Page images
PDF
EPUB
[ocr errors]

also in the same record—but where? as a senior Chef de bataillon ? as an Adjutant-general ? Nothing like it, but as a Commissary clerk of the very lowest grade—an adjoint' or supernumerary to the last class of the permanent service. What crotchet could have induced Napoleon to make the reluctant Joseph a colonel with such pomp and parade we cannot guess, and perhaps Joseph himself may have never known ; for his notion that it was to prepare him for being Napoleon's successor in the Imperial purple is too absurd to have had any foundation but in his personal vanity.

Napoleon's services at the siege of Toulon drew upon him the notice and favour of the Conventional Proconsuls that superintended the siege, and procured him the rapid promotion by which a captain of about three months' date became during the siege a Chef de bataillon, and at its close, three months later, Général de brigade. The sagacious Proconsuls who discovered and favoured those dawning talents Joseph carefully enumerates. They were

Gasparin, Salicetti, Robespierre the younger, Ricord, Thureau, fc.' (i. 55). So also at St. Helena, Napoleon, (in his long talks of his services at Toulon, acknowledges the favour and patronage of Gasparin, whom he even remembered in his will (Las Cases, i. 155). But how has it happened that a name the most important and celebrated of all these proconsular patrons has escaped both the brothers ? Not an allusion to BARRAS! Præfulget eo ipso quod non visebatur : and, on the other hand, in the ostentatious and posthumous gratitude to the obscure Gasparin, we discover another of those little artifices, for which Napoleon seems to have, amongst his greater qualities, a peculiar genius. The Gasparin legacy is in the same disgraceful codicil that leaves another legacy to the scoundrel that attempted to assassinate the Duke of Wellington. He leaves 100,000 francs to the sons and grandsons of Gasparin, who supported his plans for the siege of Toulon, and who further protected him from the ignorance of the Etats-Majors' of Carteaux and Doppet, 'who at first commanded at the siege.' This was a mere pretext: Gasparin died (not, it seems, with the army) on the very day (9th or 10th Nov.) on which Doppet took the command, so that Gasparin could not have protected him from Doppet and his Etat-Major; and if Buonaparte's gratitude was so great, why was it that during the long years of his toute-puissance as General, Consul, Emperor, he never did anything for the sons or grandsons' of Gasparin, and never thought of him or them till he came to make his cynical and calumnious will at St. Helena? No: the sole object was to conceal the real obligation to BARRAS behind the fabulous one to Gasparin. The world however knows

but

but too well why any allusion to Buonaparte's early connexion with the profligate Director became in after days so nauseous. Whenever Napoleon mentioned him, it was only with evident reluctance, and to disclaim all obligation. And no wonder -for, although the patronage of Barras at Toulon, and even on the 13th Vendémiaire, was creditable to both, it degenerated soon after the last event into a complaisance on the part of Buonaparte so base, that all the stupenclous consequences of the command of the army

of Italy cannot obliterate the turpitude of the price which was paid for it. Mr. Ingersoll, who thinks that, on his side of the broad Atlantic, truth may be told, which is impossible amongst European parasites and prejudices,' indicates very broadly, we might say coarsely, the motive of a marriage, of which, as he says, cleverly enough, the dower was the Army of Italy, and the first child the battle of Montenotte,' but he feels, or at least expresses, no kind of disapprobation of the terms on which the match was made-neither of Buonaparte's marrying Barras' mistress, nor of the lady's ante-nuptial or post-nuptial levity of conduct, though he brings forward some serious instances of both,

His account, however, of the actual ceremony of the marriage, derived evidently from Joseph, contains some points of curiosity.

The marriage with the West India widow-humble stepping-stone to prodigious prosperity-according to revolutionary reforms, was a mere civil contract at a broker's office, almost without witnesses, with no religious rite, and hardly soleninized at all. One obscure person named Calmelet, on her part, and a young officer, scarcely of age, Barrois [Lemarrois], on his, alone attended, when, as the broker certified, on the 8th of March, 1796, Napoleon and Josephine were married.'- Ingersoll, i. 187.

