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FrRevol_401-450.indd 28 3/16/12 1:10 PM CHAPTER II Revolution ofthe z8th ofBrumaire. In the time which had elapsed since Bonaparte's brothers wrote to him in Egypt to advise his return, the face of affairs had undergone a singular change. General Bernadotte had been appointed Minister ofWar and had in a few months restored the organization of the armies. His extreme activity repaired all the mischiefs which negligence had caused. One day, as he was reviewing the young men ofParis who were on the eve ofmarching to the scene of war, My lads, he said, there are assuredly amongyou some great captains. These simple words electrified their souls by recalling to their remembrance one of the chief advantages of free institutions, the emulation which they excite in every class. The English had made a descent into Holland, which had been already pushed back.1 The Prussians had been beaten at Zurich by Massena;2 the French armies had again begun to act on the offensive in Italy. Thus, when Bonaparte returned, Switzerland, Holland, and Piedmont3 were still under the control of France; the barrier of the Rhine, gained by the conquests of the Republic, was not disputed with her, and the force of France was on a balance with that of the other states of Europe. Who could have imagined then that ofall the combinations which fortune presented to her choice, that which would lead her to be conquered and subdued was to raise the ablest of her generals to supreme power? Tyranny annihilates even the military force, to which it has sacrificed everything. It was no longer, therefore, external reverses which, in 1799, made France desire Bonaparte; but the fear which the Jacobins excited was a J. In October '799· 2. In September '799· 3· The French regained possession of Piedmont in June 18oo. FrRevol_401-450.indd 29 3/16/12 1:11 PM cHAPTER I I . Revolution ofz8 Brumaire powerful aid to him. They were now without means, and their appearance was nothing more than that of a specter which comes to stir the ashes: it was, however, enough to rekindle the hatred which they inspired, and the nation, flying from a phantom, precipitated itself into the arms of Bonaparte. The President of the Directory had said on the roth of August of the very year in which Bonaparte was made Consul; Royalty will never raise its head again; no longer will those men be seen who pretended to be the delegates ofheaven that they might oppress the earth with more security; in whose eyes France was but their patrimony, Frenchmen but their subjects, and the laws the mere expression oftheirgoodpleasure. What was to be seen no more was, however, seen very soon; and what France wished in calling Bonaparte to the throne, peace and repose, was exactly what his character rejected as an element in which he could not live. When Caesar overturned the Roman republic he had to combat Pompey and the most illustrious patricians of the age: Cicero and Cato contended against him; everywhere there was greatness arrayed in opposition to his. Bonaparte met with no adversaries whose names deserve to be mentioned. If the Directory had been in the fullness of its past force, it would have said, like Reubell when hints were given him that there was reason to apprehend that General Bonaparte would offer his resignation: Very well, let us accept it, for the republic willnever want ageneralto command its armies. In fact, the circumstance which had rendered the armies of the French Republic formidable till then, was that they had no need of any particular man to command them. Liberty draws forth in a great nation all the talents which circumstances require. Exactly on the r8th of Brumaire I arrived at Paris from Switzerland, and as I was changing horses some leagues from the city, I was informed that the Director Barras had just passed, on his way to his estate of Grosbois , accompanied by gendarmes. The postilions were relating the news ofthe day, and this popular mode ofbecoming acquainted with them gave them additional interest. It was the first time since the Revolution that the name ofan individual was heard in every mouth. Till then it was said, the Constituent Assembly has done so and so, or the people, or the Convention ; now there was no mention of any but this man, who was to be sub- FrRevol_401-450.indd 30 3/16/12 1:11...


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