Imatges de pÓgina

mand of the French Troops in and near Paris, vefted, by the Council of Elders, in Buonaparte.-Tranflation of the Legislative Bodies, and the Directory to St. Cloud.

BY what facial combination of departure he concealed it from the

circumstances, and what pri-army, and even from the perfons vate confiderations Buonaparte was whom he chole to accompany him. induced to quit Egypt, and return The moft diftinguifhed among thefe, to France, and particularly whe- were general Berthier, chief of the ther it was in confequence of aftaff; Lannes and Murat, generals fecret correspondence, and concert of divifion; Marmont, the general with that fubtle and reftlefs projec- of brigade; Andreoffi, the general tor of constitutions, abbé Sieyes, or of artillery; the chief of brigade, other politicians, is not yet known: Betlicres, who commanded his nor could it be expected that it guides; the three philofophers Berhould have yet been revealed.- tholet, Mongé, and Arnaud; a There is not, however, the leaft great number of officers, feveral reason for doubting the truth of his Mammalukes, and his guides. general declaration to the army, at Alexandria, on the twenty-third of Auguft, 1799, "That he had determined immediately to return to France, in confequence of news from Europe." The fubftance of the intelligence to which he alluded is well enough underflood. The adminiftration of the French republic was corrupt, weak, unpopular, and odious, and her armies difcomfited in Germany and Italy, by the Auftrians and Ruffians. To repair both thefe misfortunes, and in repairing them to acquire additional power and glory, it may reafonably be prefumed, was the leading principle in the conduct of Buonaparte. In the execution of this defign there was an invincible neceffity of the moft impenetrable fecrecy. Until the moment of his

Buonaparte, having communicated his defign to general Berthier, and him only, gave orders to viceadmiral Gantheaume, to arm and get ready two frigates, together with two floops, the one of the kind called an Avifo, the other a Tartane. This being done, he addressed a fealed letter to all thofe whom he intended to take with him, with inftructions not to open it till a certain day, at a given hour, and at a certain point on the feathore.


The day appointed was the twenty-fecond of Auguft. thofe who had received the letter attended at the appointed place, and opened the letter, in which they found an order for their immediate embarkation. They did not lole a moment but left their bag

His letter to the army, on fo interesting an occafion, our readers may wish to fee at full length. As it is but short we shall here infert it: "In confequence of the news from Europe, I have determined immediately to return to France I leave the command of the army to general Kleber. They fhall hear from me speedily. This is all I can fay to them at prefent. It grieves me to the heart to part from the brave men to whom I am fo tenderly attached. But it will be only for an inftant; and the general I leave at their head, is in full poffeffion of the confidence of the government, and of mine."


gage in their lodgings, and their horfes on the fhore. Having arrived on board the fhips prepared for the voyage, their names were called over. Two strangers were found among them and relanded. They then weighed anchor and fet fail, but contrary winds did not permit them to get out of the road of Aboukir till the twenty-fourth of Auguft.

Previously to his departure, Buonaparte left a letter addreffed to general Kleber, with orders that it fhould not be opened for twentyfour hours after his quitting the land. This letter contained his appointment to the chief command of the army of all Egypt; during the abfence of Buonaparte, and an order for conferring the command of Upper Egypt on general Deffaix. On leaving the anchorage of Aboukir, the fmall French fquadron could defcry but one frigate, and they arrived at Ajaccio, in Corfica, on the thirtieth of September.There they were detained by contrary winds till the fixth of October. On the fixth they were but ten leagues diftant from Toulon, when, in the evening, they perceived an English fquadron of eight fail. The queftion now propofed in council was, whether they should fail back to Corfica, or attempt to make the fhore. Buonaparte foon decided it. Recollecting, perhaps, the encouraging words of Julius Cæfar to his mariners in circumftances alfo of danger, he faid, "Be not alarmed, fortune will not abandon me, let us make directly for the coaft." Signals were made accordingly, and the frigates veered immediately caftward. The Avifo, not perceiving the fignals, remained behind in the midft of the ene

my's fleet. But the fhip that carried Bonaparte, with crowded fails, was foon out of danger. The other three fhips, about nine in the morning of the feventh, came to anchor near St. Rapheau, which, about noon, the crews were permitted to enter.” About two, Buonaparte, with his companions and fuite, arrived at Frejus, a fmall fea-port of Provence, amidft an immenfe concourle of people, who haftened to behold him from the neighbouring country. The moment they landed, they fell down, in imitation of a cuftom among the Greek and Roman generals, and embraced the ground, which they called the Land of Liberty. Traniports of enthufiaftic joy broke out among the fpectators on every fide, and nothing was heard but cries of vive la Republique vive Buonaparte. The magiftates of Frejus went out to meet them, and received them with a kind of triumphal honours.

