M. DE TALLEYRAND
CHARLES MAURICE TALLEYRAND DE PERIGORD, Prince of Benevento, Vice Grand Elector, Grand Chamberlain, etc., etc., was born at Paris, March 7th, 1754. He is of noble origin—the son of a younger branch of the counts of Perigord. He is one of those rare persons, who, following all the changes of his time, has outlived them all ; and enjoys, without shame, remorse, or gratitude, one of the amplest ill-gotten fortunes of the revolution. He was one of the most corrupt of the clergy and the ministry of France. Bonaparte, in his own Memoirs from St. Helena, and in those of Warden, O'Meara, Las Casas, Bertrand, Montholon, etc., says of Talleyrand, " that he was a rogue, a liar, an intriguer, a villain, and the most corrupt man he had ever known, but at times a very clever man." And Bonaparte used to reply to those who asked him why he had chosen two such men as Fouché and Talleyrand for his ministers ! choose them as men of talents, although I know them both to be rogues; but they surely will be of more use to me than honest simpletons." In these few words Bonaparte characterizes his own government much better than Sir Walter Scott has done in a thousand pages of his Life of Napoleon.
Talleyrand deserves the title of High Admiral of all the crowned heads in the world ; he is the most experienced sailor of our times ; no storm, no rock has been able to shipwreck him. You imagine you have him, but he glides away as an eel would escape through your fingers. He is safe in London, lives in high style from the spoils he has gained, laughs heartily at the French citizen-king and his pauvres diables de ministres, with his worthy friend and ex-colleague at the glorious Congress of Vienna, the Duke of Wellington ; and has now returned to Paris, where he distributes cards to amuse himself at the expense of his credulous dupes.
Talleyrand was educated at the seminary of St. Sulpice at the same time with the Abbé Sieyes, and was there remarked only as a silent and haughty youth, who passed all his time among his books. But he soon showed the greatest inclination to embrace the profession of arms.
His mother, an excellent woman, (1) very fond of her son, but very religious, was afraid he might be lost in entering the army, knowing full well the lax principles of the officers in regard to religious duties ; she ardently desired, therefore, that her son should devote himself to the church. This wish was so strongly engraved on her mind, that she dreamed one night of having seen an apparition, which urged her to compel her son to devote himself to the church, if not, both mother and child would be lost forever. Full of terror and anxiety, she sent, the next morning, for her son, related to him, with tears, the dream, and conjured him to renounce this world, and enter holy orders. She also dwelt upon the impossibility of his being admitted into the army by reason of his lameness, which would expose him to ridicule and sarcasm. As at this time no nobleman could embrace any other professions than those of the army, of diplomacy, or of the church, he requested his mother to grant him some days for reflection — and he at length yielded to her entreaties.
He studied — like the larger part of the young French noblemen at that time — very superficially, but showed great natural talents, penetration, sound judgment and wit.
The young Abbé soon became addicted to a profligate life, and was one of the most fashionable gallants of his time, and was well received in the brilliant circles in Paris. He at the same time was never seen angry at any sorties made against him, but replied with so much calm indifference, in so dry and witty a manner, that he had almost always the laughers on his side. This made him entirely the abbé à la mode, and his numerous gallantries gave him the title of le jeune abbé à bonnes fortunes. He was in 1787 and the following years a frequent and welcome guest in the brilliant circles of the Marquise de Sillery, (Madame de Genlis) and a great admirer of the beautiful Pamela, the adopted daughter of the house.
Then, as in our times, a witty, rich, and bold man is always more admired than a modest, intellectual, poor and honest man; and the Abbé Talleyrand, in his twenty-sixth year, was, by the influence of his friends and some ladies of high rank, named Agent General of the Clergy. As such he reformed many abuses, and showed no ordinary talents; but could never be restrained from devoting himself more to earthly concerns than to his religious duties, which soon became irksome to him. But such was the influence of his friends and the public spirit of the time, that he was nominated, in 1787, Bishop of Autun, in spite of the decided opposition of the king to his consecration. Talleyrand could never forget this spleen, as he said to his friends, du pauvre Sire ! and from that time he devoted himself more to politics and pleasure than to religion.
At the convocation of the States General, which met at Versailles in May, 1789, Talleyrand was returned thereto by the clergy of his diocess. The bishops Talleyrand and Gregoire, the Abbés Sieyes and Maury, Mirabeau, Lafayette, Bureau de Puzy, Dupont de Nemours, the two Lameths, Volney, Robespierre, the dukes Philippe D'Orleans, La Rochefoucault, Liancourt, Barrere, etc., were amongst the most distinguished of its members.
Talleyrand was one of the first who joined the Third Estate, which had formed itself on the 18th of June, of the same year, as the Assembly Constituante, presided over by Bailly. He voted in July that the clergy should be united with these Communes or Third Estate, which had just been formed into a National or Assembly Constituante ; and in August he proposed, " that every citizen, without distinction or exception, should be admissible to public employment." He also proposed the abolition of tithes ; and in November of the same year, the reduction of the enormous salaries of the high clergy, and the sale throughout France of all the church property, which passed.
At the confederation of the 14th July, 1790, Talleyrand, bishop of Autun, was at the head of two hundred ecclesiastics, all clad in fine white albs with a tricolore girdle, to receive the constitutional new oath — the fourth within the twelvemonth —of fidelity to the nation, the king, and the law. When Lafayette came to receive him on horseback at the head of his staff, Talleyrand made him a sign to approach, and whispered in his ear: " Well, my dear General, this is a pretty fine farce; I hope you will make it short, and let us not laugh too much ! " Lafayette answered not a word, but turned away with visible marks of contempt. During the greater part of this day the rain fell so heavily that every one was wet. Talleyrand, in the midst of the high mass, exclaimed two or three times : " Quelle soupe aux chiens ! Elle va éteindre le feu sacré de la liberté ! " and, after having said these too prophetic words, he continued to say his mass !
Talleyrand consecrated, shortly after, in the metropolitan church of Notre Dame, the constitutional bishops, a step which brought forth a monition from the Pope, complaining loudly against him as " an impious wretch, who had imposed his sacrilegious hand on intruding clergymen," and declaring him excommunicated, unless he recanted his errors within forty days. Upon this he resigned his bishopric, and directed his whole attention to secular affairs.
He was a daily guest al the Palais Royal, and a great follower of the Duke d'Orleans and Madame de Genlis. By the Duke's influence M. de Talleyrand was united in the mission of M. Chauvelin, appointed in May, 1792, by Louis XVI. minister at the British court. But during his stay at London, the emigrants represented him as a jacobin, the republican party in France denounced him as a royalist belonging to the Orleans faction, and as being even in the pay of that prince.
M. de Talleyrand remained in England till April, 1794, when, with many other Frenchmen, he was ordered to leave the country within twenty-four hours. He embarked for the United States, and kept for some time a school in the city of Philadelphia. Kindly received and even much assisted by a great many of the most respectable American citizens, he thanked them, when in 1797 he became minister for foreign affairs to the Directory, by speaking of them in a most contemptible and ungrateful manner. To him are attributed these verses:
Could he have foreseen the evil times upon which we have fallen ?
When minister of foreign affairs, Talleyrand became acquainted with the famous Madame Grand, who ever after remained his avowed mistress, and ended by becoming his wife. The manner of his acquaintance with her was as follows : Her husband, a rich inhabitant of the island of Martinique, died on the scaffold, after having been despoiled, under the reign of terror, as a moderatist and a suspected person, of all his riches. After the installation of the Directory, the friends of Madame Grand advised her to go to Paris, to reclaim her confiscated property and to reinstate the honour of her condemned and executed husband. But as the political state of affairs in France was still very unsettled, they advised her to change her name, and gave her good letters of recommendation from some friends of Talleyrand, to whom she was to address herself as soon as she arrived at Paris.
