Imatges de pÓgina

have refumed it if, delivered from the yoke of fanguinary demagogues, you could, in this decifive fitting, fhrink from the talk of fecuring the public weal, and the falvation of the country."

vernment: and that which your committee propofes appears to me, not only the beft, but the only one poffible to be adopted in the prefent circumftances." Cabanis was followed by

Boulay de la Meurthe, who did not hesitate to declare, that, in order to bring about the change recommended, the revolution which had just taken place, had been for fome time concerted. It was intended, however, to have been effected only by moral and conftitutional means; the fame means by which it had, in fact, been accomplished in the council of elders. But the fury and madness of a violent faction in the council of five hundred, which had been their torment for a long time, had obftru&ted the progrefs of moral and conftitutional influence, in their affembly. This faction had fet its face against all deliberations and free difcuffion, and by its tyrannical proceedings forced the well-intentioned members, which formed a majority, to quit the place of their meeting. The council of the real reprefentatives of the people had, by their violence, been diffolved and converted into an unconftitutional, and feditious mob; and the French legiflature and nation must have fallen into all the horrors of civil war, if it had not been for the firmnefs and forefight of him whom the law had vefted with a power of maintaining order in the prefent great movement. Difembarraffed, as they now were, from violence and tyranny, they might reflect calmly on the measures proper to be taken for faving the finking republic. That peace fhould not have been made before the establishment of a conftitutional government, was not to be wondered

Other members made fome obfervations of the fame tendency with the fpeech of the prefident; and the prefident himfelf, anxious to keep up the fame tone, joined in the converfation, for there was no debate, till the report was brought up from the committee: when the chairman of the committee, Cabanis, addrelled the council in a speech, the fpirit of which will fufficiently appear from its exordium and conclufion. "The time of management," he faid, "little expedients, and half measures were paft. The committee would difclofe to the council the naked truth, without difguife. It was commiffioned for the purpofe of propofing effective measures. It had trodden every timid fentiment under foot, and boldly declared what alone, in their judgement was fitted to fecure liberty, confolidate the republic, and to make the people happy in the enjoyment of thofe bleffings that belonged to them." After a copious developement and illuftration of thefe ideas, he concluded with the following recapitulation." It is impoffible but the conftitution of the year 3 must involve the ruin of liberty, and that very fpeedily; or that our actual fituation fhould not be quickly followed by the diffolution of the French nation. It is, therefore, indifpenfably neceffary that this conftitution fhould undergo alterations. But thefe alterations cannot be made, nor a reorganization of the ftate effected otherwife than by means of a provifional go


wondered at. The domination of ject of its true interefts, to fay-I a few men, fucceffively overthrown confine myfelf to the just rights by others, prefented no ftability of which I hold of nature and my own principles and views, no guarantee courage: refpect mine, and I will for the ftate, any more than protec- refpect yours. Let us both fubmit tion and fecurity for individuals. to the empire of that natural law The conftitution of the 3d year, which ought to be a bond of union from which, at first glance, more among all nations; and let us not might have been expected, had not pretend to any other influence than been attended with more ftability that fuperiority which is the natural and fecurity; nay, perhaps, even refult of wifdom and induftry. Bewith lefs. True it was, they had fore the eighteenth of Fructidor, made fome partial treaties; they (fourth of September,) of the year 5, had agreed to a peace on the con- the French government prefented to tinent, and, in order to confolidate its fovereign relations nothing but a it, fent deputies to a general con- precarious exiflence, and there was grels. But thofe treaties, thofe di- not any power that would treat plomatical conferences, feemed only with it. After the great event of to have given birth to a new war, that day, the whole power being more ferocions and fanguinary than concentrated in the hands of the diever. This has been afcribed to rectory, the legiflative body was, the bad faith of our enemies, the in a manner, defunct. Treaties of private paffions and falfe views of peace were violated, and war was certain individuals, who had made every where waged, without their a bad ufe of their power and influ- having any participation either in its ence in the republic. But were origin or conduct. The fame directhele the only, or even the principal, tory, after alarming all Europe, and caufes? This he thought there was deftroying a number of governreafon to doubt. Was not the re- ments at pleafure, was found incanewal of the war rather to be pable of making either war, or afcribed to the want of found and peace, or of establishing itself. It truly republican principles in the was accordingly diffolved by a conduct of France, towards foreign breath on the thirtieth of Praïrial, nations? Was not the French futh (eighteenth of June,) to make way ciently great, powerful, and victo- for other men, who might have Tious, to fay to other nations other views, or fall before an oppoThele are my juft rights: I have fite influence. Thus it was evident proved that it is not in your power that the government had no fixed to ravish them from me; that, in principles that could give perfonal the prefent conteft, the risks incur- fecurity, or guarantee any eftablishred are greater on your tide than ed order of affairs. A flood-gate ours; and thus that ye have as great was opened to individual wills and an intereft in peace, as we have. particular paffions, to the ephemeIf, on the one hand, the French ral and fucceffive triumphs of parration does not poffels fufficient ticular paffions. If, for want of a firength for holding fuch lan- fixed and permanent fyftem of foguage: is it not fufficiently en- reign policy, it was difficult to make lightened, on the other, on the fub- any fure treaty of peace, what fe VOL. XLII. [D] Curity

