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Title: Life of Napoleon Bonaparte, Volume II.
Author: Scott, Walter
Language: English
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VOL. 2.

[Illustration: Vincennes]




  CHAP. I.--Corsica--Family of Buonaparte--Napoleon born 15th
  August, 1769--His early Habits--Sent to the Royal Military School
  at Brienne--His great Progress in Mathematical Science--Deficiency
  in Classical Literature--Anecdotes--Removed to the General School
  of Paris--When in his Seventeenth Year, appointed Second
  Lieutenant of Artillery--His early Politics--Promoted to a
  Captaincy--Pascal Paoli--Napoleon sides with the French Government
  against Paoli--And is Banished from Corsica--Visits Marseilles,
  and Publishes the Souper de Beaucaire,                               1

  CHAP. II.--Siege of Toulon--Recapitulation--Buonaparte appointed
  to the Command of the Artillery at Toulon--Finds every thing in
  Disorder--His Plan for obtaining the Surrender of the Place
  Adopted--Anecdotes during the Siege--Allied Troops resolve to
  evacuate Toulon--Dreadful Particulars of the Evacuation--England
  Censured on this occasion--Lord Lynedoch--Fame of Buonaparte
  increases, and he is appointed Chief of Battalion in the Army of
  Italy--Joins Headquarters at Nice--On the Fall of Robespierre,
  Buonaparte superseded in Command--Arrives in Paris in May, 1795,
  to solicit Employment--He is unsuccessful--Retrospect of the
  Proceedings of the National Assembly--Difficulties in forming a
  New Constitution--Appointment of the Directory--Of the Two
  Councils of Elders and of Five Hundred--Nation at Large, and Paris
  in Particular, Disgusted with their Pretensions--Paris assembles
  in Sections--General Danican appointed their
  Commander-in-Chief--Menou appointed by the Directory to Disarm the
  National Guards--But Suspended for Incapacity--Buonaparte
  appointed in his Room--The Day of the Sections--Conflict betwixt
  the Troops of the Convention under Buonaparte, and those of the
  Sections of Paris under Danican--The latter Defeated with much
  Slaughter--Buonaparte appointed Second in Command of the Army of
  the Interior--Then General-in-Chief--Marries Madame
  Beauharnais--Her Character--Buonaparte immediately afterwards
  joins the Army of Italy,                                            14

  CHAP. III.--The Alps--Feelings and Views of Buonaparte on being
  appointed to the Command of the Army of Italy--General Account of
  his new Principles of Warfare--Mountainous Countries peculiarly
  favourable to them--Retrospect of Military Proceedings since
  October, 1795--Hostility of the French Government to the
  Pope--Massacre of the French Envoy, Basseville, at Rome--Austrian
  Army under Beaulieu--Napoleon's Plan for entering Italy--Battle of
  Montenotte, and Buonaparte's first Victory--Again defeats the
  Austrians at Millesimo--and again under Colli--Takes possession of
  Cherasco--King of Sardinia requests an Armistice, which leads to a
  Peace, concluded on very severe Terms--Close of the Piedmontese
  Campaign--Napoleon's Character at this period,                      43

  CHAP. IV.--Farther Progress of the French Army under
  Buonaparte--He crosses the Po, at Placenza, on 7th May--Battle of
  Lodi takes place on the 10th, in which the French are
  victorious--Remarks on Napoleon's Tactics in this celebrated
  Action--French take possession of Cremona and Pizzighitone--Milan
  deserted by the Archduke Ferdinand and his Duchess--Buonaparte
  enters Milan on the 15th May--General situation of the Italian
  States at this period--Napoleon inflicts fines upon the Neutral
  and unoffending States of Parma and Modena, and extorts the
  surrender of some of their finest Pictures--Remarks upon this
  novel Procedure,                                                    59

  CHAP. V.--Directory proposes to divide the Army of Italy betwixt
  Buonaparte and Kellermann--Buonaparte resigns, and the Directory
  give up the point--Insurrection against the French at
  Pavia--Crushed--and the Leaders shot--Also at the Imperial Fiefs,
  and Lugo, quelled and punished in the same
  way--Reflections--Austrians defeated at Borghetto, and Retreat
  behind the Adige--Buonaparte narrowly escapes being made Prisoner
  at Valeggio--Mantua blockaded--Verona occupied by the French--King
  of Naples secedes from Austria--Armistice purchased by the
  Pope--The Neutrality of Tuscany violated, and Leghorn occupied by
  the French troops--Views of Buonaparte respecting the
  Revolutionizing of Italy--He temporizes--Conduct of the Austrian
  Government at this Crisis--Beaulieu displaced, and succeeded by
  Wurmser--Buonaparte sits down before Mantua,                        79

  CHAP. VI.--Campaign on the Rhine--General Plan--Wartensleben and
  the Archduke Charles retire before Jourdan and Moreau--The
  Archduke forms a Junction with Wartensleben, and defeats Jourdan,
  who retires--Moreau, also, makes his celebrated Retreat through
  the Black Forest--Buonaparte raises the Siege of Mantua, and
  defeats the Austrians at Salo and Lonato--Misbehaviour of the
  French General Valette, at Castiglione--Lonato taken, with the
  French Artillery, on 3d August--Retaken by Massena and
  Augereau--Singular escape of Buonaparte from being captured at
  Lonato--Wurmser defeated between Lonato and Castiglione, and
  retreats on Trent and Roveredo--Buonaparte resumes his position
  before Mantua--Effects of the French Victories on the different
  Italian States--Inflexibility of Austria--Wurmser
  recruited--Battle of Roveredo--French victorious, and Massena
  occupies Trent--Buonaparte defeats Wurmser at Primolano--and at
  Bassano, 8th September--Wurmser flies to Vicenza--Battle of
  Saint-George--Wurmser finally shut up within the walls of Mantua,   95

  CHAP. VII.--Corsica reunited with France--Critical situation of
  Buonaparte in Italy at this period--The Austrian General Alvinzi
  placed at the head of a new Army--Various Contests, attended with
  no decisive result--Want of Concert among the Austrian
  Generals--French Army begin to murmur--First Battle of
  Arcola--Napoleon in Personal danger--No decisive result--Second
  Battle of Arcola--The French victorious--Fresh want of Concert
  among the Austrian Generals--General Views of Military and
  Political Affairs, after the conclusion of the fourth Italian
  Campaign--Austria commences a fifth Campaign--but has not profited
  by Experience--Battle of Rivoli, and Victory of the
  French--Further successful at La Favorita--French regain their
  lost ground in Italy--Surrender of Mantua--Instances of Napoleon's
  Generosity,                                                        111

  CHAP. VIII.--Situation and Views of Buonaparte at this period--His
  politic Conduct towards the Italians--Popularity--Severe terms of
  Peace proposed to the Pope--Rejected--Napoleon differs from the
  Directory, and Negotiations are renewed--but again Rejected--The
  Pope raises his Army to 40,000 men--Napoleon Invades the Papal
  Territories--The Papal Troops defeated near Imola--and at
  Ancona--which is captured--Loretto taken--Clemency of Buonaparte
  to the French recusant Clergy--Peace of Tolentino--Napoleon's
  Letter to the Pope--San Marino--View of the situation of the
  different Italian States--Rome--Naples--Tuscany--Venice,           130

  CHAP. IX.--Archduke Charles--Compared with Napoleon--Fettered by
  the Aulic Council--Napoleon, by a stratagem, passes the
  Tagliamento, and compels the Archduke to retreat--Gradisca carried
  by storm--Chusa-Veneta taken--Trieste and Fiume occupied--Venice
  breaks the Neutrality--Terrified on learning that an Armistice had
  taken place betwixt France and Austria--The Archduke retreats by
  hasty marches on Vienna--The Government irresolute--and the Treaty
  of Leoben signed--Venice makes humiliating submissions--Napoleon's
  Speech to her Envoys--He declares War against Venice, and evades
  obeying the orders of the Directory to spare it--The Great
  Council, on 31st May, concede every thing to Buonaparte--Terms
  granted,                                                           147

  CHAP. X.--Napoleon's Amatory Correspondence with Josephine--His
  Court at Montebello--Negotiations and Pleasure mingled
  there--Genoa--Revolutionary spirit of the Genoese--They rise in
  insurrection, but are quelled by the Government, and the French
  plundered and imprisoned--Buonaparte interferes, and appoints the
  outlines of a new Government--Sardinia--Naples--The Cispadane,
  Transpadane, and Emilian Republics, united under the name of the
  Cisalpine Republic--The Valteline--The Grisons--The Valteline
  united to Lombardy--Great improvement of Italy, and the Italian
  Character, from these changes--Difficulties in the way of
  Pacification betwixt France and Austria--The Directory and
  Napoleon take Different Views--Treaty of Campo Formio--Buonaparte
  takes leave of the Army of Italy, to act as French Plenipotentiary
  at Rastadt,                                                        166

  CHAP. XI.--Retrospect--The Directory--They become
  unpopular--Causes of their unpopularity--Also at enmity among
  themselves--State of Public feeling in France--In point of
  numbers, favourable to the Bourbons--but the Army and Monied
  Interest against them--Pichegru, head of the Royalists, appointed
  President of the Council of Five Hundred--Barbé Marbois, another
  Royalist, President of the Council of Ancients--Directory throw
  themselves upon the succour of Hoche and Buonaparte--Buonaparte's
  personal Politics discussed--Pichegru's Correspondence with the
  Bourbons--known to Buonaparte--He despatches Augereau to
  Paris--Directory arrest their principal Opponents in the Councils
  on the 18th Fructidor, and Banish them to Guiana--Narrow and
  Impolitic Conduct of the Directory to Buonaparte--Projected
  Invasion of England,                                               178

  CHAP. XII.--View of the respective Situations of Great Britain and
  France, at the Period of Napoleon's return from
  Italy--Negotiations at Lisle--broken off--Army of England decreed,
  and Buonaparte named to the Command--He takes up his Residence in
  Paris--Public Honours--The real Views of the Directory discovered
  to be the expedition to Egypt--Armies of Italy and the Rhine,
  compared and contrasted--Napoleon's Objects and Motives in heading
  the Egyptian Expedition--Those of the Directory regarding it--Its
  actual Impolicy--Curious Statement by Miot--The Armament sails
  from Toulon, on 19th May, 1798--Napoleon arrives before Malta on
  10th June--Proceeds on his course, and, escaping the British
  Squadron, lands at Alexandria on the 1st July--Description of the
  various Classes who inhabit Egypt:--1. The Fellahs and
  Bedouins--2. The Cophts--3. The Mamelukes--Napoleon issues a
  Proclamation against the Mamelukes--Marches against them on the
  7th July--Discontent of the French Troops--Battle of the Pyramids
  on 21st of July--Cairo surrenders,                                 192

  CHAP. XIII.--French Fleet--Conflicting Statements of Buonaparte
  and Admiral Gantheaume--BATTLE OF ABOUKIR on 1st August 1798--The
  French Admiral, Brueyes, killed, and his Ship, L'Orient, blown
  up--The Victory complete--Effects of this disaster--Means by which
  Napoleon proposed to establish himself in Egypt--His
  Administration, in many respects, praiseworthy--in others, his
  Conduct absurd--He aspires to be regarded an Envoy of the
  Deity--His endeavours to propitiate the Porte--The Fort of El
  Arish falls into his hands--Massacre of Jaffa--Admitted by
  Buonaparte himself--His Arguments in its defence--Replies to
  them--General Conclusions--Plague in the French Army--Napoleon's
  Humanity and Courage upon this occasion--Proceeds against Acre to
  attack Djezzar Pacha--Sir Sidney Smith--His Character--Captures a
  French Convoy, and throws himself into Acre--French arrive before
  Acre on 17th March, 1799, and effect a breach on the 28th, but are
  driven back--Assaulted by an Army of Moslems assembled without the
  Walls of Acre, whom they defeat and disperse--Personal
  Misunderstanding and Hostility between Napoleon and Sir Sidney
  Smith--Explained--Buonaparte is finally compelled to raise the
  Siege,                                                             216

  CHAP. XIV.--Discussion concerning the alleged Poisoning of the
  Sick in the Hospitals at Jaffa--Napoleon acquitted of the
  charge--French Army re-enter Cairo on the 14th June--Retrospect of
  what had taken place in Upper and Lower Egypt during Napoleon's
  Absence--Incursion of Murad Bey--18,000 Turks occupy
  Aboukir--Attacked and defeated--This Victory terminates Napoleon's
  career in Egypt--Admiral Gantheaume receives Orders to make ready
  for Sea--On the 22d August, Napoleon embarks for France--Arrives
  in Ajaccio on the 30th September--and lands at Frejus on the 9th
  October,                                                           236

  CHAP. XV.--Retrospect of Public Events since the Departure of
  Napoleon for Egypt--Invasion and Conquest of Switzerland--Seizure
  of Turin--Expulsion of the Pope--The Neapolitans declare War
  against France--The French enter Naples--Disgraceful Avarice
  exhibited by the Directory--Particularly in their Negotiations
  with the United States of America--Russia comes forward in the
  general Cause--Her Strength and Resources--Reverses of the French
  in Italy, and on the Rhine--Insurrections in Belgium and Holland
  against the French--Anglo-Russian Expedition sent to Holland--The
  Chouans again in the Field--Great and Universal Unpopularity of
  the Directory--State of Parties in France--Law of Hostages--Abbé
  Siêyes becomes one of the Directory--His Character and
  Genius--Description of the Constitution proposed by him for the
  Year Three--Ducos, Gohier, and Moulins, also introduced into the
  Directory--Family of Napoleon strive to keep him in the
  Recollection of the People--Favourable Change in the French
  Affairs--Holland evacuated by the Anglo-Russian Army--Korsakow
  defeated by Massena--and Suwarrow retreats before Lecourbe,        246

  CHAP. XVI.--General rejoicing on the return of
  Buonaparte--Advances made to him on all sides--Napoleon Coalesces
  with Siêyes--Revolution of the 18th Brumaire (Nov. 9)--Clashing
  Views of the Councils of Ancients, and the Five Hundred--Barras
  and his Colleagues resign--Proceedings of the Councils on the
  18th--and 19th--Sittings removed from Paris to St.
  Cloud--Commotion in the Council of Five Hundred--Napoleon menaced
  and assaulted, and finally extricated by his Grenadiers--Lucien
  Buonaparte, the President, retires from the Hall--Declares the
  Council dissolved--Provisional Consular Government of Buonaparte,
  Siêyes, and Ducos,                                                 260

  CHAP. XVII.--Clemency of the New Consulate--Beneficial change in
  the Finances--Law of Hostages repealed--Religious liberty
  allowed--Improvements in the War Department--Pacification of La
  Vendée--Ascendancy of Napoleon--Disappointment of
  Siêyes--Committee formed to consider Siêyes' Plan of a
  Constitution--Rejected as to essentials--A new one adopted,
  monarchical in every thing but form--Siêyes retires from Public
  life--General View of the new Government--Despotic Power of the
  First Consul,                                                      276

  CHAP. XVIII.--Proceedings of Buonaparte in order to consolidate
  his power--His great Success--Causes that led to it--Cambacérès
  and Le Brun chosen Second and Third Consuls--Talleyrand appointed
  Minister for Foreign Affairs, and Fouché Minister of Police--Their
  Characters--Other Ministers nominated--Various Changes made in
  order to mark the Commencement of a new Era--Napoleon addresses a
  Letter personally to the King of England--Answered by Lord
  Grenville--Negotiation for peace that followed, speedily broken
  off--Campaigns in Italy and on the Rhine--Successes of
  Moreau--Censured by Napoleon for over-caution--The Charge
  considered--The Chief Consul resolves to bring back, in Person,
  Victory to the French Standards in Italy--His Measures for that
  purpose,                                                           292

  CHAP. XIX.--The Chief Consul leaves Paris on 6th May, 1800--Has an
  Interview with Necker at Geneva on 8th--Arrives at Lausanne on the
  13th--Various Corps put in motion to cross the Alps--Napoleon, at
  the head of the Main Army, marches on the 15th, and ascends Mont
  St. Bernard--On the 16th, the Vanguard takes possession of
  Aosta--Fortress and Town of Bard threaten to baffle the whole
  plan--The Town is captured--and Napoleon contrives to send his
  Artillery through it, under the fire of the Fort, his Infantry and
  Cavalry passing over the Albaredo--Lannes carries
  Ivrea--Recapitulation--Operations of the Austrian General
  Melas--At the commencement of the Campaign, Melas advances towards
  Genoa--Actions betwixt him and Massena--In March, Lord Keith
  blockades Genoa--Melas compelled to retreat--Enters Nice--Recalled
  from thence by the news of Napoleon's having crossed Mont St.
  Bernard--Genoa surrenders--Buonaparte enters Milan--Battle of
  Montebello--The Chief Consul is joined by Desaix--Battle of
  Marengo on the 14th--Death of Desaix--Capitulation on the 15th, by
  which Genoa, &c., are yielded--Napoleon returns to Paris on the 2d
  July,                                                              305

  CHAP. XX.--Napoleon offers, and the Austrian Envoy accepts, a new
  Treaty--The Emperor refuses it, unless England is
  included--Negotiations with England--fail--Renewal of the
  War--Armistice--Resumption of Hostilities--Battle of
  Hohenlinden--Other Battles--The Austrians agree to a separate
  Peace--Treaty of Luneville--Convention between France and the
  United States--The Queen of Naples repairs to Petersburgh--Paul
  receives her with cordiality, and applies in her behalf to
  Buonaparte--His Envoy received at Paris with the utmost
  distinction, and the Royal Family of Naples saved for the
  present--Rome restored to the authority of the Pope--Napoleon
  demands of the King of Spain to declare War against
  Portugal--Olivenza and Almeida taken--Malta, after a Blockade of
  Two Years, obliged to submit to the English,                       324

  CHAP. XXI.--Internal Government of France--General Attachment to
  the Chief Consul--Plot to remove him by
  Assassination--Defeated--Vain hopes of the Royalists, that
  Napoleon would restore the Bourbons--Infernal Machine--It
  fails--Suspicion first falls on the Republicans--The actual
  Conspirators executed--Use made by Buonaparte of the Conspiracy to
  consolidate Despotism--System of Police--Fouché--His Skill,
  Influence, and Power--Apprehension entertained by the Chief Consul
  of the effects of Literature--Persecution of Madame de Staël--The
  Concordat--Plan for a general System of Jurisprudence--Amnesty
  granted to the Emigrants--Plans of Public Education--Hopes of a
  General Peace,                                                     337

  CHAP. XXII.--Return to the external Relations of France--Her
  universal Ascendancy--Napoleon's advances to the Emperor
  Paul--Plan of destroying the British Power in India--Right of
  Search at Sea--Death of Paul--Its effects on Buonaparte--Affairs
  of Egypt--Assassination of Kleber--Menou appointed to succeed
  him--British Army lands in Egypt--Battle and Victory of
  Alexandria--Death of Sir Ralph Abercromby--General Hutchinson
  succeeds him--The French General Belliard capitulates--as does
  Menou--War in Egypt brought to a victorious Conclusion,            356

  CHAP. XXIII.--Preparations for the Invasion of Britain--Nelson put
  in command of the Sea--Attack of the Boulogne Flotilla--Pitt
  leaves the Ministry--succeeded by Mr. Addington--Negotiations for
  Peace--Just punishment of England, in regard to the conquered
  Settlements of the enemy--Forced to restore them all, save Ceylon
  and Trinidad--Malta is placed under the guarantee of a Neutral
  Power--Preliminaries of Peace signed--Joy of the English Populace,
  and doubts of the better classes--Treaty of Amiens signed--The
  ambitious projects of Napoleon, nevertheless, proceed without
  interruption--Extension of his power in Italy--He is appointed
  Consul for life, with the power of naming his Successor--His
  Situation at this period,                                          364

  CHAP. XXIV.--Different Views entertained by the English Ministers
  and the Chief Consul of the effects of the Treaty of
  Amiens--Napoleon, misled by the Shouts of a London Mob,
  misunderstands the Feelings of the People of Great Britain--His
  continued encroachments on the Independence of Europe--His conduct
  to Switzerland--Interferes in their Politics, and sets himself up,
  uninvited, as Mediator in their concerns--Ney enters Switzerland
  at the head of 40,000 men--The patriot, Reding, disbands his
  Forces, and is imprisoned--Switzerland is compelled to furnish
  France with a Subsidiary Army of 16,000 Troops--The Chief Consul
  adopts the title of Grand Mediator of the Helvetic Republic,       372


  No. I.--Buonaparte's Letter to General Paoli,                      381

  No. II.--Letter of Napoleon Buonaparte to M. Matteo Buttafuoco,
  Deputy from Corsica to the National Assembly,                      382

  No. III.--The Supper of Beaucaire,                                 388

  No. IV.--Letters of Napoleon to Josephine,                         392

  No. V.--Descent of the French in South Wales, under General Tate,  396

  No. VI.--Buonaparte's Camp-Library,                                397

  No. VII.--Buonaparte, Member of the National Institute,
  Commander-in-Chief, to the People of Egypt,                        398

  No. VIII.--Historical Notes on the Eighteenth Brumaire,            399



    _Corsica--Family of Buonaparte--Napoleon born 15th August,
    1769--His early habits--Sent to the Royal Military School at
    Brienne--His great Progress in Mathematical Science--Deficiency
    in Classical Literature--Anecdotes--Removed to the General
    School of Paris--When in his Seventeenth Year, appointed Second
    Lieutenant of Artillery--His early Politics--Promoted to a
    Captaincy--Pascal Paoli--Napoleon sides with the French
    Government against Paoli--And is banished from Corsica--Visits
    Marseilles, and publishes the Souper de Beaucaire._

The island of Corsica was, in ancient times, remarkable as the scene of
Seneca's exile, and in the last century was distinguished by the
memorable stand which the natives made in defence of their liberties
against the Genoese and French, during a war which tended to show the
high and indomitable spirit of the islanders, united as it is with the
fiery and vindictive feelings proper to their country and climate.

In this island, which was destined to derive its future importance
chiefly from the circumstance, NAPOLEON BUONAPARTE, or BONAPARTE,[1] had
his origin. His family was noble, though not of much distinction, and
rather reduced in fortune. Flattery afterwards endeavoured to trace the
name which he had made famous, into remote ages, and researches were
made through ancient records, to discover that there was one Buonaparte
who had written a book,[2] another who had signed a treaty--a female of
the name who had given birth to a pope,[3] with other minute claims of
distinction, which Napoleon justly considered as trivial, and unworthy
of notice. He answered the Emperor of Austria, who had a fancy of
tracing his son-in-law's descent from one of the petty sovereigns of
Treviso, that he was the Rodolph of Hapsbourg of his family; and to a
genealogist, who made a merit of deducing his descent from some ancient
line of Gothic princes, he caused reply to be made, that he dated his
patent of nobility from the battle of Montenotte, that is, from his
first victory.[4]

[Sidenote: CORSICA.]

All that is known with certainty of Napoleon's family may be told in few
words. The Buonapartes were a family of some distinction in the middle
ages;[5] their names are inscribed in the Golden Book at Treviso, and
their armorial bearings are to be seen on several houses in Florence.
But attached, during the civil war, to the party of the Ghibellines,
they of course were persecuted by the Guelphs; and being exiled from
Tuscany, one of the family took refuge in Corsica, and there established
himself and his successors, who were regularly enrolled among the noble
natives of the island, and enjoyed all the privileges of gentle blood.

The father of Napoleon, Charles Buonaparte, was the principal descendant
of this exiled family. He was regularly educated at Pisa, to the study
of the law, and is stated to have possessed a very handsome person, a
talent for eloquence, and a vivacity of intellect, which he transmitted
to his son. He was a patriot also and a soldier, and assisted at the
gallant stand made by Paoli against the French. It is said he would have
emigrated along with Paoli, who was his friend, but was withheld by the
influence of his father's brother, Lucien Buonaparte, who was Archdeacon
of the Cathedral of Ajaccio, and the wealthiest person of the family.

It was in the middle of civil discord, fights, and skirmishes, that
Charles Buonaparte married Lætitia Ramolini, one of the most beautiful
young women of the island, and possessed of a great deal of firmness of
character. She partook the dangers of her husband during the years of
civil war, and is said to have accompanied him on horseback in some
military expeditions, or perhaps hasty flights, shortly before her being
delivered of the future emperor.[6] Though left a widow in the prime of
life, she had already born her husband thirteen children, of whom five
sons and three daughters survived him. I. Joseph, the eldest, who,
though placed by his brother in an obnoxious situation, as intrusive
King of Spain, held the reputation of a good and moderate man. II.
Napoleon himself. III. Lucien, scarce inferior to his brother in
ambition and talent. IV. Louis, the merit of whose character consists in
its unpretending worth, and who renounced a crown rather than consent to
the oppression of his subjects. V. Jerome, whose disposition is said to
have been chiefly marked by a tendency to dissipation. The females were,
I. Maria Anne, afterwards Grand Duchess of Tuscany, by the name of
Eliza.[7] II. Maria Annonciada, who became Maria Pauline, Princess of
Borghese.[8] III. Carlotta, or Caroline, wife of Murat, and Queen of

The family of Buonaparte being reconciled to the French government after
the emigration of Paoli, enjoyed the protection of the Count de
Marbœuf, the French Governor of Corsica, by whose interest Charles
was included in a deputation of the nobles of the island, sent to Louis
XVI. in 1779. As a consequence of this mission, he was appointed to a
judicial situation--that of assessor of the Tribunal of Ajaccio--the
income of which aided him to maintain his increasing family, which the
smallness of his patrimony, and some habits of expense, would otherwise
have rendered difficult. Charles Buonaparte, the father of Napoleon,
died at the age of about forty years, of an ulcer in the stomach, on the
24th February 1785.[9] His celebrated son fell a victim to the same
disease. During Napoleon's grandeur, the community of Montpellier
expressed a desire to erect a monument to the memory of Charles
Buonaparte. His answer was both sensible and in good taste. "Had I lost
my father yesterday," he said, "it would be natural to pay his memory
some mark of respect consistent with my present situation. But it is
twenty years since the event, and it is one in which the public can take
no concern. Let us leave the dead in peace."

The subject of our narrative was born upon the 15th day of August 1769,
at his father's house in Ajaccio, forming one side of a court which
leads out of the Rue Charles.[10] We read with interest, that his
mother's good constitution, and bold character of mind, having induced
her to attend mass upon the day of his birth, (being the Festival of the
Assumption,) she was obliged to return home immediately, and as there
was no time to prepare a bed or bedroom, she was delivered of the future
victor upon a temporary couch prepared for her accommodation, and
covered with an ancient piece of tapestry, representing the heroes of
the Iliad. The infant was christened by the name of Napoleon, an obscure
saint, who had dropped to leeward, and fallen altogether out of the
calendar, so that his namesake never knew which day he was to celebrate
as the festival of his patron. When questioned on this subject by the
bishop who confirmed him, he answered smartly, that there were a great
many saints, and only three hundred and sixty-five days to divide
amongst them. The politeness of the Pope promoted the patron in order to
compliment the god-child, and Saint Napoleon des Ursins was accommodated
with a festival. To render this compliment, which no one but a Pope
could have paid, still more flattering, the feast of Saint Napoleon was
fixed for the 15th August, the birthday of the Emperor, and the day on
which he signed the Concordat.[11] So that Napoleon had the rare honour
of promoting his patron saint.

The young Napoleon had, of course, the simple and hardy education proper
to the natives of the mountainous island of his birth, and in his
infancy was not remarkable for more than that animation of temper, and
wilfulness and impatience of inactivity, by which children of quick
parts and lively sensibility are usually distinguished.[12] The winter
of the year was generally passed by the family of his father at Ajaccio,
where they still preserve and exhibit, as the ominous plaything of
Napoleon's boyhood, the model of a brass cannon, weighing about thirty
pounds.[13] We leave it to philosophers to inquire, whether the future
love of war was suggested by the accidental possession of such a toy; or
whether the tendency of the mind dictated the selection of it; or,
lastly, whether the nature of the pastime, corresponding with the taste
which chose it, may not have had each their action and reaction, and
contributed between them to the formation of a character so warlike.

The same traveller who furnishes the above anecdote, gives an
interesting account of the country retreat of the family of Buonaparte,
during the summer.

Going along the sea-shore from Ajaccio towards the Isle Sanguinière,
about a mile from the town, occur two stone pillars, the remains of a
door-way, leading up to a dilapidated villa, once the residence of
Madame Buonaparte's half-brother on the mother's side, whom Napoleon
created Cardinal Fesch.[14] The house is approached by an avenue,
surrounded and overhung by the cactus and other shrubs, which luxuriate
in a warm climate. It has a garden and a lawn, showing amidst neglect,
vestiges of their former beauty, and the house is surrounded by
shrubberies, permitted to run to wilderness. This was the summer
residence of Madame Buonaparte and her family. Almost enclosed by the
wild olive, the cactus, the clematis, and the almond-tree, is a very
singular and isolated granite rock, called Napoleon's grotto, which
seems to have resisted the decomposition which has taken place around.
The remains of a small summer-house are visible beneath the rock, the
entrance to which is nearly closed by a luxuriant fig-tree. This was
Buonaparte's frequent retreat, when the vacations of the school at which
he studied permitted him to visit home.--How the imagination labours to
form an idea of the visions, which, in this sequestered and romantic
spot, must have arisen before the eyes of the future hero of a hundred

[Sidenote: BRIENNE.]

The Count de Marbœuf, already mentioned as Governor of Corsica,
interested himself in the young Napoleon, so much as to obtain him an
appointment [April, 1779] to the Royal Military School at Brienne, which
was maintained at the royal expense, in order to bring up youths for the
engineer and artillery service. The malignity of contemporary historians
has ascribed a motive of gallantry towards Madame Buonaparte as the
foundation of this kindness; but Count Marbœuf had arrived at a
period of life when such connexions are not to be presumed, nor did the
scandal receive any currency from the natives of Ajaccio.

Nothing could be more suitable to the nature of young Buonaparte's
genius, than the line of study which thus fortunately was opened before
him. His ardour for the abstract sciences amounted to a passion, and was
combined with a singular aptitude for applying them to the purposes of
war, while his attention to pursuits so interesting and exhaustless in
themselves, was stimulated by his natural ambition and desire of
distinction. Almost all the scientific teachers at Brienne, being
accustomed to study the character of their pupils, and obliged by their
duty to make memoranda and occasional reports on the subject, spoke of
the talents of Buonaparte, and the progress of his studies, with
admiration. Circumstances of various kinds, exaggerated or invented,
have been circulated concerning the youth of a person so remarkable.
The following are given upon good authority.[15]

The conduct of Napoleon among his companions, was that of a studious and
reserved youth, addicting himself deeply to the means of improvement,
and rather avoiding than seeking the usual temptations to dissipation of
time. He had few friends, and no intimates; yet at different times when
he chose to exert it, he exhibited considerable influence over his
fellow-students, and when there was any joint plan to be carried into
effect, he was frequently chosen dictator of the little republic.

In the time of winter, Buonaparte upon one occasion engaged his
companions in constructing a fortress out of the snow, regularly
defended by ditches and bastions, according to the rules of
fortification. It was considered as displaying the great powers of the
juvenile engineer in the way of his profession, and was attacked and
defended by the students, who divided into parties for the purpose,
until the battle became so keen that their superiors thought it proper
to proclaim a truce.

The young Buonaparte gave another instance of address and enterprise
upon the following occasion. There was a fair held annually in the
neighbourhood of Brienne, where the pupils of the Military School used
to find a day's amusement; but on account of a quarrel betwixt them and
the country people upon a former occasion, or for some such cause, the
masters of the institution had directed that the students should not, on
the fair day, be permitted to go beyond their own precincts, which were
surrounded with a wall. Under the direction of the young Corsican,
however, the scholars had already laid a plot for securing their usual
day's diversion. They had undermined the wall which encompassed their
exercising ground, with so much skill and secrecy, that their operations
remained entirely unknown till the morning of the fair, when a part of
the boundary unexpectedly fell, and gave a free passage to the
imprisoned students, of which they immediately took the advantage, by
hurrying to the prohibited scene of amusement.

But although on these, and perhaps other occasions, Buonaparte displayed
some of the frolic temper of youth, mixed with the inventive genius and
the talent for commanding others by which he was distinguished in after
time, his life at school was in general that of a recluse and severe
student, acquiring by his judgment, and treasuring in his memory, that
wonderful process of almost unlimited combination, by means of which he
was afterwards able to simplify the most difficult and complicated
undertakings. His mathematical teacher was proud of the young islander,
as the boast of his school, and his other scientific instructors had the
same reason to be satisfied.

In languages Buonaparte was less a proficient, and never acquired the
art of writing or spelling French, far less foreign languages, with
accuracy or correctness; nor had the monks of Brienne any reason to
pride themselves on the classical proficiency of their scholar. The full
energies of his mind being devoted to the scientific pursuits of his
profession, left little time or inclination for other studies.

Though of Italian origin, Buonaparte had not a decided taste for the
fine arts, and his taste in composition seems to have leaned towards the
grotesque and the bombastic. He used always the most exaggerated
phrases; and it is seldom, if ever, that his bulletins present those
touches of sublimity which are founded on dignity and simplicity of

Notwithstanding the external calmness and reserve of his deportment, he
who was destined for such great things, had, while yet a student at
Brienne, a full share of that ambition for distinction and dread of
disgrace, that restless and irritating love of fame, which is the spur
to extraordinary attempts. Sparkles of this keen temper sometimes showed
themselves. On one occasion, a harsh superintendent imposed on the
future Emperor, for some trifling fault, the disgrace of wearing a
penitential dress, and being excluded from the table of the students,
and obliged to eat his meal apart. His pride felt the indignity so
severely, that it brought on a severe nervous attack; to which, though
otherwise of good constitution, he was subject upon occasions of
extraordinary irritation. Father Petrault,[16] the professor of
mathematics, hastened to deliver his favourite pupil from the punishment
by which he was so much affected.

It is also said that an early disposition to the popular side
distinguished Buonaparte even when at Brienne. Pichegru, afterwards so
celebrated, who acted as his monitor in the military school, (a singular
circumstance,) bore witness to his early principles, and to the peculiar
energy and tenacity of his temper. He was long afterwards consulted
whether means might not be found to engage the commander of the Italian
armies in the royal interest. "It will be but lost time to attempt it,"
said Pichegru. "I knew him in his youth--his character is inflexible--he
has taken his side, and he will not change it."[17]

In October, 1784, Napoleon Buonaparte, then only fifteen years old, was,
though under the usual age, selected by M. de Keralio,[18] the inspector
of the twelve military schools, to be sent to have his education
completed in the general school of Paris. It was a compliment paid to
the precocity of his extraordinary mathematical talent, and the
steadiness of his application. While at Paris he attracted the same
notice as at Brienne; and among other society, frequented that of the
celebrated Abbé Raynal, and was admitted to his literary parties. His
taste did not become correct, but his appetite for study in all
departments was greatly enlarged; and notwithstanding the quantity which
he daily read, his memory was strong enough to retain, and his judgment
sufficiently ripe to arrange and digest, the knowledge which he then
acquired; so that he had it at his command during all the rest of his
busy life. Plutarch was his favourite author; upon the study of whom he
had so modelled his opinions and habits of thought, that Paoli
afterwards pronounced him a young man of an antique caste, and
resembling one of the classical heroes.[19]

Some of his biographers have, about this time, ascribed to him the
anecdote of a certain youthful pupil of the military school, who desired
to ascend in the car of a balloon with the æronaut Blanchard, and was so
mortified at being refused, that he made an attempt to cut the balloon
with his sword.[20] The story has but a flimsy support, and indeed does
not accord well with the character of the hero, which was deep and
reflective, as well as bold and determined, and not likely to suffer its
energies to escape in idle and useless adventure.

A better authenticated anecdote states, that at this time he expressed
himself disrespectfully towards the king in one of his letters to his
family. According to the practice of the school, he was obliged to
submit the letter to the censorship of M. Domairon, the professor of
belles lettres, who, taking notice of the offensive passage, insisted
upon the letter being burnt, and added a severe rebuke. Long afterwards,
in 1802, M. Domairon appeared at Napoleon's levee; when the first consul
reminded his old tutor good-humouredly, that times had changed
considerably since the burning of the letter.


Napoleon Buonaparte, in his seventeenth year, [September, 1785,]
received his first commission as second lieutenant in the regiment of La
Fère, or first artillery, then quartered at Valence. He mingled with
society when he joined his regiment, more than he had hitherto been
accustomed to do; mixed in public amusements, and exhibited the powers
of pleasing which he possessed in an uncommon degree, when he chose to
exert them. His handsome and intelligent features, with his active and
neat, though slight figure, gave him additional advantages. His manners
could scarcely be called elegant, but made up in vivacity and variety of
expression, and often in great spirit and energy, for what they wanted
in grace and polish.

In 1786, he became an adventurer for the honours of literature also, and
was anonymously a competitor for the prize offered by the Academy of
Lyons on Raynal's question, "What are the principles and institutions,
by application of which mankind can be raised to the highest pitch of
happiness?" The prize was adjudged to the young soldier. It is
impossible to avoid feeling curiosity to know the character of the
juvenile theories respecting government, advocated by one who at length
attained the power of practically making what experiments he pleased.
Probably his early ideas did not exactly coincide with his more mature
practice; for when Talleyrand, many years afterwards, got the Essay out
of the records of the Academy, and returned it to the author, Buonaparte
destroyed it, after he had read a few pages.[21] He also laboured under
the temptation of writing a journey from Valence to Mount Cenis, after
the manner of Sterne, which he was fortunate enough finally to
resist.[22] The affectation which pervades Sterne's peculiar style of
composition, was not likely to be simplified under the pen of

In 1789, Buonaparte, then quartered at Auxonne, had composed a work,
which might form two volumes, on the political, civil, and military
history of Corsica. He addressed a letter to General Paoli, then
residing in London, on the subject of the proposed work, and the actual
condition of his countrymen.[23] He also submitted it to the Abbé
Raynal, who recommended the publication of it.[24] With this view,
Buonaparte invited M. Joly, a bookseller of Dole, to visit him at
Auxonne. He came, he says, and found the future Emperor in a naked
barrack room, the sole furniture of which consisted of a wretched bed
without curtains, a table placed in the embrasure of a window, loaded
with books and papers, and two chairs. His brother Louis, whom he was
teaching mathematics, lay on a wretched mattress, in an adjoining
closet. M. Joly and the author agreed on the price of the impression of
the book, but Napoleon was at the time in uncertainty whether he was to
remain at Auxonne or not. The work was never printed, nor has a trace of
it been discovered.[25]

In 1790, Buonaparte, still at Auxonne, composed a political tract in the
form of a letter to M. de Buttafuoco, major-general, and deputy of the
Corsican noblesse in the National Assembly. A hundred copies were
printed and sent to Corsica; where it was adopted and republished by the
patriotic society of Ajaccio,[26] who passed a resolution, attaching the
epithet _infamous_, to the name of their noble deputy.[27]

Sterner times were fast approaching, and the nation was now fully
divided by those factions which produced the Revolution. The officers of
Buonaparte's regiment were also divided into Royalists and Patriots; and
it is easily to be imagined, that the young and the friendless stranger
and adventurer should adopt that side to which he had already shown some
inclination, and which promised to open the most free career to those
who had only their merit to rely upon. "Were I a general officer," he is
alleged to have said, "I would have adhered to the King; being a
subaltern, I join the Patriots."

There was a story current, that in a debate with some brother officers
on the politics of the time, Buonaparte expressed himself so
outrageously, that they were provoked to throw him into the Saone, where
he had nearly perished. But this is an inaccurate account of the
accident which actually befell him. He was seized with the cramp when
bathing in the river. His comrades saved him with difficulty; but his
danger was matter of pure chance.

Napoleon has himself recorded that he was a warm patriot during the
whole sitting of the National Assembly; but that, on the appointment of
the Legislative Assembly, he became shaken in his opinions. If so, his
original sentiments regained force; for we shortly afterwards find him
entertaining such as went to the extreme heights of the Revolution.

Early in the year 1792, Buonaparte became a captain in the artillery by
seniority; and in the same year, being at Paris, he witnessed the two
insurrections of the 20th June and 10th August. He was accustomed to
speak of the insurgents as the most despicable banditti, and to express
with what ease a determined officer could have checked these apparently
formidable, but dastardly and unwieldy masses.[28] But, with what a
different feeling of interest would Napoleon have looked on that
infuriated populace, those still resisting though overpowered Swiss, and
that burning palace, had any seer whispered to him, "Emperor that shall
be, all this blood and massacre is but to secure your future empire!"
Little anticipating the potent effect which the passing events were to
bear on his own fortune, Buonaparte, anxious for the safety of his
mother and family, was now desirous to exchange France for Corsica,
where the same things were acting on a less distinguished stage.

[Sidenote: PAOLI--CORSICA.]

It was a singular feature in the French Revolution, that it brought out
from his retirement the celebrated Pascal Paoli, who, long banished from
Corsica, the freedom and independence of which he had so valiantly
defended, returned from exile with the flattering hope of still
witnessing the progress of liberty in his native land. On visiting
Paris, he was received there with enthusiastic veneration, and the
National Assembly and Royal Family contended which should show him most
distinction. He was created president of the department, and commander
of the national guard of his native island, and used the powers
intrusted to him with great wisdom and patriotism.

But Paoli's views of liberty were different from those which unhappily
began to be popular in France. He was desirous of establishing that
freedom, which is the protector, not the destroyer of property, and
which confers practical happiness, instead of aiming at theoretical
perfection. In a word, he endeavoured to keep Corsica free from the
prevailing infection of Jacobinism; and in reward, he was denounced in
the Assembly. Paoli, summoned to attend for the purpose of standing on
his defence, declined the journey on account of his age, but offered to
withdraw from the island.

A large proportion of the inhabitants took part with the aged champion
of their freedom, while the Convention sent an expedition, at the head
of which were La Combe Saint Michel,[29] and Salicetti,[30] one of the
Corsican deputies to the Convention, with the usual instructions for
bloodshed and pillage issued to their commissaries.[31]

Buonaparte was in Corsica, upon leave of absence from his regiment, when
these events were taking place; and although he himself, and Paoli, had
hitherto been on friendly terms, the young artillery officer did not
hesitate which side to choose. He embraced that of the Convention with
heart and hand; and his first military exploit was in the civil war of
his native island. In the year 1793, he was despatched from Bastia, in
possession of the French party, to surprise his native town Ajaccio,
then occupied by Paoli or his adherents. Buonaparte was acting
provisionally, as commanding a battalion of national guards. He landed
in the gulf of Ajaccio with about fifty men, to take possession of a
tower called the Torre di Capitello, on the opposite side of the gulf,
and almost facing the city. He succeeded in taking the place; but as
there arose a gale of wind which prevented his communicating with the
frigate which had put him ashore, he was besieged in his new conquest by
the opposite faction, and reduced to such distress, that he and his
little garrison were obliged to feed on horse-flesh. After five days he
was relieved by the frigate, and evacuated the tower, having first in
vain attempted to blow it up. The Torre di Capitello still shows marks
of the damage it then sustained, and its remains may be looked on as a
curiosity, as the first scene of _his_ combats, before whom

          "Temple and tower
    Went to the ground."[32]

The strength of Paoli increasing, and the English preparing to assist
him, Corsica became no longer a safe or convenient residence for the
Buonaparte family. Indeed, both Napoleon and his brother Joseph, who had
distinguished themselves as partisans of the French, were subjected to a
decree of banishment from their native island; and Madame Buonaparte,
with two of her daughters, set sail under their protection, and settled
for a time, first at Nice, and afterwards at Marseilles, where the
family remained in obscurity, until the dawning prospects of Napoleon
afforded him the means of assisting them.

One small fountain at Ajaccio is pointed out as the only ornament which,
in after days, his bounty bestowed on his birth-place.[33] He might
perhaps think it impolitic to do any thing which might remind the
country he ruled that he was not a child of her soil, nay, was in fact
very near having been born an alien, for Corsica was not united to, or
made an integral part of France, until June 1769, a few weeks only
before Napoleon's birth. This stigma was repeatedly cast upon him by
his opponents, some of whom reproached the French with having adopted a
master, from a country from which the ancient Romans were unwilling even
to choose a slave; and Napoleon may have been so far sensible to it, as
to avoid showing any predilection to the place of his birth, which might
bring the circumstance strongly under observation of the great nation,
with which he and his family seemed to be indissolubly united. But as a
traveller already quoted, and who had the best opportunities to become
acquainted with the feelings of the proud islanders, has expressed
it,--"The Corsicans are still highly patriotic, and possess strong local
attachment--in their opinion, contempt for the country of one's birth is
never to be redeemed by any other qualities. Napoleon, therefore,
certainly was not popular in Corsica, nor is his memory cherished

The feelings of the parties were not unnatural on either side. Napoleon,
little interested in the land of his birth, and having such an immense
stake in that of his adoption, in which he had every thing to keep and
lose,[35] observed a policy towards Corsica which his position rendered
advisable; and who can blame the high-spirited islanders, who, seeing
one of their countrymen raised to such exalted eminence, and disposed to
forget his connexion with them, returned with slight and indifference
the disregard with which he treated them?

On his return from Corsica, Buonaparte had arrived at Nice, and was
preparing to join his regiment, when General Degear, who commanded the
artillery of "the army of Italy," then encamped round the city, required
his services, and employed him in several delicate operations. Shortly
after, the insurrection of Marseilles broke out--a movement consequent
upon the arrest of the leaders of the Girondist party in the Convention,
on the first Prairial (31st May;) and which extended with violence into
the departments. The insurgents of Marseilles organized a force of six
thousand men, with which they took possession of Avignon, and thereby
intercepted the communications of the army of Italy. The
general-in-chief being much embarrassed by this circumstance, sent
Buonaparte to the insurgents, to try to induce them to let the convoys
pass. In July he went to Marseilles and Avignon, had interviews with the
leaders, convinced them that it was their own interest not to excite the
resentment of the army of Italy, and in fine secured the transit of the

During his residence at Marseilles, when sent to the insurgents, having,
he says, an opportunity of observing all the weakness and incoherence of
their means of resistance, he drew up a little pamphlet, which he called
"_Le Souper de Beaucaire_," and which he published in that city. "He
endeavoured," he says, "to open the eyes of these frantic people, and
predicted that the only result of their revolt would be to furnish a
pretext to the men of blood of the day, for sending the principal
persons amongst them to the scaffold." "It produced," he adds, "a very
powerful effect, and contributed to calm the agitation which
prevailed."[36] During these proceedings Toulon had surrendered to the
English. Buonaparte was ordered on service to the siege of that town,
and joined the army on the 12th of September.


[1] There was an absurd debate about the spelling of the name, which
became, as trifles often do, a sort of party question. Buonaparte had
disused the superfluous _u_, which his father retained in the name, and
adopted a more modern spelling. This was represented on one side as an
attempt to bring his name more nearly to the French idiom; and, as if it
had been a matter of the last moment, the vowel was obstinately replaced
in the name, by a class of writers who deemed it politic not to permit
the successful general to relinquish the slightest mark of his Italian
extraction, which was in every respect impossible for him either to
conceal or to deny, even if he had nourished such an idea. In his
baptismal register, his name is spelled Napoleone Bonaparte, though the
father subscribes, Carlo Buonaparte. The spelling seems to have been
quite indifferent.--S.--"During Napoleon's first campaign in Italy, he
dropped the _u_. In this change he had no other motive than to
assimilate the orthography to the pronunciation, and to abbreviate his
signature."--BOURRIENNE, tom. i., p. 3.

[2] The book alluded to is entitled "Ragguaglio Storico di tutto
l'occorso, giorno per giorno, nel Sacco de Roma dell anno 1527, scritto
da Jacopo Buonaparte, gentiluomo Samminiatese, chi vi si trovò
presente." In 1568, a Giuseppe Buonaparte published a comedy, entitled
"La Vedova." Copies of both these works are in the British Museum.

[3] Paul the Fifth.

[4] "I sent Clarke to Florence as ambassador, where he employed himself
in nothing but turning over the old musty records of the place, in
search of proofs of the nobility of my family. He so plagued me with
letters upon the subject, that I was forced to bid him cease from
troubling either his head or mine with this nonsense about
nobility,--that I was the _first_ of my family."--NAPOLEON, _Voice_,
&c., vol. i., p. 401.

[5] "They were of Tuscan origin. In the middle ages they figured as
senators of the republics of Florence, San Miniato, Bologna, Sarzana,
and Treviso, and as prelates attached to the Court of Rome."--NAPOLEON,
_Memoirs_, vol. iii., y. 7.

[6] Las Cases, vol. i., p. 108.

[7] Died at Trieste, 9th August, 1820. "On accidentally reading, at St.
Helena, the account of her death, Napoleon exclaimed, 'Eliza has just
shown us the way; death, which seemed to have overlooked our family, now
begins to strike it. I shall be the next to follow her to the
grave.'"--ANTOMMARCHI, vol. i., p. 384.

[8] She died at the Borghese Palace, near Florence, 9th June, 1825.

[9] "I was quietly pursuing my studies whilst my father was struggling
against the violence of a painful agony. He died, and I had not the
consolation to close his eyes: that sad duty was reserved for Joseph,
who acquitted himself of it with all the zeal of an affectionate
son."--NAPOLEON, Antommarchi, vol. i., p. 240.

[10] "The patrimonial house of Napoleon, at present in the possession of
M. Ramolini, member of the Chamber of Deputies for the department of
Corsica, continues an object of great veneration with travellers and
military men."--BENSON'S _Corsica_, p. 4.

[11] Las Cases, vol. i., p. 120.

[12] "In my infancy I was noisy and quarrelsome, and feared nobody. I
beat one, scratched another, and made myself formidable to
all."--NAPOLEON, Antommarchi, vol. i., p. 327.

[13] Benson's Sketches of Corsica, p. 4.--S.

[14] The mother of Letitia Ramolini, wife of Carlo Buonaparte, married a
Swiss officer in the French service, named Fesch, after the death of
Letitia's father.--S.

[15] They were, many years since, communicated to the author by Messrs.
Joseph and Louis Law, brothers of General Lauriston, Buonaparte's
favourite aide-de-camp. These gentlemen, or at least Joseph, were
educated at Brienne, but at a later period than Napoleon. Their
distinguished brother was his contemporary.--S.

[16] Father Petrault was subsequently secularized, and joined the army
of Italy, where he served his pupil in the capacity of secretary. On
Buonaparte's return from Egypt, he found him a corpulent financier; but
commencing usurer, he was soon reduced to beggary. Napoleon granted him
a pension sufficient for his subsistence.--LAS CASES, vol. i., p. 119.

[17] Las Cases, vol. i., p. 120.

[18] The following is a copy of Keralio's report:--"M. de Buonaparte,
(Napoleon,) born 15th August, 1769, height four feet, ten inches, ten
lines, has finished his fourth course; of good constitution, excellent
health, of submissive character, upright, grateful, and regular in
conduct; has always been distinguished for application to the
mathematics. He is tolerably well acquainted with history and geography;
he is deficient in the ornamental branches, and in Latin, in which he
has only completed his fourth course. He will make an excellent sailor:
he deserves to pass to the military school at Paris."--M. de Keralio, a
highly accomplished man, who had been tutor in the royal family of
Bavaria, died in 1793.

[19] "Paoli often patted me on the head, saying, 'You are one of
Plutarch's men.' He divined that I should be something
extraordinary."--NAPOLEON, _Voice_, &c., vol. i., p. 251.

[20] "This story, though incorrect as to Napoleon, was true as to one of
his comrades, Dupont de Chambon."--ARNOULT, _Vie de Napoleon_, p. 3.

[21] Las Cases, vol. i., p. 129. A copy of the Essay had, however, been
taken by his brother Louis. It was published in 1826 by Gourgaud.

[22] Las Cases, vol. i., p. 135.

[23] A copy of this letter is given in the Appendix, No. I. A few months
after it was written, Paoli, in consequence of Mirabeau's motion for the
recall of the Corsican exiles, left England for Corsica.

[24] Las Cases, vol. ii., p. 345.

[25] "This passage is not correct. I recollect very well, that, on my
account, a larger and more commodious apartment was assigned to my
brother than to the other officers of the same rank. I had a good
chamber and an excellent bed. My brother directed my studies, but I had
proper masters, even in literature."--LOUIS BUONAPARTE, p. 26.

[26] Norvins, tom. i., p. 19.

[27] The letter to Buttafuoco is a diatribe against that Corsican
nobleman, who had been, during the wars with France, a strong opponent
of the liberties of his country. He had been, of course, the enemy of
the family of Paoli, to which Napoleon at this time was warmly attached.
We have preserved the composition entire, because, though the matter be
uninteresting, the rough and vivid style of invective is singularly
characteristic of the fiery youth, whose bosom one of his teachers
compared to a volcano surcharged with molten granite, which it poured
forth in torrents, whenever his passions were excited.--See Appendix,
No. II.

[28] See _ante_, vol. i., p. 163; Las Cases, vol. iii., p. 143; and
Bourrienne, tom. i., p. 48.

[29] La Combe Saint Michel was afterwards employed by Napoleon in Italy,
Spain, and Germany. He died in 1812.

[30] During the reign of Joseph, he was appointed minister of police at
Naples, where he died in 1809.

[31] Napoleon, Memoirs, vol. iv., p. 51.

[32] Such is the report of the Corsicans concerning the alleged first
exploit of their celebrated countryman. See Benson's _Sketches_, p. 4.
But there is room to believe that Buonaparte had been in action so early
as February, 1793. Admiral Truguet, with a strong fleet, and having on
board a large body of troops, had been at anchor for several weeks in
the Corsican harbours, announcing a descent upon Sardinia. At length,
having received on board an additional number of forces, he set sail on
his expedition. Buonaparte is supposed to have accompanied the admiral,
of whose talent and judgment he is made in the Saint Helena MSS., to
speak with great contempt. Buonaparte succeeded in taking some batteries
in the straits of Saint Bonifacio; but the expedition proving
unsuccessful, they were speedily abandoned.--S.--For an account of the
expedition to Sardinia, see _Napoleon's Memoirs_, vol. i., p. 5.

[33] "As you quit the town, the first object that presents itself is a
little fountain on the left, which, except the pavement of the quay, is
the only public work of Buonaparte, for the place of his

[34] Benson's Sketches of Corsica, p. 121.--S.

[35] Not literally, however; for it is worth mentioning, that when he
was in full-blown possession of his power, an inheritance fell to the
family, situated near Ajaccio, and was divided amongst them. The First
Consul, or Emperor, received an olive garden as his share.--_Sketches of

[36] Montholon, tom. iii., p. 14.--Nothing can be more inaccurate than
to term the _Souper de Beaucaire_ a Jacobin pamphlet, although it is
unquestionably written to urge the Federalists to submit to their
inevitable fate, and avert extremity by doing so in time. The work is
nearly free from the cant language of the day. There is no mention of
liberty, equality, fraternity, or the rights of man, &c.--no abstract
discussion of political principles. The whole merits of the dispute
betwixt Paris and the departments are hurried over with little or no
argument. Buonaparte urges the Marseillois to submission, not because
the principles which dictated their insurrection were erroneous, but
because they had not means to maintain successful resistance; not
because they had been confuted by the Jacobins in argument, but because
they were unequal to the task of contending with them by force. In after
time, however, he called in and destroyed every copy of the _Souper de
Beaucaire_ which could be found, so that only one remained, from which
the recent reprint of Monsieur Pancoucke has been executed.--S.--As
remarkable specimens of Napoleon's easy style and habits of thinking,
the opening and closing parts of this pamphlet are given, translated
into English, in No. III. of the Appendix to this volume.


    _Siege of Toulon--Recapitulation--Buonaparte appointed to the
    Command of the Artillery at Toulon--Finds every thing in
    disorder--His plan for obtaining the Surrender of the
    Place--Adopted--Anecdotes during the Siege--Allied troops
    resolve to evacuate Toulon--Dreadful Particulars of the
    Evacuation--England censured on this occasion--Lord
    Lynedoch--Fame of Buonaparte increases, and he is appointed
    Chief of Battalion in the Army of Italy--Joins Headquarters at
    Nice--On the Fall of Robespierre, Buonaparte superseded in
    command--Arrives in Paris in May, 1795, to solicit
    employment--He is unsuccessful--Retrospect of the Proceedings of
    the National Assembly--Difficulties in forming a new
    Constitution--Appointment of the Directory--of the Two Councils
    of Elders and of Five Hundred--Nation at large, and Paris in
    particular, disgusted with their pretensions--Paris assembles in
    Sections--General Danican appointed their
    Commander-in-Chief--Menou appointed by the Directory to disarm
    the National Guards--but suspended for incapacity--Buonaparte
    appointed in his room--The Day of the Sections--Conflict betwixt
    the Troops of the Convention under Buonaparte, and those of the
    Sections of Paris under Danican--The latter defeated with much
    slaughter--Buonaparte appointed Second in Command of the Army of
    the Interior--then General-in-Chief--Marries Madame
    Beauharnais--Her Character--Buonaparte immediately afterwards
    joins the Army of Italy._

[Sidenote: SIEGE OF TOULON.]

The siege of Toulon was the first incident of importance, which enabled
Buonaparte to distinguish himself in the eyes of the French Government,
and of the world at large.

Buonaparte's professional qualifications were still better vouched than
the soundness of his political principles, though these were
sufficiently decided. The notes which the inspectors of the Military
School always preserve concerning their scholars, described his genius
as being of the first order; and to these he owed his promotion to the
rank of a lieutenant-colonel of artillery, with the command of the
artillery during this siege.

We have already mentioned that a general diffidence, and dread of the
proceedings of the Jacobins, joined to the intrigues of the Girondists,
had, after the fall of the latter party, induced several of the
principal towns in France to take arms against the Convention, or rather
against the Jacobin party, who had attained the complete mastery in that
body. We have also said that Toulon, taking a more decided step than
either Marseilles or Lyons, had declared for the King and the
Constitution of 1791, and invited the support of the English and Spanish
squadrons, who were cruising upon the coast. A disembarkation was made,
and a miscellaneous force, hastily collected, of Spaniards, Sardinians,
Neapolitans, and English, was thrown into the place.

This was one of the critical periods when vigorous measures, on the part
of the allies, might have produced marked effects on the result of the
war. Toulon is the arsenal of France, and contained at that time immense
naval stores, besides a fleet of seventeen sail of the line ready for
sea, and thirteen or fourteen more, which stood in need of refitting.
The possession of it was of the last importance, and with a sufficiently
large garrison, or rather an army strong enough to cover the more
exposed points without the town, the English might have maintained their
footing at Toulon, as they did at a later period both at Lisbon and
Cadiz. The sea would, by maintaining the defensive lines necessary to
protect the roadstead, have been entirely at the command of the
besieged; and they could have been supplied with provisions in any
quantity from Sicily, or the Barbary States, while the besiegers would
have experienced great difficulty, such was the dearth in Provence at
the time, in supporting their own army. But to have played this bold
game, the presence of an army, instead of a few battalions, would have
been requisite; and a general of consummate ability must have held the
chief command. This was the more especially necessary, as Toulon, from
the nature of the place, must have been defended by a war of posts,
requiring peculiar alertness, sagacity, and vigilance. On the other
hand, there were circumstances very favourable for the defence, had it
been conducted with talent and vigour. In order to invest Toulon on the
right and left side at once, it was necessary there should be two
distinct blockading armies; and these could scarce communicate with each
other, as a steep ridge of mountains, called Pharon, must interpose
betwixt them. This gave opportunity to the besieged to combine their
force, and choose the object of attack when they sallied; while, on the
other hand, the two bodies of besiegers could not easily connect their
operations, either for attack or defence.

Lord Mulgrave,[37] who commanded personally in the place,
notwithstanding the motley character of the garrison, and other
discouraging circumstances, began the defence with spirit. Sir George
Keith Elphinstone[38] also defeated the Republicans at the mountain
pass, called Ollioules. The English for some time retained possession of
this important gorge, but were finally driven out from it. Cartaux, a
republican general whom we have already mentioned,[39] now advanced on
the west of Toulon, at the head of a very considerable army, while
General Lapoype blockaded the city on the east, with a part of the army
of Italy. It was the object of the French to approach Toulon on both
sides of the mountainous ridge, called Pharon. But on the east the town
was covered by the strong and regular fort of La Malgue, and on the west
side of the road by a less formidable work, called Malbosquet. To
support Malbosquet, and to protect the entrance to the roadstead and
harbour, the English engineers fortified with great skill an eminence,
called Hauteur de Grasse. The height bent into a sort of bay, the two
promontories of which were secured by redoubts, named L'Eguillette and
Balagnier, which communicated with and supported the new fortification,
which the English had termed Fort Mulgrave.

Several sallies and skirmishes took place, in most of which the
Republicans were worsted. Lieutenant-General O'Hara arrived from
Gibraltar with reinforcements, and assumed the chief command.

Little could be said for the union of the commanders within Toulon; yet
their enterprises were so far successful, that the French began to be
alarmed at the slow progress of the siege. The dearth of provisions was
daily increasing, the discontent of the people of Provence was
augmented; the Catholics were numerous in the neighbouring districts of
Vivarais and Lower Languedoc; and Barras and Fréron wrote from
Marseilles [Dec. 1] to the Convention, suggesting that the siege of
Toulon should be raised, and the besieging army withdrawn beyond the
Durance.[40] But while weaker minds were despairing, talents of the
first order were preparing to achieve the conquest of Toulon.

When Napoleon arrived at the scene of action, and had visited the posts
of the besieging army, he found so many marks of incapacity, that he
could not conceal his astonishment. Batteries had been erected for
destroying the English shipping, but they were three gun-shots' distance
from the point which they were designed to command; red-hot balls were
preparing, but they were not heated in furnaces beside the guns, but in
the country-houses in the neighbourhood at the most ridiculous distance,
as if they had been articles of easy and ordinary transportation.
Buonaparte with difficulty obtained General Cartaux's permission to make
a shot or two by way of experiment; and when they fell more than
half-way short of the mark, the general had no excuse but to rail
against the aristocrats, who had, he said, spoiled the quality of the
powder with which he was supplied.[41]

The young officer of artillery, with prudence, and at the same time with
spirit, made his remonstrances to the member of Convention,
Gasparin,[42] who witnessed the experiment, and explained the necessity
of proceeding more systematically, if any successful result was

At a council of war, where Gasparin presided, the instructions of the
Committee of Public Safety were read, directing that the siege of Toulon
should be commenced according to the usual forms, by investing the body
of the place, in other words, the city itself. The orders of the
Committee of Public Safety were no safe subject of discussion or
criticism for those who were to act under them; yet Buonaparte ventured
to recommend their being departed from on this important occasion. His
comprehensive genius had at once discovered a less direct, yet more
certain manner, of obtaining the surrender of the place. He advised,
that, neglecting the body of the town, the attention of the besiegers
should be turned to attain possession of the promontory called Hauteur
de Grasse, by driving the besiegers from the strong work of fort
Mulgrave, and the two redoubts of L'Eguillette and Balagnier, by means
of which the English had established the line of defence necessary to
protect the fleet and harbour. The fortress of Malbosquet, on the same
point, he also recommended as a principal object of attack. He argued,
that if the besiegers succeeded in possessing themselves of these
fortifications, they must obtain a complete command of the roads where
the English fleet lay, and oblige them to put to sea. They would, in the
same manner, effectually command the entrance of the bay, and prevent
supplies or provisions from being thrown into the city. If the garrison
were thus in danger of being totally cut off from supplies by their
vessels being driven from their anchorage, it was natural to suppose
that the English troops would rather evacuate Toulon, than remain within
the place, blockaded on all sides, until they might be compelled to
surrender by famine.

The plan was adopted by the council of war after much hesitation, and
the young officer by whom it was projected received full powers to carry
it on. He rallied round him a number of excellent artillery officers and
soldiers; assembled against Toulon more than two hundred pieces of
cannon, well served; and stationed them so advantageously, that he
annoyed considerably the English vessels in the roads, even before he
had constructed those batteries on which he depended for reducing forts
Mulgrave and Malbosquet, by which they were in a great measure

In the meanwhile, General Doppet, formerly a physician, had superseded
Cartaux, whose incapacity could no longer be concealed by his
rhodomontading language; and, wonderful to tell, it had nearly been the
fate of the ex-doctor to take Toulon, at a time when such an event
seemed least within his calculation. A tumultuary attack of some of the
young French Carmagnoles on a body of Spanish troops which garrisoned
fort Mulgrave, had very nearly been successful. Buonaparte galloped to
the spot, hurrying his reluctant commander along with him, and succours
were ordered to advance to support the attack, when an aide-de-camp was
shot by Doppet's side; on which the medical general, considering this as
a bad symptom, pronounced the case desperate, and, to Buonaparte's great
indignation, ordered a retreat to be commenced. Doppet being found as
incapable as Cartaux, was in his turn superseded by Dugommier, a veteran
who had served for fifty years, was covered with scars, and as fearless
as the weapon he wore.

From this time the commandant of artillery, having the complete
concurrence of his general, had no doubt of success. To ensure it,
however, he used the utmost vigilance and exertion, and exposed his
person to every risk.

One of the dangers which he incurred was of a singular character. An
artilleryman being shot at the gun which he was serving, while Napoleon
was visiting a battery, he took up the dead man's rammer, and, to give
encouragement to the soldiers, charged the gun repeatedly with his own
hands. In consequence of using this implement he caught an infectious
cutaneous complaint, which, being injudiciously treated and thrown
inward, was of great prejudice to his health until after his Italian
campaigns, when he was completely cured by Dr. Corvissart; after which,
for the first time, he showed that tendency to _embonpoint_ which marked
the latter part of his life.[43]

Upon another occasion, while Napoleon was overlooking the construction
of a battery, which the enemy endeavoured to interrupt by their fire, he
called for some person who could write, that he might dictate an order.
A young soldier stepped out of the ranks, and resting the paper on the
breast-work, began to write accordingly. A shot from the enemy's battery
covered the letter with earth the instant it was finished. "Thank
you--we shall have no occasion for sand this bout," said the military
secretary. The gaiety and courage of the remark drew Buonaparte's
attention on the young man, who was the celebrated General Junot,
afterwards created Duke D'Abrantes.[44] During this siege, also, he
discovered the talents of Duroc, afterwards one of his most faithful
adherents. In these and many other instances, Buonaparte showed his
extensive knowledge of mankind, by the deep sagacity which enabled him
to discover and attach to him those whose talents were most capable of
rendering him service.

Notwithstanding the influence which the commandant of artillery had
acquired, he found himself occasionally thwarted by the members of the
Convention upon mission to the siege of Toulon, who latterly were
Fréron, Ricord, Salicetti, and the younger Robespierre. These
representatives of the people, knowing that their commission gave them
supreme power over generals and armies, never seem to have paused to
consider whether nature or education had qualified them to exercise it,
with advantage to the public and credit to themselves. They criticized
Buonaparte's plan of attack, finding it impossible to conceive how his
operations, being directed against detached fortifications at a distance
from Toulon, could be eventually the means of placing the town itself
with facility in their hands. But Napoleon was patient and temporizing;
and having the good opinion of Salicetti, and some intimacy with young
Robespierre, he contrived to have the works conducted according to his
own plan.

The presumption of these dignitaries became the means of precipitating
his operations. It was his intention to complete his proposed works
against fort Mulgrave before opening a large and powerful battery, which
he had constructed with great silence and secrecy against Malbosquet, so
that the whole of his meditated assault might confound the enemy by
commencing at the same time. The operations being shrouded by an olive
plantation, had been completed without being observed by the English,
whom Buonaparte proposed to attack on the whole line of defence
simultaneously. Messrs. Fréron and Robespierre, however, in visiting the
military posts, stumbled upon this masked battery; and having no notion
why four mortars and eight twenty-four pounders should remain inactive,
they commanded the fire to be opened on Malbosquet without any farther

General O'Hara, confounded at finding this important post exposed to a
fire so formidable and unexpected, determined by a strong effort to
carry the French battery at once. Three thousand men[45] were employed
in this sally; and the general himself, rather contrary to what is
considered the duty of the governor of a place of importance, resolved
to put himself at their head. The sally was at first completely
successful; but while the English pursued the enemy too far, in all the
confidence of what they considered as assured victory, Buonaparte
availed himself of some broken ground and a covered way, to rally a
strong body of troops, bring up reserves, and attack the scattered
English both in flank and rear. There was a warm skirmish, in which
Napoleon himself received a bayonet wound in the thigh, by which, though
a serious injury, he was not, however, disabled. The English were thrown
into irretrievable confusion, and retreated, leaving their general
wounded, and a prisoner in the hands of the enemy. It is singular, that
during his long warfare, Buonaparte was never personally engaged with
the British, except in his first, and at Waterloo, his last and fatal
battle. The attack upon Acre can scarce be termed an exception, as far
as his own person was concerned.

The loss of their commandant, added to the discouragement which began to
prevail among the defenders of Toulon, together with the vivacity of the
attack which ensued, seem finally to have disheartened the garrison.
Five batteries were opened on fort Mulgrave, the possession of which
Buonaparte considered as ensuring success. After a fire of twenty-four
hours, Dugommier and Napoleon resolved to try the fate of a general
attack, for which the representatives of the people showed no particular
zeal. The attacking columns advanced before day, during a heavy shower
of rain. They were at first driven back on every point by the most
determined opposition; and Dugommier, as he saw the troops fly in
confusion, exclaimed, well knowing the consequences of bad success to a
general of the Republic, "I am a lost man!"[46] Renewed efforts,
however, at last prevailed; the Spanish artillerymen giving way on one
point, the fort fell [Dec. 18] into the possession of the French, who
showed no mercy to its defenders.[47]

Three hours, according to Buonaparte, after the fort was taken, the
representatives of the people appeared in the trenches, with drawn
swords, to congratulate the soldiers on their successful valour, and
hear from their commandant of artillery, the reiterated assurance, that,
this distant fort being gained, Toulon was now their own. In their
letter to the Convention, the deputies gave a more favourable account of
their own exploits, and failed not to represent Ducos, Salicetti, and
young Robespierre, as leading the attack with sabre in hand, and, to use
their own phrase, showing the troops the road to victory.[48] On the
other hand, they ungraciously forgot, in their despatches, to mention
so much as the name of Buonaparte, to whom the victory was entirely to
be ascribed.[49]


In the meantime, Napoleon's sagacity was not deceived in the event. The
officers of the allied troops, after a hurried council of war, resolved
to evacuate Toulon, since the posts gained by the French must drive the
English ships from their anchorage, and deprive them of a future
opportunity of retreating, if they neglected the passing moment. Lord
Hood alone urged a bolder resolution, and recommended the making a
desperate effort to regain fort Mulgrave, and the heights which it
commanded. But his spirited counsel was rejected, and the evacuation
resolved on;[50] which the panic of the foreign troops, especially the
Neapolitans, would have rendered still more horrible than it proved, but
for the steadiness of the British seamen.

The safety of the unfortunate citizens, who had invoked their
protection, was not neglected even amid the confusion of the retreat.
The numerous merchant vessels and other craft, offered means of
transportation to all, who, having to fear the resentment of the
Republicans, might be desirous of quitting Toulon. Such was the dread of
the victors' cruelty, that upwards of fourteen thousand persons accepted
this melancholy refuge.[51] Meantime there was other work to do.

It had been resolved, that the arsenal and naval stores, with such of
the French ships as were not ready for sea, should be destroyed; and
they were set on fire accordingly. This task was in a great measure
intrusted to the dauntless intrepidity of Sir Sydney Smith, who carried
it through with a degree of order, which, everything considered, was
almost marvellous. The assistance of the Spaniards was offered and
accepted; and they undertook the duty of scuttling and sinking two
vessels used as powder magazines, and destroying some part of the
disabled shipping. The rising conflagration growing redder and redder,
seemed at length a great volcano, amid which were long distinctly seen
the masts and yards of the burning vessels, and which rendered obscurely
visible the advancing bodies of Republican troops, who attempted on
different points to push their way into the place. The Jacobins began to
rise in the town upon the flying Royalists;--horrid screams and yells of
vengeance, and revolutionary chorusses, were heard to mingle with the
cries and plaintive entreaties of the remaining fugitives, who had not
yet found means of embarkation. The guns from Malbosquet, now possessed
by the French, and turned on the bulwarks of the town, increased the
uproar. At once a shock, like that of an earthquake, occasioned by the
explosion of many hundred barrels of gunpowder, silenced all noise save
its own, and threw high into the midnight heaven a thousand blazing
fragments, which descended, threatening ruin wherever they fell. A
second explosion took place, as the other magazine blew up, with the
same dreadful effects.

This tremendous addition to the terrors of the scene, so dreadful in
itself, was owing to the Spaniards setting fire to those vessels used as
magazines, instead of sinking them, according to the plan which had been
agreed upon. Either from ill-will, carelessness, or timidity, they were
equally awkward in their attempts to destroy the dismantled ships
intrusted to their charge, which fell into the hands of the French but
little damaged. The British fleet, with the flotilla crowded with
fugitives which it escorted, left Toulon without loss, notwithstanding
an ill-directed fire maintained on them from the batteries which the
French had taken.

It was upon this night of terror, conflagration, tears, and blood, that
the star of Napoleon first ascended the horizon; and though it gleamed
over many a scene of horror ere it set, it may be doubtful whether its
light was ever blended with those of one more dreadful.

The capture of Toulon crushed all the hopes of resistance to the
Jacobins, which had been cherished in the south of France. There was a
strong distrust excited against England, who was judged only desirous to
avail herself of the insurrection of these unhappy citizens to cripple
and destroy the naval power of France, without the wish of effectually
assisting the Royalists. This was an unjust belief, but it cannot be
denied that there were specious grounds for the accusation. The
undertaking the protection of a city in such a situation as that of
Toulon, if the measure was embraced at all, should have been supported
by efforts worthy of the country whose assistance was implored and
granted. Such efforts were not made, and the assistance actually
afforded was not directed by talent, and was squandered by disunion. The
troops showed gallantry; but the leaders, excepting the naval officers,
evinced little military skill, or united purpose of defence. One
gentleman, then in private life, chancing to be in Toulon at the time,
distinguished himself as a volunteer,[52] and has since achieved a proud
career in the British army. Had he, or such as he, been at the head of
the garrison, the walls of Toulon might have seen a battle like that of
Barossa, and a very different result of the siege might probably have

So many of the citizens of Toulon concerned in the late resistance had
escaped, by the means provided by the English, that Republican vengeance
could not collect its victims in the usual numbers.[53] Many were shot,
however, and it has been said that Buonaparte commanded the artillery,
by which, as at Lyons, they were exterminated; and also that he wrote a
letter to Fréron and the younger Robespierre, congratulating them and
himself on the execution of these aristocrats, and signed Brutus
Buonaparte, Sans-Culotte. If he actually commanded at this execution, he
had the poor apology, that he must do so or himself perish; but, had the
fact and the letter been genuine, there has been enough of time since
his downfall to prove the truth of the accusation, and certainly enough
of writers disposed to give these proofs publicity. He himself
positively denied the charge; and alleged that the victims were shot by
a detachment of what was called the Revolutionary Army, and not by
troops of the line.[54] This we think highly probable. Buonaparte has
besides affirmed, that far from desiring to sharpen the vengeance of the
Jacobins, or act as their agent, he hazarded the displeasure of those
whose frown was death, by interposing his protection to save the
unfortunate family of Chabrillan, emigrants and aristocrats, who, being
thrown by a storm on the coast of France, shortly after the siege of
Toulon, became liable to punishment by the guillotine, but whom he saved
by procuring them the means of escape by sea.[55]

In the meanwhile, the young general of artillery was rapidly rising in
reputation. The praises which were suppressed by the representatives of
the people, were willingly conferred and promulgated by the frank old
veteran, Dugommier. Buonaparte's name was placed on the list of those
whom he recommended for promotion, with the pointed addition, that if
neglected, he would be sure to force his own way.[56] He was accordingly
confirmed in his provisional situation of chief of battalion, and
appointed [March] to hold that rank in the army of Italy. Before joining
that army, the genius of Napoleon was employed by the Convention in
surveying and fortifying the sea-coast of the Mediterranean; a very
troublesome task, as it involved many disputes with the local
authorities of small towns and villages, and even hamlets, all of whom
wished to have batteries erected for their own special protection,
without regard to the general safety. It involved him, moreover, as we
shall presently see, in some risk with the Convention at home.

The chief of battalion discharged his task scientifically. He divided
the necessary fortifications into three classes, distinguishing those
designed to protect harbours and roadsteads, from such as were intended
to defend anchorages of less consequence, and both from the third class,
which were to be placed on proper situations, to prevent insults and
partial descents on the coast by an enemy superior at sea. Napoleon
dictated to General Gourgaud[57] hints on this subject, which must be of
consequence to the sea-coasts which need such military defences.[58]

Having made his report to the Convention, Buonaparte proceeded to join
the headquarters of the French army, then lying at Nice, straitened
considerably and hemmed in by the Sardinians and Austrians, who, after
some vain attempts of General Brunet[59] to dislodge them, had remained
masters of the Col de Tende, and lower passes of the Alps, together with
the road leading from Turin to Nice by Saorgio.

[Sidenote: SAORGIO.]

Buonaparte had influence enough to recommend with success to the
general, Dumerbion,[60] and the representatives of the people, Ricord
and Robespierre, a plan for driving the enemy out of this position,
forcing them to retreat beyond the higher Alps, and taking Saorgio; all
which measures succeeded as he had predicted.[61] Saorgio surrendered,
[April 29,] with much stores and baggage, and the French army obtained
possession of the chain of the higher Alps, which, being tenable by
defending few and difficult passes, placed a great part of the army of
Italy, (as it was already termed, though only upon the frontier,) at
disposal for actual service.[62]

While directing the means of attaining these successes, Buonaparte, at
the same time, acquired a complete acquaintance with that Alpine
country, in which he was shortly to obtain victories in his own name,
not in that of others, who obtained reputation by acting on his
suggestions. But, while he was thus employed, he was involved in an
accusation before the Convention, which, had his reputation been less
for approved patriotism, might have cost him dear.

In his plans for the defence of the Mediterranean, Napoleon had proposed
repairing an old state prison at Marseilles, called fort Saint Nicholas,
that it might serve as a powder Magazine. This plan his successor on the
station proceeded to execute, and by doing so, gave umbrage to the
patriots, who charged the commandant of artillery then at Marseilles,
and superintending the work, with an intention to rebuild this fort, to
serve as a Bastile for controlling the good citizens. The officer being
summoned to the bar of the Convention, proved that the plan was not his
own, but drawn out by Buonaparte. The representatives of the army in
Italy, however, not being able to dispense with his services, wrote to
the Convention in his behalf, and gave such an account of the origin and
purpose of the undertaking, as divested it of all shade of suspicion
even in the suspicious eye of the Committee of Public Safety.[63]

In the remainder of the year 1794, there was little service of
consequence in the army of Italy, and the 9th and 10th Thermidor (27th
and 28th July) of that year, brought the downfall of Robespierre, and
threatened unfavourable consequences to Buonaparte, who had been in
close communication with the tyrant's brother, and was understood to
have participated in the tone of exaggerated patriotism affected by his
party. He endeavoured to shelter himself under his ignorance of the real
tendency of the proceedings of those who had fallen,--an apology which
resolves itself into the ordinary excuse, that he found his late friends
had not been the persons he took them for. According to this line of
defence, he made all haste to disclaim accession to the political
schemes of which they were accused. "I am somewhat affected," he wrote
to a correspondent,[64] "at the fate of the younger Robespierre; but,
had he been my brother, I would have poniarded him with my own hand, had
I been aware that he was forming schemes of tyranny."

Buonaparte's disclamations do not seem at first to have been favourably
received. His situation was now precarious; and when those members were
restored to the Convention, who had been expelled and proscribed by the
Jacobins, it became still more so. The reaction of the moderate party,
accompanied by horrible recollections of the past, and fears for the
future, began now to be more strongly felt, as their numbers in the
Convention acquired strength. Those officers who had attached themselves
to the Jacobin party, were the objects of their animosity; and, besides,
they were desirous to purify the armies, as far as possible, of those
whom they considered as their own enemies, and those of good order; the
rather, that the Jacobinical principles still continued to be more
favoured in the armies than in the interior. To the causes of this we
have before alluded; but it may not be unnecessary to repeat, that the
soldiers had experienced all the advantages of the fierce energies of a
government which sent them out to conquest, and offered them the means
of achieving it; and they had not been witnesses to the atrocities of
their tyranny in the interior.

Before the downfall of Robespierre took place, Buonaparte had received
regular but secret instructions to examine the fortifications of Genoa.
M. Ricord, by whom these instructions had been signed, having now been
superseded, and the younger Robespierre guillotined, Albitte, Salicetti,
and Laporte, the new superintendents of the army of Italy, were pleased
to suspect that Buonaparte had engaged in some plot of betraying Genoa
to the enemy: he was arrested accordingly early in August; but his
papers effectually established his innocence, and after the lapse of a
fortnight he was released.[65]

In March 1795, he was sent to Toulon to take the command of the
artillery in an expedition destined against Rome; but this scheme was
not persevered in. During his visit to Toulon, however, he had the
opportunity of saving from the violence of the populace, a party of
unfortunate emigrants, including the noble family of Chabrillant, who
had been landed from a Spanish prize. His influence with some cannoneers
who had served under him during the siege, enabled him to rescue these
individuals; and he unhesitatingly did so, though at considerable risk
to himself. On his rejoining the troops in the Maritime Alps, near the
end of March, he found the army about to be altered in some parts of its
organization, and placed under the command of General Kellermann. A
recent arrangement had recalled to the service many officers of high
rank who had of late been unemployed; and he, as the youngest on the
list of generals, could not only not be allowed to retain his command of
the artillery in the army of Kellermann, but was removed to the
infantry. He repaired therefore to Paris, with the view of soliciting
professional employment elsewhere, and especially of remonstrating
against his permanent removal from the branch of the service in which he
had spent so many years. On his way to the capital he visited his mother
at Marseilles, and found his brother Joseph respectably married in that

On reaching Paris in May, he found his pretensions thwarted by Aubry,
the President of the Military Committee, who was disposed to treat with
little attention his statement respecting the siege of Toulon, and his
two years of successful service in the army of Italy. When, in the heat
of discussion, Aubry objected his youth, Buonaparte replied, that
presence in the field of battle ought to anticipate the claim of years.
The president, who had not been much in action, considered his reply as
a personal insult; and Napoleon, disdaining farther answer, tendered his
resignation.[66] It was not, however, accepted; and he still remained in
the rank of expectants, but among those whose hopes were entirely
dependent upon their merits.[67]

It may be observed that, at a subsequent period, Aubry, being among
those belonging to Pichegru's party who were banished to Cayenne, was
excepted from the decree which permitted the return of those unfortunate
exiles, and died at Demerara.

Meantime, his situation becoming daily more unpleasant, Buonaparte
solicited Barras and Fréron, who, as Thermidoriens, had preserved their
credit, for occupation in almost any line of his profession, and even
negotiated for permission to go into the Turkish service, to train the
Mussulmans to the use of artillery. A fanciful imagination may pursue
him to the rank of pacha, or higher; for, go where he would, he could
not have remained in mediocrity. His own ideas had a similar tendency.
"How strange," he said, "it would be, if a little Corsican officer of
artillery were to become King of Jerusalem!" He was offered a command in
La Vendée, which he declined to accept, and was finally named to command
a brigade of artillery in Holland. But it was in a land where there
still existed so many separate and conflicting factions, as in France,
that he was doomed to be raised, amid the struggles of his contending
countrymen, and upon their shoulders and over their heads, to the very
highest eminence to which fortune can exalt an individual. The times
required such talents as his, and the opportunity for exercising them
soon arose.

[Sidenote: RETROSPECT.]

The French nation were in general tired of the National Convention,
which successive proscriptions had drained of all the talent, eloquence,
and energy it had once possessed; and that Assembly had become hateful
and contemptible to all men, by suffering itself to be the passive tool
of the Terrorists for two years, when, if they had shown proper
firmness, the revolution of the 9th Thermidor might as well have been
achieved at the beginning of that frightful anarchy, as after that long
period of unheard-of suffering. The Convention was not greatly improved
in point of talent, even by the return of their banished brethren; and,
in a word, they had lost the confidence of the public entirely. They
therefore prepared to gratify the general wish by dissolving themselves.

But before they resigned their ostensible authority, it was necessary to
prepare some mode of carrying on the government in future.

The Jacobin constitution of 1793 still existed on paper; but although
there was an unrepealed law, menacing with death any one who should
propose to alter that form of government, no one appeared disposed to
consider it as actually in exercise; and, notwithstanding the solemnity
with which it had been received and ratified by the sanction of the
national voice, it was actually passed over and abrogated as a matter of
course, by a tacit but unanimous consent. Neither was there any
disposition to adopt the Girondist constitution of 1791, or to revert to
the democratic monarchy of 1792, the only one of these models which
could be said to have had even the dubious endurance of a few months. As
at the general change of the world, all former things were to be done
away--all was to be made anew.

Each of these forms of government had been solemnized by the national
oaths and processions customary on such occasions; but the opinion was
now universally entertained, that not one of them was founded on just
principles, or contained the power of defending itself against
aggression, and protecting the lives and rights of the subject. On the
other hand, every one not deeply interested in the late anarchy, and
implicated in the horrid course of bloodshed and tyranny which was its
very essence, was frightened at the idea of reviving a government which
was a professed continuation of the despotism ever attendant upon a
revolution, and which, in all civilized countries, ought to terminate
with the extraordinary circumstances by which revolution has been
rendered necessary. To have continued the revolutionary government,
indeed, longer than this, would have been to have imitated the conduct
of an ignorant empiric, who should persist in subjecting a convalescent
patient to the same course of exhausting and dangerous medicines, which
a regular physician would discontinue as soon as the disease had been
brought to a favourable crisis.

It seems to have been in general felt and admitted, that the blending of
the executive and legislative power together, as both had been exercised
by the existing Convention, opened the road to the most afflicting
tyranny; and that to constitute a stable government, the power of
executing the laws, and administering the ministerial functions, must be
vested in some separate individuals, or number of individuals, who
should, indeed, be responsible to the national legislature for the
exercise of this power, but neither subject to their direct control, nor
enjoying it as emanating immediately from their body. With these
reflections arose others, on the utility of dividing the legislative
body itself into two assemblies, one of which might form a check on the
other, tending, by some exercise of an intermediate authority, to
qualify the rash rapidity of a single chamber, and obstruct the
progress of any individual, who might, like Robespierre, obtain a
dictatorship in such a body, and become, in doing so, an arbitrary
tyrant over the whole authorities of the state. Thus, loth and late, the
French began to cast an eye on the British constitution, and the system
of checks and balances upon which it is founded, as the best means of
uniting the protection of liberty with the preservation of order.
Thinking men had come gradually to be aware, that in hopes of getting
something better than a system which had been sanctioned by the
experience of ages, they had only produced a set of models, which were
successively wondered at, applauded, neglected, and broken to pieces,
instead of a simple machine, capable, in mechanical phrase, of working

Had such a feeling prevailed during the commencement of the Revolution,
as was advocated by Mounier and others,[68] France and Europe might have
been spared the bloodshed and distress which afflicted them during a
period of more than twenty years of war, with all the various evils
which accompanied that great convulsion. France had then a king; nobles,
out of whom a senate might have been selected; and abundance of able men
to have formed a lower house, or house of commons. But the golden
opportunity was passed over; and when the architects might, perhaps,
have been disposed to execute the new fabric which they meditated, on
the plan of a limited monarchy, the materials for the structure were no
longer to be found.

The legitimate King of France no doubt existed, but he was an exile in a
foreign country; and the race of gentry, from whom a house of peers, or
hereditary senate, might have been chiefly selected, were to be found
only in foreign service, too much exasperated by their sufferings to
admit a rational hope that they would ever make any compromise with
those who had forced them from their native land, and confiscated their
family property. Saving for these circumstances, and the combinations
which arose out of them, it seems very likely, that at the period at
which we have now arrived, the tide, which began to set strongly against
the Jacobins, might have been adroitly turned in favour of the Bourbons.
But, though there was a general feeling of melancholy regret, which
naturally arose from comparing the peaceful days of the monarchy with
those of the Reign of Terror,--the rule of Louis the XVI. with that of
Robespierre,--the memory of former quiet and security with the more
recent recollections of blood and plunder,--still it seems to have
existed rather in the state of a predisposition to form a royal party,
than as the principle of one already existing. Fuel was lying ready to
catch the flame of loyalty, but the match had not yet been applied; and
to counteract this general tendency, there existed the most formidable

In the first place, we have shown already the circumstances by which
the French armies were strongly attached to the name of the Republic, in
whose cause all their wars had been waged, and all their glory won; by
whose expeditious and energetic administration the military profession
was benefited, while they neither saw nor felt the misery entailed on
the nation at large. But the French soldier had not only fought in
favour of democracy, but actively and directly against royalty. As _Vive
la République_ was his war-cry, he was in La Vendée, on the Rhine, and
elsewhere, met, encountered, and sometimes defeated and driven back, by
those who used the opposite signal-word, _Vive le Roi_. The Royalists
were, indeed, the most formidable opponents of the military part of the
French nation; and such was the animosity of the latter at this period
to the idea of returning to the ancient system, that if a general could
have been found capable of playing the part of Monk, he would probably
have experienced the fate of La Fayette and Dumouriez.

A second and almost insuperable objection to the restoration of the
Bourbons, occurred in the extensive change of property that had taken
place. If the exiled family had been recalled, they could not, at this
very recent period, but have made stipulations for their devoted
followers, and insisted that the estates forfeited in their cause,
should have been compensated or restored; and such a resumption would
have inferred ruin to all the purchasers of national demesnes, and, in
consequence, a general shock to the security of property through the

The same argument applied to the Church lands. The Most Christian King
could not resume his throne, without restoring the ecclesiastical
establishment in part, if not in whole. It was impossible to calculate
the mass of persons of property and wealth, with their various
connexions, who, as possessors of national demesnes, that is, of the
property of the Church, or of the emigrants, were bound by their own
interest to oppose the restoration of the Bourbon family. The
revolutionary government had followed the coarse, but striking and
deeply politic, admonition of the Scottish Reformer--"Pull down the
nests," said Knox, when he urged the multitude to destroy churches and
abbeys, "and the rooks will fly off." The French government, by
dilapidating and disposing of the property of the emigrants and clergy,
had established an almost insurmountable barrier against the return of
the original owners. The cavaliers in the great Civil War of England had
been indeed fined, sequestrated, impoverished; but their estates were
still, generally speaking, in their possession; and they retained,
though under oppression and poverty, the influence of a national
aristocracy, diminished, but not annihilated. In France, that influence
of resident proprietors had all been transferred to other hands,
tenacious in holding what property they had acquired, and determined to
make good the defence of it against those who claimed a prior right.

Lastly, the fears and conscious recollections of those who held the
chief power in France for the time, induced them to view their own
safety as deeply compromised by any proposition of restoring the exiled
royal family. This present sitting and ruling Convention had put to
death Louis XVI.,--with what hope of safety could they install his
brother on the throne? They had formally, and in full conclave,
renounced belief in the existence of a Deity--with what consistence
could they be accessory to restore a national church? Some remained
Republicans from their heart and upon conviction; and a great many more
of the deputies could not abjure democracy, without confessing at the
same time, that all the violent measures which they had carried through
for the support of that system, were so many great and treasonable

These fears of a retributive reaction were very generally felt in the
Convention. The Thermidoriens, in particular, who had killed
Robespierre, and now reigned in his stead, had more substantial grounds
of apprehension from any counter-revolutionary movement, than even the
body of the representatives at large, many of whom had been merely
passive in scenes where Barras and Tallien had been active agents. The
timid party of The Plain might be overawed by the returning prince; and
the members of the Girondists, who could indeed scarce be said to exist
as a party, might be safely despised. But the Thermidoriens themselves
stood in a different predicament. They were of importance enough to
attract both detestation and jealousy; they held power, which must be an
object of distrust to the restored monarch; and they stood on precarious
ground, betwixt the hatred of the moderate party, who remembered them as
colleagues of Robespierre and Danton, and that of the Jacobins, who saw
in Tallien and Barras deserters of that party, and the destroyers of the
power of the Sans-Culottes. They had, therefore, just reason to fear,
that, stripped of the power which they at present possessed, they might
become the unpitied and unaided scapegoats, to expiate all the offences
of the Revolution.

Thus each favourable sentiment towards the cause of the Bourbons was
opposed; I. By their unpopularity with the armies; II. By the
apprehensions of the confusion and distress which must arise from a
general change of property; and III. By the conscious fears of those
influential persons, who conceived their own safety concerned in
sustaining the republican model.

Still, the idea of monarchy was so generally received as the simplest
and best mode of once more re-establishing good order and a fixed
government, that some statesmen proposed to resume the form, but change
the dynasty. With this view, divers persons were suggested by those, who
supposed that by passing over the legitimate heir to the crown, the
dangers annexed to his rights and claims might be avoided, and the
apprehended measures of resumption and reaction might be guarded
against. The son of the Duke of Orleans was named, but the infamy of his
father clung to him. In another wild hypothesis the Duke of York, or
the Duke of Brunswick, were suggested as fit to be named constitutional
Kings of France. The Abbé Siêyes is said to have expressed himself in
favour of the prince last named.[69]

But without regarding the wishes or opinions of the people without
doors, the Convention resolved to establish such a model of government
as should be most likely to infuse into a republic something of the
stability of a monarchical establishment; and thus repair at once former
errors, and preserve an appearance of consistency in the eyes of Europe.


For this purpose eleven commissioners, chiefly selected amongst the
former Girondists, were appointed [April] to draw up a new Constitution
upon a new principle, which was again to receive the universal adhesion
of the French by acclamation and oath, and to fall, in a short time,
under the same neglect which had attended every preceding model. This,
it was understood, was to be so constructed, as to unite the consistency
of a monarchical government with the name and forms of a democracy.

That the system now adopted by the French commissioners might bear a
form corresponding to the destinies of the nation, and flattering to its
vanity, it was borrowed from that of the Roman republic, an attempt to
imitate which had already introduced many of the blunders and many of
the crimes of the Revolution. The executive power was lodged in a
council of five persons, termed Directors, to whom were to be consigned
the conduct of peace and war, the execution of the laws, and the general
administration of the government. They were permitted no share of the
legislative authority.

This arrangement was adopted to comply with the jealousy of those, who,
in the individual person of a single Director, holding a situation
similar to that of the Stadtholder in Holland, or the President of the
United States, saw something too closely approaching to a monarchical
government. Indeed, it is said, Louvet warned them against establishing
such an office, by assuring them, that when they referred the choice of
the individual who was to hold it, to the nation at large, they would
see the Bourbon heir elected.[70] But the inconvenience of this
pentarchy could not be disguised; and it seemed to follow as a necessary
consequence of such a numerous executive council, either that there
would be a schism, and a minority and majority established in that
pre-eminent body of the state, where unity and vigour were chiefly
requisite, or else that some one or two of the ablest and most crafty
among the Directors would establish a supremacy over the others, and use
them less as their colleagues than their dependents. The legislators,
however, though they knew that the whole Roman empire was found
insufficient to satiate the ambition of three men, yet appeared to hope
that the concord and unanimity of their five directors might continue
unbroken, though they had but one nation to govern; and they decided

The executive power being thus provided for, the legislative body was to
consist of two councils; one of Elders, as it was called, serving as a
House of Lords; another of Youngers, which they termed, from its number,
the Council of Five Hundred. Both were elective, and the difference of
age was the only circumstance which placed a distinction betwixt the two
bodies. The members of the Council of Five Hundred were to be at least
twenty-five years old, a qualification which, after the seventh year of
the Republic, was to rise to thirty years complete. In this assembly
laws were to be first proposed; and, having received its approbation,
they were to be referred to the Council of Ancients. The requisites to
sit in the latter senate, were the age of forty years complete, and the
being a married man or a widower. Bachelors, though above that age, were
deemed unfit for legislation, perhaps from want of domestic experience.

The Council of Ancients had the power of rejecting the propositions laid
before them by the Council of Five Hundred, or, by adopting and
approving them, that of passing them into laws. These regulations
certainly gained one great point, in submitting each proposed
legislative enactment to two separate bodies, and of course, to mature
and deliberate consideration. It is true, that neither of the councils
had any especial character, or separate interest which could enable or
induce the Ancients, as a body, to suggest to the Five Hundred a
different principle of considering any proposed measure, from that which
was likely to occur to them in their own previous deliberation. No such
varied views, therefore, were to be expected, as must arise between
assemblies composed of persons who differ in rank or fortune, and
consequently view the same question in various and opposite lights.
Still, delay and reconsideration were attained, before the irrevocable
fiat was imposed upon any measure of consequence; and so far much was
gained. An orator was supposed to answer all objections to the system of
the two councils thus constituted, when he described that of the Juniors
as being the imagination, that of the Ancients as being the judgment of
the nation; the one designed to invent and suggest national measures,
the other to deliberate and decide upon them. This was, though liable to
many objections, an ingenious illustration indeed; but an illustration
is not an argument, though often passing current as such.

On the whole, the form of the Constitution[71] of the year Three, _i.
e._ 1795, showed a greater degree of practical efficacy, sense, and
consistency, than any of those previously suggested; and in the
introduction, though there was the usual proclamation of the rights of
man, his duties to the laws and to the social system were for the first
time enumerated in manly and forcible language, intimating the desire of
the framers of these institutions to put a stop to the continuation of
revolutionary violence in future.

But the constitution, now promulgated, had a blemish common to all its
predecessors; it was totally new, and unsanctioned by the experience
either of France or any other country; a mere experiment in politics,
the result of which could not be known until it had been put in
exercise, and which, for many years at least, must be necessarily less
the object of respect than of criticism. Wise legislators, even when
lapse of time, alteration of manners, or increased liberality of
sentiment, require corresponding alterations in the institutions of
their fathers, are careful, as far as possible, to preserve the ancient
form and character of those laws, into which they are endeavouring to
infuse principles and a spirit accommodated to the altered exigencies
and temper of the age. There is an enthusiasm in patriotism as well as
in religion. We value institutions, not only because they are ours, but
because they have been those of our fathers; and if a new constitution
were to be presented to us, although perhaps theoretically showing more
symmetry than that by which the nation had been long governed, it would
be as difficult to transfer to it the allegiance of the people, as it
would be to substitute the worship of a Madonna, the work of modern art,
for the devotion paid by the natives of Saragossa to their ancient
Palladium, Our Lady of the Pillar.

But the constitution of the year Three, with all its defects, would have
been willingly received by the nation in general, as affording some
security from the revolutionary storm, had it not been for a selfish and
usurping device of the Thermidoriens to mutilate and render it nugatory
at the very outset, by engrafting upon it the means of continuing the
exercise of their own arbitrary authority. It must never be forgotten,
that these conquerors of Robespierre had shared all the excesses of his
party before they became his personal enemies; and that when deprived of
their official situations and influence, which they were likely to be by
a representative body freely and fairly elected, they were certain to be
exposed to great individual danger.

Determined, therefore, to retain the power in their own hands, the
Thermidoriens suffered, with an indifference amounting almost to
contempt, the constitution to pass through, and be approved of by, the
Convention. But, under pretence that it would be highly impolitic to
deprive the nation of the services of men accustomed to public business,
they procured [Aug. 22] two decrees to be passed; the first ordaining
the electoral bodies of France to choose, as representatives to the two
councils under the new constitution, at least two-thirds of the members
presently sitting in Convention; and the second declaring, that in
default of a return of two-thirds of the present deputies, as
prescribed, the Convention themselves should fill up the vacancies out
of their own body; in other words, should name a large proportion of
themselves their own successors in legislative power.[72]

These decrees were sent down to the Primary Assemblies of the people,
and every art was used to render them acceptable.

But the nation, and particularly the city of Paris, generally revolted
at this stretch of arbitrary authority. They recollected, that all the
members who had sat in the first National Assembly, so remarkable for
talent, had been declared ineligible, on that single account, for the
second legislative body; and now, men so infinitely the inferiors of
those who were the colleagues of Mirabeau, Mounier, and other great
names, presumed not only to declare themselves eligible by re-election,
but dared to establish two-thirds of their number as indispensable
ingredients of the legislative assemblies, which, according to the words
alike and spirit of the constitution, ought to be chosen by the free
voice of the people. The electors, and particularly those of the
sections of Paris, angrily demanded to know, upon what public services
the deputies of the Convention founded their title to a privilege so
unjust and anomalous. Among the more active part of them, to whom the
measure was chiefly to be ascribed, they saw but a few reformed
Terrorists, who wished to retain the power of tyranny, though disposed
to exercise it with some degree of moderation, and the loss of whose
places might be possibly followed by that of their heads; in the others,
they only beheld a flock of timid and discountenanced Helots, willing to
purchase personal security at the sacrifice of personal honour and duty
to the public; while in the Convention as a body, who pronounced so
large a proportion of their number as indispensable to the service of
the state, judging from their conduct hitherto, they could but discover
an image composed partly of iron, partly of clay, deluged with the blood
of many thousand victims--a pageant without a will of its own, and which
had been capable of giving its countenance to the worst of actions, at
the instigation of the worst of men--a sort of Moloch, whose name had
been used by its priests to compel the most barbarous sacrifices. To sum
up the whole, these experienced men of public business, without whose
intermediation it was pretended the national affairs could not be
carried on, could only shelter themselves from the charge of unbounded
wickedness, by pleading their unlimited cowardice, and by poorly
alleging that for two years they had sat, voted, and deliberated under a
system of compulsion and terror. So much meanness rendered those who
were degraded by it unfit, not merely to rule, but to live; and yet
two-thirds of their number were, according to their own decrees, to be
intruded on the nation as an indispensable portion of its

[Sidenote: THE SECTIONS.]

Such was the language held in the assemblies of the sections of Paris,
who were the more irritated against the domineering and engrossing
spirit exhibited in these usurping enactments, because it was impossible
to forget that it was their interference, and the protection afforded by
their national guard, which had saved the Convention from massacre on
more occasions than one.

In the meanwhile, reports continued to be made from the Primary
Assemblies, of their adhesion to the constitution, in which they were
almost unanimous, and of their sentiments concerning the two decrees,
authorizing and commanding the re-election of two-thirds of the
Convention, on which there existed a strong difference of opinion. The
Convention, determined, at all rates, to carry through with a high hand
the iniquitous and arbitrary measure which they proposed, failed not to
make these reports such as they desired them to be, and announced that
the two decrees had been accepted by a majority of the Primary
Assemblies. The citizens of Paris challenged the accuracy of the
returns--alleged that the reports were falsified--demanded a scrutiny,
and openly bid defiance to the Convention. Their power of meeting
together in their sections, on account of the appeal to the people, gave
them an opportunity of feeling their own strength, and encouraging each
other by speeches and applauses. They were further emboldened and
animated by men of literary talent, whose power was restored with the
liberty of the press.[73] Finally, they declared their sittings
permanent, and that they had the right to protect the liberties of
France. The greater part of the national guards were united on this
occasion against the existing government; and nothing less was talked
of, than that they should avail themselves of their arms and numbers,
march down to the Tuileries, and dictate law to the Convention with
their muskets, as the revolutionary mob of the suburbs used to do with
their pikes.

