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Joseph Bonaparte online

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children to join her husband. She was re
ceived with great enthusiasm. There has sel-
dom been found, in the history of the world,
a worse woman than Caroline, the wife of Fer-
dinand, the former King of Naples. And his-
tory records the name perhaps of no better
woman than Julie, the wife of Joseph. The
King met the Queen on the 4th of April at
Saint Lucie, and conducted her, greeted by the


Treachery of Spaia.

acclamations of their rejoicing subjects, into
their beautiful capital.

The treachery of the Court of Spain, which,
like an assassin, endeavored to strike the Em-
pire of France stealthily, with a poisoned dag-
ger, in the back, was known throughout Eu-
rope. These proud dynasties regarded Napo-
leon, because he was an elected, not a legitimate
sovereign, as an outlaw, with whom no treaties
were binding, and whom they could betray,
entrap, and shoot at pleasure.

When Napoleon was far away, in his win-
ter campaign, bivouacking upon the cold sum-
mit of the Landgrafenberg, the evening before
the battle of Jena he received information
that the Bourbons of Spain, then professing
friendship, and bound to him by a treaty of al-
liance, were secretly entering into a contract
with England to assail him in the rear. Na-
poleon had neither done nor meditated aught
to injure Spain. His crime was that he had
accepted the crown from the people, and was
ruling in behalf of their interests, and not in
the interests of the nobles alone.

" A convention," says Alison, " was secret-
ly concluded at Madrid between the Spanish
Government and the Russian ambassador, to


Plan of Napoleon.

which the Court of Lisbon was also a party,
by which it was agreed that, as soon as the
favorable opportunity was arrived, by the
French armies being far advanced on their
road to Berlin, the Spanish Government should
commence hostilities in the Pyrenees, and in-
vite the English to co-operate."

Napoleon, by his camp-fire, upon the eve of
a terrible battle, read the account of this per-
fidy. As he folded the dispatches, he said
calmly, but firmly, " The Bourbons of Spain
shall be replaced by princes of my own fami-

" The Spanish Bourbons," says Napier,
" could never have been sincere friends to
France while Bonaparte held the sceptre ; and
the moment that the fear of his power ceased
to operate, it was quite certain that their ap-
parent friendship would change to active hos-

" When I made peace on the Niemen," said
Napoleon, " I stipulated that if England did
not accept the mediation of Alexander, Russia
should unite her arms with ours, and compel
that power to peace. I should be indeed weak
if, having obtained that single advantage from
those whom I have vanquished, I should per-


Plan of Napoleon. Testimony tn Favor of Joseph.

mil the Spaniards to embroil me afresh on my
weak side. Should I permit Spain to form an
alliance with England, it would give that hos-
tile power greater advantages than it has lost
by the rupture with Russia. I wish, above
all things, to avoid war with Spain. Such a
contest would be a species of sacrilege. If I
can not arrange with either the father or the
son, I will make a clean sweep of them both."

Bum or was busy throughout Europe in dis-
cussing the plans of Napoleon. The report
soon became general that the crown of Spain
was to be offered to Joseph. His kindness of
heart, his nobleness of character, and the im-
mense benefits which he had conferred upon
the Neapolitan realm, had secured for him al-
most universal respect and affection. The Nea*
politans were greatly alarmed from fears that
he would be transferred to Spain.

" The King," writes his very able biogra-
pher, A. du Casse, " was universally beloved,
because he began to be appreciated at his true
value. His good qualities, the love with which
he cherished his subjects, had won all hearts.
His departure was dreaded. Joseph, however,
did not slacken the reins of government. The
Councils of State and the ministers, presided


Joseph's Journey to Bayonne.

over by him, continued their labors to amelio-
rate the administration of the realm, to embel-
lish Naples, to encourage discoveries, to unite
the learned in a literary corps. The King
wished that, even after his departure, the im-
pulse which he had given should continue un-

It was at Naples, under the encouragement
of Joseph, that the art of lithography was dis-
covered. On the 23d of May, 1808, the King,
by the request of Napoleon, left Naples for
France. He left his family behind him, and
hastened through Turin and Lyons to meet
his brother at Bayonne. His departure caused
great anxiety and sadness throughout the king-
dom of Naples. Who would wear the crown
about to be vacated ? Would the Two Sicilies
be annexed to the kingdom of Italy under Eu-
gene ? Would Louis, Lucien, or one of Napo-
leon's marshals succeed Joseph ?

