son in her arms. Should the Empress leave the city, it would so discourage the people that all attempts at defense would be hopeless. Should she remain, the danger was very great that both she and her son might be captured; and unless she should immediately escape, all egress might be cut off, as the Allies were rapidly surrounding the city.
Toward the close of the discussion, the Emperor's [Pg 310]letter to Joseph of the 16th of March was presented and read. In this it will be remembered that he said:
"You must not allow, happen what may, the Empress and the King of Rome to fall into the hands of the enemy. Never lose sight of my son, and remember that I would rather know that he was in the Seine, than that he was in the hands of the enemies of France. The fate of Astyanax, prisoner to the Greeks, has always seemed to me the most lamentable in history."
This settled the question. The situation of affairs was so desperate that for the Empress to remain in Paris would be extremely perilous. It was therefore decided that she, with the Government, should retire to Chartres, and thence to the Loire. But Joseph stated that it was important to ascertain the real force of the hostile army, which was driving before them the two marshals, Marmont and Mortier. He therefore offered to remain in the city, making all possible arrangements for its defense, till that fact should be ascertained. Should it be found that resistance was quite impossible, he would rejoin the Government upon the Loire.
It is very evident that Joseph and the assembled Senate, and that Napoleon himself, hoped that Maria Louisa, from her own inward impulse, would soar to the heights of a heroine. Napoleon could not ask her to come thus to his defense. At St. Helena the Emperor allowed the regret to escape his lips that Maria Louisa was not able to rise to the sublimity of the occasion. The Empress, however, was but an ordinary woman, incapable of a grand action, and it is to be remembered that she must have been embarrassed by the thought that, in striving to arouse France for the defense of her husband, she was arraying the empire against her own father. Maria Louisa, as regent, presided over this private council. The session was prolonged until after midnight. Joseph and the arch-chancellor accompanied the Empress to her home. It is evident, even then, that Joseph hoped that the Empress would assume the responsibility of a heroic act. M. Meneval, the secretary of the Empress, who was present at this interview, says:
"After the exchange of a few words upon the disastrous consequences of abandoning Paris, Joseph and the arch-chancellor ventured [Pg 312]to say that the Empress alone could decide what course it was her duty to pursue. The Empress replied 'that they were her appointed advisers, and that she could not undertake any course unless she was advised to do it by them, over their own seal and signature.' Both declined to assume this responsibility."
The departure of the Empress was fixed at eight o'clock the next morning. Joseph had already passed the barriers, to proceed to the advance posts of the army to reconnoitre the foe. The day had not yet dawned, when the saloons of the palace were filled with those who were to accompany the Empress in her flight. Anxiety sat upon every countenance, and the solemnity of the occasion caused every voice to be hushed, so that impressive silence reigned. Early as was the hour, the alarming rumor that the Empress was to abandon Paris had reached the ears of the National Guard. Suddenly the officers of the guard who were stationed at the palace, with several others who had joined them, precipitately entered, and, by their earnest request, were conducted to the Empress. They entreated her not to leave Paris, promising to defend her to the last possible extremity.
The Empress was moved to tears by their devotion, but alleged the order of the Emperor. Nevertheless, conscious of the discouraging effect of her departure, she delayed hour after hour, hoping without venturing to avow it that some chance might arise which would enable her to remain. M. Clarke, the Minister of War, alarmed at the danger that soon all egress would be impossible, sent an officer to the Empress to represent to her the necessity of an immediate departure. Thus urged by some to go, by others to remain, the Empress was agitated by the most distracting embarrassment. She returned to her chamber, threw her hat upon her bed, seated herself in a chair, buried her face in her hands, and burst into an uncontrollable flood of tears. "O my God," she was heard to exclaim, "let them decide this question among themselves, and put an end to this my agony."
About ten o'clock the Minister of War sent again to her a message stating that she had not one moment to lose, and that unless she left immediately she was in danger of falling into the hands of the Cossacks. As Joseph was now absent, and she could receive no further counsel from him, she hastened her departure. [Pg 316]It was indeed true that the delay of a few hours would have rendered her escape impossible, for that very day the banners of the Allies presented themselves before the walls of the metropolis.
Joseph had returned rapidly to the city, to make as determined a defense as possible. The National Guard hastened to the posts assigned them. Volunteers, many of them armed with shot-guns, advanced to operate as skirmishers against the foe. The students of the Polytechnic School served the artillery confided to their "young and brilliant" valor. The thunders of the cannonade were soon heard, rousing the populace to a frenzy of courage. They rushed through the streets demanding arms, but there were none to be given them. The arsenals were all empty.
The allied troops came pouring on like the raging tides of the sea. Their numbers in advance and in the rear far exceeded a million of bayonets. It was all dynastic Europe arrayed against one man. Distinctly the allied kings had declared to the world that they were not fighting against France, but against Napoleon.
The next day, the 30th, Joseph received a [Pg 317]note from General Marmont, written in pencil, from the midst of the conflict, stating that it would be impossible to prolong the resistance beyond a few hours, and that measures must immediately be adopted to save Paris from the horrors of being carried by storm. Joseph instantly convoked a council, and the opinion was unanimous that a capitulation was inevitable. Accordingly Joseph at once sent General Stroltz, his aide-de-camp, to Marshals Marmont and Mortier, authorizing them to enter into a conference with the enemy, while they were to continue their resistance as persistently as possible.
All hope of defending Paris was now abandoned. In accordance with the instructions of the Emperor, it was the duty of Joseph to join himself to the Empress and her son. At four o'clock he crossed the Seine. A few moments after the bridges were seized by the enemy. Napoleon had retired to Fontainebleau. Passing through Versailles, where he ordered the cavalry in that city to follow him, Joseph proceeded to Chartres, where he joined the Empress and her son, and with them advanced to Blois. He hoped to join his brother at Fontainebleau, there to confer with him upon the [Pg 318]measures to be adopted in these hours of disaster. With this intention he set out from Blois, but squadrons of hostile cavalry were sweeping in all directions, and his communication beyond Orleans was cut off. He was therefore compelled to return to Blois. There he was in the greatest peril, for the Cossacks were in his immediate vicinity. He could neither reach the Emperor nor communicate with him. Neither could he ascertain the result of the negotiation entered into at Paris with the foe.
Almost immediately the news came of the Emperor's abdication. The Cossacks escorted Maria Louisa and the King of Rome to Rambouillet, where they were placed under the care of her father, the Emperor of Austria. The Emperor was sent to Elba. Joseph, who was still wealthy, purchased the estate of Prangins, on the border of the lake of Geneva. Here he had a brief respite from the terrible storms of life, with his wife and children, in that retirement which he loved so well.
While Joseph was enjoying his peaceful residence upon the shores of Europe's most beautiful lake, Madame de Staël hastened to inform him of a plot which had been revealed to her for the assassination of the Emperor at Elba. The evidence was conclusive. Joseph was at breakfast with the celebrated tragedian Talma. Both Talma and Madame de Staël were anxious to hasten to Elba to inform the Emperor of his danger. But Joseph sent a personal friend, and two of the assassins were arrested.[AB]
At Prangins, in 1815, Joseph learned that Napoleon had landed in France, had advanced as far as Lyons, and was desirous of seeing him [Pg 320]in Paris as soon as possible. Joseph's wife, Julie, was then in Paris, having been drawn there by the sickness and death of the mother, Madame Clary. He immediately left his chateau, after having buried all his valuable papers in a box in the forest, setting out secretly at ten o'clock at night, accompanied by the two princesses, his daughters. A few hours after his departure, an armed band, sent by the influence of the Allies, arrived at the chateau to arrest him. Joseph upon his arrival in France, immediately, with characteristic devotion, placed himself entirely at the disposition of the brother he loved so well.
As Joseph traversed France, he was everywhere met with great enthusiasm, the people shouting, "Napoleon the Emperor of our choice;" "The nation desires him alone;" "No aristocracy;" "Away with the old régime."
Before the departure of the Emperor for Waterloo, many distinguished persons, among others Benjamin Constant, who assisted in drawing up the celebrated Additional Act, were introduced to him by Joseph. One day he conducted to the Tuileries the son of Madame de Staël, who bore a letter from his mother to the Emperor, in which, speaking of the Additional Act, [Pg 321]she said, "It is every thing which France can now need; nothing but what it needs, nothing more than it needs."
In speaking of the "Acte Additionel" Mr. Alison says, "It excited unbounded opposition in both the parties which now divided the nation, and left the Emperor in reality no support but in the soldiers of the army." A few paragraphs later, when stating that the "Acte" was submitted to the people to be adopted or rejected by popular suffrage, he says truthfully, though in manifest contradiction to his former statement:
"The 'Acte Additionel' was approved by an immense majority of the electors; the numbers being fifteen hundred thousand to five hundred."
After the disaster at Waterloo, Joseph was the constant companion of his brother during those few days of anguish in which he remained in Paris. On the 29th of June he left the metropolis to join his brother, who had preceded him, at Rochefort, where the two intended to embark for America in two different ships, the Saale and the Medusa. After several days of necessary delay, at four o'clock in the afternoon of July 8th Napoleon was rowed out [Pg 322]to the Saale, which was anchored at a distance from the quay. But the Bourbons and the Allies were now in power in France, and British guard-ships were doubled along the French coast. No vessel was allowed to leave.
