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FrRevol_451-500.indd 18 3/16/12 1:11 PM CHAPTER VIII OfExile. Among all the prerogatives of authority, one of the most favorable to tyranny is the power of banishing without trial. The lettres de cachet of the Old Regime had been justly held forth as one of the most urgent motives for effecting a revolution in France: yet it was Bonaparte, the chosen man ofthe people, who, trampling underfoot all the principles the support ofwhich had caused the popular insurrection, assumed the power ofbanishing whoever displeased him even a little, and of imprisoning without any interference on the part ofthe tribunals whoever displeased him more. I can understand, I admit, how the greater part ofthe old courtiers rallied round the political system of Bonaparte; they had only one concession to make to him, that of changing their master. But how could the republicans submit to his tyranny-the republicans, whom every word, every act, every decree of his government must have shocked? A very considerable number of men and women ofdifferent opinions have suffered by these decrees of exile, which give the sovereign of the state a more absolute authority than even that which can result from illegal imprisonments. For it is more difficult to carry into effect aviolent measure than to exert a species ofpower which, though terrible in reality, has something benign in its form. The imagination clings to an insurmountable obstacle; great men-Themistocles, Cicero, Bolingbroke, were extremely wretched in exile; Bolingbroke/ in particular, declares in his writings that death seemed to him less terrible. To remove a man or a woman from Paris, to send them, as it was then called, to breathe the air of the country, was designating a severe punishment by such gentle expressions that the flatterers ofpower turned it easily 1. Bolingbroke (1678-1751) spent eight years in exile in France, from 1715 to 1723. FrRevol_451-500.indd 19 3/16/12 1:11 PM CHAPTER VIII. Exile into derison. Yet the fear of such an exile was sufficient to make all the inhabitants of the principal city of the empire incline toward servitude. The scaffolds may at last rouse resistance; but domestic vexations ofevery kind which are the result ofbanishment weaken resistance and cause you to dread only the displeasure of the sovereign who can impose upon you so wretched an existence. You may pass your life voluntarily out ofyour own country: but when you are constrained to do so, you are incessantly imagining that the objects of your affection may be sick, while you are not permitted to be near them and will perhaps never see them again. The affections of your choice, often family affections too, your habits of society , the interests of your fortune, are all compromised; and what is still more cruel, every tie is relaxed and you finally become a stranger in your native land. I have often thought, during the twelve years of exile to which Bonaparte condemned me, that he could not feel the misfortune of being deprived of France. He had no French recollections in his heart. The rocks of Corsica alone retraced to him the days ofhis infancy; but the daughter of M. Necker was more French than he. I reserve for another work,Z of which several passages are already written, all the circumstances of my exile, and of the journeys, even to the confines of Asia, which were the consequences ofit. But as I have almost forbidden myselfto drawportraits of living characters, I could not give to the history of an individual the kind of interest which it ought to have. In the meantime, I must limit myself to retracing what may enter with propriety into the general plan of this work. I discovered sooner than others (and I am proud of it) the tyrannical character and designs ofBonaparte. The true friends ofliberty are guided in such subjects by an instinct which does not deceive them. To render my situation at the beginning of the consulship still more painful, people of fashion in France thought that they saw in Bonaparte the man who saved them from anarchy or Jacobinism; and they therefore blamed strongly the spirit ofopposition which I exhibited against him. Whoever in politics foresees tomorrow excites the resentment of those who think 2. Ten Years ofExile. FrRevol_451-500.indd 20 3/16/12 1:11 PM PART IV only oftoday. More courage, I will venture to say, was requisite to support the persecution of society than...

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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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