Page One Youth

Napoleon In Paris

Out Of Work

The First Italian Campaign

The Egyptian Campaign

Statesman And Lawgiver

The Concordat

Code Napoleon

General Prosperity

Preparations For War With England

Sale Of Louisiana

Establishment Of The Empire

King of Italy

Campaign Of 1805-1806-1807

The Peace Of Tilsit

Napoleon's Empire

Family Affairs

The Berlin Decree

War In The Peninsula

Bonapartes On The Spanish Throne

Disaster In Spain

Alexander And Napoleon In Council

Napoleon At Madrid

Talleyrand's Treachery

The Campaign Of 1809

Wagram

The Divorce

A New Wife

An Heir To The Crown

The Pope

Conscription

Evasions Of Blockade

Tilsit Agreement Broken

The Russian Campaign

The Burning Of Moscow

A New Army

Campaign Of 1813

Campaign Of 1814

Abdication

Ruler Of Island Of Elba

Return To Paris

Hundred Days

Second Abdication

Napoleon's Surrender

Sent To St. Helena

Life In Exile

Death Of Napoleon

Second Funeral Of Napoleon

Related Information

Wellington and Nelson

Napoleon and the French Revolution

Visit

Forum

Weekly Poll

Please Help Click Here

 

Life Of Napoleon Bonaparte With A Sketch Of Josephine

Book:        Life Of Napoleon

Author:      Tarbell, Ida

 

 

Life Of Napoleon Bonaparte With A Sketch Of Josephine

Book:        Life Of Napoleon

Author:      Tarbell, Ida

 

Chapter X.

 

Preparations For War With England - Flotilla At Boulogne - Sale Of Louisiana

 

     In the spring of 1803 the treaty of Amiens, which a year before had

ended the long war with England, was broken.  Both countries had many

reasons for complaint.  Napoleon was angry at the failure to evacuate

Malta.  The perfect freedom allowed the press in England gave the

pamphleteers and caricaturists of the country an opportunity to criticize

and ridicule him.  He complained bitterly to the English ambassadors of

this free press, an institution in his eyes impractical and idealistic.

He complained, too, of the hostile emigres allowed to collect in Jersey;

of the presence in England of such a notorious enemy of his as Georges

Cadoudal; and of the sympathy and money the Bourbon princes and many

nobles of the old regime received in London society.  Then, too, he

regarded the country as his natural and inevitable enemy.  England to

Napoleon was only a little island which, like Corsica and Elba, naturally

belonged to France, and he considered it part of his business to get

possession of her.

 

     England, on the other hand, looked with distrust at the extension of

Napoleon's influence on the Continent.  Northern Italy, Switzerland,

Holland, Parma, Elba, were under his protectorate.  She had been deeply

offended by a report published in Paris, on the condition of the Orient,

in which the author declared that with six thousand men the French could

reconquer Egypt; she resented the violent articles in the official press

of Paris in answer to those of the free press of England; her aristocratic

spirit was irritated by Napoleon's success; she despised this parvenu,

this "Corsican scoundrel," as Nelson called him, who had had the hardihood

to rise so high by other than the conventional methods for getting on in

the world which she sanctioned.

 

     Real and fancied aggressions continued throughout the year of the

peace; and when the break finally came, though both nations persisted in

declaring that they did not want war, both were in a thoroughly warlike

mood.

 

     Napoleon's preparations against England form one of the most

picturesque military movements in his career.  Unable to cope with his

enemy at sea, he conceived the audaious notion of invading the island, and

laying siege to London itself.  The plan briefly was this - to gather a

great army on the north shore of France, and in some port a flotilla

sufficient to transport it to Great Britain.  In order to prevent

interference with this expedition, he would keep the enemy's fleet

occupied in the Mediterranean, or in the Atlantic, until the critical

moment.  Then, leading the English naval commander by stratagem in the

wrong direction, he would call his own fleet to the Channel to protect his

passage.  He counted to be in London, and to have compelled the English to

peace, before Nelson could return from the chase he would have led him.

 

     The preparations began at once.  The port chosen for the flotilla was

Boulogne; but the whole coast from Antwerp to the mouth of the Seine

bristled with iron and bronze.  Between Calais and Boulogne, at Cape Gris

Nez, where the navigation was the most dangerous, the batteries literally

touched one another.  Fifty thousand men were put to work at the

stupenduous excavations necessary to make the ports large enough to

receive the flotilla.  Large numbers of troops were brought rapidly into

the neighborhood: fifty thousand men to Boulogne, under Soult; thirty

thousand to Etaples, under Ney; thirty thousand to Ostend, under Davoust;

reserves to Arras, Amiens, Saint-Omer.

 

     The work of preparing the flat-bottomed boats, or walnut-shells, as

the English called them, which were to carry over the army, went on in all

the ports of Holland and France, as well as in interior towns situated on

rivers leading to the sea.  The troops were taught to row, each soldier

being obliged to practise two hours a day so that the rivers of all the

north of France were dotted with land-lubbers handling the oar, the most

of them for the first time.

 

     In the summer of 1803, Napoleon went to the north to look after the

work.  His trip was one long ovation.  Le Chemin d'Angleterre was the

inscription the people of Amiens put on the triumphal arch erected to his

honor, and town vied with town in showing its joy at the proposed descent

on the old-time enemy.

