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FrRevol_551-600.indd 3 3/16/12 1:14 PM CHAPTER IV Ofthe Entry ofthe A !lies into Paris, and the Different Parties Which Then Existed in France. The four great powers, England, Austria, Russia, and Prussia, who formed a coalition in r8r3 to repel the aggressions ofBonaparte, had never before acted in union, and no Continental state was able to resist such a mass of force. The French nation might perhaps have still been capable of defending itself before despotism had compressed all its energy; but as the struggle on the part of France was to be sustained only by soldiers, army against army, the balance of numbers was entirely, and beyond all proportion , in favor of the foreigners. The sovereigns who led on these troops, amounting, as well regulars as militia, to nearly eight hundred thousand men, displayed a bravery that gives them an inextinguishable right to the affection of their people; but amidst these great personages we must specially mention the Emperor ofRussia, who contributed most eminently to the success of the coalition of r8r3. Far from thinking that the merit of the Emperor Alexander is exaggerated by flattery, I would almost say that sufficient justice is not done him, because, like all the friends of liberty, he labors under the preconception existing against the way of thinking in what is called the good company of Europe. People are always attributing his political views to personal calculations, as if in our days disinterested sentiments could no longer enter the human heart. Doubtless, it is ofhigh importance to Russia that France should not be crushed, and France can be restored only by the aid of a constitutional government supported by the assent of the nation . But was the Emperor Alexander actuated by selfish thoughts when he conferred on the part of Poland ceded to him by the last treaties those FrRevol_551-600.indd 4 3/16/12 1:14 PM PART V rights which human reason at present calls for in all directions? Some wish to reproach him with the admiration which he testified during a time for Bonaparte; but was it not natural that great military talents should dazzle a young sovereign of a warlike spirit? Was it possible that he, distant as he was from France, should penetrate, like us, through the artifices of which Bonaparte made a frequent use, in preference even to all the other means at his command? When the Emperor Alexander acquired a thorough knowledge of the enemy with whom he had to contend, what resistance did he not oppose to him? One of his capitals was taken: still he refused that peace which N apoh~on offered him with extreme eagerness. After the troops ofBonaparte were driven from Russia, Alexander carried all his force into Germany to aid in the deliverance of that country; and when the remembrance of the French power still caused hesitation in regard to the plan ofcampaign proper to be followed, he decided that it was indispensable to march to Paris;1 and all the successes ofEurope are connected with the boldness of that resolution. It would be painful to me, I confess, to render homage to this determination, had not the Emperor Alexander in r8r4 acted a generous part toward France; and had not he, in the advice that he gave, constantly respected the honor and liberty of the nation. The liberal side is that which he has supported on every occasion / and if he has not made it triumph so much as might have been wished, ought we not at least to be surprised that such an instinct for what is noble, such a love of what is just, should have been born in his heart, like a flower of heaven, in the midst of so many obstacles? I have had the honor of conversing several times with the Emperor Alexander at St. Petersburg and at Paris, at the time of his reverses as at the time of his triumph.3 Equally unaffected, equally calm in either situation , his mind, penetrating, judicious, and wise, has ever been consistent. His conversation is wholly unlike what is commonly called an official conI . On March 24, 1814. 2. In reality, Tsar Alexander I endorsed a number of illiberal policies after 1812 and did not introduce representative institutions in Russia, as Madame de Stael had hoped he would. 3ยท Madame de Stael met the tsar for the first time on August 17, 1812. She recounted her conversations and impressions...


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