Зображення сторінки
PDF
ePub

Duras, had contrived to procure passports for a short similar excursion; though no male was permitted, under any pretence, to quit France, save with the army.

Reluctantly—with all my wishes in favour of the scheme-yet most reluctantly, I accepted the generous offer ; for never did I know happiness away from that companion, no, not even out of his sight! but still, I was consuming with solicitude to see my revered father -to be again in his kind arms, and receive his kind benediction.

For this all was settled, and I had obtained my passport, which was brought to me without my even going to the police office, by the especial favour of M. le Breton, the Secrétaire Perpétuel à l'Institut. The ever active services of M. de Narbonne aided this peculiar grant; though, had not Bonaparte been abroad with his army at the time, neither the one nor the other would have ventured at so hardy a measure of assist

But whenever Bonaparte left Paris, there was always an immediate abatement of severity in the police; and Fouché, though he had borne a character dreadful beyond description in the earlier and most horrible times of the Revolution, was, at this period, when Ministre de la Police, a man of the mildest manners, the most conciliatory conduct, and of the easiest. access in Paris. He had least the glare of the new imperial court of any one of its administration; he affected, indeed, all the simplicity of a plain Republican. I have often seen him strolling in the most shady and unfrequented parts of the Elysian Fields, muffled up in a plain brown rocolo, and giving le bras to his wife, without suite or servant, merely taking the

ance.

VOL. VI.

2 A

air, with the evident design of enjoying also an unmolested tête-à-tête. On these occasions, though he was universally known, nobody approached him; and he seemed, himself, not to observe that any other person was in the walks. He was said to be remarkably agreeable in conversation, and his person was the best fashioned and most gentlemanly of any man I have happened to see, belonging to the government. Yet, such was the impression made upon me by the dreadful reports that were spread of his cruelty and ferocity at

Lyons, that I never saw him but I thrilled with horror. How great, therefore, was my obligation to M. de

Narbonne and to M. le Breton, for procuring me a passport, without my personal application to a man from whom I shrunk as from a monster.

I forget now for what spot the passport was nominated-perhaps for Canada, but certainly not for England; and M. le Breton, who brought it to me himself, assured me that no difficulty would be made for me either to go or to return, as I was known to have lived - a life the most inoffensive to government, and perfectly free from all species of political intrigue, and as I should leave behind me such sacred hostages as my husband and my son.

Thus armed, and thus authorized, I prepared, quietly and secretly, for my expedition, while my generous mate employed all his little leisure in discovering where and how I might embark; when, one morning, when I was bending over my trunk to press in its contents, I was abruptly broken in upon by M. de Boinville, who was in my secret, and who called upon me to stop! He had received certain, he said, though as yet unpublished information, that a universal embargo was laid upon

every vessel, and that not a fishing-boat was permitted to quit the coast.

Confounded, affrighted, disappointed, and yet relieved, I submitted to the blow, and obeyed the injunction. M. de Boinville then' revealed to me the new political changes that occasioned this measure, which he had learned from some confiding friends in office; but which I do not touch upon, as they are now in every history of those times.

I pass on to my second attempt, in the year 1812. Disastrous was that interval! All correspondence with England was prohibited under pain of death! One letter only reached me, most unhappily, written with unreflecting abruptness, announcing, without preface, the death of the Princess Amelia, the new and total derangement of the King, and the death of Mr. Lock. Three such calamities overwhelmed me, overwhelmed us both, for Mr. Lock, my revered Mr. Lock, was as dear to my beloved partner as to myself. Poor Mrs. **** concluded these tidings must have already arrived, but her fatal letter gave the first intelligence, and no other letter, at that period, found its way to me. She sent hers, I think, by some trusty *returned prisoner.

She little knew my then terrible situation ; hovering over my head was the stiletto of a surgeon for a menace of cancer; yet, till that moment, hope of escape had always been held out to me by the Baron de Larreyhope which, from the reading of that fatal letter, became extinct.

When I was sufficiently recovered for travelling, after a dreadful operation, my plan was resumed; but with an alteration which added infinitely to its interest,

as well as to its importance. Bonaparte was now engaging in a new war, of which the aim and intention was no less than—the conquest of the world. This menaced a severity of conscription to which Alexander, who had now spent ten years in France, and was seventeen

years

of
age,

would soon become liable. His noble father had relinquished all his own hopes and emoluments in the military career, from the epoch that his king was separated from his country; though that career had been his peculiar choice, and was suited peculiarly to the energy of his character, the vigour of his constitution, his activity, his address, his bravery, his spirit of resource, never overset by difficulty nor wearied by fatigue—all which combination of military requisites

“ The eye could in a moment reach,

And read depicted in his martial air."

But his high honour, superior to his interest, superior to his inclination, and ruling his whole conduct with unremitting, unalienable constancy, impelled him to prefer the hard labour and obscure drudgery of working at a Bureau of the Minister of the Interior, to any and every advantage or promotion that could be offered him in his own immediate and favourite line of life, when no longer compatible with his allegiance and loyalty. To see, therefore, his son bear arms in the very cause that had been his ruin—bear arms against the country which had given himself as well as his mother, birth, would indeed have been heart-breaking. We agreed, therefore, that Alexander should accompany me to England, where, I flattered myself, I might safely deposit him, while I returned to await, by the

side of my husband, the issue of the war, in the fervent hope that it would prove our restoration to liberty and re-union.

My second passport was procured with much less facility than the first. Fouché was no longer Minister of Police, and, strange to tell, Fouché, who, till he became that minister, had been held in horror by all France—all Europe, conducted himself with such conciliatory mildness to all ranks of people while in that office, evinced such an appearance of humanity, and exerted such an undaunted spirit of justice in its execution, that at his dismission all Paris was in affliction and dismay! Was this from the real merit he had shown in his police capacity ? Or was it from a yet greater fear of malignant cruelty awakened by the very name of his successor, Savary, Duke of Rovigo ?*

Now, as before, the critical moment was seized by my friends to act for me when Bonaparte had left Paris to proceed towards the scene of his next destined enterprise; and he was, I believe, already at Dresden when my application was made. My kind friend Madame de T-here took the agency which M. de Narbonne could no longer sustain, as he was now attending the Emperor, to whom he had been made aide-de-camp, and through her means, after many difficulties and delays, I obtained a licence of departure for myself and for Alexander. For what place, nominally, my passport was assigned, I do not recollect; I think, for Newfoundland, but certainly for some part of the coast of America. Yet everybody at the police office saw and knew that

* The reputed assassin of the Duke d'Enghien,

« НазадПродовжити »