John S. C. (John Stevens Cabot) Abbott.

Joseph Bonaparte online

. (page 8 of 19)
Online LibraryJohn S. C. (John Stevens Cabot) AbbottJoseph Bonaparte → online text (page 8 of 19)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


anywhere alone without imprudence; that Na-
ples is as tranquil as Paris ; that I can borrow
here whatever one has to lend ; that I have not
a single class of society discontented ; and it is
generally admitted that if I do not do better it
is not my fault ; that I set the example of mod-
eration, of economy ; that I indulge in no lux-
uries; that I make no expenses for myself;
that I have neither mistresses, minions, nor fa-
vorites ; that no person leads me, and, indeed,
that every thing is so well ordered here that
the officers and other Frenchmen whom I am
compelled to send away complain, when they
are absent, that they can not remain in Naples.

" Read this, my good Julie, to mamma and
to Caroline, since they are anxious, and say to
them that if they knew me better, they would
feel less solicitude. Say to them that one does
not change at my age ; remind mamma that at
every period of my life, an obscure citizen, cul-
tivator, magistrate, I have always sacrificed



1807.] THE CROWN A BURDEN. 159



Letter to Julie.



with pleasure my time to my duties. It sure-
ly is not I, who jtrize grandeurs so little, who
can fall asleep in their bosom. I see in them
only duties, never privileges.

" I work for the kingdom of Naples with the
same good faith and the same self-renunciation
with which, at the death of my father, I labored
for his young family, whom I never ceased to
bear in my heart, and all sacrifices were for me
enjoyments. I say this with pride, because it
is the truth. I live only to be just ; and justice
requires that I should render this people as
happy as the scourge of war will render possi-
ble. I venture to say, notwithstanding their
situation, that the people of Naples are perhaps
more happy than any other people.

" Be tranquil, then, my love, and be assured
that these sentiments are as unchanging in my
soul as the immortal attachment which I bear
for you and for my children ; if there be any
sacrifice which they cost me, it is being separa-
ted from you. Ambition certainly would not
have led me away two steps if I could have re-
mained tranquil. But honor and the senti-
ment, of my duty induce me, three times a year,
to make the tour of my realm to solace the un-
happy.



160 JOSEPH BONAPARTE. [1807.



Reforms.



" Under these circumstances, I thank Heaven
for having given me health and ability to bear
the burden of affairs, and moderation which
does not permit me to be dazzled by grandeur,
and energy which does not allow me to slum-
ber at my post; and a good conscience and a
good wife to pronounce judgment upon what
I ought to do. I embrace you all tenderly."

It was clear that the statesmanship of Na-
poleon was the controlling influence in Jo-
seph's administration, for in reading the details
of his interior policy, we find that the institu-
tions of regenerated France were taken as the
models. To invest with honor the profession
of a soldier, no one who had been condemned
for crime was permitted to enter the army.
Degrading punishments were abolished; dis-
tinctions and rewards were accorded to eminent
merit Promotion depended no longer upon
the accident of birth, but upon services ren-
dered, so that every office of honor or emolu-
ment was alike within the reach of all. Jo-
seph, in his tour through the provinces, re-
ceived very touching proofs of the affections
of the people. It was indeed manifest to all
that a new era of prosperit} 7 had dawned upon
Naples. Still no devotion to the interests of



1807.] THE CROWN A BURDEN. 161



Tour through the Provinces.



the people can save a ruler from enemies. Two
assassins attempted the life of the King. They
were arrested, tried, condemned, and execu-
ted. 1

On the 14th of May, 1807, Joseph set out
on a tour through the provinces of the Abruz-
zes, a mountainous region traversed by the
Apennines. He found the government admi-
rably administered under the authority of the
French General, Guvion Saint Cyr. The peo-
ple were everywhere prosperous and happy.
The region, abounding in precipitous crags and
gloomy defiles, with communications often ren-
dered impracticable by the rains and the melt-
ing snows cutting gullies through the soil of
sand and clay, had become quite isolated.