Joseph, who had received letters from his wife informing him of all that had transpired in Paris, proposed that the Emperor should return to land, place himself at the head of the Army of the Loire, summon the population of France to rise en masse, and again appeal to the fortunes of war. But the Emperor could not be persuaded to resort to a measure which would enkindle the flames of civil war in France, and which might also expose the kingdom to dismemberment, since the Allies already held a considerable portion of its territory.
Joseph then urged his brother to embark in a small American vessel which chanced to be in the port, while Joseph, personating Napoleon, whom he strongly resembled, should surrender himself as the Emperor. It was thought that the British cruisers, thus deceived, would allow the American vessel to sail without a very rigid search. But the Emperor declined the offer to escape at the hazard of his brother's captivity. Neither would his pride of character [Pg 323]allow him to seek flight in the garb of disguise. He therefore urged Joseph to leave him to his destiny, and to provide immediately for his own safety.
During the whole of Napoleon's career there were always multitudes ready to lay down their lives at any time for his protection. The captain of the Medusa, a sixty-gun frigate, offered to grapple the English frigate Bellerophon, of seventy-four guns, and to maintain the unequal and desperate conflict until the Saale could escape with the Emperor. But as this would be sacrificing many lives to his personal safety, Napoleon declined the magnanimous offer.
Leaving matters in this state of uncertainty, Joseph retired from Rochefort to the country-seat of a friend, at the distance of a few leagues. He left his secretary behind, to keep him informed of all that transpired. Two days after he received a letter announcing that the Emperor had taken the fatal resolution to surrender himself to the British Government. Joseph could no longer be of any assistance to his brother, and he decided to leave France as soon as possible. Under the assumed name of M. Bouchard, he embarked at Royan on the 29th [Pg 324]of July, with four of his suite, on board the bark Commerce, bound for the United States. The vessel was visited several times by the British cruisers without his being recognized. On the 28th of August, 1815, Joseph landed at New York. Captain Misservey, of the bark, was not aware of the illustrious rank of his passenger, but supposed him to be General Carnot. The Mayor of New York, under the same impression, called upon him as General Carnot, to congratulate him upon his safe passage.
There were at the time two English frigates cruising before the harbor of New York, to search all vessels coming from Europe. One of these frigates bore down upon the Commerce, but the wind, and the skill of the American pilot, saved the ship from a visit. If the English had succeeded in seizing the person of Joseph, they would have taken him back to England, and thence to Russia, where the Allies had decided to hold him in captivity.
It was not known in America until Joseph's arrival that Napoleon had confided himself to the English. The illustrious exile, much broken in health by care and sorrow, assumed the title of the Count of Survilliers, [Pg 325]the name of an estate which he held in France, and sought the retreat of a quiet, private life, as a refuge from the storms by which he had so long been tossed.
After having travelled through many of the States of the Union, and having visited most of the principal cities, he purchased in New Jersey, upon the banks of the Delaware, a very beautiful property, called Point Breeze. Here he lived the sad life of an exile, reflecting upon the ruin and dispersion of his family, and exposed to every species of contumely from the European press, then controlled by the triumphant dynasties of the old feudal oppression. It was for the interest of all these regal courts to convince the world that the Bonapartes were the enemies, not the friends of humanity; that they were struggling, not for the rights of mankind, but to impose upon the world hitherto unheard-of despotism; and that in principles and practice they were the most godless and dissolute of men. In this they succeeded for a time, and there are thousands who still adhere to the senseless calumny. Terrible indeed is the condition of a family when it is for the vital interests of all the crowns of Europe to consecrate their influence, and lavish their [Pg 326]money to blacken the character of all its members.
But the noble character of Joseph Bonaparte could not be concealed. His record had been written in ineffaceable lines. His illustrious name, purity of morals, large fortune, simple and cordial manners, and his wide-reaching liberality, endeared him greatly to his neighbors and multiplied his friends. His wife was in such extremely delicate health that it was not deemed safe for her to undertake a voyage across the ocean. But his two daughters, the Princess Zénaïde and Charlotte, and subsequently his son-in-law, Charles Bonaparte, elder brother of the present Emperor, Napoleon III., shared with him his exile.
The entire overthrow of the popular governments which had been established by the aid of Napoleon, and the relentless spirit manifested by the conquerors, filled all lands with exiles. Many of the most distinguished men of Europe sought a refuge with Joseph, where they were received with the most generous hospitality. When the tidings reached Point Breeze of the destitution in which Napoleon was living in the dilapidated hut at St. Helena, Joseph immediately placed his whole [Pg 327]fortune at the disposal of his brother. It was, however, too late, and the Emperor profited but little from this generous offer. A few years passed wearily away, when in May, 1821, Napoleon, through destitution, insults, and anguish, sank sadly into his grave. General Bertrand, who had so magnanimously accompanied the captive in his imprisonment at Saint Helena, and had shared in all his sufferings, communicated the tidings of the death of the Emperor to Joseph in the following touching letter. General Bertrand had returned from Saint Helena, and his letter was dated London, September 10, 1821:
"Prince,—I write to you for the first time since the awful misfortune which has been added to the sorrows of your family. Your Highness is acquainted with the events of the first years of this cruel exile. Many persons who have visited Saint Helena have informed you of what was still more interesting to you, the manner of living and the unkind treatment which aggravated the influence of a deadly climate.
"In the last year of his life, the Emperor, who for four years had taken no exercise, altered extremely in appearance. He became pale [Pg 328]and feeble. From that time his health deteriorated rapidly and visibly. He had always been in the habit of taking baths. He now took them more frequently, and staid longer in them. They appeared to relieve him for the time. Latterly Dr. Antommarchi forbade him their use, as he thought that they only increased his weakness.
"In the month of August he took walking exercise, but with difficulty; he was forced to stop every minute. In the first years he used to walk while dictating. He walked about his room, and thus did without the exercise which he feared to take out-of-doors, lest he should expose himself to insult. But latterly his strength would not admit even of this. He remained sitting nearly all day, and discontinued almost all occupation. His health declined sensibly every month.
"Once in September, and again in the beginning of October he rode out, as his physicians desired him to take exercise; but he was so weak that he was obliged to return in his carriage. He ceased to digest; shivering fits came on, which extended even to the extremities. Hot towels applied to the feet gave him some relief. He suffered from these cold fits [Pg 329]to the last hour of his life. As he could no longer either walk or ride, he took several drives in an open carriage at a foot pace, but without gaining strength.
"He never took off his dressing-gown. His stomach rejected food, and at the end of the year he was forced to give up meat. He lived upon jellies and soups. For some time he ate scarcely any thing, and drank only a little pure wine, hoping thus to support nature without fatiguing the digestion; but the vomiting continued, and he returned to soups and jellies. The remedies and tonics which were tried produced little effect. His body grew weaker every day, but his mind retained its strength. He liked reading and conversation. He did not dictate much, although he did so from time to time up to the last days of his life. He felt that his end was approaching, and frequently recited the passage from 'Zaïre,' which closes with this line:
"'A revoir Paris je ne dois plus prétendre.'
"Nevertheless the hope of leaving this dreadful country often presented itself to his imagination. Some newspaper articles and false reports excited our expectations. We [Pg 330]sometimes fancied that we were on the eve of starting for America. We read travels, we made plans, we arrived at our house, we wandered over that immense country, where alone we might hope to enjoy liberty. Vain hopes! vain projects! which only made us doubly feel our misfortunes.
"They could not have been borne with more serenity and courage—I might almost add gayety. He often said to us in the evening, 'Where shall we go? to the Théâtre Français or to the Opera?' And then he would read a tragedy by Corneille, Voltaire, or Racine; an opera of Quinault's, or one of Molière's comedies. His strong mind and powerful character were perhaps even more remarkable than on that larger theatre where he eclipsed all that is brightest in ancient and in modern history. He often seemed to forget what he had been. I was never tired of admiring his philosophy and courage, the good sense and fortitude which raised him above misfortune.
"At times, however, sad regrets and recollections of what he had done, contrasted with what he might have done, presented themselves. He talked of the past with perfect frankness, persuaded that, on the whole, he [Pg 331]had done what he was required to do, and not sharing the strange and contradictory opinions which we hear expressed every day on events which are not understood by the speakers. If the conversation took a melancholy turn, he soon changed it. He loved to talk of Corsica, of his old uncle Lucien, of his youth, of you, and of all the rest of the family.
"Toward the middle of March fever came on. From that time he scarcely left his bed except for about half an hour in the day. He seldom had the strength to shave. He now for the first time became extremely thin. The fits of vomiting became more frequent. He then questioned the physicians upon the conformation of the stomach, and about a fortnight before his death he had pretty nearly guessed that he was dying of cancer. He was read to almost every day, and dictated a few days before his decease. He often talked naturally as to the probable mode of his death, but when he became aware that it was approaching he left off speaking on the subject. He thought much about you and your children.
"To his last moments he was kind and affectionate to us all. He did not appear to suffer so much as might have been expected [Pg 332]from the cause of his death. When we questioned him he said that he suffered a little, but that he could bear it. His memory declined during the last five or six days. His deep sighs, and his exclamations from time to time, made us think that he was in great pain. He looked at us with the penetrating glance which you know so well. We tried to dissimulate, but he was so used to reading our faces that no doubt he frequently discovered our anxiety. He felt too clearly the gradual decline of his faculties not to be aware of his state.
"For the last two hours he neither spoke nor moved. The only sound was his difficult breathing, which gradually but regularly decreased. His pulse ceased. And so died, surrounded by only a few servants, the man who had dictated laws to the world, and whose life should have been preserved for the sake of the happiness and glory of our sorrowing country.
