§ 634.Louis-Napoleon's grand prowess

19th century:
§634. Louis-Napoleon's grand prowess (1840-1858): IV-65.
To the deserter of the grand fortress,
He who shall have abandoned his post :
After him his adversary shall achieve such a grand prowess,
The Emperor a condemned shall be soon executed.

(Au deserteur de la grand forteresse,
Apres qu'aura son lieu abandonné:
Son adversaire fera si grand prouesse,
L'Empereur tost mort sera condemné.)

Keys to the reading:
The deserter of the grand fortress: Louis-Napoleon, who escapes to England in 1846 from the castle of Ham, where he has been imprisoned since 1840 (Torné-Chavigny, 1860, p.84-85). As to his return to France, cf.§630,VII-43: Shall flee the nephew smiling;

qu'aura: = qui aura;

He who shall have abandoned his post to the deserter: Louis-Philip (Torné-Chavigny, id.);

His adversary: Louis-Napoleon (Torné-Chavigny, id., p.85).;

Son adversaire fera si grand prouesse, L'Empereur tost mort sera condemné: The construction should be: His adversary shall achieve such a grand prowess, [i.e.] the Emperor [;] a condemned shall be soon executed;

A condemned: Orsini.

The Strasburg Bonapartist plot: « This ministry [of Molé] had not been in existence two months when the attempt made at Strasburg by Louis Bonaparte took place. The nephew of Napoleon I had been living for some years at the castle of Arenenberg in Switzerland with his mother, and was a captain of artillery in the Swiss army. The continual risings which took place in France, and the letters of his partisans, made him believe that the time had come for attempting, by means of a military revolution, to replace on the throne the Napoleonic dynasty of which he was the head now that the duke of Reichstadt was dead. He had succeeded in opening communications with the garrison of Strasburg. On the 29th of October, 1836, he arrived at Strasburg. The next day at five o'clock in the morning. Colonel Vaudrey presented him to the fourth artillery regiment. For a few moments he succeeded in arousing the enthusiasm of the soldiers who cried "Long live Napoleon ! Long live the Emperor I " But the 46th line regiment, under Lieutenant-Colonel Taillandier, turned a deaf ear to these outcries and remained faithful to their duty. By order of their commanding officer, the infantry surrounded Louis Bonaparte and took him prisoner. Louis Philippe sent him to America. The other conspirators were brought to trial and acquitted, for the jury were unwilling to pronounce them guilty when the chief culprit had been sent away unpunished.» (HH, XIII, p.70)

Louis-Napoleon's second attempt at a coup d'état: « Louis Philippe left Paris for his castle of Eu, where he had given a rendezvous to MM. Thiers and Guizot for the purpose of discussing Eastern affairs. There he received strange tidings: Louis Napoleon had landed at Boulogne on August 6th, 1840. The latter, since he had transferred his residence to England, had recommenced the same operations as in Switzerland. He believed he could count upon the commander of the departement du Nord, General Magnan, who, later on, was to be one of his chief accomplices on December 2nd. He had even entered into relations with a higher official, Marshal Clausel. He determined to land near Boulogne, purposing to capture the small garrison of that town, to seize the castle, which contained a gun magazine, then to direct his steps towards the departement du Nord, and from thence to Paris. He prepared declamatory proclamations wherein he promised to the soldiers " glory, honour, wealth," and to the people reduction of taxes, order, and liberty. " Soldiers," he said, " the great spirit of Napoleon speaks to you through me. Traitors, be gone, the Napoleonic spirit, which cares but for the welfare of the nation, advances to overwhelm you ! " He asserted that he had powerful friends abroad as well as at home, who had promised to uphold him; this was an allusion to Russia, whose support he believed he possessed and from whom he had very probably received some encouragement. In a sketch of a decree, he named Thiers president of the provisional government, and Marshal Clausel, commander of the Army of Paris. His plans thus laid, he left London by steamer, with General Montholon, several officers, about sixty men, and an eagle, destined to play the part of a living symbol in the forthcoming drama. The expedition landed at night at Vimereux, north of Boulogne, and proceeded to that town. The confederates entered the courtyard of the barracks of the 42nd regiment of the line. A lieutenant, who was for Napoleon, had mustered the men and told them that Louis Philippe reigned no longer; then Louis Bonaparte harangued them. Confused, fascinated, they were beginning to shout " Long live the emperor," when there appeared upon the scene a captain, who, breaking through the confederates, and regardless of their threats, summoned the non-commissioned officers and men to his side. Louis Bonaparte fired a pistol at him, but it missed him and wounded a grenadier; the soldiers rallied round their captain. The confederates left the barracks without delay, and ascended to the castle, but they were unable to break in the doors. None of the townspeople had joined them. The rappel was sounded, and the national guard assembled, but against them. They left the town and retreated to the foot of the column raised in Napoleon's time in honour of the Grande Armée. The national guard and the line regiment advanced upon them. They disappeared. Louis Bonaparte and a few of his followers fled towards the sea and swam to a yawl, in which they attempted to regain their vessel. The national guards opened fire upon the fugitives, several of whom were severely wounded; the yawl capsized and a spent bullet struck Louis Bonaparte. Two of his accomplices perished, one was shot, the other drowned. Louis Bonaparte survived. The pretender was this time arraigned with his accomplices before the court of peers, which condemned him to imprisonment for life (October 6th). He was imprisoned in the castle of Ham, in the same chamber where Polignac had been confined. This non-capital sentence confirmed in effect the abolition of the death penalty in political affairs, which had been implied in the pardon of Barbès. This attempt, even more feebly conceived than that of Strasburg, had thus failed still more miserably. The pretender had made himself ridiculous in the eyes of the enlightened and educated classes, who perused the newspapers and knew the details of his adventures. But it was a great mistake to look upon him now as harmless, and to forget that the majority are not in the habit of reading.» (HH, XIII, p.73-75)

