Assassination

While Napoleon was in Egypt in 1799, France lost most of her territorial gains in Italy to Austria. There is evidence in the main text that he went to Egypt believing the Porte would welcome his intervention in that Ottoman province to restore His rule and revenue. The Porte might subsequently have been expected to be co-operative in a French descent on India via the Red Sea.

There are occasional suggestions in the documents that Napoleon was sent away from Paris because of his popularity in protecting the Legislators in 1796 and the consequent threat he posed to the Directorate and Legislature which had become moderate in policy and hardly satisfied any of the power groups. In European politics, anyone capable of building a following must commit himself to the existing power centres or face a torrent of published abuse and criticism. Failure in Egypt should have assured that Napoleon was diminished.

On his return to France however, he joined a family plot of Joseph’s to remove the Directory and replace it with patriotic democratic leaders. The plot simply required the legislators to vote out the existing Directors and vote in a triumvirate of Sieyès, another and Napoleon – a bloodless coup d’Etat – whereby the leadership would be reinvigorated and revolutionary national interest restored.

The large number of monarchists whom the émigrés had got elected into the legislature via the Primary Assemblies, with British money, tried a filibuster and kept the talking going for 20+ hours. Napoleon had a trump card. Murat wanted to connect with him and had proposed marriage to one of his sisters. She is young, impressionable and idealistic. This connection gave Napoleon influence over the Paris garrison which Murat commanded. He called on Murat to enter the legislature and disperse the members. Then Joseph, as President of the Tribunal, called back the democratic deputies and a vote provided the Bonapartes with the desired result.

Subsequent to the French Republic’s amnesty of the émigrés, those aristocrats and priests used the opportunity of renewed residence to progress a plan encompassing the death of Napoleon and the resumption of government by Duc d’Enghien for the Bourbons. In an age when assassination was invariably done with poison or poignards, a bomb is rare and unacceptably expensive, but this is the means employed when no-one can get close enough.

Fouche claimed to have foiled five plots against Napoleon’s life. The sixth was the Opera House attempt. It confirmed to Napoleon the lengths the émigrés would go to recover their power and wealth.

All the following articles are from the Bombay Courier.

Wed 30th Nov 1796 Extraordinary

The putative Louis XVIII was looking out of the window of an inn at Dellingen in the lands of the Elector of Treves at about 10pm on 19th July when a fellow in the opposite house shot at him with a carbine. The bullet fortunately hit the Pretender on the head and did no damage.

Sat 31st Jan 1801

An attempt to assassinate Bonaparte as he left the Paris Opera house has been frustrated. Demerville, Desforges, Gambaut, la Chaise, the woman Bucquet and eight co-conspirators, all Septembrists, have been identified as culprits. Some were arrested on 18th October. The ex-legislator Talot is involved. He is arrested too.

Sat 14th Feb 1801

The allies are continuing their attempts to assassinate Bonaparte. They say he is inflexible and they cannot negotiate with him. Rumours of his death circulate frequently in Germany.

The Courier du Bas Rhin of 22nd Oct has another report of the murder of Napoleon which is said to have occurred on 8th Oct (the attempt at the opera) Some of the conspirators, like Ceracchi, are from Rome. Demerville & Giuseppe Ceracchi are said to have confessed.[1]

Sat 9th May 1801

On 1st Jan the State Council heard Fouché, the Home Secretary, reveal that several individuals outside France were causing instability within the country (continual émigré plots for Napoleon’s assassination) and he wants to put them under observation.

The Council agreed, saying the amnesty of proponents of the ancien regime has only emboldened those people to greater outrages. Bonaparte has signed a document calling for surveillance on 116 named persons.

Sat 18th Dec 1802

Bonaparte’s new carriage contains a bed, bookcase and writing table. There is some plate. It is lined with copper sheet to protect against assassination.

Sat 5th Feb 1803

Now we are at peace, France has complained of British protection of criminals on Jersey. Otto, the persevering French diplomat in London, says there are nine men charged with committing murders in France who walk the streets of Jersey in freedom. He knows their names and addresses. Other Jersey residents were involved in one or more of the assassination attempts against Bonaparte. They are all said to be agents of the émigré Prince de Bouillon (Captain Philip d’Auvergne), who was the British Governor of Jersey during the Revolutionary War.

Now the matter is public, a request for investigation has been sent from London to Jersey and four of the accused have been arrested. Another five are said to have fled the island.

There is an article in the Treaty of Amiens concluding the War that requires the investigation of political assassinations and detection of culprits. This has caused the arrest of 17 Chouans on Jersey who have been sent to Southampton for transportation. 29 other Chouans remain on the island but are also destined for transportation. These deportations are facilitated legally by the oppressive clauses of our Aliens Bill which remains unrepealed.

London has protested the direct language in the Moniteur on this subject. Our minister says he did not know about these murders. Contrarily, Otto says he raised the matter previously.

The ministry’s position is that no criminals will be protected provided they are accused of specific crimes. This may not be enough to satisfy the French government.

Sat 5th Feb 1803

Fox is in Paris and has met the First Consul. Bonaparte characterised William Windham as a man devoted to war – Fox disagreed.

Bonaparte asked if Fox excused Windham’s involvement in the Opera House assassination attempt which had killed innocent by-standers. Fox said it had nothing to do with British ministers.

Fox is in Paris to inspect the Stuart archives to perfect his understanding of British history. He is writing a book on the Stuarts.[2]

Sat 5th Mar 1803

Britain brought General Pichegru back from banishment in the West Indies and he is entering Russian service.[3] Tsar Alexander wants him. Other rulers also solicited his services but he was waiting to see if French service (Royalist) would again be possible for him. Now he knows it is not on offer, he has joined the Tsar’s army.

Sat 16th April 1803

The German indemnities are finally agreed and concluded. The majority of the Swiss aristocrats appear to have been pacified and their men have surrendered their arms. The main causes of dispute in Europe have been settled.

However, General Ney has said there are 200 Englishmen residing in Switzerland whose sole purpose is to procure the assassination of Bonaparte. There are some 20-30 English merchants in Geneva who have expostulated to Whitworth, our man in Paris, and dispute Ney’s allegation.

Sat 28th May 1803

The Bourbons are scattered all over Europe:

  • The Bourbon hopeful, Louis XVIII, is in Warsaw, his consort is at Wildungen;
  • The Count d’Artois and his younger son Duc de Berry are in Scotland, d’Artois’ elder son Duc d’Angouleme and his Princess are with their uncle at Warsaw, the Count d’Artois’ wife is at Klagenfurth;
  • The three Orleans brothers are in England, their mother and sister are in Spain;
  • The Prince & Princess of Conde with Duc de Bourbon (Conde’s first son) are in London, while their second son Duc d’Enghien is at Ettenheim with Cardinal Rohan. Their unmarried daughter is in a convent in Switzerland;
  • The Prince de Conti is at Barcelona and his wife in Switzerland.

Sat 11th June 1803

The émigré writer Peltier has been prosecuted in the Court of King’s Bench for publishing writings in his journal that tended to incite readers to assassinate the First Consul. The prosecution was requested by the French Ambassador.[4]

The two articles specifically complained of were an ode attributed to Chenier and a speech reminiscent of Lepidus’ speech to the Romans against Sylla. Peltier was defended by Mackintosh but Lord Ellenborough found for the Crown.