The Convention, unpopular themselves, and embarked in an unpopular
cause, began to look anxiously around for assistance. They chiefly
relied on the aid of about five thousand regular troops, who were
assembled in and around Paris. These declared for government with the
greater readiness, that the insurrection was of a character decidedly
aristocratical, and that the French armies, as already repeatedly
noticed, were attached to the Republic. But besides, these professional
troops entertained the usual degree of contempt for the national guards,
and on this account alone were quite ready to correct the insolence of
the _pekins_,[74] or _muscadins_,[75] who usurped the dress and
character of soldiers. The Convention had also the assistance of
several hundred artillerymen, who, since the taking of the Bastile, had
been always zealous democrats. Still apprehensive of the result, they
added to this force another of a more ominous description. It was a body
of volunteers, consisting of about fifteen hundred men, whom they chose
to denominate the Sacred Band, or the Patriots of 1789. They were
gleaned out of the suburbs, and from the jails, the remnants of the
insurrectional battalions which had formed the body-guard of Hébert and
Robespierre, and had been the instruments by which they executed their
atrocities. The Convention proclaimed them men of the 10th of
August--undoubtedly, they were also men of the massacres of September.
It was conceived that the beholding such a pack of blood-hounds, ready
to be let loose, might inspire horror into the citizens of Paris, to
whom their very aspect brought so many fearful recollections. It did so,
but it also inspired hatred; and the number and zeal of the citizens,
compensating for the fury of the Terrorists, and for the superior
discipline of the regular troops to be employed against them, promised
an arduous and doubtful conflict.

Much, it was obvious, must depend on the courage and conduct of the

The sections employed, as their commander-in-chief, General Danican, an
old officer of no high reputation for military skill, but otherwise a
worthy and sincere man. The Convention at first made choice of Menou,
and directed him, supported by a strong military force, to march into
the section Le Pelletier, and disarm the national guards of that
district. This section is one of the most wealthy, and of course most
aristocratic, in Paris, being inhabited by bankers, merchants, the
wealthiest class of tradesmen, and the better orders in general. Its
inhabitants had formerly composed the battalion of national guards des
Filles Saint Thomas, the only one which, taking part in the defence of
the Tuileries, shared the fate of the Swiss Guards upon the memorable
10th of August. The section continued to entertain sentiments of the
same character, and when Menou appeared at the head of his forces,
accompanied by La Porte, a member of the Convention, he found the
citizens under arms, and exhibiting such a show of resistance, as
induced him, after a parley, to retreat without venturing an attack upon

Menou's indecision showed that he was not a man suited to the times, and
he was suspended from his command by the Convention, and placed under
arrest. The general management of affairs and the direction of the
Conventional forces, was then committed to Barras; but the utmost
anxiety prevailed among the members of the committees by whom government
was administered, to find a general of nerve and decision enough to act
under Barras, in the actual command of the military force, in a service
so delicate, and times so menacing. It was then that a few words from
Barras, addressed to his colleagues, Carnot and Tallien, decided the
fate of Europe for wellnigh twenty years, "I have the man," he said,
"whom you want, a little Corsican officer, who will not stand upon

The acquaintance of Barras and Buonaparte had been, as we have already
said, formed at the siege of Toulon, and the former had not forgotten
the inventive and decisive genius of the young officer to whom the
conquest of that city was to be ascribed. On the recommendation of
Barras, Buonaparte was sent for. He had witnessed the retreat of Menou,
and explained with much simplicity the causes of that check, and the
modes of resistance which ought to be adopted in case of the apprehended
attack. His explanations gave satisfaction. Buonaparte was placed at the
head of the Conventional forces, and took all the necessary precautions
to defend the same palace which he had seen attacked and carried by a
body of insurgents on the 10th of August. But he possessed far more
formidable means of defence than were in the power of the unfortunate
Louis. He had two hundred pieces of cannon, which his high military
skill enabled him to distribute to the utmost advantage. He had more
than five thousand regular forces, and about fifteen hundred volunteers.
He was thus enabled to defend the whole circuit of the Tuileries; to
establish posts in all the avenues by which it could be approached; to
possess himself of the bridges, so as to prevent co-operation between
the sections which lay on the opposite banks of the river; and finally,
to establish a strong reserve in the Place Louis Quinze, or, as it was
then called, Place de la Révolution. Buonaparte had only a few hours to
make all these arrangements, for he was named in place of Menou late on
the night before the conflict.

A merely civic army, having no cannon, (for the field-pieces, of which
each section possessed two, had been almost all given up to the
Convention after the disarming the suburb of Saint Antoine,) ought to
have respected so strong a position as the Tuileries, when so formidably
defended. Their policy should have been, as in the days of Henry II., to
have barricaded the streets at every point, and cooped up the
Conventional troops within the defensive position they had assumed, till
want of provisions obliged them to sally at disadvantage, or to
surrender. But a popular force is generally impatient of delay. The
retreat of Menou had given them spirit, and they apprehended, with some
show of reason, that the sections, if they did not unite their forces,
might be attacked and disarmed separately. They therefore resolved to
invest the Convention in a hostile manner, require of the members to
recall the obnoxious decrees, and allow the nation to make a free and
undictated election of its representatives.

On the thirteenth Vendemaire, corresponding to the 4th October, the
civil affray, commonly called the Day of the Sections, took place. The
national guards assembled, to the number of thirty thousand men and
upwards, but having no artillery. They advanced by different avenues, in
close columns, but everywhere found the most formidable resistance. One
large force occupied the quays on the left bank of the Seine,
threatening the palace from that side of the river. Another strong
division advanced on the Tuileries, through the Rue St. Honoré,
designing to debouche on the palace, where the Convention was sitting,
by the Rue de Echelle. They did so, without duly reflecting that they
were flanked on most points by strong posts in the lanes and crossings,
defended by artillery.

The contest began in the Rue St. Honoré. Buonaparte had established a
strong post with two guns at the cul-de-sac Dauphine, opposite to the
church of St. Roche. He permitted the imprudent Parisians to involve
their long and dense columns in the narrow street without interruption,
until they established a body of grenadiers in the front of the church,
and opposite to the position at the cul-de-sac. Each party, as usual,
throws on the other the blame of commencing the civil contest for which
both were prepared. But all agree the firing commenced with musketry. It
was instantly followed by discharges of grape-shot and cannister, which,
pointed as the guns were, upon thick columns of the national guards,
arranged on the quays and in the narrow streets, made an astounding
carnage. The national guards offered a brave resistance, and even
attempted to rush on the artillery, and carry the guns by main force.
But a measure which is desperate enough in the open field, becomes
impossible when the road to assault lies through narrow streets, which
are swept by the cannon at every discharge. The citizens were compelled
to give way. By a more judicious arrangement of their respective forces,
different results might have been hoped; but how could Danican, in any
circumstances have competed with Buonaparte? The affair, in which
several hundred men were killed and wounded, was terminated as a general
action in about an hour; and the victorious troops of the Convention,
marching into the different sections, completed the dispersion and
disarming of their opponents, an operation which lasted till late at

The Convention used this victory with the moderation which recollection
of the Reign of Terror had inspired. Only two persons suffered death for
the Day of the Sections. One of them, La Fond, had been a garde de
corps, was distinguished for his intrepidity, and repeatedly rallied the
national guard under the storm of grape shot. Several other persons
having fled, were in their absence capitally condemned, but were not
strictly looked after; and deportation was the punishment inflicted upon
others. The accused were indebted for this clemency chiefly to the
interference of those members of the Convention, who, themselves exiled
on the 31st of May, had suffered persecution and learned mercy.

The Convention showed themselves at the same time liberal to their
protectors. General Berruyer,[77] who commanded the volunteers of 1789,
and other general officers employed on the Day of the Sections, were
loaded with praises and preferment. But a separate triumph was destined
to Buonaparte, as the hero of the day. Five days after the battle,
Barras solicited the attention of the Convention to the young officer,
by whose prompt and skilful dispositions the Tuileries had been
protected on the 13th Vendemaire, and proposed that they should approve
of General Buonaparte's appointment as second in command of the army of
the interior, Barras himself still remaining commander-in-chief. The
proposal was adopted by acclamation. The Convention retained their
resentment against Menou, whom they suspected of treachery; but
Buonaparte interfering as a mediator, they were content to look over his

After this decided triumph over their opponents, the Convention
ostensibly laid down their authority, and retiring from the scene in
their present character, appeared upon it anew in that of a Primary
Assembly, in order to make choice of such of their members as, by virtue
of the decrees of two-thirds, as they were called, were to remain on the
stage, as members of the Legislative Councils of Elders and Five

After this change of names and dresses, resembling the shifts of a
strolling company of players, the two-thirds of the old Convention, with
one-third of members newly elected, took upon them the administration of
the new constitution. The two re-elected thirds formed a large
proportion of the councils, and were, in some respects, much like those
unfortunate women, who, gathered from jails and from the streets of the
metropolis, have been sometimes sent out to foreign settlements; and,
however profligate their former lives may have been, often regain
character, and become tolerable members of society, in a change of scene
and situation.

[Sidenote: THE DIRECTORY.]

The Directory consisted of Barras, Siêyes, Reubel, Latourneur de la
Manche, and Reveillière-Lepaux, to the exclusion of Tallien, who was
deeply offended. Four of these directors were reformed Jacobins, or
Thermidoriens; the fifth, Reveillière-Lepaux, was esteemed a Girondist.
Siêyes, whose taste was rather for speculating in politics than acting
in them, declined what he considered a hazardous office, and was
replaced by Carnot.

The nature of the insurrection of the Sections was not ostensibly
royalist, but several of its leaders were of that party in secret, and,
if successful, it would most certainly have assumed that complexion.
Thus, the first step of Napoleon's rise commenced by the destruction of
the hopes of the House of Bourbon, under the reviving influence of
which, twenty years afterwards, he himself was obliged to succumb. But
the long path which closed so darkly, was now opening upon him in light
and joy. Buonaparte's high services, and the rank which he had obtained,
rendered him now a young man of the first hope and expectation, mingling
on terms of consideration among the rulers of the state, instead of
being regarded as a neglected stranger, supporting himself with
difficulty, and haunting public offices and bureaux in vain, to obtain
some chance of preferment, or even employment.

From second in command, the new general soon became general-in-chief of
the army of the interior, Barras having found his duties as a director
incompatible with those of military command. He employed his genius,
equally prompt and profound, in improving the state of the military
forces; and, in order to prevent the recurrence of such insurrections as
that of the 13th Vendemaire, or Day of the Sections, and as the many
others by which it was preceded, he appointed and organized a guard for
the protection of the representative body.

As the dearth of bread, and other causes of disaffection, continued to
produce commotions in Paris, the general of the interior was sometimes
obliged to oppose them with a military force. On one occasion, it is
said, that when Buonaparte was anxiously admonishing the multitude to
disperse, a very bulky woman exhorted them to keep their ground. "Never
mind these coxcombs with the epaulets," she said; "they do not care if
we are all starved, so they themselves feed and get fat."--"Look at me,
good woman," said Buonaparte, who was then as thin as a shadow, "and
tell me which is the fatter of us two." This turned the laugh against
the Amazon, and the rabble dispersed in good-humour.[78] If not among
the most distinguished of Napoleon's victories, this is certainly worthy
of record, as achieved at the least cost.

Meantime, circumstances, which we will relate, according to his own
statement, introduced Buonaparte to an acquaintance, which was destined
to have much influence on his future fate. A fine boy of ten or twelve
years old, presented himself at the levee of the general of the
interior, with a request of a nature unusually interesting. He stated
his name to be Eugene Beauharnais, son of the ci-devant Vicomte de
Beauharnais, who, adhering to the revolutionary party, had been a
general in the Republican service upon the Rhine, and falling under the
causeless suspicion of the Committee of Public Safety, was delivered to
the Revolutionary Tribunal, and fell by its sentence just four days
before the overthrow of Robespierre. Eugene was come to request of
Buonaparte, as general of the interior, that his father's sword might be
restored to him. The prayer of the young supplicant was as interesting
as his manners were engaging, and Napoleon felt so much interest in him,
that he was induced to cultivate the acquaintance of Eugene's mother,
afterwards the Empress Josephine.[79]


This lady was a Creolian, the daughter of a planter in St. Domingo. Her
name at full length was Marie-Joseph Rose Detacher de la Pagérie. She
had suffered her share of revolutionary miseries. After her husband,
General Beauharnais, had been deprived of his command, she was arrested
as a suspected person, and detained in prison till the general
liberation, which succeeded the revolution of 9th Thermidor. While in
confinement, Madame Beauharnais had formed an intimacy with a companion
in distress, Madame Fontenai, now Madame Tallien,[80] from which she
derived great advantages after her friend's marriage. With a remarkably
graceful person, amiable manners, and an inexhaustible fund of good
humour, Madame Beauharnais was formed to be an ornament to society.
Barras, the Thermidorien hero, himself an ex-noble, was fond of society,
desirous of enjoying it on an agreeable scale, and of washing away the
dregs which Jacobinism had mingled with all the dearest interests of
life. He loved show, too, and pleasure, and might now indulge both
without the risk of falling under the suspicion of incivism, which, in
the Reign of Terror, would have been incurred by any attempt to
intermingle elegance with the enjoyments of social intercourse. At the
apartments which he occupied as one of the directory, in the Luxemburg
palace, he gave its free course to his natural taste, and assembled an
agreeable society of both sexes. Madame Tallien and her friend formed
the soul of these assemblies, and it was supposed that Barras was not
insensible to the charms of Madame Beauharnais,--a rumour which was
likely to arise, whether with or without foundation.

When Madame Beauharnais and General Buonaparte became intimate, the
latter assures us, and we see no reason to doubt him, that although the
lady was two or three years older than himself,[81] yet being still in
the full bloom of beauty, and extremely agreeable in her manners, he was
induced, solely by her personal charms, to make her an offer of his
hand, heart, and fortunes,--little supposing, of course, to what a pitch
the latter were to arise.

Although he himself is said to have been a fatalist, believing in
destiny and in the influence of his star, he knew nothing, probably, of
the prediction of a negro sorceress, who, while Marie-Joseph was but a
child, prophesied she should rise to a dignity greater than that of a
queen, yet fall from it before her death.[82] This was one of those
vague auguries, delivered at random by fools or imposters, which the
caprice of Fortune sometimes matches with a corresponding and conforming
event. But without trusting to the African sibyl's prediction,
Buonaparte may have formed his match under the auspices of ambition as
well as love. The marrying Madame Beauharnais was a mean of uniting his
fortune with those of Barras and Tallien, the first of whom governed
France as one of the directors; and the last, from talents and political
connexions, had scarcely inferior influence. He had already deserved
well of them for his conduct on the Day of the Sections, but he required
their countenance to rise still higher; and without derogating from the
bride's merits, we may suppose her influence in their society
corresponded with the views of her lover. It is, however, certain, that
he always regarded her with peculiar affection; that he relied on her
fate, which he considered as linked with and strengthening his own; and
reposed, besides, considerable confidence in Josephine's tact and
address in political business. She had at all times the art of
mitigating his temper, and turning aside the hasty determinations of his
angry moments, not by directly opposing, but by gradually parrying and
disarming them. It must be added, to her great praise, that she was
always a willing, and often a successful advocate, in the cause of

They were married 9th March 1796; and the dowery of the bride was the
chief command of the Italian armies, a scene which opened a full career
to the ambition of the youthful general. Buonaparte remained with his
wife only three days after his marriage, hastened to see his family, who
were still at Marseilles, and having enjoyed the pleasure of exhibiting
himself as a favourite of Fortune in the city which he had lately left
in a very subordinate capacity, proceeded rapidly to commence the career
to which Fate called him, by placing himself at the head of the Italian


[37] His lordship died the 7th of April, 1831.

[38] In 1797 created Baron Keith. He died in 1823.

[39] See _ante_, vol. i., p. 300.

[40] This letter appeared in the _Moniteur_, 10th December, 1793. But as
the town of Toulon was taken a few days afterwards, the Convention voted
the letter a fabrication.--S.--"This was unfair; for it was genuine, and
gave a just idea of the opinion that prevailed when it was written,
respecting the issue of the siege, and of the difficulties that
prevailed in Provence."--NAPOLEON, _Memoirs_, vol. i., p. 22.

[41] Las Cases, vol. i., p. 140.

[42] It was to Gasparin that Napoleon was indebted for the triumph of
his plan over the objections of the committees of the Convention. He
preserved a grateful recollection of this circumstance, as appears by
his will. It was Gasparin, he used to say, who had first opened his
career.--LAS CASES, vol. i., p. 144.

[43] Las Cases, vol. i., p. 147.

[44] Las Cases, vol. i., p. 154.

[45] Napoleon says six thousand.--GOURGAUD, tom. i., p. 17.

[46] Gourgaud, tom. i., p. 24.

[47] Jomini, tom. iv., p. 223; Toulongeon, tom. iv., p. 88; Napoleon's
Memoirs, vol. i., p. 25; Rivington's Annual Register, 1793, p. 415.

[48] Moniteur, 28th December.

[49] "Amongst those who chiefly distinguished themselves are the
citizens Buonaparte, commandant of the artillery, Arena, and
Gervoni."--DUGOMMIER _to the Minister of War_.

[50] Rivington's Annual Register, 1793, p. 415.

[51] James's Naval History, vol. i., p. 115; Thiers, tom. vi., p.
59.--"The total number borne away amounted to 14,877."--_Mémoires de
Joubert_, p. 75.

[52] Mr. Graham of Balgowan, now Lord Lynedoch. He marched out on one of
the sorties, and when the affair became hot, seized the musket and
cartouch-box of a fallen soldier, and afforded such an example to the
troops, as contributed greatly to their gaining the object desired.--S.

[53] Jomini, tom. iv., p. 226; Lacretelle, tom. xi., p. 189.

[54] Montholon, tom. iii., p. 13; Jomini, tom. iv., p. 226; Las Cases,
vol. i., p. 153.

[55] Las Cases, vol. i., p. 152.

[56] "Dugommier wrote to the Committee of Public Safety, soliciting the
rank of brigadier-general for him, and concluded with these words,
'Reward this young man, and promote him, for should he be ungratefully
treated, he will promote himself.'"--NAPOLEON, _Montholon_, tom. iii.,
p. 15.

Dugommier was killed on the following November, by the bursting of a
field-piece. Napoleon bequeathed to his descendant 100,000 francs, "as a
testimonial of gratitude for the esteem, affection, and friendship of
that brave and intrepid general."

[57] Gourgaud, tom. i., p. 30.

[58] An Englishman will probably remember the sublime passage in "The
Mariners of England:"--

    "Britannia needs no bulwark,
      No towers along the steep;
    Her march is on the mountain-wave,
      Her home is on the deep."

[59] "Brunet being unjustly accused of favouring the insurrection at
Marseilles, was delivered up to the Revolutionary Tribunal at Paris, and
perished on the scaffold."--NAPOLEON, _Montholon_, tom. iii., p. 21.

[60] "An old and brave officer. His military knowledge was considerable,
but he was confined to his bed by the gout half his time."--NAPOLEON,
_Gourgaud_, tom. i., p. 42.

"Happily, he allowed himself to be directed entirely by the young
Buonaparte."--THIERS, tom. vi., p. 288.

[61] Gourgaud, tom. i., p. 42.

[62] Jomini, tom. v., p. 204; Thiers, tom. vi., p. 283; Montholon, tom.
iii., p. 30; Botta, tom. i., p. 190. General Dumerbion, in his despatch
to the government, describing his successes, says, "It is to the talent
of General Buonaparte that I am indebted for the skilful plans which
have assured our victory."

[63] Gourgaud, tom. i., p. 48.

[64] General Tilly. See _Nouvelle Biog. de Bruxelles_, 1822.

[65] "In the despatch of Salicetti and Albitte to the Government, dated
24th August, they declare, that there existed no foundation for the
charges made against him."--JOMINI, tom. vi., p. 114; _Bourrienne et ses
Erreurs_, tom. i., p. 27.

[66] Montholon, tom. iii., p. 50; Las Cases, vol. i., p. 155; Louis
Buonaparte, p. 14.

[67] Buonaparte is represented by some writers as having at this period
found his situation extremely embarrassing, even as regarded pecuniary
means, in the capital of which he was at no distant period to be the
ruler. Among others who are said to have assisted him was the celebrated
actor Talma; and such may have been the case; but the story of Talma's
having been acquainted with Napoleon at the Academy of Brienne, and at
that early period predicting the greatness of "_le petit Buonaparte_,"
has been expressly contradicted by Louis, the ex-King of Holland, who
was at this epoch in Paris along with his brother.

[68] See _ante_, vol. i., p. 164.

[69] The Memoirs published under the name of Fouché make this assertion.
But although that work shows great intimacy with the secret history of
the times, it is not to be implicitly relied upon.--S.

[70] "Peut-être un jour, on vous nommerait un Bourbon."--THIERS, tom.
viii., p. 10.

[71] "Its authors were Lesage, Daunou, Boissy d'Anglas,
Creuzée-Latouche, Berlier, Louvet, Lareveillèire-Lepaux, Languinais,
Durand-Maillanne, Baudin des Ardennes, and Thibaudeau."--THIERS, tom.
viii., p. 9.

[72] Thiers, tom. viii., p. 13.

[73] "La Harpe, Lacretelle, jun., Suard, Morellet, Vaublanc, Pastoret,
Dupont de Nemours, Quatremère de Quincy, Delalot, Marchenna, and General
Miranda, all either published pamphlets or made speeches in the
sections."--THIERS, tom. viii., p. 15.

[74] _Pekins_, a word of contempt, by which the soldiers distinguished
those who did not belong to their profession.--S.

[75] _Muscadins_, fops--a phrase applied to the better class of

[76] "For several months, Napoleon, not being actively employed,
laboured in the military committee, and was well acquainted with Carnot
and Tallien, whom he saw daily. How, then, could Barras make them the
proposal attributed to him?"--LOUIS BUONAPARTE, p. 17.

[77] In 1796, the Directory appointed Berruyer commander of the Hôpital
des Invalides, which situation he held till his death, in 1804.

[78] Las Cases, tom. i., p. 161.

[79] Montholon, tom. iii., p. 82.

[80] See vol. i., p. 355.

[81] Buonaparte was then in his twenty-sixth year. Josephine gave
herself in the marriage contract for twenty-eight.--S.

[82] A lady of high rank, who happened to live for some time in the same
convent at Paris, where Josephine was also a pensioner or boarder, heard
her mention the prophecy, and told it herself to the author, just about
the time of the Italian expedition, when Buonaparte was beginning to
attract notice. Another clause is usually added to the prediction--that
the party whom it concerned should die in an hospital, which was
afterwards explained as referring to Malmaison. This the author did not
hear from the same authority. The lady mentioned used to speak in the
highest terms of the simple manners and great kindness of Madame

[83] "It was I who proposed Buonaparte for the command of the army of
Italy, not Barras."--CARNOT, _Réponse à Bailleul_.

"Napoleon owed the appointment to the command of the army of Italy to
his signal services under Dumerbion."--JOMINI, tom. viii., p. 49.


    _The Alps--Feelings and Views of Buonaparte on being appointed
    to the Command of the Army of Italy--General Account of his new
    Principles of Warfare--Mountainous Countries peculiarly
    favourable to them--Retrospect of Military Proceedings since
    October 1795--Hostility of the French Government to the
    Pope--Massacre of the French Envoy Basseville, at Rome--Austrian
    Army under Beaulieu--Napoleon's Plan for entering Italy--Battle
    of Montenotte, and Buonaparte's first Victory--Again defeats the
    Austrians at Millesimo--and again under Colli--Takes possession
    of Cherasco--King of Sardinia requests an Armistice, which leads
    to a Peace, concluded on very severe Terms--Close of the
    Piedmontese Campaign--Napoleon's Character at this period._

Napoleon has himself observed, that no country in the world is more
distinctly marked out by its natural boundaries than Italy.[84] The Alps
seem a barrier erected by Nature herself, on which she has inscribed in
gigantic characters, "Here let ambition be staid." Yet this tremendous
circumvallation of mountains, as it could not prevent the ancient Romans
from breaking out to desolate the world, so it has been in like manner
found, ever since the days of Hannibal, unequal to protect Italy herself
from invasion. The French nation, in the times of which we treat, spoke
indeed of the Alps as a natural boundary, so far as to authorise them to
claim all which lay on the western side of these mountains, as naturally
pertaining to their dominions; but they never deigned to respect them as
such, when the question respected their invading, on their own part, the
territories of other states, which lay on or beyond the formidable
frontier. They assumed the law of natural limits as an unchallengeable
rule when it made in favour of France, but never allowed it to be quoted
against her interest.


During the Revolutionary War, the general fortune of battle had varied
from time to time in the neighbourhood of these mighty boundaries. The
King of Sardinia[85] possessed almost all the fortresses which command
the passes on these mountains, and had therefore been said to wear the
keys of the Alps at his girdle. He had indeed lost his Dukedom of Savoy,
and the County of Nice, in the late campaigns; but he still maintained a
very considerable army, and was supported by his powerful ally the
Emperor of Austria, always vigilant regarding that rich and beautiful
portion of his dominions which lies in the north of Italy. The frontiers
of Piedmont were therefore covered by a strong Austro-Sardinian army,
opposed to the French, of which Napoleon had been just named
commander-in-chief. A strong Neapolitan force[86] was also to be added,
so that in general numbers their opponents were much superior to the
French; but a great part of this force was cooped up in garrisons which
could not be abandoned.

It may be imagined with what delight the general, scarce aged
twenty-six, advanced to an independent field of glory and conquest,
confident in his own powers, and in the perfect knowledge of the
country, which he had acquired when by his scientific plans of the
campaign, he had enabled General Dumerbion to drive the Austrians back,
and obtain possession of the Col di Tende, Saorgio, and the gorges of
the higher Alps.[87] Buonaparte's achievements had hitherto been under
the auspices of others. He made the dispositions before Toulon, but it
was Dugommier who had the credit of taking the place. Dumerbion, as we
have just said, obtained the merit of the advantages in Piedmont. Even
in the civil turmoil of the 13th Vendemaire, his actual services had
been overshadowed by the official dignity of Barras as commander-in-chief.
But if he reaped honour in Italy, the success would be exclusively his
own; and that proud heart must have throbbed to meet danger upon such
terms; that keen spirit have toiled to discover the means of success.

For victory he relied chiefly upon a system of tactics hitherto
unpractised in war, or at least upon any considerable or uniform scale.
It may not be unnecessary to pause, to take a general view of the
principles which he now called into action.

Nations in the savage state, being constantly engaged in war, always
form for themselves some peculiar mode of fighting, suited to the
country they inhabit, and to the mode in which they are armed. The
North-American Indian becomes formidable as a rifleman or sharpshooter,
lays ambuscades in his pathless forests, and practises all the arts of
irregular war. The Arab, or Scythian, manœuvres his clouds of
cavalry, so as to envelope and destroy his enemy in his deserts by
sudden onsets, rapid retreats, and unexpected rallies; desolating the
country around, cutting off his antagonist's supplies, and practising,
in short, the species of war proper to a people superior in light

The first stage of civilisation is less favourable to success in war. As
a nation advances in the peaceful arts, and the character of the soldier
begins to be less familiarly united with that of the citizen, this
system of natural tactics falls out of practice; and when foreign
invasion, or civil broils, call the inhabitants to arms, they have no
idea save that of finding out the enemy, rushing upon him, and
committing the event to superior strength, bravery, or numbers. An
example may be seen in the great Civil War of England, where men fought
on both sides, in almost every county of the kingdom, without any
combination, or exact idea of uniting in mutual support, or
manœuvring so as to form their insulated bands into an army of
preponderating force. At least, what was attempted for that purpose must
have been on the rudest plan possible, where, even in actual fight, that
part of an army which obtained any advantage, pursued it as far as they
could, instead of using their success for the support of their
companions; so that the main body was often defeated when a victorious
wing was in pursuit of those whom their first onset had broken.

But--as war becomes a profession, and a subject of deep study--it is
gradually discovered, that the principles of tactics depend upon
mathematical and arithmetical science; and that the commander will be
victorious who can assemble the greatest number of forces upon the same
point at the same moment, notwithstanding an inferiority of numbers to
the enemy when the general force is computed on both sides. No man ever
possessed in a greater degree than Buonaparte, the power of calculation
and combination necessary for directing such decisive manœuvres. It
constituted, indeed, his _secret_--as it was for some time called--and
that secret consisted in an imagination fertile in expedients which
would never have occurred to others; clearness and precision in forming
his plans; a mode of directing with certainty the separate moving
columns which were to execute them, by arranging so, that each division
should arrive on the destined position at the exact time when their
service was necessary; and above all, in the knowledge which enabled
such a master-spirit to choose the most fitting subordinate implements,
to attach them to his person, and, by explaining to them so much of his
plan as it was necessary each should execute, to secure the exertion of
their utmost ability in carrying it into effect.

Thus, not only were his manœuvres, however daring, executed with a
precision which warlike operations had not attained before his time; but
they were also performed with a celerity which gave them almost always
the effect of surprise. Napoleon was like lightning in the eyes of his
enemies; and when repeated experience had taught them to expect this
portentous rapidity of movement, it sometimes induced his opponents to
wait, in a dubious and hesitating posture, for attacks, which, with less
apprehension of their antagonist, they would have thought it more
prudent to frustrate and to anticipate.

Great sacrifices were necessary to enable the French troops to move with
that degree of celerity which Buonaparte's combinations required. He
made no allowance for impediments or unexpected obstacles; the time
which he had calculated for execution of manœuvres prescribed, was on
no account to be exceeded--every sacrifice was to be made of baggage,
stragglers, even artillery, rather than the column should arrive too
late at the point of its destination. Hence, all that had hitherto been
considered as essential not only to the health, but to the very
existence of an army, was in a great measure dispensed with in the
French service; and, for the first time, troops were seen to take the
field without tents, without camp-equipage, without magazines of
provisions, without military hospitals;--the soldiers eating as they
could, sleeping where they could, dying where they could; but still
advancing, still combating, and still victorious.

It is true that the abandonment of every object, save success in the
field, augmented frightfully all the usual horrors of war. The soldier,
with arms in his hands, and wanting bread, became a marauder in
self-defence; and, in supplying his wants by rapine, did mischief to the
inhabitants, in a degree infinitely beyond the benefit he himself
received; for it may be said of military requisition, as truly as of
despotism, that it resembles the proceedings of a savage, who cuts down
a tree to come at the fruit. Still, though purchased at a high rate,
that advantage was gained by this rapid system of tactics, which in a
slower progress, during which the soldier was regularly maintained, and
kept under the restraint of discipline, might have been rendered
doubtful. It wasted the army through disease, fatigue, and all the
consequences of want and toil; but still the victory was attained, and
that was enough to make the survivors forget their hardships, and to
draw forth new recruits to replace the fallen. Patient of labours, light
of heart and temper, and elated by success beyond all painful
recollections, the French soldiers were the very men calculated to
execute this desperate species of service under a chief, who, their
sagacity soon discovered, was sure to lead to victory all those who
could sustain the hardships by which it was to be won.


The character of the mountainous countries, among which he was, for the
first time, to exercise his system, was highly favourable to
Buonaparte's views. Presenting many lines and defensible positions, it
induced the Austrian generals to become stationary, and occupy a
considerable extent of ground, according to their old system of tactics.
But though abounding in such positions as might at first sight seem
absolutely impregnable, and were too often trusted to as such, the
mountains also exhibited to the sagacious eye of a great captain,
gorges, defiles, and difficult and unsuspected points of access, by
which he could turn the positions that appeared in front so formidable;
and, by threatening them on the flank and on the rear, compel the enemy
to a battle at disadvantage, or to a retreat with loss.

The forces which Buonaparte had under his command were between fifty and
sixty thousand good troops, having, many of them, been brought from the
Spanish campaign, in consequence of the peace with that country; but
very indifferently provided with clothing, and suffering from the
hardships they had endured in those mountainous, barren, and cold
regions.[88] The cavalry, in particular, were in very poor order; but
the nature of their new field of action not admitting of their being
much employed, rendered this of less consequence. The misery of the
French army, until these Alpine campaigns were victoriously closed by
the armistice of Cherasco, could, according to Buonaparte's
authority,[89] scarce bear description. The officers for several years
had received no more than eight livres a-month (twenty pence sterling
a-week) in name of pay, and staff-officers had not amongst them a single
horse. Berthier preserved, as a curiosity, an order of the day, dated
Albenga, directing an advance of four Louis d'or to every general of
division, to enable them to enter on the campaign.[90] Among the
generals to whom this paltry supply was rendered acceptable by their
wants, were, or might have been, many whose names became afterwards the
praise and dread of war.[91] Augereau, Massena,[92] Serrurier, Joubert,
Lasnes, and Murat, all generals of the first consideration, served under
Buonaparte in his first Italian campaign.

The position of the French army had repeatedly varied since October
1795, after the skirmish at Cairo. At that time the extreme left of the
line, which extended from south to north, rested upon the Col
d'Argentine, and communicated with the higher Alps--the centre was on
the Col di Tende and Mount Bertrand--the left occupied the heights of
Saint Bertrand, Saint Jacques, and other ridges running in the same
direction, which terminated on the Mediterranean shore, near Finale.

The Austrians, strongly reinforced, attacked this line, and carried the
heights of Mont Saint Jacques; and Kellermann, after a vain attempt to
regain that point of his position, retreated to the line of defence more
westward, which rests on Borghetto. Kellermann, an active and good
brigade officer, but without sufficient talent to act as
commander-in-chief, was superseded, and Scherer was placed in command of
the army of Italy. He risked a battle with the Austrians near Loana, in
which the talents of Massena and Augereau were conspicuous; and by the
victory which ensued, the French regained the line of Saint Jacques and
Finale, which Kellermann had been forced to abandon; so that in a
general point of view, the relative position of the two opposed armies
was not very different from that in which they had been left by

[Sidenote: THE POPE.]

But though Scherer had been thus far victorious, he was not the person
to whom the Directory desired to intrust the daring plan of assuming the
offensive on a grand scale upon the Alpine frontier, and, by carrying
their arms into Italy, compelling the Austrians to defend themselves in
that quarter, and to diminish the gigantic efforts which that power had
hitherto continued with varied success, but unabated vigour, upon the
Rhine. The rulers of France had a farther object in this bold scheme.
They desired to intimidate, or annihilate and dethrone the Pope. He was
odious to them as head of the Church, because the attachment of the
French clergy to the Roman See, and the points of conscience which
rested upon that dependence, had occasioned the recusancy of the
priests, especially of those who were most esteemed by the people, to
take the constitutional oath. To the Pope, and his claims of supremacy,
were therefore laid the charge of the great civil war in La Vendée, and
the general disaffection of the Catholics in the south of France.

But this was not the only cause of the animosity entertained by the
Directory against the head of the Catholic Church. They had, three years
before, sustained an actual injury from the See of Rome, which was yet
unavenged. The people of Rome were extremely provoked that the French
residing there, and particularly the young artists, had displayed the
three-coloured cockade, and were proposing to exhibit the scutcheon
containing the emblems of the Republic, over the door of the French
consul. The Pope, through his minister, had intimated his desire that
this should not be attempted, as he had not acknowledged the Republic as
a legitimate government. The French, however, pursued their purpose; and
the consequence was, that a popular commotion arose, which the papal
troops did not greatly exert themselves to suppress. The carriage of the
French envoy, or chargé des affaires, named Basseville, was attacked in
the streets, and chased home; his house was broken into by the mob, and
he himself, unarmed and unresisting, was cruelly assassinated. The
French Government considered this very naturally as a gross insult, and
were the more desirous of avenging it, that by doing so they would
approach nearer to the dignified conduct of the Roman Republic, which,
in good or evil, seems always to have been their model. The affair
happened in 1793, but was not forgotten in 1796.[94]

The original idea entertained by the French Government for prosecuting
their resentment, had been by a proposed landing at Civita Vecchia with
an army of ten thousand men, marching to Rome, and exacting from the
pontiff complete atonement for the murder of Basseville. But as the
English fleet rode unopposed in the Mediterranean, it became a matter of
very doubtful success to transport such a body of troops to Civita
Vecchia by sea, not to mention the chance that, even if safely landed,
they would have found themselves in the centre of Italy, cut off from
supplies and succours, assaulted on all hands, and most probably
blockaded by the British fleet. Buonaparte, who was consulted,
recommended that the north of Italy should be first conquered, in order
that Rome might be with safety approached and chastised; and this
scheme, though in appearance scarce a less bold measure, was a much
safer one than the Directory had at first inclined to, since Buonaparte
would only approach Rome in the event of his being able to preserve his
communications with Lombardy and Tuscany, which he must conquer in the
first place.[95]

The plan of crossing the Alps and marching into Italy, suited in every
respect the ambitious and self-confident character of the general to
whom it was now intrusted. It gave him a separate and independent
authority, and the power of acting on his own judgment and
responsibility; for his countryman Salicetti, the deputy who accompanied
him as a commissioner of the Government, was not probably much disposed
to intrude his opinions. He had been Buonaparte's patron, and was still
his friend.[96] The young general's mind was made up to the alternative
of conquest or ruin, as may be judged from his words to a friend at
taking leave of him. "In three months," he said, "I will be either at
Milan or at Paris;" intimating at once his desperate resolution to
succeed, and his sense that the disappointment of all his prospects must
be the consequence of a failure.

On the 27th of March Buonaparte reached Nice. The picture of the army
which General Scherer[97] laid before him, was even worse than he had
formed any idea of. The supply of bread was very uncertain;
distributions of meat had long ceased; and for means of conveyance there
were only mules, and not above five hundred of these could be reckoned

The headquarters had never been removed from Nice, since the
commencement of the war: they were instantly ordered to be transferred
to Albenga. On the march thither, along the rugged and precipitous shore
of the Mediterranean, the staff, broken with the rear and baggage of the
army, were exposed to the cannonade of Nelson's squadron; but the young
commander-in-chief would not allow the columns to halt, for the purpose
either of avoiding or of returning it.[98] On the 3d of April, the army
reached port Maunie, near Oneglia, and on the 4th arrived at Albenga;
where, with the view of animating his followers to ambitious hopes, he
addressed the army of Italy to the following purpose:--"Soldiers, you
are hungry and naked.--The Republic owes you much, but she has not the
means to acquit herself of her debts. The patience with which you
support your hardships among these barren rocks is admirable, but it
cannot procure you glory. I am come to lead you into the most fertile
plains that the sun beholds--Rich provinces, opulent towns, all shall be
at your disposal--Soldiers, with such a prospect before you, can you
fail in courage and constancy?" This was showing the deer to the hound
when the leash is about to be slipped.

The Austro-Sardinian army, to which Buonaparte was opposed, was
commanded by Beaulieu, an Austrian general of great experience and some
talent, but no less than seventy-five years old; accustomed all his life
to the ancient rules of tactics, and unlikely to suspect, anticipate, or
frustrate, those plans, formed by a genius so fertile as that of

Buonaparte's plan for entering Italy differed from that of former
conquerors and invaders, who had approached that fine country by
penetrating or surmounting at some point or other her Alpine barriers.
This inventive warrior resolved to attain the same object, by turning
round the southern extremity of the Alpine range, keeping as close as
possible to the shores of the Mediterranean, and passing through the
Genoese territory by the narrow pass called the Boccheta leading around
the extremity of the mountains, and betwixt these and the sea. Thus he
proposed to penetrate into Italy, by the lowest level which the surface
of the country presented, which must be of course where the range of the
Alps unites with that of the Apennines. The point of junction where
these two immense ranges of mountains touch upon each other, is at the
heights of Mount Saint Jacques, above Genoa, where the Alps, running
north-westward, ascend to Mont Blanc, their highest peak, and the
Apennines, running to the south-east, gradually elevate themselves to
Monte Velino, the tallest mountain of the range.

To attain his object of turning the Alps in the manner proposed, it was
necessary that Buonaparte should totally change the situation of his
army; those occupying a defensive line, running north and south, being
to assume an offensive position, extending east and west. Speaking of an
army as of a battalion, he was to form into column upon the right of the
line which he had hitherto occupied. This was an extremely delicate
operation, to be undertaken in presence of an active enemy, his superior
in numbers; nor was he permitted to execute it uninterrupted.

No sooner did Beaulieu learn that the French general was concentrating
his forces, and about to change his position, than he hastened to
preserve Genoa, without possession of which, or at least of the adjacent
territory, Buonaparte's scheme of advance could scarce have been
accomplished. The Austrian divided his army into three bodies. Colli, at
the head of a Sardinian division, he stationed on the extreme right at
Ceva; his centre division, under D'Argenteau, having its head at
Sasiello, had directions to march on a mountain called Montenotte, with
two villages of the same name, near to which was a strong position at a
place called Montelegino, which the French had occupied in order to
cover their flank during their march towards the east. At the head of
his left wing, Beaulieu himself moved from Novi upon Voltri, a small
town within ten miles of Genoa, for the protection of that ancient city,
whose independence and neutrality were like to be held in little
reverence. Thus it appears, that while the French were endeavouring to
penetrate into Italy by an advance from Sardinia by the way of Genoa,
their line of march was threatened by three armies of Austro-Sardinians,
descending from the skirts of the Alps, and menacing to attack their
flank. But though a skilful disposition, Beaulieu's had, from the very
mountainous character of the country, the great disadvantage of wanting
connexion between the three separate divisions; neither, if needful,
could they be easily united on any point desired, while the lower line,
on which the French moved, permitted constant communication and


On the 10th of April, D'Argenteau, with the central division of the
Austro-Sardinian army, marched on Montenotte, while Beaulieu on the left
attacked the van of the French army, which had come as far as Voltri.
General Cervoni, commanding the French division which sustained the
attack of Beaulieu, was compelled to fall back on the main body of his
countrymen; and had the assault of D'Argenteau been equally animated, or
equally successful, the fame of Buonaparte might have been stifled in
the birth. But Colonel Rampon, a French officer, who commanded the
redoubts near Montelegino, stopped the progress of D'Argenteau by the
most determined resistance. At the head of not more than fifteen hundred
men, whom he inspired with his own courage, and caused to swear either
to maintain their post or die there,[99] he continued to defend the
redoubts, during the whole of the 11th, until D'Argenteau, whose conduct
was afterwards greatly blamed for not making more determined efforts to
carry them, drew off his forces for the evening, intending to renew the
attack next morning.

But, on the morning of the 12th, the Austrian general found himself
surrounded with enemies. Cervoni, who retreated before Beaulieu, had
united himself with La Harpe, and both advancing northward during the
night of the 11th, established themselves in the rear of the redoubts of
Montelegino, which Rampon had so gallantly defended. This was not all.
The divisions of Augereau and Massena had marched, by different routes,
on the flank and on the rear of D'Argenteau's column; so that next
morning, instead of renewing his attack on the redoubts, the Austrian
general was obliged to extricate himself by a disastrous retreat,
leaving behind him colours and cannon, a thousand slain, and two
thousand prisoners.[100]

Such was the battle of Montenotte, the first of Buonaparte's victories;
eminently displaying that truth and mathematical certainty of
combination,[101] which enabled him on many more memorable occasions,
even when his forces were inferior in numbers, and apparently disunited
in position, suddenly to concentrate them and defeat his enemy, by
overpowering him on the very point where he thought himself strongest.
He had accumulated a superior force on the Austrian centre, and
destroyed it, while Colli, on the right, and Beaulieu himself, on the
left, each at the head of numerous forces, did not even hear of the
action till it was fought and won.[102]

In consequence of the success at Montenotte, and the close pursuit of
the defeated Austrians, the French obtained possession of Cairo, which
placed them on that side of the Alps which slopes towards Lombardy, and
where the streams from these mountains run to join the Po.

Beaulieu had advanced to Voltri, while the French withdrew to unite
themselves in the attack upon D'Argenteau. He had now to retreat
northward with all haste to Dego, in the valley of the river Bormida, in
order to resume communication with the right wing of his army,
consisting chiefly of Sardinians, from which he was now nearly separated
by the defeat of the centre. General Colli, by a corresponding movement
on the right, occupied Millesimo, a small town about nine miles from
Dego, with which he resumed and maintained communication by a brigade
stationed on the heights of Biastro. From the strength of this position,
though his forces were scarce sufficiently concentrated, Beaulieu hoped
to maintain his ground till he should receive supplies from Lombardy,
and recover the consequences of the defeat at Montenotte. But the
antagonist whom he had in front had no purpose of permitting him such


Determined upon a general attack on all points of the Austrian position,
the French army advanced in three bodies upon a space of four leagues in
extent. Augereau, at the head of the division which had not fought at
Montenotte, advanced on the left against Millesimo; the centre, under
Massena, directed themselves upon Dego, by the vale of the Bormida; the
right wing, commanded by La Harpe, proceeded by the heights of Cairo,
for the purpose of turning Beaulieu's left flank. Augereau, whose
division had not engaged at the battle of Montenotte, was the first who
came in contact with the enemy. He attacked General Colli on the 13th
April. His troops, emulous of the honour acquired by their companions,
behaved with great bravery, rushed upon the outposts of the Sardinian
army at Millesimo, forced, and retained possession of the gorge by which
it was defended, and thus separated from the Sardinian army a body of
about two thousand men, under the Austrian General Provera, who occupied
a detached eminence called Cossaria, which covered the extreme left of
General Colli's position. But the Austrian showed the most obstinate
courage. Although surrounded by the enemy, he threw himself into the
ruinous castle of Cossaria, which crowned the eminence, and showed a
disposition to maintain the place to the last; the rather that, as he
could see from the turrets of his stronghold the Sardinian troops, from
whom he had been separated, preparing to fight on the ensuing day, he
might reasonably hope to be disengaged.[103]

Buonaparte in person came up; and seeing the necessity of dislodging the
enemy from this strong post, ordered three successive attacks to be made
on the castle. Joubert, at the head of one of the attacking columns, had
actually, with six or seven others, made his way into the outworks, when
he was struck down by a wound in the head. General Banel, and
Adjutant-general Quénin fell, each at the head of the column which he
commanded; and Buonaparte was compelled to leave the obstinate Provera
in possession of the castle for the night. The morning of the 14th
brought a different scene. Contenting himself with blockading the castle
of Cossaria, Buonaparte now gave battle to General Colli, who made every
effort to relieve it. These attempts were all in vain. He was defeated
and cut off from Beaulieu; he retired as well as he could upon Ceva,
leaving to his fate the brave General Provera, who was compelled to
surrender at discretion.

[Sidenote: ACTION OF DEGO.]

On the same day, Massena, with the centre, attacked the heights of
Biastro, being the point of communication betwixt Beaulieu and Colli,
while La Harpe, having crossed the Bormida, where the stream came up to
the soldiers' middle, attacked in front and in flank the village of
Dego, where the Austrian commander-in-chief was stationed. The first
attack was completely successful,--the heights of Biastro were carried,
and the Piedmontese routed. The assault of Dego was not less so,
although after a harder struggle. Beaulieu was compelled to retreat, and
was entirely separated from the Sardinians, who had hitherto acted in
combination with him. The defenders of Italy now retreated in different
directions, Colli moving westward towards Ceva, while Beaulieu, closely
pursued through a difficult country, retired upon D'Aqui.[104]

Even the morning after the victory, it was nearly wrested out of the
hands of the conquerors. A fresh division of Austrians, who had
evacuated Voltri later than the others, and were approaching to form a
junction with their general, found the enemy in possession of Beaulieu's
position. They arrived at Dego like men who had been led astray, and
were no doubt surprised at finding it in the hands of the French. Yet
they did not hesitate to assume the offensive, and by a brisk attack
drove out the enemy, and replaced the Austrian eagles in the village.
Great alarm was occasioned by this sudden apparition; for no one among
the French could conceive the meaning of an alarm beginning on the
opposite quarter to that on which the enemy had retreated, and without
its being announced from the outposts towards D'Aqui.

Buonaparte hastily marched on the village. The Austrians repelled two
attacks; at the third, General Lanusse, afterwards killed in Egypt, put
his hat upon the point of his sword, and advancing to the charge,
penetrated into the place. Lannes also, afterwards Duke of Montebello,
distinguished himself on the same occasion by courage and military
skill, and was recommended by Buonaparte to the Directory for promotion.
In this battle of Dego, more commonly called of Millesimo, the
Austro-Sardinian army lost five or six thousand men, thirty pieces of
cannon, with a great quantity of baggage. Besides, the Austrians were
divided from the Sardinians; and the two generals began to show, not
only that their forces were disunited, but that they themselves were
acting upon separate motives; the Sardinians desiring to protect Turin,
whereas the movements of Beaulieu seemed still directed to prevent the
French from entering the Milanese territory.[105]

Leaving a sufficient force on the Bormida to keep in check Beaulieu,
Buonaparte now turned his strength against Colli, who, overpowered, and
without hopes of succour, abandoned his line of defence near Ceva, and
retreated to the line of the Tanaro.

Napoleon, in the meantime, fixed his head-quarters at Ceva, and enjoyed
from the heights of Montezemoto, the splendid view of the fertile fields
of Piedmont stretching in boundless perspective beneath his feet,
watered by the Po, the Tanaro, and a thousand other streams which
descend from the Alps. Before the eyes of the delighted army of victors
lay this rich expanse like a promised land; behind them was the
wilderness they had passed;--not indeed, a desert of barren sand,
similar to that in which the Israelites wandered, but a huge tract of
rocks and inaccessible mountains, crested with ice and snow, seeming by
nature designed as the barrier and rampart of the blessed regions which
stretched eastward beneath them. We can sympathize with the
self-congratulation of the general who had surmounted such tremendous
obstacles in a way so unusual. He said to the officers around him, as
they gazed upon this magnificent scene, "Hannibal took the Alps by
storm. We have succeeded as well by taming their flank."[106]

The dispirited army of Colli was attacked at Mondovi during his retreat,
by two corps of Buonaparte's army, from two different points, commanded
by Massena and Serrurier. The last general, the Sardinian repulsed with
loss; but when he found Massena, in the meantime, was turning the left
of his line, and that he was thus pressed on both flanks, his situation
became almost desperate.[107] The cavalry of the Piedmontese made an
effort to renew the combat. For a time they overpowered and drove back
those of the French; and General Stengel, who commanded the latter, was
slain in attempting to get them into order.[108] But the desperate
valour of Murat, unrivalled perhaps in the heady charge of cavalry
combat, renewed the fortune of the field; and the horse, as well as the
infantry of Colli's army, were compelled to a disastrous retreat. The
defeat was decisive; and the Sardinians, after the loss of the best of
their troops, their cannon, baggage, and appointments, and being now
totally divided from their Austrian allies, and liable to be overpowered
by the united forces of the French army, had no longer hopes of
effectually covering Turin. Buonaparte, pursuing his victory, took
possession of Cherasco, within ten leagues of the Piedmontese

Thus Fortune, in the course of a campaign of scarce a month, placed her
favourite in full possession of the desired road to Italy by command of
the mountain-passes, which had been invaded and conquered with so much
military skill. He had gained three battles over forces far superior to
his own; inflicted on the enemy a loss of twenty-five thousand men in
killed, wounded, and prisoners; taken eighty pieces of cannon, and
twenty-one stand of colours;[110] reduced to inaction the Austrian army;
almost annihilated that of Sardinia; and stood in full communication
with France upon the eastern side of the Alps, with Italy lying open
before him, as if to invite his invasion. But it was not even with such
laurels, and with facilities which now presented themselves for the
accomplishment of new and more important victories upon a larger scale,
and with more magnificent results, that the career of Buonaparte's
earliest campaign was to be closed. The head of the royal house of
Savoy, if not one of the most powerful, still one of the most
distinguished in Europe, was to have the melancholy experience, that he
had encountered with the Man of Destiny, as he was afterwards proudly
called, who, for a time, had power, in the emphatic phrase of Scripture,
"to bind kings with chains, and nobles with fetters of iron."

The shattered relics of the Sardinian army had fallen back, or rather
fled, to within two leagues of Turin, without hope of being again able
to make an effectual stand. The Sovereign of Sardinia, Savoy, and
Piedmont, had no means of preserving his capital, nay, his existence on
the continent, excepting by an almost total submission to the will of
the victor. Let it be remembered, that Victor Amadeus the Third was the
descendant of a race of heroes, who, from the peculiar situation of
their territories, as constituting a neutral ground of great strength
betwixt France and the Italian possessions of Austria, had often been
called on to play a part in the general affairs of Europe, of importance
far superior to that which their condition as a second-rate power could
otherwise have demanded. In general, they had compensated their
inferiority of force by an ability and gallantry which did them the
highest credit, both as generals and as politicians; and now Piedmont
was at the feet, in her turn, of an enemy weaker in numbers than her
own. Besides the reflections on the past fame of his country, the
present humiliating situation of the King was rendered more mortifying
by the state of his family connexions. Victor Amadeus was the
father-in-law of Monsieur (Louis XVIII.,) and of the Comte d'Artois,
(afterwards Charles X.) He had received his sons-in-law at his court at
Turin, had afforded them an opportunity of assembling around them their
forces, consisting of the emigrant noblesse, and had strained all the
power he possessed, and in many instances successfully, to withstand
both the artifices and the arms of the French Republicans. And now, so
born, so connected, and with such principles, he was condemned to sue
for peace, on any terms which might be dictated, from a General of
France, aged twenty-six years, who, a few months before, was desirous of
an appointment in the artillery service of the Grand Signior.


Under these afflicting circumstances, a suspension of hostilities was
requested by the King of Sardinia; and, on the 24th April, conferences
were held at Carru, the headquarters of the French, but an armistice
could only be purchased by placing two of the King's strongest
fortresses--Coni and Tortona, in the hands of the French, and thus
acknowledging that he surrendered at discretion. The armistice was
agreed on [April 28] at Cherasco, but commissioners were sent by the
King to Paris, to arrange with the Directory the final terms of peace.
These were such as victors give to the vanquished.

Besides the fortresses already surrendered, the King of Sardinia was to
place in the hands of the French five others of the first importance.
The road from France to Italy was to be at all times open to the French
armies; and indeed the King, by surrender of the places mentioned, had
lost the power of interrupting their progress. He was to break off every
species of alliance and connexion with the combined powers at war with
France, and become bound not to entertain at his court, or in his
service, any French emigrants whatever, or any of their connexions; nor
was an exception even made in favour of his own two daughters. In short,
the surrender was absolute.[111] Victor Amadeus exhibited the utmost
reluctance to subscribe this treaty, and did not long survive it.[112]
His son succeeded in name to the kingdom of Piedmont; but the fortresses
and passes, which had rendered him a prince of some importance, were,
excepting Turin, and one or two of minor consequence, all surrendered
into the hands of the French.

Viewing this treaty with Sardinia as the close of the Piedmontese
campaign, we pause to consider the character which Buonaparte displayed
at that period. The talents as a general which he had exhibited were of
the very first order. There was no disconnexion in his objects; they
were all attained by the very means he proposed, and the success was
improved to the utmost. A different conduct usually characterises those
who stumble unexpectedly on victory, either by good fortune or by the
valour of their troops. When the favourable opportunity occurs to such
leaders, they are nearly as much embarrassed by it as by a defeat. But
Buonaparte, who had foreseen the result of each operation by his
sagacity, stood also prepared to make the most of the advantages which
might be derived from it.

His style in addressing the Convention was, at this period, more modest
and simple, and therefore more impressive, than the figurative and
bombastic style which he afterwards used in his bulletins. His
self-opinion, perhaps, was not risen so high as to permit him to use the
sesquipedalian words and violent metaphors, to which he afterwards seems
to have given a preference. We may remark also, that the young victor
was honourably anxious to secure for such officers as distinguished
themselves, the preferment which their services entitled them to.[113]
He urges the promotion of his brethren in arms in almost every one of
his despatches,--a conduct not only just and generous, but also highly
politic. Were his recommendations successful, their general had the
gratitude due for the benefit; were they overlooked, thanks equally
belonged to him for his good wishes, and the resentment for the slight
attached itself to the government, who did not give effect to them.

If Buonaparte spoke simply and modestly on his own achievements, the
bombast which he spared was liberally dealt out to the Convention by an
orator named Daubermesnil, who invokes all bards, from Tyrtæus and
Ossian down to the author of the Marseillois Hymn--all painters, from
Apelles to David--all musicians, from Orpheus to the author of the
_Chant du départ_, to sing, paint, and compose music, upon the
achievements of the General and Army of Italy.[114]

With better taste, a medal of Buonaparte was struck in the character of
the Conqueror of the battle of Montenotte. The face is extremely thin,
with lank hair, a striking contrast to the fleshy square countenance
exhibited on his later coins. On the reverse, Victory, bearing a palm
branch, a wreath of laurel, and a naked sword, is seen flying over the
Alps. This medal we notice as the first of the splendid series which
records the victories and honours of Napoleon, and which was designed by
Denon as a tribute to the genius of his patron.


[84] Napoleon, Memoirs, tom. iii., p. 91.

[85] Victor Amadeus III. He was born in 1726, and died in 1796.

[86] "The Neapolitan army was 60,000 strong; the cavalry was
excellent."--NAPOLEON, _Memoirs_, tom. iii., p. 134.

[87] Viz. in April, 1794.--See Napoleon, Memoirs, tom. iii., p. 28.

[88] Napoleon states his fighting force, fit for duty, at about 30,000
men.--Montholon, tom. iii., p. 140; Jomini, tom. viii., p. 59, at

[89] Las Cases, tom. i., p. 162.

[90] This reminds us of the liberality of the Kings of Brentford to
their Knightsbridge forces--

_First King._ Here, take five guineas to these warlike men.

_Second King._ And here, five more, which makes the sum just ten.

_Herald._ We have not seen so much the Lord knows when!--S.

[91] "The state of the finances was such, that the government, with all
its efforts, could only furnish the chest of the army, at the opening of
the campaign, with 2000 louis in specie, and a million in drafts, part
of which were protested."--NAPOLEON, _Montholon_, tom. iii., p. 140;
Thiers, tom. viii., p. 174.

[92] "An idea of the penury of the army may be collected from the
correspondence of the commander-in-chief, who appears to have once sent
Massena a supply of twenty-four francs to provide for his official
expenses."--JOMINI, tom. viii., p. 96.

[93] Napoleon, Memoirs, tom. iii., p. 54.

[94] "He received a thrust of a bayonet in the abdomen: he was dragged
into the streets, holding his bowels in his hands, and at length left on
a field-bed in a guard-house, where he expired."--MONTHOLON, tom. iii.,
p. 41; Botta, Storia d'Italia, tom. i., p. 271. Basseville, in 1789, was
editor of the _Mercure National_. He published _Elémens de Mythologie_,

[95] Montholon, tom. iii., p. 43; Thibaudeau, Hist. Gen. de Napoleon,
tom. i., p. 139; Jomini, tom. viii., p. 49.

[96] "Salicetti was never the personal friend of Napoleon, but of his
brother Joseph; with whom, in 1792 and 1793, he had been member for the
department of Corsica."--JOSEPH BUONAPARTE, _Notes sur les Mémoires de
Bourrienne_, tom. i., p. 238.

[97] "I am particularly gratified with my reception by General Scherer;
who, by his honourable deportment and readiness to supply me with all
useful information, has acquired a right to my gratitude. To great
facility in expressing himself, he unites an extent of general and
military knowledge, which may probably induce you to deem his services
useful in some important station."--NAPOLEON _to the Directory, March

[98] Jomini, tom. viii., p. 62; Thiers, tom. viii., p. 329.

[99] Thiers, tom. viii., p. 178; Lacretelle, tom. xiii., p. 153.

[100] Napoleon, Memoirs, tom. iii., p. 145; Jomini, tom. viii., p. 70;
Las Cases, tom. ii., p. 187.

[101] "Napoleon placed himself on a ridge in the centre of his
divisions, the better to judge of the turn of affairs, and to prescribe
the manœuvres which might become necessary."--JOMINI, tom. viii., p.

[102] Montholon, tom. iii., p. 145; Las Cases, tom. ii., p. 190; Thiers,
tom. viii., p. 178.

[103] Montholon, tom. iii., p. 146; Las Cases, tom. ii., p. 192; Jomini,
tom. viii., p. 76.

[104] Las Cases, tom. ii., p. 193; Montholon, tom. iii., p. 148; Thiers,
tom. viii., p. 181.

[105] Montholon, tom. iii., p. 148; Las Cases, tom. ii., p. 193;
Lacretelle, tom. xiii., p. 59.

[106] "Annabal a forcé les Alpes; nous nous les avons
tournées!"--NAPOLEON, _Montholon_, tom. iii., p. 151.

[107] "The rapidity of Massena's movements was a subject of astonishment
and terror with the Piedmontese, who regarded him as a rebel. He was
born at Nice, but attached himself early in his youth to the French
service. The Revolution found him a sergeant in the Royal Italian
regiment."--LACRETELLE, tom. xiii., p. 161.

[108] "General Stengel, a native of Alsace, was an excellent hussar
officer; he had served under Dumouriez, and in the other campaigns of
the North; he was adroit, intelligent, and active, combining the
qualities of youth with those of maturity, he was the true general for
advanced posts."--NAPOLEON, _Montholon_, tom. iii., p. 152.

[109] Montholon, tom. iii., p. 151; Jomini, tom. viii., p. 93.

[110] Murat was despatched to Paris with them, and the treaty for the
armistice of Cherasco. His arrival, by way of Mount Cenis, with so many
trophies, and the King of Sardinia's submission, caused great joy in the
capital. Junot, who had been despatched after the battle of Millesimo by
the Nice road, arrived later than Murat.

[111] The treaty was concluded at Paris, on the 15th May. For a copy of
it, see _Annual Register_, vol. xxxviii., p. 262.

[112] Victor Amadeus died of apoplexy, in the following October, and was
succeeded by his son, Charles Emanuel.

[113] See Correspondence Inédite, tom. i., p. 85.

[114] See the speech in the _Moniteur_, No. 233, 12th May.


    _Farther progress of the French Army under Buonaparte--He
    crosses the Po, at Placenza, on 7th May--Battle of Lodi takes
    place on the 10th, in which the French are victorious--Remarks
    on Napoleon's Tactics in this celebrated Action--French take
    possession of Cremona and Pizzighitone--Milan deserted by the
    Archduke Ferdinand and his Duchess--Buonaparte enters Milan on
    the 15th May--General situation of the Italian States at this
    period--Napoleon inflicts Fines upon the neutral and unoffending
    States of Parma and Modena, and extorts the surrender of some of
    their finest Pictures--Remarks upon this novel procedure._


The ardent disposition of Buonaparte did not long permit him to rest
after the advantages which he had secured. He had gazed on Italy with an
eagle's eye; but it was only for a moment, ere stooping on her with the
wing, and pouncing on her with the talons, of the king of birds.

A general with less extraordinary talent would perhaps have thought it
sufficient to have obtained possession of Piedmont, revolutionizing its
government as the French had done that of Holland, and would have
awaited fresh supplies and reinforcements from France before advancing
to farther and more distant conquests, and leaving the Alps under the
dominion of a hostile, though for the present a subdued and disarmed
monarchy. But Buonaparte had studied the campaign of Villars in these
regions, and was of opinion that it was by that general's hesitation to
advance boldly into Italy, after the victories which the Marshal de
Coigni had obtained at Parma and Guastalla, that the enemy had been
enabled to assemble an accumulating force, before which the French were
compelled to retreat.[115] He determined, therefore, to give the
Republic of Venice, the Grand Duke of Tuscany, and other states in
Italy, no time to muster forces, and take a decided part, as they were
likely to do, to oppose a French invasion. Their terror and surprise
could not fail to be increased by a sudden irruption; while months,
weeks, even days of consideration, might afford those states, attached
as the rulers must be to their ancient oligarchical forms of government,
time and composure to assume arms to maintain them. A speedy resolution
was the more necessary, as Austria, alarmed for her Italian possessions,
was about to make every effort for their defence. Orders had already
been sent by the Aulic Council of War to detach an army of thirty
thousand men, under Wurmser, from the Army of the Rhine to the frontiers
of Italy. These were to be strengthened by other reinforcements from the
interior, and by such forces as could be raised in the mountainous
district of the Tyrol, which furnishes perhaps the most experienced and
most formidable sharpshooters in the world. The whole was to be united
to the fragments of Beaulieu's defeated troops. If suffered to form a
junction, and arrange their plans for attack or defence, an army, of
force so superior to the French in numbers, veterans in discipline, and
commanded by a general like Wurmser, was likely to prevent all the
advantages which the French might gain by a sudden irruption, ere an
opposition so formidable was collected and organized. But the daring
scheme which Napoleon contemplated, corresponding to the genius of him
who had formed it, required to be executed with caution, united with
secrecy and celerity. These were the more necessary, as, although the
thanks of the French Government had been voted to the army of Italy five
times in the course of a month, yet the Directory, alarmed at the more
doubtful state of hostilities upon the Rhine, had turned their exertions
chiefly in that direction; and, trusting to the skill of their general,
and the courage of his troops, had not transmitted recruits and supplies
upon the scale necessary for the great undertakings which he meditated.
But _Italiam--Italiam!_[116]--the idea of penetrating into a country so
guarded and defended by nature, as well as by military skill, the
consciousness of having surmounted obstacles of a nature so
extraordinary, and the hope that they were approaching the reward of so
many labours--above all, their full confidence in a leader, who seemed
to have bound Victory to his standard--made the soldiers follow their
general, without counting their own deficiencies, or the enemy's

To encourage this ardour, Buonaparte circulated an address,[118] in
which, complimenting the army on the victories they had gained, he
desired them at the same time "to consider nothing as won so long as the
Austrians held Milan, and while the ashes of those who had conquered the
Tarquins were soiled by the presence of the assassins of Basseville." It
would appear that classical allusions are either familiar to the French
soldiers, or that, without being more learned than others of their rank,
they are pleased with being supposed to understand them. They probably
considered the oratory of their great leader as soldier-like words, and
words of exceeding good command. The English soldier, addressed in such
flights of eloquence, would either have laughed at them, or supposed
that he had got a crazed play-actor put over him, instead of a general.
But there is this peculiar trait in the French character, that they are
willing to take every thing of a complimentary kind in the manner in
which it seems to be meant. They appear to have made that bargain with
themselves on many points, which the audience usually do in a
theatre,--to accept of the appearance of things for the reality. They
never inquire whether a triumphal arch is of stone or of wood; whether a
scutcheon is of solid metal, or only gilt; or whether a speech, of which
the tendency is flattering to their national vanity, contains genuine
eloquence, or only tumid extravagance.

[Sidenote: TORTONA.]

All thoughts were therefore turned to Italy. The fortress of Tortona was
surrendered to the French by the King of Sardinia; Buonaparte's
headquarters were fixed there, [May 4.] Massena concentrated another
part of the army at Alexandria, menacing Milan, and threatening, by the
passage of the Po, to invade the territories belonging to Austria on the
northern bank of that stream. As Buonaparte himself observed, the
passage of a great river is one of the most critical operations in
modern war; and Beaulieu had collected his forces to cover Milan, and
prevent the French, if possible, from crossing the Po. But, in order to
avert the dangerous consequences of attempting to force his passage on
the river, defended by a formidable enemy in front, Buonaparte's subtle
genius had already prepared the means for deceiving the old Austrian
respecting his intended operations.

[Sidenote: PASSAGE OF THE PO.]

Valenza appeared to be the point of passage proposed by the French; it
is one of those fortresses which cover the eastern frontier of Piedmont,
and is situated upon the Po. During the conferences previous to the
armistice of Cherasco, Buonaparte had thrown out hints as if he were
particularly desirous to be possessed of this place, and it was actually
stipulated in the terms of the treaty, that the French should occupy it
for the purpose of effecting their passage over the river. Beaulieu did
not fail to learn what had passed, which coinciding with his own ideas
of the route by which Buonaparte meant to advance upon Milan, he
hastened to concentrate his army on the opposite bank, at a place called
Valeggio, about eighteen miles from Valenza, the point near which he
expected the attempt to be made, and from which he could move easily in
any direction towards the river, before the French could send over any
considerable force. Massena also countenanced this report, and riveted
the attention of the Austrians on Valenza, by pushing strong
reconnoitring parties from Alexandria in the direction of that fortress.
Besides, Beaulieu had himself crossed the Po at this place, and, like
all men of routine--(for such he was though a brave and approved
soldier)--he was always apt to suppose that the same reasons which
directed himself, must needs seem equally convincing to others. In
almost all delicate affairs, persons of ordinary talents are misled by
their incapacity to comprehend, that men of another disposition will be
likely to view circumstances, and act upon principles, with an eye and
opinion very different from their own.

But the reports which induced the Austrian general to take the position
at Valeggio, arose out of a stratagem of war. It was never Buonaparte's
intention to cross the Po at Valenza. The proposal was a feint to draw
Beaulieu's attention to that point, while the French accomplished the
desired passage at Placenza, nearly fifty miles lower down the river
than Valeggio, where their subtle general had induced the Austrians to
take up their line of defence. Marching for this purpose with incredible
celerity, Buonaparte, on the 7th of May, assembled his forces at
Placenza, when their presence was least expected, and where there were
none to defend the opposite bank, except two or three squadrons of
Austrians, stationed there merely for the purpose of reconnoitring.
General Andréossi (for names distinguished during those dreadful wars
begin to rise on the narrative, as the stars glimmer out on the horizon)
commanded an advanced guard of five hundred men. They had to pass in
the common ferry-boats, and the crossing required nearly half an hour;
so that the difficulty, or rather impossibility, of achieving the
operation, had they been seriously opposed, appears to demonstration.
Colonel Lannes threw himself ashore first with a body of grenadiers, and
speedily dispersed the Austrian hussars, who attempted to resist their
landing. The vanguard having thus opened the passage, the other
divisions of the army were enabled to cross in succession, and in the
course of two days the whole were in the Milanese territory, and on the
left bank of the Po. The military manœuvres, by means of which
Buonaparte achieved, without the loss of a man, an operation of so much
consequence, and which, without such address as he displayed, must have
been attended with great loss, and risk of failure, have often been
considered as among his most masterly movements.

Beaulieu, informed too late of the real plans of the French general,
moved his advanced guard, composed of the division of General Liptay,
from Valeggio towards the Po, in the direction of Placenza. But here
also the alert general of the French had been too rapid in his movements
for the aged German. Buonaparte had no intention to wait an attack from
the enemy with such a river as the Po in his rear, which he had no means
of recrossing if the day should go against him; so that a defeat, or
even a material check, would have endangered the total loss of his army.
He was, therefore, pushing forward in order to gain ground on which to
manœuvre, and the advanced divisions of the two armies met at a
village called Fombio, not far from Casal, on the 8th of May. The
Austrians threw themselves into the place, fortified and manned the
steeples, and whatever posts else could be made effectual for defence,
and reckoned upon defending themselves there until the main body of
Beaulieu's army should come up to support them. But they were unable to
sustain the vivacity of the French onset, to which so many successive
victories had now given a double impulse. The village was carried at the
bayonet's point; the Austrians lost their cannon, and left behind
one-third of their men, in slain, wounded, and prisoners. The wreck of
Liptay's division saved themselves by crossing the Adda at Pizzighitone,
while they protected their retreat by a hasty defence of that

Another body of Austrians having advanced from Casal, to support, it may
be supposed, the division of Liptay, occasioned a great loss to the
French army in the person of a very promising officer. This was General
La Harpe, highly respected and trusted by Buonaparte, and repeatedly
mentioned in the campaigns of Piedmont. Hearing the alarm given by the
out-posts, when the Austrian patrols came in contact with them, La
Harpe rode out to satisfy himself concerning the nature and strength of
the attacking party. On his return to his own troops, they mistook him
and his attendants for the enemy, fired upon, and killed him. He was a
Swiss by birth, and had been compelled to leave his country on account
of his democratical opinions; a grenadier, says Buonaparte, in stature
and in courage, but of a restless disposition. The soldiers with the
superstition belonging to their profession, remarked, that during the
battle of Fombio, on the day before, he was less animated than usual, as
if an obscure sense of his approaching fate already overwhelmed

The Austrian regiment of cavalry which occasioned this loss, after some
skirmishing, was content to escape to Lodi, a point upon which Beaulieu
was again collecting his scattered forces, for the purpose of covering
Milan, by protecting the line of the Adda.

[Sidenote: BATTLE OF LODI.]

"The passage of the Po," said Buonaparte, in his report to the
Directory, "had been expected to prove the boldest and most difficult
manœuvre of the campaign, nor did we expect to have an action of more
vivacity than that of Dego. But we have now to recount the battle of
Lodi."[121] As the conqueror deservedly congratulated himself on this
hard-won victory, and as it has become in a manner especially connected
with his name and military character, we must, according to our plan, be
somewhat minute in our details respecting it.

The Adda, a large and deep river, though fordable at some places and in
some seasons, crosses the valley of the Milanese, rising in the Tyrolese
Alps, and joining the Po at Pizzighitone; so that, if the few points at
which it can be crossed are fortified or defended, it forms a line
covering all the Milanese territory to the eastward, from any force
approaching from the direction of Piedmont. This line Beaulieu proposed
to make good against the victor before whom he had so often retreated,
and he conjectured (on this occasion rightly) that, to prosecute his
victory by marching upon Milan, Buonaparte would first desire to
dislodge the covering army from the line of the Adda, as he could not
safely advance to the capital of Lombardy, leaving the enemy in
possession of such a defensive line upon their flank. He also
conjectured that this attempt would be made at Lodi.

This is a large town, containing twelve thousand inhabitants. It has old
Gothic walls, but its chief defence consists in the river Adda, which
flows through it, and is crossed by a wooden bridge about five hundred
feet in length. When Beaulieu, after the affair of Fombio, evacuated
Casal, he retreated to this place with about ten thousand men. The rest
of his army was directed upon Milan and Cassano, a town situated, like
Lodi, upon the Adda.

Buonaparte calculated that, if he could accomplish the passage of the
Adda at Lodi, he might overtake and disperse the remainder of Beaulieu's
army, without allowing the veteran time to concentrate them for farther
resistance in Milan, or even for rallying under the walls of the strong
fortress of Mantua. The judgment of the French general was in war not
more remarkable for seizing the most advantageous moment of attack, than
for availing himself to the very uttermost of success when obtained. The
quick-sighted faculty and power of instant decision with which nature
had endowed him, had, it may be supposed, provided beforehand for the
consequences of the victory ere it was yet won, and left no room for
doubt or hesitation when his hopes had become certainties. We have
already remarked, that there have been many commanders, who, after an
accidental victory, are so much at a loss what is next to be done, that
while they are hesitating, the golden moments pass away unimproved; but
Buonaparte knew as well how to use advantages, as to obtain them.

Upon the 10th day of May, attended by his best generals, and heading the
choicest of his troops, Napoleon pressed forward towards Lodi. About a
league from Casal, he encountered the Austrian rear-guard, who had been
left, it would appear, at too great a distance from the main body. The
French had no difficulty in driving these troops before them into the
town of Lodi, which was but slightly defended by the few soldiers whom
Beaulieu had left on the western or right side of the Adda. He had also
neglected to destroy the bridge, although he ought rather to have
supported a defence on the right bank of the river, (for which the town
afforded many facilities,) till the purpose of destruction was
completed, than have allowed it to exist. If his rear-guard had been
actually stationed in Lodi, instead of being so far in the rear of the
main body, they might, by a protracted resistance from the old walls and
houses, have given time for this necessary act of demolition.

But though the bridge was left standing, it was swept by twenty or
thirty Austrian pieces of artillery, whose thunders menaced death to any
who should attempt that pass of peril. The French, with great alertness,
got as many guns in position on the left bank, and answered this
tremendous fire with equal spirit. During this cannonade, Buonaparte
threw himself personally amongst the fire, in order to station two guns
loaded with grape-shot in such a position, as rendered it impossible for
any one to approach for the purpose of undermining or destroying the
bridge; and then calmly proceeded to make arrangements for a desperate

His cavalry was directed to cross, if possible, at a place where the
Adda was said to be fordable,--a task which they accomplished with
difficulty. Meantime, Napoleon observed that the Austrian line of
infantry was thrown considerably behind the batteries of artillery which
they supported, in order that they might have the advantage of a
bending slope of ground, which afforded them shelter from the French
fire. He therefore drew up a close column of three thousand grenadiers,
protected from the artillery of the Austrians by the walls and houses of
the town, and yet considerably nearer to the enemy's line of guns on the
opposite side of the Adda than were their own infantry, which ought to
have protected them. The column of grenadiers, thus secured, waited in
comparative safety, until the appearance of the French cavalry, who had
crossed the ford, began to disquiet the flank of the Austrians. This was
the critical moment which Buonaparte expected. A single word of command
wheeled the head of the column of grenadiers to the left, and placed it
on the perilous bridge. The word was given to advance, and they rushed
on with loud shouts of _Vive la République!_ But their appearance upon
the bridge was the signal for a redoubled shower of grape-shot, while
from the windows of the houses on the left side of the river, the
soldiers who occupied them poured volley after volley of musketry on the
thick column as it endeavoured to force its way over the long bridge. At
one time the French grenadiers, unable to sustain this dreadful storm,
appeared for an instant to hesitate. But Berthier, the chief of
Buonaparte's staff, with Massena, L'Allemagne, and Corvini, hurried to
the head of the column, and by their presence and gallantry renewed the
resolution of the soldiers, who now poured across the bridge. The
Austrians had but one resource left; to rush on the French with the
bayonet, and kill, or drive back into the Adda, those who had forced
their passage, before they could deploy into line, or receive support
from their comrades, who were still filing along the bridge. But the
opportunity was neglected, either because the troops, who should have
executed the manœuvre, had been, as we have already noticed,
withdrawn too far from the river; or because the soldiery, as happens
when they repose too much confidence in a strong position, became
panic-struck when they saw it unexpectedly carried. Or it may be, that
General Beaulieu, so old and so unfortunate, had somewhat lost that
energy and presence of mind which the critical moment demanded. Whatever
was the cause, the French rushed on the artillerymen, from whose fire
they had lately suffered so tremendously, and, unsupported as they were,
had little difficulty in bayoneting them.

The Austrian army now completely gave way, and lost in their retreat,
annoyed as it was by the French cavalry, upwards of twenty guns, a
thousand prisoners, and perhaps two thousand more wounded and

Such was the famous passage of the Bridge of Lodi; achieved with such
skill and gallantry, as gave the victor the same character for fearless
intrepidity, and practical talent in actual battle, which the former
part of the campaign had gained him as a most able tactitian.

Yet this action, though successful, has been severely criticized by
those who desire to derogate from Buonaparte's military talents. It has
been said, that he might have passed over a body of infantry at the same
ford where the cavalry had crossed; and that thus, by manœuvring on
both sides of the river, he might have compelled the Austrians to
evacuate their position on the left bank of the Adda, without hazarding
an attack upon their front, which could not but cost the assailants very

Buonaparte had perhaps this objection in his recollection when he
states, that the column of grenadiers was so judiciously sheltered from
the fire until the moment when their wheel to the left brought them on
the bridge, that they only lost two hundred men[123] during the storm of
the passage. We cannot but suppose, that this is a very mitigated
account of the actual loss of the French army. So slight a loss is not
to be easily reconciled with the horrors of the battle, as he himself
detailed them in his despatches; nor with the conclusion, in which he
mentions, that of the sharp contests which the army of Italy had to
sustain during the campaign, none was to be compared with that "terrible
passage of the bridge of Lodi."[124]

In fact, as we may take occasion to prove hereafter, the Memoranda of
the great general, dictated to his officers at Saint Helena, have a
little too much the character of his original bulletins; and, while they
show a considerable disposition to exaggerate the difficulties to be
overcome, the fury of the conflict, and the exertions of courage by
which the victory was attained, show a natural inconsistency, from the
obvious wish to diminish the loss which was its unavoidable price.

But, admitting that the loss of the French had been greater on this
occasion than their general cared to recollect or acknowledge, his
military conduct seems not the less justifiable.

Buonaparte appears to have had two objects in view in this daring
exploit. The first was, to improve and increase the terror into which
his previous successes had thrown the Austrians, and to impress on them
the conviction, that no position, however strong, was able to protect
them against the audacity and talent of the French. This discouraging
feeling, exemplified by so many defeats, and now by one in circumstances
where the Austrians appeared to have every advantage, it was natural to
suppose, would hurry Beaulieu's retreat, induce him to renounce all
subsequent attempts to cover Milan, and rather to reunite the fragments
of his army, particularly that part of Liptay's division, which, after
being defeated at Fombio, had thrown themselves into Pizzighitone. To
have manœuvred slowly and cautiously, would not have struck that
terror and confusion which was inspired by the desperate attack on the
position at Lodi. Supposing these to have been his views, the victor
perfectly succeeded; for Beaulieu, after his misadventure, drew off
without any farther attempt to protect the ancient capital of Lombardy,
and threw himself upon Mantua, with the intention of covering that
strong fortress, and at the same time of sheltering under it the remains
of his army, until he could form a junction with the forces which
Wurmser was bringing to his assistance from the Rhine.

Buonaparte himself has pointed out a second object, in which he was less
successful. He had hoped the rapid surprise of the bridge of Lodi might
enable him to overtake or intercept the rest of Beaulieu's army, which,
as we have said, had retreated by Cassano. He failed, indeed, in this
object; for these forces also made their way into the Mantuan territory,
and joined Beaulieu, who, by crossing the classical Mincio, placed
another strong line of military defence betwixt him and his victor. But
the prospect of intercepting and destroying so large a force, was worth
the risk he encountered at Lodi,[125] especially taking into view the
spirit which his army had acquired from a long train of victory,
together with the discouragement which had crept into the Austrian ranks
from a uniform series of defeats.

It should also be remembered, in considering the necessity of forcing
the bridge of Lodi, that the ford over the Adda was crossed with
difficulty even by the cavalry, and that when once separated by the
river, the communication between the main army and the detachment of
infantry, (which his censors say Napoleon should have sent across in the
same manner,) being in a great degree interrupted, the latter might have
been exposed to losses, from which Buonaparte, situated as he was on the
right bank, could have had no means of protecting them.


Leaving the discussion of what might have been, to trace that which
actually took place, the French cavalry pursued the retreating Austrians
as far as Cremona, of which they took possession. Pizzighitone was
obliged to capitulate, the garrison being cut off from all possibility
of succour. About five hundred prisoners surrendered in that fortress;
the rest of Liptay's division, and other Austrian corps, could no
otherwise escape, than by throwing themselves into the Venetian

It was at this time that Buonaparte had some conversation with an old
Hungarian officer made prisoner in one of the actions, whom he met with
at a bivouac by chance, and who did not know him. The veteran's
language was a curious commentary on the whole campaign; nay, upon
Buonaparte's general system of warfare, which appeared so extraordinary
to those who had long practised the art on more formal principles.
"Things are going on as ill and as irregularly as possible," said the
old martinet. "The French have got a young general, who knows nothing of
the regular rules of war; he is sometimes on our front, sometimes on the
flank, sometimes on the rear. There is no supporting such a gross
violation of rules."[126] This somewhat resembles the charge which
foreign tactitians have brought against the English, that they gained
victories by continuing, with their insular ignorance and obstinacy, to
fight on, long after the period when, if they had known the rules of
war, they ought to have considered themselves as completely defeated.

A peculiar circumstance is worth mentioning. The French soldiers had a
mode at that time of amusing themselves, by conferring an imaginary rank
upon their generals, when they had done some remarkable exploit. They
showed their sense of the bravery displayed by Buonaparte at the Battle
of Lodi, by creating him a Corporal; and by this phrase, of the _Little
Corporal_, he was distinguished in the intrigues formed against him, as
well as those which were carried on in his favour; in the language of
Georges Cadoudal, who laid a scheme for assassinating him, and in the
secret consultation of the old soldiers and others, who arranged his
return from Elba.[127]

We are now to turn for a time from war to its consequences, which
possess an interest of a nature different from the military events we
have been detailing.

The movements which had taken place since the King of Sardinia's defeat,
had struck terror into the Government of Milan, and the Archduke
Ferdinand, by whom Austrian Lombardy was governed. But while Beaulieu
did his best to cover the capital by force of arms, the measures
resorted to by the Government were rather of a devotional than warlike
character. Processions were made, relics exposed, and rites resorted to,
which the Catholic religion prescribes as an appeal to Heaven in great
national calamities. But the saints they invoked were deaf or impotent;
for the passage of the bridge of Lodi, and Beaulieu's subsequent retreat
to Mantua, left no possibility of defending Milan. The archduke and his
duchess immediately left Milan, followed by a small retinue, and leaving
only a moderate force in the citadel, which was not in a very defensible
condition. Their carriages passed through a large crowd which filled the
streets. As they moved slowly along, the royal pair were observed to
shed natural tears, at leaving the capital of these princely possessions
of their house. The people observed a profound silence, only broken by
low whispers. They showed neither joy nor sorrow at the event which was
passing--all thoughts were bent in anxious anticipation upon what was to
happen next.[128]

When the archduke had departed, the restraint which his presence had
imposed from habit and sentiment, as much as from fear of his authority,
was of course removed, and many of the Milanese citizens began, with
real or affected zeal for republicanism, to prepare themselves for the
reception of the French. The three-coloured cockade was at first timidly
assumed; but the example being shown, it seemed as if these emblems had
fallen like snow into the caps and hats of the multitude. The imperial
arms were removed from the public buildings, and a placard was put on
the palace of the government with an inscription--"This house is to be
let--apply for the keys to the French Commissioner Salicetti." The
nobles hastened to lay aside their armorial bearings, their servants'
liveries, and other badges of aristocracy. Meantime the magistrates
caused order to be maintained in the town, by regular patrols of the
burgher guard. A deputation of the principal inhabitants of Milan, with
Melzi[129] at its head, was sent to the victorious general with offers
of full submission, since there was no longer room for resistance, or
for standing upon terms.

On the 15th of May, Buonaparte made his public entry into Milan, under a
triumphal arch prepared for the occasion, which he traversed, surrounded
by his guards, and took up his residence in the archiepiscopal palace.
The same evening a splendid entertainment was given, and the Tree of
Liberty, (of which the aristocrats observed, that it was a bare pole
without either leaves or fruit, roots or branches,) was erected with
great form in the principal square. All this affectation of popular joy
did not disarm the purpose of the French general, to make Milan
contribute to the relief of his army. He imposed upon the place a
requisition of twenty millions of livres, but offered to accept of goods
of any sort in kind, and at a rateable valuation; for it may be easily
supposed that specie, the representative of value, must be scarce in a
city circumstanced as Milan was.[130] The public funds of every
description, even those dedicated to the support of hospitals, went into
the French military chest; the church-plate was seized as a part of the
requisition; and, when all this was done, the citizens were burdened
with the charge of finding rations for fifteen thousand men daily, by
which force the citadel, with its Austrian garrison, was instantly to be


While Lombardy suffered much, the neighbouring countries were not
spared. The reader must be aware, that for more than a century Italy had
been silently declining into that state of inactivity which succeeds
great exertion, as a rapid and furious blaze sinks down into exhaustion
and ashes. The keen judgment of Napoleon had seen, that the geographical
shape of Italy, though presenting in many respects advantages for a
great and commercial nation, offered this main impediment to its
separate existence as one independent state, that its length being too
great in proportion to its breadth, there was no point sufficiently
central to preserve the due influence of a metropolis in relation to its
extreme northern and southern provinces; and that the inhabitants of
Naples and Lombardy being locally so far divided, and differing in
climate, habits, and the variety of temper which climate and habits
produce, could hardly be united under the same government. From these
causes Italy was, after the demolition of the great Roman Empire, early
broken up into different subdivisions, which, more civilized than the
rest of Europe at the time, attracted in various degrees the attention
of mankind; and at length, from the sacerdotal power of Rome, the wealth
and extensive commerce of Venice and Genoa, the taste and splendour of
Florence, and the ancient fame of the metropolis of the world, became of
importance much over-proportioned to their actual extent of territory.
But this time had passed away, and the Italian states, rich in
remembrances, were now comparatively poor in point of immediate
consequence in the scale of nations. They retained their oligarchical or
monarchical forms and constitutions, as in the more vigorous state of
their existence, but appeared to have lost their energies both for good
and evil. The proud and jealous love which each Italian used to bear
towards his own province was much abated; the hostility of the factions
which divided most of their states, and induced the citizens to hazard
their own death or exile in the most trifling party quarrel, had
subsided into that calm, selfish indifference, which disregards public
interests of all kinds. They were ill governed, in so far as their
rulers neglected all means of benefiting the subjects or improving the
country; and they were thus far well-governed, that, softened by the
civilisation of the times, and perhaps by a tacit sense of their own
weakness, their rulers had ceased, in a great measure, to exercise with
severity the despotic powers with which they were in many cases
invested, though they continued to be the cause of petty vexations, to
which the natives had become callous. The Vatican slept like a volcano,
which had exhausted its thunders; and Venice, the most jealous and cruel
of oligarchies, was now shutting her wearied eyes, and closing her ears,
against informers and spies of state. The Italian states stood,
therefore, like a brotherhood of old trees, decayed at heart and root,
but still making some show of branches and leaves; until the French
invasion rushed down, like the whirlwind which lays them prostrate.

In the relations between France and Italy, it must be observed, that two
of the most considerable of these states, Tuscany and Venice, were
actually in league with the former country, having acknowledged the
republic, and done nothing to deserve the chastisement of her armies.
Others might be termed neutral, not having perhaps deemed themselves of
consequence sufficient to take part in the quarrel of the coalesced
powers against France. The Pope had given offence by the affair of
Basseville, and the encouragement which his countenance afforded to the
non-conforming clergy of France. But, excepting Naples and Austrian
Lombardy, no state in Italy could be exactly said to be at open war with
the new republic. Buonaparte was determined, however, that this should
make no difference in his mode of treating them.


The first of these slumbering potentates with whom he came in contact,
was the Duke of Parma.[132] This petty sovereign, even before Buonaparte
entered Milan, had deprecated the victor's wrath; and although neither
an adherent of the coalition, nor at war with France, he found himself
obliged to purchase an armistice by heavy sacrifices. He paid a tribute
of two millions of livres, besides furnishing horses and provisions to a
large amount, and agreeing to deliver up twenty of the finest paintings
in his cabinet, to be chosen by the French general.[133]

The next of these sufferers was the Duke of Modena.[134] This prince was
a man of moderate abilities; his business was hoarding money, and his
pleasure consisted in nailing up, with his own princely hands, the
tapestry which ornamented churches on days of high holiday; from which
he acquired the nickname of "the royal upholsterer." But his birth was
illustrious as the descendant of that celebrated hero of Este, the
patron of Tasso and of Ariosto; and his alliance was no less splendid,
having married the sister of the unfortunate Marie Antoinette, and of
Joseph the Second: then his daughter was married to the Archduke
Ferdinand, the Governor of Milan. Notwithstanding his double connexion
with the Imperial family, the principality of Modena was so small that
he might have been passed over as scarce worthy of notice, but for the
temptation of his treasures, in the works of art, as well as in specie.
On the approach of a column of the French army to Modena, the duke fled
from his capital, but sent his brother, the Chevalier d'Este, to
capitulate with Napoleon, [May 20.][135]

It might have been urged in his favour, that he was no avowed partner in
the coalition; but Buonaparte took for granted his good-will towards his
brother-in-law the Emperor of Austria, and esteemed it a crime deserving
atonement.[136] Indeed it was one which had not been proved by any open
action, but neither could it admit of being disproved. The duke was
therefore obliged to purchase the privilege of neutrality, and to
expiate his supposed good inclination for the house of Austria. Five
millions and a half of French livres, with large contributions in
provisions and accoutrements, perhaps cost the Duke of Modena more
anxious thoughts than he had bestowed on the misfortunes of his imperial

To levy on obnoxious states or princes the means of paying or
accommodating troops, would have been only what has been practised by
victors in all ages. But an exaction of a new kind was now for the first
time imposed on these Italian Princes. The Duke of Modena, like the Duke
of Parma, was compelled to surrender twenty of his choicest pictures,
to be selected at the choice of the French general, and the persons of
taste with whom he might advise. This was the first time that a demand
of this nature had been made in modern times in a public and avowed
manner,[137] and we must pause to consider the motives and justice of
such a requisition.[138]

[Sidenote: WORKS OF ART.]

Hitherto, works of art had been considered as sacred, even during the
utmost extremities of war. They were judged to be the property, not so
much of the nation or individuals who happened to possess them, as of
the world in general, who were supposed to have a common interest in
these productions, which, if exposed to become the ordinary spoils of
war, could hardly escape damage or destruction. To take a strong example
of forbearance, Frederick of Prussia was a passionate admirer of the
fine arts, and no scrupulous investigator of the rights conferred by
conquest, but rather disposed to stretch them to the uttermost. Yet,
when he obtained possession of Dresden under circumstances of high
irritation, Frederick respected the valuable gallery, cabinets, and
museums of the capital of Saxony, and preserved their contents
inviolate, as a species of property which could not, and ought not, to
fall within the rights of a conqueror. He considered the elector as only
the keeper of the gallery; and regarded the articles which it contained
as belonging to the civilized world at large.

There are persons who demand the cause of this distinction, and require
to know why works of art, the value of which is created solely by the
opinion of those who pretend to understand them, and is therefore to be
regarded as merely imaginary, or, as it is called by lawyers, a mere
_pretium affectionis_, should be exempted from that martial law which
disposes at pleasure of the real property of the vanquished.

It might easily be shown in reply, that the respect due to genius of the
highest order, attaches with a sort of religious zeal to the objects of
our admiration in the fine arts, and renders it a species of sacrilege
to subject them to the chances of war. It has besides already been
hinted, that these chefs-d'œuvre being readily liable to damage,
scarcely admitting of being repaired, and absolutely incapable of being
replaced, their existence is hazarded by rendering them the objects of
removal, according to the fluctuation of victory.

But it is surely sufficient to say, that wherever the progress of
civilisation has introduced rules to qualify and soften the extremities
of war, these should be strictly adhered to. In the rudest ages of
society, man avails himself of the right of the strongest in the fullest
extent. The victor of the Sandwich islands devours his enemy--the North
American Indian tortures him to death--almost all savage tribes render
their prisoners slaves, and sell them as such. As society advances,
these inhumanities fall out of practice; and it is unnecessary to add,
that, as the victorious general deserves honourable mention in history,
who, by his clemency, relaxes in any respect the rigorous laws of
conquest, so he must be censured in proportion whose conduct tends to
retrograde towards the brutal violence of primitive hostility.

Buonaparte cannot be exempted from this censure. He, as the willing
agent of the Directory under whose commands he acted, had resolved to
disregard the neutrality which had hitherto been considered as attaching
to the productions of the fine arts, and, for the first time, had
determined to view them as the spoils of conquest. The motive is more
easily discovered than justified.

In the Reign of Terror and Equality, the fine arts, with every thing
connected with cultivated feelings, had been regarded as inconsistent
with the simplicity of the Republican character; and, like the
successful fanatics of England, and the first enthusiastic votaries of
the Koran, the true Sans-Culottes were disposed to esteem a taste which
could not generally exist without a previous superior education, as
something aristocratic, and alien from the imaginary standard of
equality, to which it was their purpose to lower all the exertions of
intellect, as well as the possession of property. Palaces were therefore
destroyed, and monuments broken to pieces.

But this brutal prejudice, with the other attempts of these frantic
democrats to bring back the world to a state of barbarism, equally in
moral and in general feeling, was discarded at the fall of the Jacobin
authority. Those who succeeded to the government, exerted themselves
laudably in endeavouring rather to excite men's minds to a love of those
studies and tastes, which are ever found to humanize and soften the
general tone of society, and which teach hostile nations that they have
points of friendly union, even because they unite in admiring the same
masterpieces of art. A museum was formed at Paris, for the purpose of
collecting and exhibiting to public admiration paintings and statues,
and whatever was excellent in art, for the amusement of the citizens,
whose chief scene of pleasure hitherto had been a wild and ill-regulated
civic festival, to vary the usual exhibition of the procession of a
train of victims moving towards the guillotine. The substitution of such
a better object of popular attention was honourable, virtuous, and
politic in itself, and speedily led the French people, partly from
taste, partly from national vanity, to attach consequence to the fine
arts and their productions.

Unfortunately there were no ordinary measures by which the French, as
purchasers, could greatly augment the contents of their Museum; and more
unfortunately for other nations, and ultimately for themselves, they
had the power and the will to increase their possessions of this kind,
without research or expense, by means of the irresistible progress of
their arms. We have no right to say that this peculiar species of
spoliation originated with Buonaparte personally. He probably obeyed the
orders of the Directory; and, besides, instances might no doubt be found
in the history of all nations, of interesting articles of this nature
having been transferred by the chance of war from one country to
another, as in cases of plunder of an ordinary description, which,
though seldom avowed or defended, are not the less occasionally
practised. But Napoleon was unquestionably the first and most active
agent, who made such exactions a matter of course, and enforced them
upon principle; and that he was heartily engaged in this scheme of
general plunder, is sufficiently proved from his expressions to the
Directory, upon transmitting those paintings which the Duke of Modena,
the first sufferer on this system, was compelled to surrender, and which
were transferred to Paris as the legitimate spoils of war.

But before copying the terms in which Napoleon announces the
transmission of masterpieces of art to the National Museum, it ought to
be remarked, that the celebrated Saint Jerome, by Correggio, which he
mentions with a sort of insulting triumph, was accounted so valuable,
that the Duke of Modena offered two millions of livres as the ransom of
that picture alone. This large sum the French general, acting on the
principle which many in his situation were tempted to recognise, might
have safely converted to his own use, under the certainty that the
appropriation, indispensable as his services were to the government,
would neither have been inquired into nor censured. But avarice cannot
be the companion, far less the controller, of ambition. The feelings of
the young victor were of a character too elevated to stoop to the
acquisition of wealth; nor was his career, at that or any other period,
sullied by this particular and most degrading species of selfishness.
When his officers would have persuaded him to accept the money, as more
useful for the army, he replied, that the two millions of livres would
soon be spent, but the Correggio[139] would remain an ornament of the
city of Paris for ages, and inspire the production of future

In his despatch to the Directory, of 17th Floreal (8th of May,) Napoleon
desires to have some artists sent to him, who might collect the
monuments of art; which shows that the purpose of seizing upon them had
been already formed.[141] In the letter which accompanied the
transmission of the pictures, he has these remarkable expressions:--"You
will receive the articles of the suspension of arms which I have granted
to the Duke of Parma. I will send you as soon as possible the finest
pictures of Correggio, amongst others a Saint Jerome, which is said to
be his masterpiece. I must own that the saint takes an unlucky time to
visit Paris, but I hope you will grant him the honours of the

The same system was followed at Milan, where several of the most
valuable articles were taken from the Ambrosian collection. The articles
were received in the spirit with which they were transmitted. The most
able critics were despatched to assist the general in the selection of
the monuments of the fine arts to be transferred to Paris, and the
Secretary-general of the Lyceum, confounding the possession of the
production of genius with the genius itself which created them,
congratulated his countrymen on the noble dispositions which the victors
had evinced. "It is no longer blood," said the orator, "which the French
soldier thirsts for. He desires to lead no slaves in triumph behind his
chariot--it is the glorious spoils of the arts and of industry with
which he longs to decorate his victories--he cherishes that devouring
passion of great souls, the love of glory, and the enthusiasm for high
talents, to which the Greeks owed their astonishing successes. It was
the defence of their temples, their monuments, their statues, their
great artists, that stimulated their valour. It was from such motives
they conquered at Salamis and at Marathon. It is thus that our armies
advance, escorted by the love of arts, and followed by sweet peace, from
Coni to Milan, and soon to proceed from thence to the proud basilic of
St. Peter's." The reasoning of the Secretary of the Lyceum is lost
amidst his eloquence; but the speech, if it means any thing, signifies,
that the seizing on those admired productions placed the nation which
acquired the forcible possession of them, in the same condition as if
she had produced the great men by whom they were achieved;--just as the
ancient Scythians believed they became inspired with the talents and
virtues of those whom they murdered. Or, according to another
interpretation, it may mean that the French, who fought to deprive other
nations of their property, had as praiseworthy motives of action as the
Greeks, who made war in defence of that which was their own. But however
their conduct might be regarded by themselves, it is very certain that
they did by no means resemble those whose genius set the example of such
splendid success in the fine arts. On the contrary, the classical
prototype of Buonaparte in this transaction, was the Roman Consul
Mummius, who violently plundered Greece of those treasures of art, of
which he himself and his countrymen were insensible to the real and
proper value.

It is indeed little to the purpose, in a moral point of view, whether
the motive for this species of rapine were or were not genuine love of
the art. The fingering connoisseur who secretes a gem, cannot plead in
mitigation, that he stole it, not on account of the value of the stone,
but for the excellence of the engraving; any more than the devotee who
stole a Bible could shelter herself under a religious motive. But, in
truth, we do not believe that the French or their general were actuated
on this occasion by the genuine love of art. This taste leads men to
entertain respect for the objects which it admires; and feeling its
genuine influence, a conqueror would decline to give an example of a
species of rapine, which, depriving those objects of admiration of the
protection with which the general sentiment of civilized nations had
hitherto invested them, must hold them up, like other ordinary property,
as a prey to the strongest soldier. Again, we cannot but be of opinion,
that a genuine lover of the arts would have hesitated to tear those
paintings from the churches or palaces, for the decoration of which they
had been expressly painted, and where they must always have been seen to
the best effect, whether from the physical advantages of the light, size
of apartment, and other suitable localities connected with their
original situation, or from the moral feelings which connect the works
themselves with the place for which they were primarily designed, and
which they had occupied for ages. The destruction of these mental
connexions, which give so much additional effect to painting and
statuary, merely to gratify the selfish love of appropriation, is like
taking a gem out of the setting, which in many cases may considerably
diminish its value.

We cannot, therefore, believe, that this system of spoliation was
dictated by any sincere and manly love of the arts, though this was so
much talked of in France at the time. It must, on the contrary, be
ascribed to the art and ambition of the Directory who ordered, and the
general who obeyed; both of whom, being sensible that the national
vanity would be flattered by this species of tribute, hastened to secure
it an ample gratification. Buonaparte, in particular, was at least
sufficiently aware, that, with however little purity of taste the
Parisians might look upon these exquisite productions, they would be
sufficiently alive to the recollection, that, being deemed by all
civilized people the most admirable specimens in the world, the valour
of the French armies, and the skill of their unrivalled general, had
sent them to adorn the metropolis of France; and might hope, that once
brought to the prime city of the Great Nation, such chefs-d'œuvre
could not again be subject to danger by transportation, but must remain
there, fixed as household gods, for the admiration of posterity. So
hoped, as we have seen, the victor himself; and doubtless with the
proud anticipation, that in future ages the recollection of himself, and
of his deeds, must be inseparably connected with the admiration which
the Museum, ordained and enriched by him, was calculated to produce.

But art and ambition are apt to estimate the advantages of a favourite
measure somewhat too hastily. By this breach of the law of nations, as
hitherto acknowledged and acted upon, the French degraded their own
character, and excited the strongest prejudice against their rapacity
among the Italians, whose sense of injury was in proportion to the value
which they set upon those splendid works, and to the dishonour which
they felt at being forcibly deprived of them. Their lamentations were
almost like those of Micah the Ephraimite, when robbed of "the graven
image, and the Teraphim, and the Ephod, and the molten image," by the
armed and overbearing Danites--"Ye have taken away my gods that I have
made, and what have I more?"