One evening, Talleyrand, then magnificently established in his large hotel of foreign affairs, and having a merry party at dinner, was called by his groom to attend a lady who was anxiously requesting his presence. " Ask her what she wishes — but no, no, tell her to call on me tomorrow morning early ; I have company and cannot leave the room." After some minutes the groom returned, and said that the beautiful young lady begged him, all in tears, to return to the minister, with the request of only a few minutes interview, upon which life and death depended ; that he could not refuse her, and therefore he came to tell him her desire. Talleyrand is humane, and a great admirer of the fair sex. " What ! young and beautiful, life and death ! well well, I am coming." He accordingly stood up ; and when he saw the fine and beautiful suppliant, who presented him the letter, and informed him that she feared being arrested as an emigrant and a suspected person if the police should have any notion of her arrival, Talleyrand hesitated a little, and said to her at last, smiling: " If Madame feels no dislike to accept the house of a bachelor, I offer her with pleasure apartments in my hotel, but with the condition that you permit me to say to my numerous household that you are my cousin and good friend coming to visit me. But," added he, " say by no means that you come from Martinique, but from Marseille." The lady accepted the generous offer of the minister, who soon became the prisoner of his fair suppliant. From that day Madame Grand remained in the hotel, where she presided at the large dinner parties and assemblies of the minister, to the great satisfaction of the latter and his numerous guests. He married her long afterwards.
But Talleyrand, seeing daily the weakness of the Directory and the dissension which reigned among its five members ; and fearing the republican party, much against him, took his dismission in July, 1799, and retired from public office.
Bonaparte came from Egypt and placed himself at the head of the French government after the 18th Brumaire — 8th November, 1799 — as first Consul. He soon afterwards formed his ministry, and named Reinhard minister of foreign affairs. But Reinhard, well known and highly esteemed when minister of the French republic at Hamburgh, was too frank and upright to please for a long time the first Consul; and Talleyrand, insinuating, cunning, and a great intriguer, which the diplomatic dictionary would express by a man of talents, became now the minister and the secret adviser of the new Consul. The celebrated Madame de Stael Holstein contributed much to Talleyrand's nomination. She admired him much for his wit and his brilliant social qualities, and admitted him to her intimacy. In the time of the reign of the sanguinary Jacobins, Madame de Stael emigrated to England, and lived at Richmond in the same house with Talleyrand and M. de Narbonne. All three were poor then : although Madame de Stael possessed millions, she could have no supply from her father, M. Necker, as all intercourse with England and France was prohibited by severe penalties. Between the three they had one old wagon and one horse, and when they wished to ride out, they observed each their turn. When Robespierre and his band were beheaded, Madame de Stael soon returned to Paris ; her hotel was filled again with the most distinguished society, and Talleyrand was seen there almost every evening. Madame de Stael, at that time enjoying great political influence, was the principal instrument of Talleyrand's nomination, under the Directory, as the minister of foreign affairs, and assisted him essentially a second time to obtain the same office under the Consulat. We have seen how this same Talleyrand behaved ; but as perhaps this cold ingratitude is not known to the generality of our readers, we may be permitted to relate it briefly here :
" Bonaparte enfin fort irrité " contre Madame de Staël, saisit avec empressement le premier prétexte qu'il put pour se débarrasser d'une personne qui était trop clairvoyante, et qui par sa brillante position et ses sarcasmes, lui devint de jour en jour plus nuisible. Necker, que le consul avail visité à Coppet, avant de passer le mont St. Bernard, eut le bonheur de lui plaire. Mais quelques observations que ce financier publia en 1802, dans ses Dernières Vues de Politique et de Finances, dans lesquelles il parle avec beaucoup de franchise sur la constitution consulaire, et les desseins secrets de Bonaparte d'établir une monarchie en France, I'irritèrent tellement, qu'il accusa Madame de Staël de connivence avec son père, pour tâcher de le perdre dans I'opinion publique, iI chargea le consul Lebrun d'adresser une lettre fort dure a M. Necker, dans laquelle il lui fut enjoint de ne plus se mêler des affaires publiques ; il envoya son ministre Talleyrand auprès de Madame de Staël pour I'avertir qu'elle devait quitter Paris dans trois jours ! Celui-ci, qui devait en grande partie sa place à Madame de Staël, s'acquitta de cette commission de la manière suivante. II lui fit une visite, et après quelques compliments d'usage, il lui dit: J'apprends, Madame, que vous allez faire un voyage ? Moi ? Monsieur, point du tout, je n'en ai pas la moindre intention. Pardonnez-moi, Madame, on m'a dit que vous partiez pour la Suisse. Je n'en ai aucune idée, Monsieur, je puis vous l'assurer. Mais, Madame, moi, je puis vous assurer qu'une personne des plus éminentes m'a dit positivement que vous alliez partir de Paris en trois jours ! et il la quitta brusquement. Madame de Staël en fut atterrée, car elle ne l'avait que trop bien comprise ; elle partit pour Coppet." (2)
A writer in a popular foreign journal thus fitly characterizes Talleyrand : " I saw," says he, " little change, all things considered, since I was in Paris since the days of le citoyen Bonaparte, Premier Consul de la République une and indivisible. The coat Talleyrand came to the levee with, was, indeed, I could almost swear, the very one I saw him wear at Bony's grand military fete in honour of the death of Washington, to viz. an old blue habit galone, with the hip buttons about a foot lower down than is the fashion in these degenerate days, and wide enough to have embraced another devout ex-bishop of equal girth, without pinching. His lameness has, of course, become more troublesome and apparent ; he stoops somewhat — considerably indeed — and his hair, which he still wears in the ancient cut, grand redundant flowing curls gathered half-way down the backbone in a black ribbon a la Richelieu, has turned as white as driven snow, or even as Queen Caroline's reputation ; but otherwise the man remains much in statu quo — the brow smooth and unwrinkled as in the first candid dawn of its juvenile innocence — the eye — the large, open, clear blue eye, not a whit less calm, gentle, serene, and apostolic — the original, mild, soft, paternal smile on the good father in God's pale lips — the complexion of the same cold, fixed, colourless, passionless purity — the whole air now, as then, that of a human being refined and exalted by the unvaried exercise of faith, hope, charity, mercy, forgiveness, long-suffering, meekness, and all evangelic virtues, in a frame of mind so entirely seraphic, that one can hardly look at him without feeling as if some delicious old melancholy miserere were in progress, and this saint upon earth were waiting for the last note of the organ, to fold his thin transparent ivory fingers, and say, " Let us pray ! "
As M. de Talleyrand was minister of foreign affairs at the period of the duke d'Enghien's seizure on a foreign territory, the general belief was he might have concurred in that seizure ; without contemplating that it was to be followed by murder, he might have believed the life of the chief of the government, which he then served, was in danger, and might not have been averse to have so important an hostage ; or, finally, he might have disapproved the seizure, and yet not have thought the violation of the territory of Baden a sufficient cause for him to resign his employments, and, perhaps, as matters then stood, to risk his own head. General Savary, Duke de Rovigo, in his memoirs, charges Talleyrand with the chief guilt of the murder of the duke d'Enghien, when, by his own words, he exculpates him and contradicts his statement ; he says :