"Forgive, prince, a hurried letter, which tells you so little when you wish to know so much; but I should never end if I attempted to tell all. I must not omit to say that the Emperor was most anxious that his correspondence with the different sovereigns of Europe should be printed. He repeated this to us several [Pg 333]times.[AC] In his will the Emperor expressed his wish that his remains should be buried in France; however, in the last days of his life, he ordered me, if there was any difficulty about it, to lay him by the side of the fountain whose waters he had so long drunk."
Joseph loved his brother tenderly, and he never could speak without emotion of the indignities and cruelties Napoleon suffered from that ungenerous Government to whose mercy he had so fatally confided himself. Anxious to do every thing which he thought might gratify the departed spirit of his brother, he implored permission of Austria to visit Napoleon's son, the Duke of Reichstadt, that he might [Pg 334]sympathize with him in these hours of affliction. The Court of Austria refused his request.
In 1824, Joseph's youngest daughter, the Princess Charlotte, left Point Breeze to join her mother in Europe, where she was to be married to Charles Napoleon Louis Bonaparte, the son of Louis and Hortense, and the elder brother of the present Emperor of the French. The tastes of Joseph inclined him to the country, and to its peaceful pursuits. He had, however, a city residence in Philadelphia, where he usually passed the winters. While thus residing on the banks of the Delaware, sadly retracing the memorable events of the past and recording its scenes, he received a proposition which surprised and gratified him. A deputation of Mexicans waited upon him at Point Breeze, and urged him to accept the crown of Mexico. The former King of Naples and of Spain in the following terms responded to the invitation:
"I have worn two crowns. I would not take a single step to obtain a third. Nothing could be more flattering to me than to see the men who, when I was at Madrid, were unwilling to recognize my authority, come to-day to seek me, in exile, to place the crown upon my head. But I do not think that the throne [Pg 335]which you wish to erect anew can promote your happiness. Every day I spend upon the hospitable soil of the United States demonstrates to me more fully the excellence of republican institutions for America. Guard them, then, as a precious gift of Providence; cease your intestine quarrels; imitate the United States and seek from the midst of your fellow-citizens a man more capable than I am to act the grand part of Washington."[AD]
When La Fayette in 1824 made his triumphal tour through the United States, he visited Point Breeze to pay his respects to the brother of the Emperor. Upon that occasion the marquis expressed deep regret in view of the course he had pursued at the time of the abdication of Napoleon.
"The dynasty of the Bourbons," said he, "can not maintain itself. It too manifestly wounds the national sentiment. We are all persuaded in France that the son of the Emperor alone can represent the interests of the Revolution. Place two million francs at the disposal of our committee, and I promise you [Pg 336]that in two years Napoleon II.[AE] will be upon the throne of France."[AF]
Joseph, however, did not think it best to embark at that time in any new enterprise for the restoration of popular rights to France. The Bourbon throne seemed to be for a time firmly established. Joseph was getting to be advanced in years. The storms of his life had been so severe that he longed only for repose.
The following extracts from the correspondence of Joseph, while he was an exile in America, throw interesting light upon his political principles and upon his social character. General Lamarque was one of the veteran generals of the Empire. After the restoration of the Bourbons, he was highly distinguished for his eloquence in the Tribune as the antagonist of aristocratic privilege. Napoleon, when on his death-bed at Saint Helena, in view of his earnest support of popular rights, both on the battle-field and in the Chamber of Deputies, recommended him for a marshal of France. Those friends of the Empire who had been prosecuted [Pg 337]for the part they took in the Hundred Days, had found in him a zealous friend. His devotion to the interests of Poland had secured for him the homage of that chivalrous people. The liberal party in France, with great unanimity, regarded him as their leader. Upon the occasion of his funeral, in June, 1832, the Liberals in Paris made a desperate endeavor to overthrow the government of Louis Philippe. The insurgents numbered over one hundred thousand. The attempt was bloodily repulsed by the royalist troops. On the 27th of March, 1824, General Lamarque wrote a letter from Paris to Joseph, from which we make the following extracts:
"Monsieur le Comte,—The memory of your kindnesses lives as vividly in my heart as on the day in which I received them, and I ever seek occasions to prove this to you. Already I have refuted, in many articles of the journals, the atrocious calumnies which have been published against you, and I ever avow myself to the world as your admirer and grateful friend. Be assured that your reputation is honorable and glorious. Truth has already dispelled many clouds; soon it will shine forth in all its brilliance.
"You do well to consecrate a portion of your time to writing your memoirs. It seems to me that the part most interesting will be your reign in Naples. You were there truly the philosopher upon the throne, which Plato desired for the interests of humanity. I recall your journeys in which you urged upon the nobles love for the people; upon the priests tolerance; upon the military, order and moderation. Not being able to establish political liberty, you wished to confer upon your subjects all the benefits of municipal régime, which you regarded as the foundation of all institutions.
"Under your reign—too short for a nation which has so deeply regretted you—feudalism was destroyed, brigandage disappeared, the system of imposts was changed, order was established in the finances, administration created, the nobles and the people reconciled, new routes opened in all directions, the capital embellished, the army and marine reorganized, the English driven out of the whole realm, and Gaëta, Scylla, Reggio, Manthea, and Amanthea taken.
"Your memoirs will be a lesson for kings. But that they may be received with the religious [Pg 339]respect due to a great misfortune, it seems to me that you ought to efface yourself from the scene of the world, that your writings should be like a voice coming from the depths of the tomb, and that you should only ask of your contemporaries not to calumniate and hate the memory of a man who, having attained the height of all dignities, has descended from it with serenity, with resignation, and almost with pleasure. As to Spain, were I in your place, I should say but one word; that word would be regret in not having been able to accomplish for Spain the good which was accomplished for Naples.
"Like you, I have been proscribed. Like you, I have wandered in foreign lands, breathing always wishes for my country. I know how irritable and sensitive one thus is, and how keenly one feels the attacks of his enemies. But upon my return I perceived that in exile we exaggerate the importance of such attacks. Let not the calumnies which reach you, after having traversed the seas, disturb for a moment your domestic happiness, and the calm of your situation. They are the last gusts of the tempest, the last noise of the expiring waves."
In a letter to Francis Leiber, dated July 1, 1829, Joseph writes:
"Walter Scott wrote for the English Government, and from information furnished him by the Government which succeeded that of the Emperor Napoleon. Napoleon found France in delirium. He wished to rescue it from the anarchy of 1793, and from a counter-revolution. That he well understood the national will, his miraculous return from the isle of Elba will prove sufficiently to posterity. The English Cabinet always prevented the surrender of his dictatorship by perpetuating the war. Napoleon was thus under the necessity of assuming the forms of the other governments of Continental Europe, to reconcile them with France. All that which Napoleon did, his nobility (which was not feudal), his family relations, his Legion of Honor, his new realms, etc., he was under the necessity of doing. The English ever forced him to these acts, that he might put himself in apparent harmony with all those governments which he had conquered, and which he wished to withdraw from the seduction of England. Napoleon often said to me, 'Ten years more are necessary in order to give entire liberty. I can not do what I wish, [Pg 341]but only what I can. These English compel me to live day by day.'"
As the tidings reached the ears of Joseph of the great Revolution of 1830 in France, in which the throne of Charles X. was demolished, he wrote to La Fayette under date of Sept. 7, 1830:
"My dear General,—General Lallemand, who will hand you this letter, will recall me to your memory. He will tell you with what enthusiasm the population of this country, American and French, have received the news of the glorious events of which Paris has been the theatre. If I had not seen at the head of affairs a name[AG] with which mine can never be in accord, I should be with you immediately with General Lallemand. You will recall our interview in this hospitable and free land. My sentiments are as invariable as yours and those of my family. Every thing for the French people.
"Doubtless I can not forget that my nephew, Napoleon II.,[AH] was proclaimed by the Chamber which, in 1815, was dissolved by the bayonets of foreigners. Faithful to the motto of my family, Every thing by France and for [Pg 342]France, I wish to discharge my duties to her. You know my opinions, long ago proclaimed. Individuals and families can have only duties to fulfill in their relation to nations. The nations have rights to exercise. If the French nation should call to the head of affairs the most obscure family, I think that we ought to submit to its will entirely. The nation alone has the right to destroy its work.
"I ask for the abolition of that tyrannic law which has shut out from France a family which had opened the kingdom to all those Frenchmen whom the Revolution had expelled. I protest against any election made by private corporations, or by bodies not having obtained from the nation the powers which the nation alone has the right to confer.
"Adieu, my dear general. My letter proves to you the justice I render to the sentiments you expressed to me during the triumphal journey you made among this people, where I have seen, for fifteen years, that liberty is not a chimera, that it is a blessing which a nation, moderate and wise, can enjoy when it wishes."
To Maria Louisa, daughter of the Emperor of Austria, and mother of the Duke of Reichstadt, [Pg 343]Joseph wrote the next day, September 10, as follows:
"Madame my Sister,—The events which transpired in Paris at the close of July, and of which we have received intelligence, through the English journals, to the 1st of August, remove the principal difficulties in the way of the return of Napoleon II. to the throne of his father. If the Emperor, his grandfather,[AI] lends him the least support, if he will permit that, under my guidance, he may show himself to the French people, his presence alone will re-establish him upon the throne. The Duke of Orleans can rally around him partisans, only in consequence of the absence of the son of your Majesty. It is his re-establishment in France which alone can reunite all parties, stifle the germs of a new revolution, and thus secure the tranquillity of Europe.
