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The armies of Prussia, two hundred thousand
strong, commenced their march by entering
Saxony, one of the allies of Napoleon. Alex-
ander of Russia was hastening to join Prus-
sia, with two hundred thousand men' in his
train. England was giving the most energetic
co-operation with her invincible fleet and her
almost inexhaustible gold. Upon the eve of
this terrible conflict, Napoleon, in the follow-
ing terms, addressed Europe, to which address
no reply was returned but that of shot and

1806.] THE CROWN A BURDEN. 137

Napoleon's Address to Europe.

"Why should hostilities arise between
France and Russia? Perfectly independent
of each other, they are impotent to inflict evil,
but all-powerful to communicate benefits. If
the Emperor of France exercises a great influ-
ence in Italy, the Czar exerts a still greater in-
fluence over Turkey and Persia. If the Cabi-
net of Russia pretends to have a right to affix
limits to the power of France, without doubt it
is equally disposed to allow the Emperor of the
French to prescribe the bounds beyond which
Russia is not to pass.

" Russia has partitioned Poland. Can she
then complain that France possesses Belgium
and the left banks of the Rhine ? Russia has
seized upon the Crimea, the Caucasus, and the
northern provinces of Persia. Can she deny
that the right of self-preservation gives France
a title to demand an equivalent in Europe.
Let every power begin by restoring the con-
quests which it has made during the last fifty
years. Let them re-establish Poland, restore
Venice to its Senate, Trinidad to Spain, Ceylon
to Holland, the Crimea to the Porte, the Cau-
casus and Georgia to Persia, the kingdom of
Mysore to the sons of Tippoo Saib, and the
Mahratta States to their lawful owners, and


Views of the Emperor. Message to the Senate.

then the other powers may have some title to
insist that France shall retire within her an-
cient limits."

It was important to prevent the union of
these mighty hosts, now combined to overthrow
the new system in France. As Napoleon left
Paris, to strike the Prussian army before it
could be strengthened by the arrival of the
Russians, he wrote to Joseph :

" Give yourself no uneasiness. The present
struggle will be speedily terminated. Prussia
and her allies, be they who they may, will be
crushed. And this time I will settle finally
with Europe. I will put it out of the power
of my enemies to stir for ten years."

In his parting message to the Senate, he
said, "In so just a war, which we have not
provoked by any act, by any pretense, the true
cause of which it would be impossible to as-
sign, and where we only take arms to defend
ourselves, we depend entirely upon the support
of the laws, and upon that of the people, whom
circumstances call upon to give fresh proof of
their devotion and courage."

The Prussian army was overwhelmed at
Jena and Auerstadt, and then Napoleon, press-
ing on to the north, met the Russians at Fried-

1806.] THE CROWN A BURDEN. 139

Fearful Outrages in Calabria. Advice of Napoleon.

land, and annihilated their forces also. The
atrocities perpetrated by the Italian bandits
were so terrible, that the exasperated soldiers
often retaliated with fearful severity. Joseph,
by nature a very humane man, endeavored in
every way in his powerto mitigate this ferocity.
The revolt in Calabria was attended with almost
every conceivable act of perfidy and cruelty.
The wounded French were butchered in the hos-
pitals; the dwellings of Neapolitans friendly
to the new government were burnt, and their
families outraged ; treachery of the vilest kind
was perpetrated by those acting under the mask
of friendship. The crisis, which Napoleon had
been continually anticipating and warning his
brother against, had come. The case demanded
rigorous measures. It was necessary to the
very existence of the Government that it should
prove, by avenging crime, that it was deter-
mined to protect the innocent. Still the amiable
Joseph was disposed to leniency. Napoleon
wrote him:

" The fate of your reign depends upon your
conduct when you return to Calabria. There
must be no forgiveness. Shoot at least six
hundred rebels. They have murdered more
soldiers than that Burn the houses of thirty


Adrice of Napoleon. The English Fleet

of the principal persons in the villages, and
distribute their property among the soldiers.
Take away all arms from the inhabitants, and
give up to pillage five or six of the large vil-
lages. When Placenza rebelled, I ordered Ju
not to burn two villages and shoot the chiefs,
among whom were six priests. It will be some
time before they rebel again."

