« PreviousContinue »
M. Manuel came to the conclusion, that the throne should not be left vacant for an instant, but that the friends of the country should be rallied round one fixed and determinate opinion. He ended, therefore, with reading this proposal : "The chamber of representatives, deliberating “ on the different propositions offered to its con6 sideration, and mentioned in the procès verbal, “ passes to the order of the day on the following
grounds: First, Because Napoleon the Second “ is become Emperor of the French, by the fact “ of the abdication of Napoleon the First, and “ in virtue of the constitutions of the empire.
Secondly, Because the two chambers have “ willed and intended, by their resolution of
yesterday, purporting the nomination of a pro• visional government, to assure to the nation “ the guarantees necessary in the present extra“ ordinary circumstances, for their liberty and “ their repose, by means of an administration
possessed of all the confidence of the people.
When the president read this deliberation and put the question, the whole assembly arose to a man; and when he said, “the proposition is adopted,” cries of vive l'Empereur! burst from all parts of the hall, and were repeated from the galleries. M. Manuel's speech was ordered to be printed, and distributed to the number of six.copies for each member. But when it was proposed that the commission of government should take the oath of allegiance to Napoleon the Second, the house passed to the order of the day. Some voices cried out, “no more oaths ;” as if enough had been already broken, and dire necessity might occasion another infraction of French honour.
M. Jay moved that the committee of the constitution should commence its labours; which was approved, and the assembly adjourned until eleven the next day. I must now mention, that notwithstanding the enthusiasm with which the speech of M. Manuel was received by all parties, there are not wanting those, chiefly amongst the personal partisans of Napoleon, who accuse that deputy of being entirely in the interest of the president of the new government, and to have moved the above deliberations as a motive for passing to the order of the day, in order to silence the demands of the imperial party, who might otherwise have insisted upon the provisional commission being styled a regency, acting for, and in the name of Napoleon the Second, which the members of the commission do not seem to think favourable to the interests of the nation, in their ensuing negotiations at the allied headquarters. They think it better that the nego
tiators should have simply to state, that Napoleon is no longer Emperor of the French, and to learn how far the choice of the French nation may be free. They may have conceived, that the hopes which were raised by more fayourable reports of the state of the army may have been he cause of the pronounced opinion of the cham, ber in favour of the imperial dynasty, and that this opinion would fluctuate with the current of events. In short, they may also have seen that which I now see, namely, that the existence of Napoleon the Second would in a few days be forgotten, except the cries of vive l'Empereur by the soldiery should seem to apply to that infant. The patriots were, in fact, somewhat raised from the depression into which the return of the Emperor and the declaration of Marshal Ney had thrown them, by a communication made to the chamber of peers by General Drouet, who spoke of the battle with impartiality, and was generous enough to say, “ that those who complained of “the imprudence of giving battle after two days “ of continued fighting, would have condemned “ the general who suffered a vanquished enemy “ to retreat peaceably upon Brussels. Fortune “ has betrayed our efforts, and now the decision “ is regarded as unjustifiable. Posterity, which “ is more just, will decide." The general con
cluded by assuring the peers, that although their
to discourage a nation great and noble like
ours, if we employ, in this exigence, the requi“ site energy. This misfortune will but aug"ment our glory; and what efforts will be “ thought to cost too much, by the true friends “ of their country, in a moment when the sove.
reign whom we have but just proclaimed, « whom we have reinvested with all our confi
dence, has consented to the greatest and most 6 noble sacrifice ? After the battle of Cannæ the
Roman senate voted thanks to the vanquished general, because he had not despaired of the
republic; and immediately set about repairing “ the disasters occasioned by his obstinacy and “his errors. In a situation infinitely less critical, “ shall the representatives of the nation suffer 66 themselves to be confounded and beaten down, “ and, forgetting the dangers of their country in
premature discussions, neglect the remedies 5 which will ensure the safety of France?"
This appeal electrified the assembly. It was
extemporary, and spoken from the heart. It must be owned that the soldiers of France are faithful depositaries of the national honour. The general was invited to revise his speech for publication. It has since been printed, and placarded in the capital and the departments. The peers, on the motion of Count Thibaudeau, adopted a similar resolution to that proposed by M. Manuel in the other chamber; and thus the other branch of the legislature sanctioned that implied succession of Napoleon the Second, which has never been directly proclaimed, although the first proclama. tion of the government to the French, issued on the 24th, contained these words: “A great sacrifice “ has appeared necessary to your peace, and to “ that of the world. Napoleon has abdicated * the imperial power; his abdication is the term “ of his political life; his son is proclaimed."
The government lost no time in the assumption of its functions. On the morning of the 23d the public saw that the commission had chosen the Duke of Otranto for its president (he is now the ostensible chief of the nation, and is attended with a guard of state), that the Marshal Prince of Essling had been named commander in chief of the national guard of Paris, Count An, dreossy commander of the first military division, and Count Drouet of the imperial guard. Baron