There are some minor errors in this statement which induce us to hope that Mr. Ingersoll has made it from a vague recollection of Joseph's verbal communications to him—for, partizan as he is, it seems hardly possible that, if he had the original certificate before his eyes, he could have so grossly misrepresented it in the main points of his statement; but whether the bad faith be Mr. Ingersoll's or Joseph's, the assertion that there were almost no witnesses to the marriage, and absolutely none but Calmelet, an obscure person,' and a young aide-de-camp,' is a calculated falsehood. There appear on the face of the document as witnesses two other names, not youths, not obscure, but on the contrary the two most eminent personages at that moment of the whole French republic-One, its first magistrate, the President of the Directory, BARRAS—the other the Hero of the 9th Thermidor, TALLIEN. Our readers know that in the corrupt

and

and dissolute Directorial Court and society, Madame de Beauharnais and Madame Tallien were the presiding influences; and they will easily appreciate why all the biographers, and now both Joseph and Ingersoll, have fraudulently suppressed these two names.

But besides the notorious scandal of the transaction, there was a secret one, if possible more disgraceful, which rendered the name of Barras peculiarly distasteful to the Buonapartes and their partizans. The Army of Italy was not the only dower of the bride. It appears by the Acte civil of the marriage that Buonaparte was domiciled 'No - Rue d'Antin,' and that Madame de Beauharnais was domiciled 'Rue Chantereine.' This small hotel, Rue Chantereine, has been hitherto always supposed Buonaparte's own; and in the enthusiasm with which he was received on his return from Italy, the City authorities changed the name of the street in which it stands from Rue Chantereine to Rue de la Victoire—it turns out that it was Madame de Beauharnais' before her marriage. How long had it been hers? How came she by it? Her husband had been guillotined and his property confiscated just 18 months before. Wouters, the most unscrupulous apologist of the whole Imperial race, states, that the Beauharnais widow and children were, by additional misfortunes, reduced to the most abject poverty (la plus profonde misère), and that the boy was forced to work for his bread as apprentice to a joiner.'

a joiner.' (Wouters, 164.) How then did this lady, within a few months, escape from la plus profonde misère into the enjoyment of that celebrated hotel ? The answer is but too obvious, and must have been notorious at the time, for we find, in the publications of the day, a statement to which we never before paid any attention—that, when the newly elected Members of the Directory proceeded to take up their official residence at the palace of the Luxembourg, Citizen Barras removed thither from the house in the Rue Chantereine, in which he resided with Madame Beauharnais! How much Buonaparte was ashamed of this part of the transaction, and how anxious he was to keep his marriage unconnected with the command in Italy, is proved by a slight but significant circumstance:

-all his early letters from Italy to his wife are addressed •à la Citoyenne Buonaparte, chez la Citoyenne Beauharnais, Rue Chantereine à Paris,' as if they were different persons.

This marriage, Joseph confesses, was very unwelcome to him as we may

suppose, if he had any regard for his brother's character ;- but there was also a private reason. Joseph says that after the expulsion of his family from Corsica, and their seeking an eleemosynary asylum in Marseilles, “ Je ne tardai pas à me marier.' His wife Julie was the fourth daughter of M. Nicholas Clary, a respectable shopkeeper and merchant, at Marseilles. There was one son afterwards a banker in Paris, and five daughters, of whom Julie was the fourth; and Désirée, wife of Bernadotte, and eventually Queen of Sweden, the youngest. Joseph tells us nothing more of his marriage than the three or four words we have quoted; and he leaves us to guess how a 'refugee' just arrived, without name or profession, and no other means of existence than a scanty public allowance, happened to make a match so much beyond his prospects. Mr. Ingersoll tells us that he received with her a fortune of about 80,000 dollars = 16,0001.-a sum, large under any circumstances, but to us, we confess, quite incredible, considering that she was the fifth of six children of a father add mother still living ; but that it was something considerable for the times and circumstances is, if the correspondence be not falsified, proved by Buonaparte's letters to him. He looks upon him as a man whose fortune is made: he envied, he said, ce coquin de Joseph, who had made so good a bit; and he himself was looking to the same result with Mademoiselle Désirée.

