« AnteriorContinuar »
But most of the other Buonapartes have made as great afid as rapid fortunes as Lucien; and yet instead of being generous, contented, or even /ihilosofthers, they are still profiting, by every occasion, to increase their ill-gotten treasures; and no distress was ever relieved, no talents encouraged, or virtues recompensed by them. The mind of their garrets lodges with them in their palaces; while Lucien seems to ascend as near as possible to a level with his circumstances. Without being ostentatious, I have myself found him beneficent.
Among his numerous pictures I observed four that had formerly belonged to my father's, and afterwards to my own cabinet. I inquired how much he had paid for them, without giving the least hint that they had been my property, and were plundered from me by the nation. He had indeed paid their full value. In a fortnight aster I had quitted him, these, with six other pictures, were deposited in my room, with a very polite note, begging my acceptance of them, and assuring me, he had but the day before heard, from his picture-dealer, that they had belonged to me. He added that he would never retake them, unless he received an assurance from me that I parted with them without reluctance, and at the same affixed price. I returned them, as I knew they were desired by him for his collection; but he continued obstinate. I told him therefore, that, as I was acquainted with his inclination to perform a generous action, I would, instead of payment for the pictures, indicate a person deserving his assistance. I mentioned the old Duchess de ****, who is . seventy-four years of age, and blind; and, after possessing in her youth an income of eight hundred thousand livres, (33,000l.) is now in her old age almost destitute. He did for this worthy lady more than I expected; but happening in his visits to relieve my friend, to cast his eyes on the daughter of the landlady where she lodged, he found means to prevail on the simplicity of the poor girl, and seduced her. So much do I know personally of Lucien Buonaparte; who certainly is a composition of good and bad qualities, but which of them predominate, I will not take upon me to decide. This I can affirm—Lucien is not the worst member of the Buonaparte family.
AS long as Austria ranks among independent nations, Buonaparte will take care not to offend or alarm the ambition and interest of Prussia, by incorporating the Batavian Republic with the other provinces of his empire. Until that period, the Dutch must continue (as they have been these last ten years) under the appellation of allies, oppressed like subjects, and plundered like foes. Their mock sovereignty will continue to weigh heavier on them than real servitude does on their Belgic and Flemish neighbours, because Frederic the Great pointed out to his successors the Elbe and the Texel as the natural borders of the Prussian monarchy, whenever the right bank of the Rhine should form
the natural frontiers of the kingdom of France. That during the present summer, a project for a partition treaty of Holland has, by the cabinet of St. Cloud, been laid before the cabinet of Berlin, is a fact, though disseminated only as a rumour by the secret agents of Talleyrand. Their object was on this, as on all previous occasions, when any names, rights or liberties of people were intended to be erased from among the annals of independencc, to sound the ground, and to prepare by such rumours the mind of the public for another outrage and another overthrow. But Prussia as well as France knows the value of a military and commercial navy, and that to obtain it, good harbours and navigable rivers are necessary, and therefore, as well as from principles of justice, perhaps, declined the acceptance of a plunder, which though tempting, was contrary to the
policy of the house of Brandenburgh.
According to a copy circulated among the members of our diplomatic corps, this partition treaty excluded Prussia from all the Batavian sea-ports, except Delfzyl, and those of the river Ems ; but gave her extensive territories on the side of Guelderland, and a rich country in Friesland. Had it been acceded to by the court of Berlin, with the annexed condition of a defensive and offensive alliance with the court of St. Cloud, the Prussian monarchy would, within half a century, have been swallowed up in the same gulf, with the Batavian commonwealth and the republic of Poland ; and by some future scheme of some fu
ture Buonaparte or Talleyrand, be divided in its turn, and serve as a pledge of reconciliation or inducement of connexion between some future rulers of the French and Russian empires. Taileyrand must indeed have a very mean opinion of the capacity of the Prussian ministers, or a high notion of his own influence over them, if he was serious in this overture. For my part, I am rather incided to think that it was merely thrown out to discover whether Frederick William III. had entered into any engagement contrary to the interest of Napoleone the first ; or to allure his Prussian majesty into a negotiation, which would suspend, or at least-interfere with those supposed to be then on the carpet with Austria, Russia, or perhaps even with England. The late Batavian government had, ever since the beginning of the present war with Elgland, incurred the displeasure of Buonaparte. When it apprehended a rupture from the turn which the discussion respecting the occupation of Malta assumed, the Dutch ambassadors at St. Petersburgh and Berlin were ordered to demand the interference of these two cabinets, for the preservation of the neutrality of Holland ; which your country had promised to acknowledge, if respected by France. No sooner was Buonaparte informed of this step, than he marched troops into the heart of the Batavian Republic, and occupied its principal forts, ports, and arsenals. When, sometime afterwards, Count de Markoff received instructions from his court, according to the desire of the Batavian Directory, and demanded, in consequence, an audience from Buonaparte, a map was laid before him, indicating the position of the French troops in Holland, and plans of the intended encampment of our Army of England on the coast of Flanders and France; and he was asked, whether he thought it probable that our government would assent to a neutrality so injurious to its offensive operations against GreatBritain : “But,” said the Russian ambassador, “the independence of Holland has been admitted by you in formal treaties.”—. “So has the cession of Malta by England,” interrupted Buonaparte with impatience—“True,” replied Markoff, “but you are now at war with England for this point, while Holland, against which you have no complaint, has not only been invaded by your troops, but, contrary both to its inclination and interest, ipvolved in a war with you, by which it has much to lose, and no
thing to gain.”—“I have no account to render to any body for my transactions, and I desire to hear nothing more on this subject,” said Buonaparte, retiring furious, and leaving Markoff to meditate on our sovereign's singular principles of political justice, and of jus gentium.
