World's Best Histories: FRANCE
BY M. GUIZOT AND MADAME GUIZOT DE WITT
IN EIGHT VOLUMES VOLUME SEVEN
HISTORY OF FRANCE
TABLE OF CONTENTS—VOL. VII.
CHAPTER VII. The Consulate (1799-1804)
CHAPTER VIII. Glory and Success (1804-1805)
CHAPTER IX. Glory and Conquest (1805-1808)
CHAPTER X. The Home Government (1804-1808)
CHAPTER XI. Glory and Illusions. Spain and Austria
CHAPTER XII. The Divorce (1809-1810)
CHAPTER XIII. Glory and Madness. The Russian Campaign (1811-1812)
THE HISTORY OF FRANCE
THE CONSULATE (1799-1804).
For more than ten years, amid unheard of shocks and sufferings, France had been seeking for a free and regular government, that might assure to her the new rights which had only been gained through tribulation. She had overthrown the Monarchy and attempted a Republic; she had accepted and rejected three constitutions, all the while struggling single-handed with Europe, leagued against her. She had undergone the violence of the Reign of Terror, the contradictory passions of the Assemblies, and the incoherent feebleness of the Directory. For the first time since the death of King Louis XIV., her history finds once more a centre, and henceforth revolves round a single man. For fifteen years, victorious or vanquished, at the summit of glory, or in the depths of abasement, France and Europe, overmastered by an indomitable will and unbridled passion for power, were compelled to squander their blood and their treasure upon that page of universal history which General Bonaparte claims for his own, and which he has succeeded in covering with glory and crime.
On the day following the 18th Brumaire, in the uncertainty of parties, in face of a constitution audaciously violated, and a government mainly provisional, the nation was more excited than apprehensive or disquieted. It had caught a glimpse of that natural power and that free ascendancy of genius to which men willingly abandon themselves, with a confidence which the most bitter deceptions have never been able to extinguish. Ardent and sincere republicans, less and less numerous, felt themselves conquered beforehand, by a sure instinct that was not misled by the protest of their adversaries. They bent before a new power, to which their old hatreds did not attach, which they believed to be in some sort created by their own hands, and of which they had not yet measured the audacity. The mass of the population, the true France, hailed with joy the hope of order and of a regular and strong administration. They were not prejudiced in favor of the philosophic constitution so long propounded by Sieyes. In the eyes of the nation, the government was already concentrated in the hands of General Bonaparte; it was in him that all were trusting, for repose at home and glory and peace abroad.
In fact, he was governing already, disregarding the prolonged discussions of the two legislative commissions, and the profound developments of the projects of Sieyes, expounded by M. Boulay. Before the Constitution of the year VIII, received the sanction of his dominant will, he had repealed the Law of Hostages, recalled the proscribed priests from the Isle of Oleron, and from Sinnamari most of those transported on 18th Fructidor. He had reformed the ministry, and distributed according to his pleasure the chief commands in the army. As Moreau had been of service to Bonaparte in his coup d'etat, he was placed at the head of the army of the Rhine joined to the army of Helvetia, taken from Massena on the morrow of his most brilliant victories. Distrust and ill-will struggled with his admiration of Bonaparte in the mind of the conqueror of Zurich; he was sent to the army of Italy, always devoted to Bonaparte. Berthier remained at Paris in the capacity of minister of war. Fouche was placed at the police, and Talleyrand undertook foreign affairs. By a bent of theoretical fancy, which was not borne out by experience in government, the illustrious mathematician Laplace was called to the ministry of the interior. Gaudin became minister of finances; he replaced immediately the forced loans with an increase of direct taxes, and introduced into the collection of the public revenues some important improvements, which paved the way for our great financial organization.
At the same time, without provocation and without necessity, as if simply in compliance with the mournful traditions of past violence, a list of proscriptions, published on the 23rd Brumaire, exiled to Guiana or the Ile de Re nine persons—a mixture of honest republicans opposed to the new state of things, and of wretches still charged with the crimes of the Reign of Terror. Only the name of General Jourdan excited universal reprobation, and it was immediately struck out. The measure itself was soon mitigated, and the decree was never executed.
Through the revolutionary storms and the murderous epochs which had successively seen all the great actors in the political struggles disappear from the scene, the Abbe Sieyes emerged as a veteran associated with the first free impulses of the nation. In 1789, his pamphlet, "What is the Third Estate?" had arrested the attention of all serious minds. He had several times, and in decisive circumstances, played an important part in the Constituent Assembly. Since his vote of the 20th January, and until the 9th Thermidor, he remained in voluntary obscurity; mingling since then in all great theoretical discussions, he had exercised a preponderating influence in recent events. From revolution to revolution, popular or military, he came out in the part of legislator, his spirit escaping from the influence of pure democracy. He had formerly proposed the banishment en masse of all the nobility, and he still nursed in the depths of his soul a horror for all traditional superiority. He had said, "Whoever is not of my species is not my fellow-creature; the nobles are not of my species; they are wolves, and I fire upon them." He had, however, been brought, by his reflections and the course of events, to construct eccentric theories, of a factitious aristocracy, the wielders of power to the exclusion of the nation, recruited from a limited circle—a disfigured survival of the Italian republics of the middle ages, without the free and salutary action of representative government.
"Confidence ought to proceed from below, and power to act from above," declared the appointed legislator of the 18th Brumaire. He himself compared his political system to a pyramid, resting on the entire mass of the nation, terminating at the top in a single man, whom he called the Great Elector. He had not the courage to pronounce the word king.
Five millions of electors, constituted into primary assemblies, were to prepare a municipal list of 500,000 elected who in their turn were entrusted with the formation of a departmental list of 50,000 names. To these twice sifted delegates was confided the care of electing 5000 as a national list, alone capable of becoming the agents of executive power in the whole of France. The municipal and departmental administrations were to be chosen by authority from their respective lists. The Conservative Senate, composed of eighty members, self-elective, had the right of appointing the members of the Corps Legislatif, the Tribuneship, and the Court of Cassation. It was besides destined to the honor of choosing the Great Elector. The senators, richly endowed, might exercise no other function. The Corps Legislatif was dumb, and limited to voting the laws prepared by the Council of State, and discussed by the Tribunate. The Great Elector, without actively interfering in the government, furnished with a civil list of six millions, and magnificently housed by the state, appointed the two councils of peace and war, upon whom depended the ministers and all the administrative personnel of prefects and sub- prefects entrusted with the government of the departments. In case the magistrate, so highly placed in his sumptuous indolence, should seem to menace the safety of the State, the Senate was authorized to absorb him by admitting him into its ranks. The same action might be exercised with respect to any of the civil or military functionaries.
So many complicated wheels calculated to hinder rather than to sustain each other, so much pomp in words and so little efficacy in action, could never suit the intentions or the character of General Bonaparte. He claimed at once the position of Great Elector, which Sieyes had perhaps secretly thought to reserve for himself.
"What!" said he, "would you want to make me a pig in a dunghill?" Then demolishing the edifice laboriously constructed by the legislator, "Your Great Elector is a slothful king," said he to Sieyes; "the time for that sort of thing is past. What! appoint people to act, and not act himself! It won't do. If I were this Great Elector I should certainly do everything which you would desire me not to do. I should say to the two consuls of peace and war: 'If you don't choose such and such a man, or take such and such a measure, I shall send you about your business.' And I would compel them to proceed according to my will. And these two consuls? How do you think they could agree? Unity of action is indispensable in government. Do you think that serious men would be able to lend themselves to such shams?"
Sieyes was not fond of discussion, for which indeed he was not suited; with the prudent sagacity which always characterized his conduct, he recognized the inferiority of his will and his influence in comparison with General Bonaparte. Three consuls were substituted for the Great Elector and his two chosen subordinates equal in appearance, but already classed according to the origin of their power. As first consul, Bonaparte was not to be subjected to any election; he held himself as appointed by the people. "What colleagues will they give me?" said he bluntly to Roederer and Talleyrand who served him constantly as his agents of communication. "Whom do you wish?" He named Cambaceres, then minister of justice, clever and clear-sighted, of an independent spirit joined to a docile character; and Lebrun, the former secretary of the Chancellor Maupeou, minister for foreign affairs under the Convention, and respected by moderate republicans. Some had spoken of M. Daunou, honestly courageous in the worst days of the Revolution; the clever author of the Constitution of the year III., and whom Bonaparte had taken a malicious pleasure in entrusting with the drawing up of the new Constitution. A certain number of voices in the two legislative commissions had supported his name. The resolution of M. Daunou was known; Bonaparte did not complete the counting of the votes. "We shall do better," said he, "to keep to those whom M. Sieyes has named." Cambaceres and Lebrun were appointed consuls. Sieyes received from the nation a rich grant and the estate of Crosne. In concert with Roger-Ducos and the new consuls, he formed the list of the Senate, who immediately completed its numbers, as well as the lists of the 300 members of the Corps Legislatif, and the 100 members of the Tribunate. Moderation presided over the composition of the lists; Bonaparte attached no importance to them, and took no part in their preparation. He had formed with care the Council of State, many capable men finding a place in it. It was the instrument which the First Consul destined for the execution of his ideas. Once only, on the 19th Brumaire, he came for a moment into contact with the assemblies. Henceforth he left them in the shade; all power rested in his hands. Under the name of Republic, the accent of an absolute master resounded already in the proclamation everywhere circulated on the day following the formation of the new government:—
"To render the Republic dear to citizens, respected by foreigners, formidable to our enemies, are the obligations which we have contracted in accepting the chief magistracy.
"It will be dear to citizens if the laws and the acts of authority bear the impress of the spirit of order, justice and moderation.
"The Republic will be imposing to foreigners if it knows how to respect in their independence the title of its own independence, if its engagements, prepared with wisdom and entered upon with sincerity, are faithfully kept.
