Up to this time Napoleon had regarded the French nation with dislike, French ways and habits are strange and foreign, and he more than once turned aside from a French career when it seemed open to him. Henceforth he has no other career to look for, unless indeed it may be possible, as for some time he continued to hope, to make his way back to Corsica by means of French arms. A certain change seems now to pass over his character. Up to this time his writings, along with their intensity, have had a highly moral and sentimental tone. He seems sinerely to have thought himself not only stronger and greater but better than other men. At school he found himself among school-fellows who were a hundred "fathoms below the noble sentiments which animated himself, and again much later he pronounced that "the men among whjomm he lived had ways of thinking as different from his own as moonlight is from sunlight." Probably he still felt that he had more vivid thoughts than other men, but the ceases henceforth to be a moralist. His next pamphlet, Le Souper de Beaucaire, is entirely free from sentiment, and in a very short time he appears as a cynic, and even pushging cynicism to an extreme.
It was in June 1793 that the Bonaparte family found themselves at Toulon in the midst of the Corsican emigration. France was in a condition not less disturbed than Corsica, for it was the moment of the fall of the Girondins. Plunged into this new party strife, Bonaparte could hardly avoid taking the side of the Mountain. Paoli had been in a manner the Girondin of Corsica, and Bonaparte had headed the opposition to him. In Le Souper de Beaucaire (published in August 1793), which is the manifesto of this period as the Ltter to Buttafuoco is of the earlier period, he himself compares the Girondin to Paoli, and professes to think that the safety of the state requires a deeper kind of republicanism than theirs. The immediate occasion of this pamphlet is the civil war of the south, into which he was now plunged. Marseilles had declared against the Convention, and had sent an army under Rousselet which had occupied Avignon, but had evacuated it speedily on being attacked by the troops of the Mountain under Carteaux. Bonaparte took part in the attack, commanding the artillery, but it seems an unfounded statement that he specially distinguished himself. This was in July, and a month later the pamphlet was written. It is a dialogue between inhabitants of Marseilles, Nimes, and Montpellier and a military man. It is highly characteristic, full of keen and sarcastic sagacity, of clear military views; but the temperature of its authors mind has evidently fallen suddenly; it has no warmth, but a remarkable cynical coldness. Among the Representatives in Mission recently arrived at Avignon was the younger Robespierre, with whom Salicetti was intimate. Bonaparte, introduced by Salicetti and recommended by this pamphlet, naturally rose high in his favor. He is now a Jacobin. We must not be misled by the violence with which Bonaparte attacked this party some years later, and the horror he professed to feel for their crimes, so as to conclude that his connection with the Jacobins, and especially the Robespierres, was purely accidental and professional. What contemporary evidence we have exhibits Bonaparte at this time as holding the language of a terrorist, and we shall see how narrowly he escaped perishing with the Robespierres in Thermidor. Of course it is not necessary to disbelieve Marmont when he says that the atrocities of the Robespierrists were not to Bonapartes taste, and that he did much to check them within the sphere of his influence.
Bonaparte marched with Carteaux into Marseilles late in August, and about the same time Toulon delivered itself into the hands of the English. Just at this moment he was promoted to the rank of chef de bataillon in the second regiment of artillery, which gave him practically the command of the artillery in the force which was now formed to besiege Toulon. The story of his relations with the generals who were sent successively to conduct the siege, Carteaux the painter, Doppet the physician, Dugommier the brace veteran, and of his discovery of the true way to take Toulon, are perhaps somewhat legendary, but he may probably have been eloquent and persuasive at the council of war held November 25th, in which the plan of the siege was laid down. That he distinguished himself in action is more certain, for Dugommier writes, "Among those who distinguished themselves most, and who most aided me to rally the troops and push them forward, are citizens Buona Parte, commanding the artillery, Arena and Cervoni,m adjutants general" (Moniteur, December 7, 1793). He was now named general of brigade.