Again, by this unjust proceeding, Buonaparte prepared for France and her
capital the severe moral lesson inflicted upon her by the allies in
1815. Victory has wings as well as Riches; and the abuse of conquest, as
of wealth, becomes frequently the source of bitter retribution. Had the
paintings of Correggio, and other great masters, been left undisturbed
in the custody of their true owners, there could not have been room, at
an after period, when looking around the Louvre, for the reflection,
"Here once were disposed the treasures of art, which, won by violence,
were lost by defeat."[143]


[115] Montholon, tom. iii., p. 162.


    "--procul obscuros colles humilemque videmus
    Italiam. Italiam! primus conclamat Achates;
    Italiam! læto socii clamore salutant."

        VIRG. _Æneid_, Book III.--S.

    "Now every star before Aurora flies,
    Whose glowing blushes streak the purple skies;
    When the dim hills of Italy we view'd,
    That peep'd by turns, and dived beneath the flood,
    Lo! Italy appears, Achates cries,
    And, Italy! with shouts the crowd replies."


[117] "The army, on reaching the Adige, will command all the states of
the House of Austria in Italy, and all those of the Pope on this side of
the Apennines; it will be in a situation to proclaim the principles of
liberty, and to excite Italian patriotism against the sway of
foreigners. The word _Italiam. Italiam!_ proclaimed at Milan, Bologna,
and Verona, will produce a magical effect."--NAPOLEON, _Montholon_, tom.
iii., p. 165.

[118] It was dated Cherasco, April the 26th, and sufficiently proves,
that notwithstanding all their victories, many of the soldiery, nay,
even of the superior officers, were still alarmed at the magnitude of
the enterprise on which Napoleon was entering with apparently very
inadequate resources.

[119] Montholon, tom. iii., p. 169; Thibaudeau, tom. i., p 206; Jomini,
tom. viii., p. 117.

[120] Montholon, tom. iii., p. 172.

[121] Moniteur, No. 241, May 20.

[122] Montholon, tom. iii., p. 173; Jomini, tom. viii., p. 126;
Thibaudeau, tom. i., p. 218.

[123] "The loss of the French was only four hundred men."--THIBAUDEAU,
tom. i., p. 218.

[124] Moniteur, No. 241, May 20.

[125] "Vandémiaire and Montenotte," said the Emperor, "never induced me
to look upon myself as a man of a superior class: it was not till after
Lodi that I was struck with the possibility of my becoming a decisive
actor on the scene of political events. It was then that the first spark
of my ambition was kindled."--LAS CASES, tom. i., p. 150.

[126] Montholon, tom. iii., p, 178.

[127] "How subtle is the chain which unites the most trivial
circumstances to the most important events! Perhaps this very nickname
contributed to the Emperor's miraculous success on his return from Elba
in 1815. While he was haranguing the first battalion he met, which he
found it necessary to parley with, a voice from the ranks exclaimed,
'Vive notre petit Caporal!--We will never fight against him.'"--LAS
CASES, tom. i., p. 170.

[128] Thiers, tom. viii., p. 207.

[129] "It was in memory of this mission, that Napoleon, when King of
Italy, created the duchy of Lodi, in favour of Melzi."--MONTHOLON, tom.
iii., p. 179.

[130] Botta, tom. i., p. 431; Jomini, tom. viii., p. 179; Thibaudeau,
tom. i., p. 234; Thiers, tom. viii., p. 208.

[131] On the 20th, Buonaparte addressed the following remarkable order
of the day to the army:--

"Soldiers! you have rushed like a torrent from the top of the Apennines:
you have overthrown, dispersed, all that opposed your march. Piedmont,
delivered from Austrian tyranny, indulges her natural sentiments of
peace and friendship towards France. Milan is yours; and the republican
flag waves throughout Lombardy. The Dukes of Parma and Modena are
indebted for their political existence only to your generosity. The army
which so proudly threatened you, can now find no barrier to protect it
against your courage: neither the Po, the Ticino, nor the Adda, could
stop you a single day: those vaunted bulwarks of Italy opposed you in
vain; you passed them as rapidly as the Apennines. These great successes
have filled the heart of your country with joy; your representatives
have ordered a festival to commemorate your victories, which has been
held in every commune of the republic. There your fathers, your mothers,
your wives, sisters, and mistresses, rejoiced in your victories, and
proudly boasted of belonging to you. Yes, soldiers! you have done
much.--But remains there nothing more to perform? Shall it be said of
us, that we know how to conquer, but not how to make use of victory?
Shall posterity reproach us with having found our Capua in
Lombardy?--But I see you already hasten to arms; an effeminate repose is
tedious to you; the days which are lost to glory, are lost to your
happiness. Well, then! let us set forth; we have still forced marches to
make, enemies to subdue, laurels to gather, injuries to avenge! Let
those who have sharpened the daggers of civil war in France, who have
basely murdered our ministers, and burnt our ships at Toulon, tremble!
The hour of vengeance has struck. But let the people of all countries be
free from apprehension; we are the friends of the people everywhere, and
more particularly of the descendants of Brutus and Scipio, and the great
men whom we have taken for our models. To restore the capitol, to
replace there the statues of the heroes who rendered it illustrious,
with suitable honours, to awaken the Roman people, stupified by several
ages of slavery--such is the fruit of our victories. They will form an
historical era for posterity: yours will be the immortal glory of having
changed the face of the finest part of Europe. The French people, free,
respected by the whole world, will give to Europe a glorious peace,
which will indemnify her for the sacrifices of every kind, which, for
the last six years, she has been making. You will then return to your
homes; and your countrymen will say, as they point you out--'_He
belonged to the army of Italy_.'"--_Moniteur_, No. 254, June 2.

On reading over this proclamation one day at St. Helena, the Emperor
exclaimed--"And yet they have the folly to say I could not write!"--LAS
CASES, tom. iii., p. 86.

[132] Frederic, Duke of Parma, grandson of Philip V. of Spain, was born
in 1751. On his death, in 1802, the duchy was united to France, in
virtue of the convention of 1801.

[133] Montholon, tom. iii., p. 173; Lacretelle, tom. xiii., p. 172;
Thibaudeau, tom. i., p. 211. See the Treaty, Annual Register, vol.
xxxviii., p. 233.

[134] Hercules III., Renaud d'Este, last Duke of Modena, was born in
1727 and died in 1797.

[135] Lacretelle, tom. xiii., p. 187; Montholon, tom. iii., p. 187.

[136] "The duke is avaricious. His only daughter and heiress is married
to the Archduke of Milan. The more you squeeze from him, the more you
take from the House of Austria."--LALLEMANT to BUONAPARTE, 14th May;
_Correspondence Inédite_, tom. i., p. 169.

[137] Montholon, tom. iii., p. 174.

[138] "The republic had already received, by the same title, and placed
in its Museum, the _chefs-d'œuvre_ of the Dutch and Flemish schools.
The Romans carried away from conquered Greece the statues which adorn
the capitol. Every capital of Europe contained the spoils of antiquity,
and no one had ever thought of imputing it to them as a
crime."--THIBAUDEAU, tom. i., p. 214.

[139] Montholon, tom. iii., p. 174.

[140] "Is it, then, so difficult for Sir Walter to justify the motive
which induced Napoleon to prefer works of art? It was a motive too great
and too praiseworthy to need justification."--LOUIS BUONAPARTE, p. 21.

[141] On the 7th of May, Carnot had written to Buonaparte--"The
executive Directory is convinced, citizen-general, that you consider the
glory of the fine arts connected with that of the army under your
command. Italy is, in great part, indebted to them for her riches and
renown; but the time is arrived when their reign must pass into France
to strengthen and embellish that of liberty. The National Museum must
contain the most distinguished monuments of all the arts, and you will
neglect no opportunity of enriching it with such as it expects from the
present conquests of the army of Italy, and those which may follow,"
&c.--_Correspondence Inédite_, tom. i., p. 155.

[142] Moniteur, 25th Floreal, 16th May.

[143] See also Lacretelle's "Digression sur l'enlèvement de statues,
tableaux, &c."--_Hist._, tom. xiii., p. 172.


    _Directory proposes to divide the Army of Italy betwixt
    Buonaparte and Kellermann--Buonaparte resigns, and the Directory
    give up the point--Insurrection against the French at
    Pavia--crushed--and the Leaders shot--Also at the Imperial
    Fiefs, and Lugo, quelled and punished in the same
    way--Reflections--Austrians defeated at Borghetto, and retreat
    behind the Adige--Buonaparte narrowly escapes being made
    Prisoner at Valeggio--Mantua blockaded--Verona occupied by the
    French--King of Naples secedes from Austria--Armistice purchased
    by the Pope--The Neutrality of Tuscany violated, and Leghorn
    occupied by the French Troops--Views of Buonaparte respecting
    the Revolutionizing of Italy--He temporizes--Conduct of the
    Austrian Government at this Crisis--Beaulieu displaced, and
    succeeded by Wurmser--Buonaparte sits down before Mantua._

Occupying Milan, and conqueror in so many battles, Buonaparte might be
justly considered as in absolute possession of Lombardy, while the
broken forces of Beaulieu had been compelled to retreat under that sole
remaining bulwark of the Austrian power, the strong fortress of Mantua,
where they might await such support as should be detached to them
through the Tyrol, but could undertake no offensive operations. To
secure his position, the Austrian general had occupied the line formed
by the Mincio, his left flank resting upon Mantua, his right upon
Peschiera, a Venetian city and fortress, but of which he had taken
possession, against the reclamation of the Venetian government, who were
desirous of observing a neutrality between such powerful belligerents,
not perhaps altogether aware how far the victor, in so dreadful a
strife, might be disposed to neglect the general law of nations. The
Austrian defence on the right was prolonged by the lago di Guarda, a
large lake out of which the Mincio flows, and which, running thirty-five
miles northward into the mountains of the Tyrol, maintained
uninterrupted Beaulieu's communication with Germany.

Buonaparte, in the meantime, permitted his forces only the repose of
four or five days, ere he again summoned them to active exertion. He
called on them to visit the Capitol, there to re-establish (he ought to
have said to _carry away_) the statues of the great men of antiquity,
and to change, or rather renovate, the destinies of the finest district
of Europe. But while thus engaged, he received orders from Paris
respecting his farther proceedings, which must have served to convince
him that _all_ his personal enemies, all who doubted and feared him,
were not to be found in the Austrian ranks.

The Directory themselves had begun to suspect the prudence of suffering
the whole harvest of success which Italy afforded, to be reaped by the
adventurous and haughty character who had first thrust in the sickle.
They perhaps felt already an instinctive distrust of the waxing
influence, which was destined one day to overpower their own. Under some
such impression, they resolved [May 7] to divide the army of Italy
betwixt Buonaparte and Kellermann, directing the former general to pass
the Po, and advance southward on Rome and Naples, with twenty thousand
men, while Kellermann, with the other moiety of the Italian army, should
press the siege of Mantua, and make head against the Austrians.[144]

This was taking Buonaparte's victory out of his grasp; and he resented
the proposal accordingly, by transmitting his resignation [May 14,] and
declining to have any concern in the loss of his army, and the fruits of
his conquests. He affirmed, that Kellermann, with an army reduced to
twenty thousand men, could not face Beaulieu, but would be speedily
driven out of Lombardy; and that, in consequence, the army which
advanced southward would be overwhelmed and destroyed. One bad general,
he said, was better than two good ones.[145] The Directory must have
perceived from such a reply, the firm and inflexible nature of the man
they had made the leader of their armies, but they dared not, such was
his reputation, proceed in the plan they had formed for the diminution
of his power; and, perhaps for the first time since the Revolution, the
executive government of France was compelled to give way to a successful
general, and adopt his views instead of their own. The campaign was left
to his sole management;[146] he obtained an ascendancy which he took
admirable care not to relinquish, and it became the only task of the
Directory, so far as Italy was concerned, to study phrases for
intimating their approbation of the young general's measures.

Whatever were the ultimate designs of Buonaparte against Rome, he
thought it prudent to suspend them until he should be free from all
danger of the Austrians, by the final defeat of Beaulieu. For this
object, he directed the divisions of his army towards the right bank of
the Mincio, with a view of once more forcing Beaulieu's position, after
having taken precautions for blockading the citadel of Milan, where the
Austrians still held out, and for guarding Pavia and other points, which
appeared necessary to secure his conquests.

[Sidenote: REVOLT OF PAVIA.]

Napoleon himself fixed his headquarters at Lodi, upon the 24th of May.
But he was scarcely arrived there, when he received the alarming
intelligence, that the city of Pavia, with all the surrounding
districts, were in arms in his rear; that the tocsin was ringing in
every village, and that news were circulated, that the Prince of Condé's
army, united with a strong Austrian force, had descended from the Tyrol
into Italy. Some commotions had shown themselves in Milan, and the
Austrian garrison there made demonstrations towards favouring the
insurrection in Pavia, where the insurgents were completely successful,
and had made prisoners a French corps of three hundred men.

Buonaparte represents these disturbances as effected by Austrian
agents;[147] but he had formerly assured us, that the Italians took
little interest in the fate of their German masters. The truth is, that,
having entered Italy with the most flattering assurances of observing
respect for public and private property, the French had alienated the
inhabitants, by exacting the contributions which they had imposed on the
country with great severity. As Catholics, the Italians were also
disgusted with the open indignities thrown on the places and objects of
public worship, as well as on the persons and character of their

The nobles and the clergy naturally saw their ruin in the success of the
French; and the lower classes joined them for the time, from dislike to
foreigners, love of national independence, resentment of the exactions
made, and the acts of sacrilege committed by the ultramontane invaders.
About thirty thousand insurgents were in arms; but having no regular
forces on which to rest as a rallying point, they were ill calculated to
endure the rapid assault of the disciplined French.

Buonaparte, anxious to extinguish a flame so formidable, instantly
returned from Lodi to Milan, at the head of a strong division, took
order for the safety of the capital of Lombardy, and moved next morning
towards Pavia, the centre of the insurrection. The village of Benasco,
which was defended against Lannes, was taken by storm, the inhabitants
put to the sword, and the place plundered and burnt. Napoleon himself
arrived before Pavia, blew the gates open with his cannon, dispersed
with ease the half-armed insurgents, and caused the leaders of the
insurrection to be put to death, for having attempted to defend the
independence of their country. He then seized on the persons of many
inhabitants, and sent them to Paris as hostages for the subjection of
their fellow-citizens.[149]

The French general published a proclamation in the Republican style, in
which he reproaches the insurgents for presuming to use arms in defence
of their country, and menaces with fire and sword whatever individuals
should in future prosecute the same daring course. He made his threat
good some weeks afterwards, when a similar insurrection took place in
those districts called the Imperial Fiefs,[150] and still later, when an
effort at resistance was attempted in the town of Lugo. On both
occasions, the leaders of the armed inhabitants were tried by a military
commission, condemned, and shot. On the last, indeed, to revenge the
defeat sustained by a squadron of French dragoons, Lugo was taken by
storm, pillaged, burnt, and the men put to the sword; while some credit
seems to be taken by Buonaparte in his despatches, for the clemency of
the French, which spared the women and children.[151]

It is impossible to read the account of these barbarities, without
contrasting them with the opinions professed on other occasions, both by
the republican and imperial governments of France. The first of these
exclaimed as at an unheard of cruelty, when the Duke of Brunswick, in
his celebrated proclamation, threatened to treat as a brigand every
Frenchman, not being a soldier, whom he should find under arms, and to
destroy such villages as should offer resistance to the invading army.
The French at that time considered with justice, that, if there is one
duty more holy than another, it is that which calls on men to defend
their native country against invasion. Napoleon, being emperor, was of
the same opinion in the years 1813 and 1814, when the allies entered the
French territories, and when, in various proclamations, he called on the
inhabitants to rise against the invaders with the implements of their
ordinary labour when they had no better arms, and "to shoot a foreigner
as they would a wolf." It would be difficult to reconcile these
invitations with the cruel vengeance taken on the town of Lugo,[152] for
observing a line of conduct which, in similar circumstances, Buonaparte
so keenly and earnestly recommended to those whom fortune had made his
own subjects.

The brief insurrection of Pavia suppressed by these severities,
Buonaparte once more turned his thoughts to the strong position of the
Austrians, with the purpose of reducing Beaulieu to a more decided state
of disability, before he executed the threatened vengeance of the
Republic on the Sovereign Pontiff. For this purpose he advanced to
Brescia, and manœuvred in such a manner as induced Beaulieu, whom
repeated surprises of the same kind had not put upon his guard, to
believe, that either the French general intended to attempt the passage
of the Mincio at the small but strong town of Peschiera, where that
river issues from the lago di Guarda, or else that, marching northward
along the eastern bank, he designed to come round the head of the lake,
and thus turn the right of the Austrian position. While Beaulieu
disposed his forces as expecting an attack on the right of his line,
Buonaparte, with his usual celerity, proposed to attack him on the
centre, at Borghetto, a town situated on the Mincio, and commanding a
bridge over it, above ten miles lower than Peschiera.


On the 30th May, the French general attacked with superior force, and
repulsed across the Mincio, an Austrian corps who endeavoured to cover
the town. The fugitives attempted to demolish the bridge, and did break
down one of its arches. But the French, rushing forward with
impetuosity, under cover of a heavy fire, upon the retreating Austrians,
repaired the broken arch so as to effect a passage, and the Mincio,
passed as the Po and the Adda had been before, ceased in its turn to be
a protection to the army drawn up behind it.

Beaulieu, who had his headquarters at Valeggio, a village nearly
opposite to Borghetto, hastened to retreat, and evacuating Peschiera,
marched his dismayed forces behind the Adige, leaving five hundred
prisoners, with other trophies of victory, in the hands of the French.
Buonaparte had designed that this day of success should have been still
more decisive; for he meditated an attack upon Peschiera at the moment
when the passage at Borghetto was accomplished; but ere Augereau, to
whom this manœuvre was committed, had time to approach Peschiera, it
was evacuated by the Austrians, who were in full retreat by Castel
Nuovo, protected by their cavalry.[153]

The left of the Austrian line, cut off from the centre by the passage of
the French, had been stationed at Puzzuolo, lower on the Mincio. When
Sebottendorf, who commanded the Imperial troops stationed on the left
bank, heard the cannonade, he immediately ascended the river, to assist
his commander-in-chief to repel the French, or to take them in flank if
it was already crossed. The retreat of Beaulieu made both purposes
impossible; and yet this march of Sebottendorf had almost produced a
result of greater consequence than would have been the most complete

The French division which first crossed the Mincio, had passed through
Valeggio without halting, in pursuit of Beaulieu, by whom the village
had been just before abandoned. Buonaparte with a small retinue remained
in the place, and Massena's division were still on the right bank of the
Mincio, preparing their dinner. At this moment the advanced guard of
Sebottendorf, consisting of hulans and hussars, pushed into the village
of Valeggio. There was but barely time to cry to arms, and, shutting the
gates of the inn, to employ the general's small escort in its defence,
while Buonaparte, escaping by the garden, mounted his horse and galloped
towards Massena's division. The soldiers threw aside their cookery, and
marched instantly against Sebottendorf, who, with much difficulty, and
not without loss, effected a retreat in the same direction as his
commander-in-chief Beaulieu. This personal risk induced Buonaparte to
form what he called the corps of guides, veterans of ten years' service
at least, who were perpetually near his person, and, like the _Triarii_
of the Romans, were employed only when the most desperate efforts of
courage were necessary. Bessières, afterwards Duke of Istria, and
Marshal of France, was placed at the head of this chosen body, which
gave rise to the formation of the celebrated Imperial Guards of


The passage of the Mincio obliged the Austrians to retire within the
frontier of the Tyrol; and they might have been considered as completely
expelled from Italy, had not Mantua and the citadel of Milan still
continued to display the Imperial banners. The castle of Milan was a
place of no extraordinary strength, the surrender of which might be
calculated on so soon as the general fate of war had declared itself
against the present possessors. But Mantua was by nature one of those
almost impregnable fortresses, which may long, relying on its own
resources, defy any compulsion but that of famine.

The town and fortress of Mantua are situated on a species of island,
five or six leagues square, called the seraglio, formed by three lakes,
which communicate with, or rather are formed by, the Mincio. This island
has access to the land by five causeways, the most important of which
was in 1796 defended by a regular citadel, called, from the vicinity of
a ducal palace, La Favorità. Another was defended by an intrenched camp,
extending between the fortress and the lake. The third was protected by
a horn-work. The remaining two causeways were only defended by gates and
draw-bridges. Mantua, low in situation, and surrounded by water, in a
warm climate, is naturally unhealthy; but the air was likely to be still
more destructive to a besieging army, (which necessarily lay in many
respects more exposed to the elements, and were besides in greater
numbers, and less habituated to the air of the place,) than to a
garrison who had been seasoned to it, and were well accommodated within
the fortress.

To surprise a place so strong by a coup-de-main was impossible, though
Buonaparte represents his soldiers as murmuring that such a desperate
feat was not attempted. But he blockaded Mantua [June 4] with a large
force, and proceeded to take such other measures to improve his success,
as might pave the way to future victories. The garrison was numerous,
amounting to from twelve to fourteen thousand men; and the deficiencies
of the fortifications, which the Austrians had neglected in over
security, were made up for by the natural strength of the place. Yet of
the five causeways, Buonaparte made himself master of four; and thus the
enemy lost possession of all beyond the walls of the town and citadel,
and had only the means of attaining the mainland through the citadel of
La Favorità. Lines of circumvallation were formed, and Serrurier was
left in blockade of the fortress, which the possession of four of the
accesses enabled him to accomplish with a body of men inferior to the

To complete the blockade, it was necessary to come to some arrangement
with the ancient republic of Venice. With this venerable government
Napoleon had the power of working his own pleasure; for although the
state might have raised a considerable army to assist the Austrians, to
whom its senate, or aristocratic government, certainly bore good will,
yet, having been in amity with the French Republic, they deemed the step
too hazardous, and vainly trusting that their neutrality would be
respected, they saw the Austrian power completely broken for the time,
before they took any active measures either to stand in their defence,
or to deprecate the wrath of the victor. But when the line of the Mincio
was forced, and Buonaparte occupied the Venetian territory on the left
bank, it was time to seek by concessions that deference to the rights of
an independent country which the once haughty aristocracy of Venice had
lost a favourable opportunity of supporting by force.


There was one circumstance which rendered their cause unfavourable.
Louis XVIII., under the title of a private person, the Comte de Lille,
had received the hospitality of the republic, and was permitted to
remain at Verona, living in strict seclusion. The permission to
entertain this distinguished exile, the Venetian government had almost
mendicated from the French revolutionary rulers, in a manner which we
would term mean, were it not for the goodness of the intention, which
leads us to regard the conduct of the ancient mistress of the Adriatic
with pity rather than contempt. But when the screen of the Austrian
force no longer existed between the invading armies of France and the
Venetian territories--when the final subjugation of the north of Italy
was resolved on--the Directory peremptorily demanded, and the senate of
Venice were obliged to grant, an order, removing the Comte de Lille from
the boundaries of the republic.

The illustrious exile protested against this breach of hospitality, and
demanded, before parting, that his name, which had been placed on the
golden book of the republic, should be erased, and that the armour
presented by Henry IV. to Venice, should be restored to his
descendant.[156] Both demands were evaded, as might have been expected
in the circumstances, and the future monarch of France left Verona on
the 21st of April, 1796, for the army of the Prince of Condé, in whose
ranks he proposed to place himself, without the purpose of assuming any
command, but only that of fighting as a volunteer in the character of
the first gentleman in France. Other less distinguished emigrants, to
the number of several hundreds, who had found an asylum in Italy, were,
by the successes at Lodi and Borghetto, compelled to fly to other

Buonaparte, immediately after the battle of Borghetto, and the passage
of the Mincio, occupied the town of Verona [June 3,] and did not fail to
intimate to its magistrates, that if the _Pretender_, as he termed him,
to the throne of France, had not left Verona before his arrival, he
would have burnt to the ground a town which, acknowledging him as King
of France, assumed, in doing so, the air of being itself the capital of
that republic.[157] This might, no doubt, sound gallant in Paris; but
Buonaparte knew well that Louis of France was not received in the
Venetian territory as the successor to his brother's throne, but only
with the hospitality due to an unfortunate prince, who, suiting his
claim and title to his situation, was content to shelter his head, as a
private man might have done, from the evils which seemed to pursue him.

The neutrality of Venice was, however, for the time admitted, though not
entirely from respect for the law of nations; for Buonaparte is at some
pains to justify himself for not having seized without ceremony on the
territories and resources of that republic, although a neutral power as
far as her utmost exertions could preserve neutrality. He contented
himself for the time with occupying Verona, and other dependencies of
Venice upon the line of the Adige. "You are too weak," he said to the
Proveditore Foscarelli, "to pretend to enforce neutrality, with a few
hundred Sclavonians, on two such nations as France and Austria. The
Austrians have not respected your territory where it suited their
purpose, and I must, in requital, occupy such part as falls within the
line of the Adige."[158]

But he considered that the Venetian territories to the westward should
in policy be allowed to retain the character of neutral ground, which
The Government, as that of Venice was emphatically called, would not,
for their own sakes, permit them to lose; while otherwise, if occupied
by the French as conquerors, these timid neutrals might, upon any
reverse, have resumed the character of fierce opponents. And, at all
events, in order to secure a territory as a conquest, which, if
respected as neutral, would secure itself, there would have been a
necessity for dividing the French forces, which it was Buonaparte's wish
to concentrate. From interested motives, therefore, if not from respect
to justice, Buonaparte deferred seizing the territory of Venice when
within his grasp, conscious that the total defeat of the Austrians in
Italy would, when accomplished, leave the prey as attainable, and more
defenceless than ever. Having disposed his army in its position, and
prepared some of its divisions for the service which they were to
perform as moveable columns, he returned to Milan to reap the harvest of
his successes.

The first of these consisted in the defection of the King of Naples from
the cause of Austria, to which, from family connexion, he had yet
remained attached, though of late with less deep devotion. His cavalry
had behaved better during the engagements on the Mincio, than has been
of late the custom with Neapolitan troops, and had suffered accordingly.
The King, discouraged with the loss, solicited an armistice, which he
easily obtained [June 5]; for his dominions being situated at the lower
extremity of Italy, and his force extending to sixty thousand men at
least, it was of importance to secure the neutrality of a power who
might be dangerous, and who was not, as matters stood, under the
immediate control of the French. A Neapolitan ambassador was sent to
Paris to conclude a final peace; in the meanwhile, the soldiers of the
King of the Two Sicilies were withdrawn from the army of Beaulieu, and
returned to their own country. The dispositions of the Court of Naples
continued, nevertheless, to vacillate, as opportunity of advantage,
joined with the hatred of the Queen, (sister of Marie Antoinette,) or
the fear of the French military superiority, seemed to predominate.[159]

The storm now thickened round the devoted head of the Pope. Ferrara and
Bologna, the territories of which belonged to the Holy See, were
occupied by the French troops. In the latter place, four hundred of the
Papal troops were made prisoners, with a cardinal who acted as their
officer. The latter was dismissed on his parole. But when summoned to
return to the French headquarters, his eminence declined to obey, and
amused the republican officers a good deal, by alleging, that the Pope
had dispensed with his engagement. Afterwards, however, there were
officers of no mean rank in the French service, who could contrive to
extricate themselves from the engagement of a parole, without troubling
the Pope for his interference on the occasion. Influenced by the
approaching danger, the Court of Rome sent Azara, the Spanish minister,
with full powers to treat for an armistice. It was a remarkable part of
Buonaparte's character, that he knew as well when to forbear as when to
strike. Rome, it was true, was an enemy whom France, or at least its
present rulers, both hated and despised; but the moment was then
inopportune for the prosecution of their resentment. To have detached a
sufficient force in that direction, would have weakened the French army
in the north of Italy, where fresh bodies of German troops were already
arriving, and might have been attended with great ultimate risk, since
there was a possibility that the English might have transported to Italy
the forces which they were about to withdraw from Corsica, amounting to
six thousand men. But, though these considerations recommended to
Napoleon a negotiation with the Pope, his holiness was compelled to
purchase the armistice [June 23] at a severe rate. Twenty-one millions
of francs, in actual specie, with large contributions in forage and
military stores, the cession of Ancona, Bologna, and Ferrara, not
forgetting one hundred of the finest pictures, statues, and similar
objects of art, to be selected according to the choice of the committee
of artists who attended the French army, were the price of a respite
which was not of long duration. It was particularly stipulated, with
republican ostentation, that the busts of the elder and younger Brutus
were to be among the number of ceded articles, and it was in this manner
that Buonaparte made good his vaunt, of establishing in the Roman
capitol the statues of the illustrious and classical dead.[160]


The Archduke of Tuscany was next to undergo the republican discipline.
It is true, that prince had given no offence to the French Republic; on
the contrary, he had claims of merit with them, from having been the
very first power in Europe who acknowledged them as a legal government,
and having ever since been in strict amity with them. It seemed also,
that while justice required he should be spared, the interest of the
French themselves did not oppose the conclusion. His country could have
no influence on the fate of the impending war, being situated on the
western side of the Apennines. In these circumstances, to have seized on
his museum, however tempting, or made requisitions on his territories,
would have appeared unjust towards the earliest ally of the French
Republic; so Buonaparte contented himself with seizing on the grand
duke's seaport of Leghorn [June 27,] confiscating the English goods
which his subjects had imported, and entirely ruining the once
flourishing commerce of the dukedom. It was a principal object with the
French to seize the British merchant vessels, who, confiding in the
respect due to a neutral power, were lying in great numbers in the
harbour; but the English merchantmen had such early intelligence as
enabled them to set sail for Corsica, although a very great quantity of
valuable goods fell into the possession of the French.

While the French general was thus violating the neutrality of the grand
duke, occupying by surprise his valuable seaport, and destroying the
commerce of his state, the unhappy prince was compelled to receive him
at Florence,[161] with all the respect due to a valued friend, and
profess the utmost obligation to him for his lenity, while Manfredini,
the Tuscan minister, endeavoured to throw a veil of decency over the
transactions at Leghorn, by allowing that the English were more masters
in that port than was the grand duke himself. Buonaparte disdained to
have recourse to any paltry apologies. "The French flag," he said, "has
been insulted in Leghorn--You are not strong enough to cause it to be
respected. The Directory has commanded me to occupy the place."[162]
Shortly after, Buonaparte, during an entertainment given to him by the
grand duke at Florence, received intelligence that the citadel of Milan
had at length surrendered. He rubbed his hands with self-congratulation,
and turning to the grand duke, observed, "that the Emperor, his
brother, had now lost his last possession in Lombardy."

When we read of the exactions and indignities to which the strong reduce
the weak, it is impossible not to remember the simile of Napoleon
himself, who compared the alliance of France and an inferior state, to a
giant embracing a dwarf. "The poor dwarf," he added, "may probably be
suffocated in the arms of his friend; but the giant does not mean it,
and cannot help it."

While Buonaparte made truce with several of the old states in Italy, or
rather adjourned their destruction in consideration of large
contributions, he was far from losing sight of the main object of the
French Directory, which was to cause the adjacent governments to be
revolutionized and new-modelled on a republican form, corresponding to
that of the Great Nation herself.

This scheme was, in every respect, an exceedingly artful one. In every
state which the French might overrun or conquer, there must occur, as we
have already repeatedly noticed, men fitted to form the members of
revolutionary government, and who, from their previous situation and
habits, must necessarily be found eager to do so. Such men are sure to
be supported by the rabble of large towns, who are attracted by the
prospect of plunder, and by the splendid promises of liberty, which they
always understand as promising the equalization of property. Thus
provided with materials for their edifice, the bayonets of the French
army were of strength sufficient to prevent the task from being
interrupted, and the French Republic had soon to greet sister states,
under the government of men who held their offices by the pleasure of
France, and who were obliged, therefore, to comply with all her
requisitions, however unreasonable.

This arrangement afforded the French government an opportunity of
deriving every advantage from the subordinate republics, which could
possibly be drained out of them, without at the same time incurring the
odium of making the exactions in their own name. It is a custom in some
countries, when a cow who has lost her calf will not yield her milk
freely, to place before the refractory animal the skin of her young one
stuffed, so as to have some resemblance to life. The cow is deceived by
this imposture, and yields to be milked upon seeing this representative
of her offspring. In like manner, the show of independence assigned to
the Batavian, and other associated republics, enabled France to drain
these countries of supplies, which, while they had the appearance of
being given to the governments of those who granted the supplies,
passed, in fact, into the hands of their engrossing ally. Buonaparte was
sufficiently aware that it was expected from him to extend the same
system to Italy, and to accelerate, in the conquered countries of that
fertile land, this species of political regeneration; but it would
appear that, upon the whole, he thought the soil scarcely prepared for a
republican harvest. He mentions, no doubt, that the natives of Bologna
and Reggio, and other districts, were impatient to unite with the French
as allies, and intimate friends; but even these expressions are so
limited as to make it plain that the feelings of the Italians in general
were not as yet favourable to that revolution which the Directory
desired, and which he endeavoured to forward.

He had, indeed, in all his proclamations, declared to the inhabitants of
the invaded countries, that his war was not waged with them but with
their governments, and had published the strictest orders for the
discipline to be observed by his followers. But though this saved the
inhabitants from immediate violence at the hand of the French soldiery,
it did not diminish the weight of the requisitions with which the
country at large was burdened, and to which poor and rich had to
contribute their share. They were pillaged with regularity, and by
order, but they were not the less pillaged; and Buonaparte himself has
informed us, that the necessity of maintaining the French army at their
expense very much retarded the march of French principles in Italy. "You
cannot," he says, with much truth, "at the same moment strip a people of
their substance, and persuade them, while doing so, that you are their
friend and benefactor."

He mentions also in the St. Helena manuscripts,[163] the regret
expressed by the wise and philosophical part of the community, that the
revolution of Rome, the source and director of superstitious opinions,
had not been commenced; but frankly admits that the time was not come
for going to such extremities, and that he was contented with plundering
the Roman See of its money and valuables, waiting until the fit moment
should arrive of totally destroying that ancient hierarchy.


It was not without difficulty that Buonaparte could bring the Directory
to understand and relish these temporizing measures. They had formed a
false idea of the country, and of the state and temper of the people,
and were desirous at once to revolutionize Rome, Naples, and Tuscany.

Napoleon, more prudently, left these extensive regions under the
direction of their old and feeble governments, whom he compelled, in the
interim, to supply him with money and contributions, in exchange for a
protracted existence, which he intended to destroy so soon as the fit
opportunity should offer itself. What may be thought of this policy in
diplomacy, we pretend not to say; but in private life it would be justly
branded as altogether infamous. In point of morality, it resembles the
conduct of a robber, who, having exacted the surrender of the
traveller's property, as a ransom for his life, concludes his violence
by murder. It is alleged, and we have little doubt with truth, that the
Pope was equally insincere, and struggled only, by immediate
submission, to prepare for the hour when the Austrians should
strengthen their power in Italy. But it is the duty of the historian
loudly to proclaim, that the bad faith of one party in a treaty forms no
excuse for that of the other; and that national contracts ought to be,
especially on the stronger side, as pure in their intent, and executed
as rigidly, as if those with whom they were contracted were held to be
equally sincere in their propositions. If the more powerful party judge
otherwise, the means are in their hand to continue the war; and they
ought to encounter their more feeble enemy by detection, and punishment
of his fraud, not by anticipating the same deceitful course which their
opponent has resorted to in the consciousness of his weakness,--like a
hare which doubles before the hounds when she has no other hope of
escape. It will be well with the world, when falsehood and finesse are
as thoroughly exploded in international communication, as they are among
individuals in all civilized countries.

But though those states, whose sovereigns could afford to pay for
forbearance, were suffered for a time to remain under their ancient
governments, it might have been thought that Lombardy, from which the
Austrians had been almost totally driven, and where, of course, there
was no one to compound with on the part of the old government, would
have been made an exception. Accordingly, the French faction in these
districts, with all the numerous class who were awakened by the hope of
national independence, expected impatiently the declaration of their
freedom from the Austrian yoke, and their erection, under the protection
of France, into a republic on the same model with that of the Great
Nation. But although Buonaparte encouraged men who held these opinions,
and writers who supported them, he had two weighty reasons for
procrastinating on this point. First, if France manumitted Lombardy, and
converted her from a conquered province into an ally, she must in
consistency have abstained from demanding of the liberated country those
supplies, by which Buonaparte's army was entirely paid and supported.
Again, if this difficulty could be got over, there remained the secret
purpose of the Directory to be considered. They had determined, when
they should make peace with the Emperor of Austria, to exact the cession
of Belgium and the territory of Luxembourg, as provinces lying
convenient to France, and had resolved, that under certain
circumstances, they would even give up Lombardy again to his dominion,
rather than not obtain these more desirable objects. To erect a new
republic in the country which they were prepared to restore to its
former sovereign, would have been to throw a bar in the way of their own
negotiation. Buonaparte had therefore the difficult task of at once
encouraging, on the part of the republicans of Lombardy, the principles
which induced them to demand a separate government, and of soothing them
to expect with patience events, which he was secretly conscious might
possibly never come to pass. The final issue shall be told elsewhere. It
may be just necessary to observe, that the conduct of the French towards
the republicans whom they had formed no predetermination to support, was
as uncandid as towards the ancient governments whom they treated with.
They sold to the latter false hopes of security, and encouraged the
former to express sentiments and opinions, which must have exposed them
to ruin, in case of the restoration of Lombardy to its old rulers, an
event which the Directory all along contemplated in secret. Such is, in
almost all cases, the risk incurred by a domestic faction, who trust to
carry their peculiar objects in the bosom of their own country by means
of a foreign nation. Their too powerful auxiliaries are ever ready to
sacrifice them to their own views of emolument.

Having noticed the effect of Buonaparte's short but brilliant campaign
on other states, we must observe the effects which his victories
produced on Austria herself. These were entirely consistent with her
national character. The same tardiness which has long made the
government of Austria slow in availing themselves of advantageous
circumstances, cautious in their plans, and unwilling to adopt, or
indeed to study to comprehend, a new system of tactics, even after
having repeatedly experienced its terrible efficacies, is combined with
the better qualities of firm determination, resolute endurance, and
unquenchable spirit. The Austrian slowness and obstinacy, which have
sometimes threatened them with ruin, have, on the other hand, often been
compensated by their firm perseverance and courage in adversity.

Upon the present occasion, Austria showed ample demonstration of the
various qualities we have ascribed to her. The rapid and successive
victories of Buonaparte, appeared to her only the rash flight of an
eaglet, whose juvenile audacity had over-estimated the strength of his
pinion. The Imperial Council resolved to sustain their diminished force
in Italy, with such reinforcements as might enable them to reassume the
complete superiority over the French, though at the risk of weakening
their armies on the Rhine. Fortune in that quarter, though of a various
complexion, had been, on the whole, more advantageous to the Austrians
than elsewhere, and seemed to authorise the detaching considerable
reinforcements from the eastern frontier, on which they had been
partially victorious, to Italy, where, since Buonaparte had descended
from the Alps, they had been uniformly unfortunate.


Beaulieu, aged and unlucky, was no longer considered as a fit opponent
to his inventive, young, and active adversary. He was as full of
displeasure, it is said, against the Aulic Council, for the associates
whom they had assigned him, as they could be with him for his bad
success.[164] He was recalled, therefore, in that species of disgrace
which misfortune never fails to infer, and the command of his remaining
forces, now drawn back and secured within the passes of the Tyrol, was
provisionally assigned to the veteran Melas.

Meanwhile Wurmser, accounted one of the best of the Austrian generals,
was ordered to place himself at the head of thirty thousand men from the
Imperial forces on the Rhine, and, traversing the Tyrol, and collecting
what recruits he could in that warlike district, to assume the command
of the Austrian army, which, expelled from Italy, now lay upon its
frontiers, and might be supposed eager to resume their national
supremacy in the fertile climate out of which they had been so lately

Aware of the storm which was gathering, Buonaparte made every possible
effort to carry Mantua before arrival of the formidable Austrian army,
whose first operation would doubtless be to raise the siege of that
important place. A scheme to take the city and castle by surprise, by a
detachment which should pass to the Seraglio, or islet on which Mantua
is situated, by night and in boats, having totally failed, Buonaparte
was compelled to open trenches, and proceed as by regular siege. The
Austrian general, Canto D'Irles, when summoned to surrender it, replied
that his orders were to defend the place to extremity. Napoleon, on his
side, assembled all the battering ordnance which could be collected from
the walls of the neighbouring cities and fortresses, and the attack and
defence commenced in the most vigorous manner on both sides; the French
making every effort to reduce the city before Wurmser should open his
campaign, the governor determined to protract his resistance, if
possible, until he was relieved by the advance of that general. But
although red-hot balls were expended in profusion, and several desperate
and bloody assaults and sallies took place, many more battles were to be
fought, and much more blood expended, before Buonaparte was fated to
succeed in this important object.[165]


[144] See Letter of the Directory to Buonaparte, May 7; Correspondence
Inédite, tom. i., p. 145; and Montholon, tom. iv., p. 447.

[145] "Je crois qu'il faut plutôt un mauvais général que deux bons. La
guerre est comme le gouvernement--_c'est une affaire de
tact_."--_Correspondence Inédite_, tom. i., p. 160.

[146] "You appear desirous, citizen-general, to continue to conduct the
whole series of the military operations of the present campaign in
Italy. The Directory have maturely reflected on this proposition, and
the confidence they have in your talents and Republican zeal, has
decided this question in the affirmative."--CARNOT to BUONAPARTE, 21st
May; _Correspondence Inédite_, tom. i., p. 202.

[147] Montholon, tom. iii., p. 196.

[148] It has been alleged, that in a farce exhibited on the public stage
by authority of Buonaparte, the Pope was introduced in his pontifical
dress. This, which could not be looked on as less than sacrilege by a
Catholic population, does not accord with the general conduct of
Buonaparte. See, however, "_Tableau des Premières Guerres de
Buonaparte_," Paris, 1815, par Le Chevalier Mechaud de Villelle, p.

[149] "The pillage lasted several hours; but occasioned more fear than
damage; it was confined to some goldsmiths' shops. The selection of the
hostages fell on the principal families. It was conceived to be
advantageous that some of the persons of most influence should visit
France. In fact, they returned a few months after, several of them
having travelled in all our provinces, where they had adopted French
manners."--NAPOLEON, _Montholon_, tom. iii., p. 200.

"Pavia," said the Emperor, "is the only place I ever gave up to pillage.
I had promised it to the soldiers for twenty-four hours; but after three
hours I could bear it no longer, and put an end to it. Policy and
morality are equally opposed to the system. Nothing is so certain to
disorganize and completely ruin an army."--LAS CASES, tom. iv., p. 326.
See also Botta, tom. v., p. 465; Jomini, tom. viii., p. 137; and
Lacretelle, tom. xiii., p. 199.

[150] Montholon, tom. iii., p. 227.

[151] Montholon, tom. iii., p. 227.

[152] "The examples of the Imperial Fiefs and Lugo, though extremely
severe, were indispensable, and authorised by the usage of
war."--JOMINI, tom. viii., p. 156.

[153] Montholon, tom. iii., p. 204; Jomini, tom. viii., p. 140.

[154] Montholon, tom. iii., p. 206.

[155] Napoleon, Memoirs, tom. iii., p. 209.

[156] Daru, Hist. de Venise; tom. v., p. 436; Thibaudeau, tom. i., p.

[157] Moniteur, No. 267, June 17; Montholon, tom. iv., p. 121.

[158] Thiers, tom. viii., p. 225.

[159] Montholon, tom. iii., p. 213; Thibaudeau, tom. i., p. 275.

[160] Montholon, tom. iii., p. 221; Thiers, tom. viii., p. 236.

[161] "Il parcourut avet le grand-duc la célèbre galerie et n'y remarqua
que trop la Vénus de Medicis."--LACRETELLE, tom. xiii., p. 190.

[162] Montholon, tom. iii., p. 226; Pommereuil, Campagnes de Buonaparte,
p. 78.

[163] Montholon, tom. iii., p. 222.

[164] The following letter appears in the journals as an intercepted
despatch from Beaulieu to the Aulic Council of War. It seems worthy of
preservation, as expressing the irritated feelings with which the
veteran general was certainly affected, whether he wrote the letter in
question or not. It will be recollected, that D'Argenteau, of whom he
complains, was the cause of his original misfortunes at Montenotte. See
_ante_, p. 52. "I asked you for a _general_, and you have sent me
Argenteau--I am quite aware that he is a great lord, and that he is to
be created Field-marshal of the Empire, to atone for my having placed
him under arrest--I apprise you that I have no more than twenty thousand
men remaining, and that the French are sixty thousand strong. I apprise
you farther, that I will retreat to-morrow--next day--the day after
that--and every day--even to Siberia itself, if they pursue me so far.
My age gives me a right to speak out the truth. Hasten to make peace on
any condition whatever."--_Moniteur_, 1796, No. 269.--S.

[165] Montholon, tom. iii., p. 229; Jomini, tom. viii., p. 163.


    _Campaign on the Rhine--General Plan--Wartensleben and the
    Archduke Charles retire before Jourdan and Moreau--The Archduke
    forms a junction with Wartensleben, and defeats Jourdan, who
    retires--Moreau, also, makes his celebrated Retreat through the
    Black Forest--Buonaparte raises the Siege of Mantua, and defeats
    the Austrians at Salo and Lonato--Misbehaviour of the French
    General Valette, at Castiglione--Lonato taken, with the French
    Artillery, on 3d August--Retaken by Massena and
    Augereau--Singular escape of Buonaparte from being captured at
    Lonato--Wurmser defeated between Lonato and Castiglione, and
    retreats on Trent and Roveredo--Buonaparte resumes his position
    before Mantua--Effects of the French Victories on the different
    Italian States--Inflexibility of Austria--Wurmser
    recruited--Battle of Roveredo--French victorious, and Massena
    occupies Trent--Buonaparte defeats Wurmser at Primolano--and at
    Bassano, 8th September--Wurmser flies to Vicenza--Battle of
    Saint-George--Wurmser finally shut up within the walls of


The reader must, of course, be aware, that Italy, through which we are
following the victorious career of Napoleon, was not the only scene of
war betwixt France and Austria, but that a field of equally strenuous
and much more doubtful contest was opened upon the Rhine, where the high
military talents of the Archduke Charles were opposed to those of Moreau
and Jourdan.

The plan which the Directory had adopted for the campaign of 1796 was of
a gigantic character, and menaced Austria, their most powerful enemy
upon the continent, with nothing short of total destruction. It was
worthy of the genius of Carnot, by whom it was formed, and of Napoleon
and Moreau, by whom it had been revised and approved. Under sanction of
this general plan, Buonaparte regulated the Italian campaign in which he
had proved so successful; and it had been schemed, that to allow Austria
no breathing space, Moreau, with the army of the Sambre and Meuse,
should press forward on the eastern frontier of Germany, supported on
the left by Jourdan, at the head of the army of the Rhine, and that both
generals should continue to advance, until Moreau should be in a
position to communicate with Buonaparte through the Tyrol. When this
junction of the whole forces of France, in the centre of the Austrian
dominions, was accomplished, it was Carnot's ultimate plan that they
should advance upon Vienna, and dictate peace to the Emperor under the
walls of his capital.[166]

Of this great project, the part intrusted to Buonaparte was completely
executed, and for some time the fortune of war seemed equally auspicious
to France upon the Rhine as in Italy. Moreau and Jourdan crossed that
great national boundary at Neuwied and Kehl, and moved eastward through
Germany, forming a connected front of more than sixty leagues in
breadth, until Moreau had actually crossed the river Lech, and was
almost touching with his right flank the passes of the Tyrol, through
which he was, according to the plan of the campaign, to have
communicated with Buonaparte.

During this advance of two hostile armies, amounting each to
seventy-five thousand men, which filled all Germany with consternation,
the Austrian leader Wartensleben was driven from position to position by
Jourdan, while the Archduke Charles was equally unable to maintain his
ground before Moreau. The imperial generals were reduced to this
extremity by the loss of the army, consisting of from thirty to
thirty-five thousand men, who had been detached under Wurmser to support
the remains of Beaulieu's forces, and reinstate the Austrian affairs in
Italy, and who were now on their march through the Tyrol for that
purpose. But the archduke was an excellent and enterprising officer, and
at this important period he saved the empire of Austria by a bold and
decided manœuvre. Leaving a large part of his army to make head
against Moreau, or at least to keep him in check, the archduke moved to
the right with the rest, so as to form a junction with Wartensleben, and
overwhelm Jourdan with a local superiority of numbers, being the very
principle on which the French themselves achieved so many victories.
Jourdan was totally defeated, and compelled to make a hasty and
disorderly retreat, which was rendered disastrous by the insurrection of
the German peasantry around his fugitive army. Moreau, also unable to
maintain himself in the heart of Germany, when Jourdan, with the army
which covered his left flank, was defeated, was likewise under the
necessity of retiring, but conducted his retrograde movement with such
dexterity, that his retreat through the Black Forest, where the
Austrians hoped to cut him off, has been always judged worthy to be
compared to a great victory.[167] Such were the proceedings on the
Rhine, and in the interior of Germany, which must be kept in view as
influencing at first by the expected success of Moreau and Jourdan, and
afterwards by their actual failure, the movements of the Italian


As the divisions of Wurmser's army began to arrive on the Tyrolese
district of Trent, where the Austrian general had fixed his
head-quarters, Buonaparte became urgent, either that reinforcements
should be despatched to him from France, or that the armies of the Rhine
should make such a movement in advance towards the point where they
might co-operate with him, as had been agreed upon at arranging the
original plan of the campaign. But he obtained no succours; and though
the campaign on the Rhine commenced, as we have seen, in the month of
June, yet that period was too late to afford any diversion in favour of
Napoleon, Wurmser and his whole reinforcements being already either by
that time arrived, or on the point of arriving, at the place where they
were to commence operations against the French army of Italy.[169]

The thunder-cloud which had been so long blackening on the mountains of
the Tyrol, seemed now about to discharge its fury. Wurmser, having under
his command perhaps eighty thousand men, was about to march from Trent
against the French, whose forces, amounting to scarce half so many, were
partly engaged in the siege of Mantua, and partly dispersed in the towns
and villages on the Adige and Chiese, for covering the division of
Serrurier, which carried on the siege. The Austrian veteran, confident
in his numbers, was only anxious so to regulate his advance, as to
derive the most conclusive consequences from the victory which he
doubted not to obtain. With an imprudence which the misfortunes of
Beaulieu ought to have warned him against, he endeavoured to occupy with
the divisions of his army so large an extent of country, as rendered it
very difficult for them to maintain their communications with each
other. This was particularly the case with his right wing under
Quasdonowich, the Prince of Reuss, and General Ocskay, who were detached
down the valley of the river Chiese, with orders to direct their march
on Brescia. This division was destined to occupy Brescia, and cut off
the retreat of the French in the direction of Milan. The left wing of
Wurmser's army, under Melas, was to descend the Adige by both banks at
once, and manœuvre on Verona, while the centre, commanded by the
Austrian field-marshal in person, was to march southward by the left
bank of the lago di Guarda, take possession of Peschiera, which the
French occupied, and, descending the Mincio, relieve the siege of
Mantua. There was this radical error in the Austrian plan, that, by
sending the right wing by the valley of Chiese, Wurmser placed the broad
lake of Guarda, occupied by a French flotilla, between that division and
the rest of his army, and of course made it impossible for the centre
and left to support Quasdonowich, or even to have intelligence of his
motions or his fate.[170]

The active invention of Buonaparte, sure as he was to be seconded by
the zeal and rapidity of the French army, speedily devised the means to
draw advantage from this dislocation of the Austrian forces. He resolved
not to await the arrival of Wurmser and Melas, but, concentrating his
whole strength, to march into the valley of Chiese, and avail himself of
the local superiority thus obtained, to attack and overpower the
Austrian division left under Quasdonowich, who was advancing on Brescia,
down the eastern side of the lake. For this purpose one great sacrifice
was necessary. The plan inevitably involved the raising of the siege of
Mantua. Napoleon did not hesitate to relinquish this great object, at
whatever loss, as it was his uniform system to sacrifice all secondary
views, and to incur all lesser hazards, to secure what he considered as
the main object of the campaign. Serrurier, who commanded the blockading
army, was hastily ordered to destroy as much as possible of the cannon
and stores which had been collected with so much pains for the
prosecution of the siege.[171] A hundred guns were abandoned in the
trenches, and Wurmser, on arriving at Mantua, found that Buonaparte had
retired with a precipitation resembling that of fear.[172]

On the night of the 31st July this operation took place, and, leaving
the division of Augereau at Borghetto, and that of Massena at Peschiera,
to protect, while it was possible, the line of the Mincio, Buonaparte
rushed, at the head of an army which his combinations had rendered
superior, upon the right wing of the Austrians, which had already
directed its march to Lonato, near the bottom of the lago di Guarda, in
order to approach the Mincio, and resume its communication with Wurmser.
But Buonaparte, placed by the celerity of his movements between the two
hostile armies, defeated one division of the Austrian right at Salo,
upon the lake, and another at Lonato. At the same time, Augereau and
Massena, leaving just enough of men at their posts of Borghetto and
Peschiera to maintain a respectable defence against Wurmser, made a
forced march to Brescia, which they supposed to be still occupied by a
third division of the Austrian right wing. But that body, finding itself
insulated, and conceiving that the whole French army was debouching on
them from different points, was already in full retreat towards the
Tyrol, from which it had advanced with the expectation of turning
Buonaparte's flank, and destroying his retreat upon Milan. Some French
troops were left to accelerate their flight, and prevent their again
making head, while Massena and Augereau, rapidly countermarching,
returned to the banks of the Mincio to support their respective
rear-guards, which they had left at Borghetto and Peschiera, on the line
of that river.


They received intelligence, however, which induced them to halt upon
this counter-march. Both rear-guards had been compelled to retire from
the line of the Mincio, of which river the Austrians had forced the
passage. The rear-guard of Massena, under General Pigeon, had fallen
back in good order, so as to occupy Lonato; that of Augereau fled with
precipitation and confusion, and failed to make a stand at Castiglione,
which was occupied by Austrians, who intrenched themselves there.
Valette, the officer who commanded this body, was deprived of his
commission in presence of his troops for misbehaviour,[173] an example
which the gallantry of the French generals rendered extremely infrequent
in their service.

Wurmser became now seriously anxious about the fate of his right wing,
and determined to force a communication with Quasdonowich at all risks.
But he could only attain the valley of the Chiese, and the right bank of
the lago di Guarda, by breaking a passage through the divisions of
Massena and Augereau. On the 3d of August, at break of day, two
divisions of Austrians, who had crossed the Mincio in pursuit of Pigeon
and Valette, now directed themselves, with the most determined
resolution, on the French troops, in order to clear the way between the
commander-in-chief and his right wing.

The late rear-guard of Massena, which, by his counter-march, had now
become his advanced-guard, was defeated, and Lonato, the place which
they occupied, was taken by the Austrians, with the French artillery,
and the general officer who commanded them. But the Austrian general,
thus far successful, fell into the great error of extending his line too
much towards the right, in order, doubtless, if possible, to turn the
French position on their left flank, thereby the sooner to open a
communication with his own troops on the right bank of the lago di
Guarda, to force which had been his principal object in the attack. But,
in thus manœuvring,[174] he weakened his centre, an error of which
Massena instantly availed himself. He formed two strong columns under
Augereau, with which he redeemed the victory, by breaking through and
dividing the Austrian line, and retaking Lonato at the point of the
bayonet. The manœuvre is indeed a simple one, and the same by which,
ten years afterwards, Buonaparte gained the battle of Austerlitz; but it
requires the utmost promptitude and presence of mind to seize the exact
moment for executing such a daring measure to advantage. If it is but
partially successful, and the enemy retains steadiness, it is very
perilous; since the attacking column, instead of flanking the broken
divisions of the opposite line, may be itself flanked by decided
officers and determined troops, and thus experience the disaster which
it was their object to occasion to the enemy. On the present occasion,
the attack on the centre completely succeeded. The Austrians, finding
their line cut asunder, and their flanks pressed by the victorious
columns of the French, fell into total disorder. Some, who were farthest
to the right, pushed forward, in hopes to unite themselves to
Quasdonowich, and what they might find remaining of the original right
wing; but these were attacked in front by General Soret, who had been
active in defeating Quasdonowich upon the 30th July, and were at the
same time pursued by another detachment of the French, which had broken
through their centre.

Such was the fate of the Austrian right at the battle of Lonato, while
that of the left was no less unfavourable. They were attacked by
Augereau with the utmost bravery, and driven from Castiglione, of which
they had become masters by the bad conduct of Valette. Augereau achieved
this important result at the price of many brave men's lives;[175] but
it was always remembered as an essential service by Buonaparte, who
afterwards, when such dignities came in use, bestowed on Augereau the
title of Duke of Castiglione.[176] After their defeat, there can be
nothing imagined more confused or calamitous than the condition of the
Austrian divisions, who, having attacked, without resting on each other,
found themselves opposed and finally overwhelmed by an enemy who
appeared to possess ubiquity, simply from his activity and power of
combining his forces.

A remarkable instance of their lamentable state of disorder and
confusion, resembling in its consequences more than one example of the
same sort, occurred at Lonato. It might, with any briskness of
intelligence, or firmness of resolution, have proved a decisive
advantage to their arms; it was, in its result, a humiliating
illustration, how completely the succession of bad fortune had broken
the spirit of the Austrian soldiers. The reader can hardly have
forgotten the incident at the battle of Millesimo, when an Austrian
column which had been led astray, retook, as if it were by chance, the
important village of Dego;[177] or the more recent instance, when a body
of Beaulieu's advanced guard, alike unwittingly, had nearly made
Buonaparte prisoner in his quarters.[178] The present danger arose from
the same cause, the confusion and want of combination of the enemy; and
now, as in the former perilous occurrences, the very same circumstances
which brought on the danger, served to ward it off.


A body of four or five thousand Austrians, partly composed of those who
had been cut off at the battle of Lonato, partly of stragglers from
Quasdonowich, received information from the peasantry, the French
troops, having departed in every direction to improve their success, had
only left a garrison of twelve hundred men in the town of Lonato. The
commander of the division resolved instantly to take possession of the
town, and thus to open his march to the Mincio, to join Wurmser. Now, it
happened that Buonaparte himself, coming from Castiglione with only his
staff for protection, had just entered Lonato. He was surprised when an
Austrian officer was brought before him blindfolded, as is the custom on
such occasions, who summoned the French commandant of Lonato to
surrender to a superior force of Austrians, who, he stated, were already
forming columns of attack to carry the place by irresistible force of
numbers. Buonaparte, with admirable presence of mind, collected his
numerous staff around him, caused the officer's eyes to be unbandaged,
that he might see in whose presence he stood, and upbraided him with the
insolence of which he had been guilty, in bringing a summons of
surrender to the French commander-in-chief in the middle of his
army.[179] The credulous officer, recognising the presence of
Buonaparte, and believing it impossible that he could be there without
at least a strong division of his army, stammered out an apology, and
returned to persuade his dispirited commander to surrender himself, and
the four thousand men and upwards whom he commanded, to the
comparatively small force which occupied Lonato. They grounded their
arms accordingly, to one-fourth of their number, and missed an inviting
and easy opportunity of carrying Buonaparte prisoner to Wurmser's

The Austrian general himself, whose splendid army was thus destroyed in
detail, had been hitherto employed in revictualling Mantua, and throwing
in supplies of every kind; besides which, a large portion of his army
had been detached in the vain pursuit of Serrurier, and the troops
lately engaged in the siege, who had retreated towards Marcaria. When
Wurmser learned the disasters of his right wing, and the destruction of
the troops despatched to form a communication with it, he sent to recall
the division which we have mentioned, and advanced against the French
position between Lonato and Castiglione, with an army still numerous,
notwithstanding the reverses which it had sustained. But Buonaparte had
not left the interval unimproved. He had recalled Serrurier from
Marcaria, to assail the left wing and the flank of the Austrian
field-marshal. The opening of Serrurier's fire was a signal for a
general attack on all points of Wurmser's line. He was defeated, and
nearly made prisoner; and it was not till after suffering great losses
in the retreat and pursuit, that he gained with difficulty Trent and
Roveredo, the positions adjacent to the Tyrol, from which he had so
lately sallied with such confidence of victory. He had lost perhaps one
half of his fine army, and the only consolation which remained was, that
he had thrown supplies into the fortress of Mantua. His troops also no
longer had the masculine confidence which is necessary to success in
war. They were no longer proud of themselves and of their commanders;
and those, especially, who had sustained so many losses under Beaulieu,
could hardly be brought to do their duty, in circumstances where it
seemed that Destiny itself was fighting against them.

The Austrians are supposed to have lost nearly forty thousand men in
these disastrous battles. The French must have at least suffered the
loss of one-fourth of the number, though Buonaparte confesses only to
seven thousand men;[180] and their army, desperately fatigued by so many
marches, such constant fighting, and the hardships of a campaign, where
even the general for seven days never laid aside his clothes, or took
any regular repose, required some time to recover their physical

Meantime, Napoleon resumed his position before Mantua; but the want of
battering cannon, and the commencement of the unhealthy heats of autumn,
amid lakes and inundations, besides the great chance of a second attack
on the part of Wurmser, induced him to limit his measures to a simple
blockade, which, however, was so strict as to retain the garrison within
the walls of the place, and cut them off even from the islet called the

The events of this hurried campaign threw light on the feelings of the
different states of Italy. Lombardy in general remained quiet, and the
citizens of Milan seemed so well affected to the French, that
Buonaparte, after the victory of Castiglione, returned them his thanks
in name of the Republic.[181] But at Pavia, and elsewhere, a very
opposite disposition was evinced; and at Ferrara, the Cardinal Mattei,
archbishop of that town, made some progress in exciting an insurrection.
His apology, when introduced to Buonaparte's presence to answer for his
conduct, consisted in uttering the single word _Peccavi!_ and Napoleon,
soothed by his submission, imposed no punishment on him for his
offence,[182] but, on the contrary, used his mediation in some
negotiations with the court of Rome. Yet though the Bishop of Ferrara,
overawed and despised, was permitted to escape, the conduct of his
superior, the Pope, who had shown vacillation in his purposes of
submission, when he heard of the temporary raising of Mantua, was
carefully noted and remembered for animadversion, when a suitable moment
should occur.


Nothing is more remarkable, during these campaigns, than the
inflexibility of Austria, which, reduced to the extremity of distress by
the advance of Moreau and Jourdan into her territories, stood
nevertheless on the defensive at every point, and by extraordinary
exertions again recruited Wurmser with fresh troops, to the amount of
twenty thousand men; which reinforcement enabled that general, though
under no more propitious star, again to resume the offensive, by
advancing from the Tyrol. Wurmser, with less confidence than before,
hoped now to relieve the siege of Mantua a second time, and at a less
desperate cost, by moving from Trent towards Mantua, through the defiles
formed by the river Brenta. This manœuvre he proposed to execute with
thirty thousand men, while he left twenty thousand, under General
Davidowich, in a strong position at or near Roveredo, for the purpose of
covering the Tyrol; an invasion of which district, on the part of the
French, must have added much to the general panic which already
astounded Germany, from the apprehended advance of Moreau and Jourdan
from the banks of the Rhine.

Buonaparte penetrated the design of the veteran general, and suffered
him without disturbance to march towards Bassano upon the Brenta, in
order to occupy the line of operations on which he intended to
manœuvre, with the secret intention that he would himself assume the
offensive, and overwhelm Davidowich as soon as the distance betwixt them
precluded a communication betwixt that general and Wurmser. He left
General Kilmaine, an officer of Irish extraction[183] in whom he reposed
confidence, with about three thousand men, to cover the siege of Mantua,
by posting himself under the walls of Verona, while, concentrating a
strong body of forces, Napoleon marched upon the town of Roveredo,
situated in the valley of the Adige, and having in its rear the strong
position of Calliano. The town is situated on the high road to Trent,
and Davidowich lay there with twenty-five thousand Austrians, intended
to protect the Tyrol, while Wurmser moved down the Brenta, which runs in
the same direction with the Adige, but at about thirty miles' distance,
so that no communication for mutual support could take place betwixt
Wurmser and his lieutenant-general. It was upon Davidowich that
Buonaparte first meant to pour his thunder.

[Sidenote: Sept. 4.]

The battle of Roveredo, fought upon the 4th of September, was one of
that great general's splendid days. Before he could approach the town,
one of his divisions had to force the strongly intrenched camp of Mori,
where the enemy made a desperate defence. Another attacked the Austrians
on the opposite bank of the Adige, (for the action took place on both
sides of the river,) until the enemy at length retreated, still fighting
desperately. Napoleon sent his orders to General Dubois, to charge with
the first regiment of hussars:--he did so, and broke the enemy, but fell
mortally wounded with three balls. "I die," he said, "for the
Republic--bring me but tidings that the victory is certain."[184]

The retreating enemy were driven through the town of Roveredo, without
having it in their power to make a stand. The extreme strength of the
position of Calliano seemed to afford them rallying ground. The Adige is
there bordered by precipitous mountains, approaching so near its course,
as only to leave a pass of forty toises' breadth between the river and
the precipice, which opening was defended by a village, a castle, and a
strong defensive wall resting upon the rock, all well garnished with
artillery. The French, in their enthusiasm of victory, could not be
stopped even by these obstacles. Eight pieces of light artillery were
brought forward, under cover of which the infantry charged and carried
this strong position; so little do natural advantages avail when the
minds of the assailants are influenced with an opinion that they are
irresistible, and those of the defenders are depressed by a uniform and
uninterrupted course of defeat. Six or seven thousand prisoners, and
fifteen pieces of cannon captured, were the fruits of this splendid
victory; and Massena the next morning took possession of Trent in the
Tyrol, so long the stronghold where Wurmser had maintained his

The wrecks of Davidowich's army fled deeper into the Tyrol, and took up
their position at Lavisa, a small village on a river of a similar name,
about three leagues to the northward of Trent, and situated in the
principal road which communicates with Brixen and Inspruck. Buonaparte
instantly pursued them with a division of his army, commanded by
Vaubois, and passed the Lavisa with his cavalry, while the enemy were
amused with an assault upon the bridge. Thus he drove them from their
position, which, being the entrance of one of the chief defiles of the
Tyrol, it was of importance to secure, and it was occupied accordingly
by Vaubois with his victorious division.

[Sidenote: THE TYROL.]

Buonaparte, in consequence of his present condition, became desirous to
conciliate the martial inhabitants of the Tyrol, and published a
proclamation, in which he exhorted them to lay down their arms, and
return to their homes; assuring them of protection against military
violence, and labouring to convince them, that they had themselves no
interest in the war which he waged against the Emperor and his
government, but not against his subjects.[186] That his conduct might
appear to be of a piece with his reasoning, Napoleon issued an edict,
disuniting the principality of Trent from the German empire, and
annexing it in point of sovereignty to the French Republic, while he
intrusted, or seemed to intrust, the inhabitants themselves with the
power of administering their own laws and government.

Bounties which depended on the gift of an armed enemy, appeared very
suspicious to the Tyrolese, who were aware that, in fact, the order of a
French officer would be more effectual law, whenever that nation had the
power, than that of any administrator of civil affairs whom they might
themselves be permitted to choose. As for the proclamation, the French
general might as well have wasted his eloquence on the rocks of the
country. The Tyrol, one of the earliest possessions of the House of
Austria, had been uniformly governed by those princes with strict
respect to the privileges of the inhabitants, who were possessed already
of complete personal freedom. Secured in all the immunities which were
necessary for their comfort, these sagacious peasants saw nothing to
expect from the hand of a stranger general, excepting what Buonaparte
himself has termed, those vexations necessarily annexed to a country
which becomes the seat of war, and which, in more full detail, include
whatever the avarice of the general, the necessities of the soldiers,
not to mention the more violent outrage of marauders and plunderers, may
choose to exact from the inhabitants. But, besides this prudent
calculation of consequences, the Tyrolese felt the generous spirit of
national independence, and resolved that their mountains should not be
dishonoured by the march of an armed enemy, if the unerring rifle-guns
of their children were able to protect their native soil from such
indignity. Every mode of resistance was prepared; and it was then that
those piles of rocks, stones, and trunks of trees, were collected on the
verge of the precipices which line the valley of the Inn, and other
passes of the Tyrol, but which remained in grim repose till rolled down,
to the utter annihilation of the French and Bavarian invaders in 1809,
under the direction of the valiant Hofer and his companions in arms.

More successful with the sword than the pen, Buonaparte had no sooner
disposed of Davidowich and his army, than he began his operations
against Wurmser himself, who had by this time learned the total defeat
of his subordinate division, and that the French were possessed of
Trent. The Austrian field-marshal immediately conceived that the French
general, in consequence of his successes, would be disposed to leave
Italy behind, and advance to Inspruck, in order to communicate with the
armies of Moreau and Jourdan, which were now on the full advance into
Germany. Instead, therefore, of renouncing his own scheme of relieving
Mantua, Wurmser thought the time favourable for carrying it into
execution; and in place of falling back with his army on Friuli, and
thus keeping open his communication with Vienna, he committed the great
error of involving himself still deeper in the Italian passes to the
southward, by an attempt, with a diminished force, to execute a purpose,
which he had been unable to accomplish when his army was double the
strength of the French. With this ill-chosen plan, he detached Mezaros
with a division of his forces, to manœuvre on Verona, where, as we
have seen, Buonaparte had stationed Kilmaine to cover the siege, or
rather the blockade, of Mantua. Mezaros departed accordingly, and
leaving Wurmser at Bassano on the Brenta, marched south-westward towards
the collateral valley of the Adige, and attacked Kilmaine, who, by
drawing his men under cover of the fortifications of Verona, made a
resolute defence. The Austrian general, finding it impossible to carry
the place by a coup-de-main, was meditating to cross the Adige, when he
was recalled by the most urgent commands to rejoin Wurmser with all
possible despatch.

As soon as Buonaparte learned this new separation of Wurmser from a
large division of his army, he anticipated the possibility of defeating
the field-marshal himself, driving him from his position at Bassano, and
of consequence, cutting off at his leisure the division of Mezaros,
which had advanced so far to the southward as effectually to compromise
its safety.

To execute this plan required the utmost rapidity of movement; for,
should Wurmser learn that Buonaparte was advancing towards Bassano, in
time to recall Mezaros, he might present a front too numerous to be
attacked with hope of success. There are twenty leagues' distance
betwixt Trent and Bassano, and that ground was to be traversed by means
of very difficult roads, in the space of two days at farthest. But it
was in such circumstances that the genius of Napoleon triumphed, through
the enthusiastic power which he possessed over the soldiery, and by
which he could urge them to the most incredible exertions. He left Trent
on the 6th September, at break of day, and reached, in the course of the
evening, Borgo di Val Lugano, a march of ten French leagues. A similar
forced march of five leagues and upwards, brought him up with Wurmser's
advanced-guard, which was strongly posted at Primolano.

The effect of the surprise, and the impetuosity of the French attack
surmounted all the advantages of position. The Austrian double-lines
were penetrated by a charge of three French columns--the cavalry
occupied the high-road, and cut off the enemy's retreat on Bassano--in a
word, Wurmser's vanguard was totally destroyed, and more than four
thousand men laid down their arms.[187] From Primolano the French,
dislodging whatever enemies they encountered, advanced to Cismone, a
village, where a river of the same name unites with the Brenta. There
they halted exhausted with fatigue; and on that evening no sentinel in
the army endured more privations than Napoleon himself, who took up his
quarters for the night without either staff-officers or baggage, and was
glad to accept a share of a private soldier's ration of bread, of which
the poor fellow lived to remind his general when he was become


Cismone is only about four leagues from Bassano, and Wurmser heard with
alarm, that the French leader, whom he conceived to be already deeply
engaged in the Tyrolese passes, had destroyed his vanguard, and was
menacing his own position. It was under this alarm that he despatched
expresses, as already mentioned, to recall Mezaros and his division. But
it was too late; for that general was under the walls of Verona, nigh
fifteen leagues from Wurmser's position, on the night of the 7th
September, when the French army was at Cismone, within a third part of
that distance. The utmost exertions of Mezaros could only bring his
division as far as Montebello, upon the 8th September, when the battle
of Bassano seemed to decide the fate of his unfortunate

[Sidenote: Sept. 8.]

This victory was as decisive as any which Buonaparte had hitherto
obtained. The village of Salagna was first carried by main force, and
then the French army, continuing to descend the defiles of the Brenta,
attacked Wurmser's main body, which still lay under his own command in
the town of Bassano. Augereau penetrated into the town upon the right,
Massena upon the left. They bore down all opposition, and seized the
cannon by which the bridge was defended, in spite of the efforts of the
Austrian grenadiers, charged with the duty of protecting Wurmser and his
staff, who were now in absolute flight.

The field-marshal himself, with the military chest of his army, nearly
fell into the hands of the French; and though he escaped for the time,
it was after an almost general dispersion of his troops.[189] Six
thousand Austrians surrendered to Buonaparte;[190] Quasdonowich, with
three or four thousand men, effected a retreat to the north-east, and
gained Friuli; while Wurmser himself, finding it impossible to escape
otherwise, fled to Vicenza in the opposite direction, and there united
the scattered forces which still followed him, with the division of
Mezaros. When this junction was accomplished, the aged marshal had still
the command of about sixteen thousand men, out of sixty thousand, with
whom he had, scarce a week before, commenced the campaign. The material
part of his army, guns, waggons, and baggage, was all lost--his retreat
upon the hereditary states of Austria was entirely cut off--the flower
of his army was destroyed--courage and confidence were gone--there
seemed no remedy but that he should lay down his arms to the youthful
conqueror by whose forces he was now surrounded on all sides, without,
as it appeared, any possibility of extricating himself. But Fate itself
seemed to take some tardy compassion on this venerable and gallant
veteran, and not only adjourned his final fall, but even granted him
leave to gather some brief-dated laurels, as the priests of old were
wont to garland their victims before the final sacrifice.

Surrounded by dangers, and cut off from any other retreat, Wurmser
formed the gallant determination to throw himself and his remaining
forces into Mantua, and share the fate of the beleaguered fortress which
he had vainly striven to relieve. But to execute this purpose it was
necessary to cross the Adige, nor was it easy to say how this was to be
accomplished. Verona, one point of passage, was defended by Kilmaine,
who had already repulsed Mezaros. Legnago, where there was a bridge, was
also garrisoned by the French; and Wurmser had lost his bridge of
pontoons at the battle of Bassano. At the village of Albarado, however,
there was an established ferry, totally insufficient for passing over so
considerable a force with the necessary despatch, but which Wurmser used
for the purpose of sending across two squadrons of cavalry, in order to
reconnoitre the blockade of Mantua, and the facilities which might
present themselves for accomplishing a retreat on that fortress. This
precaution proved for the time the salvation of Wurmser, and what
remained of his army.

Fortune, which has such influence in warlike affairs, had so ordered it,
that Kilmaine, apprehending that Wurmser would attempt to force a
passage at Verona, and desirous to improve his means of resistance
against so great a force, had sent orders that the garrison of four
hundred men who guarded the bridge at Legnago should join him at Verona,
and that an equal number should be detached from the blockade of Mantua,
to supply their place on the Lower Adige. The former part of his command
had been obeyed, and the garrison of Legnago were on their march for
Verona. But the relief which was designed to occupy their post, though
on their way to Legnago, had not yet arrived. The Austrian cavalry, who
had passed over at Albarado, encountering this body on its march from
the vicinity of Mantua, attacked them with spirit, and sabred a good
many. The commander of the French battalion, confounded at this
appearance, concluded that the whole Austrian army had gained the right
bank of the Adige, and that he should necessarily be cut off if he
prosecuted his march to Legnago. Thus the passage at that place was left
altogether undefended; and Wurmser, apprised of this unhoped-for chance
of escape, occupied the village, and took possession of the bridge.[191]

Buonaparte, in the meantime, having moved from Bassano to Arcola in
pursuit of the defeated enemy, learned, at the latter place, that
Wurmser still lingered at Legnago, perhaps to grant his troops some
indispensable repose, perhaps to watch whether it might be even yet
possible to give the slip to the French divisions by which he was
surrounded, and, by a rapid march back upon Padua, to regain his
communication with the Austrian territories, instead of enclosing
himself in Mantua. Buonaparte hastened to avail himself of these moments
of indecision. Augereau was ordered to march upon Legnago by the road
from Padua, so as to cut off any possibility of Wurmser's retreat in
that direction; while Massena's division was thrown across the Adige by
a ferry at Ronco, to strengthen General Kilmaine, who had already
occupied the line of a small river called the Molinella, which
intersects the country between Legnago and Mantua. If this position
could be made good, it was concluded that the Austrian general, unable
to reach Mantua, or to maintain himself at Legnago, must even yet
surrender himself and his army.

[Sidenote: ACTION OF CEREA.]

On the 12th September, Wurmser began his march. He was first opposed at
Cerea, where Murat and Pigeon had united their forces. But Wurmser made
his dispositions, and attacked with a fury which swept out of the way
both the cavalry and infantry of the enemy, and obtained possession of
the village. In the heat of the skirmish, and just when the French were
giving way, Buonaparte himself entered Cerea, with the purpose of
personally superintending the dispositions made for intercepting the
retreat of Wurmser, when, but for the speed of his horse, he had nearly
fallen as a prisoner into the hands of the general whose destruction he
was labouring to ensure. Wurmser arrived on the spot a few minutes
afterwards, and gave orders for a pursuit in every direction;
commanding, however, that the French general should, if possible, be
taken alive--a conjunction of circumstances worthy of remark, since it
authorised the Austrian general for the moment to pronounce on the fate
of him, who, before and after was the master of his destiny.

Having again missed this great prize, Wurmser continued his march all
night, and turning aside from the great road, where the blockading army
had taken measures to intercept him, he surprised a small bridge over
the Molinella, at a village called Villa Impenta, by which he eluded
encountering the forces of Kilmaine. A body of French horse, sent to
impede his progress, was cut to pieces by the Austrian cavalry. On the
14th, Wurmser obtained a similar success at Duc Castelli, where his
cuirassiers destroyed a body of French infantry; and having now forced
himself into a communication with Mantua, he encamped between the suburb
of Saint George and the citadel, and endeavoured to keep open the
communication with the country, for the purpose of obtaining a supply of
forage and provisions.

[Sidenote: Sept. 19.]

But it was not Buonaparte's intention to leave him undisturbed in so
commodious a position. Having received the surrender of an Austrian
corps which was left in Porto Legnago, and gleaned up such other
remnants of Wurmser's army as could not accompany their general in his
rapid march to Mantua, he resolved once more to force his way into the
islet of the Seraglio, upon which Mantua is built, and confine the
besieged within the walls of their garrison. On the 19th, after a very
severe and bloody action, the French obtained possession of the suburb
of Saint George, and the citadel termed La Favorita, and a long series
of severe sallies and attacks took place, which, although gallantly
fought by the Austrians, generally tended to their disadvantage, so that
they were finally again blockaded within the walls of the city and

The woes of war now appeared among them in a different and even more
hideous form than when inflicted with the sword alone. When Wurmser
threw himself into Mantua, the garrison might amount to twenty-six
thousand men; yet, ere October was far advanced, there were little above
the half of the number fit for service. There were nearly nine thousand
sick in the hospitals,--infectious diseases, privations of every kind,
and the unhealthy air of the lakes and marshes with which they were
surrounded, had cut off the remainder. The French also had lost great
numbers; but the conquerors could reckon up their victories, and forget
the price at which they had been purchased.

It was a proud vaunt, and a cure in itself for many losses, that the
minister of war had a right to make the following speech to the
Directory, at the formal introduction of Marmont, then aide-de-camp of
Buonaparte, and commissioned to present on his part the colours and
standards taken from the enemy:--"In the course of a single campaign,"
he truly said, "Italy had been entirely conquered--three large armies
had been entirely destroyed--more than fifty stand of colours had been
taken by the victors--forty thousand Austrians had laid down their
arms--and, what was not the least surprising part of the whole, these
deeds had been accomplished by an army of only thirty thousand
Frenchmen, commanded by a general scarce twenty-six years old."[193]


[166] See Correspondence Inédite, tom. i., p. 12; Montholon, tom. iv.,
p. 372; Jomini, tom. viii., p. 388.

[167] "That retreat was the greatest blunder that ever Moreau committed.
If he had, instead of retreating, made a détour, and marched in the rear
of Prince Charles, he would have destroyed or taken the Austrian army.
The Directory, jealous of me, wanted to divide, if possible, the stock
of military reputation; and as they could not give Moreau credit for a
victory, they caused his retreat to be extolled in the highest terms:
although even the Austrian generals condemned him for it."--NAPOLEON,
_Voice_, &c., vol. ii., p. 40. See also Gourgaud, tom. i., p. 157.

[168] Montholon, tom. iii., pp. 292-307; Jomini, tom. viii., pp.

[169] Montholon, tom. iii., p. 234.

[170] Montholon, tom. iii., p. 235; Jomini, tom. viii., p. 302.

[171] Jomini, tom. viii., p. 314; Montholon, tom. iii., p. 239.

[172] "Napoleon despatched Louis in the greatest haste to Paris, with an
account of what had taken place. Louis left his brother with regret on
the eve of the battle, to become the bearer of bad news. 'It must be
so,' said Napoleon, 'but before you return you will have to present to
the Directory the colours which we shall take to-morrow.'"--LOUIS
BUONAPARTE, tom. i., p 63.

[173] Buonaparte to the Directory; Moniteur, No. 328; Jomini, tom.
viii., p. 318; Botta, tom. ii., p. 64.

[174] "Sa manœuvre me parut un sûr garant de la
victoire."--BUONAPARTE to the Directory, 6th August.

[175] Buonaparte, in his despatch to the Directory, states the loss of
the Austrians at from two to three thousand killed, and four thousand
prisoners; Jomini, tom. viii., p. 325, says, "three thousand killed,
wounded, or prisoners."

[176] "That day was the most brilliant of Augereau's life, nor did
Napoleon ever forget it."--MONTHOLON, tom. iii., p. 255.

[177] See _ante_, p. 55.

[178] See _ante_, p. 84.

[179] "Go and tell your general," said Napoleon, "that I give him eight
minutes to lay down his arms; he is in the midst of the French army;
after that time there are no hopes for him."--MONTHOLON, tom. iii., p.
246; Jomini, tom. viii., p. 326. But see Botta, tom. i., p. 546.

[180] "In the different engagements between the 29th July and the 12th
August, the French army took 15,000 prisoners, 70 pieces of cannon, and
nine stand of colours, and killed or wounded 25,000 men; the loss of the
French army was 7000 men."--MONTHOLON, tom. iii., p. 251.

[181] "Your people render themselves daily more worthy of liberty, and
they will, no doubt, one day appear with glory on the stage of the
world."--_Moniteur_, No. 331, Aug. 9.

[182] "When brought before the Commander-in-chief, he answered only by
the word _peccavi_, which disarmed the victor, who merely confined him
three months in a religious house."--MONTHOLON, tom. iii., p. 254.

Mattei was born at Rome in 1744. Compelled, in 1810, to repair to France
with his colleagues, he was banished by Napoleon to Rhetel, for refusing
to be present at his marriage with Maria Louisa. The cardinal died in

[183] Kilmaine was born at Dublin in 1754. He distinguished himself at
Jemappes and in La Vendée, and was selected to command the "_Army of
England_," but died at Paris in 1799.

[184] Buonaparte to the Directory, 6th September.

[185] Jomini, tom. ix., p. 107; Thibaudeau, tom. ii., p. 5; Montholon,
tom. iii., p. 259.

[186] Montholon, tom. iii., p. 263.

[187] Buonaparte to the Directory, 8th September; Montholon, tom. iii.,
p. 265. Jomini, tom. ix., p. 114, estimates the prisoners at fully from
twelve to fifteen hundred.

[188] At the camp of Boulogne, in 1805.

[189] Napoleon the same night visited the field of battle, and he told
this anecdote of it at St. Helena--"In the deep silence of a beautiful
moonlight night," said the Emperor, "a dog leaping suddenly from beneath
the clothes of his dead master, rushed upon us, and then immediately
returned to his hiding-place, howling piteously. He alternately licked
his master's face, and again flew at us; thus at once soliciting aid and
threatening revenge. Whether owing to my own particular mood of mind at
the moment, the time, the place, or the action itself, I know not, but
certainly no incident on any field of battle ever produced so deep an
impression on me. I involuntarily stopped to contemplate the scene. This
man, thought I, must have had among his comrades friends; and here he
lies forsaken by all except his dog! What a strange being is man! and
how mysterious are his impressions! I had, without emotion, ordered
battles which were to decide the fate of the army; I had beheld with
tearless eyes, the execution of those operations, in the course of which
numbers of my countrymen were sacrificed; and here my feelings were
roused by the mournful howling of a dog. Certainly at that moment I
should have been easily moved by a suppliant enemy; I could very well
imagine Achilles surrendering up the body of Hector at the sight of
Priam's tears."--LAS CASES, tom. ii., p. 403. See also Arnault, Hist. de
Napoleon; and Thibaudeau, tom. ii., p. 11.

[190] Montholon, tom. iii., p. 266; Buonaparte, in his letter to the
Directory, says 5000; Jomini, tom. ix., p. 116, reduces them to 2000.

[191] Jomini, tom. ix., p. 116; Thibaudeau, tom. ii., p. 54; Montholon,
tom. iii., p. 267.

[192] Montholon, tom. iii., p. 271; Jomini, tom. ix., p. 126.


    _Corsica reunited with France--Critical situation of Buonaparte
    in Italy at this period--The Austrian General Alvinzi placed at
    the head of a new Army--Various Contests, attended with no
    decisive result--Want of Concert among the Austrian
    Generals--French Army begin to murmur--First Battle of
    Arcola--Napoleon in personal danger--No decisive result--Second
    Battle of Arcola--The French victorious--Fresh want of concert
    among the Austrian Generals--General Views of Military and
    Political Affairs, after the conclusion of the fourth Italian
    Campaign--Austria commences a fifth Campaign--but has not
    profited by experience--Battle of Rivoli, and Victory of the
    French--Further successful at La Favorita--French regain their
    lost ground in Italy--Surrender of Mantua--Instances of
    Napoleon's Generosity._


About this period the reunion of Corsica with France took place.
Buonaparte contributed to this change in the political relations of his
native country indirectly, in part by the high pride which his
countrymen must have originally taken in his splendid career; and he did
so more immediately, by seizing the town and port of Leghorn, and
assisting those Corsicans, who had been exiled by the English party, to
return to their native island.[194] He intimated the event to the
Directory, and stated that he had appointed Gentili, the principal
partisan of the French, to govern the island provisionally; and that the
Commissioner Salicetti was to set sail for the purpose of making other
necessary arrangements.[195] The communication is coldly made, nor does
Buonaparte's love of his birth-place induce him to expatiate upon its
importance, although the Directory afterwards made the acquisition of
that island a great theme of exultation. But his destinies had called
him to too high an elevation to permit his distinguishing the obscure
islet which he had arisen from originally. He was like the young lion,
who, while he is scattering the herds and destroying the hunters, thinks
little of the forest-cave in which he first saw the light.[196]

Indeed, Buonaparte's situation, however brilliant, was at the same time
critical, and required his undivided thoughts. Mantua still held out,
and was likely to do so. Wurmser had caused about three-fourths of the
horses belonging to his cavalry to be killed and salted for the use of
the garrison, and thus made a large addition, such as it was, to the
provisions of the place. His character for courage and determination was
completely established; and being now engaged in defending a fortress by
ordinary rules of art, which he perfectly understood, he was in no
danger of being over-reached and out-manœuvred by the new system of
tactics, which occasioned his misfortunes in the open field.

[Sidenote: ALVINZI.]

While, therefore, the last pledge of Austria's dominions in Italy was
confided to such safe custody, the Emperor and his ministers were
eagerly engaged in making a new effort to recover their Italian
territories. The defeat of Jourdan, and the retreat of Moreau before the
Archduke Charles, had given the Imperialists some breathing time, and
enabled them, by extensive levies in the warlike province of Illyria, as
well as draughts from the army of the Rhine, to take the field with a
new army, for the recovery of the Italian provinces, and the relief of
Mantua. By orders of the Aulic Council, two armies were assembled on the
Italian frontier; one at Friuli, which was partly composed of that
portion of the army of Wurmser, which, cut off from their main body at
the battle of Bassano, had effected, under Quasdonowich, a retreat in
that direction; the other was to be formed on the Tyrol. They were to
operate in conjunction, and both were placed under the command of
Marshal Alvinzi,[197] an officer of high reputation, which was then
thought merited.

Thus, for the fourth time, Buonaparte was to contest the same objects on
the same ground, with new forces belonging to the same enemy. He had,
indeed, himself, received from France, reinforcements to the number of
twelve battalions, from those troops which had been formerly employed in
La Vendée. The army, in general, since victory had placed the resources
of the rich country which they occupied at the command of their leader,
had been well supplied with clothes, food, and provisions, and were
devotedly attached to the chief who had conducted them from starving on
the barren Alps into this land of plenty, and had directed their
military efforts with such skill, that they could scarce ever be said to
have failed of success in whatever they undertook under his direction.

Napoleon had also on his side the good wishes, if not of the Italians in
general, of a considerable party, especially in Lombardy, and friends
and enemies were alike impressed with belief in his predestined success.
During the former attempts of Wurmser, a contrary opinion had prevailed,
and the news that the Austrians were in motion, had given birth to
insurrections against the French in many places, and to the publication
of sentiments unfavourable to them almost every where. But now, when all
predicted the certain success of Napoleon, the friends of Austria
remained quiet, and the numerous party who desire in such cases to keep
on the winning side, added weight to the actual friends of France, by
expressing their opinions in her favour. It seems, however, that
Victory, as if displeased that mortals should presume to calculate the
motives of so fickle a deity, was, on this occasion, disposed to be more
coy than formerly even to her greatest favourite, and to oblige him to
toil harder than he had done even when the odds were more against

Davidowich commanded the body of the Austrians which was in the Tyrol,
and which included the fine militia of that martial province. There was
little difficulty in prevailing on them to advance into Italy, convinced
as they were that there was small security for their national
independence while the French remained in possession of Lombardy.
Buonaparte, on the other hand, had placed Vaubois in the passes upon the
river Lavisa, above Trent, to cover that new possession of the French
Republic, and check the advance of Davidowich. It was the plan of
Alvinzi to descend from Friuli, and approach Vicenza, to which place he
expected Davidowich might penetrate by a corresponding movement down the
Adige. Having thus brought his united army into activity, his design was
to advance on Mantua, the constant object of bloody contention. He
commenced his march in the beginning of October, 1796.

As soon as Buonaparte heard that Alvinzi was in motion, he sent orders
to Vaubois to attack Davidowich, and to Massena to advance to Bassano
upon the Brenta, and make head against the Austrian commander-in-chief.
Both measures failed in effect.

[Sidenote: Nov. 5.]

Vaubois indeed made his attack, but so unsuccessfully, that after two
days' fighting he was compelled to retreat before the Austrians, to
evacuate the city of Trent, and to retreat upon Calliano, already
mentioned as a very strong position, in the previous account of the
battle of Roveredo. A great part of his opponents being Tyrolese, and
admirably calculated for mountain warfare, they forced Vaubois from a
situation which was almost impregnable; and their army, descending the
Adige upon the right bank, appeared to manœuvre with the purpose of
marching on Montebaldo and Rivoli, and thus opening the communication
with Alvinzi.

On the other hand, though Massena had sustained no loss, for he avoided
an engagement, the approach of Alvinzi, with a superior army, compelled
him to evacuate Bassano, and to leave the enemy in undisputed possession
of the valley of the Brenta. Buonaparte, therefore, himself saw the
necessity of advancing with Augereau's division, determined to give
battle to Alvinzi, and force him back on the Piave before the arrival of
Davidowich. But he experienced unusual resistance; and it is amid
complaints of the weather, of misadventures and miscarriages of
different sorts, that he faintly claims the name of a victory for his
first encounter with Alvinzi. It is clear that he had made a desperate
attempt to drive the Austrian general from Bassano--that he had not
succeeded; but, on the contrary, was under the necessity of retreating
to Vicenza. It is further manifest, that Buonaparte was sensible this
retreat did not accord well with his claim of victory; and he says, with
a consciousness which is amusing, that the inhabitants of Vicenza were
surprised to see the French army retire through their town, as they had
been witnesses of their victory on the preceding day.[199] No doubt
there was room for astonishment if the Vicenzans had been as completely
convinced of the fact as Buonaparte represents them. The truth was,
Buonaparte was sensible that Vaubois, being in complete retreat, was
exposed to be cut off unless he was supported, and he hasted to prevent
so great a loss, by meeting and reinforcing him. His own retrograde
movement, however, which extended as far as Verona, left the whole
country betwixt the Brenta and Adige open to the Austrians; nor does
there occur to those who read the account of the campaign, any good
reason why Davidowich and Alvinzi, having no body of French to interrupt
their communication, should not instantly have adjusted their operations
on a common basis.[200] But it was the bane of the Austrian tactics,
through the whole war, to neglect that connexion and co-operation
betwixt their separate divisions, which is essential to secure the
general result of a campaign. Above all, as Buonaparte himself remarked
of them, their leaders were not sufficiently acquainted with the value
of time in military movements.

Napoleon having retreated to Verona, where he could at pleasure assume
the offensive by means of the bridge, or place the Adige between himself
and the enemy, visited, in the first place, the positions of Rivoli and
Corona, where were stationed the troops which had been defeated by


They appeared before him with dejected countenances, and Napoleon
upbraided them with their indifferent behaviour. "You have displeased
me," he said;--"You have shown neither discipline, nor constancy, nor
bravery. You have suffered yourselves to be driven from positions where
a handful of brave men might have arrested the progress of a large army.
You are no longer French soldiers.--Let it be written on their
colours--'They are not of the Army of Italy.'" Tears, and groans of
sorrow and shame, answered this harangue--the rules of discipline could
not stifle their sense of mortification, and several of the grenadiers,
who had deserved and wore marks of distinction, called out from the
ranks--"General, we have been misrepresented--Place us in the advance,
and you may then judge whether we do not belong to the army of Italy."
Buonaparte having produced the necessary effect, spoke to them in a more
conciliatory tone; and the regiments who had undergone so severe a
rebuke, redeemed their character in the subsequent part of the

While Napoleon was indefatigable in concentrating his troops on the
right bank of the Adige, and inspiring them with his own spirit of
enterprise, Alvinzi had taken his position on the left bank, nearly
opposite to Verona. His army occupied a range of heights called
Caldiero, on the left of which, and somewhat in the rear, is the little
village of Arcola, situated among marshes, which extend around the foot
of that eminence. Here the Austrian general had stationed himself, with
a view, it may be supposed, to wait until Davidowich and his division
should descend the right bank of the Adige, disquiet the French leader's
position on that river, and give Alvinzi himself the opportunity of
forcing a passage.

Buonaparte, with his usual rapidity of resolution, resolved to drive the
Austrian from his position on Caldiero, before the arrival of
Davidowich. But neither on this occasion was fortune propitious to
him.[202] A strong French division, under Massena, attacked the heights
amid a storm of rain; but their most strenuous exertions proved
completely unsuccessful, and left to the general only his usual mode of
concealing a check, by railing at the elements.[203]

The situation of the French became critical, and, what was worse, the
soldiers perceived it; and complained that they had to sustain the whole
burden of the war, had to encounter army after army, and must succumb at
last under the renewed and unwearied efforts of Austria. Buonaparte
parried these natural feelings as well as he could,[204] promising that
their conquest of Italy should be speedily sealed by the defeat of this
Alvinzi; and he applied his whole genius to discover the means of
bringing the war to an effective struggle, in which he confided that,
in spite of numbers, his own talents, and the enterprising character of
an army so often victorious, might assure him a favourable result. But
it was no easy way to discover a mode of attacking, with even plausible
hopes of success. If he advanced northward on the right bank to seek out
and destroy Davidowich, he must weaken his line on the Adige, by the
troops withdrawn to effect that purpose; and during his absence, Alvinzi
would probably force the passage of the river at some point, and thus
have it in his power to relieve Mantua. The heights of Caldiero,
occupied by the Austrian main body, and lying in his front, had, by dire
experiment, been proved impregnable.

In these doubtful circumstances the bold scheme occurred to the French
general, that the position of Caldiero, though it could not be stormed,
might be turned, and that by possessing himself of the village of
Arcola, which lies to the left, and in the rear of Caldiero, the
Austrians might be compelled to fight to disadvantage. But the idea of
attacking Arcola was one which would scarce have occurred to any general
save Buonaparte.

Arcola is situated upon a small stream called the Alpon, which, as
already hinted, finds its way into the Adige, through a wilderness of
marshes, intersected with ditches, and traversed by dikes in various
directions. In case of an unsuccessful attack, the assailants were like
to be totally cut off in the swamps. Then to debouche from Verona, and
move in the direction of Arcola, would have put Alvinzi and his whole
army on their guard. Secrecy and celerity are the soul of enterprise.
All these difficulties gave way before Napoleon's genius.

Verona, it must be remembered, is on the left bank of the Adige--on the
same with the point which was the object of Buonaparte's attack. At
nightfall, the whole forces at Verona were under arms; and leaving
fifteen hundred men under Kilmaine to defend the place from any assault,
with strict orders to secure the gates, and prevent all communication of
his nocturnal expedition to the enemy, Buonaparte commenced his march at
first to the rear, in the direction of Peschiera; which seemed to imply
that his resolution was at length taken to resign the hopes of gaining
Mantua, and perhaps to abandon Italy. The silence with which the march
was conducted, the absence of all the usual rumours which used in the
French army to precede a battle, and the discouraging situation of
affairs, appeared to presage the same issue. But after the troops had
marched a little way in this direction, the heads of columns were
wheeled to the left, out of the line of retreat, and descended the Adige
as far as Ronco, which they reached before day. Here a bridge had been
prepared, by which they passed over the river, and were placed on the
same bank with Arcola, the object of their attack, and lower than the
heights of Caldiero.


[Sidenote: Nov. 15.]

There were three causeways by which the marsh of Arcola is
traversed--each was occupied by a French column. The central column
moved on the causeway which led to the village so named. The dikes and
causeways were not defended, but Arcola and its bridge were protected by
two battalions of Croats with two pieces of cannon, which were placed in
a position to enfilade the causeway. These received the French column
with so heavy a fire on its flank, that it fell back in disorder.
Augereau rushed forward upon the bridge with his chosen grenadiers; but
enveloped as they were in a destructive fire, they were driven back on
the main body.

Alvinzi, who conceived it only an affair of light troops, sent, however,
forces into the marsh by means of the dikes which traversed them, to
drive out the French. These were checked by finding that they were to
oppose strong columns of infantry, yet the battle continued with
unabated vigour. It was essential to Buonaparte's plan that Arcola
should be carried; but the fire continued tremendous. At length, to
animate his soldiers to a final exertion, he caught a stand of colours,
rushed on the bridge, and planted them there with his own hand. A fresh
body of Austrians arrived at that moment, and the fire on flank blazed
more destructively than ever. The rear of the French column fell back;
the leading files, finding themselves unsupported, gave way; but, still
careful of their general, bore him back in their arms through the dead
and dying, the fire and the smoke. In the confusion he was at length
pushed into the marsh. The Austrians were already betwixt him and his
own troops, and he must have perished or been taken, had not the
grenadiers perceived his danger. The cry instantly arose,
"Forward--forward--save the general!" Their love to Buonaparte's person
did more than even his commands and example had been able to
accomplish.[205] They returned to the charge, and at length pushed the
Austrians out of the village; but not till the appearance of a French
corps under General Guieux had turned the position, and he had thrown
himself in the rear of it. These succours had passed at the ferry of
Alborado, and the French remained in possession of the long-contested
village. It was at the moment a place of the greatest importance; for
the possession of it would have enabled Buonaparte, had the Austrians
remained in their position, to operate on their communications with the
Brenta, interpose between Alvinzi and his reserves, and destroy his park
of artillery. But the risk was avoided by the timely caution of the
Austrian field-marshal.[206]

Alvinzi was no sooner aware that a great division of the French army was
in his rear than, without allowing them time for farther operations, he
instantly broke up his position on Caldiero, and evacuated these heights
by a steady and orderly retreat. Buonaparte had the mortification to see
the Austrians effect this manœuvre by crossing a bridge in their rear
over the Alpon, and which could he have occupied, as was his purpose, he
might have rendered their retreat impossible, or at least disastrous. As
matters stood, however, the village of Arcola came to lose its
consequence as a position, since, after Alvinzi's retreat, it was no
longer in the rear, but in the front of the enemy.

Buonaparte remembered he had enemies on the right as well as the left of
the Adige; and that Davidowich might be once more routing Vaubois, while
he was too far advanced to afford him assistance. He therefore evacuated
Arcola, and the village of Porcil, situated near it, and retreating to
Ronco, recrossed the river, leaving only two demi-brigades in advance
upon the left bank.

The first battle of Arcola, famous for the obstinacy with which it was
disputed, and the number of brave officers and men who fell, was thus
attended with no decisive result. But it had checked the inclination of
Alvinzi to advance on Verona--it had delayed all communication betwixt
his army and that of the Tyrol--above all, it had renewed the Austrians'
apprehensions of the skill of Buonaparte and the bravery of his troops,
and restored to the French soldiery the usual confidence of their
national character.

[Sidenote: Nov. 16.]

Buonaparte remained stationary at Ronco until next morning at five
o'clock, by which time he received intelligence that Davidowich had lain
quiet in his former position; that he had no cause to be alarmed for
Vaubois' safety, and might therefore operate in security against
Alvinzi. This was rendered the more easy, (16th November,) as the
Austrian general, not aware of Buonaparte's having halted his army at
Ronco, imagined he was on his march to concentrate his forces nearer
Mantua, and hastened therefore to overwhelm the rear-guard, whom he
expected to find at the ferry. Buonaparte spared them the trouble of a
close advance to the Adige. He again crossed to the left side, and again
advanced his columns upon the dikes and causeways which traversed the
marshes of Arcola. On such ground, where it was impossible to assign to
the columns more breadth than the causeways could accommodate, the
victorious soldiers of France had great advantage over the recent levies
of Austria; for though the latter might be superior in number on the
whole, success must in such a case depend on the personal superiority of
the front or leading files only. The French, therefore, had the first
advantage, and drove back the Austrians upon the village of Arcola; but
here, as on the former day, Alvinzi constituted his principal point of
defence, and maintained it with the utmost obstinacy.

After having repeatedly failed when attacking in front a post so
difficult of approach, Napoleon endeavoured to turn the position by
crossing the little river Alpon, near its union with the Adige. He
attempted to effect a passage by means of fascines, but unsuccessfully;
and the night approached without any thing effectual being decided. Both
parties drew off, the French to Ronco, where they recrossed the Adige;
the Austrians to a position behind the well-contested village of Arcola.

