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"Doesn't he, though? Then why doesn't he come around and see me when I'm lying here sick?" He was wrathful and working himself back into a fever very fast.
When Buonaparte reached Lyons, the soldiers, in spite of the Duke of Orleans, of Monsieur, and of Marshal Macdonald, went over to him to a man. He was now at the head of seven thousand men, and Macon, Chalons, Dijon, and nearly all Burgundy declared for him. Marseilles and Provence stood out, the authorities of Marseilles setting a price upon his head. But being now in Lyons, Buonaparte issued, with amazing rapidity, no fewer than eight decrees, abolishing every change made by the Bourbons during his absence, confiscating the property of every Emigrant who had not lost it before, restoring the tricolour flag and cockade, and the legion of honour; abolishing the two chambers, and calling a Champ-de-Mai, to be held in the month of May to determine on a new constitution, and to assist at the coronation of the Empress and the King of Rome. He boldly announced that the Empress was coming; that Austria, Russia, and Great Britain were all his friends, and that without this he could not have escaped. These decrees, disseminated on all sides, had a wonderful effect on the people, and he advanced rapidly, reaching Auxerre on the 17th of March. He rode on several hours in advance of his army, without Guards, talking familiarly with the people, sympathising in their distresses, and promising all sorts of redresses. The lancers of Auxerre and Montereau trampled the white cockade under foot and joined him. He appointed Cambacrs minister of justice; Fouch, of police; and Davoust Minister of War. But Fouch, doubting the sincerity of Buonaparte, at once offered his services to Louis, and promised, on being admitted to a private interview, to point out to the king a certain means of extinguishing the usurper. This was presumed to mean assassination by some of his secret agents, and was honourably rejected by Louis, and an officer was sent to arrest Fouch; but that adroit sycophant retired by a back door, locking it after him, got over a wall, and was the next moment in the house of the Duchess of St. Leu, and in the midst of the assembled Buonapartists, who received him with exultation.
The point, however, which excited the most indignation was that regarding Gibraltar. There was a strong feeling in the public mind that the Government was willing to give up this fortress to Spain. The Spanish Government was extremely urgent on the subject, declaring that there could be no peace, no truce with England, until it was surrendered. It was recollected by the English public that Stanhope had actually offered to give it up, and it was not known whether any equivalent except the signing of the Quadruple Alliance had been demanded. The Opposition in the House of Lords moved, "That effectual care be taken in any treaty that the King of Spain do renounce all claims to Gibraltar and Minorca in plain and strong terms." The Ministers, however, carried a more moderate resolution"That the House relies on his Majesty for preserving his undoubted right to Gibraltar and Minorca." A similar discussion with a similar result took place in the Commons. The Government saw plainly that nothing would induce the British people to relinquish this important station.
The next day the war against France was proclaimed, and for the righteous cause of restoring the independence of the nations. Prussia, and indeed all Germany, had now been trampled on sufficiently to crush the effeminacy out of all classesto rouse the true soul of liberty in them. Men of every rank offered themselves as the defenders and avengers of their country; the students at this moment not only sung, but aided freedom. The volunteers were formed into Black Bands, and others assumed the dress and arms of the Cossacks, who had won much admiration. They were disciplined in the system of Scharnhorst, and soon became effective soldiers. A leader was found for them after their own heartthe brave and patriotic Blucher, who had been reserving himself for this day, and Scharnhorst and Gneisenau, better tacticians than himself, were appointed to assist him, and carry out all the strategic movements; whilst Blucher, never depressed by difficulties, never daunted by defeat, led them on with the cheer from which he derived his most common appellation of Marshal Forwards"Forwards! my children, forwards!" All classes hastened to contribute the utmost amount possible to the necessary funds for this sacred war. The ladies gave in their gold chains and bracelets, their diamonds and rubies, and wore as ornaments chains and bracelets of beautifully wrought iron.
The Peace of Amiens, instead of turning the attention of Buonaparte to internal improvements, seemed to give it opportunity to range, in imagination, over the whole world with schemes of conquest and of the suppression of British dominion. There was no spot, however remote, that he did not examine on the map with reference to plans of conquest. Louisiana and Guiana, obtained from Spain and Portugal, were viewed as ports whence conquest should advance to Nova Scotia, Canada, the Brazils, Mexico, and Peru. Every station in the West India Isles was calculated as a point for this purpose, and for seizing some day all the British islands there. The Cape of Good Hope, Madagascar, the isles of France and Bourbon, the Dutch spice isles, and their settlements in Java, Sumatra, etc., were regarded as a chain of ports which would enable Buonaparte to become master of India. He sent out expeditions, under different officers, to examine every island and region where the British had a settlement, or where he might plant one, to oppose them. One of these expeditions sailed in a couple of corvettes, commanded by Captain Baudin, who was accompanied by a staff of thirty-three naturalists, geologists, savants, etc., the ostensible object being science and discoverythe real one the ascertaining of the exact possessions of Britain, and of the best means of becoming master of them. The head of the scientific staff was M. Pron. On their return their report was published, and it is singular that in this report St. Helena, destined to be the prison of Napoleon, is described in rapturous terms as an earthly paradise.