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CHAPTER XII.

Bonaparte. Artillery. Mr. Pitt. Newspapers. Archbishop oj
Paris. Consular Colours. Religion. Consular Conversion.
Madame Bonaparte. Consular Modesty. Separate Beds. A
Country Scene. Connubial Affection!Female Bravery.

A Little anecdote is related of Bonaparte, which unfolded the Chap.

• XII

bold, and daring character of this extraordinary man in early

life: when he was about fifteen years of age, and a cadet in the military school at Paris—by the by, the small distance between this seminary and his present palace, and the swiftness of his elevation, afford a curious coincidence—in the vast plain of the Champ de Mars, the court, and the parisians were assembled to witness the ascent of a balloon. Bonaparte made his way through the crowd, and unperceived, entered the inner fence, which contained the apparatus for inflating the silken globe. It was then very nearly filled, and restrained from its flight by the last cord only. The young cadet requested the aeronaut to permit him to mount the car with him; which request was immediately refused, from an apprehension that the feelings of the boy might embarrass the experiment. Bonaparte is reported to have exclaimed, "I am young, it is "true, but I neither fear the powers of earth, nor of air," and sternly added, "will you let me ascend?" The aeronaut, a little offended at his obtrusion, sharply replied, "No, Sir, 41 I will not; I beg that you will retire." Upon which the

Q little

114- BONAPARTE.

Chap. little enraged officer, drew a small sabre, which he wore with XI1' his uniform, instantly cut thte balloon in several places, and destroyed the curious apparatus, which the aeronaut had constructed, with infinite labour and ingenuity, for the purpose of trying the possibility of aerial navigation. . ..

Paris was almost unpeopled this <lay, to view the spectacle. The disappointment of the populace, which was said to have exceeded seven hundred thousand persons, became violent and universal. The king sent to know the reason of the tumult, when the story was related to him, the good humoured monarch laughed heartily, and said, " Upon my word "that impetuous boy, will make a brave officer."—The devoted king little thought that he was speaking of his successor.. —The young offender was put under arrest, and ,confined for four days.

This man is certainly the phenomenon of the present times. It is a circumstance worthy of remark, that the artillery has furnished France with most of its present distinguished heroes, who have also been bred up in the same military school with Bonaparte. A short time before my arrival at Paris, this great genius, who displays a perfect knowledge of manklind, and particularly of the people over whom he rules, discovered that the parisians, from a familiarity with his person, and from his lady and his family having occasionally joined in their parties of amusement, began to lose that degree of awe and respect for him, which he so well knows how to appreciate, as well as to inspire. In consequence of this, he gradually retired from every circle of fashion, and was at this period, almost as inaccessible BONAPARTE.

accessible as a Chinese emperor. The same line of conduct was also adopted by the principal officers of government. He resided almost wholly at Mai Maison, except on state days, when only those strangers were permitted to be introduced to him, who had satisfied the ambassadors of their respective nations, that they had been previously presented at their owrt courts. If Bonaparte is spared from the stroke of the assassin, or the praetorian caprice of the army, for any length of time, he will have it in his power to augment the services which he has already afforded to the republic, .by rebuilding the political edifice of France, with many meliorations, for which some materials may be collected from her own ruins, and some from the tried and approved constitutions of other countries. If his ambition will permit. him to discharge this great undertaking faithfully, in a manner uniform with that glory which he has acquired in the field, and influenced only by the noble desire of giving rational liberty, and practicable happiness to the people. over whom he sways, they will in return, without jealousy or regret, behold the being to whose wisdom and moderation they will be thus indebted, led to the highest seat amongst them-r-they will confer those sanctions upon his well merited distinction, without which all authority is but disastrous usurpation—a comet's blaze, flaming in a night of dismay, and setting in gloom.

The dignity of such a legislator will be self-maintained, and lasting. Upon him, the grateful french will confer those unforced, unpurchased suffrages, which will prevent that

Q 2 fate. 1 16 MR. PITT.

Chap. fate, which, in their absence, the subtilty of policy, the

"fascinations. of address, the charm of corruption, and even

the terror of the bayonet can only postpone.—rYes, Bonaparte! millions of suffering beings, raising themselves from the dust, in which a barbarous revolution has prostrated them, look up to thee for liberty, protection, -and repose. They will not look to thee in vain. The retiring storm still flashing its lessening flame, and rolling its distant thunders will teach thee, were it necessary, not to force them to remeasure their vengeance by their wrongs.

In Paris, the achievements of the first consul are not muck talked of, so true is the old adage, that no man is a hero to his own domestic. The beauties of a colossal statue, must be contemplated at a distance. . .

The french at present work, walk, eat, drink, and sleep in tranquillity, and what is of more consequence to them, they dance in security, to which may be added, that their taxes are neither very heavy, nor oppressive. In every party which I entered, I found the late: minister of Great Britain was the prevailing subject of curiosity. I was overpowered with questions respecting this great man, which in their minute detail, extended to ascertain what was the colour of his eye, the shape of his nose, and whether in a morning he wore hussar boots, or shoes. This little circumstance could not fail of proving pleasant to an englishman. They informed me, that throughout the war, they regularly read in their own diurnal prints, our parliamentary debates, and the general outline of most of - our political schemes, which were

furnished NEWSPAPERS.—ARCHBISHOP OF PARIS.

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furnished by people in the pay of the french government, who resided in England notwithstanding the severity of the legislative, and the vigilance of the executive authorities. Whilst I am mentioning the subject of newspaper intercourse, I cannot help lamenting, that since the renewal of national friendship, the public prints of both countries are not more under the influence of cordiality and good humour.

The liberty of the press is the palladium of reason, the distributor of light and learning, the public and undismayed assertor of interdicted truth. It is the body and the honour guard of civil and political liberty. Where the laws halt with dread, the freedom of the press advances, and with the subtle activity of conscience, penetrates the fortified recesses and writes its fearful sentence on the palace wall of recoiling tyrants. As an englishman, my expiring sigh should be breathed for its preservation; but as an admirer of social repose and national liberality, I regret to see its noble energies engaged in the degrading service of fretful spleen, and ungenerous animadversion. AVhen the horizon is no longer blackened with the smoke of the battle, it is unworthy, of two mighty empires to carry on an ignoble war of words. If peace is their wish, let them manifest the great and enlightened sentiment in all its purity, and disdain to irritate each other by acts of petulant and provoking recrimination.

A short time preceding my arrival in France, Bonaparte had rendered himself very popular amongst the constitutional clergy, by a well timed compliment to the metropor

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