Where there is this energy to punish crime,
the good repose in safety. This apparent in-
humanity may be, with a ruler who has mil-
lions to protect, the highest degree of humani-
ty. When a lawless mob is rioting through
the streets of a city, robbing, burning, murder-
ing, it is not well for the Government affection-
ately to address them with soothing words. It
is far more humane to mow down the insur-
gents with grape and canister.

The English fleet still menaced and assailed
the kingdom of Naples at every available
point. It held possession of the island of Ca-
pin, near the mouth of the gulf of Naples.
There was a Neapolitan, by the name of Vec-
chioni, who had professed the warmest attach-
ment to the new government, and whom Jo-
seph had appointed as one of his counsellors
of state. This man entered intc a conspiracv

1806,] THE CROWN A BURDEN. 141

Testimony of Napoleon At Saint Helens.

with the English, to betray to them the King
to whom he had perfidiously sworn allegiance.
His treason was clearly proved. But he was
an old man. His life had hitherto been pure.
The tender heart of Joseph could not bear to
inflict upon him merited punishment. He said
compassionately, " The poor old man has suf-
fered enough already. Let him go." To gov-
ern an ignorant, fanatical, and turbulent nation
swarming with brigands, requires a character
of stern mould. But for the energies commu-
nicated to Joseph by Napoleon, Joseph could
not long have retained his throne. The Em-
peror at Saint Helena, speaking of his brother,
said .

"Joseph rendered me no assistance, but he
is a very good man. His wife, Queen Julia,
is the most amiable creature that ever existed
Joseph and I were always attached to each
other, and kept on good terms. He loves me
sincerely, and I doubt not that he would do
every thing in the world to serve me; but his
qualities are only suited to private life. He is
of a gentle and kind disposition, possesses tal-
ent and information, and is altogether a most
amiable man. In the discharge of the high
duties which I confided to him, he did the best


The Napoleon Brothers and Sisters.

he could. His intentions were good, and there-
fore the principal fault rested riot so much with
him as with me, who raised him above his
proper sphere. When placed in important
circumstances, he found himself unequal to the
task imposed upon him."

On another occasion, the Emperor at Saint
Helena, speaking of the different members of
his family, said, " In their mistaken notions
of independence, the members of my family
sometimes seemed to consider their power as
detached, forgetting that they were merely
parts of a great whole, whose views and inter-
ests they should have aided, instead of oppo-
sing. But, after all, they were very young and
inexperienced, and were surrounded by snares,
flatterers, and intriguers with secret and evil

"And yet, if we judge from analogy, what
family, in similar circumstances, would have
acted better? Every one is not qualified to
be a statesman. That requires a combination
of powers that does not often fall to the lot of
one. In this respect, all my brothers are sin-
gularly situated. They possessed at once too
much and too little talent- They felt them-
selves too strong to resign themselves blindly

1806.] THE CROWN A BURDEN. 143

The Napoleon Brothers and Sinters.

to a guiding counsellor, and yet too weak to be
left entirely to themselves. But, take them all
in all, I have certainly good reason to be proud
of ray family.

"Joseph would have been an ornament to
society in any country ; and Lucien would
have been an honor to any political assembly.
Jerome, as he advanced in life, would have de-
veloped every qualification requisite in a sove-
reign. Louis would have been distinguished
in every rank and condition in life. My sister
Eliza was endowed with masculine powers of
mind ; she must have proved herself a philoso-
pher in her adverse fortune. Caroline possess-
ed great talents and capacity. Pauline, per-
Haps the most beautiful woman of her age, has
been, and will continue to be to the end of her
life, the most amiable creature in the world.
As to my mother, she deserves all kind of

" How seldom is so numerous a family en-
titled to so much praise? Add to this that,
setting aside the jarring of political opinions,
we sincerely loved each other. For my part,
I never ceased to cherish fraternal affection
for them ail ; and I am convinced that, in their
hearts, they felt the same sentiments toward


The Royal Academy of History and Antiquities.

me, and that, in case of need, they would have
given me proof of it"

