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M. Felix Desportes bad before partly allayed the impatience of the chamber, by telling them, that news had arrived from the Elysée that the ministers would arrive immediately.
Shortly after, the four ministers, and Prince Lucien, entered the hall. The latter informed the chamber that he had been named extraordinary commissary by the Emperor, and required that a secret committee of the whole house should be formed, to give audience to the ministers. The galleries were emptied, and a message was then read from the Emperor, informing the chamber of the loss of the battle in all its extent; and of the nomination of the Dukes of Vicenza and Otranto, and Count Carnot, as commissaries, to treat of peace with the allies. The profound silence which reigned for some moments at the close of the message was interrupted by a member, Mr. M. H. L., who so. lemnly ascended into the tribune, and to the astonishment of the whole assembly (each indi. vidual of which had felt perhaps the necessity of the same boldness and decision,) addressed him. self to the minister for foreign affairs.
“ You talk of peace. What new means of com“ munication have
you in your power? What new “ basis do you give to your negotiations? What ss is it that you call the national independence ?
Europe has declared war against Napoleon. De you henceforward separate the chief from the “ nation? As to myself, I distinctly declare that I “ hear no voice but that of the nation; that I see “ nothing but one man between us and peace. In “the name of the public safety, unveil the se“ crets of your new policy ; show us all the depth " of the abyss, and perchance there may be still “ left in our courage some resources, and our
country will be saved.”
The remonstrance of the orator was applauded from all parts of the hall with an unanimity which left no doubt on the mind of Prince Lucien that the fate of his brother was decided : he resolved, however, to make one desperate effort, and addressed the representatives of the people in a speech which left untried no art of oratory. He appealed to their honour, to their love of glory, to their generosity, to their oaths; but here he was interrupted by M. de Lafayette, who exclaimed, “We have followed your brother to the sands of “ Africa-to the deserts of Russia: the bones “ of Frenchmen, scattered in every region, bear “ witness to our fidelity.” And at this moment, Messrs. M. N. and M. D., together with other voices, declared that the alternative was inevitable; the requisite remedy was no less mani
fest than the calamity. The prince continued to harangue, and there were some moments when he seemed to threaten, and at others to implore but in vain. The ministers were severally interrogated; the opinion of the chamber was pronounced with a gravity and order that gave a weight to their determination, and convinced the prince that in four and twenty hours the authority either of his brother or of the house must be no more: he retired, and the galleries were opened at half-past eight, when Mr. Girod proposed that a committee of five members should sit during the night, to concert with a commission of ministers, and of the house of peers, upon the state of affairs, and the necessary measures of public safety. They were proceeding to discuss the question, when the minister at war, Marshal Davoust, demanded to be heard, and said, “ Gentlemen, “ I learn that some malcontents have spread the
report, that I have ordered the advance of troops for the purpose of surrounding the assembly. This report is injurious to the Emperor, and to his minister, who is a good Frenchinan;
it must have come from the same source " as the rumour of General Travot having arrived « at Paris.” The house rung with applauses. The president, and five vice-presidents, were named
the members of the committee of safety, and the assembly adjourned until eight the next morning.
The peers met at half-past one, the arch-chancellor presiding; and immediately after the procès verbal, the minister of the interior read the same bulletin, which had been communicated by M. Regnault to the representatives, and named four o'clock as the time at which a message would arrive from the Emperor. The declara. tion then arrived from the other chamber, and after some discussion, the three first articles were adopted, nearly in the same terms a those used by M. de Lafayette. The chamber was then adjourned, first until half-past three, then until half-past eight, when Prince Lucien appeared as commissary extraordinary of the Emperor, with a message; the discussion of which employed an hour and a quarter in a secret committee, but produced no consequences of sufficient importance to counteract the decision of the representatives. The public were re-admitted, and heard the Counts Boissy d'Anglas, Drouet, Thibaudeau, Dejean, and Andreossi, appointed members of a committee of saf ty, to act in concert with the committee of the commons during the night. Such was the conduct of the two houses on the first day of the great
disaster ; and if we consider the difficulty and danger of their situation, we shall pronounce them worthy of the important post to which they had been called by the will of the nation, and by the necessities of the Emperor to consult that will. The imposing attitude assumed by them, on the first notice of their public calamity, was not dropped on the following day. The representatives met at half past nine, and eagerly demanded the report of the extraordinary commission; which, when read by General Grenier, contained nothing but the recognition of the necessity of treating with the allies, and of
supporting at the same time the negotiation, by arraying the whole military force of the empire. Messieurs Legrand, Crochon, and Duchesne, interrupted the report, which they considered unsatisfactory; and the latter at last proposed at once, that the chamber had but one step to take-to persuade the Emperor, in the name of the public safety, in the name of their suffering country, to declare his abdication. The president informed them that he had been just assured that before three o'clock they would receive from the Emperor a message which would accomplish their wishes; but the chamber was still unsatisfied. M. Duchesne repeated his proposal; the president implored them to wait.