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

And he determined to have the duke and Dumouriez seized


name of a harmless old gentleman

called Thumery. When Napoleon saw the name of Dumouriez with that of the young duke his rage knew no bounds. "Am I a dog to be beaten to death in the street? Why was I not warned that they were assembling at Ettenheim? Are my murderers sacred beings? They attack my very person. I'll give them war for war." And he overwhelmed with reproaches both Real and Talleyrand for neglecting to warn him of these traitors and assassins clustering on the banks of the Rhine. The seizure of Georges Cadoudal and the examination of one of his servants helped to confirm Napoleon's surmise that he was the victim of a plot of which the duke and Dumouriez were the real contrivers, while Georges was their tool. Cadoudal's servant stated that there often came to his master's house a mysterious man, at whose entry not only Georges but also the Polignacs and Riviere always arose. This convinced Napoleon that the Duc d'Enghien was directing the plot, and he determined to have the duke and Dumouriez seized. That they were on German soil was naught to him. Talleyrand promised that he could soon prevail on the Elector to overlook this violation of his territory, and the question was then discussed in an informal council. Talleyrand, Real, and Fouche advised the severest measures. Lebrun spoke of the outcry which such a violation of neutral territory would arouse, but bent before the determination of the First Consul; and the regicide Cambaceres alone offered a firm opposition to an outrage which must embroil
France with Germany and Russia. Despite this protest, Napoleon issued his orders and then repaired to the pleasing solitudes of La Malmaison, where he remained in almost complete seclusion. The execution of the orders was now left to Generals Ordener and Caulaincourt, who arranged the raid into Baden; to Murat, who was now Governor of Paris; and to the devoted and unquestioning Savary and Real.

The seizure of the duke was craftily effected. Troops and gendarmes were quietly mustered at Strassburg: spies were sent forward to survey the ground; and as the dawn of the 15th of March was lighting up the eastern sky, thirty Frenchmen encircled Enghien's abode. His hot blood prompted him to fight, but on the advice of a friend he quietly surrendered, was haled away to Strassburg, and thence to the castle of Vincennes on the south-east of Paris. There everything was ready for his reception on the evening of March 20th. The pall of secrecy was spread over the preparations. The name of Plessis was assigned to the victim, and Harel, the governor of the castle, was left ignorant of his rank.[296]

Above all, he was to be tried by a court-martial of officers, a form of judgment which was summary and without appeal; whereas the ordinary courts of justice must be slow and open to the public gaze. It was true that the Senate had just suspended trial by jury in the case of attempts against the First Consul's life--a device adopted in view of the Moreau prosecution. But the certainty of a conviction was not enough: Napoleon determined to strike terror into his enemies, such as a swift and secret blow always inspires. He had resolved on a trial by court-martial when he still believed Enghien to be an accomplice of Dumouriez; and when, late on Saturday, March 17th, that mistake was explained, his purpose remained unshaken--unshaken too by the high mass of Easter Sunday, March 18th, which he heard in state at the Chapel of the Tuileries. On the return journey to Malmaison Josephine confessed to Madame de Remusat her fears that Bonaparte's will was unalterably fixed: "I have done what I could, but I fear his mind is made up." She and Joseph approached him once more in the park while Talleyrand was at his side. "I fear that cripple," she said, as they came near, and Joseph drew the Minister aside. All was in vain. "Go away; you are a child; you don't understand public duties." This was Josephine's final repulse.


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