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The Life of Napoleon I (Volume 1 of 2) by Rose

The factotum of the exiled Bourbons


Among

these last there was almost chronic discontent, and Bonaparte claimed to have found out a plot whereby twelve of them should divide France into as many portions, leaving to him only Paris and its environs. If so, he never made any use of his discovery. In fact, out of this group of malcontents, Moreau, Bernadotte, Augereau, Macdonald, and others, he feared only the hostility of the first. The victor of Hohenlinden lived in sullen privacy near to Paris, refusing to present himself at the Consular Court, and showing his contempt for those who donned a courtier's uniform. He openly mocked at the Concordat; and when the Legion of Honour was instituted, he bestowed a collar of honour upon his dog. So keen was Napoleon's resentment at this raillery that he even proposed to send him a challenge to a duel in the Bois de Boulogne.[283] The challenge, of course, was not sent; a show of reconciliation was assumed between the two warriors; but Napoleon retained a covert dislike of the man whose brusque republicanism was applauded by a large portion of the army and by the _frondeurs_ of Paris.

The ruin of Moreau, and the confusion alike of French royalists and of the British Ministry, could now be assured by the encouragement of a Jacobin-Royalist conspiracy, in which English officials should be implicated. Moreau was notoriously incapable in the sphere of political intrigue: the royalist coteries in London presented just the material on which the _agent

provocateur_ delights to work; and some British officials could, doubtless, with equal ease be drawn into the toils. Mehee de la Touche has left a highly spiced account of his adventures; but it must, of course, be received with distrust.[284]

Proceeding first to Guernsey, he gained the confidence of the Governor, General Doyle; and, fortified by recommendations from him, he presented himself to the _emigres_ at London, and had an interview with Lord Hawkesbury and the Under-Secretaries of State, Messrs. Hammond and Yorke. He found it easy to inflame the imagination of the French exiles, who clutched at the proposed union between the irreconcilables, the extreme royalists, and the extreme republicans; and it was forthwith arranged that Napoleon's power, which rested on the support of the peasants, in fact of the body of France, should be crushed by an enveloping move of the tips of the wings.

Mehee's narrative contains few details and dates, such as enable one to test his assertions. But I have examined the Puisaye Papers,[285] and also the Foreign and Home Office archives, and have found proofs of the complicity of our Government, which it will be well to present here connectedly. Taken singly they are inconclusive, but collectively their importance is considerable. In our Foreign Office Records (France, No 70) there is a letter, dated London, August 30th, 1803, from the Baron de Roll, the factotum of the exiled Bourbons, to Mr. Hammond, our Permanent Under-Secretary at the Foreign Office, asking him to call on the Comte d'Artois at his residence, No. 46, Baker Street. That the deliberations at that house were not wholly peaceful appears from a long secret memorandum of October 24th, 1803, in which the Comte d'Artois reviews the career of "that _miserable adventurer_"


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