[ocr errors]

• Madame Buonaparte now returned. M. de Bourrienne tells us, that? Buonaparte shewed the greatest coldness to his wife for the first three days. He certainly was an eye-witness on the occasion, and I am at a loss to know why he has not told us that Napoleon did not want to see her, and did not actually see her on his arrival. This conduct surely was a little beyond mere coldness. Madame Buonaparte was indebted, at the time I speak of, for the restoration—not indeed of the heart of her husband, since he had lost all affection for her for a long time—but of that customary confidence and intimate relation which would give her the title of companion to the greatest man in the world; I say she was indebted for this fortunate change solely to the solicitations of her children. Buonaparte was exceedingly fond of Eugene Beauharnais, who certainly was then a very prepossessing young man. He knew a great deal less of Hortense; but her gentleness, her tender years, the dependant relation in which, as his adopted daughter, she stood to Napoleon, all powerfully appealed to his heart, and finally overcame his repugnance.

Buonaparte could not give reasons to those children, and therefore was unable to oppose, by any argument, the irresistible appeal made to him by the two young and innocent creatures, who, on their bended knees before him, and their tears bedewing his hands, repeated -Oh, do not abandon my mother-she will perish if you do: are we, wretched orphans, whom the scaffold has already deprived of our natural protector, are we now to be unjustly deprived of that protector whom Providence has sent us? The result of this scene, which, according to Buonaparte himself, was protracted and heart-rending, was that the children went for their mother, and conducted her into the arms of Buonaparte. The unhappy creature,

whilst her children were thus entreating for her, was lying on the steps of an adjoining staircase, and undergoing an agony of torments. Finally, whatever may have been the errors of his wife, Napoleon appears to have then forgotten them, and the reconciliation was complete. The important nature of the duties which thenceforward engaged Buonaparte, prevented him from giving attention to almost any thing else.'--pp. 343 -350.

But the reconciliation, unhappily for the ill-fated Josephine, was but temporary; and from what Madame Junot has intimated, in more than one page of the present volume, it is impossible not to feel that that act of cold blooded cruelty-we mean the divorce of Josephine—was instigated and carried to completion, by the arts, intrigues, and malignant perseverance of Buonaparte's sisters and brothers. The Duchess tells us that Madame Leclerc was the loudest in avowing her displeasure at the reconciliation. Buonaparte's mother, she declares, was no less opposed to it, but she was more guarded in displaying her hostility. Madame Joseph Buonaparte, always unexceptionable and perfect, took no part in the affair. Madame Bacciochi observed no restraint, but exhibited her discontent in a manner so contemptuous, that Josephine could not put up with it. Christine, an angel of goodness, followed the example of Madame Joseph; and as to Caroline, she was too young to be considered of any importance in the family. The brothers

were avowedly at open war with Josephine. Jerome himself, then only fifteen years old, joined the opposition of his family, and never raised his voice but in blame. But he no longer thought of doing so when he began to run after his pretty half sister, as he called Hortense Beauharnais, in the little garden attached to the residence in the rue Chantereine. Blue eyes and fair hair, very soon turned a little head that was far from being very steady. Madame Buonaparte, whilst yet her little brother-in-law was so young, thought of him before she did of Louis, that is just after the reconciliation. M. de Bourrienne, who was her man of business in every thing, gave her this advice. But she had too hard a card to play, having Lucien in her contemplation, and permitting Jerome to run about the garden, and to take a part in small plays in the drawing-room. Still, childish as he was, Jerome was given to understand that he must not yield to the fascination of the beautiful eyes and the fair tresses which had, at a later period, completely captivated his brother. The family party very soon penetrated the plans of Madame Buonaparte, and, as is always sure to happen with respect to projects which are discovered before they are executed, the scheme of Josephine fell to the ground, and measures were effectually taken to induce Jerome to return to the interests of his own family.

• At the time I speak of, writes the Duchess, Jerome had been, I think, at the college of Juilly; he had then in his own person the levity, wrongheadedness, and frivolity of the whole family, and I have seen nothing like his character in any of his brothers. He very much resembled his sister Paulette, and both of them appeared to possess nothing in common with their brothers and sisters.'--p. 353.