The soil of Italy presented widely, upon its
'surface, impressive monuments of the past.
The grand memories inspired by these crea-
tions of olden time tended to arouse the slug-
gish spirit of the degenerate moderns. To pro-
mote these ennobling studies, and to increase
the taste for the fine arts, Joseph established
"The Royal Academy of History and Antiq-
uities," The number of members was fixed
at forty. The King appointed the first twenty
members, and they nominated, for his appoint-
ment, the rest. A museum was formed for
the collection of antique works of art found in
the excavations. An annual fund, of about
ten thousand dollars, was appropriated to the
expenses of the institution. Two grand ses-
sions were to be held each year, at which time
prizes were awarded by the Academy to the
amount of about two thousand dollars for the
most important literary works which had been
produced. The first sessions were held in the
hall of the palace. The King wished thus to
manifest his interest in the objects of the
Academy, to co-operate in their labors, and to
avail himself of the advantages of their re

1807.] THE CROWN A BURDEN. 146

Relations between Napoleon and Joseph.

searches. The clergy, and the medical and
legal professions, were alike represented in this
learned body.

It is an interesting fact, illustrative of the
state of learning at the time, that of the twen-
ty academicians first appointed by the King,
eleven were ecclesiastics. Two only were no-
bles. This class, rioting in sensual indulgence,
disdained any intellectual labor. Notwith-
standing all these expenses, such system and
economy were introduced into the finances,
that they were rapidly becoming extricated
from the chaos in which they had long been

In the midst of these incessant and diversi-
fied labors, letters were almost daily passing
between Joseph and his brother the Emperor.
On the first day of the year 1807, Napoleon
was, with his heroic and indomitable army, far
away amidst the frozen wilds of Poland. Jo-
seph sent a special deputation to his brother,
with earnest wishes for "a happy new year."
Napoleon thus replied, under the date of War-
saw, January 28, 1807 :

" MY BROTHER, I have not received the
letter of your Majesty and his wishes for my
happiness without lively emotion. Your de-



Relations between Napoleon and Joseph.

tinies and my successes have placed a vast
country between us. You touch, on the south,
the Mediterranean. I touch the Baltic. But,
by the harmony of our measures, we are seek-
ing the same object. Watch over your coasts ;
shut out the English and their commerce.
Their exclusion will secure tranquillity in your
states. Your realm is rich and populous. By
the aid of God it may become powerful and
happy. Receive my most sincere wishes for
the prosperity of your reign, and rely at all
times upon my fraternal affection. The depu-
tation which your Majesty has sent to me has
honorably fulfilled its mission. I have re-
quested it to bear to your Majesty the assur-
ance of my sincere attachment. Whereupon,
my brother, I pray that God may ever have
you in his holy and worthy keeping."

Some reference was made in one of Joseph's
letters to the sufferings which the army in Na-
ples endured. Napoleon replied, "The mem-
bers of my staff, colonels, officers, have not
undressed for two months, and some for four.
(I myself have been fifteen days without tak-
ing off my boots), in the midst of snow and
mud, without bread, without wine, without
brandy, eating potatoes and meat; making

1807.] THE CROWN A BURDEN. 147

Relations between Napoleon and Joseph.

long marches and counter-marches, without
any kind of rest; fighting with the bayonet,
and very often under grapeshot : the wounded
being borne on sledges in the open air one
hundred and fifty miles.

" It is then ill-timed pleasantry to compare
us with the Army of Naples, which is making
war in the beautiful country of Naples, where
they have bread, oil, cloth, bedclothes, society,
and even that of the ladies. After having de-
stroyed the Prussian monarchy, we are now
contending against the rest of the Prussians,
against the Eussians, the Cossacks, the Cal-
mucks, and against those tribes of the north,
which formerly overwhelmed the Koman em-
pire. In the midst of these great fatigues,
every body has been more or less sick. As
for me, I was never better, and am gaining

" The Army of Naples has no occasion to
complain. Let them inquire of General Ber-
thier. He will tell them that their Emperor
has for fifteen days eaten nothing but pota-
toes and meat, whilst bivouacking in the midst
of the snows of Poland. Judge from that
what must be the condition of the officers
They have nothing but meat."


Letter from Joseph.

On the 26th of March, 1807, Joseph wrote,
in a letter to his brother Napoleon, urging the
promotion of Colonel Destrees, who, by his
probity, had won the affections of the people.