Bonaparte now passes out of the civil into the foreign war. The military system of the Convention is by this time in full operation. Distinct armies face each enemy, and the great military names of the Revolution are already in mens mouths. The army of the north has Jourdan, Leclers, Vandamme, Brune, Mortier; that of the Moselle has Hoche, Bessieres, Moreau; that of the Rhine Pichegru, Scherer, Berthier; that of the West Marceau and Kleber. Bonaparte joins the army of Italy as general of artillery and inspector-general; to the same army is attached Massena as general of division; Dumerbion is general-in-chief. It is now that for the first time we find Bonapartes exceptional ability remarked. Restless pushing ambition he had shown all along, but that he was more than a mere intriguer seems to have first discerned by the younger Robespierre, who in a letter of April 5, 1794, describes him as "of transcendent merit." In the brief campaign of the army of Italy which occupied the month of July 1794 he took no part, while Massena commanded in the illness of Dumerbion. But in July he made his first essay in diplomacy. Genoa was among the earliest of the many feeble neutral states which suffered in the conflict of the Revolution with the great powers, and at the expense of which the revolutionary empire was founded. Bonaparte was sent by the younger Robespierre to remonstrate with the Genoese Government upon the use which they suffered the Coalition to make of their neutral territory. He was in Genoa from July 16 to July 23; he urged the French claim with success; he returned to Nice on July 28. But July 28, 1794, is 9th Thermidor, on which Bonapartes patron perished with his elder brother on the scaffold.
Probably the connection of Bonaparte with the Robespierres was closer than Bonaparte himself at a later time liked to have it thought. "He was their man, their planmaker," writers Salicetti; "he had acquired an ascendancy over the Representatives (i.e. especially Robespierre junior) which it is impossible to describe," writes Marmont. Accordingly after Thermidor the Representatives in Mission who remained with the army of Italy, viz., Salicetti, Albitte, and laporte, suspended Bonaparte from his functions, and placed him provisionally under arrest (August 6). He was imprisoned at the Fort carre near Antibes, but fortunately for him was not sent to Paris. On the 20th he was set provisionally at liberty on the ground of "the possible utility of the military and local knowledge of the said Bonaparte."
His escape was due, according to Marmont, to Salicettis favor and to the powerful help he himself succeeded in procuring; "he moved heaven and earth." His power of attaching followers also now begins to appear; Junot and marmont, who had become acquainted with him at Toulon, were prepared, if he had been sent to Paris, to set him free by killing the gens darmes and carrying him into the Genoese territory. Marmont has graphically described the influence exerted upon himself at this time by Bonaparte; "there was so much future in his mind," he writes.
This was a passing check; early in 1795 he suffered a greater misfortune. He had been engaged in a maritime expedition of which the object was to recover Corsica, now completely in the power of the English. On march 3d he embarked with his brother Louis, Marmont, and others on the brig "Amitie." On the 11th the fleet set sail. It fell in with the English, lost two ships, and returned defeated. The enterprise was abandoned, and by the end of the same month we find Lacombe Saint Michel, member of the Committee of Public safety, sending orders to the general of brigade Bonaparte to proceed immediately to the army of the west in order to take command of the artillery there. He left Marseilles for Paris on May 5, feeling that all the ground gained by his activity at Toulon, and by the admiration he had begun to inspire, was lost again, that his career was all to recommence, and in peculiarly unfavorable circumstances.
This is the last ill turn he ever received from fortune. It has been attributed to the Girondist spite of a certain Aubry against the Montagnard Bonaprte. The truth seems rather to be that he Committee of Public Safety felt that the Corsican element was too strong in the army of Italy; they remarked that :the patriotism of these refuges is less manifest than their disposition to enrich themselves." Lacombre Saint Michel knew Corsica; and the new general of the army of Italy, Scherer, remarks of Bonaparte just at this moment that "he is a really good artillerist, nut has rather too much ambition and intrigue for his advancement."
The anecdote told by Bonaparte himself of his ordering an attack of outposts in order to treat a lady to a sight of real war, "how the French were successful, but necessarily no result could come out of it, the attack being a pure fancy, and yet some men were left on the field," belongs to the last months of his service in the army of Italy. It is worthy of notice, as showing his cynical insensibility, that he acted thus almost at the very beginning of his military career, and not when he had been hardened by long familiarity with bloodshed. On his arrival at Paris he avoids proceeding to the army of the west, and after a time obtains from Doulcet de Pontecoulant a post in the topographical section of the war office. Here he has an opportunity of resuming his old work, and we find him furnishing of resuming his old work, and we find him furnishing Doulcet, as he had before furnished Robespierre junior, with strategical plans for the conduct of the war in Italy. Late in August he applies for a commission from Government to go to Constantinople at the head of a party of artillerists in order to reform that department of the Turkish service. He sends in a testimonial from Doulcet which describes him as "citizen who may be usefully employed whether in the artillery or in any other arm, and even in the department of foreign affairs." But at this moment occurs the crisis of his life. It coincides with a remarkable crisis in the history of France.