The insight which is here given into the machinery, by the working of which poor Josephine was ultimately destroyed, appears to us to confirm the opinion of her perfect innocence as a wife. It is openly stated by the Duchess, that Josephine was guilty of faults, but she leaves their nature to be determined, if they could fairly be so indeed, by conjecture. The hatred and jealousy which the Buonaparte family seemed to have indulged in against her, are quite sufficient to account for her deplorable downfal, and nothing but, as we said before, a blind resolution to justify Napoleon, could have prevailed on the Duchess to insinuate that there was any foundation in the actual conduct of Josephine for the punishment to which she was consigned. It is familiarly said in France, that the calamities which overtook Buonaparte, were only the testimonies of the Divine wrath, which he had provoked by his injustice to his wife. Whatever we may be permitted to believe respecting the dispensations of Providence in this world, we cannot but admire the sentiment which gave rise to so remarkable an impression. At all events we take it as evidence, that the universal opinion of France concurred in favour of the innocence of Josephine ; and so undeserved and so unrighteous was the outrage, that some extraordinary

demonstration, they believed, of heavenly vengeance, was necessary to denounce it.

We do not know that we have left untouched any portion of this volume which contains the slightest material of interest to the British reader. There are of course a thousand incidents and a thousand names commemorated in these pages, which will be relished in the boulevards and, haply, some of the fauxbourgs of Paris. As it is impossible for us to participate in the amusement, which these reminiscences, we are sure, are calculated to afford to the people of Paris, we have naturally dwelt upon those records only which relate to characters and events of general interest and importance. It is only justice to the ingenious writer that we should subjoin this explanation, and assure the curious in literature that, in addition to the sort of information of which we have given so many specimens, these Memoirs contain a great variety of local and personal anecdotes, grave and gay, sometimes carrying us to the profoundest depths of pathos-sometimes refreshing us with the most delightful mirth,—but all pencilled off with that matchless grace, to which a French woman of fashion only can expect to attain.

Art. IV.-The Life and Death of Lord Edward Fitzgerald. By

Thomas Moore. "In two volumes. 8vo. London: Longman and Co.

1831. Mrs. BEAUCLERK, to whom this Memoir is inscribed, is not the only individual in whose breast the name of Lord Edward Fitzgerald is cherished with a feeling of enthusiasm. It is a name sacred in the annals of Ireland, and precious in the estimation of every man who takes an interest in the real welfare of that country, Rebellion in the abstract is hateful, and raises, in every well constituted mind, the most unfavourable prejudices against those individuals, whom the mere impatience of order and of authority, has arrayed in arms against them. But circumstances may sometimes be found in the condition of a nation which justify insurrection, and render it a duty upon

duty upon the part of the people; if they be sensibly alive to that duty, and rush to the performance of it, with the determination of men who have resolved to die for their freedom, they may not, indeed, calculate upon an infallible result, but even in their fall they attain the object next to victory, the dignity of defeat in a glorious cause. No hatred, no disgrace, but, on the contrary, esteem that never diminishes, honours that never fade, grow around their memory, and flourish through many an age, after the name of their servile conqueror has been entombed in oblivion.

And assuredly, if ever a nation were driven by its rulers to the duty of revolt, it was Ireland, at the close of the last century. Hence there is hardly an instance of a chieftain having perished,

either in the field or upon the scaffold, in her cause, whose memory is not still preserved in that country, with as much freshness as if his death had occurred but yesterday. It will be the same thirty years, or thirty centuries from this time, as it is now. If the circumstances of Ireland be altered for the better, those heroes will take rank amongst the most estimable of her national heroes ; if it be her fate to decline from misery to misery, until the grass shall grow in her streets and market-places, she will still look up, with a sense of agony and shame, upon those bright stars in her political hemisphere, lamenting her lost independence, and the degeneracy that prevents her from entertaining even the hope of seeing better days.

