« AnteriorContinuar »
claration of war by Spain against your country, was a lucky opportunity for Gravina to quit with honour a Court, where he was an object of ridicule, to assume the command of a fleet, which might one day make him an object of terror. When he took leave of Buonaparte, he was told to return to France victorious, or never to return any more; and Talleyrand warned him as a friend, “whenever he returned to his post in France, to leave his marriage mania behind him in Spain. Here,” said he, “you may, without ridicule, intrigue with a hundred women, but you run a great risk only by marrying one.” - I have been in company with Gravina, and after what I heard him say, so far from judging him superstitious, I thought him really impious. But infidelity and bigotry are frequently next door neighbours. - - - A
Paris, August, 1805. MY LORD, Z IT cannot have escaped the observation of the most superficial traveller of rank, that at the Court of St. Cloud want of morals is not atoned for by good breeding or good manners. The hideousness of vice, the pretensions of ambition, the vanity of rank, the pride of favour, and the shame of venality, do not wear here that delicate veil, that gloss of virtue, which, in other courts, lessens' the deformity of corruption, and the scandal of depravity. Duplicity and hypocrisy are here very common indeed, more so than dissimulation any where else ; but bare-faced knaves and impostors must always make indifferent courtiers. Here the minister tells you, I must have such a sum for a place ; and the chamberlain tells you, count down so much for my protection. The princess requires a necklace of such value, for interesting herself for your advancement; and the lady in waiting demands a diamond of such worth on the day of your promotion. This tariff of favours and of infamy descends ad infinitum. The secretary for signing, and the clerk for writing your commissions; the cashier for delivering it, and the messenger for informing you of it, have all their fixed prices. Have you a lawsuit, the
judge announces to you, that so much has been offered by your L 2. *
opponent, and so much is expected from you, if you desire ta. win your cause. When you are the defendant against the crown, the attorney or solicitor-general lets you know, that such a douceur is requisite to procure such an issue. Even in criminal proceedings, not only honour, but life, may be saved by pecu
~ niary sacrifices.
A man of the name of Martin, by profession a stockjobber, killed in 1803, his own wife; and for twelve thousand livres, 5001. he was acquitted, and recovered his liberty. In November, last year, in a quarrel with his own brother, he stabbed him through the heart, and for another sum of twelve thousand livres, he was acquitted and released before last Christmas. This wretch is now in prison again, on suspicion of having poisoned his own daughter, with whom he had an incestuous intercourse, and he boasts publicly of the certainty of soon being liberated.
Another person, Louis de Saurac, the younger son of Baron de Saurac, who, together with his eldest son, had emigrated, forged a will in the name of his parent, whom he pretended to be dead, which left him the sole heir of all the disposeable property, to the exclusion of two sisters. After the nation had sharedits part, as heir of all emigrants, Louis took possession of the remainder. In 1802, both his father and brother accepted of the general amnesty, and returned to France. To their great surprise, they heard that this Louis had, by his ill-treatment, forced. his sisters into servitude, refusing them even the common necessaries of life. After upbraiding him for his want of duty, the father desired, according to the law, the restitution of the unsold part of his estates. On the day fixed for settling the accounts, and entering into his right, Baron de Saurac was arrested as a conspirator, and imprisoned in the temple. He had been deInounced as having served in the army of Conde, and as being a secret agent of Louis XVIII. To disprove the first part of the charge, he produced certificates from America, where he had passed the time of his emigration, and even upon the rack he denied the latter. During his arrest, the eldest son discovered, that Louis had become the owneroftheir possessionsby meansof the will he had forged in the name of his father; and that it was he who had been unnatural enough to denounce the author of his days. With the wreck of their fortune in St. Domingo, he procured his father's.