"Here, sire, an honest man is worth more
to me than a man of ability. When I find
both qualities united in the same person, I es-
teem him of more value than a regiment. It
is for this reason that I value so highly Rey-
nier, Partouneaux, Donzelot, Lamarque, Jour-
dan, Saligny, and Mathieu ; it is this which
leads me to prize so highly Roederer and Du-

Again he wrote to his brother on the 29th
of March : " Sire, as I see more of men and
become better acquainted with them, I recog-
nize more and more the truth of what I have
heard from your Majesty during the whole of
my life. The experience of government has
confirmed the truth of that which your Majesty
has so often said to me. I hope your Majesty
will not regard this as flattery. But it is true ;
and I never cease to repeat, and particularly to
myself, that you have been born with a su-
periority of reason truly astonishing, and now
I recognize fully that men are what you have
always told me that they were. How many

1807.] THE CROWN A BURDEN. 149

Frank Admissions and Advice of Joeeph.

abuses, which I confess still astonish me, have
I encountered, in the journey which I have
just made. A prince confiding and amiable
is a great scourge from heaven. I am in-
structed, sire, and I hope ere long to be a bet-
ter ruler by not giving the majority of men
the credit for that spirit of justice and human-
ity which I hope your Majesty recognizes in
me. I have assembled the notables of this
province. How docile these people are! but
they are very badly governed. I have dis-
missed the prefect, the sub-prefect, the general,
the commandant, a set of rascals who were
here the instruments and the agents of an hon-
est prince. This province, the most tranquil
in the realm, had become, in the opinion of
notables, the most disaffected and the most
ready to desire the arrival of the enemy. I
journeyed from village to village, and speedily
repaired the evil. These people have so much
vivacity of spirit and ardor of soul, that both
good and evil operate easily upon them. Their
inconstancy is not so much the result of their
character as of their topographical and milita-
ry position.

" I am aware, sire, that I have not, as your
Majesty has, the art of employing all kinds of


Frank Admissions and Advice of Joseph.

men. I need honest men, in whom I can re-
pose some confidence. Sire, I am in that mood
of mind, which your Majesty recognizes in
me, in which I love to say whatever I think
right. Your Majesty ought to make peace at
whatever price. Your Majesty is victorious,
triumphant everywhere. You ought to recoil
before the blood of your people. It is for the
prince to hold back the hero. No extent of
country, be it more or less, should restrain you.
All the concessions you may make will be
glorious, because they will be useful to your
peoples, whose purest blood now flows ; and
victorious and invincible as you are, by the ad-
mission of all, no condition can be supposed to
be prescribed to you by an enemy whom you
have vanquished.

" Sire, it is the love which I bear for a
brother who has become a father to me, and
the love which I owe to France and to the
people whom you have given me, which dic-
tates these words of truth. As for me, sire, I
shall be happy to do whatever may be in my
power to secure that end."

This strain of remark must have been not a
little annoying to the Emperor. While Jo-
seph did not deny that the Emperor was wa-

1807.] THE CROWN A BURDEN. 151

Tacit Reproaches and Response.

ging war solely in self-defense, he assumed that
he was now so powerful that he could make
peace at any time upon his own terms. But
dynastic Europe was allying itself, coalition
after coalition, in an interminable series, with
the avowed object of driving Napoleon from
the throne, reinstating the Bourbons, re-estab-
lishing the old feudal despotisms, and of then
overthrowing the regenerated kingdoms of
Italy and of Naples, and all the other popular
governments established under the protection
of Napoleon. Against these foes the Emperor
was contending, not for France alone, but for
the rights of humanity throughout Europe and
the world. As Napoleon left Paris for the
campaigns of Jena and Auerstadt, he said to
the Senate,

" In so just a war, which we have not pro-
voked by any act, by any pretense, the true
cause to which it would be impossible to as-
sign, and where we only take up arms to de-
fend ourselves, we depend entirely upon the
support of the laws and of the people."

No man could deny the truth of this state-
ment. Napoleon was driven to all the rigors
of a winter's campaign in the wilds of Poland.
To have received, by the side of his bleak bi-


Tacit Reproaches and Response.

vouac, whilst thus struggling to defend the
rights of humanity throughout Europe, a let-
ter from his amiable brother, written in such a
strain of implied reproach, must have been ex-
tremely annoying. One would look for an out-
burst of indignation in response. We turn to
the Emperor's reply. It was as follows .