"If I were in a position to unfold to your august father the reasons which render this step indispensable on his part at this moment, he could have no doubt of its imperious necessity. His ministry would perceive that the happiness of his grandson, that of France, the tranquillity of Italy, and perhaps of the rest of [Pg 344]Europe, depend upon the re-establishment of the throne of Napoleon II. He is the only one chosen by the voice of the nation. He alone can prevent a new revolution the results of which no mortal can foresee. I hope that the many misfortunes which we have encountered have not effaced from the heart of your Majesty the affection she has manifested for me under diverse circumstances. I can only offer to her myself for her son. For a long time I have been disabused of the illusions of human grandeur; but I am more than ever the slave of that which I deem to be my duty."
On the 18th of September, 1830, Joseph wrote a letter to the Emperor of Austria, which he inclosed in a letter of the same date to Prince Metternich. In his letter to Metternich, Joseph wrote:
"I do not doubt, sir, that you desire the welfare of the grandson of the Emperor whom you have so long served, the welfare of Austria, the tranquillity of Europe, and even of France, if these are all reconcilable. I am convinced that they are to-day perfectly reconcilable, and that Napoleon II. restored to the wishes of the French people can alone secure all these results. I offer myself to serve him as a guide. [Pg 345]The happiness of my country, the peace of the world, will be the noble ends of my ambition.
"Napoleon II. arriving in France under the national colors, conducted by a man whose sentiments and patriotic affections are well known, can alone prevent the usurpation of the Duke of Orleans, who, being neither called to the throne by the rights of succession nor by the national will, clearly and legitimately expressed, can maintain himself in power only by caressing all parties, and finally becoming subordinate to the one which offers him the best chances of success, whatever may be the means to be employed for that end."
Joseph's letter to the Emperor of Austria contained the following expressions: "The particular esteem with which the virtues of your Majesty inspire me, embolden me to recall myself to his recollection under circumstances in which the general welfare appears to me to be in accord with the sentiments of his heart, that he may restore to the wishes of the French people a prince who alone can confer upon them internal peace, and assure the tranquillity of Europe. This peace and tranquillity would be disturbed by the efforts which must be made to sustain in France a government [Pg 346]of usurpation like that of the Duke of Orleans, or even a republic, if the absence of the son of Napoleon, the grandson of your Majesty, should constrain the nation, thus abandoned by the prince of its choice, to surrender itself to another form of government. Sire, if you will entrust to me the son of my brother, that son whom he enjoined, upon his death-bed, to follow my advice in returning to France, I guarantee the success of the enterprise. Alone, with a tri-color scarf, will Napoleon II. be proclaimed.
"Will it be necessary for me to speak of myself to your Majesty to give him confidence in my character? Must I recall to his remembrance that, after the treaty of Luneville, he communicated to me, through an autograph letter to Count Cobentzl, that the opinion he had formed of my moderation was such that he would with pleasure see me placed upon the throne of Lombardy? I refused that throne. I preferred to remain in France. Since then, at Naples, in Spain, has that character been falsified?
"To-day, as then, I am guided by the single sentiment of duty. My ambition limits itself to doing what I ought for France, for the memory [Pg 347]of my brother, and to die upon my native soil a witness of the happiness of the grandson of your Majesty, which is inseparable from that of France and from the tranquillity of Europe. I can only contribute to that to-day by my wishes. May your Majesty second them by his powerful influence, and thus consolidate the peace of the world and the eternal glory of his name."
On the same day, September 18, Joseph wrote an earnest appeal to the French Chamber of Deputies.[AJ] The following extracts will show its character. "It is impossible that a house, reigning through the principle of divine right, should maintain itself upon a throne from which it has been expelled by the nation. The divorce between the House of Bourbon and the French people has been pronounced, and nothing can destroy the souvenirs of the past. In vain the Duke of Orleans abjures his house in the moment of its misfortunes. A Bourbon himself, returning to France, sword in hand, with the Bourbons, in the train of foreign armies, what matter is it that his father voted for the death of the King, his cousin, that he might take his place? What matter is it that the [Pg 348]brother of Louis XVI. named him lieutenant-general of the realm, and regent of his grandson? Is he the less a Bourbon? Has he the less pretension of being entitled to the throne by the right of birth? Is it through the choice of the people, or the right of birth, that he claims to sit upon the throne of his ancestors?
"The family of Napoleon has been elected by three million five hundred thousand votes. If the nation deem it for its interest to make another choice, it has the power and the right to do so; but the nation alone. Napoleon II. was proclaimed king by the Chamber of Deputies in 1815, which recognized in him a right conferred by the nation. That he may be the legitimate sovereign, in the true acceptation of the word, that is to say, legally and voluntarily chosen by the people, there is no need of a new election so long as the nation has not adopted any other form of government. Still the nation is supreme to confirm or reject the titles it has given according to its pleasure. Till then, gentlemen, you are bound to recognize Napoleon II. And until Austria shall restore him to the wishes of France, I offer myself to share your perils, your efforts, your labors, and, upon his arrival, to transmit to him the will, the [Pg 349]examples, the last dispositions of his father, dying a victim of the enemies of France upon the rock of Saint Helena. These words the Emperor addressed to me through General Bertrand:
"'Say to my son that he should remember, first of all, that he is a Frenchman. Let him give the nation as much liberty as I have given it equality. Foreign wars did not permit me to do that which I should have done at the general peace. I was perpetually in dictatorship. But I ever had, as the motive in all my actions, the love and the grandeur of the great nation. Let him take my device, Every thing for the French people. It is to that people we are indebted for all that we have been.
"'The liberty of the press is the triumph of truth. It is that which should diffuse general intelligence. Let it speak, and let the will of the great mass of the people be accomplished.'"
Again, on the 26th of September, Joseph wrote to General Lamarque: "The Duke of Orleans, by his birth, by his connection with the reigning branches of the family of Bourbon, which he in vain attempts to ignore, will soon be suspected by the patriots of France, and by the liberals of Italy and of Spain. The act which places him upon the throne, not emanating [Pg 350]from the nation, can not constitute him king of the French. A few capitalists in Paris are not France. He can not therefore have the cordial assent of the liberals of any country. He can not have the support of those who believe in the legitimacy of the elder branch of his house. He can not have the assent of those who have not lost the memory of the votes which the nation gave to Napoleon, and to Napoleon II., whom the Chamber of Deputies proclaimed in 1815.
"The Duke of Orleans, was he not a pupil of Dumourier? Did he not, like Dumourier, desert the cause of the nation? Did he not, in London, in the presence of all the emigrant French nobility, ask pardon and make the amende honorable for having, for one instant, borne the national colors? Did he not go to Cadiz, sent by the English, to fight the French troops who did not then wear the white cockade of the Bourbons? Did he not enter France in the train of the Allies, sword in hand, with his cousins? Was he not rescued with them, and did he not owe to the disaster at Waterloo his return to France?
"The thirty-two individuals who called him first to the lieutenant-generalship of the realm [Pg 351]would have called some one else if they had not been greatly influenced by his rights of birth. Was there no other man in France more worthy to take temporarily the helm of state? General La Fayette, who was at the head of the provisory government, would he not have given to the nation, and to the friends of liberty and of order in the two worlds, stronger guaranties than a prince of the House of Bourbon? The enthronement of the Duke of Orleans can be approved only by the enemies of France. His illegitimacy, both in view of the sovereignty of the people and of the partisans of divine right, is so evident that he can only govern by being submissive to the will of the factions, whom he will be compelled to obey, now one, and now another. The time for representative governments has arrived. Liberty, equality, public order can not exist where those governing are of a different species from those who are governed."
In a letter to General Bernard, on the 29th of September, Joseph uttered the following prophetic sentiment: "You were deceived by your informants when you said that the name of Napoleon was not pronounced by the combatants. It was pronounced by them. It was [Pg 352]pronounced by the Army of Algiers. It is to-day pronounced by the people in the departments and will soon be by entire France. The artifices of intrigue and deception are temporary. The national will, sooner or later, must triumph."
La Fayette had been mainly instrumental in placing the Duke of Orleans upon the throne of France. He wrote to Joseph Bonaparte explaining his reasons for this. In allusion to the fact that he was compelled to yield to the pressure of circumstances, he said, "You know that in home affairs, as in foreign affairs, no one can do just what he wishes to have done. Your incomparable brother, with his power, his character, his genius, experienced this himself." He also expressed his strong disapproval of the dictatorship of Napoleon, and of the aristocracy which he introduced. Joseph replied from Point Breeze, under date of January 15, 1831:
"My dear General,—I have received your letter of the 26th of November. I am satisfied that under the circumstances you did that which you conscientiously thought it your duty to do. You have thought, as have I, and as did the Emperor Napoleon, that a republic could not, at present, be established in France. [Pg 353]You have recoiled before the confusion which it would introduce in the interior. You could undoubtedly have found a remedy for that in the family which the nation had called to such high destinies. But the hatred of foreigners against that family which France had chosen, inclined you to a prince between whom and legitimacy there was but a single child.[AK]
"My reply is short. Let France preserve peace and liberty with that family. Let such become the national will legitimately expressed, and the conduct of the sixty-two Deputies, who have called the second branch of the House of Bourbon to power, will no longer be discussed by any one. Will this be done? Time alone can tell us.