A person of a noble aspect was seen by the spies of the police to visit Georges in his lodgings in Paris, who treated him with great respect." Bonaparte, Savary, and the police (not a word of the foreign office,) guessed that this mysterious visitor could be no other than the Duke d'Enghien, (when it was Pichegru). The privy counseiller d'Etat Real, and not M. de Talleyrand, or any of his subordinates, was employed to conduct the development of this affair. Real, by Bonaparte's order, applied to the Inspector-general of the gendarmerie for a confidential officer to send into the territory of Baden to act as a spy on the prince. This officer proceeds, examines, and reports to his own Inspector-general, Savary, who reports directly to Bonaparte. On this report, another emissary — Caulaincourt, Duke of Vincenza, then colonel of grenadiers, and aid de camp of the First Consul — was sent to arrest the duke ; and this emissary was to call to his assistance the armed force at Strasburg. The prince was tried, condemned, and shot in the space of three hours; and this by the express order of Bonaparte, given to Savary. General Hulin, in his Explications offertes aux Hommes impartiaux, Paris, 1823, — who was the President of the Court Martial, — speaking of Savary, (who, it will be remembered, represents himself as standing behind the president's chair as a simple spectator,) after acknowledging with great candor, and excusing the act, on the score of ignorance of the law and the pressure of an overwhelming authority, says : " Appointed to be judges, we were obliged to act as judges, at the risk of being judged ourselves. " Gen. Hulin states that the court were so far from ordering or even expecting an immediate execution of the sentence, that " scarcely was it signed, when I began a letter to the First Consul, in which I conveyed to him, in obedience to the unanimous wish of the court, the desire expressed by the prince of an interview with the First Consul, and further to conjure the First Consul to remit the punishment, which the severity of our situation did not permit us to elude ! It was at this moment that a man (Savary), who had persisted in remaining in the courtroom, and whom I should name without hesitation, if I did not recollect that even in attempting a defence for myself it does not become me to accuse another — coming up to mo, said, “ What are you doing there ? — “ I am”, I replied, ” 'writing to the First Consul, to convey to him the wish of the prisoner to have an interview with Bonaparte, and the recommendation of the court. ' — ' You have done your business,' said he, taking the pen out of my hand, ' and what follows is mine.' I confess that I thought at the moment, and so did several of my colleagues, that he meant to say that the conveying of these sentiments to the First Consul was his business. His answer, thus understood, left us still the hope that the recommendation would reach the First Consul. I only recollect that I even at the moment felt a kind of vexation at seeing thus taken out of my hands the only agreeable circumstance of the painful situation in which I was placed. Indeed, how could we imagine that a person had been placed about us with an order to violate all the provisions of the law ( I was in the hall, outside the council room, conversing about what had just occurred. Several knots of persons had got into private conversation. I was waiting for my carriage which, not being permitted, any more than those of the other members, to come into the inner court of the castle, delayed my departure and theirs. We were ourselves shut in, and could not communicate with those without, when an explosion was heard — a terrible sound struck us to the hearts and froze them with terror. But of a sudden this terrific explosion informed us that the prince was no more." He was shot at Vincennes, in the night of the 21st March, 1804. Talleyrand seems, however, to have known that the Duke d'Enghien was at Ettenheim ; but far from deserving the unfounded accusations of Savary, he must be praised for what he tried to do in order to save the prince. We find in the memoirs of M. de Bourienne the following passage: " It is but too true that the death of the Duke d'Enghien had no other cause than the will of Bonaparte. I am the more inclined to believe that I should have been successful in diverting Bonaparte from his fatal purpose, from knowing, positively, that his first intention, after the rupture of the treaty of Amiens, was only to frighten the emigrants, in order to remove them from Ettenheim, where they had assembled in great numbers, and whence they continued to inundate the frontier country with libels. It must, however, be confessed, when he spoke of the emigrants of the outer Rhine, it was with so much bitterness, that Talleyrand, fearful of consequences to the prince, caused him to be warned by a female friend to keep on his guard, or even to remove. In pursuance of this last advice, the Duke prepared to rejoin his grandfather, and at the time of his seizure was waiting a passport from the Austrian government. To these facts I may add, that it was Sir Charles Stuart, now lord Stuart, the English ambassador in France, who wrote to the Count de Cobentzel, requesting a passport for the Duke d'Enghien. The tardiness of the Austrian cabinet in replying, gave time to Bonaparte's impatience, when once he had formed the horrible resolution of shedding the blood of a Bourbon."
M. de Bourienne also says in his memoirs : " Talleyrand, always much feared from his wit and his profound judgment of human character, was one day conversing with Cambaceres about the second Consul; the latter observed, ' and yet you must acknowledge that Sieyes is a very profound man.' — ' Profound! ' answered Talleyrand ; ' deep you mean, very deep ! ' " Sieyes had perpetually written in his face, give me money ! This reflection was very just.
" After Talleyrand was called to the head of foreign affairs," he continues, " great activity was introduced into that department. It was an advantage to the Consul to have found such a person among the republicans, a nobleman of the ancien regime. Such a choice seemed to indicate something even of polish in the eyes of foreign courts. It was as if a delicate attention were paid to the diplomacy of Europe, thus to present to its members, as the organ of negociation, one of rank at least equal to their own, and already known to all by the exquisite refinement of his manners, and by the elegance of the address under which he veiled more solid qualities and real talents."
But M. de Bourienne says not a word of the Oriental luxury which Talleyrand displayed when minister. He, by his family, was not rich. He had very little patrimony, and his salary was far from being sufficient for the expenses of a numerous and even princely household. When Cambaceres was named prince and Archi-Chancellor of the empire, he was known to give the most sumptuous dinners in Paris ; but the dinners of Talleyrand were much better, — not in the choice and the profusion of delicacies of Cambacere's dishes, but by the polite and elegant attentions of Talleyrand and Madame Grand to their visitants, and the attractive conversations of the guests, amongst whom I found very often the most distinguished strangers of both sexes mixed with artists, savants, and even performers, such as Talma, Lais, Fleury, Dugazon, Mademoiselle Mars, George, Duchesnois, seated in perfect harmony by the side of an Italian or German prince, a marshal of the empire, a senator, or a member of the Institute. At these refined dinner parties every guest was animated but by one desire to contribute, by his amiability, to the general satisfaction; and repartees, wit, and the greatest ease and freedom reigned in M. de Talleyrand's hotel, while at Cambacere's dinners, etiquette and stiffness were the order of the day.
Talleyrand had, besides his salary, two other powerful engines by which he was not only enabled to support his great expenses, but to gain the immense fortune which renders him one of the richest individuals in France.
The first secret means he employed to enrich himself, was to speculate in the public stocks of France, England, and Holland. As foreign minister, as a close observer of what passed around him, he was much better informed of war and peace, of the rise or fall in the funds, of the value of stocks, etc. ; and having, particularly in London, Amsterdam, and Hamburg, well-informed and well-paid agents, he bought and sold through them a quantity of stocks, and thus gained large sums.