Sat 10th Sept 1803

In mid-March 1803 Bonaparte instructed his minister at Hamburg, Reinhardt, to insert a copy of his Reply to George III’s Address to Parliament (commending renewed war) in the Hamburg newspaper Correspondenten.

The Editor of Correspondenten censored the Reply before publication on 25th March but told readers it was copied from the Bulletin de Paris.

Reinhardt protested the insinuation it was a true copy, in light of the Editor’s censorship (he removed the French accusation of George III’s bad faith). It is now being republished uncensored in all the Hamburg papers.

Sat 24th Dec 1803

The Bourbons have published details of an interview the pretender Louis XVIII had at Warsaw with an emissary of Napoleon on 26th Feb 1803. He was asked to renounce the French throne and to encourage his relatives to likewise renounce their entitlements under monarchy. In return he was offered indemnities and a splendid establishment.

He sent the papers to Monsieur in London with advice to all the Bourbon Princes of the Blood that he will never comply. They have now published the transaction and they will never comply either. They aver that a majority of Frenchmen want them to resume the government of France.

The Bourbon family document is signed by Charles Philippe brother of Louis XVIII, Charles Ferdinand of Artois Duc de Berri, Louis Philippe of Orleans Duc d’Orleans, Antoine Philippe of Orleans Duc de Montpelier, Louis Charles of Orleans Count de Beaujolais and Louis Philippe de Bourbon Prince of Conde.

On 23rd April the papers reached Louis Antoine Henri de Bourbon Duc d’Enghien at Ettenheim and he likewise signed together with the Duc d’Angouleme.

On 19th March the Pretender was again approached by the same French emissary who urged that the response should be couched in neutral terms to avoid irritating Bonaparte now the English have resumed the war against him. Louis refused. He was warned of danger. He said if his asylum was withdrawn he would move elsewhere. The emissary said “that is not the danger to you. The Comte de Lille may be deprived of the funds he uses to support you.” Louis said he did not fear poverty but had other resources – “if I make known my situation in France the people will support me.”

The emissary then took back the original declination of Louis (which he had brought with him in hopes of its amendment) and returned to Paris.

Sat 2nd Oct 1813

In 1799 when Bonaparte was in Egypt, the Duc d’Enghien came to Paris hoping to restore the Bourbons to power. The nation’s military strength had mostly sailed away with Napoleon. General Bernadotte was then Minister of War and remained in Paris.

The Duc approached Bernadotte through a mutual friend and offered him the job of Minister of Police if he would help to restore the Bourbons.

Bernadotte declined the offer saying it could not be kept secret for more than a few days but he permitted d’Enghien to leave France unimpeded. The Duc then went to Baden from whence he was later abducted and executed.

It appears to have been this service which enabled Bernadotte to remain acceptable to the Bourbons.

Sat 11th Dec 1813

Morning Chronicle, May 1813 – A broker at Lloyd’s of London is selling policies on Napoleon’s death. A premium of 4 guineas will earn a 100 guinea pay-out if he be dead or imprisoned before 19th June 1812.

We tried so often to assassinate him without success – perhaps the gambling fraternity will fare better. The availability of this new investment has been also published on the Exchange at Amsterdam.

Sat 28th Jan 1815

Now the Bourbons are back in control, they have been investigating the execution of their great hope – the Duc d’Enghien in March 1804. So much for Louis XVIII’s Proclamation to forget the past.

The Duc’s arrest at Ettenheim on 15th March was done by Caulaincourt, as aide-de-camp to Napoleon, with the consent of the King of Baden who sent his minister from Karlsruhe to attend the proceedings. The Duc d’Enghien had a passport to reside there.

France had demanded of Baden that she be permitted to arrest the émigré conspirators on the right bank of the Rhine. They were said to include Dumouriez, Comte d’Artois and Prince de Conde. The Bourbon plan involved Pichegru and Conde leading their armies together into France, capturing the citadel of Paris and directing the artillery against anyone who interfered. The Duc d’Enghien was to replace Napoleon as ruler of France.[5]

The twelve arrests (some were made at Offenbourg) included two English officials and an old Colonel (du Montier) whose name was mistaken for General Dumouriez. They were all taken to Strasbourg where d’Enghien was vehemently abusive of Pichegru (who had declined the enormous bribe and kept his troops out of France).

The entire invasion plan was devised by émigrés in London to pre-empt the projected invasion of the British Isles. The Englishman on the spot was Drake, our Consul at Stuttgart.[6] An important co-conspirator was the Baroness de Reisch whose property fronted the Rhine and provided a discreet means of transport along or across that river. Being central to much of the plan, her arrest was a signal to all the conspirators to flee, but the young Duc thought he was beyond suspicion and remained.

There was a form of trial at Vincennes before eight military officers (Bayancourt, Guiton, Bavier, Bassois, d’Aurancour, Molin and Hulin) who found the Duc guilty of Treason and he was immediately shot. His defence was that he fought with his family to recover his inheritance. Murat and Savary witnessed his death.

Sat 21st Jan 1804

The French army of Hanover entered the city on 5th June 1803. Strict discipline was maintained and two soldiers were shot for pilfering. They found 15,000 new muskets, 5,000 pairs of pistols, 60 ammunition wagons, 100 cannon, much powder, equipment to make a bridge suitable to span the Elbe and a well-supplied foundry.

In the fortress of Hamelin they found 500 cannon. The field artillery of the Hanoverian army was found at Zelle. It comprised 40 pieces and 200 caissons.

The national treasury had been emptied before their arrival.

The Hanoverian army is 26 battalions of 500 men each. The cavalry is 4,000 men and the artillery 700 men (one cannon per man!). They have all been made prisoners-of-war.

A Convention with the Hanoverians has been made at Solingen. Bonaparte sent it to George III and asked for his ratification. He also offers to exchange the Hanoverian army for all the French sailors and soldiers captured at sea by the British in the first few weeks of renewed war as they returned from voyages to French colonies in the West Indies. If George is unwilling, Napoleon says Hanover will be subjected to Army Law.

He will consider it a country abandoned by its sovereign, conquered without capitulation and is accordingly legally surrendered to the occupying power. He awaits a reply whereupon he will ratify the Solingen Convention as well and Hanover will be spared.

Hawkesbury replied that the King distinguishes his Electorship from his Monarchy and declines to be attacked in one capacity for acts undertaken in the other. He reminds the First Consul that by the Treaty of Basel in 1795, France agreed that he might be neutral as Elector and belligerent as Monarch. That separation was continued at the Treaty of Luneville which involved him as Elector but not as King.

Hawkesbury told Bonaparte that H M has appealed to the Austrian Empire and to those powers who guaranteed the German Constitution for the protection of his rights. Until a reply is available, he will not contravene the terms of the Convention of Solingen of 3rd June between the Deputies of the Hanoverian Regent and the French Republic.

Upon receipt of this advice, Bonaparte declared the Convention of Solingen void.

Baron de Bock, commander of the Hanoverian Guard, felt that to spend the war in a French prison was humiliating and he told General Mortier he would prefer for his men to fight to the last. He said they had performed their undertakings in the Convention of Solingen and could not be accountable for the English King. Mortier opined that George III is a Machiavellian King with a history of abandoning his friends but he could not help de Bock. The Hanoverians then drew up their army along the Elbe between Steknitz and Bille and Mortier planned a night attack on 4th June but Count Walmoden, CiC of the Hanoverian army, then implored him for clemency. Mortier made a new agreement in the middle of the river. The Hanoverian troops are to disband and resume their agricultural pursuits. Their arms and ammunition and stores and 4,000 excellent horses are gifted to France.[7] They will no longer consider themselves as under the command of George III. French troops will occupy Lauenburg in the Electorate.

