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its opinions were such that a military insurrection against the Bourbons was inevitable, even if Napoleon had not reappeared to head it.
Had the allies conquered that Emperor in the field, and reduced him to abdication as the consequence of defeat, the minds of the soldiers might have been more resigned. But when the latter result was known to have been obtained by treachery, such as that which Marmont employed, both to his master and to his troops, the imperial soldiers demurred against the decree. The Bourbons had been enthroned, they said, by a trick, and another appeal to arms was considered but justice. Napoleon, in his not remote island, was soon informed of the feelings of the army, and of the simultaneous discontent of every class of the population interested morally or materially in the changes wrought by the revolution. To himself and his family personally, the Bourbons behaved with rancour, not generosity. Perhaps to him, who had sacrificed the Duke d’Enghien, this was natural. But they should have been just. By the treaty concluded at Fontainebleau, Napoleon, as a return for his abdication, was to be paid 80,0001. a year to himself, as much more to his family, and certain sums to his chief officers. He left treasure, the fruits of his savings, to that amount. None of these stipulations were observed. Jerome's wife, a noble-minded woman, who resisted all the efforts of her family, of the house of Würtemberg, to separate her from her husband, was arrested and robbed of her jewels by a Royalist emissary. At Vienna, the French plenipotentiaries urged the necessity of breaking through the treaty of Fontainebleau, and removing Napoleon to the Azores, or some distant part of the world, a proposal which Alexander would not listen to. Napoleon, in short, was bound by no engagement towards the existing rulers of France, who observed no engagement towards him.
Romancer has never penned scenes or character to VOL. V.
CHAP. rival in interest those of Napoleon, and of his life.
What drama could be compared to that of Fontainebleau, when the Emperor, assailed by his marshals, and afterwards betrayed by one, was compelled to give up his sword? Who has not read the account of his last review in the palace court, his embracing the eagles, his touching farewell? Yet, whilst worshipped by his soldiers, he was abhorred by several of the populations of the south, who received him with imprecations, and even sought his life.
He well knew that southern race, which was his own, and such knowledge contributed not a little to his contempt of mankind. At Elba, with his thousand men, his war sloop and brig, denied his annuity, and threatened in his person, what could he do else than meditate his return, and at last risk it? That his doing so was the result of any conspiracy has been sufficiently disproved. M. Fleury de Chaboulon came to him from the Duke de Bassano, with merely an account of the state of public feeling and public affairs in Paris. This was quite sufficient. And in the night of the 25th of February, 1815, Napoleon set sail with 1,100 men to invade France, and, on the 1st of March, landed in the Gulf of Juan, a short distance westward of Antibes.
When tidings of this extraordinary event reached the potentates and plenipotentiaries still assembled in congress at Vienna, their first impulse was to laugh outright. This was soon changed into a curse of indignation and affright. And they gave vent to their passion by proclaiming that not only would they not treat with Napoleon, but, in revolutionary style, they declared him hors la loi, a caitiff to strike down whom was the duty of every well-thinking man. And yet the potentates at Vienna had been each playing Napoleon in his way, carving out empires for themselves, caring little for the rights or feelings of the rest of the world. Alexander said he should have all Poland; Prussia, all
Saxony; Austria, Italy and the Tyrol. England was especially bent upon amalgamating Belgium and Holland into one kingdom. This, the French allege very unjustly, was taking them to herself
. Lord Castlereagh objected to Prussia absorbing Saxony, and Russia having all Poland, for no very good reason, save that Austria disliked this aggrandisement of its rivals and neighbours. But England had not a word to say against Austria’s monopoly of Italy. It might have been wise of England to have favoured the extension of Prussia to the magnitude of a first-rate power. And it was, after all, better for the future prospects of Poland to hand it over as a whole to Russia, which promised it quasi independence, and a constitution, than to aid in the destruction of its nationality by continuing to parcel it. England, however, adhered to Austria, and, strange to say, joined it in a triple alliance with France for the preservation of Saxony and Poland. This separation of the allies was considered a great triumph on the part of Prince Talleyrand, and triumph it might have been, had any advantage accrued to France. But that was not apparent. Prince Talleyrand, at Vienna, could scarcely be considered the representative of France. He merely represented the Bourbons, and their petty passions. To overthrow Murat, because of his alliance with the Buonapartes, and to uphold the King of Saxony, because of the relationship of Louis the Eighteenth to the court of Saxony, composed all Prince Talleyrand's cares and duties. And in furtherance of this, he joined England and Austria so far as to threaten war, and augment the French army, thus relapsing into the policy of Napoleon, whose hopes and interests were thereby materially served. These squabbles of congress were at once quieted by the return of Napoleon, at whose reappearance the Powers and their representatives forgot their disputes, and, linking once more their hands and fortunes, reproduced and revived the treaty of
Chaumont, stipulating that each should bring forward his 150,000 men, and that England should resume her subsidies to support them.