well

à me

‘She was,' says Mr. Ingersoll, "much handsomer and more attractive than her elder sister : she was engaged to Napoleon. They had exchanged letters, portraits, and other tokens of love, when the Clarys, to escape the revolution, emigrated from France to Genoa, where Joseph and his wife went with them. Napoleon wrote to Joseph at Genoa to ascertain whether Désirée's attachment for him remained unaltered ; to which Joseph answered, disencouraging Napoleon by statements of the royalist and antirevolutionary opinions of Clary, whereupon his engagement with Désirée was put an end to.'— Ing., iii. 182.

There can be no doubt that Mr. Ingersoll had his information from Joseph, but whether from his mistaking Joseph, or Joseph's deceiving him, it is essentially different from Joseph's own account in the Autobiography :

* On Napoleon's marriage with the widow of General Beauharnais vanished the hope which my wife and I had entertained for some years past of the marriage of her younger sister with my brother Napoleon. Time and absence produced a different result.'—i. 60. Our readers will see how irreconcileable both as to facts and motives these two stories are ; while the Correspondence, even in the imperfect state in which the editor chooses to give it, contradicts both, and leads us to the truth, which Joseph's regard for Napoleon, and perhaps for Désirée, induces him to slur over under the commonplace palliation of time and absence.'

The 'emigration of the Clarys and Joseph to Genoa, and JoVOL, XCIV, NO. CLXXXVII.

seph's

R

seph's proceedings there, are involved in great obscurity, on which the Correspondence throws no light; but it proves that it was neither the royalist opinions of her family, nor Joseph's dissuasion, as Ingersoll says — nor time and absence,' as it suits Joseph to suggest — that broke off Napoleon's match with Désirée. The change was evidently made by the 13th Vendé miaire, and the sudden start which that event gave to the fortunes of Napoleon. Up to that period the courtship was going on, and apparently warmer on the part of Napoleon than of Désirée. Within a month of that event he had written importunately to press for her decision; in the month following we find her mentioned but twice, coldly and in conjunction with her sisteras, remember me to Julie and Désirée.' After that the remembrances' are for Julie alone ; Désirée has disappeared ! That she had refused, or Joseph dissuaded, is contradicted by his own statement that he had hoped for the match up to the very moment of the marriage with Madame de Beauharnais six months later. We do not say that Napoleon was not at full liberty to change his mind, or that he had not his own sufficient reasons for doing so -they are indeed obvious enough; but we do say that Mr. Ingersoll's and Joseph's accounts of them are palpable deceptions. The matter is of no consequence except as an additional test of the habitual inaccuracy of Joseph and his echoes. If he practises such inconsistencies and subterfuges in details with which he was personally concerned and in which the temptation to distort was so comparatively insignificant, what credit is to be given his vague and unsupported denials, or his evasive palliations, of those more serious charges on the characters of both Napoleon and himself, which he had so strong a personal interest in concealing or disguising?

It is in the same style that he treats the mysterious circumstances of Napoleon's connexion with Robespierre, and his dismissal and imprisonment as a terrorist :

After the 9th Thermidor, the Representatives of the People who remained with the army of Italy hoped to escape from the suspicion of having been connected with Robespierre the younger, by giving up to the suspicion of the victorious party the commander of the artillery [Napoleon], whose influence over that representative was well known. The scellés were put on his papers, but soon removed.'—36.

Only his papers sealed up! Napoleon himself endeavoured at St. Helena to slur over this affair, but even there he admitted that he had been under arrest for a moment—(Las Cases, i, 167) --but Bourrienne has preserved the original warrant, dated 6th August, 1794, which proves the affair to have been much more serious. Here are its words :

"The

« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »