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CHAP police. The garrison of Lille would not abide the
presence of Louis the Eighteenth. He therefore withdrew to Ghent, the Duke of Orleans and Marshal Macdonald quitting him on the frontier; not so Marmont and Berthier. There was some resistance in the south, the Duchess of Angoulême at Bordeaux, her husband on the Rhone, both displaying courage which was equally vain. The Duke was made prisoner.
It is not surprising that the allied sovereigns or their ministers should have laid great stress on the necessity of conciliating the French public by means of a constitution. Neither is it to be wondered at that Louis the Eighteenth acquiesced in and adopted their opinion. But that Napoleon, on his return, should have supposed that the convening of chambers and promulgation of a constitution could bring to him any efficient support, is surprising. * The truth is, that the class of men for whom the word constitution had a meaning, or the thing itself any interest, was small in the extreme; they made a great noise in the saloons of the capital, and in the press,
when it chanced to be free. But they had neither influence nor echo amongst the masses, nor yet with the middle and commercial classes. These desired peace, the return of credit, the resumption of industry, and they feared Napoleon as the enemy and the obstacle to all. But these men and opinions, however dominant in the capital, were in a small minority throughout the country. Napoleon traversed every provincial town and rural district in triumph. In Paris alone he was received with silence and misgiving.
His chance of final success was not billiant, was not indeed possible, unless the population widely rallied to him. But the constitution was no bait for either the military or for that large class imbued with the military
Napoleon's idea at Fontaine that he had “put the people against bleau was, that he had fallen not so him."-Mém. de Lafayette. inuch from the power of the allies as
spirit. The best way to have rallied them was to have been true to his policy and his own spirit, to have restored the conscription, set aside the moderates, the constitutionalists, and appealed to the revolutionists to uphold the revolution. He should at the same time have got rid of, or kept aloof from, the rotten and superannuated either of his own or the revolutionary party. In lieu of the old marshals, he could have found far more energetic and determined lieutenants among the colonels and generals of divisions. He should, in fact, have appealed to the military spirit of the nation and neglected all others. For all others were inimical to him.
Some writers, even amongst his intimates, complain that he returned from Elba with activity benumbed and intelligence blunted. They see proofs of this in the tardiness of his military operations. But this was the fault of the generals he chose. If his sagacity failed him, and his usual foresight was less sharp, it was far more in his civil than in his military administration. In the latter, indeed, he suffered his arms to be bound. He refused to make use of the conscription. In his instructions to his journalists, he rather bade them flatter the hopes of peace in the citizen party than appeal to the populace to rise against the pretensions of the invader.
The first abdication of Napoleon having set free the pens of French writers, two of the most eminent of them, Chateaubriand and Benjamin Constant, had covered him with invective.* The latter, the friend of De Staël and Lafayette, thought it necessary to conceal himself from the Emperor's vengeance. Informed of his presence in Paris, Napoleon merely asked to see him, and, when he did so, at once besought him to forget the past, and sit down to draw up the plan of an imperial constitution. Unfortunately for Constant and for Napoleon, there was nothing original or striking to be invented in
Bonaparte and the Bourbons.
the way of a constitution. It was beaten ground, long since occupied by the English. And in striving to avoid what was common-place, and fully known, it was only possible to fall into the absurd. Sieyès' repeated efforts had been a melancholy example. Constant, therefore, like the author of the charter, could but copy the English constitution, two chambers and an hereditary peerage; Constant's friend, Madame de Staël, mocking the
very idea as impracticable in France and unpopular. Napoleon, indeed, at first objected, but saw no other alternative, his experience of the revolution tending to make him dread a single assembly. The press was declared free, a great concession. But Napoleon would not give up the right of confiscation. To pretend that what he promulgated was but a continuance of the old system, not an abrogation, it was announced as an Additional Act to the constitution of the empire.