The battle of the 16th November was thus far favourable to the French,
that they had driven back the Austrians, and made many prisoners in the
commencement of the day; but they had also lost many men; and Napoleon,
if he had gained ground in the day, was fain to return to his position
at night, lest Davidowich, by the defeat of Vaubois, might either
relieve Mantua, or move on Verona. The 17th was to be a day more


[Sidenote: Nov. 17.]

The field of battle, and the preliminary manœuvres, were much the
same as on the preceding day; but those of the French were nearly
disconcerted by the sinking of one of the boats which constituted their
bridge over the Adige. The Austrians instantly advanced on the
demi-brigade which had been stationed on the left bank to defend the
bridge. But the French having repaired the damage, advanced in their
turn, and compelled the Austrians to retreat upon the marsh. Massena
directed his attack on Porcil--General Robert pressed forward on Arcola.
But it was at the point where he wished to cross the Alpon that
Buonaparte chiefly desired to attain a decided superiority; and in order
to win it, he added stratagem to audacity. Observing one of his columns
repulsed, and retreating along the causeway, he placed the 32d regiment
in ambuscade in a thicket of willows which bordered the rivulet, and
saluting the pursuing enemy with a close, heavy, and unexpected fire,
instantly rushed to close with the bayonet, and attacking the flank of a
column of nearly three thousand Croats, forced them into the marsh,
where most of them perished.

It was now that, after a calculation of the losses sustained by the
enemy, Napoleon conceived their numerical superiority so far diminished,
and their spirit so much broken, that he need no longer confine his
operations to the dikes, but meet his enemy on the firm plain which
extended beyond the Alpon. He passed the brook by means of a temporary
bridge which had been prepared during night, and the battle raged as
fiercely on the dry level, as it had done on the dikes and amongst the

The Austrians fought with resolution, the rather that their left, though
stationed on dry ground, was secured by a marsh which Buonaparte had no
means of turning. But though this was the case, Napoleon contrived to
gain his point by impressing on the enemy an idea that he had actually
accomplished that which he had no means of doing. This he effected by
sending a daring officer, with about thirty of the guides, (his own
body-guards they may be called,) with four trumpets; and directing these
determined cavaliers to charge, and the trumpets to sound, as if a
large body of horse had crossed the marsh. Augereau attacked the
Austrian left at the same moment; and a fresh body of troops advancing
from Legnago, compelled them to retreat, but not to fly.

Alvinzi was now compelled to give way, and commence his retreat on
Montebello. He disposed seven thousand men in echelon to cover this
movement, which was accomplished without very much loss; but his ranks
had been much thinned by the slaughter of the three battles of Arcola.
Eight thousand men has been stated as the amount of his losses.[207] The
French who made so many and so sanguinary assaults upon the villages,
must also have suffered a great deal. Buonaparte acknowledges this in
energetic terms. "Never," he writes to Carnot, "was field of battle so
disputed. I have almost no generals remaining--I can assure you that the
victory could not have been gained at a cheaper expense. The enemy were
numerous, and desperately resolute."[208] The truth is, that
Buonaparte's mode of striking terror by these bloody and desperate
charges in front upon strong positions, was a blemish in his system.
They cost many men, and were not uniformly successful. That of Arcola
was found a vain waste of blood, till science was employed instead of
main force, when the position was turned by Guieux on the first day; and
on the third, by the troops who crossed the Alpon.

The tardy conduct of Davidowich, during these three undecided days of
slaughterous struggle, is worthy of notice and censure. It would appear
that from the 10th November that general had it in his power to attack
the division which he had hitherto driven before him, and that he had
delayed doing so till the 16th; and on the 18th, just the day after
Alvinzi had made his retreat, he approached Verona on the right bank.
Had these movements taken place before Alvinzi's defeat, or even during
any of the three days preceding, when the French were engaged before
Arcola, the consequences must have been very serious. Finding, however,
that Alvinzi had retreated, Davidowich followed the same course, and
withdrew into the mountains, not much annoyed by the French, who
respected the character of his army, which had been repeatedly
victorious, and felt the weakness incident to their own late

Another incidental circumstance tends equally strongly to mark the want
of concert and communication among the Austrian generals. Wurmser, who
had remained quiet in Mantua during all the time when Alvinzi and
Davidowich were in the neighbourhood, made a vigorous sally on the 23d
November; when his doing so was of little consequence, since he could
not be supported.

Thus ended the fourth campaign undertaken for the Austrian possessions
in Italy. The consequences were not so decidedly in Buonaparte's favour
as those of the three former. Mantua, it is true, had received no
relief; and so far the principal object of the Austrians had miscarried.
But Wurmser was of a temper to continue the defence till the last
moment, and had already provided for a longer defence than the French
counted upon, by curtailing the rations of the garrison. The armies of
Friuli and the Tyrol had also, since the last campaign, retained
possession of Bassano and Trent, and removed the French from the
mountains through which access is gained to the Austrian hereditary
dominions. Neither had Alvinzi suffered any such heavy defeat as his
predecessors Beaulieu or Wurmser; while Davidowich, on the contrary, was
uniformly successful, had he known how to avail himself of his
victories. Still the Austrians were not likely, till reinforced again,
to interrupt Buonaparte's quiet possession of Lombardy.

During two months following the battle of Arcola and the retreat of the
Austrians, the war which had been so vigorously maintained in Italy
experienced a short suspension, and the attention of Buonaparte was
turned towards civil matters--the arrangement of the French interests
with the various powers of Italy, and with the congress of Lombardy, as
well as the erection of the districts of Bologna, Ferrara, Reggio, and
Modena, into what was called the Transpadane Republic. These we shall
notice elsewhere, as it is not advisable to interrupt the course of our
military annals, until we have recounted the last struggle of the
Austrians for the relief of Mantua.


It must be in the first place observed, that whether from jealousy or
from want of means, supplies and recruits were very slowly transmitted
from France to their Italian army. About seven thousand men, who were
actually sent to join Buonaparte, scarcely repaired the losses which he
had sustained in the late bloody campaigns.[210] At the same time the
treaty with the Pope being broken off, the supreme pontiff threatened to
march a considerable army towards Lombardy. Buonaparte endeavoured to
supply the want of reinforcements by raising a defensive legion among
the Lombards, to which he united many Poles. This body was not fit to be
brought into line against the Austrians, but was more than sufficient to
hold at bay the troops of the papal see, who have never enjoyed of late
years a high degree of military reputation.

Meantime Austria, who seemed to cling to Italy with the tenacity of a
dying grasp, again, and now for the fifth time, recruited her armies on
the frontier, and placing Alvinzi once more at the head of sixty
thousand men, commanded him to resume the offensive against the French
in Italy.[211] The spirit of the country had been roused instead of
discouraged by the late defeats. The volunteer corps, consisting of
persons of respectability and consideration, took the field, for the
redemption, if their blood could purchase it, of the national honour.
Vienna furnished four battalions, which were presented by the Empress
with a banner, that she had wrought for them with her own hands. The
Tyrolese also thronged once more to their sovereign's standard,
undismayed by a proclamation made by Buonaparte after the retreat from
Arcola, and which paid homage, though a painful one, to these brave
marksmen. "Whatever Tyrolese," said this atrocious document, "is taken
with arms in his hand, shall be put to instant death." Alvinzi sent
abroad a counter proclamation, "that for every Tyrolese put to death as
threatened, he would hang up a French officer." Buonaparte again
replied, "that if the Austrian general should use the retaliation he
threatened, he would execute in his turn officer for officer out of his
prisoners, commencing with Alvinzi's own nephew, who was in his power."
A little calmness on either side brought them to reflect on the cruelty
of aggravating the laws of war, which are already too severe; so that
the system of military execution was renounced on both sides.


But notwithstanding this display of zeal and loyalty on the part of the
Austrian nation, its councils do not appear to have derived wisdom from
experience. The losses sustained by Wurmser and by Alvinzi, proceeded in
a great measure from the radical error of having divided their forces,
and commenced the campaign on a double line of operation, which could
not, or at least were not made to, correspond and communicate with each
other. Yet they commenced this campaign on the same unhappy principles.
One army descending from the Tyrol upon Montebaldo, the other was to
march down by the Brenta on the Paduan territory, and then to operate on
the lower Adige, the line of which, of course, they were expected to
force, for the purpose of relieving Mantua. The Aulic Council ordered
that these two armies were to direct their course so as to meet, if
possible, upon the beleaguered fortress. Should they succeed in raising
the siege, there was little doubt that the French must be driven out of
Italy; but even were the scheme only partially successful, still it
might allow Wurmser with his cavalry to escape from that besieged city,
and retreat into the Romagna, where it was designed that he should, with
the assistance of his staff and officers, organize and assume the
command of the papal army. In the meantime, an intelligent agent was
sent to communicate, if possible, with Wurmser.[212]

This man fell into the hands of the besiegers. It was in vain that he
swallowed his despatches, which were inclosed in a ball of wax; means
were found to make the stomach render up its trust, and the document
which the wax enclosed was found to be a letter, signed by the Emperor's
own hand, directing Wurmser to enter into no capitulation, but to hold
out as long as possible in expectation of relief, and if compelled to
leave Mantua, to accept of no conditions, but to cut his way into the
Romagna, and take upon himself the command of the papal army. Thus
Buonaparte became acquainted with the storm which was approaching, and
which was not long of breaking.[213]

Alvinzi, who commanded the principal army, advanced from Bassano to
Roveredo upon the Adige. Provera, distinguished for his gallant defence
of Cossaria, during the action of Millesimo,[214] commanded the
divisions which were to act upon the lower Adige. He marched as far as
Bevi l'Acqua, while his advanced guard, under Prince Hohenzollern,
compelled a body of French to cross to the right bank of the Adige.

[Sidenote: Jan. 12.]

Buonaparte, uncertain which of these attacks he was to consider as the
main one, concentrated his army at Verona, which had been so important a
place during all these campaigns as a central point, from which he might
at pleasure march either up the Adige against Alvinzi, or descend the
river to resist the attempts of Provera. He trusted that Joubert, whom
he had placed in defence of La Corona, a little town which had been
strongly fortified for the purpose, might be able to make a good
temporary defence. He despatched troops for Joubert's support to Castel
Nuovo, but hesitated to direct his principal force in that direction
until ten in the evening of 13th January, when he received information
that Joubert had been attacked at La Corona by an immense body, which he
had resisted with difficulty during the day, and was now about to
retreat, in order to secure the important eminence at Rivoli, which was
the key of his whole position.[215]

Judging from this account, that the principal danger occurred on the
upper part of the Adige, Buonaparte left only Augereau's division to
dispute with Provera the passage of that river on the lower part of its
course. He was especially desirous to secure the elevated and commanding
position of Rivoli, before the enemy had time to receive his cavalry and
cannon, as he hoped to bring on an engagement ere he was united with
those important parts of his army. By forced marches Napoleon arrived at
Rivoli at two in the morning of the 14th, and from that elevated
situation, by the assistance of a clear moonlight, he was able to
discover, that the bivouac of the enemy was divided into five distinct
and separate bodies, from which he inferred that their attack the next
day would be made in the same number of columns.[216]

The distance at which the bivouacs were stationed from the position of
Joubert, made it evident to Napoleon that they did not mean to make
their attack before ten in the morning, meaning probably to wait for
their infantry and artillery. Joubert was at this time in the act of
evacuating the position which he only occupied by a rear-guard.
Buonaparte commanded him instantly to counter-march and resume
possession of the important eminence of Rivoli.


[Sidenote: Jan. 14.]

A few Croats had already advanced so near the French line as to discover
that Joubert's light troops had abandoned the chapel of Saint Marc, of
which they took possession. It was retaken by the French, and the
struggle to recover and maintain it brought on a severe action, first
with the regiment to which the detachment of Croats belonged, and
afterwards with the whole Austrian column which lay nearest to that
point, and which was commanded by Ocskay. The latter was repulsed, but
the column of Kobler pressed forward to support them, and having gained
the summit, attacked two regiments of the French who were stationed
there, each protected by a battery of cannon. Notwithstanding this
advantage, one of the regiments gave way, and Buonaparte himself
galloped to bring up reinforcements. The nearest French were those of
Massena's division, which, tired with the preceding night's march, had
lain down to take some rest. They started up, however, at the command of
Napoleon, and suddenly arriving on the field, in half an hour the column
of Kobler was beaten and driven back. That of Liptay advanced in turn;
and Quasdonowich, observing that Joubert, in prosecuting his success
over the division of Ocskay, had pushed forward and abandoned the chapel
of Saint Marc, detached three battalions to ascend the hill, and occupy
that post. While the Austrians scaled, on one side, the hill on which
the chapel is situated, three battalions of French infantry, who had
been countermarched by Joubert to prevent Quasdonowich's purpose,
struggled up the steep ascent on another point. The activity of the
French brought them first to the summit, and having then the advantage
of the ground, it was no difficult matter for them to force the
advancing Austrians headlong down the hill which they were endeavouring
to climb. Meantime, the French batteries thundered on the broken columns
of the enemy--their cavalry made repeated charges, and the whole
Austrians who had been engaged fell into inextricable disorder. The
columns which had advanced were irretrievably defeated; those who
remained were in such a condition, that to attack would have been

Amid this confusion, the division of Lusignan, which was the most remote
of the Austrian columns, being intrusted with the charge of the
artillery and baggage of the army, had, after depositing these according
to order, mounted the heights of Rivoli, and assumed a position in rear
of the French. Had this column attained the same ground while the
engagement continued in front, there can be no doubt that it would have
been decisive against Napoleon. Even as it was, their appearance in the
rear would have startled troops, however brave, who had less confidence
in their general; but those of Buonaparte only exclaimed, "There arrive
farther supplies to our market," in full reliance that their commander
could not be out-manœuvred. The Austrian division, on the other hand,
arriving after the battle was lost, being without artillery or cavalry,
and having been obliged to leave a proportion of their numbers to keep a
check upon a French brigade, felt that, instead of being in a position
to cut off the French, by attacking their rear while their front was
engaged, they themselves were cut off by the intervention of the
victorious French betwixt them and their defeated army. Lusignan's
division was placed under a heavy fire of the artillery in reserve, and
was soon obliged to lay down its arms. So critical are the events of
war, that a military movement, which, executed at one particular period
of time, would have ensured victory, is not unlikely, from the loss of a
brief interval, to occasion only more general calamity.[217] The
Austrians, on this, as on some other occasions, verified too much
Napoleon's allegation, that they did not sufficiently consider the value
of time in military affairs.

The field of Rivoli was one of the most desperate that Buonaparte ever
won, and was gained entirely by superior military skill, and not by the
overbearing system of mere force of numbers, to which he has been
accused of being partial.[218] He himself had his horses repeatedly
wounded in the course of the action, and exerted to the utmost his
personal influence to bring up the troops into action where their
presence was most required.[219]

Alvinzi's error, which was a very gross one, consisted in supposing that
no more than Joubert's inconsiderable force was stationed at Rivoli,
and in preparing, therefore, to destroy him at his leisure; when his
acquaintance with the French celerity of movement[220] ought to have
prepared him for the possibility of Buonaparte's night march, by which,
bringing up the chosen strength of his army into the position where the
enemy only expected to find a feeble force, he was enabled to resist and
defeat a much superior army, brought to the field upon different points,
without any just calculation on the means of resistance which were to be
opposed; without the necessary assistance of cavalry and artillery; and,
above all, without a preconcerted plan of co-operation and mutual
support. The excellence of Napoleon's manœuvres was well supported by
the devotion of his generals, and the courage of his soldiers. Massena,
in particular, so well seconded his general, that afterwards, when
Napoleon, as Emperor, conferred on him the title of Duke, he assigned
him his designation from the battle of Rivoli.[221]

Almost before this important and decisive victory was absolutely gained,
news arrived[222] which required the presence of Buonaparte elsewhere.
On the very same day of the battle, Provera, whom we left manœuvring
on the Lower Adige, threw a bridge of pontoons over that river, where
the French were not prepared to oppose his passage, and pushed forward
to Mantua, the relief of which fortress he had by stratagem nearly
achieved. A regiment of his cavalry, wearing white cloaks, and
resembling, in that particular, the first regiment of French hussars,
presented themselves before the suburb of Saint George, then only
covered by a mere line of circumvallation. The barricades were about to
be opened without suspicion, when it occurred to a sagacious old French
sergeant, who was beyond the walls gathering wood, that the dress of
this regiment of white cloaks was fresher than that of the French corps,
called Bertini's, for whom they were mistaken. He communicated his
suspicions to a drummer who was near him; they gained the suburb, and
cried to arms, and the guns of the defences were opened on the hostile
cavalry, whom they were about to have admitted in the guise of

[Sidenote: Jan. 16]

About the time that this incident took place, Buonaparte himself arrived
at Roverbella, within twelve miles of Mantua, to which he had marched
with incredible despatch from the field of battle at Rivoli, leaving to
Massena, Murat, and Joubert, the task of completing his victory, by the
close pursuit of Alvinzi and his scattered forces.


In the meanwhile, Provera communicated with the garrison of Mantua
across the lake, and concerted the measures for its relief with Wurmser.
On the 16th of January, being the morning after the battle of Rivoli,
and the unsuccessful attempt to surprise the suburb of Saint George, the
garrison of Mantua sallied from the place in strength, and took post at
the causeway of La Favorita, being the only one which is defended by an
enclosed citadel or independent fortress. Napoleon, returning at the
head of his victorious forces, surrounded and attacked with fury the
troops of Provera, while the blockading army compelled the garrison, at
the bayonet's point, to re-enter the besieged city of Mantua. Provera,
who had in vain, though with much decision and gallantry, attempted the
relief of Mantua, which his Imperial master had so much at heart, was
compelled to lay down his arms with a division of about five thousand
men, whom he had still united under his person. The detached corps which
he had left to protect his bridge, and other passes in his rear,
sustained a similar fate. Thus one division of the army, which had
commenced the campaign of January only on the 7th of that month, were
the prisoners of the destined conqueror before ten days had elapsed. The
larger army, commanded by Alvinzi, had no better fortune. They were
closely pursued from the bloody field of Rivoli, and never were
permitted to draw breath or to recover their disorder. Large bodies were
intercepted and compelled to surrender, a practice now so frequent among
the Austrian troops, that it ceased to be shameful.[224]

Nevertheless, one example is so peculiar as to deserve commemoration, as
a striking instance of the utter consternation and dispersion of the
Austrians after this dreadful defeat, and of the confident and audacious
promptitude which the French officers derived from their unvaried
success. René, a young officer, was in possession of the village called
Garda, on the lake of the same name, and, in visiting his advanced
posts, he perceived some Austrians approaching, whom he caused his
escort to surround and make prisoners. Advancing to the front to
reconnoitre, he found himself close to the head of an imperial column of
eighteen hundred men, which a turning in the road had concealed till he
was within twenty yards of them. "Down with your arms!" said the
Austrian commandant; to which René answered with the most ready
boldness,--"Do _you_ lay down your arms! I have destroyed your advanced
guard, as witness these prisoners--ground your arms or no quarter." And
the French soldiers, catching the hint of their leader, joined in the
cry of "Ground your arms." The Austrian officer hesitated, and proposed
to enter into capitulation; the Frenchman would admit of no terms but
instant and immediate surrender. The dispirited imperialist yielded up
his sword, and commanded his soldiers to imitate his example. But the
Austrian soldiers began to suspect the truth; they became refractory,
and refused to obey their leader, whom René addressed with the utmost
apparent composure. "You are an officer, sir, and a man of honour--you
know the rules of war--you have surrendered--you are therefore my
prisoner, but I rely on your parole. Here, I return your sword--compel
your men to submission, otherwise I direct against you the division of
six thousand men who are under my command." The Austrian was utterly
confounded, betwixt the appeal to his honour and the threat of a charge
from six thousand men. He assured René he might rely on his punctilious
compliance with the parole he had given him; and speaking in German to
his soldiers, persuaded them to lay down their arms, a submission which
he had soon afterwards the satisfaction to see had been made to
one-twelfth part of their number.

Amid such extraordinary success, the ground which the French had lost in
Italy was speedily resumed. Trent and Bassano were again occupied by the
French. They regained all the positions and strongholds which they had
possessed on the frontiers of Italy before Alvinzi's first descent, and
might perhaps have penetrated deeper into the mountainous frontier of
Germany but for the snow which choked up the passes.[225]

One crowning consequence of the victories of Rivoli and of La Favorita,
was the surrender of Mantua itself, that prize which had cost so much
blood, and had been defended with such obstinacy.


[Sidenote: Feb. 2.]

For several days after the decisive actions which left him without a
shadow of hope of relief, Wurmser continued the defence of the place in
a sullen yet honourable despair, natural to the feelings of a gallant
veteran, who, to the last, hesitated between the desire to resist, and
the sense that, his means of subsistence being almost totally expended,
resistance was absolutely hopeless. At length he sent his aide-de-camp,
Klenau, (afterwards a name of celebrity,) to the headquarters of
Serrurier, who commanded the blockade, to treat of a surrender. Klenau
used the customary language on such occasions. He expatiated on the
means which he said Mantua still possessed of holding out, but said,
that as Wurmser doubted whether the place could be relieved in time, he
would regulate his conduct as to immediate submission, or farther
defence, according to the conditions of surrender to which the French
generals were willing to admit him.

A French officer of distinction was present, muffled in his cloak, and
remaining apart from the two officers, but within hearing of what had
passed. When their discussion was finished, this unknown person stepped
forward, and taking a pen wrote down the conditions of surrender to
which Wurmser was to be admitted--conditions more honourable and
favourable by far than what his extremity could have exacted. "These,"
said the unknown officer to Klenau, "are the terms which Wurmser may
accept at present, and which will be equally tendered to him at any
period when he finds farther resistance impossible. We are aware he is
too much a man of honour to give up the fortress and city, so long and
honourably defended, while the means of resistance remain in his power.
If he delays accepting the conditions for a week, for a month, for two
months, they shall be equally his when he chooses to accept them.
Tomorrow I pass the Po, and march upon Rome." Klenau, perceiving that he
spoke to the French commander-in-chief, frankly admitted that the
garrison could not longer delay surrender, having scarce three days'
provisions unconsumed.[226]

This trait of generosity towards a gallant but unfortunate enemy, was
highly favourable to Buonaparte. The taste which dictated the
stage-effect of the cloak may indeed be questioned; but the real current
of his feeling towards the venerable object of his respect, and at the
same time compassion, is ascertained otherwise. He wrote to the
Directory on the subject, that he had afforded to Wurmser such
conditions of surrender as became the generosity of the French nation
towards an enemy, who, having lost his army by misfortune, was so little
desirous to secure his personal safety, that he threw himself into
Mantua, cutting his way through the blockading army; thus voluntarily
undertaking the privations of a siege, which his gallantry protracted
until almost the last morsel of provisions was exhausted.[227]

But the young victor paid still a more delicate and noble-minded
compliment, in declining to be personally present when the veteran
Wurmser had the mortification to surrender his sword, with his garrison
of twenty thousand men, ten thousand of whom were fit for service. This
self-denial did Napoleon as much credit nearly as his victory, and must
not be omitted in a narrative, which, often called to stigmatize his
ambition and its consequences, should not be the less ready to observe
marks of dignified and honourable feeling. The history of this
remarkable man more frequently reminds us of the romantic and improbable
victories imputed to the heroes of the romantic ages, than of the spirit
of chivalry attributed to them; but in this instance Napoleon's conduct
towards Wurmser may be justly compared to that of the Black Prince to
his royal prisoner, King John of France.

Serrurier, who had conducted the leaguer, had the honour to receive the
surrender of Wurmser, after the siege of Mantua had continued for six
months, during which the garrison is said by Napoleon to have lost
twenty-seven thousand men by disease, and in the various numerous and
bloody sallies which took place. This decisive event put an end to the
war in Italy. The contest with Austria was hereafter to be waged on the
hereditary dominions of that haughty power.

The French, possessed of this grand object of their wishes, were not
long in displaying their national characteristics. Their military and
prescient sagacity was evinced in employing one of the most celebrated
of their engineers, to improve and bring nearly to perfection the
defence of a city which may be termed the citadel of Italy. They set
afoot, besides, civic feasts and ceremonies, and among others, one in
honour of Virgil, who, being the panegyrist of an emperor, was
indifferently selected as the presiding genius of an infant republic.
Their cupidity was evinced by their artists' exercising their ingenuity
in devising means to cut from the wall and carry off the fresco
paintings, by Titian, of the wars between the Gods and the Giants, at
all risks of destroying what could never be replaced. Luckily, the
attempt was found totally unadvisable.


[193] Moniteur, No. 13, October 4.

[194] Jomini, tom. ix., p. 153; Thibaudeau, tom. ii., p. 32;
Montgaillard, tom. iv., p. 468.

[195] "Gentili and all the refugees landed in October, 1796, in spite of
the English cruisers. The republicans took possession of Bastia and of
all the fortresses. The English hastily embarked. The King of England
wore the Corsican crown only two years. This whim cost the British
treasury five millions sterling. John Bull's riches could not have been
worse employed."--NAPOLEON, _Montholon_, tom. iii., p. 58.

[196] It is fair to add, however, that Buonaparte in his Memoirs, while
at St. Helena, gives a sketch of the geographical description and
history of Corsica, and suggests several plans for the civilisation of
his countrymen,--one of which, the depriving them of the arms which they
constantly wear, might be prudent were it practicable, but certainly
would be highly unpalatable. There occurs an odd observation, "that the
Crown of Corsica must, on the temporary annexation of the island to
Great Britain, have been surprised at finding itself appertaining to the
successor of Fingal." Not more, we should think, than the diadem of
France, and the iron crown of Italy, may have marvelled at meeting on
the brow of a Corsican soldier of fortune.--S.

[197] Alvinzi was, at this time, seventy years of age. He died in 1810.

[198] Montholon, tom. iii., p. 345; Thibaudeau, tom. ii., p. 82.

[199] Montholon, tom. iii., p. 345; Thibaudeau, tom. ii., p. 109.

[200] Jomini, tom. ix., p. 165.

[201] Montholon, tom. iii., p. 349.

[202] Jomini, tom. ix., p. 170; Thibaudeau, tom. ii., p. 112.

[203] "The rain fell in torrents; the ground was so completely soaked,
that the French artillery could make no movement, whilst that of the
Austrians, being in position, and advantageously placed, produced its
full effect."--MONTHOLON, tom. iii., p. 352.

[204] "We have but one more effort to make, and Italy is our own. The
enemy is, no doubt, more numerous than we are, but half his troops are
recruits; when he is beaten, Mantua must fall, and we shall remain
masters of all. From the smiling flowery bivouacs of Italy, you cannot
return to the Alpine snows. Succours are on the road; only beat Alvinzi,
and I will answer for your future welfare."--MONTHOLON, tom. iii., p.

[205] "This was the day of military devotedness. Lannes, who had been
wounded at Governolo, had hastened from Milan; he was still suffering;
he threw himself between the enemy and Napoleon, and received three
wounds. Muiron, Napoleon's aide-de-camp, was killed in covering his
general with his own body. Heroic and affecting death!"--NAPOLEON,
_Memoirs_, tom. iii., p. 362.

[206] Jomini, tom. ix., p. 180; Thibaudeau, tom. ii., p. 117.

[207] Jomini, tom. ix., p. 101. Napoleon estimates the loss of Alvinzi,
in the three days' engagements, at 18,000 men including 6000 prisoners.
Montholon, tom. iii., p. 370.

[208] Letter to the Directory, 19th November.

[209] "The French army re-entered Verona in triumph by the Venice gate,
three days after having quitted that city almost clandestinely by the
Milan gate. It would be difficult to conceive the astonishment and
enthusiasm of the inhabitants."--MONTHOLON, tom. iii., p. 370.

[210] "You announce the arrival of 10,000 men from the Army of the
Ocean, and a like number from that of the Rhine; but they have not
arrived, and should they not come speedily, you will sacrifice an army
ardently devoted to the Constitution."--BUONAPARTE to the Directory,
28th December.

[211] "The Austrian army amounted to from 65,000 to 70,000 fighting men,
and 6000 Tyrolese, besides 24,000 men of the garrison of
Mantua."--MONTHOLON, tom. iii., p. 404.

"After the battle of Arcola, the active French army amounted to 36,380
while 10,230 formed the blockade of Mantua."--JOMINI, tom. ix., p. 262.

[212] Montholon, tom. iii., p. 405; Jomini, tom. ix., p. 263.

[213] Montholon, tom. iii., p. 406.

[214] See _ante_, p. 54.

[215] Jomini, tom. ix., p. 268.

[216] Montholon, tom. iii., p. 410.

[217] It is represented in some military accounts, that the division
which appeared in the rear of the French belonged to the army of
Provera, and had been detached by him on crossing the Adige, as
mentioned below. But Napoleon's Saint Helena manuscripts prove the
contrary. Provera only crossed on the 14th January, and it was on the
morning of the same day that Napoleon had seen the five divisions of
Alvinzi, that of Lusignan which afterwards appeared in the rear of his
army being one, lying around Joubert's position of Rivoli.--S.--See
Montholon, tom. iii., p. 415, and Jomini, tom. ix., p. 284.

[218] Jomini, tom. ix., pp. 275, 287; Montholon, tom. iii., p. 408.

[219] "This day the general-in-chief was several times surrounded by the
enemy; he had several horses killed."--MONTHOLON, tom. iii., p. 415.

[220] "The Roman legions are reported to have marched twenty-four miles
a-day; but our brigades, though fighting at intervals, march
thirty."--BUONAPARTE to the Directory.

[221] "It was after the battle of Rivoli, that Massena received from
Buonaparte and the army the title of 'enfant chéri de la victoire,'"
&c.--THIBAUDEAU, tom. ii., p. 195.

[222] "At two o'clock in the afternoon, in the midst of the battle of
Rivoli."--MONTHOLON, tom. iii., p. 416.

[223] Montholon, tom. iii., p. 416.

[224] Montholon, tom. iii., p. 417; Jomini, tom. ix., p. 293.

[225] "The trophies acquired in the course of January were 25,000
prisoners, twenty-four colours and standards, and sixty pieces of
cannon; on the whole, the enemy's loss was at least 35,000 men.
Bessières carried the colours to Paris. The prisoners were so numerous
that they created some difficulty."--MONTHOLON, tom. iii., p. 419.

[226] Montholon, tom. iii., p. 420.

[227] Buonaparte to the Directory, 15 Pluviose, 3d February.


    _Situation and Views of Buonaparte at this period--His politic
    Conduct towards the Italians--Popularity--Severe terms of Peace
    proposed to the Pope--rejected--Napoleon differs from the
    Directory, and Negotiations are renewed--but again rejected--The
    Pope raises his army to 40,000 Men--Napoleon invades the Papal
    Territories--The Papal Troops defeated near Imola--and at
    Ancona--which is captured--Loretto taken--Clemency of Buonaparte
    to the French recusant Clergy--Peace of Tolentino--Napoleon's
    Letter to the Pope--San Marino--View of the Situation of the
    different Italian States--Rome--Naples--Tuscany--Venice._


The eyes of all Europe were now riveted on Napoleon Buonaparte, whose
rise had been so sudden, that he was become the terror of empires and
the founder of states--the conqueror of the best generals and most
disciplined troops in Europe; within a few months after he had been a
mere soldier of fortune, rather seeking for subsistence than expecting
honourable distinction. Such sudden elevations have occasionally
happened amid semi-barbarous nations, where great popular insurrections,
desolating and decisive revolutions, are common occurrences, but were
hitherto unheard of in civilized Europe. The pre-eminence which he had
suddenly obtained had, besides, been subjected to so many trials, as to
afford every proof of its permanence. Napoleon stood aloft, like a cliff
on which successive tempests had expended their rage in vain. The means
which raised him were equally competent to make good his greatness. He
had infused into the armies which he commanded the firmest reliance on
his genius, and the greatest love for his person; so that he could
always find agents ready to execute his most difficult commands. He had
even inspired them with a portion of his own indefatigable exertion and
his commanding intelligence. The maxim which he inculcated upon them
when practising those long and severe marches which formed one essential
part of his system, was, "I would rather gain victory at the expense of
your legs than at the price of your blood."[228] The French, under his
training, seemed to become the very men he wanted, and to forget in the
excitation of war and the hope of victory, even the feelings of
weariness and exhaustion. The following description of the French
soldier by Napoleon himself, occurs in his despatches to the Directory
during his first campaign in Italy:--

"Were I to name all those who have been distinguished by acts of
personal bravery, I must send the muster-roll of all the grenadiers and
carabineers of the advanced-guard. They jest with danger, and laugh at
death; and if any thing can equal their intrepidity, it is the gaiety
with which, singing alternately songs of love and patriotism, they
accomplish the most severe forced marches. When they arrive at their
bivouac, it is not to take their repose, as might be expected, but to
tell each his story of the battle of the day, and produce his plan for
that of to-morrow; and many of them think with great correctness on
military subjects. The other day I was inspecting a demi-brigade, and as
it filed past me, a common chasseur approached my horse, and said,
'General, you ought to do so and so.'--'Hold your peace, you rogue!' I
replied. He disappeared immediately, nor have I since been able to find
him out. But the manœuvre which he recommended was the very same
which I had privately resolved to carry into execution."[229]

To command this active, intelligent, and intrepid soldiery, Buonaparte
possessed officers entirely worthy of the charge; men young, or at least
not advanced in years, to whose ambition the Revolution, and the wars
which it had brought on, had opened an unlimited career, and whose
genius was inspired by the plans of their leader, and the success which
attended them. Buonaparte, who had his eye on every man, never neglected
to distribute rewards and punishments, praise and censure with a liberal
hand, or omitted to press for what latterly was rarely if ever denied to
him--the promotion of such officers as particularly distinguished
themselves. He willingly assumed the task of soothing the feelings of
those whose relations had fallen under his banners. His letter of
consolation to General Clarke upon the death of young Clarke, his
nephew, who fell at Arcola, is affecting, as showing that amid all his
victories he felt himself the object of reproach and criticism.[230] His
keen sensitiveness to the attacks of the public press attended him
through life, and, like the slave in the triumphal car, seemed to remind
him, that he was still a mortal man.

It should farther be remarked, that Napoleon withstood, instantly and
boldly, all the numerous attempts made by commissaries, and that
description of persons, to encroach upon the fund destined for the use
of the army. Much of his public, and more of his private correspondence,
is filled with complaints against these agents, although he must have
known that, in attacking them, he disobliged men of the highest
influence, who had frequently some secret interest in their wealth. But
his military fame made his services indispensable, and permitted him to
set at defiance the enmity of such persons, who are generally as timid
as they are sordid.

Towards the general officers there took place a gradual change of
deportment, as the commander-in-chief began to feel gradually, more and
more, the increasing sense of his own personal importance. We have been
informed by an officer of the highest rank, that, during the earlier
campaigns, Napoleon used to rejoice with, and embrace them as
associates, nearly on the same footing, engaged in the same tasks. After
a period, his language and carriage became those of a frank soldier,
who, sensible of the merit of his subordinate assistants, yet makes them
sensible, by his manner, that he is their commander-in-chief. When his
infant fortunes began to come of age, his deportment to his generals was
tinctured with that lofty courtesy which princes use towards their
subjects, and which plainly intimated, that he held them as subjects in
the war, not as brethren.[231]


Napoleon's conduct towards the Italians individually was, in most
instances, in the highest degree prudent and political; while, at the
same time, it coincided, as true policy usually does, with the rules of
justice and moderation, and served, in a great measure, to
counterbalance the odium which he incurred by despoiling Italy of the
works of art, and even by his infringements on the religious system of
the Catholics.

On the latter subject, the general became particularly cautious, and his
dislike or contempt of the Church of Rome was no longer shown in that
gross species of satire which he had at first given loose to. On the
contrary, it was veiled under philosophical indifference; and, while
relieving the clergy of their worldly possessions, Napoleon took care to
avoid the error of the Jacobins; never proposing their tenets as an
object of persecution, but protecting their persons, and declaring
himself a decided friend to general toleration on all points of

In point of politics, as well as religion, the opinions of Buonaparte
appear to have experienced a great change. It may be doubted, indeed, if
he ever in his heart adopted those of the outrageous Jacobins.[232] At
all events, his clear and sound good sense speedily made him aware, that
such a violence on the established rules of reason and morality, as an
attempt to make the brutal strength of the multitude the forcible
controller of those possessed of the wisdom, property, and education of
a country, is too unnatural to remain long, or to become the basis of a
well-regulated state. Being at present a Republican of the Thermidorien
party, Buonaparte, even though he made use of the established phrases,
Liberty and Equality, acknowledged no dignity superior to citizen, and
_thee'd_ and _thou'd_ whomsoever he addressed, was permitted to mix many
grains of liberality with those democratic forms. Indeed, the republican
creed of the day began to resemble the leathern apron of the brazier,
who founded a dynasty in the East--his descendants continued to display
it as their banner, but enriched it so much with gems and embroidery,
that there was little of the original stuff to be discovered.

Jacobinism, for example, being founded on the principle of assimilating
the national character to the gross ignorance of the lower classes, was
the natural enemy of the fine arts and of literature, whose productions
the Sans-Culottes could not comprehend, and which they destroyed for the
same enlightened reasons that Jack Cade's followers hanged the clerk of
Chatham, with his pen and inkhorn about his neck.[233] Buonaparte, on
the contrary, saw that knowledge, of whatever kind, was power; and
therefore he distinguished himself honourably amidst his victories, by
seeking the conversation of men distinguished for literary attainments,
and displaying an interest in the antiquities and curiosities of the
towns which he visited, that could not but seem flattering to the
inhabitants. In a letter addressed publicly to Oriani,[234] a celebrated
astronomer, he assures him, that all men of genius, all who had
distinguished themselves in the republic of letters, were to be
accounted natives of France, whatever might be the actual place of their
birth. "Hitherto," he said, "the learned in Italy did not enjoy the
consideration to which they were entitled--they lived retired in their
laboratories and libraries, too happy if they could escape the notice,
and consequently the persecution, of kings and priests. It is now no
longer thus--there is no longer religious inquisition, nor despotic
power. Thought is free in Italy. I invite the literary and scientific
persons to consult together, and propose to me their ideas on the
subject of giving new vigour and life to the fine arts and sciences. All
who desire to visit France will be received with distinction by the
government. The people of France have more pride in enrolling among
their citizens a skilful mathematician, a painter of reputation, a
distinguished man in any class of literature, than in adding to their
territories a large and wealthy city. I request, citizen, that you will
make my sentiments known to the most distinguished literary persons in
the state of Milan."[235] To the municipality of Pavia he wrote,
desiring that the professors of their celebrated university should
resume their course of instruction under the security of his protection,
and inviting them to point out to him such measures as might occur, for
giving a more brilliant existence to their ancient seminaries.

The interest which he thus took in the literature and literary
institutions of Italy was shown by admitting men of science or letters
freely to his person. Their communication was the more flattering, that
being himself of Italian descent, and familiar with the beautiful
language of the country from his infancy, his conversation with men of
literary eminence was easily conducted. It may be mentioned
episodically, that Napoleon found a remnant of his family in Italy, in
the person of the Abbate Gregorio Buonaparte, the only remaining branch
of that Florentine family, of whom the Corsican line were cadets. He
resided at San Miniato, of which he was canon, and was an old man, and
said to be wealthy. The relationship was eagerly acknowledged, and the
general, with his whole staff, dined with the Canon Gregorio. The whole
mind of the old priest was wrapt up in a project of obtaining the
honours of regular canonization for one of the family called
Bonaventura, who had been a Capuchin in the seventeenth century, and was
said to have died in the odour of sanctity, though his right to divine
honours had never been acknowledged.[236] It must have been ludicrous
enough to have heard the old man insist upon a topic so uninteresting to
Napoleon, and press the French republican general to use his interest
with the Pope. There can be little doubt that the holy father, to have
escaped other demands, would have canonized a whole French regiment of
Carmagnoles, and ranked them with the old militia of the calendar, the
Theban Legion. But Napoleon was sensible that any request on such a
subject coming from him, would be only ludicrous.[237]


The progress which Buonaparte made personally in the favour of the
Italians, was, doubtless, a great assistance to the propagation of the
new doctrines which were connected with the French Revolution, and was
much aided by the trust which he seemed desirous to repose in the
natives of the country. He retained, no doubt, in his own hands, the
ultimate decision of every thing of consequence; but in matters of
ordinary importance, he permitted and encouraged the Italians to act for
themselves, in a manner they had not been accustomed to under their
German masters. The internal government of their towns was intrusted to
provisional governors, chosen without respect to rank, and the
maintenance of police was committed to the armed burghers, or national
guards. Conscious of the importance annexed to these privileges, they
already became impatient for national liberty. Napoleon could hardly
rein back the intense ardour of the large party among the Lombards who
desired an immediate declaration of independence, and he had no other
expedient left than to amuse them with procrastinating excuses, which
enhanced their desire of such an event, while they delayed its
gratification. Other towns of Italy,--for it was among the citizens of
the towns that these sentiments were chiefly cultivated,--began to
evince the same wish to new-model their governments on the revolutionary
system; and this ardour was chiefly shown on the southern side of the

It must be remembered, that Napoleon had engaged in treaty with the Duke
of Modena, and had agreed to guarantee his principality, on payment of
immense contributions in money and stores, besides the surrender of the
most valuable treasures of his museum. In consequence, the Duke of
Modena was permitted to govern his states by a regency, he himself
fixing his residence in Venice. But his two principal towns, Reggio and
Modena, especially the former, became desirous of shaking off his
government. Anticipating in doing so the approbation of the French
general and government, the citizens of Reggio rose in insurrection,
expelled from their town a body of the ducal troops, and planted the
tree of liberty, resolved, as they said, to constitute themselves a free
state, under the protection of the French Republic. The ducal regency,
with a view of protecting Modena from a similar attempt, mounted cannon
on their ramparts, and took other defensive measures.

Buonaparte affected to consider these preparations as designed against
the French; and marching a body of troops, took possession of the city
without resistance, deprived the duke of all the advantages which he had
purchased by the mediation of the celebrated Saint Jerome, and declared
the town under protection of France. Bologna and Ferrara, legations
appertaining to the Papal See, had been already occupied by French
troops, and placed under the management of a committee of their
citizens. They were now encouraged to coalesce with Reggio and Modena. A
congress of a hundred delegates from the four districts was summoned, to
effect the formation of a government which should extend over them all.
The congress met accordingly, engaged their constituents in a perpetual
union, under title of the Cispadane Republic, from their situation on
the right of the river Po; thus assuming the character of independence,
while in fact they remained under the authority of Buonaparte, like clay
in the hands of the potter, who may ultimately model it into any shape
he has a mind. In the meantime, he was careful to remind them, that the
liberty which it was desirable to establish, ought to be consistent with
due subjection to the laws. "Never forget," he said, in reply to their
address announcing their new form of government, "that laws are mere
nullities without the force necessary to support them. Attend to your
military organization, which you have the means of placing on a
respectable footing--you will be more fortunate than the people of
France, for you will arrive at liberty without passing through the
ordeal of revolution."[238]

This was not the language of a Jacobin; and it fortifies the belief,
that even now, while adhering ostensibly to the republican system,
Buonaparte anticipated considerable changes in that of France.

Meanwhile the Lombards betrayed much uneasiness at seeing their
neighbours outstrip them in the path of revolution, and of nominal
independence. The municipality of Milan proceeded to destroy all titles
of honour, as a badge of feudal dependence, and became so impatient,
that Buonaparte was obliged to pacify them by a solemn assurance that
they should speedily enjoy the benefits of a Republican constitution;
and, to tranquillize their irritation, placed them under the government
of a provisional council, selected from all classes, labourers included.

[Sidenote: Jan. 3.]

This measure made it manifest, that the motives which had induced the
delay of the French Government to recognise the independence (as they
termed it) of Lombardy, were now of less force; and in a short time, the
provisional council of Milan, after some modest doubts on their own
powers, revolutionized their country, and assumed the title of the
Transpadane Republic, which they afterwards laid aside, when, on their
union with the Cispadane, both were united under the name of the
Cisalpine Commonwealth. This decisive step was adopted 3d January, 1797.
Decrees of a popular character had preceded the declaration of
independence, but an air of moderation was observed in the revolution
itself. The nobles, deprived of their feudal rights and titular
dignities, were subjected to no incapacities; the reformation of the
Church was touched upon gently, and without indicating any design of its
destruction. In these particulars, the Italian commonwealth stopped
short of their Gallic prototype.[239]


If Buonaparte may be justly charged with want of faith, in destroying
the authority of the Duke of Modena, after having accepted of a price
for granting him peace and protection, we cannot object to him the same
charge for acceding to the Transpadane Republic, in so far as it
detached the legations of Ferrara and Bologna from the Roman See. These
had been in a great measure reserved for the disposal of the French, as
circumstances should dictate, when a final treaty should take place
betwixt the Republic and the Sovereign Pontiff. But many circumstances
had retarded this pacification, and seemed at length likely to break it
off without hope of renewal.

If Buonaparte is correct in his statement, which we see no reason to
doubt, the delay of a pacification with the Roman See was chiefly the
fault of the Directory, whose avaricious and engrossing spirit was at
this period its most distinguishing characteristic. An armistice,
purchased by treasure, by contributions, by pictures and statues, and by
the cession of the two legations of Bologna and Ferrara, having been
mediated for his Holiness by the Spanish ambassador Azara, the Pope sent
two plenipotentiaries to Paris to treat of a definitive peace. But the
conditions proposed were so severe, that however desperate his
condition, the Pope found them totally inadmissible. His Holiness was
required to pay a large contribution in grain for ten years, a regular
tribute of six millions of Roman crowns for six years, to cede to France
in perpetuity the ports of Ancona and Civita Vecchia, and to declare the
independence of Ferrara, Bologna, and Ravenna. To add insult to
oppression, the total cession of the Clementine Museum was required, and
it was stipulated that France should have under management of her
minister at Rome, a separate tribunal for judging her subjects, and a
separate theatre for their amusement. Lastly, the secular sovereignty of
the dominions of the Church was to be executed by a senate and a popular

These demands might have been complied with, although they went the
length of entirely stripping his Holiness of the character of a secular
prince. But there were others made on him, in his capacity of head of
the Church, which he could not grant, if he meant in future to lay claim
to any authority under that once venerable title. The Sovereign Pontiff
was required to recall all the briefs which he had issued against France
since 1789, to sanction the constitutional oath which released the
French clergy from the dominion of the Holy See, and to ratify the
confiscation of the church-lands. Treasures might be expended, secular
dignities resigned, and provinces ceded; but it was clear that the
Sovereign Pontiff could not do what was expressly contrary to the
doctrines of the Church which he represented. There were but few
clergymen in France who had hesitated to prove their devotion to the
Church of Rome, by submitting to expulsion, rather than take the
constitutional oath. It was now for the Head of the Church to show in
his own person a similar disinterested devotion to her interests.

Accordingly, the College of Cardinals having rejected the proposals of
France, as containing articles contrary to conscience, the Pope declared
his determination to abide by the utmost extremity, rather than accede
to conditions destructive, degrading, and, in his opinion, impious. The
Directory instantly determined on the total ruin of the Pope, and of his
power, both spiritual and temporal.

Napoleon dissented from the opinion of the Government. In point of moral
effect, a reconciliation with the Pope would have been of great
advantage to France, and have tended to reunite her with other Catholic
nations, and diminish the horror with which she was regarded as
sacrilegious and atheistical. Even the army of the Holy See was not
altogether to be despised, in case of any reverse taking place in the
war with the Austrians. Under these considerations, he prevailed on the
Directory to renew the negotiations at Florence.[241] But the French
commissioners, having presented as preliminaries sixty indispensable
conditions, containing the same articles which had been already
rejected, as contrary to the conscience of the Pontiff, the conferences
broke up; and the Pope, in despair, resolved to make common cause with
the House of Austria, and have recourse to the secular force, which the
Roman See had disused for so many years.[242]

It was a case of dire necessity; but the arming of the Pope's
government, whose military force had been long the subject of
ridicule,[243] against the victorious conqueror of five Austrian armies,
reminds us of Priam, when, in extremity of years and despair, he buckled
on his rusty armour, to oppose age and decrepitude to the youthful
strength of Pyrrhus.[244] Yet the measures of Sextus indicated
considerable energy. He brought back to Rome an instalment of sixteen
millions of stipulated tribute, which was on the road to Buonaparte's
military chest--took every measure to increase his army, and by the
voluntary exertions of the noble families of Rome, he actually raised it
to forty thousand men, and placed at its head the same General Colli,
who had commanded with credit the troops of Sardinia during the campaign
on the Alps. The utmost pains were taken by the clergy, both regular and
secular, to give the expected war the character of a crusade, and to
excite the fierce spirit of those peasantry who inhabit the Apennines,
and were doubly disposed to be hostile to the French, as foreigners and
as heretics. The Pope endeavoured also to form a close alliance with the
King of the Two Sicilies, who promised in secret to cover Rome with an
army of thirty thousand men. Little reliance was indeed to be placed in
the good faith of the Court of Naples; but the Pope was compared, by the
French envoy, Cacault,[245] to a man who, in the act of falling, would
grasp for support at a hook of red-hot iron.[246]


While the Court of Rome showed this hostile disposition, Napoleon
reproached the French Government for having broken off the negotiation,
which they ought to have protracted till the event of Alvinzi's march
into Italy was known; at all events, until their general had obtained
possession of the sixteen millions, so much wanted to pay his forces.
In reply to his remonstrances, he received permission to renew the
negotiations upon modified terms. But the Pope had gone too far to
recede. Even the French victory of Arcola, and the instant threats of
Buonaparte to march against him at the head of a flying column, were
unable to move his resolution. "Let the French general march upon Rome,"
said the Papal minister; "the Pope, if necessary, will quit his capital.
The farther the French are drawn from the Adige, the nearer they are to
their ultimate destruction."[247] Napoleon was sensible, on receiving a
hostile answer, that the Pope still relied on the last preparations
which were made for the relief of Mantua, and it was not safe to attempt
his chastisement until Alvinzi and Provera should be disposed of. But
the decisive battles of Rivoli and La Favorita having ruined these
armies, Napoleon was at leisure to execute his purpose of crushing the
power, such as it was, of the Holy See. For this purpose he despatched
Victor with a French division of four thousand men, and an Italian army
of nearly the same force, supplied by Lombardy and by the Transpadane
republic, to invade the Territories of the Church on the eastern side of
Italy, by the route of Imola.

[Sidenote: Feb. 3.]

Meantime, the utmost exertions had been made by the clergy of Romagna,
to raise the peasants in a mass, and a great many obeyed the sound of
the tocsin. But an insurrectionary force is more calculated to embarrass
the movements of a regular army, by alarms on their flanks and rear, by
cutting off their communications, and destroying their supplies,
defending passes, and skirmishing in advantageous positions, than by
opposing them in the open field. The Papal army, consisting of about
seven or eight thousand men, were encamped on the river Senio, which
runs on the southward of the town of Imola, to dispute the passage. The
banks were defended with cannon; but the river being unusually low, the
French crossed about a league and a half higher up than the position of
the Roman army, which, taken in the rear, fled in every direction, after
a short resistance. A few hundreds were killed, among whom were several
monks, who, holding the crucifix in their hand, had placed themselves in
the ranks to encourage the soldiers. Faenza stood out and was taken by
storm; but the soldiers were withheld from pillage by the generosity or
prudence of Napoleon,[248] and he dismissed the prisoners of war[249] to
carry into the interior of the country the news of their own defeat, of
the irresistible superiority of the French army, and of the clemency of
their general.[250]

[Sidenote: Feb. 4.]

Next day, three thousand of the Papal troops, occupying an advantageous
position in front of Ancona, and commanded by Colli, were made prisoners
without firing a shot; and Ancona was taken after slight resistance,
though a place of some strength. A curious piece of priestcraft had been
played off in this town, to encourage the people to resistance. A
miraculous image was seen to shed tears, and the French artists could
not discover the mode in which the trick was managed until the image was
brought to headquarters, when a glass shrine, by which the illusion was
managed, was removed. The Madonna was sent back to the church which
owned her, but apparently had become reconciled to the foreign visitors,
and dried her tears in consequence of her interview with


On the 10th of February, the French, moving with great celerity, entered
Loretto, where the celebrated Santa Casa is the subject of the
Catholic's devotional triumph, or secret scorn, according as his faith
or his doubts predominate. The wealth which this celebrated shrine is
once supposed to have possessed by gifts of the faithful, had been
removed by Colli--if, indeed, it had not been transported to Rome long
before the period of which we treat; yet, precious metal and gems to the
amount of a million of livres, fell into the possession of the French,
whose capture was also enriched by the holy image of our Lady of
Loretto, with the sacred porringer, and a bedgown of dark-coloured
camlet, warranted to have belonged to the Blessed Virgin.[252] This
image, said to have been of celestial workmanship, was sent to Paris,
but was restored to the Pope in 1802. We are not informed that any of
the treasures were given back along with the Madonna, to whom they had
been devoted.

As the French army advanced upon the Roman territory, there was a menace
of the interference of the King of Naples, worthy to be mentioned, both
as expressing the character of that court, and showing Napoleon's
readiness in anticipating and defeating the arts of indirect diplomacy.

The Prince of Belmonte-Pignatelli, who attended Buonaparte's
headquarters, in the capacity, perhaps, of an observer, as much as of
ambassador for Naples, came to the French general in secrecy, to show
him, under strict confidence, a letter of the Queen of the Two Sicilies,
proposing to march an army of thirty thousand men towards Rome. "Your
confidence shall be repaid," said Buonaparte, who at once saw through
the spirit of the communication--"You shall know what I have long since
settled to do in case of such an event taking place." He called for the
port-folio containing the papers respecting Naples, and presented to the
disconcerted Prince the copy of a despatch written in November
preceding, which contained this passage:--"the approach of Alvinzi would
not prevent my sending six thousand men to chastise the court of Rome;
but as the Neapolitan army might march to their assistance, I will
postpone this movement till after the surrender of Mantua; in which
case, if the King of Naples should interfere, I shall be able to spare
twenty-five thousand men to march against his capital, and drive him
over to Sicily." Prince Pignatelli was quite satisfied with the result
of this mutual confidence, and there was no more said of Neapolitan
armed interference.[253]

From Ancona, the division commanded by Victor turned westward to
Foligno, to unite itself with another column of French which penetrated
into the territories of the Church by Perugia, which they easily
accomplished. Resistance seemed now unavailing. The Pope in vain
solicited his subjects to rise against the second Alaric, who was
approaching the Holy City. They remained deaf to his exhortations,
though made in the names of the Blessed Virgin, and of the Apostles
Peter and Paul, who had of old been the visible protectors of the
metropolis of the Christian world in a similar emergency. All was dismay
and confusion in the patrimony of Saint Peter's, which was now the sole
territory remaining in possession of his representative.

But there was an unhappy class of persons, who had found shelter in
Rome, rather than disown whose allegiance they had left their homes, and
resigned their means of living. These were the recusant French clergy,
who had refused to take the constitutional oath and who now,
recollecting the scenes which they witnessed in France, expected little
else, than that, on the approach of the Republican troops, they would,
like the Israelitish captain, be slain between the horns of the very
altar at which they had taken refuge. It is said that one of their
number, frantic at the thoughts of the fate which he supposed awaited
them, presented himself to Buonaparte, announced his name and condition,
and prayed to be led to instant death. Napoleon took the opportunity to
show once more that he was acting on principles different from the
brutal and persecuting spirit of Jacobinism. He issued a proclamation,
in which, premising that the recusant priests, though banished from the
French territory, were not prohibited from residing in countries which
might be conquered by the French arms, he declares himself satisfied
with their conduct. The proclamation goes on to prohibit, under the most
severe penalty, the French soldiery, and all other persons, from doing
any injury to these unfortunate exiles. The convents are directed to
afford them lodging, nourishment, and fifteen French livres (twelve
shillings and sixpence British) monthly, to each individual, for which
the priest was to compensate by saying masses _ad valorem_;--thus
assigning the Italian convents payment for their hospitality, in the
same coin with which they themselves requited the laity.

Perhaps this liberality might have some weight with the Pope in inducing
him to throw himself upon the mercy of France, as had been recommended
to him by Buonaparte in a confidential communication through the
superior of the monastic order of Camalduli, and more openly in a letter
addressed to Cardinal Mattei. The King of Naples made no movement to his
assistance. In fine, after hesitating what course to take, and having
had at one time his equipage ready harnessed to leave Rome and fly to
Naples, the Pontiff judged resistance and flight alike unavailing, and
chose the humiliating alternative of entire submission to the will of
the conqueror.

It was the object of the Directory entirely to destroy the secular
authority of the Pope, and to deprive him of all his temporalities. But
Buonaparte foresaw, that whether the Roman territories were united with
the new Cispadane republic, or formed into a separate state, it would
alike bring on prematurely a renewal of the war with Naples, ere the
north of Italy was yet sufficiently secure to admit the marching a
French force into the southern extremities of the Italian peninsula,
exposed to descents of the English, and insurrections in the rear. These
Napoleon foresaw would be the more dangerous and difficult to subdue,
that, though he might strip the Pope of his temporalities, he could not
deprive him of the supremacy assigned him in spiritual matters by each
Catholic; which, on the contrary, was, according to the progress of
human feeling, likely to be the more widely felt and recognised in
favour of a wanderer and a sufferer for what would be accounted
conscience-sake, than of one who, submitting to circumstances, retained
as much of the goods of this world as the clemency of his conqueror
would permit.[254]


Influenced by these considerations, Buonaparte admitted the Pope to a
treaty, which terminated in the peace of Tolentino, by which Sextus
purchased such a political existence as was left to him, at the highest
rate which he had the least chance of discharging. Napoleon mentions, as
a curious instance of the crafty and unscrupulous character of the
Neapolitans, that the same Pignatelli, whom we have already
commemorated, attached himself closely to the plenipotentiaries during
the whole treaty of Tolentino; and in his ardour to discover whether
there existed any secret article betwixt the Pope and Buonaparte which
might compromise the interests of his master, was repeatedly discovered
listening at the door of the apartment in which the discussions were
carried on.[255]

[Sidenote: Feb. 19.]

The articles which the Pope was obliged to accept at Tolentino,[256]
included the cession of Avignon and its territories, the appropriation
of which by France, had never yet been recognised; the resigning the
legations of Bologna, Ferrara, and Romagna; the occupation of Ancona,
the only port excepting Venice, which Italy has in the Adriatic; the
payment of thirty millions of livres, in specie or in valuable effects;
the complete execution of the article in the armistice of Bologna
respecting the delivery of paintings, manuscripts, and objects of art;
and several other stipulations of similar severity.[257]

Buonaparte informs us, that it was a principal object in this treaty to
compel the abolition of the Inquisition, from which he had only departed
in consequence of receiving information, that it had ceased to be used
as a religious tribunal, and subsisted only as a court of police. The
conscience of the Pope seemed also so tenderly affected by the proposal,
that he thought it safe to desist from it.

The same despatch, in which Buonaparte informs the Directory, that his
committee of artist collectors "had made a good harvest of paintings in
the Papal dominions, and which, with the objects of art ceded by the
Pope, included almost all that was curious and valuable, excepting some
few objects at Turin and Naples," conveyed to them a document of a very
different kind. This was a respectful and almost reverential letter from
Napoleon to the Pope,[258] recommending to his Holiness to distrust such
persons as might excite him to doubt the good intentions of France,
assuring him that he would always find the Republic most sincere and
faithful, and expressing in his own name the perfect esteem and
veneration which he entertained for the person of his Holiness, and the
extreme desire which he had to afford him proofs to that effect.[259]

This letter furnished much amusement at the time, and seemed far less to
intimate the sentiments of a sans-culotte general, than those of a
civilized highwayman of the old school of Macheath, who never dismissed
the travellers whom he had plundered, without his sincere good wishes
for the happy prosecution of their journey.


A more pleasing view of Buonaparte's character was exhibited about this
time, in his conduct towards the little interesting republic of San
Marino. That state, which only acknowledges the Pope as a protector, not
as a sovereign, had maintained for very many years an independence,
which conquerors had spared either in contempt or in respect. It
consists of a single mountain and a single town, and boasts about seven
thousand inhabitants, governed by their own laws. Citizen Monge, the
chief of the committee of collecting artists, was sent deputy to San
Marino to knit the bands of amity between the two republics,--which
might well resemble a union between Lilliput and Brobdingnag. There were
no pictures in the little republic, or they might have been a temptation
to the citizen collector. The people of San Marino conducted themselves
with much sagacity; and although more complimentary to Buonaparte than
Diogenes to Alexander the Great, when he came to visit the philosopher
in his tub, they showed the same judgment in eschewing too much
courtesy.[260] They respectfully declined an accession of territory,
which could but have involved them in subsequent quarrels with the
sovereign from whom it was to be wrested, and only accepted as an
honorary gift the present of four field pieces, being a train of
artillery upon the scale of their military force, and of which, it is to
be hoped, the Captain Regents of the little contented state will never
have any occasion to make use.[261]

Rome might, for the present at least, be considered as completely
subjugated. Naples was at peace, if the signature of a treaty can create
peace. At any rate, so distant from Rome, and so controlled by the
defeat of the Papal arms--by the fear that the English fleet might be
driven from the Mediterranean--and by their distance from the scene of
action--the King of the Two Sicilies, or rather his wife, the
high-spirited daughter of Maria Theresa, dared not offer the least
interference with the purposes of the French general. Tuscany had
apparently consented to owe her political existence to any degree of
clemency or contempt which Buonaparte might extend to her; and,
entertaining hopes of some convention betwixt the French and English, by
which the grand duke's port of Leghorn might be restored to him,
remained passive as the dead. The republic of Venice alone, feeling
still the stimulus arising from her ancient importance, and yet
painfully conscious of her present want of power, strained every
exertion to place herself in a respectable attitude. That city of lofty
remembrances, the Tyre of the middle ages, whose traders were princes,
and her merchants the honourable of the earth, fallen as she was from
her former greatness, still presented some appearance of vigour. Her
oligarchical government, so long known and so dreaded, for jealous
precautions, political sagacity, the impenetrability of their plans, and
the inflexibility of their rigour, still preserved the attitude of
independence, and endeavoured, by raising additional regiments of
Sclavonians, disciplining their peasantry, who were of a very martial
character, and forming military magazines of considerable extent, to
maintain such an aspect as might make their friendship to be courted,
and their enmity to be feared. It was already evident that the
Austrians, notwithstanding all their recent defeats, were again about to
make head on their Italo-German frontier; and France, in opposing them,
could not be indifferent to the neutrality of Venice, upon whose
territories, to all appearance, Buonaparte must have rested the flank of
his operations, in case of his advancing towards Friuli. So
circumstanced, and when it was recollected that the mistress of the
Adriatic had still fifty thousand men at her command, and those of a
fierce and courageous description, chiefly consisting of Sclavonians,
Venice, even yet, was an enemy not to be lightly provoked. But the
inhabitants were not unanimous, especially those of the Terra Firma, or
mainland, who, not being enrolled in the golden book of the insular
nobility of Venice, were discontented, and availed themselves of the
encouragement and assistance of the new-created republics on the Po to
throw off their allegiance. Brescia and Bergamo, in particular, were
clamorous for independence.

Napoleon saw, in this state of dissension, the means of playing an
adroit game; and while, on the one hand, he endeavoured to restrain,
till a more favourable opportunity, the ardour of the patriots, he
attempted on the other, to convince the Senate, that they had no safe
policy but in embracing at once the alliance of France, offensive and
defensive, and joining their forces to those of the army with which he
was about to move against the Austrians. He offered, on these
conditions, to guarantee the possessions of the republic, even without
exacting any modification of their oligarchical constitution. But Venice
declared for an impartial neutrality.[262] It had been, they said, their
ancient and sage policy, nor would they now depart from it. "Remain then
neuter," said Napoleon; "I consent to it. I march upon Vienna, yet will
leave enough of French troops in Italy to control your republic.--But
dismiss these new levies; and remark, that if, while I am in Germany, my
communications shall be interrupted, my detachments cut off, or my
convoys intercepted in the Venetian territories, the date of your
republic is terminated. She will have brought on herself

Lest these threats should be forgotten while he was at a distance, he
took the best precautions in his power, by garrisoning advantageous
points on the line of the Adige; and trusting partly to this defence,
partly to the insurgents of Bergamo and Brescia, who, for their own
sakes, would oppose any invasion of the mainland by their Venetian
masters, whose yoke they had cast aside, Napoleon again unfurled his
banners, and marched to new triumphs over yet untried opponents.


[228] Louis Buonaparte, tom. ii., p. 60.

[229] Letter to the Directory, June 1; Moniteur, No. 264.

[230] Letter from Napoleon to General Clarke, 25 Brumaire, 15th Nov.
1796.--"Your nephew has been slain on the field of battle at Arcola. The
young man had been familiar with arms--had led on columns, and would
have been one day an excellent officer. He has died with glory in the
face of the enemy. He did not suffer for an instant. What man would not
envy such a death? Who is he that would not accept as a favourable
condition the choice of thus escaping from the vicissitudes of a
contemptible world? Who is there among us who has not a hundred times
regretted that he has not been thus withdrawn from the powerful effects
of calumny, of envy, and of all the odious passions which seem the
almost exclusive directors of the conduct of mankind?"--This letter,
remarkable in many respects, will remind the English reader of Cato's
exclamation over the body of his son--"Who would not be this youth!"--S.

[231] "Decrès has often told me, that he was at Toulon when he first
heard of Napoleon's appointment to the command of the army of Italy. He
had known him well at Paris, and thought himself on terms of perfect
familiarity with him. 'Thus,' said he, 'when we learned that the new
general was about to pass through the city, I hastened to him full of
eagerness and joy; the door of the apartment was thrown open, and I was
on the point of rushing towards him with my wonted familiarity, but his
attitude, his look, the tone of his voice, suddenly deterred me. Not
that there was any thing offensive either in his appearance or manner;
but the impression he produced was sufficient to prevent me from ever
again attempting to encroach upon the distance that separated us."--LAS
CASES, tom. i., p. 164.

[232] Even when before Toulon, he was not held by clear-sighted persons
to be a very orthodox Jacobin. General Cartaux, the stupid Sans-Culotte
under whom he first served, was talking of the young commandant of
artillery with applause, when his wife, who was somewhat first in
command at home, advised him not to reckon too much on that young man,
"who had too much sense to be long a Sans-Culotte."--"Sense!
Female-citizen Cartaux," said her offended husband, "do you take us for
fools?"--"By no means," answered the lady; "but his sense is not of the
same kind with yours."--S.--LAS CASES, vol. i., p. 144.

[233] _Second Part of King Henry VI., Act 4., Scene 2._

[234] "At St. Helena Napoleon had preserved a distinct recollection of
this celebrated man. He described his timidity and embarrassment at the
sight of the stately retinue of the staff, which quite dazzled him: 'You
are here with your friends; we honour learning, and only wish to show
the respect we entertain for it!'--'Ah! general, excuse me, but this
splendour quite overpowers me!' He, however, recovered his
self-possession, and held with Napoleon a long conversation, which
produced in his mind a feeling of surprise, such as he could not for a
long time overcome. He was unable to conceive how it was possible to
have acquired, at the age of twenty-six, so much glory and
science."--ANTOMMARCHI, tom. i., p. 368.

[235] Antommarchi, tom. i., p. 367.

[236] Antommarchi, tom. i., p. 135.

[237] Las Cases says, that afterwards the Pope himself touched on the
same topic, and was disposed to see the immediate guidance and
protection afforded by the consanguinean Saint Bonaventura in the great
deeds wrought by his relation. It was said of the church-endowing saint,
David King of Scotland, that he was a sore saint for the Crown;
certainly, Saint Bonaventura must have been a sore saint for the Papal
See. The old abbé left Napoleon his fortune, which he conferred on some
public institution.--S.

[238] Montholon, tom. iii., p. 382; tom. iv., p. 179.

[239] Montholon, tom. v., p. 179.

[240] Montholon, tom. iii., p. 384.

[241] Montholon, tom. iii., p. 386.

[242] Thibaudeau, tom. ii., p. 55; Letter de Cacault à Buonaparte,
Correspondence Inédite, tom. ii., pp. 114-125; Montholon, tom. iii., p.

[243] Voltaire, in one of his romances, terms the Pope an old gentleman,
having a guard of one hundred men, who mount guard with umbrellas, and
who make war on nobody.--S.


    "Arma diu sênior desueta trementibus ævo
    Circumdat nequicquam humeris, et inutile ferrum

        ÆNEID, Lib. II.

    "He--when he saw his regal town on fire,
    His ruin'd palace, and his entering foes,
    On every side inevitable woes;
    In arms disused invests his limbs, decay'd,
    Like them, with age; a late and useless aid."


[245] Cacault was born at Nantes in 1742. During the Consulate, he was
chosen a member of the Senate. He published a translation of Lessing's
Historical Sketch of the Drama. He died in 1805.

[246] "La cour de Rome, au desespoir, saisirait un fer rouge: elle
s'abandonne à l'impulsion bruyante des Napolitains."--_Correspondence
Inédite_, tom. ii., p. 119.

[247] Montholon, tom. iii., p. 387.

[248] "This is the same thing as happened at Pavia," said the soldiers,
by way of demanding the pillage of the place. "No," answered Napoleon;
"at Pavia they had revolted after taking an oath, and they wanted to
massacre our soldiers who were their guests. These are only senseless
people, who must be conquered by clemency."--MONTHOLON, tom. iv., p. 18.

[249] Napoleon addressed them thus in Italian--"I am the friend of all
the nations of Italy, and particularly of the people of Rome. You are
free; return to your families, and tell them that the French are the
friends of religion, order, and the poor."--MONTHOLON, tom. iv., p. 19.

[250] Jomini, tom. ix., p. 307; Montholon, tom. iv., p. 7; Thibaudeau,
tom. ii., p. 220.

[251] "Monge was sent to the spot. He reported that the Madonna actually
wept. The chapter received orders to bring her to headquarters. It was
an optical illusion, ingeniously managed by means of a glass."--MONTHOLON,
tom. iv., p. 12.

[252] "It is a wooden statue clumsily carved; a proof of its antiquity.
It was to be seen for some years at the National Library."--MONTHOLON,
tom. iv., p. 13.

[253] Jomini, tom. ix., p. 311; Thibaudeau, tom. iii., p. 228.

[254] Montholon, tom. iv., p. 16.

[255] Montholon, tom. iv., p. 25.

[256] For a copy of the Treaty of Tolentino, see Annual Register, vol.
xxxix., p. 328, and Montholon, tom. iv., p. 18.

[257] "One of the negotiators of the Pope observed to Buonaparte that he
was the only Frenchman who had marched against Rome since the Constable
Bourbon; but what rendered this circumstance still more singular was,
that the history of the first expedition, under the title of 'The
Sacking of Rome' was written by Jacopo Buonaparte, an ancestor of him
who executed the second."--LAS CASES, tom. i., p. 98.

[258] "The Directory adopted the most insulting forms in communicating
with the Pope; the general wrote to him with respect. The Directory
endeavoured to overthrow the authority of the Pope; Napoleon preserved
it. The Directory banished and proscribed priests; Napoleon commanded
his soldiers, wherever they might fall in with them, to remember that
they were Frenchmen and their brothers."--LAS CASES, tom. i., p. 170.

[259] Montholon, tom. iv., p. 25; Thibaudeau, tom. ii., p. 287.

[260] Botta, tom. ii., p. 199; Thibaudeau, tom. ii., p. 239.

[261] For an interesting sketch of the republic of San Marino, see
Seward's _Anecdotes of Distinguished Persons_, vol. iii., p. 276.

[262] Botta, tom. ii., p. 252; Daru, Hist. de Venise, tom. v., p. 544.

[263] Montholon, tom. iv., p. 130.


    _Archduke Charles--Compared with Napoleon--Fettered by the Aulic
    Council--Napoleon, by a stratagem, passes the Tagliamento, and
    compels the Archduke to retreat--Gradisca carried by
    storm--Chusa-Veneta taken--Trieste and Fiume occupied--Venice
    breaks the Neutrality--Terrified on learning that an Armistice
    had taken place betwixt France and Austria--The Archduke
    retreats by hasty marches on Vienna--The Government
    irresolute--and the Treaty of Leoben signed--Venice makes
    humiliating submissions--Napoleon's Speech to her Envoys--He
    declares War against Venice, and evades obeying the orders of
    the Directory to spare it--The Great Council, on 31st May,
    concede everything to Buonaparte--Terms granted._


The victories of the Archduke Charles on the Rhine, and his high credit
with the soldiery, seemed to point him out as the commander falling most
naturally to be employed against the young general of the French
republic, who, like a gifted hero of romance, had borne down
successively all opponents who had presented themselves in the field.
The opinions of Europe were suspended concerning the probable issue of
the contest. Both generals were young, ambitious, enthusiastic in the
military profession, and warmly beloved by their soldiers. The exploits
of both had filled the trumpet of Fame; and although Buonaparte's
success had been less uninterrupted, yet it could not be denied, that if
the Archduke's plans were not equally brilliant and original with those
of his great adversary, they were just and sound, and had been attended
repeatedly with great results, and by the defeat of such men as Moreau
and Jourdan. But there were two particulars in which the Austrian prince
fell far short of Napoleon,--first, in that ready, decided, and vigorous
confidence, which seizes the favourable instant for the execution of
plans resolved upon,--and, secondly, in having the disadvantage to be
subjected, notwithstanding his high rank, to the interference of the
Aulic Council; who, sitting at Vienna, and ignorant of the changes and
vicissitudes of the campaign, were yet, by the ancient and jealous laws
of the Austrian empire, entitled to control his opinion, and prescribe
beforehand the motions of the armies, while the generals, intrusted
with the execution of their schemes, had often no choice left but that
of adherence to their instructions, however emerging circumstances might
require a deviation.[264]

But although the encounter betwixt these two distinguished young
generals be highly interesting, our space will not permit us to detail
the campaigns of Austria at the same length as those of Italy. The
latter formed the commencement of Buonaparte's military career, and at
no subsequent period of his life did he achieve the same wondrous
victories against such immense odds, or with such comparatively
inadequate means. It was also necessary, in the outset of his military
history, to show, in minute detail, the character of his tactics, and
illustrate that spirit of energetic concentration, which, neglecting the
extremities of an extended line of operations, combined his whole
strength, like a bold and skilful fencer, for one thrust at a vital
part, which, if successful, must needs be fatal. The astonishing
rapidity of his movements, the audacious vivacity of his attack, having
been so often described in individual cases, may now be passed over with
general allusions; nor will we embarrass ourselves and our readers with
minute details of positions, or encumber our pages with the names of
obscure villages, unless when there is some battle calling for a
particular narrative, either from its importance or its singularity.

By the direction of the Aulic Council, the Archduke Charles had taken up
his position at Friuli, where it had been settled that the sixth
Austrian army, designed to act against Buonaparte for the defence of the
Italo-German frontier, should be assembled. This position was strangely
preferred to the Tyrol, where the Archduke could have formed a junction
ten days sooner with an additional force of forty thousand men from the
army of the Rhine, marching to reinforce his own troops,--men accustomed
to fight and conquer under their leader's eye; whilst those with whom he
occupied Friuli, and the line of the Piave, belonged to the hapless
Imperial forces, which, under Beaulieu, Wurmser, and Alvinzi, had never
encountered Buonaparte without incurring some notable defeat.

While the Archduke was yet expecting those reinforcements which were to
form the strength of his army, his active adversary had been joined by
more than twenty thousand men, sent from the French armies on the Rhine,
and which gave him at the moment a numerical superiority over the
Austrian general. Instead, therefore, of waiting, as on former
occasions, until the Imperialists should commence the war by descending
into Italy, Napoleon resolved to anticipate the march of the succours
expected by the Archduke, drive him from his position on the Italian
frontiers, and follow him into Germany, even up to the walls of Vienna.
No scheme appeared too bold for the general's imagination to form, or
his genius to render practicable; and his soldiers, with the view before
them of plunging into the midst of an immense empire, and placing chains
of mountains betwixt them and every possibility of reinforcement or
communication, were so confident in the talents of their leader, as to
follow him under the most undoubting expectation of victory. The
Directory had induced Buonaparte to expect a co-operation by a similar
advance on the part of the armies of the Rhine, as had been attempted in
the former campaign.


Buonaparte took the field in the beginning of March, advancing from
Bassano.[265] The Austrians had an army of observation under Lusignan on
the bank of the Piave, but their principal force was stationed upon the
Tagliamento, a river whose course is nearly thirty miles more to the
eastward, though collateral with the Piave. The plains on the
Tagliamento afforded facilities to the Archduke to employ the noble
cavalry who have always been the boast of the Austrian army; and to
dislodge him from the strong country which he occupied, and which
covered the road that penetrates between the mountains and the Adriatic,
and forms the mode of communication in that quarter betwixt Vienna and
Italy, through Carinthia, it was not only necessary that he should be
pressed in front--a service which Buonaparte took upon himself--but also
that a French division, occupying the mountains on the Prince's right,
should precipitate his retreat, by maintaining the perpetual threat of
turning him on that wing. With this view, Massena had Buonaparte's
orders, which he executed with equal skill and gallantry. He crossed the
Piave about the eleventh March, and ascending that river, directed his
course into the mountains towards Belluno, driving before him Lusignan's
little corps of observation, and finally compelling his rear-guard, to
the number of five hundred men, to surrender.

The Archduke Charles, in the meantime, continued to maintain his
position on the Tagliamento, and the French approached the right bank,
with Napoleon at their head, determined apparently to force a passage.
Artillery and sharpshooters were disposed in such a manner as to render
this a very hazardous attempt, while two beautiful lines of cavalry were
drawn up, prepared to charge any troops who might make their way to the
left bank, while they were yet in the confusion of landing.

A very simple stratagem disconcerted this fair display of resistance.
After a distant cannonade, and some skirmishing, the French army drew
off, as if despairing to force their passage, moved to the rear, and
took up apparently their bivouac for the night. The Archduke was
deceived. He imagined that the French, who had marched all the preceding
night, were fatigued, and he also withdrew from the bank of the river to
his camp. But two hours afterwards, when all seemed profoundly quiet,
the French army suddenly got under arms, and, forming in two lines,
marched rapidly to the side of the river, ere the astonished Austrians
were able to make the same dispositions as formerly for defence. Arrived
on the margin, the first line instantly broke up into columns, which,
throwing themselves boldly into the stream, protected on the flanks by
the cavalry, passed through and attained the opposite bank.[266] They
were repeatedly charged by the Austrian cavalry, but it was too
late--they had gotten their footing, and kept it. The Archduke attempted
to turn their flank, but was prevented by the second line of the French,
and by their reserve of cavalry. He was compelled to retreat, leaving
prisoners and cannon in the hands of the enemy. Such was the first
disastrous meeting between the Archduke Charles and his future

[Sidenote: March 16.]

The Austrian prince had the farther misfortune to learn, that Massena
had, at the first sound of the cannonade, pushed across the Tagliamento,
higher up than his line of defence, and destroying what troops he found
before him, had occupied the passes of the Julian Alps at the sources of
that river, and thus interposed himself between the imperial right wing
and the nearest communication with Vienna. Sensible of the importance of
this obstacle, the Archduke hastened, if possible, to remove it. He
brought up a fine column of grenadiers from the Rhine, which had just
arrived at Klagenfurt, in his rear, and joining them to other troops,
attacked Massena with the utmost fury, venturing his own person like a
private soldier, and once or twice narrowly escaping being made
prisoner. It was in vain--all in vain. He charged successively and
repeatedly, even with the reserve of the grenadiers, but no exertion
could change the fortune of the day.[268]

[Sidenote: March 19.]

Still the Archduke hoped to derive assistance from the natural or
artificial defences of the strong country through which he was thus
retreating, and in doing so was involuntarily introducing Buonaparte,
after he should have surmounted the border frontier into the most
fertile provinces of his brother's empire. The Lisonzo, usually a deep
and furious torrent, closed in by a chain of impassable mountains,
seemed to oppose an insurmountable barrier to his daring pursuers. But
nature, as well as events, fought against the Austrians. The stream,
reduced by frost, was fordable in several places. The river thus passed,
the town of Gradisca, which had been covered with field-works to protect
the line of the Lisonzo, was surprised and carried by storm, and its
garrison of two thousand five hundred men made prisoners, by the
divisions of Bernadotte and Serrurier.

Pushed in every direction, the Austrians sustained every day additional
and more severe losses. The strong fort of Chiusa-Veneta was occupied by
Massena, who continued his active and indefatigable operations on the
right of the retreating army. This success caused the envelopement, and
dispersion or surrender, of a whole division of Austrians, five thousand
of whom remained prisoners, while their baggage, cannon, colours, and
all that constituted them an army, fell into the hands of the French.
Four generals were made prisoners on this occasion; and many of the
mountaineers of Carniola and Croatia, who had joined the Austrian army
from their natural love of war, seeing that success appeared to have
abandoned the imperial cause, became despondent, broke up their corps,
and retired as stragglers to their villages.


Buonaparte availed himself of their loss of courage, and had recourse to
proclamations, a species of arms which he valued himself as much upon
using to advantage, as he did upon his military fame. He assured them
that the French did not come into their country to innovate on their
rights, religious customs, and manners. He exhorted them not to meddle
in a war with which they had no concern, but encouraged them to afford
assistance and furnish supplies to the French army, in payment of which
he proposed to assign the public taxes which they had been in the habit
of paying to the Emperor.[269] His proposal seems to have reconciled the
Carinthians to the presence of the French, or, more properly speaking,
they submitted to the military exactions which they had no means of
resisting.[270] In the meanwhile, the French took possession of Trieste
and Fiume, the only seaports belonging to Austria, where they seized
much English merchandise, which was always a welcome prize, and of the
quicksilver mines of Idria, where they found a valuable deposit of that

Napoleon repaired the fortifications of Klagenfurt, and converted it
into a respectable place of arms, where he established his headquarters.
In a space of scarce twenty days, he had defeated the Austrians in ten
combats, in the course of which Prince Charles had lost at least
one-fourth of his army. The French had surmounted the southern chain of
the Julian Alps; the northern line could, it was supposed, offer no
obstacle sufficient to stop their irresistible general; and the
Archduke, the pride and hope of the Austrian armies, had retired behind
the river Mehur, and seemed to be totally without the means of covering

There were, however, circumstances less favourable to the French, which
require to be stated. When the campaign commenced, the French general
Joubert was posted with his division in the gorge of the Tyrol above
Trent, upon the same river Levisa, the line of which had been lost and
won during the preceding winter. He was opposed by the Austrian generals
Kerpen and Laudon, who, besides some regular regiments, had collected
around them a number of the Tyrolese militia, who among their own
mountains were at least equally formidable. They remained watching each
other during the earlier part of the campaign; but the gaining of the
battle of the Tagliamento was the signal for Joubert to commence the
offensive. His directions were to push his way through the Tyrol to
Brixen, at which place Napoleon expected he might hear news of the
advance of the French armies from the Rhine, to co-operate in the march
upon Vienna. But the Directory, fearing perhaps to trust nearly the
whole force of the Republic in the hands of a general so successful and
so ambitious as Napoleon, had not fulfilled their promises in this
respect. The army of Moreau had not as yet crossed the Rhine.

Joubert, thus disappointed of his promised object, began to find himself
in an embarrassing situation. The whole country was in insurrection
around him, and a retreat in the line by which he had advanced, might
have exposed him to great loss, if not to destruction. He determined,
therefore, to elude the enemy, and by descending the river Drave, to
achieve a junction with his commander-in-chief Napoleon. He accomplished
his difficult march by breaking down the bridges behind him, and thus
arresting the progress of the enemy; but it was with difficulty, and not
without loss, that he effected his proposed union, and his retreat from
the Tyrol gave infinite spirits not only to the martial Tyrolese, but to
all the favourers of Austria in the North of Italy. The Austrian general
Laudon sallied from the Tyrol at the head of a considerable force, and
compelled the slender body of French under Balland, to shut themselves
up in garrisons; and their opponents were for the moment again lords of
a part of Lombardy. They also re-occupied Trieste and Fiume, which
Buonaparte had not been able sufficiently to garrison; so that the rear
of the French army seemed to be endangered.[271]

The Venetians, at this crisis, fatally for their ancient republic, if
indeed its doom had not, as is most likely, been long before sealed,
received with eager ears the accounts, exaggerated as they were by
rumour, that the French were driven from the Tyrol, and the Austrians
about to descend the Adige, and resume their ancient empire in Italy.
The Senate were aware that neither their government nor their persons
were acceptable to the French general, and that they had offended him
irreconcilably by declining the intimate alliance and contribution of
troops which he had demanded. He had parted from them with such menaces
as were not easily to be misunderstood. They believed, if his vengeance
might not be instant, it was only the more sure; and conceiving him now
deeply engaged in Germany, and surrounded by the Austrian levies en
masse from the warlike countries of Hungary and Croatia, they imagined
that throwing their own weight into the scale at so opportune a moment,
must weigh it down for ever. To chastise their insurgent subjects of
Bergamo and Brescia, was an additional temptation.

[Sidenote: April 16.]

Their mode of making war savoured of the ancient vindictive temper
ascribed to their countrymen. An insurrection was secretly organized
through all the territories which Venice still possessed on the
mainland, and broke out, like the celebrated Sicilian vespers, in blood
and massacre. In Verona they assassinated more than a hundred Frenchmen,
many of them sick soldiers in the hospitals[272]--an abominable cruelty
which could not fail to bring a curse on their undertaking. Fioravante,
a Venetian general, marched at the head of a body of Sclavonians to
besiege the forts of Verona, into which the remaining French had made
their retreat, and where they defended themselves. Laudon made his
appearance with his Austrians and Tyrolese, and it seemed as if the
fortunes of Buonaparte had at length found a check.


But the awakening from this pleasing dream was equally sudden and
dreadful. News arrived that preliminaries of peace had been agreed upon,
and an armistice signed between France and Austria. Laudon, therefore,
and the auxiliaries on whom the Venetians had so much relied, retired
from Verona. The Lombards sent an army to the assistance of the French.
The Sclavonians, under Fioravante, after fighting vigorously, were
compelled to surrender. The insurgent towns of Vicenza, Treviso, and
Padua, were again occupied by the Republicans. Rumour proclaimed the
terrible return of Napoleon and his army, and the ill-advised Senate of
Venice were lost in stupor, and scarce had sense left to decide betwixt
unreserved submission and hopeless defence.

It was one of the most artful rules in Buonaparte's policy, that when he
had his enemy at decided advantage, by some point having been attained
which seemed to give a complete turn to the campaign in his favour, he
seldom failed to offer peace, and peace upon conditions much more
favourable than perhaps the opposite party expected. By doing this, he
secured such immediate and undisputed fruits of his victory, as the
treaty of peace contained; and he was sure of means to prosecute farther
advantages at some future opportunity. He obtained, moreover, the
character of generosity; and, in the present instance, he avoided the
great danger of urging to bay so formidable a power as Austria, whose
despair might be capable of the most formidable efforts.

[Sidenote: March 31.]

With this purpose, and assuming for the first time that disregard for
the usual ceremonial of courts, and etiquette of politics, which he
afterwards seemed to have pleasure in displaying, he wrote a letter in
person to the Archduke Charles on the subject of peace.

This composition affects that abrupt laconic severity of style, which
cuts short argument, by laying down general maxims of philosophy of a
trite character, and breaks through the usual laboured periphrastic
introductions with which ordinary politicians preface their proposals,
when desirous of entering upon a treaty. "It is the part of a brave
soldier," he said, "to make war, but to wish for peace. The present
strife has lasted six years. Have we not yet slain enough of men, and
sufficiently outraged humanity? Peace is demanded on all sides. Europe
at large has laid down the arms assumed against the French Republic.
Your nation remains alone in hostility, and yet blood flows faster than
ever. This sixth campaign has commenced under ominous circumstances.--End
how it will, some thousands of men more will be slain on either side;
and at length, after all, we must come to an agreement, for every thing
must have an end at last, even the angry passions of men. The Executive
Directory made known to the Emperor their desire to put a period to
the war which desolates both countries, but the intervention of the
Court of London opposed it. Is there then no means of coming to an
understanding, and must we continue to cut each other's throats for the
interests or passions of a nation, herself a stranger to the miseries
of war? You, the general-in-chief, who approach by birth so near to the
crown, and are above all those petty passions which agitate ministers,
and the members of government, will you resolve to be the benefactor of
mankind, and the true saviour of Germany? Do not suppose that I mean by
that expression to intimate, that it is impossible for you to defend
yourself by force of arms; but under the supposition, that fortune
were to become favourable to you, Germany would be equally exposed to
ravage. With respect to my own feelings, general, if this proposition
should be the means of saving one single man's life, I should prefer
a civic crown so merited, to the melancholy glory attending military

The whole tone of the letter is ingeniously calculated to give the
proposition the character of moderation, and at the same time to avoid
the appearance of too ready an advance towards his object. The Archduke,
after a space of two days, returned this brief answer, in which he
stripped Buonaparte's proposal of its gilding, and treated it upon the
footing of an ordinary proposal for a treaty of peace, made by a party,
who finds it convenient for his interest:--"Unquestionably, sir, in
making war, and in following the road prescribed by honour and duty, I
desire as much as you the attainment of peace for the happiness of the
people, and of humanity. Considering, however, that in the situation
which I hold, it is no part of my business to inquire into and determine
the quarrel of the belligerent powers; and that I am not furnished on
the part of the Emperor with any plenipotentiary powers for treating,
you will excuse me, general, if I do not enter into negotiation with you
touching a matter of the highest importance, but which does not lie
within my department. Whatever shall happen, either respecting the
future chances of the war, or the prospect of peace, I request you to be
equally convinced of my distinguished esteem."[273]

The Archduke would willingly have made some advantage of this proposal
by obtaining an armistice of five hours, sufficient to enable him to
form a junction with the corps of Kerpen, which, having left the Tyrol
to come to the assistance of the commander-in-chief, was now within a
short distance. But Buonaparte took care not to permit himself to be
hampered by any such ill-timed engagement, and, after some sharp
fighting, in which the French, as usual, were successful, he was able to
interpose such a force as to prevent the junction taking place.

Two encounters followed at Neumark and at Unzmark--both gave rise to
fresh disasters, and the continued retreat of the Archduke Charles and
the Imperial army. The French general then pressed forward on the road
to Vienna, through mountain-passes and defiles, which could not have
been opened otherwise than by turning them on the flank. But these
natural fastnesses were no longer defences. Judenburg, the capital of
Upper Styria, was abandoned to the French without a blow, and shortly
after Buonaparte entered Gratz, the principal town of Lower Styria, with
the same facility.


The Archduke now totally changed his plan of warfare. He no longer
disputed the ground foot by foot, but began to retreat by hasty marches
towards Vienna, determined to collect the last and utmost strength
which the extensive states of the Emperor could supply, and fight for
the existence, it might be, of his brother's throne, under the walls of
his capital. However perilous this resolution might appear, it was
worthy of the high-spirited prince by whom it was adopted; and there
were reasons, perhaps, besides those arising from soldierly pride and
princely dignity, which seemed to recommend it.

The army with which the enterprising French general was now about to
debouche from the mountains, and enter the very centre of Germany, had
suffered considerably since the commencement of the campaign, not only
by the sword, but by severity of weather, and the excessive fatigue
which they endured in executing the rapid marches, by which their leader
succeeded in securing victory; and the French armies on the Rhine had
not, as the plan of the campaign dictated, made any movement in advance
corresponding with the march of Buonaparte.

Nor, in the country which they were about to enter with diminished
forces, could Buonaparte trust to the influence of the same moral
feeling in the people invaded, which had paved the way to so many
victories on the Rhine. The citizens of Austria, though living under a
despotic government, are little sensible of its severities, and are
sincerely attached to the Emperor, whose personal habits incline him to
live with his people without much form, and mix in public amusements, or
appear in the public walks, like a father in the midst of his family.
The nobility were as ready as in former times to bring out their
vassals, and a general knowledge of discipline is familiar to the German
peasant as a part of his education. Hungary possessed still the high
spirited race of barons and cavaliers, who, in their great convocation
in 1740, rose at once, and drawing their sabres, joined in the
celebrated exclamation, "_Moriamur pro regenostro, Maria Teresa!_" The
Tyrol was in possession of its own warlike inhabitants, all in arms, and
so far successful, as to have driven Joubert out of their mountains.
Trieste and Fiume were retaken in the rear of the French army.
Buonaparte had no line of communication when separated from Italy, and
no means of obtaining supplies, but from a country which would probably
be soon in insurrection in his rear, as well as on his flanks. A battle
lost, when there was neither support, reserve, nor place of arms nearer
than Klagenfurt, would have been annihilation. To add to these
considerations, it was now known that the Venetian republic had assumed
a formidable and hostile aspect in Italy; by which, joined to a natural
explosion of feeling, religious and national, the French cause was
considerably endangered in that country. There were so many favourers of
the old system, together with the general influence of the Catholic
clergy, that it seemed not unlikely this insurrection might spread fast
and far. Italy, in that case, would have been no effectual place of
refuge to Buonaparte or his army. The Archduke enumerated all these
advantages to the Cabinet of Vienna, and exhorted them to stand the last
cast of the bloody die.

But the terror, grief, and confusion, natural in a great metropolis,
whose peace for the first time for so many years was alarmed with the
approach of the unconquered and apparently fated general, who having
defeated and destroyed five of their choicest armies, was now driving
under its walls the remnants of the last, though commanded by that
prince whom they regarded as the hope and flower of Austrian warfare,
opposed this daring resolution. The alarm was general, beginning with
the court itself; and the most valuable property and treasure were
packed up to be carried into Hungary, where the royal family determined
to take refuge. It is worthy of mention, that among the fugitives of the
Imperial House was the Archduchess Maria Louisa, then between five and
six years old, whom our imagination may conceive agitated by every
species of childish terror derived from the approach of the victorious
general on whom she was, at a future and similar crisis, destined to
bestow her hand.

The cries of the wealthy burghers were of course for peace. The enemy
were within fourteen or fifteen days' march of their walls; nor had the
city (perhaps fortunately) any fortifications, which in the modern state
of war could have made it defensible even for a day. They were,
moreover, seconded by a party in the Cabinet; and, in short, whether it
chanced for good or for evil, the selfish principle of those who had
much to lose, and were timid in proportion, predominated against that,
which desired at all risks the continuance of a determined and obstinate
defence. It required many lessons to convince both sovereign and people,
that it is better to put all on the hazard--better even to lose all,
than to sanction the being pillaged at different times, and by degrees,
under pretence of friendship and amity. A bow which is forcibly strained
back will regain its natural position; but if supple enough to yield of
itself to the counter direction, it will never recover its elasticity.

[Sidenote: PEACE OF LEOBEN.]

The affairs, however, of the Austrians were in such a condition, that it
could hardly be said whether the party who declared for peace, to obtain
some respite from the distresses of the country, or those who wished to
continue war with the chances of success which we have indicated,
advised the least embarrassing course. The Court of Vienna finally
adopted the alternative of treaty, and that of Leoben was set on foot.

Generals Bellegarde and Merfield, on the part of the Emperor, presented
themselves at the headquarters of Buonaparte, 13th April, 1797, and
announced the desire of their sovereign for peace. Buonaparte granted a
suspension of arms, to endure for five days only; which was afterwards
extended, when the probability of the definitive treaty of peace was

It is affirmed, that in the whole discussions respecting this most
important armistice, Napoleon--as a conqueror, whose victories had been
in a certain degree his own, whose army had been supported and paid from
the resources of the country which he conquered, who had received
reinforcements from France only late and reluctantly, and who had
recruited his army by new levies among the republicanized
Italians--maintained an appearance of independence of the Government of
France. He had, even at this period, assumed a freedom of thought and
action, the tenth part of the suspicion attached to which would have
cost the most popular general his head in the times of Danton and
Robespierre. But, though acquired slowly, and in counteraction to the
once overpowering, and still powerful, democratic influence, the
authority of Buonaparte was great; and, indeed, the power which a
conquering general attains, by means of his successes, in the bosom of
his soldiers, becomes soon formidable to any species of government,
where the soldier is not intimately interested in the liberties of the

Yet it must not be supposed that Napoleon exhibited publicly any of that
spirit of independence which the Directory appear to have dreaded, and
which, according to the opinion which he himself intimates, seems to
have delayed the promised co-operation, which was to be afforded by the
eastern armies on the banks of the Rhine. Far from testifying such a
feeling, his assertion of the rights of the Republic was decidedly
striking, of which the following is a remarkable instance. The Austrian
commissioner, in hopes to gain some credit for the admission, had stated
in the preliminary articles of the convention, as a concession of
consequence, that his Imperial Majesty acknowledged the French
Government in its present state. "Strike out that condition," said
Buonaparte sternly, "the French Republic is like the sun in heaven. The
misfortune lies with those who are so blind as to be ignorant of the
existence of either."[274] It was gallantly spoken; but how strange to
reflect, that the same individual, in three or four years afterwards,
was able to place an extinguisher on one of those suns, without even an
eclipse being the consequence.[275]

It is remarkable also, that while asserting to foreigners this supreme
dignity of the French Republic, Buonaparte should have departed so far
from the respect he owed its rulers. The preliminaries of peace were
proposed for signature on the 18th April. But General Clarke, to whom
the Directory had committed full powers to act in the matter, was still
at Turin. He was understood to be the full confidant of his masters, and
to have instructions to watch the motions of Buonaparte, nay, to place
him under arrest, should he see cause to doubt his fealty to the French
Government. Napoleon, nevertheless, did not hesitate to tender his
individual signature and warrantry, and these were readily admitted by
the Austrian plenipotentiaries;--an ominous sign of the declension of
the powers of the Directory, considering that a military general,
without the support even of the commissioners from the government, or
proconsuls, as they were called, was regarded as sufficient to ratify a
treaty of such consequence. No doubt seems to have been entertained that
he had the power to perform what he had guaranteed; and the part which
he acted was the more remarkable, considering the high commission of
General Clarke.[276]


The articles in the treaty of Leoben remained long secret; the cause of
which appears to have been, that the high contracting parties were not
willing comparisons should be made between the preliminaries as they
were originally settled, and the strange and violent altercations which
occurred in the definitive treaty of Campo Formio. These two treaties of
pacification differed, the one from the other, in relation to the degree
and manner how a meditated partition of the territory of Venice, of the
Cisalpine republic, and other smaller powers was to be accomplished, for
the mutual benefit of France and Austria. It is melancholy to observe,
but it is nevertheless an important truth, that there is no moment
during which independent states of the second class have more occasion
to be alarmed for their security, than when more powerful nations in
their vicinity are about to conclude peace. It is so easy to accommodate
these differences of the strong at the expense of such weaker states,
as, if they are injured, have neither the power of making their
complaints heard, nor of defending themselves by force, that, in the
iron age in which it has been our fate to live, the injustice of such an
arrangement has never been considered as offering any counterpoise to
its great convenience, whatever the law of nations might teach to the

It is unnecessary to enter upon the subject of the preliminaries of
Leoben, until we notice the treaty of Campo Formio, under which they
were finally modified, and by which they were adjusted and controlled.
It may be, however, the moment to state, that Buonaparte was
considerably blamed, by the Directory and others, for stopping short in
the career of conquest, and allowing the House of Austria terms which
left her still formidable to France, when, said the censors, it would
have cost him but another victory to blot the most constant and powerful
enemy of the French Republic out of the map of Europe; or, at least, to
confine her to her hereditary states in Germany. To such criticism he
replied, in a despatch to the Directory from Leoben, during the progress
of the treaty: "If, at the commencement of these Italian campaigns, I
had made a point of going to Turin, I should never have passed the
Po--had I insisted prematurely on advancing to Rome, I could never have
secured Milan--and now, had I made an indispensable object of reaching
Vienna, I might have destroyed the Republic."[277]

Such was his able and judicious defence of a conduct, which, by stopping
short of some ultimate and extreme point apparently within his grasp,
extracted every advantage from fear, which despair perhaps might not
have yielded him, if the enemy had been driven to extremity. And it is
remarkable, that the catastrophe of Napoleon himself was a corollary of
the doctrine which he now laid down; for, had he not insisted upon
penetrating to Moscow, there is no judging how much longer he might have
held the empire of France.

The contents of the treaty of Leoben, so far as they were announced to
the representatives of the French nation by the Directory, only made
known, as part of the preliminaries, that the cession of the Belgic
provinces, and of such a boundary as France might choose to demand upon
the Rhine, had been admitted by Austria; and that she had consented to
recognise a single republic in Italy, to be composed out of those which
had been provisionally established. But shortly afterwards it
transpired, that Mantua, the subject of so much and such bloody contest,
and the very citadel of Italy, as had appeared from the events of these
sanguinary campaigns, was to be resigned to Austria, from whose
tenacious grasp it had been wrenched with so much difficulty. This
measure was unpopular; and it will be found that Buonaparte had the
ingenuity, in the definitive treaty of peace, to substitute an
indemnification, which he ought not to have given, and which was
certainly the last which the Austrians should have accepted.

[Sidenote: VENICE.]

[Sidenote: April 9]

It was now the time for Venice to tremble. She had declared against the
French in their absence; her vindictive population had murdered many of
them; the resentment of the French soldiers was excited to the utmost,
and the Venetians had no right to reckon upon the forbearance of their
general. The treaty of Leoben left the Senate of that ancient state
absolutely without support; nay, as they afterwards learned, Austria,
after pleading their cause for a certain time, had ended by stipulating
for a share of their spoils, which had been assigned to her by a secret
article of the treaty. The doom of the oligarchy was pronounced ere
Buonaparte had yet traversed the Noric and Julian Alps, for the purpose
of enforcing it. By a letter to the doge, dated from the capital of
Upper Styria, Napoleon, bitterly upbraiding the Senate for requiting his
generosity with treachery and ingratitude, demanded that they should
return by his aide-de-camp who bore the letter, their instant choice
betwixt war and peace, and allowing them only four-and-twenty hours to
disperse their insurgent peasantry, and submit to his clemency.[278]

Junot, introduced into the Senate, made the threats of his master ring
in the astounded ears of the members, and by the blunt and rough manner
of a soldier, who had risen from the ranks, added to the dismay of the
trembling nobles. The Senate returned a humble apology to Buonaparte,
and despatched agents to deprecate his wrath. These envoys were doomed
to experience one of those scenes of violence which were in some degree
natural to this extraordinary man, but to which in certain cases he
seems to have designedly given way, in order to strike consternation
into those whom he addressed. "Are the prisoners at liberty?" he said,
with a stern voice, and without replying to the humble greetings of the
terrified envoys. They answered with hesitation that they had liberated
the French, the Polish, and the Brescians, who had been made captive in
the insurrectionary war. "I will have them all--all!" exclaimed
Buonaparte--"all who are in prison on account of their political
sentiments. I will go myself to destroy your dungeons on the Bridge of
Tears--opinions shall be free--I will have no Inquisition. If all the
prisoners are not set at instant liberty, the English envoy dismissed,
the people disarmed, I declare instant war. I might have gone to Vienna
if I had listed--I have concluded a peace with the Emperor--I have
eighty thousand men, twenty gun-boats--I will hear of no Inquisition,
and no Senate either--I will dictate the law to you--I will prove an
Attila to Venice. If you cannot disarm your population, I will do it in
your stead--your government is antiquated--it must crumble to

While Buonaparte, in these disjointed yet significant threats, stood
before the deputies like the Argantes of Italy's heroic poet, and gave
them the choice of peace and war with the air of a superior being,
capable at once to dictate their fate, he had not yet heard of the
massacre of Verona, or of the batteries of a Venetian fort on the Lido
having fired upon a French vessel, which had run into the port to escape
the pursuit of two armed Austrian ships. The vessel was alleged to have
been sunk, and the master and some of the crew to have been killed. The
news of these fresh aggressions did not fail to aggravate his
indignation to the highest pitch. The terrified deputies ventured to
touch with delicacy on the subject of pecuniary atonement. Buonaparte's
answer was worthy of a Roman. "If you could proffer me," he said, "the
treasures of Peru--if you could strew the whole district with gold, it
could not atone for the French blood which has been treacherously

[Sidenote: May 3.]