On the journey Joseph met the Bishop of
Grenoble, formerly the abbe Simon, his ancient
professor of mathematics and philosophy in
the College of Autun. Joseph had ever cher-
ished the memory of his teacher with great
affection, and, upon meeting, threw his arms
around him in a tender embrace. As the


Forebodings of Joseph.

bishop complimented him upon his high des-
tiny, and congratulated him upon the proba-
bility of his immediate elevation to the throne
of Spain, Joseph replied sadly, 1

" May your felicitations, Monsieur the Bish-
op, prove of happy augury to your former pu-
pil. May your prayers avert the calamities
which I foresee. As for me, ambition does
not blind me. The joys of the crown of Spain
do not dazzle my eyes. I leave a country in
which I think that I have done some good,
where I flatter myself to have been beloved,
and that I leave behind me some regrets.
Will it be the same in the new realm which
awaits me ?

" The Neapolitans have, so to speak, never
known nationality. By turns conquered by
the Normans, the Spaniards, the French, it was
little matter to them who their masters were,
provided that these masters left them their
blue skies, their azur,e sea, their spot in the
sunshine, and a few pence for their macaroni.

"Arriving among them, I found every
thing to do. I stimulated their natural apa-
thy, gave nerve to the administration, intro-

1 We are indebted, for the report of this conversation, to
M. Simon, of Nantes, a nephew of the bishop.


Forebodings of Joseph.

duced some order everywhere. They were
pleased with my good intentions, with my ef-
forts. They loved me with the same fervor
with which they hated the King of Sicily and
his odious ministers. In Spain, on the con-
trary, I shall labor in vain ; I can not so com-
pletely lay aside my title of a foreigner that I
can escape the hatred of a people proud and
sensitive upon the point of honor ; of a people
who have known no other wars but wars of
independence, and who abhor, above all things,
the French name.

"The Peninsula contains at this moment,
under arms, nearly one hundred thousand na-
tional soldiers, who will excite, at the same
time, against my government, the monks, the
clergy, the friends (and they are still numerous)
of legitimacy, the ancient and faithful servants
of old Charles .IV., the gold and the intrigues
of England. Every thing will prove an ob-
stacle to my plans of amelioration. They will
be misrepresented, calumniated, disowned.

" In view of the insurrection of which the
Prince of Asturias has recently given an ex*
ample against his own father, in the midst of
license and anarchy, the natural consequence
of long demoralization and the disorders of a


Forebodings of Joseph. The Brigands.

dissolute court, of a dynasty used up, will not
all wise and well-moderated liberty be regard-
ed as the equal of tyranny? Monsieur the
Bishop, I see a horizon charged with very
black clouds. They contain in their bosom a
future which terrifies me. The star of my
brother, will it always shine luminous and bril-
liant in the skies? I do not know ; but sad
presentiments oppress me in spite of myself.
They besiege me ; they govern me. I greatly
fear that, in giving me a crown more illustri-
ous than that which I lay aside, the Emperor
will place upon my brow a burden heavier
than it can bear. Pity me, then, my dear
teacher, pity me ; do not felicitate me."

The brigands in the kingdom of Naples, and
the eternal and natural enemies of repose
which are to be found in all countries, avail-
ing themselves of the absence of King Joseph,
and encouraged by the presence of the British
fleet and the gold of the British Cabinet, re-
doubled their efforts in local insurrections, and
committed cowardly assassinations. The ban-
dits would land here and there, and perpetrate
the most atrocious crimes, burning, plundering,

Joseph was anxious, before leaving Naples,


Queen Julie leaving Naples.

to establish institutions of liberty which might
be permanent. On the 21st of July, the Coun-
cil of State received from the King a constitu-
tion, which he had drawn up with the aid of
his ministers. It contained the clear announce-
ment of the principles which had animated
him during his reign, and was founded upon
the constitutions in France and in the king-
dom of Italy. Though the constitution was
not perfect for the world is ever making prog-
ress it was greatly in advance of any thing
which had been known in the kingdom of
Sicily before, and conferred immense advanta-
ges upon the realm. There was but one legisla-
tive body. It consisted of five sections, equal
in number: the clergy, the nobility, the land-
ed proprietors, the philosophers, and the mer-
chants. The Council of State chose five of
the most distinguished persons, of the various
classes, to convey to Joseph their thanks for
the constitution he had conferred upon the

On the 6th of July, Queen Julie, with her
children, left Naples to join her husband in
Spain. A numerous cortege escorted her from
the city with every testimonial of regret. On
the 8th Joseph abdicated the crown, which


Summary of Joseph's Benefactions to Naples.

was subsequently transferred to the brow of
Napoleon's cavalry leader, Murat, who had
married Caroline Bonaparte.