The second means of his wealth was to be found in the situation of France, governed by Bonaparte, now Napoleon I, Emperor of the French, whose tendency to a magnificence and splendor, surpassing every previous reign, and even that of Louis XIV under the Bourbons, made it necessary to shut his eyes to the corruption and exactions committed by his agents, not upon Frenchmen — (this would have been punished as a crime, even to the amount of the least trifle,) — but upon strangers. The master, at the head of half a million of armed men, invaded and robbed countries, exacted money, enriched himself and his followers by the ruin of the greatest part of Europe, and then suffered his subalterns to follow his pernicious example. Thus we saw a General Clarke, Duke de Feltre, by practising the most infamous exactions as Governor-General of Berlin, in 1806, and his worthy commander of that capital, General Hulin, carrying more than two millions of francs back to France ; a Davoust, marshal of France, Duke of Auerstaedt, and Prince of Eckmuhl, not satisfied with his immense salaries, robbing and ruining the rich and industrious inhabitants of Hamburg ; an Augereau, marshal and Duke of Castiglione, plundering whenever opportunity occurred ; and particularly when commanding in Catalonia, where he established his head-quarters at the then flourishing city of Barcelona. He extorted from this beautiful and rich capital an extraordinary contribution of five hundred thousand dollars; and, not satisfied with this sum, he ordered all the gold and silver services which the common council had kindly offered him for his use during his slay, with a splendid well-furnished table of fifty covers every day, beautiful furniture, etc. for his palace and the use of his family, to be placed in his baggage and carried away. I may be permitted to relate, as an eye-witness, the following anecdote, which will prove the whole truth of this fact : Marshal Macdonald, Duke of Tarentum, having been appointed marshal Augereau's successor in command (1810,) named me Governor of his general head-quarters and of the city of Barcelona. The first day of our arrival I dined with him, and being seated at his side, he looked upon his wooden fork and said to me, smiling : " you are richer, that you have at least silver spoons and forks ; " ( I carried always upon mules my baggage, and my whole household with me, as commander of the avant guard, whilst those of the marshal, being in the centre of the army, had not yet arrived,) " and see," he added, " these fashionable covers which the city furnishes me for my use ! " — " Well, Sir," replied I, " it is true a grand marechal d'empire should have been treated in a better style, but the silver spoons and forks which I carry with me for my use in the campaign, were my own plate, engraved with my arms and name, and not presented to me by a common council like that presented to your predecessor Marshal Angereau, consisting of gold and silver plates, spoons, forks, and knives, as the Corregidor assured me this morning." — " Yes, yes, he is right," said Macdonald, (who is an honest man, (3)) " I am sorry for Augereau ! Well, we may dine as well with wooden forks as with silver ones ; is it not so, General Guilleminot ?" — and so we went on merrily to converse on other topics.
About this time Talleyrand received daily numerous applications from foreign kings, princes, etc. to interfere in their favour to obtain peace or alliance, or to obtain from the Emperor through him what they desired, well knowing that their requests would only be favorably received by the minister when accompanied with costly presents. Thus the hotel of foreign affairs was daily besieged with a crowd of ambassadors, princes, and wretched beings, who, like beggars, waited whole hours in humble submission the leisure of his lame Excellency, who received these persons, at home such haughty nobles, but now such vile petitioners, standing in his cabinet, one by one ! He, of course, could decide nothing, but dismissed them all with his usual courtesy and kind words, which in French is so well expressed by eau bénite de cour ! But to many he said : " Well, very well, Sir, I have not just the time to hear the particulars of your request, but speak with M. Durand, he will hear you and report the affair to me, so that I shall be enabled to submit the whole to the Emperor. " This M. Durand was the chief clerk of the department of foreign affairs, an intimate friend of Talleyrand, a man of great talents, but very cunning, and a great rogue. There again they had to wait in an anti-chamber many hours before they could be admitted to this clerk's audience. At last M. Durand. having heard each one separately, hinted " that their affair would cost a great deal of time and money ; and that it was necessary to obtain ten, twenty, or more thousand francs to cover the expenses of such a business as theirs, and that then lie would be enabled to prepare every thing to give the business a favorable turn, etc. In this hope the greater part of them were foolish enough to comply with Durand's dictamen ; of these exactions he had a fixed percentage, and the remainder went to the private purse of the minister !
My space in these sketches will not permit me to go into all the details of corruption and turpitude which passed in the hotel of foreign affairs in Paris, during the eight years of Talleyrand's ministry, in which Durand, Heyberg the interpreter, a Dane, of very dubious character, banished from Copenhagen, and other men, acted a conspicuous part. Napoleon knew, as I was assured, a great deal of these manoeuvres — but Talleyrand's talents covered all his robberies ; and so it was with Fouché, Duke of Otrante and minister of the general police. Bourienne enriched himself in Hamburg, but secretly, and by no means so openly as Talleyrand in Paris, or Davoust afterwards in Hamburg.
M. de Bourienne, in his Memoirs, speaks very harshly of Davoust but very honorably of Talleyrand. The fact is, that M. de Bourienne has nothing to fear from Davoust's revelations. He died before the publication of Bourienne's Memoirs, but Talleyrand is still living ; and fear of him and what he may discover made him speak thus. Lavalette, in his Memoirs, gives some true hints of Bourienne's villainy, for which he was not only dismissed, but even shut up in the Tempel. A well-known personage could state some facts of all that passed between Bourienne, as prisoner in the Tempel, and Napoleon, as he was sent by the Emperor to reclaim from Bourienne certain papers of high importance which the latter had well secured. To this prudent foresight, and after having given a written promise upon his oath or word of honor never to publish these well-secured papers, he was set at liberty, but never permitted to visit Napoleon again.
Talleyrand’s disgrace can be dated from the day when at Bayonne, Napoleon, in some hasty words, hinted at a formal overthrow of the Bourbons in Spain. He had followed the emperor at his express command, and took the liberty of remonstrating in strong terms against the nomination of Joseph, and particularly against Napoleon's treachery and violence to the Spanish princes of the house of the Bourbons, and the impolicy of attacking Spain, which, added he in a prophetic style, " would be the grave of the French army and his ruin." He was dismissed in a harsh manner, and fell into disgrace, the cause of which was highly honorable, and deserves to be mentioned.
From that tune Talleyrand took the tacit resolution of assisting to get rid of this ambitious tyrant. Talleyrand also used some cutting expressions against General Savary, the favorite and devoted slave of Bonaparte, naming him l’escamoteur des princes, ( the juggler of princes ) alluding to his vile mission to bring Ferdinand VII from Madrid to Bayonne, where he was arrested and sent to Valencay, a chateau belonging to Talleyrand ; by which measure Napoleon intended the more to mortify the disgraced minister. Savary could never forget this expression ; and this was.in part the secret cause of his false accusation of Talleyrand's participation in the Duke d'Enghien's murder.
When the unhappy campaign of 1813 was known, and Bonaparte's head-quarters established at Frankfort-on-the-Maine, the secret friends of the Bourbons were actively employed in recalling and forcing them, with the assistance of foreign bayonets, and in spite of the mass of the French people, upon the throne of legitimacy.
Among the most influential Frenchmen were three ecclesiastics : the Abbé Louis,(4) the ex-bishop of Autun, Talleyrand de Perigord, and the notorious Joseph Fouché ", a lay-brother of the order called de l’Oratoire, named by Bonaparte minister of the general police and Duke d'Otrante.
Talleyrand hearing one day an officer express his alarm and astonishment at the true situation of Bonaparte's reign, answered him : " What will you, Sir ? It is the beginning of the end ! " He said, when some one called Marmont a traitor: " His watch only goes a little faster than the others."
Talleyrand now opened an active, secret correspondence with Monsieur and the Comte d'Artois, (Louis XVIII and Charles X) as also with Alexander, Wellington, Metternich, and Prince Schwartzemberg. These and many others, but above all, Bonaparte's blindness and obstinacy, contributed at last to his abdication, arrest, and exile in the island of Elba, whilst Louis was seated on his throne of thistles, by the grace of foreign bayonets. But being perfectly conscious of his precarious situation, he consulted much with Talleyrand, whom he named Grand Chamberlaine of France, and, in 1814, Pair and Prince de Benevento.
Talleyrand said repeatedly to Louis, that as long as Monsieur Bonaparte, as he termed him now, was not sent to the Antipodes, he would find his way to France, and come one day to pay his unwelcome respects to His most Christian Majesty the King ! In saying this in burlesque, Louis laughed much, but took the hint. Talleyrand had wisely declined any public office offered to him by Louis at various times, not for want of ambition or from disinterested views ; not at all — but for want of confidence in the stability of Louis's throne. Nevertheless, when the king was informed of the project of a general congress of the sovereigns, which was finally fixed to be held at Vienna, he offered Talleyrand to be his plenipotentiary, who received half a million of francs for this mission.