Accordingly, on the 3d of May, Buonaparte declared war against Venice,
and ordered the French minister to leave the city; the French troops,
and those of the new Italian republics, were at the same time commanded
to advance, and to destroy in their progress, wherever they found it
displayed, the winged Lion of Saint Mark, the ancient emblem of Venetian
sovereignty. The declaration is dated at Palma Nova.[281]

It had been already acted upon by the French who were on the Venetian
frontier, and by La Hotze, a remarkable character, who was then at the
head of the army of the Italian republics of the new model, and the
forces of the towns of Brescia and Bergamo, which aspired to the same
independence. This commander was of Swiss extraction; an excellent young
officer, and at that time enamoured of liberty on the French system,
though he afterwards saw so much reason to change his opinions, that he
lost his life, as we may have occasion to mention, fighting under the
Austrian banners.

The terrified Senate of Venice proved unworthy descendants of the Zenos,
Dandolos, and Morosinis, as the defenders of Christendom, and the proud
opposers of Papal oppression. The best resource they could imagine to
themselves, was to employ at Paris those golden means of intercession
which Buonaparte had so sturdily rejected. Napoleon assures us, that
they found favour by means of these weighty arguments. The Directory,
moved, we are informed, by the motives of ten millions of French francs,
transmitted from Venice in bills of exchange, sent to the general of
Italy orders to spare the ancient senate and aristocracy. But the
account of the transaction, with the manner in which the remittances
were distributed, fell into the hands of Napoleon, by despatches
intercepted at Milan. The members of the French Government, whom these
documents would have convicted of peculation and bribery, were compelled
to be silent; and Buonaparte, availing himself of some chicanery as to
certain legal solemnities, took it on him totally to disregard the
orders he had received.

The Senate of Venice, rather stupified than stimulated by the excess of
their danger, were holding on the 30th April, a sort of privy council in
the apartments of the doge, when a letter from the commandant of their
flotilla informed them, that the French were erecting fortifications on
the low grounds contiguous to the lagoons or shallow channels which
divide from the main-land and from each other the little isles on which
the amphibious mistress of the Adriatic holds her foundation; and
proposing, in the blunt style of a gallant sailor, to batter them to
pieces about their ears before the works could be completed.[282]
Indeed, nothing would have been more easy than to defend the lagoons
against an enemy, who, notwithstanding Napoleon's bravado, had not even
a single boat. But the proposal, had it been made to an abbess and a
convent of nuns, could scarce have appeared more extraordinary than it
did to these degenerate nobles. Yet the sense of shame prevailed; and
though trembling for the consequences of the order which they issued,
the Senate directed that the admiral should proceed to action.[283]
Immediately after the order was received, their deliberations were
interrupted by the thunder of the cannon on either side--the Venetian
gun-boats pouring their fire on the van of the French army, which had
begun to arrive at Fusini.

To interrupt these ominous sounds, two plenipotentiaries were despatched
to make intercession with the French general; and, to prevent delay, the
doge himself undertook to report the result.

The Grand Council was convoked on the 1st of May, when the doge, pale in
countenance, and disconcerted in demeanour, proposed, as the only means
of safety, the admission of some democratic modifications into their
forms, under the direction of General Buonaparte; or, in other words, to
lay their institutions at the feet of the conqueror, to be remodelled at
his pleasure. Of six hundred and nineteen patricians, only twenty-one
dissented from a vote which inferred the absolute surrender of their
constitution. The conditions to be agreed on were, indeed, declared
subject to the revision of the Council; but this, in the circumstances,
could only be considered as a clause intended to save appearances. The
surrender must have been regarded as unconditional and total.[284]

Amidst the dejection and confusion which possessed the Government, some
able intriguer (the secretary, it was said, of the French ambassador at
Venice, whose principal had been recalled) contrived to induce the
Venetian Government to commit an act of absolute suicide, so as to spare
Buonaparte the trouble and small degree of scandal which might attach to
totally destroying the existence of the republic.

On the 9th of May, as the committee of the Great Council were in close
deliberation with the doge, two strangers intruded upon those councils,
which heretofore--such was the jealous severity of the oligarchy--were
like those of supernatural beings; those who looked on them died. But
now, affliction, confusion, and fear, had withdrawn the guards from
these secret and mysterious chambers and laid open to the intrusion of
strangers those stern haunts of a suspicious oligarchy, where, in other
days, an official or lictor of the Government might have been punished
with death even for too loud a foot-fall, far more for the fatal crime
of having heard more than was designed to come to his knowledge. All
this was now ended; and without check or rebuke the two strangers were
permitted to communicate with the Senate by writing. Their advice, which
had the terms of a command, was, to anticipate the intended reforms of
the French--to dissolve the present Government--throw open their
prisons--disband their Sclavonian soldiers--plant the tree of liberty on
the place of Saint Mark, and to take other popular measures of the same
nature, the least of which, proposed but a few months before, would have
been a signal of death to the individual who had dared to hint at

An English satirist has told us a story of a man persuaded by an
eloquent friend, to hang himself, in order to preserve his life. The
story of the fall of Venice vindicates the boldness of the satire. It
does not appear that Buonaparte could have gone farther; nay, it seems
unlikely he would have gone so far, as was now recommended.

As the friendly advisers had hinted that the utmost speed was necessary,
the committee scarce interposed an interval of three days, between
receiving the advice and recommending it to the Great Council; and began
in the meanwhile to anticipate the destruction of their government and
surrender of their city, by dismantling their fleet and disbanding their

At length, the Great Council assembled on the 12th of May. The doge had
commenced a pathetic discourse on the extremities to which the country
was reduced, when an irregular discharge of fire-arms took place under
the very windows of the council-house. All started up in confusion. Some
supposed the Sclavonians were plundering the citizens; some that the
lower orders had risen on the nobility; others, that the French had
entered Venice, and were proceeding to sack and pillage it. The
terrified and timid counsellors did not wait to inquire what was the
real cause of the disturbance, but hurried forward, like sheep, in the
path which had been indicated to them. They hastened to despoil their
ancient government of all authority, to sign in a manner its sentence of
civil death--added every thing which could render the sacrifice more
agreeable to Buonaparte--and separated in confusion, but under the
impression that they had taken the best measure in their power for
quelling the tumult, by meeting the wishes of the predominant party. But
this was by no means the case. On the contrary, they had the misfortune
to find that the insurrection, of which the firing was the signal, was
directed not against the aristocrats, but against those who proposed the
surrender of the national independence. Armed bands shouted, "Long live
Saint Mark, and perish foreign domination!" Others indeed there were,
who displayed in opposition three-coloured banners, with the war-cry of
"Liberty for ever!" The disbanded and mutinous soldiers mixed among
these hostile groups, and threatened the town with fire and

Amid this horrible confusion, and while the parties were firing on each
other, a provisional government was hastily named. Boats were despatched
to bring three thousand French soldiers into the city. These took
possession of the place of Saint Mark,[287] while some of the
inhabitants shouted; but the greater part, who were probably not the
less sensible of the execrable tyranny of the old aristocracy, saw it
fall in mournful silence, because there fell along with the ancient
institutions of their country, however little some of these were to be
regretted, the honour and independence of the state itself.

The terms which the French granted, or rather imposed, appeared
sufficiently moderate, so far as they were made public. They announced,
that the foreign troops would remain so long, and no longer, than might
be necessary to protect the peace of Venice[288]--they undertook to
guarantee the public debt, and the payment of the pensions allowed to
the impoverished gentry. They required, indeed, the continuance of the
prosecution against the commander of that fort of Luco who had fired on
the French vessel; but all other offenders were pardoned, and Buonaparte
afterwards suffered even this affair to pass into oblivion; which
excited doubt whether the transaction had ever been so serious as had
been alleged.

Five secret and less palatable articles attended these avowed
conditions. One provided for the various exchanges of territory which
had been already settled at the Venetian expense betwixt Austria and
France. The second and third stipulated the payment of three millions of
francs in specie, and as many in naval stores. Another prescribed the
cession of three ships of war, and of two frigates, armed and equipped.
A fifth ratified the exaction, in the usual style of French cupidity, of
twenty pictures and five hundred manuscripts.[289]

It will be seen hereafter what advantages the Venetians purchased by all
these unconscionable conditions. At the moment, they understood that the
stipulations were to imply a guarantee of the independent existence of
their country as a democratical state. In the meanwhile, the necessity
for raising the supplies to gratify the rapacity of the French, obliged
the provisional government to have recourse to forced loans; and in this
manner they inhospitably plundered the Duke of Modena (who had fled to
Venice for refuge when Buonaparte first entered Lombardy) of his
remaining treasure, amounting to one hundred and ninety thousand


[264] "The Aulic Council at Vienna, that pernicious tribunal which, in
the Seven Years' War, called Laudon to account for taking Schweidnitz
without orders, has destroyed the schemes of many an Austrian general,
for though plans of offensive operations may succeed when concerted at
home, it is impossible to frame orders for every possible
contingency."--GENTZ, _on the Fall of Prussia_.

[265] At Bassano, on the 9th of March, Buonaparte thus addressed the
troops--"Soldiers! the taking of Mantua has put an end to the war of
Italy. You have been victorious in fourteen pitched battles and seventy
actions; you have taken 100,000 prisoners, 500 field-pieces, 2000 heavy
cannon, and four pontoon trains. The contributions laid on the countries
you have conquered have fed, maintained, and paid the army; besides
which you have sent thirty millions to the minister of finance for the
use of the public treasury. You have enriched the Museum of Paris with
300 masterpieces of the arts of ancient and modern Italy, which it had
required thirty centuries to produce. You have conquered for the
Republic the finest countries in Europe. The Kings of Sardinia and
Naples, the Pope, and the Duke of Parma, are separated from the
coalition. You have expelled the English from Leghorn, Genoa, and
Corsica. Yet higher destinies await you! You will prove yourselves
worthy of them! Of all the foes who combined to stifle the Republic in
its birth, the Emperor alone remains before you," &c.

[266] "The river is pretty deep, and a bridge would have been desirable;
but the good-will of the soldiers supplied that deficiency. A drummer
was the only person in danger, and he was saved by a woman who swam
after him."--MONTHOLON, tom. iv., p. 73.

[267] Montholon, tom. iv., p. 72; Jomini, tom. x., p. 33.

[268] Jomini, tom. x., p, 38; Montholon, tom. iv., p. 77.

[269] Montholon, tom. iv., p. 81.

[270] "No extraordinary contribution was levied, and the inhabitants
gave no occasion for complaint of any kind. The English merchandise at
Trieste was confiscated. Quicksilver, to the value of several millions,
from the mine of Idria, was found in the imperial warehouses."--MONTHOLON,
tom. iv., p. 82.

[271] Jomini, tom. x., p. 56; Montholon, tom. iv., p. 83.

[272] See the report of the agents of the Venetian government.--DARU,
tom. v., p. 584. Napoleon says, "the fury of the people carried them so
far as to murder _four hundred sick in the hospitals_."--MONTHOLON, tom.
iv., p. 133.

[273] Montholon, tom. iv., p. 91.

[274] Montholon, tom. iv., p. 101.

[275] Buonaparte first mentions this circumstance as having taken place
at Leoben, afterwards at the definitive treaty of Campo Formio. The
effect is the same, wherever the words were spoken.--S.

[276] "On the 27th of April, the Marquis de Gallo presented the
preliminaries, ratified by the Emperor, to Napoleon at Gratz. It was in
one of these conferences, that one of the plenipotentiaries, authorised
by an autograph letter of the Emperor, offered Napoleon to procure him,
on the conclusion of a peace, a sovereignty of 250,000 souls in Germany,
for himself and his family, in order to place him beyond the reach of
republican ingratitude. The general smiled, he desired the
plenipotentiary to thank the Emperor for this proof of the interest he
took in his welfare, and said, that he wished for no greatness or
riches, unless conferred on him by the French people."--MONTHOLON, tom.
iv., p. 103.

[277] Correspondence Inédite tom. ii., p. 564. See also Jomini, tom.
ix., Pièces Justificatives, Nos. 1 and 2.

[278] Daru, tom. v., p. 568; Montholon, tom. iv., p. 135.

[279] See, in Daru, tom. v., p. 605, the report of the two envoys, Dona
and Justiniani.

[280] "Non, non, quand vous couvriez cette plage d'or, tous vos tresors,
tout l'or du Pérou, ne peuvent payer le sang Français."--DARU, tom. v.,
p. 619.

[281] For a copy of this manifesto against Venice, see _Moniteur_, No.
239, May 16, and _Annual Register_, vol. xxxiv., p. 337. "As soon as it
was made public, the whole Terra Firma revolted against the capital.
Every town proclaimed its independence, and constituted a government for
itself. Bergamo, Brescia, Padua, Vicenza, Bassano, and Udine, formed so
many separate republics."--MONTHOLON, tom. iv., p. 143.

[282] Daru, tom. vi., p. 9.

[283] Daru, tom. vi., p. 10.

[284] Daru, tom. vi., p. 13.

[285] Daru, tom. vi., p. 32.

[286] Daru, tom. vi., p. 36.

[287] Daru, tom. vi., p. 40.

[288] "The French troops entered Venice on the 16th of May. The
partisans of liberty immediately met in a popular assembly. The
aristocracy was destroyed for ever; the democratic constitution of
twelve hundred was proclaimed. Dandolo was placed at the head of all the
city. The Lion of St. Mark and the Corinthian horses were carried to
Paris."--MONTHOLON, tom. iv., p. 142.

[289] "General Bernadotte carried the colours taken from the Venetian
troops to Paris. These frequent presentations of colours were, at this
period, very useful to the government; for the disaffected were silenced
and overawed by this display of the spirit of the armies."--MONTHOLON,
tom. iv., p. 145.


    _Napoleon's Amatory Correspondence with Josephine--His Court at
    Montebello--Negotiations and Pleasure mingled
    there--Genoa--Revolutionary spirit of the Genoese--They rise in
    insurrection, but are quelled by the Government, and the French
    plundered and imprisoned--Buonaparte interferes, and appoints
    the Outlines of a new Government--Sardinia--Naples--The
    Cispadane, Transpadane, and Emilian Republics, united under the
    name of the Cisalpine Republic--The Valteline--The Grisons--The
    Valteline united to Lombardy--Great improvement of Italy, and
    the Italian Character, from these changes--Difficulties in the
    way of Pacification betwixt France and Austria--The Directory
    and Napoleon take different Views--Treaty of Campo
    Formio--Buonaparte takes leave of the Army of Italy, to act as
    French Plenipotentiary at Rastadt._

When peace returns, it brings back the domestic affections, and affords
the means of indulging them. Buonaparte was yet a bridegroom, though he
had now been two years married, and upwards. A part of his
correspondence with his bride has been preserved, and gives a curious
picture of a temperament as fiery in love as in war. The language of the
conqueror, who was disposing of states at his pleasure, and defeating
the most celebrated commanders of the time, is as enthusiastic as that
of an Arcadian. We cannot suppress the truth, that (in passages which we
certainly shall not quote) it carries a tone of indelicacy, which,
notwithstanding the intimacy of the married state, an English husband
would not use, nor an English wife consider as the becoming expression
of connubial affection. There seems no doubt, however, that the
attachment which these letters indicate was perfectly sincere, and on
one occasion at least, it was chivalrously expressed;--"Wurmser shall
buy dearly the tears which he makes you shed."[290]

It appears from this correspondence that Josephine had rejoined her
husband, under the guardianship of Junot, when he returned from Paris,
after having executed his mission of delivering to the Directory, and
representatives of the French people, the banners and colours taken
from Beaulieu. In December, 1796, Josephine was at Genoa, where she was
received with studied magnificence, by those in that ancient state who
adhered to the French interest, and where, to the scandal of the rigid
Catholics, the company continued assembled, at a ball given by M. de
Serva, till a late hour on Friday morning, despite the presence of a
senator having in his pocket, but not venturing to enforce, a decree of
the senate for the better observation of the fast day upon the occasion.
These, however, were probably only occasional visits; but after the
signature of the treaty of Leoben, and during the various negotiations
which took place before it was finally adjusted, as ratified at Campo
Formio, Josephine lived in domestic society with her husband, at the
beautiful seat, or rather palace, of Montebello.

This villa, celebrated from the important negotiations of which it was
the scene, is situated a few leagues from Milan, on a gently sloping
hill, which commands an extensive prospect over the fertile plains of
Lombardy. The ladies of the highest rank, as well as those celebrated
for beauty and accomplishments,--all, in short, who could add charms to
society,--were daily paying their homage to Josephine, who received them
with a felicity of address which seemed as if she had been born for
exercising the high courtesies that devolved upon the wife of so
distinguished a person as Napoleon.


Negotiations proceeded amid gaiety and pleasure. The various ministers
and envoys of Austria, of the Pope, of the Kings of Naples and Sardinia,
of the Duke of Parma, of the Swiss Cantons, of several of the Princes of
Germany,--the throng of generals, of persons in authority, of deputies
of towns,--with the daily arrival and despatch of numerous couriers, the
bustle of important business, mingled with fêtes and entertainments,
with balls and with hunting parties,--gave the picture of a splendid
court, and the assemblage was called accordingly, by the Italians, the
Court of Montebello. It was such in point of importance; for the
deliberations agitated there were to regulate the political relations of
Germany, and decide the fate of the King of Sardinia, of Switzerland, of
Venice, of Genoa: all destined to hear from the voice of Napoleon, the
terms on which their national existence was to be prolonged or

Montebello was not less the abode of pleasure. The sovereigns of this
diplomatic and military court made excursions to the lago Maggiore, to
lago di Como, to the Borromean islands, and occupied at pleasure the
villas which surround those delicious regions. Every town, every
village, desired to distinguish itself by some peculiar mark of homage
and respect to him, whom they then named the Liberator of Italy.[291]
These expressions are in a great measure those of Napoleon himself, who
seems to have looked back on this period of his life with warmer
recollections of pleasurable enjoyment than he had experienced on any
other occasion.

It was probably the happiest time of his life. Honour, beyond that of a
crowned head, was his own, and had the full relish of novelty to a mind
which two or three years before was pining in obscurity. Power was his,
and he had not experienced its cares and risks; high hopes were formed
of him by all around, and he had not yet disappointed them. He was in
the flower of youth, and married to the woman of his heart. Above all,
he had the glow of Hope, which was marshalling him even to more exalted
dominion; and he had not yet become aware that possession brings
satiety, and that all earthly desires and wishes terminate, when fully
attained, in vanity and vexation of spirit.

The various objects which occupied Buonaparte's mind during this busy
yet pleasing interval, were the affairs of Genoa, of Sardinia, of
Naples, of the Cisalpine republic, of the Grisons, and lastly, and by
far the most important of them, the definitive treaty with Austria,
which involved the annihilation of Venice as an independent state.

[Sidenote: GENOA.]

Genoa, the proud rival of Venice, had never attained the same permanent
importance with that sister republic; but her nobility, who still
administered her government according to the model assigned them by
Andrew Doria, preserved more national spirit, and a more warlike
disposition. The neighbourhood of France, and the prevalence of her
opinions, had stirred up among the citizens of the middling class a
party, taking the name of Morandists, from a club so termed,[292] whose
object it was to break down the oligarchy, and revolutionize the
government. The nobles were naturally opposed to this, and a large body
of the populace much employed by them, and strict Catholics, were, ready
to second them in their defence.

The establishment of two Italian democracies upon the Po, made the
Genoese revolutionists conceive the time was arrived when their own
state ought to pass through a similar ordeal of regeneration. They
mustered their strength, and petitioned the doge for the abolition of
the government as it existed, and the adoption of a democratic model.
The doge condescended so far to their demand, as to name a committee of
nine persons, five of them of plebeian birth, to consider and report on
the means of infusing a more popular spirit into the constitution.[293]

The three chief Inquisitors of State, or Censors, as the actual rulers
of the oligarchy were entitled, opposed the spirit of religious
enthusiasm to that of democratic zeal. They employed the pulpit and the
confessional as the means of warning good Catholics against the change
demanded by the Morandists--they exposed the Holy Sacrament, and made
processions and public prayers, as if threatened with a descent of the

[Sidenote: May 22.]

Meanwhile, the Morandists took up arms, displayed the French colours,
and conceiving their enterprise was on the point of success, seized the
gate of the arsenal and that of the harbour. But their triumph was
short. Ten thousand armed labourers started as from out of the earth,
under the command of their syndics, or municipal officers, with cries of
"Viva Maria!" and declared for the aristocracy. The insurgents, totally
defeated, were compelled to shut themselves up in their houses, where
they were assailed by the stronger party, and finally routed. The French
residing in Genoa were maltreated by the prevailing party, their houses
pillaged, and they themselves dragged to prison.

The last circumstance gave Buonaparte an ostensible right to interfere,
which he would probably have done even had no such violence been
committed. He sent his aide-de-camp La Valette to Genoa, with the threat
of instantly moving against the city a division of his army, unless the
prisoners were set at liberty, the aristocratic party disarmed, and such
alterations, or rather such a complete change of government adopted, as
should be agreeable to the French commander-in-chief. Against this there
was no appeal. The inquisitors were laid under arrest, for having
defended, with the assistance of their fellow-citizens, the existing
institutions of the state; and the doge, with two other magistrates of
the first rank, went to learn at Montebello, the headquarters of
Napoleon, what was to be the future fate of the City, proudly called of
_Palaces_.[294] They received the outlines of such a democracy as
Napoleon conceived suitable for them; and he appears to have been
unusually favourable to the state, which, according to the French
affectation of doing every thing upon a classical model, now underwent
revolutionary baptism, and was called the Ligurian Republic. It was
stipulated, that the French who had suffered should be indemnified; but
no contributions were exacted for the use of the French army, nor did
the collections and cabinets of Genoa pay any tribute to the Parisian

[Sidenote: Nov. 11.]

Shortly after, the democratic party having gone so far as to exclude the
nobles from the government, and from all offices of trust, called down
by doing so a severe admonition from Buonaparte. He _discharged_ them
to offend the prejudices, or insult the feelings of the more scrupulous
Catholics, declaring farther, that to exclude those of noble birth from
public functions, is a revolting piece of injustice, and, in fact, as
criminal as the worst of the errors of the patricians.[296] Buonaparte
says, he felt a partiality for Genoa; and the comparative liberality
with which he treated the state on this occasion, furnishes a good proof
that he did so.

The King of Sardinia had been prostrated at the feet of France by the
armistice of Cherasco, which concluded Napoleon's first campaign; and
that sagacious leader had been long desirous that the Directory should
raise the royal supplicant (for he could be termed little else) into
some semblance of regal dignity, so as to make his power available as an
ally. Nay, General Clarke had, 5th April, 1797, subscribed, with the
representative of his Sardinian Majesty, a treaty offensive and
defensive, by which Napoleon expected to add to the army under his
command four thousand Sardinian or Piedmontese infantry, and five
hundred cavalry; and he reckoned much on this contingent, in case of the
war being renewed with Austria. But the Directory shifted and evaded his
solicitations, and declined confirming this treaty, probably because
they considered the army under his command as already sufficiently
strong, being, as the soldiers were, so devoted to their leader. At
length, however, the treaty was ratified, but too late to serve
Buonaparte's object.

Naples, whose conduct had been vacillating and insincere, as events
seemed to promise victory or threaten defeat to the French general,
experienced, notwithstanding, when he was in the height of triumph, the
benefit of his powerful intercession with the government, and retained
the full advantage secured to her by the treaty of Paris of 10th
October, 1796.

A most important subject of consideration remained after the
pacification of Italy, respecting the mode in which the new republics
were to be governed, and the extent of territory which should be
assigned to them. On this subject, there had been long discussions; and
as there was much animosity and ancient grudge betwixt some of the
Italian cities and provinces, it was no very easy matter to convince
them, that their true interest lay in as many of them being united under
one energetic and active government as should render them a power of
some importance, instead of being divided as heretofore into petty
states, which could not offer effectual resistance even to invasion on
the part of a power of the second class, much more if attacked by France
or Austria.

The formation of a compact and independent state in the north of Italy,
was what Napoleon had much at heart. But the Cispadane and Transpadane
republics were alike averse to a union, and that of Romagna had declined
on its part a junction with the Cispadane commonwealth, and set up for a
puny and feeble independence, under the title of the Emilian Republic.
Buonaparte was enabled to overcome these grudgings and heart-burnings,
by pointing out to them the General Republic, which it was now his
system to create, as being destined to form the kernel of a state which
should be enlarged from time to time as opportunities offered, until it
should include all Italy under one single government. This flattering
prospect, in assigning to Italy, though at some distant date, the
probability of forming one great country, united in itself, and
independent of the rest of Europe, instead of being, as now, parcelled
out into petty states, naturally overcame all the local dislikes and
predilections which might have prevented the union of the Cispadane,
Transpadane, and Emilian republics into one, and that important measure
was resolved upon accordingly.


The Cisalpine republic was the name fixed upon to designate the united
commonwealth. The French would more willingly have named it, with
respect to Paris, the Transalpine republic; but that would have been
innovating upon the ancient title which Rome has to be the central
point, with reference to which, all other parts of Italy assume their
local description. It would have destroyed all classical propriety, and
have confused historical recollections, if, what had hitherto been
called the Ultramontane side of the Alps, had, to gratify Parisian
vanity, been termed the Hither side of the same chain of mountains.

The constitution assigned to the Cisalpine republic, was the same which
the French had last of all adopted, in what they called the year five,
having a Directory of executive administrators, and two Councils. They
were installed upon the 30th of June, 1797. Four members of the
Directory were named by Buonaparte, and the addition of a fifth was
promised with all convenient speed. On the 14th of July following, a
review was made of thirty thousand national guards. The fortresses of
Lombardy, and the other districts, were delivered up to the local
authorities, and the French army, retiring from the territories of the
new republic, took up cantonments in the Venetian states. Proclamation
had already been made, that the states belonging to the Cisalpine
republic having been acquired by France by the right of conquest, she
had used her privilege to form them into their present free and
independent government, which, already recognised by the Emperor and the
Directory, could not fail to be acknowledged within a short time by all
the other powers of Europe.[297]


Buonaparte soon after showed that he was serious in his design of
enlarging the Cisalpine republic, as opportunity could be made to serve.
There are three valleys, termed the Valteline districts, which run down
from the Swiss mountains towards the lake of Como. The natives of the
Valteline are about one hundred and sixty thousand souls. They speak
Italian, and are chiefly of the Catholic persuasion. These valleys were
at this period the subjects of the Swiss Cantons, called the Grisons,
not being a part of their league, or enjoying any of their privileges,
but standing towards the Swiss community, generally and individually, in
the rank of vassals to sovereigns. This situation of thraldom and
dependence was hard to endure, and dishonourable in itself; and we
cannot be surprised that, when the nations around them were called upon
to enjoy liberty and independence, the inhabitants of the Valteline
should have driven their Swiss garrisons out of their valleys, adopted
the symbol of Italian freedom, and carried their complaints against the
oppression of their German and Protestant masters to the feet of

The inhabitants of the Valteline unquestionably had a right to assert
their natural liberty, which is incapable of suffering prescription; but
it is not equally clear how the French could, according to the law of
nations, claim any title to interfere between them and the Grisons, with
whom, as well as with the whole Swiss Union, they were in profound
peace. This scruple seems to have struck Buonaparte's own mind.[298] He
pretended, however, to assume that the Milanese government had a right
to interfere, and his mediation was so far recognised, that the Grisons
pleaded before him in answer to their contumacious vassals. Buonaparte
gave his opinion, by advising the canton of the Grisons, which consists
of three leagues, to admit their Valteline subjects to a share of their
franchises, in the character of a fourth association. The moderation of
the proposal may be admitted to excuse the irregularity of the

The representatives of the Grey League, were, notwithstanding,
profoundly hurt at a proposal which went to make their vassals their
brother-freemen, and to establish the equality of the Italian serf, who
drank of the Adda, with the free-born Switzer, who quaffed the waters of
the Rhine. As they turned a deaf ear to his proposal, deserted his
tribunal, and endeavoured to find support at Bern, Paris, Vienna, and
elsewhere, Napoleon resolved to proceed against them in default of
appearance; and declaring, that as the Grisons had failed to appear
before him, or to comply with his injunctions, by admitting the people
of the Valteline to be parties to their league, he therefore adjudged
the state, or district, of the Valteline, in time coming, to belong to,
and be part of, the Cisalpine republic. The Grisons in vain humbled
themselves when it was too late, and protested their readiness to plead
before a mediator too powerful to be declined under any ground known in
law; and the Valteline territory was adjudged [October 10] inalienably
annexed to and united with Lombardy; of which, doubtless, it forms, from
manners and contiguity, a natural portion.[299]

The existence of a state having free institutions, however imperfect,
seemed to work an almost instant amelioration on the character of the
people of the north of Italy. The effeminacy and trifling habits which
resigned all the period of youth to intrigue and amusement, began to
give place to firmer and more manly virtues--to the desire of honourable
minds to distinguish themselves in arts and arms.[300] Buonaparte had
himself said, that twenty years would be necessary to work a radical
change on the national character of the Italians; but even already those
seeds were sown, among a people hitherto frivolous because excluded from
public business, and timorous because they were not permitted the use of
arms, which afterwards made the Italians of the north equal the French
themselves in braving the terrors of war, besides producing several
civil characters of eminence.

Amid those subordinate discussions, as they might be termed, in
comparison to the negotiations betwixt Austria and France, these two
high contracting parties found great difficulty in agreeing as to the
pacific superstructure which they should build upon the foundation which
had been laid by the preliminaries exchanged at Leoben. Nay, it seemed
as if some of the principal stipulations, which had been there agreed
upon as the corner-stones of their treaty, were even already beginning
to be unsettled.

It will be remembered, that, in exchange for the cession of Flanders,
and of all the countries on the left side of the Rhine, including the
strong city of Mayence, which she was to yield up to France in
perpetuity, Austria stipulated an indemnification on some other
frontier. The original project bore, that the Lombardic republic, since
termed the Cisalpine, should have all the territories extending from
Piedmont to the river Oglio. Those to the eastward of that river were to
be ceded to Austria as an equivalent for the cession of Belgium, and the
left bank of the Rhine. The Oglio, rising in the Alps, descends through
the fertile districts of Brescia and Cremasco, and falls into the Po
near Borgo-forte, enclosing Mantua on its left bank, which strong
fortress, the citadel of Italy, was, by this allocation, to be restored
to Austria. There were farther compensations assigned to the Emperor,
by the preliminaries of Leoben. Venice was to be deprived of her
territories on the mainland, which were to be confiscated to augment the
indemnity destined for the empire; and this, although Venice, as far as
Buonaparte yet knew, had been faithful to the neutrality she had
adopted. To redeem this piece of injustice, another was to be
perpetrated. The state of Venice was to receive the legations of
Bologna, Ferrara, and Romagna, in lieu of the dominions which she was to
cede to Austria; and these legations, it must not be forgotten, were the
principal materials of the Cispadane republic, founded by Buonaparte
himself. These, however, with their population, which he had led to hope
for a free popular government, he was now about to turn over to the
dominion of Venice, the most jealous oligarchy in the world, which was
not likely to forgive those who had been forward in expressing a desire
of freedom. This was the first concoction of the treaty of Leoben, from
which it appears that the negotiators of the two great powers regarded
the secondary and weaker states, whether ancient or of modern erection,
merely as make-weights, to be thrown into either scale, as might be
necessary to adjust the balance.

It is true, the infant Cispadane republic escaped the fate to which its
patron and founder was about to resign it; for after this arrangement
had been provisionally adjusted, news came of the insurrection of
Venice, the attack upon the French through her whole territory, and the
massacre at Verona. This aggression placed the ancient republic, so far
as France was concerned, in the light of a hostile power, and entitled
Buonaparte to deal with her as a conquered one, perhaps to divide, or
altogether to annihilate her. But, on the other hand, he had received
their submission, ratified the establishment of their new popular
constitution, and possessed himself of the city, under pretence of
assigning it a free government, according to the general hope which he
had held out to Italy at large. The right of conquest was limited by the
terms on which surrender had been accepted. Austria, on the other hand,
was the more deeply bound to have protected the ancient republic, for it
was in her cause that Venice so rashly assumed arms; but such is the
gratitude of nations, such the faith of politicians, that she appears,
from the beginning, to have had no scruple in profiting by the spoils of
an ally, who had received a death-wound in her cause.

By the time the negotiators met for finally discussing the
preliminaries, the Directory of France, either to thwart Buonaparte,
whose superiority became too visible, or because they actually
entertained the fears they expressed, were determined that Mantua, which
had been taken with such difficulty, should remain the bulwark of the
Cisalpine republic, instead of returning to be once more that of the
Austrian territories in Italy. The Imperial plenipotentiaries insisted,
on the other hand, that Mantua was absolutely necessary to the safety of
their Italian possessions, and became more so from the peculiar
character of their new neighbour, the Cisalpine republic, whose example
was likely to be so perilous to the adjacent dependencies of an ancient
monarchy. To get over this difficulty, the French general proposed that
the remaining dominions of Venice should be also divided betwixt Austria
and France, the latter obtaining possession of the Albanian territories
and the Ionian islands belonging to the republic, of which the high
contracting powers signed the death-warrant; while Istria, Dalmatia,
Venice herself, and all her other dominions, should be appropriated to
Austria. The latter power, through her minister, consented to this
arrangement with as little scruple, as to the former appropriation of
her forlorn ally's possessions on the Terra Firma.

But as fast as obstacles were removed on one side, they appeared to
start up on another, and a sort of pause ensued in the deliberations,
which neither party seemed to wish to push to a close. In fact, both
Napoleon, plenipotentiary for France, and Count Cobentzel,[301] a man of
great diplomatic skill and address, who took the principal management on
the part of Austria, were sufficiently aware that the French government,
long disunited, was in the act of approaching to a crisis. This
accordingly took place, under circumstances to be hereafter noticed, on
the eighteenth of Fructidor, creating, by a new revolutionary movement,
a total change of administration. When this revolution was accomplished,
the Directory, who accomplished it, feeling themselves more strong,
appeared to lay aside the idea of peace, and showed a strong disposition
to push their advantages to the utmost.

Buonaparte was opposed to this. He knew that if war was resumed, the
difficulties of the campaign would be thrown on him, and the blame also,
if the results were not happy. He was determined, therefore, in virtue
of his full powers, to bring the matter to a conclusion, whether the
Directory would or not. For this purpose he confronted Cobentzel, who
still saw his game in gaining delay, with the sternness of a military
envoy. On the 16th October, the conferences were renewed upon the former
grounds, and Cobentzel went over the whole subject of the
indemnifications--insisting that Mantua, and the line of the Adige,
should be granted to the Emperor; threatening to bring down the Russians
in case the war should be renewed; and insinuating that Buonaparte
sacrificed the desire of peace to his military fame, and desired a
renewal of the war. Napoleon, with stern but restrained indignation,
took from a bracket an ornamental piece of china, on which Cobentzel set
some value, as being a present from the Empress Catherine. "The truce,"
he said, "is then ended, and war declared. But beware--before the end of
autumn, I will break your empire into as many fragments as this
potsherd."[302] He dashed the piece of china against the hearth, and
withdrew abruptly. Again we are reminded of the Argantes of Tasso.[303]

The Austrian plenipotentiaries no longer hesitated to submit to all
Napoleon's demands, rather than again see him commence his tremendous
career of irresistible invasion. The treaty of Campo Formio therefore
was signed on the following day; not the less promptly, perhaps, that
the affairs at Paris appeared so doubtful as to invite an ambitious and
aspiring man like Napoleon to approach the scene where honours and power
were distributed, and where jarring factions seemed to await the
influence of a character so distinguished and so determined.

The fate of Venice, more from her ancient history than either the value
of her institutions, which were execrable, or the importance of her late
existence, still dwells somewhat on the memory. The ancient republic
fell "as a fool dieth." The aristocrats cursed the selfishness of
Austria, by whom they were swallowed up, though they had perilled
themselves in her cause. The republicans hastened to escape from
Austrian domination, grinding their teeth with rage, and cursing no less
the egotistic policy of the French, who, making a convenient pretext of
their interest, had pretended to assign them a free constitution, and
then resigned them to become the vassals of a despotic government.

The French secretary of legation, who had played a remarkably active
part during the Revolution, hazarded a remonstrance to Buonaparte on the
surrender of Venice to Austria, instead of its being formed into a free
democracy, or united with the Cisalpine republic.[304] Buonaparte
laughed to scorn a man, whose views were still fixed on diffusing and
propagating the principles of Jacobinism. "I have received your letter,"
was the stern and contemptuous reply, "and cannot comprehend it. The
Republic of France is not bound by any treaty, to sacrifice its
interests and advantages to the Committee of Public Safety in Venice, or
to any other class of individuals. France does not make war in behalf
and for the benefit of others.[305] I know it costs nothing for a few
chattering declaimers, whom I might better describe as madmen, to talk
of a universal republic--I wish they would try a winter campaign. The
Venetian republic exists no longer. Effeminate, corrupted, treacherous,
and hypocritical, the Venetians are unfit for liberty. If she has the
spirit to appreciate, or courage to assert it, the time is not
unfavourable--let her stand up for it."[306] Thus, with insult added to
misery, and great contempt thrown by Napoleon on the friends of liberty
all over the world, the fate of Venice was closed. The most remarkable
incident of the final transfer to the Austrians was, that the aged Doge
Marini dropt down senseless as he was about to take the oath of
allegiance to the Imperial commissioner, and died shortly after.


[Sidenote: Nov. 12.]

Napoleon Buonaparte had now finished for the present his career of
destiny in Italy, which country first saw his rising talents, and was
always a subject of peculiar interest to him. He took an affecting leave
of the soldiers,[307] who could scarce hope ever to see him replaced by
a general of merits so transcendent, and made a moderate and judicious
address to the Cisalpine republic. Finally, he departed, to return
through Switzerland to Rastadt, where a congress was sitting for the
settlement and pacification of the German empire, and where he was to
act as a plenipotentiary on the part of France.[308]

On the journey he was observed to be moody and deeply contemplative. The
separation from a hundred thousand men whom he might call his own, and
the uncertainty of the future destinies to which he might be summoned,
are enough to account for this, without supposing, as some have done,
that he already had distinctly formed any of those projects of ambition
which Time opened to him. Doubtless, however, his ardent ambition showed
him remote and undefined visions of greatness. He could not but be
sensible that he returned to the capital of France in a situation which
scarce admitted of any mediocrity. He must either be raised to a yet
more distinguished height, or altogether broken down, levelled with the
mass of subjects, and consigned to comparative obscurity. There was no
middle station for the Conqueror and Liberator of Italy.


[290] For some curious extracts from this Correspondence, see Appendix,
No. IV.

[291] Montholon, tom. iv., p. 147.

[292] The club held their meetings at the house of an apothecary, named
_Morando_. Botta describes him as "un uomo precipitoso, e di estremi
pensieri, e che credeva, che ogni cosa fosse licita per arrivare a
quella libertà, ch'ei si figurava in mente."--_Storia_, tom. ii., p.

[293] Montholon, tom. iv., p. 152.

[294] "On the 6th of June, the deputies from the Senate signed a
convention at Montebello, which put an end to Doria's constitution, and
established the democratical government of Genoa. The people burned the
Golden Book, and broke the statue of Doria to pieces. This outrage on
the memory of that great man displeased Napoleon, who required the
provisional government to restore it."--MONTHOLON, tom. iv., p. 157.

[295] Montholon, tom. iv., p. 155; Jomini, tom. x., p. 169; Botta, tom.
ii., p. 371.

[296] "The Council of Five Hundred at Paris was at this time debating on
a motion made by Siêyes, tending to expel all the nobles from France, on
giving them the value of their property. This advice, given by Napoleon
to the Republic of Genoa, appeared to be addressed, in fact, to the
French Republic, which at all events profited by it; for this terrific
plan was abandoned."--MONTHOLON, tom. iv., p. 164.

[297] Thibaudeau, tom. iii., p. 121; Montholon, tom. iv., p. 179;
Jomini, tom. x., p. 364.

[298] Montholon, tom. iv., p. 187.

[299] Montholon, tom. iv., p. 185; Botta, tom. ii., p. 461.

[300] "Instead of passing their time at the feet of women, the young
Italians now frequented the riding and fencing schools, and fields of
exercise. In the comedies and street farces, there had always been an
Italian, represented as a very cowardly though witty fellow, and a kind
of bullying captain,--sometimes a Frenchman, but more frequently a
German--a very powerful, brave, and brutal character, who never failed
to conclude with caning the Italian to the great satisfaction of the
applauding spectators. But such allusions were now no longer endured by
the populace; authors now brought brave Italians on the stage, putting
foreigners to flight, and defending their honour and their
rights."--NAPOLEON, _Montholon_, tom. iv., p. 185.

[301] "Count Cobentzel was a native of Brussels; a very agreeable man in
company, and distinguished by studied politeness; but positive and
intractable in business. There was a want of propriety and precision in
his mode of expressing himself, of which he was sensible; and he
endeavoured to compensate for this by talking loud and using imperious
gestures."--NAPOLEON, _Montholon_, tom. iv., p. 239.

[302] Montholon, tom. iv., p. 251.


    Spiegò quel crudo il seno, e'l manto scosse,
    Ed a guerra mortal, disse, vi sfido:
    E'l disse in atto si feroce ed empio
    Che parve aprir di Giano il chiuso tempio.

        _La Gerusalemme Liberata, Canto II._--S.

    His lap he open'd and spread forth his cloke,
    To mortal wars, he saies, I you defie--
    And this he uttered with fell rage and hate
    And seem'd of Janus' church t' undoe the gate.


[304] See this remonstrance in Thibaudeau, tom. iii., p. 393.

[305] The language of injustice is alike in similar instances. When
Edward I., in the course of over-running Scotland, was reminded of the
claims of the candidate for the throne, in whose cause he had pretended
to take arms, he answered in the very words of Buonaparte,--"Have we
nothing else to do but to conquer kingdoms for other people?"--S.

[306] Daru, tom. vi., p. 60; Thibaudeau, tom. iii., p. 394.

[307] "Soldiers! I set out to-morrow for Rastadt. Separated from the
army, I shall sigh for the moment of my rejoining it, and braving fresh
dangers. Whatever post government may assign to the soldiers of the army
of Italy, they will always be the worthy supporters of liberty, and of
the glory of the French name. Soldiers! when you talk of the princes you
have conquered, of the nations you have set free, and the battles you
have fought in two campaigns, say, 'in the next two campaigns we shall
do still more!'"

[308] Montholon, tom. iv., p. 258.


    _Retrospect--The Directory--they become unpopular--Causes of
    their unpopularity--Also at enmity among themselves--State of
    public feeling in France--In point of numbers, favourable to the
    Bourbons; but the Army and monied Interest against
    them--Pichegru, head of the Royalists, appointed President of
    the Council of Five Hundred--Barbé Marbois, another Royalist,
    President of the Council of Ancients--Directory throw themselves
    upon the succour of Hoche and Buonaparte--Buonaparte's personal
    Politics discussed--Pichegru's Correspondence with the
    Bourbons--known to Buonaparte--He despatches Augereau to
    Paris--Directory arrest their principal Opponents in the
    Councils on the 18th Fructidor, and Banish them to
    Guiana--Narrow and Impolitic Conduct of the Directory to
    Buonaparte--Projected Invasion of England._

While the conqueror of Italy was pursuing his victories beyond the Alps,
the French Directory, in whose name he achieved them, had become, to the
conviction of all men, as unlikely to produce the benefits of a settled
government, as any of their predecessors vested with the supreme rule.

[Sidenote: RETROSPECT.]

It is with politics as with mechanics, ingenuity is not always combined
with utility. Some one observed to the late celebrated Mr. Watt, that it
was wonderful for what a number of useless inventions, illustrated by
the most ingenious and apparently satisfactory models, patents were
yearly issued: he replied, that he had often looked at them with
interest, and had found several, the idea of which had occurred to
himself in the course of his early studies. "But," said he, with his
natural masculine sagacity, "it is one thing to make an ingenious model,
and another to contrive an engine which shall work its task. Most of
these pretty toys, when they are applied to practical purposes, are
found deficient in some point of strength, or correctness of mechanism,
which destroys all chance of their ever becoming long or generally
useful." Some such imperfection seems to have attended the works of
these speculative politicians who framed the various ephemeral
constitutions of France. However well they looked upon paper, and
however reasonable they sounded to the ear, no one ever thought of them
as laws which required veneration and obedience. Did a constitutional
rule preclude a favourite measure, to break it down, or leap over it,
was the French statesman's unhesitating practice. A rule was always
devised applicable to circumstances; and before that, the theory of the
constitution was uniformly made to give way.

[Sidenote: THE DIRECTORY.]

The constitution of the year Three was not more permanent than those by
which it had been preceded. For some time, the Directory, which
contained men of considerable talent, conducted themselves with great
prudence. The difficulty and danger of their situation served to prevent
their separating, as the weight put above an arch keeps the stones in
their places. Their exertions in the attempt to redeem the finances,
support the war, and re-establish the tranquillity of the country, were
attended at first with success. The national factions also sunk before
them for a season. They had defeated the aristocratic citizens of Paris
on the 13th Vendemiaire; and when the original revolutionists, or
democrats, attempted a conspiracy, under the conduct of Gracchus
Babœuf,[309] their endeavours to seduce the troops totally failed,
and their lives paid the forfeit of their rash attempt to bring back the
Reign of Terror. Thus, the Directory, or executive power, under the
constitution of the year Three, were for a season triumphant over the
internal factions, and, belonging to neither, were in a situation to
command both.

But they had few who were really, and on principle, attached to their
government, and most endured it only as something better than a new
revolutionary movement, and otherwise in no respect eligible. To have
rendered their authority permanent, the Directory must have had great
unanimity in their own body, and also brilliant success abroad, and they
enjoyed neither one nor the other. The very concoction of their body
included the principles of disunion. They were a sort of five kings,
retiring from office by rotation, inhabiting each his separate class of
apartments in the Luxembourg palace, having each his different
establishments, classes of clients, circles of courtiers, flatterers,
and instruments. The republican simplicity, of late so essential to a
patriot, was laid aside entirely. New costumes of the most splendid kind
were devised for the different office-bearers of the state. This change
took its rise from the weakness and vanity of Barras, who loved show,
and used to go a-hunting with all the formal attendance of a prince. But
it was an indulgence of luxury, which gave scandal to both the great
parties in the state;--the Republicans, who held it altogether in
contempt;--and the Royalists, who considered it as an usurpation of the
royal dress and appendages.[310]

The finances became continually more and more a subject of uneasiness.
In the days of terror, money was easily raised, because it was demanded
under pain of death, and assignats were raised to _par_ by guillotining
those who bought or sold them at less than their full value; but the
powerful argument of violence and compulsion being removed, the paper
money fell to a ruinous discount, till its depression threatened, unless
remedied, altogether to stop the course of public business.[311] It
perhaps arose from the difficulty of raising supplies, that the
Directory assumed towards other countries a greedy, grasping, and
rapacious character, which threw disgrace at once upon the individuals
who indulged it, and the state whom they represented. They loaded with
exactions the trade of the Bavarian republic, whose freedom they had
pretended to recognise, and treated with most haughty superiority the
ambassadors of independent states. Some of these high officers, and
Barras in particular, were supposed accessible to gross corruption, and
believed to hold communication with those agents and stock-brokers, who
raised money by jobbing in the public funds--a more deservedly unpopular
accusation than which can hardly be brought against a minister. It was,
indeed, a great error in the constitution, that, though one hundred
thousand livres were yearly allowed to each director while in office,
yet he had no subsequent provision after he had retired from his
fractional share of sovereignty. This penury, on the part of the public,
opened a way to temptation, though of a kind to which mean minds only
are obnoxious; and such men as Barras[312] were tempted to make
provision for futurity, by availing themselves of present opportunity.

Their five majesties (sires) of the Luxembourg, as people called them in
ridicule, had also their own individual partialities and favourite
objects, which led them in turn to tease the French people with
unnecessary legislation. La Reveillere-Lepaux was that inconsistent yet
not uncommon character, an intolerant philosopher and an enthusiastic
deist. He established a priesthood, and hymns and ceremonies for deism;
and, taking up the hopeful project of substituting a deistical worship
for the Christian faith, just where Robespierre had laid it down, he
harassed the nation with laws to oblige them to observe the _decades_ of
their new calendar as holidays, and to work at their ordinary trades on
the Christian Sabbath.[313] At La Reveillere's theory freethinkers
laughed, and religious men shuddered; but all were equally annoyed by
the legislative measures adopted on a subject so ridiculous as this new
ritual of heathenism.[314] Another cause of vexation was the
philosophical arrangement of weights and measures upon a new principle,
which had, in the meantime, the inconvenience of introducing doubt and
uncertainty into all the arrangements of internal commerce, and
deranging entirely such as France continued to hold with countries who
were only acquainted with the ordinary standard.[315]

It might have been thought that the distinguished success of the French
arms under the auspices of the Directory would have dazzled the eyes of
the French, attached as they have always been to military glory, and
blinded them to other less agreeable measures of their government. But
the public were well aware, that the most brilliant share of these
laurels had been reaped by Buonaparte on his own account; that he had
received but slender reinforcements from France--the magnitude of his
achievements considered; and that in regard to the instructions of
government, much of his success was owing to his departure from them,
and following his own course. It was also whispered, that he was an
object of suspicion to the directors, and on his part undervalued their
talents, and despised their persons. On the Rhine, again, though nothing
could have been more distinguished than the behaviour of the Republican
armies, yet their successes had been checkered with many reverses, and,
contrasted with the Italian campaigns, lost their impression on the

While they were thus becoming unpopular in the public opinion, the
Directory had the great misfortune to be at enmity among themselves.
From the time that Letourneur[316] retired from office in terms of the
constitution, and Barthelemy was elected in his stead, there was a
majority and an opposition in the Directory, the former consisting of
Barras, Rewbel,[317] and La Reveillere--the latter, of Carnot and
Barthelemy. Of the two last, Carnot (who had been, it may be remembered,
a member of the Committee of Public Safety under Robespierre) was a
determined Republican, and Barthelemy a Royalist;--so strangely do
revolutionary changes, like the eddies and currents of a swollen river,
bring together and sweep down side by side in the same direction,
objects the most different and opposed. Barthelemy of course dissented
from the majority of the Directors, because secretly and warmly he
desired the restoration of the Bourbons--an event which must have been
fraught with danger to his colleagues, all of whom had voted for the
death of Louis XVI. Carnot also differed from the majority, certainly
with no such wish or view; but, his temper being as overbearing as his
genius was extensive, he was impatient of opposition, especially in such
cases where he knew he was acting wisely. He advised strongly, for
example, the ratification of the articles of Leoben, instead of placing
all which France had acquired, and all which she might lose, on the last
fatal cast with an enemy, strong in his very despair, and who might
raise large armies, while that of Buonaparte could neither be reinforced
nor supported in case of a reverse. Barras's anger on the occasion was
so great, that he told Carnot at the council-board, it was to him they
owed that infamous treaty of Leoben.

While the Directory were thus disunited among themselves, the nation
showed their dissatisfaction openly, and particularly in the two bodies
of representatives. The majority indeed of the Council of Elders adhered
to the Directory, many of that body belonging to the old republican
partisans. But in the more popularly composed Council of Five Hundred,
the opposition to the government possessed a great majority, all of whom
were decidedly against the Directory, and most of them impressed with
the wish of restoring, upon terms previously to be adjusted, the ancient
race of legitimate monarchs. This body of persons so thinking, was much
increased by the number of emigrants, who obtained, on various grounds,
permission to return to their native country after the fall of
Robespierre. The forms of civil life began now to be universally
renewed; and, as had been the case in France at all times, excepting
during the bloody Reign of Terror, women of rank, beauty, talent, and
accomplishments, began again to resume their places in society, and
their saloons or boudoirs were often the scene of deep political
discourse, of a sort which in Britain is generally confined to the
cabinet, library, or dining-parlour. The wishes of many, or most of
these coteries, were in favour of royalty; the same feelings were
entertained by the many thousands who saw no possible chance of settling
the nation on any other model; and there is little doubt, that had
France been permitted at that moment an uninfluenced choice, the Bourbon
family would have been recalled to the throne by the great majority of
the French people.

But, for reasons mentioned elsewhere, the military were the decided
opponents of the Bourbons, and the purchasers of national domains,
through every successive sale which might have taken place, were deeply
interested against their restoration. Numbers might be on the side of
the Royalists; but physical force, and the influence of wealth and of
the monied interest, were decidedly against them.

[Sidenote: PICHEGRU.]

Pichegru might now be regarded as chief of the Royal party. He was an
able and successful general, to whom France owed the conquest of
Holland. Like La Fayette and Dumouriez, he had been disgusted with the
conduct of the Revolution; and like the last of the two generals named,
had opened a communication with the Bourbons. He was accused of having
suffered his army to be betrayed in a defeat by Clairfait; and the
government, in 1796, removed him from the command of the army of the
Sambre and Meuse, offering him in exchange the situation of ambassador
to Sweden. He declined this species of honourable exile, and, retiring
to Franche Compté, continued his correspondence with the Imperial
generals.[318] The Royalists expected much from the countenance of a
military man of a name so imposing; but we have seen more than once in
the course of these memoirs, that a general without an army is like a
hilt without the blade which it should wield and direct.

An opportunity, however, offered Pichegru the means of serving his party
in a civil capacity, and that a most important one. The elections of
May, 1797, made to replace that proportion of the councils which retired
by rotation, terminated generally in favour of the Royalists, and served
plainly to show on which side the balance of popular feeling now leaned.
Pichegru, who had been returned as one of the deputies, was chosen by
acclamation President of the Council of Five Hundred, and Barbé Marbois,
another Royalist, was elected to the same office by the Council of
Ancients, while, as we have already said, Barthelemy likewise friendly
to monarchy, was introduced into the Directory.

These elections were evil signs for the Directory, who did not fail soon
to be attacked on every side, and upbraided with the continuance of the
war and the financial distresses. Various journals were at the disposal
of the party opposed to the majority of the directors, and hostilities
were commenced between the parties, both in the assemblies, where the
Royalists had the advantage, and in the public papers, where they were
also favourably listened to. The French are of an impatient temper, and
could not be long brought to carry on their warfare within the limits
assigned by the constitution. Each party, without much regard to the
state of the law, looked about for the means of physical force with
which they might arm themselves. The Directory, (that is, the majority
of that body,) sensible of their unpopularity, and the predominance of
the opposite party, which seemed for a time to have succeeded to the
boldness and audacity of the revolutionary class had, in their agony of
extremity, recourse to the army, and threw themselves upon the succour
of Hoche and of Buonaparte.

We have elsewhere said, that Buonaparte at this period was esteemed a
steady Republican. Pichegru believed him to be such when he dissuaded
the Royalists from any attempt to gain over the General of Italy; and as
he had known him at school at Brienne, declared him of too stubborn a
character to afford the least hope of success. Augereau was of the same
opinion, and mistook his man so much, that when Madame de Staël asked
whether Buonaparte was not inclined to make himself King of Lombardy, he
replied, with great simplicity, "that he was a young man of too elevated
a character."[319] Perhaps Buonaparte himself felt the same for a
moment, when, in a despatch to the Directory, he requests their leave to
withdraw from the active service of the Republic, as one who had
acquired more glory than was consistent with happiness. "Calumny," he
said, "may torment herself in vain with ascribing to me treacherous
designs. My civil, like my military career, shall be conforming to
republican principles."[320]

The public papers also, those we mean on the side of the Directory, fell
into a sort of rapture on the classical republican feelings by which
Buonaparte was actuated, which they said rendered the hope of his return
a pleasure pure and unmixed, and precluded the possibility of treachery
or engrossing ideas on his side. "The factious of every class," they
said, "cannot have an enemy more steady, or the government a friend more
faithful, than he who, invested with the military power of which he has
made so glorious a use, sighs only to resign a situation so brilliant,
prefers happiness to glory, and now that the Republic is graced with
triumph and peace, desires for himself only a simple and retired

But though such were the ideas then entertained of Buonaparte's truly
republican character, framed, doubtless, on the model of Cincinnatus in
his classical simplicity, we may be permitted to look a little closer
into the ultimate views of him, who was admitted by his enemies and
friends, avouched by himself, and sanctioned by the journals, as a pure
and disinterested republican: and we think the following changes may be

Whether Buonaparte was ever at heart a real Jacobin even for the moment,
may be greatly doubted, whatever mask his situation obliged him to wear.
He himself always repelled the charge as an aspersion. His engagement in
the affair of the Sections probably determined his opinions as
Republican, or rather Thermidorien, at the time, as became him by whom
the Republican army had been led and commanded on that day. Besides, at
the head of an army zealously republican, even his power over their
minds required to be strengthened, for some time at least, by an
apparent correspondence in political sentiments betwixt the troops and
the general. But in the practical doctrines of government which he
recommended to the Italian Republics, his ideas were studiously
moderate, and he expressed the strongest fear of, and aversion to,
revolutionary doctrines. He recommended the granting equal rights and
equal privileges to the nobles, as well as to the indignant vassals and
plebeians who had risen against them. In a word, he advocated a free set
of institutions, without the intermediate purgatory of a revolution. He
was, therefore, at this period, far from being a Jacobin.

But though Buonaparte's wishes were thus wisely moderated by practical
views, he was not the less likely to be sensible that he was the object
of fear, of hatred, and of course of satire and misrepresentation, to
that side of the opposed parties in France which favoured royalty.
Unhappily for himself, he was peculiarly accessible to every wound of
this nature, and, anxiously jealous of his fame, suffered as much under
the puny attacks of the journalists,[322] as a noble steer or a gallant
horse does amid his rich pasture, under the persecutions of insects,
which, in comparison to himself, are not only impotent, but nearly
invisible. In several letters to the Directory, he exhibits feelings of
this nature which would have been more gracefully concealed, and evinces
an irritability against the opposition prints, which we think likely to
have increased the zeal with which he came forward on the Republican
side at this important crisis.[323]


Another circumstance, which, without determining Buonaparte's conduct,
may have operated in increasing his good-will to the cause which he
embraced, was his having obtained the clew of Pichegru's correspondence
with the house of Bourbon.[324] To have concealed this, would have been
but a second rate merit with the exiled family, whose first thanks must
have been due to the partisan whom he protected. This was no part for
Buonaparte to play; not that we have a right to say he would have
accepted the chief character had it been offered to him, but his
ambition could never have stooped to any inferior place in the drama. In
all probability, his ideas fluctuated betwixt the example of Cromwell
and of Washington--to be the actual liberator, or the absolute governor
of his country.

His particular information respecting Pichegru's negotiations, was
derived from an incident at the capture of Venice.

When the degenerate Venetians, more under the impulse of vague terror
than from any distinct plan, adopted in haste and tumult the measure of
totally surrendering their constitution and rights, to be new modelled
by the French general after his pleasure, they were guilty of a gross
and aggravated breach of hospitality, in seizing the person and papers
of the Comte d'Entraigues,[325] agent or envoy of the exiled Bourbons,
who was then residing under their protection. The envoy himself, as
Buonaparte alleges, was not peculiarly faithful to his trust; but,
besides his information, his portfolio contained many proofs of
Pichegru's correspondence with the allied generals, and with the
Bourbons, which placed his secret absolutely in the power of the General
of Italy, and might help to confirm the line of conduct which he had
already meditated to adopt.

Possessed of these documents, and sure that, in addressing a French army
of the day, he would swim with the tide if he espoused the side of
Republicanism, Buonaparte harangued his troops on the anniversary of the
taking the Bastille, in a manner calculated to awake their ancient
democratic enthusiasm:--"Soldiers, this is the 14th July! You see before
you the names of our companions in arms, dead in the field of honour for
the liberty of their country. They have set you an example; you owe your
lives to thirty millions of Frenchmen, and to the national name, which
has received new splendour from your victories. Soldiers! I am aware you
are deeply affected by the dangers which threaten the country. But she
can be subjected to none which are real. The same men who made France
triumph over united Europe, still live.--Mountains separate us from
France, but you would traverse them with the speed of eagles, were it
necessary to maintain the constitution, defend liberty, protect the
Government and the Republicans. Soldiers, the Government watches over
the laws as a sacred deposit committed to them. The Royalists shall only
show themselves to perish. Dismiss all inquietude, and let us swear by
the manes of those heroes who have died by our sides for liberty--let us
swear, too, on our standards--War to the enemies of the Republic, and of
the Constitution of the year Three!"[326]

It is needless to remark, that, under the British constitution, or any
other existing on fixed principles, the haranguing an armed body of
soldiers, with the purpose of inducing them to interfere by force in
any constitutional question, would be in one point of view mutiny, in
another high treason.

The hint so distinctly given by the general, was immediately adopted by
the troops. Deep called to deep, and each division of the army, whatever
its denomination, poured forth its menaces of military force and
compulsion against the opposition party in the councils, who held
opinions different from those of their military chief, but which they
had, at least hitherto, only expressed and supported by those means of
resistance which the constitution placed in their power. In other words,
the soldiers' idea of a republic was, that the sword was to decide the
constitutional debates, which give so much trouble to ministers in a
mixed or settled government. The Pretorian bands, the Strelitzes, the
Janissaries, have all in their turn entertained this primitive and
simple idea of reforming abuses in a state, and changing, by the
application of military force, an unpopular dynasty, or an obnoxious


It was not by distant menaces alone that Buonaparte served the Directory
at this important crisis. He despatched Augereau to Paris, ostensibly
for the purpose of presenting the standards taken at Mantua, but in
reality to command the armed force which the majority of the Directory
had determined to employ against their dissentient colleagues, and the
opponents of their measures in the national councils. Augereau was a
blunt, bold, stupid soldier, a devoted Jacobin, whose principles were
sufficiently well known to warrant his standing upon no constitutional
delicacies.[327] But in case the Directory failed, Buonaparte kept
himself in readiness to march instantly to Lyons at the head of fifteen
thousand men. There rallying the Republicans, and all who were attached
to the Revolution, he would, according to his own well-chosen
expression, like Cæsar, have crossed the Rubicon at the head of the
popular party--and ended, doubtless, like Cæsar, by himself usurping the
supreme command, which he pretended to assert in behalf of the

[Sidenote: Sept. 4.]

But Buonaparte's presence was not so essentially necessary to the
support of the Directory as he might have expected, or as he perhaps
hoped. They had military aid nearer at hand. Disregarding a fundamental
law of the Constitution, which declared that armed troops should not be
brought within a certain distance of the Legislative Bodies, they moved
towards Paris a part of General Hoche's army. The majority of the
Councils becoming alarmed, prepared means of defence by summoning the
national guards to arms. But Augereau allowed them no time. He marched
to their place of meeting, at the head of a considerable armed
force.[329] The guards stationed for their protection, surprised or
faithless, offered no resistance; and, proceeding as men possessed of
the superior strength, the Directory treated their political opponents
as state prisoners, arrested Barthelemey--Carnot having fled to
Geneva--and made prisoners, in the hall of the Assembly and elsewhere,
Willot, President of the Council of Ancients, Pichegru, President of
that of the Five Hundred,[330] and above one hundred and fifty deputies,
journalists, and other public characters. As an excuse for these
arbitrary and illegal proceedings, the Directory made public the
intercepted correspondence of Pichegru; although few of the others
involved in the same accusation were in the secret of the Royalist
conspiracy. Indeed, though all who desired an absolute repose from the
revolutionary altercations which tore the country to pieces, began to
look that way, he must have been a violent partisan of royalty indeed,
that could have approved of the conduct of a general, who, like
Pichegru, commanding an army, had made it his business to sacrifice his
troops to the sword of the enemy, by disappointing and deranging those
plans which it was his duty to have carried into effect.

Few would at first believe Pichegru's breach of faith; but it was
suddenly confirmed by a proclamation of Moreau, who, in the course of
the war, had intercepted a baggage waggon belonging to the Austrian
general Klinglin, and became possessed of the whole secret
correspondence, which, nevertheless, he had never mentioned, until it
came out by the seizure of the Comte d'Entraigues' portfolio. Then,
indeed, fearing perhaps the consequences of having been so long silent,
Moreau published what he knew. Regnier had observed the same suspicious
silence; which seems to infer, that if these generals did not precisely
favour the royal cause, they were not disposed to be active in detecting
the conspiracies formed in its behalf.


The Directory made a tyrannical use of the power which they obtained by
their victory of the 18th Fructidor, as this epoch was called. They
spilt, indeed, no blood, but otherwise their measures against the
defeated party were of the most illegal and oppressive character. A law,
passed in the heat of animosity, condemned two directors, fifty
deputies, and a hundred and forty-eight individuals of different classes
(most of whom were persons of some character and influence,) to be
transported to the scorching and unhealthy deserts of Guiana, which, to
many, was a sentence of lingering but certain death. They were
barbarously treated, both on the passage to that dreadful place, and
after they arrived there. It was a singular part of their fate, that
they found several of the fiercest of their ancient enemies, the
Jacobins, still cursing God and defying man, in the same land of
wretchedness and exile.

Besides these severities, various elections were arbitrarily dissolved,
and other strong measures of public safety, as they were called,
adopted, to render the power of the Directory more indisputable. During
this whole revolution, the lower portion of the population, which used
to be so much agitated upon like occasions, remained perfectly quiet;
the struggle lay exclusively between the middle classes, who inclined to
a government on the basis of royalty, and the Directory, who, without
having any very tangible class of political principles, had become
possessed of the supreme power, desired to retain it, and made their
point good by the assistance of the military.

Buonaparte was much disappointed at the result of the 18th Fructidor,
chiefly because, if less decisive, it would have added more to his
consequence, and have given him an opportunity of crossing, as he termed
it, the Rubicon. As it was, the majority of the directors,--three men of
no particular talent, undistinguished alike by birth, by services to
their country, or even by accidental popularity, and cast as it were by
chance, upon supreme power,--remained by the issue of the struggle still
the masters of the bold and ambitious conqueror, who probably already
felt his own vocation to be for command rather than obedience.

Napoleon appears by his Memoirs to have regretted the violence with
which the victorious directors prosecuted their personal revenge, which
involved many for whom he had respect. He declares his own idea of
punishment would have gone no farther than imprisoning some of the most
dangerous conspirators, and placing others under the watchful
superintendence of the police. He must have taken some painful interest
in the fate of Carnot in particular, whom he seems to have regarded as
one of his most effective patrons.[331] Indeed, it is said that he was
so much displeased with the Directory even prior to the 18th Fructidor,
that he refused to remit a sum of money with which he had promised to
aid them for the purpose of forwarding that event.[332] Barras's
secretary was sent to task him with this contumacy: which he did so
unceremoniously, that the general, unused to contradiction, was about to
order this agent to be shot; but, on consideration, put him off with
some insignificant reply.

[Sidenote: THE DIRECTORY.]

It followed, from the doubtful terms on which Buonaparte stood with the
Directory, that they must have viewed his return to Paris with some
apprehension, when they considered the impression likely to be made on
any capital, but especially on that of Paris, by the appearance there of
one who seemed to be the chosen favourite of Fortune, and to deserve her
favours by the use which he made of them. The mediocrity of such men as
Barras never gives them so much embarrassment, as when, being raised to
an elevation above their desert, they find themselves placed in
comparison with one to whom nature has given the talents which their
situation requires in themselves. The higher their condition, their
demeanour is the more awkward; for the factious advantages which they
possess cannot raise them to the natural dignity of character, unless in
the sense in which a dwarf, by the assistance of crutches, may be said
to be as tall as a giant. The Directory had already found Buonaparte, on
several occasions, a spirit of the sort which would not be commanded.
Undoubtedly they would have been well pleased had it been possible to
have found him employment at a distance; but as that seemed difficult,
they were obliged to look round for the means of employing him at home,
or abide the tremendous risk of his finding occupation for himself.

It is surprising that it did not occur to the Directory to make at least
the attempt of conciliating Buonaparte, by providing for his future
fortune largely and liberally, at the expense of the public. He deserved
that attention to his private affairs, for he had himself entirely
neglected them. While he drew from the dominions which he conquered or
overawed in Italy, immense sums in behalf of the French nation, which he
applied in part to the support of the army, and in part remitted to the
Directory, he kept no accounts, nor were any demanded of him; but
according to his own account, he transmitted sixty millions of francs to
Paris, and had not remaining of his own funds, when he returned from
Italy, more than three hundred thousand.[333]

It is no doubt true, that, to raise these sums, Buonaparte had pillaged
the old states, thus selling to the newly formed commonwealths their
liberty and equality at a very handsome rate, and probably leaving them
in very little danger of corruption from that wealth which is said to be
the bane of republican virtue. But on the other hand, it must be
acknowledged, that if the French general plundered the Italians as
Cortez did the Mexicans, he did not reserve any considerable share of
the spoil for his own use, though the opportunity was often in his

The commissary Salicetti, his countryman, recommended a less scrupulous
line of conduct. Soon after the first successes in Italy, he acquainted
Napoleon that the Chevalier d'Este, the Duke of Modena's brother and
envoy, had four millions of francs, in gold, contained in four chests,
prepared for his acceptance. "The Directory and the Legislative Bodies
will never," he said, "acknowledge your services--your circumstances
require the money, and the duke will gain a protector."

"I thank you," said Buonaparte; "but I will not for four millions place
myself in the power of the Duke of Modena."

The Venetians, in the last agony of their terrors, offered the French
general a present of seven millions, which was refused in the same
manner. Austria also had made her proffers; and they were nothing less
than a principality in the empire, to be established in Napoleon's
favour, consisting of two hundred and fifty thousand inhabitants at
least, a provision which would have put him out of danger of suffering
by the proverbial ingratitude of a republic. The general transmitted his
thanks to the Emperor for this proof of the interest which he took in
his fortune, but added, he could accept of no wealth or preferment which
did not proceed from the French people, and that he should be always
satisfied with the amount of revenue which they might be disposed to
afford him.[334]

But however free from the wish to obtain wealth by any indirect means,
Napoleon appears to have expected, that in return for public services of
such an unusual magnitude, some provision ought to have been made for
him. An attempt was made to procure a public grant of the domain of
Chambord, and a large hotel in Paris, as an acknowledgment of the
national gratitude for his brilliant successes; but the Directory
thwarted the proposal.

[Sidenote: Nov. 5.]

The proposition respecting Chambord was not the only one of the kind.
Malibran, a member of the Council of Five Hundred, made a motion that
Buonaparte should be endowed with a revenue at the public charge, of
fifty thousand livres annually, with a reversion to his wife of one half
of that sum.[335] It may be supposed that this motion had not been
sufficiently considered and preconcerted, since it was very
indifferently received, and was evaded by the swaggering declaration of
a member,[336] that such glorious deeds could not be rewarded by gold.
So that the Assembly adopted the reasonable principle, that because the
debt of gratitude was too great to be paid in money, therefore he to
whom it was due was to be suffered to remain in comparative
indigence--an economical mode of calculation, and not unlike that
high-sounding doctrine of the civil law, which states, that a free man
being seized on, and forcibly sold for a slave, shall obtain no damages
on that account, because the liberty of a citizen is too transcendently
valuable to be put to estimation.

Whatever might be the motives of the Directory; whether they hoped that
poverty might depress Buonaparte's ambition, render him more dependent
on the government, and oblige him to remain in a private condition for
want of means to put himself at the head of a party; or whether they
acted with the indistinct and confused motives of little minds, who wish
to injure those whom they fear, their conduct was alike ungracious and
impolitic. They ought to have calculated, that a generous mind would
have been attached by benefits, and that a selfish one might have been
deterred from more doubtful and ambitious projects, by a prospect of
sure and direct advantage; but that marked ill-will and distrust must in
every case render him dangerous, who has the power to be so.

Their plan, instead of resting on an attempt to conciliate the ambitious
conqueror, and soothe him to the repose of a tranquil indulgence of
independence and ease, seems to have been that of devising for him new
labours, like the wife of Eurystheus for the juvenile Hercules. If he
succeeded, they may have privately counted upon securing the advantages
for themselves; if he failed, they were rid of a troublesome rival in
the race of power and popularity. It was with these views that they
proposed to Napoleon to crown his military glories, by assuming the
command of the preparations made for the conquest of England.


[309] An Italian, by name Buonarotti, and of the same family with the
great Michael Angelo, has recently published a full account of the
conspiracy of Babœuf,--to this writer the curious reader is referred.
"Les fruits sont à tous, la terre à personne," was his favourite text
and that of his fellow-levellers, and the burden of their songs, which
were to take place of Ca Ira, and La Carmagnole, was "Le Soleil luit
pour tout le monde." On being arrested, Babœuf wrote to the
Directory--"Whatever may be my fate, my name will be placed with those
of Barnevet and Sidney; whether conducted to death or to banishment, I
am certain of arriving at immortality!" He was condemned to the
guillotine in May, 1797, but stabbed himself in his prison.

[310] Montholon, tom. iv., p. 195.

[311] A decree of the Directory, of the 25th January, 1797, fixed the
current value of assignats at twenty sous for a hundred
francs.--MONTGAILLARD, tom. v., p. 4.

[312] "When Barras went out of the Directory, he had still a large
fortune, and he did not attempt to conceal it. It was not, indeed, large
enough to have contributed to the derangement of the finances, but the
manner in which it had been acquired, by favouring the contractors,
impaired the morality of the nation."--NAPOLEON, _Montholon_, tom. iv.,
p. 135.

[313] Montholon, tom. iv., p. 200.

[314] "La Reveillere-Lepaux was short, and his exterior was as
unprepossessing as can well be imagined; in his person he was a true
Esop. He wrote tolerably well, but his intelligence was confined, and he
had neither habits of business, nor knowledge of mankind. The Jardin des
Plantes and the Theophilanthropy, a new sect of which he had the folly
to become the founder, occupied all his time. He was an honest man--poor
when he became a member of the Directory, and poor when he left
it."--NAPOLEON, _Las Cases_, tom. ii., p. 136.

[315] "The new system of weights and measures will be a source of
embarrassment and difficulties for several generations; and it is
probable that the first learned commission employed to verify the
measure of the meridian, will find it necessary to make some
corrections. Thus are nations tormented about trifles!"--NAPOLEON,
_Montholon_, tom. iv., p. 203.

[316] "Letourneur de la Manche was born in Normandy. It is difficult to
explain how he came to be appointed to the Directory; it can only be
from one of those unaccountable caprices of which large assemblies so
often give an example. He was a man of narrow capacity, little learning,
and of a weak mind. He was, however, a man of strict probity, and left
the Directory without any fortune."--NAPOLEON, _Las Cases_, tom. ii., p.

[317] "Rewbel, born in Alsace, was one of the best lawyers in the town
of Colmar. He possessed that kind of intelligence which denotes a man
skilled in the practice of the law,--his influence was always felt in
deliberations--he was easily inspired with prejudices, and had little
faith in the existence of virtue. It is problematical whether he did or
did not amass a fortune, during the time he was in the
Directory."--NAPOLEON, _Las Cases_, tom. ii., p. 138.

[318] Montholon, tom. iv., p. 210.

[319] "This singular answer was in exact conformity with the ideas of
the moment. The sincere Republicans would have regarded it as a
degradation for a man, however distinguished he might be, to wish to
turn the revolution to his personal advantage."--MAD. DE STAËL, tom.
ii., p. 175.

[320] Moniteur, No. 224, May 3, 1797.--S.

[321] Le Rédacteur, May 1, 1797.

[322] "All the journals were full of harangues against the General of
the Army of Italy: They depreciated his successes, vilified his
character, calumniated his administration, threw out suspicions
respecting his fidelity to the Republic, and accused him of ambitious
designs."--NAPOLEON, _Montholon_, tom. iv., p. 212.

[323] See especially his Letter to the Directory, 17th
July.--_Correspondence Inédite_, tom. iv., p. 14.

[324] Montholon, tom. iv., pp. 148, 211.

[325] This gentleman was one of the second emigration, who left France
during Robespierre's ascendency. He was employed as a political agent by
the Court of Russia, after the affair of Venice, which proves that he
was not at least convicted of treachery to the Bourbon princes. In July,
1812, he was assassinated at his villa at Hackney, near London, by an
Italian domestic, who, having murdered both the Count and Countess, shot
himself through the head, leaving no clew to discover the motive of his
villany. It was remarked that the villain used Count d'Entraigues' own
pistols and dagger, which, apprehensive of danger as a political
intriguer, he had always ready prepared in his apartment.--S.

[326] Moniteur, No. 305, July 23.

[327] "The Directory requested General Buonaparte to send one of his
generals of brigade to Paris, to await their orders. He chose General
Augereau, a man very decided in action, and not very capable of
reasoning--two qualities which rendered him an excellent instrument of
despotism, provided the despotism assumed the name of revolution."--MAD.
DE STAËL, tom. ii., p. 180.

[328] Montholon, tom. iv., p. 216.

[329] "I spent the night of the 17th in beholding the preparations for
the awful scene which was to take place in a few hours. None but
soldiers appeared in the streets. The cannon, brought to surround the
palace where the Legislative Body assembled, were rolling along the
pavements; but, except their noise, all was silence. No hostile
assemblage was seen any where; nor was it known against whom all this
apparatus was directed. Liberty was the only power vanquished in that
fatal struggle. It might have been said, that she was seen to fly, like
a wandering spirit, at the approach of the day which was to shine upon
her destruction."--MAD. DE STAËL, tom. ii., p. 182.

[330] "Astonishment was excited by the little respect which the soldiers
showed for a general who had so often led them to victory; but he had
been successfully represented as a counter-revolutionist--a name which
when the public opinion is free, exercises in France a kind of magical
power. Besides, Pichegru had no means of producing an effect on the
imagination: He was a man of good manners, but without striking
expression, either in his features or his words. It has often been said,
that he was guided in war by the councils of another. This is, at least,
credible; for his look and conversation were so dull, that they
suggested no idea of his being fit for becoming the leader of any
enterprise."--MAD. DE STAËL, tom. ii., p. 184.

[331] In Carnot's Memoirs, the merit of discovering Buonaparte's talents
and taking care of his promotion, is attributed to Carnot, rather than
to Barras. However this may be, it is certain that Napoleon acknowledged
great obligation to Carnot, and protested to him perpetual
gratitude.--See _Moniteur_, No. 140, Feb. 1, 1797.--S.

[332] Las Cases, tom. ii., p. 155.

[333] Montholon, tom. iv., p. 267.

[334] Montholon, tom. iv., p. 103.

[335] Moniteur, Nov. 8; Thibaudeau, tom. iii., p. 423.

[336] "Un grenadier Français avait fait une action très brillante; son
général lui offre trois louis. Plus noble, plus généreux, le grenadier
refuse, et lui dit: '_Mon général, on ne fait pas ces choses-là pour de
l'argent._' Irez-vous offrir de l'or à un homme courbé sous le poids des
lauriers? Non non, l'ame de Buonaparte est trop grande,"
&c.--THIBAUDEAU, tom. iii., p. 423.


    _View of the respective Situations of Great Britain and France,
    at the Period of Napoleon's return from Italy--Negotiations at
    Lisle--Broken off--Army of England decreed, and Buonaparte named
    to the Command--He takes up his Residence in Paris--Public
    Honours--The real Views of the Directory discovered to be the
    Expedition to Egypt--Armies of Italy and the Rhine, compared and
    contrasted--Napoleon's Objects and Motives in heading the
    Egyptian Expedition--those of the Directory regarding it--Its
    actual Impolicy--Curious Statement by Miot--The Armament sails
    from Toulon, on 19th May 1798--Napoleon arrives before Malta on
    10th June--Proceeds on his course, and, escaping the British
    Squadron, lands at Alexandria on the 1st July--Description of
    the various Classes who inhabit Egypt:--1. The Fellahs and
    Bedouins--2. The Cophts--3. The Mamelukes--Napoleon issues a
    Proclamation against the Mamelukes--Marches against them on the
    7th July--Discontent of the French Troops--Battle of the
    Pyramids on 21st of July--Cairo surrenders._

It might have been thought, such was the success of the French arms on
the land, and of the British upon the sea, that the war must now be near
its natural and unavoidable termination, like a fire when there no
longer remain any combustibles to be devoured. Wherever water could bear
them, the British vessels of war had swept the seas of the enemy. The
greater part of the foreign colonies belonging to France and her allies,
among whom she now numbered Holland and Spain, were in the possession of
the English, nor had France a chance of recovering them. On the
contrary, not a musket was seen pointed against France on the continent;
so that it seemed as if the great rival nations, fighting with different
weapons, and on different elements, must at length give up a contest, in
which it was almost impossible to come to a decisive struggle.


An attempt accordingly was made, by the negotiation of Lisle, to bring
to a period the war, which appeared now to subsist entirely without an
object. Lord Malmesbury, on that occasion, gave in, on the part of
Britain, an offer to surrender all the conquests she had made from
France and her allies; on condition of the cession of Trinidad, on the
part of Spain, and of the Cape of Good Hope, Cochin, and Ceylon, on the
part of Holland, with some stipulations in favour of the Prince of
Orange and his adherents in the Netherlands. The French commissioners,
in reply, declared, that their instructions required that the English
should make a complete cession of their conquests, without any
equivalent whatever; and they insisted, as indispensable preliminaries,
that the King of Great Britain should lay aside his titular designation
of King of France--that the Toulon fleet should be restored--and that
the English should renounce their right to certain mortgages over the
Netherlands, for money lent to the Emperor. Lord Malmesbury, of course,
rejected a sweeping set of propositions, which decided every question
against England even before the negotiation commenced, and solicited the
French to offer some modified form of treaty.[337] The 18th Fructidor,
however, had in the interim taken place, and the Republican party, being
in possession of complete authority, broke off the negotiation, if it
could be called such, abruptly, and ordered the English ambassador out
of the dominions of the republic with very little ceremony. It was now
proclaimed generally, that the existence of the English Carthage in the
neighbourhood of the French Rome was altogether inadmissible; that
England must be subdued once more, as in the times of William the
Conqueror; and the hopes of a complete and final victory over their
natural rival and enemy, as the two nations are but overapt to esteem
each other, presented so flattering a prospect, that there was scarce a
party in France, not even amongst the Royalists, which did not enter on
what was expected to prove the decisive contest, with the revival of all
those feelings of bitter animosity that had distinguished past ages.

Towards the end of October 1797, the Directory announced, that there
should be instantly assembled on the shores of the ocean an army, to be
called the Army of England, and that the Citizen-General Buonaparte was
named to the command. The intelligence was received in every part of
France with all the triumph which attends the anticipation of certain
victory. The address of the Directory numbered all the conquests which
France had won, and the efforts she had made, and prepared the French
nation to expect the fruit of so many victories and sacrifices when they
had punished England for her perfidy and maritime tyranny. "It is at
London where the misfortunes of all Europe are forged and
manufactured--It is in London that they must be terminated." In a solemn
meeting held by the Directory, for the purpose of receiving the treaty
of peace with Austria, which was presented to them by Berthier and Monge
on the part of Buonaparte, the latter, who had been one of the
commissioners for pillaging Italy of her pictures and statues, and who
looked, doubtless, to a new harvest of rarities in England, accepted, on
the part of the army and general, the task imposed by the French rulers.
"The Government of England and the French Republic cannot both continue
to exist--you have given the word which shall fall--already our
victorious troops brandish their arms, and Scipio is at their head."


[Sidenote: Dec. 5.]

While this farce, for such it proved, was acting in Paris, the chief of
the intended enterprise arrived there, and took up his abode in the same
modest house which he had occupied before becoming the conqueror of
palaces. The community of Paris, with much elegance, paid their
successful general the compliment of changing the name of the street
from Rue Chantereine to Rue de la Victoire.

In a metropolis where all is welcome that can vary the tedium of human
life, the arrival of any remarkable person is a species of holiday; but
such an eminent character as Buonaparte--the conqueror--the sage--the
politician--the undaunted braver of every difficulty--the invincible
victor in every battle--who had carried the banners of the Republic from
Genoa till their approach scared the Pontiff in Rome, and the emperor in
Vienna, was no everyday wonder. His youth, too, added to the marvel, and
still more the claim of general superiority over the society in which he
mingled, though consisting of the most distinguished persons in France;
a superiority cloaking itself with a species of reserve, which inferred,
"You may look upon me, but you cannot penetrate or see through
me."[338] Napoleon's general manner in society, during this part of his
life, has been described by an observer of first-rate power; according
to whom, he was one for whom the admiration which could not be refused
to him, was always mingled with a portion of fear. He was different in
his manner from other men, and neither pleased nor angry, kind nor
severe, after the common fashion of humanity. He appeared to live for
the execution of his own plans, and to consider others only in so far as
they were connected with, and could advance or oppose them. He estimated
his fellow-mortals no otherwise than as they could be useful to his
views; and, with a precision of intelligence which seemed intuitive from
its rapidity, he penetrated the sentiments of those whom it was worth
his while to study. Buonaparte did not then possess the ordinary tone of
light conversation in society; probably his mind was too much burdened
or too proud to stoop to adopt that mode of pleasing, and there was a
stiffness and reserve of manner which was perhaps adopted for the
purpose of keeping people at a distance. His look had the same
character. When he thought himself closely observed, he had the power of
discharging from his countenance all expression, save that of a vague
and indefinite smile, and presenting to the curious investigator the
fixed eyes and rigid features of a bust of marble.[339]

When he talked with the purpose of pleasing, Buonaparte often told
anecdotes of his life in a very pleasing manner; when silent, he had
something disdainful in the expression of his face; when disposed to be
quite at ease, he was, in Madame de Staël's opinion, rather vulgar. His
natural tone of feeling seemed to be a sense of internal superiority,
and of secret contempt for the world in which he lived, the men with
whom he acted, and even the very objects which he pursued. His character
and manners were upon the whole strongly calculated to attract the
attention of the French nation, and to excite a perpetual interest even
from the very mystery which attached to him, as well as from the
splendour of his triumphs. The supreme power was residing in the
Luxembourg ostensibly; but Paris was aware, that the means which had
raised, and which must support and extend that power, were to be found
in the humble mansion of the newly-christened Rue de la Victoire.

Some of these features are perhaps harshly designed, as being drawn
_recentibus odiis_. The disagreement between Buonaparte and Madame de
Staël, from whom we have chiefly described them, is well known. It
originated about this time, when, as a first-rate woman of talent, she
was naturally desirous to attract the notice of the Victor of Victors.
They appear to have misunderstood each other; for the lady, who ought
certainly to know best has informed us, "that far from feeling her fear
of Buonaparte removed by repeated meetings, it seemed to increase, and
his best exertions to please could not overcome her invincible aversion
for what she found in his character."[340] His ironical contempt of
excellence of every kind, operated like the sword in romance, which
froze while it wounded. Buonaparte seems never to have suspected the
secret and mysterious terror with which he impressed the ingenious
author of Corinne; on the contrary, Las Cases tells us, that she
combined all her efforts, and all her means, to make an impression on
the general.[341] She wrote to him when distant, and, as the Count
ungallantly expresses it, tormented him when present. In truth, to use
an established French phrase, they stood in a false position with
respect to each other. Madame de Staël might be pardoned for thinking
that it would be difficult to resist her wit and her talent, when
exerted with the purpose of pleasing; but Buonaparte was disposed to
repel, rather than encourage the advances of one whose views were so
shrewd, and her observations so keen, while her sex permitted her to
push her inquiries farther than one man might have dared to do in
conversing with another. She certainly did desire to look into him "with
considerate eyes," and on one occasion put his abilities to the proof,
by asking him rather abruptly, in the middle of a brilliant party at
Talleyrand's, "whom he esteemed the greatest woman in the world, alive
or dead?"--"Her, madam, that has borne the most children," answered
Buonaparte, with much appearance of simplicity. Disconcerted by the
reply, she observed, that he was reported not to be a great admirer of
the fair sex. "I am very fond of my wife, madam," he replied, with one
of those brief and yet piquant observations, which adjourned a debate as
promptly as one of his characteristic manœuvres would have ended a
battle.[342] From this period there was enmity between Buonaparte and
Madame de Staël; and at different times he treated her with a harshness
which had some appearance of actual personal dislike, though perhaps
rather directed against the female politician than the woman of
literature. After his fall, Madame de Staël relented in her resentment
to him; and we remember her, during the campaign of 1814, presaging in
society how the walls of Troyes were to see a second invasion and defeat
of the Huns, as had taken place in the days of Attila, while the French
Emperor was to enact the second Theodorick.


In the meantime, while popular feeling and the approbation of
distinguished genius were thus seeking to pay court to the youthful
conqueror,[343] the Directory found themselves obliged to render to him
that semblance of homage which could not have been withheld without
giving much offence to general opinion, and injuring those who omitted
to pay it, much more than him who was entitled by the unanimous voice to
receive it. On the 10th of December, the Directory received Buonaparte
in public, with honours which the Republican government had not yet
conferred on any subject, and which must have seemed incongruous to
those who had any recollection of the liberty and equality, once so
emphatically pronounced to be the talisman of French prosperity. The
ceremony took place in the great court of the Luxembourg palace, where
the Directory, surrounded by all that was officially important or
distinguished by talent, received from Buonaparte's hand the confirmed
treaty of Campo Formio.[344] The delivery of this document was
accompanied by a speech from Buonaparte, in which he told the Directory,
that, in order to establish a constitution founded on reason, it was
necessary that eighteen centuries of prejudices should be
conquered--"The constitution of the year THREE, and you, have triumphed
over all these obstacles."[345] The triumph lasted exactly until the
year EIGHT, when the orator himself overthrew the constitution,
destroyed the power of the rulers who had overcome the prejudices of
eighteen centuries, and reigned in their stead.

[Sidenote: Dec. 28.]

The French, who had banished religion from their thoughts, and from
their system of domestic policy, yet usually preserved some perverted
ceremony connected with it, on public solemnities. They had disused the
exercises of devotion, and expressly disowned the existence of an object
of worship; yet they could not do without altars, and hymns, and rites,
upon such occasions as the present. The general, conducted by Barras,
the president of the Directory, approached an erection, termed the Altar
of the Country, where they went through various appropriate ceremonies,
and at length dismissed a numerous assembly, much edified with what they
had seen. The two Councils, or Representative Bodies, also gave a
splendid banquet in honour of Buonaparte. And what he appeared to
receive with more particular satisfaction than these marks of
distinction, the Institute admitted him a member of its body[346] in the
room of his friend Carnot, (who was actually a fugitive, and believed
at the time to be dead,) while the poet Chenier promulgated his praises,
and foretold his future triumphs, and his approaching conquest of

There is nothing less philosophical than to attach ridicule to the
customs of other nations, merely because they differ from those of our
own; yet it marks the difference between England and her continental
neighbour, that the two Houses of Parliament never thought of giving a
dinner to Marlborough, nor did the Royal Society choose his successor in
the path of victory a member by acclamation; although the British nation
in either case acquitted themselves of the debt of gratitude which they
owed their illustrious generals, in the humbler and more vulgar mode of
conferring on both large and princely domains.

Meantime, the threat of invasion was maintained with unabated
earnestness. But it made no impression on the British, or rather it
stimulated men of all ranks to bury temporary and party dissensions
about politics, and bend themselves, with the whole energy of their
national character, to confront and resist the preparations made against
them. Their determination was animated by recollections of their own
traditional gallantry, which had so often inflicted the deepest wounds
upon France, and was not now likely to give up to any thing short of the
most dire necessity. The benefits were then seen of a free constitution,
which permits the venom of party spirit to evaporate in open debate.
Those who had differed on the question of peace or war, were unanimous
in that of national defence, and resistance to the common enemy; and
those who appeared in the vulgar eye engaged in unappeasable contention,
were the most eager to unite themselves together for these purposes, as
men employed in fencing would throw down the foils and draw their united
swords, if disturbed by the approach of robbers.

Buonaparte in the meanwhile made a complete survey of the coast of the
British channel, pausing at each remarkable point, and making those
remarks and calculations which induced him to adopt, at an after period,
the renewal of the project for a descent upon England.[348] The result
of his observations decided his opinion, that in the present case the
undertaking ought to be abandoned. The immense preparations and violent
threats of invasion were carried into no more serious effect than the
landing of about twelve or fourteen hundred Frenchmen, under a General
Tate, at Fishguard, in South Wales. They were without artillery, and
behaved rather like men whom a shipwreck had cast on a hostile shore,
than like an invading enemy, as they gave themselves up as prisoners
without even a show of defence to Lord Cawdor, who had marched against
them at the head of a body of the Welsh militia, hastily drawn together
on the alarm. The measure was probably only to be considered as
experimental, and as such must have been regarded as an entire

The demonstrations of invasion, however, were ostensibly continued, and
every thing seemed arranged on either side for a desperate collision
betwixt the two most powerful nations in Europe. But the proceedings of
politicians resemble those of the Indian traders called Banians, who
seem engaged in talking about ordinary and trifling affairs, while, with
their hands concealed beneath a shawl that is spread between them, they
are secretly debating and adjusting, by signs, bargains of the utmost
importance. While all France and England had their eyes fixed on the
fleets and armies destined against the latter country, the Directory and
their general had no intention of using these preparations, except as a
blind to cover their real object, which was the celebrated expedition to

While yet in Italy, Buonaparte had suggested to the Directory (13th
September, 1797,) the advantage which might be derived from seizing upon
Malta, which he represented as an easy prize. The knights, he said, were
odious to the Maltese inhabitants, and were almost starving; to augment
which state of distress, and increase that incapacity of defence, he had
already confiscated their Italian property. He then proceeded to
intimate, that being possessed of Corfu and Malta, it was natural to
take possession of Egypt. Twenty-five thousand men, with eight or ten
ships of the line, would be sufficient for the expedition, which he
suggested might depart from the coasts of Italy.[350]


Talleyrand, then minister for foreign affairs, (in his answer of 23d
September,) saw the utmost advantage in the design upon Egypt, which, as
a colony, would attract the commerce of India to Europe, in preference
to the circuitous route by the Cape of Good Hope. This correspondence
proves, that even before Buonaparte left Italy he had conceived the idea
of the Egyptian expedition, though probably only as one of the vast and
vague schemes of ambition which success in so many perilous enterprises
had tended to foster. There was something of wild grandeur in the idea,
calculated to please an ambitious imagination. He was to be placed far
beyond the reach of any command superior to his own, and left at his own
discretion to the extending conquests, and perhaps founding an empire,
in a country long considered as the cradle of knowledge, and celebrated
in sacred and profane history, as having been the scene of ancient
events and distant revolutions, which, through the remoteness of ages,
possess a gloomy and mysterious influence upon the fancy. The first
specimens of early art also were to be found among the gigantic ruins of
Egypt, and its time-defying monuments of antiquity. This had its effect
upon Buonaparte, who affected so particularly the species of fame which
attaches to the protector and extender of science, philosophy, and the
fine arts. On this subject he had a ready and willing counsellor at
hand. Monge, the artist and virtuoso, was Buonaparte's confidant on this
occasion, and, there is no doubt, encouraged him to an undertaking which
promised a rich harvest to the antiquarian, among the ruins of temples
and palaces, hitherto imperfectly examined.

But, although the subject was mentioned betwixt the Directory and their
ministers and Buonaparte, yet, before adopting the course which the
project opened, the general was probably determined to see the issue of
the revolution of the 18th Fructidor; doubting, not unreasonably,
whether the conquerors in that struggle could so far avail themselves of
the victory which they had obtained over the majority of the national
representatives, as to consolidate and establish on a firm foundation
their own authority. He knew the Directory themselves were popular with
none. The numerous party who were now inclined to a monarchical
government, regarded them with horror. The army, though supporting them,
rather than coalesce with the Royalists, despised and disliked them; the
violent Republicans remembered their active share in Robespierre's
downfall, and the condemnations which followed the detected conspiracy
of Babœuf, and were in no respect better disposed to their
domination. Thus, despised by the army, dreaded by the Royalists, and
detested by the Republicans, the Directorial government appeared to
remain standing, only because the factions to whom it was unacceptable
were afraid of each other's attaining a superiority in the struggle,
which must attend its downfall.[351]

This crisis of public affairs was a tempting opportunity for such a
character as Buonaparte; whose almost incredible successes, unvaried by
a single reverse which deserved that name, naturally fixed the eyes of
the multitude, and indeed of the nation at large, upon him, as upon one
who seemed destined to play the most distinguished part in any of those
new changes, which the mutable state of the French Government seemed
rapidly preparing.

The people, naturally partial to a victor, followed him every where with
acclamations, and his soldiers, in their camp-songs, spoke of pulling
the _attorneys_ out of the seat of government, and installing their
victorious general. Even already, for the first time since the
commencement of the Revolution, the French, losing their recent habits
of thinking and speaking of the nation as a body, began to interest
themselves in Napoleon as an individual; and that exclusive esteem of
his person had already taken root in the public mind, which afterwards
formed the foundation of his throne.


Yet, in spite of these promising appearances, Napoleon, cautious as well
as enterprising, saw that the time was not arrived when he could,
without great risk, attempt to possess himself of the supreme government
in France. The soldiers of Italy were indeed at his devotion, but there
was another great and rival army belonging to the Republic, that of the
Rhine, which had never been under his command, never had partaken his
triumphs, and which naturally looked rather to Moreau than to Buonaparte
as their general and hero.

Madame de Staël describes the soldiers from these two armies, as
resembling each other in nothing, save the valour which was common to
both.[352] The troops of the Rhine, returning from hard-fought fields,
which, if followed by victory, had afforded but little plunder,
exhibited still the severe simplicity which had been affected under the
republican model; whereas the army of Italy had reaped richer spoils
than barren laurels alone, and made a display of wealth and enjoyment
which showed they had not neglected their own interest while advancing
the banners of France.

It was not likely, while such an army as that of the Rhine existed,
opposed by rivalry and the jealousy of fame to the troops of Buonaparte,
that the latter should have succeeded in placing himself at the head of
affairs. Besides, the forces on which he could depend were distant.
Fortune had not afforded him the necessary pretext for crossing, as he
termed it, the Rubicon, and bringing twenty thousand men to Lyons.
Moreau, Jourdan, Kleber, had all high reputations, scarce inferior to
his own; and the troops who had served under them were disposed to
elevate them, even to an equality with the Conqueror of Italy.
Buonaparte also knew that his popularity, though great, was not
universal. He was disliked by the middle classes, from recollection of
his commanding during the affair of the Sections of Paris; and many of
the Republicans exclaimed against him, for his surrendering Venice to
the Austrians. In a word, he was too much elbowed and incommoded by
others to permit his taking with full vigour the perilous spring
necessary to place him in the seat of supreme authority, though there
were not wanting those who would fain have persuaded him to venture on a
course so daring.[353] To such counsellors he answered, that "_the pear
was not ripe_,"--a hint which implied that appetite was not wanting,
though prudence forbade the banquet.

Laying aside, therefore, the character of General of the Army of
England, and adjourning to a future day the conquest of that hostile
island; silencing at the same time the internal wishes and the exterior
temptations which urged him to seize the supreme power, which seemed
escaping from those who held it, Napoleon turned his eyes and thoughts
eastward, and meditated in the distant countries of the rising sun, a
scene worthy his talents, his military skill, and his ambition.[354]


The Directory, on the other hand, eager to rid themselves of his
perilous vicinity, hastened to accomplish the means of his expedition to
Egypt, upon a scale far more formidable than any which had yet sailed
from modern Europe, for the invasion and subjection of distant and
peaceful realms.

It was soon whispered abroad, that the invasion of England was to be
postponed, until the Conqueror of Italy, having attained a great and
national object, by the success of a secret expedition, fitted out on a
scale of stupendous magnitude, should be at leisure to resume the
conquest of Britain.

But Buonaparte did not limit his views to those of armed conquest; he
meant that these should be softened, by mingling with them schemes of a
literary and scientific character, as if he had desired, as some one
said, that Minerva should march at the head of his expedition, holding
in one hand her dreadful lance, and with the other introducing the
sciences and the muses. The various treasures of art which had been
transferred to the capital by the influence of his arms, gave the
general of the Italian army a right to such distinctions as the French
men of literature could confer; and he was himself possessed of deep
scientific knowledge as a mathematician. He became apparently much
attached to learned pursuits, and wore the uniform of the Institute on
all occasions, when he was out of military costume. This affectation of
uniting the encouragement of letters and science with his military
tactics, led to a new and peculiar branch of the intended expedition.

The public observed with astonishment a detachment of no less than one
hundred men,[355] who had cultivated the arts and sciences, or, to use
the French phrase, _Savans_, selected for the purpose of joining this
mysterious expedition, of which the object still remained a secret;
while all classes of people asked each other what new quarter of the
world France had determined to colonize, since she seemed preparing at
once to subdue it by her arms, and to enrich it with the treasures of
her science and literature. This singular department of the expedition,
the first of the kind which ever accompanied an invading army, was
liberally supplied with books, philosophical instruments, and all means
of prosecuting the several departments of knowledge.[356]

Buonaparte did not, however, trust to the superiority of science to
ensure the conquest of Egypt. He was fully provided with more effectual
means. The land forces belonging to the expedition were of the most
formidable description. Twenty-five thousand men, chiefly veterans
selected from his own Italian army, had in their list of generals
subordinate to Buonaparte the names of Kleber,[357] Desaix,[358]
Berthier, Regnier, Murat, Lannes, Andréossi, Menou,[359] Belliard, and
others well known in the revolutionary wars. Four hundred transports
were assembled for the conveyance of the troops. Thirteen ships of the
line, and four frigates, commanded by Admiral Brueyes, an experienced
and gallant officer, formed the escort of the expedition; a finer and
more formidable one than which never sailed on so bold an adventure.

We have already touched upon the secret objects of this armament. The
Directory were desirous to be rid of Buonaparte, who might become a
dangerous competitor in the present unsettled state of the French
Government. Buonaparte, on his side, accepted the command, because it
opened a scene of conquest worthy of his ambition. A separate and
uncontrolled command over so gallant an army seemed to promise him the
conquest and the sovereignty, not of Egypt only, but of Syria, Turkey,
perhaps Constantinople, the Queen of the East; and he himself afterwards
more than hinted, that but for controlling circumstances, he would have
bent his whole mind to the establishment of an Oriental dynasty, and
left France to her own destinies. When a subaltern officer of artillery,
he had nourished the hope of being King of Jerusalem.[360] In his
present situation of dignity and strength, the sovereignty of an Emperor
of the universal East, or of a Caliph of Egypt at the least, was a more
commensurate object of ambition.