" MY BROTHER, I have received your letter
of the 29th of March, and I thank you for all
that you have said. Peace is a marriage which
depends upon a union of wills. If it be neces-
sary still to wage war, I am in a condition to
do so. You will see, by my message to the
Senate, that I am about to raise additional

Joseph had expressed the opinion that the
Neapolitans truly loved him. Napoleon, in his
reply, said,

" I am not of the opinion that the Neapoli-
tans love you. It is all resolved to this. If
there were not a French soldier in Naples,
could you raise there thirty thousand men to
defend you against the English and the par-
tisans of the Queen ? As the contrary is evi-
dent to me, I can not think as you do. Your
people will love you undoubtedly, but it will
be after eight or ten years, when they will tru-

1807.] THE CROWN A BURDEN. 153

Animadversions of the Emperor.

ly know you, and you will know them. To
love, with the people, means to esteem ; and
they esteem their prince when he is feared by
the bad, and when the good have such confi-
dence in him that he can, under all circum-
stances, rely upon their fidelity and their aid."
In a letter to Joseph, written a few days be-
fore this, the Emperor made the following
striking remarks : " Since you wish me to
speak freely of what is done at Naples, I will
say to you that I was not just pleased with
the preamble to the supression of the convents.
In referring to religion, the language should
be in the spirit of religion, and not in that of
philosophy. Why do you speak of the serv-
ices rendered to the arts and the sciences by
the religious orders ? It is not that whi^h has
rendered them commendable ; it is the admin-
istration of the consolations of religion. The
preamble is entirely philosophical, and I think
that it should not be so. It ought to have
been said that the great number of the monka
rendered their support difficult ; that the dig-
nity of the State required that they should be
maintained in a condition of respectability :
hence the necessity for reform, that a portion
of the clergy must be retained for the admin*


Domestic Affections of Joseph.

istration of the sacraments, that others must
be dismissed. I give this as a general prin-

Joseph was well aware how difficult it is
for truth to reach the steps of the throne. In
his tour through the provinces, he often, on
foot, penetrated the crowd which surrounded
him, and conversed with any one whose intel-
ligence attracted his attention. He listened to
every well-founded complaint, and avowed
himself deeply moved in view of the oppres-
sion which the people had suffered even from
his own agents. But for this personal observa-
tion, he would have remained in ignorance of
these wrongs which he promptly and vigor-
ously repressed. Joseph was a man of the
purest morals, and, as a husband and father,
was a model of excellence. While engaged in
these labors at Naples, his wife, Julie, who was
in delicate health, remained in Paris, occupy-
ing the palace of the Luxembourg. They ex-
changed daily letters. The following extract
from one of Joseph's letters, written on the
26th of April, 1807, will give the reader some
insight to the nature of this correspondence,
and to the heart of Joseph.

" MY DEAR JULIE, I have received no let-

1807.] THE CROWN A BURDEN. 157

Letter to Julie.

ter from you to-day. I pray you not to fail to
write to me. I can not but feel anxious when
I receive no letter, since your correspondence
is otherwise regular. I wrote you yesterday
of the rumors which malevolence had set in
circulation, but that facts will gradually de-
stroy them. I can give you the positive assur-
ance that you need have no solicitude upon
that point.

" I have come to pass Sunday here. It is
somewhat remarkable that fete days are the
seasons which I choose for a little recreation.
This shows with what constancy I am em-
ployed on other days in the labors of the Cab-
inet. Moreover, the response to every accu-
sation is the result which has "already been at-
tained here. Notes upon the Bank of Naples,
which were twenty-five per cent, below par
when I came here, are now at par. I have,
with my own resources, conducted the war.and
the siege of Gaeta, which has cost six millions
of francs ($1,200,000) ; I have found the means
to support and pay ninety thousand men, for I
have, besides sixty thousand land soldiers, thir-
ty thousand men as marines, invalids, pension-
ers of the ancient army, coast guards, shore
gunners ; and I have fifteen hundred leagues


Letter to Julie.

of coast, all beset, blockaded, ancl often attack-
ed by the enemy. j

" With all this, I have novso much increased
the taxes as to excite the discontent of the
landed proprietors and the people. There is
so little dissatisfaction that I can travel almost

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Online LibraryJohn S. C. (John Stevens Cabot) AbbottJoseph Bonaparte → online text (page 7 of 19)