Let us not be misunderstood. We are true friends to the perpetuation of the union which subsists between Great Britain and Ireland : we think, that placed upon a proper footing, it would be essentially advantageous to both parties; but the years that have rolled by since the act of union was passed, have proved, to demonstration, that the basis upon which that union has been conducted is not one of perfect equality, and that Ireland has, in fact, been treated, not as the sister, but as the handmaid of England. It was but the other day, for instance, that one of the most notorious intentions of the framers of that measure was carried into execution, we mean the removal of religious disqualifications from the letter of the statute book ; but the spirit of those odious laws still remains in all its force, pervading every part of the political system in that country; a faction still sternly controuls her destinies, and whatever the government may say or wish, or even exert itself to do, it cannot, it dare not, contend against that faction, with any thing like effectual energy:

It is mere idle talk to discuss bills for the regulation of the parliamentary constituency of Ireland, or indeed any other measure of mere palliation, so long as that faction, consisting principally of the members of the Lutheran sect established by law, continues to lord it over the people, and to defy the government. It is but a small minority of the population, say five hundred thousand individuals at the utmost, out of seven millions; and yet, by the enormous wealth which it extorts from the country, under the sanction of the legislature; by the means which it possesses and strenuously uses, for impoverishing the numerical majority, who have two churches to support; by the countless dignities and offices which it monopolizes ; and, above all, by the incessant action of its malignity towards every body beyond its own pale, it exercises an influence over the affairs of Ireland, ecclesiastical and temporal, general and local, within the sanctuary of private dwellings and out of it, in town and village, by land and on the sea, which the legislature does not possess, and against which the cabinet must contend in vain. It is this band of harpies that has been, for centuries, drinking up the life-blood of Ireland at its very fountain; and thus we behold

[ocr errors]

the paradox of a country, rich in all the gifts of nature, pining to a skeleton. Tracts of land from verge to verge of the horizon may be seen, in all her provinces, annually teeming to profusion with golden harvests ; her green hills and level pastures--and none more green are to be found in any other part of Europe are covered with sheep and cattle of the most excellent description; her rivers, some of which are like inland seas, abound in fish, and offer every facility for navigation to and from the finest harbours in the world; her climate is genial for every vegetable, and almost for every fruit that loves the open air, nor is the interior of her soil destitute of mineral wealth ;-and yet do we not hear periodically, not of a family only, but of whole districts of families, perishing of famine—of famine in the very bosom of plenty? But who is it that sweeps away the overflowing abundance of that land to its own granaries? It is the faction. Who is it that devours the harvests? It is these locusts who swarm from the church, and pour down upon the natural. riches of the country with a voracity never to be satiated, and more destructive than all the plagues of Egypt. These were but for a season: those never die. Before

any measures of mere regulation can be devised for Ireland, our legislators must first clear their way, by the utter extermination of this den of thieves. The church, as an establishment, must be razed to the earth, and every particle of law enacted for forcing it upon a people who have always detested it, must be expunged from our records. It is a systematic robbery, a wicked spoliation, under the forms of authority, that must be put an end to. The days are rapidly passing away, when mere usage was sufficient to protect abuses, however enormous, from being corrected, and even from being investigated. Now every body inquires for himself; the legislature has lost its prestige, and is no longer considered as an oracle of consummate wisdom. Public opinion is the true Parliament of our times, to which all other tribunals must bend, and this has already decided the fate of the church in Ireland. The rebellions by which that country has been agitated and deeply injured have been traced, like the French revolution, to various causes; but to one cause alone are they in truth to be imputed—to the church, the absorber of its wealth, the incubus upon its prosperity, the relentless oppressor of its people. It is from that prolific source that all her misfortunes have


from the days of Elizabeth to the present hour: during that long and gloomy period in the annals of Ireland, it has been the disastrous policy of every successive cabinet to govern her people through the instrumentality of the Lutheran sect, for which purpose all the wealth of the country has been prostituted to the uses of ecclesiastical domination. And what has been the consequence? The Irish people have been slain in battle, rivers have been dyed with their blood, their property has been confiscated, their homes have been plundered, their persons incarcerated, their civil and political fran

« ElőzőTovább »