"The portion of your letter in which you speak of the Napoleonic system as impressed with despotism and aristocracy merits, on my part, a more detailed response. While I render justice to your good intentions, I can not but deplore the situation in which you found yourself when released from the prisons of Austria. [Pg 354]That imprisonment did not permit you to judge the influence exerted upon the national opinion and character by the wretched Reign of Terror. You had only seen the liberal system of America, and you have condemned the all-powerful man who did not transfer that system to France. I remember that one day my brother, in coming from an interview with you, my dear general, said to me these words:
"'I have just had a very interesting conversation with the Marquis de la Fayette upon the subject of the disorderly persons whom the police have sent from Paris. I have said to him that this was done that they might not disturb the tranquillity of good men like himself, whose residence in France appeared to them one of my crimes.[AL] The Marquis de la Fayette does not know the character of these people in whom he interests himself. He was in the prisons of despotism when these people made all France to tremble. But France remembers this too well. We are not here in America.'
"Napoleon never doubted your good intentions. But he thought that you judged too favorably [Pg 355]of your contemporaries. He was forced into war by the English, and into the dictatorship by the war. These few words are the history of the Empire. Napoleon incessantly said to me, 'When will peace arrive? Then only can I satisfy all, and show myself as I am.'
"The aristocracy of which you accuse him was only the mode of placing himself in harmony with Europe. But the old feudal aristocracy was never in his favor. The proof of this is that he was its victim, and that he expiated, at Saint Helena, the crime of having wished to employ all the institutions in favor of the people; and the European aristocracy contrived to turn against him even those very masses for whose benefit he was laboring. The French nation renders him justice; and the European masses will not be slow to say that Napoleon had ever in view the suffrage of posterity, whose verdict is always in favor of him who has only in view the happiness of his country."
On the 15th of February, 1832, Joseph wrote from Point Breeze to the Duke of Reichstadt as follows:
"My dear Nephew,—The bearer of this [Pg 356]letter will be the interpreter of my sentiments. He has passed several weeks in my retreat. They have been occupied with the souvenirs of your father, and of your future lot. I was born eighteen months before your father. We were brought up together. Nothing has ever diminished the warm affection which united us. At his death he entrusted to me the care of communicating to you his last wishes. But before my distance from you enabled me to fulfill that duty, his testament had been published in all the leading journals of Europe.
"When, in 1830, the house imposed upon France by foreigners was again expelled by the nation, I hastened to address to the Chamber of Deputies, and to his Imperial Majesty, your grandfather, the inclosed letters. But my distance from France still thwarted my wishes, and the younger branch of that same house was again imposed upon France by a factious minority. Innumerable calumnies, intended to alienate the nation from you, were scattered abroad with profusion. A chamber, controlled by the Government usurping the rights of the nation, proscribed us anew. But the voice of the people called you. Of that I have conclusive evidence.
"Let his Imperial Majesty consent to entrust you to my care; let him send me a passport that I may come to him and to you, I will quit my retreat to respond to his confidence, to yours, to the sentiment which commands me to spare no efforts to restore to the love of the French the son of the man whom I have loved the most of any one upon earth. My opinions are well known in France. They are in harmony with those of the nation. If you enter France with me and a tri-color scarf, you will be received there as the son of Napoleon.
"When you were born in Paris, the 20th of March, 1811, your father had become, through the love of the French people as well as through the obstinacy of the English oligarchy making war upon him, the most powerful prince in Europe. The English oligarchy foresaw the prosperity which France, governed in accordance with the liberal doctrines of the age, would attain if she had peace. That oligarchy feared the contagion of the example upon other states. Therefore it did not cease to employ the immense resources which the monopoly of the commerce of the world placed at its disposal to excite against Napoleon enemies [Pg 358]at home and abroad, and to stifle, at its birth, the union of the peoples and the kings for the reform of the anti-social privileges of the oligarchy. It therefore provoked incessant war, and thus rendered France every day more powerful, through the victories she obtained under the direction of your father, whom it accused of the calamities inseparable from a war kindled by itself, and with the sole object of maintaining its unjust privileges.
"It was at the close of a strife incessantly renewed, excited by the Government of a nation sufficiently rich to pay the soldiers of the others, and sheltered by its insular position against all attempts against itself, that, after the triumphs of twenty years, your father succumbed beneath the united efforts of the Allies of England, who perceived too late their fatal errors.
"Napoleon was the friend both of the peoples and of the kings. He wished to reconcile them to each other. He wished to save other states from the misfortunes which a bloody revolution had inflicted upon France. These were the reforms which he desired, voluntary ameliorations, commended by the increasing civilization of the world, and the widely-extended [Pg 359]interests of all classes, and not violent commotions, which always pass beyond the end desired. His greatest vengeance against England did not exceed that which the advocates of the bill of reform seek for to-day.
"I think that now you are placed in a position to continue the work with which a divine genius inspired your father. France will accept you with enthusiasm. Factions will subside. The power with which your father was invested is no longer needful for the accomplishment of his designs. It was war which elevated upon the thrones of Europe the princes of his family. But it was not that he might give them thrones that he engaged in war. They were military positions occupied during the general struggle which the oligarchies had decided never to close but by the abasement of France. It was necessary to allow the conquered countries to be invaded by the republican system for which they were not prepared, or to cause them to be governed by men of whose devotion to France and to himself he was fully assured. And where could he find better guaranties than in his brothers, whom nature, as well as the favors which they had received from the nation, had destined to [Pg 360]share his adverse as well as his good-fortune, both inseparable from that of France?
"To-day time has borne its fruits. Nations are more enlightened respecting their interests. They know well that the most happy nation is that in which the greatest number of men enjoy the most prosperity; which obeys a supreme magistrate whom it loves, and who himself has not the baleful power to abuse the life, the property, the liberty of the people, whom he represents only that he may protect the rights which they have entrusted to him. Such were the opinions, and especially the instinct, of your father. Every thing for the people! And at the general pacification which he desired with all his heart, Every thing by the people, and for the people. He did not live long enough.
"May I live long enough to see you return to our country, restored to herself, the worthy heir of his heart, all French, of his generous intentions. As for his immense genius, it is no longer necessary for France or for Europe. You are destined, by your birth, to unite peoples and kings, and to reconcile the old and the new civilization; to prevent new upheavings, to moderate all political passions, and thus to bring forward that prosperity of individuals [Pg 361]and of nations which can only arise from justice, from the free development of all rights, from the equilibrium of all duties.
"Your father was accustomed to say to me, 'When will the time arise when justice alone shall reign? When shall I finish my dictatorship? We do not yet see that time. The English oligarchy will not have it so. My son perhaps will see it. May that presage be soon accomplished.'
"This is also the fondest wish of my heart. Receive it with the tenderness of the old friend of your glorious father, at Point Breeze, State of New Jersey, in the United States of America, where I live as happy as one can be far from his country, in the most prosperous land upon the earth, under the name which I have adopted, of the Count of Survilliers."
The elder brother of the present Emperor, Napoleon III., who had married the youngest daughter of Joseph Bonaparte, died in Italy in March, 1831. With his younger brother, Louis Napoleon, he had joined the Italians in their endeavor to throw off the yoke of Austria. The young prince, who had developed a very noble character, fell a victim to the fatigues of the campaign. By the vote of the French people, the Duke of Reichstadt was the first heir to [Pg 362]the throne of the Empire. In case of his death, the crown passed to Joseph Bonaparte. As Joseph had no children, his decease would transfer the sceptre to his brother, Louis Bonaparte, and from Louis it would pass to Louis Napoleon, his only surviving son.
When, in 1832, Joseph heard of the dangerous sickness of the Duke of Reichstadt, whose death, as we have mentioned, would constitute Joseph first heir to the throne, he with some hesitancy decided to leave his peaceful retreat at Point Breeze and repair to England. He hoped to obtain permission to visit his dying nephew in Vienna, and then to reunite himself in Italy with his wife, and with his revered mother, who was still living. Upon his landing in Liverpool he received the sad tidings that the Duke of Reichstadt had breathed his last on the 22d of July. He was twenty-one years of age, tall, graceful, affectionate, and of marvellous beauty. His mother and other friends wept at the side of his couch. Devoutly he partook of the sacrament of the Lord's Supper, and, with a smile lingering upon his cheek, fell asleep. We trust
"Asleep in Jesus, blessed sleep,
From which none ever wake to weep."
Joseph, finding himself in England in 1832, and his nephew, the Duke of Reichstadt, no longer living, took up his residence in London. He earnestly desired to join his wife and mother in Italy. But the jealousy of the Allies would not allow him, until he was absolutely sinking in death, to place his foot upon the Continent. His universally recognized virtues secured for him, from all classes of society, a cordial reception.
While Joseph resided in England, the celebrated Spanish chief, Mina, who had been one of the most formidable of the leaders of the guerrillas, made several visits to the ex-King, expressing the deepest regret that he had not sustained him. He stated to Joseph that his intercepted letters had so revealed his true character, that others of the leaders who had operated against him were now in his favor.
La Fayette wrote Joseph a letter of sympathy in view of his double affliction in the loss of his [Pg 366]son-in-law, Napoleon Louis, and his nephew, the Duke of Reichstadt. The letter, from which we make the following extract, was dated La Grange, October 13, 1832:
"My dear Count,—I am deeply affected by those testimonials of confidence and friendship which you kindly give me. And I merit them by all those affections which attach me to you. It is with profound sympathy that I share in your grief from the two cruel bereavements. I should immediately have written to you in London, had I not been informed that you were on the route to Italy. I have, however, since learned that your entrance into Rome has been interdicted to your filial piety by a base and barbarous policy."