" Here terminates," writes M. Casse, " our
task relative to the short reign of Joseph in
Naples. That prince had rendered to that
beautiful country services which, long after
his departure, conferred blessings upon the
realm, which had been surrendered until then
to the sad regime of a feudalism crushing to
the people. His successor found the ground
clear, war extinct almost everywhere, the con-
quest assured, tranquillity established, abuses
reformed, civil administration organized, the
monks suppressed, the finances restored, credit
consolidated, public instruction and legislation
founded upon liberal bases, and wisely adapted
to the manners of the inhabitants.

" The army was formed under the shade of
the flag of France ; the marine commenced to
be regenerated. The sciences and the arts,
encouraged, were beginning to diffuse them-
selves ; brigandage was breathing its last sigh.
There remained for Murat only to reap the
fruits of the wise and paternal conduct of the
older brother of the Emperor. He inherited a
country of rich and fertile soil, with a delight-


Hoetflity of the British Government.

fill climate, inhabited by a population blessing
the guardian hand which had delivered them
from the ignorance into which the ancient Gov-
ernment seemed to have plunged them by de-
sign. The task of the new sovereign seemed
to be only to complete the work of the phil-
osophic King."

It was the implacable hostility of the Brit-
ish Government, ever ready to avail itself of
the treachery of Spain, which in the view of
Napoleon rendered it necessary for him, as an
act of self-preservation, to place the govern-
ment of the Spanish Peninsula in friendly
hands. On the 18th of April, 1808, Napoleon
had written to Joseph,

" England begins to suffer. Peace with that
power alone will enable me to sheathe the
sword and restore tranquillity to Europe."

Before we accompany Joseph to Spain, let
us briefly review the condition of Europe at
this time. By the peace of Tilsit, the Emper-
or Alexander had recognized all the changes
which the sword of Napoleon had effected upoa
the Continent of Europe. The Czar was on
terms of personal friendship with Napoleon, and
it was understood that he had given his consent
to Napoleon's design to dethrone the Bonr-


Condition of Europe.

bons of Spain. The infamous British expedi-
tion to Copenhagen, with the bombardment of
the city and the destruction of the Danish fleet,
had created general indignation throughout
the European world. England had but one
single ally left, the half-mad King of Sweden.
The ships of England, excluded from every
port upon the Continent, wandered idly over
the seas.

Austria, humiliated by the treaty of Pres-
burg, was sullen and silent, watching for an
opportunity to regain its former ascendency
and military prestige. In Prussia the House
of Brandenburg had been terribly punished.
Though it still reigned, it was with diminished
territory, with its military strength nearly de-
stroyed, and with all its strong places held by
French troops. The Cabinet at Berlin could
not venture in any way to oppose the will of
Napoleon. All the kings and princes of the
Confederation of the Ehine were united to
France by the closest alliance.

Jerome, Napoleon's youngest brother, was
king of Westphalia. Louis reigned in Holland.
French influence was supreme in Switzerland.
The Emperor Napoleon was king of Italy, and
Joseph, reigning at Naples, was about to be


Measures of the Bourbons of Spain.

transferred to Spain. Turkey was allied with
France, seeking from the Emperor protection
from the encroachments of Eussia. Conse-
quently England was at war with the Porte.

Spain occupied a peculiar position. The
King, Charles IV., a near relative of Louis
XVL, had united with allied Europe in the
war against the French Republic. Terribly
punished by the French armies, Spain had
made peace at the treaty of Basle in July,
1795. Soon after, the two powers entered
into an alliance, offensive and defensive, en-
gaging to assist each other with both land and
sea forces.