release; who, being acquainted with the perversity of his younger son, addressed himself to the department, to be reinstated in his property. This was opposed by Louis; who defended his title to the estate by the revolutionary maxim, which had passed into a law, enacting, that all emigrants should be considered as politically dead. Hitherto Baron de Saurac had, from affection, declined to mention the forged will ; but shocked by his son's obduracy, and being reduced to distress, his counsellor produced this document, which not only went to deprive Louis of his property, but exposed him to a criminal prosecution. This unnatural son, who is not yet twenty-five, had imbibed all the revolutionary morals of his contemporaries, and was well acquainted with the moral characters of his revolutionary countrymen. He addressed himself, therefore, to Merlin of Douai, Buonaparte's Imperial attorney-general, and commmander of his Legion of Honour; who, for a bribe of fifty thousand livres, 2,100/. obtained for him, after he had been defeated in every other court, a judgment in his favour, in the tribunal of cassation ; under the sophistical conclusion, that all emigrants being, according to law, considered as politically dead, a will in the name of any one of them was merely a pious fraud, to preserve the property in the family. This Merlin is the son of a labourer of Anchin, and was a servant of the abbey of the same name. One of the monks observing in him some application, charitably sent him to be educated at Douai, after having bestowed on him some previous edueation. Not satisfied with this generous act, he engaged the other monks, as well as the chapter of Cambray, to subscribe for his expenses of admission, as an attorney, by the parliament of Douai, in which situation the revolution found him. By his dissimulation and assumed modesty, he continued to dupe his benefactors ; who by their influence obtained for him the nomination as a representative of the people to our first National Assembly. They soon, however, had reason to repent of their generosity. He joined the Orleans faction, and became one of the most persevering, violent, and cruel persecutors of the privileged classes, particularly of the clergy, to whom he was indebted for every thing. In 1792 he was elected a member of the National Convention, where he voted for the death of his King. It was he
who proposed a law (justly called by Prudhomme the production of the deliberate homicide Merlin) against sus/lected persons, which was decreed on the 17th September, 1793, and caused the imprisonment or proscription of two hundred thousand families. This decree procured him the appellation of Merlin Suspects, and of Merlin Potence. In 1795 he was first appointed a minister of police, and soon afterwards a minister of justice. After the revolution in favour of Jacobins, of the 4th September, 1797, he was made a Director; a place which he was obliged by the same Jacobins to resign in June 1799. Buonaparte expressed at first the most sovereign contempt for this Merlin; but on account of one of his sons, who was his aid-de-camp, he was appointed by him, when First Consul, his attorney-general. As nothing paints better the true features of a government than the morality or vices of its functionaries, I will finish this man's portrait with the following characteristic touches. Merlin de Douai has been successively the counsel of the late Duke of Orleans, the friend of Danton, of Chabot, and of Hebert, the admirer of Marat, and the servant of Robespierre. An accomplice of Rewbel, Barras, and la Reveilliere, an author of the law of suspected persons, an advocate of the Septemboisers, and ardent apostle of the St. Guillotine. Cunning as a fox and ferocious as a tiger, he has outlived all the factions with which he has been connected. It has been his policy to keep in continual fermentation, rivalships, jealousies, inquietudes, revenge, and all other odious passions; establishing by such means his influence on the terror of some, the ambition of others, and the credulity of them all. Had I, when Merlin proposed his law concerning suspected persons, in the name of liberty and equality, been free and his equal, I should have said to him : “Monster, this your atrocious law is your sentence of death; it has brought thousands of innocent persons to an untimely end ; you shall die by my hands as a victim, if the tribunals do not condemn you to the scaffold as an executioner, or as a criminal.” Merlin has bought national property to the amount of fifteen millions of livres, 625,000l. and he is supposed to possess money nearly to the same amount, in your or our funds. For a man; born a beggar and educated by charity, this fortune, together
with the liberal salaries he enjoys, might seem sufficient, without selling justice, protecting guilt, and oppressing or persecuting inIn Ocence.
THE household troops of Napoleone the First are by thoubands more numerous than those even of Louis XIV. were.— Grenadiers on foot and on horseback; riflemen on foot and on horseback; heavy and light artillery; dragoons and hussars ; mamelukes and sailors; artificers and pontooners; gens-d’armes and gens-d’armes d'Elite; Velites and veterans ; with Italian grenadiers, riflemen, dragoons, &c. &c. compose all together a no inconsiderable army. Though it frequently happens, that the pay of the other troops is in arrear, those appertaining to Buonaparte's household are as regularly paid as his senators, counsellors of state, and the public functionaries. All the men are picked, and all the officers, as much as possible, of birth, or at least of education. In the midst of this voluptuous and seductive capital, they are kept very strict, and the least negligence or infraction of military discipline is more severely punished than if committed in garrison, or in an encampment. They are both better clothed, accoutred, and paid, than the troops of the line, and have every where the precedency of them. All the officers, and many of the soldiers are members of Buonaparte's Legion of Honour; and carry arms of honour, distributed to them by Imperial favour, or for military exploits. None of them are quartered upon the citizens ; each corps has its own spacious barracks, hospitals, drilling-ground, riding or fencing-houses, gardens, bathing-houses, billiard-table, and even libraries. A chapel has lately been constructed near each barrack, and almoners are already appointed. In the mean time, they attend regularly at mass, either in the Imperial chapel or in the parish churches. Buonaparte discourages much all marriages among the military in general, but particularly among those of his household troops. That they may not, however, be entirely deprived of the Society of women, he allows five to each