"Lastly, it will be formidable to its enemies, if the army and navy are made strong, and if each of its defenders finds a home in the regiment to which he belongs, and in that home a heritage of virtue and glory; if the officer, trained by long study, obtains by regular promotion the recompense due to his talents and work.
"Upon these principles depend the stability of government, the success of commerce and agriculture, the greatness and prosperity of nations.
"We have pointed out the rule, Frenchmen, by which we ought to be judged, we have stated our duties. It will be for you to tell us whether we have fulfilled them."
"What would you have?" said the First Consul to La Fayette. "Sieyes has put nothing but shadows everywhere; the shadow of legislative power, the shadow of judicial power, the shadow of government; some part of the substance was necessary. Faith! I have put it there." The very preamble of the Constitution affirmed the radical change brought about in the direction of affairs. "The powers instituted to-day will be strong and lasting, such as they ought to be in order to guarantee the rights of citizens and the interests of the State. Citizens, the Revolution is fixed upon the same principles which began it. It is finished!"
It was not the apotheosis, but the end of the Revolution that the authors of the Constitution of the year VIII. arrogantly announced. In the first impulse of a great spirit brought face to face with a difficult task, Bonaparte conceived the thought of terminating the war like the Revolution, and of re-establishing, at least for some time, the peace he needed in order to govern France. Disdainful of the ordinary forms of diplomacy, he wrote directly to George III., as he had formerly written to the Archduke Charles (18th December, 1799).
"Called by the will of the French nation to be first magistrate, I deem it expedient on entering upon my charge to communicate directly with your Majesty.
"Must the war which for eight years has ravaged the four quarters of the globe, be eternal? Is there no other means of arriving at a mutual understanding?
"How can the most enlightened nations of Europe, powerful and strong beyond what their security and independence require, sacrifice the interest of commerce, the prosperity of their people, and the happiness of families, to ideas of vainglory?
"These sentiments cannot be foreign to the heart of your Majesty, who governs a free nation with the sole aim of rendering it happy.
"Your Majesty will see in these overtures only my sincere desire to contribute effectively, for the second time, to a general pacification by a prompt procedure, full of confidence and divested of those forms which, necessary perhaps, in order to disguise the dependence of feeble States, only reveal between strong States a mutual desire to deceive each other.
"France and England, by the abuse of their power, may for a long time yet retard its termination; but I dare to say that every civilized nation is interested in the close of a war which embraces the whole world."
At the same time, and in nearly the same terms, Bonaparte wrote to the Emperor Francis. He had treated formerly with this sovereign, and would not perhaps have found him inflexible; but Pitt did not believe the Revolution finished, and had no confidence in a man who had just seized with a victorious hand the direction of the destinies of France. A frigidly polite letter, addressed by Lord Granville to Talleyrand, the minister of foreign affairs, repelled the advances of the First Consul. The English then prepared a new armament intended to second the attempts which the royalists were at that time renewing in the west. In enumerating the causes of European mistrust with regard to France, Lord Granville added, "The best guarantee, the most natural guarantee, for the reality and the permanence of the pacific intentions of the French government, would be the restoration of that royal dynasty which has maintained for so many ages the internal prosperity of France, and which has made it regarded with respect and consideration abroad. Such an event would clear away all the obstacles which hinder negotiations for peace, it would ensure to France the tranquil possession of her ancient territory, and it would give to all the nations of Europe that security which they are compelled to seek at present by other means."
During the violent debate raised in Parliament by the pacific propositions of the First Consul, Pitt based all his arguments upon the instability and insecurity of a treaty of peace with the French Revolution, whatever might be the name of its chief rulers. "When was it discovered that the dangers of Jacobinism cease to exist?" he cried. "When was it discovered that the Jacobinism of Robespierre, of Barere, of the five directors, of the triumvirate, has all of a sudden disappeared because it is concentrated in a single man, raised and nurtured in its bosom, covered with glory under its auspices, and who has been at once the offspring and the champion of all its atrocities?... It is because I love peace sincerely that I cannot content myself with a vain word; it is because I love peace sincerely that I cannot sacrifice it by seizing the shadow when the reality is not within my reach. Cur igitur pacem nolo? Quia infida est, quia periculosa, quia esse non potest!"
More moderate in form, Austria had in reality replied like England. War was inevitable, and in the internal disorder in which the Directory had left affairs, in the financial embarrassment and in the deplorable state of the armies, the First Consul felt the weight of a government that had been so long disorganized and weak, pressing heavily on his shoulders. His first care was to achieve the pacification of the west, always agitated by royalist passions. For a moment the chiefs of the party thought it possible to engage General Bonaparte in the service of the monarchical restoration: they were speedily undeceived. But the First Consul knew how to make use in Vendee of the influence of the former cure of St. Laud, the Abbe Bernier; he made an appeal to the priests, who returned from all parts to their provinces, "The ministers of a God of Peace," said the proclamation of the 28th December, 1799, "will be the first promoters of reconciliation and concord; let them speak to all hearts the language which they learn in the temple of their Master! Let them enter temples which will be reopened to them, and offer for their fellow-citizens the sacrifice which shall expiate the crime of war and the blood which has been made to flow!" Always in intimate unison with the religious sentiment of the populace who fought under their orders, the Vendean chiefs responded to this appeal, laying down their arms. In Brittany and in Normandy, Georges Cadoudal and Frotte continued hostilities; severe instructions were sent, first to General Hedouville, and then to General Brune. "The Consuls think that the generals ought to shoot on the spot the principal rebels taken with arms in hand. However cunning the Chouans may be, they are not so much so as Arabs of the desert. The First Consul believes that a salutary example would be given by burning two or three large communes, chosen from among those who have behaved themselves most badly." Six weeks later the insurrection was everywhere subdued; Frotte, and his young aide-de-camp Toustain, had been shot; Bourmont had accepted the offers of the First Consul, and enrolled himself in his service; Georges Cadoudal resisted all the advances of him whom he was soon to pursue with his hatred even to attempting a crime. "What a mistake I have made in not stifling him in my arms!" repeated the hardy chief of the Chouans on quitting General Bonaparte. He retired into England. The civil war was terminated; the troops which had occupied the provinces of the west could now rejoin the armies which were preparing on the frontiers. Carnot, who had just re-entered France, replaced at the ministry of war General Berthier, called upon active service. It was the grand association connected with his name, rather than the hope of an active and effective co-operation, which decided the First Consul to entrust this post to Carnot; possibly he wished to remove it from the little group of obstinate liberals justly disquieted at the dangers with which they saw freedom menaced. Already the journals had been suppressed, with the exception of thirteen; the laws were voted without dispute; and, "in a veritable whirlwind of urgency," the government claimed to regulate the duration of the discussions of the Tribunate. Benjamin Constant, still young, and known for a short time previously as a publicist, raised his voice eloquently against the wrong done to freedom of discussion. "Without doubt," said he "harmony is desirable amongst the authorities of the Republic; but the independence of the Tribunate is no less necessary to that harmony than the constitutional authority of the government; without the independence of the Tribunate, there will be no longer either harmony or constitution, there will be no longer anything but servitude and silence, a silence that all Europe will understand."
The past violence of the assemblies, and their frequent inconsistencies, had wearied feeble minds, and blinded short-sighted spirits. The speech of Benjamin Constant secured for his friend Madame de Stael a forced retirement from Paris. The law was voted by a large majority, and the adulations of flatterers were heaped up around the feet of the First Consul. He himself took a wiser view of his position, which he still considered precarious. On taking up his residence at the Tuileries, in great state, on February 19, 1800, he said to his secretary, "Well, Bourienne, we have reached the Tuileries; the thing is now to stop here."
Already, and by the sole effort of a sovereign will, which appeared to improve by exercise, the power formerly distributed among obscure hands was concentrated at Paris, under the direction of a central administration suddenly organized; exactions borne with difficulty resulted in abundant resources from the conquered or annexed countries, at Genoa, in Holland, at Hamburg. The young King of Prussia, sensible and prudent, had refused to transform his neutrality into alliance; but he had used his influence over the smaller states of the empire, to induce them to maintain the same attitude. The Emperor Paul I., tossed to and fro by the impetuous movements of his ardent and unhealthy spirit, was piqued by the defeats of Suwarrow, and offended by the insufficiency of the help of Austria; he was discontented with the English government, and ill-humoredly kept himself apart from the coalition. The resumption of hostilities was imminent, and the grand projects of the First Consul began to unroll themselves. Active preparations had been till then confined to the army of the Rhine under Moreau. The army of Liguria, placed under the command of Massena, with Genoa as a centre of operations, had received neither reinforcements nor munitions; its duty was to protect the passage of the Appenines against Melas, whilst Moreau attacked upon the Rhine the army of Suabia, commanded by Marshal Kray. The occupation of Switzerland by the French army impeded the movements of the allies, by compelling them to withdraw their two armies from each other; the First Consul meditated a movement which should give him all the advantages of this separation. Moreau in Germany, Massena in Italy, were ordered at any cost to keep the enemy in check. Bonaparte silently formed a third army, the corps of which he cleverly dispersed, distracting the attention of Europe by the camp of the army of reserve at Dijon. Already he was preparing the grand campaign which should raise his glory to its pinnacle, and establish his power upon victory. In his idea everything was to be sacrificed to the personal glory of his successes. He conceived a project of attack by crossing the Rhine. Moreau, modest and disinterested, accepted the general plan of the war, and subordinated his operations to those of the First Consul; in his military capacity independent and resolute, he persisted in passing the Rhine at his pleasure. Bonaparte was enraged. "Moreau would not seek to understand me," cried he. He yielded, however, to the observations of General Dessoles, and always clever in subjugating those of whom he had need, he wrote to Moreau to restore him liberty of action. "Dessoles will tell you that no one is more interested than myself in your personal glory and your good fortune. The English embark in force; what do they want? I am to-day a sort of manikin, who has lost his liberty and his good fortune. Greatness is fine but in prospective and in imagination. I envy you your luck; you go with the heroes to do fine deeds. I would willingly barter my consular purple against one of your brigadier's epaulettes" (16th March, 1800).