This brought down upon Spain the ven-
geance of the British Government, which, with
its invincible fleet, swept all seas. Spanish
commerce at once became the prey of Eng-
lish privateers. Cadiz was bombarded, and the
Spanish naval fleet encountered very severe
loss. The peace of Amiens, to which the Brit-
ish Government had been very reluctantly
compelled to assent by the pressure of English
public opinion, gave peace to Spain. But
when the Court of Saint James, by the rupture
of the peace of Amiens, renewed its assault
upon France, the Spanish Court, anxious to


Measure* of the Bourbons of Spain.

avoid a war with England, proposed to Napo-
leon that, instead of aiding him directly by
fleet and army, according to the terms of the
alliance, Spain should pay France an annual
subsidy of six million francs. The proposition
was accepted.

The English minister, ascertaining this, with-
out any declaration of war, seized every thing
belonging to Spain which could be found
afloat. As Spain, supposing that her assumed
neutrality would be respected, had her fleet
and merchandise everywhere exposed, her loss
was very severe.

When the Bourbons of Spain saw that the
British Government had succeeded in forming
a new alliance against Napoleon, which would
compel the French Emperor to take his armies
hundreds of leagues north to struggle against
the united armies of Prussia and Kussia, it was
thought that Napoleon must inevitably fall.
Spain decided again to make common cause
with the Allies, as we have before mentioned.
A vehement proclamation was issued, calling
the Spaniards to arms. The utter crushing of
Prussia on the fields of Jena and Auerstadt
literally frightened Spain out of her wits. She
sent an ambassador extraordinary to congratu-



Character of the Royal Family of Spain.

late Napoleon upon his victory, and to assure him
of the continued friendship of the Spanish Govern-
ment. Napoleon concealed his just resentment
The time to rectify the wrong had not yet

Queen Caroline, the wife of Charles IV. of
Spain, was one of the most infamous of women ;
still she could not be worse than her husband.
There was a very handsome young fellow in
the body-guard, named Godoy. Caroline fell
in love with him, made him her intimate friend,
lavished upon him titles and wealth and posts
of responsibility. He was called the Prince of
Peace, in consequence of the agency he had in
effecting the treaty of Basle. He was in all
respects a very weak and worthless creature;
but he had become in reality the sovereign of
Spain, governing with unlimited power. This
man, in his anxiety to disarm the anger of Na-
poleon, sent an ambassador to the Emperor to
renew his pledges of friendship, and to give as-
surance of his entire submission in all things
to Napoleon's will. A secret treaty was ac-
cordingly made on the 27th of October, 1807,
which enabled Napoleon, among other conces-
sions, to station large bodies of French troops
within the Spanish territory.


The Spanish Princes.

The King's eldest son, Ferdinand, the heir
to the throne, was then twenty-five years of
age, and bore the title of the Prince of Asturias.
His mother had truly characterized him as
having "a mule's head and a tiger's heart."
He hated Godoy, and was accused of attempt-
ing to poison his father and mother, that he
might get the crown. His arrest and threaten-
ed execution by his father roused the masses
of Madrid to a fury of insurrection. Much as
they detested Ferdinand, they hated still more
implacably the King and Queen, and the
Queen's infamous paramour, Godoy. A raging
insurrection swept the streets of Madrid. The
King was terror-stricken, and implored help
from Napoleon. He wrote :

"SiRE, MY BROTHER, I have discovered
with horror that my eldest son, the heir pre-
sumptive to the throne, has not only formed
the design to dethrone me, but even to attempt
the life of myself and his mother. Such an
atrocious attempt merits the most exemplary
punishment. I pray your Majesty to aid me
by your light and council."

Ferdinand also appealed to the Emperor.
He wrote, "The world more and more daily
admires the greatness and goodness of Napo-


The Spanish Princes.

leon. Rest assured that the Emperor shall
ever find in Ferdinand the most faithful and
devoted son. Ferdinand implores, therefore,
his powerful protection, and prays that he will
grant him the honor of an alliance with some
august princess of his family."

Thus Napoleon suddenly and unexpectedly
found the King of Spain, Godoy, and the Fer-
dinands, all kneeling at his feet. Speaking
upon this subject at Saint Helena, he said :

" The fact is, that had it not been for their
broils and quarrels among themselves, I should
never have thought of dispossessing them.
When I saw those imbeciles quarrelling and
trying to dethrone each other, I thought I
might as well take advantage of it, and dispos-
sess an inimical family. Had I known at first
that the transaction would have given me so
much trouble, or that even it would have cost
the lives of two hundred men, I would never
have attempted it. But being once embarked,
it was necessary to go forward."


