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CHAPTER XIV. THE REIGN OF VICTORIA (continued).
THE DEFENCE OF GIBRALTAR BY LORD HEATHFIELD, 1782.
KENNINGTON COMMON, LONDON, ABOUT 1840.
Though Buonaparte had been absent, his family had taken care to keep public opinion alive to his importance. His wife, Josephine, lived at great expense, and collected around her all that was distinguished in society. His brother Lucien had become President of the Council of Five Hundred; and Joseph, a man much respected, kept a hospitable house, and did much to maintain the Buonaparte prestige. Talleyrand and Fouch were already in Napoleon's interest, and Bernadotte, now Minister of War, Jourdain, and Augereau, as generals, were prepared to act with him. The Abb Siys, with his perpetual constitution-making, had also been working in a way to facilitate his schemes. He had planned a new and most complicated constitution, known as that of the year Eight, by which the executive power was vested in three Consuls. Of the five Directors Buonaparte left in office, the most active had been removed; Abb Siys had succeeded Rewbell, and two men of no ability, Gohier and Moulins, had succeeded others. Roger Ducos, also in the interest of Buonaparte, made the fifth. All measures being prepared, on the 18th Brumaire, that is, the 10th of November, Buonaparte proceeded to enact the part of Cromwell, and usurp the chief authority of the State, converting the Republic into a military dictatorship. The army had shown, on his return, that they were devoted to his service. Jourdain, Bernadotte, Moreau, and Augereau were willing to co-operate in a coup-de-main which should make the army supreme. He therefore assembled three regiments of dragoons on pretence of reviewing them, and, everything being ready, he proceeded to the Council of Ancients, in which the moderate, or reactionary, party predominated, on the evening of the 10th of November. They placidly gave way in the midst of a most excited debate on the menaced danger, and every member, including Lucien Buonaparte, who was the President, had just been compelled to take an oath to maintain inviolable the Constitution of the year Three, when Napoleon entered, attended by four grenadiers of the Constitutional Guard of the Councils. The soldiers remained near the door, Napoleon advanced up the hall uncovered. There were loud murmurs. "What!" exclaimed the members, "soldiersdrawn swords in the sanctuary of the laws!" They rushed upon him, and seized him by the collar, shouting, "Outlawry! outlawry! proclaim him a traitor!" For a moment he shrank before them, but soon at the instigation of Siys returned, and quietly expelled them. Thus Buonaparte, with an army at his back, was openly dictator. He removed to the Palace of the Luxembourg, and assumed a state little inferior to royalty. He revised the Constitution of the Abb Siys, concentrating all the power of the State in the First Consul, instead of making him, as he expressed it, a personage whose only duties were to fatten, like a pig, upon so many millions a-year.
Again, on the night between the 18th and 19th of April, General Gage sent a detachment of about eight hundred grenadiers and light infantry to destroy a dep?t of stores and arms at Concord. They were commanded by Lieutenant-Colonel Smith and Major Pitcairn, of the Marines. The alarm was given, fires were kindled, bells rung, guns discharged, and the country was up. The British troops reached Lexington at five o'clock in the morning, and pushed on their light infantry to secure the bridges. They encountered a body of militia under cover of a gun near the road, whom they ordered to retire, and they withdrew in haste.
Undaunted by his defeat, he immediately offered himself for Middlesex, and there, though the mob could not vote, they could act for him. They assembled in vast numbers, shouting, "Wilkes and Liberty!" They accompanied him to the poll; they stopped all the roads that led to the hustings at Brentford, suffering no one to pass who was not for Wilkes and liberty. His zealous supporters wore blue cockades or paper in their hats, inscribed "Wilkes and Liberty," or "No. 45." At night they assembled in the streets, insisting on people illuminating their houses in honour of Wilkes; abused all Scotsmen they met; scribbled "No. 45" on the panels of carriages as they passed; made the parties in them shout their favourite cry; broke the windows of Lord Bute at the West End, and of Harley, the Lord Mayor, at the Mansion Housethe same Harley, a younger brother of the Earl of Oxford, who, as sheriff, had had to burn No. 45 of the North Briton in Cornhill. By such means the mob managed to return Wilkes at the very head of the poll.