The Second Revolution (1792) had destroyed the monarchy, but a republic, properly speaking, had not yet been established. Between 1792 and 1795 the government had been provisionally in the hands of the National Convention, which had been summoned, not to govern, but to create a new constitution. Now at length, the danger from foreign enemies having been averted, the Convention could proceed to its proper work of establishing a definite republic.
But there was danger lest the country, when appealed to, should elect to undo the work of 1792 by recalling the Bourbons, or atleast should avenge on the Mountain the atrocities of the Terror. To preserve the continuity of government an expedient was adopted. As under the new constitution the assemblies were to renewed periodically to the extent only of one-third at a time, it was decreed that the existing Convention should be treated as the first Corps Legislatif under the new system. Thus, instead of being dissolved and making way for new assemblies, it was to form the nucleus of the new legislature, and to be renewed only to the extent of one-third. This additional law, which was promulgated along with the new constitution, excited a rebellion in Paris. The sections (or wards) called into existence a revolutionary assembly, which met at the Odeon. This the Convention suppressed by military force, and the discontent of the individual sections was thereby increased. At the same time their confidence was heightened by a check they inflicted upon General Menou, who, in attempting to disarm the section Lepelletier, was imprisoned in the Rue Vivienne, and could only extricate himself by concluding a sort of capitulation with the insurgents. Thereupon the Convention, alarmed, put Menou under arrest, and gave the command of the armed force of Paris and of the army of the interior to Barras, a leading politician of the way, who had acquired a sort of military reputation by having held several times the post of Representative in Mission. Barras knew the army of Italy and the services which Bonaparte had rendered at Toulon, and nominated him second in command.
It does not seem that Bonaparte showed any remarkable firmness of character or originality of genius in meeting the revolt of the sections on the next day (Vendemiaire 13, i.e., 5th October) with grape shot. The disgrace of Menou was a warning that the Convention required decisive action, and the invidiousness of the act fell upon Barras, not upon Bonaparte. Indeed in the official report drawn by Bonaparte himself his own name scarcely appears; instead of assuming courageously the responsibility of the deed, he took great pains to shirk it. He appeared in the matter merely as the instrument, as the skillful artillerist, by whom Barras and the Convention carried their resolute policy into effect. It will be observed that on this occasion he defends the cause of Jacobinism. This does not require to be explained, as at a later time he took much pains to explain it, by the consideration that, odious as Jacobinism was, on this particular occasion it was identified with "the great truths of our Revolution." Bonaparte at this period appears uniformly as a Jacobin. He was at the moment an official in the Jacobin Government, and speaks in his letters of the party of the sections just as a Government official might be expected to do.
In this affair he produced an impression of real military capacity among the leading men of France, and placed Barras himself under a personal obligation. He was rewarded by being appointed in succession to Barras, who now resigned, commander of the army of the interior. In this position, political and military at the same time, he preluded to the part reserved for him later of First Consul and Emperor. He also strengthened his new position materially by his marriage with Josephine de Beauharnais, nee Tascher. The Bonaparte legend tells of a youth calling upon him to claim the sword of his father, guillotined in the Terror, of Bonaparte treating the youth kindly, of his mother paying a visit of thanks to the general, of an attachment following. But even if Bonaparte was really attached to Josephine, we must not think of the match as one of mere unworthy affection. It was scarcely less splendid for the young general Bonaparte than his second match was for the emperor Napoleon. Josephine was prominent in Parisian society, and for the lonely Corsican, so completely without connections in Paris, or even in France, such an alliance was of priceless value. She had not much either of character or intellect, but real sweetness of disposition. Her personal charm was not so much that of beauty as of grace, social tact, and taste in dress. The act of marriage is dated Ventose 19, year IV (i.e. 9th March 1796). On this day Bonaparte had already been appointed to the command of the army of Italy. His great European career now begins.