Abdication of Charles IV.



A FTER a series of the wildest, most tumul-
*** tuous, and frantic scenes of which even
Spanish history gives any account, Charles IV.
abdicated in favor of his son Ferdinand. On
the 20th of March, 1808, the new King, Ferdi-
nand VII., was saluted by the acclamations of
the people and the soldiers, and received the
homage of the Court. One of his first acts was
to arrest the hated Manuel Godoy. Murat was
then in command of the French troops in Spain,
and was about entering Madrid. Junot, with a
French army, had taken possession of Portugal.
Spain was nominally in alliance with France.
England was consequently waging war against
Spain. The French troops were in Spain to
protect the kingdom from the English.

The young King Ferdinand immediately
dispatched the Duke of Pargue to convey as-
surances of friendship to Murat, and to sound
hia intentions. At the same time he sent three


Ferdinand claims the Crown.

of the grandees of Spain to announce his ac-
cession to the throne to Napoleon, and to give
him renewed pledges of his friendship and de-
votion. On the 23d of April Murat took mil-
itary possession of Madrid. The next day
Ferdinand made his triumphal entrance into
the metropolis. He was received with bound-
less exultation, so greatly were the people re-
joiced to be delivered from the detestable Go-
doy. Thus far Napoleon did not recognize
the accession of Ferdinand. He however sent
the Duke of Rovigo to Madrid to ascertain the
circumstances of the abdication. In the mean
time the old King, who had retired with the
Queen to Aranjuez, wrote a letter to the Em-
peror, in which he said that he had been forced
to abdicate in favor of his son by the clamors
of the people and the insurrection of the sol-
diers, threatening him with instant death if he

" I protest and declare," he said, " that my
decree of the 19th of March, in which I abdi-
cated the crown in favor of my son, is an act
to which I have been forced to prevent the
greatest misfortunes and the effusion of the
blood of my well-beloved subjects. It ought
consequently to be regarded as of no value."


Measures of Hunt.

The Queen also wrote to Murat, entreating
him, in the most supplicating terms, to rescue
her paramour Godoy from prison, and stating
that they had abdicated only to save their lives.
While Charles IV. and Caroline were making
these secret protestations to Napoleon and Mu-
rat, the abdicated King, to lull the suspicions of
Ferdinand, was reiterating the public declara-
tion that the abdication was free and uncon-
strained, and that never in his life had he per-
formed an act more agreeable to his inclina-

Murat took the old King and Queen under
his protection, provided them with a suitable
guard, and demanded the liberation of Godoy.
Ferdinand, convinced that he could not main-
tain the throne without the support of Napo-
leon, sent his younger brother, Don Carlos, to
intercede with the Emperor in his favor. While
these scenes were transpiring, Savary, Duke of
Rovigo, arrived at Madrid. He assured Ferdi-
nand that it was the Emperor's desire to unite
France and Spain in the closest alliance. He
proposed that Ferdinand should visit Napoleon,
that in a personal interview they might the bet-
ter mutually understand each other. The coun-
sellors of Ferdinand urged the adoption of thia


Ferdinand visits Bayonue.

measure, as one which would secure the confi-
dence of the Emperor, and which might induce
him to give a princess of his family to Ferdi-
nand. Such was the condition of affairs in
April, 1808. The great object of Napoleon was
to secure a government in Spain whose treach-
ery he need not fear, and upon whose friendly
co-operation he could rely. Charles IV., the
weakest of weak men, enslaved by long habit,
was the obsequious tool of his stronger-minded
wife. The Queen, Caroline, sought, at whatev-
er price, to save her lover Godoy. Ferdinand
wished to crush Godoy, his implacable foe.

Ferdinand decided to visit the Emperor, and
on the 10th of April left Madrid for that pur-
pose. When he reached his frontiers he wrote
a very suppliant letter to Napoleon, entreating
the recognition of his right to the throne, and
pledging his friendship. Napoleon replied that
he was ready to recognize the Prince of Asturi-

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Online LibraryJohn S. C. (John Stevens Cabot) AbbottJoseph Bonaparte → online text (page 9 of 19)