The result of this abject submission has been a complete loss of respect by the French for the Hanoverians. British sources say the residents are treated very poorly.

General Mortier’s agreement has not won Bonaparte’s approval yet. France has been here before when Richelieu concluded a similar agreement on 10th Sept 1757 at Closterseven. After the battle of Rosbach, Chatham declared the agreement void as it had not been ratified by the English King. The Hanoverian troops were then assembled under Prince Ferdinand and fought and won the battle of Crevelt. Bonaparte will insist on George III’s ratification of the new surrender. Given the history, he would be foolish not to.

Sat 28th Jan 1804

Le Moniteur has replied to George III’s assertion that his acts as King of England should be distinguished from his acts as Elector of Hanover:

In the Golden Bull, it was established that the Electors of the Holy Roman Empire have individually the right of peace or war. Since then individual Electors have occasionally made war on their sovereign and the Emperor has made war on individual Electors. Several examples occurred in the reign of Charles V.[8]

In the Seven Years War the Elector of Hanover, King of England, made war on the Emperor. When the French army occupied Hanover at that time, on behalf of the Emperor, no-one said it was a separate concern of the English King. There should be no doubt that the King of England’s possession in continental Europe is a lawful target for his enemies.

As King of England he says France endangers the peace of Europe and makes war on us. As Elector of Hanover, in which he is personally much more interested, he finds France a good ally and is pleased to remain at peace with her.

This King knows no other law than the law of force. As Elector he is silent only from weakness. If Hanover could have produced 200,000 men, George III would not have pleaded its neutrality.

France has made war on Hanover because it is a possession of the English King. Hanover has never been an inactive spectator in our quarrels with England.[9] One of the main employments of the Hanoverian people is as mercenaries in British wars. We met them in America, in India and in Egypt. Under His rule their best chance for survival is to sell their blood.

Sat 14th July 1804

Pichegru has been arrested in Paris by six Gendarmes. He is reported to have been organising a renewed attempt on Bonaparte’s life. He arrived in France from England several days ago, moving house every night to escape detection.

Captain Wright brought Pichegru into the country. He is employed by the British inter alia to land émigrés on the French coast, usually near Berville at the mouth of the Seine. Wright and his many small boats are in and out of Berville frequently. This is the route whereby many expelled émigrés come to France from England.

Sat 7th July 1804

The French accusation of English ministerial complicity in the assassination attempts on Bonaparte has caused a howl of reproach from the London press.

Serjeant Hill is the leading British authority on Constitutional Law and he was keen to repudiate the charge and reassure the Courts of Europe.

He commended the Lord Chancellor to issue a public denial in parliament. He went to London and had a long conversation with the Attorney General. He also made an appeal to Fox.

Sat 21st July 1804

The three men from Georges Cadoudal’s boat who were arrested near Fongers are Lemercier, Jean Lelan and Pierre Jean. A fourth man named Jean Louis has escaped. Lemercier says they were sent from England to join a conspiracy to accomplish the death of Bonaparte. They landed at Belle Isle and learned of the discovery of their plot. They sought to escape via Morbihan (within Quiberon Bay where many English-assisted landings also occur). A tailor provided them with four chasseur’s uniforms to aid their escape.

Their arrest led to the identification and detention of Villeneuve and Burhan Malabre (and Dubuisson who had housed them). They were found in a secret room of Dubuisson’s house with a valuable stash of gold coins and English Bills of Exchange. Villeneuve had a two-way passport issued by Lord Pelham and letters of introduction and commendation addressed to any British naval captain, inter alia requesting that Villeneuve be protected.

Later Bievre, the owner of the St Lucas Tavern at Rotterdam, was also arrested. The holding charge was for having unregistered hotel guests but a chest of papers, reportedly connected with the assassination attempt, was seized from a room in his hotel.

Sat 21st July 1804

Paris, 26th March – Talleyrand has written to all the foreign ambassadors in Paris concerning the recent attempt to assassinate Bonaparte:

I enclose a copy of the Judicial report on the conspiracy co-ordinated by Drake, the British minister to Munich.[10]

We are sending the original papers to the Elector of Bavaria to alert him to the breach of his neutrality. The French government has been astonished at this prostitution of the diplomatic service and feels it incumbent upon it to warn the other states.

(copy papers not published in Bombay Courier)

Sat 15th Sept 1804

The British ministry has responded to Talleyrand’s circular to the diplomatic community accusing England of attempting to assassinate Bonaparte.

Hawkesbury says it is a contemptible suggestion. George III says it is ‘an atrocious and utterly unfounded calumny, incompatible with the known character of the British nation.’

The ministry concludes it has been published to divert attention from the evil government of Bonaparte in France. The French people are discontented and they know England will free them from slavery. We support the dissenters in France and it is a right of belligerents in war to do so. Since the war recommenced, France has been in contact with dissenters in England and Ireland and has assembled a corps of Irish rebels on the French coast to assist in French plans for the United Kingdom (the Irish Brigade in the French invasion army). England is merely doing the same with the dissidents of France.

Our attempts to disrupt the acts of the French government will continue. We will distress her commerce, reduce her power and seize her colonies. We never do anything that is reprehensible.

Our consul to Bavaria (presently at Munich) Drake, corresponded with residents of France to pursue the war aims of this country. We agree that a minister in a foreign country must not communicate with the disaffected in the country to which he is accredited, but Drake was writing to the disaffected nationals of France (the British King’s enemies). The only complaint the international community can make is that the safety of Bavaria from a French response was somewhat diminished by Drake’s actions.

France cannot appeal to the Law of Nations – she constantly breaks the Law. She is uncivilised:

  • She promised protection to British subjects residing in France and then imprisoned them.
  • She bars our nationals from returning from Europe through France to this country.
  • She required the arrest of a British packet-boat in Holland although the French ambassador to Netherlands had guaranteed its safety.
  • We sent the Governor of one of her West Indian colonies back to France and France arrested our ship.
  • When we invaded and occupied St Lucia we permitted the garrison to return to France anticipating that a similar number of British prisoners would be exchanged but none have been released.

That is her record with a country with whom she is at war.

In respect of her treatment of countries with whom she is at peace, her record is equally uncivilised. Is there a treaty that has not been broken? Is there a country whose independence has not been violated? These outrages are intolerable. The international community should be enforcing the Rule of Law.

Sat 15th Sept 1804

Bell’s Weekly Messenger, 29th April – for the last four years a plot has been in progress to deliver Brest to the English. It is the idea of Rivoire, an old naval officer. He was convicted and sentenced to transportation but, with the French ports blockaded, he is now in the Castle at Lourdes. He wrote to the Judge on 13th March that he supports the Bourbons but their failure to recover their rule of France suggests they are incompetent.

“I was said in the trial to be an agent of Georges Cadoudal but I came from London and got my orders direct from the Prince (of Conde). Georges was just to give military help if I needed it. At that time the dockyard workers of Brest had not been paid for months and there were few troops in the town. Many of the sailors were from Royalist countries. Spanish troops were doing garrison duty and I could be sure of their neutrality.

“The plan was perfect at that moment but the Prince delayed for five months which was fatal. During that time the invasion force started to be assembled at Brest, troops increased and the chances of success lessened. There was a proposal in the Prince’s council to use the same type of bomb that was used against Bonaparte. I opposed it as any assassinations would lose us the sympathy of the people and throw us into the hands of the Jacobins.

