« ПредишнаНапред »
usurpations of the Roman Pontiff, and place him completely in his power, Buonaparte wrested from the Pope the celebrated Concordat, with the purport of which our readers are doubtless well acquainted.
This event, so important, and upon the whole, so beneficial to France, was celebrated by the performance of High Mass at the cathedral of Notre Dame. On this occasion Buonaparte assumed the state of a monarch: his carriage was drawn by eight horses superbly caparisoned; the cortége which followed him was remarkably brilliant, and included a number of servants in superb liveries, although in direct violation of a law passed in the time of the former republic. Soon afterwards Buonaparte still further extended his lenity to the emigrants, by a formal decree, which restored many of that unfortunate class of people to their country, and enacted a new order of privileged persons, who were styled the Members of the Legion of Honour. This body consisted of individuals eminently distinguished for their public services: they were divided into
classes of respective merit. .. Having thus concluded peace on the most favourable terms
with all the enemies of France; established a vigorous government in every branch of its administration; fostered agriculture; endeavoured to encourage commerce; patronized the fine arts; established toleration; restrained the turbulence of faction; elicited order from a chaos of misrule, and recalled victory to the French standard; Buonaparte deemed the favourable moment arrived when he might openly assume the power, but not the title, of an hereditary monarch. With this impression, after some political coquetry with the senate, lie was graciously pleased to accept the title of Chief Consul for life, with the power of naming his successor ! The situations of his colleagues in the consulate were also rendered lifehold. He was gratified with the privilege of adding forty members to the senate; and his power, already too great for his own security, (infinitely greater than was consistent with the liberties and happiness of the people,) was still further increased, so as to render him the absolute master of his adopted country. This point being carried, he had leisure to concert with the Emperor Alexander and the King of Prussia, the plan of what was called the German Indemnities; that is, the desclation of all the minor states of the empire; the robbery of the weak, and the aggrandizement of the strong. In the execution of this enterprize, Buonaparte acted with peculiar severity to Austria, and created an interest among the German princes, the effects of which, in a few years, increased and aggravated the desolation of Europe. And now ensued a transaction which may be considered as one of the immediate causes of the rupture of the treaty of Amiens. This was the invasion of Switzerland by France, upon the plea of quelling the factions which agitated that beautiful country.
It appears that a new constitution had been recommended to the Swiss people by the French government. The promulgation of this constitution gave rise to an immediate insurrection, in which Schuytz, Uric, Underwalden, Glaris, and other cantons, distinguished themselves by their opposition to the French party. The insurgents prevailed for a time, obtained possession of Berne, and endeavoured to induce the great con- . tinental powers to support them. A powerful army, however, soon enforced Buonaparte's commands; deputies were convened from the different cantons, and ordered to Paris, where, under the eye of the Chief Consul, they formed a new constitution for the Swiss, which was soon afterwards promulgated; and as its execution could not be opposed, it was submitted to by the people, whom Buonaparte treated with greater indulgence than any other vassal power. We must here remark, that the independence of Switzerland had been stipulated for in the treaty of Luneville: an armed and mandatory interposition in their affairs by Buonaparte, was therefore an open breach of that treaty, and afforded a pretty clear indication of the forbearance he was disposed to show, when the lust of power, caprice, or any other cause, tempted the violation of a compact he had entered into with a weaker party.
The arbitrary acts of the Chief Consul, and more immediately the invasion of Switzerland, called forth the most pointed
censure of his conduct and principles, from the greater part of the press of this country. On the proud andin flexible mind of Buonaparte, these rebukes wrought powerfully. Acrimonious and insulting passages appeared in the Moniteur, the avowed official paper of the French government, in which these writers were identified with the British administration. Angry representations were made through the French ambassador, which, as their object was to impose restrictions upon the press, hostile to the spirit of the British constitution, could not be complied with. While this correspondence was rapidly indisposing the two governments towards each other, Colonel Sebastiani, an officer sent by the Chief Consul to the Levant, returned from his mission; and his report was published, in which, after many absurd exaggerations, he drew such a picture of the state of Egypt, and of the facilities which would attend a present invasion of it, that the jealousy of Great Britain was naturally and justly aroused.
