Make your own free website on

List Of Contents | Contents of Murat, by Alexandre Dumas, Pere
< < Previous Page     Next Page > >

His exclamations of joy prevented the king from keeping up his
incognito.  Then Senator Casabianca, Captain Oletta, a nephew of
Prince Baciocchi, a staff-paymaster called Boerco, who were
themselves fleeing from the massacres of the South, were all on board
the vessel, and improvising a little court, they greeted the king
with the title of "your Majesty."  It had been a sudden embarkation,
it brought about a swift change: he was no longer Murat the exile; he
was Joachim, the King of Naples.  The exile's refuge disappeared with
the foundered boat; in its place Naples and its magnificent gulf
appeared on the horizon like a marvellous mirage, and no doubt the
primary idea of the fatal expedition of Calabria was originated in
the first days of exultation which followed those hours of anguish.
The king, however, still uncertain of the welcome which awaited him
in Corsica, took the name of the Count of Campo Melle, and it was
under this name that he landed at Bastia on the 25th August.  But
this precaution was useless; three days after his arrival, not a soul
but knew of his presence in the town.

Crowds gathered at once, and cries of "Long live Joachim!" were
heard, and the king, fearing to disturb the public peace, left Bastia
the same evening with his three companions and his Mameluke.  Two
hours later he arrived at Viscovato, and knocked at the door of
General Franceschetti, who had been in his service during his whole
reign, and who, leaving Naples at the same time as the king, had gone
to Corsica with his wife, to live with his father-in-law, M. Colonna

He was in the middle of supper when a servant told him that a
stranger was asking to speak to him--he went out, and found Murat
wrapped in a military greatcoat, a sailor's cap drawn down on his
head, his beard grown long, and wearing a soldier's trousers, boots,
and gaiters.

The general stood still in amazement; Murat fixed his great dark eyes
on him, and then, folding his arms:--

"Franceschetti," said he, "have you room at your table for your
general, who is hungry?  Have you a shelter under your roof for your
king, who is an exile?"

Franceschetti looked astonished as he recognised Joachim, and could
only answer him by falling on his knees and kissing his hand.  From
that moment the general's house was at Murat's disposal.

The news of the king's arrival had hardly been handed about the
neighbourhood before officers of ail ranks hastened to Viscovato,
veterans who had fought under him, Corsican hunters who were
attracted by his adventurous character; in a few days the general's
house was turned into a palace, the village into a royal capital, the
island into a kingdom.

Strange rumours were heard concerning Murat's intentions.  An army of
nine hundred men helped to give them some amount of confirmation.
It was then that Blancard, Donadieu, and Langlade took leave of him;
Murat wished to keep them, but they had been vowed to the rescue of
the exile, not to the fortunes of the king.

We have related how Murat had met one of his former Mamelukes, a man
called Othello, on board the Bastia mailboat.  Othello had followed
him to Viscovato, and the ex-King of Naples considered how to make
use of him.  Family relations recalled him naturally to Castellamare,
and Murat ordered him to return there, entrusting to him letters for
persons on whose devotion he could depend.  Othello started, and
reached his father-in-law's safely, and thought he could confide in
him; but the latter was horror-struck, and alarmed the police, who
made a descent on Othello one night, and seized the letters.

The next day each man to whom a letter was addressed was arrested and
ordered to answer Murat as if all was well, and to point out Salerno
as the best place for disembarking: five out of seven were dastards
enough to obey; the two remaining, who were two Spanish brothers,
absolutely refused; they were thrown into a dungeon.

However, on the 17th September, Murat left Viscovato; General
Franceschetti and several Corsican officers served as escort; he took
the road to Ajaccio by Cotone, the mountains of Serra and Bosco,
Venaco and Vivaro, by the gorges of the forest of Vezzanovo and
Bogognone; he was received and feted like a king everywhere, and at
the gates of the towns he was met by deputations who made him
speeches and saluted him with the title of "Majesty"; at last, on the
23rd September, he arrived at Ajaccio.  The whole population awaited
him outside the walls, and his entry into the town was a triumphal
procession; he was taken to the inn which had been fixed upon
beforehand by the quartermasters.  It was enough to turn the head of
a man less impressionable than Murat; as for him, he was intoxicated
with it.  As he went into the inn he held out his hand to

"You see," he said, "what the Neapolitans will do for me by the way
the Corsicans receive me."

