« VorigeDoorgaan »
for the criminal increases, in proportion to the length of time which elapses betwixt the delinquency and its punishment. This is much more the case in respect to state crimes, which, however fraught with mischief to the state, are frequently committed by men otherwise estimable, from misguided enthusiasm or erroneous political principles. In such cases, though we may recognize the justice of the punishment, there is always a natural disposition to sympathize with the misguided sufferers; and when an insurrection has been subdued, and the state is once more settled, men forget the loss which the public has sustained, and justice has an appearance of vindictive persecution. In another point of view, this delay in closing the public prosecutions against the adherents of Buonaparte was of incalculable disadvantage to the king's affairs. It prolonged discussions of every kind upon a painful and humiliating subject, and kept the attention of the French people, vain and irritable as they are, impolitically fixed on the mortifying and feverish consideration of their late grand fault, with its deserved punishment. All have heard the homely story of the sailor, whom his officer had ordered for punishment, and was at the same time admonishing on the nature of his offence. "Sir," said the seaman, "if you mean to flog me, flog me-if you mean to speech me, speech me but don't flog me and speech me both." The French nation was something in the situation of the poor sailor; their feelings were severely agitated by the prolonged discussion concerning the nature and consequences of their grand act of national defection, and by the state of the proceedings against the principal delinquents, whose punishment was sus pended, but not remitted. The result of these feelings was unfavourable
to the king, who appeared to hesitate betwixt the desire of vengeance and the fear of taking it. These unfavourable impressions would have been prevented, had the king, after obtaining possession of Paris, found himself able to bring to instant trial and execution such of the principal delinquents as might be selected as the most proper objects of punishment. This blow having been struck, and a few of the most guilty persons condemned to death or exile, the subject should have been put to rest for ever by a general and unconditional amnesty, which ought to have been disturbed by no further debate or discussion, under any pretence whatsoever. Some such measure, under circumstances which might have shown that it flowed from lenity, and neither from timidity nor weakness, would have proved a healing balsam to the festering and envenomed wounds which remained so long uncovered and inflamed. But as the great number and strength of the guilty faction seems to have prevent ed any strong measures against their leaders, the activity and remonstrances of the royalists were sufficient to prevent the adoption of an effectual act of oblivion; and the compromise between the two systems adopted by Louis XVIII., had the fate of most moderate measures. The republicans and imperialists were incensed without being intimidated; the zeal of the royalists for the king's person was cooled, although their animosities and violence remained unchecked and unabated. We repeat, however, that though a better line of policy than that of Louis XVIII. might be easily pointed out, we are far from alleging, that, surrounded as he was by almost insuperable difficulties, it was in the king's power to adopt that firm and steady attitude which is necessary to give the air of justice to punish
ment, and of dignity to clemency. In the earlier period of his restoration, his sole efficient force, exclusive of that tendered by the royalists, or the constitutionalists, and which could only be used on their own conditions, was the military strength of the allies, a fulcrum, no doubt, capable at the moment of shaking France to the centre, but of which Louis could not have availed himself without exciting prejudices against him in the mind of his subjects, of more lasting evil, perhaps, than the dangers which a frank application to the allied sovereigns might have enabled him to remedy.
Here, then, as at a great and natural landmark, we interrupt our account of the affairs of France for this year. The history of the proceedings in her legislature and cabinet, subsequent to the opening of the Chambers, will fall naturally under the details of the next year. And devoutly do we hope and pray, that France may at no future period occupy such a disproportionate space of the annals of Europe, as, for her own misfortune, as well as that of other nations, it has been her fate to do for the last quar ter of a century.
Buonaparte's arrival at Rochefort.-His Indecision.-He Surrenders to the British and goes on board the Bellerophon. Arrival at Torbay Argu ments respecting the Mode of Treating him. It is resolved to send him to St Helena. He protests against the Measure, and threatens Suicide, but is safely embarked and landed on the Island-Disturbances among the North Country Seamen.-East Indies. Nepaul War.-Unsuccessful attempt to storm Kalunga, and Death of General Gillespie.-Kalunga evacuated. Operations of General Ochterlony-Spirited Resistance of Amur Sing His Advice to the Rajah of Nepaul-Taking of Almerah.-Defeat of Amur Sing, and his Surrender of the disputed Provinces.-Disagreements with the Chinese.-Conquest of Candy-Reflections.
consort, was destined by the provi.
