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were told that property belonging to a community, was on a different footing from that belonging to individuals, because the State (which was now the mob,) might dissolve the body corporate, and resume the property attached to it, and thus at will, turn "church lands to lay.” Never had legislature made such thorough and important changes; and although of such magnitude, they were brought about with such apparent ease and unanimity, that the world looked on with awe and wonder. The parliament of old France, long deemed the strong hold of liberty, now perished in the general wreck of all that was old and sacred, to make way for new men raised to the highest offices, from among very dregs of the most abandoned of the people. The king was still among them, but every day stripped him of some prerogative. He was even denied the power of pardoning, lest he should cxtend mercy to persons convicted of treason against the new constitution, which they had recently adopted. They next took from him the appointment to civil offices, all of whom were to be chosen by themselves, and from their faction. A law was passed by which all titles of nobility were abolished, and even the simple and complimentary phrases of Madame and Monsieur, were forbidden to be used. Perfect equality having been thus established, every one thought himself equal to the duties of office, and the lowest and most ignorant aspired to the highest places in the government, and often obtained them.
The revolution appeared to have turned the heads of the whole of the lower classes, and every individual sought to be a legislator. They attended constantly to the affairs of the public, and left their private interests to run to ruin. The handicraftsmen and artizans became suddenly inspired legislators, claiming intuitive knowlege in the arts and mysteries of government; and frequently met in large bodies for the purpose of debating and deliberating upon the affairs of the people, and instructing the legislature what to do for the nation. Now that men of their own order had the power, and the nobility were degraded from titles and office, each trade and occupation expected some great and peculiar advantage. To secure which they often met together, demanding of the lawgivers the passage of laws for their benefit according to their own dictation. Among the rest the shoemakers to the number of three thousand met to deliberate on, and fix the price of shoes. Hitherto'we have been speaking of the fever of legislation as it prevailed in Paris. In the departments it was the same. Each district had its police of safety, &c., with each its president, vice-presidents and secretaries. Thus thousands of self-constituted governments existed in France, at the same time, producing neither safety or union. Discord with her thousand snakes, every where, reigned lord of the ascendant. But we need not travel through all the bloody scenes of the revolution with which every one is acquainted; sufficient is it to our purpose that our readers recall them to memory. The day of the Jacobins after a reign of terror, in which crimes were com
mitted that turned the stoutest hearts pale, was suddenly brought to a close by the power of the National Guards, which now assembled in great numbers. Retributive justice fell upon them unaivares, and many of them sunk beneath the edge of the knife they had whetted for fresh victims; among whom was the bloody Robespierre. Yet no man could say I am safe, in revolutionary France. Religion was driven from the land, and her sacred and venerable truths contemned. They called it the age of reason and atheism was the religion of the nation. Men looked up to heaven, and defied the Deity to launch his thunderbolts against them! Still the tide of business and pleasure rolled on; but gloomy associations were mingled with every hour of enjoyment. They appeared to be walking in the valley and shadow of death. The most fashionable place of amusement, was an assernbly which met at stated periods for dancing, and which was called the “Ball of the victims.” Here none were admitted, who had not lost some near and valued relative or friend, in the reign of terror. Alas! that assembly was full to overflowing with members whose qualifications for admission could not be questioned. The hair and head-dress of those who frequented the place, were so arranged as to resemble the preparations made for the guillotine, and the motto adopted was “We dance amidst tombs.”
We have seen that the nobility were prostrated at the foot of the mob, and now it only remained for rebellion to make his masterpiece in the destruction of the king. After the formality of a mock irial, upon charges, most of which were false and absurd, Louis the sixteenth was condemned to death, and publicly beheaded in the midst of his own metropolis, in the Place Louis Quinze, erected to the memory of his grandfather, on the 21st January 1793. His queen, after refusing to answer to charges as unfounded as base, shared the same fate in October following. The dauphin, a child only seven years old, who could have been guilty of no crime, was placed in the hands of a merciless wretch, with orders that he should be destroyed, which orders were faithfully executed in a manner unknown. Upon these actions men of all nations have set their mark of reprobation, and the memory of the bloody actors in the scene, will be handed down to posterity only to be remembered with unmitigated execration.
Nearly all the powers of Europe combined against revolutionary France, and yet almost in every instance, victory crowned her arins. The army was made up of all the youth of the land, and the whole property of the nation put in requisition for its support. With a desperate bravery men seemed to court, rather than avoid danger, and death on the battle field in the cause of what they called liberty, was considered an honor, that should immortalize their me nory through all coming tine. We now leave the history of France, for the purpose of introducing to notice a personage destined to exercise a commanding influence over her people and her glory.
CHAPTER III. In an inconsiderable island, once an appendage to the kingdom of France, but at the time independent, “remarkable in ancient days as the scene of Seneca's exile, and distinguished in modern times by the indomitable courage of its inhabitants, while defending their liberties against the Genoese and French," on the 15th of August 1769 was born, no less a personage than the far-famed Napoleon Bonaparte, destined to dazzle and blind the eyes of an astonished world by the brilliancy and success of his career. While a small boy, he despised the toys with which children are usually delighted, and chose for his plaything a miniature cannon, about thirty pounds in weight. Thus was early planted in his heart, the germ of that ambitious spirit, which in a few short years was to burst upon, and convulse to its centre an astonished world. He was placed at the military school of Brienne, which was maintained by the king, whose throne he afterwards usurped, over the ruins of the republic, which by the prowess of his arms he made great and then destroyed. He built for himself, in his own island, where he used to pass his hours of vacation from school, a grotto where solitary and alone, he indulged in visions of future greatness; and in this sequestered retreat, arose before his fancy, the mimic presentation of his hundred battles, and the empire which their success won for him.