The army of Italy had been suffering for a long time with heroic courage; the well-known chief who took the command was more than any other suited to obtain from it the last efforts of devotion; it was the first to undergo the attack of the allied forces. The troops of Massena were still scattered when he was assailed by Melas. The fear of prematurely exhausting the insufficient resources of Genoa had prevented him from following the wise councils of Bonaparte, by massing his troops round that town. After a series of furious combats upon the upper Bormida, the French line found itself cut in two by the Austrians; General Suchet was obliged to fall back upon Nice, Massena re-entered Genoa. A new effort forced back General Melas beyond the Appenines. The attempt to rejoin the corps of General Suchet having failed, Massena saw himself constrained to shut himself up in Genoa, in the midst of a population divided in opinion, but whose confidence he had already known how to win. Resolved to occupy by resistance and by sorties all the forces of the allies, the general made preparations for sustaining the siege to the last extremity. All the provisions of the place were brought into the military magazines; the most severe order reigned in the distribution, but already scarcity was felt. The forces of Massena, exhausted by frequent fights, diminished every day; bread failed; and the heroic obstinacy of the general alone compelled the Austrians to keep a considerable corps d'armee before a famished town (5th May, 1800). Melas had in vain attempted to force the lines of Var, behind which General Suchet, too feeble to defend Nice, had cleverly entrenched himself.
Moreau delayed to commence the campaign; his material was insufficient; Alsace and Switzerland, exhausted of resources, could not furnish the means of transport required by his movement. The First Consul urged him. "Obtain a success as soon as possible, that you may be able by a diversion in some degree to expedite the operations in Italy," he wrote to him on April 24; "every day's delay is extremely disastrous to us." On April 26, Moreau passed the Rhine at Strasburg, at Brisach, and at Basle, thus deceiving General Kray, who defended the defiles of the Black Forest, whilst the different divisions of the French army reascended and repassed the Rhine, in order to cross it afresh without difficulty at Schaffhausen. The Austrians had not yet collected their forces, dispersed by the unlooked-for movement they found themselves obliged to execute; the French corps were themselves dispersed when the battle commenced, on May 3, at Engen. After a furious struggle at several points, General Moreau achieved a splendid victory; two days later the same fortune crowned the battle of Moesskirch; the loss on both sides was great. The action was not well combined; Marshal Kray at first fell back behind the Danube; by the advice of his council of war he decided to defend the magazines at Biberach. He repassed the river, and offered battle to the corps of Gouvion St. Cyr, then hampered with Moreau, bearing his direction with difficulty. The positions occupied by the Austrians were everywhere attacked at once; their troops, already demoralized by several defeats, retired in disorder. Kray fell back on Ulm, where an entrenched camp was ready for him. General Moreau was compelled to weaken his army by detaching a corps of 1800 men, necessary for the operations of the First Consul. He attempted without success a movement intended to turn the flank of General Kray, and resolved to blockade him in his positions, and wait for the result of the manoeuvres of Bonaparte. On the 27th May he wrote to Bonaparte, "We await with impatience the announcement of your success. M. de Kray and I are groping about here—he to keep his army round Ulm, I to make him quit the post. It would have been dangerous, especially for you, if I had carried the war to the left bank of the Danube. Our present position has forced the Prince of Reuss to remove himself to the passes of the Tyrol, to the sources of the Lech and the Iller; thus he is no longer dangerous for you. If M. de Kray comes towards me, I shall still retreat as far as Meiningen; there I shall join General Lecourbe, and we shall fight. If M. de Kray marches upon Augsburg, I shall do the same; he will quit his support at Ulm, and then we shall see what will have to be done to cover your movements. We should find more advantages in carrying on the war upon the left bank of the Danube, and making Wurtemberg and Franconia contribute to it; but that would not suit you, as the enemy would be able to send detachments down into Italy whilst leaving us to ravage the provinces of the Empire.
"Give me, I pray you, some news of yourself, and command me in every possible service I can render you."
All was thus prepared in Germany and Italy for the success of that campaign of the First Consul of which the enemy were still ignorant. Always deceived by the fictitious concentrations carried on at Dijon, the Austrians saw without disquietude the departure of Bonaparte, who left Paris, as it was said, for a few days, in order to pass in review the army of reserve. The French public shared the same illusion; the preparations eagerly pushed forward by the First Consul, remained secret. He set out at the last moment, leaving with regret, and not without uneasiness, his government scarcely established, and new institutions not yet in working order. "Keep firmly together," said he to Cambaceres and Lebrun; "if an emergency occurs, don't be alarmed at it. I will return like a thunderbolt, to crush those who are audacious enough to raise a hand against the government." He had in advance, by the powerful conceptions of his genius arranged the whole plan of operations, and divined the movements of his enemies. Bending over his maps, and designating with his finger the positions of the different corps, he muttered in a low voice, "This poor M. de Melas will pass by Turin, he will fall back upon Alessandria. I shall pass the Po, and come up with him again on the road of Placenza, in the plains of the Scrivia; and I shall beat him there, and then there." The Tribunate expressed their desire that the First Consul might return soon, "conqueror and pacificator." An article of the Constitution forbade him to take the command of the armies; Berthier received the title of general-in-chief. The First Consul passed in review the army of conscripts and invalids assembled at Dijon. On May 13, he combined the active forces at Geneva; the troops coming from Germany under the command of General Moncey had not yet arrived; they were to pass by the St. Gothard. General Marescot had been ordered to reconnoitre the Alps; the pass of the St. Bernard, more difficult than that of the Simplon or Mont Cenis, was much shorter, and the passage from it could be much more easily defended. "Difficult it may be," replied the First Consul to the report of Marescot, "but is it possible?" "I think so," said the general, "with extraordinary efforts." "Ah, well! let us set out," said Bonaparte.
From Geneva to Villeneuve the journey was easy, and vessels carried provisions to that point. The First Consul had carefully arranged places for revictualling all along the road. At Montigny half the mules, requisitioned at great cost in the neighborhood, were loaded with victuals and munitions of war; the other half were attached to the gun carriages relieved of the cannon, which were to be again put in working order at San Remi, on the other side of the pass. The cannon themselves were enveloped in the hollowed trunks of trees; they could then be dragged over the ice and snow. The number of mules proving insufficient, and the peasants refusing to undertake this rough work, the soldiers yoked themselves to the cannon, and dragged them across the mountain without wishing to accept the rewards promised by the First Consul. He rode on a mule at the head of the rear-guard, wrapped in a gray greatcoat, chatting familiarly with his guide, and sustaining the courage of his soldiers by his unalterable coolness. After a few hours' rest at the hospice of St. Bernard commenced the descent, more difficult still than the ascent. From the 15th to the 20th of May the divisions followed each other. Lannes and Berthier, who commanded the vanguard, had already advanced to Aosta, when they found themselves stopped by the little fort of Bard, built upon a precipitous rock, and with artillery commanding the defile. It was now night; a layer of straw and refuse was spread over the frozen foot-path; the wheels of the gun-carriages were encased in tow; at the break of day the passage had been safely cleared. The French army, descending like a torrent into the valley, seized upon Ivry, and repulsed the Austrians at the Chiusella on May 26th. All the divisions of Bonaparte's army assembled by degrees; the corps of Moncey debouched by the St. Gothard, 4000 men under the orders of General Thureau crossed by Mont Cenis. General Melas still refused to believe in the danger which menaced him, and already an imposing army was advancing against his scattered and divided forces. Already Lannes had beaten General Ott at Montebello, after a hotly disputed engagement. "I heard the bones crackle like a hailstorm on the roofs," said the conqueror.
Bonaparte threw himself upon Milan, neglecting Genoa, which he might have delivered without risk; thereby condemning Massena and his army to the sufferings of a prolonged siege, terminated by a sad defeat. He had conceived vaster projects, and the design of annihilating the Austrian army by a single blow. Everything had to give way to the consideration of personal success and his egotistical thirst for glory. The Lombard populace received the First Consul with transport, happy to see themselves delivered from the Austrian yoke, and beguiled in advance with the hope of liberty. General Melas was at Alessandria, summoning to his aid the forces that were attacking Suchet on the Var, and the troops of General Ott, detained by the siege of Genoa. He was assured of the impossibility of any succor being sent by Marshal Kray. It was necessary to conquer or die. In the prison in which the Austrian army detained him, Massena had divined the situation of the enemy. He was still hoping for the assistance that had been promised him; already General Ott had sent him a flag of truce. "Give me only provisions for two days, or one day," said he to the Genoese, "and I will save you from the Austrian yoke, and spare my army the sorrow of surrender."
All resources were exhausted; the horrors of famine had worn out the courage of the inhabitants; even the soldiers were yielding to discouragement. "Before he will surrender," said they, "the general will make us eat his boots." For a long time the garrison had lived on unwholesome bread made with starch, upon linseed and cocoa, which scarcely sufficed to keep the soldiers alive; the population, reduced to live on soup made of herbs gathered on the ramparts, died by hundreds; the prisoners cantoned in the port in old dismasted vessels, uttered cries that reached the ears of their old generals. The latter had refused to send in provisions for the prisoners, in spite of the promise of Massena to reserve it for them. The last food was used up; on the 3rd of June the general consented to receive the flag of truce. He asked for, and obtained, the honors of war; the army was authorized to depart from Genoa with arms and baggage, flags displayed, and free to direct its course towards the corps of General Suchet. "Without that I should issue arms in hand, and it should be seen what eight thousand famished men could do." War and famine had reduced to this number the soldiers in condition to carry arms. After their cure, the sick, who filled the hospitals, were to be sent to the quarters of General Suchet. Massena defended the interests of the Genoese, and asked in their favor for a free government. The Austrian generals refused to make any engagement. "In less than a fortnight I shall be back again in Genoa," declared the French general. "You will find there the men whom you have taught how to defend it," replied St. Julien, one of the plenipotentiaries. General Soult remained in the place, seriously wounded. Massena brought his exhausted troops to the Var. In the depths of their souls, generals and soldiers cherished a bitter resentment for the manner in which they had been abandoned. When the Austrian troops, beaten by Suchet, had retired towards Alessandria, Massena did not allow him to pursue them; he contented himself with guarding the gates of France.
