Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

as one of a ministry by no means in harmony with the majority of the legislature.

All legal means of deciding" the differences were thus set aside, and amicable terms rejected. The troops of Hoche gathered round the capital, and even approached within the distance of twelve leagues prescribed by law. The constitutionalist deputies remonstrated: the royalists were half indignant, half frightened. Another combat or civil war became inevitable in the metropolis; and each party mustered its forces. The legislative majority principally relied on the national guard, suppressed and mutilated after the affair of Vendemiaire, but which they hoped to reorganize in a short time. The immediate guard of the assemblies was another force, small indeed, but sufficient to rally the honest and moderate citizens, as well as the anti-jacobin youths of Paris, provided the latter had yet recovered courage from their defeat on the day of the sections. The directory, on the other hand, relied on the army,—upon Hoche and upon Bonaparte; for as to the populace, this class at length became disgusted, and reckless of political events, since they had found defeat possible, and victory of small advantage. In the language of the day, le peuple avait donne son demission, the mob had sent in its resignation.

Both Bonaparte and Hoche answered characteristically the call of the directory. Hoche implicated himself, and pledged his wife's fortune, to support what he considered to be the republican cause. Bonaparte incited his army to assemble, to deliberate; and drew up the most furious and Jacobinical petitions. With these he forwarded his lieutenant Augereau, to serve the directory in a coup de main; thus superseding Hoche, whilst the money promised by Bonaparte never arrived. Already the ambition of this man, born of victory, and nurtured to some growth by the great legislative duties which the reorganization of conquered Italy imposed upon him, began to show itself in jealousy of all other power. He was willing to aid the directory to crush their opponents, who were his enemies, but neither to make them independent nor himself their slave.

The directory and the legislative majority were now in the respective positions in which the revolution and its contempt for liberty and the representative system had placed all its parties; that is, in a state of savage hostility; not open civL war, but that of tigers or of Indians, which consisted in lying in wait, and springing unawares on the foe. The best planner of an ambuscade, the readiest to attack, carries away the victory: and as that party which has legal vantage ground 1797. MODERATES EXILED. 181

recurs last to violence, it is sure to be anticipated and vanquished by its opponent, obliged to supply by activity its want of justice.

The meditated blow, the coup (Fetat, was inevitable, ana easy to foresee. The most energetic Clichians proposed to prevent it by.a counter-project of violence: they proposed to accuse, to attack the directory; but were not listened to. The constitutionalists would not hear of violence; and even Pichegru, a clumsy and unenergetic conspirator, despaired of the means, They were in the position of the Girondists before the 31st of May, conscious of impending danger, but unable to shun or prevent it

On the 16th Fructidor (the 4th September) the blow was struck. Under pretence of a review, troops were brought to the capital, and placed at the disposal of Augereau, who at midnight on the 15th surrounded the Tuilleries, where the councils sat The peculiar guard of the legislature, or rather its commander, Ramel, made a show of resistance; but his soldiers, at the voice of Augereau and the sight of his force, grounded their arms; and that general took possession of the palace. Several members of the five hundred were found in the committee-room, and instantly arrested. The rest of the opposition deputies, as they came in the morning to their hall of sitting, met with the same reception. The directors, Carnot and Barthelemy, were included by their colleagues in the proscriptions; but Carnot made his escape through the gardens of the Luxembourg: Barthelemy alone was taken. "It cost but a single cannon-shot, and that charged merely with powder, to annihilate the republic, which from this fatal night ceased to exist"

The minority of the two councils now assembled, approved, of course, of the violence offered to the constitution, both in the persons of deputies and directors; and by a decree declared the elections of one half the departments of France annulled. Seventy of the most distinguished deputies were condemned to transportation; a sentence which, considering the climate of Cayenne, and the ill usage experienced on their voyage, was almost tantamount to death. Nor did the successful dictators make the least difference betwixt royalists and constitutionalists. Barbe-Marbois, Portalis, TronconDucoudray, Carnot, Pastoret, were condemned to the same penalty as Pichegru or Delarue. The prisoners were conveyed to the Temple, where they occupied the apartments of the unfortunate Louis and his queen. The circumstance must have smitten the hearts of those amongst them who, like Bourdon, had been in the convention, and had voted the deaths tf their sovereigns. III. —9

The new dictators were not content with dec imating the legislature; they formed another list of proscription, composed of the editors and writers in forty-eight journals,—a list that contained many even now eminent in their professions. La Harpe and the abbe Sicard were included in it, as well as Fieve, Michaud, and the Bertins. They were condemned to transportation. Thus were the representatives of the nation and of the public opinion both sacrificed to the regicide faction, who declared, in the language of Robespierre and Marat, that it was done for the sake of liberty and for the safety of the revolution!

The old terrorists' laws were now again put in action; those against emigrants and their relatives were enforced; and the unfortunate priests, who had flocked home on the permission of the late legislature, were now transported to Cayenne for having trusted to it. The rump of the convention (for the remaining members of the council corresponded precisely to this term) now endowed the directors with despotic power, gave them liberty to stop all journals and suppress all political societies. In many cases their mandate was a judgment that superseded the necessity of trial. But indeed, after having seized and condemned the majority of the legislature, all sanction was needless for a supreme authority already usurped. In all their acts the directory now showed themselves worthy of their origin and of the means by which they were upheld. By a stroke of the pen they cancelled two thirds of the national debt. Their statesman, Sieyes, proposed to complete the work of the revolution, by a law of exile against all who were noble, even against females nobly born, except they espoused a plebeian. Barras, however, resisted this, which struck at himself. Their foreign policy was equally frantic. They broke off the conference at Lille, in which lord Malmesbury, on the part of England, offered every fair condition of peace, and endeavored to act the same part by the negotiation with Austria; but Bonaparte, the Thalaba destined to oppose the "Domdaniel caverns" of the Luxembourg, was here, and marred their project.