Among his companions, he had few favorites, and no intimates, His high thoughts soared a pitch they would have called presumption, and the hope of their realization, madness. The common amusements which furnished the delight of their lives, were without a charm to him; and yet such was their opinion of his courage and capacity, that he was, without seeking the distinction, often chosen director of this little republic. He attended but little to the acquisition of languages, but devoted all his faculties to master the abstract sciences, and by the wonderful process of almost unlimited power of combination, he was afterwards able to simplify the most difficult and complicated undertakings—and hence the great secret of his success over equal courage, accompanied with less science.
At the age of fourteen, he was sent to the military school of Paris, for the completion of his education; and at seventeen he received a commission as second lieutenant in a regiment of artillery, and soon after promoted to a first lieutenancy in a corps quartered at Valance. At this time, no doubt with a view of securing that unbounded popularity by which he afterwards ascended to power, he began to mingle freely in society, and to exhibit those powers of pleasing, which he possessed in an uncommon degree, and which he knew so well how to use, when necessary to his purpose.
The stern times of the French revolution were fast approaching. The whole population military and all, were divided into royalist
their creed, that it required no great penetration to foretell, that
whichever fell must fall forever, and be wholly destroyed in the wreck. Bonaparte was not long in deciding the course to be pursued by himself. Without any principles but such as were found. ed on self-interest, he took sides with the republic. “Were I a general officer” he said, “I would adhere to the king; being a subaltern, I join the patriots.” He did so, and was in a very short period, appointed brigadier-general of artillery. The national guards had become troublesome to the Directory, and he was appointed to disperse them, and in a sanguinary batile he defeated them with great slaughter. Upon this he arose, almost immediately, to the second in command of the armies of the republic, and then to be the commander-in-chief.
While these mighty events were transpiring, the husband of Josephine, the viscount de Beauharnois, who adhering to the revolutionary party had been a general in the republican service on the Rhine, fell under the suspicion, but without cause, of the committee of public safety; was delivered to the revolutionary tribunal, and suffered death hy its sentence, just four days before the overthrow of Robespierre. Josephine was herself imprisoned for the same cause and narrowly escaped destruction. She was after a considerable time released and a portion of her property, , which had been declared forfeit to the state on account of the supposed defection of her husband, restored to her. She was at this time the mother of two children Eugene and Hortense.
Not long after Josephine had thus been made a widow, an event took place which placed her in a situation which finally elevated her to a throne. Her son Eugene was a fine spirited boy, beautiful in person, and afterwards a brave and favorite soldier in the ranks of Napoleon's army. He was the means of introducing his mother to the notice of Napoleon in the following manner, as related by himself. A fine boy ten or twelve years old presented himself at the levee of the general of the interior, with a request of a nature uncommonly interesting. He stated his name to be Eugene Beauharnois, son of the ci-devant viscomte de Beauharnois, whom he stated had fallen, in the manner just related, and that he came to request of Bonaparte as general of the interior the restoration to him of his father's sword. The manners of the young supplicant were as engaging as his prayer was interesting, and Napoleon took so much interest in him, that he was induced to cultivate the acquaintance of his mother.
Josephine was at this time nearly thirty years of age, but still in the full pride of her beauty. Whatever she might have lost by the departure of the first flush of youth, was fully compensated by the graces of her person, her polished manners, and inexhaustible fund of good humor. The reign of terror was now over. Society again began to assemble in select circles, and the young widow was the
life and charm of every company she condescended to honor by her presence. The young commander sought her acquaintance, and they were mutually pleased with each other. When they had become intimate he disclosed the sentiments he entertained for her, and at the same time with the frankness of a soldier made her the offer of his heart, haud and fortunes; which she accepted without prevarication or deliberation. They were married on the 9th of March 1796. He was himself a fatalist, a believer in destiny and the influence of his star, but could have had at that time but little idea of the altitude it was soon to attain, or the rayless night in which it should afterwards set. Nor did he know of the augury, which predicted, that Josephine should rise to a dignity greater than that of a queen, and yet fall from it before her death. In this marriage, ambition may have had as much to do as love. Certain ii is, that by it Bonaparte acquired new and powerful friends, standing at the head of the government, through whom he obtained employment and preferment, by which he finally rose to the supreme power. He remained with his wife only three days after his marriage, and then placed himself at the head of the army of Italy. Here success the most unbounded crowned his arms, and peace on such terms as victors usually award to the vanquished followed. Upon his return he is greeted with loud acclamations by the people, and loaded with honors by the convention, with whom his slightest wish operated as a command. With true policy, he attached his officers to his person, by securing their promotion. On this occasion was struck, the first of that series of medals, which record the victories and honors of Napoleon.
Bonaparte was more than two years absent from his wife in his Italian campaign, but kept up an amatory correspondence with her during the time, of which the following extracts may serve as an example:
“By what art is it that you have been able to captivate all my faculties, and to concentrate in yourself my moral existence? It is a magic, my sweet love, which will finish only with my life. To live for Josephine-there is the history of my life. I am trying to reach you,-I am dying to be near you. Fool that I am, I do not perceive that I increase the distance between us. What lands, what countries separate us! What a time before you read these weak expressions of a troubled soul in which you reign! Ah! my adorable wife, I know not what fate awaits me, but if it keep me much longer from you it will be insupportable,-my courage will not go so far. There was a time when I was proud of my courage; and sometimes, when contemplating on the ills that man could do me, on the fate which destiny could reserve for me, I fixed my eyes steadfastly on the most unheard-of misfortunes without a frown, without alarm;—but now the idea that my Josephine may be unwell, the idea that she may be ill, and, above all, the cruel, ihe fatal thought, that she may love me less, withers my soul, stops my blood, ren