I thought the best course was to imitate the Poles when Poniatowski was crowned. I suggested we assembled the leaders of our group at Paris and go directly to Bonaparte and his escort and attack him. It was an audacious plot that, if it had succeeded, would have dazzled men’s minds. The council yielded to my advice and put the proposals to the Prince.

“Then the assassination attempt on Bonaparte occurred and disgusted everyone. I decided to abandon political intrigue and return to England, collect my savings and emigrate to America where I own some land. When I got to Calais (it was three years ago) I was arrested and sent to Paris. The charges against me are partly true but the witness evidence was all nonsense.”

Sat 22nd Sept 1804

The French senate has reported on the papers implicating Drake in the attempted assassination of Bonaparte. They have sent the First Consul an Address:

France is leading the whole world to a new order. Although the British mean to kill you they actually strike at all France. The English and the émigrés know that you represent the aspirations of the whole country and the whole continent.

We have no law to fit their crime. It is repugnant to our ideas but the life of the First Consul is a sacred thing which we must protect. We need you to complete your work for our children and grandchildren. We wish you to establish a dynasty and we offer you hereditary office.

Our Revolution has endured for 15 years. Under the Directory we nearly lost everything but you came and restored France to the people. Poverty has been reduced and a great number of French people have become owners of land. They will all be ruined by a counter-Revolution. We offer the government of France to Napoleon Bonaparte and his heirs.

Sat 6th Oct 1804

Paris newspapers – Drake, the British minister at Munich, has removed himself further from possible French influence. He is now in Carlsbode in Bohemia.

An English merchant named Thornton (the banker and MP) has arrived at Odessa as Honorary British Consul.[11] England has no trade at that port. Russia should remember Drake and take care.

Meunier, the émigré who resided many years in England and has since been Prefect of the Department of Isle and Vilain, has been nominated for a position in the National Senate. Several other émigrés who were not involved in the recent conspiracy against Bonaparte reside at Ratisbon. The Austrian Emperor has told the émigrés who reside in his lands that they are not to wear the Cross of St Louis (a Bourbon award) whilst in his territories.

The Leipzig Fair has been extended four more days by the Elector of Saxony in the expectation that English goods will soon arrive. The continent loves English goods as much as it despises English politics.

Sat 6th Oct 1804

Frankfurt The City Council has issued a strict Edict offering rewards for information about any suspect émigrés. All foreigners are in future required to carry their Certificate of Residency with them when in public and produce it on demand.
Hanau All French émigrés are required to leave Hessian lands unless they have already been amnestied by France.
Swabia An Englishman unfortunately named Sir Francis Drake has been resident at Neufchatel for 8 months. He is a descendant of the famous Admiral. The disgust with the name Drake has prompted him to remove to Berlin. On 28th April he was detained at Offenburg in Swabia due to confusion over his name.
Vienna The British envoy Spencer Smith has removed from this city to Baden and is said to be going on to Bohemia.[12]
Dresden Drake arrived here 9th May with his lady. He is accompanied by Hunter, his Secretary of Legation.[13] He will leave tomorrow.

Tues 11th Sept 1804 Extraordinary

Bonaparte has analysed the assassination attempts against him. He concludes the Bourbon émigrés and the British ministry see his removal as a step on the path to establishing an administration of France that is more congenial to them. He has accordingly examined the credentials of each Bourbon to succeed him in the government of France and has concluded there is only one who has prospects of acceptance by the French people.

Louis Antoine Henri de Bourbon, Duc d’Enghien, has been executed at Vincennes by a party of consular guards. He was 32 years old and the most eligible of the Bourbons for renewed monarchy. He was the son of Duc de Bourbon and grandson of the Prince de Conde (both now living in Wanstead House in London). He is the last of the Conde branch of the Bourbon family. He left France at the beginning of the Revolution in 1789 aged 17 years and did not return until his recent arrest.

He is one of the Bourbons who signed and published the family Declaration two years ago that he (and they) would never voluntarily relinquish the French crown (see above).

He was accused by a military tribunal of bearing arms against the Republic, of offering his services to England, of receiving and accrediting agents of England, of facilitating their correspondence whilst in France, of conspiring with them against the internal and external safety of France, of leading an assembly of émigrés (paid by England) in Fribourg and Baden on the French frontier, of soliciting insurrection at Strasbourg to create a diversion for the English, of complicity in the English conspiracy to assassinate Bonaparte, and of intending, in the event of its success, to enter France.

The Duke spoke in his own defence. No record is available to the Bombay Courier. The Tribunal unanimously found him guilty of all charges and unanimously condemned him to die for espionage.

He requested to speak with Bonaparte but the orders were said to be peremptory and irrevocable. He was detained 14 hours after sentence was pronounced but not permitted to rest. On the early morning of 22nd Murat arrived with 50 Mamelukes and Generals Mortier, Hulin and Louis Bonaparte. 200 Gendarmes and 300 Italian troops surrounded the castle and prevented all access and egress.

When told his executioners would be Italians, d’Enghien thanked God they were not Frenchmen. He declined a blindfold and told the firing party in Italian ‘lower your arms or you will miss or merely wound me’. Nine grenadiers fired of whom two missed. His body was put in a limed coffin and instantly buried in the castle garden.

The Duc d’Enghien was close to the Archduke Charles of Austria and displayed courage in several campaigns against the French Republican army. The Tsar is distressed and the Court of Russia has declared several days of mourning. The Swedish court has also declared 8 days of mourning.[14]

On the other hand, the charges appear to have some substance.

Sat 12th Jan 1805

The young Duc d’Enghien sent a letter to the British minister in Vienna shortly before his abduction and execution. It appears in Peltier’s Royalist paper Ambigue:

Ettenheim, 15th Feb 1803 – “Thank you for telling your government I wished for employment. I am vegetating here whilst others are covering themselves with glory. It has become intolerable. I wish only to give your government proof of my gratitude and zeal. I hope the English will deem me worthy to combat their enemies and share their perils. I do not seek for wealth, I just want to be a soldier. Please impress your colleagues with this difference that distinguishes me from the rest of my family. Please tell me by what means I can most likely accomplish my ends.”

In mid-July one of the people who sat on d’Enghien’s Court Martial was found murdered in a forest near Paris. A note on his cloak said all the others would share his fate.

The Russian Tsar has asked his minister to the Diet at Ratisbon to demand satisfaction from France over d’Enghien. The Swedish minister said something non-committal in support. The Elector of Brandenburg & Baden’s minister, Count von Gortz, both replied that the sentiments of the French towards the German Empire are peaceful and any such action could have consequences. Von Gortz says the Tsar’s proposals to the Diet of 6th and 14th May need not be acted upon. This was followed by similar representations from the Prussian and Austrian ministers to the Diet. The Tsar’s proposals were then tabled.

Sat 8th Dec 1804

London news – Recent events in France have revealed that England was backing Pichegru to change the government of France by restoring the Bourbons. General Moreau who is popular in France knew of the plan and did not oppose it.[15]

The result of the failure of the assassination has been to increase Bonaparte’s support domestically. He is offered the role of Emperor and can promote himself more clearly as the supreme leader of the French. Amongst all the Senators only Carnot opposed him. Bonaparte has since appointed large numbers of people to prestigious jobs in government and this patronage will further protect him. He seems to have been shocked by the evidence of England’s involvement in the internal affairs of France. It has caused him to become less distinguishable from the old Kings.

