CHAPTER III. LOUIS NAPOLEON'S EARLY CAREER. - STRASBURG, BOULOGNE, HAM.

News was at once sent by telegraph to Paris; but the great wooden-armed telegraph-stations were in those days uncertain and unmanageable. Only half of the telegram reached the Tuileries, where the king and his ministers sat up all night waiting for more news. At daybreak of October 30 a courier arrived, and then they learned that the rising had been suppressed, and that the prince and his confederates were in prison.

Meantime the young officer in charge of Louis Napoleon's two letters to Queen Hortense had prematurely come to the conclusion that the prince was meeting with success, and had hurried off the letter announcing the good news to his mother.

How to dispose of such a capture as the head of the house of Bonaparte was a great puzzle to Louis Philippe's ministers. They dared not bring him to trial; they dared not treat him harshly. In the end he was carried to Paris, lodged for a few days in the Conciergerie, and then sent off, without being told his destination, to Cherbourg, where he was put on board a French frigate which sailed with orders not to be opened till she reached the equator. There it was found that her destination was Rio Janeiro, where she was not to suffer the prince to land, but after a leisurely voyage she was to put him ashore in the United States.

As the vessel was about to put to sea, an official personage waited on the prince, and after inquiring if he had funds enough to pay his expenses on landing, handed him, on the the part of Louis Philippe, a considerable sum.

On reaching Norfolk, Virginia, the prince landed, and learned, to his very great relief, that all his fellow-conspirators had been tried before a jury at Strasburg, and acquitted!

He learned too, shortly afterwards, that his mother was very ill. The shock of his misfortune, and the great exertions she had made on his behalf when she thought his life might be in danger, had proved too much for her. Louis Napoleon recrossed the ocean, landed in England, and made his way to Arenenberg. He was just in time to see Queen Hortense on her death-bed, to receive her last wishes, and to hear her last sigh.

After her death the French Government insisted that the Swiss Confederacy must compel Louis Napoleon to leave their territory. The Swiss refused, repaired the fortifications of Geneva, and made ready for a war with France; but Louis Napoleon of his own free will relieved the Swiss Government from all embarrassment by passing over into England, where it was not long before he made preparations for a new attempt to overthrow Louis Philippe's government.

He lived quietly in London at that period, visiting few persons except Count D'Orsay at Gore House, the residence of Lady Blessington, and occupying himself a great deal with writing. He had already completed a Manual of Artillery, and was engaged on a book that he called "Les Idees napoleoniennes." Its principal "idea" was that France wanted an emperor, a definite head, but that she also needed extreme democratic principles. Therefore an empire ought to be founded on an expression of the will of the people, - in plain words, on universal suffrage. The mistake Napoleon III. made in his after career, as well as in his "Idees napoleoniennes," was in not perceiving that an empire without military glory would become a pool of corruption, while vast military efforts, which would embroil France with all Europe, would lose the support of the bourgeoisie. "In short," as Louis Blanc has said, "he imagined a despotism without its triumphs; a throne surrounded by court favorites, but without Europe at its footstool; a great name, with no great man to bear it, - the Empire, in short, minus its Napoleon!"

During the months that Louis Napoleon passed in London he was maturing the plot of a new enterprise. He was collecting round him his adherents, some of them Carbonaro leaders, with whom he had been associated in Italy. Some were his personal friends; some were men whose devotion to the First Napoleon made them ashamed to refuse to support his nephew, even in an insurrection that they disapproved; while some were mere adventurers.

Very few persons were admitted to his full confidence; the affair was managed by a clique, "the members of which had been previously sounded; and in general those were set aside who could not embark in the undertaking heart and hand."

By all these men Louis Napoleon was treated as an imperial personage. To the Italians he stood pledged, and had stood pledged since 1831, that if they helped him to ascend the throne of France, he would fight afterwards for the cause of Italy. This pledge he redeemed at Solferino and Magenta, but not till after some impatient, rash Italians (believing him forsworn) had attempted his assassination.

In vain he was advised to wait, to let Louis Philippe's Government fall to the ground for want of a foundation. He had made his decision, and was resolved to adhere to it, not fearing to make that step which lies between the sublime and the ridiculous.