ePub 版
[ocr errors]


of the soul! How often has not laboriously earned gold been swallowed up in the abyss of the gambling-table! How often has not the sight of the empty purse led to despair

and guilt! It is not for amusement's or form's sake that yon players are girded with wide belts, from which protrude the muzzles of pistols and revolvers. Not unfrequently are these carried to settle with the unfair bankers, who are likewise armed; and instances have been known where no less than six shots have been fired before the dispute has ended by the one being bespattered with the heart's blood of the other. But the fatal weapons are not always turned against the false bankers, who, besides the many artifices in which they are so well skilled, often enter into secret plots with the restaurateurs to drug the drink of the customers, that plunder may be carried on the more easily, and without any fear of punishment. How frequently have not these pistols been pointed by their owners against themselves! Here, as in every place where the demon of play renders man less rational than the brutes, all that remains sometimes of the promising youth who had quitted his kindred and his friends to labour for a competence to be enjoyed in future years, of the once respectable man, or fine fellow, who, in the delirium of gambling, has forgotten wife and child, is a raving maniac, or a blood-stained

corpse. My impressions of San Francisco, I do not deny, were in the highest degree unpleasing, nay, revolting. Everything savours of a race against time, of a craving for gain, of the grasp of avarice, and of fraud, imposture, or illusion. No incentive is found here but the love of money; glitter of gold outshines everything else. Mammon is the idol to which all sacrifice here, and in whose service men put forth all their energies, and even become clever and wise.

We fell in here with some Swedes, who received us with the greatest hospitality, and to whom the arrival of a frigate from their dear native home was as unexpected a pleasure as the sight of our countrymen in this distant land was to ourselves. We were told that above five hundred Swedes had emigrated to this country; and though some of these were leading lives by no means reputable, the greater number were engaged in honest and thriving business, and were far from casting any slur upon the Swedish name.

During our stay at San Francisco, which was about twelve days, two events engaged the public attention, and as they were characteristic of America I shall briefly mention them. The one was the election of President of the United States; flags waved in all directions, placards were affixed everywhere, and the salutes, expressive of the public joy, were so energetic, that panes of glass were broken in a great many windows. But three days after this outburst of enthusiasm, arrived the intelligence of the death of Henry Clay, the great statesman and eloquent speaker, The signboards were immediately covered with crape, and the shops and houses were hung with black; the flags were hoisted half-mast high, and many of the inhabitants put on mourning, as they do with us on the occasion of a monarch's death. Yet it was merely a citizen without a long line of ancestry, without high official position, without military renown, and without wealth, who had descended into the grave. But still it was a patriot of whom his native country was proud, because his whole life had been devoted to promote its good; it was a name honoured over the whole extent of the republic; and from north to south, from the Atlantic


to the Pacific, every one grieved for his loss and cherished his memory. What a spur to the exertion of individuals, when a whole country can thus unite to bear witness to the superiority of one man !

Heartily tired of San Francisco, I longed to visit the interior of the country, where I might behold a little of North American scenery, and where I might acquire some knowledge of the gold-digging, which had lured so many from their homes. Accordingly, I betook myself one afternoon to the “ Pacific Wharf,” where three steamers were about to start for Sacramento. In Europe, steam-boats generally take their departure in the morning, so that the passengers should have daylight to see the shores they are passing. But here, in this land of business, the travelling is done by night, that not a moment of the day may be lost which might be employed in money-making. I speedily found myself on board the Antelopebut, heavens ! in what company! I fancied myself cast into a modern Noah's ark, where, though there was no zoological museum, there was a veritable othnographical cabinet, with specimens from all parts of the world—amongst them oddities of all kinds. After some time and trouble in threading my way through the dense crowd with their strange physiognomies, I succeeded in finding a place on deck whereon to stretch myself

, among a knot of jabbering Chinese, who had their portmanteaus for their pillows. I had left all my professional dignity behind with my messmates in the Eugenie, and neither myself nor my purse were the worse for this. Travelling in California is extremely expensive; a journey of eight days will cost as much here as would be spent in six months' travelling in Sweden.

We steered up the bay, whose north-east corner forms the mouth of the mighty Sacramento river. From the islands which we passed uprose millions of birds, scared by the sound of the steamer. The coast was lofty and imposing, but bare and ugly. We passed close to the town of VALLEJO, where a general of the same name lived some few years ago like a little king, and, rich in his immense droves of cattle, undertook to build a metropolis, with public offices, and a college, but he was nearly ruined by the speculation, and was reduced, if not to positive beggary, at least to comparative poverty. We touched at Benicia, a Californian military station, and shortly after we found ourselves in the river, which is about as broad as the Thames at London, or the Rhine at Cologne. The shores here are low, and thickly lined with willows, among which are mingled tall poplar-trees; on either side stretch apparently_interminable green plains, that seem only lost in the distant horizon. Farther up, the river becomes narrower, and the coast higher; and here and there the appearance of a dwelling-house shows that the country is not uninhabited. How different, in the course of a few years, may not these immense plains become, if cultivated by industrious agriculturists, who will seek to find their wealth from other productions than gold, and will ex: change the hammer and spade of the gold-digger for the quiet plough! Thriving towns will then embellish the banks of this majestic river, and there, where but a few years ago the beaver built undisturbed and unobserved his curious dwelling, will roll the mighty stream of human population.