Bonaparte had just quitted Stradella, which he had occupied after leaving Milan. He had been obliged to disperse his forces, in order to cut off all the passages open to the enemy. When he entered, on June 13th, the plain that extends between the Scrivia and the Bormida, near the little village of Marengo, he was badly instructed as regards the movements of the enemy, as well as the resources of the country. On the morning of the 14th, General Melas, constrained by necessity, evacuated Alessandria, and, passing the Bormida upon three bridges, attacked General Victor before Marengo. Lannes was at the same time surrounded on every side, and obliged to retreat in spite of prodigies of courage. Marengo had been destroyed by the artillery of the enemy, when Bonaparte arrived upon the field of battle with his guard and his staff officers, at once drawing upon himself the brunt of the fight. Meanwhile the retreat continued; the army seemed about to be cut in two; the Austrian general, old and fatigued, believing himself assured of victory, re-entered Alessandria. It was now three o'clock, and Bonaparte still hoped and kept on fighting. He despatched an aide-de-camp to Desaix, returned from Egypt two days before, and whom he had detached in the direction of Novi; upon his return depended the fortune of the day. Desaix had divined this, and forestalled the message of Bonaparte; before he could be expected he was beside the general, who questioned him as to the aspect of affairs. "Well," said Desaix, after having rapidly examined the situation of the different corps, "it is a lost battle; but it is not late; we have time to gain another." His regiments were forming whilst he spoke, stopping the march of the Austrians. "My friends," said the First Consul to the reanimated soldiers, "remember that it is my custom to sleep upon the field of battle."
At the same moment Desaix advanced at the heads of his troops. "Go and tell the First Consul that I am about to charge," said he to his aide-de- camp, Savary; "I need to be supported by cavalry." He was crossing an undulation in the ground when a ball struck him in the breast; from daybreak he had been oppressed by gloomy presentiments. "I have been too long making war in Africa," said he; "the bullets of Europe know me no longer." On falling he said to General Boudet, "Conceal my death; it might unsettle the troops." The soldiers had perceived it and rushed forward to avenge him. Kellermann arrived at the same instant, urged forward by one of those sudden inspirations which mark great generals; hurling his dragoons upon the Austrian cavalry, which he broke through, he attacked the column of grenadiers which arduously sustained the assault of the division of Desaix. Their ranks fell into disorder; one entire corps threw down its arms. General Zach, entrusted with the command in the absence of Melas, was forced to give up his sword. When the old general hurried up in agitation, the battle was lost. The Austrian troops, repulsed and routed, and crowded against the banks of the Bormida, blocked up all the bridges, or cast themselves into the river, everywhere pursued by the victorious French. The cannon, which stuck fast in the Bormida, fell into the hands of the conquerors. The staff was decimated.
The First Consul regretted the loss of Desaix, the only one among the companions of his youth who had seemed able to inspire in him any particular regard. He was, however, triumphant, and this great day made him in fact the master of Italy. He had the wisdom to perceive it. The needs of government recalled him to France; the conditions he proposed to Melas, although hard, were such as could be accepted. The Austrian army was authorized to retire with the honors of war; but it was to surrender to the French troops all its positions in Liguria, Piedmont, Lombardy, and the Legations, whilst evacuating the Italian territory as far as the Mincio. To the protests of Melas, Bonaparte replied by a formal refusal to listen. "Sir," said he, "my conditions are irrevocable. I did not begin to made war yesterday. Your position is as well known to me as to yourself. You are in Alessandria, encumbered with the dead, the wounded, and the sick, and destitute of provisions; you have lost the elite of your army; you are surrounded on all sides. I could exact everything, but I only demand of you that which the situation of affairs imperatively requires. Return to Alessandria; you will have no other conditions."
Melas signed, pledging his word until he should receive a reply from Vienna. On the same evening, before quitting the field of battle, the First Consul wrote for the second time to the Emperor Francis Joseph. He was moved to the very depths of his impassable and haughty soul by the spectacle of the carnage and fury of the battle. In subsequent calmer moments he perhaps regretted his letter. "It is upon the battlefield of Marengo," said he, "in the midst of agonies, and surrounded by 15,000 corpses, that I conjure your Majesty to listen to the cry of humanity, and not permit the children of two brave and powerful nations to massacre each other for interests which are foreign to them. It is for me to press this upon your Majesty, since I am the nearest to the theatre of war. Your heart cannot be so keenly alive to it as mine. The arms of your Majesty have achieved sufficient glory. You govern a large number of States. What then can those in the cabinet of your Majesty allege in favor of the continuation of hostilities? Is it the interests of religion and of the Church? Why do they not counsel your Majesty to make war on the English, the Muscovites, and the Prussians? They are further from the Church than we. Is it the form of the French Government, which is not hereditary but simply elective? But the government of the Empire is also elective; and besides, your Majesty is thoroughly convinced of the powerlessness of the entire world to change the desire which the French people have received from nature to govern themselves as they please. Is it the destruction of revolutionary principles? If your Majesty will take account of the effects of war you will see that it tends to revolutionize Europe, by increasing everywhere the public debt and the discontent of the people. In compelling the French people to make war, you compel them only to think of war, only to live in war; and the French legions are numerous and brave. If your Majesty wishes for peace it is done; let us give repose and tranquillity to the present generation. If future generations are foolish enough to fight—well, they will learn after a few years of war to become wise and live in peace. I might take captive the entire army of your Majesty. I am satisfied by a suspension of hostilities, having hopes that it may be the first step towards the repose of the world; an object for which I can plead all the more forcibly because, nurtured and schooled by war, I might be suspected of being more accustomed to the evils it drags after it. If your Majesty refuses these proposals, the hostilities will recommence; and let me be permitted to tell you frankly, in the eyes of the world you alone will be responsible for the war."
Peace was still to be delayed, but the Convention of Alessandria was concluded at once; and the success of General Moreau sustained in Germany the victorious arguments of the First Consul. The former passed the Danube near Hochstedt; after a very brilliant action, which lasted eighteen hours (June 19), he took 5000 prisoners, and captured twenty pieces of cannon and considerable magazines. Kray, menaced with the probability of having his line of retreat cut off, had abandoned his position at Ulm, forcing his march so precipitately that General Moreau had not been informed of it. Meanwhile he attacked the Grisons and the Tyrol, repulsed the Prince of Reuss, and established himself upon the Isar. On the 15th of July a suspension of arms was signed at Parsdorf, near Munich. Like the soldiers of the army of Italy, the soldiers of the army of the Rhine were about to take some repose.
Massena had re-entered Genoa on the 24th of June, justifying to the letter his glorious bravado; his ill-humor was dissipated, and he remained entrusted with the chief command of the army of Italy. The First Consul had received at Milan the eager homage of the Lombards, but the Cisalpine Republic was not reconstituted; a Grand Council governed it under the Presidency of Petiet, the French minister. At Turin, General Jourdan directed the provisional government; at Genoa, General Dejean filled the same functions; everywhere the paraded power of France was substituted for the semblance of liberty; the Roman States were still in the hands of the Neapolitans. The new Pope, Barnabus Chiaramonti, formerly Bishop of Imola, who had shown himself well disposed towards the French, had just arrived unexpectedly at Ancona, whence he negotiated his re-entry into the eternal city. The First Consul assured him of his good intentions as regards the Catholic Church, and the Holy See. The far-seeing finesse of the Court of Rome did not permit it to be deceived. The Secretary of the Sacred College, Monsignor Consalvi, had said during the conclave, "It is from France that we have received persecutions for ten years past; well, it is from France that will perhaps come in the future our succors and our consolations. A very extraordinary young man, and even more difficult to be judged, rules there to-day. There is no doubt he will soon have reconquered Italy. Remember that he protected the priests in 1797, and that he has recently rendered funeral honors to Pius VI. Let us not neglect the resources which offer themselves to us on this side." On the day after the battle of Marengo preliminary negotiations already commenced. The First Consul was officially present at the grand Te Deum chanted in the cathedral of Milan. "Our atheists at Paris may say of it what they will," wrote Bonaparte to Cambaceres.
During the night of the 2nd and 3rd July, 1800, Bonaparte re-entered Paris, overwhelmed on the way by evidences of public joy, which were most brilliantly manifested at Lyons. He had forbidden all preparations for his return: "My intention is to have neither arches of triumph nor any species of ceremony," he wrote to his brother Lucien, who had replaced Laplace at the ministry of the interior. "I have too good an opinion of myself to hold such baubles in much estimation. I know no other triumph than the public satisfaction."
The day would come when public satisfaction, of a truth much mitigated by long sufferings, would no longer suffice for the triumph of the absolute master who dragged exhausted France across fields of battle; the remembrance of his return to Paris after the victory of Marengo was to recur to his sorrowful mind when he dictated at St. Helena the memoirs explanatory of his life: "It was a great day," said he.
