A B C D E F
G H I J K L M 

Total read books on site:
more than 10 000

You can read its for free!


Text on one page: Few Medium Many
From what other motive than the consciousness of
their own designs could they have fear? The troops, in every instance,
had been the gallant defenders of the Republic, and the openly declared
friends of the Constitution; the Directory had been the same, and if the
faction were not of a different description neither fear nor suspicion
could have had place among them.

All those manouvres in the Council were acted under the most
professional attachment to the Constitution; and this as necessarily
served to enfeeble their projects. It is exceedingly difficult, and next
to impossible, to conduct a conspiracy, and still more so to give it
success, in a popular government. The disguised and feigned pretences
which men in such cases are obliged to act in the face of the public,
suppress the action of the faculties, and give even to natural courage
the features of timidity. They are not half the men they would be where
no disguise is necessary. It is impossible to be a hypocrite and to be
brave at the same instant.

The faction, by the imprudence of its measures, upon the march of
the troops, and upon the declarations of the officers and soldiers to
support the Republic and the Constitution against all open or concealed
attempts to overturn them, had gotten itself involved with the army, and
in effect declared itself a party against it. On the one hand, laws were
proposed to admit emigrants and refractory priests as free citizens; and
on the other hand to exclude the troops from Paris, and to punish the
soldiers who had declared to support the Republic In the mean time all
negociations for peace went backward; and the enemy, still recruiting
its forces, rested to take advantage of circumstances. Excepting the
absence of hostilities, it was a state worse than war.

If all this was not a conspiracy, it had at least the features of one,
and was pregnant with the same mischiefs. The eyes of the faction could
not avoid being open to the dangers to which it obstinately exposed
the Republic; yet still it persisted. During this scene, the journals
devoted to the faction were repeatedly announcing the near approach of
peace with Austria and with England, and often asserting that it was
concluded. This falsehood could be intended for no other purpose than to
keep the eyes of the people shut against the dangers to which they were
exposed.

Taking all circumstances together, it was impossible that such a state
of things could continue long; and at length it was resolved to bring it
to an issue. There is good reason to believe that the affair of the
18th Fructidor (September 4) was intended to have taken place two days
before; but on recollecting that it was the 2d of September, a day
mournful in the annals of the revolution, it was postponed. When the
issue arrived, the faction found to its cost it had no party among the
public. It had sought its own disasters, and was left to suffer the
consequences. Foreign enemies, as well as those of the interior, if
any such there be, ought to see in the event of this day that all
expectation of aid from any part of the public in support of a counter
revolution is delusion. In a state of security the thoughtless, who
trembled at terror, may laugh at principles of Liberty (for they have
laughed) but it is one thing to indulge a foolish laugh, quite another
thing to surrender Liberty.

Considering the event of the 18th Fructidor in a political light, it is
one of those that are justifiable only on the supreme law of absolute
necessity, and it is the necessity abstracted from the event that is to
be deplored. The event itself is matter of joy. Whether the manouvres in
the Council of Five Hundred were the conspiracy of a few, aided l>y the
perverseness of many, or whether it had a deeper root, the dangers were
the same. It was impossible to go on. Every thing was at stake, and
all national business at a stand. The case reduced itself to a simple
alternative--shall the Republic be destroyed by the darksome manouvres
-of a faction, or shall it be preserved by an exceptional act?

During the American Revolution, and that after the State constitutions
were established, particular cases arose that rendered it necessary to
act in a manner that would have been treasonable in a state of peace. At
one time Congress invested General Washington with dictatorial power.
At another time the Government of Pennsylvania suspended itself and
declared martial law. It was the necessity of the times only that
made the apology of those extraordinary measures. But who was it that
produced the necessity of an extraordinary measure in France? A faction,
and that in the face of prosperity and success. Its conduct is without
apology; and it is on the faction only that the exceptional measure has
fallen. The public has suffered no inconvenience. If there are some men
more disposed than others not to act severely, I have a right to place
myself in that class; the whole of my political life invariably proves
it; yet I cannot see, taking all parts of the case together, what else,
or what better, could have been done, than has been done. It was a
great stroke, applied in a great crisis, that crushed in an instant,
and without the loss of a life, all the hopes of the enemy, and restored
tranquillity to the interior.

The event was ushered in by the discharge of two cannon at four in the
morning, and was the only noise that was heard throughout the day. It
naturally excited a movement among the Parisians to enquire the cause.
They soon learned it, and the countenance they carried was easy to be
interpreted. It was that of a people who, for some time past, had
been oppressed with apprehensions of some direful event, and who felt
themselves suddenly relieved, by finding what it was. Every one went
about his business, or followed his curiosity in quietude. It resembled
the cheerful tranquillity of the day when Louis XVI. absconded in 1791,
and like that day it served to open the eyes of the nation.

If we take a review of the various events, as well conspiracies as
commotions, that have succeeded each other in this revolution, we shall
see how the former have wasted consumptively away, and the consequences
of the latter have softened. The 31st May and its consequences were
terrible. That of the 9th and 10th Thermidor, though glorious for the
republic, as it overthrew one of the most horrid and cruel despotisms
that ever raged, was nevertheless marked with many circumstances
of severe and continued retaliation. The commotions of Germinal and
Prairial of the year 3, and of Vendemaire of the year 4, were many
degrees below those that preceded them, and affected but a small part of
the public. This of Pichegru and his associates has been crushed in an
instant, without the stain of blood, and without involving the public in
the least inconvenience.