The fourth year of the Revolutionary War was opening. The peculiar characteristic of that war is that, having been for France, at the commencement, a national war of liberation on the grandest scale, it changed its character after tow years and became an equally unprecedented national war of conquest. The conquest of Australian Flanders had been made in 1794, that of Holland in the winter of the same year. The whole left bank of the Rhine was in French occupation, and the war had passed over to the right bank. The question was no longer of the principles of the revolution, but only of inducing the emperor and the Germanic body to conclude treaties in which Belgium and the left bank should be ceded. It was a war for territory similar to so many wars of the 18th century, but exceeding all of them in the energy with which it was conducted and the extent which it covered. Never had the warlike spirit been so predominant before in Europe. Bonaparte did not introduce, but found already introduced the principle of conquest.
Prussie, with most of the North-German princes and Spain, had retired from the war early in 1795. Austria was now the great enemy of France by land. Accordingly the direct struggle was waged chiefly on the upper Rhine, where Austria had then extensive territories. But Austria could also be attacked on the side of Italy, where she possessed the duchy of Milan. On this side, however, a less important belligerent intervened, viz., Sardinia. It was natural to supposed that Sardinia, which since 1792 had lost Savoy and Nice, which since the military regeneration of France could not expect victory, and which had been in the habit of regarding Austria rather as a rival than as a friend, would gladly be quit of the war. Could she but be pushed aside, Austria might be attacked on the plains of Lombardy. Bonaparte had nursed this idea ever since he had been connected with the army of Italy; since Vendemiaire he had discussed it with Carnot, and it was Carnot, now one of the five Directors, who, as he himself tells us, procured Bonapartes appointment to the Italian command.
But not only Austria could be attacked in Italy. The French Revolution, by undertaking a sort of crusade against monarchy, had furnished itself with a justification for attacking almost all states alike, for almost all were either monarchical or at least aristocratic. Italy was full of small states which could be attacked as Mainz or Holland had been attacked before. Tuscany had an Austrian prince; Rome was the patron of the pretres insermentes; Venice was aristocratic. Bonaparte instinctively saw that he had a charter for indiscriminate conquest and plunder. He announced this to the army without the least disguise: "Soldiers, you are naked and ill fed; I will lead you into the most fruitful plains in the world. Rich provinces, great cities will be in your power. There you will find honor and fame and wealth." In this announcement is the key to the history of Europe for the next twenty years.
This order of the day was issued from Nice, where Bonaparte had arrived on March 27th. The campaign began on April 10th. This, the first of Bonapartes campaigns, has been compared to his last. As in 1815 he tried to separate Blucher and Wellington, hoping to overcome them in turn, so now with more success he attacked first the Austrians under Beaulieu and then the Sardinians under Colli. Defeating the Austrians at Montenotee, Millesimo, and Dego, he turned on the 15th against Colli, defeated him at Ceva, then at Mondovi, and concluded the convention of Cherasco on the 28th. By this convention, which was soon after turned into a treaty of peace, Sardinia was severed from the Coalition, and her principal fortresses put into the hands of France. What Bonaparte had so long dreamed of he accomplished in a single month, and turned himself at once to the conquest of Lombardy.
The month of May was devoted to the invasion. On the 7th he crossed the Po at Piacenza, stormed the bridge over the Adda at Lodi on the 11th, and, as the archduke who governed Lombardy had quitted Milan on the 9th, retiring by Bergamo into Germany, Bonaparte entered Milan on the 15th. That day Bonaparte told marmont that his success hitherto was nothing to what was reserved for him. "In our days," he added, "no one has conceived anything great; it falls to me to give the example." June was spent in consolidating the conquest of Lombardy, in spoiling the country, and repressing the insurrections which broke out among the Italians, astonished to find themselves plundered by their "liberators." From the middle of July the war, as far as Austria is concerned, becomes a war for Mantua. Austria makes desperate and repeated efforts to raise the siege of this all-important fortress. On July 29 arrived Wurmser at the head of 50,000 men, making his way through Tyrol from the Rhine. He advanced on both sides of the Lake of Garda, and threatened Bonapartes communications by occupying Brescia. Bonaparte abandoned the siege of Mantua, and brought his whole force to meet the enemy. On this one occasion we find the young commanders resource and courage failing him. He called councils of war, and declared in favor of retreating across the Po. When Augereau resisted this determination, he left the room declaring that he would have nothing to do with the matter, and when Augereau asked who was to give orders, answered" You!" The desperate course was rewarded with success. The Austrians wee defeated at Castiglione on August 5th, and retired into Tyrol. But Mantua had been revictualled, and Bonaparte had suffered the loss of his siege-train.
