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FrRevol_401-450.indd 48 3/16/12 1:11 PM CHAPTER V Should England Have Made Peace with Bonaparte at His Accession to the Consulate? When General Bonaparte was named Consul, people expected peace from him. The nation, fatigued with its long struggle, and at that time sure of confirming its independence with the barrier of the Rhine and the Alps, wished only for tranquillity; but the measures to which it had recourse were certainly ill adapted for the accomplishment of its end. The First Consul, however, took steps toward a reconciliation with England, and the ministry of the day declined his overtures. Perhaps they were in the wrong: for, two years afterward, when Bonaparte had established his power by the victory of Marengo/ the English government found itself obliged to sign the treaty of Amiens,Z which was in every respect more disadvantageous than that which might have been obtained at a moment when Bonaparte was desirous of a new success, peace with England. Yet I do not join in the opinion ofsome persons who pretend that ifthe English ministry had accepted his proposals, Bonaparte would thenceforward I. The Battle ofMarengo (June 14, I Soo) was one ofthe most important episodes ofthe Napoleonic Wars. For more information, see Hamilton, Marengo. 2 . The treaty was signed on March 25, I 8o2, after French victories at Marengo and Hohenlinden , when Austria, Russia, and Napies sued for peace. The signing was made possible by William Pitt's resignation in London. Although England gained possession of two important territories (Trinidad and Tobago in the southern Caribbean and Ceylon in South Asia), the treaty terms were far from favorable to England, which agreed to give up the Cape Colony (in South Africa) and much of the West Indies to the so-called Batavian Republic (from I795 to 1806, it designated the Netherlands as a republic modeled after the French Republic). England also agreed to withdraw from Egypt while France withdrew from the Papal States. Finally, Malta was restored to the Order of St. John of Jerusalem. FrRevol_401-450.indd 49 3/16/12 1:11 PM cHAPTER v. Should England Have Made Peace? have adopted a pacific system. Nothing was more inconsistent with his nature and his interest. He cannot live but in agitation; and if anything can plead on his behalf with those who reflect on human beings, it is that he can breathe freely nowhere except in a volcanic atmosphere; his interest also recommended to him war. Every man who becomes the chief of a great country by other means than hereditary right will scarcely be able to keep himself in his situation, unless he gives the nation either freedom or military glory, unless he becomes either Washington or a conqueror. Now, as it was difficult to have less resemblance to Washington than Bonaparte had, he could not establish and preserve absolute power except by stupefying reason and presenting to the French, every three months, a new scene, so as by the greatness and variety of events to fill up the place of that honorable but calm emulation which free states are invited to enjoy. One anecdote will show how, from the first day of Bonaparte's accession to the Consulship, those around him were aware of the servility with which they must conduct themselves in order to please him. Among the arguments alleged by Lord Grenville3 for not treating with Bonaparte, one was that, as the government of the First Consul depended wholly on himself, a durable peace could not be established on the life of a single individual. These words irritated the First Consul, who could not endure that the chance of his death should be discussed. In fact, he who meets with no obstacle in men becomes indignant against nature, which alone refuses to yield: it is easier for the rest of the world to die; our enemies, often even our friends, in short, our whole lot prepares us for it. The person employed to refute Lord Grenville's answer in the Moniteur made use of these expressions: "As to the life and the death ofBonaparte, they, my Lord, are above your reach." It was thus that the people of Rome addressed their emperors by the style of" Your Eternity." Strange destiny of the human species, condemned by its passions to tread the same circle, while it is constantly advancing in the career of ideas! The treaty of 3ยท William Wyndham Grenville (1759- 1834), also known as Baron Grenville...


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