We arrived at Sacramento at about three o'clock in the morning, and I availed myself of the dawning light of day to look about me a little in this new scene.






We have already seen by what a curious chain of circumstances the fate of Marshal Marmont became attached to that of the Bourbons, and it is gratifying to find, in the present volume, that he served his new master more faithfully than he had done the old. The main cause for this be found in the fact that his vanity was flattered by the representatives of the ancient régime; and he found himself suddenly a great man among the countless small celebrities who aspired to power

the reward for their fidelity. The provisional government which was established between the abdication of Napoleon and the return of Louis was entrusted to men entirely subservient to personal interests, and quite innocent of any generous or patriotic feelings. The principal actor among them was M. de Talleyrand, and any description of his character would be superfluous at the present day. He was neither so bad nor so capable a man as people have thought proper to represent him. His experience of mankind enabled him to invent new methods of corruption unknown before his time; but although well suited for any crafty piece of diplomacy, he was perfectly useless as the head of a government. He was, in short, a most useful instrument in the hands of an established authority, but he never was suited to take the initiative, owing to his want of firm

The other members of the government were mere nonentities, whose very existence is forgotten at the present day. Hence it is not surprising that grievous errors were committed. In the first place, they quite neglected the army, which had been the first to recognise their authority. The consequence was, that the desertion from the ranks assumed such gigantic proportions, that Marmont became seriously alarmed for the safety of the nation, and consulted Marshals Ney and Macdonald on the subject. They agreed in his views, and demanded a conference with the provisional government. After numerous delays, Marmont succeeded in obtaining an interview, which ended in his threatening to throw the Abbé Louis out of window for using improper language to him. It is needless to add, that this

very soon broke


the conference, and the condition of the army remained a moot point.

Another subject which troubled Marmont at this period was the retention of the tricolor cockade. Talleyrand was of the contrary opinion; and although Marmont received a promise from the Emperor

Alexander that an article should appear in the Moniteur to the effect that the white cockade had been

employed as a sign of momentary rallying, but that, as the whole of France was now agreed on the return of the Bourbons, it would give way to the colours beneath which such great deeds had been achieved, Talleyrand gained the day in the following fashion:

The provisional government wrote to Marshal Jourdan, commanding at Rouen, that my corps d’armée had assumed

the white cockade, which was not the case, and ħe, at the same instant, issued a general order that it should be worn by his troops. When I returned to this point, they replied that I was

* Memoires du Maréchal Marmont. Vol. VII. Paris : Perrotin.


very tenacious, for the doyen of the armies of the republic had given the example. Marshal Jourdan had no idea of the part he was cajoled into playing.; he had not foreseen that he would become the instrument of the émigrés. This great change, whose consequences were so grave, was, therefore, effected by a species of jugglery. Faithful to my convictions, I retained this cockade, and wore it when I went to meet Monsieur at the barrière on the 12th April. The next day, as not a single person still adhered to it, I took it off.

On the arrival of Monsieur he was received with the utmost enthusiasm, not emanating, however, from any affection for the Bourbons, for that generation hardly knew their name. The favourable reception merely expressed the feeling of weariness felt with the fallen power, whose oppression during the last years had been unendurable. The presence of the Bourbons seemed, consequently, to afford a guarantee of a species of freedom for the future. In the mean while, the man who had once been the idol of France was gnawing his heartstrings at Fontainebleau, whence he set out for Elba, accompanied by commissioners representing the various sovereigns of Europe. From the report of Count Waldburg-Truchsess, representative of Prussia, we are enabled to furnish some curious details about his journey to the coast :

About a quarter of a league on the other side of Orgon, Napoleon thought it indispensable to take the precaution of disguising himself: he put on a shabby blue great-coat, a civilian's hat with a white cockade, and mounted a post-horse to gallop before his carriage, thus wishing to pass for a courier. As we could not keep up with him, we arrived at St. Canal some considerable time after him. Ignorant of the means he had employed to conceal himself from the people, we fancied him in the greatest danger, for his carriage was surrounded by furious men trying to open the doors; they were, fortunately, securely closed, and this saved General Bertrand. The obstinacy of the women astounded us still more; they begged us to give him up to them, saying, “He has so well deserved it, that we only ask what is right."