The inhabitants spontaneously arose to cel-
ebrate the arrival of the King by constructing
durable roads. Joseph promptly lent the en-

1 ' ' The entrance of Joseph to Cosenza, the capital of hither
Calabria, on the 1 tth of April, was as a national fete. Guards
of honor, chosen from among the most distinguished families,
all the clergy, all the population were at the gates to receive
him. He was accompanied into the city with shouts of joy,
the streets being ornamented with triumphal arches. One
would have thought that he was a sovereign returning after a
long absence to the midst of a people by whom he was idol-
ized." Menioires et Correspondence Politique et Militaire, dv
Roi Joseph, p. 1 27.
611



162 JOSEPH BONAPARTE. [1807.

Daily Correspondence with Napoleon.

terprise his royal support. He appointed a
committee of able men, selected from each of
the capitals of the three provinces, with three
road engineers, to secure the judicious expen-
diture of the money and the labor ; and offered
rewards to those communes which should push
the improvements with the greatest vigor. A
system of irrigation and drainage was also
adopted which contributed immensely to the
prosperity of the region, checking emigration
by opening wide fields to agricultural industry.
During all this time Joseph kept up almost
a daily correspondence with his brother. The
letters of Napoleon were written hurriedly, in
the midst of overwhelming cares, intended to
be entirely private, with no idea that their un-
studied expressions, in which each varying
emotion of his soul, of hope, of disappoint-
ment, of irritation, found utterance, would be
exposed to the malignant comments of his foes.
The friends of Napoleon appeal triumphantly
to this -unmutilated correspondence, running
through the period of many long and eventful
years, to prove that Napoleon was animated by
a high ambition to promote the interests of
humanity; that he was one of the most philan-
thropic as well as one of the greatest of men.



1807.] THE CROWN A BURDEN. 163

Testimony of Joseph to the Character of Napoleon.

Joseph himself, whose upright character no in-
telligent man has yet questioned, says, in bis
autobiography, written at Point Breeze, New
Jersey, when sixty-two years of age :

"Having attained a somewhat advanced
age, and enjoying good health, disabused of
many of the illusions which enable me to
bear the storms of life, and replacing those il-
lusions by that tranquillity of soul which re-
sults from a good conscience, and from the se-
curity which is afforded by a country admi-
rably constituted, I regard myself as having
reached the port. Before disembarking upon
the shores of eternity, I wish to render an ac-
count to myself of the long voyage, and to
search out the causes which have borne so
high, in the ranks of society, my family, and
which have terminated in depriving us of that
which appertains to the humblest individual
a country which was dear to us, and which we
have served with good faith and devotion.

"It is neither an apology nor a satire which
I write. I render an account to myself of
events, and I wish to place upon paper the rec-
ollections which they have left behind. There
are some transactions which I now condemn,
after having formerly approved of them ; there



164 JOSEPH BONAPARTE. [1807.

Testimony of Joseph to the Character of Napoleon.

are others of which I to-day approve, after
having formerly condemned them. Such is
the feebleness of our nature, dependent always
upon the circumstances which surround us, and
which frequently govern us a thought which
ought to lead every true and reflective man to
charity.

" I venture to affirm that it is the love of
truth which leads me to undertake this writing.
It is a sentiment of justice which I owe to the man
who was my friend, and whom human feebleness
has disfigured in a manner so unworthy. Napo-
leon was, above all, a friend of the people, and he
was a just and good man, even more than he was
a great warrior and administrator. It is 'my
duty, as his elder brother, and one who has not al-
ways shared in his political opinions, to speak of
that which I know, and to express convictions
which I profoundly cherish. I am now in a bet-
ter situation to appreciate what were the causes
foreign to his nature, which forced him to as-
sume a factitious character a character which
made him feared by the instruments which he
had to employ, in order to sustain against Eu-
rope the war which the oligarchy had declared
against the principles of the revolution, and
which the British Cabinet waged against that



1807.] THE CROWN A BURDEN. 166

Testimony of Joseph to the Character of Napoleon.

France whose supremacy it could prevent only
by exciting against her Continental wars and
civil dissensions, and those despotic principles
of government which no longer belonged to
the nation or the age in which we lived."



J.66 JOSEPH BONAPARTE. [1807.



Letter to Julie.



CHAPTER VL

THE SPANISH PRINCES.