La Fayette also expresses his deep regret that the Orleans Government persisted in the decree which banished the Bonaparte family from France. Joseph, in a reply dated London, Nov. 10, 1832, writes:
"My dear General,—I have received your kind letter, and I thank you with all my heart. It is true that I love, as much as you do, the institutions of the United States. But I am near to France, and I do not wish to see it vanish from my eyes like a new Ithaca. I [Pg 367]prefer France to the United States as the residence for my declining years, and I rely upon your powerful co-operation to secure that for me. It only remains for me to hope to see my country as happy as that which I have just left—a country which I love above all others except my native soil. A day will come undoubtedly, in which France will have no occasion to envy even happy America. As soon as it shall be clearly understood that all ought to devote themselves to the happiness of all, the most difficult thing will be accomplished. May we live long enough to witness that, and may I have the happiness of renewing my long friendship in our common country, in sometimes speaking to you of the admiration and gratitude with which you are regarded in the New World."
The following letter from Victor Hugo reflects such light upon the reputation of Joseph Bonaparte, as to merit insertion here. It was dated Paris, Feb. 27, 1833:
"Sire,—I avail myself of the first opportunity to reply to you. Monsieur Presle, who leaves for London, kindly offers to place this letter in the hands of your Majesty. Permit me, sire, to treat you ever royally, vous traiter[Pg 368] toujours royalement. The kings whom Napoleon made, in my opinion nothing can unmake. There is no human power which can efface the august sign which that grand man has placed upon your brow. I have been profoundly moved by the sympathy which your Majesty has testified for me upon the occasion of my prosecution for 'Le Roi S'amuse.' You love liberty, sire. Liberty also loves you. Permit me to send you, with this letter, a copy of the discourse which I pronounced before the Tribunal of Commerce. I am very desirous that you should see it in a form different from the reports in the journals, which are always inexact.
"I should be very happy, sire, to go to London to clasp that royal hand which has so often clasped the hand of my father. M. Presle will inform your Majesty of the obstacles which at the present moment prevent me from realizing a wish so dear. I have very many things to say to you. It is impossible that the future should be wanting to your family, great as has been the loss of the past year. You bear the grandest of historic names. In truth, we are moving rather toward a republic than toward a monarchy. But, to a sage like you, the exterior [Pg 369]form of government is of but little importance. You have proved, sire, that you know how to be worthily the citizen of a republic. Adieu, sire; the day in which I shall be permitted to press your hand in mine will be one of the most glorious of my life. While waiting for this your letters render me proud and happy."
The celebrated Duchess of Abrantes, wife of Marshal Junot, sent her Memoirs to King Joseph by the hands of M. Presle. The following extracts from the letter of the duchess to M. Presle shows the enthusiastic attachment which Joseph won from his friends. The letter is dated Paris, 1833.
"Will you be so good, sir, as to have the kindness to take charge of the book which I send with this, and also of the letter which I address to his Majesty, King Joseph? I earnestly desire that both should be transmitted to him as promptly as possible. I very much wish, sir, I could have the pleasure of seeing you. My attachment for King Joseph is so profound and so true, of such long-standing, so established upon bases which can never crumble, that I would give days of my life to talk a moment with persons loving him as I do, and [Pg 370]speaking to me as I speak of him and think of him. As for me, to see him for one moment would be now the fulfillment of the most ardent of my wishes.
"With these feelings, you will perceive, sir, how happy I shall be to have him soon receive this letter, which I entrust to you. It contains my wishes for the new year. And I can truly say that there is not another heart in France more sincerely devoted to his happiness—his true happiness and his glory. Ah! sir, I assure him that in France there is one being who is warmly attached, sincerely devoted to him, as are all hers. My children have been cradled in the name of Napoleon, and that without concealment. The misfortune of their father has been an additional tie to attach them to the memory of the Emperor, and to all those who bear his revered name. The bust of the Emperor is in my alcove, by the side of the font in which I place my lustral water. There I every morning and evening repeat my prayers. Why should I not say this? I do it because my love for my country constrains me to fall upon my knees before that name which constituted its glory and its happiness for fifteen years."
On the 28th of July, 1833, the Louis Philippe Government, in reluctant concession to the almost universal voice of the French people, restored the statue of Napoleon to the Column of Austerlitz, in the Place Vendôme. It is scarcely too much to say that as that statue rose to its proud eminence, the whole French nation raised a shout of joy. A Parisian journal, The Tribune, intending perhaps to reflect upon the Government, expressed surprise in not seeing a single member of the Bonaparte family shaking the dust of exile from his feet, and coming, in the broad light of July, claiming a "just reparation." Joseph wrote to the editor from London a letter containing the following sentiments:
"I have read in your journal of July 29th the article in which you give an account of the solemnity which took place on the 28th at the foot of the Column of Austerlitz, upon the inauguration of the statue of the Emperor Napoleon. You attribute the absence of his brothers to very strange sentiments. Are you ignorant, then, that an iniquitous law, dictated by the enemies of France to the elder branch of the Bourbons, excluded these brothers, out of hatred to the name of Napoleon? Would [Pg 372]you wish that, in defiance of a law which the National Majesty has not yet repealed, we should bear the brands of discord into our country at the moment when it re-erects the statue of our brother? Every thing for the nation, was the motto of our brother. It shall be ours also.
"Instead of speaking, as a hostile journal would have done, in casting the blame upon patriots proscribed, who wander over the world the victims of the enemies of their country, would it not have exhibited more of courage and of justice on your part, sir, to recall to the electors of France that Napoleon has a mother who languishes upon a foreign soil, without it being possible for her children to speak to her a last adieu? She shares with three generations of her kindred, including sixty French, the rigors of an exile of twenty years. They are guilty of no other crime than that of being the relatives of a man whose statue is re-erected by national decree.
"The name of Napoleon will never be the banner of civil discord. Twice he withdrew from France, that he might not be the pretext for the infliction of calamities upon his country. Such are the doctrines which Napoleon [Pg 373]has bequeathed to his family. It is because the French people know well that his pretended despotism was but a dictatorship, rendered necessary by the wars which his enemies waged against him, that his memory remains popular. Is it just, is it honorable that his family should still be condemned to endure the anguish of exile, and to hear even his ancient enemies reproach the French with the injustice of their proscription?"
This law of proscription, dictated by the Allies on the 12th of January, 1816, and re-affirmed by the Government of Louis Philippe, was as follows:
"The ascendants and descendants of Napoleon Bonaparte, his uncles and his aunts, his nephews and his nieces, his brothers, their wives and their descendants, his sisters and their husbands, are excluded from the realm forever."
The penalty for violating this decree of banishment was death. Madame Letitia had been informed in Rome that the Louis Philippe Government contemplated abolishing the decree of exile, so far as she alone was concerned. In response she wrote, April, 1834, to a distinguished gentleman in Paris, M. Sapey, as follows:
"Monsieur,—Those who recognize the absurdity of maintaining the law of exile against my family, and who wish nevertheless to propose an exception, do not know either my principles or my character. I was left a widow at thirty-three years of age, and my eight children were my only consolation. Corsica was menaced with separation from France. The loss of my property and the abandonment of my fireside did not terrify me. I followed my children to the Continent. In 1814 I followed Napoleon to the island of Elba. In 1816, notwithstanding my age, I should have followed him to Saint Helena had it not been prohibited. I resigned myself to live a prisoner of state at Rome; yes, a prisoner of state. I know not whether that was through an amplification of the law which exiled me with my family from France, or by a protocol of the allied powers.
"I then saw persecution reach such a pitch as to compel the members of my family, who had devoted themselves to live with me at Rome, to abandon the city. I then decided to withdraw from the world, and to seek no other happiness than that of the future life; since I saw myself separated from those for whom I [Pg 375]clung to life, and in whom reposed all my souvenirs and all my happiness, if there were any more happiness remaining for me in this world. How could I hope to find any equivalent in France, which was not already poisoned by the injustice of men in power who could not pardon my family the glory which it has acquired?
"Leave me, then, in my honorable sufferings, that I may bear to the tomb the integrity of my character. I will never separate my lot from that of my children. It is the only consolation which remains to me. Receive, nevertheless, monsieur, my thanks for the kind interest which you have taken in my affairs."
On the 15th of January, 1835, Joseph wrote to his brother Louis, the father of Napoleon III., as follows:
"My dear Brother,—I have received your letter of the 27th of December. I am afflicted by the depression of spirits in which it was written. It is true that for many years fortune has been constantly severe with us. But it is something to be able to say to one's self that fortune is blind. And an irreproachable conscience and a good heart offer many consolations. They accompany us wherever [Pg 376]we go, and prevent us from being too severe in our turn against fortune and her favorites of the day.
"It is indeed true that there are but few gleams of happiness to be met in this life. The least unfortunate have still their storms. There are but few privileged men. How many there are whom we must admit to be more unhappy than we are. And we do not sufficiently take into account the sufferings of dishonored men, whose conscience will at times awake and react upon those who have done it violence. Those who have borne arms against their country, against their benefactor, who have sold their services to foreigners, think you they can be happy? The consciousness of not having merited the abandonment of which you speak, is not that a happy sentiment? It is necessary then for us to perceive what we are in this life, and not what we could wish to be. Being men, we are destined to live, that is to say, to suffer. But we can preserve our own self-respect, and the esteem of the friends who appreciate us. So long as that continues, one is not absolutely unhappy. In that point of view, no person ought to be more satisfied than yourself, my dear Louis. All [Pg 377]other evils over which we have no control are hard to endure, undoubtedly. But their necessity, in spite of ourselves, should lead us to bear them. We ought to submit to that which we can not prevent.