From that period, Buonaparteresolved on another change of the executive power of the Batavian Republic. But it is more easy to displace one set of men for another, than to find proper ones to occupy a situation in which, if they do their duty as patriots, they must offend France; and if they are our tools, instead of the independent governors of their country, they must excite a discontent among their fellow-citizens; disgracing themselves as individuals, and exposing themselves as chief magistrates to the fate of the De Witts, should ever fortune forsake our arms or desert Buonaparte.
No country has of late been less productive of great men than Holland. The Van Tromps, the Russels, and the Williams III. all died without leaving any posterity behind them ; and the race of Batavian heroes seems to have expired with them, as that of patriots with the De Witts and Barneveldt. Since the beginning of the last century we read indeed of some able statesmen, as most, if not all, the former grand pensionaries have been ; but the name of no warrior of any great eminence is recorded. This scarcity of native genius and valour has not a little contributed to the present humbled, disgraced and oppressed state of wretched Batavia.
Admiral De Winter certainly neither wants courage nor genius, but his private character has a great resemblance to that of general Moreau. Nature has destined him to obey, and not to govern: he may direct as ably and as valiantly the manoeuvres of a fleet, as Moreau does those of an army ; but neither the one nor the other at the head of his nation would long render himself respected, his country flourishing, or his countrymen happy and tranquil. Destined from his youth for the navy, admiral De Winter en
tered into the naval service of his country before he was fourteen, and was a second lieutenant when the Batavian fiatriots, in rebellion against the Stadtholder, were, in 1787, reduced to submission by the duke of Brunswick, the commander of the Piussian army that invaded Holland. His parents and family being of the anti-orange party, he emigrated to France, where he was made an officer in the Legion of Batavian refugees. During the campaign in 1793 and 1794, he so much distinguished himself, under that competent judge of merit, Pichegru, that this commander obtained for him the commission of a general of brigade in the service of the French; which, after the conquest of Helland in January, 1795, was exchanged for a vice-admiral of the Batavian Republic. His exploits as commander of the Dutch fleet, during the battle of the 11th of October, 1797, with your fleet under Lord Duncan, I have heard applauded even in your presence, when in your country. Too honest to be seduced, and too brave to be intimidated, he is said to have incurred Buonaparte's hatred, by resisting both his offers and threats, and declining to sell his own liberty as well as to betray the liberty of his fellow-subjects. When, in 1800, Buonaparte proposed to him the presidency and consulate of the United States for life, on condition that he should sign a treaty, which made him a vassal of France, he refused with dignity and with firmness; and preferred retirement to a supremacy so dishonourably acquired, and so dishonourably occupied, w General Daendels, another Batavian revolutionist of some notoriety, from an attorney became a lieutenant-colonel, and served as a spy under Dumourier in the winter of 1792, and in the spring of 1793. Under Pichegru he was made a general, and exhibited those talents in the field which are said to have before been displayed in the forum. In June, 1795, he was made a lieutenant-general of the Batavian Republic, and he was the commander in chief of the Dutch troops, combating in 1799, your army, under the Duke of York. In this place he did not much distinguish himself, and the issue of the contest was entirely owing to our troops and to our generals. After the peace of Amiens, observing that Buonaparte intended to annihilate, instead of establish universal liberty, Daendels gave in his resignation, and retired to obscurity; not wishing to be an instrument of tyranny, after having so long fought for freedom. Had he possessed the patriotism of a Brutus or a Cato, he would have bled or died for his cause and country, sooner than have deserted them both ; or had the ambition and love of glory of Caesar held a place in his bosom, he would have at