« ZurückWeiter »
The Hereditary Consulate.
"I recollect," said Prince Cambacérès, "about the beginning of January, 1804, having an interview with the First Consul on some public business. Having arranged the affair about which we met, I rose to take leave of him, but he detained me, saying, 'It is not late; stay and let us have a little conversation together. I wish very much, my dear colleague, to have your opinion respecting my present position. Foreign powers treat me well, it is true, but, having no confidence in the stability of our government, they hesitate to form any close alliance with me.
reditary consulate staggers them. They think it strange that I should be the hereditary chief of the government, whilst, on the other hand, I am only the first magistrate of the republic. This is a stumbling block in the way of diplomatic relations. What is your opinion? is there no way of getting out of this difficulty?"
"I candidly confess, gentlemen," said Prince Cambacérès, addressing himself to us, "that my imagination was every day wandering to a better order of things. The melancholy trial we had made of the republic, had sufficiently proved that that form of government was unfitted to a vast state, in which every citizen cannot keep watch over the universality of the citizens, and consequently can but imperfectly guard against the establishment of tyranny. The prosperity which had now succeeded to terror, famine and depression, the re-establishment of commerce, the flourishing state of agriculture, the restoration of religion and the arts: all convinced me of the advantage of a monarchy, especially with a chief like the First Consul. Thus I had accustomed myself to reflect on the subject, and, when Napoleon broached it, I frankly broke the ice. I stopped short, for I was walking up and down the room, and said"The only question is to ascertain whether the ripe; if it be, make haste and gather it!"
"Who can inform us of the fact?'
"The prefects and the electoral colleges. Let us venture a few hints, and see how they are taken. For my own part, I am convinced that there is in the mass of the nation, a complete re-action in favour of monarchy."
"You are of opinion, then, that the restoration of monarchy would not be viewed unfavourably?'
Feeling in favour of Monarchy.
"All right minded men wish for it."
"But, my dear colleague, it surely would not do to be re-established in favour of the Bourbons?'
"Certainly not. . As to me, I am quite ready to lend my co-operation in the great work."
"You are wise-I have reflected on this subject-I would not accept the title of king-I should wish to present myself to France and to Europe under a new title, more imposing and more elevated. I would not revive the royalty of Hugues Capet; I would re-establish the empire of Charlemagne. This would at once elevate the newlycreated Cæsar above the kings of Europe, and would enable him, hereafter, to recover the privileges annexed to the western empire, and which Germany has wrested from France.'
"That is a grand idea."
"Besides, we have, it is true, all vowed hatred to royalty; but we have taken no such oath against imperial sovereignty. The title of emperor will not be revolting to any republican conscience. I am firmly of opinion that, if they think of changing the present state of things, it is to an empire only that we must direct our views.'
"But," said I, "in adopting the forms of the Roman republic, (of which we already have the tribunes, the quæstors, and the prefects,) would you preserve, under the emperor, the two consuls, the one having charge of the finances, and the other of the general administration?"
"No,' quickly answered Napoleon, 'the title of Consul would naturally disappear as soon as the post ceases to be annual. The titles of prince arch-chancellor, and of prince arch-treasurer, would appropriately supersede them.'
"Then the arch-chancellorship is disposed of," said I, feeling confident that the lion would set apart that share for me.
"Here our first conference ended. Others afterwards took place, which were attended by MM. Regnault, Fabre de l'Aude, Maret, de Fermont, Fourcroy, Fontanes, and Monge; Marshals Davoust, Perrignon, Masséna, Moncey, Mortier, Ney, Bessières, and Bernadotte. This last was not very manageable. However, his brother-in-law, Joseph Bonaparte, by some adroit contrivance, succeeded in
The King of Sweden.
diverting him from his intention of giving a negative vote to the creation of the empire. Providence has rewarded him for this return to rational ideas, by elevating him to a throne, on which he reflects glory, and where he enjoys happiness.
