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1799. BATTLE OF ZURICH. 145
was not to vegetate in Egypt, prepared to leave hi» army secretly, and repair to France. From gazettes furnished him by the English admiral he learned the victories of Suwarrow and the archduke Charles, the disgrace and anarchy of France. The field was opened to him as a restorer. Feelings of indignant patriotism inspired him, no doubt; but those of selfish ambition mingled with them. "The pear was now ripe:" in short, usurpation was no longer an impossibility. He ordered two frigates to be prepared, and in one of them he embarked, on the 23d of August, taking a farewell of his army merely through the medium of a proclamation, leaving to Kleber the command, with Menou as his lieutenant. With him he brought his most trusty generals, the necessary instruments of his fortune. Having narrowly escaped the British cruisers, he landed near Frejus on the 9th of October.
But ere following the pursuit of fortune in his bold and successful stroke for sovereignty, we must recount the last military events of the republic, those which took place in Holland and Switzerland. An English and Dutch army, under the duke of York, had. disembarked at the Helder, the narrow point on which the peninsula of Holland terminates. The archduke Charles, in his Memoirs, has amplf shown the hopeless nature of these expeditions, commenced from a single point, with no retreat or support secured, but such as shipping can afford. However victorious in many encounters, the duke of York was unable to force the position defended oy Brune, was obliged to retreat, and evacuate the country. The British, however, gained an important object, the capture of the whole Dutch fleet in the Texel.
In Switzerland, Massena behind the Limmat, the lake of Zurich, and the Lint, was pressed and held in check by the archduke Charles. But this very prince hesitated to attack so active an opponent without the opportunity of advantage. The council at Vienna, impatient, deemed that the impetuous Russians would act with more vigor, and drive Massena from the Alps, as they had expelled Scherer, Macdonald, and Joubert from Italy. Suwarrow and his Russians were ordered accordingly to march into Switzerland; whilst Korsakow, another Russian general, with an army of his nation, took the post of the archduke Chal-les upon the Limmat. Nothing is more dangerous than the change of troops before an active enemy: it was the opportunity that the great Frederic loved so much to take advantage of; and Massena now followed his example. Mustering nearly 40,000 men, whilst Korsakow as yet numbered but 25,000, the French general crossed the Limmat, and anticipated the Russians' design of assuming the offensive. With this view, Korsakow had concentrated his troops in Zurich. Massena attacked the town on both sides, and a desperate engagement took place in the suburbs and streets, murderous for the inhabitants as for the combatants: the famous Lavater was one of the victims. A grea body of the Russians forced their way through the French; but more than one half of the army of Korsakow was either taken or slain. Soult, on the Lint, was only less decisively successful, because less obstinately opposed. These actions took place towards the close of September, whilst Suwarrow was forcing the passage of Mount St. Gothard. He hoped to come on the flank of the French, whilst they were pressed in front; but when Suwarrow arrived in the valley, his allies were repulsed, and he himself in imminent jeopardy. Accustomed to victory, he was now compelled to retreat, even ere he could fight,—and such a retreat!—for which shepherds' tracks over the highest ranges of Alps offered the only passage. Massena had scarcely need of firing a gun. The march and its privations diminished the army of Suwarrow as much as the battle of Zurich had lessened that of Korsakow. Often the Russian soldiers refused to advance through these stupendous and frigid regions; the general would then cause a pit to bs dug, fling himself into it, and desire his army to march over his body, and desert in these solitudes the commander that had so often led them to victory Nor were the French idle: at the Devil's Bridge, which they broke,—at Kloenthal, and in many a perilous defile, Massena's lieutenants attacked and slaughtered the discomfited Russians, who lost two thirds of of their numbers on their route from St. Gothard to the Grisons. The reconqueror of Italy, Suwarrow, was indignant with the Austrians, who had laid a trap, he asserted, for his fair fame. He considered himself betrayed, broke his sword in resentment, and resigned all command in disgust, vowing never more to serve with the Imperialists.
While Massena was thus rescuing the republic from peril, and Bonaparte crossing the sea to its support, as he asserted, the new directory was essaying to govern the state. Parties had changed, and fallen into sucn a state of confusion, that it is very difficult to mark their opinions and divisions. The old directory, a pure regicide clan, had been ousted from their dictatorship, by a majority of the legislature; but this very majority consisted of two parties, the moderates and the democrats: th? latter attached to the present constitution, the 1799. RETURN OF BONAPARTE. 147
former adhering to it for the moment, but c*. n\ meed that it had failed as an experiment, and required modification. These opinions within the legislature were exaggerated by their respective partisans without. The anarchists, or extreme democrats, met again in club in the very hall of the old convention, and menaced a renewal of the Jacobins. The moderates among the people had an equal dread of the terrorists and contempt for the directory. Baffled themselves in their open and insurrectionary attempt to put d<jwn both, they were ready to applaud the bold personage that would effect this revolution.
The legislative councils were somewhat at variance: the moderates were the stronger in the ancients, the democrats in the five hundred. In the directory, Sieyes and Ducos were of the former interest, Gohier and Moulins of the latter; they paralyzed each other: it was evident that five was a number too great to form an executive. Barras, however, joined for the time with Sieyes and Ducos; and these, aided by the majority of the ancients, shut up the club of the Manege or new Jacobins, and deferred at least the revival of anarchy.