Talleyrand and Wellington were at this congress the only ministers whose masters were not in person at Vienna ; the two emperors, Alexander of Russia and Francis of Austria, the kings of Prussia, Bavaria, Saxony, Wurtemburg, Denmark, and many other inferior sovereigns, were present. It was at Vienna that the obnoxious principle promulgated at Laybach was formally established, " that every monarch has a right to interfere in the internal concerns of foreign nations." This principle gave rise to the droit d'intervention armée. Here also was discussed the fate of Napoleon Bonaparte, then an exile at the island of Elba.
Talleyrand said plainly to Metternich and Wellington, and afterwards to Alexander, " that Napoleon was much too near France, and that he should not be astonished at all to see him escape and trouble the world again with his restless and enterprising mind." But it appears that Talleyrand had not sufficiently convinced the autocrat, whose influence was all powerful at the congress, of the possibility of Bonaparte's return to France, as he refused constantly at that time to listen to the joint representations of Metternich, Wellington, and Talleyrand, for removing Bonaparte to the Antipodes.
Some well-informed persons have assured me that Eugene Beauharnais and the king of Bavaria were the indirect cause of Alexander's incredulity. It is nevertheless certain, that as soon as Prince Eugene, ex-vice king of Italy and step-son of Bonaparte, was introduced by his father-in-law, the king of Bavaria, to Alexander, the emperor, struck with his noble air and easy manners, conceived a great affection for him, and became from that moment his protector and friend.
One day Eugene was invited to dine with Alexander, in company with the kings of Bavaria, Prussia, and Denmark. The Grand Duke Constantine, who detested Bonaparte, and hated in general every Frenchman, heated by copious potions of wine, while seated at the same table, uttered a vehement invective against Napoleon. Eugene, seated near Alexander, and at some distance from Constantine, heard it; and, much galled, said, in a loud voice, " that it was a great act of cowardice in any one to accuse a man absent and unhappy. But," added he, in a still louder tone, " if any one will forget that this calumniated and exiled prince is my benefactor, my second father, and the protector of my early youth, I declare that I will and shall openly undertake, as long as I have a .drop of blood in my veins* his defence against all and every one who is base enough to accuse him unjustly, as you, Prince Constantine, have done in my presence. I care not for the consequences of this my firm and decided resolution." Constantine, foaming with rage, stood up, and was ready to draw his sword, when Alexander interfered, and commanded his brother to withdraw from the table immediately, and to remain under arrest in his apartments. Turning then to Eugene, whom every guest admired and approved, he apologized, in the kindest manner, for the " brutality of his brother," and assured him that he should be " no more troubled with his odious presence." From that day, Alexander became much more attached to Eugene. Both were now seen daily walking arm in arm, like two brothers, at public balls and festivals, or wandering alone through the most retired alleys of the beautiful Prater and Augarten, near Vienna, in long and close conversation. It is also certain that Eugene and his father-in-law, the king of Bavaria, always spoke with Alexander greatly in favor of Bonaparte ; and when, therefore, Talleyrand, Wellington, and Metternich urged Alexander to consent to Napoleon's more distant removal, he answered, " that he would take the matter in consideration." Thus Talleyrand could not insist any further, although he frequently hinted at the possibility of Bonaparte's sudden return.
Talleyrand, as the only representative of France at this congress, seeing he could not succeed in persuading Alexander to a more distant removal, and observing the coolness of the autocrat, who never much liked Talleyrand, and now still less, after having been acquainted by Prince Eugene with what an active part Talleyrand had taken since 1812 to betray Napoleon; Talleyrand, I say, did now everything to please Alexander by flattery and condescension. Intimately united with Wellington and Metternich, both Louis and his representative forgot their being Frenchmen, and submitted humbly to the dictations of their Allies, as they were ridiculously styled. Instead of remonstrating, or even protesting against, their oppressive and unjust protocols, Talleyrand signed at Vienna, in his usual smiling and jesting manner, this fatal instrument, the deathblow of the freedom and happiness of the nations, the humiliation, the destruction of his country.
By signing the acts and protocols of the Congress at Vienna, Talleyrand deprived France of its natural boundaries, of its strong fortresses, of every means of defence ; and sold it, tied hand and foot, to any foreign power tempted to invade it, whilst its enemies increased their forces. Here are my proofs :
England, by the treaty of Vienna, preserved all her gigantic conquests made in the Colonies of the three parts of the world during the French Revolutionary war. In Europe she has taken possession of Malta and the Ionian Islands; and in raising Hanover to a kingdom, has added to it various smaller countries.
Austria has increased her territory with the third part of Poland, with a part of Bavaria, a part of Dalmatia and of Italy. She lost, it is true, the Netherlands; but this province has not been added to France, but to the new king of the Dutch, a natural and decided ally of England and Russia.
Prussia has become powerful by the addition of the Palatinate or Duchy of Posen, a part of Saxony, and the principal circles of the Rhine ; her advanced posts are upon the ancient territory of France.
Russia has recovered Finland, and has established herself upon the borders of the Vistula.
And what has France gained by these transactions at Vienna ? She has lost her Colonies ; even her ancient territory has not been respected. Landau is detached from France ; and Huningue, demolished, opens a wide road into her borders. A few reverses would carry the enemy under the walls of Paris. This capital lost, I may say that the independence of France is lost, as experience has fully proved. Such is the unhappy result of M. de Talleyrand's negotiations at Vienna, and hence the conduct of the Allies towards a power upon which they forced a king in spite of its inhabitants, and recognized a minister, a Jesuit ready to sell them all, whenever himself, his wealth, and his ambition were endangered !
But what was the astonishment of Alexander, and all these protocolling, crowned legitimates, when, in March, 1815, they were apprized of Bonaparte's landing on the southern shores of France, at Cannes, and of his having the boldness to march with a handful of devoted adherents, 150 men, to accomplish the prophecies of Talleyrand !
At this epoch we see closely united with the latter another enemy of Bonaparte, an ancient school companion, a friend, M. de Bourienne, who, in the latter end of 1813, had greatly assisted Talleyrand, Fouché and Co., to place Louis and his holy legitimates, the Bourbons, upon the throne of their ancestors. As soon as Louis XVIII was acquainted with the arrival of Bonaparte, he laughed no more, but was struck with panic, and named Bourienne prefect of the police at Paris. Lavalette speaks thus of Bourienne in his memoirs : " The friends of the emperor knew well what they had to fear from this man. An old school companion of Napoleon at the military school, and afterwards his secretary, he was turned out for private villainies, (turpitudes domestiques,) and at the Restoration had devoted himself ardently to the royal cause. It was clear that the choice fell upon him as perfectly acquainted with the persons and the habits of each one of the friends of the emperor. I knew this man capable of every thing, and feared, above all, for the Duchess of St. Leu, (Hortense, wife of Louis Bonaparte, and her two children, who were destined to be carried away as hostages in case the Bourbons should have been compelled to fly to foreign countries. She escaped at that time, and found an asylum in the house of an ancient Creole of Martinique entirely devoted to her," &c.
After the hundred days of Napoleon's second reign, Talleyrand returned from Wellington's head-quarters, to London, with Mettemich, his secret agent, the Count of Neipperg, (5) Wellington, and others, friends to Bonaparte's definitive exile in the island of St. Helena. Talleyrand declined, after this, all public offices; and lived partly in Paris and partly in the country, but always preserved a great influence over the mind of Louis XVIII. Talleyrand, nevertheless, was regularly instructed by his spies what passed at the Tuileries ; and although he was in no public office, he knew what was going on.