Already the adulations and mean worship of courtiers were encompassing him; already, also, was revealed the provisional character of that power which depended so completely upon the life of a single man. Sinister reports were circulated during the campaign in Italy; the names of Carnot, Moreau, and La Fayette had been put forward. The triumphant arrival of the First Consul promptly baffled the intrigues in which the principals interested had never taken part; nevertheless, he nursed against Carnot an unjust feeling, which soon betrayed itself in his dismissal. Lucien Bonaparte had forestalled, or badly comprehended, the wishes of his brother; he had got Fontanes to write a pamphlet entitled "Caesar, Cromwell, and Bonaparte," which revealed projects and hopes in favor of the First Consul for which the public was not prepared. "Happy for the Republic," it was said, "if Bonaparte were immortal? But where are his successors? Who is the successor of Pericles? Frenchmen, you slumber over an abyss, and your sleep is madly tranquil."
It was too soon to allow these premature pretensions to be thus made public. The finesse of La Fayette enabled him to penetrate the secret hope of the First Consul, who was already occupied, and for most serious reasons, with the re-establishment of religion in France. He was able to say to him, with an irony that was a little scornful, "Come, general, confess that this has no other aim than to get the little phial broken on your head." Public opinion was not yet calling for the re-establishment of the monarchy; it did not connect the idea of hereditary power with a victorious general, still young, and who had scarcely seized the reins of the government of the interior. The pamphlet, and the insinuations it contained, had no success; Fouche was openly reprimanded for allowing the publication. Lucien Bonaparte was sent as ambassador to Madrid, bearing, he has declared, the manuscript of the pamphlet, with four corrections in the handwriting of the First Consul. The latter began to surround himself with a court. Madame Bonaparte had already her ladies and chevaliers of honor.
St. Julien had just arrived at Paris with the ratification of the treaty of Alessandria, and for the purpose of sounding the First Consul as to his intentions on the subject of a definitive peace. Major-general of the imperial armies, and little versed in diplomatic usages, he, in all simplicity, avowed his ignorance to Talleyrand. The latter profited by this to prevail upon the Austrian ambassador to sign the preliminary articles. "So be it," said St. Julien, "but they will have no authority until after their ratification by my sovereign." The major-general was not authorized to treat; and the conventions he had accepted being vague as to the most important point, the settlement of the frontiers of Italy, were disavowed at Vienna. Thugut proposed the opening of a congress, in which England was disposed to take part. General Duroc, aide-de-camp of the First Consul, who had accompanied St. Julien on his return to Vienna, was not admitted to negotiate, and found himself compelled to return to Paris.
Bonaparte's temper was quick; his irritation against England was old and inveterate. For more than two years that power had hindered the success of his favorite enterprises; and he struggled against her in her commercial interests, as well as in her military efforts, with a perseverance worthy of Pitt. He had already won over the United States to the doctrine of the greater part of European States as to the rights of neutrals, and concluded with their diplomatists the treaty of Morfontaine; he then worked to raise up against England a formidable coalition, at the head of which the Emperor Paul I. had just placed himself. Strongly influenced in favor of France by the offer the First Consul had made to cede to him Malta, then besieged by the English, the Czar also received with satisfaction the 6000 Russian prisoners whom Bonaparte sent to him without ransom, after having vainly solicited exchanges with England and Russia. The maritime powers of the north of Europe had to complain of vexatious interference with merchant vessels on the part of England. The law of the seas, said they, authorized them to carry on commerce between one power and another, goods contraband of war alone excepted; as the flag covered the merchandise, English vessels could not legitimately stop and visit ships of neutral countries, in order to seize French or Spanish commodities. The theory of England was different, serving her own commercial and military interests. In 1800 the Emperor Paul embraced the cause of the maritime powers, and formed against England the League of Neutrals, whilst he entered into amicable relations, and a sort of alliance, with the First Consul. At the same time Bonaparte negotiated with the King of Spain, offering him Tuscany, with the title of King of Etruria, for his son-in-law the Duke of Parmo, on condition that France should receive back Louisiana, formerly ceded to Spain by Louis XV. for an indemnity claim. Charles IV. also engaged himself to use his influence to have the ports of Portugal closed against England. Before admitting England to the congress, the First Consul demanded that the continental armistice should be extended to naval forces, as the suspension of maritime hostilities would permit him to revictual Malta and Egypt; he accepted on these terms the common negotiations.
England rejected, and could not but reject, these proposals. She already held the conquest of Malta as certain; and since Bonaparte himself had quitted Egypt, the English soldiers and marines no longer doubted the ultimate success of their efforts against us, everywhere united with those of the Porte. Egypt was henceforth a point so important for England that she had resolved never to yield to the passionate caprices which had led General Bonaparte to establish the French dominion there. In the month of August, 1800, she could not accept an armistice which would of necessity have prolonged the war in the East. In the month of November, 1799, letters of General Kleber, sincere and discouraged, had fallen into the hands of the English Government. Entrusted since the departure of General Bonaparte with the chief command, Kleber displayed to the Directory the sad state of his army and his finances. Five months had passed, and nothing new had taken place; no succor had arrived from France. Kleber had lent his ear to the proposals of the vizier and Sir Sidney Smith. Bonaparte himself had foreseen the circumstances under which the evacuation of Egypt would become necessary; he had left upon this subject peremptory and haughty instructions. Kleber forestalled the term marked out by the general who had let his mantle fall upon his shoulders, and he concluded the treaty of El Arish, a monument of his sorrow and desolation. The signature of Desaix, who negotiated it, was mournfully wrung from him, after he had required from the general-in-chief a formal order to put his name to it. Negotiated between military men, it was not countersigned with the signature of the plenipotentiary, who himself had not better authority to negotiate. The Government of Great Britain, informed of the distress of General Kleber, sent to Admiral Keith a formal injunction forbidding him to treat with the French army, unless they surrendered as prisoners of war. Sir Sidney Smith immediately made known to Kleber the orders he had received; the honorable conditions which the French general had previously accepted were already in process of execution; several places had been given up to the Turks; the vizier had advanced. Kleber, however, did not hesitate. He published to the army the letter of the English commodore, with these words: "Soldiers! such insolence as this is only answered by victories: prepare to give battle."
It is a noble spectacle, that of resolute men reduced to extremities without fleeing from danger. On March 20 the French army went out from Cairo; diminished by death and sickness it numbered no more than 12,000 men, who formed themselves into squares, according to the old tactics of the troops of Egypt, in front of the ancient ruins of Heliopolis. Kleber estimated at 70,000 or 80,000 men the Turkish army which was to assail him. "My friends," said he in passing along the ranks, "you possess in Egypt only the ground which you have beneath your feet! If you retreat a step, you are lost!" Having thus spoken, he gave the order to carry the entrenched village of El Matarieh. The little redoubts were already in our possession when the Janissaries made their first rush upon the Friant division. The squares remained immovable, keeping up a continuous fire, enveloped in smoke, and scarcely distinguishing the mass of the enemies who were falling at their feet. When the clouds began to disperse, a rampart of corpses surrounded all the French corps; in the distance were seen the enemy in flight. Kleber order a pursuit, which was continued during three days. When the general-in-chief at length reached the camp of the vizier at Salahieh he only found a few detachments of the enemy. The chiefs had disappeared in the desert, with their best troops. The French soldiers pillaged the tents: they were loaded with rich spoils when they retook the road to Cairo.
The capital of Egypt, never in complete submission, and disturbed by frequent insurrections, had revolted at the announcement of the evacuation and the departure of the French army; crimes had been committed, and the Christians had been massacred in several quarters. Kleber laid siege to it; the resistance was long and furious, and it was as conquerors that the French re-entered the city which formerly cost them such slight efforts. All the rebel cities of Lower Egypt were again brought back into obedience to France. The war indemnities and the prizes taken from the enemy restored the finances. Kleber labored for the completion of the forts scattered over the hills; he enrolled Copts, Syrians, and some blacks from Darfour; he treated with Murad Bey, who had driven from Upper Egypt the Turkish corps of Dervish Pacha; Ibrahim Bey and Nassif Pacha, who had sustained the revolt of Cairo, obtained an authorization to retire. Egypt appeared to be once more submissive; but the illusions which the Mohammedans had conceived were promptly dissipated: they recognized their traditional enemies, and the old fanaticism was reawakened. An assassin had already arrived in Cairo from Palestine, and shut up in the great mosque he had confided to the sheiks his project of killing General Kleber. They sought to dissuade him from it, but without informing the French. On the 14th of June, as the general was walking in his garden with the architect of the army, Suleiman presented himself before him, pretending to ask alms, and struck him several times with his dagger. The architect was wounded in striving to defend Kleber. When the soldiers came hurrying up the general had already breathed his last. The assassin made no attempt to flee; he expired under torture. At Cairo, and on the battlefield of Marengo, Kleber and Desaix succumbed on the same day, and almost at the same hour, both young, and serving to their last day the designs of the chief to whom they were very unequally attached. The First Consul wished to unite them in the same patriotic honors; he had never had much liking for Kleber, but he did not the less keenly feel the greatness of his loss. General Menou, who took by seniority the command of the army of Egypt was incapable, and of a chimerical spirit. Bonaparte comprehended the danger which threatened that one of his conquests to which he attached the most importance; he increased the reinforcements of men and munitions, but he was in want of generals, and the war was recommencing in Europe. The English had just succeeded at last in taking Malta.
The armistice had been prolonged for eighty-five days, and the Emperor of Austria had paid for this moment of peace by the surrender of the cities of Ulm, Philipsburg, and Ingoldstadt; the preliminaries, which Cobentzel had drawn out to great length, had brought about no result. Austria refused to negotiate without England, to whom she was allied by a treaty of subsidies. In contempt of the convention of Alessandria, the French troops occupied Tuscany; Massena no longer commanded the army of Italy. Quarrels had arisen with the Italian administrations, who said they were victims of heavy exactions. Massena was accused; in the depth of his soul he was discontented, and was always little favorable to the First Consul. Brune had replaced him. At the expiration of the armistice, and in spite of the new attempts at negotiations, the troops entered on the campaign. General Bonaparte still remained at Paris, ready to proceed at need to the threatened points. All eyes were fixed on Germany; by a common instinct great military events upon this theatre were look forward to.
