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

By six P. M. the party in the "Edinburgh Castle" grew very uneasy; the prince had not arrived. Count Orsi took a post-chaise and drove overland to Ramsgate, where Count Montholon (Napoleon's fellow-exile at St. Helena) and two colonels were waiting the arrival of the steamer. Only one of these gentlemen had been let into the plot, and Montholon was subsequently deeply wounded by having been excluded.

About dawn, when this party had just gone to bed, the "Edinburgh Castle" steamed up to the beautiful Ramsgate pier; but it was already the hour when she should have been off Boulogne.

A second time Louis Napoleon had damaged his chances and risked his friends by his want of punctuality. He had not taken proper precautions as to his mode of leaving London. He found that the police were on the alert, and it was late in the day before he contrived to leave his house unseen. He might have made more exertion, but he had quite forgotten the importance of the tide!

What was now to be done? Four hours is the passage from Ramsgate to Boulogne. It would not do to arrive there in broad daylight. They dared not stay at Ramsgate. It became necessary to put to sea, and to steam about aimlessly till night arrived. The captain and the crew had to be told the object of the expedition, the van had to be opened, and the arms and uniforms distributed. This was done after dark, and no light was allowed on board the steamer.

At three o'clock A. M. of Aug. 6, 1840, the "Edinburgh Castle" was off Wimereux, a little landing-place close to Boulogne. The disembarkation was begun at once. The steamer was ill provided with boats. She had but one, and could only land eight men at a time. This was one of the many oversights of the expedition.

At five A. M. the little troop, clad as French soldiers, marched up to the barracks at Boulogne. The gates were thrown open by friends within, and the prince and his followers entered the yard. The reason why it had been so important to reach Boulogne twenty-four hours earlier, was that a certain Colonel Piguellier, who was a strong republican, was sure to be against them. Some French friends of the prince, who were in the secret, had therefore invited Colonel Piguellier to a shooting-party on the 4th, the invitation including one to pass the night at a house in the country; but by the evening of the 5th he had returned to his quarters in Boulogne.

At the moment of the prince's entrance, with his little troop, into the yard of the barracks, the soldiers of the garrison were just getting out of their beds. The few who were already afoot on different duties were soon made to understand who the prince was, and what his party had come for. At the name of Napoleon they rushed up to the dormitories to spread the news. In a short time all the men were formed in line in the barrack-yard.

The prince, at the head of his little troop, addressed them. His speech was received with enthusiasm. At that moment Colonel Piguellier, in full uniform, appeared upon the scene. One of the prince's party threatened to fire on him with a revolver. His soldiers at once took his part. It was the affair of Strasburg over again.

In vain, threats and promises were urged upon the colonel. All he would say was: "You may be Prince Louis Napoleon, or you may not. Napoleon, your predecessor, overthrew legitimate authority, and it is not right for you to attempt to do the same thing in this place. Murder me if you like, but I will do my duty to the last."

The soldiers took the side of their commander. Resistance was of no avail. The prince and his party were forced to leave the barracks, the gates of which were shut at once by Colonel Piguellier's order. The only concession the prince had been able to obtain was that he and his followers should not be pursued by the troops, but be left to be dealt with by the civil authorities.

The failure was complete. The day before, a party of the prince's friends had been at Boulogne on the lookout for his arrival; but when they found he did not come, they had left the city. All that remained to be done was to attempt to save the prince. He was almost beside himself. Apparently he lost his self-command, and men of more nerve and experience did with him what they would.

He and his party reached the sea at last. The National Guard of Boulogne began firing on them. The prince, Count Persigny, Colonel Voisin, and Galvani, an Italian, were put into a boat. As they pushed off, a fire of musketry shattered the little skiff, and threw them into the water. Colonel Voisin's arm was broken at the elbow, and Galvani was hit in the body. The prince and Persigny came up to the surface at some distance from the land. Colonel Voisin and Galvani, being nearer to the shore, were immediately rescued. Count Orsi says that as the prince swam towards the steamer, still fired on by the National Guard stationed on the heights, a custom-house boat headed him off. But in Boulogne it was reported and believed that he was captured and brought to land in a bathing machine.

The prisoners were tried by a royal decree. No one was sentenced to death, but the prince, Count Montholon, Count Persigny, Colonel Voisin, Major Parquin, and another officer were sent to the fortress of Ham, on the frontier of Belgium, where they occupied the same quarters as Prince Polignac and the other ministers of Charles X. had done. Count Montholon, four months after, made piteous appeals to be let out on parole for one day, that he might be present when the body of Napoleon was brought back to the capital.