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قراءة كتاب Memoirs of the Private Life, Return, and Reign of Napoleon in 1815, Vol. I

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‏اللغة: English
Memoirs of the Private Life, Return, and Reign of Napoleon in 1815, Vol. I

Memoirs of the Private Life, Return, and Reign of Napoleon in 1815, Vol. I

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دار النشر: Project Gutenberg
الصفحة رقم: 6

war was a matter of calculation and selfishness. But soon their disputes involved the fate of the main interests created by the revolution the emigrants directed their attacks not only against individuals but also against principles, and the people, who had hitherto only looked on, now shared the quarrel, and all France was divided into two great hostile parties[7].

The court, the courtiers, and the ministry appeared as the central phalanx of the pure royalists. As their auxiliaries, they had the old nobility,—the priesthood,—a certain number of apostates who had skulked away from the imperial government,—and lastly, all those who had been disqualified by their incapacity and disloyalty from obtaining employment under Napoleon. It was the undisguised wish of this party to wash out every stain of the revolution, and to effect a full and unqualified restoration of the ancien régime in all its parts, and to all intents and purposes.

On the other side were arrayed the party designated as that of the Bonapartists, led on by our most honourable and most virtuous citizens, and numbering within its ranks the great body of the people; this party strove to withstand the impending resuscitation of the privileges and abuses of the old government, and which was to be effected only by the total subversion of our existing institutions.

The pure royalists endeavoured to annihilate the charter, which their opponents defended, and thus a strange contradiction took place. The royal charter had the royalists for its enemies, whilst its defenders were only found amongst those who were stigmatized as the adherents of Bonaparte.

Abortive attempts were made by the pure royalists to palliate the treachery of the government. They tried to persuade the people that the tranquillity and welfare of the nation depended but on the re-establishment of an absolute monarch, of a feudal aristocracy, and of all the trumpery of superstition. Such was the tendency of the publications which issued from the ministerial press, owing their birth to writers who had either sold themselves to the government, or who had denationalized themselves by their political intolerance. But it must not be supposed that liberty could remain in need of advocates.

Each of the earliest stages of the growth of the young government of royalty had been marked by obscure yet decisive symptoms of bad faith, not the less mischievous because they were restricted to signs, and symbols, and phrases. Instead of the constitution voted by the senate, and which the king had engaged to accept and ratify, he graciously granted and conceded a charter, by which he gave a new form to the government; and which, according to its tenor, emanated from the sovereign in the full and free exercise of his royal authority. The tricoloured cockade worn by Louis XVI. and which our armies had rendered illustrious, was exchanged for the white, though to the mind's eye the latter was seen drenched in the blood of the people. Louis took the title of Louis XVIII. King of France and Navarre, and he dated his proclamations and ordinances in the 19th year of his reign, and thus it was to be inferred, that the nation had been in a state of rebellion during five and twenty years. He had disdained to receive his crown from the will of the people, and rather chose to hold it by divine right and the good offices of the Prince Regent. These ungracious affronts wounded the national feelings, but no notice was taken of them at the time, because it was apprehended that angry recriminations might endanger the profit which had resulted from the important sacrifices to which we had consented for the public good. But when the government unveiled its deformity, the silence of the patriotic party was at end, and they attacked the government most unrelentingly. The editors of the Censeur were most conspicuous. Every abuse of power, every violation of the charter, was proclaimed to France by these young tribunes of the people; and the country was loud in applauding their zeal, their talents, and their courage. Other writers of a more lively class stung the emigrants to the quick by sarcasms and satire, and brought down the chastisement of contempt and ridicule upon those who had been spared by the gravity of the Censeur.

The nation also obtained a clear development of the anti-revolutionary conspiracy of the administration, from the "Memoir" of Carnot, and the pamphlets of Benjamin Constant. The undeniable facts, and the unwelcome truths which were brought forward and stated by these writers, apprized the people that their rights and liberties were in fearful danger.

A judicial blindness had fallen upon the ministers. All warnings, all lessons, all reproaches, were lost upon them. Far from being awed by public opinion, they thought they deserved high honour for defying it. The ministers had made up their mind. Deceived by the opinions which they had formed respecting the preponderance of their faction, they miscalculated the influence and resources of the partizans of the revolution. Confiding in their power, and in the fear inspired by their power, they thought it useless to maintain any further reserve; and that they could charge onwards to the end of the career which they had in view. Intoxicated by their ignorant enthusiasm, they insulted the nation in the person of each individual, whilst they encroached upon the rights which he valued most, and insulted him both in his interests and his feelings. The imperial guard was removed from Paris: the emigrants grudged the renown of these troops, and feared their patriotism. It was given out that the discontent evinced by the guard when the king came in, was the cause of the punishment which they received[8].—But had not the government called forth this discontent? Surely it was ungenerous to compel those heroes to walk as attendants in the triumph of a new master. Their grief and fidelity deserved not to be thus insulted. I then saw these honoured warriors. Haggard looks and sullen silence revealed their feelings. Absorbed by grief, they appeared to be insensible to the outward world. "Vive la Garde Impériale" was the shout of the pitying Parisians, who wished to cheer them. These salutations, which, perhaps, they despised, were unheeded. Submissive to their superiors, they obeyed the word of command which told them that they must march: they marched, and that was all.

Troops of the line replaced the imperial guards, who were drafted out of the capital with great expedition. Little time elapsed before the dissatisfaction of the new troops became manifest. The regiments were wholly disorganized; officers were thrust upon the soldiers, amongst whom they stood as complete strangers. In consequence of these changes the troops were put out of temper; and they became disgusted with service, because they were wearied by endless parades and reviews which took place, not to perfect them in their discipline, but for the instruction of their raw commanders. The government broke their spirit by affronting them: they were compelled to present