The Archduke John was young and daring; he conceived the hope of cutting off the army of General Moreau, and imprudently crossing the Inn, the difficult passage of which the French dreaded, he advanced immediately towards the Isar, intending to reascend the river in our rear. But already the difficulties of the enterprise became apparent; the young general resolved to give battle immediately. An advantage gained on the 1st of December, over the left wing of the French army, emboldened him to the point of pushing forward across the forest of Hohenlinden, in the vain hope of encountering no resistance. General Moreau waited for him in the plain between Hohenlinden and Harthofen; Generals Richepanse and Decaen had been directed to take the Austrians in the rear. Moreau had exactly calculated the time necessary for this operation. The battle commenced at the exit from the forest; as fast as they debouched upon the plain the Austrian corps encountered the attack of our troops. Across the snow, which fell in great flakes, the general-in-chief discerned a little confusion in the ranks of the enemy. "The moment has come to charge," he cried; "Richepanse has taken them in the rear." General Ney rushed forward at the head of his division; he rejoined his companions at the centre of the defile mingled with the confused crowd of the enemy, which they drove before them. The centre of the Austrian army was completely hemmed in; the left wing had been thrown back upon the Inn by Decaen. The French divisions who were engaged on the right, repulsed for a moment, had in their turn forced the Austrians to redescend into the valley. The plain of Hohenlinden remained in the hands of the French army. The enemy lost 8000 men killed or wounded, 12,000 prisoners, and eighty-seven pieces of cannon. General Lecourbe passed the Inn close behind the Archduke John, the division of Decaen crossed the Salza and seconded the movement of Lecourbe; General Moreau crossed the Traun, and advanced towards the Ens. The Archduke Charles, drawn from his disgrace by the danger of his country, resumed the command of the Austrian troops. It was too late to snatch back victory; he accepted the sorrowful duty of arresting the conqueror's progress by negotiations. Moreau had arrived at Steyer, a few leagues from Vienna; the ardor of his lieutenants urged him to march forward. "It would, without doubt, be a fine thing to enter Vienna," he replied; "but it is a much finer thing to dictate peace." The armistice was signed on the 25th of December, 1800, delivering to the French all the valley of the Danube, with the Tyrol, various fortresses, and immense magazines. The army of Augereau, which had had adventure enough on the Rednitz, was included in the armistice; the generals commanding in Italy and in the Grisons, Macdonald and Brune, were to be engaged to accept a suspension of arms. The modest prudence and consummate cleverness of General Moreau had assured to our arms advantages which at length promised peace. Bonaparte perceived this, not without secret heartburning; but for a time he felt himself compelled to dissemble. "I cannot tell you all the interest I have taken in your admirable and wise manoeuvres," he wrote to Moreau; "in this campaign you have surpassed yourself."
The orders of the First Consul caused the war in Italy to be ardently pushed forward. "Wherever a couple of men can plant their feet, an army can find the means of passing," said General Bonaparte; and Macdonald had led his 15,000 men across the passes of the Spluegen, among rocks and glaciers, obliged to open a path by the oxen, who trod down the snow in order to permit the soldiers to advance; he left behind him numerous victims of cold and fatigue. The army of the Grisons had arrived at Trent, the efforts of General Wukassovich having failed to arrest its progress. Brune had conducted his operations more gently; when he marched towards the Mincio, in order to cross it at two points, the imprudence of the attack and the division of the forces led to a great shedding of blood; it was only on the 31st December that the passage of the Adige was at last effected. The corps of General Moncey rejoined the forces of Macdonald at Trent; the Count of Laudon, close pressed, could only save his troops by a subterfuge, by forestalling the armistice, which did not yet extend to the armies of Italy. He had rejoined the Count of Bellegarde, when all military operations were suspended by a convention signed at Treviso.
Cobentzel and Joseph Bonaparte had remained at Luneville during the resumption of hostilities, negotiating mutual concessions, of which the cannon every day altered the conditions. The success of his armies, and the attitude of the powers of the north, enlarged the pretensions of the First Consul; the Austrian plenipotentiary defended with persevering courage the frontier of the Adda, and the re-establishment of the Italian princes in their States, when the instructions of Bonaparte to his brother were all of a sudden altered. Order was given to retard the conclusion of peace; at the same time, as if for the purpose of calling upon Austria to bow to imperious necessity, the First Consul sent to the Corps Legislatif a message, which was a bold evidence of the newest phase of his diplomacy.
"Legislators, the Republic triumphs, and its enemies once more implore its moderation.
"The news of the victory of Hohenlinden has resounded throughout Europe; that day will be reckoned in history as one of the grandest examples of French valor. But it has been thought little of by our defenders, who only think themselves victors when the country has no more enemies. The army of the Rhine has passed the Inn; every day has been a battle, and every battle a triumph. The Gallo-Batavian army has conquered at Bamberg; the army of the Grisons, through snow and ice, has crossed the Spluegen, in order to turn the formidable lines of the Mincio and the Adige. The army of Italy has carried by main force the passage of the Mincio, and has blockaded Mantua. Lastly, Moreau is no more than five days' march from Vienna, master of an immense tract of country, and of all the magazines of the enemy.
"It is at this juncture that the Archduke Charles has asked, and the general-in-chief of the army of the Rhine has accorded, the armistice of which the conditions are about to be placed before you.
"Cobentzel, plenipotentiary of the Emperor at Luneville, has declared himself ready to open negotiations for a separate peace. Thus Austria is freed from the influence of the English Government.
"The Government, faithful to its principles and to the prayer of humanity, confides to you, and proclaims to France and entire Europe, the intentions which animate it.
"The left bank of the Rhine shall be the limit of the French Republic; she claims nothing on the right bank. The interests of Europe will not permit the emperor to pass the Adige. The independence of the Helvetic and Batavian Republics shall be assured and recognized. Our victories add nothing to the claims of the French people. Austria ought not to expect from its defeats that which it would not have obtained by victories. Such are the unchangeable intentions of the Government. It will be the happiness of France to restore calm to Germany and Italy; its glory to enfranchise the continent from the covetous and malevolent influence of England.
"If our good faith is still deceived, we are at Prague, at Vienna, at Venice."
So many rigorous conditions, thus arrogantly announced, were, and could not fail to be, the object of discussions and stubborn resistance. But even these did not satisfy the will of the First Consul, and his resolution to snatch the last concessions from the conquered. The Emperor Paul, in his capacity of Grand Master of the Order, demanded from England the cession of the island of Malta. Upon the refusal of the British Government, he placed an embargo on all English vessels found in his ports, at the same time announcing the despatch of a plenipotentiary to Paris. In accord with Prussia, he admitted the principle of the granting of indemnities to the deposed Italian princes by the secularization of the ecclesiastical territories in Germany. Cobentzel was constantly opposed to this arrangement; he equally refused to deliver Mantua to France as a condition of the armistice in Italy. Abandoned by the neutral powers, isolated in Germany, and separated from England, who alone remained openly hostile to France, the Austrian envoy saw himself constrained to accept conditions harder than those the rigor of which he had formerly deplored. On the 9th February, 1801, the treaty of Luneville was at last signed. A single concession had been accorded to Cobentzel; France had consented to surrender the places which she held on the right bank of the Rhine. She insisted, however, that the fortifications should be demolished. "Dismantle them yourselves," said the Austrian plenipotentiary, sorrowfully, "and we will engage that they shall remain in the condition in which they are surrendered." This was the last hope, and the last effort of diplomacy. Upon the very morning of the signature, and with reference to the obstinate persistence of Cobentzel, Joseph Bonaparte declared, in language which was not his own, "that if the termination of the war was favorable to France, the house of Austria ought to expect to find the valley of the Adige on the crest of the Julian Alps; and that there was no power in Europe which did not see with pleasure the Austrians expelled from Italy."
The bases of the treaty of Luneville were identical with those of the treaty of Campo Formio. Austria lost in Germany the bishopric of Salzburg, assured as an indemnity to the Grand Duke of Tuscany, and in Italy the territories of this prince were granted to the Duke of Parma. The articles made no mention of Piedmont or Parma, or of the Pontifical States. The First Consul did not wish to commit himself on this point or encounter the sluggish proceedings of a congress. The Emperor of Austria had treated for the Empire as for himself. The Diet assembled at Ratisbon simply ratified the conditions of the treaty. Henceforth England found itself isolated in Europe, as France had been in 1793. The duel continued between Bonaparte and Pitt.
So much eclat abroad, so much glory and success terminating in an almost general peace, did not absorb all the thoughts of the First Consul, and had not yet succeeded in founding his power on a lasting basis. He felt it bitterly, and the irritation which he experienced habitually manifested itself against the remnants of the Jacobin party, the declared enemies of the order of things which he wished to establish, capable, he thought, of any crimes, and whose works he had had the opportunity of judging. This exclusive preoccupation sometimes turned away his attention from more pressing perils and bolder enemies. A conspiracy to which the police had lent themselves, and which had failed without any of the accomplices daring to put their hands on their arms, roused public attention, in the month of October, 1800, to the dangers which pursued the First Consul. Since then there had been seized, at the house of a mechanician named Chevalier, an explosive machine which had given rise to certain suspicions; but no attempt had been made, and the conspirators, who plotted in the dark, were as yet only known to Fouche, the minister of police, clever and foreseeing, constantly hostile to the old enemies of the Republic, and more disquieted than the First Consul at the royalist manoeuvres. It was to the Chouans and men of that class that the police attributed the brigandage which infested the roads in the departments of the west, the centre, and the south; it was the descents of their former chiefs upon the Norman coasts which preoccupied Fouche. At one period the royalists had thought General Bonaparte capable of playing the role of Monk, and accepting that modest ambition. On the 20th of February, 1800, Louis XVIII. wrote to him with his own hand, "Whatever may be their apparent conduct, men like yourself, monsieur, never inspire uneasiness. You have accepted an eminent place, and I am thankful for it. Better than any one you know how much force and power are needed to make the happiness of a great nation. Save France from its own madness, and you will have accomplished the first desire of my heart; restore to it its king, and future generations will bless your memory. You will always be too much a necessity of the State for me ever to discharge by the highest appointments the debt of my forefathers and my own."