He has killed the Duc d’Enghien, the ‘hope of the Bourbons’, and that family has no-one else who is both popular with the people and capable of running a country. Executing d’Enghien incensed the Tsar but did not cause much response from Prussia or Austria, which latter is still too poor to fight. It looks as though Bonaparte will get away with it. The Tsar has written a ‘haughty’ letter to Bonaparte on the subject. Talleyrand has told his friends that the French answer will ‘shock the Tsar’ when he receives it.

The lurch to Empire in France seems to mark the end of the experiment with the Republican type of government. It is now once again the usual European question of which family will run the country – Bonaparte or Bourbon.

Sat 20th April 1805

Napoleon has written to the Tsar on 16th May replying to his protest against d’Enghien’s execution. He says it was a matter concerning the fate of the German states and neither Prussia or Austria have complained. Indeed they condone the seizure of people in rebellion against government, even those residing two leagues beyond the frontier. What d’Enghien was doing was contrary to the Law of Nations. By embarking on that plan he lost the protection of law.

Napoleon says if Russia is merely using d’Enghien as a pretext for renewed war, he would prefer a straight-forward declaration of the fact. He will not tolerate any foreign inference in the internal administration of France. He complains Russian protection of émigrés at Rome and Dresden. He characterises those émigrés as people who conspire against France and abuse the privilege of their residence.

He recites the Treaty of Luneville whereby France and the German states agreed to forbid any people in their countries to disturb the tranquillity of Europe. The activities of the émigrés at Baden, Fribourg and Dresden frustrate that article of the Treaty and require correction. The Russian minister has analysed d’Enghien’s case emotionally not factually. Russia employs French émigrés in third countries where they intrigue against France. It may have been permissible when we were at war but now we are at peace you should not continue to support them.

He adverts to the assassination of Tsar Paul I and notes that the English faction in that conspiracy were then actually on the Russian frontier to await news. He wonders why no Russian attempt was made to arrest them.

Napoleon cautions the Tsar against men for whom the ends always justify the means; men who recognise no limits to their actions. He notes that rekindling the war benefits only one European country and distresses all the rest. He deplores the thought of renewed war but does not shrink from it.

He ends with the assertion that he does not interfere in the operations of the Russian cabinet and he hopes the Tsar will reciprocate.

Sat 27th April 1805

The Tsar has received Napoleon’s reply (above) and his minister at Paris, P Oubril, has published his response of 21st July. He says:

He will ask all the German states to protest the French outrage at Ettenheim. By the treaty of Teschen, Russia has engaged to guarantee the peace of Germany and the Tsar is bound to protest French activities in those states. He denies he is rekindling the flames of war and says his intentions are precisely opposite. He said France has already taken Italy and part of Germany into her possession and he wants to stop this process from continuing. The French have armies from the Adriatic coast of Italy all the way up to the Danish frontier. They threaten the peace. He is forming a military force to confront France should she attempt to approach Russia.

France has expelled her nobles. If she does not want them it is reasonable for neighbouring countries to employ them and offer them new nationality. It is unreasonable for France to demand these people be persecuted. He is particularly upset by the case of an émigré in Naples who had adopted Russian nationality but was still arrested and taken to France (the émigré Chevalier de Vernegues). He denies ever protecting conspirators and if such an accusation could be established against any Russian official he would be punished severely. He reiterates it is France not Russia that is endangering peace.

He says no country complains about France because they are all scared of her. He denies interfering in French internal affairs.

In d’Enghien’s case, he thinks France should have demanded the German states perform the Treaty of Luneville and remove any émigrés who continued to hold French nationality. It was illegal to invade one of those states and carry off d’Enghien. The French reply on this point is evasive and unsatisfactory. He wants France to acknowledge an equality of rights of small states with big states.

The Russian ambassador to Paris is required to demand the following or he will strike his flag and depart:

  • Evacuation of the French army from Naples and French respect for the neutrality of the Two Sicilies.
  • French agreement to negotiate a lasting settlement in Italy.
  • French indemnification of the Austrian Emperor for his losses.
  • French evacuation of northern Germany and agreement to respect the neutrality of the German states.

Napoleon’s reply is typically clear although aggressive:

He notes Russia has unilaterally changed the government of the Seven Isles, which had been guaranteed by France, Russia and Turkey.

Russia has unilaterally placed a large force on Corfu.

Russia has given a large and expensive reception to French émigrés and provided employment for many of them.

The Tsar is protecting the Bourbon family and unwittingly facilitating their criminal projects.

Russia defied France by ordering Court mourning for d’Enghien whom Napoleon describes as “a British agent attempting to change the French government”.

In all these ways, Russia has indicated a new policy towards France. At the same time she has assumed a partiality for England. The perfidious conduct of the Russian Count Arkady-Ivanovitch Marcoff (former ambassador to France) promoted the conspiracies of the émigrés in France. If Russia joins with England, France will rely on her armies to maintain her honour.

Sat 22nd Dec 1804

The accusation prepared by the Criminal Tribunal of the Department of the Seine concerning the attempted assassination of Bonaparte is 340 pages long. It adduces three points:

  • that citizens were being armed and incited to overturn the government;
  • that England was financing the arming and inciting, and
  • that the arrested people are all either authors or accomplices in the conspiracy.

There are 47 defendants amongst whom the most familiar are General Moreau, the two Polignacs, Lajolais and Georges Cadoudal. Rolland was the intermediary whom Pichegru used to induct Moreau into the conspiracy. Moreau was the Commander of the Army of the Rhine. His written reply to the invitation said:

‘the Bourbons have acted so badly I would never help them to regain power, but there is another way. The three Consuls and the Governor of Paris (Murat) must disappear. My party in the Senate is strong enough to win over the majority. I will shelter the conspirators until the sense of the country becomes apparent.’

Moreau learned of Pichegru’s role as head of the conspiracy but never mentioned it until 4½ months later when he was being questioned. They were corresponding indirectly, Pichegru used Pere David (the vicar general at Limoges) as messenger to correspond with the Bourbons in London whilst Moreau used Lajolais to carry his own messages to Paris,. David was actually caught with a sealed letter for Pichegru in his bag.

Roger (L’oiseau) was the bomb-maker. He went to London, fixed the payments and was initiated into the conspiracy.

Moreau’s Defence (edited):

“My letter to Bonaparte says in the 5th year of the Republic his army captured an enemy officer who had many papers. General Desaix read them and discovered that Pichegru was in correspondence with the Bourbons. The correspondence was unsigned and much of it was in cypher. It was hardly proof against Pichegru personally. By then Pichegru was sitting in the Legislature and we agreed he had little chance of furthering the Bourbon plans so we kept quiet. When the assassination was attempted, two of the officers, who remembered Pichegru’s correspondence, approached me to inform the government. I told Director Barthelemy in confidence but my letter arrived after Barthelemy’s arrest and was instead read by the police. Fouché demanded sight of the correspondence we had captured.

“Pichegru was then banished to Cayenne but came back, first to Germany, then England. I later learned that his banishment was based solely on the documents I had submitted. Pichegru then considered me as his enemy but later forgave me. Since then (1801-02) I have received his ambiguous queries that appeared to enquire if I would correspond with the Bourbons. I answered none of them. More recently I was told that your (Bonaparte’s) absence on the invasion of England would be an opportune time to change the government but I replied that the Senate was the authority around which France would unite.