This personage held something like a monarch's court in Italy, awaiting till the tardy diplomacy of Austria could make up its mind to accept peace at a disadvantage. At the different stages of victory he had parcelled out Italy, according to the probabilities of the hour, into Cispadane, Transpadane, Emilian, and other republics; but time rendered his projects, like his ambition, more vast; whilst the subjugation of Venice changed altogether the views which had dictated the prelim

1797. BONAPARTE REMODELS ITALY. 133

inaries of Leoben. By these, Austria, in reconr ense for the Netherlands, was to receive the Venetian provinces to the Oglio, including Mantua. Venice, neutral, was only to be robbed; but Venice, now in distress, was not only to be robbed, but murdered. Bonaparte proposed to make the Adige the boundary of Austria, giving her, in lieu of Mantua, Venice itself; thus sacrificing/with the apathy of a barbarian, the oldest republic in Europe, the only link of the kind left betwixt classic and modern times. But what was base in Bonaparte to sacrifice, was still more base of Austria to accept— Austria, in whose behalf the hapless Venice had armed. It showed that in diplomacy the monarchy of old lineage and the upstart republic were equally selfish and machiavelian. Westward of the Adige, Bonaparte amalgamated his Transpadane and Cispadane republics into one, which he called the Cisalpine. To complete its territory, he took the Valteline from the Grisons; whilst, to give this French colony (for it was no other) a friendly seaport, he revolutionized Genoa, which he made the capital of a Ligurian republic. The directory insisted on the Cisalpine being organized in imitation of the French; which was completely effected, Bonaparte naming the five directors; who thus based their rights, as did Barras and Lepaux, not on the people, but on the soldiery. It must, however, be confessed, that the general in all things sought to correct the narrow prejudices of the regicides. He was tolerant to priests and nobles, and chid the Genoese for proposing to imitate the bigotry of the French revolutionary laws. His opinion of Jacobinism in the directory is sufficiently evinced by his impatience at finding his friend and secretary sign his surname Fauvelet, in lieu of his territorial title, De Bourienne. A decree had so ordered it. "Sign as usual," ordered Bonaparte, "and never mind the lawyers."

He was strangely impeded in completing the negotiations for peace begun at Leoben. Austria hoped to profit by the royalist reaction which the coup d'etat of Fructidor marred— one reason of the general's supporting the directory ; but that body threw equal obstacles in his way, and bade him demand the Isonza as a limit, in lieu of the Adige. He determined to disobey; and when Cobentzel, the Austrian plenipotentiary, hesitated and finessed, Bonaparte rose in impatience, dashed to the ground a splendid piece of china, declaring that thus would he shatter the imperial monarchy. A threat of resuming hostilities followed up this emphatic piece of rudeness; and Cobentzel, yielding to the proposals of the French nego iator, instantly signed the treaty of Campo Formio, in October, 1797.

Now followed the return of general Bonaparte to the capital, and his triumphal welcome. The directory received him with all the gorgeousness of republican ceremony, clothed in tunic and toga, with the altar of the country at their feet Barras bade the warrior not repo*se, but undertake the conquest of England,—"a mission somewhat difficult," adds Madame de Stael. Talleyrand lauded the young general as a contemner of luxury and low ambition, and as an admirer of Ossian, because his poetry detached the soul from earth. This bold irony from the mouth of the political Mephistophe" les seemed but sober prose amidst the excited language of the day. But Bonaparte resolved to act up to this character. To be a lover of poesy, as Talleyrand had hinted* he did not indeed aflect,—that would be giving a weak side to ridicule; but he professed to be an admirer of science, and an associate of those learned in such pursuits. He loved, indeed, v~hat was positive and useful. His mathematical education made him more at ease on these subjects. A taste for them came to supersede and blend with that for Ossian, and had consider able influence in leading him to adopt the project of conquering Egypt, the next and not the least gigantic of his adventurous career.

The winter which terminated 1797 and began 1798 was spent by the general at Paris, with the exception of some journeys to the coast to superintend the expedition against England. He had now full opportunity of observing the state of Parisian society and polities. He could not but have been smitten with the ambition of reigning. Those in power were mere usurpers, base, dissolute, undignified, selfish, and incapable. To put himself in the place of the "lawyers," as he called the directory, was certainly no crime, could he achieve it: it was displacing merely^one dictatorial power by another, the regicides by the military faction, and to the state's advantage ; for his rule, he well knew, would be far more vigorous, and yet less bigoted and despotic, than that of Barras and Lepaux, with their proscriptions and revolutionary laws. He . might not, indeed, as yet aspire to be emperor; but to be chief director, or consul,—any name which would give supreme power the form of liberty,—was the ambition of every upstart in that day, and why not his 1 But there existed still a strong jealousy of the soldiers and their leaders; whilst in the army itself the principles of republicanism subsisted still more fresh and revered thin in the nation. Bonaparte saw this statP of things: he sr> w, indeed, the absurdity of the Jacobins, and

« ZurückWeiter »