This letter remained unanswered. Louis XVIII. thought he ought to write again. "For a long time, general," said he yon ought to know that you have won my esteem. If you have any doubt as to my being susceptible of gratitude, appoint your place, and decide as to the position of your friends. As to my principles, I am French; merciful by character, I should be still more so by reason.
"No, the conqueror of Lodi, of Castiglione, of Arcola, the conqueror of Italy and Egypt, cannot prefer a vain notoriety to glory. But you are losing precious time. We can assure the peace of France; I say we, because I need Bonaparte for that, and he cannot do it without me.
"General, Europe observes you, glory waits for you, and I am impatient to restore peace to my people."
Sad illusions of exiles, who in a remote country know not how to judge either men or circumstances! Louis XVIII. and his friends were blind as to the state of men's minds in France, which they believed ripe for a monarchical restoration; they comprehended neither the character nor the still veiled designs of the man who had conquered, by the audacity of his genius, military glory and the civil authority. In the depth of his soul, and in spite of his firm design to mount the throne by means of absolute power, Bonaparte was, and remained, revolutionary—hostile to the remains of the past by conviction as well as by personal ambition. He wrote to Louis XVIII. on the 7th September, 1800. "I have received, monsieur, your letter; I thank you for the fair words you have spoken. You ought not to desire your return to France; it would be necessary for you to march over 500,000 corpses. Sacrifice your interests for the repose and happiness of France; history will take account of you for it.
"I am not insensible to the misfortune of your family. I shall contribute with pleasure to the comfort and tranquillity of your retreat."
Five hundred thousand corpses of French soldiers were yet to strew the soil of Europe to serve the ambition of Bonaparte, without hindering that return of the House of Bourbon which he declared to be so disastrous. In 1800 the First Consul deigned to promise his benevolence to the descendants of Henry IV., and felt no fear as to royalist intrigues in France. Since the troubles had ceased in the west, only Georges Cadoudal had continued sometimes to attract his attention. A letter in the month of July had ordered Bernadotte to pursue him: "Have this miserable Georges arrested, and shot within twenty-four hours," he wrote. Georges had returned to England.
He was back again in France on the 24th December, 1800, when the coach of the First Consul was stopped in the Rue St. Nicaise by a small cart which barred the way; the coachman urged forward the horses, and passed it. At the same instant an explosion was heard; the dead and the wounded fell round the carriage of Bonaparte, shaken by the violence of the shock, all the windows being broken. Bonaparte stopped his carriage, and comprehended at once the cause of the accident. "Drive to the opera!" said he. Madame Bonaparte was waiting for him there. When the public was reassured by his presence, he returned to the Tuileries. A barrel of powder, loaded with grape-shot, had been placed upon the road; the victims were numerous, and the assassins escaped.
The general fright was of use to the anger and emotion of the First Consul. The enemies of Fouche denounced a police everywhere favorable to the old Jacobins. The suspicions of Bonaparte were all directed against these known and furious enemies of his person and his policy. He was enraged in his irritation, and disdained, according to his custom, the legal forms and the justice of the tribunals. "We must make the number of the convicted equal to the number of their victims," he said, "and transport all their adherents. I will not have all quarters of Paris successively undermined. There are always Septembrisers, miscreants covered with crimes, in square battalion against every successive government. It is necessary to make an end of them." Fouche, silent but imperturbable, for a long time on the traces of the conspiracy, persisted in seeing in the infernal machine the work of the agents of Chouannerie. The Council of State proposed to institute a military commission and authorize the First Consul to remove the men who appeared dangerous. Bonaparte was irritated by this slowness of justice. "The action of a special tribunal will be slow," said he; "it will not get hold of the truly guilty. It is not a question of judicial metaphysics. There are in France 10,000 miscreants who have persecuted all honest men, and who are steeped in blood. They are not all culpable in the same degree, far from it. Strike the chiefs boldly and the soldiers will disperse. There is no middle course here; it is necessary to pardon all, like Augustus, or else there must be a prompt and terrible vengeance proportionate to the crime. It is necessary to shoot fifteen or twenty of these miscreants, and transport 200 of them. I am so convinced of the necessity of purging France from these sanguinary dregs that I am ready to constitute myself sole tribunal—to bring forward the guilty, examine them, judge them, and have their condemnation carried into effect. It is not myself that I seek to avenge here. I am as ready to die as First Consul for the preservation of the Republic and the Constitution as to fall upon the field of battle; but it is necessary to reassure France, who will approve my policy."
The members of the council listened, struck with consternation at such absolutist and revolutionary violence, but already too much dismayed to defend the cause of the most elementary justice. Admiral Truguet alone suggested doubts as to the true authors of the crime. "It is desired," said he, "to defeat the miscreants who trouble the Republic, so be it; but the miscreants are of more than one kind. The returned emigrants menace those who have acquired national property, the Chouans infest the highways, the priests inflame the passions of the people, the public spirit is corrupted by pamphlets." The First Consul blushed violently at this allusion; the reminder of the unfortunate attempt of Lucien Bonaparte increased his anger. Advancing towards the admiral, "Of what pamphlets do you speak?" cried he. "You know as well as I do," without giving way, answered the brave sailor.
The First Consul paced the hall; the councillors of State watched him, vaguely recognizing in the outbursts of the anger of the master the powerful instinct of government, which discerned the permanent hostility of the revolutionaries without being able to divest itself of their principles or of their modes of action. "Do people take us for children?" he cried. "Do they expect to draw us aside with these declamations against the emigrants, the Chouans, and the priests? Because there are still a few partial attempts in Vendee, must we be called upon to declare the country in danger? If the Chouans commit crimes, I will have them shot. But must I commence proscribing for a quality? Must I strike these because they are priests, those because they are old nobles? Must I send away into exile 10,000 old men, who only ask to be allowed to live peaceably in obedience to the established laws? Do you not know, gentlemen, members of the council, that excepting two or three you all pass for royalists? You, Citizen Defermon, don't they take you for a partisan of the Bourbons? Must I send Citizen Portalis to Sinnamari, and Citizen Devaisne to Madagascar, and then must I make for myself a Babeuf council? No, no, Citizen Truguet, you won't get me to make any change; there are none to fear except the Septembrisers. They would not spare even you yourself, and it would be in vain for you to tell them that you defended them at the Council of State. They would cut your throat, just the same as mine or the throats of your colleagues."
He went out without giving time for any one to answer him. Cambaceres, moderate and prudent, equally clever in giving counsel and at yielding when counsels were useless, deemed the anger of the First Consul too passionate to admit of contradiction. The Council of State, several times consulted, was brought over with repugnance to the idea of an extraordinary measure. The First Consul wished a law; it was decided to involve the great bodies of the State in the arbitrary act which he was about to commit. "The consuls do not know what may happen," said he. "So long as I am alive I am not afraid of any one daring to ask me an account of my actions; but I may be killed, and then I cannot answer for my two colleagues. You are not very firmly placed in your stirrups," he added, turning to Cambaceres, with a smile. "Better to have a law now as well as for the future." The Council of State hesitated from a repugnance to form a proscription list, assuring him that it would be rejected by the Tribunate and the Legislative Body. "You are always afraid of the Tribunate," said Bonaparte, "because it rejected one or two of your laws; but there are only a few Jacobins in the Legislative Body, ten or twelve at most. The others know well that but for me they would all have been massacred. The law will be passed."
At last, Talleyrand, who had previously remained silent, said that since there was a Senate, some use should be made of it. The proscription list was sent to the Senate. It had been written by Fouche, who knew the real criminals; and the statement of reasons were drawn up by the two sections of the Council of State who were at first unanimously opposed to the measure: the Senate voted, the First Consul having signed the act. "All these men have not taken the dagger in their hands," said the preamble, "but they are all universally known to be capable of sharpening it and taking it." Two days afterwards 133 Jacobins sailed from Nantes for Guiana—formerly members of the Convention and the Commune, proved or supposed to have had a part in the massacres of September, all certainly loaded with crime, and worthy of the punishment which they underwent, strangers to the attempt to assassinate the First Consul, and condemned without regard to moral or legal justice. At the same time, and as if to clear off all old accounts with the conspirators, the four men accused in October, Arena, formerly a representative, and recently employed by the Committee of Public Safety, and the artists Ceracchi and Topino-Lebrun, were at last tried, and condemned to perish on the scaffold. Chauveau- Lagarde defended them, as he had formerly defended Charlotte Corday and the men of Nantes denounced by Carrier. His efforts were not crowned with success; whether acknowledged or only suspected, the Jacobin conspiracy was everywhere repressed with the same rigor.
Nevertheless, Fouche had at last recovered the temporarily lost traces of the real criminals. Two assistants of Georges Cadoudal, Limoelan and St. Rejant, who had formerly taken part in the civil wars, entered into partnership with a man of the lower orders named Carbon, who bought them the cart, the horse, and powder. He was found concealed in Paris; Limoelan had fled abroad. St. Rejant, who had let off the infernal machine, had not yet recovered from the injuries caused by it; and Carbon having betrayed his place of concealment, and all the details of the plot, they were both executed. Fouche's penetration on this occasion gained him still greater confidence with the First Consul. "He was right," repeated Bonaparte: "his opinion was better than that of the others. The returned emigrants, the royalist plotters, and people of that sort, ought to be closely watched. I am pleased, however, to be rid of the Jacobin staff."
