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FrRevol_401-450.indd 2 3/16/12 1:10 PM CHAPTER XXV Private A needotes. It is painful to speak of oneself, at a time especially when the most important narratives alone demand the attention of readers. Yet I cannot abstain from refuting an accusation which is injurious to me. The journals whose office it was in 1797 to insult all the friends ofliberty have pretended that, from a predilection for a republic, I approved ofthe affair ofthe I 8th ofFructidor. I certainly would not have counseled, had I been called upon to give advice, the establishment ofa republic in France; but when it once existed, I was not of the opinion that it ought to be overturned.1 Republican government, considered abstractedly and without reference to a great state, merits the respect which it has ever inspired; the Revolution of the 18th of Fructidor, on the contrary, must always excite horror, both by the tyrannical principles from which it proceeded and by the frightful results which were its necessary consequence. Among the individuals of whom the Directory was composed, I knew only Barras; and, far from having the slightest influence with the others, though they could not be ignorant of my fond love of liberty, they were so dissatisfied with my attachment to the proscribed that they gave orders upon the frontiers of Switzerland, at Versoix near Coppet, to arrest me and conduct me to prison at Paris; on account, said they, ofmy efforts to obtain the restoration of the emigrants. Barras defended me with warmth and generosity; and it was he who some time afterward obtained permission for me to return to France. The gratitude which I owed him kept up the relations ofsociety between us. 1. Benjamin Constant held a similar view on this topic. 402 FrRevol_401-450.indd 3 3/16/12 1:10 PM CHAPTER XXV. Private Anecdotes M. de Talleyrand2 had returned from America a year before the 18th of Fructidor. The honest people wanted, in general, peace with Europe, which was at that time disposed to negotiate; and it was thought that M. de Talleyrand could not but be, what he has been always since found, a very able negotiator. The friends of liberty wished that the Directory should strengthen itselfby constitutional measures, and that with this view they should choose ministers capable of supporting the government. M. de Talleyrand seemed then the best possible choice for the department of foreign affairs, and he much wished to accept it. I served him effectually in this respect by procuring for him an introduction to Barras, through one of my friends, and by strongly recommending him. M. de Talleyrand needed help to arrive at power; but, once there, he required not the assistance of others to maintain him in it. His appointment is the only role I had in the crisis which preceded the 18th ofFructidor, and by doing that I thought I could prevent that crisis; for there was reason to hope that M. de Talleyrand might effect a reconciliation between the two parties. Since that time I have not had the slightest connection with the various aspects of his political career. After the 18th of Fructidor the proscription extended itself on every side; and the nation, which under the Reign ofTerror had already lost the most respectable men, saw itselfevery day deprived ofsome ofthose who remained. Dupont de Nemours, the most chivalrous champion ofliberty in France, but who could not recognize it in the dispersion of the representatives of the people by an armed force, was on the point of being proscribed. I was informed ofhis danger, and I immediately sent in quest of Chenier the poet/ who, two years before, had, at my desire, made the speech to which M. de Talleyrand was indebted for his recall. Chenier, in 2. Charles Maurice de Talleyrand-Perigord, Prince de Benevente (I7)4- I8J8), served as minister of foreign affairs under both the First Empire and the First Restoration and briefly as prime minister of France in 1815. He became one of the most versatile and influential European diplomats of his time. A close friend (and lover) of Madame de Stael, he went to America in 1794, returning to France two years later. For more information, see Waresquiel, Talleyrand, le prince immobile; and Cooper, Talleyrand. 3ยท Marie-Joseph Chenier (1764- 18II), writer, elected to the Convention and later to the Council of Five Hundred. FrRevol_401-450.indd 4 3/16/12 1:10 PM PART...


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