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rendered this unnecessary. Talleyrand, Bonaparte's envoy to him, promised the veteran director oblivion for the past, wealth and impunity for the future. Barras signed his resignation, and left the capital for his country-house, escorted by dragoons. As to the imbecile Moulins and Gohier, Bonaparte ordered them to be guarded in the Luxembourg, and, as if to implicate or make a lukewarm friend, he charged Moreau with this office.
As Sieyes and Ducos had also resigned, the directory was now virtually dissolved. It remained to replace it as legally as might be done with a new executive. On the morrow, the 19th Brumaire, the members of the two councils met at St. Cloud. Bonaparte had occupied the road and the environs of the chateau with troops: but his project was still far from accomplished. The democrat majority of the five hundred were indignant, and prepared for extremities. The moderate majority of the ancients wavered, and began to be afraid of their own act, and the intentions of Bonaparte. When they met, there was the greatest agitation. The first act of the five hundred was to force its members to swear fidelity to the constitution,—a mock oath for the fellow-plotters of Bonaparte. The general, informed of this dangerous spirit of opposition, resolved to face and put it down if possible by his presence. Surrounded by his staff, he entered first the council of ancients, and addressed their president; but in manner and with language so confused, as to make his partisans despair of their hero. "Representatives," said he, "you are on a volcano. I was tranquil yesterday, when your decree was brought me, and I have flown with my comrades to your aid. On this account I am now recompensed with calumnies. I am called a Cromwell and a Caesar. If such were my character or my intention, I had no need of coming here." He then mentioned the resignation of the directors, the distress of the country, the agitated state of the council of five hundred, on which he said there was no dependence. He besought the ancients tc save the revolution, liberty, and equality. "And the constitution!" exclaimed a member.
"The constitution!" repeated Bonaparte, pausing, and collecting vigor: "I tell you, you have no constitution. You violated it in Fructidor, in Floreal, and Prairial, when you seized and condemned by force half the national representatives,—when you annulled the popular elections,—when you forced three directors to resign. The constitution, forsooth! —a name at once invoked and violated by every faction. What force :an it possess, when it has ceased to command 1799. THE FIVE HUNDRED RXPELLEb. 151
even respect? The government, it you would have such a thing, must be refixed on a new base."
Having thus proved the justice and necessity of the revolution, he proceeded to promise its success, and reassure the timidity of the ancients. He pointed to the glittering bayonets of his soldiers, and added, that "he was accompanied by the God of fortune and of war."
The ancients applauded this speech; and, satisfied with the effect produced, Bonaparte hurried to the other wing of the chateau, where, in the Orangery, the five hundred were kindling in zeal. Here he thought fit to leave his staff behind, and advanced into the hall; the grenadiers who followed him remaining at the door. Had this assembly calmly heard him, and then voted him traitor or outlaw, his career might have closed; for Jourdan and Augereau were both without, and might have withheld the soldiers. But the choleric deputies sprang from their seats at the sight of Bonaparte, surrounded and apostrophized him; collared, hustled him, tore his coat, and brandished knives even. The grenadiers ran to his rescue, seized, and bore him out of the throng. "Let us outlaw him>! A vote of outlawry!" was the instant cry of the assembly :• "let him be treated as Robespierre was!" Lucien Bonaparte, who fortunately happened to be president, refused, however, to put this decree to the vote. He resisted, gained time, and at length, divesting himself of his toga, was borne out by grenadiers whom Napoleon had sent to his rescue. Lucien here showed far more presence of mind than his brother. He sprung on horseback, harangued the troops, told them that the majority of the five hundred were held in terror by a few democrats, armed with poniards, who menaced them, and who attempted to assassinate their general. This declaration of the president was imposing; and the troops answered with acclamations to Bonaparte's demand of "Might he count on them 1" A company of grenadiers was instantly ordered to clear the Orangery. They advanced from one end to the other with bayonets fixed, the deputies escaping by the windows, and through the woods; leaving, not unsuitably, their Roman togas in fragments upon every bush.
On the evening of this day the council of ancients and about fifty members of the scattered five hundred passed a decree abolishing the directory, establishing in its place three consuls, as a provisional government, which, in concert with two committees chosen from each council, and destined to replace it, was au horized to prepare a new constitution.
The revolution now closed its agitated career almost in the point from whence it had set out,—in despotism. To judge, let us retrace its course. Under Louis XVI., the monarchy had reached the last stage of imbecility. The unprivileged classes, the great mass of the nation, had long arrived at the maximum of population and wealth that the oppressive regime permitted. About one-third of the lands of the kingdom possessed by them, were burdened with the whole weight of the taxes. Commercial industry was confined, as in Turkey, to mere frugality. The laborers, like the Irish of our day, barely fed in times of plenty and of employment, were reduced to starve in others, and crowded into towns to beg, where, losing the simplicity of rustic habits, they became the demoralized race that the revolution found them. The condition of the higher ranks was not better. The more frivolous portion enjoyed the congenial atmosphere of the court; but the proud, the talented, the intellectual noble spurned the system that shut him out from all honorable employment or ambition. To be fed and pampered in idleness was the noble's lot. Perchance he might be a warrior, but to be a statesman or philanthropist was denied. The nobility, in consequence, turned to dissipation, as well as to the cultivation of mind in the only path allowed, that of wit and letters: the latter was their business, the former their amusement. We have seen the spirit that came of it,—a blighting, a sarcastic, demoralizing view of life, of humanity, and all its finer attributes. Religion, chastity, public virtue, fell before its breath. Men of letters sprung from the middle ranks were adopted into this high society; and they became expounders and apostles of this epicurean school of modern and polite times. Their writings communicated it to the middle class; from them its worst particles dropped lower down, and diffused the infection even among the rabble. The principal truth to remark is, that this began with the noblesse. Affluence, idleness, and intellect, always beget epicureanism.