Early in September Bonaparte, having received reinforcements from France, assumed the offensive against Wurmser, and after defeating him at Bassno forced him to throw himself with the remainder of his army into Mantua (September 15).
At the end of October Austria had assembled a new army of 50,000 men, mostly, however, raw recruits. They were placed under the command of Alvinzi. Bonaparte was to be overwhelmed between this army and that of Wurmser isuuing from Mantua. But by a night march he fell upon Alvinzis rear at Arcola. The struggle lasted through three days, during which Bonapartes life was at one moment in great danger, and ended in a complete victory for the French (November 15-17). From Arcola he used ever afterwards to date his profound confidence in his own fortune. Mantua, however, still held out, and early in January (1797) a fourth and last attempt was made by Alvinzi to relieve it, but he was again completely defeated at Rivoli, and a whole Austrian corps darmee under Provera laid down its arms at Roverbella (January 16). On receiving the intelligence of this disaster Wurmser concluded the capitulation by which the French were put in possession of Muntua.
Such was the campaign of Bonaparte against Austria, by which he raised his reputation at once above that of all the other generals of the republic, Jourdan, Moreau, or Hoche. But he had acted by no means merely as a general of the republic against Austria. He has assumed from the beginning the part of an independent conqueror, neither bound by the orders of his Government nor by any rules of international law or morality.
The commander of a victorious army wields a force which only a Government long and firmly established can hold in check. A new Government, such as the Directory in France, having no root in the country, is powerless before a young victor such as Bonaparte. The danger had been early perceived: Hoche had been pronounced dangerous by Robespierre; it became imminent when Bonaparte with his unrestrained ambition pushed before the other generals. The coup detat of Brumaire was in Bonapartes mind before he had been many weeks at the head of the army of Italy. But long before he ventured to strike the existing Government we see that he has completely emancipated himself from it, and his acts are those of an independent ruler, as had been those of Caesar in Gaul or of Pompey in the East while the Roman republic was still nominally standing. As early as June 1796 he said to Miot "The commissioners of the Directory have no concern with my policy; I do what I please."
From the outset it had been contemplated to make the invasion of Italy financially profitable. Contributions were levied so rapaciously that in the duchy of Milan, where the French had professed to appear as brothers and liberators, a rebellion against them speedily broke out, which Bonaparte suppressed with the merciless cruelty he always showed in such cases. He kept the promise of his first proclamation: he made the army rich. "From this moment," writes Marmont, "the chief part of the pay and salaries was paid in coin. This led to a great change in the situation of the officers, and to a certain extent in their manners. The army of Italy was at that time the only one which had escaped from the unprecedented misery which all the armies had so long endured." The amount of confiscation seems to have been enormous. Besides direct contributions levied in the conquered territory, the domains of dispossessed Governments, the revenues and property of churches and hospitals, were at Bonapartes disposal. There seems reason to think that but a small proportion of this plunder was ever accounted for. It went to the army chest, over which Bonaparte retained the control, and the pains that he took to corrupt his officers is attested in the narrative of Marmont, who relates that Bonaparte once cause a large sum to pass through his hands, and when he took great pains to render a full account of it, as the officers had then une fleur de delicatesse, Bonaparte blamed him for not having kept it for himself.