From the operation of various causes, the order of the Knights of Malta was rapidly hastening to its dissolution. The establishment of knights of different countries were suppressed : difficulties occurred in procuring the guarantees stipulated in the treaty of Amiens, for the independence of the Island and of the Order; which, combined with Sebastiani's report, and the public indignity offered to Lord Whitworth, the English ambassador, by the First Consul, in a conversation he held with him at one of his levees; induced our ministry to issue an order for the investment of Malta, and a precautionary armament to secure its detention.
Complaints also were made, that although the Chief Consul issued severe decrees against the importation of British manufactures into France, and declined to enter into a commercial treaty, he had nevertheless sent over to the principal seaports in England and Ireland persons designated as com-. mercial commissioners, but who were, in fact, engaged in taking soundings, and drawing plans of the fortifications of the different harbours. Matters were now hastening to an extremity. Security
was sought from, and refused by, the French Government for its various usurpations in Europe, to which Piedmont was now added. After a feverish armistice of somewhat less than a year, war was proclaimed between the two countries. The declaration of the British Government on this occasion, and the observations on the King's message to parliament; the reception of the negociation which appeared in the Hamburgh Correspondent, and the exposé of the state of the Republic in 1804; are too well known to render it necessary for us to particularize them in this place.
The first measure adopted by Buonaparte on the renewal of hostilities, was a decree to imprison all the English then in France, from the age of eighteen to sixty, on the ground, that two merchant vessels had been captured by two English frigates before a declaration of war. This order was a breach of the laws of hospitality, and of the customs of all civilized nations; it was equally distinguished for its cruelty and impolicy, and has been universally and most deservedly reprobated.
The attention of the First Consul was soon diverted to nearer objects. A conspiracy against his government was formed by Georges a Vendean, General Pichegru, and some other individuals of less note; with the knowledge, as it was affirmed, and consent of General Moreau. These persons were arrested, tried, and found guilty. Georges died on the scaffold. Pichegru was found strangled in prison, whether by his own hands or by some assassin, employed with the knowledge and approbation of the French Government, is a problem which remains to be solved. A similar obscurity hangs over the fate of Captain Wright, who was taken prisoner while landing some agents of the Royalists in Brittany, and conveyed to the Temple, where there is little doubt of his having been murdered, in all probability by the secret mandate of Buonaparte.* It is for such crimes as these that the name of Buonaparte has been, and will for ever continue to be branded with the blackest dishonour.
* On the trial of Moreau, Captain Wright, of the English navy, then a prisoner of war in France, was sent to Paris to be examined; but he declined answering any questions. Napoleon appeared to consider that Captain Wright was acquainted with persons in Paris who were in correspondence with the British Government; and it is positively asserted, that after the trial, the most cruel tortures were applied to him, such as screwing his thumbs, and rubbing the soles of his feet with lard, and then putting them upon hot copper plates. It is further affirmed, that they afterwards cut off an arm, and then a leg, and then told him that he was now unfit to return to his native country, but that he should be taken care of if he would confess all he knew. This the gallant Wright refused to do: he was soon after strangled, and conveyed from the Temple in the dead of the night,
Moreau was pardoned on condition of his exiling himself to America, whither he soon after repaired. The defection of a man so eminent for his military talents, and so estimable for his private virtues, alarmed Buonaparte; but the state of apparent insecurity in which it placed him, afforded a decent excuse for his assumption of the imperial title, an honor which was confirmed upon him by the faint votes of the senate and the legislative bodies. His brothers, Louis and Joseph, were created princes. The empire was declared hereditary in his person, and descendible, according to the Salique law, from male to male, to the perpetual exclusion of females and their issue.
The dignities of arch-treasurer and arch-chancellor of the empire were conferred upon the two ex-consuls, Cambaceres and Le Brun. The most distinguished officers were created marshals; and a new constitution given to the empire, as unfavourable to public liberty as any which had preceded it. A magnificent civil-list was appointed; and, finally, to give a greater éclat to this important measure, the aged Pontiff was obliged to cross the Alps, to anoint the new sovereign of France and his consort, the Empress Josephine, on 2d December, 1804. In the beginning of the ensuing year Napoleon addressed a letter to the King of Great Britain, containing overtures for peace. To this letter Lord Mulgrave returned a cautious and suitable answer. The correspondence closed here.
We now come to the most daring violation of public law and justice of which even Napoleon had been yet guilty, and