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FrRevol_351-400.indd 25 3/16/12 1:09 PM CHAPTER XX Ofthe State ofMinds at the Moment When the Directorial Repuhlic Was Estahlished in France. The Reign ofTerror ought to he ascribed exclusively to the principles of tyranny; one finds them there completely intact. The popular forms adopted by that government were only a sort ofceremonial, which suited these savage despots; but the members ofthe Committee ofPublic Safety professed at the tribune the code ofMachiavellianism, that is to say, power founded upon the degradation of men; they only took care to translate the old maxims into new terms. The liberty of the press was much more odious to them than even to the ancient feudal or theocratic states; they allowed no security to the accused, either through the means of the laws or through the means of the judges.1 Arbitrary will, without limits, was their doctrine; it was enough for them to assign as a pretext for every violence the peculiar name oftheir government, The Public Safety: a fatal expression which implies the sacrifice of morality to what it has been agreed to call the interest ofthe state, that is, to the passions of those who govern. From the fall of Rohespierre to the establishment of the Republican Government under the form ofa Directory, there was an interval ofabout fifteen months, which may he considered as the true epoch of anarchy in France.2 Nothing is less like the period of terror than this time, though I. Freedom ofthe press disappeared afterAugust w , 1792. In the revolutionary tribunals, the defendants had no legal guarantees. 2. The Directory followed the Convention and preceded the Consulate (from November 2, 1795, to November 10, 1799). Five directors shared the executive power at any time. FrRevol_351-400.indd 26 3/16/12 1:09 PM PART III many crimes were still committed. The disastrous inheritance ofRobespierre 's laws had not been abandoned; but the liberty of the press began to revive, and truth along with it. The general wish was to establish wise and free institutions, and to get rid of the men who had governed during the reign of blood. Nothing, however, was so difficult as to satisfy this double desire; for the Convention still held the authority in its hands, and many of the friends ofliberty feared that a counter-revolution might take place ifthose were deprived ofpower whose lives would be compromised by the re-establishment of the old regime. The crimes which have been committed in the name ofliberty are, however, a poor security; the return of the men who had been made to suffer would, of course, be dreaded; but people are quite ready to sacrifice their principles to their security, should an opportunity present itself. It was therefore a great misfortune for France that she was obliged to leave the republic in the hands of the members of the Convention. Some of the members were endowed with superior abilities; but those who had shared in the government of terror had necessarily contracted habits of servility and tyranny together. It was in this school that Bonaparteselected many ofthe men who afterward established his power; and, as theysought shelter above everything, they never felt fully assured but in despotism. The majority of the Convention wished to punish some of the most atrocious deputies who had oppressed it; but it drew up the list of the guilty with a trembling hand, always apprehensive lest it should be itself accused ofthe laws which had served as a justification or pretext for every crime. The royalist party sent agents abroad, and found partisans in the interior, from the very irritation which was excited by the continuance of the Convention's power.3 Nevertheless, the fear of losing all the advantages ofthe Revolution attached the people and the soldiers to the existing authority. The army always fought against foreigners with the same energy , and its exploits had already obtained an important peace for France, For more information on this period, see Lefebre, The Thermidorians andthe Directory, 2 39458 . 3ยท In the French text, "pouvoir conventionnel." FrRevol_351-400.indd 27 3/16/12 1:09 PM CHAPTER XX. State ofMinds When Republic Was Established the treaty of Basel with Prussia.4 The people also, we should add, supported unheard ofevils with astonishing perseverance; famine on the one hand, and the depreciation ofthe paper money on the other, were reducing the lowest class of society to a state of the utmost wretchedness. If the...

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Additional Information

ISBN
9781614878636
Related ISBN
9780865977327
MARC Record
OCLC
836874520
Pages
834
Launched on MUSE
2014-01-01
Language
English
Open Access
No
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