Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

insults with a courage and dignity that demands our admiration.

It is said that the Marquis de Gallo is not entirely free from some taints of modern philosophy; and that he, therefore, does not consider the consequences of our innovations so fatal as most of our loyal men judge them; nor thinks a sans-culotte Emperor imore dangerous to civilized society than a sans-culotte sovereign people.

It is evident, from the names and rank of its partisans, that the Revolution of Naples, in 1799, was different, in many respects, from every other country in Europe. For, although the political convulsions seem to have originated among the middle classes of the community, the extremes of society were every where else made to act against each other; the rabble being the first to triumph, and the nobles to succumb. But here, on the contrary, the lazzaroni, composed of the lowest portion of the population of a luxurious capital, appear to have been the most strenuous, and indeed almost the only supporters of Royalty; while the great families, instead of being indignant at novelties which levelled them, in point of political rights, with the meanest subject, eagerly embraced the opportunity of altering that form of government, which alone made them great. It is, however, but justice to say, that though Marquis de Gallo gained the good graces of Buonaparte and of France, in 1797, he was never directly or indirectly inculpated in the revolutionary transactions of his countrymen in 1799, when he resided at Vienna; and indeed, after all, it is not improbable that he disguises his real sentiments, the better to serve his country, and by that means has imposed on Buonaparte, and acquired his favour.

The address and manners of a courtier are allowed Marquis de Gallo, by all who know him, though few admit that he possesses any talents as a statesman. He is said to have read a great deal, to possess a good memory, and no bad judgment; but that, notwithstanding this, all his knowledge is superficial, aliquid in omnis, bus et nihil in toto,

LETTER XXIV. Paris, August, 1805. My Lok D, YOU have, perhaps, heard, that Napoleone Buonaparte, with all his brothers and sisters, was last Christmas married by the Pope, according to the Roman Catholic rite; being previously only united, according to the municipal laws of the French Republic, which consider marriage only as a civil contract. During the two last months of his Holiness's residence here, hardly a day passed that he was not petitioned to perform the same ceremony for our conscientious grand functionaries and courtiers, which he, however, according to the Emperor's desire, declined. But his Cardinals were not under the same restrictions: and to an attentive observer, who has watched the progress of the Revolution, and not lost sight of its actors, nothing could appear more ridiculous, nothing could inspire more contenpt of our versatility and inconsistency, than to remark, among the foremost to demand a nuptial benediction, a Talleyrand, a Fouche, a Real, an Angereau, a Chaptal, a Reubel, a Lasnes, a Bessieres, a Thuriot, a Treilhard, a Merlin, with a hundred other equally notorious revolutionists, who were, twelve or fifteen years ago, not only the first to declaim against religious ceremonies as ridiculous, but against religion itself as useless: whose motives produced, and whose votes sanctioned those decrees of the legislature, which proscribed the worship, together with its priests and sectaries. But then the fashion of barefaced infidelity was as much the order of the day, as that of external sanctity is at present. I leave to casuists the decision, whether to the morals of the people, naked atheism, exposed with all its deformities, is more or less hurtful, than concealed atheism covered with the garb of piety ; but for my part, I think the noon-day murderer less guilty, and much less detestable, than the midnight assassin who stabs in the dark. A hundred anecdotes are daily related of our new saints, and fashionable devotees; they would be laughable, were they not scandalous; and contemptible, did they not add duplicity to out, other vices. Buonaparte and his wife go now every morning to hear mass, and on every Sunday or holiday, they regularly attend at Wes. pers; when, of course, all those who wish to be distinguished by their piety, or rewarded for their flattery, never neglect to be present. In the evening of last Christmas-day, the .mperial chapel was, as usual, early crowded, in expectation of their Majesties; when the chamberlain Salmatoris entered, and said to the captain of the guard, loud enough to be heard by the audience, the Emperor and the Empress have just resolved not to come here to night; his Majesty being engaged by some unexpected business, and the Empress not wishing to come without her consort. In ten minutes, the chapel was emptied of every person but the guards, the priests, and three old women, who had no where else to pass an hour. At the arrival of our Sovereigns, they were astonished at the unusual vacancy, and indignantly regarded each other. After vespers were over, one of Bisonaparte's spies informed him of the cause; when, instead of punishing the despicable and hypocritical courtiers, or showing them any signs of his displeasure, he ordered Salmatoris under arrest; who would have experienced a complete disgrace, had not his friend Duroc interfered, and made his peace. At another time, on a Sunday, Fouche entered the chapel in the midst of the service, and whispered to Buonaparte, who immediately beckoned to his lord in waiting, and to Duroc. These both left the Imperial chapel, and returning in a few minutes at the head of five grenadiers, entered the grand gallery, generally frequented by the most scrupulous devotees, and seized every book. The cause of this domiciliary visit was an anonymous communication received by the minister of police, stating, that libels against the imperial family, bound in the form of prayer books, had been placed there. No such libels were however found: but of one hundred and sixty pretended brevi-' aries, twenty-eight were volumes of novels, sixteen of poems, and eleven of indecent books. It is not necessary to add, that the proprietors of these edifying works never reclaimed them. The opinions are divided here, whether this curious discovery originated in the malice of Fouche, or whether Talleyrard took this method of duping his rival, and at the same time of gratifying his own malignity. Certain it is, that Fouche, was severely reprimanded for the transaction, and that Buonaparte was highly effended at the disclosure.