"It appears to me that, heretofore, the general of the republic, the marshal of the empire, the Prince de PonteCorvo, the Prince Royal of Sweden, in fine, King Charles John Bernadotte, has not had justice rendered to him: his character and conduct have not been duly appreciated. Almost all the judgments hitherto pronounced on that exalted personage have been dicated by passion. It is my intention to write a faithful history of his life, in which it shall be my endeavour to paint him as he really is. In the course of time, France will be enabled to understand the merits of the King of Sweden, who is one of the most illustrious of her sons:-she will perceive, too, the advantage she enjoys, (after having lost Spain,) in having in the north of Europe a monarch a native of her own territory, and whose posterity will ever bear in mind that their ancestor was the compatriot of Henry IV. The lives of Charles, John, and Prince Eugene, will soon employ my pen.”
Secret audience granted by His Majesty Louis XVIII. to Cambacérès-Carnot's Memorial-Gloomy forebodings-How their fulfilment might be avoided-A comic scene with three serious characters-Freemasons and White Penitents-Anecdote of the Princess Borghese-Madame Mère-Story of a Vampire related by Fouché, when Minister of the Police-The Lady of the Forest, a Languedocian anecdote-Mysterious disappearances--Baron Pasquier, the Prefect of Police-Parisian thieves and swindlers-The diamond shoe-buckles-The pretended Russian Prince and the parure of diamonds-The snuff-box and the robber duped-Robespierre and the English-A proposed marriage between Robespierre and a Royal Princess-Robespierre's blue coat, and bouquet of tri-coloured flowers-A story related by Tallien-A second proposition for a marriage between Robespierre and a Princess-True cause of the death of the Duke of Orleans.
I CALLED on the Prince one evening early. He had dined alone: I found him in excellent spirits, and I told him so. "You will not be surprised at that," said he, "when you hear what I am going to tell you. You know how much I am attached to Paris; in short, that I cannot live any where else. Nevertheless, it was the wish of the government that I should quit France; this annoyed me exceedingly, and I resolved to have the point decided one way or other. I did not appeal to the Abbé de Montesquiou, (the minister of the interior,) nor to M. de Talleyrand, (grand chamberlain and minister for foreign affairs,) nor to M. de Blacas, (the minister of the King's household and his Majesty's favourite): I very cavalierly passed over them all, and addressed myself directly to Louis XVIII. The frank
VOL. I. -8
Conversation with the King.
and decided tone of my letter pleased the King. I was informed that he would consent to receive me, but that it must be in the utmost privacy, and on condition that the opposition papers should say nothing on the subject. I pledged myself for the observance of this last condition, and this morning I saw the King."
"You saw him, Monseigneur?" I exclaimed. "And did he receive you graciously?"
"His Majesty was alone in his closet; and I was admitted by a stair-case appropriated to persons of the household, and with which I was very well acquainted in the Emperor's time. On entering the King's presence, I made my obeisance with the utmost possible respect, and His Majesty then said:
Duke de Cambacérès, I am very glad to see you. I know all that you have done for my faithful servants. I know, too, that your vote on the occasion of the fatal trial, was not for the sentence of death, and that it was your intention to elude it. I entertain a high opinion of your judgment; and I have reason to rejoice that Bonaparte did not listen to your prudent counsel. I am desirous of conferring on you some marks of my approval.'
"This kindness overwhelms me, Sire, I replied. Your Majesty is aware that during your exile I endeavoured to save you from more than one danger: at Warsaw, for example
"Yes, my cousin, but for your information, the assassin would have taken my life. There is one here who would fain take to himself the credit of the disclosure; but I know it is due to you. What is your wish?"
"To live in Paris, under the dominion of our excellent King."
"I have resolved to banish no one; and I shall not certainly begin with you. I wish I were so situated as to have it in my power to call you to my council; but that is not possible, yet. Too many persons, too many prejudices, would oppose such a step. But I trust that time will subdue these hostile feelings. I shall bear in mind that Bonaparte, whose judgment in such matters cannot be called in question, regarded you as the best head in the empire. I