With the death of Louis XVIII, Talleyrand's influence diminished ; and he came very seldom at court, but was daily made acquainted with its transactions by the increased number of his spies. Charles X had been in his youth, as Comte d'Artois, one of the most immoral men of the French court. Now in his old age, he was exactly the reverse ; surrounded by men highly interested to foment in his mind all his superstitious bigotry, he had vowed to Talleyrand in particular a deadly hatred, which he knew how to conceal with that deep hypocrisy so characteristic of the house of Bourbon. He hated in the Prince of Benevento, not so much the politician, as the refractory priest, who entered again into the world as a laic ! The scandal of the apostacy of the ex-bishop of Autun excited the imagination of Charles to such a pitch, that he resolved to humble this impious priest even after his death ! " It shall not be upon French ground that the last judgment shall awaken him," said he one day to his courtiers, rubbing joyfully his hands ; " then, if I am happy enough to survive him, my ardent wish shall be fulfilled, and his corpse shall be carried from parish to parish, from city to city, and every where his funeral rites shall be refused, until he reaches a territory purely protestant !"
Some months after these Christian and charitable remarks, Talleyrand felt seriously sick, and said to his niece, the Duchess of Dino, " My dear child, take the greatest care of me and let me not die ; you would never have power and influence enough to see me buried in Valencay." As Talleyrand seemed to repeat these words very often, and with a certain bitterness of feeling so unusual in him, they urged him finally to explain their sense, when he confessed he had been made fully acquainted with the charitable intentions of His Very Christian Majesty. Talleyrand added, in his bitterness : " These, then, are the thanks of the Bourbons for all that I have done for them ! " His niece, astonished, exclaimed, " But how have you known that the king has spoken thus of you ? " " Do I not know all, Madame ?" answered Talleyrand.
The hatred of Charles X. towards Talleyrand, greatly fomented by the Duchess of Angouleme, niece of Charles X. and daughter of Louis XVI., of a haughty and despotic character, inspired the Prince of Benevento, when fully restored to health, with bitterness and contempt. But dissembling his resentment, he paid his court with more assiduity than ever; and although he was received by all the members of the royal family with marked dissatisfaction, he acted as before, and suffered with the greatest apparent impassibility all these rebukes, so humiliating to that passive and vile animal called a courtier !
One day, coming from the Tuileries, he found in a brilliant circle the Duke of G. who asked him, " Ah, my dear prince, what news bring you from the court : how go affairs on?" As the duke squinted much, Talleyrand looked at him, and answered in his usual smiling tone: " Monsieur le duc, comme vous voyez !" This sally produced a burst of laughter, and the poor duke disappeared as lightning; it was repeated from mouth to mouth, and soon reached the royal cars.
Talleyrand foresaw an approaching storm ; but, strange to tell, although he feared Charles X, and Charles hated him, they were seen at various times in close conference in the king's cabinet, where they remained sometimes for two and more hours together. This singularity is very natural, when we consider the character of both. The king, Charles X., although a bigot and a great dissembler, was, nevertheless, well aware that public opinion was against him and his ministry; but he also knew well that no other man could be better informed of the true state of affairs, or could give him better advice, than this so hated ex-bishop of Autun ! Talleyrand, on the other side, fearing some arbitrary act might deprive him of his liberty, and, above all, of his great wealth, seemed to be the dupe of Charles ; and thus fear united for awhile these two despicable beings, whose union was very far from being the result of any consideration for the happiness and welfare of France, but solely a regard for their own selfish views.
Talleyrand, knowing that Charles could not remain a long time in power, tried in the greatest secresy and with his wonted skill, to open another road of safety. He carried on, even during his conferences with Charles, very cautiously however, through the assistance of a female friend, negotiations with the younger branch of the Bourbons ; and thus prepared for himself and his wealth, (of which already many millions wore placed in England,) happen what would, security and even new advantages.
When Bishop of Autun, Talleyrand was the daily guest at the Palais Royal of the Duke of Orleans, Philippe Egalité. When he saw that the great popularity of this immoral but ambitious prince made him commit the greatest political blunders, Talleyrand employed his credit to obtain a secret mission to London, and succeeded in being appointed. He took beforehand the precaution to send over to England all the funds he could spare, made various pretended sales of his houses, country seats, &c., crossed the channel, and after some stay in England, came to the United States. When he was erased from the list of emigrants, and permitted to return, the Directory named him minister of foreign affairs. As such, he received various letters from the Duchess of Orleans, the widow of the guillotined Philippe Egalité, and mother of the present citizen king, urging him to try to save various objects of great value. These letters he never answered.
When a prisoner of war at Majorca, I dined almost daily with the Vice-roi Marquis de Cupigny, at his palace at Palma. One day I was seated at the table near a French emigrant, who bore his cross as Chevalier de St. Louis. His opinions were moderate, although much against Napoleon. He told me that he was seventy-two years old, and greatly attached to the Duchess of Orleans, who resided then at Port Mahon, in the island of Minorca, where she was much beloved and respected. He told me that the Duchess had written various letters to Talleyrand, when minister of foreign affairs under the Directory. " At that time," said he, «i Talleyrand, although a great rogue, (un fripon fieffé,) could not answer;" but in 1806, the Duchess of Orleans assured me, that she had received various letters from him, and had even effected, through him, what she had urged him to do in 1798."
I may be allowed to relate two other instances of Talleyrand's intrigues and secret correspondence with the Bourbons, when minister of foreign affairs, and after his disgrace under the Consulate and the empire.
I was suddenly called from Amsterdam with Marshal Oudinot. In my letter from the minister of war, General Clarke, Duke de Feltre, it was expressly stated that I should depart, without any delay, on the receipt of the present order; and that H. M. the emperor and king recommanded me to travel day and night, and to present myself as soon as I arrived before H. M. I was at dinner, in a large society, at the table of the Marshal, when the courier arrived, and we had arranged a fine ball for the same evening, at which a great number of guests were expected. Oudinot, to whom the despatches were addressed, opened them ; and after having read them, he handed me my sealed order. Half an hour after I rolled upon the polders of Holland as fast as the horses could run towards Paris, torturing my head day and night to find out the true cause of my urgent call. In the letter of the minister to Oudinot, which he showed to me, there was no mention made of the cause of this abrupt summons.
" Ah, well, well, there you are," said the emperor to me when I presented myself at the Tuileries; "what news ? how is Oudinot ? how like Messieurs les Dutch the little trick which I played them, eh ? " rubbing his hands with great satisfaction. " They are cheese-merchants —miserable wretches—they would kill their parents for gold; I hope I have given them a lesson which they will remember." And without having heard or waited for my answer, during which we were alone, I standing, he walking up and down in his cabinet, he turned abruptly to me and asked : " When will you depart ? Are you ready ?" " In one minute, Sire, but for what place, where shall I go 1" " What! for what place ? Do you not know then that Macdonald, in departing for Catalonia, has asked me to send him Guilleminot (6) and you, to whom he appears greatly attached ? Guilleminot must have arrived already at Gironne, and you will soon join them. But have Oudinot and Feltre not said a word to you of it ?" " No, Sire, here is my order ! " He read it attentively, and said, smiling : " What a brute, (quelle bête) what a beast ! I give you four days to amuse you among your friends," said he. " See Feltre before you go ; he will have something for you."
During my short stay at Paris, various friends gave me letters for Macdonald and other officers ; and two senators, the one a letter and a small box for the Duchess of Bourbon, the mother of the murdered Duke d'Enghien, and the other a letter and a large packet of papers for the Prince of Conti. Both were at that time (1810,) remaining unmolested residents of the beautiful capital of Barcelona, and in the midst of our army ; and, what is more astonishing, but true, with the knowledge and permission of Napoleon.
When I came to the Duke de Feltre, minister of war, he gave me many instructions, in the name of the emperor, for Marshal Macdonald, and I departed and joined the latter at Gerona.
When we arrived at Barcelona, I was named governor, and as such, I asked Macdonald if I could with propriety deliver personally the two letters, etc. to the Duchess of Bourbon and the Prince of Conti. I showed him the letters and box, all carefully sealed. He took both, and examined them carefully, without, however, breaking the seals ; and said to me that he thought I could, after having named to him, at his request, the two senators, who had previously authorized me to name them, but only to Macdonald. The marshal charged me to offer these two personages in his name every assistance in his power.
I drove to the house of the Duchess, and was introduced immediately to her cabinet. I was graciously received by this excellent princess. We spoke a long time together, and, after having asked my permission to look over the large letter, she exclaimed : " This good Talleyrand, how attentive, how polite ! "
The house of the Prince of Conti was an old, half-ruined building, in which he resided, with his only faithful friend, the Vicomte de Guiche, who was his master of ceremonies, his equery, his treasurer, his intendant, his factotum. He and an old Abbé, very shabbily dressed, formed his court; and both remained with the prince, when I entered, all three standing. I said to him : " My prince, I come not as governor of Barcelona to have the honor of calling upon your Highness, but as the friend of this gentleman from Paris, (showing him the well-known seal of the senator, General Count de C .) He exclaimed, on looking at it, " Oh yes, oh yes," in a joyful tone. He showed me into his cabinet, where we were seated alone, and apologizing with a heavy sigh for his poorly furnished apartment, he asked me a great many questions, saying, " that his friend, the senator, had spoken highly of me in his letter, and that he could speak to me à coeur ouvert." Some days after I received the visit of the prince, during which he spoke to me of M. de Talleyrand, as a man who had always rendered kind services to all the emigrants, of whom he caused a great many to be striken from the fatal list. He stated particularly how much himself and family were indebted to him for attentions and kindnesses.
M. de Talleyrand, although well received at the Palais Royal at the beginning of the Revolution, had, nevertheless, at the Restoration cautiously avoided seeing Louis Philippe, well knowing that the Duke was not at all in favor with the elder branch of the Bourbon family. But now that the state of affairs appeared to indicate a probable sudden change, Talleyrand, who had still a large portion of his wealth in France, and was greatly attached to the brilliant and lively circles of Paris, turned his thoughts towards the long-deserted Louis Philippe. Their interviews were frequent, but always very secret and during the night. Talleyrand pretended to be afraid of compromising the Duke !
The character of Louis Philippe is much like that of his father, Louis Egalité ; of a weak and vacillating rnind, profound in hypocrisy, of great apathy, and of a sordid, avaricious temper. The duke cordially hated the elder and reigning branch of the Bourbons, who in turn detested him and his family. He saw with secret pleasure the declining state of this elder branch, and his hopes of being elected either regent or king were well founded in considering the infirmities of Charles X, the Duke de Berry murdered, the Duchess de Berry with a son, (Henri V) which well-informed men assure us, is not hers, the Duke and Duchess of Angoulême generally detested, besides of a sickly constitution, the husband a bigotted simpleton, the devoted slave of his wife, the latter haughty and despotic, and both without any hope of having children. Such was the situation of the royal family when Talleyrand began his secret interviews. He failed not to hint at these circumstances, and kindled the sleeping fire of ambition in the apathetic breast of Louis Philippe. And whilst Talleyrand was in earnest conferences with the still reigning Charles, he succeeded in gaining the confidence of his enemy, the Duke d'Orleans. What else passed between the latter and Talleyrand, the banker James Lafitte, the deputies Merilhou, Salverte, and others, has not up to the present moment been clearly stated. But it is certain, that on the morning of the 27th July, 1830, when the first symptoms of the Revolution began to be strongly marked, Lafitte, Salverte, and about twenty-four deputies of the liberal party were assembled in the banker's house, and here he stated to them " that it was necessary to name without any delay a leading chief, as every thing was to be feared from an incensed people without a leader of influence and talents." But the assembly disbanded without being able to come to any conclusion. Fear prevented them from acting in this uncertainty, as they undoubtedly should have done if they had possessed the least energy.
It is a well-known historical fact, that during the two first revolutionary days, the people had not a single legally elected authority or chief. The Peers of France were either absent or shut up, trembling with fear in their houses, and the deputies were seized with terror and disbanded! It was but on Thursday morning, 291h of July, when it was well ascertained that the people would finally gain the upper hand, that Lafitte (7) and the Duke of Orleans to be proclaimed Lieutenant General of the kingdom.
The rest is well known, and we have seen with what anxiety and haste Louis Philippe accepted his nomination as citizen king, illegally effected by a handful of deputies. He promised before the Council of Government assembled at the Hotel de Ville, any and every thing demanded from him. But once named, Louis Philippe began to feel uneasy, and wished secretly to shake off his burthensome yoke. Lafitte, his Premier, who spoke as a benefactor, with too much freedom, was dismissed, and is now a ruined man. Lafayette, Dupont de L'Eure, Odilon Barrot, and various other virtuous patriots, deceived and disgusted, resigned, all three, as the official gazette formally stated, " very much and deeply regretted by the king ! "
When Lafayette saw that the Revolution was taking a wrong course, he had a private audience of Louis Philippe, in which he stated with his usual freedom and eloquence the dissatisfaction of the French with the ministry, and the system of government adopted; he demanded formally the dissolution of the Chamber of Peers, and that of the Chamber of Deputies, guaranties for the liberty of each individual, the electoral freedom, and the liberty of the press. Louis Philippe, feeling himself now more at his ease, heard him with great coolness, but refused to comply with his wishes. Lafayette and Dupont de L'Eure tendered their resignation; the king demanded twenty-four hours before he would accept. Meanwhile, Merilhou, Odilon Barrot, Charles Comte, and other influential members of the Chamber of Deputies, friends of Gen. Lafayette, were assembled in his, (Lafayette's house,) to whom they declared, " if he would remain firm, they would all support him and never change their minds." Conferences were renewed and going on ; Lafayette declared finally to the king he wished not to separate himself from him. " I shall remain if you will not offer me dishonorable conditions. When I have maintained order, I have promised, at the same time, to support liberty." " I accept your dismission," answered the king, " but what can I do for you ? Will you be Marshal of France ?" " I wish to remain the veteran of the patriots," answered Lafayette. He having once resigned, has lost his influence with Louis Philippe and his ministry. "What?" said these courtiers, "Lafayette will dictate to us conditions, after having dismissed his forces ; this is ridiculous ! " And he was not heard !
This tottering majesty, so ridiculously styled the citizen king, is blind enough to follow the steps of Charles X, in trying to shake by degrees this burthensome yoke from his large royal shoulders, and to place it in Christian charity upon those of his soi-disant citizen subjects. Is this not, in fact, a true farce, or rather, in plain English, the same scandalous villainy once successfully tried by Bonaparte ? This farce, nevertheless, may end soon in a tragedy like that of Bonaparte.
But M. de Talleyrand, who had always taken the greatest care to remain, like Fouché, Louis, and Sieyes, very prudently behind the curtain, was the secret counsellor of Louis Philippe. He could not be forgotten, and wanted a recompense. Talleyrand, in a private conference, hinted the wish to be sent to London ; this was readily granted, for the cunning Prince of Benevento might, if too near to the throne, see too clearly, and sharply, and play H. M., the citizen king, who began to feel a great affection to royalty and power, one of his little tricks à la Talleyrand !
When it was whispered that he would be sent as ambassador to London, the majority of the inhabitants of Paris treated the news as impossible, as an act of folly; and all parties united cordially in laughing at even the thought of such an appointment. The king received from all sides the strongest protestations against such a choice, but in vain ; his appointment appeared officially in the Moniteur.
