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of 1804 began to lend an ear rather to the suggestions of Russia than to the menaces of France.
Whilst foreign powers were thus alienated from the French ruler by an act which bespoke the terrorist, the nation, except perhaps its high society, were little affected with what was but another enormity of the time. That the object of murderous plots should avenge himself in the same spirit in which he was attacked, was allowed as revolutionary logic. The public interest was kept alive by the trials which ensued, those of George, the stubborn Chouan, who refused every offer of life accompanied with the condition of his serving another master, of Pichegru and of Moreau. The tragic end of Pichegru, found strangled in his prison, as well as the murder of Captain Wright, an English officer engaged in the landing of the conspirators, are reckoned by his enemies amongst the crimes of Napoleon. And it is to be feared that his police was not all guiltless. Proofs, however, are wanting. As for Moreau, he had no doubt wished well to the enterprises against Napoleon, though refusing to join in them. His was a weak head, that knew not how to be either republican or monarchist, Frenchman or foreigner, one of those characters which Dante depicts as neither rebelli nor fedeli, and unworthy of sympathy or attention ; Moreau was pardoned and exiled.
To foreign enmity and domestic foes the First Consul opposed the assumption of permanent and imperial dignity. To provide for his succession in the government by creating it an empire, and thus rendering assassination plots bootless, was a natural policy for Bonaparte. It was, however, no easy one. without a direct heir. His wife was barren. His brothers openly put forward their claims to succeed, whilst Napoleon was convinced of their incompetence. The question had been mooted at the time when the Consulate was decreed to be for life. Josephine had
then proposed that the future empire should be settled CHAP. upon the son of Louis by Hortense; and the First Consul approved the arrangement. To make compensation to Joseph, he was offered the crown of Lombardy. But he scorned the compromise. And Louis, instead of approving the choice of his son for heir, opposed it with all his might. Napoleon therefore contented himself with the clause, that he should have the power of nominating his successor. *
This even Louis the Fourteenth had not believed himself sufficiently powerful to impose. And Napoleon likewise was so conscious how feeble his authority would prove beyond the tomb, that especially after the death of the young prince whom he at first declared to be his heir, he conceived the idea of his divorce with Josephine and subsequent marriage. It showed what little faith he had in the senate, or in any of his institutions. Yet M. Thiers, likening them to the constitution of Venice, regards them as possessed of vitality, and as capable of germing into liberty, when the iron sceptre had been broken.
M. Thiers thus considers a mere salaried functionary aristocracy as equivalent to the old and wealthy patriciate of Venice.
But the Napoleonic senate fell far short of the Venetian in independence or influence. Even the Venetian Assembly with its lion's mouth and its sbirri could not have lived in the open air of the nineteenth century. It could never have borne the modern development of liberty. Still less could an aristocracy of pensioned functionaries have either originated, or amalgamated with, the new era of freedom.
In May, 1E04, the senate proclaimed Napoleon Bonaparte Emperor of the French, the scene in which he accepted and his court acclaimed it, being the retired château and groves of St. Cloud. The capital and the multitude were both set aside. And yet the coronation
Mémoires du Comte Miot de Melito, who best describes the quarrels of the brothers.
was not unpopular. The functionary aristocracy was enthroned along with the new empire. Not merely a well-endowed senate, but grand dignitaries partaking partly of Byzantine, partly of feudal greatness, were appointed in the persons of Cambacérès and Lebrun the Consuls, transposed into Arch-Chancellor and ArchTreasurer. Joseph was named Grand Elector, a manifest sinecure, and Louis, Constable, another. Talley rand and Berthier, dignitaries subsequently, were merely styled Grand Chamberlain and Grand Veneur. All the court places swept away in the first years of the revolution were more than re-established.
As a sanction to all this Napoleon resolved, that he should be crowned by the Pope, after his conquest of England. That was an important feat, which the new Emperor arranged along with the other requirements of etiquette. The coronation, however, took place without that formidable preliminary. The Pope and his cardinals hesitated long, and obviously objected sanctioning a ceremony in which the Emperor proclaimed tolerance to the different sects of Christians. But Pius was led to hope that the Legations might be the price of his acquiescence, a hope which, subsequently disappointed, led to his future resistance and captivity. The Pope came to Paris in December, 1804, and from the altar of Notre Dame looked on approvingly whilst Napoleon placed successively on his own head, and upon that of his wife Josephine, the crown of empire.*
Had the new emperor clearly and sincerely manifested, that his assumption of even an imperial crown was merely adding one to the fraternity of European monarchs, with whom he was prepared to live in equality and amity and in the observance of mutual respect, the crowning of the first Napoleon might have formed a new and pacific era for himself and for Europe. And this
Thibau.leau, Pelet, Moniteur.
indeed was probably his first idea. On the 1st of CHAP. January, 1805, he took the occasion of the day to address to the emperors of Russia and of Austria letters in which he declared his purpose of confining his ambition to France, and of transferring Italy to the sovereignty of his brother Joseph. At the same time (January 2) he addressed an epistle to the King of England.* In that the new Emperor said truly, that the world was wide enough for the two powers of France and England, without their quarrelling. The answer of the British government was by no means in so conciliatory a spirit, and hinted, that being united with Russia and other powers in a more confidential manner, England must consult them, ere it hearkened even to words of peace.t
This announcement that Europe was
* Napoleon Correspondence.
million of soldiers to match those of France with any success, and offered that England should pay a million and a quarter sterling for each 100,000. Austria could chiefly be depended on to furnish the greater part of them. And on such terms she did join the alliance some three months later. The efforts of Russia to win over Prussia to the alliance failed. The French, who at first offered to give Hanover as the price of adhesion, gave it at last as the price of neutrality; and so Prussia, as it afterwards proved, became neutralized indeed.
Whilst the plans and forces of the third coalition were thus forming and mustering, Napoleon was employing all his ingenuity to pass his flotilla of boats with their freight of 100,000 men over the Straits of Dover. The attempt might have been made, it was thought, under the cover of a dark night, or a foggy day. But Napoleon required a preliminary more difficult, the command of the channel. He had hoped to obtain this in August, 1804, by the sudden junction of the Mediterranean and Ocean fleets. When this was given up, through the death of the admiral chosen to execute it, the Emperor thrust forward Spain from its position of occult enmity to England, to that of open hostility, which would enable him to make use of the Spanish fleet (December, 1804). It became then possible to outnumber that of England, even in the channel.
To do so with effect it was imagined to decoy Nelson into a wild-goose chase to the West Indies. Either France or Spain had vessels at Cadiz, at the Ferrol, at Rochefort, and at Brest, as well as the Dutch vessels in the Texel. A French naval force, by sailing to the West Indies, and apparently threatening them, might draw Nelson thither, and, leaving him there, might escape and hasten back to liberate, one after another, from blockade the fleets at Ferrol, Rochefort, and Brest, and with them appear in the channel. If they were thus masters of the straits for three days, “England,” added Napoleon, “would have ceased to exist."