"Still, I can say nothing upon this subject which you do not know as well as I do. But I am not writing a dissertation. I recount my sensations and my sentiments as they flow from my pen. The consciousness of not meriting the evil which one suffers greatly mitigates that evil. Adieu, my dear Louis. I love you as ever. We have not known any revolutions in our affections."
Soon after Joseph had established himself in London, he called his brothers Lucien and Jerome, and his nephew, Prince Louis Napoleon, to join him there. The acts of the Government of Louis Philippe and the intense opposition they encountered engrossed his meditations. Fully satisfied that the Government could not maintain itself in the course it was pursuing, Joseph deemed it important for the triumph of what he called the popular cause, to effect a cordial union between the Republican and Imperial parties. The Government thwarted this union by sending spies into the clubs, who, [Pg 378]joining those associations, assumed to be earnest democrats, and strove in every way to promote discord, while they extolled in most extravagant terms the brutal deeds of Marat, St. Just, and Robespierre. Joseph could not act in harmony with such men, and the projected alliance was abandoned.[AM]
In a brief sketch which Louis Napoleon, while a prisoner at Ham, wrote of his uncle Joseph just after his death, he says: "In general, Prince Louis Napoleon was in accord with his uncle upon all fundamental questions; but he differed from him upon one essential point, which offered a very strange contrast. The old man, whose days were nearly finished, did not wish to precipitate any thing. He was resigned to await the developments of time. But the young man, impatient, wished to act, and to precipitate events.
"The insurrection at Strasbourg, in the month of October, 1836, thus took place without the authorization and without the participation of Joseph. He was also much displeased with it, since the journals deceived him respecting the aim and intentions of his nephew. In 1837 Joseph revisited America. Upon his return [Pg 379]to Europe in 1839 he found his nephew in England. Then, enlightened respecting the object, the means, and the plans of Prince Louis Napoleon, he restored to him all his tenderness. The publication of Les Idees Napoleoniennes merited his entire approbation. And upon that occasion he declared openly that, in his quality of friend and depositary of the most intimate thoughts of the Emperor, he could say positively that that book contained the exact and faithful record of the political intentions of his brother."
It will be remembered that Louis Napoleon, after the attempt at Strasbourg, was sent in a French frigate to Brazil, and thence to New York, where he remained but a few weeks, when he returned to Europe to his dying mother. At New York, under date of April 22, 1837, he wrote the following letter to his uncle Joseph at London. The letter very clearly reveals the relation then existing between them.
"My dear Uncle,—Upon my arrival in the United States, I hoped to have found a letter from you. I confess to you that I have been deeply pained to learn that you were displeased with me. I have even been astonished by it, knowing your judgment and your heart. Yes, [Pg 380]my uncle, you must have been strangely led into error in respect to me, to repel as enemies men who have devoted themselves to the cause of the Empire.
"If, successful at Strasbourg, and it was very near a success, I had marched upon Paris, drawing after me the populations fascinated by the souvenirs of the Empire, and, arriving in the capital a pretender, I had seized upon the legal power, then indeed there would have been nobleness and grandeur of soul in disavowing my conduct, and in breaking with me.
"But how is it? I attempt one of those bold enterprises which could alone re-establish that which twenty years of peace have caused to be forgotten. I throw myself into the attempt, ready to sacrifice my life, persuaded that my death even would be useful to our cause. I escape, against my wishes, the bayonets and the scaffold; and, having escaped, I find on the part of my family only contumely and disdain.
"If the sentiments of respect and esteem with which I regard you were not so sincere, I should not so deeply feel your conduct in respect to me; for I venture to say that public opinion can never admit that there is any alienation [Pg 381]between us. No person can comprehend that you disavow your nephew because he has exposed himself in your cause. No one can comprehend that men who have perilled their lives and their fortune to replace the eagle upon our banners can be regarded by you as enemies, any more than they could comprehend that Louis XVIII. would repel the Prince of Condé or the Duc d'Enghien because they had been unfortunate in their enterprises.
"I know you too well, my dear uncle, to doubt the goodness of your heart, and not to hope that you will return to sentiments more just in respect to me, and in respect to those who have compromised themselves for your cause. As for myself, whatever may be your procedure in reference to me, my line of conduct will be ever the same. The sympathy of which so many persons have given me proofs; my conscience, which does in nothing reproach me; in fine, the conviction that if the Emperor beholds me from his elevation in the skies, he would approve my conduct, are so many compensations for all the mortifications and injustice which I have experienced. My enterprise has failed; that is true. But it has announced to France that the family of the Emperor is not [Pg 382]yet dead; that it still numbers many devoted friends; in fine, that their pretensions are not limited to the demand of a few pence from the Government, but to the re-establishment, in favor of the people, of those rights of which foreigners and the Bourbons have deprived them. This is what I have done. Is it for you to condemn me?
"I send you with this a recital of my removement from the prison of Strasbourg, that you may be fully informed of all my proceedings, and that you may know that I have done nothing unworthy of the name which I bear. I beg you to present my respects to my uncle Lucien. I rely upon his judgment and affection to be my advocate with you. I entreat you, my dear uncle, not to be displeased with the laconic manner in which I represent these facts, such as they are. Never doubt my unalterable attachment to you.
"Your tender and respectful nephew,
In 1840 the health of Joseph began to be [Pg 383]seriously impaired. In London he had an attack of paralysis, which induced him to go to the warm baths of Wildbad, in Wurtemberg. He was somewhat benefited by the waters, and cherished the hope that he might join members of his family in Italy. But the Continental sovereigns so feared the potency of the name of Bonaparte upon the masses of the people that his request was peremptorily refused. Thus repulsed, he returned to the cold climate of England.
In 1841, the King of Sardinia, who was strongly leaning toward popular principles, allowed Joseph to take up his residence in Genoa. He was conveyed to that city in an English ship. He had been there but a few weeks, when the Duke of Tuscany, commiserating his dying condition, kindly consented that he should join his wife, his children, and his brothers in Florence.
In 1842 Joseph bequeathed to the principal cities of Corsica several hundred valuable paintings, which he had received as a legacy from his uncle, Cardinal Fesch.
In 1843, the Government of Louis Philippe, with marvellous inconsistency, voted to demand the remains of the Emperor Napoleon from [Pg 384]the British Government, and to rear to his honor, beneath the dome of the Invalides, the monument of a nation's gratitude, while at the same time that Government persisted in banishing from France all the members of the Napoleon family.
A very earnest petition was sent at this time to the Government, numerously signed by Frenchmen, praying that the decree of banishment against the Bonaparte family might be annulled. But the Louis Philippe Government declared in council that the resolution of the Government to prolong the exile of the family of Napoleon was positive and unchanging. Joseph wrote a letter of thanks in behalf of the Bonaparte family to the signers of the petition, in which he said:
"The elder branch of the Bourbons, brought back to France by foreign bayonets, we have ever frankly treated as enemies. They did not conceive the hope of degrading us in our own eyes. It has been reserved for the younger branch to call artifice to its aid—to glorify the dead Napoleon, and to traduce, to proscribe his mother, his sisters, his nephews, fifty or sixty French people, charged with the crime of bearing his name.
"Were Napoleon living to-day, he would think as we do. He would recognize in France no other sovereign than the French people, who alone have the right to establish such a form of Government as to them may seem best for their interests. The too long dictatorship of Napoleon was prolonged by the persistence of the enemies of the Revolution, who endeavored to destroy in him the principle of national sovereignty from which he emanated.
"At a general peace, universal suffrage, liberty of the press, and all the guaranties for the perpetual prosperity of a great nation, which were in the plans of Napoleon, would have been unveiled before entire France, and would have made him the greatest man in history. His whole thoughts were made known to me. It is my duty loudly to proclaim them. He sacrificed himself twice, that he might save France from civil war. The heirs of his name would renounce forever the happiness of breathing the air of their native country, did they think that their presence would inflict upon it the least injury. Such are the principles, the opinions, the sentiments of all the members of the family of Napoleon, of which I am here the interpreter. Every thing for and by the people."
In the few remaining years of his life, nursed by the tender care of his wife Julie, who was to him an angel of consolation, Joseph remained in Florence, his mind entirely engrossed with the misfortunes of his family. He had become fully reconciled to his nephew, and keenly sympathized with him in his captivity at Ham. The glaring inconsistency of the Government of Louis Philippe in persisting to banish from France the relatives of a man whom all France almost adored, simply because they were that great man's relatives, often roused his indignation.
The thought that he was an exile from his native land—from France, which he had served so faithfully, and loved so well—embittered his last hours. Supported by the devotion of Julie, and by the presence of his brothers, Louis and Jerome, to both of whom he was tenderly attached, he awaited without regret the approach of death.
On the 23d of July, 1844, Joseph breathed his last at Florence, at the age of sixty-six years. He left his fortune, which was not very large, to his eight grandchildren. He also requested that his remains should be deposited in Florence until the hour should come when [Pg 387]they could be removed to the soil of his beloved France. Queen Julie survived him but a few months. Her remains were deposited by the side of those of her husband, and of her second daughter, the Princess Charlotte, who died in 1839.