The generals Lannes and Murat, both wounded, fet out from St. Rapheau with all the crews for Toulon, from whence, fome days thereafter, they proceeded to Paris.

It was certainly a piece of great good fortune that Buonaparte and his companions fhould effect their efcape through fo many hoftile fhips of war, Ruffian, Turkish, and English. His greateft dangers, however, were encountered during the two firft days after his embarkation, when he was prevented by contrary winds from getting out of the road of Aboukir. The army muft have fuppofed that he was only going to reconnoitre fome part of the coaft, or for concerting and planning fome fecret expedition. There was not a little danger of his real delign, in the courfe of those two days being difcovered; in

[B 2]


which cafe there was alfo fome danger of the army ftopping him, and demanding an explanation of his conduct; fo that the return of Buonaparte, as well as 'his expedition to Egypt, and tranfactions there, were ftrongly tinctured with the marvelous. If there were in reality a divinity of fortune, there could be no doubt that Buonaparte is one of her greatest favourites, as he himself is very ready to acknowledge.⚫

At fix o'clock in the evening of the feventeenth of October, this celebrated chief left. Frejus, and proceeded to Paris, in company with general Berthier and the three members of the national inftitute already mentioned. The courier who had been dispatched before him, to announce his arrival to the directory, and to prepare relays of horfes for his journey, called out for them every where in his name, and from every town and village the people rushed out to meet him, and accompanied him beyond their relpective communities: fo immenfe was the crowd, even in the roads, that the carriages found it difficult to go forward. In every place through which he pafled, from Frejus to Paris, there were at night illuminations At Lyons, when it was known that he was to pals that city, nothing was omitted that could be imagined, in order to testify the joy of the citizens, and give him a fplendid reception. A hort theatrical piece, called the Hero's Return, was compofed and reprefented immediately. The per

formers read their parts, not hav ing had time to commit them to memory. On his appearance at the theatre, he was received with thunders of applaufe, and when he went out of the houfe, the audience followed him home to his lodgings. On the day after his arrival in Paris, he had a private audience of the directory. All the ftreets and allies leading to the Luxembourg were crowded with fpectators. Buonaparte teftified a lively fenfibility to the demonftrations with which he was every where furrounded of the public joy and gladnefs. In his way to and from the directorial palace, he ob ferved among the fpectators several foldiers who had ferved under him in his campaigns in Italy. These men he called to him, wherever he perceived them, and gave them his hand, with expreffions of goodwill and friendship. He wore a great coat with a Turkish fabre. His hair was cut very fhort, and the climate of Egypt had changed the natural palenefs of his face, into a dart complexion, which improved his appearance. On leaving the directory he paid vifits to the minifiers of war and marine, and other perfons of confequence in the fervice of the republic.

Thefe particulars will not be cenfured as too minute, when we reflect on the intereft which the French nation felt in Buonaparte at this time, and how much that univerfal enthufiafm, in favour of this fingle man, contributed to the important fcenes with which it was

It is a question of not a little curiofity, what is the reason why Buonaparte affects to confider himself as under the peculiar protection of fortune?, When he had to do with barbarians, to talk of fate and fortune, might not be bad policy? Put in fortune he has expreffed his confidence to the French army, and even the French nation and legiflature, who, if they are not even deifts, are much lefs polytheifts.


quickly followed. Without this enthufiafm the revolution of 1799 would not probably have been conceived, and certainly could not have been exccuted. Human nature is prone to caft off all melancholy reflections, and anticipations, and to grafp at fome object of hope, if poffible. This difpofition is particularly remarkable in the French nation. They are alfo diftinguifhed by another propenfity, indulged to excels: a devoted attachment to fome object of fond admiration. Their whole attention, their pride, and their hopes were, at this time, fixed as on a centre, on Buonaparte. Of him alone they thought, fpoke, and dreamed. From him, fome great though unknown good was to arife to France, and every clafs of men in the republic. Six months had not elapfed fince a majority, in the nation and the legiflative councils, had condemned the expedition to Egypt as imprudent, and the fource of that reverfe of fortune, which had been experienced both in Italy and Germany. This was urged, as matter of accufation against the ex-directors Merlin, Rewbel, and la Réveillere Lepaux, who infifted that the expedition to the Eaft was projected and infifted on, in oppofition to the fentiments of the executive government, by Buonaparte. The fame pofition was maintained, in fundry memorials by the ex-bishop Talleyrand, and Charles la Croix. The afcendant obtained, by the general, over the public councils, they faid had overcome all oppofition on the part of the directory. This question concerning the propriety or impropriety, the advantages or difadvantages of the expedition against Egypt, was now