“If I wished to assume the government of France I could have done so while you were in Egypt.”

This memoire justificatif of Moreau’s has been published and widely read in Paris. He has obtained popular support from it and from his reputation generally.

The defence lawyers all aver the prosecution witnesses have been bought and have little relevant to say. It is a poorly presented prosecution and suggests an official difficulty in getting convincing testimony against the Bourbons.

Sat 29th Dec 1804

The trial of the men involved in the conspiracy to kill Napoleon has ended. Georges Cadoudal and 11 other Chouans have been found guilty and executed. The two Polignacs and the Marquis de la Riviere are to be imprisoned 2 years then transported.

The judges could not agree a verdict for Moreau – four voted for acquittal, four for transportation and four for execution. Ultimately they took the middle ground and banished him to America. His defence has fascinated Paris and 50,000 copies were printed off and sold before the government could stop further sales.

Moreau needs the money from publication because, at French law, convicted defendants have to pay for the proceedings, estimated to be 1.5 million Livres. That is one bill the English will not be contributing to and he will need more than Bourbon promises to settle it.

Generals Le Courbe and MacDonald accompanied him throughout the trial and Le Courbe shook hands with Moreau at the conclusion. All three are popularly considered to be honest and straightforward men. Le Courbe and MacDonald are being punished for their loyalty to Moreau – neither of their names appears in the recent list of promotions to Field Marshal and both have been told to remove from Paris. It is said they refused to take the Oath of Loyalty to Bonaparte that his elevation to Emperor requires. Admiral Bruix is sharing the same fate. There is a dissident section of the French army that ideologically objects to Bonaparte being Emperor. They decline to take the Oath in spite of the free wine and brandy available afterwards for those who do.

The implacably persevering Bourbons have given Bonaparte pause for thought. This family has never given up its hope of resuming power. Bonaparte has again written to the self-claimed Louis XVIII offering a deal if he will abandon his claim to rule. He sent the message through the King of Prussia but has been unable to get either reply or acknowledgement.

Bonaparte has called on the Pope to sanctify his elevation to Emperor. At first Pius VI refused on the advice of the College of Cardinals. He said he had refused to officiate at the Austrian Emperor Joseph’s coronation in 1790 and could not make an exception for France. He says no Pope has blessed a temporal ruler’s authority for seven centuries, but Cardinal Fesche (Bonaparte’s maternal uncle) influenced him and he then relented and set out for Paris on 27th Sept. His progress was so agonisingly slow Bonaparte sent the Pope a letter threatening to make France an Islamic Republic – that got Papal attention. He offered to endow Cardinal Fesche with full Papal authority to perform the ceremony. He sent this proposal by hand of Bonaparte’s mother. It provoked the instant Napoleonic reply that the Pope should choose between retreat in a monastery or a trip to Paris. The Pope thought to resign but it is one of those rare occasions when none of the Cardinals want the job, so he is going. General Charpentier has gone to Rome to escort him.[16]

All the continental European powers have acquiesced in the arrangements except Russia and Sweden who are pursuing an alternative strategy.

The King of Sweden is confident beyond his means because he believes Bonaparte cannot get at him, being unable to cross the Baltic safely. He is calling Bonaparte a Regent in the Swedish Government Gazette. He visited Karlsruhe and was nearly caught by Bonaparte who had 30,000 men nearby. The Swedish King will have to co-operate with Russia very closely and take care.

Russia is overtly hostile to France because the profits of her aristocratic merchants are reduced due to French opposition to British Baltic trade. The British are excluding everyone’s goods except their own while the French are confiscating any English or colonial goods they find. No Russian Emperor can ignore his nobles and they imperatively demand the trade routes be opened and their incomes restored. Everyone remembers what happened to Tsar Paul. As a result the French ambassador to St Petersburg has been withdrawn.

The Hapsburgs, on whom England has set great store to confront Bonaparte, have gone the other way and copied the French by declaring themselves hereditary Emperors as well. They were formerly titled Elective Emperors of Germany. It appears Austria got the Republic of Ragusa and part of the Brisgau for acknowledging Bonaparte as Emperor.

The King of Prussia has declared he will allow no foreign troops to pass through his lands. This will not inconvenience France but could be a handicap for Russia if the Tsar actually acts. The only support the Tsar is getting at the Diet of Ratisbon is from Hanover and Sweden but that will avail him nothing as the vast preponderance of Electors support France. The Tsar has responded to Bonaparte’s intended elevation by giving an audience to the self-styled Louis XVIII who has been living at Warsaw.

Bonaparte has travelled the Rhine as far as Mentz and reviewed his frontier defences. He seems satisfied with his precautions.

Livingstone, the American ambassador to France, has offended both the American and French governments by his public approval of Drake’s activities. He is recalled and General Armstrong is to replace him.[17]

Sat 12th Jan 1805

The results of the trial of some of Napoleon’s assassins for conspiracy has revealed something about Bonaparte that should be better known – he likes girls. Several of the convicted men sent their wives and daughters to plead for them and it seems to work if they are sufficiently feminine and vulnerable.

Bonaparte feels, as the attempt was against his own life, that he can require the Judiciary to grant pardons and he has been doing so.

Sat 16th March 1805

The Royal Navy is developing a new weapon. They fill a smack with explosives, cover it with stones to contain and maximise the explosion and link it to a clockwork device to initiate the explosion at any time between 10 minutes to 6 hours later. One pulls a string to start the timer. The new weapon has just been used on elements of the French invasion fleet at Boulogne:

‘We loaded the smacks so they were almost to the waterline and barely distinguishable. We towed them between the French ships and the shore. We tied each smack to a ship and pulled the string. It seems to work best when the enemy is not expecting it. Three French ships were set on fire. Lords Keith and Melville attended on a frigate to observe the results. Sir Home Popham was there too. We saw the fire spread to eleven ships and heard later that over forty had been affected.’

Melville and Keith went straight to Walmer Castle to report to Pitt.[18]

Sat 9th Feb 1805

During the early morning of 25th Oct 1804 a squad of French troops crossed the Elbe at Harbourg near the Danish frontier and arrived at Grindel, a country house outside Hamburg where Sir George Rumbold has lived for several years.[19] His family is in England. The area is known as Hamburger Berg. Three French soldiers knocked on the door and asked for British passports to Husum to enable them to go to England and enlist as mercenaries. Rumbold’s assistant told them to wait until the diplomat awoke.

The French General Frere was informed of the servant’s response and in the absence of a denial of the availability of passports, he assumed its opposite. He came to the house and arrested Sir George. Frere obliged Rumbold to open his desk and chests. He threw all Rumbold’s papers into a bedsheet and sent them off to Hamburg. The arrest warrant was pre-issued in Paris by Fouché. The French complaint is that Rumbold provided the diplomatic cover to sent both money and men from Hanover to London to the prejudice of the Hanoverian people and the French garrison and that he was implicated in Drake’s assassination scheme.

Le Moniteur of 12th Nov confirms the arrest. A British official has since been opening Rumbold’s new correspondence although Rumbold himself left instructions it was all to be forwarded unopened to Thornton, the peripatetic British banker presently in Hamburg. No-one expected the raid before it occurred. All the foreign diplomats at Hamburg are busy writing to their Courts.[20]

The King of Prussia is expected to be annoyed. This act could disrupt the smuggling of English goods and he controls Emden which makes a handsome revenue from it. He has protested Rumbold’s arrest and obtained French agreement to release the official.