It was the first mention which had escaped him of his plans for the
future, and from that very day he began to give orders for his

They collected ten little feluccas: a Maltese, named Barbara, former
captain of a frigate of the Neapolitan navy, was appointed
commander-in-chief of the expedition; two hundred and fifty men were
recruited and ordered to hold themselves in readiness for the first

Murat was only waiting for the answers to Othello's letters: they
arrived on the afternoon of the 28th.  Murat invited all his officers
to a grand dinner, and ordered double pay and double rations to the

The king was at dessert when the arrival of M. Maceroni was announced
to him: he was the envoy of the foreign powers who brought Murat the
answer which he had been awaiting so long at Toulon.  Murat left the
table and went into another room.  M. Maceroni introduced himself as
charged with an official mission, and handed the king the Emperor of
Austria's ultimatum.  It was couched in the following terms:

"Monsieur Maceroni is authorised by these presents to announce to
King Joachim that His Majesty the Emperor of Austria will afford him
shelter in his States on the following terms:--

"1. The king is to take a private name.  The queen having adopted that
of Lipano, it is proposed that the king should do likewise.

"2. It will be permitted to the king to choose a town in Bohemia,
Moravia, or the Tyrol, as a place of residence.  He could even
inhabit a country house in one of these same provinces without

"3. The king is to give his word of honour to His Imperial and Royal
Majesty that he will never leave the States of Austria without the
express-permission of the Emperor, and that he is to live like a
private gentleman of distinction, but submitting to the laws in force
in the States of Austria.

"In attestation whereof, and to guard against abuse, the undersigned
has received the order of the Emperor to sign the present

                         "(Signed) PRINCE OF METTERNICH
"PARIS, 1st Sept.  1815."

Murat smiled as he finished reading, then he signed to M.  Maceroni
to follow him:

He led him on to the terrace of the house, which looked over the
whole town, and over which a banner floated as it might on a royal
castle.  From thence they could see Ajaccio all gay and illuminated,
the port with its little fleet, and the streets crowded with people,
as if it were a fete-day.

Hardly had the crowd set eyes on Murat before a universal cry arose,
"Long live Joachim, brother of Napoleon!  Long live the King of

Murat bowed, and the shouts were redoubled, and the garrison band
played the national airs.

M. Maceroni did not know how to believe his own eyes and ears.

When the king had enjoyed his astonishment, he invited him to go down
to the drawing-room.  His staff were there, all in full uniform: one
might have been at Caserte or at Capo di Monte.  At last, after a
moment's hesitation, Maceroni approached Murat.

"Sir," he said, "what is my answer to be to His Majesty the Emperor
of Austria?"

"Sir," answered Murat, with the lofty dignity which sat so well on
his fine face, "tell my brother Francis what you have seen and heard,
and add that I am setting out this very night to reconquer my kingdom
of Naples."



The letters which had made Murat resolve to leave Corsica had been
brought to him by a Calabrian named Luidgi.  He had presented himself
to the king as the envoy of the Arab, Othello, who had been thrown
into prison in Naples, as we have related, as well as the seven
recipients of the letters.

The answers, written by the head of the Neapolitan police, indicated
the port of Salerno as the best place for Joachim to land; for King
Ferdinand had assembled three thousand Austrian troops at that point,
not daring to trust the Neapolitan soldiers, who cherished a
brilliant and enthusiastic memory of Murat.

Accordingly the flotilla was directed for the Gulf of Salerno, but
within sight of the island of Capri a violent storm broke over it,
and drove it as far as Paola, a little seaport situated ten miles
from Cosenza.  Consequently the vessels were anchored for the night
of the 5th of October in a little indentation of the coast not worthy
of the name of a roadstead.  The king, to remove all suspicion from
the coastguards and the Sicilian scorridori, [Small vessels fitted up
as ships-of-war.] ordered that all lights should be extinguished and
that the vessels should tack about during the night; but towards one
o'clock such a violent land-wind sprang up that the expedition was
driven out to sea, so that on the 6th at dawn the king's vessel was

During the morning they overhauled Captain Cicconi's felucca, and the
two ships dropped anchor at four o'clock in sight of Santo-Lucido.
In the evening the king commanded Ottoviani, a staff officer, to go
ashore and reconnoitre.  Luidgi offered to accompany him.  Murat
accepted his services.  So Ottoviani and his guide went ashore,
whilst Cicconi and his felucca put out to sea in search of the rest
of the fleet.

Towards eleven o'clock at night the lieutenant of the watch descried

< < Previous Page     Next Page > >

Other sites: