Memoirs of the Court of St. Cloud (Being secret letters from a gentleman at Paris to a nobleman in London) — Complete eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 453 pages of information about Memoirs of the Court of St. Cloud (Being secret letters from a gentleman at Paris to a nobleman in London) — Complete.

I have read somewhere of a tyrant of antiquity who forced all his subjects to furnish one room of their houses in the best possible manner, according to their circumstances, and to have it consecrated for the reception of his bust, before which, under pain of death, they were commanded to prostrate themselves, morning, noon, and night.  They were to enter this room, bareheaded and barefooted, to remain there only on their knees, and to leave it without turning their back towards the sacred representative of their Prince.  All laughing, sneezing, coughing, speaking, or even whispering, were capitally prohibited; but crying was not only permitted, but commanded, when His Majesty was offended, angry, or unwell.  Should our system of cringing continue progressively to increase as it has done these last three years, we, too, shall very soon have rooms consecrated, and an idol to adore.


Paris, September, 1805.

My lord:—­Portugal has suffered more from the degraded state of Spain, under the administration of the Prince of Peace, than we have yet gained by it in France.  Engaged by her, in 1793, in a war against its inclination and interest, it was not only deserted afterwards, but sacrificed.  But for the dictates of the Court of Madrid, supported, perhaps, by some secret influence of the Court of St. James, the Court of Lisbon would have preserved its neutrality, and, though not a well-wisher of the French Republic, never have been counted among her avowed enemies.

In the peace of 1795, and in the subsequent treaty of 1796, which transformed the family compact of the French and Spanish Bourbons into a national alliance between France and Spain, there was no question about Portugal.  In 1797, indeed, our Government condescended to receive a Portuguese plenipotentiary, but merely for the purpose of plundering his country of some millions of money, and to insult it by shutting up its representative as a State prisoner in the Temple.  Of this violation of the laws of civilized nations, Spain never complained, nor had Portugal any means to avenge it.  After four years of negotiation, and an expenditure of thirty millions, the imbecile Spanish premier supported demands made by our Government, which, if assented to, would have left Her Most Faithful Majesty without any territory in Europe, and without any place of refuge in America.  Circumstances not permitting your country to send any but pecuniary succours, Portugal would have become an easy prey to the united Spanish and French forces, had the marauders agreed about the partition of the spoil.  Their disunion, the consequence of their avidity, saved it from ruin, but not from pillage.  A province was ceded to Spain, the banks and the navigation of a river to France, and fifty millions to the private purse of the Bonaparte family.

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