TOWARD the close of the year 1807 brig-
andage was entirely suppressed, all traces
of insurrection had disappeared, and tranquilli-
ty and prosperity reigned throughout the king-
dom of Naples. In July Joseph wrote from
Capo di Monte to Queen Julie, who was then
at Mortfontaine, as follows :

"My DEAR .JULIE, I have received your
letter of the 15th from Mortfontaine. The
sentiment which you have experienced in re-
turning to that beautiful place, where we have
been so happy for so long a time, and at so lit-
tle expense, needs not the explanation of any
supernatural causes. You perceive that there
you have been happier than you are now, than
you will be for a long time. The happiness
which you have there enjoyed is sure as the
past ; that which is destined for you here is as
uncertain as the future. Life at Mortfontaine
is that of innocence and peace; it is that of the



1807.] THE SPANISH PRINCES. 167



Letter to Julie.



patriarchs. The life at Naples is that of kings.
It is a voyage over a sea, often calm ? but some-
times stormy. The life at Mortfontaine was a
promenade as placid as its waters. It flowed
noiselessly like the light skiff which a slight
effort of the oars of Zenaide 1 sufficed to push
forward around the isle of Molton.*

" But after all these regrets of a good heart,
gentle and reasonable, there come the results
of the reflections of a strong mind and an ele-
vated soul which owes itself entirely to the
will of Providence, manifested by the spontane-
ous coming, and not desired by us, of grand-
eurs which point us to other duties. I con-
sole myself, in this new career, by seeing it
traversed by my wife and my children. The
most unpleasant part of the voyage is over, that
which I have taken without them. Now peace
will reunite us. And if you do not find here
your own country, our reunion will give us
the illusion of it As we shall be the same to
each other, I believe that, come what may, you
will find Mortfontaine, where you see me hap-
py in the love of my family, and in the happi-
ness which I shall be able to confer, and in that

' Daughter of the king.
* An island in the lake of Mortfontaine.



168 JOSEPH BONAPARTE. [1807.

Victories of the Emperor. Joseph and Napoleon meet at Venice.

still greater happiness of which I shall dream.
Adieu, my dear Julie. I embrace you tenderly."

The victories of the Emperor, the peace of
Tilsit, the Russian alliance, had greatly dimin-
ished the influence of the British Cabinet upon
the Continent, and, in the same proportion, had
increased that of France. Still the Cabinet of
St. James was unrelenting in opposition to Na-
poleon. The British cruisers ran along the
coast of Italy, landing here and there Sicilian
or Calabrian brigands, who were under the pay
of Ferdinand and Caroline. It was also proved
that assassins were in the employ of Ferdinand
and his queen.

Toward the end of November Napoleon vis-
ited Venice, and, by appointment, met his broth-
er Joseph there. It has generally been affirm-
ed that there was a secret article in the treaty
of Tilsit authorizing Napoleon to dethrone the
Bourbons of Spain, who had treacherously en-
deavored to strike him in the back when, in
the campaigns of Jena, Auerstadt, and Auster-
litz, he was contending against England, France,
and Russia. But that secret article, if there
were such, has been kept so secret, that no
sufficient evidence has yet been adduced that



1807.] THE SPANISH PRINCES. 169



Joseph returns to Naples.



it existed. Joseph, however, wrote, when an
exile in America:

"At the time of my interview with the
Emperor at Venice, he spoke to me of troubles
in the royal family of Spain as probably lead-
ing to events which he dreaded, 'I have
enough work marked out,' he said. "The
troubles in Spain will only aid the English to
impair the resources, which I find in this alli-
ance, to continue the war against them.' "

On the 16th of December Joseph returned
to Naples, and the next day presided at the
council of ministers. He did not make any
communication of importance. "It is only
known," writes the Count of Melito, " that he
sent one of his aides on a mission to the Em-
peror Alexander. It was hence concluded that
arrangements of some nature had been entered
into at Venice in harmony with the views of
the Emperor of Russia." Joseph, however,
writes, in reference to this mission, " General
Marie took letters to Russia and congratula-
tions, and brought me back letters, affectionate
even, from the Emperor Alexander, and his
compliments ; that was all."

Lucien Bonaparte, a very independent and
impulsive young man, was not disposed to sub-



170 JOSEPH BONAPARTE. [1807.

Lucien Bonaparte. Letter from Eliza Bonaparte.

mit to the dictation of his elder brother Napo-
leon. He had entered into a second marriage,
which displeased Napoleon, as it very seriously
interfered with his plans of forming a dynasty.
Joseph was sent to meet the refractory brother
at Modena, and to endeavor to promote recon-
ciliation. The following letter from Eliza, writ-
ten to her brother Lucien upon this subject
will be read with interest It was dated Mar-
lia, June 20th, 1807 :

" MY DEAR LUCIEN, I have received your
letter. Permit, to my friendship, a few reflec-
tions upon the present state of things. I hope
that you will not be annoyed by my observa-
tions.

