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FrRevol_351-400.indd 34 3/16/12 1:09 PM CHAPTER XXI Ofthe Twenty Months During Which the Republic Existed in France, from November z:;9S to the z8th ofFructidor (4th ofSeptember) Z:J97· We must do justice to the Directors, and still more to the power of free institutions, in whatever form they are introduced. The first twenty months which followed the establishment of the republic exhibit a period ofadministration uncommonly remarkable. Five men, Carnot,1 Reubell/ Barras, La Reveillere,' Letourneur,4 chosen in fury and not endowed for the most part with superior talents, arrived at power under the most unfavorable circumstances. They entered the palace of the Luxembourg, which was allotted them, without finding a table to write upon, and the state was not in better order than the palace. The paper money was reduced to almost the thousandth part of its nominal value; there were not in the public treasury a hundred thousand francs in specie; provisions were 1. Carnot (1753- 1823) was elected a deputy to the Legislative Assembly and to the Convention . He was also a member of the Committee of Public Safety. After being appointed minister of war by Napoleon in 18oo, Carnot voted against the nomination of Napoleon as consul for life. 2. Reubell (1747- 1807), a lawyer elected to the Estates General and deputy to the Convention , participated in the repression of the Vendean revolt and sided with the Montagnards . He was a member of the Directory from ' 795 to 1799. 3· La Reveillere-Lepeaux (17)3-1824), lawyer, deputy to the Convention. A moderate, he left the Convention in June 1793 and fled the country to save his life. He was a member of the Directory from '795 to 1799· 4· Letourneur (1751- 1817), deputy to the Legislative Assembly and the Convention. He was a member of the Directory from 1795 to 1797. FrRevol_351-400.indd 35 3/16/12 1:09 PM cHAPTER x xI . Twenty Months ofthe Republic still so scarce that the dissatisfaction ofthe people on this point could with difficulty be restrained; the insurrection ofLa Vendee was still going on; the civil disturbances had given rise to bands of robbers, known by the name of chauffeurs, who committed horrible excesses throughout the country; and lastly, almost all the French armies were disorganized. In six months the Directory raised France from this deplorable situation . Money replaced the paper currency without any shock; the old landholders lived peacefully by the side of those who had recently acquired national domains; the roads, and the country, were again rendered completely safe; the armies were but too victorious; the freedom of the press re-appeared; the elections followed their legal course, and France might have been said to be free, if the two classes of nobles and priests had enjoyed the same securities as the other citizens. But the sublime perfection ofliberty consists in this-that she can do nothing by halves. Ifyou wish to persecute a single man in the state, justice will never be established for all; still more must this be the case when a hundred thousand individuals are shut out from the protecting circle ofthe law. Revolutionary measures therefore spoiled the constitution from the first establishment of the Directory ; the latter half of the existence of this government, which lasted four years in all, was in every respect so wretched that the mischief may easily be ascribed to the institutions themselves. Impartial history, however , will place on two lines widely different the Republic before the 18th of Fructidor and the Republic after that epoch-if indeed the name of Republic can be deserved by factious authorities who overturned one another without ceasing to oppress the mass upon which they were continually falling. During the first period of the Directory, the two extreme parties, the Jacobins and the Royalists, attacked it in the journals, each in their own mode, without meeting with any opposition from the government, which was not at all shaken by their efforts. The society of Paris was so much the more free that the class of rulers made no part of it. This separation had, and doubtless could not fail to have, in the end, many inconveniences; but, for the very reason that the government was not in fashion, people's minds were not agitated, as they have since been, by the unbridled desire ofobtaining places; and there existed other objects ofactivity and interest. 3 85 FrRevol_351-400.indd 36 3/16/12 1...


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