 

     Such was the interest of the people, that a thousand projects were

suggested to help on the invasion, some of them most amusing.  In a

learned and thoroughly serious memorial, one genius proposed that while

the flotilla was preparing, the sailors be employed in catching dolphins,

which should be shut up in the ports, tamed, and taught to wear a harness,

so as to be driven, in the water, as horses are on land.  This novel power

was to transport the French to the opposite side of the Channel.

 

     Napoleon occupied himself not only with the preparations at Boulogne

and with keeping Nelson busy elsewhere.  Every project which could

possibly facilitate his undertaking or discomfit his enemies, he

considered.  Fulton's diving-boat, the "Nautilus," and his submarine

torpedoes, were at that time attracting the attention of the war

departments of civilized countries.  Already Napoleon had granted ten

thousand francs to help the inventor.  From the camp at Boulogne he again

ordered the matter to be looked into.  Fulton promised him a machine which

"would deliver France and the whole world from British oppression."

 

     "I have just read the project of Citizen Fulton, engineer, which you

have sent me much too late," he wrote, "since it is one that may change

the face of the world.  Be that as it may, I desire that you immediately

confide its examination to a commission of members chosen by you among the

different classes of the Institute.  There it is that learned Europe would

seek for judges to resolve the question under consideration.  A great

truth, a physical, palpable truth, is before my eyes.  It will be for

these gentlemen to try and seize it and see it.  As soon as their report

is made, it will be sent to you, and you will forward it to me.  Try and

let the whole be determined within eight days, as I am impatient."

 

     He had his eye on every point of the earth where he might be weak, or

where he might weaken his enemy.  He took possession of Hanover.  The

Irish were promised aid in their efforts for freedom.  "Provided that

twenty thousand united Irishmen join the French army on its landing,"

France is to give them in return twenty-five thousand men, forty thousand

muskets, with artillery and ammunition, and a promise that the French

government will not make peace with England until the independence of

Ireland has been proclaimed.

 

     An attack on India was planned, his hope being that the princes of

India would welcome an invader who would aid them in throwing off the

English yoke.  To strengthen himself in the Orient, he sought by letters

and envoys to win the confidence, as well as to inspire the awe, of the

rulers of Turkey and Persia.

 

     The sale of Louisiana to the United States dates from this time.

This transfer, of such tremendous importance to us, was made by Napoleon

purely for the sake of hurting England.  France had been in possession of

Louisiana but three years.  She had obtained it from Spain only on the

condition that it should "at no time, under no pretext, and in no manner,

be alienated or ceded to any other power." The formal stipulation of the

treaties forbade its sale.  But Napoleon was not of a nature to regard a

treaty, if the interest of the moment demanded it to be broken.  To sell

Louisiana now would remove a weak spot from France, upon which England

would surely fall in the war.  More, it would put a great territory, which

he could not control, into the hands of a country which, he believed,

would some day be a serious hinderance to English ambition.  He sold the

colony for the same reason that former French governments had helped the

United States in her struggles for independence - to cripple England.  It

would help the United States, but it would hurt England.  That was enough;

and with characteristic eagerness he hurried through the negotiations.

 

     "I have just given England a maritime rival which, sooner or later,

will humble her pride," he said exultingly, when the convention was

signed.  The sale brought him twelve million dollars, and the United

States assumed the French spoliation claims.

 

     This sale of Louisiana caused one of the first violent quarrels

between Lucien Bonaparte and Napoleon.  Lucien had negotiated the return

of the American territory to France in 1800.  He had made a princely

fortune out of the treaty, and he was very proud of the transaction; and

when his brother Joseph came to him one evening in hot haste, with the

information that the General wanted to sell Louisiana, he hurried around

to the Tuileries in the morning to remonstrate.

 

     Napoleon was in his bath, but, in the mode of the time, he received

his brothers.  He broached the subject himself, and asked Lucien what he

thought.

 

     "I flatter myself that the Chambers will not give their consent."

 

     "You flatter yourself?" said Napoleon.  "That's good, I declare."

     "I have already said the same to the First Consul," cried Joseph.

 

     "And what did I answer?" said Napoleon, splashing around indignantly

in the opaque water.

 

     "That you would do it in spite of the Chambers."

 

     "Precisely.  I shall do it without the consent of anyone whomsoever.

Do you understand?"

 

     Joseph, beside himself, rushed to the bathtub, and declared that if

Napoleon dared do such a thing he would put himself at the head of an

opposition and crush him in spite of their fraternal relations.  So hot

did the debate grow that the First Consul sprang up shouting: "You are

insolent!  I ought - " but at that moment he slipped and fell back

violently.  A great mass of perfumed water drenched Joseph to the skin,

and the conference broke up.

 

     An hour later, Lucien met his brother in his library, and the

discussion was resumed, only to end in another scene, Napoleon hurling a

beautiful snuff-box upon the floor and shattering it, while he told Lucien

that if he did not cease his opposition he would crush him in the same

way.  These violent scenes were repeated, but to no purpose.  Louisiana

was sold.

Main Page

World History Project