The private motives of the government and of the general are therefore
easily estimated. But it is not so easy to justify the Egyptian
expedition upon any views of sound national policy. On the contrary, the
object to be gained by so much risk, and at the same time by an act of
aggression upon the Ottoman Porte, the ancient ally of France, to whom
Egypt belonged, was of very doubtful utility. The immense fertility of
the alluvial provinces irrigated by the Nile, no doubt renders their
sovereignty a matter of great consequence to the Turkish empire, which,
from the oppressed state of their agriculture every where, and from the
rocky and barren character of their Grecian provinces, are not in a
condition to supply the capital with grain, did they not draw it from
that never-failing land. But France herself, fully supplied from her own
resources, had no occasion to send her best general, and hazard her
veteran army, for the purpose of seizing a distant province, merely to
facilitate her means of feeding her population. To erect that large
country into a French colony, would have required a drain of population,
of expense, and of supplies of all sorts, which France, just recovering
from the convulsion of her Revolution, was by no means fit to encounter.
The climate, too, is insalubrious to strangers, and must have been a
constant cause of loss, until, in process of time, the colonists had
become habituated to its peculiarities. It is farther to be considered,
that the most perfect and absolute success in the undertaking must have
ended, not in giving a province to the French Republic, but a separate
and independent kingdom to her victorious and ambitious general.
Buonaparte had paid but slight attention to the commands of the
Directory when in Italy. Had he realized his proposed conquests in the
East, they would have been sent over the Mediterranean altogether in

Lastly, the state of war with England subjected this attempt to add
Egypt to the French dominions, to the risk of defeat, either by the
naval strength of Britain interposing between France and her new
possessions, or by her land forces from India and Europe, making a
combined attack upon the French army which occupied Egypt; both which
events actually came to pass.

It is true, that, so far from dreading the English forces which were
likely to be employed against them, the French regarded as a
recommendation to the conquest of Egypt, that it was to be the first
step to the destruction of the British power in India; and Napoleon
continued to the last to consider the conquest of Egypt as the
forerunner of that of universal Asia. His eye, which, like that of the
eagle, saw far and wide, overlooking, however, obstacles which distance
rendered diminutive, beheld little more necessary than the toilsome
marches of a few weeks, to achieve the conquests of Alexander the Great.
He had already counted the steps by which he was to ascend to Oriental
Monarchy, and has laid before the world a singular reverie on the
probabilities of success. "If Saint John d'Acre had yielded to the
French arms," said he, "a great revolution would have been accomplished
in the East; the general-in-chief would have founded an empire there,
and the destinies of France would have undergone different combinations
from those to which they were subjected."[361]

In this declaration we recognise one of the peculiarities of
Buonaparte's disposition, which refused to allow of any difficulties or
dangers save those, of which, having actually happened, the existence
could not be disputed. The small British force before Acre was
sufficient to destroy his whole plans of conquest; but how many other
means of destruction might Providence have employed for the same
purpose! The plague--the desert--mutiny among his soldiers--courage and
enterprise, inspired by favourable circumstances into the tribes by whom
his progress was opposed--the computation of these, and other chances,
ought to have taught him to acknowledge, that he had not been
discomfited by the only hazard which could have disconcerted his
enterprise; but that, had such been the will of God, the sands of Syria
might have proved as fatal as the snows of Russia, and the scimitars of
the Turks as the lances of the Cossacks. In words, a march from Egypt to
India is easily described, and still more easily measured off with
compasses upon the map of the world. But in practice, and with an army
opposed, as the French would probably have been, at every step, if it
had been only from motives of religious antipathy, when the French
general arrived at the skirts of British India, with forces thus
diminished, he would have had in front the whole British army, commanded
by officers accustomed to make war upon a scale almost as enlarged as he
himself practised, and accustomed to victories not less decisive.[362]

We should fall into the same error which we censure, did we anticipate
what might have been the result of such a meeting. Even while we claim
the probability of advantage for the army most numerous, and best
provided with guns and stores, we allow the strife must have been
dreadful and dubious. But, if Napoleon really thought he had only to
show himself in India, to ensure the destruction of the British empire
there, he had not calculated the opposing strength with the caution to
have been expected from so great a general. He has been represented,
indeed, as boasting of the additions which he would have made to his
army, by the co-operation of natives trained after the French
discipline. But can it be supposed that these hasty levies could be
brought into such complete order as to face the native troops of British
India, so long and so justly distinguished for approaching Europeans in
courage and discipline, and excelling them, perhaps, in temperance and

In a word, the Egyptian expedition, unless considered with reference to
the private views of the Directory, and of their General, must have been
regarded from the beginning, as promising no results in the slightest
degree worthy of the great risk incurred, by draining France of the
flower of her army.

Meanwhile, the moment of departure approached. The blockading squadron,
commanded by Nelson, was blown off the coast by a gale of wind, and so
much damaged that they were obliged to run down to Sardinia. The first
and most obvious obstacle to the expedition was thus removed. The
various squadrons from Genoa, Civita Vecchia, and Bastia, set sail and
united with that which already lay at Toulon.

Yet it is said, though upon slender authority, that even at this latest
moment Buonaparte showed, some inclination to abandon the command of so
doubtful and almost desperate an expedition, and wished to take the
advantage of a recent dispute between France and Austria, to remain in
Europe. The misunderstanding arose from the conduct of Bernadotte,
ambassador for the republic at Vienna, who incautiously displayed the
national colours before his hotel, in consequence of which a popular
tumult arose, and the ambassador was insulted. In their first alarm,
lest his incident should occasion a renewal of the war, the Directory
hastily determined to suspend Buonaparte's departure, and despatch him
to Rastadt, where the congress was still sitting, with full powers to
adjust the difference. Buonaparte accepted the commission, and while he
affected to deplore the delay or miscarriage of "the greatest enterprise
which he had ever meditated," wrote in secret to Count Cobentzel, now
minister of foreign affairs at Vienna, inviting him to a conference at
Rastadt, and hinting at political changes, by which the difficulties
attending the execution of the treaty of Campo Formio might be taken
away. The tenor of this letter having become known to the Directory, and
it appearing to them that Buonaparte designed to make that mission a
pretext for interesting Cobentzel in some change of government in
France, in which he deemed it advisable to obtain the concurrence of
Austria, they instantly resolved, it is said, to compel him to set sail
on the expedition to Egypt. Barras, charged with the commission of
notifying to the general this second alteration of his destination, had
an interview with Buonaparte in private, and at his own house. The mien
of the director was clouded, and, contrary to his custom, he scarcely
spoke to Madame Buonaparte. When he retired, Buonaparte shut himself up
in his own apartment for a short time, then gave directions for his
instant departure from Paris for Toulon. These particulars are given as
certain by Miot;[363] but he alleges no authority for this piece of
secret history.[364] There seems, however, little doubt, that the
command of the Egyptian expedition was bestowed on Buonaparte by the
Directory as a species of ostracism, or honourable banishment from

At the moment of departure, Buonaparte made one of those singular
harangues which evince such a mixture of talent and energy with bad
taste and bombast. He promised to introduce those who had warred on the
mountains and in the plains, to maritime combat; and to a great part of
the expedition he kept his word too truly, as Aboukir could witness. He
reminded them that the Romans combated Carthage by sea as well as by
land--he proposed to conduct them, in the name of the Goddess of
Liberty, to the most distant regions and oceans, and he concluded by
promising to each individual of his army seven acres of land.[365]
Whether this distribution of property was to take place on the banks of
the Nile, of the Bosphorus, or the Ganges, the soldiers had not the most
distant guess, and the commander-in-chief himself would have had
difficulty in informing them.


[Sidenote: May 19.]

On the 19th of May, 1798, this magnificent armament set sail from
Toulon, illuminated by a splendid sunrise, one of those which were
afterwards popularly termed the suns of Napoleon. The line-of-battle
ships extended for a league, and the semi-circle formed by the convoy
was at least six leagues in extent. They were joined on the 8th June, as
they swept along the Mediterranean, by a large fleet of transports,
having on board the division of General Desaix.

The 10th June brought the armament before Malta, once the citadel of
Christendom, and garrisoned by those intrepid knights, who, half
warriors and half priests, opposed the infidels with the enthusiasm at
once of religion and of chivalry. But those by whom the order was now
maintained were disunited among themselves, lazy and debauched
voluptuaries, who consumed the revenues destined to fit out expeditions
against the Turks in cruises for pleasure, not war, and giving balls and
entertainments in the seaports of Italy. Buonaparte treated these
degenerate knights with a want of ceremony, which, however little it
accorded with the extreme strength of their island, and with the
glorious defence which it had formerly made against the infidels, was
perfectly suited to their present condition. Secure of a party among the
French knights, with whom he had been tampering, he landed troops, and
took possession of these almost impregnable fortresses with so little
opposition, that Caffarelli said to Napoleon as they passed through the
most formidable defences,--"It is well, general, that there was some one
within to open the gates to us. We should have had more trouble in
entering, if the place had been altogether empty."[366]

A sufficient garrison was established in Malta, destined by Buonaparte
to be an intermediate station between France and Egypt; and on the 16th,
the daring general resumed his expedition.[367] On the coast of Candia,
while the _Savans_ were gazing on the rocks where Jupiter, it is said,
was nurtured, and speculating concerning the existence of some vestiges
of the celebrated labyrinth, Buonaparte learned that a new enemy, of a
different description from the Knights of Saint John, was in his
immediate vicinity. This was the English squadron.

[Sidenote: VOYAGE TO EGYPT.]

Nelson, to the end as unconquerable on his own element as Buonaparte had
hitherto shown himself upon shore, was now in full and anxious pursuit
of his renowned contemporary. Reinforced by a squadron of ten ships of
the line, a meeting with Napoleon was the utmost wish of his heart, and
was echoed back by the meanest sailor on board his numerous fleet. The
French had been heard of at Malta, but as the British admiral was about
to proceed thither, he received news of their departure; and concluding
that Egypt must be unquestionably the object of their expedition, he
made sail for Egypt. It singularly happened, that although Nelson
anticipated the arrival of the French at Alexandria, and accordingly
directed his course thither, yet, keeping a more direct path than
Brueyes, when he arrived there on the 28th June, he heard nothing of the
enemy, who, in the meanwhile, were proceeding to the very same port. The
English admiral set sail, therefore, for Rhodes and Syracuse; and thus
were the two large and hostile fleets traversing the same narrow sea,
without being able to attain any certain tidings of each other's
movements. This was in part owing to the English admiral having no
frigates with him, which might have been detached to cruise for
intelligence; partly to a continuance of thick misty weather, which at
once concealed the French fleet from their adversaries, and, obliging
them to keep close together, diminished the chance of discovery, which
might otherwise have taken place by the occupation of a larger space. On
the 26th, according to Denon, Nelson's fleet was actually seen by the
French standing to the westward, although the haze prevented the English
from observing their enemy, whose squadron held an opposite

Escaped from the risk of an encounter so perilous, Buonaparte's greatest
danger seemed to be over on the 1st July, when the French fleet came in
sight of Alexandria, and saw before them the city of the Ptolemies and
of Cleopatra, with its double harbour, its Pharos, and its ancient and
gigantic monuments of grandeur. Yet at this critical moment, and while
Buonaparte contemplated his meditated conquest, a signal announced the
appearance of a strange sail, which was construed to be an English
frigate, the precursor of the British fleet. "What!" said Napoleon, "I
ask but six hours--and, Fortune, wilt thou abandon me?"[369] The fickle
goddess was then and for many a succeeding year, true to her votary. The
vessel proved friendly.[370]

The disembarkation of the French army took place [July 2] about a league
and a half from Alexandria, at an anchorage called Marabout. It was not
accomplished without losing boats and men on the surf, though such risks
were encountered with great joy by the troops, who had been so long
confined on ship-board. As soon as five or six thousand men were landed,
Buonaparte marched towards Alexandria, when the Turks, incensed at this
hostile invasion on the part of a nation with whom they were at profound
peace, shut the gates, and manned the walls against their reception. But
the walls were ruinous, and presented breaches in many places, and the
chief weapons of resistance were musketry and stones. The conquerors of
Italy forced their passage over such obstacles, but not easily or with
impunity.[371] Two hundred French were killed. There was severe military
execution done upon the garrison, and the town was abandoned to plunder
for three hours;[372] which has been justly stigmatized as an act of
unnecessary cruelty, perpetrated only to strike terror, and extend the
fame of the victorious French general. But it was Napoleon's object to
impress the highest idea of his power upon the various classes of
natives, who, differing widely from each other in manners and condition,
inhabit Egypt as their common home.[373]

These classes are, 1st, the Arab race, divided into Fellahs and
Bedouins, the most numerous and least esteemed of the population. The
Bedouins, retaining the manners of Arabia Proper, rove through the
Desert, and subsist by means of their flocks and herds. The Fellahs
cultivate the earth, and are the ordinary peasants of the country.

The class next above the Arabs in consideration are the Cophts, supposed
to be descended from the pristine Egyptians. They profess Christianity,
are timid and unwarlike, but artful and supple. They are employed in the
revenue, and in almost all civil offices, and transact the commerce and
the business of the country.

[Sidenote: MAMELUKES.]

The third class in elevation were the formidable Mamelukes who held both
Cophts and Arabs in profound subjection. These are, or we may say
_were_, a corps of professed soldiers, having no trade excepting war. In
this they resemble the Janissaries, the Sterlitzes, the Prætorian bands,
or similar military bodies, which, constituting a standing army under a
despotic government, are alternately the protectors and the terror of
the sovereign who is their nominal commander. But the peculiar feature
of the constitution of the Mamelukes, was, that their corps was
recruited only by the adoption of foreign slaves, particularly Georgians
and Circassians. These were purchased when children by the several Beys
or Mameluke leaders, who, twenty-four in number, occupied, each, one of
the twenty-four departments into which they had divided Egypt. The
youthful slave, purchased with a heedful reference to his strength and
personal appearance, was carefully trained to arms in the family of his
master. When created a Mameluke, he was received into the troop of the
Bey, and rendered capable of succeeding to him at his death; for these
chiefs despised the ordinary connexions of blood, and their authority
was, upon military principles, transferred at their death to him amongst
the band who was accounted the best soldier. They fought always on
horseback; and in their peculiar mode of warfare, they might be termed,
individually considered, the finest cavalry in the world. Completely
armed, and unboundedly confident in their own prowess, they were
intrepid, skilful, and formidable in battle; but with their military
bravery began and ended the catalogue of their virtues. Their vices
were, unpitying cruelty, habitual oppression, and the unlimited exercise
of the most gross and disgusting sensuality. Such were the actual lords
of Egypt.[374]

Yet the right of sovereignty did not rest with the beys, but with the
Pacha, or lieutenant,--a great officer despatched from the Porte to
represent the Grand Signior in Egypt, where it was his duty to collect
the tribute in money and grain, which Constantinople expected from that
rich province, with the additional object of squeezing out of the
country as much more as he could by any means secure, for the filling of
his own coffers. The pacha maintained his authority sometimes by the
assistance of Turkish troops, sometimes by exciting the jealousy of one
bey against another. Thus this fertile country was subjected to the
oppression of twenty-four prætors, who, whether they agreed among
themselves, or with the pacha, or declared war against the
representative of the Sultan, and against each other, were alike the
terror and the scourge of the unhappy Arabs and Cophts, the right of
oppressing whom, by every species of exaction, these haughty slaves
regarded as their noblest and most undeniable privilege.

From the moment that Buonaparte conceived the idea of invading Egypt,
the destruction of the power of the Mamelukes must have been determined
upon as his first object; and he had no sooner taken Alexandria than he
announced his purpose. He sent forth a proclamation,[375] in which he
professed his respect for God, the Prophet, and the Koran; his
friendship for the Sublime Porte, of which he affirmed the French to be
the faithful allies; and his determination to make war upon the
Mamelukes. He commanded that the prayers should be continued in the
mosques as usual, with some slight modifications, and that all true
Moslems should exclaim, "Glory to the Sultan, and to the French army,
his allies!--Accursed be the Mamelukes, and good fortune to the land of

[Sidenote: MARCH TO CAIRO.]

Upon the 7th of July, the army marched from Alexandria against the
Mamelukes. Their course was up the Nile, and a small flotilla of
gun-boats ascended the river to protect their right flank, while the
infantry traversed a desert of burning sands, at a distance from the
stream, and without a drop of water to relieve their tormenting thirst.
The army of Italy, accustomed to the enjoyments of that delicious
country, were astonished at the desolation they saw around them. "Is
this," they said, "the country in which we are to receive our farms of
seven acres each? The general might have allowed us to take as much as
we chose--no one would have abused the privilege." Their officers, too,
expressed horror and disgust; and even generals of such celebrity as
Murat and Lannes threw their hats on the sand, and trode on their
cockades. It required all Buonaparte's authority to maintain order, so
much were the French disgusted with the commencement of the

To add to their embarrassment, the enemy began to appear around them.
Mamelukes and Arabs, concealed behind the hillocks of sand, interrupted
their march at every opportunity, and woe to the soldier who straggled
from the ranks, were it but fifty yards! Some of these horsemen were
sure to dash at him, slay him on the spot, and make off before a musket
could be discharged at them. At length, however, the audacity of these
incursions was checked by a skirmish of some little importance near a
place called Chebreis, in which the French asserted their military

An encounter also took place on the river, between the French flotilla
and a number of armed vessels belonging to the Mamelukes. Victory first
inclined to the latter, but at length determined in favour of the
French, who took, however, only a single galliot.

Meanwhile, the French were obliged to march with the utmost precaution.
The whole plain was now covered with Mamelukes, mounted on the finest
Arabian horses, and armed with pistols, carabines, and blunderbusses, of
the best English workmanship--their plumed turbans waving in the air,
and their rich dresses and arms glittering in the sun. Entertaining a
high contempt for the French force, as consisting almost entirely of
infantry, this splendid barbaric chivalry watched every opportunity for
charging them, nor did a single straggler escape the unrelenting edge of
their sabres. Their charge was almost as swift as the wind, and as their
severe bits enabled them to halt, or wheel their horses at full gallop,
their retreat was as rapid as their advance. Even the practised veterans
of Italy were at first embarrassed by this new mode of fighting, and
lost several men; especially when fatigue caused any one to fall out of
the ranks, in which case his fate became certain. But they were soon
reconciled to fighting the Mamelukes, when they discovered that each of
these horsemen carried about him his fortune, and that it not uncommonly
amounted to considerable sums in gold.

During these alarms, the French love of the ludicrous was not abated by
the fatigues or dangers of the journeys. The _Savans_ had been supplied
with asses, the beasts of burden easiest attained in Egypt, to transport
their persons and philosophical apparatus. The general had given orders
to attend to their personal safety, which were of course obeyed. But as
these civilians had little importance in the eyes of the military, loud
shouts of laughter used to burst from the ranks, while forming to
receive the Mamelukes, as the general of division called out, with
military precision, "Let the asses and the _Savans_ enter within the
square." The soldiers also amused themselves, by calling the asses
_demi-savans_.[379] In times of discontent, these unlucky servants of
science had their full share of the soldiers' reproaches, who imagined,
that this unpopular expedition had been undertaken to gratify their
passion for researches, in which the military took very slender


Under such circumstances, it may be doubted whether even the literati
themselves were greatly delighted, when, after fourteen days of such
marches as we have described, they arrived, indeed, within six leagues
of Cairo, and beheld at a distance the celebrated Pyramids, but learned,
at the same time, that Murad Bey, with twenty-two of his brethren, at
the head of their Mamelukes, had formed an intrenched camp at a place
called Embabeh, with the purpose of covering Cairo, and giving battle to
the French. On the 21st of July, as the French continued to advance,
they saw their enemy in the field, and in full force. A splendid line of
cavalry, under Murad and the other beys, displayed the whole strength of
the Mamelukes. Their right rested on the imperfectly intrenched camp, in
which lay twenty thousand infantry, defended by forty pieces of cannon.
But the infantry were an undisciplined rabble; the guns, wanting
carriages, were mounted on clumsy wooden frames; and the fortifications
of the camp were but commenced, and presented no formidable opposition.
Buonaparte made his dispositions. He extended his line to the right, in
such a manner as to keep out of gunshot of the intrenched camp, and have
only to encounter the line of cavalry.[380]

Murad Bey saw this movement, and, fully aware of its consequence,
prepared to charge with his magnificent body of horse, declaring he
would cut the French up like gourds. Buonaparte, as he directed the
infantry to form squares to receive them, called out to his men, "From
yonder Pyramids twenty centuries behold your actions."[381] The
Mamelukes advanced with the utmost speed, and corresponding fury, and
charged with horrible yells. They disordered one of the French squares
of infantry, which would have been sabred in an instant, but that the
mass of this fiery militia was a little behind the advanced guard. The
French had a moment to restore order, and used it. The combat then in
some degree resembled that which, nearly twenty years afterwards, took
place at Waterloo; the hostile cavalry furiously charging the squares of
infantry, and trying, by the most undaunted efforts of courage, to break
in upon them at every practicable point, while a tremendous fire of
musketry, grape-shot, and shells, crossing in various directions, repaid
their audacity. Nothing in war was ever seen more desperate than the
exertions of the Mamelukes. Failing to force their horses through the
French squares, individuals were seen to wheel them round, and rein them
back on the ranks, that they might disorder them by kicking. As they
became frantic with despair, they hurled at the immoveable phalanxes,
which they could not break, their pistols, their poniards, and their
carabines. Those who fell wounded to the ground, dragged themselves on,
to cut at the legs of the French with their crooked sabres. But their
efforts were all vain.

The Mamelukes, after the most courageous efforts to accomplish their
purpose, were finally beaten off with great slaughter; and as they could
not form or act in squadron, their retreat became a confused flight. The
greater part attempted to return to their camp, from that sort of
instinct, as Napoleon termed it, which leads fugitives to retire in the
same direction in which they had advanced. By taking this route they
placed themselves betwixt the French and the Nile; and the sustained and
insupportable fire of the former soon obliged them to plunge into the
river, in hopes to escape by swimming to the opposite bank--a desperate
effort, in which few succeeded. Their infantry at the same time
evacuated their camp without a show of resistance, precipitated
themselves into the boats, and endeavoured to cross the Nile. Very many
of these also were destroyed. The French soldiers long afterwards
occupied themselves in fishing for the drowned Mamelukes, and failed not
to find money and valuables upon all whom they could recover.[382] Murad
Bey, with a part of his best Mamelukes, escaped the slaughter by a more
regular movement to the left, and retreated by Gizeh into Upper

Thus were, in a great measure, destroyed the finest cavalry, considered
as individual horsemen, that were ever known to exist. "Could I have
united the Mameluke horse to the French infantry," said Buonaparte, "I
would have reckoned myself master of the world."[384] The destruction of
a body hitherto regarded as invincible, struck terror, not through Egypt
only, but far into Africa and Asia, wherever the Moslem religion

After this combat, which, to render it more striking to the Parisians,
Buonaparte termed the "Battle of the Pyramids," Cairo surrendered
without resistance. The shattered remains of the Mamelukes who had swam
the Nile and united under Ibrahim Bey, were compelled to retreat into
Syria. A party of three hundred French cavalry ventured to attack them
at Salahieh, but were severely handled by Ibrahim Bey and his followers,
who, having cut many of them to pieces, pursued their retreat without
farther interruption. Lower Egypt was completely in the hands of the
French, and thus far the expedition of Buonaparte had been perfectly
successful. But it was not the will of Heaven, that even the most
fortunate of men should escape reverses; and a severe one awaited


[337] Annual Register, vol. xl., p. 6.

[338] Thibaudeau, tom. iii., p. 413; Montholon, tom. iv., p. 266.

[339] Mad. de Staël, Consid. sur la Rév. Franç., tom. ii., p. 199.

[340] Considerations, tom. ii., p. 197.

[341] Las Cases, tom. iii., p. 191.

[342] Las Cases, tom. iii., p. 192; Montholon, tom. iv., p. 274;
Thibaudeau, tom. iii., p. 429.

[343] "The leaders of all parties called upon him; but he refused to
listen to them. The streets and squares through which he was expected to
pass were constantly crowded, but Napoleon never showed himself. He had
no habitual visitors, except a few men of science, such as Monge,
Berthollet, Borda, Laplace, Prony, and Lagrange; several generals, as
Berthier, Desaix, Lefebvre, Caffarelli, and Kleber; and a very few
deputies."--MONTHOLON, tom. iv., p. 269.

[344] "Buonaparte arrived, dressed very simply, followed by his
aides-de-camp, all taller than himself, but nearly bent by the respect
which they displayed to him. M. de Talleyrand, in presenting Buonaparte
to the Directory, called him 'the Liberator of Italy, and the
Pacificator of the Continent.' He assured them, that 'General Buonaparte
detested luxury and splendour, the miserable ambition of vulgar souls,
and that he loved the poems of Ossian particularly because they detach
us from the earth.'"--MAD. DE STAËL, tom. ii., p. 203; MONTGAILLARD,
tom. v., p. 83.

[345] Thibaudeau, tom. iii., p. 416.

[346] For the class of arts and sciences. Upon the occasion, Buonaparte
addressed this note to Camus, the president of the class. "The suffrage
of the distinguished men who compose the Institute honours me. I feel
sensibly, that before I can become their equal, I must long be their
pupil. If there were a manner more expressive of conveying to them my
sentiments of respect, that I would employ. The only true conquests,
those which awaken no regret, are those we obtain over ignorance. The
most honourable, as the most useful pursuit of nations, is that which
contributes to the extension of human intellect. The real greatness of
the French republic ought henceforth to consist in not permitting the
existence of one new idea which has not been added to the national

[347] Thibaudeau, tom. iii., p. 432; Mad. de Staël, tom. ii., p. 204;
Montgaillard, tom. v., p. 82.

[348] Buonaparte left Paris on the 8th of February, and returned thither
on the 22d. He was accompanied by General Lannes, his aide-de-camp
Salkowski, and Bourrienne, his private secretary. "He visited," says the
latter, "Etaples, Ambleteuse, Boulogne, Calais, Dunkirk, Furnes,
Newport, Ostend, and Walcheren; making at these different ports the
necessary surveys, with that patience, presence of mind, knowledge,
expertness, and perspicuity, which he possessed in so eminent a degree.
He examined till midnight, sailors, pilots, smugglers, fishermen,--making
objections, and listening with attention to their replies."

[349] For some curious particulars respecting the Descent of the French
in South Wales, see Appendix, No. V.

[350] Correspondence Inédite, tom. iv., p. 176. So early as the 10th of
August, Buonaparte had written to the Directory,--"Les temps ne sont pas
éloignés où nous sentirons que, pour détruire véritablement Angleterre,
il faut nous emparer de l'Egypte."--Ibid., tom. iv., p. 77.--See also
JOMINI, tom. x., p. 512.

[351] Montholon, tom. iv., p. 281.

[352] Considerations sur la Rév. Franç., tom. ii., p. 173.

[353] Montholon, tom. iv., p. 284.

[354] "Napoleon did not think himself popular enough to go alone: he had
ideas on the art of governing different from those of the men of the
Revolution. He therefore determined to sail for Egypt, resolved,
nevertheless, to appear again as soon as circumstances should render his
presence necessary, as he already saw they would do. To render him
master of France, it was necessary that the Directory should experience
disasters in his absence, and that his return should recall victory to
the colours of the nation."--NAPOLEON, _Montholon_, tom. iv., p. 284.

[355] For a "List of the one hundred and two members of the Commission
of the Arts and Sciences attached to the army of the East," see
Thibaudeau, tom. iv., p. 424.

[356] "The following list of books, for a camp library, I copy from a
paper in his own hand. The volumes were in 18mo, and will show what he
preferred in science and literature."--BOURRIENNE, tom. ii., p. 49. See
the List in Appendix, No. VI.

[357] "Napoleon offered to leave Desaix and Kleber, whose talents might,
he thought, prove serviceable to France. The Directory knew not their
value, and refused them. 'The Republic,' said they, 'is not reduced to
these two generals.'"--MONTHOLON, tom. iv., p. 282.

[358] "I have beheld, with deep interest, the fleet at Corfu. If ever it
sails upon those great enterprises of which you have spoken, in pity do
not forget me."--DESAIX to BUONAPARTE.

[359] "Menou, anxious to justify his conduct at Paris on the 13th
Vendêmiaire, entreated to be allowed to join the army of the
East."--THIBAUDEAU, tom. iv., p. 42.

[360] Las Cases, tom. i.

[361] Las Cases, tom. v., p. 58.

[362] "All that Sir Walter Scott says about the expedition to India is
not only exaggerated, but wide of the truth. It is not by the mere march
of an army across Egypt and Arabia that British India is likely to be
conquered, but by establishing and consolidating a French force in
Egypt, by opening the ancient communications by Suez, by multiplying the
relations between Egypt and India; and, in fine, by so augmenting the
French navy in the Mediterranean, that this sea shall become almost
inaccessible to the English squadrons."--LOUIS BUONAPARTE, p. 31.

[363] Mémoires pour servir à l'Histoire des Expéditions en Egypte et en
Syrie.--INTRODUCTION, p. 20.

[364] "It is an error to state, that the affair at Vienna inspired the
idea of abandoning the expedition. The contrary is proved by
Buonaparte's letters to Barraguay d'Hilliers, Desaix, and Admiral
Brueyes; to whom, on the 20th of April, he wrote: 'Some disturbances,
which have just happened at Vienna, require my presence for a few days
at Paris. This will in no way affect the expedition. I send an order, by
the present courier, for the troops at Marseilles to embark and repair
to Toulon. On the evening of the 30th I will send you instructions to
get on board, and depart with the squadron for Genoa, where I will join
you."--_Correspondence Inédite_, tom. v., p. 3; Thibaudeau, tom. iv., p.

[365] "Je promets à chaque soldat qu'au retour de cette expédition, il
aura à sa disposition de quoi acheter six arpens de terre."--_Moniteur_,
No. 242, May 21.

[366] "Napoleon said to one of the companions of his exile at St.
Helena, 'Malta certainly possessed immense physical, but no moral means
of resistance. The knights did nothing disgraceful. They could not hold
out against impossibility. No: but they yielded themselves. The
successful capture of Malta was assured, before the fleet quitted
Toulon.'"--BOURRIENNE, tom. ii., p. 65.

"The capture of Malta had been secured before Buonaparte left Toulon, by
the intrigues and largesses of Poussielque. These have been laid open by
the Bailli Teignie, and others, and made the subject of a formal
accusation against the Grand-master Hompesch, by the knights who had
taken refuge in Germany, Russia," &c.--_Intercepted Correspondence_,
part i., preface, p. vi.

"The sum awarded to the grand-master for his baseness was 600,000
francs. On quitting the island which he had not had the courage to
defend, he further disgraced himself by kissing the hand of the
conqueror who had despoiled him of his dominions."--THIBAUDEAU, tom.
iv., p. 96.

[367] "One of Napoleon's first acts at Malta was to set at liberty the
Turkish prisoners, and clear the disgusting galleys. This was a deed of
reason and humanity. His time was devoted to providing with equal
activity and talent for the administration and defence of the island.
His only relaxation was an occasional walk in the beautiful gardens of
the grand-master."--BOURRIENNE, tom. ii., p. 65.

[368] "During the whole voyage, Buonaparte passed the greater part of
his time below, in his cabin, reclining upon a couch, which, by a
ball-and-socket joint at each foot, rendered the ship's pitching less
perceptible, and consequently relieved the sickness from which he was
scarcely ever free. His remarkable saying to the pupils of a school
which he had one day visited, 'Young people, every hour of time lost is
a chance of misfortune for future life,' may be considered, in some
measure, as forming the rule of his own conduct. Perhaps no man ever
better understood the value of time. If the activity of his mind found
not wherewithal to exercise itself in reality, he supplied the defect by
giving free scope to imagination, or in listening to the conversation of
the learned men attached to the expedition. He delighted in discoursing
with Monge and Berthollet, when the discussion mostly ran upon
chemistry, mathematics, and religion, as also with Caffarelli, whose
conversation, rich in facts, was, at the same time, lively,
intellectual, and cheerful. At other times, he conversed with the
admiral, when the subject always related to naval manœuvres, of which
he showed great desire to obtain knowledge; and nothing more astonished
Brueyes, than the sagacity of his questions."--BOURRIENNE, tom. ii., p.

[369] Miot, p. 16.

[370] "On the 30th of June, Buonaparte had the following proclamation
printed on board the L'Orient, and issued it to the army:--'Soldiers!
You are going to undertake a conquest, the effects of which, upon
commerce and civilisation, will be incalculable. You will give the
English a most sensible blow, which will be followed up by their
destruction. We shall have some fatiguing marches--we shall fight
several battles--we shall succeed in all our enterprises. The destinies
are in our favour. The Mamelouc Beys, who favour the English commerce
exclusively, who have injured our merchants, and who tyrannize over the
unhappy inhabitants of the banks of the Nile, will no longer exist in a
few days after our arrival.

"'The people, among whom you are going to live, are Mahometans. The
first article of their faith is "There is no other God but God, and
Mahomet is his prophet." Do not contradict them. Act with them as you
did with the Jews and with the Italians. Treat their muftis and their
imans with respect, as you did the rabbis and the bishops. You must act
with the same spirit of toleration towards the ceremonies prescribed by
the Koran, that you did to the synagogues and the convents, to the
religions of Moses and of Jesus Christ. The Roman legions protected all
religions. You will find here customs which differ from those of Europe:
you must accustom yourselves to them.

"'The people among whom we are going, treat women differently from us;
but in every country, he who violates them is a monster. Pillage
enriches but a very few men: it dishonours us, it destroys our
resources, and it renders those our enemies whom it is our interest to
have for friends. The first city we shall arrive at was built by
Alexander, and every step we take we shall meet with objects capable of
exciting emulation.'"

[371] "Repulsed on every side, the Turks betake themselves to God and
their Prophet, and fill their mosques: Men, women, old, young, children
at the breast, all are massacred. At the end of four hours the fury of
our troops ceases."--ADJUTANT-GENERAL BOYER TO HIS
PARENTS.--_Intercepted Letters_, part i., p. 150.

[372] Jomini, tom. x., p. 402; Larrey, p. 7.

[373] "Alexandria was not given up to pillage, as repeatedly asserted.
This would have been a very absurd commencement of the conquest of
Egypt, in which there were no fortified places to intimidate by such an
example."--BOURRIENNE, tom. ii., p. 89.

[374] "The Mameloucs are an invincible race, inhabiting a burning
desert, mounted on the fleetest horses in the world, and full of
courage. They live with their wives and children in flying camps, which
are never pitched two nights together in the same place. They are
horrible savages, and yet they have some notion of gold and silver! a
small quantity of it serves to excite their admiration. Yes, my dear
brother, they love gold; they pass their lives in extorting it from such
Europeans as fall into their hands;--and for what purpose?--for
continuing the course of life which I have described, and for teaching
it to their children. O, Jean Jacques! why was it not thy fate to see
these men, whom thou call'st '_the men of nature_?'--thou wouldst sink
with shame, thou wouldst startle with horror at the thought of having
once admired them! Adieu, my dear brother. This climate kills me; we
shall be so altered, that you will discover the change at a league's
distance. Remember me to the _legislator_ Lucien. He might have sailed
with us to advantage; we see more in two days than common travellers in
two years."--LOUIS BUONAPARTE _to his brother_ JOSEPH, dated Alexandria,
July 6th; _Intercepted Correspondence_, part i., p. 8.

[375] See it in the Appendix to this volume, No. VII.

[376] "You will laugh outright, you witlings of Paris, at the Mahometan
proclamation of the commander-in-chief. He is proof, however, against
all your raillery; and the thing itself will certainly produce a most
surprising effect. You recollect that produced by the magic cry of
'Guerre aux chateaux, paix aux cabines!'"--JOUBERT _to_ GENERAL BRUIX;
_Intercepted Letters_, part i., p. 31.

"I send you the proclamation to the inhabitants of the country. It has
produced an effect altogether astonishing. The Bedouins, enemies of the
Mameloucs, and who, properly speaking, are neither more nor less than
intrepid robbers, sent us back, as soon as they had read it, thirty of
our people whom they had made prisoners, with an offer of their services
against the Mameloucs."--LOUIS BUONAPARTE; _Intercepted Correspondence_,
part i., p. 7

[377] "It would be difficult to describe the disgust, the discontent,
the melancholy, the despair of the army, on its first arrival in Egypt:
Napoleon himself saw two dragoons throw themselves into the Nile.--One
day, losing his temper, he rushed among a group of discontented
generals, and addressing himself to the tallest, 'You have held mutinous
language,' said he, with vehemence; 'it is not your being six feet high
that should save you from being shot in a couple of hours.'"--LAS CASES,
tom. i., p. 206.

[378] Jomini, tom. x., p. 407.

[379] Las Cases, tom. i., p. 210.

[380] Gourgaud, tom. ii., p. 243.

[381] "Pour toute harangue, Buonaparte leur addresse ces mots, qu'on
peut regarder comme le sublime de l'éloquence militaire.--'Soldats! vous
allez combattre aujourdhui les dominateurs de l'Egypte; songez que du
haut de ces Pyramides, quarante siècles vous contemplent!'"--LACRETELLE,
tom. xiv., p. 267.

[382] Gourgaud, tom. ii., p. 245; Miot, p. 50; Jomini, tom. x., p. 408;
Thibaudeau, tom. iv., p. 184; Larrey, p. 13.

[383] "About nine in the evening, Napoleon entered the country house of
Murad Bey at Gizeh. Such habitations bear no resemblance to our
_chateaux_. We found it difficult to make it serve for our lodging, and
to understand the distribution of the different apartments. But what
struck the officers, was a great quantity of cushions and divans covered
with the finest damasks and silks of Lyons, and ornamented with gold
fringe. The gardens were full of magnificent trees, but without alleys.
What most delighted the soldiers (for every one came to see the place,)
were great arbours of vines covered with the finest grapes in the world.
The vintage was soon over."--NAPOLEON, _Gourgaud_, tom. ii., p. 249.

[384] Buonaparte made his entry into Cairo on the 26th of July. On the
22d, he issued from Gizeh the following proclamation:--

"People of Cairo! I am satisfied with your conduct. You have done right
not to take any part against me: I am come to destroy the race of the
Mamelukes, and to protect the trade and the natives of the country. Let
all those who are under any fear be composed; and let those who have
quitted their houses return to them. Let prayers be offered up to-day,
as usual, for I wish that they may be always continued. Entertain no
fear for your families, your houses, your property, and, above all, the
religion of your Prophet, whom I love."


    _FRENCH FLEET--Conflicting Statements of Buonaparte and Admiral
    Gantheaume--BATTLE OF ABOUKIR on 1st August, 1798--The French
    Admiral, Brueyes, killed, and his Ship, L'Orient, blown up--The
    Victory complete--Effects of this disaster--Means by which
    Napoleon proposed to establish himself in Egypt--His
    Administration, in many respects, praiseworthy--in others, his
    Conduct absurd--He aspires to be regarded an Envoy of the
    Deity--His endeavours to propitiate the Porte--The Fort of El
    Arish falls into his hands--Massacre of Jaffa--Admitted by
    Buonaparte himself--His Arguments in its defence--Replies to
    them--General Conclusions--Plague in the French Army--Napoleon's
    Humanity and Courage upon this occasion--Proceeds against Acre
    to attack Djezzar Pacha--Sir Sidney Smith--His
    Character--Captures a French Convoy, and throws himself into
    Acre--French arrive before Acre on 17th March, 1799, and effect
    a breach on the 28th, but are driven back--Assaulted by an Army
    of Moslems assembled without the Walls of Acre, whom they defeat
    and disperse--Personal Misunderstanding and Hostility betwixt
    Napoleon and Sir Sidney Smith--Explained--Buonaparte is finally
    compelled to raise the Siege._

[Sidenote: FRENCH FLEET.]

When Buonaparte and his army were safely landed in Egypt, policy seemed
to demand that the naval squadron, by which they had been escorted,
should have been sent back to France as soon as possible. The French
leader accordingly repeatedly asserts, that he had positively commanded
Admiral Brueyes, an excellent officer, for whom he himself entertained
particular respect,[385] either to carry his squadron of men-of-war into
the harbour of Alexandria, or, that being found impossible, instantly to
set sail for Corfu. The harbour, by report of the Turkish pilots, was
greatly too shallow to admit without danger vessels of such a deep
draught of water; and it scarce can be questioned that Admiral Brueyes
would have embraced the alternative of setting sail for Corfu, had such
been in reality permitted by his orders. But the assertion of Buonaparte
is pointedly contradicted by the report of Vice-Admiral Gantheaume, who
was himself in the battle of Aboukir, escaped from the slaughter with
difficulty, and was intrusted by Buonaparte with drawing up the account
of the disaster, which he transmitted to the minister of war. "Perhaps
it may be said," so the despatch bears, "that it would have been
advisable to have quitted the coast as soon as the disembarkation had
taken place. But, _considering the orders of the commander-in-chief_,
and the incalculable force afforded to the land-army by the presence of
the squadron, the admiral thought it was his duty not to quit these

Looking at the matter more closely--considering the probability of
Nelson's return, and the consequent danger of the fleet--considering,
too, the especial interest which naval and military officers attach each
to their peculiar service, and the relative disregard with which they
contemplate the other, we can see several reasons why Buonaparte might
have wished, even at some risk, to detain the fleet on the coast of
Egypt, but not one which could induce Brueyes to continue there, not
only without the consent of the commander-in-chief, but, as Napoleon
afterwards alleged, against his express orders. It is one of the cases
in which no degree of liberality can enable us to receive the testimony
of Buonaparte, contradicted at once by circumstances, and by the
positive testimony of Gantheaume.

We now approach one of the most brilliant actions of the English navy,
achieved by the admiral whose exploits so indisputably asserted the
right of Britain to the dominion of the ocean. Our limits require that
we should state but briefly a tale, at which every heart in our islands
will long glow; and we are the more willingly concise that our readers
possess it at length in one of the best written popular histories in the
English language.[387]


Although unable to enter the harbour of Alexandria, the French admiral
believed his squadron safely moored in the celebrated bay of Aboukir.
They formed a compact line of battle, of a semicircular form, anchored
so close to the shoal-water and surf, that it was thought impossible to
get between them and the land; and they concluded, therefore, that they
could be brought to action on the starboard side only. On the 1st
August, the British fleet appeared; and Nelson had no sooner
reconnoitred the French position, than he resolved to force it at every
risk. Where the French ships could ride, he argued with instantaneous
decision, there must be room for English vessels to anchor between them
and the shore. He made signal for the attack accordingly. As the vessels
approached the French anchorage, they received a heavy and raking fire,
to which they could make no return; but they kept their bows to the
enemy, and continued to near their line. The squadrons were nearly of
the same numerical strength. The French had thirteen ships of the line,
and four frigates. The English, thirteen ships of the line, and one
fifty-gun ship. But the French had three eighty-gun ships, and L'Orient,
a superb vessel of one hundred and twenty guns. All the British were
seventy-fours. The van of the English fleet, six in number, rounded
successively the French line, and dropping anchor betwixt them and the
shore, opened a tremendous fire. Nelson himself, and his other vessels,
ranged along the same French ships on the outer side, and thus placed
them betwixt two fires; while the rest of the French line remained for a
time unable to take a share in the combat. The battle commenced with the
utmost fury, and lasted till, the sun having set and the night fallen,
there was no light by which the combat could be continued, save the
flashes of the continuous broadsides. Already, however, some of the
French vessels were taken, and the victors, advancing onwards, assailed
those which had not yet been engaged.

Meantime, a broad and dreadful light was thrown on the scene of action,
by the breaking out of a conflagration on board the French admiral's
flag-ship, L'Orient. Brueyes himself had by this time fallen by a
cannon-shot.[388] The flames soon mastered the immense vessel, where
the carnage was so terrible as to prevent all attempts to extinguish
them; and the L'Orient remained blazing like a volcano in the middle of
the combat, rendering for a time the dreadful spectacle visible.

At length, and while the battle continued as furious as ever, the
burning vessel blew up with so tremendous an explosion, that for a while
it silenced the fire on both sides, and made an awful pause in the midst
of what had been but lately so horrible a tumult.[389] The cannonade was
at first slowly and partially resumed, but ere midnight it raged with
all its original fury. In the morning, the only two French ships who had
their colours flying, cut their cables and put to sea, accompanied by
two frigates; being all that remained undestroyed and uncaptured, of the
gallant navy that so lately escorted Buonaparte and his fortunes in
triumph across the Mediterranean.

Such was the Victory of Aboukir, for which he who achieved it felt that
word was inadequate. He called it a conquest. The advantages of the day,
great as they were, might have been pushed much farther, if Nelson had
been possessed of frigates and small craft. The store-ships and
transports in the harbour of Alexandria would then have been infallibly
destroyed. As it was, the results were of the utmost importance, and the
destinies of the French army were altered in proportion. They had no
longer any means of communicating with the mother-country, but became
the inhabitants of an insulated province, obliged to rely exclusively on
the resources which they had brought with them, joined to those which
Egypt might afford.

Buonaparte, however surprised by this reverse, exhibited great
equanimity. Three thousand French seamen, the remainder of nearly six
thousand engaged in that dreadful battle, were sent ashore by cartel,
and formed a valuable addition to his forces. Nelson, more grieved
almost at being frustrated of his complete purpose, than rejoiced at his
victory, left the coast after establishing a blockade on the port of

We are now to trace the means by which Napoleon proposed to establish
and consolidate his government in Egypt; and in these we can recognise
much that was good and excellent, mixed with such irregularity of
imagination, as vindicates the term of Jupiter Scapin, by which the Abbé
de Pradt distinguished this extraordinary man.[390]


His first care was to gather up the reins of government, such as they
were, which had dropt from the hands of the defeated beys. With two
classes of the Egyptian nation it was easy to establish his authority.
The Fellahs, or peasantry, sure to be squeezed to the last penny by one
party or other, willingly submitted to the invaders as the strongest,
and the most able to protect them. The Cophts, or men of business, were
equally ready to serve the party which was in possession of the country.
So that the French became the masters of both, as a natural consequence
of the power which they had obtained.

But the Turks were to be attached to the conqueror by other means, since
their haughty national character, and the intolerance of the Mahometan
religion rendered them alike inaccessible to profit, the hope of which
swayed the Cophts, and to fear, which was the prevailing argument with
the Fellahs. To gratify their vanity, and soothe their prejudices,
seemed the only mode by which Napoleon could insinuate himself into the
favour of this part of the population. With this view, Buonaparte was
far from assuming a title of conquest in Egypt, though he left few of
its rights unexercised. On the contrary, he wisely continued to admit
the pacha to that ostensible share of authority which was yielded to him
by the beys, and spoke with as much seeming respect of the Sublime
Porte, as if it had been his intention ever again to permit their having
any effective power in Egypt. Their imaums, or priests; their ulemats,
or men of law; their cadis, or judges; their sheiks, or chiefs; their
Janissaries, or privileged soldiers, were all treated by Napoleon with a
certain degree of attention, and the Sultan Kebir, as they called him,
affected to govern, like the Grand Signior, by the intervention of a

This general council consisted of about forty sheiks, or Moslems of
distinction by birth or office, who held their regular meetings at
Cairo, and from which body emanated the authority of provincial divans,
established in the various departments of Egypt. Napoleon affected to
consult the superior council, and act in many cases according to their
report of the law of the Prophet. On one occasion, he gave them a moral
lesson which it would be great injustice to suppress. A tribe of roving
Arabs had slain a peasant, and Buonaparte had given directions to search
out and punish the murderers. One of his Oriental counsellors laughed at
the zeal which the general manifested on so slight a cause.

"What have you to do with the death of this Fellah, Sultan Kebir?" said
he, ironically; "was he your kinsman?"

"He was more," said Napoleon; "he was one for whose safety I am
accountable to God, who placed him under my government."

"He speaks like an inspired person!" exclaimed the sheiks; who can
admire the beauty of a just sentiment, though incapable, from the scope
they allow their passions, to act up to the precepts of moral rectitude.

Thus far the conduct of Buonaparte was admirable. He protected the
people who were placed under his power, he respected their religious
opinions, he administered justice to them according to their own laws,
until they should be supplied with a better system of legislation.
Unquestionably, his good administration did not amend the radical
deficiency of his title; it was still chargeable against him, that he
had invaded the dominions of the most ancient ally of France, at a time
when there was the most profound peace between the countries. Yet in
delivering Egypt from the tyrannical sway of the Mamelukes, and
administering the government of the country with wisdom and comparative
humanity, the mode in which he used the power which he had acquired,
might be admitted in some measure to atone for his usurpation. Not
contented with directing his soldiers to hold in respect the religious
observances of the country, he showed equal justice and policy in
collecting and protecting the scattered remains of the great caravan of
the Mecca pilgrimage, which had been plundered by the Mamelukes on their
retreat. So satisfactory was his conduct to the Moslem divines, that he
contrived to obtain from the clergy of the Mosque an opinion, declaring
that it was lawful to pay tribute to the French, though such a doctrine
is diametrically inconsistent with the Koran. Thus far Napoleon's
measures had proved rational and successful. But with this laudable
course of conduct was mixed a species of artifice, which, while we are
compelled to term it impious, has in it, at the same time, something
ludicrous, and almost childish.

Buonaparte entertained the strange idea of persuading the Moslems that
he himself pertained in some sort to their religion, being an envoy of
the Deity, sent on earth, not to take away, but to confirm and complete,
the doctrines of the Koran, and the mission of Mahomet.[391] He used, in
executing this purpose, the inflated language of the East, the more
easily that it corresponded, in its allegorical and amplified style,
with his own natural tone of composition; and he hesitated not to join
in the external ceremonial of the Mahometan religion, that his actions
might seem to confirm his words. The French general celebrated the feast
of the prophet as it recurred, with some sheik of eminence, and joined
in the litanies and worship enjoined by the Koran. He affected, too, the
language of an inspired follower of the faith of Mecca, of which the
following is a curious example.

On entering the sepulchral chamber in the pyramid of Cheops, "Glory be
to Allah," said Buonaparte, "There is no God but God, and Mahomet is his
prophet." A confession of faith which is in itself a declaration of

"Thou hast spoken like the most learned of the prophets," said the
mufti, who accompanied him.

"I can command a car of fire to descend from heaven," continued the
French general, "and I can guide and direct its course upon earth."

"Thou art the great chief to whom Mahomet gives power and victory," said
the mufti.

Napoleon closed the conversation with this not very pertinent Oriental
proverb, "The bread which the wicked seizes upon by force, shall be
turned to dust in his mouth."[392]

Though the mufti played his part in the above scene with becoming
gravity, Buonaparte over-estimated his own theatrical powers, and did
too little justice to the shrewdness of the Turks, if he supposed them
really edified by his pretended proselytism. With them as with us, a
renegade from the religious faith in which he was brought up, is like a
deserter from the standard of his country; and though the services of
either may be accepted and used, they remain objects of disregard and
contempt, as well with those to whose service they have deserted, as
with the party whom they have abandoned.


The Turks and Arabs of Cairo soon afterwards showed Buonaparte, by a
general and unexpected insurrection, [October 22,] in which many
Frenchmen were slain, how little they were moved by his pretended
attachment to their faith, and how cordially they considered him as
their enemy. Yet, when the insurgents had been quelled by force, and the
blood of five thousand Moslems had atoned for that of three hundred
Frenchmen, Napoleon, in an address to the inhabitants of Cairo,
new-modelling the general council or divan, held still the same language
as before of himself and his destinies. "Sheriffs," he said, "Ulemats,
Orators of the Mosque, teach the people that those who become my enemies
shall have no refuge in this world or the next. Is there any one not
blind enough to see, that I am the agent of Destiny, or incredulous
enough to call in question the power of Destiny over human affairs? Make
the people understand, that since the world was a world, it was
ordained, that having destroyed the enemies of Islamism, and broken down
the Cross,[393] I should come from the West to accomplish the task
designed for me--show them, that in more than twenty passages of the
Koran my coming is foretold. I could demand a reckoning from each of you
for the most secret thoughts of his soul, since to me everything is
known; but the day will come when all shall know from whom I have my
commission, and that human efforts cannot prevail against me."

It is plain from this strange proclamation, that Buonaparte was willing
to be worshipped as a superior being, as soon as altars could be built,
and worshippers collected together. But the Turks and Arabs were wiser
than the Persians in the case of young Ammon. The Sheik of Alexandria,
who affected much devotion to Buonaparte's person, came roundly to the
point with him. He remarked the French observed no religious worship.
"Why not, therefore," he said, "declare yourself Moslem at once, and
remove the only obstacle betwixt you and the throne of the East?"
Buonaparte objected the prohibition of wine, and the external rite which
Mahomet adopted from the Jewish religion. The officious sheik proposed
to call a council of the Moslem sages, and procure for the new
proselytes some relaxation of these fundamental laws of the Prophet's
faith. According to this hopeful plan, the Moslems must have ceased to
be such in two principal articles of their ritual, in order to induce
the French to become a kind of imperfect renegades, rejecting, in the
prohibition of wine, the only peculiar guard which Mahomet assigned to
the moral virtue of his follower's, while they embraced the degrading
doctrine of fatality, the licentious practice of polygamy, and the
absurd chimeras of the Koran.

Napoleon appears to have believed the sheik serious, which is very
doubtful, and to have contemplated with eager ambition the extent of
views which his conversion to Islamism appeared to open. His own belief
in predestination recommended the creed of Mahomet, and for the Prophet
of Mecca himself he had a high respect, as one of those who had wrought
a great and enduring change on the face of the world.[394] Perhaps he
envied the power which Mahomet possessed, of ruling over men's souls as
well as their bodies, and might thence have been led into the idea of
playing a part, to which time and circumstances, the character of his
army and his own, were alike opposed. No man ever succeeded in imposing
himself on the public as a supernatural personage, who was not, to a
certain degree, the dupe of his own imposture; and Napoleon's
calculating and reflecting mind was totally devoid of the enthusiasm
which enables a man to cheat himself into at least a partial belief of
the deceit which he would impose on others. The French soldiers, on the
other hand, bred in scorn of religion of every description, would have
seen nothing but ridicule in the pretensions of their leader to a
supernatural mission; and in playing the character which Alexander
ventured to personate, Buonaparte would have found in his own army many
a Clitus, who would have considered his pretensions as being only
ludicrous. He himself, indeed, expressed himself satisfied that his
authority over his soldiers was so absolute, that it would have cost but
giving it out in the order of the day to have made them all become
Mahometans; but, at the same time, he has acquainted us, that the French
troops were at times so much discontented with their condition in Egypt,
that they formed schemes of seizing on their standards, and returning to
France by force. What reply, it may be reasonably asked, were they
likely to make to a proposal, which would have deprived them of their
European and French character, and levelled them with Africans and
Asiatics, whose persons they despised, and whose country they desired to
leave? It is likely, that reflections on the probable consequences
prevented his going farther than the vague pretensions which he
announced in his proclamations, and in his language to the sheiks. He
had gone far enough, however, to show, that the considerations of
conscience would have been no hinderance; and that, notwithstanding the
strength of his understanding, common sense had less influence than
might have been expected, in checking his assertion of claims so
ludicrous as well as so profane. Indeed, his disputes with the Ottoman
Porte speedily assumed a character, which his taking the turban and
professing himself a Moslem in all the forms, could not have altered to
his advantage.

[Sidenote: OTTOMAN PORTE.]

It had been promised to Buonaparte, that the abilities of Talleyrand, as
minister of foreign affairs, should be employed to reconcile the Grand
Signior and his counsellors to the occupation of Egypt.[395] But the
efforts of that able negotiator had totally failed in a case so
evidently hopeless; and if Talleyrand had even proceeded to
Constantinople, as Napoleon alleged the Directory had promised, it could
only have been to be confined in the Seven Towers. The Porte had long
since declared, that any attack upon Egypt, the road to the holy cities
of Mecca and Medina, would be considered as a declaration of war,
whatever pretexts might be alleged. They regarded, therefore,
Buonaparte's invasion as an injury equally unprovoked and unjustifiable.
They declared war against France, called upon every follower of the
Prophet to take the part of his vicegerent upon earth, collected forces,
and threatened an immediate expedition, for the purpose of expelling the
infidels from Egypt. The success of the British at Aboukir increased
their confidence. Nelson was loaded with every mark of honour which the
Sultan could bestow, and the most active preparations were made to act
against Buonaparte, equally considered as enemy to the Porte, whether he
professed himself Christian, infidel, or renegade.

Meantime, that adventurous and active chief was busied in augmenting his
means of defence or conquest, and in acquiring the information necessary
to protect what he had gained, and to extend his dominions. For the
former purpose, corps were raised from among the Egyptians, and some
were mounted upon dromedaries, the better to encounter the perils of the
desert. For the latter, Buonaparte undertook a journey to the Isthmus of
Suez, the well-known interval which connects Asia with Africa. He
subscribed the charter, or protection, granted to the Maronite Monks of
Sinai, with the greater pleasure, that the signature of Mahomet had
already sanctioned that ancient document. He visited the celebrated
fountains of Moses, and, misled by a guide, had nearly been drowned in
the advancing tides of the Red Sea.[396] This, he observes, would have
furnished a splendid text to all the preachers in Europe.[397] But the
same Deity, who had rendered the gulf fatal to Pharaoh, had reserved for
one, who equally defied and disowned his power, the rocks of an island
in the midst of the Atlantic.

[Sidenote: Feb. 17.]

When Napoleon was engaged in this expedition, or speedily on his return,
he learned that two Turkish armies had assembled, one at Rhodes, and the
other in Syria, with the purpose of recovering Egypt. The daring genius,
which always desired to anticipate the attempts of the enemy, determined
him to march with a strong force for the occupation of Syria, and thus
at once to alarm the Turks by the progress which he expected to make in
that province, and to avoid being attacked in Egypt by two Turkish
armies at the same time. His commencement was as successful as his
enterprise was daring. A body of Mamelukes was dispersed by a night
attack. The fort of El Arish, considered as one of the keys of Egypt,
fell easily into his hands. Finally, at the head of about ten thousand
men, he traversed the desert, so famous in biblical history, which
separates Africa from Asia, and entered Palestine without much loss, but
not without experiencing the privations to which the wanderers in those
sandy wastes have been uniformly subjected. While the soldiers looked
with fear on the howling wilderness which they saw around,[398] there
was something in the extent and loneliness of the scene that
corresponded with the swelling soul of Napoleon, and accommodated itself
to his ideas of immense and boundless space. He was pleased with the
flattery, which derived his Christian name from two Greek words,
signifying the Lion of the Desert.


Upon his entering the Holy Land, Buonaparte again drove before him a
body of the Mamelukes, belonging to those who, after the battles of the
Pyramids and of Salahieh, had retreated into Syria; and his army
occupied without resistance Gaza, anciently a city of the Philistines,
in which they found supplies of provisions. Jaffa, a celebrated city
during the time of the Crusades, was the next object of attack. It was
bravely assaulted, and fiercely defended. But the French valour and
discipline prevailed--the place was carried by storm--three thousand
Turks were put to the sword, and the town was abandoned to the license
of the soldiery, which, by Buonaparte's own admission, never assumed a
shape more frightful.[399] Such, it may be said, is the stern rule of
war; and if so, most of our readers will acquiesce in the natural
exclamation of the Maréchal de Montluc, "Certes, we soldiers stand in
more need of the Divine mercy than other men, seeing that our profession
compels us to command and to witness deeds of such cruelty." It was not,
however, to the ordinary horrors attending the storm of a town, that the
charge against Buonaparte is on this occasion limited. He is accused of
having been guilty of an action of great injustice, as well as of
especial barbarity. Concerning this we shall endeavour to state,
stripped of colouring and exaggeration, first the charge, and then the
reply, of Napoleon himself.

After the breach had been stormed, a large part of the garrison,
estimated by Buonaparte himself at twelve hundred men, which Miot[400]
raises to betwixt two and three thousand, and others exaggerate still
more, remained on the defensive, and held out in the mosques, and a sort
of citadel to which they had retreated, till, at length, despairing of
succour, they surrendered their arms, and were in appearance admitted to
quarter. Of this body, the Egyptians were carefully separated from the
Turks, Maugrabins, and Arnaouts; and while the first were restored to
liberty, and sent back to their country, these last were placed under a
strong guard. Provisions were distributed to them, and they were
permitted to go by detachments in quest of water. According to all
appearance they were considered and treated as prisoners of war. This
was on the 7th of March. On the 9th, two days afterwards, this body of
prisoners were marched out of Jaffa, in the centre of a large square
battalion, commanded by General Bon. Miot assures us, that he himself
mounted his horse, accompanied the melancholy column, and witnessed the
event. The Turks foresaw their fate, but used neither entreaties nor
complaints to avert it. They marched on, silent and composed. Some of
them, of higher rank, seemed to exhort the others to submit, like
servants of the Prophet, to the decree, which, according to their
belief, was written on their forehead. They were escorted to the
sand-hills to the south east of Jaffa, divided there into small bodies,
and put to death by musketry. The execution lasted a considerable time,
and the wounded, as in the _fusillades_ of the Revolution, were
despatched with the bayonet. Their bodies were heaped together, and
formed a pyramid which is still visible, consisting now of human bones
as originally of bloody corpses.

The cruelty of this execution occasioned the fact itself to be doubted,
though coming with strong evidence, and never denied by the French
themselves. Napoleon, however, frankly admitted the truth of the
statement both to Lord Ebrington and to Dr. O'Meara.[401] Well might the
author of this cruelty write to the Directory, that the storming of
Jaffa was marked by horrors which he had never elsewhere witnessed.
Buonaparte's defence was, that the massacre was justified by the laws of
war--that the head of his messenger had been cut off by the governor of
Jaffa, when sent to summon him to surrender--that these Turks were a
part of the garrison of El Arish, who had engaged not to serve against
the French, and were found immediately afterwards defending Jaffa, in
breach of the terms of their capitulation. They had incurred the doom of
death, therefore, by the rules of war--Wellington, he said, would have,
in his place, acted in the same manner.

To this plea the following obvious answers apply. If the Turkish
governor had behaved like a barbarian, for which his country, and the
religion which Napoleon meditated to embrace, might be some excuse, the
French general had avenged himself by the storm and plunder of the town,
with which his revenge ought, in all reason, to have been satisfied. If
some of these unhappy Turks had broken their faith to Buonaparte, and
were found again in the ranks which they had sworn to abandon, it could
not, according to the most severe construction of the rules of war,
authorise the dreadful retaliation of indiscriminate massacre upon a
multitude of prisoners, without inquiring whether they had been all
equally guilty. Lastly, and admitting them all to stand in the same
degree of criminality, although their breach of faith might have
entitled Buonaparte to refuse these men quarter while they had arms in
their hands, that right was ended when the French general received their
submission, and when they had given up the mean of defence, on condition
of safety for life at least.[402]

This bloody deed must always remain a deep stain on the character of
Napoleon. Yet we do not view it as the indulgence of an innate love of
cruelty; for nothing in Buonaparte's history shows the existence of that
vice, and there are many things which intimate his disposition to have
been naturally humane. But he was ambitious, aimed at immense and
gigantic undertakings, and easily learned to overlook the waste of human
life, which the execution of his projects necessarily involved. He seems
to have argued, not on the character of the action, but solely on the
effect which it was to produce upon his own combinations. His army was
small; it was his business to strike terror into his numerous enemies,
and the measure to be adopted seemed capable of making a deep
impression on all who should hear of it. Besides, these men, if
dismissed, would immediately rejoin his enemies. He had experienced
their courage, and to disarm them would have been almost an unavailing
precaution, where their national weapon, the sabre, was so easily
attained. To detain them prisoners would have required a stronger force
than Napoleon could afford, would have added difficulty and delay to the
movement of his troops, and tended to exhaust his supplies. That sort of
necessity, therefore, which men fancy to themselves when they are
unwilling to forego a favourite object for the sake of obeying a moral
precept--that necessity which might be more properly termed a temptation
difficult to be resisted--that necessity which has been called the
tyrant's plea, was the cause of the massacre at Jaffa, and must remain
its sole apology.

It might almost seem that Heaven set its vindictive brand upon this deed
of butchery; for about the time it was committed the plague broke out in
the army. Buonaparte, with a moral courage deserving as much praise as
his late cruelty deserved reprobation, went into the hospitals in
person, and while exposing himself, without hesitation, to the
infection, diminished the terror of the disease in the opinion of the
soldiers generally, and even of the patients themselves, who were thus
enabled to keep up their spirits, and gained by doing so the fairest
chance of recovery.[403]


Meanwhile, determined to prosecute the conquest of Syria, Buonaparte
resolved to advance to Saint Jean d'Acre so celebrated in the wars of
Palestine. The Turkish Pacha, or governor of Syria, who, like others in
his situation, accounted himself almost an independent sovereign, was
Achmet; who, by his unrelenting cruelties and executions, had procured
the terrible distinction of Djezzar, or the Butcher. Buonaparte
addressed this formidable chief in two letters, offering his alliance,
and threatening him with his vengeance if it should be rejected.[404] To
neither did the pacha return any answer; in the second instance he put
to death the messenger. The French general advanced against Acre, vowing
revenge. There were, however, obstacles to the success of his
enterprise, on which he had not calculated.

The pacha had communicated the approach of Napoleon to Sir Sidney Smith,
to whom had been committed the charge of assisting the Turks in their
proposed expedition to Egypt, and who, for that purpose, was cruising in
the Levant. He hastened to sail for Acre with the Tigre and Theseus,
ships of the line; and arriving there two days ere the French made their
appearance, contributed greatly to place the town, the fortifications of
which were on the old Gothic plan, in a respectable state of defence.

Sir Sidney Smith, who so highly distinguished himself on this occasion,
had been long celebrated for the most intrepid courage, and spirit of
enterprise. His character was, besides, marked by those traits of
enthusiasm at which cold and vulgar minds are apt to sneer, because
incapable of understanding them; yet without which great and honourable
actions have rarely been achieved. He had also a talent, uncommon among
the English, that of acting easily with foreign, and especially with
barbarous troops, and understanding how to make their efforts availing
for the service of the common cause, though exerted in a manner
different from those of civilized nations. This brave officer having
been frequently intrusted with the charge of alarming the French coast,
had been taken on one occasion, and, contrary to the laws of nations,
and out of a mean spirit of revenge, was imprisoned in the Temple, from
which he was delivered by a daring stratagem, effected by the French
Royalist party. He had not been many hours at Acre, when Providence
afforded him a distinguished mark of favour. The Theseus, which had been
detached to intercept any French vessels that might be attending on
Buonaparte's march, detected a small flotilla stealing under Mount
Carmel, and had the good fortune to make prize of seven out of nine of
them. They were a convoy from Damietta, bound for Acre, having on board
heavy cannon, platforms, ammunition, and other necessary articles. These
cannon and military stores, destined to form the siege of Acre, became
eminently useful in its defence, and the consequence of their capture
was eventually decisive of the struggle. General Philippeaux, a French
royalist, and officer of engineers, immediately applied himself to place
the cannon thus acquired, to the amount of betwixt thirty and forty,
upon the walls which they had been intended to destroy. This officer,
who had been Buonaparte's school-fellow, and the principal agent in
delivering Sir Sidney Smith from prison, possessed rare talents in his
profession. Thus strangely met under the walls of Acre, an English
officer, late a prisoner in the Temple of Paris, and a French colonel of
engineers, with the late general of the army of Italy, the ancient
companion of Philippeaux,[405] and about to become almost the personal
enemy of Smith.

[Sidenote: SIEGE OF ACRE.]

On the 17th March, the French came in sight of Acre, which is built on a
peninsula advancing into the sea, and so conveniently situated that
vessels can lie near the shore, and annoy with their fire whatever
advances to assault the fortification. Notwithstanding the presence of
two British ships of war, and the disappointment concerning his
battering cannon, which were now pointed against him from the ramparts,
Buonaparte, with a characteristic perseverance, which, on such an
occasion, was pushed into obstinacy, refused to abandon his purpose, and
proceeded to open trenches, although the guns which he had to place in
them were only twelve pounders. The point of attack was a large tower
which predominated over the rest of the fortifications. A mine at the
same time was run under the extreme defences.

By the 28th March a breach was effected, the mine was sprung, and the
French proceeded to the assault upon that day. They advanced at the
charging step, under a murderous fire from the walls, but had the
mortification to find a deep ditch betwixt them and the tower. They
crossed it, nevertheless, by help of the scaling-ladders which they
carried with them, and forced their way as far as the tower, from which
it is said that the defenders, impressed by the fate of Jaffa, were
beginning to fly. They were checked by the example of Djezzar himself,
who fired his own pistols at the French, and upbraided the Moslems who
were retreating from the walls. The defences were again manned; the
French, unable to support the renewed fire, were checked and forced
back; and the Turks falling upon them in their retreat with sabre in
hand, killed a number of their best men, and Mailly, who commanded the
party. Sorties were made from the place to destroy the French works; and
although the cries with which the Turks carry on their military
manœuvres gave the alarm to the enemy, yet, assisted by a detachment
of British seamen, they did the French considerable damage, reconnoitred
the mine which they were forming anew, and obtained the knowledge of its
direction necessary to prepare a counter-mine.

While the strife was thus fiercely maintained on both sides, with mutual
loss and increased animosity, the besiegers were threatened with other
dangers. An army of Moslem troops of various nations, but all actuated
by the same religious zeal, had formed themselves in the mountains of
Samaria, and uniting with them the warlike inhabitants of that country,
now called Naplous, formed the plan of attacking the French army lying
before Acre on one side, while Djezzar and his allies should assail them
upon the other. Kleber, with his division, was despatched by Buonaparte
to disperse this assemblage. But though he obtained considerable
advantages over detached parties of the Syrian army, their strength was
so disproportioned, that at last, while he held a position near Mount
Tabor, with two or three thousand men, he was surrounded by about ten
times his own number. But his general-in-chief was hastening to his
assistance. Buonaparte left two divisions to keep the trenches before
Acre, and penetrated into the country in three columns. Murat, at the
head of a fourth, occupied the pass called Jacob's Bridge. The attack,
made on various points, was every where successful. The camp of the
Syrian army was taken; their defeat, almost their dispersion, was
accomplished, while their scattered remains fled to Damascus. Buonaparte
returned, crowned with laurels, to the siege of Acre.

Here, too, the arrival of thirty heavy pieces of cannon from Jaffa
seemed to promise that success, which the French had as yet been unable
to attain. It was about this time that, walking on the Mount which still
retains the name of Richard Cœur de Lion, Buonaparte expressed
himself to Murat in these terms, as he pointed to Saint Jean
D'Acre:--"The fate of the East depends upon yonder petty town. Its
conquest will ensure the main object of my expedition, and Damascus will
be the first fruit of it."[406] Thus it would seem, that, while engaged
in the enterprise, Buonaparte held the same language, which he did many
years after its failure when at St. Helena.

Repeated and desperate assaults proved, that the consequence which he
attached to taking Acre was as great as his words expressed. The
assailants suffered severely on these occasions, for they were exposed
to the fire of two ravelins, or external fortifications, which had been
constructed under Philippeaux's directions, and at the same time
enfiladed by the fire of the British shipping. At length, employing to
the uttermost the heavy artillery now in his possession, Buonaparte, in
spite of a bloody and obstinate opposition, forced his way to the
disputed tower, and made a lodgment on the second story. It afforded,
however, no access to the town; and the troops remained there as in a
_cul-de-sac_, the lodgment being covered from the English and Turkish
fire by a work constructed partly of packs of cotton, partly of the dead
bodies of the slain, built up along with them.

At this critical moment, a fleet, bearing reinforcements long hoped for
and much needed, appeared in view of the garrison. They contained
Turkish troops under the command of Hassan Bey. Yet near as they were,
the danger was imminent that Acre might be taken ere they could land. To
prevent such a misfortune, Sir Sidney Smith in person proceeded to the
disputed tower, at the head of a body of British seamen, armed with
pikes. They united themselves to a corps of brave Turks, who defended
the breach rather with heavy stones than with other weapons. The heap of
ruins which divided the contending parties served as a breast-work to
both. The muzzles of the muskets touched each other, and the spear-heads
of the standards were locked together. At this moment one of the Turkish
regiments of Hassan's army, which had by this time landed, made a sortie
upon the French; and though they were driven back, yet the diversion
occasioned the besiegers to be forced from their lodgment.

Abandoning the ill-omened tower, which had cost the besiegers so many
men, Buonaparte now turned his efforts towards a considerable breach
that had been effected in the curtain, and which promised a more easy
entrance. It proved, indeed, but too easy; for Djezzar Pacha opposed to
the assault on this occasion a new mode of tactics. Confiding in his
superior numbers, he suffered the French, who were commanded by the
intrepid General Lannes, to surmount the breach without opposition, by
which they penetrated into the body of the place. They had no sooner
entered, than a numerous body of Turks mingled among them with loud
shouts; and ere they had time or room to avail themselves of their
discipline, brought them into that state of close fighting, where
strength and agility are superior to every other acquirement. The Turks,
wielding the sabre in one hand, and the poniard in the other, cut to
pieces almost all the French who had entered. General Rambaud lay a
headless corpse in the breach--Lannes was with difficulty brought off
severely wounded. The Turks gave no quarter; and instantly cutting the
heads off of those whom they slew, carried them to the pacha, who sat in
public distributing money to those who brought him these bloody
trophies, which now lay piled in heaps around him. This was the sixth
assault upon these tottering and blood-stained ramparts. "Victory," said
Napoleon, "is to the most persevering;"[407] and contrary to the advice
of Kleber, he resolved upon another and yet more desperate attack.

On the 21st May the final effort was made. The attack of the morning
failed, and Colonel Veneux renewed it at mid-day. "Be assured," said he
to Buonaparte, "Acre shall be yours to-night, or Veneux will die on the
breach."[408] He kept his word at the cost of his life. Bon was also
slain, whose division had been the executioners of the garrison of
Jaffa. The French now retreated, dispirited and despairing of success.
The contest had been carried on at half a musket shot distance; and the
bodies of the dead lying around, putrified under the burning sun, spread
disease among the survivors. An attempt was made to establish a
suspension of arms for removing this horrible annoyance. Miot says that
the pacha returned no answer to the proposal of the French. According to
Sir Sidney Smith's official reports, the armistice for this humane
purpose was actually agreed on, but broken off by the French firing upon
those who were engaged in the melancholy office, and then rushing on to
make their last unsuccessful charge and assault upon the breach. This
would have been a crime so useless, and would have tended so much to the
inconvenience of the French themselves, that we cannot help suspecting
some misunderstanding had occurred, and that the interruption was under
a wrong conception of the purpose of the working party.

This is the more probable, as Sir Sidney Smith, who reports the
circumstance, was not at this time disposed to put the best construction
on any action of Buonaparte's, who, on the other hand, regarded the
British seamen with peculiar dislike, and even malignity. The cause of
personal quarrel betwixt them was rather singular.

Buonaparte had addressed the subjects of Achmet Djezzar's pachalik, in
terms inviting them to revolt, and join the French; yet was much
offended when, imitating his own policy, the pacha and Sir Sidney Smith
caused letters to be sent into his camp before Acre, urging his soldiers
to mutiny and desertion. Sir Sidney also published a proclamation to the
Druses, and other inhabitants of the country, calling on them to trust
the faith of a Christian knight, rather than that of an unprincipled
renegado. Nettled at these insults, Buonaparte declared that the English
commodore was mad; and, according to his account, Sir Sidney replied by
sending him a challenge. The French general scornfully refused this
invitation, unless the challenger would bring Marlborough to meet him,
but offered to send one of his grenadiers to indulge the Englishman's
desire of single combat. The good taste of the challenge may be doubted,
if indeed such was ever sent; but the scorn of the reply ought to have
been mitigated, considering it was addressed to one, in consequence of
whose dauntless and determined opposition Buonaparte's favourite object
had failed, and who was presently to compel him, for the first time, to
an inglorious retreat.

Another calumny, circulated by Buonaparte against the English commodore,
was, that Sir Sidney Smith had endeavoured to expose his French
prisoners to the infection of the plague, by placing them in vessels
where that dreadful contagion prevailed. This charge had no other
foundation, than in Buonaparte's wish, by spreading such a scandal, to
break off all communication between the commodore and the discontented
of his own army. After the heat excited by their angry collision had
long subsided, it is amusing to find Napoleon, when in the island of
Saint Helena, declaring, that his opinion of Sir Sidney Smith was
altered for the better, since he had become acquainted with the rest of
his countrymen, and that he now considered him as a worthy sort of
man--for an Englishman.


The siege of Acre had now continued sixty days since the opening of the
trenches. The besiegers had marched no less than eight times to the
assault, while eleven desperate sallies were evidence of the obstinacy
of the defence. Several of the best French generals were killed; among
the rest Caffarelli,[409] for whom Buonaparte had particular esteem;
and the army was greatly reduced by the sword and the plague, which
raged at once among their devoted bands. Retreat became inevitable. Yet
Buonaparte endeavoured to give it such a colouring as might make the
measure seem voluntary. Sometimes he announced that his purpose of going
to Acre was sufficiently accomplished when he had battered down the
palace of the pacha; at other times he affirmed he had left the whole
town a heap of ruins; and finally, he informed the Directory that he
could easily have taken the place, but the plague being raging within
its walls, and it being impossible to prevent the troops from seizing on
infected clothes for part of their booty, he had rather declined the
capture of Acre, than run the risk of introducing this horrid malady
among his soldiers. What his real feelings must have been, while
covering his chagrin with such flimsy pretexts, may be conjectured from
the following frank avowal to his attendants in Saint Helena. Speaking
of the dependence of the most important affairs on the most trivial, he
remarks, that the mistake of the captain of a frigate, who bore away,
instead of forcing his passage to the place of his destination, had
prevented the face of the world from being totally changed. "Acre," he
said, "would otherwise have been taken--the French army would have flown
to Damascus and Aleppo--in a twinkling of an eye they would have been on
the Euphrates--the Syrian Christians would have joined us--the Druses,
the Armenians would have united with us."--Some one replied, "We might
have been reinforced to the number of a hundred thousand men."--"Say six
hundred thousand," said the Emperor; "who can calculate the amount? I
would have reached Constantinople and the Indies--I would have changed
the face of the world."[410]


[385] In a letter published in the _Moniteur_, No. 90, December 20,
1797, Buonaparte expresses the highest sense of Admiral Brueyes'
firmness and talent, as well as of the high order in which he kept the
squadron under his command; and concludes by saying, he had bestowed on
him, in the name of the directory, a spy-glass of the best construction
which Italy afforded.--S.

[386] Intercepted Letters, part i., p. 219.

[387] Mr. Southey's "Life of Admiral Nelson;" in which one of the most
distinguished men of genius and learning whom our age has produced, has
recorded the actions of the greatest naval hero that ever existed.--S.

[388] Buonaparte, on the 19th of August, addressed, from Cairo, the
following letter to the widow of the unfortunate admiral:

"Your husband has been killed by a cannon-shot, while fighting on his
deck. He died without pain, and by the best death, and that which is
thought by soldiers most enviable. I am keenly sensible to your grief.
The moment which severs us from the object we love is terrible; it
insulates us from all the earth; it inflicts on the body the agonies of
death; the faculties of the soul are annihilated, and its relations with
the universe subsist only through the medium of a horrible dream, which
alters every thing. Mankind appear colder and more selfish than they
really are. In this situation we feel that, if nothing obliged us to
live, it would be much best to die; but when, after this first thought,
we press our children to our hearts, tears and tender feelings revive
the sentiments of our nature, and we live for our offspring; yes, madam,
see in this very moment, how they open your heart to melancholy: you
will weep with them, you will bring them up from infancy--you will talk
to them of their father, of your sorrow, of the loss which you and the
Republic have sustained. After having once more attached your mind to
the world by filial and maternal love, set some value on the friendship
and lively regard which I shall always feel for the wife of my friend.
Believe that there are a few men who deserve to be the hope of the
afflicted, because they understand the poignancy of mental sufferings."

[389] "At ten o'clock a vessel which was burning, blew up with a
tremendous noise, which was heard as plainly at Rosetta as the explosion
of Grenelle at Paris. This accident was succeeded by a pitchy darkness,
and a most profound silence, which continued for about ten
minutes."--POUSSIELQUE _to his Wife; Intercepted Letters_, part i., p.

"L'Orient blew up about eleven in the evening. The whole horizon seemed
on fire, the earth shook, and the smoke which proceeded from the vessel
ascended heavily in a mass, like an immense black balloon. It then
brightened up, and exhibited the objects of all descriptions, which had
been precipitated on the scene of conflict. What a terrible moment of
fear and desolation for the French, who witnessed this awful
catastrophe!"--LOUIS BUONAPARTE.

[390] "I know not whether the Archbishop of Malines did or did not apply
the term _Jupiter Scapin_ to Napoleon; but to me it appears
incontestable, that the name of Scapin would be much more aptly bestowed
on the writer, a bishop and an ambassador, who could be capable of such
impertinence towards the sovereign he represented."--LOUIS BUONAPARTE,
p. 32.

[391] "It is not true that in Egypt Napoleon showed himself almost
persuaded of the truth of the mission of Mahomet. Doubtless, deceit and
falsehood should be banished from the language of true policy, since as
government ought to be, as much as is in the power of men, the image of
God upon earth, its language ought to be that of truth and justice.
This, however, does not preclude the right of respecting the religious
worship and opinions of a conquered nation, and it was in this sense
that the proclamations addressed by my brother to the Mussulmen should
be regarded. They would not have been understood by these people, if
they had not spoken their language. Whilst I was in Holland, I rejected
at first the title of Emperor given to the King of Holland by the
Sublime Porte; but upon expressing my astonishment I was assured that
the Porte gave this title to the sovereigns of other countries, and that
that of king would not be understood."--LOUIS BUONAPARTE, p. 34.

[392] This conversation appeared officially in the _Moniteur_.
Bourrienne, notwithstanding, asserts that Buonaparte never set foot in
the pyramid. He acknowledges, indeed, that "with the heads of the
Mahometan priesthood he held frequent conversations on these subjects;"
but adds, "in all this there was nothing serious; it was rather an
amusement. If he ever spoke as a Mussulman, he did so in the capacity of
a military and political chief in a Mahometan country. On this depended
his success, the safety of the army, and consequently his glory. It is
true, he had a Turkish dress made for him, but only as a joke. One
morning he desired me to begin breakfast without waiting; a quarter of
an hour after, he entered in his new costume. Scarcely was he
recognised, when we received him with bursts of laughter. He took his
place with a gravity which heightened the effect, but found himself so
ill at ease as an Oriental, that he soon went to undress, and never gave
a second exhibition of this masquerade."--BOURRIENNE, tom. ii., p. 164.

[393] Alluding to the capture of the island of Malta, and subjection of
the Pope, on which he was wont to found as services rendered to the
religion of Mahomet.--S.

[394] Gourgaud, tom. ii., p. 261.

[395] Gourgaud, tom. ii., p. 363.

[396] "The night overtook us, the waters began to rise around us, when
the horsemen ahead cried out that their horses were swimming. General
Buonaparte rescued the whole party by one of those simple expedients
which occur to an imperturbable mind. Placing himself in the centre, he
bade all the rest form a circle round him, and then ride out each man in
a separate direction, and each to halt as soon as he found his horse
swimming. The man whose horse continued to march the last, was sure, he
said, to be in the right direction; him, accordingly we all followed,
and reached Suez, at midnight in safety; though so rapidly had the tide
advanced, that the horses were more than breast-high in the
water."--_Memoirs of Savary_, vol. i., p. 97.

[397] Las Cases, tom. i., p. 211.

[398] "While the army was passing through Syria, there was scarcely a
soldier but was heard to repeat these lines from Zaire:--

    'Les Français sont las de chercher désormais
    Des climats que pour eux le destin n'a point faits,
    Ils n'abandonnent point leur fertile patrie
    Pour languir aux deserts de l'aride Arabie.'

When the men found themselves in the midst of the Desert, surrounded by
the boundless ocean of sand, they began to question the generosity of
their general; they thought he had observed singular moderation in
having promised each of them only seven acres--'The rogue,' said they,
'might with safety give us as much as he pleases; we should not abuse
his good-nature.'"--LAS CASES, tom. i., p. 210.

[399] See his despatch to the Directory, on the Syrian
campaign.--GOURGAUD, tom. ii., p. 374.

[400] Expédition en Egypte et Syrie, p. 148.

[401] "I asked him about the massacre of the Turks at Jaffa: he
answered, 'C'est vrai; J'en fis fusiller à peu près deux
mille.'"--Memorandum of Two Conversations between the Emperor Napoleon
and Viscount Ebrington at Porto-Ferraio, p. 12.

"I observed, that Miot asserted that he (Napoleon) had caused between
three and four thousand Turks to be shot, some days after the capture of
Jaffa. He answered, 'It is not true that there were so many; I ordered
about a thousand or twelve hundred to be shot, which was
done.'"--O'MEARA vol. i., p. 328.

[402] See Jomini, tom. xi., p. 403; Thibaudeau, tom. ii., p. 172;
Savary, tom. i., p. 100; Bourrienne, tom. ii., p. 226; Martin, Hist. de
l'Expédition d'Egypte, tom. i., p. 289.

[403] O'Meara, vol. ii., p. 128.

[404] See Gourgaud, tom. ii., p. 372.

[405] Philippeaux died during the siege, of a fever brought on by
fatigue. Buonaparte spoke of him with more respect than he usually
showed to those who had been successful in opposing him. One reason
might be, that the merit given to Philippeaux was in some degree
subtracted from Sir Sidney Smith. The former was a Frenchman, and
dead--the latter alive, and an Englishman.--S.--"Sir Sidney Smith
behaved very bravely, and was well seconded by Philippeaux, a Frenchman
of talent, who had studied with me as an engineer."--NAPOLEON, _Voice_,
&c., vol. i., p. 210.

[406] Related by Miot as communicated to him by Murat.--S.--"Le sort de
l'Orient est dans cette bicoque; la chute de cette ville est le but de
mon expédition; Damas doit en être le fruit."--MIOT, p. 184.

[407] "La victoire est au plus opiniâtre."--MIOT, p. 199.

[408] Miot, p. 199.

[409] Caffarelli was shot in the elbow, and died of the amputation of
the limb. He had before lost a leg, which induced the French soldiers,
who disliked him as one of the principal contrivers of the Egyptian
expedition, to say, when they saw him hobble past, "He, at least, need
care little about the matter--he is sure to have _one_ foot in France."
He had some days' delirium before he died; but Count Las Cases reports,
(vol. i., p. 220,) that whenever Buonaparte was announced, his
presence--nay, his name alone--seemed to cure the wanderings of the
patient's spirit, and that this phenomenon was renewed so often as the
general made him a visit.--S.

[410] Las Cases, tom. i., partie seconde, p. 384. The extravagance of
Napoleon's plan unavoidably reminds us of the vanity of human wishes.
The cause to which he ascribes it is the _mistake_ of a captain of a
frigate, who, instead of forcing his way to Acre, against the opposition
of two ships of the line, was unfortunately taken by them. This is a
mode of reasoning which Napoleon was very ready to adopt. The
miscarriage of his plans was seldom imputed by him to the successful
wisdom or valour of an enemy, but to some accidental circumstance, or
blunder, which deranged the scheme which must otherwise have been
infallible. Some of his best generals were of a different opinion, and
considered the rashness of the attack upon Acre, as involving the
certainty of failure. Kleber is reported to have said, that the Turks
defended themselves with the skill of Christians, and that the French
attacked like Turks.--S.


    _Discussion concerning the alleged Poisoning of the Sick in the
    Hospitals at Jaffa--Napoleon acquitted of the charge--French
    Army re-enter Cairo on the 14th June--Retrospect of what had
    taken place in Upper and Lower Egypt during Napoleon's
    Absence--Incursion of Murad Bey--18,000 Turks occupy
    Aboukir--Attacked and defeated--This Victory terminates
    Napoleon's Career in Egypt--Admiral Gantheaume receives Orders
    to make ready for Sea--On the 22d August Napoleon embarks for
    France--Arrives in Ajaccio on the 30th September--and lands at
    Frejus on the 9th October._


The retreat from before Acre was conducted with equal skill and secrecy,
though Buonaparte was compelled to leave behind his heavy cannon, which
he either buried or threw into the sea. But, by a rumour which long
prevailed in the French army, he was alleged to have taken a far more
extraordinary measure of preparation for retreat, by destroying with
opium the sick in the hospitals, who could not march along with the

This transaction is said to have taken place under the following
circumstances. The siege of Acre being raised on the 21st of May, 1799,
the French army retreated to Jaffa, where their military hospitals had
been established during the siege. Upon the 27th, Buonaparte was under
the necessity of continuing his retreat, and in the meantime such of the
patients as were convalescent were sent forward on the road to Egypt,
under the necessary precautions for their safety. There remained an
indefinite number, reaching at the greatest computation to betwixt
twenty and thirty, but stated by Buonaparte himself to be only seven,
whose condition was desperate. Their disease was the plague, and to
carry them onward, seemed to threaten the army with infection; while to
leave them behind, was abandoning them to the cruelty of the Turks, by
whom all stragglers and prisoners were cruelly murdered, often with
protracted torture. It was on this occasion that Buonaparte submitted to
Desgenettes, chief of the medical staff, the propriety of ending the
victims' misery by a dose of opium. The physician answered, with the
heroism belonging to his profession, that his art taught him how to cure
men, not to kill them.[411]

The proposal was agreeable to Buonaparte's principles, who advocating
the legality of suicide, naturally might believe, that if a man has a
right to relieve himself of intolerable evils by depriving himself of
life, a general or a monarch may deal forth that measure to his soldiers
or subjects, which he would think it advisable to act upon in his own
case. It was consistent, also, with his character, rather to look at
results than at the measures which were to produce them, and to consider
in many cases the end as an excuse for the means. "I would have desired
such a relief for myself in the same circumstances," he said to Mr.
Warden.[412] To O'Meara he affirmed, "that he would have taken such a
step even with respect to his own son."[413] The fallacy of this
reasoning is demonstrable; but Buonaparte was saved from acting on it by
the resistance of Desgenettes. A rear-guard was left to protect these
unhappy men; and the English found some of them alive, who, if
Desgenettes had been more compliant, would have been poisoned by their
physician. If Buonaparte was guilty of entertaining such a purpose,
whether entertained from indifference to human life, or from wild and
misdirected ideas of humanity, he met an appropriate punishment in the
general belief which long subsisted, that the deed had been actually
carried into execution, not in the persons of a few expiring wretches
only, but upon several hundred men. Miot says the report was current in
the French army,--Sir Robert Wilson found it credited among their
officers, when they became the English prisoners,--and Count Las Cases
admits it was generally believed by the soldiers. But though popular
credulity eagerly receives whatever stories are marked by the horrible
and wonderful, history, on the contrary, demands direct evidence, and
the existence of powerful motives,[414] for whatever is beyond the
ordinary bounds of credibility. The poisoning of five or six hundred men
is neither easily managed nor easily concealed; and why should the
French leader have had recourse to it, since, like many a retreating
general before him, he had only to leave the patients for whom he had
not the means of transportation? To poison the sick and helpless, must
have destroyed his interest with the remainder of his soldiers; whereas,
to have left them to their fate, was a matter too customary, and too
much considered as a point of necessity, to create any discontent[415]
among those, whose interest, as well as that of their general, consisted
in moving on as fast as possible. Again, had such a horrible expedient
been had recourse to, it could not have escaped the knowledge of Sir
Sidney Smith, who would not have failed to give the horrid fact
publicity, were it only to retaliate upon Buonaparte for the scandalous
accusations which he had circulated against the English. But though he
mentions various complaints which the prisoners made against their
general, and though he states himself to have found seven men alive in
the hospitals at Jaffa, (being apparently the very persons whom it had
been proposed to despatch by opium,) he says not a word of what he would
doubtless have told not unwillingly, had there been ground for believing
it. Neither, among the numerous persons to whom the truth must be known,
has any one come forward since Buonaparte's fall, who could give the
least evidence to authenticate the report otherwise than as a rumour,
that had sprung out of the unjustifiable proposal which had indeed been
made by Buonaparte to Desgenettes, but never acted upon. The same
patient and impartial investigation, therefore, which compels us to
record that the massacre of the Turkish prisoners in cold blood is fully
proved, induces us to declare, that the poisoning of the sick at Jaffa
has been affirmed without sufficient evidence.[416]

Buonaparte continued his retreat from Syria, annoyed by the natives, who
harassed his march, and retaliating the injuries which he received, by
plundering and burning the villages which lay in the course of his
march. He left Jaffa on the 28th May, and upon the 14th June re-entered
Cairo, with a reputation not so much increased by the victory at Mount
Tabor, as diminished and sullied, for the time, by the retreat from

Lower Egypt, during the absence of Buonaparte, had remained undisturbed,
unless by partial insurrections. In one of these an impostor personated
that mysterious individual, the Imaum Mohadi, of whom the Orientals
believe that he is not dead, but is destined to return and combat
Antichrist, before the consummation of all things takes place. This
pretender to supernatural power, as well as others who placed themselves
at the head of insurrections without such high pretensions, was
completely defeated; and the French showed the greatest severity in
punishing their followers, and the country which had furnished them with

In Upper Egypt there had been more obstinate contention. Murad Bey,
already mentioned as the ablest chief of the Mamelukes, had maintained
himself in that country with a degree of boldness and sagacity, which
gave the French much trouble. His fine force of cavalry enabled him to
advance or retreat at pleasure, and his perfect acquaintance with the
country added much to his advantage.

Desaix, sent against Murad after the battle of the Pyramids, had again
defeated the Mameluke chief at Sedinan, where was once more made evident
the superiority of European discipline over the valour of the irregular
cavalry of the East. Still the destruction of the enterprising bey was
far from complete. Reinforced by a body of cavalry, Desaix,[418] in the
month of December, 1798, again attacked him, and, after a number of
encounters, terminating generally to the advantage of the French, the
remaining Mamelukes, with their allies the Arabs, were at length
compelled to take shelter in the Desert. Egypt seemed entirely at the
command of the French; and Cosseir, a seaport on the Red Sea, had been
taken possession of by a flotilla, fitted out to command that gulf.[419]

Three or four weeks after Buonaparte's return from Syria, this
flattering state of tranquillity seemed on the point of being disturbed.
Murad Bey, re-entering Upper Egypt with his Mamelukes and allies,
descended the Nile in two bodies, one occupying each bank of the river.
Ibrahim Bey, formerly his partner in the government of Egypt, made a
corresponding movement towards the frontiers of Syria, as if to
communicate with the right-hand division of Murad's army. La Grange was
despatched against the Mamelukes who occupied the right bank, while
Murat marched against those who, under the bey himself, were descending
the Nile. The French were entertained at the idea of the two Murats, as
they termed them, from the similarity of their names, meeting and
encountering each other; but the Mameluke Murad retreated before _Le
Beau Sabreur_--the handsome swordsman--of the French army.[420]


Meantime, the cause of this incursion was explained by the appearance of
a Turkish fleet off Alexandria, who disembarked eighteen thousand men at
Aboukir. This Turkish army possessed themselves of the fort, and
proceeded to fortify themselves, expecting the arrival of the Mamelukes,
according to the plan which had previously been adjusted for expelling
the French from Egypt. This news reached Buonaparte near the Pyramids,
to which he had advanced, in order to ensure the destruction of Murad
Bey. The arrival of the Turks instantly recalled him to Alexandria,
whence he marched to Aboukir to repel the invaders. He joined his army,
which had assembled from all points within a short distance of the
Turkish camp, and was employed late in the night making preparations for
the battle on the next morning. Murat was alone with Buonaparte, when
the last suddenly made the oracular declaration, "Go how it will, this
battle will decide the fate of the world."

"The fate of this army, at least," replied Murat, who did not comprehend
Buonaparte's secret meaning. "But the Turks are without horse, and if
ever infantry were charged to the teeth by cavalry, they shall be so
charged to-morrow by mine."[421]

Napoleon's meaning, however, referred not to Egypt alone, but to Europe;
to which he probably already meditated an unexpected return, which must
have been prevented had he not succeeded in obtaining the most complete
triumph over the Turks. The leaving his Egyptian army, a dubious step at
best, would have been altogether indefensible had there remained an
enemy in their front.

Next morning, being the 25th July, Buonaparte commenced an attack on the
advanced posts of the enemy, and succeeded in driving them in upon the
main body, which was commanded by Seid Mustapha Pacha. In their first
attack the French were eminently successful, and pursued the fugitive
Turks to their intrenchments, doing great execution. But when the
batteries opened upon them from the trenches, while they were at the
same time exposed to the fire from the gun-boats in the bay, their
impetuosity was checked, and the Turks, sallying out upon them with
their muskets slung at their backs, made such havoc among the French
with their sabres, poniards, and pistols, as compelled them to retreat
in their turn.[422] The advantage was lost by the eagerness of the
barbarians to possess themselves of the heads of their fallen enemies,
for which they received a certain reward. They threw themselves
confusedly out of the intrenchments to obtain these bloody testimonials,
and were in considerable disorder, when the French suddenly rallied,
charged them with great fury, drove them back into the works, and scaled
the ramparts along with them.


Murat had made good his promise of the preceding evening, and had been
ever in the front of the battle. When the French had surmounted the
intrenchments, he formed a column which reversed the position of the
Turks, and pressing them with the bayonet, threw them into utter and
inextricable confusion. Fired upon and attacked on every point, they
became, instead of an army, a confused rabble, who, in the impetuosity
of animal terror, threw themselves by hundreds and by thousands into the
sea, which at once seemed covered with turbans.[423] It was no longer a
battle, but a massacre; and it was only when wearied with slaughter that
quarter was given to about six thousand men; the rest of the Turkish
army, originally consisting of eighteen thousand, perished on the field
or in the waves. Mustapha Pacha was taken, and carried in triumph before
Buonaparte. The haughty Turk had not lost his pride with his fortunes.
"I will take care to inform the Sultan," said the victor, meaning to be
courteous, "of the courage you displayed in this battle, though it has
been your mishap to lose it."--"Thou mayest save thyself the trouble,"
answered the prisoner haughtily; "my master knows me better than thou

Buonaparte returned in triumph to Cairo on the 9th August; having,
however, as he continued to represent himself friendly to the Porte,
previously set on foot a negotiation for liberation of the Turkish

This splendid and most decisive victory of Aboukir[424] concluded
Napoleon's career in the East. It was imperiously necessary, ere he
could have ventured to quit the command of his army, with the hope of
preserving his credit with the public; and it enabled him to plead that
he left Egypt for the time in absolute security. His military views had,
indeed, been uniformly successful; and Egypt was under the dominion of
France as completely as the sword could subject it. For two years
afterwards, like the strong man in the parable, they kept the house
which they had won, until in there came a stronger, by whom they were
finally and forcibly expelled.


But, though the victory over the Turks afforded the French for the time
undisturbed possession of Egypt, the situation of Buonaparte no longer
permitted him those brilliant and immense prospects, in which his
imagination loved to luxuriate. His troops were considerably weakened,
and the miscarriage at Acre dwelt on the recollection of the survivors.
The march upon Constantinople was now an impossibility,--that to India
an empty dream. To establish a French colony in Egypt, of which
Buonaparte sometimes talked, and to restore the Indian traffic to the
shores of the Red Sea, thus sapping the sources of British prosperity in
India, was a work for the time of peace, when the necessary
communication was not impeded by the naval superiority of England. The
French general had established, indeed, a chamber of commerce; but what
commerce could take place from a closely blockaded harbour? Indeed, even
in a more propitious season, the establishment of a pacific colony was
no task for the ardent and warlike Napoleon; who, although his active
spirit was prompt in striking out commercial schemes, was not possessed
of the patience or steadiness necessary to carry them to success. It
follows, that if he remained in Egypt, his residence there must have
resembled the situation of a governor in a large city, threatened
indeed, but as yet in no danger of being besieged, where the only fame
which can be acquired is that due to prudent and patient vigilance. This
would be a post which no young or ambitious soldier would covet,
providing he had the choice of being engaged in more active service. On
the other hand, from events which we shall endeavour to trace in the
next chapter, there opened a scene of ambition in France, which
permitted an almost boundless extent of hopes and wishes. Thus, Napoleon
had the choice either of becoming a candidate for one of the greatest
prizes which the world afforded--the supreme authority in that fine
country--or of remaining the governor of a defensive army in Egypt,
waiting the arrival of some new invaders--English, Russians, or Turks,
to dispute his conquest with him. Had he chosen this latter line of
conduct, he might have soon found himself the vassal of Moreau, or some
other military adventurer, (perhaps from his own Italian army,) who,
venturing on the course from which he had himself withdrawn, had
attained to the government of France, and might soon have been issuing
orders from the Luxembourg or the Tuileries to General Buonaparte, in
the style of a sovereign to his subject.

There remained to be separated those strong ties, which were formed
betwixt Napoleon and the army which he had so often led to victory, and
who unquestionably thought he had cast his lot to live or die with them.
But, undoubtedly, he might palliate his departure by the consideration,
that he left them victorious over their boastful enemy, and without the
chance of being speedily summoned to the field; and we can see no reason
for supposing, as has been alleged, that any thing like fear had an
influence in inducing Napoleon's desertion, as it has been termed, of
his army. We cannot, indeed, give him credit for the absolute and pure
desire of serving and saving France, which is claimed by his more
devoted adherents, as the sole motive of his return to Europe; but we
have no doubt that some feelings of this kind--to which, as we are
powerful in deceiving ourselves, he himself might afford more weight
than they deserved--mingled with his more selfish hopes, and that he
took this important step with the desire of serving his country, as
well as of advancing his own interest. Nor should it be forgotten, that
the welfare even of the Egyptian army, as well as his own ambitious
views, required that he should try his fortune at Paris. If he did not
personally exert himself there, it seemed highly probable some
revolution might take place, in which one of the consequences might be,
that the victors of Egypt, deserted by their countrymen, should be
compelled to lay down their arms.

The circumstances in which Buonaparte's resolution is said to have
originated, as related by himself, were singularly fortuitous. Some
intercourse took place with the Turkish fleet, in consequence of his
sending the wounded Turks on board, and Sir Sidney Smith,[425] by way of
taunting the French general with the successes of the Russians in Italy,
sent him a set of newspapers containing an account of Suwarrow's
victories, and a deplorable view of the French affairs on the
continent.[426] If we may trust other authorities, however, to be quoted
in their proper place, he already knew the state of affairs, both in
Italy and France, by his own secret correspondence with Paris,[427]
informing him, not only of the military reverses which the armies of the
latter country had sustained, but of the state of parties, and of the
public mind,--intelligence of greater utility and accuracy than could
have been communicated by the English newspapers.

However his information was derived, Buonaparte lost no time in acting
upon it, with all the secrecy which a matter of such importance
required. Admiral Gantheaume, who had been with the army ever since the
destruction of the fleet, received the general's orders to make ready
for sea, with all possible despatch, two frigates then lying in the
harbour of Alexandria.

Meantime, determined to preserve his credit with the Institute, and to
bring evidence of what he had done for the cause of science, Buonaparte
commanded Monge, who is said to have suggested the expedition, and the
accomplished Denon, who became its historian, with Berthollet, to
prepare to accompany him to Alexandria. Of military chiefs, he selected
the Generals Berthier, Murat, Lannes, Marmont, Desaix, Andréossy, and
Bessières, the best and most attached of his officers. He left Cairo as
soon as he heard the frigates were ready and the sea open, making a
visit to the Delta the pretext of his tour. Kleber and Menou, whom he
meant to leave first and second in command, were appointed to meet him
at Alexandria. But he had an interview with the latter only.