The British ministry is incensed as well. If France does not recognise British diplomats in Europe the consular protection of our chaps in Europe will end along with their sources of information and influence. It accuses France of contempt for international law, unprecedented violence, monstrous outrage and the like.

It protests the French act, that “threatens the extinction of traditional trade”, and calls on all the Crowns of Europe to recognise the menace that France poses to them.

If France is successful in stopping British exports to Europe, there will have been no point in our conquering all the colonies and engrossing the colonial trade of the world. Unless we can sell the goods, our capital will be frozen in bags of sugar and spice in London warehouses and we will lose this war.

We rest our hopes on the Tsar confronting the French. In July he recapitulated a list of grievances to Paris and demanded compliance with the 4th and 5th articles of the Secret Convention of 11th Oct 1801 – French evacuation of Naples and northern Germany and indemnity to the King of Sardinia, but as of mid-August no satisfaction had been given.

Napoleon insulted our diplomats Frere and Elliot.[21] He wanted to arrest Drake and Spencer Smith in Germany; now he has arrested Rumbold.

Reportedly he is insulting Russia in the same way. The Russian Note of mid-August says, if provocations continue, Russia will adopt extreme measures. 12,000 Russian troops are at Corfu. Others are in that part of Albania that was ceded by the Turks. France has responded diplomatically at Constantinople. It is feared she has Turkish agreement to send an army through the Porte’s lands. The army of Italy is moving towards Brindisi and may embark for Greece.

The Tsar is particularly angered by the arrest in Rome of the émigré Chevalier de Vernegues who had been given Russian nationality for the time being. He was taken to Paris and interrogated about Bourbon activities. The Pope obtained his release whilst at Paris to bless Napoleon’s coronation. Vernegues left immediately for Russia via Munich.

What will Austria do about these army movements occurring near her frontiers. She has taken Landau, which was earmarked as indemnity for one of the German states. She has asserted the superiority of the ecclesiastical states in her new acquisitions which was never intended by the Diet. The finely balanced state of Europe that resulted from Bonaparte’s realignment of the frontiers has been tilted by Austria in its favour and that has threatened peace and annoyed Napoleon.

Sat 20th April 1805

When Consul Rumbold was arrested he was taken to Hamburg and General Bernadotte examined his papers. Rumbold reportedly declined to answer any questions and, after a short stay, he was sent off to Paris.

Brooke Taylor, our Consul at Hesse, has left Cassel suddenly. His activities are known in Paris and we suppose he also fears arrest. These events frightened the Russian and Swedish consuls at Hamburg who both wrote to their Courts for permission to return.

Sat 4th May 1805

The French made another descent on Hamburg in mid November 1804, this time seeking for the British banker Thornton to whom Rumbold had wished to consign his papers. They also sought Parish, another English merchant. Both men were living in Ottensen village near Altona. The French had learned that both gentlemen are seldom at home in the evenings and suspect they are not simply merchants.

Unfortunately the French arresting officers were suspected by the boatman whom they booked to bring them over the river. He reported to the Altona government which sent 100 chasseurs and a squad of dragoons to the Holstein shore in time to meet the French police who were accompanied by 70 infantry with their officers.

The French were warned to stay off Danish soil. They asked for some provisions and returned to Harburgh. The result of this is that the banks of the Elbe will in future be patrolled by Danish troops.

Sat 4th May 1805

The French have seized the books of M/s John Smith and Son of Rotterdam and several other merchants, possibly in pursuit of information contained in Rumbold’s papers.

Sat 25th May 1805

Rumbold returned to London on Sun 18th Nov. He was badly treated by the French. He was allowed only one servant and had few spare clothes in his suitcase. He was driven non-stop from Hamburg to Paris under an escort of 50 horsemen and detained in the Temple in a miserable room with a tiny fire. His first supper was just a roast chicken, some bread and a bottle of wine – he had to ask for a knife to cut the meat. After he had finished his servant had to be content with the left-overs. They got a second bottle of wine as a special indulgence. He had to sleep on a board with dirty sheets and blankets. He remained in the Temple until the following evening when a policeman visited and said he would not be charged but his papers were confiscated and he must leave Paris straight away.

He was taken to Boulogne but no ship to England was available and he was sent to Cherbourg where he boarded a French cutter under a flag of truce and was taken out to HMS Niobe of the Jersey squadron which blockades that port. It took him to Portsmouth. He stopped at the family home in Richmond to tell his sons of his safe release then continued to Lady Rumbold’s house in Bryanstone Street where he wrote a report for Harrowby and sent it to that Lord’s London house in Grosvenor Square. Harrowby was then in Bath and the letter was sent to the Foreign Office the next day where Hammond, the Under-Secretary, opened it. He alerted all the cabinet members. Rumbold later had a long conference with Hammond and later that evening interviewed Harrowby on his return.

Sat 9th Feb 1805

Napoleon’s quarrel with Frere, our man at Madrid, stems from his belief that all British diplomats are briefed on the ministerial wish to assassinate Napoleon. He objects Frere’s assessment that assassination is a legitimate weapon of war.

In a series of letters between 7th – 23rd April, Frere declined to justify his comments and put Napoleon to strict proof of them. Napoleon replied that, as their conversation had been private, there was no way to prove them if the speaker denied saying them. Frere did deny. He says assassination is an atrocious thing.

It is this unity of genius and naivety in Napoleon that perplexes the British.

Sat 9th Feb 1805

The self-styled Louis XVIII moved from Grodno in response to a report of a French intention to assassinate him. A billiards saloon proprietor named Coulon, presently living in Prussia, says Louis XVIII was to be poisoned with a hollowed-out carrot. The French commercial agent to Warsaw, Boyer, implicated by Coulon in the plot, has been exculpated of complicity in the affair after an investigation. In fact few believe that assassination is Napoleon’s style.

It seems Louis XVIII wants to get more mileage out of widespread disgust at the execution of d’Enghien. To give credence to his danger, he has moved to Blankenfeld in Lithuania using the title Comte de Lille and from there to Riga calling himself Comte de Chatellerault.[22] He is accompanied by the Duc d’Angouleme. From Riga he took ship to Stockholm.

The Swedish King is in negotiations with the Tsar who has 20,000 troops in Swedish Pomerania. The Tsar has sent a complaint to Paris of breaches of promise and particularly the stoppage of British trade into northern Europe.

His father was killed by the merchants and Alexander wants to look after them better.

Sat 24th Nov 1804

Poole, the minister’s Deputy Inspector General, has published details of unauthorised payments by the Foreign Office to numerous émigrés and the Foreign Office clerks Woodford and Gardiner are required to explain.

Gardiner is personally unconcerned – he acknowledges the evidence is irrefutable but notes all the questionable payments occurred while Hawkesbury was in charge. He thinks the matter should be examined by a Committee of the House.

Sat 24th Nov 1804

The original correspondence of Drake with the Elector of Bavaria is being circulated round the courts of Europe by France.

Sat 24th Nov 1804

Several high officials of the frontier town of Wissembourg have been arrested and sent to Strasbourg (in the new French territories) for investigation. They are accused of conspiring against the safety of the French state. Many émigrés who have been living either side of the Rhine have been arrested and sent, with their papers sealed, to Paris. The Swedes are shocked at France daring to take émigrés from German states. The Swedish King is an Elector of the Empire. They are discussing the matter with Denmark and are said to be considering a joint approach to Russia, preparatory to a complaint.