The common people, and the middle classes, are neither so ostentatiously devout, nor so basely perverse. They go to church as to the play, to gape at others, or to be stared at themselves; to pass the time, and to admire the show: and they do not conceal that such is the object of their attendance. Their indifference about futurity equals their ignorance of religious duties. Our revolutionary charlalans have as much brutalized their understanding, as corrupted their hearts. They heard the grand mass said by the Pope with the same feelings as they formerly heard Robespierre proclaim himself a high priest of a supreme Being ; and they looked at the imperial processions with the same insen'sibility as they once saw the daily caravans of victims passing for execution. o

Even in Buonaparte's own guard, and among the officers of his household troops, several examples of rigour were necessary, before they would go to any place of worship, or suffer intheir corps any almoners: but now, after being drilled into a be. lics of Christianity, they march to the mass as to a parade or to a review. With any other people, Buonaparte would not so easily have changed in two years the customs of twelve, and forced military men to kneel before priests, whom they but the other day were encouraged to hunt and massacre like wild beasts.

On the day of the assumption of the Holy Virgin, a company of gens-d'armes d'Elite, headed by their officers, received publicly and by orders, the sacrament; when the Abbe Frelaud approached towards Lieutenant Ledoux, he fell into convulsions, and was carried into the sacristy. After being a little recovered, he looked round him, as if afraid that some one would injure him; and said to the grand vicar Clauset, who inquired the cause of his accident and terror: “Good God! that man who gave me, on the 2d of September, 1792, the five wounds in tee convent of the Carenes, from wheih I still suffer, is now an officer, and was about to receive the sacrament from my hands.” When this occurrence was reported to Buonaparte, Ledoux was dismissed; but Abbe Frelaud was transported, and the grand vicar Clauset se t to the Temple, for the scandal their indiscretion had caused. This act was certainly as unjust towards him who was bayoneted to the altar, as towards those who served the altar, under the protection of the bayonets.

LETTER XXV.

Paris, August, 1805. MY LORD,

ALTHOUGH the seizure of Sir George Rumbold might in your country, as well as every where else, inspire indignation, it could no where justly excite surprise. We had crossed the Rhine seven months before, to seize the Duke d'Enghein: and, when any prey invited, the passing of the Elbe was only a natural consequence of the former outrage; of audacity on our part, and of endurance or indifference on the part of other Continental States. Talleyrand’s note at Aix la Chapelle had also informed Europe that we had adopted a new and military diplomacy; and, in confounding power with right, would respect no privileges at variance with our ambition, interest, or susficions, or any independence it was thought useful or convenient for us to invade. It was reported here, at the time, that Buonaparte was much offended with General Frere, who commanded this political expedition, for permitting Sir George's servant to accompany his master; as Fouche and Real had already tortures prepared and racks waiting, and, after forcing your agent to sheak out, would have announced his sudden death, either by his own hands, or by a cous-de-sang, before any Prussian note could require his release. The known morality of our government must have removed all doubts of the veracity of this assertion; a man might, besides, from the fatigues of a long journey, or from other causes, expire suddenly ; but the exit of two, in the same circumstances, would have been thought at least extraordinary, even by our friends, and suspicious by our enemies. The official declaration of Rheinhard (our minister to the Cir cle of Lower Saxony) to the Senate at Hamburgh, in which he disavowed all knowledge on the subject of the capture of Sir George Rumbold, occasioned his disgrace. This man, a subject of the Elector of Wirtemberg, by birth, is one of the negative accomplices of the criminals of France, who, since the Revolution, have desolated Europe. He began, in 1792, his diplomatic career, under Chauvelin and Talleyrand, in London, and has since been the tool of every faction in power. In 1796, he was appoint

ed a minister to the Hanse Towns; and, without knowing why, K

« AnteriorContinuar »