Kleber, an excellent soldier, and a man of considerable parts, was much
displeased at the hasty and disordered manner in which the command of an
important province and a diminished army were thrust upon him, and
remonstrated in a letter to the Directory, upon the several points of
the public service, which, by his conduct on this occasion, Buonaparte
had neglected or endangered.[428] Napoleon afterwards laboured hard to
answer the accusations which these remonstrances implied, and to prove,
that, in leaving the Egyptian army, he had no intention of abandoning
it; on the contrary, that he intended either to return in person, or to
send powerful succours. He blamed Gantheaume, at a later period, for not
having made his way from Toulon to Alexandria, with reinforcements and
supplies. But Buonaparte, slow to see what contradicted a favourite
project, could never be made to believe, unless when in the very act of
experiencing it, that the superiority of the British naval power depends
upon circumstances totally different from those which can be removed by
equal courage, or even equal skill, on the part of the French naval
officers; and that, until it be removed, it will be at great hazard that
France shall ever attempt to retain a province so distant as Egypt.[429]

Napoleon left behind him a short proclamation,[430] apprising the army,
that news of importance from France had recalled him to Europe, but that
they should soon hear tidings of him. He exhorted them, in the meantime,
to have confidence in their new commander; who possessed, he said, his
good opinion, and that of the government; and in these terms he bade
them farewell. Two frigates, La Muiron and La Carére, being ready for
sea, the general embarked, from an unfrequented part of the beach, on
the 22d August. Menou, who had met him there, came to Denon and others,
who had attended the rendezvous without knowing exactly its purpose, as
they were gazing in surprise at the unusual sight of two French frigates
ready to put to sea, and informed them with agitation, that Buonaparte
waited for them. They followed, as in a dream; but Denon had already
secured that mass of measurements, drawings, manuscripts, and objects of
antiquarian and scientific curiosity, which afterwards enabled him to
complete the splendid work, which now contains almost the only permanent
or useful fruits of the memorable expedition to Egypt.

Ere the frigates were far from land, they were reconnoitred by an
English corvette--a circumstance which seemed of evil augury. Buonaparte
assured his companions, by his usual allusions to his own destiny. "We
will arrive safe," he said; "Fortune will never abandon us--we will
arrive safe in despite of the enemy."

[Sidenote: AJACCIO.]

To avoid the English cruizers, the vessels coasted the shores of Africa,
and the wind was so contrary, that they made but a hundred leagues in
twenty days. During this time, Buonaparte studied alternately the Bible
and the Koran;[431] more solicitous, it seemed, about the history of the
countries which he had left behind, than the part which he was to play
in that to which he was hastening. At length, they ventured to stand
northward, and on the 30th September, they entered, by singular chance,
the port of Ajaccio in Corsica, and Buonaparte found himself in his
native city.[432] On the 7th October, they again put to sea, but, upon
approaching the French coast, they found themselves in the neighbourhood
of a squadron of English men-of-war. The admiral would have tacked
about, to return to Corsica. "To do so," said Buonaparte, "would be to
take the road to England--I am seeking that to France." He probably
meant that the manœuvre would attract the attention of the English.
They kept on their course; but the peril of being captured seemed so
imminent, that, though still several leagues from the shore, Gantheaume
proposed to man his long-boat, in order that the general might attempt
his escape in her. Buonaparte observed, that that measure might be
deferred till the case was more desperate.[433]

At length, they passed, unsuspected and unquestioned, through the
hostile squadron, and on the 9th October, at ten in the morning, he on
whose fate the world so long seemed to depend, landed at St. Rapheau,
near Frejus. He had departed at the head of a powerful fleet, and a
victorious army, on an expedition designed to alter the destinies of the
most ancient nations of the world. The result had been far from
commensurate to the means employed. The fleet had perished--the army was
blockaded in a distant province, when their arms were most necessary at
home. He returned clandestinely, and almost alone; yet Providence
designed that, in this apparently deserted condition, he should be the
instrument of more extensive and more astonishing changes, than the
efforts of the greatest conquerors had ever before been able to effect
upon the civilized world.


[411] O'Meara, vol. i., p. 331.

[412] Warden's Letters, p. 156.

[413] Voice from St. Helena, vol. ii., p. 333.

[414] History of the British Expedition to Egypt, vol. i., p. 127.

[415] Miot gives a melancholy, but too true a picture, of the
indifference with which soldiers, when on a retreat, regard the
sufferings of those whose strength does not enable them to keep up with
the march. He describes a man, affected by the fear of being left to the
cruelties of the Turks, snatching up his knapsack, and staggering after
the column to which he belonged, while his glazed eye, uncertain motion,
and stumbling pace, excited the fear of some, and the ridicule of
others. "His account is made up," said one of his comrades, as he reeled
about amongst them like a drunkard. "He will not make a long march of
it," said another. And when, after more than one fall, he at length
became unable to rise, the observation that "he had taken up his
quarters," was all the moan which it was thought necessary to make. It
is in these cases, as Miot justly observes, that indifference and
selfishness become universal; and he that would be comfortable must
manage to rely on his own exertions, and, above all to remain in good

[416] See Thibaudeau, tom. ii., p. 272; Martin, tom. i., p. 315;
Desgenettes, _Hist. Médicale de l'Armée d'Orient_, p. 97; Larrey,
_Relation Chirurgicale de l'Armée d'Orient_, p. 117; Lacretelle, tom.
xiv., p. 299. "I feel ashamed," says Savary, "to advert to the atrocious
calumny; but the man whose simple assertion was found sufficient to give
it currency, has not been able to stifle it by his subsequent disavowal.
The necessity to which we were reduced of using roots as a substitute
for opium, is a fact known to the whole army. Supposing, however, that
opium had been as plentiful as it was scarce, and that General
Buonaparte could have contemplated the expedient attributed to him,
where could there be found a man sufficiently determined in mind, or so
lost to the feelings of human nature, as to force open the jaws of fifty
wretched men on the point of death, and thrust a deadly preparation down
their throats? The most intrepid soldier turned pale at the sight of an
infected person; the warmest heart dared not relieve a friend afflicted
with the plague; and is it to be credited that brutal ferocity could
execute what the noblest feelings recoiled at? or that there should have
been a creature savage or mad enough to sacrifice his own life, in order
to enjoy the satisfaction of hastening the death of fifty dying men,
wholly unknown to him?"--_Memoirs_, tom. ii., p. 106.

[417] Gourgaud, tom. ii., p. 323.

[418] "Brave Desaix! He would have conquered any where. He was skilful,
vigilant, daring--little regarding fatigue, and death still less. He
would have gone to the end of the world in quest of victory."--NAPOLEON,
_Antommarchi_, vol. i., p. 376.

[419] Jomini, tom. xi., p. 420; Thibaudeau, tom. ii., p. 297; Gourgaud,
tom. ii., p. 320.

[420] Gourgaud, tom. iii., p. 328.

[421] Miot, p. 249.

[422] "Les Turcs maintenaient le combat avec succes; mais Murat, par un
mouvement _rapide comme la pensée_, dirigea sa gauche sur les derrières
de leur droit," &c.--BUONAPARTE _to the Directory_.

[423] Gourgaud states, that from three to four thousand Turks were
driven into the sea. Berthier calculates the number at ten thousand:
"L'ennemi ne croit avoir de ressource que dans la mer; dix mille hommes
s'y précipitent; ils y sont fusilés et mitraillés. Jamais spectacle
aussi terrible ne s'est presenté."

[424] "This is probably the only instance, in the history of warfare, in
which an army has been entirely destroyed. It was upon this occasion
that Kleber, clasping Buonaparte round the waist, exclaimed, '_General,
vous étés grand comme le monde!_'"--THIERS, tom. x., p. 323.

[425] "Notwithstanding his unheard-of destiny, Napoleon has often been
heard to say, in speaking of Sir Sidney Smith, 'Cet homme m'a fait
manquer ma fortune.'"--THIERS, tom. x., p. 314.

[426] See Las Cases, vol. iii., p. 11; Savary's Memoirs, vol. i., p.
112; and Miot, p. 265.

[427] "There existed no secret correspondence, whether private or
official. Ten months had already elapsed, and we were still without news
from Egypt."--BOURRIENNE, tom. ii., p. 309.

[428] Intercepted Letters, part iii., p. 38.

[429] General Menou was the last person to whom Napoleon spoke on shore.
He said to him, "My dear general, you must take care of yourselves here.
If I have the happiness to reach France, the reign of ranting shall be
at an end."--LAS CASES, tom. iii., p. 13.

[430] "In consequence of the news from Europe, I have determined to
return to France. I leave the command of the army to General Kleber. The
army will soon hear news of me: I cannot explain more fully. It grieves
me to the heart to separate myself from the soldiers, to whom I am so
tenderly attached: but the separation shall be but for a moment; and the
general whom I leave at your head possesses the confidence of the
government, and mine."

[431] Las Cases, tom. iii., p. 13.

[432] "Gantheaume informed me, that he saw, at Ajaccio, the house that
was occupied by Napoleon's family, the patrimonial abode. The arrival of
their celebrated countryman immediately set all the inhabitants of the
island in motion. A crowd of cousins came to welcome him, and the
streets were thronged with people."--LAS CASES, tom. iii., p. 14.

[433] Bourrienne, tom. iii., p. 4; Miot, p. 269.


    _Retrospect of Public Events since the Departure of Napoleon for
    Egypt--Invasion and Conquest of Switzerland--Seizure of
    Turin--Expulsion of the Pope--The Neapolitans declare War
    against France--The French enter Naples--Disgraceful Avarice
    exhibited by the Directory--Particularly in their Negotiations
    with the United States of America--Russia comes forward in the
    general Cause--Her Strength and Resources--Reverses of the
    French in Italy, and on the Rhine--Insurrections in Belgium and
    Holland against the French--Anglo-Russian Expedition sent to
    Holland--The Chouans again in the Field--Great and Universal
    Unpopularity of the Directory--State of Parties in France--Law
    of Hostages--Abbé Siêyes becomes one of the Directory--His
    Character and Genius--Description of the Constitution proposed
    by him for the Year Three--Ducos, Gohier, and Moulins, also
    introduced into the Directory--Family of Napoleon strive to keep
    him in the Recollection of the People--Favourable Change in the
    French Affairs--Holland Evacuated by the Anglo-Russian
    Army--Korsakow defeated by Massena--and Suwarrow retreats before

When Napoleon accepted what was to be considered as a doom of honourable
banishment, in the command of the Egyptian expedition, he answered to
those friends who advised him rather to stay and assert a pre-eminent
station in the government at home, "that the fruit was not ripe." The
seventeen months, or thereabouts, of his absence, had done much to
complete the maturity which was formerly imperfect. The French
Government had ceased to be invariably victorious, and at times had
suffered internal changes, which, instead of restoring the national
confidence, had only induced a general expectation of some farther and
decisive revolution, that should for ever overthrow the Directorial

When Buonaparte sailed for Egypt, he left France at peace with Austria,
and those negotiations proceeding at Rastadt, which no one then doubted
would settle on a pacific footing the affairs of Germany. England alone
remained hostile to France; but the former being victorious on the sea,
and the latter upon the land, it seemed as if the war must languish and
die of itself, unless there had been a third element, of which the
rivals might have disputed the possession. But though the interests of
France, as well as of humanity, peremptorily demanded peace, her rulers,
feeling that their own tottering condition would be rendered still more
precarious by the disbanding their numerous armies, resolved to continue
the war in a new quarter.

Under the most flimsy and injurious pretexts, they attacked the neutral
States of Switzerland, so eminent for their moderation; and the French
troops, levied in the name of Freedom, were sent to assail that country
which had been so long her mountain fortress. The ancient valour of the
Switzers was unable to defend them against the new discoveries in the
art of war, by which the strongest defiles can be turned, and therefore
rendered indefensible. They fought with their ancient courage,
particularly the natives of the mountain cantons, and only gave way
before numbers and discipline. But these gallant mountaineers sacrificed
more than thrice their own amount, ere they fell in their ranks, as
became the countrymen of William Tell. The French affected to give the
Swiss a constitution on the model of their own, but this was a mere
farce. The arsenals, fortresses, and treasures of the cantons, were
seized without scruple or apology, and the Swiss were treated in all
respects like a conquered nation. The fate of this ancient and
unoffending people excited deep and general fear and detestation, and
tended more perhaps than any other event to raise the animosity of
Europe in general against France, as a country which had now plainly
shown, that her ambition could be bounded by no consideration of justice
or international law.[434]

The King of Sardinia, who had first acknowledged the superiority of
Buonaparte, and purchased his existence as a continental sovereign, by
surrendering all his fortresses to France, and permitting her troops to
march through his country as their own, had surely some claim to
forbearance; but now, without even a pretext for such violence, the
French seized upon Turin, the capital of this their vassal monarch, and
upon all his continental dominions, sending him and his family to the
island of Sardinia.[435]


Another victim there was of the French grasping ambition, in whose fate
the Catholic world was deeply interested. We have seen already that
Buonaparte, though he despoiled the Pope of power and treasure, judged
it more prudent to permit him to subsist as a petty prince, than by
depriving him of all temporal authority, to drive him to desperation,
and oblige him to use against the Republic those spiritual weapons, to
which the public opinion of Catholic countries still assigned strength.
But the Directory were of a different opinion; and though the Pope had
submitted passively to every demand which had been made by the French
ambassador, however inconsistent with the treaty of Tolentino, the
Directory, with the usual policy of their nation, privately encouraged a
party in Rome which desired a revolution. These conspirators arose in
arms, and, when dispersed by the guards, fled towards the hotel of
Joseph Buonaparte, then the ambassador of the French to the Pope. In the
scuffle which ensued, the ambassador was insulted, his life endangered,
and General Duphot actually killed by his side. This outrage of course
sealed the fall of the Pope, which had probably long been determined
on. Expelled from his dominions, the aged Pius VI. retired to Sienna,
more the object of respect and veneration in his condition of a
dethroned exile, than when holding the semblance of authority by
permission of France. In place of the Pontiff's government arose the
shadow of a mighty name, The Roman Republic. But the Gauls were in
possession of the Capitol, nor did the ancient recollections, connected
with the title of the new commonwealth, procure for the Romans more
independent authority than was possessed by any of the other ephemeral
republican governments.[436]

In the fall of the Pope, and the occupation of the Roman territories by
a French army, the King of Naples saw the nation whom he feared and
hated, and by whom he knew he was considered as a desirable subject of
plunder, approach his frontiers, and become his neighbours. War he
perceived was unavoidable; and he formed the resolution to be the first
in declaring it. The victory of Nelson, and the interest which that
distinguished hero acquired at what might be called a female court, with
the laurels of the Nile fresh upon his brow, confirmed the Neapolitan
government in the resolution. Mack, an Austrian general, who had got the
reputation of a great tactician, and a gallant soldier, was sent by the
emperor to discipline and command the Neapolitan army. Nelson's falcon
eye measured the man's worth at once. "General Mack," said he, "cannot
move without five carriages--I have formed my opinion--I heartily pray I
may be mistaken." He was _not_ mistaken. The Neapolitan army marched to
Rome, was encountered by the French, fought just long enough to lose
about forty men, then fled, abandoning guns, baggage, arms, and every
thing besides. "The Neapolitan officers did not lose much honour," said
Nelson, "for God knows they had little to lose--but they lost what they
had."[437] The prescient eye, which was as accurate by land as by sea,
had also foreseen the instant advance of the French to Naples. It took
place accordingly, but not unresisted. The naked rabble, called
Lazzaroni, showed the most desperate courage. They attacked the French
ere they came to the city; and notwithstanding a murderous defeat, they
held out Naples for two days with their irregular musketry only, against
regular forces amply supplied with artillery. What can we say of a
country, where the rabble are courageous and the soldiers cowards? what,
unless that the higher classes, from whom the officers are chosen, must
be the parties to be censured.[438]

The royal family fled to Sicily; and in Naples a new classical-sounding
government was created at the command of the French general--The
Parthenopean Republic. The French were now possessed of all Italy,
excepting Tuscany, and that was exempted from their authority in name
only, and not in effect.

The French people, notwithstanding the success of these several
undertakings, were not deceived or flattered by them in a degree equal
to what probably their rulers expected. Their vanity was alarmed at the
meanness of the motives which the Directory exhibited on almost every
occasion. Even the dazzling pride of conquest was sullied by the
mercenary views with which war was undertaken. On one occasion the veil
was raised, and all Frenchmen who had feelings of decency, not to say of
probity or honour, remaining, must have held themselves disgraced by the
venal character of their government.


Some disputes existing between France and the United States of America,
commissioners were sent by the latter country to Paris, to endeavour to
restore a good understanding. They were not publicly acknowledged by
France in the character of ambassadors; but were distinctly given to
understand, that they could only be permitted to treat, on condition
that the States of America should lend to the Republic the sum of a
million sterling; to which was added, the unblushing demand of fifty
thousand pounds, as a douceur for the private pocket of the directors.
The astonishment of the envoys was extreme at this curious diplomatic
proposal, and they could hardly credit their ears when they heard it
repeatedly and grossly urged. "The essential part of the treaty," said
one of the French agents, "is, _il faut de l'argent--il faut beaucoup
d'argent_;" and to render the matter palatable, he told the Americans of
other countries which had paid large sums to obtain peace, and reminded
them of the irresistible power of France. The Transatlantic Republicans,
unmoved by these arguments, stoutly answered, "That it belonged only to
petty states to purchase independence by payment of tribute--that
America was willing and able to protect herself by arms, and would not
purchase with money what she possessed by her powerful means of
self-defence." They added, "that they had no power whatever to enter
into any engagements concerning a loan."

The agents of France lowered their tone so far as to say, that if the
commissioners would pay something in the way of fees, they might be
permitted to remain in Paris, whilst one of their number returned to
America to obtain instructions from their government; but not even to
that modification of bribery would the Americans listen. They would not,
according to the expression used in incendiary letters, "put five pounds
in a certain place." The treaty became public, to the scandal alike of
France and of Europe, which joined in regarding a government that made
war on such base principles, as standing, in comparison to those who
warred in the spirit of conquest, in the relation of footpads to
highwaymen. The only attempt made by Talleyrand towards explanation of
this singular transaction, was a shuffling denial of the fact, which he
strengthened by an insinuation, that the statement of the American
envoys was a weak invention, suggested to them by the English.[439]

Not to multiply instances, the rapacity and domineering insolence with
which the Directory conducted themselves towards the new republics, who
were at every moment made sensible of their total dependence on the
Great Nation--the merciless exactions which they imposed, together with
the rapacious peculations of many of their generals and agents, made
them lose interest almost as fast as they could acquire territory. Their
fair pretexts of extending freedom, and the benefits of a liberal
government, to states which had been oppressed by the old feudal
institutions, were now valued at no more than their worth; and it was
seen, that the only equality which republican France extended to the
conquered countries, was to render all classes alike degraded and
impoverished. Thus, the successes which we have hastily enumerated
rather endangered than strengthened the empire of France, as they
rendered her ambition the object of fear and suspicion to all Europe.
The Catholic nations beheld the degradation of the supreme Pontiff with
abhorrence--every king in Europe feared a similar fate with the
sovereigns of Sardinia and Naples--and, after the fate of Switzerland,
no people could rely upon a peaceful, unoffending, and strictly neutral
character, as ground sufficient to exempt them from French aggression.
Thus a general dread and dislike prepared for a new coalition against
France, in which Russia, for the first time, was to become an active

[Sidenote: SUWARROW.]

The troops of this powerful empire were eminently qualified for
encountering with the French; for, added to their hardihood, courage,
and discipline, they had a national character--a distinction less known
to the Germans, whose subdivision into different states, often at war
with each other, has in some degree diminished their natural spirit of
patriotism. Accustomed also to warfare on a great scale, and to
encounter such an enemy as the Turk, the Russians, while they understood
the modern system of tactics, were less servilely bigoted to it than the
Austrians. Their ideas more readily went back to the natural and
primitive character of war, and they were better prepared either to
depart from strict technical rules themselves, or to see them departed
from, and calculate the results. These new enemies of France, moreover,
were full of confidence in their own character, and unchecked in their
military enthusiasm by the frequent recollections of defeat, which
clouded the spirit of the Austrians. Above all, the Russians had the
advantage of being commanded by Suwarrow, one of the most extraordinary
men of his time, who, possessed of the most profound military sagacity,
assumed the external appearance of fanatical enthusiasm, as in society
he often concealed his perfect knowledge of good-breeding under the show
of extravagant buffoonery. These peculiarities, which would not have
succeeded with a French or English army, gained for him an unbounded
confidence among his countrymen, who considered his eccentric conduct,
followed, as it almost always was, by brilliant success, as the result
of something which approached to inspiration.[440]

The united forces of Austria and Russia, chiefly under the command of
this singular character, succeeded, in a long train of bloody battles,
to retake and re-occupy those states in the north of Italy, which had
been conquered in Buonaparte's first campaigns. It was in vain that
Macdonald, whose name stood as high among the Republican generals, as
his character for honour and rectitude among French statesmen, marched
from Naples, traversing the whole length of Italy, to arrest the
victorious progress of the allies. After a train of stubborn fighting,
it was only by displaying great military talent that he could extricate
the remains of his army. At length the decisive and desperate battle of
Novi seemed to exclude the French from the possession of those fair
Italian provinces, which had been acquired by such expense of life.[441]

On the Rhine, though her defeats were not of such a decided character,
France also lost reputation and territory. Jourdan proved no match for
the Archduke Charles, who having no longer Buonaparte to encounter,
asserted his former superiority over inferior French generals. His royal
highness finally compelled the French to recross the Rhine, while the
Austrian generals Bellegarde and Hotze, supported by a Russian division
under Korsakow, advanced to the line of the Limmat, near Zurich, and
waited the junction of Suwarrow to occupy Switzerland, and even to
menace France, who, in a great measure despoiled of her foreign
conquests, had now reason to apprehend the invasion of her own

In the Netherlands, the French interest seemed equally insecure.
Insurrections had already taken place in what they called Belgium, and
it seemed that the natives of these populous districts desired but
opportunity and encouragement for a general revolt. Holland, through all
its provinces, was equally disaffected; and the reports from that
country encouraged England to send to the coast an expedition,
consisting of British and Russian forces, to which two divisions of the
Dutch fleet delivered up their vessels, hoisting at the same time the
colours of the Stadtholder. Here was another risk of an imminent and
pressing description, which menaced France and its Directorial

It remains to be added to the tale of these foreign calamities, that the
Chouans, or Royalists of Bretagne, were again in the field with a number
of bands, amounting, it is said, to forty thousand men in all. They had
gained several successes, and, though falling short of the chivalrous
spirit of the Vendéans, and having no general equal in talents to
Charette, were nevertheless sufficiently brave and well commanded, to
become extremely formidable, and threaten a renewal of all the evils
which had been occasioned by the former civil war.

Amidst these louring appearances, the dislike and disrespect with which
the directors were regarded, occasioned their being loaded with every
species of accusation by the public. It was not forgotten that it was
the jealousy of Barras, Rewbel, and the other directors, which had
banished from France the most successful of her generals, at the head of
a gallant army, who were now needed to defend the provinces which their
valour had gained. The battle of Aboukir, while it annihilated their
fleet, had insulated the land forces, who, now cut off from all
communication with their mother country, and shut up in an insalubrious
province, daily wasted in encounters with the barbarous tribes that
valour, and those lives, which, hazarded on the frontiers of France
might have restored victory to their standards.

To these upbraiding complaints, and general accusations of incapacity,
as well as of peculation, the directors had little to answer. What was a
still greater deficiency, they had no party to appeal to, by whom their
cause, right or wrong, might have been advocated with the stanch
adherence of partisans. They had undergone, as we shall presently show,
various changes in their own body, but without any alteration in their
principles of administration, which still rested on the principle of
_Bascule_, or see-saw,[442] as it is called in English; the attempt, in
short, to govern two contending factions in the state, by balancing the
one against the other, without adhering to either. In consequence of
this mean and temporizing policy, which is always that of weak minds,
the measures of the government were considered, not with reference to
the general welfare of the state, but as they should have effect upon
one or other of the parties by which it was divided. It followed also,
that having no certain path and plan, but regulating their movements
upon the wish to maintain an equality between the factions, in order
that they might preserve their authority over both, the directors had no
personal followers or supporters, save that most sordid class, who
regulate their politics on their interest, and who, though faithful
adherents of every settled administration, perceive, by instinctive
sagacity, the moment that their patrons are about to lose their offices,
and desert their cause on such occasions with all convenient speed.

[Sidenote: "THE MODÉRÉS."]

Yet the directors, had they been men of talent, integrity, and
character--above all, had they been united among themselves, and agreed
on one steady course of policy, might have governed France with little
difficulty. The great body of the nation were exhausted by the previous
fury of the revolutionary movements, had supped full with politics, and
were much disposed to sit down contented under any government which
promised protection for life and property. Even the factions had lost
their energy. Those who inclined to a monarchical form, were many of
them become indifferent by whom the sceptre was wielded, providing that
species of government, supposed by them most suitable to the habits and
character of the French, should be again adopted. Many who were of this
opinion saw great objection to the restoration of the Bourbons, for fear
that, along with their right, might revive all those oppressive feudal
claims which the Revolution had swept away, as well as the pretensions
of the emigrants to resume their property. Those who entertained such
sentiments were called _Modérés_. The ancient blood-red Jacobins could
hardly be said to exist. The nation had had a surfeit of blood, and all
parties looked back with disgust on the days of Robespierre. But there
existed a kind of white Jacobins; men who were desirous to retain a
large proportion of democratical principle in the constitution, either
that they might not renounce the classical name of a Republic, or
because they confided in their own talents, to "wield at will the fierce
democracy;" or because they really believed that a potent infusion of
such a spirit in the forms of government was necessary for the
preservation of liberty. This party was greatly inferior in numbers to
the others; and they had lost their authority over the populace, by
means of which they had achieved such changes during the early periods
of the Revolution. But they were bold, enterprising, active; and their
chiefs, assuming at first the name of the Pantheon, afterwards of the
Manège Club, formed a party in the state which, from the character of
the leaders, gave great subject of jealousy to the Directory.[443]

The rapacity and insolent bearing of the French Government having, as we
have seen, provoked a new war with Austria and Russia, the means to
which the directors had recourse for maintaining it were a forced loan
imposed on the wealthy, which gave alarm to property, and a conscription
of two hundred thousand men, which was alike distressing to poor and
rich. Both measures had been submitted to during the Reign of Terror;
but then a murmur cost the complainer his head. The Directory had no
such summary mode of settling grievances. These two last inflictions
greatly inflamed the public discontent. To meet the general tendency to
insurrection, they had recourse to a measure equally harsh and
unpopular. It was called the Law of Hostages, by which the unoffending
relatives of emigrants, or royalists, supposed to be in arms, were
thrown into prison, and rendered responsible for the acts of their
connexions. This unjust law filled the prisons with women, old men, and
children,--victims of a government which, because it was not strong
enough to subdue insurrection by direct force, visited the consequences
of its own weakness on age, childhood, and helpless females.[444]

Meantime, the dissensions among the directors themselves, which
continued to increase, led to various changes within their own body.
When Buonaparte left Europe, the Directory consisted of Barras, Rewbel,
Treilhard, Merlin, Reveillière Lepaux. The opposition attacked them with
so much fury in the Legislative Assemblies, Boulay de la Meurthe, Lucien
Buonaparte, François, and other men of talent leading the way, that at
length the directors appear to have become afraid of being made
personally responsible, by impeachment, for the peculations of their
agents, as well as for the result of the insolences by which they had
exasperated the friends and allies of France. Rewbel, he whose character
for talent and integrity stood most fair with the public, was removed
from office by the lot which announced him as the director who was to
retire. It has been said, some art was used to guide fortune on this
occasion. His name in the list was succeeded by one celebrated in the
Revolution; that of the Abbé Siêyes.

This remarkable statesman had acquired a high reputation, not only by
the acuteness of his metaphysical talent, but by a species of mystery in
which he involved himself and his opinions. He was certainly possessed
of great knowledge and experience in the affairs of France, was an adept
in the composition of new constitutions of all kinds, and had got a high
character, as possessed of secrets peculiarly his own, for conducting
the vessel of the state amidst the storms of revolution. The Abbé, in
fact, managed his political reputation as a prudent trader does his
stock; and, by shunning to venture on anything which could, in any great
degree, peril his credit, he extended it in the public opinion, perhaps
much farther than his parts justified. A temper less daring in action
than bold in metaphysical speculation, and a considerable regard for his
own personal safety, accorded well with his affected air of mystery and
reserve. In the National Assembly he had made a great impression, by his
pamphlet explaining the nature of the Third Estate;[445] and he had the
principal part in procuring the union of the three separate Estates into
the National Assembly. A flaming patriot in 1792-3, he voted for the
death of the unfortunate Louis; and, as was reported, with brutal
levity, using the celebrated expression, "_Mort sans phrase_." He was
no less distinguished for bringing forward the important measure for
dividing France into departments, and thus blending together and
confounding all the ancient distinctions of provinces.[446] After this
period he became passive, and was little heard of during the Reign of
Terror; for he followed the maxim of Pythagoras, and worshipped the Echo
(only found in secret and solitary places) when he heard the tempest
blow hard.


After the revolution of 9th Thermidor, Siêyes came in with the moderate
party, and had the merit to propose the recall of the members who had
been forcibly expelled by the Jacobin faction on the fall of the
Girondists. He was one of the committee of eleven, to whom was given the
charge of forming the new constitution, afterwards called that of the
year Three. This great metaphysical philosopher and politician showed
little desire to share with any colleagues the toil and honour of a task
to which he esteemed himself exclusively competent; and he produced,
accordingly, a model entirely of his own composition, very ingenious,
and evincing a wonderfully intimate acquaintance with political
doctrines, together with a multitude of nice balances, capacities, and
disqualifications, so constituted as to be checks on each other. As
strongly characteristic of the genius of the man, we shall here give an
account of his great work.

His plan provided that the constitution, with its powers of judicature
and of administration, should emanate from the people; but lest, like
that unnatural parent the sow, the people should devour their own nine
farrow, the functionaries thus invested with power were to be placed,
when created, out of the reach of the parents who had given them birth.
The mode in which it was proposed to effect this, was both singular and
ingenious. The office-bearers were thus to be selected out of three
orders of the state, forming a triple hierarchy. 1. The citizens of each
commune were to name one-tenth of their number, to be called the
Communal Notables. From these were to be selected the magistrates of the
communes, and the justices of peace. 2. The Communal Notables were again
to choose a tenth part of their number, who were called the Departmental
Notables. The prefects, judges, and provincial administrators, were
selected from this second body. 3. The Departmental Notables, in like
manner, were to elect a tenth of their number, computed to amount to
about six thousand persons; and from this highest class of citizens were
to be filled the most dignified and important situations in the
state,--the ministers and members of government, the legislature, the
senate, or grand jury, the principal judges, ambassadors, and the like.
By this system it will be perceived, that instead of equality, three
ranks of privileged citizens were to be established, from whose ranks
alone certain offices could be filled. But this species of nobility,
or, as it was called, Notability, was dependent not on birth, but on the
choice of the people, from whom, though more or less directly, all
officers without exception received their commissions. The elections
were to take place every five years.

To represent the national dignity, power, and glory, there was to be an
officer called the Grand Elector, who was to have guards, a revenue, and
all the external appendages of royalty; all acts of government, laws,
and judicial proceedings, were to run in his name. This species of
_Roi-fainéant_ was to possess no part of the royal authority, except the
right of naming two consuls, one for peace, and the other for war; and
the farther right of selecting, from lists of candidates to be supplied
by the three ranks of the hierarchy, the individuals who were to fill
official situations as they should become vacant. But having exercised
this privilege, the grand elector, or proclaimer general, was _functus
officio_, and had no active duties to perform, or power to exercise. The
two consuls, altogether uncontrolled by him or each other, were to act
each in their own exclusive department of peace or war; and the other
functionaries were alike independent of the grand proclaimer, or
elector, so soon as he had appointed them. He was to resemble no
sovereign ever heard of but the queen bee, who has nothing to do but to
repose in idleness and luxury, and give being to the active insects by
whose industry the business of the hive is carried on.

The government being thus provided for, the Abbé Siêyes's system of
legislature was something like that of France in the time of the
Parliament. There was to be a Legislative Body of two hundred and fifty
deputies; but they were to form rather a tribunal of judges, than a
popular and deliberative assembly. Two other bodies, a Council of State
on the part of the Government, and a Tribunate of one hundred deputies,
on the part of the people, were to propose and discuss measures in
presence of this Legislative Council, who then proceeded to adopt or
reject them upon scrutiny and by vote, but without any oral delivery of
opinions. The Tribunate was invested with the right of guarding the
freedom of the subject, and denouncing to the Convocative Senate such
misconduct of office-bearers, or ill-chosen measures, or ill-advised
laws, as should appear to them worthy of reprobation.

But, above all, Abbé Siêyes piqued himself upon the device of what he
determined a Conservative Senate, which, possessing in itself no power
of action or legislation of any kind, was to have in charge the
preservation of the constitution. To this Senate was given the singular
power, of calling in to become a member of their own body, and reducing
of course to their own state of incapacity, any individual occupying
another situation in the constitution, whose talents, ambition, or
popularity, should render him a subject of jealousy. Even the grand
elector himself was liable to this fate of _absorption_, as it was
called, although he held his crown of Cocaign in the common case for
life. Any exertion on his part of what might seem to the Senate an act
of arbitrary authority, entitled them to adopt him a member of their own
body. He was thus removed from his palace, guards, and income, and made
for ever incapable of any other office than that of a senator. This high
point of policy was carrying the system of checks and balances as far as
it could well go.

The first glance of this curious model must have convinced a practical
politician that it was greatly too complicated and technical to be
carried into effect. The utility of laws consists in their being of a
character which compels the respect and obedience of those to whom they
relate. The very delicacy of such an ingenious scheme rendered it
incapable of obtaining general regard, since it was too refined to be
understood save by profound philosophers. To the rest of the nation it
must have been like a watch to a savage, who, being commanded to
regulate his time by it, will probably prefer to make the machine
correspond with his inclinations, by putting backward and forward the
index at pleasure. A man of ordinary talent and honest disposition might
have been disqualified for public life by this doctrine of absorption,
just as a man ignorant of swimming would perish if flung into a lake.
But a stout swimmer would easily gain the shore, and an individual like
Buonaparte would set at defiance the new species of ostracism, and
decline to be neutralized by the absorption of the Senate. Above all,
the plan of the abbé destroyed the true principle of national
representation, by introducing a metaphysical election of members of
legislation, instead of one immediately derived from the direct vote of
the people themselves. In the abbé's alembic, the real and invaluable
principle of popular representation was subtilized into smoke.

For these, or other reasons, the commissioners of the year Three did not
approve of the plan proposed by Siêyes; and, equally dissatisfied with
the constitution which they adopted, he withdrew himself from their
deliberations, and accepted the situation of ambassador to Prussia,
where he discharged with great ability the task of a diplomatist.


In 1799, Siêyes returned from Berlin to Paris, full of hope to establish
his own favourite model on the ruins of the Directorial Constitution,
and, as a preliminary, obtained, as we have said, Rewbel's seat in the
Directory. Merlin and Lepaux, menaced with impeachments, were induced to
send in their resignation. Treilhard had been previously displaced, on
pretext of an informality in the choice. Instead of them were introduced
into the Directory Roger Ducos, a Modéré, or rather a Royalist, with
Gohier and Moulins, men of talents too ordinary to throw any opposition
in the path of Siêyes.[447] Barras, by his expenses and his luxurious
mode of life, his connexion with stock-jobbers, and encouragement of
peculation, was too much in danger of impeachment, to permit him to play
a manly part. He truckled to circumstances, and allied himself with, or
rather subjected himself to, Siêyes, who saw the time approaching when
the constitution of the year Three must fall, and hoped to establish his
own rejected model in its stead. But the revolution which he meditated
could only be executed by force.

The change in the Directory had destroyed the government by bascule, or
balance, and that intermediate and trimming influence being removed, the
two parties of the Modérés and the Republicans stood full opposed to
each other, and ready to try their strength in a severe struggle.
Siêyes, though no Royalist, or at least certainly no adherent of the
House of Bourbon, stood, nevertheless, at the head of the Modérés, and
taxed his sagacity for means of ensuring their victory. The Modérés
possessed a majority in the Council of the Ancients; but the Society of
the Manège, Republicans if not Jacobins, had obtained, at the last
election, a great superiority of numbers in the Council of Five Hundred.
They were sure to be in decided opposition to any change of the
constitution of the year Three; and such being the case, those who
plotted the new revolution, could not attempt it without some external
support. To call upon the people was no longer the order of the day.
Indeed it may be supposed that the ancient revolutionary columns would
rather have risen against Siêyes, and in behalf of the Society of the
Manège. The proposers of a new change had access, however, to the army,
and to that they determined to appeal. The assistance of some military
chief of the first reputation was necessary. Siêyes cast his eyes upon
Joubert, an officer of high reputation, and one of the most
distinguished among Buonaparte's generals. He was named by the Directors
to the command of the department of Paris, but shortly after was sent to
Italy with hopes that, acquiring a new fund of glory by checking the
progress of Suwarrow, he might be yet more fitted to fill the public
eye, and influence the general mind, in the crisis when Siêyes looked
for his assistance. Joubert lost his life, however, at the great battle
of Novi, fought betwixt him and Suwarrow; and so opportunely did his
death make room for the pretensions of Buonaparte, that it has been
rumoured, certainly without the least probability, that he did not fall
by the fire of the Austrians, but by that of assassins hired by the
family of Napoleon, to take out of the way a powerful competitor of
their brother. This would have been a gratuitous crime, since they could
neither reckon with certainty on the arrival of Buonaparte, nor upon his
being adopted by Siêyes in place of Joubert.

Meanwhile, the family of Napoleon omitted no mode of keeping his merits
in public remembrance. Reports from time to time appeared in the papers
to this purpose, as when, to give him consequence doubtless, they
pretended that the Tower guns of London were fired, and public
rejoicings made, upon a report that Napoleon had been assassinated.
Madame Buonaparte, in the meanwhile, lived at great expense, and with
much elegance, collecting around her whoever was remarkable for talent
and accomplishment, and many of the women of Paris who were best
accustomed to the management of political intrigue. Lucien Buonaparte
distinguished himself as an orator in the Council of Five Hundred, and
although he had hitherto affected Republican zeal, he now opposed, with
much ability, the reviving influence of the democrats. Joseph
Buonaparte, also a man of talent, and of an excellent character, though
much aspersed afterwards, in consequence of the part in Spain assigned
him by his brother, lived hospitably, saw much company, and maintained
an ascendance in Parisian society. We cannot doubt that these near
relatives of Buonaparte found means of communicating to him the state of
affairs in Paris, and the opening which it afforded for the exercise of
his distinguished talents.

The communication betwixt Toulon and Alexandria was, indeed,
interrupted, but not altogether broken off, and we have no doubt that
the struggle of parties in the interior, as well as the great disasters
on the frontier, had their full influence in determining Buonaparte to
his sudden return. Miot, though in no very positive strain, has named a
Greek called Bambuki, as the bearer of a letter from Joseph to his
brother, conveying this important intelligence. The private memoirs of
Fouché pretend that that minister purchased the secret of Napoleon's
return being expected, from Josephine herself, for the sum of a thousand
louis, and that the landing at Frejus was no surprise to him. Both these
pieces of private history may be safely doubted; but it would be
difficult to convince us that Buonaparte took the step of quitting Egypt
on the vague intelligence afforded by the journals, and without
confidential communication with his own family.

[Sidenote: JOURDAN.]

To return to the state of the French Government. The death of Joubert
not only disconcerted the schemes of Siêyes, but exposed him and his
party to retaliation. Bernadotte was minister of war, and he, with
Jourdan and Augereau, were all warm in the cause of Republicanism. Any
of these distinguished generals was capable of leading the military
force to compel such an alteration in the constitution as might suit the
purpose of their party, and thus reversing the project of Siêyes, who,
without Joubert, was like the head without the arm that should execute.
Already Jourdan had made in the Council of Five Hundred a speech on the
dangers of the country, which, in point of vehemence, might have been
pronounced in the ancient hall of the Jacobins. He in plain terms
threatened the Modérés with such a general insurrection as had taken
place in the year 1792, and proposed to declare the country in danger.
He was answered by Lucien Buonaparte, Chenier, and Boulay, who had great
difficulty to parry the impetuosity with which the motion was urged
forward. Though they succeeded in eluding the danger, it was still far
from being over, and the democrats would probably have dared some
desperate movement, if any additional reverse had been sustained on the

But as if the calamities of France, which of late had followed each
other in quick succession, had attained their height of tide, the
affairs of that country began all of a sudden to assume a more
favourable aspect. The success of General Brune in Holland against the
Anglo-Russian army, had obliged the invaders of Holland to retreat, and
enter into a convention for evacuation of the country on which they had
made their descent. A dispute, or misunderstanding, having occurred
between the Emperors of Austria and Russia, the Archduke Charles, in
order, it was alleged, to repel an incursion of the French into the
countries on the Maine, withdrew a great part of his army from the line
of the Limmat, which was taken up by the Russians under Korsakow.
Massena took the advantage of this imprudent step, crossed the Limmat,
surprised the Russians, and defeated Korsakow, whilst the formidable
Suwarrow, who had already advanced to communicate with that general,
found his right flank uncovered by his defeat, and had the greatest
difficulty in executing a retrograde movement before General Lecourbe.

The news of these successes induced the Republicans to defer their
attack upon the moderate party; and on so nice a point do the greatest
events hang, that had a longer period intervened between these victories
and the arrival of Buonaparte, it is most probable that he would have
found the situation of military chief of the approaching revolution,
which became vacant on the death of Joubert, filled up by some one of
those generals, of whom success had extended the fame. But he landed at
the happy crisis, when the presence of a chief of first-rate talents was
indispensable, and when no favourite name had yet been found, to fill
the public voice with half such loud acclaim as his own.


[434] Lacretelle, tom. xiv., p. 230; Madame de Staël, tom. ii., p. 211.

[435] Lacretelle, tom. xiv., p. 176; Montgaillard, tom. v., p. 126;
Jomini, tom. xi., p. 380.

[436] Botta, tom. ii., p. 571; Lacretelle, tom. xiv., p. 145; Thiers,
tom. x., p. 26; Annual Register, vol. xl., p. 38.

[437] See Southey's Life of Nelson.

[438] Jomini, tom. xiv., p. 316; Lacretelle, tom. xiv., p. 241.

[439] Annual Register, vol. xl., p. 244.

[440] "Suwarrow is a most extraordinary man. He dines every morning
about nine. He sleeps almost naked: he affects a perfect indifference to
heat and cold; and quits his chamber, which approaches to suffocation,
in order to review his troops, in a thin linen jacket, while the
thermometer is at ten degrees below freezing. A great deal of his
whimsical manner is affected: He finds that it suits his troops, and the
people he has to deal with. I dined with him this morning. He cried to
me across the table, 'Tweddell, the French have taken Portsmouth. I have
just received a courier from England. The king is in the tower, and
Sheridan protector!'"--TWEDDELL'S _Remains_, p. 135.

[441] Jomini, tom. xi., p. 275; Thiers, tom. x., p. 279.

[442] The term, it is scarcely necessary to say, is derived from the
childish amusement, where two boys swing at the opposite ends of a
plank, moving up and down, in what Dr. Johnson calls "a reciprocating
motion," while a third urchin, placed in the centre of motion, regulates
their movements.--S.

[443] Gourgaud, tom. i., p. 58.

[444] Thiers, tom. x., p. 269; Lacretelle, tom. xiv., p. 397.

[445] See _ante_, vol. i., p. 56.

[446] Gourgaud, tom. i., p. 61.

[447] "Ducos was a man of narrow mind, and easy disposition. Moulins, a
general of division, had never served in war: he was originally in the
French guards, and had been advanced in the army of the interior. He was
a worthy man, and a warm and upright patriot. Gohier was an advocate of
considerable reputation, and exalted patriotism--an eminent lawyer, and
a man of great integrity and candour."--NAPOLEON, _Gourgaud_, tom. i.,
p. 60.


    _General rejoicing on the return of Buonaparte--Advances made to
    him on all sides--Napoleon coalesces with Siêyes--Revolution of
    the 18th Brumaire (Nov. 9)--Clashing Views of the Councils of
    Ancients, and the Five Hundred--Barras and his Colleagues
    resign--Proceedings of the Councils on the 18th--and
    19th--Sittings removed from Paris to St. Cloud--Commotion in the
    Council of Five Hundred--Napoleon menaced and assaulted, and
    finally, extricated by his Grenadiers--Lucien Buonaparte, the
    President, retires from the Hall--Declares the Council
    dissolved--Provisional Consular Government of Buonaparte,
    Siêyes, and Ducos._

[Sidenote: PARIS.]

Buonaparte had caused himself to be preceded by an account of his
campaigns in Africa and Asia, in which the splendid victory over the
Turks at Aboukir enabled him to gloss over his bad success in Syria, the
total loss of his fleet, and the danger of Malta, which was closely
besieged by the English. Still, however, these despatches could never
have led any one to expect the sudden return of a general engaged on a
foreign service of the utmost importance, who, without having a better
reason to allege, than his own opinion that his talents were more
essential to his country in France than in Egypt, left his army to its
fate, and came, without either order or permission from his government,
to volunteer his services where they were not expected, or perhaps
wished for. Another in the same circumstances, or perhaps the same
general at another period of the Revolution, would have been received by
the public with alienated favour, and by the government with severe
inquiry, if not with denunciation.

On the contrary, such was the general reliance on the talents of
Buonaparte, that, delighted to see him arrive, no one thought of asking
wherefore, or by whose authority he had returned. He was received like a
victorious monarch re-entering his dominions at his own time and
pleasure. Bells were everywhere rung, illuminations made, a delirium of
joy agitated the public mind, and the messenger who carried the news of
his disembarkation to Paris, was received as if he had brought news of a
battle gained.[448]

The hall of the Council of Five Hundred re-echoed with cries of victory,
while the orator, announcing the victories of Brune over the English,
and Massena over the Russians, dwelt upon the simple fact of
Buonaparte's return, as of interest equal to all these successes. He was
heard with shouts of "Long live the Republic!" which, as the event
proved, was an exclamation but very indifferently adapted to the

Josephine, and Joseph Buonaparte, apprised by the government of the
arrival of Napoleon, hastened to meet him on the road; and his progress
towards Paris was everywhere attended by the same general acclamations
which had received him at landing.[449]

The members of Government, it must be supposed, felt alarm and anxiety,
which they endeavoured to conceal under the appearance of sharing in
the general joy.[450] The arrival of a person so influential by his
fame, so decided in his character, engaged with no faction, and pledged
to no political system, was likely to give victory to one or the other
party who were contending for superiority, as he should himself
determine. The eyes of all men were upon Napoleon, while his reserved
and retired mode of life prevented any accurate anticipation being
formed of the part which he was likely to take in the approaching
convulsions of the state.[451] While both parties might hope for his
participation and succour, neither ventured to call into question his
purpose, or the authority by which he had left his army in Egypt, and
appeared thus unexpectedly in the capital. On the contrary, they courted
him on either hand as the arbiter, whose decision was likely to have
most influence on the state of the nation.[452]

Napoleon, meanwhile, seemed to give his exclusive attention to
literature, and, having exchanged the usual visits of form with the
ministers of the Republic, he was more frequently to be found at the
Institute, or discussing with the traveller Volney, and other men of
letters, the information which he had acquired in Egypt on science and
antiquities, than in the haunts of politicians, or the society of the
leaders of either party in the state. Neither was he to be seen at the
places of popular resort: he went into no general company, seldom
attended the theatres, and, when he did, took his seat in a private

A public entertainment was given in honour of the general in the church
of St. Sulpice, which was attended by both the Legislative Bodies.
Moreau shared the same honour, perhaps on that account not the more
agreeable to Buonaparte. Jourdan and Augereau did not appear--a cloud
seemed to hang over the festival--Napoleon only presented himself for a
very short time, and the whole was over in the course of an hour.[454]

To the military, his conduct seemed equally reserved--he held no levees,
and attended no reviews. While all ranks contended in offering their
tribute of applause, he turned in silence from receiving them.[455]

In all this there was deep policy. No one knew better how much popular
applause depends on the gloss of novelty, and how great is the
difference in public estimation, betwixt him who appears to hunt and
court acclamations, and the wiser and more dignified favourite of the
multitude, whose popularity follows after him and seeks him out, instead
of being the object of his pursuit and ambition. Yet under this still
and apparently indifferent demeanour, Napoleon was in secret employed in
collecting all the information necessary concerning the purposes and the
powers of the various parties in the state; and as each was eager to
obtain his countenance, he had no difficulty in obtaining full
explanations on these points.


The violent Republicans, who possessed the majority in the Council of
Five Hundred, made advances to him; and the generals Jourdan, Augereau,
and Bernadotte, offered to place him at the head of that party, provided
he would maintain the democratical constitution of the year Three.[456]
In uniting with this active and violent party, Buonaparte saw every
chance of instant and immediate success; but, by succeeding in the
outset, he would probably have marred the farther projects of ambition
which he already nourished. Military leaders, such as Jourdan and
Bernadotte, at the head of a party so furious as the Republicans, could
not have been thrown aside without both danger and difficulty: and it
being unquestionably the ultimate intention of Buonaparte to usurp the
supreme power, it was most natural for him to seek adherents among
those, who, though differing concerning the kind of government which
should be finally established, concurred in desiring a change from the
republican model.

Barras, too, endeavoured to sound the purposes of the general of the
army of Egypt. He hinted to him a plan of placing at the head of the
Directory Hedouville,[457] a man of ordinary talent, then general of
what was still termed the Army of England, of retiring himself from
power, and of conferring on Napoleon the general command of the
Republican forces on the frontiers, which he vainly supposed preferment
sufficient to gratify his ambition.[458] Buonaparte would not listen to
a hint which went to remove him from the capital, and the supreme
administration of affairs--he knew also that Barras's character was
contemptible, and his resources diminished--that his subsequent conduct
had cancelled the merit which he had acquired by the overthrow of
Robespierre, and that to unite with him in any degree would be to adopt,
in the public opinion, the very worst and most unpopular portion of the
Directorial Government. He rejected the alliance of Barras, therefore,
even when, abandoning his own plan, the director offered to concur in
any which Napoleon might dictate.

A union with Siêyes, and the party whom he influenced, promised greater
advantages. Under this speculative politician were united for the time
all who, though differing in other points, joined in desiring a final
change from a revolutionary to a moderate and efficient government,
bearing something of a monarchical character. Their number rendered this
party powerful. In the Directory it was espoused by Siêyes and Ducos; it
possessed a large majority in the Council of Ancients, and a respectable
minority in that of the Five Hundred. The greater part of the middling
classes throughout France, embraced with more or less zeal the
principles of moderation; and agreed, that an executive government of
some strength was necessary to save them from the evils of combined
revolutionary movements. Though the power of the Moderates was great,
yet their subsequent objects, in case of success, were various. Thus
Buonaparte saw himself encouraged to hope for victory over the existing
government and the Republicans by the united strength of the Moderates
of every class, whilst their difference in opinion concerning the
ultimate measures to be adopted, afforded him the best opportunity of
advancing, during the competition, his own pretensions to the larger
share of the spoil.[459]

Napoleon communicated accordingly with Siêyes, upon the understanding
that he was to be raised to the principal administration of affairs;
that the constitution of the year Three, which he himself had once
pronounced "the masterpiece of legislation, which had abolished the
errors of eighteen centuries," was entirely to be done away; and that a
constitution was to be adopted in its stead, of which he knew nothing
more, than that it was ready drawn up, and lay in the portfolio of
Siêyes. No doubt, the general mentally reserved the right of altering
and adjusting it as it should best suit his own views,--a right which he
failed not to exercise to a serious extent. When these great
preliminaries had been adjusted, it was agreed that it should be
executed between the 15th and 20th Brumaire.

In the interim, several men of influence of both councils were admitted
into the secret. Talleyrand, who had been deprived of office by the
influence of the Republicans, brought his talents to the aid of
Buonaparte.[460] Fouché, according to Napoleon, was not consulted--the
Memoirs which bear his name aver the contrary--it is certain, that in
his important capacity of minister of police, he acted in Buonaparte's
favour during the revolution.[461] Some leading members of both
legislative bodies were cautiously intrusted with what was going
forward, and others were generally advised to hold themselves in
readiness for a great movement.

A sufficient military force was next to be provided; and this was not
difficult, for the reputation of Buonaparte ensured the conspirators
unlimited influence among the soldiery. Three regiments of dragoons were
enthusiastically petitioning the honour of being reviewed by Napoleon.
The adherence of these troops might be counted upon. The officers of the
garrison of Paris were desirous to pay their respects to him; so were
the forty adjutants of the national guard, whom he himself had appointed
when general of the troops in the interior. Many other officers, as well
reduced as holding commissions, desired to see the celebrated general,
that they might express their devotion to his person, and adherence to
his fortunes. All these introductions had been artfully postponed.[462]

Two men of more renowned name, Moreau and Macdonald,[463] had made
tenders of service to Buonaparte. These both favoured the moderate
party, and had no suspicion of the ultimate design of Napoleon or the
final result of his undertaking.

A final resolution on 15th Brumaire determined the 18th (9th November)
for the great attempt--an interval was necessary, but the risk of
discovery and anticipation made it desirable that it should be as short
as possible. The secret was well kept; yet being unavoidably intrusted
to many persons, some floating and vague rumours did get abroad, and
gave an alarm to the parties concerned.


Meanwhile, all the generals and officers whom we have named, were
invited to repair to Napoleon's house at six o'clock on the morning of
the 18th Brumaire, and the three regiments of cavalry already mentioned
were appointed to be ready and mounted in the Champs Elysées, to receive
the honour of being reviewed by Buonaparte, according to their petition.
As an excuse for assigning so unusual an hour of rendezvous, it is said
that the general was obliged to set out upon a journey. Many officers,
however, understood or guessed what was to be done, and came armed with
pistols as well as with swords. Some were without such information or
presentiment. Lefebvre, the commandant of the guard of the
Representative Bodies, supposed to be devoted to the Directory, had only
received an invitation to attend this military assembly on the preceding
midnight. Bernadotte, unacquainted with the project, and attached to the
Republican faction, was, however, brought to Buonaparte's house by his
brother Joseph.[464]

The surprise of some, and the anxious curiosity of all, may be supposed,
when they found a military levee so numerous and so brilliant assembled
at a house incapable of containing half of them. Buonaparte was obliged
to receive them in the open air. Leaving them thus assembled, and
waiting their cue to enter on the stage, let us trace the political
manœuvres from which the military were to take the signal for action.

Early as Buonaparte's levee had taken place, the Council of Ancients,
secretly and hastily assembled, had met still earlier. The ears of all
were filled by a report, generally circulated, that the Republican party
had formed a daring plan for giving a new popular impulse to the
government. It was said, that the resolution was taken at the Hôtel de
Salm, amongst the party who still adopted the principles of the old
Jacobins, to connect the two representative bodies into one National
Assembly, and invest the powers of government in a Committee of Public
Safety, after the model of what was called the Reign of Terror.
Circulated hastily, and with such addition to the tale as rumours
speedily acquire, the mind of the Council of Ancients was agitated with
much fear and anxiety. Cornudet, Lebrun,[465] and Fargues, made glowing
speeches to the Assembly, in which the terror that their language
inspired was rendered greater by the mysterious and indefinite manner in
which they expressed themselves. They spoke of personal danger--of being
overawed in their deliberations--of the fall of liberty, and of the
approaching destruction of the Republic. "You have but an instant to
save France," said Cornudet; "permit it to pass away, and the country
will be a mere carcass, disputed by the vultures, whose prey it must
become." Though the charge of conspiracy was not distinctly defined, the
measures recommended to defeat it were sufficiently decisive.

By the 102d, 103d, and 104th articles of the Constitution, it was
provided, that the Council of Ancients might, if they saw it expedient,
alter the place where the legislative bodies met, and convoke them
elsewhere; a provision designed, doubtless, to prevent the exercise of
that compulsion, which the Parisians had at one time assumed over the
National Assembly and Convention. This power the Council of Ancients now
exercised. By one edict the sittings of the two councils were removed to
St. Cloud; by another, the Council delegated to General Buonaparte full
power to see this measure carried into effect, and vested him for that
purpose with the military command of the department. A state messenger,
the deputy Cornet,[466] was sent to communicate to the general these
important measures, and require his presence in the Council of Ancients;
and this was the crisis which he had so anxiously expected.[467]

A few words determined the numerous body of officers, by whom the
messenger found him surrounded, to concur with him without scruple. Even
General Lefebvre, who commanded the guard of the legislative bodies,
declared his adhesion to Buonaparte.[468]

The Directory had not even yet taken the alarm. Two of them, indeed,
Siêyes and Ducos, being in the secret of the conspiracy, were already at
the Tuileries, to second the movement which was preparing. It is said
that Barras had seen them pass in the morning, and as they were both
mounted, had been much amused with the awkward horsemanship of
Siêyes.[469] He little guessed on what expedition he was bound.

When Buonaparte sallied forth on horseback, and at the head of such a
gallant cavalcade of officers, his first movement was to assume the
command of the three regiments of cavalry, already drawn up in the
Champs Elysées, and to lead them to the Tuileries, where the Council of
Ancients expected him. He entered their hall surrounded by his military
staff, and by those other generals, whose name carried the memory of so
many victories. "You are the wisdom of the nation," he said to the
Council: "At this crisis it belongs to you to point out the measures
which may save the country. I come, surrounded by the generals of the
Republic, to promise you their support. I name Lefebvre my lieutenant.
Let us not lose time in looking for precedents. Nothing in history ever
resembled the end of the eighteenth century--nothing in the eighteenth
century resembled this moment. Your wisdom has devised the necessary
measure, our arms shall put it into execution."[470] He announced to the
military the will of the Council, and the command with which they had
intrusted him; and it was received with loud shouts.

In the meanwhile the three directors, Barras, Gohier, and Moulins, who
were not in the secret of the morning, began too late to take the alarm.
Moulins proposed to send a battalion to surround the house of
Buonaparte, and make prisoner the general, and whomsoever else they
found there. But they had no longer the least influence over the
soldiery, and had the mortification to see their own personal guard,
when summoned by an aide-de-camp of Buonaparte, march away to join the
forces which he commanded, and leave them defenceless.[471]

Barras sent his secretary, Bottot, to expostulate with Buonaparte. The
general received him with great haughtiness, and publicly before a large
group of officers and soldiers, upbraided him with the reverses of the
country; not in the tone of an ordinary citizen, possessing but his own
individual interest in the fate of a great nation, but like a prince,
who, returning from a distant expedition, finds that in his absence his
deputies have abused their trust, and misruled his dominions. "What have
you done," he said, "for that fine France, which I left you in such a
brilliant condition? I left you peace, I have found war--I left you the
wealth of Italy, I have found taxation and misery. Where are the hundred
thousand Frenchmen whom I have known?--all of them my companions in
glory?--They are dead."[472] It was plain, that even now, when his
enterprise was but commenced, Buonaparte had already assumed that tone,
which seemed to account every one answerable to him for deficiencies in
the public service, and he himself responsible to no one.

Barras, overwhelmed and stunned, and afraid, perhaps, of impeachment for
his alleged peculations, belied the courage which he was once supposed
to possess, and submitted, in the most abject terms, to the will of the
victor. He sent in his resignation, in which he states, "that the weal
of the Republic, and his zeal for liberty alone, could have ever induced
him to undertake the burden of a public office; and that, seeing the
destinies of the Republic were now in the custody of her youthful and
invincible general he gladly resigned his authority."[473] He left Paris
for his country seat, accompanied by a guard of cavalry, which
Buonaparte ordered to attend him, as much, perhaps, to watch his motions
as to do him honour, though the last was the ostensible reason. His
colleagues, Gohier and Moulins, also resigned their office; Siêyes and
Ducos had already set the example; and thus, the whole Constitutional
Executive Council was dissolved, while the real power was vested in
Buonaparte's single person. Cambacérès, minister of justice, Fouché,
minister of police,[474] with all the rest of the administration,
acknowledged his authority accordingly; and he was thus placed in full
possession as well of the civil as of the military power.[475]

The Council of Five Hundred, or rather the Republican majority of that
body, showed a more stubborn temper; and if, instead of resigning,
Barras, Gohier, and Moulins, had united themselves to its leaders, they
might perhaps have given trouble to Buonaparte, successful as he had
hitherto been.

This hostile Council only met at ten o'clock on that memorable day, when
they received, to their surprise, the message intimating that the
Council of Ancients had changed the place of meeting from Paris to St.
Cloud; and thus removed their debates from the neighbourhood of the
populace, over whom the old Jacobinical principles might have retained
influence. The laws as they stood afforded the young Council no means of
evading compliance, and they accordingly adjourned to meet the next day
at St. Cloud, with unabated resolution to maintain the democratical part
of the constitution. They separated amid shouts of "Long live the
Republic and the Constitution!" which were echoed by the galleries. The
_tricoteuses_,[476] and other more zealous attendants on their debates,
resolved to transfer themselves to St. Cloud also, and appeared there in
considerable numbers on the ensuing day, when it was evident the
enterprise of Siêyes and of Buonaparte must be either perfected or

The contending parties held counsel all the evening, and deep into the
night, to prepare for the final contest on the morrow. Siêyes advised,
that forty leaders of the opposition should be arrested;[477] but
Buonaparte esteemed himself strong enough to obtain a decisive victory,
without resorting to any such obnoxious violence. They adjusted their
plan of operations in both Councils, and agreed that the government to
be established should be provisionally intrusted to three Consuls,
Buonaparte, Siêyes, and Ducos. Proper arrangements were made of the
armed force at St. Cloud; and the command was confided to the zeal and
fidelity of Murat. Buonaparte used some interest to prevent Bernadotte,
Jourdan, and Augereau, from attending at St. Cloud the next day, as he
did not expect them to take his part in the approaching crisis. The last
of these seemed rather hurt at the want of confidence which this caution
implied, and said, "What, general! dare you not trust your own little
Augereau?"[478] He went to St. Cloud accordingly.

Some preparations were necessary to put the palace of St. Cloud in
order, to receive the two Councils; the Orangerie being assigned to the
Council of Five Hundred; the Gallery of Mars to that of the Ancients.

In the Council of Ancients, the Modérés, having the majority, were
prepared to carry forward and complete their measures for a change of
government and constitution. But the minority, having rallied after the
surprise of the preceding day, were neither silent nor passive. The
Commission of Inspectors, whose duty it was to convene the Council, were
inculpated severely for having omitted to give information to several
leading members of the minority, of the extraordinary convocation which
took place at such an unwonted hour on the morning preceding. The
propriety, nay the legality, of the transference of the legislative
bodies to St. Cloud, was also challenged. A sharp debate took place,
which was terminated by the appearance of Napoleon, who entered the
hall, and harangued the members by permission of the president. "Citizen
representatives," said he, "you are placed upon a volcano. Let me tell
you the truth with the frankness of a soldier. I was remaining tranquil
with my family, when the commands of the Council of Ancients called me
to arms. I collected my brave military companions, and brought forward
the arms of the country in obedience to you who are the head. We are
rewarded with calumny--they compare me to Cæsar--to Cromwell. Had I
desired to usurp the supreme authority, I have had opportunities to do
so before now. But I swear to you the country has not a more
disinterested patriot. We are surrounded by dangers and by civil war.
Let us not hazard the loss of those advantages for which we have made
such sacrifices--Liberty and Equality."

"And the Constitution!" exclaimed Linglet, a democratic member,
interrupting a speech which seemed to be designedly vague and

"The Constitution!" answered Buonaparte, giving way to a more natural
expression of his feelings, and avowing his object more clearly than he
had yet dared to do--"It was violated on the eighteenth
Fructidor--violated on the twenty-second Floreal--violated on the
thirtieth Prairial. All parties have invoked it--all have disregarded it
in turn. It can be no longer a means of safety to any one, since it
obtains the respect of no one. Since we cannot preserve the
Constitution, let us at least save Liberty and Equality, the foundations
on which it is erected." He went on in the same strain to assure them,
that for the safety of the Republic he relied only on the wisdom and
power of the Council of Ancients, since in the Council of Five Hundred
were found those men who desired to bring back the Convention, with its
revolutionary committees, its scaffolds, its popular insurrections. "But
I," he said, "will save you from such horrors--I and my brave comrades
at arms, whose swords and caps I see at the door of the hall; and if any
hired orator shall talk of outlawry, I will appeal to the valour of my
comrades, with whom I have fought and conquered for liberty."[479]

The Assembly invited the general to detail the particulars of the
conspiracy to which he had alluded, but he confined himself to a
reference to the testimony of Siêyes and Ducos; and again reiterating
that the Constitution could not save the country, and inviting the
Council of Ancients to adopt some course which might enable them to do
so, he left them, amid cries of "Vive Buonaparte!" loudly echoed by the
military in the courtyard, to try the effect of his eloquence on the
more unmanageable Council of Five Hundred.

The deputies of the younger Council having found the place designed for
their meeting filled with workmen,[480] were for some time in a
situation which seemed to resemble the predicament of the National
Assembly at Versailles, when they took refuge in a tennis-court. The
recollection was of such a nature as inflamed and animated their
resolution, and they entered the Orangerie, when at length admitted, in
no good humour with the Council of Ancients, or with Buonaparte.
Proposals of accommodation had been circulated among them ineffectually.
They would have admitted Buonaparte into the Directory, but refused to
consent to any radical change in the constitution of the year Three.

The debate of the day, remarkable as the last in which the Republican
party enjoyed the full freedom of speech in France, was opened on
nineteenth Brumaire, at two o'clock, Lucien Buonaparte being president.
Gaudin, a member of the moderate party, began by moving, that a
committee of seven members should be formed, to report upon the state of
the Republic; and that measures should be taken for opening a
correspondence with the council of Ancients. He was interrupted by
exclamations and clamour on the part of the majority.

"The Constitution! The Constitution or Death!" was echoed and re-echoed
on every side. "Bayonets frighten us not," said Delbrel; "we are free
men."--"Down with the Dictatorship--no Dictators!" cried other members.

Lucien in vain endeavoured to restore order. Gaudin was dragged from the
tribune; the voice of other Moderates was overpowered by clamour--never
had the party of democracy shown itself fiercer or more tenacious than
when about to receive the death-blow.

"Let us swear to preserve the Constitution of the year Three!" exclaimed
Delbrel; and the applause which followed the proposition was so general,
that it silenced all resistance. Even the members of the moderate
party--nay, Lucien Buonaparte himself--were compelled to take the oath
of fidelity to the Constitution, which he and they were leagued to

"The oath you have just taken," said Bigonnet, "will occupy a place in
the annals of history, beside the celebrated vow taken in the
tennis-court. The one was the foundation of liberty, the other shall
consolidate the structure." In the midst of this fermentation, the
letter containing the resignation of Barras was read, and received with
marks of contempt, as the act of a soldier deserting his post in the
time of danger. The moderate party seemed silenced, overpowered, and on
the point of coalescing with the great majority of the Council, when the
clash of arms was heard at the entrance of the apartment. All eyes were
turned to that quarter. Bayonets, drawn sabres, the plumed hats of
general officers and aides-de-camp, and the caps of grenadiers, were
visible without, while Napoleon entered the Orangerie, attended by four
grenadiers belonging to the constitutional guard of the Councils. The
soldiers remained at the bottom of the hall, while he advanced with a
measured step and uncovered, about one-third up the room.

He was received with loud murmurs. "What! drawn weapons, armed men,
soldiers in the sanctuary of the laws!" exclaimed the members, whose
courage seemed to rise against the display of force with which they were
menaced. All the deputies arose, some rushed on Buonaparte, and seized
him by the collar; others called out--"Outlawry--outlawry--let him be
proclaimed a traitor?" It is said that Arena, a native of Corsica like
himself, aimed a dagger at his breast, which was only averted by the
interposition of one of the grenadiers.[481] The fact seems extremely
doubtful, though it is certain that Buonaparte was seized by two or
three members, while others exclaimed, "Was it for this you gained so
many victories?" and loaded him with reproaches. At this crisis a party
of grenadiers rushed into the hall with drawn swords, and extricating
Buonaparte from the deputies, bore him off in their arms breathless with
the scuffle.[482]

It was probably at this crisis that Augereau's faith in his ancient
general's fortune began to totter, and his revolutionary principles to
gain an ascendence over his military devotion. "A fine situation you
have brought yourself into," he said to Buonaparte, who answered
sternly, "Augereau, things were worse at Arcola--Take my advice--remain
quiet, in a short time all this will change."[483] Augereau, whose
active assistance and co-operation might have been at this critical
period of the greatest consequence to the Council, took the hint, and
continued passive.[484] Jourdan and Bernadotte, who were ready to act on
the popular side, had the soldiers shown the least hesitation in
yielding obedience to Buonaparte, perceived no opening of which to avail

The Council remained in the highest state of commotion, the general
voice accusing Buonaparte of having usurped the supreme authority,
calling for a sentence of outlawry, or demanding that he should be
brought to the bar. "Can you ask me to put the outlawry of my own
brother to the vote?" said Lucien. But this appeal to his personal
situation and feelings made no impression upon the Assembly, who
continued clamorously to demand the question. At length Lucien flung on
the desk his hat, scarf, and other parts of his official dress. "Let me
be rather heard," he said, "as the advocate of him whom you falsely and
rashly accuse." But his request only added to the tumult. At this moment
a small body of grenadiers, sent by Napoleon to his brother's
assistance, marched into the hall.

They were at first received with applause; for the Council, accustomed
to see the triumph of democratical opinions among the military, did not
doubt that they were deserting their general to range themselves on the
side of the deputies. Their appearance was but momentary--they instantly
left the hall, carrying Lucien in the centre of the detachment.

Matters were now come to extremity on either side. The Council, thrown
into the greatest disorder by these repeated military incursions,
remained in violent agitation, furious against Buonaparte, but without
the calmness necessary to adopt decisive measures.

Meantime, the sight of Napoleon, almost breathless, and bearing marks of
personal violence, excited to the highest the indignation of the
military. In broken words he told them, that when he wished to show them
the road to lead the country to victory and fame, "they had answered him
with daggers."

Cries of resentment arose from the soldiery, augmented when the party
sent to extricate the president brought him to the ranks as to a
sanctuary. Lucien, who seconded his brother admirably, or rather who led
the way in this perilous adventure, mounted on horseback instantly, and
called out, in a voice naturally deep and sonorous, "General, and you,
soldiers! the President of the Council of Five Hundred proclaims to you,
that factious men, with drawn daggers, have interrupted the
deliberations of the Assembly. He authorises you to employ force against
these disturbers--The Assembly of Five Hundred is dissolved!"

Murat, deputed by Buonaparte to execute the commands of Lucien, entered
the Orangerie with drums beating, at the head of a detachment with fixed
bayonets. He summoned the deputies to disperse on their peril, while an
officer of the constitutional guard called out, he could be no longer
answerable for their safety. Cries of fear became now mingled with
vociferations of rage, execrations of abhorrence, and shouts of _Vive la
République_. An officer then mounted the president's seat, and summoned
the representatives to retire. "The General," said he, "has given

Some of the deputies and spectators began now to leave the hall; the
greater part continued firm, and sustained the shouts by which they
reprobated this military intrusion. The drums at length struck up and
drowned further remonstrance.

"Forward, grenadiers," said the officer who commanded the party. They
levelled their muskets, and advanced as if to the charge. The deputies
seem hitherto to have retained a lingering hope that their persons would
be regarded as inviolable. They now fled on all sides, most of them
jumping from the windows of the Orangerie, and leaving behind them their
official caps, scarfs, and gowns. In a very few minutes the apartments
were entirely clear; and thus, furnishing, at its conclusion, a striking
parallel to the scene which ended the Long Parliament of Charles the
First's time, terminated the last democratical assembly of France.[485]

Buonaparte affirms, that one of the general officers in his suite
offered to take the command of fifty men, and place them in ambush to
fire on the deputies in their flight, which he wisely declined as a
useless and gratuitous cruelty.[486]

[Sidenote: ARENA.]

The result of these violent and extraordinary measures was intimated to
the Council of Ancients; the immediate cause of the expulsion of the
Five Hundred being referred to the alleged violence on the person of
Buonaparte, which was said by one member to have been committed by
Arena, while another exaggerated the charge, by asserting that it was
offered in consequence of Buonaparte's having made disclosure of some
mal-practices of the Corsican deputy while in Italy. The _Moniteur_ soon
after improved this story of Arena and his single poniard, into a party
consisting of Arena, Marquezzi, and other deputies, armed with pistols
and daggers. At other times, Buonaparte was said to have been wounded,
which certainly was not the case. The effect of the example of Brutus
upon a republican, and an Italian to boot, might render the conduct
ascribed to Arena credible enough; but the existence of a party armed
with pocket-pistols and daggers, for the purpose of opposing regular
troops, is too ridiculous to be believed. Arena published a denial of
the attempt;[487] and among the numbers who witnessed the scene no proof
was ever appealed to, save the real evidence of a dagger found on the
floor, and the torn sleeve of a grenadier's coat, circumstances which
might be accounted for many ways. But having served at the time as a
popular apology for the strong measures which had been adopted, the
rumour was not allowed to fall asleep. Thomé, the grenadier, was
declared to have merited well of his country by the Legislative Body,
entertained at dinner by the general, and rewarded with a salute and a
valuable jewel by Josephine. Other reports were put in circulation
concerning the violent purposes of the Jacobins. It was said the ancient
revolutionist, Santerre, was setting a popular movement on foot, in the
Fauxbourg Saint Antoine, and that Buonaparte, through the ex-Director
Moulins, had cautioned him against proceeding in his purpose, declaring,
that if he did, he would have him shot by martial law.

But the truth is, that although there can be no doubt that the popular
party entertained a full purpose of revolutionizing the government anew,
and restoring its republican character, yet they were anticipated and
surprised by the movement of the 18th and 19th Brumaire, which could
not, therefore, in strict language, be justified as a defensive measure.
Its excuse must rest on the proposition which seems undoubted, that
affairs were come to such extremity that a contest was unavoidable, and
that therefore it was necessary for the moderate party to take the
advantage of the first blow, though they exposed themselves in doing so
to the reproach of being called the aggressors in the contest.[488]

The Council of Ancients had expressed some alarm and anxiety about the
employment of military force against the other branch of the
constitutional representation. But Lucien Buonaparte, having succeeded
in rallying around him about a hundred of the council of the juniors,
assumed the character and office of that legislative body, now
effectually purged of all the dissidents, and, as President of the Five
Hundred, gave to the Council of Ancients such an explanation, as they,
nothing loth to be convinced, admitted to be satisfactory. Both councils
then adjourned till the 19th February, 1800, after each had devolved
their powers upon a committee of twenty-five persons, who were
instructed to prepare a civil code against the meeting of the
legislative bodies. A provisional consular government was appointed,
consisting of Buonaparte, Siêyes,[489] and Roger Ducos.

The victory, therefore, of the eighteenth and nineteenth Brumaire, was,
by dint of sword and bayonet, completely secured. It remained for the
conquerors to consider the uses which were to be made of it.


[448] Thiers, tom. x., p. 346; Gourgaud, tom. i., p. 56; Lacretelle,
tom. xiv., p. 385.

[449] "It was not like the return of a citizen to his country, or a
general at the head of a victorious army, but like the triumph of a
sovereign restored to his people."--GOURGAUD, tom. i., p. 57.

[450] "The news of his return caused a general delirium. Baudin, the
deputy from Ardennes, who was really a worthy man, struck with the idea
that Providence had at length sent the man for whom he and his party had
so long searched in vain, died the very same night from excess of
joy."--GOURGAUD, tom. i., p. 59; FOUCHÉ, tom. i., p. 107.

[451] "Having thus arrived in Paris quite unexpectedly, he was in his
own house, in the Rue Chantereine, before any one knew of his being in
the capital. Two hours afterwards, he presented himself to the
Directory, and, being recognised by the soldiers on guard, was announced
by shouts of gladness. All the members of the Directory appeared to
share in the public joy."--GOURGAUD, tom. i., p. 60.

[452] See Mémoires de Gohier, tom. i., pp. 198-212.

[453] Gourgaud, tom. i., p. 65.

[454] "Covers were laid for seven hundred. Napoleon remained at table
but a short time: he appeared to be uneasy, and much
preoccupied."--GOURGAUD, tom. i., p. 63.

[455] "Every one of the ministers wished to give him an entertainment,
but he only accepted a dinner from the Minister of Justice (Cambacérès.)
He requested that the principal lawyers of the Republic might be there.
He was very cheerful at this dinner, conversed at large on the criminal
code, to the great astonishment of Tronchet, Treilhard, Merlin, and
Target, and expressed his desire to see persons and property placed
under the guard of a simple code, suitable to an enlightened
age."--GOURGAUD, tom. i., p. 64.

[456] Gourgaud, tom. i., p. 67.

[457] Hedouville was born at Laon in 1755. In 1801, Buonaparte appointed
him ambassador to Petersburgh. On the restoration of the Bourbons he was
made a peer of France, and died in 1825.

[458] "On the 8th Brumaire (30th October,) Napoleon dined with Barras: a
conversation took place after dinner. 'The Republic is falling,' said
the director; 'things cannot go on; a change must take place, and
Hedouville must be named president. As to you, general, you intend to
rejoin the army; and, for my part, ill as I am, unpopular, and worn out,
I am only fit to return to private life. Napoleon looked steadfastly at
him without replying a word. Barras cast down his eyes, and remained
silent. Thus the conversation ended."--GOURGAUD, tom. i., p. 72; THIERS,
tom. x., p. 359.

[459] Thiers, tom. x., p. 363.

[460] "Talleyrand availed himself of all the resources of a supple and
insinuating address, in order to conciliate a person whose suffrage it
was important to him to secure."--GOURGAUD, tom. i., p. 66.--"It was he
who disclosed to Buonaparte's views all the weak points of the
government, and made him acquainted with the state of parties, and the
bearings of each character."--FOUCHÉ, tom. i., p. 96.

[461] "Napoleon effected the 18th of Brumaire without admitting Fouché
into the secret."--GOURGAUD, tom. i., p. 66.--"Buonaparte was too
cunning to let me into the secret of his means of execution, and to
place himself at the mercy of a single man; but he said enough to me to
win my confidence, and to persuade me that the destinies of France were
in his hands."--FOUCHÉ, tom. i., p. 98.

[462] Gourgaud, tom. i., p. 74.

[463] "Moreau, who had been at the dinner of the Legislative Body, and
with whom Napoleon had there, for the first time, become acquainted,
having learned from public report that a change was in preparation,
assured Napoleon that he placed himself at his disposal, that he had no
wish to be admitted into any secret, and that he required but one hour's
notice to prepare himself. Macdonald, who happened then to be at Paris,
had made the same tenders of service."--GOURGAUD, tom. i., p. 77.

[464] Gourgaud, tom. i., p. 78. For some curious historical notes on the
18th Brumaire, furnished to Sir Walter Scott by a distinguished
authority, and of which great, although unacknowledged, use has since
been made by M. Bourrienne, see Appendix to this volume, No. VIII.

[465] Afterwards Third Consul, Arch-Treasurer, and Duke of Placentia.

[466] Buonaparte afterwards made Cornet a member of the Conservative
Senate and grand officer of the Legion of Honour. On the restoration of
the Bourbons, he became a peer of France.--See his "Notice Historique,"
published in 1819.

[467] Gourgaud, tom. i., p. 78.

[468] "The messenger found the avenues filled with officers: Napoleon
had the folding doors opened; and his house being too small to contain
so many persons, he came forward on the steps in front of it, received
the compliments of the officers, harangued them, and told them that he
relied upon them all for the salvation of France. Enthusiasm was at its
height: all the officers drew their swords, and promised their services
and fidelity."--GOURGAUD, tom. i., p. 80.

[469] Gourgaud, tom. i., p. 85.

[470] Lacretelle, tom. xiv., p. 413; Thiers, tom. x., p. 370;
Montgaillard, tom. v., p. 264; Gourgaud, tom. i., p. 82.

[471] Lacretelle, tom. xiv., p. 415.

[472] "Then all at once concluding his harangue, in a calm tone he
added, 'This state of things cannot last; it would lead us in three
years to despotism.'"--MAD. DE STAËL, tom. ii., p. 224; Thiers, tom. x.,
p. 376; Montgaillard, tom. v., p. 265.

[473] Letter to the Directory.--See Gourgaud, tom. i., Appendix, p. 336.

[474] "Fouché made great professions of attachment and devotion. He had
given directions for closing the barriers, and preventing the departure
of couriers and coaches. 'Why, good God?' said the general to him,
'wherefore all these precautions? We go with the nation, and by its
strength alone: let no citizen be disturbed, and let the triumph of
opinion have nothing in common with the transactions of days in which a
factious minority prevailed.'"--GOURGAUD, tom. i., p. 87.

[475] Gourgaud, tom. i., p. 86.

[476] The women of lower rank who attended the debates of the Council,
plying the task of knitting while they listened to politics, were so
denominated. They were always zealous democrats, and might claim in one
sense Shakspeare's description of

    "The _free_ maids who weave their thread with bones."--S.

[477] "The recommendation was a wise one; but Napoleon thought himself
too strong to need any such precaution. 'I swore in the morning,' said
he, 'to protect the national representation; I will not this evening
violate my oath.'"--GOURGAUD, tom. i., p. 87.

[478] Gourgaud, tom. i., p. 87.

[479] Thibaudeau, tom. i., p. 38; Montgaillard, tom. v., p. 267; Thiers,
tom. x., p. 380; Lacretelle, tom. xiv., p. 424; Gourgaud, tom. i., p.

[480] "So late as two o'clock in the afternoon, the place assigned to
the Council of Five Hundred was not ready. This delay of a few hours was
very unfortunate. The deputies formed themselves into groups in the
garden; their minds grew heated; they sounded one another, interchanged
declarations of the state of their feelings, and organized their
opposition."--GOURGAUD, tom. i., p. 89.

[481] "The Corsican Arena approached the general, and shook him
violently by the collar of his coat. It has been supposed, but without
reason, that he had a poniard to kill him."--MAD. DE STAËL, tom. ii., p

[482] "In the confusion, one of them, named Thomé, was slightly wounded
by the thrust of a dagger, and the clothes of another were cut
through."--Gourgaud, tom. i., p. 95.

[483] Lacretelle, tom. xiv., p. 428; Gourgaud, tom. i., p. 91.

[484] The _Moniteur_ is anxious to exculpate Augereau from having taken
any part in favour of the routed party on the nineteenth Brumaire. That
officer, it says, did not join in the general oath of fidelity to the
Constitution of the year Three. The same official paper adds, that on
the evening of the nineteenth, being invited by some of the leading
persons of the democratic faction, to take the military command of their
partisans, he had asked them by way of reply, "Whether they supposed he
would tarnish the reputation he had acquired in the army, by taking
command of wretches like them?" Augereau, it may be remembered, was the
general who was sent by Buonaparte to Paris to act as military chief on
the part of the Directory in the revolution of the 18th Fructidor, in
which the soldiery had willingly followed him. Buonaparte was probably
well pleased to keep a man of his military reputation and resolved
character out of the combat if possible.--S.

[485] Thibaudeau, tom. i., p. 56; Lacretelle, tom. xv., p. 430; Thiers,
tom. x., p. 385; Montgaillard, tom. v., p. 271.

[486] Gourgaud, tom. i., p. 97.

[487] "I have heard some of Arena's countrymen declare that he was
incapable of attempting so rash an act. The contrary opinion was,
however, so prevalent, that he was obliged to retire to Leghorn, where
he made an appeal to the justice of the first consul; who gave him no
reply: but I never heard him say that he had noticed the attitude
attributed to Arena."--SAVARY, tom. i., p. 154.

[488] "Metaphysicians have disputed, and will long dispute, whether we
did not violate the laws, and whether we were not criminal; but these
are mere abstractions, at best fit for books and tribunes, and which
ought to disappear before imperious necessity: one might as well blame a
sailor for waste and destruction, when he cuts away his masts to avoid
being overset. The fact is, that had it not been for us the country must
have been lost; and we saved it. The authors and chief agents of that
memorable state transaction may, and ought, instead of denials or
justifications, to answer their accusers proudly, like the Romans, 'We
protest that we have saved our country, come with us and return thanks
to the gods.'"--NAPOLEON, _Las Cases_, tom. iv., p. 331.

[489] "Siêyes, during the most critical moments, had remained in his
carriage at the gate of St. Cloud, ready to follow the march of the
troops. His conduct during the danger was becoming: he evinced coolness,
resolution, and intrepidity."--GOURGAUD, tom. i., p. 100.


    _Clemency of the New Consulate--Beneficial change in the
    Finances--Law of Hostages repealed--Religious liberty
    allowed--Improvements in the War Department--Pacification of La
    Vendée--Ascendancy of Napoleon--Disappointment of
    Siêyes--Committee formed to consider Siêyes' Plan of a
    Constitution--Rejected as to essentials--A new one adopted,
    monarchical in every thing but form--Siêyes retires from public
    life--General view of the new Government--Despotic Power of the
    First Consul._

The victory obtained over the Directory and the democrats, upon the 18th
and 19th Brumaire, was generally acceptable to the French nation. The
feverish desire of liberty, which had been the characteristic of all
descriptions of persons in the year 1792, was quenched by the blood shed
during the Reign of Terror; and even just and liberal ideas of freedom
had so far fallen into disrepute, from their resemblance to those which
had been used as a pretext for the disgusting cruelties perpetrated at
that terrible period, that they excited from association a kind of
loathing as well as dread. The great mass of the nation sought no longer
guarantees for metaphysical rights, but, broken down by suffering,
desired repose, and were willing to submit to any government which
promised to secure to them the ordinary benefits of civilisation.


Buonaparte and Siêyes--for, though only during a brief space, they may
still be regarded as joint authorities--were enabled to profit by this
general acquiescence, in many important particulars. It put it in their
power to dispense with the necessity of pursuing and crushing their
scattered adversaries; and the French saw a revolution effected in their
system, and that by military force, in which not a drop of blood was
spilt. Yet, as had been the termination of most recent revolutions,
lists of proscription were prepared; and without previous trial or legal
sentence, fifty-nine of those who had chiefly opposed the new Consulate
on the 18th and 19th Brumaire were condemned to deportation by the sole
_fiat_ of the consuls. Siêyes is said to have suggested this unjust and
arbitrary measure, which, bearing a colour of revenge and persecution,
was highly unpopular. It was not carried into execution. Exceptions were
at first made in favour of such of the condemned persons as showed
themselves disposed to be tractable; and at length the sentence was
altogether dispensed with, and the more obnoxious partisans of democracy
were only placed under the superintendence of the police.[490] This
conduct showed at once conscious strength, and a spirit of clemency,
than which no attributes can contribute more to the popularity of a new
government; since the spirit of the opposition, deprived of hope of
success, and yet not urged on by despair of personal safety, gradually
becomes disposed to sink into acquiescence. The democrats, or, as they
were now termed, the anarchists, became intimidated, or cooled in their
zeal; and only a few of the more enthusiastic continued yet to avow
those principles, to breathe the least doubt of which had been, within
but a few months, a crime worthy of death.

Other and most important decrees were adopted by the consuls, tending to
lighten the burdens which their predecessors had imposed on the nation,
and which had rendered their government so unpopular. Two of the most
oppressive measures of the directors were repealed without delay.

The first referred to the finances, which were found in a state of
ruinous exhaustion, and were only maintained by a system of compulsory
and progressive loans, according to rates of assessment on the property
of the citizens. The new minister of finance, Gaudin,[491] would not
even go to bed, or sleep a single night, until he had produced a
substitute for this ruinous resource, for which he levied an additional
rise of twenty-five per cent. on all contributions, direct and indirect,
which produced a large sum. He carried order and regularity into all the
departments of finance, improved the collection and income of the funds
of the Republic, and inspired so much confidence by the moderation and
success of his measures, that credit began to revive, and several loans
were attained on easy terms.

The repeal of the law of hostages was a measure equally popular. This
cruel and unreasonable enactment, which rendered the aged and weak,
unprotected females, and helpless children of emigrants, or armed
royalists, responsible for the actions of their relatives, was
immediately mitigated. Couriers were despatched to open the prisons; and
this act of justice and humanity was hailed as a pledge of returning
moderation and liberality.

Important measures were also taken for tranquillizing the religious
discord by which the country had been so long agitated. Buonaparte, who
had lately professed himself more than half persuaded of the truth of
Mahommed's mission, became now--such was the decree of Providence--the
means of restoring to France the free exercise of the Christian faith.
The mummery of Reveillière Lepaux's heathenism was by general consent
abandoned. The churches were restored to public worship; pensions were
allowed to such religious persons as took an oath of fidelity to the
government; and more than twenty thousand clergymen, with whom the
prisons had been filled, in consequence of intolerant laws, were set at
liberty upon taking the same vow. Public and domestic rites of worship
in every form were tolerated and protected; and the law of the decades,
or Theophilanthropic festivals, was abolished. Even the earthly relics
of Pope Pius VI., who had died at Valence, and in exile, were not
neglected, but received, singular to relate, the rites of sepulture with
the solemnity due to his high office, by command of Buonaparte,[492] who
had first shaken the Papal authority; and in doing so, as he boasted in
his Egyptian proclamations, had destroyed the emblem of Christian

The part taken by Cambacérès, the minister of justice, in the revolution
of Brumaire, had been agreeable to Buonaparte; and his moderation now
aided him in the lenient measures which he had determined to adopt. He
was a good lawyer, and a man of sense and information, and under his
administration means were taken to relax the oppressive severity of the
laws against the emigrants. Nine of them, noblemen of the most ancient
families in France, had been thrown on the coast near Calais by
shipwreck, and the directors had meditated bringing to trial those whom
the winds and waves had spared, as fallen under the class of emigrants
returned to France without permission, against whom the laws denounced
the penalty of death. Buonaparte more liberally considered their being
found within the prohibited territory, as an act, not of violation, but
of inevitable necessity, and they were dismissed accordingly.[493]

From the same spirit of politic clemency, La Fayette, Latour Maubourg,
and others, who, although revolutionists, had been expelled from France
for not carrying their principles of freedom sufficiently high and far,
were permitted to return to their native country.


It may be easily believed that the military department of the state
underwent a complete reform under the authority of Buonaparte. Dubois de
Crancé, the minister at war under the directors, was replaced by
Berthier; and Napoleon gives a strange picture of the incapacity of the
former functionary. He declares he could not furnish a single report of
the state of the army--that he had obtained no regular returns of the
effective strength of the different regiments--that many corps had been
formed in the departments, whose very existence was unknown to the
minister at war; and, finally, that when pressed for reports of the pay,
of the victualling, and of the clothing of the troops, he had replied,
that the war department neither paid, clothed, nor victualled them. This
may be exaggerated, for Napoleon disliked Dubois de Crancé[494] as his
personal opponent; but the improvident and corrupt character of the
directorial government renders the charge very probable. By the
exertions of Berthier, accustomed to Buonaparte's mode of arrangements,
the war department soon adopted a very different face of activity.[495]

The same department received yet additional vigour when the consuls
called to be its head the celebrated Carnot, who had returned from
exile, in consequence of the fall of the directors. He remained in
office but a short time; for, being a democrat in principle, he
disapproved of the personal elevation of Buonaparte; but during the
period that he continued in administration, his services in restoring
order in the military department and combining the plans of the campaign
with Moreau and Buonaparte, were of the highest importance.

Napoleon showed no less talent in closing the wounds of internal war,
than in his other arrangements. The Chouans, under various chiefs, had
disturbed the western provinces; but the despair of pardon, which drove
so many malecontents to their standard, began to subside, and the
liberal and accommodating measures adopted by the new Consular
government, induced most to make peace with Buonaparte. This they did
the more readily, that many of them believed the chief consul intended
by degrees, and when the opportunity offered, to accomplish the
restoration of the Bourbons. Many of the chiefs of the Chouans submitted
to him, and afterwards supported his government. Chatillon, Suzannet,
D'Autichamp, nobles and chiefs of the Royalist army, submitted at
Montluçon, and their reconciliation with the government, being admitted
on liberal terms, was sincerely observed by them. Bernier, rector of St.
Lo, who had great influence in La Vendée, also made his peace, and was
afterwards made Bishop of Orleans by Buonaparte, and employed in
negotiating the Concordat with the Pope.

Count Louis de Frotté, an enterprising and high-spirited young nobleman,
refused for a long time to enter into terms with Buonaparte; so did
another chief of the Chouans, called George Cadoudal, a peasant of the
district of Morbihan, raised to the command of his countrymen, because,
with great strength and dauntless courage, he combined the qualities of
enterprise and sagacity. Frotté was betrayed and made prisoner in the
house of Guidal, commandant at Alençon, who had pretended friendship to
him, and had promised to negotiate a favourable treaty on his behalf. He
and eight or nine of his officers were tried by a military commission,
and condemned to be shot. They marched hand in hand to the place of
execution, remained to the last in the same attitude, expressive of
their partaking the same sentiments of devotion to the cause in which
they suffered, and died with the utmost courage. George Cadoudal, left
alone, became unable to support the civil war, and laid down his arms
for a time. Buonaparte, whose policy it was to unite in the new order of
things as many and as various characters as possible, not regarding what
parts they had formerly played, provided they now attached themselves to
his person, took great pains to gain over a man so resolute as this
daring Breton. He had a personal interview with him, which he says
George Cadoudal solicited; yet why he should have done so it is hard to
guess, unless it were to learn whether Buonaparte had any ultimate
purpose of serving the Bourbon interest. He certainly did not request
the favour in order to drive any bargain for himself, since Buonaparte
frankly admits, that all his promises and arguments failed to make any
impression upon him; and that he parted with George, professing still to
entertain opinions for which he had fought so often and so

In another instance which happened at this period, Buonaparte boasts of
having vindicated the insulted rights of nations. The Senate of
Hamburgh had delivered up to England Napper Tandy, Blackwell, and other
Irishmen, concerned in the rebellion which had lately wasted Ireland.
Buonaparte took this up in a threatening tone, and expounded to their
trembling envoy the rights of a neutral territory, in language, upon
which the subsequent tragedy of the Duke d'Enghein formed a singular


While Buonaparte was thus busied in adopting measures for composing
internal discord, and renewing the wasted resources of the country,
those discussions were at the same time privately carrying forward,
which were to determine by whom and in what way it should be governed.
There is little doubt, that when Siêyes undertook the revolution of
Brumaire, he would have desired for his military assistant a very
different character from Buonaparte. Some general would have best suited
him who possessed no knowledge beyond that of his profession, and whose
ambition would have been contented to accept such share of power as
corresponded to his limited views and capacity. The wily priest,
however, saw that no other coadjutor save Buonaparte could have availed
him, after the return of the latter from Egypt, and was not long of
experiencing that Napoleon would not be satisfied with any thing short
of the lion's share of the spoil.

[Sidenote: Nov. 11.]

At the very first meeting of the consuls, the defection of Roger Ducos
to the side of Buonaparte convinced Siêyes, that he would be unable to
support those pretensions to the first place in the government, to which
his friends had expected to see him elevated. He had reckoned on Ducos's
vote for giving him the situation of first consul; but Ducos saw better
where the force and talent of the Consulate must be considered as
reposed. "General," said he to Napoleon, at the first meeting of the
Consular body, "the presidency belongs to you as a matter of right."
Buonaparte took the chair accordingly as a thing of course. In the
course of the deliberations, Siêyes had hoped to find that the general's
opinions and interference would have been limited to military affairs;
whereas, on the contrary, he heard him express distinctly, and support
firmly, propositions on policy and finance, religion and jurisprudence.
He showed, in short, so little occasion for an independent coadjutor,
that Siêyes appears from this, the very first interview, to have given
up all hopes of establishing a separate interest of his own, and to
have seen that the Revolution was from that moment ended. On his return
home, he said to those statesmen with whom he had consulted and acted
preceding the eighteenth Brumaire, as Talleyrand, Boulay, Rœderer,
Cabanis, &c.--"Gentlemen, you have a Master--give yourself no farther
concern about the affairs of the state--Buonaparte can and will manage
them all at his own pleasure."[498]

This declaration must have announced to those who heard it, that the
direct and immediate advantages proposed by the revolution were lost;
that the government no longer rested on the popular basis, but that, in
a much greater degree than could have been said to have been the case
during the reign of the Bourbons, the whole measures of state must in
future rest upon the arbitrary pleasure of one man.

It was, in the meantime, necessary that some form of government should
be established without delay, were it only to prevent the meeting of the
two Councils, who must have resumed their authority, unless superseded
by a new constitution previous to the 19th February, 1800, to which day
they had been prorogued. As a previous measure, the oath taken by
official persons was altered from a direct acknowledgment of the
constitution of the year Three, so as to express a more general
profession of adherence to the cause of the French nation. How to salve
the wounded consciences of those who had previously taken the oath in
its primitive form, no care was used, nor does any appear to have been
thought necessary.[499]


[Sidenote: Dec.]

The three consuls, and the legislative committees, formed themselves
into a General Committee, for the purpose of organizing a
constitution;[500] and Siêyes was invited to submit to them that model,
on the preparation of which he used to pique himself, and had been
accustomed to receive the flattery of his friends. He appears to have
obeyed the call slowly, and to have produced his plan partially, and by
fragments;[501] probably because he was aware, that the offspring of his
talents would never be accepted in its entire form, but must necessarily
undergo such mutilations as might fit it for the purposes and to the
pleasure of the dictator, whose supremacy he had been compelled to
announce to his party.

On being pressed by his colleagues in the committee, the metaphysical
politician at length produced his full plan of the hierarchical
representation, whose authority was to emanate from the choice of the
people and of a Conservative Senate, which was at once to protect the
laws of the commonwealth, and _absorb_, as it was termed, all furious
and over-ambitious spirits, by calling them, when they distinguished
themselves by any irregular exertion of power, to share the comforts and
incapacities of their own body, as they say spirits of old were conjured
down, and obliged to abide in the Red Sea. He then brought forward his
idea of a Legislative Body, which was to vote and decide, but without
debate; and his Tribunate, designed to plead for, or to impeach the
measures of government. These general outlines were approved, as being
judged likely to preserve more stability and permanence than had been
found to appertain to the constitutions, which, since 1792, had, in such
quick succession, been adopted and abandoned.

But the idea which Siêyes entertained of lodging the executive
government in a Grand Elector, who was to be the very model of a King of
Lubberland, was the ruin of his plan. It was in vain, that in hopes of
luring Buonaparte to accept of this office, he had, while depriving it
of all real power, attached to it a large revenue, guards, honours, and
rank. The heaping with such distinctions an official person, who had no
other duty than to name two consuls, who were to carry on the civil and
military business of the state without his concurrence or authority, was
introducing into a modern state the evils of a worn-out Asiatic empire,
where the Sultan, or Mogul, or whatever he is called, lies in his Haram
in obscure luxury, while the state affairs are conducted exclusively by
his viziers, or lieutenants.

Buonaparte exclaimed against the whole concoction.--"Who," said he,
"would accept an office, of which the only duties were to fatten like a
pig upon so many millions yearly?[502]--Or what man of spirit would
consent to name ministers, over whom, being named, he was not to
exercise the slightest authority?--And your two consuls for war and
peace, the one surrounded with judges, churchmen, and civilians,--the
other with military men and diplomatists,--on what footing of
intercourse can they be said to stand respecting each other?--the one
demanding money and recruits, the other refusing the supplies? A
government involving such a total separation of offices necessarily
connected, would be heterogeneous,--the shadow of a state, but without
the efficient authority which should belong to one."

Siêyes did not possess powers of persuasion or promptness of speech in
addition to his other talents. He was silenced and intimidated, and saw
his favourite Elector-General, with his two Consuls, or rather viziers,
rejected, without making much effort in their defence.

Still the system which was actually adopted, bore, in point of form,
some faint resemblance to the model of Siêyes. Three Consuls were
appointed; the first to hold the sole power of nominating to public
offices, and right of determining on public measures; the other two were
to be his indispensable counsellors. The first of these offices was
designed to bring back the constitution of France to a monarchical
system, while the second and third were added merely to conciliate the
Republicans, who were not yet prepared for a retrograde movement.

The office of one of these supplementary consuls was offered to Siêyes,
but he declined to accept of it, and expressed his wish to retire from
public life. His disappointment was probably considerable, at finding
himself acting but a second-rate part, after the success of the
conspiracy which he had himself schemed; but his pride was not so great
as to decline a pecuniary compensation. Buonaparte bestowed on him by
far the greater part of the private treasure amassed by the
ex-directors. It was said to amount to six hundred thousand francs,
which Siêyes called _une poire pour la soif_; in English, a morsel to
stay the stomach.[503] He was endowed also with the fine domain and
estate of Crosne;[504] and to render the gift more acceptable, and save
his delicacy, a decree was issued, compelling him to accept of this
manifestation of national gratitude. The office of a senator gave him
dignity; and the yearly appointment of twenty-five thousand francs
annexed to it, added to the ease of his situation.[505] In short, this
celebrated metaphysician disappeared as a political person, and became,
to use his own expression, _absorbed_ in the pursuit of epicurean
indulgences, which he covered with a veil of mystery. There is no doubt
that by thus showing the greedy and mercenary turn of his nature,
Siêyes, notwithstanding his abilities, lost in a great measure the
esteem and reverence of his countrymen; and this was a consequence not
probably unforeseen by Buonaparte, when he loaded him with wealth.


To return to the new constitution. Every species of power and faculty
was heaped upon the chief consul, with a liberality which looked as if
France, to atone for her long jealousy of those who had been the
administrators of her executive power, was now determined to remove at
once every obstacle which might stand in the way of Buonaparte to
arbitrary power. He possessed the sole right of nominating counsellors
of state, ministers, ambassadors, officers, civil and military, and
almost all functionaries whatsoever. He was to propose all new laws, and
take all measures for internal and external defence of the state. He
commanded all the forces, of whatever description, superintended all the
national relations at home and abroad, and coined the public money. In
these high duties he had the advice of his brother consuls, and also of
a Council of State. But he was recognised to be independent of them all.
The consuls were to be elected for the space of ten years, and to be

The Abbé Siêyes's plan of dividing the people into three classes, which
should each of them declare a certain number of persons eligible to
certain gradations of the state, was ostensibly adopted. The lists of
these eligible individuals were to be addressed by the various electoral
classes to the Conservative Senate, which also was borrowed from the
abbé's model. This body, the highest and most august in the state, were
to hold their places for life, and had a considerable pension attached
to them. Their number was not to exceed eighty, and they were to have
the power of supplying vacancies in their own body, by choosing the
future senator from a list of three persons; one of them proposed by the
chief consul, one by the Legislative Body, and one by the Tribunate.
Senators became for ever incapable of any other public duty. Their duty
was to receive the national lists of persons eligible for official
situations, and to annul such laws or measures as should be denounced to
their body, as unconstitutional or impolitic, either by the Government
or the Tribunate. The sittings of the Senate were not public.