Sat 13th April 1805

Napoleon’s disgust with the British diplomats Drake and Spencer Smith has extended to Rumbold at Hamburg and Brooke Taylor, the British Consul at Hesse. These diplomats are either killing or cheating, Fouché says.

He supposes the coincidence of several British diplomats involved in skulduggery indicates the tendency of British foreign policy under Hawkesbury and has concluded that their absence is preferable to their presence. He deplores the conspiracies of British diplomats at the Courts of neutral powers and says he will no longer recognise their diplomatic character.

Had it not been for Prussian intercession, Fouché says, Rumbold would be facing criminal charges in a French court.

Sat 13th April 1805

Harrowby has announced his resignation as Foreign Secretary. He says he was not aware of all the ministerial instructions of his predecessor (Hawkesbury) to British diplomats in Europe although, as Foreign Minister, he was responsible for them.

He says he circulated the diplomatic community in London (in response to French allegations about Drake) in ignorance of the facts.

He is to be replaced by Canning.

Sat 13th April 1805

Talleyrand’s circular to all French diplomats:

The anti-social aspect of the English system commenced in the Seven Years War with their novel maritime doctrine.[23]

This project was to diminish the social structure underlying the law that binds all nations and to substitute a new basis resting on individual rights.

The English accept no restraint on their actions, they have no concept of moderation or justice. Neutral ships have been pillaged and / or sunk. They proclaim ‘this port’ or ‘that coast’ is closed and they capture and confiscate any ships found entering or leaving.

In the present war they have introduced another novelty – the diplomat as fomenter of sedition and financier of assassins; a traitor to the country of accreditation and conspirator against third-party countries. They rely on the worldwide reputation of diplomats to protect the creatures they appoint.

France will no longer recognise British diplomats in Europe until the British ministry abstains from using them for war and restricts them to their traditional role.

European Courts have historically adopted policies of moderation and liberality in their dealings with each other. This has generated a system of reciprocity on which we have identified and accepted obligations to each other.

Now the English have abandoned all those restraints imposed by reciprocity and substituted their own self-interest as the sole motive for action.

France believes that no nation may modify some part of the international law (say Maritime Law in respect of international trade) to its national advantage and still claim the reciprocal benefits of the other aspects of international law. Its cheating.

England systematically infringes the Law of Nations and by those acts it has deprived itself of the advantages of reciprocity. The English attack on commerce is an attack on humanity. France accordingly withdraws its co-operation from England and you may inform the governments of Europe of our fears for the continuing viability of the rule of international law.

Sat 11th Dec 1813

Morning Chronicle, May 1813 – A broker at Lloyd’s of London is selling policies on Napoleon’s death. A premium of 4 guineas will earn a 100 guinea pay-out if he be dead or imprisoned before 19th June 1812.

We tried so often to assassinate him without success – perhaps the gambling fraternity will fare better.

The availability of this new investment has been also published on the Amsterdam Stock Exchange.

Footnotes    (↵ returns to text)
  1. They denied their confessions at the hearing but were found guilty.
  2. “A History of the Early Part of the Reign of James the Second” published posthumously in 1808 – it seems to have covered only part of his research.
  3. See the Peace chapter for the cause of Pichegru’s banishment.
  4. See the Peace chapter for better particulars. Mackintosh’s rambling defence is a regrettable and incomprehensible departure from his lifelong principles. Although found guilty, war soon recommenced and Peltier was never punished.
  5. See the Peace chapter for many details of this fascinating plot. And see the recent publication ‘Napoleon a Life’ by Professor Andrew Roberts who has at last provided English-speakers with reliable information on l’Empereur. It is already admitted that the Royal Navy took the assassins from Dover to France. It now transpires that Castlereagh approved the attempt and approved its funding.
  6. Drake is untraced. Many MPs were employed by the ministry as honorary consuls at the ports of Europe where they could receive the gold / silver proceeds of smuggling and remit it to London. He may be the MP for Norwich.
  7. George III’s Hanoverian stud was the source of the beautiful white thoroughbreds that pull Napoleon’s carriage.
  8. Electors include all the Kings of Europe – England, Sweden, Russia, Prussia, etc., as well as their relatives, bishops and ministers.
  9. Note Sparrow’s information on the intelligence the King receives from Hanover which he sometimes passes to the British Cabinet – mentioned in her splendid book ‘Secret Service’ 1999.
  10. Drake was reported to be financing rebellion in four French departments as well as the assassination attempt. In de Bourrienne’s Memoir of Napoleon, Drake is said to have offered the city of Lyon to the King of Sardinia as compensation for his loss of Piedmont.
  11. There were two Thorntons in parliament at this time – Henry for Southwark 1782 – 1815 and Samuel for Hull and later Surrey 1784 – 1818. Henry Thornton’s family made their money from Russian trade and invested the profits in the Down Thornton & Free Bank, later called Pole Thornton & Co until its demise in 1825 due to the return of Sterling to convertibility.
  12. A John Spencer Smith represented Dover 1802 – 1806 and may be relevant.
  13. Hunter is untraced. He may be connected with Wm Hunter, MP for Ilchester 1802 – 1803.
  14. This was a finely balanced decision for Bonaparte. He blames the émigré Bishop of Arras in London who commended assassinations to Comte d’Artois and whom he supposes originated the attempts on his own life. Reciprocity is a constant feature of Napoleon’s acts. He has removed the best Bourbon candidate for renewed monarchy but incurred the disgust of the ruling families of Europe
  15. See the Peace chapter for better details of this multi-faceted plot.
  16. Napoleon was well informed about Islam and recognised that the Muslim commitment to equality was a good fit with French Republicanism.
  17. General Hamilton was supposed to be the replacement but Vice President Burr shot him on 11th July. Hamilton is a devout exponent of British principles whilst Burr is a democrat. Hamilton died the next day and New York was closed for business the whole day. Merchants control the State of New York and their self-interest favours England. Burr has fled.
  18. Some of these devices failed to explode and were dismantled. General Soult’s report says the device has a pendulum movement, the spring of which communicates with a strong musket lock which is triggered when the pendulum ceases to move. The pan of the lock is primed with gunpowder from whence several fuzes carry the flame to the incendiary material i.e. a replica of the device used in the attempted Opera-house assassination of Napoleon.
  19. Son of Sir Thomas, 1st Baron Woodhall, of Madras notoriety. George is currently British Charge d’Affaires at Hamburg and our minister to the Circle of Lower Saxony, under Prussian protection.
  20. They assume that Rumbold’s arrest is another example of Napoleon’s instant responses to irritations – in this case conceivably, Commodore Moore’s attack on the Spanish treasure fleet three weeks earlier, see the Prizetaking Chapter. If that is the case, it somewhat supports Pitt’s position that the Spanish money was ultimately for France but the further allegations of Rumbold’s involvement in the assassination plot suggest otherwise and are the reason for this article appearing in this chapter.
  21. Frere is British ambassador to Madrid and is alleged to have approved assassination as appropriate policy in war – see below. The reference to Elliot, presumably one of the Minto’s, is untraced.
  22. The baffling variety of names used by French nobles derives from the fractured state of France under the ancien regime when it was more an aggregate of independent states than a nation. The Revolution created and united France.
  23. The Navigation Laws were originated by the Lord Protector Cromwell a century before the Seven Years War. They are the foundation of the British Empire. They are applied by Orders-in-Council and used to extend warfare to commerce.

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