These events taken in a series, mark the progress of the Republic from
disorder to stability. The contrary of this is the case in all parts
of the British dominions. There, commotions are on an ascending scale;
every one is higher than the former. That of the sailors had nearly
been the overthrow of the government. But the most potent of all is the
invisible commotion in the Bank. It works with the silence of time, and
the certainty of death. Every thing happening in France is curable; but
this is beyond the reach of nature or invention.

Leaving the event of the 18th Fructidor to justify itself by the
necessity that occasioned it, and glorify itself by the happiness of
its consequences, I come to cast a coup-d'oil on the present state of
affairs.

We have seen by the lingering condition of the negociations for peace,
that nothing was to be expected from them, in the situation that things
stood prior to the 18th Fructidor. The armies had done wonders, but
those wonders were rendered unproductive by the wretched manouvres of a
faction. New exertions are now necessary to repair the mischiefs which
that faction has done. The electoral bodies, in some Departments, who
by an injudicious choice, or a corrupt influence, have sent improper
deputies to the Legislature, have some atonement to make to their
country. The evil originated with them, and the least they can do is to
be among the foremost to repair it.

It is, however, in vain to lament an evil that is past. There is neither
manhood nor policy in grief; and it often happens that an error in
politics, like an error in war, admits of being turned to greater
advantage than if it had not occurred. The enemy, encouraged by that
error, presumes too much, and becomes doubly foiled by the re-action.
England, unable to conquer, has stooped to corrupt; and defeated in
the last, as in the first, she is in a worse condition than before.
Continually increasing her crimes, she increases the measure of her
atonement, and multiplies the sacrifices she must make to obtain peace.
Nothing but the most obstinate stupidity could have induced her to let
slip the opportunity when it was within her reach. In addition to the
prospect of new expenses, she is now, to use Mr. Pitt's own figurative
expression against France, _not only on the brink, but in the gulph
of bankruptcy_. There is no longer any mystery in paper money. Call
it assignats, mandats, exchequer bills, or bank notes, it is still the
same. Time has solved the problem, and experience has fixed its fate.(1)

1 See Chapter XXVI. of this volume.--_Editor._.

The government of that unfortunate country discovers its faithlessness
so much, that peace on any terms with her is scarcely worth obtaining.
Of what use is peace with a government that will employ that peace for
no other purpose than to repair, as far as it is possible, her shattered
finances and broken credit, and then go to war again? Four times within
the last ten years, from the time the American war closed, has the
Anglo-germanic government of England been meditating fresh war. First
with France on account of Holland, in 1787; afterwards with Russia;
then with Spain, on account of Nootka Sound; and a second time against
France, to overthrow her revolution.



Pages: | Prev | | 1 | | 2 | | 3 | | 4 | | 5 | | 6 | | 7 | | 8 | | 9 | | 10 | | 11 | | 12 | | 13 | | 14 | | 15 | | 16 | | 17 | | 18 | | 19 | | 20 | | 21 | | 22 | | 23 | | 24 | | 25 | | 26 | | 27 | | 28 | | 29 | | 30 | | 31 | | 32 | | 33 | | 34 | | 35 | | 36 | | 37 | | 38 | | 39 | | 40 | | 41 | | 42 | | 43 | | 44 | | 45 | | 46 | | 47 | | 48 | | 49 | | 50 | | 51 | | 52 | | 53 | | 54 | | 55 | | 56 | | 57 | | 58 | | 59 | | 60 | | 61 | | 62 | | 63 | | 64 | | 65 | | 66 | | 67 | | 68 | | 69 | | 70 | | 71 | | 72 | | 73 | | 74 | | 75 | | 76 | | 77 | | 78 | | 79 | | 80 | | 81 | | 82 | | 83 | | 84 | | 85 | | 86 | | 87 | | 88 | | 89 | | 90 | | 91 | | 92 | | 93 | | 94 | | 95 | | 96 | | 97 | | 98 | | 99 | | 100 | | 101 | | 102 | | 103 | | 104 | | 105 | | 106 | | 107 | | 108 | | 109 | | 110 | | 111 | | 112 | | 113 | | 114 | | 115 | | 116 | | 117 | | 118 | | 119 | | 120 | | 121 | | 122 | | 123 | | 124 | | 125 | | 126 | | 127 | | 128 | | 129 | | 130 | | 131 | | 132 | | 133 | | 134 | | 135 | | 136 | | 137 | | 138 | | 139 | | 140 | | 141 | | 142 | | 143 | | 144 | | 145 | | 146 | | 147 | | 148 | | 149 | | 150 | | 151 | | 152 | | 153 | | 154 | | 155 | | 156 | | 157 | | 158 | | 159 | | 160 | | 161 | | 162 | | 163 | | 164 | | 165 | | 166 | | 167 | | 168 | | 169 | | 170 | | 171 | | 172 | | 173 | | 174 | | 175 | | 176 | | 177 | | 178 | | 179 | | 180 | | 181 | | 182 | | 183 | | 184 | | 185 | | 186 | | 187 | | 188 | | 189 | | 190 | | 191 | | 192 | | 193 | | 194 | | 195 | | 196 | | 197 | | 198 | | 199 | | 200 | | 201 | | 202 | | 203 | | 204 | | 205 | | 206 | | 207 | | 208 | | 209 | | 210 | | 211 | | 212 | | 213 | | 214 | | 215 | | 216 | | 217 | | 218 | | 219 | | 220 | | 221 | | 222 | | 223 | | 224 | | 225 | | 226 | | 227 | | 228 | | 229 | | 230 | | 231 | | Next |

N O P Q R S T
U V W X Y Z 

Your last read book:

You dont read books at this site.