The new constitution of France also adopted the Legislative Body and the
Tribunate proposed by the Abbé Siêyes. The duty of the Legislative Body
was to take into consideration such laws as should be approved by the
Tribunate, and pass or refuse them by vote, but without any debate, or
even an expression of their opinion.

The Tribunate, on the contrary, was a deliberative body, to whom the
chief consul, and his Council of State, with whom alone lay the
initiative privilege, were to propose such laws as appeared to them
desirable. These, when discussed by the Tribunate, and approved of by
the silent assent of the Legislative Body, passed into decrees, and
became binding upon the community. The Legislative Body heard the report
of the Tribunate, as expressed by a deputation from that body; and by
their votes alone, but without any debate or delivery of opinion,
refused or confirmed the proposal. Some of the more important acts of
government, such as the proclamation of peace or war, could only take
place on the motion of the chief consul to the Tribunate, upon their
recommending the measure to the Legislative Body; and, finally, upon the
legislative commissions affirming the proposal. But the power of the
chief consul was not much checked by this restriction, for the
discussion on such subjects was only to take place on his own
requisition, and always in secret committee; so that the greatest
hinderance of despotism, the weight of public opinion formed upon public
debate, was totally wanting.

A very slight glance at this Consular form of government is sufficient
to show, that Buonaparte selected exactly as much of the ingenious
constitution of Siêyes as was applicable to his own object of acquiring
supreme and despotic authority, while he got rid of all, the Tribunate
alone excepted, which contained, directly or indirectly, any check or
balance affecting the executive power. The substitution of lists of
eligible persons or candidates, to be made up by the people, instead of
the popular election of actual representatives, converted into a
metaphysical and abstract idea the real safeguard of liberty. It may be
true, that the authority of an official person, selected from the
national lists, might be said originally to emanate from the people;
because, unless his name had received their sanction, he could not have
been eligible. But the difference is inexpressibly great, between the
power of naming a single direct representative, and that of naming a
thousand persons, any of whom may be capable of being created a
representative; and the popular interference in the state, which had
hitherto comprehended the former privilege, was now restrained to the
latter and more insignificant one. This was the main error in Siêyes's
system, and the most fatal blow to liberty, whose constitutional safety
can hardly exist, excepting in union with a direct and unfettered
national representation, chosen by the people themselves.

All the other balances and checks which the Abbé had designed to
substitute instead of that which arises from popular election, had been
broken and cast away; while the fragments of the scheme that remained
were carefully adjusted, so as to form the steps by which Buonaparte was
to ascend to an unlimited and despotic throne. Siêyes had proposed that
his elector-general should be merely a graceful termination to his
edifice, like a gilded vane on the top of a steeple--a sovereign without
power--a _roi fainéant_,[506] with two consuls to act as joint _Maires
des palais_. Buonaparte, on the contrary, gave the whole executive power
in the state, together with the exclusive right of proposing all new
laws, to the chief consul, and made the others mere appendages, to be
thrown aside at pleasure.

Neither were the other constitutional authorities calculated to offer
effectual resistance to the engrossing authority of this all-powerful
officer. All these bodies were, in fact, mere pensioners. The Senate,
which met in secret, and the Legislative Body, whose lips were
padlocked, were alike removed from influencing public opinion, and being
influenced by it. The Tribunate, indeed, consisting of a hundred
persons, retained in some sort the right of debate, and of being
publicly heard. But the members of the Tribunate were selected by the
Senate, not by the people, whom except in metaphysical mockery, it could
not be said to represent any more than a bottle of distilled liquor can
be said to represent the sheaf of grain which it was originally drawn
from. What chance was there that, in a hundred men so chosen, there
should be courage and independence enough found to oppose that primary
power, by which, like a steam-engine, the whole constitution was put in
motion? Such tribunes were also in danger of recollecting, that they
only held their offices for four years, and that the senators had their
offices for life; while a transition from the one state to the other was
in general thought desirable, and could only be gained by implicit
obedience during the candidate's probation in the Tribunate. Yet,
slender as was the power of this tribunate body, Buonaparte showed some
jealousy even of this slight appearance of freedom; although, justly
considered, the Senate, the Conservative Body, and the Tribunate, were
but three different pipes, which, separately or altogether, uttered
sound at the pleasure of him who presided at the instrument.

The spirit of France must have been much broken when this arbitrary
system was adopted without debate or contradiction; and, when we
remember the earlier period of 1789, it is wonderful to consider how, in
the space of ten years, the race of men, whose love of liberty carried
them to such extravagances, seems to have become exhausted. Personal
safety was now a principal object with most. They saw no alternative
between absolute submission to a military chief of talent and power, and
the return to anarchy and new revolutionary excesses.

During the sitting of Buonaparte's Legislative Committee, Madame de
Staël expressed to a representative of the people, her alarms on the
subject of liberty. "Oh, madam," he replied, "we are arrived at an
extremity in which we must not trouble ourselves about saving the
principles of the Revolution, but only the lives of the men by whom the
Revolution was effected."[507]

Yet more than one exertion is said to have been made in the committee,
to obtain some modification of the supreme power of the chief consul, or
at least some remedy in case of its being abused. Several members of the
committee which adjusted the new constitution, made, it is said, an
effort to persuade Buonaparte, that, in taking possession of the office
of supreme magistrate, without any preliminary election, he would evince
an ambition which might prejudice him with the people; and, entreating
him to be satisfied with the office of generalissimo of the armies, with
full right of treating with foreign powers, invited him to set off to
the frontier and resume his train of victories. "I will remain at
Paris," said Buonaparte, biting his nails to the quick, as was his
custom when agitated--"I will remain at Paris--I am chief consul."

Chenier hinted at adopting the doctrine of absorption, but was instantly
interrupted--"I will have no such mummery," said Buonaparte; "blood to
the knees rather."[508] These expressions may be exaggerated; but it is
certain that, whenever there was an attempt to control his wishes, or
restrict his power, such a discontented remark as intimated "that he
would meddle no more in the business," was sufficient to overpower the
opposition. The committee saw no option betwixt submitting to the
authority of this inflexible chief, or encountering the horrors of a
bloody civil war. Thus were lost at once the fruits of the virtues, the
crimes, the blood, the treasure, the mass of human misery, which,
flowing from the Revolution, had agitated France for ten years; and
thus, having sacrificed almost all that men hold dear, the rights of
humanity themselves included, in order to obtain national liberty, her
inhabitants, without having enjoyed rational freedom, or the advantages
which it ensures, for a single day, returned to be the vassals of a
despotic government, administered by a chief whose right was only in his
sword. A few reflections on what might or ought to have been
Buonaparte's conduct in this crisis, naturally arise out of the subject.

We are not to expect, in the course of ordinary life, moral any more
than physical miracles. There have lived men of a spirit so noble, that,
in serving their country, they had no other object beyond the merit of
having done so; but such men belong to a less corrupted age than ours,
and have been trained in the principles of disinterested patriotism,
which did not belong to France, perhaps not to Europe, in the eighteenth
century. We may, therefore, take it for granted, that Buonaparte was
desirous, in some shape or other, to find his own interest in the
service of his country, that his motives were a mixture of patriotism
and the desire of self-advancement; and it remains to consider in what
manner both objects were to be best obtained.

The first alternative was the re-establishment of the Republic, upon
some better and less perishable model than those which had been
successively adopted and abandoned by the French, in the several phases
of the Revolution. But Buonaparte had already determined against this
plan of government, and seemed unalterably convinced, that the various
misfortunes and failures which had been sustained in the attempt to
convert France into a republic, afforded irrefragable evidence that her
natural and proper constitutional government must be monarchical. This
important point settled, it remained, 1st, To select the person in
whose hand the kingly power was to be intrusted. 2dly, To consider in
what degree the monarchical principle should be mingled with, and
qualified by, securities for the freedom of the people, and checks
against the encroachments of the prince.

Having broken explicitly with the Republicans, Buonaparte had it in his
power, doubtless, to have united with those who desired the restoration
of the Bourbons, who at this moment formed a large proportion of the
better classes in France. The name of the old dynasty must have brought
with it great advantages. Their restoration would have at once given
peace to Europe, and in a great measure reconciled the strife of parties
in France. There was no doubt of the possibility of the
counter-revolution; for what was done in 1814 might have been still more
easily done in 1799. Old ideas would have returned with ancient names,
and at the same time security might have been given, that the restored
monarch should be placed within such legal restraints as were necessary
for the protection of the freedom of the subject. The principal powers
of Europe, if required, would have gladly guaranteed to the French
people any class of institutions which might have been thought adequate
to this purpose.

But, besides that such a course cut off Buonaparte from any higher
reward of his services, than were connected with the rank of a subject,
the same objections to the restoration of the Bourbon family still
prevailed, which we have before noticed. The extreme confusion likely to
be occasioned by the conflicting claims of the restored emigrants, who
had left France with all the feelings and prejudices peculiar to their
birth and quality, and those of the numerous soldiers and statesmen who
had arisen to eminence during the revolution, and whose pretensions to
rank and office would be urged with jealous vehemence against those who
had shared the fortunes of the exiled monarch, was a powerful objection
to the restoration. The question concerning the national domains
remained as embarrassing as before; for, while the sales which had been
made of that property could scarce be cancelled without a severe shock
to national credit, the restored Bourbons could not, on the other hand,
fail to insist upon an indemnification to the spirituality, who had been
stripped of their property for their adherence to their religious vows,
and to the nobles, whose estates had been forfeited for their adherence
to the throne. It might also have been found, that, among the army, a
prejudice against the Bourbons had survived their predilection for the
Republic, and that although the French soldiers might see with pleasure
a crown placed on the brow of their favourite general, they might be
unwilling to endure the restoration of the ancient race, against whom
they had long borne arms.

[Sidenote: THE CONSULATE.]

All these objections against attempting to recall the ancient dynasty,
have weight in themselves, and may readily have appeared insuperable to
Buonaparte; especially considering the conclusion to be, that if the
Bourbons were found ineligible, the crown of France--with a more
extended empire, and more unlimited powers--was in that case to rest
with Buonaparte himself. There is no doubt that, in preferring the title
of the Bourbons, founded on right, to his own, which rested on force and
opportunity alone, Buonaparte would have acted a much more noble,
generous, and disinterested part, than in availing himself of
circumstances to establish his own power; nay, that, philosophically
speaking, such a choice might have been wiser and happier. But in the
ordinary mode of viewing and acting in this world, the temptation was
immense; and Buonaparte was, in some measure, unfettered by the
circumstances which might have withheld some of his contemporaries from
snatching at the crown that seemed to await his grasp. Whatever were the
rights of the Bourbons, abstractedly considered, they were not of a kind
to force themselves immediately upon the conscience of Buonaparte. He
had not entered public life, was indeed a mere boy, when the general
voice of France, or that which appeared such, drove the ancient race
from the throne; he had acted during all his life hitherto in the
service of the French government _de facto_; and it was hard to require
of him, now of a sudden, to sacrifice the greatest stake which a man
ever played for, to the abstract right of the king _de jure_. Candour
will therefore allow, that though some spirits, of an heroic pitch of
character, might, in his place, have acted otherwise, yet the conduct of
Buonaparte, in availing himself, for his own advantage, of the height
which he had attained by his own talents, was too natural a course of
action to be loaded with censure by any one, who, if he takes the
trouble to consider the extent of the temptation, must acknowledge in
his heart the difficulty of resisting it.

But, though we may acknowledge many excuses for the ambition which
induced Buonaparte to assume the principal share of the new government,
and although we were even to allow to his admirers that he became First
Consul purely because his doing so was necessary to the welfare of
France, our candour can carry us no farther. We cannot for an instant
sanction the monstrous accumulation of authority which engrossed into
his own hands all the powers of the State, and deprived the French
people, from that period, of the least pretence to liberty, or power of
protecting themselves from tyranny. It is in vain to urge, that they had
not yet learned to make a proper use of the invaluable privileges of
which he deprived them--equally in vain to say, that they consented to
resign what it was not in their power to defend. It is a poor apology
for theft, that the person plundered knew not the value of the gem taken
from him; a worse excuse for robbery, that the party robbed was disarmed
and prostrate, and submitted without resistance, where to resist would
have been to die. In choosing to be the head of a well-regulated and
limited monarchy, Buonaparte would have consulted even his own interest
better, than by preferring, as he did, to become the sole animating
spirit of a monstrous despotism. The communication of common privileges,
while they united discordant factions, would have fixed the attention of
all on the head of the government, as their mutual benefactor. The
constitutional rights which he had reserved for the Crown would have
been respected, when it was remembered that the freedom of the people
had been put in a rational form, and its privileges rendered available
by his liberality.

Such checks upon his power would have been as beneficial to himself as
to his subjects. If, in the course of his reign, he had met
constitutional opposition to the then immense projects of conquest,
which cost so much blood and devastation, to that opposition he would
have been as much indebted, as a person subject to fits of lunacy is to
the bonds by which, when under the influence of his malady, he is
restrained from doing mischief. Buonaparte's active spirit, withheld
from warlike pursuits, would have been exercised by the internal
improvement of his kingdom. The mode in which he used his power would
have gilded over, as in many other cases, the imperfect nature of his
title, and if he was not, in every sense, the legitimate heir of the
monarchy, he might have been one of the most meritorious princes that
ever ascended the throne. Had he permitted the existence of a power
expressive of the national opinion to exist, co-equal with and
restrictive of his own, there would have been no occupation of Spain, no
war with Russia, no imperial decrees against British commerce. The
people who first felt the pressure of these violent and ruinous
measures, would have declined to submit to them in the outset. The
ultimate consequence--the overthrow, namely, of Napoleon himself, would
not have taken place, and he might, for aught we can see, have died on
the throne of France, and bequeathed it to his posterity, leaving a
reputation which could only be surpassed in lustre by that of an
individual who should render similar advantages to his country, yet
decline the gratification, in any degree, of his personal ambition.

In short, it must always be written down, as Buonaparte's error as well
as guilt, that, misusing the power which the 18th Brumaire threw into
his hands, he totally destroyed the liberty of France, or, we would say,
more properly, the chance which that country had of attaining a free,
and, at the same time, a settled government. He might have been a
patriot prince, he chose to be a usurping despot--he might have played
the part of Washington, he preferred that of Cromwell.[509]


[490] Gourgaud, tom. i., p 120.

[491] Subsequently Duke of Gaëta, who had long occupied the place of
chief clerk of finance. "He was a man of mild manners, and of inflexible
probity; proceeding slowly, but surely. He never had to withdraw any of
his measures, because his knowledge was practical and the fruit of long
experience."--NAPOLEON, _Gourgaud_, tom. i., p. 109.

[492] "In returning from Egypt, Napoleon had conversed a few minutes at
Valence with Spina, the Pope's almoner: he then learnt that no funeral
honours had been paid to the Pope, and that his corpse was laid in the
sacristy of the cathedral. A decree of the consuls ordered that the
customary honours should be rendered to his remains, and that a monument
of marble should be raised upon his tomb."--GOURGAUD, tom. i., p. 124.

[493] Gourgaud, tom. i., p. 125.

[494] After the 18th Brumaire, Dubois de Crancé withdrew into Champagne.
He died in June 1814.

[495] Gourgaud, tom. i., p. 108.

[496] Gourgaud, tom. i., p. 137.

[497] The Senate of Hamburgh lost no time in addressing a long letter to
Napoleon, to testify their repentance. He replied to them thus:--"I have
received your letter, gentlemen; it does not justify you. Courage and
virtue are the preservers of states; cowardice and crime are their ruin.
You have violated the laws of hospitality, a thing which never happened
among the most savage hordes of the Desert. Your fellow-citizens will
for ever reproach you with it. The two unfortunate men whom you have
given up, die with glory; but their blood will bring more evil upon
their persecutors than it would be in the power of an army to do." A
solemn deputation from the Senate arrived at the Tuileries to make
public apologies to Napoleon. He again testified his indignation, and
when the envoys urged their weakness, he said to them, "Well! and had
you not the resource of weak states? was it not in your power to let
them escape?"--GOURGAUD, tom. i., p. 128; Thibaudeau, tom. i., p. 169.

[498] Gourgaud, tom. i., p. 107; Fouché, tom. i., p. 128.

[499] Gourgaud, tom. i., p. 140.

[500] The committee met in Napoleon's apartment, from nine in the
evening until three in the morning.--GOURGAUD, tom. i., p. 141.

[501] "Siêyes affected silence. I was commissioned to penetrate his
mystery. I employed Réal, who, using much address with an appearance of
great good-nature, discovered the basis of Siêyes's project, by getting
Chenier, one of his confidants, to chatter, upon rising from dinner, at
which wines and other intoxicating liquors had not been spared. Upon
this information, a secret council was held, at which the conduct to be
pursued by Buonaparte in the general conferences was discussed."--FOUCHÉ,
tom. i., p. 138.

[502] "Napoleon now began, he said, to laugh in Siêyes's face, and to
cut up all his metaphysical nonsense without mercy. 'You take,' he
said, 'the abuse for the principle, the shadow for the body. And how can
you imagine, M. Siêyes, that a man of any talent, or the least honour,
will resign himself to act the part of a pig fattening on a few
millions.' After this sally, which made those who were present laugh
immoderately, Siêyes remained overwhelmed."--NAPOLEON, _Las Cases_, tom,
iv., p. 335.

[503] Las Cases, tom. iv., p. 333.

[504] "Upon the occasion of this gift, the following sorry rhymes were
in every one's mouth:--

    "Buonaparte à Siêyes a fait présent de Crôsne,
    Siêyes à Buonaparte a fait présent du Trône."
        --MONTGAILLARD, tom. v., p. 318.

[505] "Siêyes was the most unfit man in the world for power, but his
perceptions were often luminous, and of the highest importance. He was
fond of money; but of strict integrity."--NAPOLEON, _Gourgaud_, tom.
iv., p. 152.

[506] "The grand elector, if he confine himself entirely to the
functions you assign him, will be the shadow, but the mere fleshless
shadow, of a _roi fainéant_. Can you point out a man base enough to
humble himself to such mockery? Such a government would be a monstrous
creation, composed of heterogeneous parts, presenting nothing rational.
It is a great mistake to suppose that the shadow of a thing can be of
the same use as the thing itself."--NAPOLEON, _Gourgaud_, tom. i., p.

[507] Consid. sur la Rév. Française, tom. ii., p. 248.

[508] Mémoires de Fouché, tom. i., p. 104.--S.

[509] The constitution of the year VIII, so impatiently expected by all
ranks of citizens, was published and submitted to the sanction of the
people on the 13th of December, and proclaimed on the 24th of the same;
the provisional government having lasted forty-three days. The
Legislative Body and the Tribunate entered on their functions the 1st
day of January, 1800.


    _Proceedings of Buonaparte in order to consolidate his
    power--His great success--Causes that led to it--Cambacérès and
    Le Brun chosen Second and Third Consuls--Talleyrand appointed
    Minister for Foreign Affairs, and Fouché Minister of
    Police--Their Characters--Other Ministers nominated--Various
    Changes made, in order to mark the Commencement of a new
    Era--Napoleon addresses a Letter personally to the King of
    England--Answered by Lord Grenville--Negotiation for Peace that
    followed, speedily broken off--Campaigns in Italy, and on the
    Rhine--Successes of Moreau--Censured by Napoleon for
    Over-caution--The Charge considered--The Chief Consul resolves
    to bring back, in Person, Victory to the French Standards in
    Italy--His Measures for that purpose._

The structure of government which Buonaparte had selected out of the
broken outlines of the plan of Siêyes, being not only monarchical but
despotic, it remained that its offices should be filled with persons
favourable to the new order of things; and to this the attention of
Buonaparte was especially turned. In order to secure the selection of
the official individuals to himself, he eluded entirely the principle by
which Siêyes had proposed to elaborate his national representatives out
of the various signed lists of eligibility, to be made up by the three
classes into which his hierarchy divided the French people. Without
waiting for these lists of eligible persons, or taking any other rule
but his own pleasure, and that of his counsellors, the two new consuls,
Buonaparte named sixty senators; the senators named a hundred tribunes,
and three hundred legislators; and thus the whole bodies of the State
were filled up, by a choice emanating from the executive government,
instead of being vested, more or less directly, in the people.

In availing himself of the privileges which he had usurped, the first
consul, as we must now call him, showed a moderation as artful as it was
conciliatory. His object was to avoid the odium of appearing to hold his
rank by his military character only. He desired, on the contrary, to
assemble round him a party, in which the predominant character of
individuals, whatever it had hitherto been, was to be merged in that of
the new system; as the statuary throws into the furnace broken fragments
of bronze of every various description, without regarding their
immediate appearance or form, his purpose being to unite them by fusion,
and bestow upon the mass the new shape which his art destines it to

With these views, Napoleon said to Siêyes, who reprobated the admission
of Fouché into office and power, "we are creating a new era. Of the
past, we must forget the bad, and only remember the good. Time, habits
of business, and experience, have formed many able men, and modified
many characters."[510] These words may be regarded as the key-note of
his whole system. Buonaparte did not care what men had been formerly, so
that they were now disposed to become that which was suitable for his
interest, and for which he was willing to reward them liberally. The
former conduct of persons of talent, whether in politics or morality,
was of no consequence, providing they were willing, now, faithfully to
further and adhere to the new order of things. This prospect of immunity
for the past, and reward for the future, was singularly well calculated
to act upon the public mind, desirous as it was of repose, and upon that
of individuals, agitated by so many hopes and fears as the Revolution
had set afloat. The consular government seemed a general place of refuge
and sanctuary to persons of all various opinions, and in all various
predicaments. It was only required of them, in return for the safety
which it afforded, that they should pay homage to the presiding deity.

So artfully was the system of Buonaparte contrived, that each of the
numerous classes of Frenchmen found something in it congenial to his
habits, his feelings, or his circumstances, providing only he was
willing to sacrifice to it the essential part of his political
principles. To the Royalist, it restored monarchical forms, a court, and
a sovereign--but he must acknowledge that sovereign in Buonaparte. To
the churchman, it opened the gates of the temples, removed the tyranny
of the persecuting philosophers--promised in course of time a national
church--but by the altar must be placed the image of Buonaparte. The
Jacobin, dyed double red in murder and massacre, was welcome to safety
and security from the aristocratic vengeance which he had so lately
dreaded. The regicide was guaranteed against the return of the
Bourbons--they who had profited by the Revolution as purchasers of
national domains, were ensured against their being resumed. But it was
under the implied condition, that not a word was to be mentioned by
those ci-devant democrats, of liberty or equality: the principles for
which forfeitures had been made, and revolutionary tribunals erected,
were henceforth never to be named. To all these parties, as to others,
Buonaparte held out the same hopes under the same conditions--"All these
things will I give you, if you will kneel down and worship me." Shortly
afterwards, he was enabled to place before those to whom the choice was
submitted, the original temptation in its full extent--a display of the
kingdoms of the earth, over which he offered to extend the empire of
France, providing always he was himself acknowledged as the object of
general obedience, and almost adoration.

The system of Buonaparte, as it combined great art with an apparent
generosity and liberality, proved eminently successful among the people
of France, when subjected to the semblance of a popular vote. The
national spirit was exhausted by the changes and the sufferings, the
wars and the crimes, of so many years; and in France, as in all other
countries, parties, exhausted by the exertions and vicissitudes of civil
war, are in the very situation where military tyranny becomes the next
crisis. The rich favoured Buonaparte for the sake of protection,--the
poor for that of relief,--the emigrants, in many cases, because they
desired to return to France,--the men of the Revolution, because they
were afraid of being banished from it;--the sanguine and courageous
crowded round his standard in hope of victory,--the timid cowered behind
it in the desire of safety. Add to these the vast multitude who follow
the opinions of others, and take the road which lies most obvious, and
is most trodden, and it is no wonder that the 18th Brumaire, and its
consequences, received the general sanction of the people. The
constitution of the year Eight, or Consular Government, was approved by
the suffrages of nearly four millions of citizens,[511]--a more general
approbation than any preceding system had been received with. The vote
was doubtless a farce in itself, considering how many constitutions had
been adopted and sworn to within so short a space; but still the numbers
who expressed assent, more than doubling those votes which were obtained
by the constitution of 1792 and of the year Three, indicate the superior
popularity of Buonaparte's system.

To the four millions who expressly declared their adherence to the new
Consular constitution, must be added the many hundreds of thousands and
millions more, who were either totally indifferent upon the form of
government, providing they enjoyed peace and protection under it, or
who, though abstractedly preferring other rulers, were practically
disposed to submit to the party in possession of the power.

Such and so extended being the principles on which Buonaparte selected
the members of his government, he manifested, in choosing individuals,
that wonderful penetration, by which, more perhaps than any man who ever
lived, he was enabled at once to discover the person most capable of
serving him, and the means of securing his attachment. Former crimes or
errors made no cause of exclusion; and in several cases the alliance
between the first consul and his ministers might have been compared to
the marriages between the settlers on the Spanish mainland, and the
unhappy females, the refuse of great cities, sent out to recruit the
colony.--"I ask thee not," said the bucanier to the wife he had selected
from the cargo of vice, "what has been thy former conduct; but,
henceforth, see thou continue faithful to me, or this," striking his
hand on his musket, "shall punish thy want of fidelity."


For second and third consuls, Buonaparte chose Cambacérès,[512] a
lawyer, and a member of the moderate party, with Lebrun,[513] who had
formerly co-operated with the Chancellor Maupeou. The former was
employed by the chief consul as his organ of communication with the
Revolutionists, while Lebrun rendered him the same service with the
Royal party; and although, as Madame de Staël observes, they preached
very different sermons on the same texts,[514] yet they were both
eminently successful in detaching from their original factions many of
either class, and uniting them with this third, or government party,
which was thus composed of deserters from both. The last soon became so
numerous, that Buonaparte was enabled to dispense with the _bascule_, or
trimming system, by which alone his predecessors, the directors, had
been enabled to support their power.

In the ministry, Buonaparte acted upon the same principle, selecting and
making his own the men whose talents were most distinguished, without
reference to their former conduct. Two were particularly distinguished,
as men of the most eminent talents, and extensive experience. These were
Talleyrand and Fouché. The former, noble by birth, and Bishop of Autun,
notwithstanding his high rank in church and state, had been deeply
engaged in the Revolution. He had been placed on the list of emigrants,
from which his name was erased on the establishment of the Directorial
government, under which he became minister of foreign affairs. He
resigned that office in the summer preceding 18th Brumaire; and
Buonaparte, finding him at variance with the Directory, readily passed
over some personal grounds of complaint which he had against him, and
enlisted in his service a supple and dexterous politician, and an
experienced minister; fond, it is said, of pleasure, not insensible to
views of self-interest, nor too closely fettered by principle, but
perhaps unequalled in ingenuity. Talleyrand was replaced in the
situation of minister for foreign affairs, after a short interval,
assigned for the purpose of suffering the public to forget his prominent
share in the scandalous treaty with the American commissioners, and
continued for a long tract of time one of the closest sharers of
Buonaparte's councils.[515]

If the character of Talleyrand bore no strong traces of public virtue or
inflexible morality, that of Fouché was marked with still darker
shades. He had been dipt in some of the worst transactions of the Reign
of Terror, and his name is found among the agents of the dreadful crimes
of that unhappy period. In the days of the Directory, he is stated to
have profited by the universal peculation which was then practised, and
to have amassed large sums by shares in contracts and brokerage in the
public funds. To atone for the imperfections of a character stained with
perfidy, venality, and indifference to human suffering, Fouché brought
to Buonaparte's service a devotion, never like to fail the first consul
unless his fortunes should happen to change; and a perfect experience
with all the weapons of revolutionary war, and knowledge of those who
were best able to wield them. He had managed under Barras's
administration the department of police; and, in the course of his
agency, had become better acquainted perhaps than any man in France with
all the various parties in that distracted country, the points which
they were desirous of reaching, the modes by which they hoped to attain
them, the character of their individual leaders, and the means to gain
them over or to intimidate them. Formidable by his extensive knowledge
of the revolutionary springs, and the address with which he could either
put them into motion, or prevent them from operating, Fouché, in the
latter part of his life, displayed a species of wisdom which came in
place of morality and benevolence.

Loving wealth and power, he was neither a man of ardent passions, nor of
a vengeful disposition; and though there was no scruple in his nature to
withhold him from becoming an agent in the great crimes which state
policy, under an arbitrary government, must often require, yet he had a
prudential and constitutional aversion to unnecessary evil, and was
always wont to characterise his own principle of action, by saying, that
he did as little harm as he possibly could. In his mysterious and
terrible office of head of the police, he had often means of granting
favours, or interposing lenity in behalf of individuals, of which he
gained the full credit, while the harsh measures of which he was the
agent, were set down to the necessity of his situation. By adhering to
these principles of moderation, he established for himself at length a
character totally inconsistent with that belonging to a member of the
revolutionary committee, and resembling rather that of a timid but
well-disposed servant, who, in executing his master's commands, is
desirous to mitigate as much as possible their effect on individuals. It
is, upon the whole, no wonder, that although Siêyes objected to Fouché,
from his want of principle, and Talleyrand was averse to him from
jealousy, interference, and personal enmity, Napoleon chose,
nevertheless, to retain in the confidential situation of minister of
police, the person by whom that formidable office had been first placed
on an effectual footing.[516]

Of the other ministers, it is not necessary to speak in detail.
Cambacérès retained the situation of minister of justice,[517] for which
he was well qualified; and the celebrated mathematician, Laplace, was
preferred to that of the Interior, for which he was not, according to
Buonaparte's report, qualified at all.[518] Berthier, as we have already
seen, filled the war department, and shortly afterwards Carnot; and
Gaudin administered the finances with credit to himself. Forfait, a
naval architect of eminence,[519] replaced Bourdon in the helpless and
hopeless department of the French Admiralty.

A new constitution having been thus formed, and the various branches of
duty distributed with much address among those best capable of
discharging them, other changes were at the same time made, which were
designed to mark that a new era was commenced, in which all former
prejudices were to be abandoned and done away.


We have noticed that one of the first acts of the Provisional Government
had been to new-modify the national oath, and generalize its terms, so
that they should be no longer confined to the constitution of the year
Three, but should apply to that which was about to be framed, or to any
other which might be produced by the same authority.[520] Two subsequent
alterations in the constitution, which passed without much notice, so
much was the revolutionary or republican spirit abated, tended to show
that farther changes were impending, and that the Consular Republic was
speedily to adopt the name, as it already had the essence, of a
monarchy. It was scarcely three months since the President of the
Directory had said to the people, on the anniversary of the taking of
the Bastile,--"Royalty shall never raise its head again. We shall no
more behold individuals boasting a title from Heaven, to oppress the
earth with more ease and security, and who considered France as their
private patrimony, Frenchmen as their subjects, and the laws as the
expression of their good-will and pleasure." Yet now, in contradiction
to this sounding declamation, the national oath, expressing hatred to
royalty, was annulled, under the pretext that the Republic, being
universally acknowledged, had no occasion for the guard of such

In like manner, the public observance of the day on which Louis XVI. had
suffered decapitation, was formally abolished. Buonaparte, declining to
pass a judgment on the action as just, politic, or useful, pronounced
that, in any event, it could only be regarded as a national calamity,
and was therefore in a moral, as well as a political sense, an unfit
epoch for festive celebration. An expression of the first consul to
Siêyes was also current at the same time, which, although Buonaparte may
not have used it, has been generally supposed to express his sentiments.
Siêyes had spoken of Louis under the established phrase of the Tyrant.
"He was no tyrant," Buonaparte replied; "had he been such, I should have
been a subaltern officer of artillery, and you, Monsieur l'Abbé, would
have been still saying mass."[521]

A third sign of approaching change, or rather of the approaching return
to the ancient system of government under a different chief, was the
removal of the first consul from the apartments in the Luxembourg
palace, occupied by the directors, to the royal residence of the
Tuileries. Madame de Staël beheld the entrance of this fortunate soldier
into the princely residence of the Bourbons. He was already surrounded
by a vassal crowd, eager to pay him the homage which the inhabitants of
those splendid halls had so long claimed as their due, that it seemed to
be consistent with the place, and to become the right of this new
inhabitant. The doors were thrown open with a bustle and violence,
expressive of the importance of the occasion. But the hero of the scene,
in ascending the magnificent staircase, up which a throng of courtiers
followed him, seemed totally indifferent to all around, his features
bearing only a general expression of indifference to events, and
contempt for mankind.[522]

The first measures of Buonaparte's new government, and the expectation
attached to his name, had already gone some length in restoring domestic
quiet; but he was well aware that much more must be done to render that
quiet permanent; that the external relations of France with Europe must
be attended to without delay; and that the French expected from him
either the conclusion of an honourable peace, or the restoration of
victory to their national banners. It was necessary, too, that advances
towards peace should in the first place be made, in order, if they were
unsuccessful, that a national spirit should be excited, which might
reconcile the French to the renewal of the war with fresh energy.


Hitherto, in diplomacy, it had been usual to sound the way for opening
treaties of peace by obscure and almost unaccredited agents, in order
that the party willing to make propositions might not subject themselves
to a haughty and insulting answer, or have their desire of peace
interpreted as a confession of weakness. Buonaparte went into the
opposite extreme, and addressed the King of England in a personal
epistle. This Letter,[523] like that to the Archduke Charles, during the
campaign of 1797, intimates Buonaparte's affectation of superiority to
the usual forms of diplomacy, and his pretence to a character determined
to emancipate itself from rules only designed for mere ordinary men. But
the manner of the address was in bad taste, and ill calculated to obtain
credit for his being sincere in the proposal of peace. He was bound to
know so much of the constitutional authority of the monarch whom he
addressed, as to be aware that George III. would not, and could not,
contract any treaty personally, but must act by the advice of those
ministers whose responsibility was his guarantee to the nation at large.
The terms of the letter set forth, as usual, the blessings of peace, and
urged the propriety of its being restored; propositions which could not
admit of dispute in the abstract, but which admit much discussion when
coupled with unreasonable or inadmissible conditions.

The answer transmitted by Lord Grenville, in the forms of diplomacy, to
the Minister for Foreign Affairs, dwelt on the aggressions of France,
declared that the restoration of the Bourbons would have been the best
security for their sincerity, but disavowed all right to dictate to
France in her internal concerns. Some advances were made to a pacific
treaty; and it is probable that England might at that period have
obtained the same or better terms than she afterwards got by the treaty
of Amiens. It may be added, that the moderate principles expressed by
the consular government, might, in the infancy of his power, and in a
moment of considerable doubt, have induced Buonaparte to make
sacrifices, to which, triumphant and established, he would not
condescend. But the possession of Egypt, which Buonaparte must have
insisted on, were it only for his own reputation, was likely to be an
insuperable difficulty. The conjuncture also appeared to the English
ministers propitious for carrying on the war. Italy had been recovered,
and the Austrian army, to the number of 140,000, were menacing Savoy,
and mustering on the Rhine. Buonaparte, in the check received before
Acre, had been found not absolutely invincible. The exploits of Suwarrow
over the French were recent, and had been decisive. The state of the
interior of France was well known; and it was conceived, that though
this successful general had climbed into the seat of supreme power which
he found unoccupied, yet that two strong parties, of which the Royalists
objected to his person, the Republicans to his form of government, could
not fail, the one or other, to deprive him of his influence.

The treaty was finally broken off, on the score that there was great
reason to doubt Buonaparte's sincerity; and supposing that were granted,
there was at least equal room to doubt the stability of a power so
hastily acknowledged, and seeming to contain in itself the principles of
decay. There may be a difference of opinion in regard to Buonaparte's
sincerity in the negotiation, but there can be none as to the reality of
his joy at its being defeated. The voice which summoned him to war was
that which sounded sweetest in his ears, since it was always followed by
exertion and by victory. He had been personally offended, too, by the
allusion to the legitimate rights of the Bourbons, and indulged his
resentment by pasquinades in the Moniteur. A supposed letter from the
last descendant of the Stuart family appeared there, congratulating the
King of Britain on his acceding to the doctrine of legitimacy, and
summoning him to make good his principles, by an abdication of his crown
in favour of the lineal heir.[524]


The external situation of France had, as we before remarked, been
considerably improved by the consequences of the battle of Zurich, and
the victories of Moreau. But the Republic derived yet greater advantages
from the breach between the Emperors of Austria and Russia. Paul,
naturally of an uncertain temper, and offended by the management of the
last campaign, in which Korsakow had been defeated, and Suwarrow
checked, in consequence of their being unsupported by the Austrian army,
had withdrawn his troops, so distinguished for their own bravery as well
as for the talents of their leader, from the seat of war. But the
Austrians, possessing a firmness of character undismayed by defeat, and
encouraged by the late success of their arms under the veteran Melas,
had made such gigantic exertions as to counterbalance the loss of their
Russian confederates.[525]

Their principal force was in Italy, and it was on the Italian frontier
that they meditated a grand effort, by which, supported by the British
fleet, they proposed to reduce Genoa, and penetrate across the Var into
Provence, where existed a strong body of Royalists ready to take arms,
under the command of General Willot, an emigrant officer. It was said
the celebrated Pichegru, who, escaped from Guiana, had taken refuge in
England, was also with his army, and was proposed as a chief leader of
the expected insurrection.

To execute this plan, Melas was placed at the head of an army of 140,000
men. This army was quartered for the winter in the plains of Piedmont,
and waited but the approach of spring to commence operations.

Opposed to them, and occupying the country betwixt Genoa and the Var,
lay a French army of 40,000 men; the relics of those who had been
repeatedly defeated in Italy by Suwarrow. They were quartered in a poor
country, and the English squadron, which blockaded the coast, was
vigilant in preventing any supplies from being sent to them. Distress
was therefore considerable, and the troops were in proportion dispirited
and disorganized. Whole corps abandoned their position, contrary to
orders; and, with drums beating, and colours flying, returned into
France. A proclamation from Napoleon was almost alone sufficient to
remedy these disorders. He called on the soldiers, and particularly
those corps who had formerly distinguished themselves under his command
in his Italian campaigns, to remember the confidence he had once placed
in them.[526] The scattered troops returned to their duty, as war-horses
when dispersed are said to rally and form ranks at the mere sound of the
trumpet. Massena, an officer eminent for his acquaintance with the mode
of carrying on war in a mountainous country, full of passes and strong
positions, was intrusted with the command of the Italian army, which
Buonaparte[527] resolved to support in person with the army of reserve.

The French army upon the Rhine possessed as great a superiority over the
Austrians, as Melas, on the Italian frontier, enjoyed over Massena.
Moreau was placed in the command of a large army, augmented by a strong
detachment from that of General Brune, now no longer necessary for the
protection of Holland, and by the army of Helvetia, which, after the
defeat of Korsakow, was not farther required for the defence of
Switzerland. In bestowing this great charge on Moreau, the first consul
showed himself superior to the jealousy which might have dissuaded
meaner minds from intrusting a rival, whose military skill was often
compared with his own, with such an opportunity of distinguishing
himself.[528] But Buonaparte, in this and other cases, preferred the
employing and profiting by the public service of men of talents, and
especially men of military eminence, to any risk which he could run from
their rivalry. He had the just confidence in his own powers, never to
doubt his supremacy, and trusted to the influence of discipline, and the
love of their profession, which induces generals to accept of command
even under the administrations of which they disapprove. In this manner
he rendered dependant upon himself even those officers, who, averse to
the consular form of government, inclined to republican principles. Such
were Massena, Brune, Jourdan, Lecourbe, and Championnet. He took care,
at the same time, by changing the commands intrusted to them, to break
off all combinations or connexions which they might have formed for a
new alteration of the government.

General Moreau was much superior in numbers to Kray, the Austrian who
commanded on the Rhine, and received orders to resume the offensive. He
was cautious in his tactics, though a most excellent officer, and was
startled at the plan sent him by Buonaparte, which directed him to cross
the Rhine at Schaffhausen, and, marching on Ulm with his whole force,
place himself in the rear of the greater part of the Austrian army. This
was one of those schemes, fraught with great victories or great
reverses, which Buonaparte delighted to form, and which often requiring
much sacrifice of men, occasioned his being called by those who loved
him not, a general at the rate of ten thousand men per day. Such
enterprises resemble desperate passes in fencing, and must be executed
with the same decisive resolution with which they are formed. Few even
of Buonaparte's best generals could be trusted with the execution of his
master-strokes in tactics, unless under his own immediate

Moreau invaded Germany on a more modified plan; and a series of marches,
counter-marches, and desperate battles ensued, in which General Kray,
admirably supported by the Archduke Ferdinand, made a gallant defence
against superior numbers.


In Buonaparte's account of this campaign,[529] he blames Moreau for
hesitation and timidity in following up the advantages which he
obtained.[530] Yet to a less severe, perhaps to a more impartial judge,
Moreau's success might seem satisfactory, since, crossing the Rhine in
the end of April, he had his headquarters at Augsburg upon the 15th
July, ready either to co-operate with the Italian army, or to march into
the heart of the Austrian territory. Nor can it be denied that, during
this whole campaign, Moreau kept in view, as a principal object, the
protecting the operations of Buonaparte in Italy, and saving that chief,
in his dauntless and desperate invasion of the Milanese territory, from
the danger which might have ensued, had Kray found an opportunity of
opening a communication with the Austrian army in Italy, and despatching
troops to its support.

It may be remarked of these two great generals, that, as enterprise was
the characteristic of Buonaparte's movements, prudence was that of
Moreau's; and it is not unusual, even when there occur no other motives
for rivals undervaluing each other, that the enterprising judge the
prudent to be timid, and the prudent account the enterprising rash.

[Sidenote: 15th July.]

It is not ours to decide upon professional questions between men of such
superior talents; and, having barely alluded to the topic, we leave
Moreau at Augsburg, where he finally concluded an armistice[531] with
General Kray, as a consequence of that which Buonaparte had established
in Italy after the battle of Marengo. Thus much, therefore, is due in
justice to Moreau. His campaign was, on the whole, crowned in its
results with distinguished success.[532] And when it is considered, that
he was to manœuvre both with reference to the safety of the first
consul's operations and his own, it may be doubted whether Buonaparte
would, at the time, have thanked him for venturing on more hazardous
measures; the result of which might have been either to obtain more
brilliant victory for the army of the Rhine, in the event of success, or
should they have miscarried, to have ensured the ruin of the army of
Italy, as well as of that commanded by Moreau himself. There must have
been a wide difference between the part which Moreau ought to act as
subsidiary to Buonaparte, (to whom it will presently be seen he
despatched a reinforcement of from fifteen to twenty thousand men,) and
that which Buonaparte, in obedience to his daring genius, might have
himself thought it right to perform. The commander-in-chief may venture
much on his own responsibility, which must not be hazarded by a
subordinate general, whose motions ought to be regulated upon the
general plan of the campaign.

We return to the operations of Napoleon during one of the most important
campaigns of his life, and in which he added--if that were still
possible--to the high military reputation he had acquired.


In committing the charge of the campaign upon the Rhine to Moreau, the
first consul had reserved for himself the task of bringing back victory
to the French standards, on the fields in which he won his earliest
laurels. His plan of victory again included a passage of the Alps, as
boldly and unexpectedly as in 1795, but in a different direction. That
earlier period had this resemblance to the present, that, on both
occasions, the Austrians menaced Genoa; but in 1800, it was only from
the Italian frontier and the Col di Tende, whereas, in 1795, the enemy
were in possession of the mountains of Savoy, above Genoa. Switzerland,
too, formerly neutral, and allowing no passage for armies, was now as
open to the march of French troops as any of their own provinces, and of
this Buonaparte determined to avail himself. He was aware of the
Austrian plan of taking Genoa and entering Provence; and he formed the
daring resolution to put himself at the head of the army of reserve,
surmount the line of the Alps, even where they are most difficult of
access, and, descending into Italy, place himself in the rear of the
Austrian army, interrupt their communications, carry off their
magazines, parks, and hospitals, coop them up betwixt his own army and
that of Massena, which was in their front, and compel them to battle, in
a situation where defeat must be destruction. But to accomplish this
daring movement, it was necessary to march a whole army over the highest
chain of mountains in Europe, by roads which afford but a dangerous
passage to the solitary traveller, and through passes where one man can
do more to defend, than ten to force their way. Artillery was to be
carried through sheep-paths and over precipices impracticable to
wheel-carriages; ammunition and baggage were to be transported at the
same disadvantages; and provisions were to be conveyed through a country
poor in itself, and inhabited by a nation which had every cause to be
hostile to France, and might therefore be expected prompt to avail
themselves of any opportunity which should occur of revenging themselves
for her late aggressions.[533]

The strictest secrecy was necessary, to procure even the opportunity of
attempting this audacious plan of operations; and to ensure this
secrecy, Buonaparte had recourse to a singular mode of deceiving the
enemy. It was made as public as possible, by orders, decrees,
proclamations, and the like, that the first consul was to place himself
at the head of the army of reserve, and that it was to assemble at
Dijon. Accordingly, a numerous staff was sent, and much apparent bustle
took place in assembling there six or seven thousand men with great pomp
and fracas. These, as the spies of Austria truly reported to their
employers, were either conscripts, or veterans unfit for service; and
caricatures were published of the first consul reviewing troops composed
of children and disabled soldiers, which was ironically termed his army
of reserve.[534] When an army so composed was reviewed by the first
consul himself with great ceremony, it impressed a general belief that
Buonaparte was only endeavouring, by making a show of force, to divert
the Austrians from their design upon Genoa, and thus his real purpose
was effectually concealed. Bulletins, too, were privately circulated by
the agents of police, as if scattered by the Royalists, in which
specious arguments were used to prove that the French army of reserve
neither did, nor could exist--and these also were designed to withdraw
attention from the various points on which it was at the very moment

The pacification of the west of France had placed many good troops at
Buonaparte's disposal, which had previously been engaged against the
Chouans; the quiet state of Paris permitted several regiments to be
detached from the capital. New levies were made with the utmost
celerity; and the divisions of the army of reserve were organized
separately, and at different places of rendezvous, but ready to form a
junction when they should receive the signal for commencing operations.


[510] Gourgaud, tom. i., p. 118.

[511] Out of 3,012,569 votes, 1562 rejected the new constitution;
3,011,007 accepted it.--See THIBAUDEAU, tom. i., p. 117.

[512] "Cambacérès was of an honourable family in Languedoc; he was fifty
years old; he had been a member of the Convention, and had conducted
himself with moderation: he was generally esteemed, and had a just claim
to the reputation which he enjoyed of being one of the ablest lawyers of
the republic."--NAPOLEON, _Gourgaud_, tom. i., p. 153.

[513] "Lebrun was sixty years of age, and came from Normandy. He was one
of the best writers in France, a man of inflexible integrity; and he
approved of the changes of the Revolution only in consideration of the
advantages which resulted from them to the mass of the people, for his
own family were all of the class of peasantry."--_Ibid._, p. 153.

[514] Consid. sur la Rév. Française, tom. ii., p. 255.

[515] Thibaudeau, tom. i., p. 115; Gourgaud, tom. i., p. 115.

[516] Gourgaud, tom. i., p. 116.

[517] "When Cambacérès afterwards vacated the office, Buonaparte
appointed M. d'Abrial, who died in 1828, a peer of France. On remitting
the folio to the new minister, the First Consul addressed him thus: 'M.
d'Abrial, I know you not, but am informed you are the most upright man
in the magistracy; it is on that account I name you minister of
justice.'"--BOURRIENNE, tom. ii., p. 118.

[518] "Laplace, a geometrician of the first rank, soon proved himself
below mediocrity as a minister. On his very first essay, the consuls
found that they had been mistaken; not a question did Laplace seize in
its true point of view: he sought for subtleties in every thing; had
none but problematical ideas, and carried the doctrine of infinite
littleness into the business of administration."--NAPOLEON, _Gourgaud_,
tom. i., p. 116.

[519] "Forfait, a native of Normandy, had the reputation of being a
naval architect of first-rate talent, but he was a mere projector, and
did not answer the expectations formed of him."--NAPOLEON, _Gourgaud_,
tom. i., p. 115.

[520] _Moniteur_, 31st Dec. 1799.

[521] Las Cases, tom. iv., p. 337.

[522] "The choice of this residence was a stroke of policy. It was there
that the King of France was accustomed to be seen; circumstances
connected with that monarchy were there presented to every eye; and the
very influence of the walls on the minds of spectators was, if we may
say so, sufficient for the restoration of regal power."--MAD. DE STAËL,
tom. ii., p. 256.


"French Republic--Sovereignty of the People--Liberty--Equality.

"Buonaparte, First Consul of the Republic, to his Majesty the King of
Great Britain and Ireland.

    "Paris, 5th Nivose, 8th year of the Republic,
        (25th Dec. 1799.)

"Called by the wishes of the French nation to occupy the first
magistracy of the Republic, I think it proper, on entering into office,
to make a direct communication of it to your Majesty. The war, which for
eight years has ravaged the four quarters of the world, must it be
eternal? Are there no means of coming to an understanding? How can the
two most enlightened nations of Europe, powerful and strong beyond what
their safety and independence require, sacrifice to ideas of vain
greatness the benefits of commerce, internal prosperity, and the
happiness of families? How is it that they do not feel that peace is the
first necessity as well as the first glory? These sentiments cannot be
foreign to the heart of your Majesty, who reign over a free nation, and
with the sole view of rendering it happy. Your Majesty will only see, in
this overture, my sincere desire to contribute efficaciously, for the
second time, to a general pacification, by a proceeding prompt, entirely
confidential, and disengaged from those forms which, necessary perhaps
to disguise the dependence of weak States, prove only in the case of the
strong the mutual desire of deceiving each other. France and England, by
the abuse of their strength, may still, for a long time, for the
misfortune of all nations, retard the period of their being exhausted.
But I will venture to say, the fate of all civilized nations is attached
to the termination of a war which involves the whole world.


[524] See _Moniteur_, 23 Pluviose, 10th February 1800; and Thibaudeau,
tom. i., p. 194.

[525] Thibaudeau, tom. i., p. 182; Jomini, tom. xiii., p. 16, 24.

[526] These disorders gave rise to many general orders from Napoleon; in
one of them he said--"The first quality of a soldier is patient
endurance of fatigue and privation; valour is but a secondary virtue.
Several corps have quitted their positions; they have been deaf to the
voice of their officers. Are, then, the heroes of Castiglione, of
Rivoli, of Neumark no more? _They_ would rather have perished than have
deserted their colours. Soldiers, do you complain that your rations have
not been regularly distributed? What would you have done, if, like the
fourth and twenty second light demi-brigades, you had found yourselves
in the midst of the desert, without bread or water, subsisting on horses
and camels? _Victory will give us bread_, said they; and you--you desert
your colours! Soldiers of Italy, a new general commands you; he was
always in the foremost ranks, in the moments of your brightest glory;
place your confidence in him; he will bring back victory to your
colours."--GOURGAUD, tom. i., p. 160.

[527] In a proclamation issued to the armies, he said--"Soldiers! it is
no longer the frontiers that you are called on to defend, the countries
of your enemies are to be invaded. At a fit season I will be in the
midst of you, and Europe shall be made to remember that you belong to a
valiant race."--GOURGAUD, tom. i., p. 162.

[528] Jomini, tom. xiii., p. 35, 43; Thibaudeau, tom. i., p. 182-6:
Gourgaud, tom. i., p. 163.

[529] Gourgaud, tom. i., p. 167.

[530] "Moreau did not know the value of _time_; he always passed the day
after a battle in total indecision."--NAPOLEON, _Gourgaud_, tom. i., p.

[531] For the terms of the armistice, see Gourgaud, tom. i., p. 185.

[532] Jomini, tom. xiii., p. 355, 369; Thibaudeau, tom. i., p. 342.

[533] Gourgaud, tom. i., p. 261.

[534] "Europe was full of caricatures. One of them represented a boy of
twelve years of age, and an invalid with a wooden leg; underneath which
was written 'Buonaparte's army of reserve.'"--NAPOLEON, _Gourgaud_, tom.
i., p. 262.

[535] Gourgaud, tom. i., p. 263.


    _The Chief Consul leaves Paris on 6th May, 1800--Has an
    Interview with Necker at Geneva on 8th--Arrives at Lausanne on
    the 13th--Various Corps put in motion to cross the
    Alps--Napoleon, at the head of the Main Army, marches on the
    15th, and ascends Mont St. Bernard--On the 16th, the Vanguard
    takes possession of Aosta--Fortress and Town of Bard threaten to
    baffle the whole plan--The Town is captured--and Napoleon
    contrives to send his Artillery through it, under the fire of
    the Fort, his Infantry and Cavalry passing over the
    Albaredo--Lannes carries Ivrea--Recapitulation--Operations of
    the Austrian General Melas--At the commencement of the Campaign,
    Melas advances towards Genoa--Actions betwixt him and
    Massena--In March, Lord Keith blockades Genoa--Melas compelled
    to retreat--Enters Nice--Recalled from thence by the news of
    Napoleon's having crossed Mont St. Bernard--Genoa
    surrenders--Buonaparte enters Milan--Battle of Montebello--The
    Chief Consul is joined by Desaix--Battle of Marengo on the
    14th--Death of Desaix--Capitulation on the 15th, by which Genoa,
    &c., are yielded--Napoleon returns to Paris on the 2d July._

On the 6th of May 1800, seeking to renew the fortunes of France, now
united with his own, the chief consul left Paris, and, having reviewed
the pretended army of reserve at Dijon on the 7th, arrived on the 8th at
Geneva. Here he had an interview with the celebrated financier Necker.
There was always doomed to be some misunderstanding between Buonaparte
and this accomplished family. Madame de Staël believed that Buonaparte
spoke to her father with confidence on his future prospects; while the
first consul affirms that Necker seemed to expect to be intrusted with
the management of the French finances, and that they parted with mutual
indifference, if not dislike.[536] Napoleon had a more interesting
conversation with General Marescot, despatched to survey Mont Bernard,
and who had, with great difficulty, ascended as far as the convent of
the Chartreux. "Is the route practicable?" said Buonaparte.--"It is
barely possible to pass," replied the engineer.--"Let us set forward
then," said Napoleon, and the extraordinary march was commenced.[537]

On the 13th, arriving at Lausanne, Buonaparte joined the van of his real
army of reserve, which consisted of six effective regiments, commanded
by the celebrated Lannes. These corps, together with the rest of the
troops intended for the expedition, had been assembled from their
several positions by forced marches. Carnot, the minister at war,
attended the first consul at Lausanne, to report to him that 15,000, or
from that to the number of 20,000 men, detached from Moreau's army, were
in the act of descending on Italy by St. Gothard, in order to form the
left wing of his army.[538] The whole army, in its various divisions,
was now united under the command of Berthier nominally, as
general-in-chief, though in reality under that of the first consul
himself. This was in compliance with a regulation of the Constitution,
which rendered it inconsistent for the first consul to command in
person.[539] It was a form which Buonaparte at present evaded, and
afterwards laid aside; thinking truly, that the name, as well as office
of generalissimo, was most fittingly vested in his own person, since,
though it might not be the loftiest of his titles, it was that which
best expressed his power. The army might amount to 60,000 men, but
one-third of the number were conscripts.


During the interval between the 15th and 18th of May, all the columns of
the French army were put into motion to cross the Alps. Thurreau, at
the head of 5000 men, directed his march by Mont Cenis, on Exilles and
Susa. A similar division, commanded by Chabran, took the route of the
Little St. Bernard. Buonaparte himself, on the 15th, at the head of the
main body of his army, consisting of 30,000 men and upwards, marched
from Lausanne to the little village called St. Pierre, at which point
there ended every thing resembling a practicable road. An immense, and
apparently inaccessible mountain, reared its head among general
desolation and eternal frost; while precipices, glaciers, ravines, and a
boundless extent of faithless snows, which the slightest concussion of
the air converts into avalanches capable of burying armies in their
descent, appeared to forbid access to all living things but the chamois,
and his scarce less wild pursuer. Yet foot by foot, and man by man, did
the French soldiers proceed to ascend this formidable barrier, which
nature had erected in vain to limit human ambition. The view of the
valley, emphatically called "of Desolation," where nothing is to be seen
but snow and sky, had no terrors for the first consul and his army. They
advanced up paths hitherto only practised by hunters, or here and there
a hardy pedestrian, the infantry loaded with their arms, and in full
military equipment, the cavalry leading their horses. The musical bands
played from time to time at the head of the regiments, and, in places of
unusual difficulty, the drums beat a charge, as if to encourage the
soldiers to encounter the opposition of Nature herself. The artillery,
without which they could not have done service, were deposited in trunks
of trees hollowed out for the purpose. Each was dragged by a hundred
men, and the troops, making it a point of honour to bring forward their
guns, accomplished this severe duty, not with cheerfulness only, but
with enthusiasm. The carriages were taken to pieces, and harnessed on
the backs of mules, or committed to the soldiers, who relieved each
other in the task of bearing them with levers; and the ammunition was
transported in the same manner. While one half of the soldiers were thus
engaged, the others were obliged to carry the muskets, cartridge-boxes,
knapsacks, and provisions of their comrades, as well as their own. Each
man, so loaded, was calculated to carry from sixty to seventy pounds
weight, up icy precipices, where a man totally without encumbrance could
ascend but slowly. Probably no troops save the French could have endured
the fatigue of such a march; and no other general than Buonaparte would
have ventured to require it at their hand.[540]

He set out a considerable time after the march had begun, alone,
excepting his guide. He is described by the Swiss peasant who attended
him in that capacity, as wearing his usual simple dress, a grey surtout,
and three-cornered hat. He travelled in silence, save a few short and
hasty questions about the country, addressed to his guide from time to
time. When these were answered, he relapsed into silence. There was a
gloom on his brow, corresponding with the weather, which was wet and
dismal. His countenance had acquired, during his Eastern campaigns, a
swart complexion, which added to his natural severe gravity, and the
Swiss peasant who guided him felt fear as he looked on him.[541]
Occasionally his route was stopt by some temporary obstacle occasioned
by a halt in the artillery or baggage; his commands on such occasions
were peremptorily given, and instantly obeyed, his very look seeming
enough to silence all objection, and remove every difficulty.

The army now arrived at that singular convent, where, with courage equal
to their own, but flowing from a much higher source, the monks of St.
Bernard have fixed their dwellings among the everlasting snows, that
they may afford succour and hospitality to the forlorn travellers in
those dreadful wastes. Hitherto the soldiers had had no refreshment,
save when they dipt a morsel of biscuit amongst the snow. The good
fathers of the convent, who possess considerable magazines of
provisions, distributed bread and cheese, and a cup of wine, to each
soldier as he passed, which was more acceptable in their situation,
than, according to one who shared their fatigues,[542] would have been
the gold of Mexico.[543]

The descent on the other side of Mont St. Bernard was as difficult to
the infantry as the ascent had been, and still more so to the cavalry.
It was, however, accomplished without any material loss, and the army
took up their quarters for the night, after having marched fourteen
French leagues. The next morning, 16th May, the vanguard took possession
of Aosta, a village of Piedmont, from which extends the valley of the
same name, watered by the river Dorea, a country pleasant in itself, but
rendered delightful by its contrast with the horrors which had been left

Thus was achieved the celebrated passage of Mont St. Bernard, on the
particulars of which we have dwelt the more willingly, because,
although a military operation of importance, they do not involve the
unwearied details of human slaughter, to which our narrative must now

[Sidenote: BARD.]

Where the opposition of Nature to Napoleon's march appeared to cease,
that of man commenced. A body of Austrians at Chatillon were overpowered
and defeated by Lannes; but the strong fortress of Bard offered more
serious opposition. This little citadel is situated upon an almost
perpendicular rock, rising out of the river Dorea, at a place where the
valley of Aosta is rendered so very narrow by the approach of two
mountains to each other, that the fort and walled town of Bard entirely
close up the entrance. This formidable obstacle threatened for the
moment to shut up the French in a valley, where their means of
subsistence must have been speedily exhausted. General Lannes made a
desperate effort to carry the fort by assault; but the advanced guard of
the attacking party were destroyed by stones, musketry and
hand-grenades, and the attempt was relinquished.

Buonaparte in person went now to reconnoitre, and for that purpose
ascended a huge rock called Albaredo, being a precipice on the side of
one of the mountains which form the pass, from the summit of which he
could look down into the town, and into the fortress. He detected a
possibility of taking the town by storm, though he judged the fort was
too strong to be obtained by a coup-de-main. The town was accordingly
carried by escalade; but the French who obtained possession of it had
little cover from the artillery of the fort, which fired furiously on
the houses where they endeavoured to shelter themselves, and which the
Austrians might have entirely demolished but for respect to the
inhabitants. Meanwhile, Buonaparte availed himself of the diversion to
convey a great part of his army in single files, horse as well as foot,
by a precarious path formed by the pioneers over the tremendous
Albaredo, and so down on the other side, in this manner avoiding the
cannon of fort Bard.[544]

Still a most important difficulty remained. It was impossible, at least
without great loss of time, to carry the French artillery over the
Albaredo, while, without artillery, it was impossible to move against
the Austrians, and every hope of the campaign must be given up.

In the meantime, the astonished commandant of the fort, to whom the
apparition of this large army was like enchantment, despatched messenger
after messenger to warn Melas, then opposed to Suchet, on the Var, that
a French army of 30,000 men and upwards, descending from the Alps by
ways hitherto deemed impracticable for military movements, had occupied
the valley of Aosta, and were endeavouring to debouche by a path of
steps cut in the Albaredo. But he pledged himself to his
commander-in-chief, that not a single gun or ammunition-waggon should
pass through the town; and as it was impossible to drag these along the
Albaredo, he concluded, that, being without his artillery, Buonaparte
would not venture to descend into the plain.

But, while the commandant of Bard thus argued, he was mistaken in his
premises, though right in his inference. The artillery of the French
army had already passed through the town of Bard, and under the guns of
the citadel, without being discovered to have done so. This important
manœuvre was accomplished by previously laying the street with dung
and earth, over which the pieces of cannon, concealed under straw and
branches of trees, were dragged by men in profound silence. The
garrison, though they did not suspect what was going on, fired
nevertheless upon some vague suspicion, and killed and wounded
artillerymen in sufficient number to show it would have been impossible
to pass under a severe and sustained discharge from the ramparts.[545]
It seems singular that the commandant had kept up no intelligence with
the town. Any signal previously agreed upon--a light shown in a window,
for example--would have detected such a stratagem.

A division of conscripts, under General Chabran, was left to reduce fort
Bard, which continued to hold out, until, at the expense of great
labour, batteries were established on the top of the Albaredo, by which
it was commanded, and a heavy gun placed on the steeple of the church,
when it was compelled to surrender. It is not fruitless to observe, that
the resistance of this small place, which had been overlooked or
undervalued in the plan of the campaign, was very near rendering the
march over Mont St. Bernard worse than useless, and might have
occasioned the destruction of all the chief consul's army.[546] So
little are even the most distinguished generals able to calculate with
certainty upon all the chances of war.

From this dangerous pass, the vanguard of Buonaparte now advanced down
the valley to Ivrea, where Lannes carried the town by storm, and a
second time combated and defeated the Austrian division which had
defended it, when reinforced and situated on a strong position at
Romano. The roads to Turin and Milan were now alike open to
Buonaparte--he had only to decide which he chose to take. Meanwhile, he
made a halt of four days at Ivrea, to refresh the troops after their
fatigues, and to prepare them for future enterprises.[547]

During this space, the other columns of his army were advancing to form
a junction with that of the main body, according to the plan of the
campaign. Thurreau, who had passed the Alps by the route of Mont Cenis,
had taken the forts of Susa and La Brunette. On the other hand, the
large corps detached by Carnot from Moreau's army, were advancing by
Mont St. Gothard and the Simplon, to support the operations of the first
consul, of whose army they were to form the left wing. But ere we
prosecute the account of Buonaparte's movements during this momentous
campaign, it is necessary to trace the previous operations of Melas, and
the situation in which that Austrian general now found himself.


It has been already stated, that, at the commencement of this campaign
of 1800, the Austrians entertained the highest hopes that their Italian
army, having taken Genoa and Nice, might penetrate into Provence by
crossing the frontier at the Var, and perhaps make themselves masters of
Toulon and Marseilles. To realize these hopes, Melas, having left in
Piedmont a sufficient force, as he deemed it, to guard the passes of the
Alps, had advanced towards Genoa, which Massena prepared to cover and
defend. A number of severe and desperate actions took place between
these generals; but being a war of posts, and fought in a very
mountainous and difficult country, it was impossible by any skill of
combination to ensure on any occasion more than partial success, since
co-operation of movements upon a great and extensive scale was
prohibited by the character of the ground. There was much hard fighting,
however, in which, though more of the Austrians were slain, yet the loss
was most severely felt by the French, whose numbers were inferior.

In the month of March, the English fleet, under Lord Keith, appeared, as
we have already hinted, before Genoa, and commenced a blockade, which
strictly prevented access to the port to all vessels loaded with
provisions, or other necessaries, for the besieged city.

On the 6th of April, Melas, by a grand movement, took Vado, and
intersected the French line. Suchet, who commanded Massena's left wing,
was cut off from that general, and thrown back on France. Marches,
manœuvres, and bloody combats, followed each other in close detail;
but the French, though obtaining advantages in several of the actions,
could never succeed in restoring the communication between Suchet and
Massena. Finally, while the former retreated towards France, and took up
a line on Borghetta, the latter was compelled to convert his army into a
garrison, and to shut himself up in Genoa, or at least encamp in a
position close under its ramparts. Melas, in the meantime, approached
the city more closely, when Massena, in a desperate sally, drove the
Austrians from their advanced posts, forced them to retreat, made
prisoners twelve hundred men, and carried off some warlike trophies. But
the French were exhausted by their very success, and obliged to remain
within, or under the walls of the city, where the approach of famine
began to be felt. Men were already compelled to have recourse to the
flesh of horses, dogs, and other unclean animals, and it was seen that
the place must soon be necessarily obliged to surrender.[548]

Satisfied with the approaching fall of Genoa, Melas, in the beginning of
May, left the prosecution of the blockade to General Ott, and moved
himself against Suchet, whom he drove before him in disorder, and who,
overborne by numbers, retreated towards the French frontier. On the 11th
of May, Melas entered Nice, and thus commenced the purposed invasion of
the French frontier. On the 14th, the Austrians again attacked Suchet,
who now had concentrated his forces upon the Var, in hopes to protect
the French territory. Finding this a more difficult task than he
expected, Melas next prepared to pass the Var higher up, and thus to
turn the position occupied by Suchet.

But on the 21st, the Austrian veteran received intelligence which put a
stop to all his operations against Suchet, and recalled him to Italy to
face a much more formidable antagonist. Tidings arrived that the first
consul of France had crossed St. Bernard, had extricated himself from
the valley of Aosta, and was threatening to overrun Piedmont and the
Milanese territory. These tidings were as unexpected as embarrassing.
The artillery, the equipage, the provisions of Melas, together with his
communications with Italy, were all at the mercy of this unexpected
invader, who, though his force was not accurately known, must have
brought with him an army more than adequate to destroy the troops left
to guard the frontier; who, besides, were necessarily divided, and
exposed to be beaten in detail. Yet, if Melas marched back into Piedmont
against Buonaparte, he must abandon the attack upon Suchet, and raise
the blockade of Genoa, when that important city was just on the eve of

Persevering in the belief that the French army of reserve could not
exceed twenty thousand men, or thereabouts, in number, and supposing
that the principal, if not the sole object of the first consul's daring
irruption, was to raise the siege of Genoa, and disconcert the invasion
of Provence, Melas resolved on marching himself against Buonaparte with
such forces, as, united with those he had left in Italy, might be of
power to face the French army, according to his computation of its
probable strength. At the same time, he determined to leave before Genoa
an army sufficient to ensure its fall, and a corps of observation in
front of Suchet, by means of which he might easily resume his plans
against that general, so soon as the chief consul should be defeated or
driven back.

The corps of observation already mentioned was under the command of
General Ellsnitz, strongly posted upon the Roye, and secured by
intrenchments. It served at once to watch Suchet, and to cover the
siege of Genoa from any attempts to relieve the city, which might be
made in the direction of France.[549]


Massena, in the meantime, no sooner perceived the besieging army
weakened by the departure of Melas, than he conceived the daring plan of
a general attack on the forces of Ott, who was left to carry on the
siege. The attempt was unfortunate. The French were defeated, and Soult,
who had joined Massena, was wounded and made prisoner. Yet Genoa still
held out. An officer had found his way into the place, brought
intelligence of Buonaparte's descent upon Piedmont, and inspired all
with a new spirit of resistance. Still, however, extreme want prevailed
in the city, and the hope of delivery seemed distant. The soldiers
received little food, the inhabitants less, the Austrian prisoners, of
whom they had about 8000 in Genoa, almost none.[550] At length, the
situation of things seemed desperate. The numerous population of Genoa
rose in the extremity of their despair, and called for a surrender.
Buonaparte, they said, was not wont to march so slowly; he would have
been before the walls sooner, if he was to appear at all; he must have
been defeated or driven back by the superior force of Melas. They
demanded the surrender of the place, therefore, which Massena no longer
found himself in a condition to oppose.[551]

Yet could that brave general have suspended this measure a few hours
longer, he would have been spared the necessity of making it at all.
General Ott had just received commands from Melas to raise the blockade
with all despatch, and to fall back upon the Po, in order to withstand
Buonaparte, who, in unexpected strength, was marching upon Milan. The
Austrian staff-officer who brought the order, had just received his
audience of General Ott, when General Andrieux, presenting himself on
the part of Massena, announced the French general's desire to surrender
the place, if his troops were permitted to march out with their arms.
There was no time to debate upon terms; and those granted to Massena by
Melas were so unusually favourable, that perhaps they should have made
him aware of the precarious state of the besieging army.[552] He was
permitted to evacuate Genoa without laying down his arms, and the
convention was signed 5th June, 1800. Meantime, at this agitating and
interesting period, events of still greater importance than those which
concerned the fate of the once princely Genoa, were taking place with
frightful rapidity.

Melas, with about one half of his army, had retired from his operations
in the Genoese territory, and retreated on Turin by the way of Coni,
where he fixed his headquarters, expecting that Buonaparte would either
advance to possess himself of the capital of Piedmont, or that he would
make an effort to relieve Genoa. In the first instance, Melas deemed
himself strong enough to receive the first consul; in the second, to
pursue him, and in either, to assemble such numerous forces as might
harass and embarrass either his advance or his retreat. But Buonaparte's
plan of the campaign was different from what Melas had anticipated. He
had formed the resolution to pass the rivers Sesia and Ticino, and thus
leaving Turin and Melas behind him, to push straight for Milan, and form
a junction with the division of about 20,000 men, detached from the
right wing of Moreau's army, which, commanded by Moncey, were on their
road to join him, having crossed the mountains by the route of St.
Gothard. It was necessary, however, to disguise his purpose from the
sagacious veteran.

With this view, ere Buonaparte broke up from Ivrea, Lannes, who had
commanded his vanguard with so much gallantry, victorious at Romano,
seemed about to improve his advantage. He had marched on Chiavaso, and
seizing on a number of boats and small vessels, appeared desirous to
construct a bridge over the Po at that place. This attracted the
attention of Melas. It might be equally a preliminary to an attack on
Turin, or a movement towards Genoa. But as the Austrian general was at
the same time alarmed by the descent of General Thurreau's division from
Mont Cenis, and their capture of Susa and La Brunette, Turin seemed
ascertained to be the object of the French; and Melas acted on this
idea. He sent a strong force to oppose the establishment of the bridge,
and while his attention was thus occupied, Buonaparte was left to take
the road to Milan unmolested. Vercelli was occupied by the cavalry under
Murat, and the Sesia was crossed without obstacle. The Ticino, a broad
and rapid river, offered more serious opposition; but the French found
four or five small boats, in which they pushed across an advanced party
under General Gerard. The Austrians, who opposed the passage, were in a
great measure cavalry, who could not act on account of the woody and
impracticable character of the bank of the river. The passage was
accomplished; and, upon the 2d of June, Buonaparte entered Milan,[553]
where he was received with acclamations by a numerous class of citizens,
who looked for the re-establishment of the Cisalpine Republic. The
Austrians were totally unprepared for this movement. Pavia fell into the
hands of the French; Lodi and Cremona were occupied, and Pizzighitone
was invested.[554]

Meanwhile, Buonaparte, fixing his residence in the ducal palace of
Milan, employed himself in receiving the deputations of various public
bodies, and in re-organizing the Cisalpine government, while he waited
impatiently to be joined by Moncey and his division, from Mont Saint
Gothard. They arrived at length, but marching more slowly than accorded
with the fiery promptitude of the first consul, who was impatient to
relieve the blockade of Genoa, which place he concluded still held out.
He now issued a proclamation to his troops, in which he described, as
the result of the efforts he expected from them, "Cloudless glory and
solid peace."[555] On the 9th of June his armies were again in motion.


Melas, an excellent officer, had at the same time some of the slowness
imputed to his countrymen, or of the irresolution incident to the
advanced age of eighty years,--for so old was the opponent of
Buonaparte, then in the very prime of human life,--or, as others
suspect, it may have been orders from Vienna which detained the Austrian
general so long at Turin, where he lay in a great measure inactive. It
is true, that on receiving notice of Buonaparte's march on Milan, he
instantly despatched orders to General Ott, as we have already stated,
to raise the siege of Genoa, and join him with all possible speed; but
it seemed, that in the meantime, he might have disquieted Buonaparte's
lines of communication, by acting upon the river Dorea, attacking Ivrea,
in which the French had left much baggage and artillery, and relieving
the fort of Bard. Accordingly, he made an attempt of this kind, by
detaching 6000 men to Chiavaso, who were successful in delivering some
Austrian prisoners at that place; but Ivrea proved strong enough to
resist them, and the French retaining possession of that place, the
Austrians could not occupy the valley of the Dorea, or relieve the
besieged fortress of Bard.[556]

The situation of Melas now became critical. His communications with the
left, or north bank of the Po, were entirely cut off, and by a line
stretching from Fort Bard to Placentia, the French occupied the best and
fairest share of the north of Italy, while he found himself confined to
Piedmont. The Austrian army, besides, was divided into two parts,--one
under Ott, which was still near Genoa, that had so lately surrendered to
them,--one with Melas himself, which was at Turin. Neither were
agreeably situated. That of Genoa was observed on its right by Suchet,
whose army, reinforced with the garrison which, retaining their arms,
evacuated that city under Massena, might soon be expected to renew the
offensive. There was, therefore, the greatest risk, that Buonaparte,
pushing a strong force across the Po, might attack and destroy either
the division of Ott, or that of Melas himself, before they were able to
form a junction. To prevent such a catastrophe, Ott received orders to
march forward on the Ticino, while Melas, moving towards Alexandria,
prepared to resume his communications with his lieutenant-general.

Buonaparte, on his part, was anxious to relieve Genoa; news of the fall
of which had not reached him. With this view he resolved to force his
passage over the Po, and move against the Austrians, who were found to
occupy in strength the villages of Casteggio and Montebello. These
troops proved to be the greater part of the very army which he expected
to find before Genoa, and which was commanded by Ott, but which had
moved westward, in conformity to the orders of Melas.

[Sidenote: 9th June.]

General Lannes, who led the vanguard of the French, as usual, was
attacked early in the morning, by a superior force, which he had much
difficulty in resisting. The nature of the ground gave advantage to the
Austrian cavalry, and the French were barely able to support their
charges. At length the division of Victor came up to support Lannes, and
the victory became no longer doubtful, though the Austrians fought most
obstinately. The fields being covered with tall crops of grain, and
especially of rye, the different bodies were frequently hid until they
found themselves at the bayonet's point, without having had any previous
opportunity to estimate each other's force; a circumstance which led to
much close fighting, and necessarily to much slaughter. At length the
Austrians retreated, leaving the field of battle covered with their
dead, and above 5000 prisoners in the hands of their enemies.[557]

General Ott rallied the remains of his army under the walls of Tortona.
From the prisoners taken at the battle of Montebello, as this action was
called, Buonaparte learned, for the first time, the surrender of Genoa,
which apprised him that he was too late for the enterprise which he had
meditated. He therefore halted his army for three days in the position
of Stradella, unwilling to advance into the open plain of Marengo, and
trusting that Melas would find himself compelled to give him battle in
the position which he had chosen, as most unfavourable for the Austrian
cavalry. He despatched messengers to Suchet, commanding him to cross the
mountains by the Col di Cadibona, and march on the river Scrivia, which
would place him in the rear of the Austrians.

[Sidenote: DESAIX--MARENGO.]

Even during the very battle of Montebello, the chief consul was joined
by Desaix, who had just arrived from Egypt. Landed at Frejus, after a
hundred interruptions, that seemed as if intended to withhold him from
the fate he was about to meet, he had received letters from Buonaparte,
inviting him to come to him without delay. The tone of the letters
expressed discontent and embarrassment. "He has gained all," said
Desaix, who was much attached to Buonaparte, "and yet he is not happy."
Immediately afterwards, on reading the account of his march over St.
Bernard, he added, "He will leave us nothing to do." He immediately set
out post to place himself under the command of his ancient general, and,
as it eventually proved, to encounter an early death. They had an
interesting conversation on the subject of Egypt, to which Buonaparte
continued to cling, as to a matter in which his own fame was intimately
and inseparately concerned. Desaix immediately received the command of
the division hitherto under that of Boudet.[558]

In the meanwhile, the headquarters of Melas had been removed from Turin,
and fixed at Alexandria for the space of two days; yet he did not, as
Buonaparte had expected, attempt to move forward on the French position
at Stradella, in order to force his way to Mantua; so that the first
consul was obliged to advance towards Alexandria, apprehensive lest the
Austrians should escape from him, and either, by a march to the left
flank, move for the Ticino, cross that river, and, by seizing Milan,
open a communication with Austria in that direction; or, by marching to
the right, and falling back on Genoa, overwhelm Suchet, and take a
position, the right of which might be covered by that city, while the
sea was open for supplies and provisions, and their flank protected by
the British squadron.

Either of these movements might have been attended with alarming
consequences; and Napoleon, impatient lest his enemy should give him the
slip, advanced his headquarters on the 12th to Voghera, and on the 13th
to St. Juliano, in the midst of the great plain of Marengo. As he still
saw nothing of the enemy, the chief consul concluded that Melas had
actually retreated from Alexandria, having, notwithstanding the
temptation afforded by the level ground around him, preferred
withdrawing, most probably to Genoa, to the hazard of a battle. He was
still more confirmed in this belief, when, pushing forward as far as the
village of Marengo, he found it occupied only by an Austrian rear-guard,
which offered no persevering defence against the French, but retreated
from the village without much opposition. The chief consul could no
longer doubt that Melas had eluded him, by marching off by one of his
flanks, and probably by his right. He gave orders to Desaix, whom he had
intrusted with the command of the reserve, to march towards Rivolta with
a view to observe the communications with Genoa; and in this manner the
reserve was removed half a day's march from the rest of the army, which
had like to have produced most sinister effects upon the event of the
great battle that followed.

[Sidenote: MARENGO.]

Contrary to what Buonaparte had anticipated, the Austrian general,
finding the first consul in his front, and knowing that Suchet was in
his rear, had adopted, with the consent of a council of war, the
resolution of trying the fate of arms in a general battle. It was a
bold, but not a rash resolution. The Austrians were more numerous than
the French in infantry and artillery; much superior in cavalry, both in
point of numbers and of discipline; and it has been already said, that
the extensive plain of Marengo was favourable for the use of that
description of force. Melas, therefore, on the evening of the 13th,
concentrated his forces in front of Alexandria, divided by the river
Bormida from the purposed field of fight; and Napoleon, undeceived
concerning the intentions of his enemy, made with all haste the
necessary preparations to receive battle, and failed not to send orders
to Desaix to return as speedily as possible and join the army. That
general was so far advanced on his way towards Rivolta before these
counter orders reached him, that his utmost haste only brought him back
after the battle had lasted several hours.

[Sidenote: June 14.]

Buonaparte's disposition was as follows:--The village of Marengo was
occupied by the divisions of Gardanne and Chambarlhac. Victor, with
other two divisions, and commanding the whole, was prepared to support
them. He extended his left as far as Castel-Ceriolo, a small village
which lies almost parallel with Marengo. Behind this first line was
placed a brigade of cavalry, under Kellermann, ready to protect the
flanks of the line, or to debouche through the intervals, if opportunity
served, and attack the enemy. About a thousand yards in the rear of the
first line was stationed the second, under Lannes, supported by
Champeaux's brigade of cavalry. At the same distance, in the rear of
Lannes, was placed a strong reserve, or third line, consisting of the
division of Carra St. Cyr, and the consular guard, at the head of whom
was Buonaparte himself. Thus the French were drawn up on this memorable
day in three distinct divisions, each composed of a _corps d'armée_,
distant about three-quarters of a mile in the rear of each other.

The force which the French had in the field in the commencement of the
day, was above twenty thousand men; the reserve, under Desaix, upon its
arrival, might make the whole amount to thirty thousand. The Austrians
attacked with nearly forty thousand troops. Both armies were in high
spirits, determined to fight, and each confident in their general--the
Austrians in the bravery and experience of Melas, the French in the
genius and talents of Buonaparte. The immediate stake was the possession
of Italy, but it was impossible to guess how many yet more important
consequences the event of the day might involve. Thus much seemed
certain, that the battle must be decisive, and that defeat must prove
destruction to the party who should sustain it. Buonaparte, if routed,
could hardly have accomplished his retreat upon Milan; and Melas, if
defeated, had Suchet in his rear. The fine plain on which the French
were drawn up, seemed lists formed by nature for such an encounter,
when the fate of kingdoms was at issue.

Early in the morning the Austrians crossed the Bormida, in three
columns, by three military bridges, and advanced in the same order. The
right and the centre columns, consisting of infantry, were commanded by
Generals Haddick and Kaine; the left, composed entirely of light troops
and cavalry, made a detour round Castel-Ceriolo, the village mentioned
as forming the extreme right of the French position. About seven in the
morning, Haddick attacked Marengo with fury, and Gardanne's division,
after fighting bravely, proved inadequate to its defence. Victor
supported Gardanne, and endeavoured to cover the village by an oblique
movement. Melas, who commanded in person the central column of the
Austrians, moved to support Haddick; and by their united efforts, the
village of Marengo, after having been once or twice lost and won, was
finally carried.

The broken divisions of Victor and Gardanne, driven out of Marengo,
endeavoured to rally on the second line, commanded by Lannes. This was
about nine o'clock. While one Austrian column manœuvred to turn
Lannes's flank, in which they could not succeed, another, with better
fortune, broke through the centre of Victor's division, in a
considerable degree disordered them, and thus uncovering Lannes's left
wing, compelled him to retreat. He was able to do so in tolerably good
order; but not so the broken troops of Victor on the left, who fled to
the rear in great confusion. The column of Austrian cavalry who had come
round Castel-Ceriolo, now appeared on the field, and threatened the
right of Lannes, which alone remained standing firm. Napoleon detached
two battalions of the consular guard from the third line, or reserve,
which, forming squares behind the right wing of Lannes, supported its
resistance, and withdrew from it in part the attention of the enemy's
cavalry. The chief consul himself, whose post was distinguished by the
furred caps of a guard of two hundred grenadiers, brought up Monnier's
division, which had but now entered the field at the moment of extreme
need, being the advance of Desaix's reserve, returned from their half
day's march towards Rivolta. These were, with the guards, directed to
support Lannes's right wing, and a brigade detached from them was thrown
into Castel-Ceriolo, which now became the point of support on
Buonaparte's extreme right, and which the Austrians, somewhat
unaccountably, had omitted to occupy in force when their left column
passed it in the beginning of the engagement. Buonaparte, meantime, by
several desperate charges of cavalry, endeavoured in vain to arrest the
progress of the enemy. His left wing was put completely to flight; his
centre was in great disorder, and it was only his right wing, which, by
strong support, had been enabled to stand their ground.

In these circumstances, the day seemed so entirely against him, that, to
prevent his right wing from being overwhelmed, he was compelled to
retreat in the face of an enemy superior in numbers, and particularly in
cavalry and artillery. It was, however, rather a change of position,
than an absolute retreat to the rear. The French right, still resting on
Castel-Ceriolo, which formed the pivot of the manœuvre, had orders to
retreat very slowly, the centre faster, the left at ordinary quick time.
In this manner the whole line of battle was changed, and instead of
extending diagonally across the plain, as when the fight began, the
French now occupied an oblong position, the left being withdrawn as far
back as St. Juliano, where it was protected by the advance of Desaix's
troops. This division, being the sole remaining reserve, had now at
length arrived on the field, and, by Buonaparte's directions, had taken
a strong position in front of St. Juliano, on which the French were
obliged to retreat, great part of the left wing in the disorder of utter
flight, the right wing steadily, and by intervals fronting the enemy,
and sustaining with firmness the attacks made upon them.

At this time, and when victory seemed within his grasp, the strength of
General Melas, eighty years old, and who had been many hours on
horseback, failed entirely; and he was obliged to leave the field, and
retire to Alexandria, committing to General Zach the charge of
completing a victory which appeared to be already gained.

But the position of Desaix, at St. Juliano, afforded the first consul a
rallying point, which he now greatly needed. His army of reserve lay
formed in two lines in front of the village, their flanks sustained by
battalions _en potence_, formed into close columns of infantry; on the
left was a train of artillery; on the right, Kellermann, with a large
body of French cavalry, which, routed in the beginning of the day, had
rallied in this place. The ground that Desaix occupied was where the
high-road forms a sort of defile, having on the one hand a wood, on the
other a thick plantation of vines.

The French soldier understands better perhaps than any other in the
world the art of rallying, after having been dispersed. The fugitives of
Victor's division, though in extreme disorder, threw themselves into the
rear of Desaix's position, and, covered by his troops, renewed their
ranks and their courage. Yet, when Desaix saw the plain filled with
flying soldiers, and beheld Buonaparte himself in full retreat, he
thought all must be lost. They met in the middle of the greatest
apparent confusion, and Desaix said, "The battle is lost--I suppose I
can do no more for you than secure your retreat?"--"By no means,"
answered the first consul, "the battle is, I trust, gained--the
disordered troops whom you see are my centre and left, whom I will rally
in your rear--Push forward your column."

[Sidenote: 14th June.]

Desaix, at the head of the ninth light brigade, instantly rushed
forward, and charged the Austrians, wearied with fighting the whole day,
and disordered by their hasty pursuit. The moment at which he advanced,
so critically favourable for Buonaparte, was fatal to himself. He fell,
shot through the head.[559] But his soldiers continued to attack with
fury, and Kellermann, at the same time charging the Austrian column,
penetrated its ranks, and separated from the rest six battalions, which,
surprised and panic-struck, threw down their arms; Zach, who, in the
absence of Melas, commanded in chief, being at their head, was taken
with them. The Austrians were now driven back in their turn. Buonaparte
galloped along the French line, calling on the soldiers to advance. "You
know," he said, "it is always my practice to sleep on the field of

The Austrians had pursued their success with incautious hurry, and
without attending to the due support which one corps ought, in all
circumstances, to be prepared to afford to another. Their left flank was
also exposed, by their hasty advance, to Buonaparte's right, which had
never lost order. They were, therefore, totally unprepared to resist
this general, furious, and unexpected attack. They were forced back at
all points, and pursued along the plain, suffering immense loss; nor
were they again able to make a stand until driven back over the Bormida.
Their fine cavalry, instead of being drawn up in squadrons to cover
their retreat, fled in disorder, and at full gallop, riding down all
that was in their way. The confusion at passing the river was
inextricable--large bodies of men were abandoned on the left side, and
surrendered to the French in the course of the night, or next

It is evident, in perusing the accounts of this battle, that the victory
was wrested out of the hands of the Austrians, after they had become, by
the fatigues of the day, too weary to hold it. Had they sustained their
advance by reserves, their disaster would not have taken place. It seems
also certain, that the fate of Buonaparte was determined by the arrival
of Desaix at the moment he did,[562] and that in spite of the skilful
disposition by which the chief consul was enabled to support the attack
so long, he must have been utterly defeated had Desaix put less despatch
in his counter-march. Military men have been farther of opinion, that
Melas was guilty of a great error, in not occupying Castel-Ceriolo on
the advance; and that the appearances of early victory led the Austrians
to be by far too unguarded in their advance on Saint Juliano.

In consequence of a loss which seemed in the circumstances altogether
irreparable, Melas resolved to save the remains of his army, by
entering, upon the 15th June, 1800, into a convention,[563] or rather
capitulation, by which he agreed, on receiving permission to retire
behind Mantua, to yield up Genoa, and all the fortified places which the
Austrians possessed in Piedmont, Lombardy, and the Legations. Buonaparte
the more readily granted these terms, that an English army was in the
act of arriving on the coast. His wisdom taught him not to drive a
powerful enemy to despair, and to be satisfied with the glory of having
regained, in the affairs of Montebello and of Marengo, almost all the
loss sustained by the French in the disastrous campaign of 1799. Enough
had been done to show, that, as the fortunes of France appeared to wane
and dwindle after Buonaparte's departure, so they revived with even more
than their original brilliancy, as soon as this Child of Destiny had
returned to preside over them. An armistice was also agreed upon, which
it was supposed might afford time for the conclusion of a victorious
peace with Austria; and Buonaparte extended this truce to the armies on
the Rhine, as well as those in Italy.

Two days having been spent in the arrangements which the convention with
Melas rendered necessary, Buonaparte, on the 17th June, returned to
Milan, where he again renewed the Republican constitution, which had
been his original gift to the Cisalpine state.[564] He executed several
other acts of authority. Though displeased with Massena for the
surrender of Genoa, he did not the less constitute him commander-in-chief
in Italy;[565] and though doubtful of Jourdan's attachment, who, on
the 18th Brumaire, seemed ready to espouse the Republican interest,
he did not on that account hesitate to name him minister of the
French Republic in Piedmont, which was equivalent to giving him the
administration of that province.[566] These conciliatory steps had
the effect of making men of the most opposite parties see their own
interest in supporting the government of the first consul.

[Sidenote: PARIS.]

The presence of Napoleon was now eagerly desired at Paris. He set out
from Milan on the 24th June,[567] and in the passage through Lyons
paused to lay the foundation-stone for rebuilding the Place Bellecour; a
splendid square, which had been destroyed by the frantic vengeance of
the Jacobins when Lyons was retaken by them from the insurgent party of
Girondins and Royalists. Finally, the chief consul returned to Paris
upon the 2d July. He had left it on the 6th of May; yet, in the space of
not quite two months, how many hopes had he realized! All that the most
sanguine partisans had ventured to anticipate of his success had been
exceeded. It seemed that his mere presence in Italy was of itself
sufficient at once to obliterate the misfortunes of a disastrous
campaign, and restore the fruits of his own brilliant victories, which
had been lost during his absence. It appeared as if he was the sun of
France--when he was hid from her, all was gloom--when he appeared, light
and serenity were restored. All the inhabitants, leaving their
occupations, thronged to the Tuileries to obtain a glimpse of the
wonderful man, who appeared with the laurel of victory in the one hand,
and the olive of peace in the other. Shouts of welcome and
congratulation resounded from the gardens, the courts, and the quays, by
which the palace is surrounded; high and low illuminated their houses;
and there were few Frenchmen, perhaps, that were not for the moment
partakers of the general joy.[568]


[536] "The famous Necker solicited the honour of being presented to the
first consul. In all he said he suffered it to appear, that he wished
and hoped to have the management of the finances. The first consul was
but indifferently pleased with him."--NAPOLEON, _Gourgaud_, tom. i., p.
264. "During this conversation, the first consul made a rather agreeable
impression on my father, by the confidential way in which he spoke to
him of his future plans."--MAD. DE STAËL, tom. ii., p. 281.

[537] Thibaudeau, tom. vi., p. 260; Jomini, tom. xiii., p. 176.

[538] Jomini, tom. xiii., p. 177.

[539] Gourgaud, tom. i., p. 260.

[540] Jomini, tom. xiii., p. 184; Thibaudeau, tom. vi., p. 264;
Gourgaud, tom. i., p. 267; Dumas, tom. ii.

[541] Apparently the guide who conducted him from the Grand Chartreux
found the Chief Consul in better humour, for Buonaparte says, he
conversed freely with him, and expressed some wishes with respect to a
little farm, &c. which he was able to gratify. [Gourgaud, tom. i., p.
268.] To his guide from Martigny to St. Pierre, he was also liberal; but
the only specimen of his conversation which the latter remembered, was,
when shaking the rain water from his hat, he exclaimed, "There! see what
I have done in your mountains--spoiled my new hat. Pshaw, I will find
another on the other side." For these and other interesting anecdotes,
see Mr. Tennant's "Tour through the Netherlands, Holland, Germany,
Switzerland," &c.--S.

[542] Joseph Petit, Fourrier des grenadiers de la garde, author of
"Marengo, ou Campagne d'Italie," 8vo, an. ix.--S.

[543] "Never did greater regularity preside at a distribution. Each one
appreciated the foresight of which he had been the object. Not a soldier
left the ranks; not a straggler was to be seen. The first consul
expressed his gratitude to the Community, and ordered 100,000 francs to
be delivered to the monastery, in remembrance of the service it had
rendered him."--_Memoirs of Savary_, vol. i., p. 165.

[544] "The infantry and cavalry passed one by one, up the path of the
mountain, which the first consul had climbed, and where no horse had
ever stepped; it was a way known to none but goatherds."--GOURGAUD, tom.
i., p. 271.

[545] Gourgaud, tom. i., p. 271; Jomini, tom. xiii., p. 185.

[546] "Supposing it had proved quite impossible to pass the artillery
through the town of Bard, would the French army have repassed the Great
Saint Bernard? No: it would have debouched as far as Ivrea--a movement
which would necessarily have recalled Melas from Nice."--NAPOLEON,
_Gourgaud_, tom. i., p 272.

[547] Jomini, tom. xiii., p. 188; Gourgaud, tom. i., p. 274.

[548] Gourgaud, tom. i., p. 202; Thibaudeau, tom. vi., p 286.

[549] Jomini, tom. xiii., p. 198.

[550] Napoleon says, that Massena proposed to General Ott to send in
provisions to feed these unhappy men, pledging his honour they should be
used to no other purpose, and that General Ott was displeased with Lord
Keith for declining to comply with a proposal so utterly unknown in the
usages of war.--S. [Gourgaud, tom. i., p. 227.] It is difficult to give
credit to this story.

[551] Jomini, tom. xiii., p. 231; Gourgaud, tom. i., p. 228. See also
Thiébaut, Journal Historique du Siège de Gênes.

[552] "Massena ought to have broken off, upon the certainty that within
four or five days the blockade would be raised; in fact, it would have
been raised twelve hours after."--NAPOLEON, _Gourgaud_, tom. i., p. 241.

[553] Jomini, tom. xiii., p. 210; Gourgaud, tom. i., p. 279.

[554] "One of the first persons who presented themselves to the eyes of
the Milanese, whom enthusiasm and curiosity led by all the by-roads to
meet the French army, was General Buonaparte. The people of Milan would
not believe it: it had been reported that he had died in the Red Sea,
and that it was one of his brothers who now commanded the French
army."--NAPOLEON, _Gourgaud_, tom. i., p. 280.

[555] Gourgaud, tom. i., p. 282.

[556] Gourgaud, tom. i., p. 283.

[557] Gourgaud, tom. i., p. 287; Thibaudeau, tom. vi., p. 300. At the
battle of Montebello, which afterwards gave him his title, General
Lannes added to his already high reputation. In describing the desperate
conflict--"bones," he said, "crashed in my division; like hailstones
against windows."

[558] Gourgaud, tom. i., p. 289.

[559] The _Moniteur_ put in the mouth of the dying general a message to
Buonaparte, in which he expressed his regret that he had done so little
for history, and in that of the chief consul an answer, lamenting that
he had no time to weep for Desaix. But Buonaparte himself assures us,
that Desaix was shot dead on the spot. [Gourgaud, tom. i., p. 300.] Nor
is it probable that the tide of battle, then just upon the act of
turning, left the consul himself time for set phrases, or sentimental
ejaculations.--S. Savary, who was aide-de-camp to Desaix, had the body
wrapped up in a cloak, and removed to Milan, where, by Napoleon's
directions, it was embalmed, and afterwards conveyed to the Hospice of
Saint Bernard, where a monument was erected to the memory of the fallen
hero. "'Desaix,' said Napoleon, 'loved glory for glory's sake, and
France above every thing. Luxury he despised, and even comfort. He
preferred sleeping under a gun in the open air to the softest couch. He
was of an unsophisticated, active, pleasing character, and possessed
extensive information.' The victor of Marengo shed tears for his
death."--MONTHOLON, tom. iv., p. 256.

[560] Thibaudeau, tom. vi., p. 312.

[561] Gourgaud, tom. i., p. 296, 303; Jomini, tom. xiii., p. 278, 296;
Dumas, tom. ii.; Savary, tom. i., p. 176.


    ----"Desaix, who turn'd the scale,
    Leaving his life-blood in that famous field,
    (Where the clouds break, we may discern the spot
    In the blue haze,) sleeps, as thou saw'st at dawn,
    Just where we enter'd, in the Hospital-church."

        ROGERS' _Italy_, p. 10.

[563] See Gourgaud, tom. i., p. 303.

[564] "The victory of Marengo had revived the hopes of the Italian
people. Each resumed his post; each returned to his functions; and the
machinery of government was in full operation in the course of a few
days."--SAVARY, tom. i., p. 186.

[565] "Though Massena was guilty of an error in embarking his troops at
Genoa, instead of conducting them by land, he had always displayed much
character and energy. In the midst of the fire and confusion of a
battle, his demeanour was eminently noble. The din of the cannon cleared
his ideas, and gave him penetration, spirit and even gaiety."--NAPOLEON,
_Gourgaud_, tom. i., p. 243.

[566] "General Jourdan felt grateful on finding that the first consul
had not only forgotten the past, but was also willing to give him so
high a proof of confidence. He devoted all his zeal to the public
good."--NAPOLEON, _Gourgaud_, tom. i., p. 310.

[567] "The first consul's train consisted of two carriages. Duroc and
Bourrienne were in the same carriage with him. I followed with General
Bassières in the other. There is no exaggeration in saying, that the
first consul travelled from Milan to Lyons between two rows of people in
the midst of unceasing acclamations. The manifestations of joy were
still greater at Dijon. The women of that delightful city were
remarkable for the vivacity of an unaffected joy, which threw animation
into their eyes, and gave their faces so deep a colour, as if they had
trespassed the bounds of decorum."--SAVARY, tom. i., p. 187.

[568] "The first consul was partaking also of the prevailing gladness
when he learned that a courier from Italy had brought an account of the
loss of the battle of Marengo. The courier had been despatched at the
moment when Paris every thing seemed desperate, so that the report of a
defeat was general in before the first consul's return. Many projects
were disturbed by his arrival. On the mere announcement of his defeat,
his enemies had returned to their work, and talked of nothing less than
overturning the government, and avenging the crimes of the eighteenth
Brumaire."--SAVARY, tom. i., p. 190.


    _Napoleon offers, and the Austrian Envoy accepts, a new
    Treaty--The Emperor refuses it, unless England is
    included--Negotiations with England--fail--Renewal of the
    War--Armistice--Resumption of Hostilities--Battle of
    Hohenlinden--Other Battles--The Austrians agree to a separate
    Peace--Treaty of Luneville--Convention between France and the
    United States--The Queen of Naples repairs to Petersburgh--Paul
    receives her with cordiality, and applies in her behalf to
    Buonaparte--His Envoy received at Paris with the utmost
    distinction, and the Royal Family of Naples saved for the
    present--Rome restored to the authority of the Pope--Napoleon
    demands of the King of Spain to declare War against
    Portugal--Olivenza and Almeida taken--Malta, after a Blockade of
    Two Years, obliged to submit to the English._

Napoleon proceeded to manage with great skill and policy the popularity
which his success had gained for him. In war it was always his custom,
after he had struck some venturous and apparently decisive blow, to
offer such conditions as might induce the enemy to submit, and separate
his interest from that of his allies. Upon this system of policy he
offered the Count de St. Julien, an Austrian envoy, the conditions of a
treaty, having for its basis that of Campo Formio, which, after the loss
of Italy on the fatal field of Marengo, afforded terms much more
favourable than the Emperor of Germany was entitled to have expected
from the victors. The Austrian envoy accordingly took upon him to
subscribe these preliminaries; but they did not meet the approbation of
the Emperor, who placed his honour on observing accurately the
engagements which he had formed with England, and who refused to accede
to a treaty in which she was not included. It was added, however, that
Lord Minto, the British ambassador at Vienna, had intimated Britain's
willingness to be included in a treaty for general pacification.[569]


[Sidenote: Aug. 24.]

This proposal occasioned a communication between France and Britain,
through Monsieur Otto, commissioner for the care of French prisoners.
The French envoy intimated that as a preliminary to Britain's entering
on the treaty, she must consent to an armistice by sea, and suspend the
advantages which she received from her naval superiority, in the same
manner as the first consul of France had dispensed with prosecuting his
victories by land. This demand would have withdrawn the blockade of the
British vessels from the French seaports, and allowed the sailing of
reinforcements to Egypt and Malta, which last important place was on the
point of surrendering to the English. The British ministers were also
sensible that there was, besides, a great difference between a truce
betwixt two land armies, stationed in presence of each other, and a
suspension of naval hostilities over the whole world; since in the one
case, on breaking off the treaty, hostilities can be almost instantly
resumed; on the other, the distance and uncertainty of communication may
prevent the war being recommenced for many months; by which chance of
delay, the French, as being inferior at sea, were sure to be the
gainers. The British statesmen, therefore, proposed some modifications,
to prevent the obvious inequality of such armistice. But it was replied
on the part of France, that though they would accept of such a modified
armistice, if Great Britain would enter into a separate treaty, yet the
chief consul would not consent to it if Austria was to be participant of
the negotiation.[570]

Here, therefore, the overtures of peace betwixt France and England were
shipwrecked, and the Austrian Emperor was reduced to the alternative of
renewing the war, or entering into a treaty without his allies. He
appears to have deemed himself obliged to prefer the more dangerous and
more honourable course.

This was a generous resolution on the part of Austria; but by no means
politic at the period, when their armies were defeated, their national
spirit depressed, and when the French armies had penetrated so far into
Germany. Even Pitt himself, upon whose declining health the misfortune
made a most unfavourable impression, had considered the defeat of
Marengo as a conclusion to the hopes of success against France for a
considerable period. "Fold up the map," he said, pointing to that of
Europe; "it need not be again opened for these twenty years."

Yet, unwilling to resign the contest, even while a spark of hope
remained, it was resolved upon in the British councils to encourage
Austria to farther prosecution of the war. Perhaps, in recommending such
a measure to her ally, at a period when she had sustained such great
losses, and was in the state of dejection to which they gave rise, Great
Britain too much resembled an eager and over-zealous second, who urges
his principal to continue a combat after his strength is exhausted.
Austria, a great and powerful nation, if left to repose, would have in
time recruited her strength, and constituted once again a balance
against the power of France on the continent; but if urged to farther
exertions in the hour of her extremity, she was likely to sustain such
additional losses, as might render her compar