loft in an admiration and fond attachment to the hero who conducted it, returned after many perils, and deeds of valour, within" the Freneh territories. It was this boundlefs attachment and confidence, no doubt, that encouraged Buonaparte to form the defign of fubverting the prefent conftitution and government, or confirmed him in that defign, if already formed.

The fituation of the republic ins its relations, both external and internal, were fuch as foftered difcontent and invited to innovation. Though victory had returned to the French ftandards in Switzerland, the privations and fufferings of the armies of both Switzerland and Italy were very great, and a fubject of loud complaint against adminiftration, The forced loan of 100 millions of which only a fmall portion was collected, had fhaken public credit, damped the fpirit of induftry, and produced, with many inconveniences and fufferings, much difcontent and murmurming among the bufy claffes of the people. But, the imbecillity and rafhnefs of government, ftill farther increased the general diffatisfaction, anxiety, and alarm, by a law known by the name of the law of Hoftages.

During the adminiftration of the late directors, various projects had been formed, and prefented to the legiflature, for the fuppreffion of diforders under the title of a law for the refponfibility of the different diftricts, known by the name of Communes, or Communities. Thefe projects had hitherto been deemed inadequate to the purpose. In the mean time, the evils, for which they were intended as a remedy, grew up to an alarming height, particu [B3]


arly in the western departments: which determined the council of five hundred to apply a remedy ftill more violent.

By the law of Hoftages, paffed on the twelfth of July, it was decreed, among other articles, that when a department, or commune, was notoricufly in a ftate of civil diforder, the relations of emigrants, and nobles, comprehended in the revolutionary law of the twentyfifth of October, third year of the republic, their grand-fathers, grandmothers, fathers and mothers, and individuals, who, without being relations, or ex-nobles, were known to form part of the affemblies or bands of affaffins, fhould be perfonally and civilly refponfible for whatever affaffinations or robberies were committed in their communes; that whenever diforders fhould take place the administration of departments fhould take hoftages among thefe claífes, and that they fhould be authorized to do so, even before any declaration of fuch department or commune being in a fiate of diforder; that thefe hoftages fhould furrender themfelves, on demand, in fuch places as thould be pointed out; that a delay of ten days fhould incur conftraint by force, and flight. If a murder was committed on any public functionary, defender of the country, or purchaler of national domains, or any perfon of this character carried off, four hoftages were to be banished for every perfon fo murdered or carried off, befides a fine of fix thoufand livres. Every hoftage was made refponfible for the payment of four thoufand livres, in cafe of any murder in his community, to be paid into the public treafury, of fix thoufand to the widow, and three thoufand to the

children of the perfon affinated : which indemnity was allowed likewife to every perfon mutilated. The me refpontibility was allo extended to whatever damage or wafte was committed againt property. And the law was to have its due courfe, till the conclufion of a general peace.

The effects of this law were fuch as might have been expected. While fome, from the various motives of ambition, intereft, and resentment, were tempted to commit innumerable acts of oppreffion, others were driven to defpair. In fuch departments of the weft as had. never been thoroughly reduced to an obedience to the republic, the law of Hoftages was a fignal of almoft general revolt, not only fe veral of thofe who had been formerly chiefs of the infurgents and again took up the arms which they had laid down, but others who had hitherto remained quiet, preferred a state of infurrection, and oppofition to tyranny, before a fubmiffion to laws of fo atrocious a nature. Tumults and riots had for fome time difturbed the peace of different departments, when, towards the end of Auguft, a general infurrection broke out in the department of Mayenne, on the right of the Loire. Here the infurgents, who had hitherto remained in the woods, or villages remote from general refort and communication, appeared under their leaders in force, made themselves masters of feveral towns, depofed the conftituted authorites, feized their papers, took republican hoftages, and proclaimed by public advertife, ments the object of their rifing in arms: which was, the restoration of the monarchy without limita

« AnteriorContinua »