Page images

should quit France at a minute's warning, as a punishment for, and in order to prevent, his efforts to deprive Napoleon the Second of the crown of France. The gentleman remained a few hours at M. Real's office; but, on mentioning the circumstance to the Duke of Otranto, was told to laugh at the order, as he would see something that day which would remove all his uneasiness. The abdication was read to the chambers, and the arrest immediately ceased.

It is still believed that Napoleon intended to make the succession of his son a condition of his abdication, and that he would have taken advantage, even subsequently to that event, of any revolution which the federates might have hazarded in his favour. On Friday the 23d, the day after the abdication was notified to the chambers, and the day when it was first placarded in Paris, the emissaries of the police discovered a plot to seize the military depôts, to arm the suburbs, march to the Elysée, and re-establish the imperial throne. The vigilance of Fouché prevented the scheme from being carried into effect: the whole of the national guard of Paris were put under arms late in the even. ing, and remained on duty all the night: no attempt at arrest was made until the signal of the conspiracy, a gun fired near the barrier of St. Antoine, gave an opportunity of seizing the ringleaders, who advanced first to the concerted scene of action, and were secured to the number of about two hundred. Napoleon was removed the next morning to Malmaison, the cradle of all his greatness, which was neglected when he accepted, and, like a faithful friend, receives him when he resigns, the crown. He must soon bid it his last adieu. He does not appear to have carried with him to his retreat such regrets as he might have been expected to command from the government and the chambers. No provision has been made for him, and there has been a threat that Count Mollien, mi. nister of the treasury, is to be arraigned by the chambers for having disbursed certain sums of money from the public purse for his relief. The count declares, that he has not given him a single franc, but honestly adds, that he regrets it was out of his power to succour the abdicated Emperor in his distress. Malmaison is besieged by personal creditors and friends, who have nearly exhausted the small stock of money which remained from his private fortune after the disaster of Waterloo. The imperial family, the staff-officers, chamberlains, servants, and other dependants, even the tradesmen of the court, crowd the antechamber of their imperial debtor, and the last distress of the lowest individual is the first calamity of him who was

“ Yesterday a king, and born with kings to strive."

An extreme carelessness and generosity in pecuniary matters, is one of the characteristics of, Napoleon: he is incapable of refusing an application for money. He will carry from Malmaison only fifteen thousand louis d'ors. It seems mean and ridiculous to couple these considera, tions with the name of such a man, but during his varied career he has been in situations in which such considerations have been suggested even to himself. In those private letters, in his own hand, written to his first wife, when he was commander in chief of the army of Italy, which I have before mentioned as having read, he gives an account of the small fortune left him by his father (I think either 8 or 12,000 francs), and enters, besides, once or twice into some details relative to this patrimony, and the state of his purse; and, what is perfectly conformable to his character, gently reproaches Josephine for baving made no demands upon him. The excess of affection and esteem with which he talks of his brothers in those letters, and which some think has degenerated into a failing with him, adds another trait, a fit companion to his generosity. Even since he has been Emperor, although he has been never in an English prison, like Theodore, nor in English pay, like Maximilian, he has known what it is to suffer from scantiness of revenue; for, in the latter days of his abode at Elba, the grand master of his little palace retrenched the expenses of his table, by changing his favourite chambertin for the wine of the country; an economy to which he consented readily, and with a smile. Officers of all nations, who had belonged to his armies, resorted to his rock, and begged to serve him with such earnestness, that although he stated to them frankly the smallness of his means, some accepted of twenty. five and thirty francs a month, rather as a pledge of his regard, than as a remuneration of their offices. He will now be obliged to exert whatever philosophy nature or experience may have enabled him to lay up in store for a reverse. Already he has recovered his wonted calm, even in the midst of the embarrassments of Malmaison, and in the uncertainties of his fate. I learnt from his friend Madame V-, who breakfasted with him yesterday, that he was perfectly tranquil, and played and talked with her infant Alexander with his usual kindness. A fondness for children is another of his peculiarities : he


was accustomed, at Elba, to invite Mde. Bertrand's young family to dine with him almost


Sunday, and seldom suffered them to depart without a small present of money or sweetmeats, which he put in his pocket for the occasion. I do not think these feelings incompatible with the appearance of the utmost unconcern, and all the demonstrations of the coldest heart, when his situation is such as to make indifference not only justifiable, but to give it an air of heroism. Napoleon was exceedingly affected when he took leave of his mother and sister on quitting Elba, so much so, indeed, as to say, “ I must go now, I shall never go.' But the same man,

when the beautiful Duchess of took leave of him for the last time, after his abdication, and burst into tears at bidding him adieu, looked at her unmoved, and saw her depart without a single expression of sorrow or regard. He received the intimation of the faithful Bertrand, that he would never quit him, but follow him into exile or to death, with the same unthankful silence; thinking, perhaps, the acknowledgments of gratitude have neither value nor dignity in the day of distress. His friends here say now, what was said last year in England, he ought not to have survived his defeat. Those who think


« PreviousContinue »