Whatever the police agents did to prevent it, and in spite of some unjust and cruel chastisement, Bonaparte continued, during his stay in Italy, an object of ridicule in conversation, as well as in pamphlets and caricatures. One of these represented him in the ragged garb of a sans-culotte, pale and trembling on his knees, with bewildered looks and his hair standing upright on his head like pointed horns, tearing the map of the world to pieces, and, to save his life, offering each of his generals a slice, who in return regarded him with looks of contempt mixed with pity.
I have just heard of a new plot, or rather a league against Bonaparte’s ambition. At its head the Generals Jourdan, Macdonald, Le Courbe, and Dessolles are placed, though many less victorious generals and officers, civil as well as military, are reported to be its members. Their object is not to remove or displace Bonaparte as an Emperor of the French; on the contrary, they offer their lives to strengthen his authority and to resist his enemies; but they ask and advise him to renounce, for himself, for his relations, and for France, all possessions on the Italian side of the Alps, as the only means to establish a permanent peace, and to avoid a war with other States, whose safety is endangered by our great encroachments. A mutinous kind of address to this effect has been sent to the camp of Boulogne and to all other encampments of our troops, that those generals and other military persons there, who chose, might both see the object and the intent of the associates. It is reported that Bonaparte ordered it to be burnt by the hands of the common executioner at Boulogne; that sixteen officers there who had subscribed their names in appropriation of the address were broken, and dismissed with disgrace; that Jourdan is deprived of his command in Italy, and ordered to render an account of his conduct to the Emperor. Dessolles is also said to be dismissed, and with Macdonald, Le Courbe, and eighty-four others of His Majesty’s subjects, whose names appeared under the remonstrance (or petition, as some call it), exiled to different departments of this country, where they are to expect their Sovereign’s further determination, and, in the meantime, remain under the inspection and responsibility of his constituted authorities and commissaries of police. As it is as dangerous to inquire as to converse on this and other subjects, which the mysterious policy of our Government condemns to silence or oblivion, I have not yet been able to gather any more or better information concerning this league, or unconstitutional opposition to the executive power; but as I am intimate with one of the actors, should he have an opportunity, he will certainly write to me at full length, and be very explicit.
Paris, August, 1805.