" Propositions were made to you, a year
ago, which you should have found seasonable,
and which you should immediately have ac-
cepted, for the happiness of your family and
of your wife. You now refuse them. Do you
not see, my dear friend, that the only means
of placing obstacles in the way of adoption is,
that his Majesty should have a family of which
he can dispose? In remaining near Napoleon,
or in receiving from him a throne, you will be
useful to him. He will marry your daughters ;



1807.] THE SPANISH PRINCES. 171



Letter from Eliza Bonaparte.



and so long as lie can find, in the members of
his family, the instruments for executing his
projects and his policy, he will not choose stran-
gers. We must not treat with the master of the
world as with an equal. Nature made us the
children of the same father, and his prodigies
have rendered us his subjects. Although sove-
reigns, we hold every thing from him. It is
a noble pride to acknowledge this ; and it
seems to me that our only glory should be to
prove by our manner of governing that we are
worthy of him and of our family.

"Keflect then anew upon the propositions
which are made to you. Mamma and we all
should be so happy to be reunited, and to make
only one political family. Dear Lucien, do
that for us, who love you, for the people whom
my brother has given for you to govern, and
to whom you will bring happiness.

" Adieu. I embrace you. Do not feel un-
kindly to me for this ; and believe that my
tenderness will always be the same for you.
Embrace your wife and your amiable family.
Chevalier Angelino, who has come to see me,
has often spoken to me of you and of your wife.
My little one is charming. I have weaned her.



172 JOSEPH BONAPARTE. [1807.



Letter from Joseph to Napoleon.



I shall be very happy if she is soon able to
play with all the family. Adieu.

" Your sister and friend, ELIZA."

The letters of the Emperor were sometimes
severe in reproof of the policy of his brother.
It is evident that Joseph was, at times, quite
wounded by these reproaches. At the conclu-
sion of a long letter, written on the 19th of Oc-
tober, 1807, Joseph says :

"I am far from complaining of any one.
The people and the enemy are what they must
be. But it would be pleasant to me, could
your Majesty truly know my position, and ren-
der some justice to the efforts and to the priva-
tions of every kind which I impose upon my-
self to do the best I can. Although the pres-
ent state of affairs may not be good, still I hope
for better times. No person desires it moro
than I do. When I have a thousand ducats I
give them ; and I can assure your Majesty that
I have never in my life, which has been com-
posed of so many different shades, found less
opportunity to gratify my private inclinations.
I have no expenses but for the public wants.
I occupy myself day and night in the adminis-
tration. I think the administration as good as



1806.] THE SPANISH PRINCES. 173

Interchange of Letters.

possible; but it has no more the power than
have I to correct the times, and to create that
which does not exist and can not exist, except
where there is interior tranquillity and external
peace."

On the 13th of August, 1806, Joseph wrote
to his brother, " I remain here till your Maj-
esty's birthday, on which I wish you joy. I
hope that you may receive with some little
pleasure this expression of my affection. The
glorious Emperor will never replace to me
the Napoleon whom I so much loved, and
whom I hope to find again, as I knew him twen-
ty years ago, if we are to meet in the Elysian
Fields."

Napoleon replied from Eambouillet, on the
23d of August,

"MY*BROTHER, I have received your letter
of the 13th of August. I am sorry that you
think that you will find your brother again
only in the Elysian Fields. It is natural that
at forty he should not feel toward you as he
did at twelve. But his feelings toward you
are more true and strong. His friendship has
the features of his mind."

In December Napoleon had a personal in-
terview with Lucien, and he gives the follow-



174 JOSEPH BONAPARTE. [1807.



Interchange of Letters.



ing account of it, in a letter to Joseph, dated
Mantua, 17th December, 1807:

"My BROTHER, I have seen Lucien at Man-
tua. I talked with him several hours. He
undoubtedly will inform you of the disposition
in which he left. His thoughts and his lan-
guage are so different from mine that I found it
difficult to get an idea of what he wished. I
think that he told me that he wished to send
his eldest daughter to Paris, to be near her
grandmother. If he continue in that disposi-
tion, I desire to be immediately informed of it.
And it is necessary that that young person
should be in Paris in the course of January,
either accompanied by Lucien, or intrusted by
him to the charge of a governess, who will con-
vey her to Madame. 1 Lucien seems to be agi-
tated by contrary sentiments, and not; to have
sufficient strength to come to a decision.

