Εικόνες σελίδας
PDF
Ηλεκτρ. έκδοση

EFFECTS OF THE REVOLUTION.

259

emperor, to which was attached a paper with these words :

Such, soon or late, will be the lot of the Tyrant." Bonaparte is represented to have borne the taunts, insults and reproaches which he experienced with great fortitude and composure.

CHAPTER XV. The effects of the revolution, and the imperial government of

France upon Europe.... The public sentiment occasioned by the overthrow of Bonaparte, in Europe and in America.... The fallen emperor at Elba....Causes which led Bonaparte to hazard a return to France.... The embarkation from Elba....his proclamation to the army and people of France.

The complete overthrow of the mighty fabric of Bonaparte's power, whose towering dimensions once cast a shade over the whole continent, is one of the most astonishing events in history. Its effects, political and moral, were felt, not only in every part of Europe, but throughout the civilized world. Upon the continent, where his power was immediately established, and existed, it was in the political world, what a mighty convulsion of nature would be in the natural world, agitating all its component elements, shaking every thing to its centre, throwing mighty mountains from their base, and oceans from their coral beds. Bonaparte had in a great measure established a new order of things throughout Europe: he had formed and modelled society, partly upon new principles, and entirely with a view to new objects, he had made and unmade Sovereigns ; enlarged and curtailed states and kingdoms ; broken up old boundaries, and formed new ones : turned and overturned, and cut and carved as he pleased : in fine, he had managed with a considerable part of the continent, as a judicious and enterprising agriculturist does with a farm recently acquired, and which had been in the occupation of a sloven

260 POLITICAL CHANGES PRODUCED BY BONAPARTE.

As his pow

ly and negligent husbandman, overhauling and repair, ing the buildings, making new divisions and allotments, restoring the decayed fences in some places, erecting new ones in others, grubbing up hedges, breaking up sward grounds, seeding down worn out arable lands, and changing the whole face and appearance of the farm.

But the inroads, which Bonaparte had made upon the territorial order and arrangement of Europe, was not half so grievous, as the changes he had effected in the social order. The Revolution bad overthrown the privileges, prerogatives, and revenues of the nobility and clergy of France and Italy; and Bonaparte, from the elements of the revolution, gradually formed a new state of social order, partly upon different principles, and entirely from new materials. er grew out of the Revolution, he was disposed to regard that as legitimate, and to sanction all its effects and consequences but one, and that was the object of all the rest, civil liberty. He was willing to promote the consequences and the minor objects of the revolu. tion, but the principal object stood in the way of his ambition. He encouraged the hatred of the people towards royalty, as it respected the Bourbons, and towards nobility and aristocracy, so far as related to the old nobles and aristocracy; but at the same time that he encouraged these sentiments, he was establishing a new royalty, nobility, and aristocracy, from the materials of the revolution. The reestablishment of Monarchy, and a nobility in France, and the other countries subject to Bonaparte, from new materials, did not tend to allay the hostility of the old aristocrats and royalists, but rather to increase it. The revolutionists had destroyed royalty and nobility, because they considered them wrong in principle, and inconsistent with the rights of the people ; yet Bonaparte whilst he recognized the principle by establishing a new nobil. ity, to the entire exclusion ef the old, rendered the injustice to them the more conspicuous. To behold upstarts and mushrooms, sprung from the hot bed of the revolution, enjoy the places, honours and emolu

CONSEQUENCES OF HIS OVERTHROW.

261

His new

ments, which they had formerly enjoyed, and which they regarded as belonging to them, aggravated their feelings and wounded their pride much more, than to see those places, honours and emoluments entirely abolished, as they were during the revolution. The restoration of the monarcy and nobility therefore, by Bonaparte, rather increased than softened the bitterness of the old royalists and aristocrats. batches of nobility, not only in France, but in the other countries, over which his power extended, had taken the places of the old, and almost an entire new state of social order, had been established ; power and honour having sprung from a new fountain, had flowed in different channels, and received entirely new repositories.

The overthrow of Bonaparte, destroyed the new order of things, which he had established throughout Europe ; the fountain being removed, the streams at once become dry; and the former state of social order, was expected to be established ; but this did not take place, as the Sovereigns of the great allied powers, found that they could cut and carve' territory, and divide the spoils of conquest, as well as Bonaparte.

