« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »
verses of his house, and the sad drama of which the country had been the theatre, ought to have taught, he might have firmly established his throne, and saved the still further effusion of his subjects' blood. Unfortunately, he did not sufficiently seek to compromise and mollify those evils of which the nation complained. The recollection of the Temple, the horrors of the Republic, and the audacity of the usurper, awakened the spirit of vengeance in his bosom. garded his position as his lawful and undeniable right, and not as the boon of favour. By every means in his power he sought the obliteration of the empire, and whatever was conceded to the people was dispensed in the manner of a gift, and not relinquished to meet the tone of popular feeling, or suit the exigencies of the times.
The émigrés and the noblesse, with Count d'Artois, and, in some measure, Talleyrand at their head, clamoured for the return of ancient usages, and the restitution of their lost inheritance. The representatives of the old families, when in the corridors of the
Tuileries and in the salons of Versailles, they jostled with men of mushroom titles, they looked with contempt on the newly dignified plebeians; and inwardly regarded them not of their order. On the other hand, those brave men who had ennobled themselves by their own sword, who had carried conquest beyond the Alps; who had borne the imperial eagle on the fields of the Peninsula; fought at the Pyramids; and followed their chief to the snows of Muscovy-felt their pride wounded and their honour sullied by the superciliousness of those who were the mere favourites in nature's chances, who were lavish and profligate, imperious and haughty—without talent, without merit, and possessing no virtues--no recommendation in themselves.
The King ostentatiously regarded the years of the republic and empire as a blank; he caused the bones of certain Chouan and Vendean chiefs to be exhumed and buried in consecrated ground; a monument to be erected at Quiberon Brey to the memory of the royalists who had fallen in the cause of the crown ; and the aisles of Notre Dame to resound with dirges to the memory of Marie Antoinette ! Under such condition of things the veterans of the army were ere long disgusted, and the people became alarmed that instead of progressing towards social freedom, and entering upon a greater equality of civil rights and public privileges, they were in reality retrograding; and there was the semblance of the endeavour by those in power to recur to the exclusivism and thraldom of the monarchy. Dissatisfaction smotherly burnt; the friends of freedom were indignant, and to those possessing any degree of foresight, it was obvious that public feeling would, at no distant period, burst out into an open and all-consuming flame !
A little isle, washed by the waves of the Tuscan Sea, was now a spot less insignificant than its geographical position and contracted surface might render it. It was the mimic sovereignty, to amuse as a plaything a monarch whose sceptre had once aspired to wave over the world. There a palace stood, enlivened now by courtly scenes and regal
mockeries, though guarded by a thousand earnest swords, ready at a moment in the hour of peril to drink the blood of foreign foe. Upon that ocean-rock was cooped a mighty soul, whose restless spirit slept not in its bold designs to recover fallen greatness, and again strike terror in the hearts of those who in evil day had expatriated him from the land which he loved. Every scene did he watch with eagle eye, now played on Europe's theatre, when none did think he heard, or saw, or cared. At the fashionable hotel of the beautiful Hortense, hospitalities were dispensed with generous hand; there, rank and talent, bravery and beauty, frequently assembled in her
saloons. All spoke with meaning of the “ Pere la
Violette.” Beranger tuned his harp to the cause, and then some of the most heroic minds in Paris talked in pantomimic gesture, and with finger on the lip, of glorious deeds even now not distant.
Ere long, a little fleet disembarked, on the beach at the Gulf of St. Juan, a thousand Warriors and their adventurous chief. The
soil of France to them was holy ground; legions joined in their march; and soon the Emperor's foot repassed the vestibule of his palace in the capital. Louis fled in dismay to Ghent, and war-war was again the universal cry! France was once more on the defensive, and the great powers got ready for battle. England sent over to Ostend every
every man and horse which Government could be persuaded to despatch. Travellers, who had been shut out from the Continent for twenty years, and who had now flocked to every country, from the safety inspired by the treaty of Fontainebleau, were, on the intelligence of Napoleon's return, hastening to embark for their native land; and the states of the Rhine were becoming filled with soldiers. Strange were the inconsistencies in those days of strife : the heroes of various nations mingled together, when about to be led against their common foe.
Holland and Belgium presented scenes that Teniers loved to paint: as, knots of soldiers loitering in close lanes amongst thick hedge-rows, and fair fields of