Neither the banishment of the old revolutionists, nor the condemnation of those who had contrived the infernal machine, had disturbed the repose of public opinion, then in close alliance with the steady and firm power which ruled France. The abstract principles of justice were no longer thought of by men in general: the desire for permanent freedom had given place to the longing for rest and quiet, and all were pleased with the energy which the government had shown against disturbers of the peace; and the oppressive laws being modified, prosperity was reappearing. The state of the finances became more satisfactory: a part of the public funds had been paid, and that which still remained had just been registered in the "Great Ledger;" the fundholders accepted without too much difficulty the delay in paying the first dividend. The national property not yet sold was set apart for the liquidation, excepting what was assigned for public instruction and the support of the Invalides. Everywhere roads were being made or repaired, canals dug, and three bridges were built over the Seine. In spite of the formation of extraordinary tribunals, the great Code of Civil Law was being slowly made—destined to rule France and extend her useful action. An agent, almost unknown at Rome and only recently arrived in Paris, was already discussing with Abbe Bernier those great questions of order and organization which were afterwards to introduce the concordat. Peace, even when partial and precarious, was everywhere bearing its fruits; at home, France displayed that wonderful recuperative power so frequently and painfully put to the proof by the severe shocks of our modern history; abroad, her importance in Europe was daily increasing, and caused more disquiet to all her enemies. The government of England, however, was soon to pass from Pitt's hands: the whole English nation called loudly to stop a war of which they had financially borne the burden, even though their armies had generally had little share in it.
In the south of Europe the First Consul, while negotiating with the Pope, and occupying Piedmont without diplomacy, had no longer any enemy to subdue worthy of his power. Murat had invaded the kingdom of Naples, causing so great terror that the queen herself was on the point of accepting an armistice by which the ports of the Two Sicilies were closed to the English. The treaty of definitive peace was signed at Florence on the 18th of March, 1801, the conditions being the same as those of the armistice, with the important addition that the territory of Elba, a dependency of the kingdom of Naples, was to be ceded. By a secret article, the sovereign of the Two Sicilies was obliged to receive and maintain a body of fifteen thousand men, which the First Consul intended to transport to Egypt, important armaments being prepared in our ports in order to be sent to the same place, their real destination being yet concealed. A Franco-Spanish expedition, nominally commanded by Prince de la Paix but really directed by General Gouvion St. Cyr, was to attempt in April the conquest of Portugal. In spite of repeated promises, the government of that small State remained obstinately faithful to England.
England was suffering from a scarcity of food which threatened to become a famine, constantly made worse by the hindrances put in the way of her commerce. The difficulties of the home government increased those of the diplomatic and military isolation which she underwent in Europe. At the moment of the conclusion of the Treaty of Union, Pitt had entered upon engagements with the Irish Catholics which he felt himself bound to fulfil. The conscientious but shortsighted and narrow-minded George III. opposed every act of toleration with respect to his Catholic subjects: he refused to give his assent, and Pitt by resigning his post sacrificed, at a perilous crisis for his country, foreign policy to the duties and obligations of parliamentary tactics. The reason of King George, already tottering, was unable to undergo so much agitation; he remained faithful to his convictions, but was for a short time out of his mind. When he regained his faculties, Pitt, who was moved to the heart by the trouble which he had caused to his aged king, and disturbed by the evils which threatened England under the regency of the Prince of Wales, undertook never to raise the question of the emancipation of the Catholics during the life of George III. He had no seat, however, in the new cabinet, which was obviously incapable, and unequal to the difficult task which it had undertaken, and in their earlier proceedings still influenced by Pitt's action, and following the line of policy which he had traced. Scarcely had Addington become prime minister, when an attempt which had long been projected against Denmark was put in execution. Nelson had charge of it under the superior command of Sir Hyde Parker, who was above him in the order of seniority. "This is no time to feel nervous," said Nelson to his superior as they were setting sail. "Dark nights and mountains of ice matter little; we must take courage to meet the enemy."
Having passed the Sound, the English squadron blockaded the fleet which covered Copenhagen. The Danes made an heroic defence, and the old Admiral Parker, somewhat alarmed, gave the signal for the action to cease. "I'll be d——d first!" cried Nelson in a passion: "I have the right of seeing badly"—putting his telescope to the eye which he had lost at Aboukir. "I don't see the signal. Nail mine to the mast. Let them press closer on the enemy. That's my reply to such signalling." It was Nelson, moreover, who, when the battle was gained, arranged with the Prince Royal of Denmark the terms of the armistice which separated his country from the number of the neutral states.
Almost at the same moment the coalition of maritime powers underwent a more fatal check. For several months the strange workings of the mind of the Emperor Paul I. had become more obvious. Everybody trembled before him, and even the empress, as well as her sons, had been threatened with banishment to Siberia. A caricature was published representing the Czar holding in one hand a paper on which was written the word "order;" in the other, the word "counter-order;" on his forehead was read the word "disorder." A conspiracy was formed, including the principal nobles and the most intimate members of his household. "They are conspiring against me, Pahlen," said the emperor to the Governor of St. Petersburg. "Let your Majesty's mind be easy," replied the Russian, coolly; "I am up to them." He really was so, and on the night of the 23rd March, 1801, he entered the Michael palace with the conspirators. The next in importance to him, General Benningsen, had afterwards the honor of fighting bravely against the Emperor Napoleon when subduing Poland; he was already distinguished, and had been decorated with all the orders of the empire. On making his way to the bedroom of the Czar, who was asleep, the two Hungarians who formed the only guard ran away after striking one or two blows; the palace-guard were already on an understanding with the conspirators. The unfortunate Czar, pursued by the assassins, took refuge behind a screen. Benningsen observing him held out a paper: "There is your act of abdication," said he; "sign it and I answer for your life." The emperor resisted; the conspirators crowded into the room; the lamp fell and was extinguished, and in that moment of darkness a scarf was tightened round the neck of Paul I., and he was struck on the head with the pummel of a sword. When a light was brought in he was dead.
Count Pahlen had not entered the room, being engaged in guarding the doors with a troop of soldiers: he went to call on the new emperor. Alexander was not ignorant of the plot formed to force from his father an abdication which had become necessary; but he had not considered, and did not anticipate, the fatal consequences of that enterprise. Pahlen's silence was the only reply to his questions about the Czar: the young man burst into tears, hiding his face in his hands and heaping reproaches upon the Governor of St. Petersburg, who still remained motionless before him. But by this time the empress, out of her mind from sorrow, and suddenly seized with an ill-regulated ambition, sent to announce to her son that she was resolved to take possession of the power. Count Pahlen at once threw off his apathy. "Enough of childish tears," said he to the young emperor; "now, come and reign!" He then presented him to the troops, by whom he was well received.
A few days afterwards the Emperor Alexander was crowned. "Before him marched his grandfather's murderers," wrote Madame de Bonneuil, "beside him those of his father, and behind him his own." Count Pahlen's ambition was to govern the young monarch, but he was not to reap the fruits of his crime. The empress-mother insisted upon the banishment of the murderers of Paul I. In the retirement of his country estate, where he lived a long time, the count on the 23rd of March made himself drunk from daybreak, in order to pass in oblivion the dreaded anniversary which awoke in his mind a remorse which was only slumbering. "That's the regular mode of deposition in Russia," said Talleyrand, cynically, on hearing of the emperor's assassination. The First Consul's anger overcame his judgment. "The wretches!" he exclaimed; "they failed here on the 3rd Nivose, but they have not failed in St. Petersburg." And bent on showing his spite towards his enemies, he had the following note inserted in the Moniteur: "Paul I. died on the night of the 23rd March, and the English squadron passed the Sound on the 31st. History will inform us the relation that possibly exists between these two events."
History has done justice to those false insinuations, unworthy even of him who pronounced them. Admiral Nelson felt no joy at the death of the Emperor Paul, which finally broke the league of the neutrals, and deprived him of the easy triumph which he made sure of gaining over the Russian fleet. It was of service, however, to England, and contributed to assist the wish for peace which was beginning to be awakened in the mind of the First Consul. Scarcely was the Emperor of Russia dead, when Piedmont, long protected by his favor, was reduced to the condition of a French department: but it was in vain that Bonaparte pretended to reckon on the alliance of the young Czar, in vain that Duroc was despatched to St. Petersburg with a mission of confidence; he was not deceived as to the Emperor Alexander's leaning to ally himself with England. In fact, M. Otto, who had been sent to London to arrange the exchange of prisoners, had already several weeks previously been authorized to meet favorably the advances made by Lord Hawkesbury, then the foreign minister. On both sides they tried to gain time. The great question which then separated France and England, the possession of Egypt, remained undecided, and both sides determined that it should be settled. On the 7th of March, 1801, the English squadron of the Mediterranean, which was long stationed at Mahon, and had recently been directed towards Malta, suddenly disembarked a body of 18,000 soldiers under the orders of Sir Ralph Abercromby. Thus, with a Turkish contingent and the regiments of sepoys brought from India, there were 60,000 men united against the army of occupation, which was reduced to 15,000 or 18,000 soldiers, commanded by dissatisfied officers, and generals who could not act together. Unfortunate in his relations to his colleagues, and showing little tact in his application of European methods of organization to the native population, General Menou was unable to take the necessary precautions against the English invasion of Egypt; and in spite of his bravery, General Friant, who was in charge of 15,000 men defending Alexandria, could make only a feeble resistance to the landing of the English. Assisted by General Lanusse, he again joined battle, 13th March, on the road to Ramanieh; while General Menou—"Abdallah Menou," as his soldiers called him after he became a Mussulman—was on march with all his troops to assist Alexandria. After committing the fault of allowing the English army to land, it was necessary to make haste to fight it before it should have received the expected reinforcements. The battle of Canopa was fought on the 21st March under disadvantageous circumstances; and General Lanusse being killed in the action, General Reynier's disposition prevented his supplying his chief's incapacity. The battle, though remaining indecisive, left the English masters of the coast, and constantly revictualled by the fleet.