The principal care of Napoleon, however, was to raise and organise an army to face the enemy. The most surprising circumstance of his career is the few soldiers he was able to collect, a proof that his dabbling in constitutions was not the way to do it. The Bourbons had either under arms or ready to assume them 230,000 men, thanks to Talleyrand's warlike policy at Vienna. But there could not be less than 400,000 men in the country, either dismissed or returned prisoners, or who had served their time. Had a truly war spirit then animated the French population, Napoleon would have found himself at the head of 600,000 men. The conscription, abolished by the Bourbon charter, were it revived, would have brought the youth of the country to his standard. But the French recruit had been too much used to compulsion to join the ranks as a volunteer. " A nation,” says De Staël,“ does not fight merely to ward off evil, when no ultimate good appears as the aim and reward of victory.” If such was the insufficient reply of the home population to Napoleon's demand for forces, there was nothing to
be expected from abroad. Of all the sovereigns that CHAP. Napoleon had elevated, Bernadotte and Murat alone remained. Both had been opposed to him in the previous campaign. The Swede, of course, would be still 80. But Murat had felt himself ill-treated by the allies. The English would not add their sanction to his recognition by Austria, nor could Austria itself keep its promise. Murat, therefore, on learning Napoleon's resuscitation and return, marched to support him, and win for himself the crown of Italy. He advanced to the Po, hesitated to cross it, and at the first reverse retreated. Followed by the Austrians, he was defeated at Tolentino, and instead of bringing an army to the support of Napoleon, came merely himself as a discomfited fugitive.
In the allies there was no hope. The Emperor of Austria found no difficulty in persuading his daughter to prefer the Duchy of Parma for herself to the chance of resuming the imperial throne of France. She refused to return to Napoleon, who stole an hour from his many cares and occupations to visit with Hortense his old abode of Malmaison. Josephine had expired there the previous year, and Napoleon found but the melancholy remembrance of past happiness. “ Josephine at least would not have abandoned me,” was his sad reflection.
The French population, with the exception of the military class, treated him much as Maria Louisa had done. Instead of the million of votes which had hailed his election to the empire, scarcely as many thousands gave their voices for the Additional Act, which meant the continuance of the empire. The same lukewarmness and abstention was observable in the election of the chamber representatives. Had Napoleon ordained a new and direct election from Lyons, when he dissolved the old chambers, he might have profited by his ascendency and the enthusiasm of the moment. But he delayed till his constitution had been concocted, and then it preserved the old electoral colleges or electoral
CHAP body, consisting exclusively of notables, the class least
open to enthusiasm and most dominated by fears and by interest. He tried to modify the influence of the landed proprietor, so imbued with royalism, by ordering that special members should be chosen to represent commerce and manufactures. He also made large use of the permission to include members of the Legion of Honour in the colleges. Notwithstanding, the new chamber as well as the electoral body were precisely of that class least inclined to show zeal or make sacrifices for any cause or any emperor.
The attendance in the Champ de Mars, which took place on the 1st of June, thus brought together anything but a popular assembly. Napoleon, indeed, did not intend it for such. He proceeded to open and preside over it in the white satin garments of imperial state. He had better have donned the old cocked hat and grey surtout.
So accoutred, he would have commanded with far more effect the applause of the people and the soldiers. It was followed by a distribution of eagles. The chambers met on the 3rd. Instead of electing Lucien Buonaparte president, as the Emperor desired, they seemed to wish to protest against the conduct of that person on the 18th Brumaire, and in his place chose Lanjuinais president, who was best known as a leader of opposition in the senate. They also disputed at some length the form of the oath of fidelity to the Emperor. That Napoleon had nothing to hope from such chambers was manifest. The Emperor, however, opened them in a speech of cordiality and confidence. Scarcely awaiting their answer, he appointed a provisional government in his absence, being his ministers, Fouché, Carnot, Cambacères, and Caulaincourt, with some councillors of state added. Caulaincourt preferred joining the army. Napoleon dissuaded him, saying, “ If you go, I shall not have left one sure friend behind me." His parting words to Fouché were, “Remember, if I fall,