Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

ture from the coast for Aix la Chapelle, where the cringing of his courtiers consoled him for the want of reshect or gallantry in your English tars.

LETTER X.
Paris, August, 1805.
My Lord,

ACCORDING to a general belief in our diplomatic circles, it was the Austrian ambassador in France, Count Cobentzel, who principally influenced the determination of Francis II. to assume the hereditary title of Emperor of Austria, and to acknowledge Napoleone Emperor of the French.

Jean Philippe Count de Cobentzel enjoys, not only in his own country, but through all Europe, a great reputation as a statesman, and has for a number of years been employed by his court in the most intricate and delicate political transactions. In 1790 he was sent to Brabant to treat with the Belgian insurgents, but the States of Brabant refusing to receive him, he retired to Luxembourg, where he published a proclamation, in which Leopold II. revoked all those edicts of his predecessor Joseph II. which had been the principal cause of the troubles; and re-established every thing upon the same footing as during the reign of Maria Theresa. In 1791, he was appointed ambassador to the court of St. Petersburgh, where his conduct obtained the approbation of his own Prince, and of the Empress of Russia.

In 1793, the committee of Public Safety nominated the intriguer, De Semonville, ambassador to the Ottoman Porte. His mission was to excite the Turks against Austria and Russia, and it became of great consequence to the two Imperial courts, to seize this incendiary of regicides. He was therefore stopped, on the 25th of July, in the village of Novate, near the lake of Chiavanne. A rumour was very prevalent at this time that some papers were found in De Semonville's porte-folio implicating Count de Cobentzel as a correspondent with the revolutionary French generals. The continued confidence of his sovereign contradicts, however, this inculpation, which seems to have been merely the invention of rivalry or jealousy.

In October, 1795, Count de Cohentzel signed, in the name of the Emperor, a treaty with England and Russia; and in 1797 he was one of the Imperial plenipotentiaries sent to Udine to negotiate with Buonaparte, with whom, on the 17th of October, he signed the treaty of Campo Formio. In the same capacity, he went asterwards to Radstadt, and when this congress broke up, he returned again as an ambassador to St. Petersburgh. After the peace of Luneville, when it required to have a man of experience and talents, to oppose to our so deeply able minister, Talleyrand, the cabinet of Vienna removed him from Russia to France, where, with all other representatives of princes, he has experienced more of the frowns and rebukes, than of the dignity and good grace, of our present sovereign. Count de Cobentzel’s foible is said to be a passion for women; and it is reported that our worthy minister Talleyrand has been kind enough to assist him frequently in his amours. Some adventures of this sort, which occurred at Radstadt, afforded much amusement at the Count's expense. Talleyrand, from envy, no doubt, does not allow him the same political merit as his other political contemporaries, having frequently repeated, “that the official dinners of Count de Cobentzel were greatly preferable to his official notes.” So well pleased was Buonaparte with this ambassador, when at Aix la Chapelle last year, that, as a singular favour, he permitted him, with the Marquis de Gallo (the Neapolitan minister, and another plenipotentiary at Udine) to visit the camps of his army of England on the coast. It is true that this condescension was perhaps as much a boast, or a threat, as a compliment. The famous diplomatic note of Talleyrand, which, at Aix la Chapelle, proscribed en masse all your diplomatic agents, was only a slight revenge of Buonaparte's for your mandate of blockade. Rumour states, that this measure was not approved of by Talleyrand, as it would not exclude any of your ambassadors from those courts not immediately under the whip of our Napoleone. For fear, however, of some more extravagant determination, Joseph Buonaparte dissuaded him from laying before his brother any objection or representation; “But what absurdities do I not sign!” exclaimed the pliant minister. Buonaparte, on his arrival at Aix la Chapelle, found there, according to command, most of the members of the foreign diplomatic corps in France, waiting to present their new credentials to him as Emperor. Charlemagne had been saluted as such in the same place, eight hundred years before; an inducement for the modern Charlemagne, to set all these ambassadors travelling some hundred miles, without any other object, but to gratisy his impertinent vanity. Every spot where Charlemagne had walked, sat, slept, talked, eaten or prayed, was visited by him with great ostentation; always dragging behind him the foreign representatives, and by his side his wife. To a peasant who presented him a stone, upon which Charlemagne was said to have once kneeled, he gave nearly half its weight in gold; on a priest, who offered him a small crucifix, before which that Prince was reported to have prayed, he bestowed an episcopal see; to a manufacturer he ordered one thousand Louis, for a portrait of Charlemagne, said to be drawn by his daughter, but which, in fact, was from the pencil of the daughter of the manufacturer; a German sawant was made a member of the National Institute, for an old diploma, supposed to have been signed by Charlemagne, who many believe, was not able to write; and a German Baron Krigge, was registered in the Legion of Honour, for a ring presented by this Emperor to one of his ancestors, though his nobility is well known not to be of sixty years standing. But woe to him who dared to suggest any doubt about what Napoleone believed, or seemed to believe A German professor Richter, more a pedant than a courtier, and more sincere than wise, addressed a short memorial to Buonaparte, in which he proved, from his intimacy with antiquity, that most of the pretended relics of Charlemagne were impositions on the credulous; that the portrait was a drawing of this century, the diploma written in the last; the crucifix manufactured within fifty, and the ring, perhaps, within ten years. The night after Buonaparte had perused this memorial,