Amidst the last agony of the republican form of government, Bonaparte reached the shores of Provence. The inhabitants, dreading invasion, received the hero as their deliverer: they rushed on board his vessel to welcome him; and thus forced him to dispense with the laws of quarantine. His hurried journey to Paris allowed him opportunity to behold to what a wretched state the dictatorial regime had reduced France. Not to speak of their defeats, the loss of Italy, and all the advantages of Campo Formio, the provinces were in the most disorganized state, the roads were infested with robbers; by the law of hostages, all who were even nobly related were obliged to hide in terror, or else join insurgent bands. The rich were vexed with the same exactions that the panic and menaced invasion of the early part of the revolution had excused. Whatever difference there might be in the sentiments of the capital, those of the provinces were unanimous in hailing any government that might supersede the directory.
Every statesman of experience or enlightened views had already admitted the necessity of a change: many had looked towards a monarchy. Barras treated with the Bourbons: Sieyes had said repeatedly, that the chief thing wanting was ft head: he is even accused of having meditated to give the chief rule to the duke of Brunswick or a foreign prince: but all the band of mediocrity illustrated would not hear of any such proposal. They were sincerely and interestedly democrats. The system which took a du3J lawyer from the bar, ITT.—10
and placed him on the throne, suited them perfectly. Gohier, one of these me :i, could not but think the directorial constitution an admirable species of government.
On his arrival, Bonaparte repaired to the Luxembourg. The directory praised, and chid, and showed great fear of him. He shut himself up in his modest mansion of the rue Chantereine in vain. He was the loadstone which drew to it all authority and ambition. Ministers, generals, deputies,—those in place to preserve it, those out of place to gain it,—all flocked to general Bonaparte. All parties made overtures to him,— the very democrats who sought in him an instrument. The moderates sought the same, but were likely to be more grateful. Not to have picked up the fragments of sovereign power that thus crumbled and fell before him, would have been the act not of disinterestedness but absurdity. The country had shown itself incapable of establishing, of tolerating, or of being ruled by, a free government. To bestow upon it one ol unity and vigor was, in the present state of things, an act of necessity; it might have been one of patriotism. Ambition mingled with both in the mind of Bonaparte.
He took several days to fix and mature his purposes. The democrats and moderates struggled to possess him. His past acts in the revolution inclined him to the former. His brother Lucien was chosen, out of compliment to him, president of the five hundred, where they prevailed. Through this party, then, Bonaparte proposed to become dictator in the place of Sieyes; but when he sounded Gohier and Moulins as to this his really not arrogant pretension, those pragmatic blockheads objected on the ground of the law Which forbade a director to be under forty. He hinted the facility of getting a dispensation voted. They persisted, not seeing the inevitable consequences of their obstinacy. Bonaparte instantly joined the moderates and Sieyes, and planned with them a change not only in the members but in the form of government. The moderates, however, and Sieyes himself, entered into this not with the view of abolishing the republic, and establishing a despotism under Bonaparte, but merely for the sake of new-modelling the constitution. To effect this, it was necessary to commence with a coup d'etat or revolution, and to follow it up with a monstrous dictatorship. Both these had occurred, and followed each other in and after the 18th Fructidor. Why might not the same extreme measures be enfployed now 1 Barras and Reubel had, however, then but the conditional support of the army. Bonaparte, on the contrary, was the very representat've and hero of the military interest.
The chief exertions ot he latter were employed to make 1799 EIGHTEENTH BRUM AIRE. 149
sure of the military. On the inferior officers he might reckon. but three of the generals were too republican, or too high in rank, to stoop to a comrade. These were, Bernadotte, Augereau, and Moreau. Augereau, however, was a hot-headed blunderer: Moreau, an irresolute man, discontented! with the directory, allowed himself to be neutralized, if not won; and even Bernadotte, the most stubborn, however stoutly he argued against Bonaparte, was stilled, or awed, or duped, by his ad dress.
The 18th Brumaire (9th of November) was the day fixed for the revolution. Bonaparte had summoned all the generals and officers in Paris to an early breakfast. It was a kind of levee; regiments were to be reviewed, &c. The three directors, Barras, Moulins, and Gohier, were kept ignorant of the plot,—an important point, as the three inhabiting the same palace, that of the Luxembourg, formed a majority, and might act. The first step, however, had all the forms of legality. The council of ancients in the interest of Sieyes met at six in the morning, and passed the premeditated decree removing the sittings of the legislative body to St. Cloud, and charging general Bonaparte with the command of the troops in the capital, in order to protect and see to their defence.
This decree was brought to Bonaparte in the midst of his levee. He showed it to the officers around, and addressed them. He seized the rough Lefebvre, presented him with a sabre, and won upon him by a few magic words. A decree of the legislative assembly was sufficient to tie down Moreau to obedience. Bernadotte alone demurred, and departed, but not till he had given a promise not to raise agitations, harangue the soldiers, or in short act, unless legally summoned; and the latter was impossible. Thus sure of the military, Bonaparte rode to the Tuilleries, reviewed his troops, and watched the least disturbance. Talleyrand had been sent to induce Barras to resign, whilst the latter had sent his secretary, Bottot, to the Tuilleries to collect tidings. Bottot was brought to Bonaparte, who expecting a remonstrance from the directorial emissary, apostrophized him thus, as if he were addressing the directory itself:—
"What have ye done with the France which I left sc brilliant? 1 left you peace, and I find war,—victories, and I find reverses; I left you the millions of Italy, and I find bu spoliation and misery. Where are the hundred thousand sol diers, my companions in glory 1—They are dead!"
This *vas spoken to excite the officers around, in fear that ne should be obliged to march upon the Luxembourg, which he was preparing to do: but the obsequiousness of Barras