That the overthrow of Bonaparte, should have occasioned great joy in Europe, with all who from interest or prejudice, were attached to the old order of things is natural enough ; and even that the people there, should have been persuaded that their rights, would be restored by it, cannot be a matter of much surprise ; notwithstanding that the innovation which he had made, had broken up the causes of many

old abuses and tended to raise the people from their degraded condition. Yet they had so often been told of French despotism, and of the usurpations and tyranny of Bonaparte, that they were almost persuaded to believe that their old masters were of a different character, and that they enjoyed great freedom under the old regime. At any rate the overthrow of Bonaparte put an end to the war which had so long prevailed,

262

EXULTATION IN EUROPE AND AMERICA

so.

which relieved the people from the oppressions which that occasioned.

It cannot be a matter of surprise that the joy was general and great throughout Europe, at the fall of Bonaparte; yet it is truly astonishing that this event should have been received with raptures by any one in the United States, engaged as we then were in a desperate struggle with Great Britain. But the fact was

Such is often the infatuation of mortals and the obliquity of human reason.

This event was hailed by many as the destruction of despotism,—the overthrow of a power dangerous to the independence and liberties of the civilized world, and as restoring "the venerable institutionsof Euгоре. .

Whilst Great Britain, elated with pride at the overthrow of Bonaparte, and from the vast disposable force which this event gave her, talked about reducing the Americans to “ unconditional submission," and of recolonizing the country; some of the violent and hotheaded politicians at home, were calling on the citizens of this free and enlightened country, to rejoice at an event which threatened their independence, and exposed them to the whole military and naval power of Great Britain.

Celebrations were got up ; orations delivered ; speeches made ; sermons preached ; newspapers teemed; Americans ! republicans ! were congratulated on the subjugation of the enemy of their enemy ;-on the restoration of legitimate monarchs—the re-establishment of the house of Bourbon, of the Pope, the inquisition, the hierarchy, and all the venerable' institutions of Europe.

Had we not been in a state of hostilities with Great Britain, the overthrow of the dominion of Bonaparte might justly have been considered as a joyful event by the free-born and free-bred sons of America, regarding it as a usurpation, not of the rights of “ legitimate kings,or “Christian kings,”—but of the rights of the PEOPLEấthe only legitimate sovereigns which the people of the United States should recognise ; although

EXULTATION IN EUROPE AND AMERICA.

263

[merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small]

the government must acknowledge in its foreign relations the existing sovereignty of all nations, in whatever shape it may appear. France having attempted to establish a free government, it might be a proper subject of joy with the friends of liberty here and through the world, that the man who had betrayed the rights of the people and the sacred cause of civil liberty, and established a monarchial and aristocratical despotism, from the revolutionary elements of freedom, should be punished; and that another example should not be furnished of the growth of despotic power, out of the revolutionary struggles of a nation to establish its freedom. But it is difficult to conceive how Americans, and the friends of civil liberty, could rejoice at the re-establishment of the feudal monarchies of Europe, the ancient aristocracy and hierarchy, the pope and the holy inquisition, or at the success of a holy league, the professed object of which was to support the pretensions of legitimacy, and the rights of kings, against the rights of man! doctrines, subversive of the principles of our revolution, and which render that glorious struggle a rebellion, against a "legitimate and Christian king.

The island of Elba is situated in the Mediterranean, on the coast of Tuscany; it is 25 or 30 leagues in circumference, and contained a population of near 14,000 souls. The mighty emperor of France and conqueror of Europe, on this little island, was like his genius of liberty sailing in a shell on the vast expanse of the

To think to confine the mighty mind of Bonaparte, and that ambition for which the whole world had scarcely been large enough, within such a narrow empire, without actual force, was almost as absurd, as it would have been, to have brought him to trial, before a Justice of the Peace. He remained here from the first of May to the latter part of February. However he

may

have bestowed his attention to the concerns of his small empire, and whatever may have been his ostensible occupations during this period, there can be no doubt but that his eyes were constantly fixed on his 65 beloved France," and that his mind was continu

[ocr errors]

ocean.

« ΠροηγούμενηΣυνέχεια »