Meantime, Napoleon pursued the mountain road through the valleys of the Durance and the Drac to Grenoble. On the morning of the 7th of March, he advanced from La Mure, and perceived a battalion of infantry, with some guns, drawn up across the road between him and the village of La Frey. The little lake of La Frey was on one side of them, the mountain on the other. Napoleon's little band halted for half an hour, till information was brought of the sentiments of the troops. He then advanced, when an aide-de-camp of General Marchand, not present, ordered the soldiers to fire. They hesitated, and the chef de bataillon in command gave word to retreat. At this, Napoleon's band came up quickly with arms reversed, the Emperor crying out as he opened his coat, “ Do you know me? Will you fire on your Emperor?” Instead of a volley, each soldier put his shako on the end of his bayonet, lifted it in the air, and cried, Vive l'Empereur. * On that little field, and with these few words, was France
A regiment commanded by Labédoyère soon joined the now augmented band, before whom the gates of Grenoble flew open.
On the 10th, Napoleon entered Lyons. The Count d'Artois had come thither to animate the citizens against the invader, and Marshal Macdonald made the same efforts with the soldiers. In vain; the latter was obliged to escape at full gallop. At Lyons, the Emperor issued proclamations, dissolving the chambers, and summoning the electoral body of the nation to assemble on the 1st of May on the Champ de Mars, to assist at the coronation of Maria Louisa and her son, and to sanction the new liberal institutions which the nation required.
* Mémoires d'un Touriste par Beyle.
Talleyrand, Marmont, Augereau, and two or three others were denounced as traitors, and their property sequestered. After three days' stay at Lyons, Napoleon marched along the Saone. Ney commanded a corps of some thousand men in Franche-Comté, which command he had accepted with the assurance that he would bring Napoleon captive. At Besançon, however, he soon found himself and his little army powerless, the military flocking to Napoleon as he marched past, and rendering idle any attempt to repel or to resist. Ney consulted his lieutenants, one of whom was the royalist De Bourmont. None of them counselled resistance; and all left for Ney was, like Macdonald, to abandon his army and withdraw. This did not suit the fiery marshal. Napoleon triumphant might re-enter on his old path of victory, and take signal vengeance upon the invaders. Ney could not resist such a prospect. He issued a proclamation to the troops, telling them the Bourbons and their cause were for ever lost, and that they and he had but to rally to their old Emperor. As Napoleon observed, Ney, from impulsiveness, was but a child.
In Paris, Louis the Eighteenth had made efforts to conciliate the citizens and the constitutional party. He convoked the chambers, and addressed them, reviewed the national guard, proposed to appoint more liberal ministers, yet suspected the imperialist ministers in office. Soult was thus dismissed from the war department. A military conspiracy had well-nigh burst forth in the north, to which Fouché had been privy, but it came to nothing. The soldiers looked to Napoleon alone, and had faith in none of his lieutenants. They were soon gratified; Louis the Eighteenth left the Tuileries for Lille on the evening of the 19th, and Napoleon was borne into them, on the 20th, by a crowd of officers. Davoust became instantly the war minister of Napoleon; Carnot, home minister; Caulaincourt took the foreign department; Cambacères and Fouché, justice and the