In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

FrRevol_401-450.indd 36 3/16/12 1:11 PM CHAPTER III Ofthe Establishment ofthe Consular Constitution. The most potent charm which Bonaparte employed for the establishment of his power was, as we have said, the terror which the very name of Jacobinism inspired, although every person capable of reflection was aware that this scourge could not revive in France. We willingly assume the air offearing vanquished factions to justify general measures ofrigor. All those who wish to favor the establishment ofdespotism are constantly endeavoring to keep the crimes of demagogues strongly in our recollection . It is an easy strategy which has little difficulty. Accordingly, Bonaparte paralyzed every kind ofresistance to his will by these words: Would you have me deliver you up to the Jacohins? France bent before him; nor was there a man bold enough to reply, We will combat hoth the jacohins andyou. In fine, he was not loved, even at that time, but he was preferred: he has almost always presented himself simultaneously with some other source of alarm, which might cause his power to be accepted as the lesser evil of the two. The task of discussing with Bonaparte the constitution which was to be proclaimed was entrusted to a commission of fifty members selected from the Five Hundred and from the Ancients.1 Some ofthose members, who the evening before had leaped from a window to escape from the bayonets, treated seriously the abstract question of new laws, as if it had been possible to suppose that their authority was still respected. This coolr . On 19 Brumaire, deputies who were favorably disposed toward Napoleon met and created a Consular Commission that included Napoleon and two directors (Sieyes and Ducos ). The deputies then divided themselves into two other committees (oftwenty-five members each), which were supposed to draft a new constitution. FrRevol_401-450.indd 37 3/16/12 1:11 PM cHAPTER I I I. Establishment ofConsular Constitution ness would have been noble had it been joined to energy; but abstract questions were discussed only that tyranny might be established; as in Cromwell's days, passages ofthe Bible were sought out to justify absolute power. Bonaparte allowed these men, accustomed to the tribune, to dissipate in words what remained to them of character; but when their theory approached too near to practice, he cut short every difficulty by a threat of interfering no more in their affairs; that is to say, of bringing them to a conclusion by force. He took considerable pleasure in these tedious discussions , because he is himself very fond of speaking. His species ofdissimulation in politics is not silence: he chooses rather to mislead by a perplexed discourse which favors alternately the most opposite opinions. In truth, deceit is often practiced more effectually by speaking than by silence . The least sign betrays those who say nothing; while, on the other hand, the impudence of active lying tends more directly to produce conviction . Bonaparte, therefore, lent himselfto the subtleties ofa committee which discussed the establishment ofa social system like the composition of a book. There was, then, no question of ancient bodies to be treated with respect, of privileges to be preserved, or even of usages to be respected ; the Revolution had so cleared away all recollections of the past from France that the plan of the new constitution was not obstructed by any remains of preceding edifices. Fortunately for Bonaparte, in such a discussion there was no need of profound knowledge; he had only to combat reasonings, a species of weapon with which he played as he liked, and to which he opposed, when his convenience required, a logic in which nothing was intelligible except the declaration of his will. Some have believed that Bonaparte was well informed on every subject, because in this respect, as in many others, he made use of the tricks of quackery. But, as he had read little in the course of his life, his knowledge was confined to what he had picked up in conversation . By accident he may speak to you on any subject whatsoever with exactness, and even with considerable science, if he has met some person who gave him information upon it immediately before; but the next instant you discover that he does not know what every well-educated person has learned in his youth. Doubtless much of a certain kind of 437 FrRevol_401-450.indd 38 3/16/12 1:11 PM PART IV talent-the talent of adroitness-is necessary...


Additional Information

Related ISBN
MARC Record
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
Back To Top

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Without cookies your experience may not be seamless.