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FrRevol_401-450.indd 14 3/16/12 1:10 PM CHAPTER XXVII Preparations ofGeneral Bonaparte for Proceeding to Egypt. His Opinion on the Invasion ofSwitzerland. Bonaparte, at this same epoch, the close of 1797, sounded the public opinion with respect to the Directors; he saw that they were not loved, but that a republican sentiment made it impossible for a general to put himself in the place of the civil magistrates. He was one evening conversing with Barras upon his ascendancy over the Italians, who had wished to make him King ofltaly and Duke ofMilan. But, said he, I do not think ofanything ofthe sort in any country. You do well, replied Barras, not to think ofit in France; for ifthe Directory were to sendyou to the Temple tomorrow, there would not be four persons who would oppose it. Bonaparte was sitting on a couch by the side ofBarras; at these words, unable to restrain his irritation, he sprang toward the fireplace: then, resuming that species of apparent tranquillity of which the most passionate among the inhabitants of the South are capable, he declared that he wished to be entrusted with a military expedition. The Directory proposed to him the invasion ofEngland; he went to survey the coasts, and, as he soon perceived the extravagance ofthat project, he returned with the resolution ofattempting the conquest of Egypt. Bonaparte has always sought to lay hold of the imagination of men, and in this respect he knows well how they ought to be governed by one who is not born to a throne. An invasion ofAfrica, war carried into Egypt, a country almost fabulous, could not fail to make an impression on every mind. The French might easily be persuaded that they would derive great advantage from such a colony in the Mediterranean, and that it might one day furnish them with the means of attacking the English establishments FrRevol_401-450.indd 15 3/16/12 1:10 PM cHAPTER x x vI I . Bonaparte's Preparationsfor Egypt in India. These schemes possessed grandeur and were fitted to augment the brilliant reputation ofBonaparte. Had he remained in France, the Directory , through all the journals which were at its nod, would have launched forth numberless calumnies and tarnished his exploits in the imagination ofthe idle: Bonaparte would have been reduced to dustbefore the thunderbolt struck him. He was therefore right in wishing to make himselfa poetical personage instead ofremaining exposed to the slanders of Jacobins, who, with their popular forms, are not less dextrous than courts in the propagation of scandal. There was no money to transport an army to Egypt; and the most condemnable thing done by Bonaparte was to convince the Directory to invade Switzerland with a view to seize the treasury ofBerne, which two hundred years of wisdom and economy had accumulated. The war had for its pretext the situation of the Pays de Vaud. There is no doubt but that the Pays de Vaud was entitled to claim an independent existence, which it acted right in maintaining.1 But ifthe emigrants were blamed for uniting themselves to foreigners against France, should not the same principle be applied to the Swiss, who invoked the terrible assistance of the French? Besides, it was not the Pays de Vaud alone that was concerned in a war which would necessarily hazard the independence of all Switzerland . This cause appeared to me so sacred that, at that time, I still thought it not altogether impossible to induce Bonaparte to defend it. In every circumstance of my life, the errors which I have committed in politics have proceeded from the idea that men were always capable ofbeing moved by truth, if it was presented to them with force. I remained nearly an hour in conference with Bonaparte: he is a good and patient listener, for he wishes to know if what is said can throw any light on his own affairs: but Cicero and Demosthenes together would not draw him to the slightest sacrifice ofhis personal interest. Many mediocre people call that reason; it is reason ofan inferior order; there is one more exalted which does not proceed by mere calculation. Bonaparte, in conversing with me on Switzerland, alleged the situation 1. The Vaud had been dependent on the canton of Berne and became an independent canton in 1798. FrRevol_401-450.indd 16 3/16/12 1:10 PM PART III of the Pays de Vaud as a motive for the entrance ofthe French troops...


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