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Here ends the wild and mournful story of the explorers of the Mississippi. Of all their toil and [Pg 473] sacrifice, no fruit remained but a great geographical discovery, and a grand type of incarnate energy and will. Where La Salle had ploughed, others were to sow the seed; and on the path which the undespairing Norman had hewn out, the Canadian D'Iberville was to win for France a vast though a transient dominion.With such chimerical fancies, the young Corsican saw the fleet, on a splendid morning, stand out into the Mediterranean, the line-of-battle ships extending for a league, and the semicircle formed by the convoy six leagues in extent. On their way to Malta, the first object of their enterprise, they were joined by a large fleet of transports, bringing the division of General Desaix. On the 10th they were before Valetta, a fortress which, properly defended, would have set the French at defiance for months, before which time the British Admiral would have been upon them, and destroyed the whole scheme of the expedition, and probably its commander and projector with it; but the surrender of the place had been bargained for with the Grand Master, Hompesch, before starting. The once formidable Knights of Malta were now sunk in indolence and sensual sloth, and the French agent had agreed for the surrender for a bribe of six hundred thousand francs to the Grand Master. As General Caffarelli passed through the most formidable defences with Napoleon on their way to the house of the Grand Master, he said to him, "It is well, General, that there was some one within to open the gates for us. We should have had more trouble in entering if the place had been altogether empty."
One condition was imposed on him which may be said to form the distinctive feature of Canadian feudalism; that of clearing his land within a limited time on pain of forfeiting it. The object was the excellent one of preventing the lands of the colony from lying waste. As the seignior was often the penniless owner of a domain three or four leagues wide and proportionably deep, he could not clear it all himself, and was therefore under the necessity of placing the greater part in the hands of those who could. But he was forbidden to sell any part of it which he had not cleared. He must grant it without price, on condition of a small perpetual rent; and this brings us to the cultivator of the soil, the censitaire, the broad base of the feudal pyramid. *
and Picardy. Nearly all those from Paris were sent by theOn the day of Chatham's death, his friend and disciple, Colonel Barr, announced the melancholy event in the House of Commons, and moved that his funeral should be conducted at the public charge, and his remains be deposited in Westminster Abbey. This was seconded by Thomas Townshend, afterwards Secretary of State, and Lord Sydney. All parties consented, with many praises, to this suggestion; and two days afterwards, Lord John Cavendish introduced the subject of a further testimony of public regard for the departed. It was well known that Chatham, notwithstanding the ten thousand pounds left him by the Duchess of Marlborough, notwithstanding the emoluments of his places and pensions, and the noble estate bequeathed to him by Sir William Pynsent, was still in debt. Lord John Cavendish put to the score of disinterestedness what ought probably to have been placed to the account of free living and little care of money, and called on Parliament to reward the descendants of the Earl for the great addition which he had made to the empire as well as to its glory. Lord North cordially assented.
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.So saying, he gave two belts of wampum to confirm his words; and the assembly dissolved. On the following day, the chiefs again convoked it, and made their reply in form. It was all that La Salle could have wished. "The Illinois is our brother, because he is the son of our Father, the Great King." "We make you the master of our beaver and our lands, of our minds and our bodies." "We cannot wonder that our brothers from the East wish to live with you. We should have wished so too, if we had known what a blessing it is to be the children of the Great King." The rest of this auspicious day was passed in feasts and dances, in which La Salle and his Frenchmen all bore part. His new scheme was hopefully begun. It remained to achieve the enterprise, twice defeated, of the discovery of the mouth of the Mississippi,that vital condition of his triumph, without which all other success was meaningless and vain.
NAPOLEON AT ROSSBACH. (See p. 527.)