Talleyrand, although perfectly acquainted with this general dissatisfaction, presented himself after his nomination, with his usual impassable and shameless face, in the most brilliant circles of Paris; and we have seen how he was treated in the saloons of Lafayette, not by the General, but by others. Talleyrand, nevertheless, remained, and appeared to take not the least notice of the undisguised and frequent marks of contempt of the majority of Lafayette's guests. He thought it, nevertheless, prudent to hasten the preparations of his departure, and believed himself safe only when he had put his feet on British ground.
The mission of Talleyrand to London has had the most pernicious influence upon the king and his cabinet ; nay, even upon the constitutional liberties of Europe. This mission, besides, was very unpopular in France. Talleyrand's well-known suspicious character may expose again Louis Philippe and the French, and renew the scenes of 1813, when he was one of the most influential actors against Napoleon. Who will, who cap, be his guarantee ? What man among the present members of the ministry is able to penetrate his dark and winding policy ? Is it the Doctrinaire Guizot, or Thiers, or the haughty Soult, the most submissive of courtiers — every instant afraid to lose his lucrative ministry ? Talleyrand has, besides, a large amount of his immense (per fas et nefas acquired) wealth in the English funds ; a fact known but by few. There is not the least doubt that he directs, in many points, the actions of Louis Philippe and his wicked cabinet.
What have been the fatal consequences of his negotiations, of his secret advices ? The French ministers answer: " His negotiations, and their system of non-intervention, have preserved peace to the world." We would say, " The negotiations and the protocols of the five powers sent from London to rule over other countries, entire strangers to them, have destroyed the constitutional liberties of Europe, and formed one of these political farces, of which we have had so many striking examples since the existence of an alliance — the scourge of mankind. Talleyrand has been one of the instruments of the humiliation of Louis Philippe, which may cause his ruin, and the destruction of freedom and liberty in France and in Europe. Common sense would have taught him, that these eternal protocols were in direct opposition with the revolution of July, and his ridiculous system of non-intervention, in virtue of which he pledged his word to interfere in no way, in no manner, in the interior administration of any foreign country. How consequential has he been in regard to Belgium and Holland ! Past events speak volumes !
Common sense would have taught him also, that he and England could have never gained the majority of votes, where Russia, Austria, and Prussia complete these protocolling five powers. The fatal consequences of these conferences have given to these three autocrats new pretences to rivet stronger fetters to France, Germany, Poland, Italy, and to all the countries of Europe, struggling for freedom and a liberal constitution. Portugal, Spain, and Greece, are the victims of this pernicious policy ; and the English and French cabinets have been compelled to yield to this majority. If they were to dissent, a general war must follow throughout Europe. This latter event would have, undoubtedly, the happiest results upon the liberties of the world, and a new era would shine, if France and England, strongly united, and sword in hand, would march against these oppressors of mankind.
But Talleyrand was there, as he was at the shameful Congress at Vienna in 1814 ; the nations remain slaves, and Louis Philippe with France have been gratuitously humiliated.
And what will now be the situation of France in case of war ? The crooked diplomacy of Talleyrand by these protocols in London, and that of the French government in general, has left sufficient time to Russia to crush the Poles, to weaken the Porte, to augment her land and sea forces, and by this, to free herself from being attacked, and to find the means of employing all her combined forces against France, or any other power which would declare war against her. Austria has gained, physically and morally. Her army is organized, well armed, drilled, and disciplined ; the troubles in Italy have subsided. But Austria has gained morally much more : the vacillating principles of the French government, which, in the beginning, had clandestinely encouraged these Italian insurrections, by promising formally, " she would not suffer any foreign power to interfere, by the well-known declaration of non-intervention " had produced, undoubtedly, the greatest influence upon the minds of the Italian patriots. What was their dismay, when they saw a powerful Austrian army marching against them, when they heard that the French government had forbidden the Italian patriots, who had resided in France, to assemble on the French borders of Italy, and forced them to return into the interior. Their indignation was still more excited when they saw their best friends condemned to ignominious death, to dungeons, and barbarous punishments, by Austrian stipendiaries, upon a territory not subject to her dominions. The wretched wickedness of the French government contented itself in fighting with quills and paper cartridges, whilst Austria employed fire and sword, and answered, haughtily, " that it recognized no right in France to meddle with what the Austrian government should decide or attempt with regard to Italy ! " This wickedness, this duplicity in the French cabinet, and a well-timed lenity of the Austrian government, which acted openly and with vigor, has gained many thousand friends to the latter, whilst the French ministry is generally despised.
Prussia and Germany are put in a warlike position; Mentz, well fortified and provided, has a garrison of 25,000 men; the borders of the Rhine and its fortresses are all put in good and strong defence; the king of Holland, with a powerful army and a full treasury, is ready to invade Belgium ; this beautiful province, with its new king and its interior dissentions, with its four millions of inhabitants and twelve fortified places, full of distrust of having been sold to an English vassal, and despising now the Machiavelian principles of the French cabinet, is lost to France, as well as Poland, Germany, Spain, Portugal, and Italy ; none of their patriotic inhabitants have any confidence in the citizen king, in M. de Talleyrand, or in the French Jesuitical or doctrinaire ministry.
France stands now entirely insolated and open to any invasion. England, if even ready in assisting France, — of which I doubt much — England is unable to take a powerful and active part in this war. Her finances, her interior divisions, the troubles in Ireland, the revolutionary spirit of its inhabitants, give her ample labor to perform at home. And so it happens, that whilst these French worthies dream of peace and a general disarming, the three autocrats, and their faithful allies in Holland, Spain, and Portugal, have had sufficient time to prepare every thing, and to give a death-blow to every liberal and constitutional government.
These are the fatal consequences of Talleyrand's principles of government. He remains always prudently behind the curtain ; and I should not be at all surprised to see him abandoning Louis Philippe, and sailing towards Henry V. and his legitimacy, if wind and weather permits !
(1) In Bonaparte's Court and Camp, (Harper's Fam By Library, No. XXIX. compiled in London,) the biographer of Talleyrand (page 184,) erroneously dates " that, being clubfooted, he became an object of dislike and a sort of outcast. He was never suffered to enjoy the comforts of living in his father's family. It is said he never slept under the paternal roof. I can positively assert the contrary: he was, and has always been, very much beloved by his parents, and particularly by his respectable mother, whom I well knew when at Paris.
(2) See Le Glaneur Francais, by H. L. V. DUCOUDRAY HOLSTEIN. Berard and Mondun, New-York. Article, Madame Roland and Madame de Stael Holstein p.219.
(3) Macdonald, Bernadotte, and Ney, have never suffered any exactions, and have punished those woo committed them with death.
(4) The Abbe Louis was the uncle of Baron Louis, minister of the finances in 1831. The former received at the re-establishment of the Bourbons, successively from Louis XVIII. and Charles X. as a recompense, a ministry in which he made a large fortune. The Baron Louis is a man of great talents as a financier, but a secret adherent of the restoration.
(5) He was the secret husband of Maria Louisa, Napoleon's second wife, and died in 1831. Maria Louisa had, at least during his lifetime, never known the active part which he, Neipperg, had taken against Napoleon. Metternich can best vouch for the truth of this fact,
(6) Baron, now Count Guilleminot. Ho was French Ambassador at Constantinople, at the time of the naval combat at Navarino.
(7) He, nevertheless, with Gerard, Clauzel, Favier, Lanjuinais, jr. and the brave youth of the Polylechnical school, during the 27th and 28th, behaved with great energy, whilst Casimir Perier, Sebastiani, Guizot, Baron Louis, &c., were locked up m their houses. Amongst so many peers, only one fought bravely with the people.
THE KNICKERBOCKER THE NEW YORK MONTHLY MAGAZINE VOL III N°5 JUANUARY 1834 - NEW YORK - 1834