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FrRevol_401-450.indd 7 3/16/12 1:10 PM CHAPTER XXVI Treaty ofCampo Formio in Z797· Arrival ofGeneral Bonaparte at Paris. The Directory was disinclined to peace, not that it wished to extend the French dominions beyond the Rhine and the Alps, but because it thought the war useful for the propagation of the republican system. Its plan was to surround France with a belt of republics, like those of Holland, Switzerland , Piedmont,1 Lombardy, and Genoa. Everywhere it established a directory, two councils, a constitution; in short, similar in every respect to that of France.2 It is one ofthe great failings of the French, and a consequence of their social habits, that they imitate one another and wish to be imitated by everybody. They take natural varieties in each man's, or even each nation's, mode of thinking for a spirit of hostility against themselves. General Bonaparte was assuredly less serious and less sincere than the Directory in the love of republicanism; but he had much more sagacity in appreciating circumstances. He foresaw that peace would be popular in France, because the passions were subsiding into tranquillity and the people were becoming weary of sacrifices; he therefore signed the treaty of Campo Formio with Austria. But this treaty contained the surrender ofthe Venetian Republic; and it is not easy to conceive how he succeeded in prevailing upon the Directory, which yet was in some respects republican , to commit the greatest possible blow according to its own principles. From the date of this proceeding, not less arbitrary than the partition of Poland, there no longer existed in the government of France the slightest r. In reality, there was no republic of Piedmont. 2. See J. Godechot, La Grande Nation, chap. xii, JJI-)7. 40J FrRevol_401-450.indd 8 3/16/12 1:10 PM PART III respect for any political doctrine, and the reign of one man began when the dominion of principle ended. Bonaparte made himself remarkable by his character and capacity as much as by his victories, and the imagination ofthe French was beginning to attach itself warmly to him. His proclamations to the Cisalpine and Ligurian Republics were quoted. In the one this phrase was remarked: You were divided, and bent down by tyranny; you were not in a situation to conquer liberty. In the other, True conquests, the only conquests which cost no regret, are those which we make from ignorance. In his style there reigned a spirit of moderation and dignity, which formed a contrast with the revolutionary bitterness ofthe civil leaders ofFrance. The warrior then spoke like a magistrate, while magistrates expressed themselves with military violence. In his army, General Bonaparte did not enforce the laws against emigrants. He was said to be much attached to his wife, whose character was full of gentleness; it was asserted that he was feelingly alive to the beauties ofOssian; people took delight in ascribing to him all the generous qualities which place his extraordinary talents in a beautiful light. Besides, the nation was so weary ofoppressors who borrowed the name ofliberty, and of oppressed persons who regretted the loss of arbitrary power, that admiration did not know what to attach itself to, and Bonaparte seemed to unite all that could seduce it. It was with this sentiment, at least, that I saw him for the first time at Paris.3 I could not find words to reply to him when he came to me to say that he had sought my father at Coppet,4 and that he regretted having passed into Switzerland without seeing him. But, when I was a little recovered from the confusion of admiration, a strongly marked sentiment of fear succeeded. Bonaparte, at that time, had no power; he was even 3· The first meeting occurred on December 6, 1797, in Talleyrand's house. On the other meetings between Madame de Stael and Napoleon, see Godechot's note to his 1983 French edition of Considerations (endnote 203, 65o-; '). Both Simone Balaye and Jacques Godechot reported rumors about earlier letters sent by Madame de Stael to Napoleon in which she allegedly courted the favor of the future emperor. Napoleon supposedly refused to answer. On this issue, also see Gautier, Madame de Stael et Napoleon. 4· It is unlikely that Napoleon stopped at Copper when he passed through Switzerland in November 1797. FrRevol_401-450.indd 9 3/16/12 1:10 PM CHAPTER XXVI. TreatyofCampoFormio believed to be not a little threatened...


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