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

Another most secret Admiralty letter


(Bonaparte), so as to prove

that his present position is precarious and tottering. He concludes by naming those who desired his overthrow--Moreau, Reynier, Bernadotte, Simon, Massena, Lannes, and Ferino: Sieyes, Carnot, Chenier, Fouche, Barras, Tallien, Rewbel, Lamarque, and Jean de Bry. Others would not attack him "corps a corps," but disliked his supremacy. These two papers prove that our Government was aware of the Bourbon plot. Another document, dated London, November 18th, 1803, proves its active complicity. It is a list of the French royalist officers "who had set out or were ready to set out." All were in our pay, two at six shillings, five at four shillings, and nine at two shillings a day. It would be indelicate to reveal the names, but among them occurs that of Joachim P.J. Cadoudal. The list is drawn up and signed by Frieding--a name that was frequently used by Pichegru as an _alias_. In his handwriting also is a list of "royalist officers for whom I demand a year's pay in advance"--five generals, thirteen _chefs de legion_, seventeen _chefs de bataillon_, and nineteen captains. The pay claimed amounts to L3,110 15_s._[286] That some, at least, of our Admiralty officials also aided Cadoudal is proved by a "most secret" letter, dated Admiralty Office, July 31st, 1803, from E. N[epean] to Admiral Montagu in the Downs, charging him to help the bearer, Captain Wright, in the execution of "a very important service," and to provide for him "one of the best of the hired cutters or luggers under your
orders." Another "most secret" Admiralty letter, of January 9th, 1804, orders a frigate or large sloop to be got ready to convey secretly "an officer of rank and consideration" (probably Pichegru) to the French coast. Wright carried over the conspirators in several parties, until chance threw him into Napoleon's power and consigned him to an ignominious death, probably suicide.

Finally, there is the letter of Mr. Arbuthnot, Parliamentary Secretary at the Foreign Office (dated March 12th, 1804), to Sir Arthur Paget, in which he refers to the "sad result of all our fine projects for the re-establishment of the Bourbons: ... we are, of course, greatly apprehensive for poor Moreau's safety."[287]

In face of this damning evidence the ministerial denials of complicity must be swept aside.[288] It is possible, however, that the plot was connived at, not by the more respectable chiefs, but by young and hot-headed officials. Even in the summer of 1803 that Cabinet was already tottering under the attacks of the Whigs and the followers of Pitt. The blandly respectable Addington and Hawkesbury with his "vacant grin"[289] were evidently no match for Napoleon; and Arbuthnot himself dubs Addington "a poor wretch universally despised and laught at," and pronounces the Cabinet "the most inefficient that ever curst a country." I judge, therefore, that our official aid to the conspirators was limited to the Under-Secretaries of the Foreign, War, and Admiralty Offices. Moreover, the royalist plans, _as revealed to our officials_, mainly concerned a rising in Normandy and Brittany. Our Government would not have paid the salaries of fifty-four royalist officers--many of them of good old French families--if it had been only a question of stabbing Napoleon. The lists of those officers were drawn up here in November, 1803, that is, three months after Georges Cadoudal had set out for Normandy and Paris to collect his desperadoes; and it seems most probable that the officers of the "royal army" were expected merely to clinch Cadoudal's enterprise by rekindling the flame of revolt in the north and west. French agents were trying to do the same in Ireland, and a plot for the murder of George III. was thought to have been connived at by the French authorities. But, when all is said, the British Government must stand accused of one of the most heinous of crimes. The whole truth was not known at Paris; but it was surmised; and the surmise was sufficient to envenom the whole course of the struggle between England and Napoleon.


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