At about two miles from St. Canal we caught up the emperor's carriage, which soon after stopped at a poor inn situated on the high road, and called “ Lá Calade.” We followed it, and here learned for the first time the masquerade he had employed, by means of which he had arrived here in safety. He had only been accompanied by one courier, and his suite, from the general down to the marmiton, had mounted the white cockade, with which they must have provided themselves beforehand. His valet-de-chambre came to meet us, and begged us to address the emperor as Colonel Campbell, for he had passed himself off to the hostess as such. We promised to do so, and I was the first to enter a sort of bedroom, where I was struck to find the former sovereign of the world plunged in profound reflections, and resting his head on his hands. I did not recognise him at first, and drew near him. He started up on hearing a footstep. He made me a sign to say nothing, ordered me to sit down near him, and all the time the hostess was in the room he only spoke of indifferent matters. But when she went out he returned to his old position. I considered it advisable to leave him alone, but he begged us to come in at intervals, that his presence might not be suspected.

We told him that we had been informed Colonel Campbell had passed through this very place the previous day for Toulon, so then he resolved to take the name of Lord Burgherst.

We sat down to table; but as the dinner had not been prepared by his own cooks, he could not make up his mind to take any nourishment, through fear of being poisoned. Still, on seeing us eat with good appetite, he was ashamed to let us see the fears which assailed him, and took everything that was offered him : he pretended to taste it, but sent away his plate without tasting. His

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

“ Yes."

dinner was composed of some bread, and a bottle of wine, which was fetched from his carriage, and shared with us.

He spoke a great deal, and was remarkably amiable. When we were alone, he explained to us how he believed his life was in danger; he was persuaded that the French government had taken measures to have him carried off or assassinated. A thousand projects crossed his mind about the manner in which he could save himself. He devised schemes, too, to deceive the towns. people at Aix, for we had been advised a large crowd was awaiting him at the post-station. He then declared he thought it best to return to Lyons, and there select another route by which to reach Italy. We could in no case have assented to this project, and we tried to induce him to travel direct to Toulon, or via Digne to Fréjus. We strove to convince him it was impossible that the French government could have formed such perfidious plans against his safety without instructing us, and that the populace, in spite of the indecent language it employed, would not be guilty of a crime of such a nature. In order to persuade us then how well-founded his apprehensions were, he told us what had passed between him and the hostess, who had not recognised him. “Well,” she said to him, “have you met Bonaparte ?” “No," he had replied. “I am curious,” she continued, “to see whether he can save himself. I still believe the people will massacre him; and it must be allowed he has well deserved it, the rascal. Tell me then, is he going to embark for his island ?” “He will be drowned, eh ?”. “I hope so," Napoleon replied. “You see, therefore,” he added, “to what danger I am exposed.”

Then he began to weary us once more with his fears and want of resolution. He begged us even to examine whether there was not a masked door by which he could escape, or if the window, the shutters of which he had closed on arriving, were too high for him to jump out, and so escape. The window was protected by iron bars outside, and I placed him in a state of great embarrassment by communicating this discovery. At the least noise he trembled and changed colour. After dinner we left him to his reflections, entering the room from time to time, according to his expressed desire.

A good many persons had collected at this inn ; the majority had come from Aix, suspecting that our lengthened stay was occasioned by the presence of the emperor. We tried to make them believe that he had gone before us; but they would not listen to our statements. They assured us they did not wish to do him any harm, but only see what effect his misfortunes had produced on him; at the most they would only address a few reproaches to him, or tell him the truth, which he had so rarely heard. We did all we could to turn them from this design, and succeeded in calming them. A person, who appeared to us a man of some social station, offered to maintain order and tranquillity at Ais, if we would entrust him with a letter to the mayor of that town. General Koller communicated this offer to the emperor, who received it with pleasure. This person was sent with a letter to the magistrate, and returned with the assurance that excellent arrangements had been made by the mayor, which would prevent all disturbance. General Scherwaloff's aide-de-camp came to tell us that the people who had collected in the streets had almost all retired, and the emperor resolved to start at midnight.

Through an exaggerated prudence he took fresh measures to evade recognition. He induced General Scherwaloff's aide-de-camp to put on the blue great-coat and hat, in which he had himself arrived at the inn, in order, doubtlessly, that, in case of need, he might pass for him. Bonaparte, who had now decided on passing as an Austrian colonel, put on General Koller's uniform and the St. Theresa order the general wore, put my travelling-cap on his head, and wrapped himself in General Scherwaloff's cloak. After the commissioners of the allied powers had thus equipped him, the carriages were ordered to the door, but, before going down stairs, we rehearsed in our room the order in which we were to proceed. General Drouot opened the procession; then came the soidisant emperor, General Scherwaloff's aide-de-camp, then General Koller, the


« 上一頁繼續 »