Joseph was eminently calculated to embellish society and to adorn the arts of peace. His literary attainments were very extensive, and in the Tribune he was eminent, both as an orator and a ready debater. Familiar with all the choicest passages of the classic writers of France and Italy, and thoroughly read in all the branches of political economy, with great affability of manners and spotless purity of character, he would have been a man of distinction in any country and in any age. To say that he was not equal to his brother Napoleon is no reproach, for Napoleon has never probably, in all respects, had his equal. But Joseph filled with distinguished honor all the varied positions of his eventful life. As a legislator, an ambassador, a general, a monarch, and a private citizen, he was alike eminent.
From the commencement of his career until his last breath, he was devoted to those principles of popular rights to which the French [Pg 388]Revolution gave birth, and which his more illustrious brother so long and so gloriously upheld against the combined dynasties of Europe. This sublime struggle of the people throughout Europe, under the banners of Napoleon, against the old régime of aristocratic oppression, profoundly moved the soul of Joseph. The honors he received, the flattery at times lavished upon him, did not corrupt his heart. "Under the purple," says Napoleon III., "as under the cloak of exile, Joseph ever remained the same; the determined opponent of all oppression, of all privilege, of every abuse, and the earnest advocate of equal rights and of popular liberty."
In his last days, Joseph, whose conversational powers were remarkable, loved to recall the scenes of his memorable career. With the most touching simplicity, and with a charm of quiet eloquence which moved all hearts, he held in breathless interest those who were grouped around him. With pleasure he alluded to the comparatively humble origin of his family, which had counted among the members so many kings. He was fond of relating anecdotes of the brother of whom he was so proud, and whom he so tenderly loved. One [Pg 389]of these characteristic anecdotes was as follows:
"Joseph," said the Emperor to me one day, "T——[AO] has infinite ability, has he not? Well, do you know why he has never accomplished any thing great? It is because grand thoughts come only from the heart, and T—— has no heart."
Though Joseph was a man of extraordinary gentleness of character and sweetness of disposition, the cruel treatment of his brother at Saint Helena he could never allude to without intense emotion. In speaking of the destitution of the Emperor in the hovel on that distant rock, his eyes would fill with tears, and his voice would tremble under the vehemence of his feelings.
The course pursued by the Government of Louis Philippe, the whole internal and external policy of that unhappy monarch, arresting the progress of popular rights at home and degrading France abroad, and especially its gross inconsistency in lavishing honors upon the memory of Napoleon, and yet persisting in banishing his descendants, roused his indignation.
We can not conclude this brief sketch more [Pg 390]appropriately than in the words of Louis Napoleon, written when he was a captive at Ham, and when his uncle Joseph had just died in exile at Florence.
"If there existed to-day among us a man who, as a deputy, a diplomatist, a king, a citizen, or a soldier, was invariably distinguished for his patriotism and his brilliant qualities; if that man had rendered himself illustrious by his oratorical triumphs, and by the advantageous treaties he had concluded for the interests of France; if that man had refused a crown because the conditions which it imposed upon him wounded his conscience; if that man had conquered a realm, gained battles, and had exhibited upon two thrones the light of French ideas; if, in fine, in good as in bad fortune, he had always remained faithful to his oaths, to his country, to his friends; that man, we may say, would occupy the highest position in public esteem, statues would be raised to him, and civic crowns would adorn his whitened locks.
"Well! this man lately existed, with all these glories, with all these honorable antecedents. Nevertheless upon his brow we see only the imprint of misfortune. His country has requited his noble services by an exile of [Pg 391]twenty-nine years. We deplore this, without being astonished at it. There are but two parties in France; the vanquished and the vanquishers at Waterloo. The vanquishers are in power, and all that is national is crushed beneath the weight of defeat."
These words were written in the year 1844. The Empire is now restored. The decree of exile against the Bonaparte family is annulled. The heir of the Emperor sits upon the throne, recognized by all the nations in the Old World and the New. The time has come when the character of Joseph Bonaparte can be, and will be justly appreciated.
[A] Quelques Mot sur Joseph Napoleon Bonaparte; Œuvres de Napoleon III., tome ii. p. 452.
[B] Napoleon's younger brother, father of Napoleon III.
[C] Œuvres de Napoleon III., tome deuxième, p. 451.
[D] 9th Thermidor, 28th of July, 1794. This was the date of the overthrow of Robespierre, and of the termination of the Reign of Terror. The enormous atrocities perpetrated under the name of the Republic had excited general distrust of republican institutions.
[E] 13th Vendemiaire, 5th of October, 1795, when Napoleon quelled the insurgent sections.
[F] 18th Fructidor, 4th of September, 1797. On this day the majority of the French Directory overthrew the minority, who were in favor of monarchical institutions. Sixty-three Deputies were banished for conspiring to introduce monarchy. Both councils renewed their oath of hatred against royalty.
[G] 18th Brumaire, Nov. 9th, 1799.
[H] "I hold it for certain that in 1802 the Concordat was, on the part of Napoleon, an act of superior intelligence, much more than of a despotic spirit, and for the Christian religion in France an event as salutary as it was necessary. After the anarchy and the revolutionary orgies, the solemn recognition of Christianity by the State could alone give satisfaction to public sentiment, and assure to the Christian influence the dignity and the stability which it was needful that it should recover."—Meditations sur l'état Actuel de la Religion Chrétienne, par M. Guizot, p. 5.
[I] This daughter subsequently married her cousin, the brother of the Emperor Napoleon III., the second son of Louis Bonaparte. He died at an early age, in a campaign for the liberation of Italy.
[J] Œuvres de Napoleon III. tome ii. p. 456.
"Condé! what a name! the universe reveres it;
To this country it is ever dear;
Mars honors it during war,
And Minerva during peace."
[L] Zénaïde and Lolotte (Charlotte), the two daughters of Joseph.
[M] "The entrance of Joseph to Cosenza, the capital of hither Calabria, on the 11th of April, was as a national fête. Guards of honor, chosen from among the most distinguished families, all the clergy, all the population were at the gates to receive him. He was accompanied into the city with shouts of joy, the streets being ornamented with triumphal arches. One would have thought that he was a sovereign returning after a long absence to the midst of a people by whom he was idolized."—Mémoires et Correspondence Politique et Militaire, du Roi Joseph, p. 127.
[N] Daughter of the king.
[O] An island in the lake of Mortfontaine.
[P] Madame Letitia, Napoleon's mother.
[Q] We are indebted, for the report of this conversation, to M. Simon, of Nantes, a nephew of the bishop.
[R] Napoleon then contemplated making Lucien King of Naples.
[S] Don Carlos and Don Antonio.
[T] Napier, vol. iii. p. 78, vol iv. p. 438.
[U] Moniteur, Jan. 11, 1811.
[V] Alison, vol. iii. p. 407.
[W] Napier, v. 406, 407.
[X] Encyclopædia Americana, article Joseph Bonaparte.
[Y] Wellington to Officers commanding Divisions and Brigades, ix. 574, 575.
[Z] King Joseph, writing to Clarke, under date of July 6, 1813, says: "Our army at Vittoria was but thirty-five thousand. That fact can not be contested. The enemy had certainly seventy thousand combatants. I can not be deceived when I say that his force was double of ours."
[AA] Manifeste par la Junte Constitutionale, et les habitans de St. Sebastien.
[AB] "I thanked them for their generous offer, but preferred to charge with that difficult commission M. Boisneau, whose patriotism and personal attachment to Napoleon I had known at the siege of Toulon. You know with what success he fulfilled his commission."—Mémoires du Roi Joseph, tome dixième, p. 342.
[AC] The Emperor was very desirous that his correspondence with the allied sovereigns should be published. He wrote to Joseph from Saint Helena to secure their publication in the United States if possible. "It will be the best response," he said, "to all the calumnies which have been uttered against me." During Joseph's sojourn in England, he learned from Dr. O'Meara that the autograph originals of these letters addressed by Napoleon to the sovereigns had been offered for sale in London in the year 1822; that they had been in the hands of Mr. Murray, a well-known publisher; that the letters relating to Russia had been purchased by a diplomatic agent of that power for ten thousand pounds sterling. There was no longer any hope of obtaining them, since they were in the hands of those interested in having them destroyed.—Mémoires et Correspondence, Politique et Militaire du Roi Joseph, tome dixième, n. 231.
[AD] Quelque Mot sur Joseph Napoleon Bonaparte, par Napoleon III.
[AE] The Duke of Reichstadt, son of the Emperor, then thirteen years of age, living at Vienna, in the Court of the Emperor of Austria, his grandfather. He died of consumption in July, 1832.
[AF] Œuvres de Napoleon III., tome deuxième, p. 439.
[AG] Louis Philippe, Duke of Orleans.
[AH] Napoleon's son, the Duke of Reichstadt.
[AI] The Emperor of Austria.
[AJ] Œuvres de Napoleon III. tome deuxième, p. 441.
[AK] Charles X. abdicated in favor of his grandson, the Duke of Bordeaux, a child seven or eight years old. Should that child die, the Duke of Orleans would be the legitimate Bourbon candidate for the throne.
[AL] The Jacobins wished all whom they termed aristocrats guillotined or expelled from France.
[AM] Œuvres de Napoleon III., tome deuxième, p. 449.
[AN] For a short time after the death of his elder brother, Louis Napoleon, in accordance with the understood wish of the Emperor, adopted the signature of Napoleon Louis. Soon, however, he again resumed his original name.
1. Minor changes have been made to correct typesetter's errors; otherwise, every effort has been made to remain true to the author's words and intent.
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