"I have exhausted all the means in my
power to recall Lucien, who is still in his early
youth, to the employment of his talents for
me and for the country. If he wish to send
his daughter, she should leave without delay,
and he should send a declaration by which he
places her entirely at my disposal, for there ii

1 Madame Letitia, Napoleon's mother.



1808.] THE SPANISH PRINCES. 175



Interchange of Lettn.



not a moment to be lost; events hurry onward,
and I must accomplish my destiny. If he has
changed his opinion, let me immediately be in-
formed of it, for then I must make other ar-
rangements.

" Say to Lucien that his grief and the part-
ing sentiments which he manifested moved
me ; that I regret the more that he will not be
reasonable, and contribute to his own repose
and to mine. I await with impatience a reply
clear and decisive, particularly in that which
relates to Charlotte."

On the 31st of January, 1808, a fiend-like
attempt was made to blow up the palace of
Salicetti, Joseph's minister of police. About
one o'clock in the morning, just as the minister
was entering his chamber, there was a terrific
explosion. An infernal machine had been
placed in the cellar. The whole palace was
shattered and rent, while large portions were
thrown into utter ruin. Salicetti, severely
wounded, heard the shrieks of his daughter,
the Duchess of Lavello, and rushed to her aid.
He found her buried five or six feet deep in
the debris which had been thrown upon her.
It was more than a quarter of an hour before
her agonized father, aided by the domestics.



176 JOSEPH BONAPARTE. [1808,



Attempt to assassinate Salicetti.



could succeed in extricating her. Though
alive, she was sadly maimed. Two of the in-
mates of the palace were killed, and others
were severely injured.

Napoleon, when informed of the event,
wrote to Joseph, under date of February llth,
1808: "The terrible misfortune which has
happened to Salicetti seems to me to have been
the result of over-indulgence. When were
traitors ever before allowed to live free in a
capital wretches who had plotted against the
State ? Their lives ought not to be spared ;
but if that is done, at least you ought to send
them sixty leagues from the capital or shut
them up in a fortress. Any other conduct is
madness."

Napoleon, having gained a glorious peace
upon the plains of Poland, which disarmed the
nations of the north, now turned his special
attention to the south to Portugal, Spain, It-
aly, Rome, and Naples. The possession of the
kingdom of Naples, instead of being a source
of profit to the Emperor, occasioned him con-
tinued and heavy expense. Joseph was ever
calling for money to meet the innumerable de-
mands involved in carrying on war with the
English, and in urging forward those reforma



18W.] THE SPANISH PRINCES. 177



Napoleon complains of Roederer.



which were essential to the regeneration of
a realm which former misgovernment had
plunged to a very low abyss of poverty and
ruin. The Emperor, bearing the burden of
the exhaustive wars ever waged against him,
while continually aiding Joseph, still often and
severely reproached him with the manner in
which his finances were conducted. On the
llth of February, 1808, he wrote :

" MY BROTHER, The administration of the
realm of Naples is very bad. Roederer makes
brilliant projects, ruins the country, and pays
no money into your treasury. This is the
opinion of all the French who come from Na-
ples. Roederer is upright, and has good in-
tentions, but he has no experience."

Again, on the 26th of February, he wrote :
*' Roederer is of the race of men who always
ruin those to whom they are attached. Is it
want of tact, is it misfortune? No matter
which ; there is not one of your friends who
does not detest Roederer. He is at Naples as
at Paris, without credit with any party ; a man
of no sagacity, of no tact, whom, however, I es-
teem for many good qualities, but whom, as a
statesman, I can make nothing of."

Joseph, however, earnestly defended his

612



178 JOSEPH BONAPARTE. [1808.

Queen Julie and her Children repair to Naples.

financial agent as an able and an honest man,
who made enemies only of those who wish-
ed to plunder the treasury. This led Joseph,
whose constant effort it was to promote the
happiness of his people, to whose interests he
was entirely devoted, to order a minute state-
ment to be drawn up of the condition of the
realm in all respects. This remarkable docu-
ment was written by Count Melito, the Minister
of the Interior. It gave an accurate narrative
of all the ameliorations which had been intro-
duced by Joseph, and will ever remain a mon-
ument of his goodness and tireless energies
as a sovereign. As none of the statements
could be doubted, the document at the time pro-
duced a profound impression throughout Eu-
rope.

Queen Julie now came to NapJes with her


1 2 3 4 5 6 8 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19

Online LibraryJohn S. C. (John Stevens Cabot) AbbottJoseph Bonaparte → online text (page 8 of 19)