After him his adversary shall achieve such a grand prowess, the Emperor: « Presidential election in 1848. Disguised under the form of a republic, this constitution was in reality monarchical, for the president was invested with all the substantial power of sovereignty; and as he was capable of being re-elected, his tenure of office might be prolonged for an indefinite period. Though there were several candidates for the high office, yet it was soon apparent that the suffrage would really come to be divided between two - General Cavaignac and Prince Louis Napoleon. The door had already been opened to the latter by an election which took place at Paris on the 17th of September, when the young prince was again elected by a large majority. Four other departments in the country had already elected him. On this occasion he no longer hesitated, but accepted his election for the department of the Seine. He took his seat on the 26th of September, and made the following speech on the occasion, which was very favourably received by the assembly:

"After three-and-thirty years of proscription and exile, I at length find myself among you, I again regain my country and my rights as one of its citizens. It is to the republic that I owe that happiness: let the republic then receive my oath of gratitude, of devotion; and let my generous fellow-citizens, to whom I am indebted for my seat in its legislature, feel assured that I will strive to justify their suffrages, by labouring with you for the maintenance of tranquillity, the first necessity of the country, and for the development of the democratic institutions which the country is entitled to reclaim. My conduct, ever guided by a sense of duty and respect for the laws, will prove, in opposition to the passions by which I have been maligned and still am blackened, that none is more anxious than I am to devote myself to the defence of order and the consolidation of the republic."

Both Prince Louis Napoleon Bonaparte and General Cavaignac had exceptional advantages: the first, that of a great name; the second, that of the immense resources with which executive power is necessarily invested.» (HH, XIII, p.105)

« The appeal to the people. The struggle had come to an end; it had been replaced by the terrorising of the conquered. Thirty-two departments were in a stage of siege. Nearly one hundred thousand citizens were captives in the prisons or the fortresses. The casemates of the forts about Paris were overflowmg with prisoners. The examining magistrates proceeded to summary interrogations, after which the persons detained were sent before military commissions. The latter, in accordance with the dossiers of the police and a few words added by the judges to those notes, classed the prisoners in one of these three categories: (1) Persons taken with arms in their hands or against whom grave charges are brought; (2) Persons against whom less grave charges are brought; (3) Dangerous persons. The first category was to be judged summarily by court martial; the second sent before various tribunals; the third deported without sentence. It was under such conditions that the vote on the appeal to the people was proceeded with on the 20th and 21st of December [1851]. The consultative commission instituted by Louis Napoleon on the 3rd of December was entrusted with the counting of the ballot of the appeal to the people. It reported 7,439,216 ayes, 646,737 noes, 36,880 papers rejected. At Paris there had been 132,181 ayes, 80,601 noes, 3,200 rejected papers; 76,000 electors had not voted. On the morning of that day of the year which opened a period so different from that on which many hopes had waited in 1852, a decree had substituted the imperial eagle of Rome for the cock by whicn the constitutional monarchy and the republic recalled ancient Gaul. Another decree announced that the chief of the state was about to take the Tuileries for his residence. Whilst the man of the 2nd of December was installing himself in the palace of the kings, the chief representatives of the republic were driven into exile.» (HH, XIII, p.122-124)