curity had the people for domeftic happiness? It was notorious, that perfonal fecurity might be easily compromifed, and that the greater part of property was in a ftate of infecurity; that all bargains, commerce, and ufeful arts, were in a ftate of ftagnation, that there was no longer any confidence between man and man; that the people were vexed and tormented in every way that was poffible; that their mifery was fo great, and their oppreffion fo complete, that they durft fcarcely to complain, and that those who faw the causes of thofe evils, had not courage either to make them known, or to point out the remedies. What was the principal caufe of this deficiency of civil liberty and domeftic happiness? The imperfections and vices of their focial organization. As government was inftituted only for the good of the governed, and that public liberty was nothing else than the means of fecuring individual liberty, it was evident that if this laft had no exiftence; if the mafs of the governed refigned themselves to their fate, in filent fubmiffion and paffive obedience, it was because there was no effectual mode of obtaining juftice; because the developement of the political powers was imperfect

and vicious.

From the continued violations of the conftitutional law, refpecting the exercife of the fovereignty of the people, either by the undue influence of the executive government, or that of factions eager to convert its power to their own ufe, the orator pafled on to that want of harmony which had been visible among the public functionaries, whole refpective authorities were without any line of demarcation,

without any legal and co-ercive means of preventing their mutual invafions on public liberty, or the refpective faculties which had been delegated to them by the conftitutional charter. The line of demarcation between the legislative and executive powers, fhould have been clearly marked. There was no provifion that could prevent the legislative body from trefpaffing on thofe limits, if fach were its intention. This laft body, pofleffing the exclufive right of interpreting the conftitution, became the only competent judge between itfelf and the other powers, and had the only right of calling them to account. The independency of the respective powers was, therefore, either not reciprocal, or not fufficiently guaranteed. As to government, when the different ideas annexed to that

word are confidered, it will be found to be all uncertainty, embarraffinent, and contradiction: if taken in the most extenfive fenfe of the word, as embracing both the legiflative and executive powers, these two authorities, fo far from going hand in hand together, were almoft always in conftant oppofition, prefenting the fpectacle of two furious enemies, continually aiming at each other's ruin. With regard to the executive government, the adminiftrators were continually in a flate of mutation, according to the will of the party alternately predominant, and continually occupied, not about the good of the people, but how to confolidate their triumph over their adverfaries. In fine, is there a fingle part of the public fervice which is organized, or that proceeds in a regular and invariable movement? No! every thing is in confufion; and all our efforts

were, that the present order of affairs could not be of any longer duration. The only difference between thefe demagogues and themfelves was, a change in the conftitution fhould be operated by the jacobins, or by men of probity_and enlightened underftandings. They wished to take advantage of the prefent agitation, and to govern France as in 1793: whilft all prefent were anxious for the establishment of well-regulated liberty, a liberty productive of happinels. "We," faid this orator for the committee of five," with liberty for all: they only for themfelves. We with to nationalize the republic, they to eftablish only their own party. They were eager to introduce a new caft of nobility, which would be fo much the more infupportable than the old, which we have destroyed, that it would have comprehended only the moft ignorant, the most immoral, and the vileft portion of the nation. If. therefore, the prefent ftate of things can no longer fubfift, we must deftroy it and replace it by another, which fhall raife the republic out of the abys in which it was on the point of being buried. But can this new order of affairs be definitive? no: it is impoffible to frame a perfect conftitution in a moment. In its creation we cannot exercife too much reflection. We must take the time, ad ufe the precautions neceffary for its establishment, and form the inftruments by which this may be accomplished. We must have fomething provifional and intermediary; and this is, precifely, what will be prefented to you in the project now to be fubmitted to your deliberation. It creates an executive power, compofed of three [D 2]


efforts to get out of it only ferve to plunge us deeper and deeper in the jarring chaos. Is it furpriz ing, then, that neither public nor private liberty has yet exifted in France; that all command, and none obey; and that there is no thing but the mere phantom of a government?