a police commissary, accompanied by four gens-d'armes, entered .

the professor's bed room, forced him to dress, and ushered him into a covered cart, which carried him under escort to the left

bank of the Rhine; where he was left with orders, under pain.

of death, never more to enter the territory of the French empire, This expeditious and summary justice silenced all other connoisseurs and antiquarians; and relics of Charlemagne have since

poured in, in such numbers, from all parts of France, Italy, Germany, and even Denmark, that we are here in hope to see one day established a museum Charlemagne, by the side of the museums Napoleone and Josephine. A ballad written in monkish Latin, said to be sung by the daughters and maids of Charlemagne, at his court on great festivites, was addressed to Duroc, by a Danish professor Cranener, who in return was presented, on the part of Buonaparte, with a diamond ring, worth twelve thousand livres; 500l. This ballad may, perhaps, be the foundation of a future Bibliotheque or Lyceum-Charlemagne.

LETTER XI.
Paris, August, 1805.
MY LORD,

ON the arrival of her husband at Aix la Chapelle, Madame Napoleone had lost her money by gambling, without recovering her health by using the baths and drinking the waters; she was therefore as poor as low-spirited, and as ill-tempered as dissatisfied. Napoleone himself was neither much in humour to supply her present wants, provide for her extravagancies, or to forgive her ill-nature; he ascribed the inefficacy of the waters to her excesses; and reproached her for too great condescension to many persons, who presented themselves at her drawing-room, and in her circle, but who, from their rank in life, were only fit to be seen as supplicants in her anti-chambers, and as associates

with her valets or chambermaids.

The fact was, that Madame Napoleone knew as well as her husband, that these gentry were not in their place, in the company of an Empress; but they were her creditors, some of them even Jews; and as long as she continued debtor to them, she could not decently, or rather she dared not, prevent them from being visitors to her. By confi.ling her situation to her old friend Talleyrand, she was, however, soon released from these troublesome personages. When the minister was informed of the occasion of the attendance of these impertinent intruders, he humbly proposed to Buonap orte, not to pay their demands and

their due ; but to make them examples of severe justice in transporting them to Cayenne, as the only sure means to prevent, for the future, people of the same description, from being familiar or audacious. When, thanks to Talleyrand's interference, these family arrangements were settled, Madame Napoleone recovered her health with her good humour; and her husband, who had begun to forget the English blockade, only to think of the papal accolade, (dubbing) was more tender than ever. I am assured, that during the fortnight he continued with his wife at Aix la Chapelle, he only shut her up or confined her twice, kicked her three times, and abused her once a day. It was during their residence in that capital, that Count de Segur, at last, completed the composition of their household ; and laid before them the list of the ladies and gentlemen, who had consented to put on their livery. This de Segur is a kind of amphibious animal, neither a royalist nor a republican; neither a democrat nor an aristocrat; but a disaffected subject under a king; a dangerous citizen of a commonwealth ; ridiculing both the friend of equality and the defender of prerogatives; no exact definition can be given from his past conduct and avowed professions, of his real, moral, and political character. One thing is only certain—he was an ungrateful traitor to Louis XVI. and is. a submissive slave under Napoleone the First. Though not of an ancient family, Count de Segur was a nobleman by birth, and ranked among the ancient French nobility, because one of his ancestors had been a field-mareschal. Being early introduced at court, he acquired, with the common corruption, also the pleasing manners of a courtier; and by his assiduities about the ministers, Counts de Maurepas and de Vergennes, he procured from the latter the place of an ambassador to the Court of St. Petersburgh. With some reading and genius, but with more boasting and presumption, he classed himself among I’rench men of letters, and was therefore as such received with distinction by Catharine II. on whom, and on whose government, he in return published a libel. He was a valet under La Fayette, in 1789, as he has since been under every succeeding king of faction. The partisans of the Revolution pointed him out as a fit ambassador from Louis XVI. to the late king of Prussia; and he went in 1791 to Berlin, in that capacity ; but Frederic

« AnteriorContinuar »