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FrRevol_601-650.indd 18 3/16/12 1:15 PM CHAPTER XIV Ofthe Conduct ofBonaparte on His Return. If it was a crime to recall Bonaparte, it was silliness to wish to disguise such a man as a constitutional sovereign. From the moment that he was taken back, a military dictatorship should have been conferred on him, the conscription re-established, the nation made to rise in mass so as not to be embarrassed about liberty when independence was compromised. Bonaparte was necessarily lowered in public opinion when made to hold a language quite contrary to that which had been his during fifteen years. It was clear that he could not proclaim principles so different from those that he had followed when all-powerful but because he was forced to it by circumstances; now, what is such a man when he allows himself to be forced? The terror he inspired, the power resulting from that terror, no longer existed; he was a muzzled bear which, though still heard to murmur , is nevertheless obliged by his guides to dance as they think proper. Instead of imposing the necessity of holding constitutional language for whole hours together on a man who had a horror of abstract ideas and legal restraints, he ought to have been in the field four days after his arrival at Paris, before the preparations of the allies were completed and, above all, while the astonishment caused by his return still shook the imagination . His object should have been to excite the passions ofthe Italians and Poles; to promise the Spaniards to expiate his faults by restoring to them their Cortes; in short, to take liberty as a weapon, not as an incumbrance. Quiconque est loup, agisse en loup, C'est le plus certain de beaucoup.1 r. Whoever is wolf acts as wolf: It is most certain of much. From "Le Loup devenu berger" ("The Wolf Become Shepherd"), by Jean de La Fontaine (Fables, bk. 3). 6z8 FrRevol_601-650.indd 19 3/16/12 1:15 PM cHAPTER X I v. Conduct ofBonaparte on His Return Some friends ofliberty/ endeavoring to pass an illusion on themselves, attempted to justify their renewed connection with Bonaparte by making him sign a free constitution; but there was no excuse for servingBonaparte elsewhere than on the field of battle. Foreigners, once at the gates of France, should have been prevented from entering it; in that way only was the esteem ofEurope herselfto be regained. But it was degrading the principles ofliberty to clothe in them a former despot; it was giving hypocrisy a place among the most sincere of human truths. In fact, how would Bonaparte have supported the constitution which he was made to proclaim? When responsible ministers should have refused compliance with his will, what would he have done with them? And if these same ministers had been severely accused by the deputies for having obeyed him, how would he have restrained an involuntary motion ofhis hand as a signal to his grenadiers to go a second time and drive out, at the point of the bayonet, the representatives of another power than his own? What! this man would have read every morning in the newspapers insinuations on his faults, on his errors! Sarcasms would have approached his imperial paw, and he have withheld a blow! He was accordingly often seen ready to reassume his true character; and since that character was such, he could find strength only in showing it. Military Jacobinism, one of the greatest scourges of the world, was, if still practicable, the only resource of Bonaparte. On his pronouncing the words "law" and "liberty ," Europe became tranquil; she felt that it was no longer her old and terrible adversary.3 2. Among them was Madame de Stael's close friend Benjamin Constant, the author of the new constitution entitled Additional Act (April I 815). A part of their correspondence during this period is found in Solovieff, ed., Madame de Staiil, ses amis, ses correspondants. Choix de leures (z:;y8- z8zy) , 494-506. 3ยท Napoleon realized that he had to make a series of liberal concessions to those who advocated the principles of representative government and constitutional monarchy. In a private conversation, he acknowledged: "The taste ofconstitutions, debates, and speeches has revived. Authority is questioned." (quoted in Lucas-Dubreton, The Restoration andthe july Monarchy, I 3) Napoleon abolished censorship of the press and signed an "Additional Act to the Constitutions of the Empire," drafted by his former...

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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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