But if the fource of all our calamities be the faulty conftitution of our government, what must we do to remove them? conftruct a new political edifice that fall be folid and durable. The bafis, or general principles of the conftitution were good. They were the principles of every republican government: the fovereignty of the people; the unity of the republic; an equality of rights, liberty, and the voice of the people declared by reprefentation. But the conftitutional fuperftructure, formed on thofe foundations, was effentially vicious, as experience had demonftrated. They muft rise again, he faid, to the fublimity of thole fundamental principles, and in them only fee the conftitution, and their obligation to fupport it. To fhew any anxious adherence to mere regulations, to the technical part of the conftitution, would be a fuperftitious and fatal fcrupulofity. It would tend to a diffolution of the political fabric, and be, in fact, a violation of the oath of fidelity they had taken to the republic. This falutary truth must be undauntedly brought to view and firmly contemplated. It was a truth, recognized by all enlightened and honeft men; nor was it a matter that admitted of any doubt in the minds and confciences of thofe demagogues by whom the councils had been to long tormented. They were as fenfible as they themfelves

men, to be difting fred by the came of errills, ar 1 who, by the purity of their morals, their talents, and the glory of their name, wil p.bie anflence, give energy at irromprole to a'i parts of the executive goromment, and By facees, prepare way fir a fill and bootable peace. The two legibative bodies are 'ja rnel, and leave two commitions for

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read over twie, was adopted and carried to the council of elders, by whom alío, aller me fight oppofition, it was adopted and fanctioned. The project was detailed in the following articles:

Art. 1. There is no longer any executive directory, and the fol lowing perfons are no longer members of the rational reprefentation, on account of the exceifes and the

violent attempts which they have unikly made, and particularly the greater part of them in the fitting of this morning: [Here the names of the members, to the num ber of fixty-ore were mentioned.] Art. 2. The legitlative body create provitionally an executive confular commilon, compofed of citizens Sieyes and Roger Dacos, late directors, and Buonaparte, general. They thall bear the name of Confils of the French Republic.-Art. 3. This commition is invefted with the full powers of the directory, and especially commiffioned to organize order in all parts of the adminifiration, to re-eitablith internal tranquillity, and to procure an honourable and folid peace. -Art. 4. It is authorized to fend delegates, with a power limited according to its own power.-Art. 5. The legiflative body is adjourned to the twentieth of February. It is to meet at that period in full power at Paris.-Art. 6. During the adjournment of the legislative body, the members fhall preferve their indemnity and their conftitutional fecurity.-Art. 7. They may, without loing their quality as reprefentatives of the people, be employed as minifters, diplomatic agents, delegates of the executive confular com niffion, and in all other civil functions. They are even invited in the name of the public good to accept

fupplying their place, on any urgent occation of police, lezifiation, or finance. Such are the leading principles of the project for an inteenboty government now fubmited to your confideration. It feemed necelity to the great end of the great poleil movement that Bas paft taken place. At this critis, reprefentatives of the people, you will form a correct judgement of the atual pofition of the republic. You will elevate your minds to the grand views of a found and enlarged policy There is an end of liberty if you have not courage to act a generous and magnanimous part."

This fpeech, by Boulay de la Meu.the, who had to much fignalized his zeal and talents, in oppofition to tyranny and oppreftion, and who was a man not only of fine parts, but of unblemished character, and which was a kind of preamble to the new government, drew univerfal attention not only in France but the neighbouring nations: as it feemed not only to give a profpectus of the conftitution to be established, but alfo of the fpirit in which it was to be conducted: a fpirit of peace, moderation, juftice, and a refpect for the rights of nations. It was no doubt intended to betpeak favour to the confuls, both with the French and other mations. The project being formally prefented by ano ther member of the commiftion, and

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