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FrRevol_401-450.indd 17 3/16/12 1:10 PM CHAPTER XXVIII The Invasion ofSwitzerland. As Switzerland was threatened with an approaching invasion, I quitted Paris in the month of January, 1798, to rejoin my father at Coppet. He was still on the list of emigrants, and a positive law condemned to death emigrants who remained in a country occupied by the French troops. I did my utmost to induce him to quit his abode; he would not: "At my age," said he, "a man should not wander upon the earth." I believe that his secret motive was his reluctance to remove himselffrom the tomb ofmy mother: on this subject he had a superstition of the heart which he would have sacrificed only to the interest of his family, and never to his own. In the four years since the companion of his life had ceased to live, scarcely a day passed in which he did not go to walk near the tomb in which she reposes, and by departing he would have thought that he was abandoning her. When the entry ofthe French was positively announced, my father and myself, with my young children, remained alone in the chateau ofCoppet. On the day appointed for the violation of the Swiss territory, our inquisitive people went down to the bottom of the avenue; and my father and I, who were awaiting our fate together, placed ourselves in a balcony that had a view of the high road by which the troops were to arrive. Though it was the middle of winter, the weather was delightful; the Alps were reflected in the lake; and the noise of the drum alone disturbed the tranquillity of the scene. My heart throbbed violently from the apprehension of what might menace my father. I knew that the Directory spoke ofhim with respect; but I knew also the empire of revolutionary laws over those who had made them. At the moment when the French troops passed the frontier of the Helvetic confederation, I saw an officer quit his men to proceed toward our chateau. A mortal terror seized me; but what he said to us soon re-assured me. He was commissioned by the Directory to offer 4 lJ FrRevol_401-450.indd 18 3/16/12 1:10 PM PART III my father a safeguard. This officer, since well known under the title of Marshal Suchet,1 conducted himself extremely well toward us; and his staff, whom he brought to my father's house the day after, followed his example. It is impossible not to find among the French, in spite of the wrongs with which they may be justly reproached, a social spirit which makes us live at our ease with them. Nevertheless this army, which had so well defended the independence of its own country, wished to conquer the whole of Switzerland, and to penetrate even into the mountains of the small cantons, where men ofsimplicity retained the old-fashioned treasure oftheir virtues and usages. Berne and other Swiss cities possessed without doubt unjust privileges, and old prejudices were mingled with the democracy of the small cantons; but was it by force that any amelioration was to be effected in the condition of a country accustomed to acknowledge only the slow and progressive operation of time? The political institutions of Switzerland have, it is true, been improved in some respects, and up to these late times it might have been believed that even the mediation of Bonaparte2 had removed some prejudices of the Catholic cantons . But union and patriotic energy have lost much since the revolution. The Swiss are now accustomed to have recourse to foreigners, and to share in the political passions ofother nations, while the only interest ofHelvetia is to be peaceful, independent, and animated by a jealous dignity ofspirit. In 1797, there was a rumor of the resistance which Berne and the small democratical cantons would make to the threatened invasion. Then, for the first time in my life, I entertained wishes against the French; for the first time in my life I experienced the painful anguish ofblaming my own country enough to desire the triumph ofthose who fought against it. Formerly , just before the battle of Granson,3 the Swiss prostrated themselves before God; their cruel enemies thought that they were about to surrender their arms; but they rose up and were victorious. The small cantons in 1798, in their noble ignorance of the things of this world, sent their...

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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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