This opinion and view of things obtained universal hold of society. And even those upright and enlightened minds that protested against its extreme conclusions, were forced to admit the absurdities and defects which their brethren pointed out as but samples of a corrupt whole. Thus the legists, who 1799. GENERAL REFLECTIONS. 15i<
held firm to the truths of religion, and the principles of monarchy, led the way in resisting" both royalty and priesthood in what they considered usurpation, bigotry, and injustice. Before this array of public opinion, Louis XVL, pressed at the same time by the pecuniary necessities of his government, prepared to bow. He appealed first to the noblesse; but, un accustomed to public affairs, without a political education, they would not yield their privileges, and could neither afford aid nor counsel. The king was driven to have recourse to the commons. To his call, re-echoed through a press for the first time left free, the nation started up, zealous, delighted, well intentioned; but, as was inevitable to a mass starting from oppression, ignorance, and nonentity, it was also suspicious, inflammable, and blind. Then the conservative principles of monarchy were all shaken; loyalty and religion had ceased to influence; whilst the conservative principle of free governments, respect for a representative body, had not yet taken root.
Louis and his ministers, with the best intentions, made now the grossest blunders.' Neither monarch nor assembly saw three days before them. The most essential regulations were left to be decided by chance or force. The ignorance and incapacity "that despotism had begotten," precipitated the fall of even legitimate monarchy, which now sunk below the point where it could breathe or exist. A death-quarrel betwixt the revolution on one side, the king and privileged classes on the other, became inevitable. It was carried on secretly by the latter; and the mob, to oppose them, were called into insurrection. Their atrocities and crimes produced disgust, and the first class of revolutionists, the lettered and liberal, recoiled towards monarchy. They wanted energy and union; they were disdained by the courtiers, to whom they sought to rally. The popular leaders triumphed, and the liberal aristocracy and their allies were obliged to follow the courtiers and absolutists into exile.
At this period, one gross fault rendered all sensible projects idle. This was the idea that Louis XVI. could reign without any of the attributes of royalty. The leaders of the revolution wanting the good sense and justice to leave him these, it was a fatal relic of respect for him, that still kept him at the head of the government. Had he been dethroned a year sooner, a republic might have been possible; and a republic is better than anarchy. The delay, the passions and factions excited by the monarch's name, and by his constitutional resistance, produced a state of excitement too great for freedom to live in. His presence kept the sore of revolution open* which else might have been healed. And when at last dethroned, parties had become too exasperated in the combat, to think of aught else than security and vengeance. Freedom was lost sight of. In the quarrel which ensued, the national representation was violated; and from that hour the whole aim of the revolution was lost. The representative system is like chastity; once injured, it can never hope to be respected. Insurrection follows insurrection, coup d'etat succeeds coup d'etat. The reign of force commences when the reign of law is overthrown. Aught like a constitution becomes impracticable, because its only possible sanction has been destroyed. And the nation, in search of order or established government, can recur to the principles of monarchy alone. There are but the two sources, the two principles. Neglect the one if you will; but in that case cling to the other. If both be spurned by a people, terror and despotism alone can govern that people. The French found this eminently true; for, from the 31st of May, 1793, in which the Girondists were expelled, and the inviolability of the national representatives infringed, there was only a continued alternation of dictatorships and anarchy, until Bonaparte closed it by the final establishment of his own power.
The French historians most attached to the revolution— Thiers is of the number—display unbounded admiration for the directory. They call its system republican, and affect to deplore in its fall the decline of freedom. The directory appears to us the most contemptible and arbitrary of all the successive governments of the revolution. It bega*i in the usurpation of a faction, which it was obliged to support by acts of violence, for which it could not offer in excuse either the passions that actuated, or the public danger that menaced, the convention, It was the directory that first called in the army, and made the troops the janissaries of power. It first attributed to the executive full power over the press, and even over personal liberty. It passed the conscription into a decree. It had its forced laws, its terrorist laws. It was fac* tion in all save energy and honesty. From its commencement to its close, Barras, that living sink of all vice and all crime, was its presiding spirit and fit representative. He organized the police, and found a chief in Fouche. It merely remained for Bonaparte to put himself in the place of these dissolute or imbecile directors, and moderate, not increase, the rigor of the-laws by which they governed. The French may flatter themselves, by pretending that they possessed freedom under the directory, and by charging Bonaparte with having made them slaves. But history contradicts them; the slaves were ninde to his hand.