« Napoleon's address at Bordeaux, 1852: Master of himself in the midst of the general enthusiasm, Louis Napoleon was preparing for the great speech which would definitely decide his destiny and the destiny of France. It was made at Bordeaux on the 9th of October, at the close of a banquet which had been given him by the chamber of commerce. Contrary to his custom he went straight to the point: " I say with a frankness as far removed from pride as from false modesty,that never has any nation manifested in a more direct, more spontaneous, more unanimous manner its wish to rid itself of all anxiety as to the future, by strengthening under one control the government which is sympathetic to it. The reason is that this people now realises both the false hopes which lulled it and the perils which threatened it. It knows that in 1852 Society was hurrying to its downfall. It is grateful to me for having saved the ship by setting up only the flag of France. Disabused of absurd theories, the nation has acquired the conviction that its so-called reformers were but dreamers, for there was always an inconsistency, a disproportion, between their resources and the promised results. To bring about the well-being of the country it is not necessary to apply new methods, but to give it, before all else, confidence in the present and security as to the future. These are the reasons why France appears anxious to revert to an empire." The important word had at last been uttered. With insinuating cleverness Louis Napoleon also brought forward the principal objection to the scheme: "There is an apprehension abroad of which I must take note. In a spirit of distrust, certain persons are saying that imperialism means war. I say imperialism means peace. It means peace because France desires it, and when France is satisfied the world is at rest. Glory may well be bequeathed as an inheritance, but not war. Did those princes who were justly proud of being descendants of Louis XIV revive his quarrels? War is not made for pleasure, but by necessity; and in these times of transition when, side by side with so many elements of prosperity, on every hand so many causes of death arise, one may truly say: 'Woe unto him who first gives the signal in Europe for a collision whose consequences would be incalculable.'" Prolonged cheers greeted these sentiments of pacific pride. The enthusiasm became tinged with emotion when the prince, continuing, outlined in superb language the programme of his future government - a stately plan for an edifice never, alas! erected. On the 10th of October the presidential address, "The Bordeaux Speech" as it was promptly dubbed, was telegraphed to Paris. So dignified, conciliatory, and loyal did its language appear, that it instantly produced an emotion which was not artificial or simulated, but profound and sincere, Louis Napoleon visited in rapid succession Angoulême, Rochefort, La Rochelle, and Tours; he made a last halt at Amboise and there, to impress the public fancy by some new and striking act, he set free the imprisoned Abdul-Kadir. At two o'clock in the afternoon of the 16th of October, he arrived in Paris, and was received with full official pomp and circumstance.» (HH, XIII, p.126-127)

THE ACCESSION OF NAPOLEON III : « On December 1st, 1852, at eight o'clock in the evening, in the midst of a thick fog, two hundred carriages, lighted by torchbearers on horseback, crossed the bridge of Boulogne, and went in the direction of the palace of St. Cloud, the windows of which were seen shining from afar; the members of the senate occupied these carriages; they carried the prince-president the decree of the senate which named him emperor. The fête of the proclamation of the empire was very similar to that of the return of the prince-president, and curiosity began to be exhausted: the same flags, the same uniforms, the same people, the same decorations, a smaller crowd in the streets, but more animation in the theme. The new government, by way of a gift to celebrate the joyous accession, delivered from imprisonment and fine those who were condemned for misdemeanours and infractions of the laws covering the press and the book trade: official warnings which had been sent to the journals were considered null and void; there was to be no amnesty; exiles might return "if they acknowledged the national will," that is, if they demanded pardon. A banquet for sixty persons and a simple reception at the residence of the sovereign ended the evening. At midnight a new guest slept in the Tuileries. So began the reign which was to finish at Sedan.» (HH, XIII, p.127-128)

A condemned shall be soon executed: « The evening of the 14th of January, 1858, at the moment of the arrival of the emperor and empress at the opera, three explosions were heard. The police arrested four Italians, three of them were but instruments; the fourth, Orsini, was remarquable. His father had perished in 1831 in the insurrection against the pope in which Napoleon III and his elder brother had taken part. The son since his childhood had taken part in all the national Italian conspiracies. A profound impression was made on the audience when Jules Favre, by permission of the emperor, read aloud a letter addressed to the latter by Orsini. The criminal did not ask mercy for himself; he asked freedom for his unhappy country. He did not go so far as to demand that the blood of Frenchmen should be shed for the Italians, but only that France should interdict the support of Austria by Germany. Orsini and his accomplices were condemned to death on the 26th of February. The question of the commutation of the penalty was energetically agitated by those about the emperor. Napoleon would have judged such mercy politic if so many victims had not been struck by the instruments of death intended for his own person. Orsini was executed on the 14th of March, with one of his accomplices.» (HH, XIII, p.132-133).

As to the case of Orsini, cf. §633(VIII-43), §644(V-8),§645(V-9), §646(V-10).
© Koji Nihei Daijyo, 2012. All rights reserved.


Koji Nihei Daijyo

Author:Koji Nihei Daijyo
We have covered 143 quatrains (§588-§730) concerning the World Events in the 19th century after Napoleonic ages [1821-1900] in the Prophecies of Nostradamus, and 218 in the 20th [1901-2000] (§731-§948).

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