fort became hourly more precarious; Count Bonnefoux had already hoisted the white flag in that town, an order for the arrest of Napoleon might be instantly apprehended, and his safety, indeed, only depended on the precarious protection of his late minister, Fouché. His first idea was to land on the small island of Aix, which is well protected by batteries, and there to defend himself to extremity,-his next, to effect a secret escape. For this purpose, Buonaparte at one time determined to employ a Danish brig, with two shallops, and at another purchased a small French vessel, hoping she might escape the vigilance of the cruisers in the darkness, or if she were boarded, that he might remain concealed under some obscure disguise. The entreaties of Bertrand and his wife prevailed on Buonaparte to abandon a scheme which seemed hopelessly desperate. His last resource was in negociation. He sent a flag of truce to the commodore of the British squadron, requesting permission to pass to America. The permission, as might have been anticipated, was positively refused. The dangers with which the exemperor was surrounded now pressed him more closely. It was almost impossible that an attempt to seize him would not soon be made either by some zealous royalist, or by the constituted authorities. Thus hemmed in by land and sea, he resolved rather to surrender to the arms of England than to abide the consequences of his usurpation of the throne of France. Las Casas and Lallemand were dispatched to Captain Maitland with a proposal that he should receive on board of his vessel Napoleon Buonaparte, for the purpose of throwing himself on the generosity of the Prince Regent. They attempted to stipulate for his living at freedom and on his parole in any part of Britain he might chuse; but Captain Maitland, to use
his own words, "that no misunderstanding might arise, explicitly and clearly explained to the Count Las Casas that he had no authority whatever for granting terms of any sort, and that all he could do was to convey Buonaparte and his suite to England, to be received in such manner as his Royal Highness should deem most expedient."
Napoleon's condition admitted of no choice. In the morning of the 15th July he left the Isle of Aix under a flag of truce, and about eight o'clock presented on the quarter-deck of the Bellerophon the most mortal enemy of Britain, a captive to her arms. The appearance and dress of this remarkable person are thus described by one of the officers of the Bellerophon, in a letter dated July 24: He is about five feet seven inches in height, very strongly made, and well proportioned; very broad and deep chest; legs and thighs proportioned with great symmetry and strength; a small, round, and handsome foot. His countenance is sallow, and as it were deeply tinged by hot climate; but the most commanding air I ever saw. His eyes grey, and the most piercing that you can imagine. His glance, you fancy, searches into your inmost thoughts. His hair dark brown, and no appearance of grey. His features are handsome now, and when young. er he must have been a very handsome man. He is rather fat, and his belly protuberant, but he appears active notwithstanding. His step and demeanour altogether commanding. He looks about 45 or 46 years of age. He dresses in green uniform, with red facings, and edged with red, two plain gold epaulettes, the lapels of the coat cut round and turned back, white waistcoat and breeches, and military boots and spurs, the grand cross of the Legion of Honour on his left
breast." His address to Captain Maitland was sufficiently dignified. "I am come," he said, "to claim the protection of your prince and of your laws." He showed some arrogance in exacting the punctilious respect due to his former rank, which the British officer, unwilling to be deficient in generosity towards a fallen enemy, and having no order to the contrary, was contented to yield to him.
Delayed by contrary winds on her passage, the Bellerophon did not arrive at Torbay until the 24th of July, so that government had full time to prepare for the reception of this extraordinary prisoner. A letter of the following tenor was forwarded on his behalf to the Prince Regent, immediately on the vessel's arrival:
Royal Highness,-Exposed to the factions which divide my country, and to the enmity of the great powers of Europe, I have terminated my political career, and I come, like Themistocles, to throw myself upon the hospitality (m'asseoir sur les foyers) of the British nation. I place myself under the protection of its laws, which I claim from your Royal Highness, as the most powerful, the most constant, and the most generous of my enemies. "NAPOLEON.
"Rochefort, 13th July." The Bellerophon was immediately ordered round to Plymouth, with strict orders that no one should be allowed to go aboard as visitors, and that neither Napoleon nor any of his party should be permitted to land. Armed boats performed the service of rowing round the vessel by day and night, and preventing all communication. But beyond their circuit, the bay was absolutely crowded with small craft and boats of every description, filled with those whose curiosity led them to gaze on this remarkable person. Buonaparte seemed to be not insen
sible to this kind of admiration, or unwilling to gratify their curiosity, and set down to his own account the shouts of the spectators at his appearance, though perhaps they were rather designed to gratulate the triumph of the nation, implied in his being in British custody. Meantime, his further destiny was the object of much speculation.
There was a diversity of sentiment in Great Britain concerning the mode of disposing of this extraordinary prisoner. There was one class of reasoners, who, looking rather at Buonaparte'sdeserts in time past, than at his present circumstances, or the relation in which he stood to our government, contended that we should best do our duty to Europe by delivering him up to the King of France, to be by him capitally executed. This opinion was entertained and expressed by many, who considered the great moral lesson which such retribution might produce,. without sufficiently attending to circumstances, which would have utterly destroyed its effect, and rendered it an act of cruelty, if not of perfidy. The right of the judge to inflict punishment is as essentially necessary to legalize an execution as the demerits of the criminal; nor has it been ever doubted that a murder may be committed on the person of a man, who, if possible, deserved to suffer death a thousand times. Respecting France, Buonaparte held by the treaty of Fountainbleau the character of an independent prince. Whatever his former crimes and usurpations had been, he had subsequently been recognized by Europe (unwisely, indeed, but still formally recognized) as Emperor of Elba, and as such had the right to make war upon, and conquer if he could, the neighbouring realm of France, with the moral guilt, indeed, that attends all wars undertaken to gratify unjust ambition, but without