As he made himself financially independent of the Government, so he began to develop an independent policy. Hitherto he has had no politics, but has been content to talk the Jacobinism of the ruling party; now he takes a line, and it is not quite that of the Government. He had already, in June 1796, invaded the papal territory, and concluded a convention at Bologna by which he extorted 15 millions from the pope; immediately after the fall of mantua he entered the States of the Church again, and concluded the treaty of Tolentino on February 19. we see how freely he combines diplomacy with war; he writes without disguise to the Directory, October 5, "You incur the greatest risk whenever your general in Italy is not the center of everything." But now in dealing with the pope he separates his policy from that of the Directory. He demands indeed the cession of Bologna, Ferrera, and the Romagna, besides Avignon and the Venaissin, and the temporary cession of Ancona. But he recognizes the pope by treating with him, and towards the Catholic religion and the priesthood he shows himself unexpectedly merciful. Religion is not to be altered in the ceded Legations, and Bonaparte extends his protection in the most ostentatious manner to the pretres insermentes, whom he found in large numbers in the States of the Church. This was the more marked as they were at this time objects of the bitterest persecution in France. Here is the first indicating of the policy of the Concordat, but it is also a mark of Bonapartes independent position, the position rather of a prince than of a responsible official; may, it marks a deliberate intention to set himself up as a rival of the Government. His manner of conducting the wear was as unprecedented as his relation to the Government, and in like manner foreshadowed the Bapoleonic period. It was not that of a civilized belligerent, but of a universal conqueror. The Revolution had put all international law into abeyance. Bonaparte in Italy as in his later wars, knows nothing of neutrality. Thus Tuscany, the first of all states to conclude a treaty with the French republic, is not thereby saved from invasion. Bonapartes troops march in, seize Leghorn, and take possession of all the English property found in that port. More remarkable still is the treatment of Venice. The territory of the republic is turned unceremoniously into a filed of battle between France and Austria, and at the end of the war the Venetian republic is blotted out of the map.
Further is to be remarked the curious development which was given to the principle of plunder. The financial distress of France and the impoverishment of the army at the opening of the campaign might account for much simple spoliation. But Bonaparte introduced the practice of transferring pictures and statues from the Italian palaces and galleries to France. This singular revival of primitive barbaric modes of making war becomes more striking when we reflect that the spoiler of Italy was himself an Italian.
Altogether these campaigns brought to light a personality entirely without precedent in modern European history. True, the Revolution behind him and the circumstances around him were absolutely unprecedented. Marmont remarked at the time the rapid and continual development which just then showed itself in Bonapartes character. "Every day," he writes, "he seemed to see before him a new horizon." An ambitious man had suddenly become aware that a career entirely unparalleled was open to him, if only he could find audacity and unscrupulous energy to enter upon it. Add to this that he had lived for three years in the midst of disorders and horrors such as might well have dissipated all principles, beliefs, and restraints. Even as early as the 13th Vendemiaire we find him impressed with a fatalist belief in his own luck ("I received no hurt; I am always lucky," he writes), and there are indications that his wonderful escape at Arcola greatly heightened this belief in a mind naturally somewhat superstitious.
At this moment, as Bonapartes private political views begin to appear, his Jacobinism, even his republicanism, slips from him like a robe. As early as May 1797 he said to Miot and melzi, "Do you suppose that I triumph in Italy for the glory of the lawyers of the Directory, a Carnot or a Barras? Do you suppose I mean to found a republic? What an idea! A republic of thirty millions of people! With our morals, our vices! How is such a thing possible? The nation wants a chief, a chief covered with glory, not theories of government, phrases, ideological essays that the French do not understand. They want some playthings; that will be enough; they will play with them and let themselves be led, always supposing they are cleverly prevented from seeing the goal towards which they are moving." His contempt for the French character and his opinion of their unfitness for republican institutions was sincere; it was the opinion of a Corsican accustomed to more primitive, more masculine ways of life; we meet with it in Bonapartes earliest letters, written before the thought of himself ruling France had occurred to him.
When the fall of Mantua had established the French power in North Italy, Bonapartes next thought was to strike at the heart of Austria from this new basis. Early in March, having secured his position in Italy by the treaty of Tolentino with Rome and by a treaty with Sardinia, he set his troops in motion. He sent Joubert with 18,000 men into Tyrol, while he prepared to march in person upon Vienna from Friuli through Carinthia and Styria. The archduke Chgarles had been called to the command of the troops opposed to him, but these were thoroughly demoralized. Bonaparte dislodged him from the line of the tagliamento, then from that of the Isonzo, and advanced steadily until he reached Leoben in Styria on April 7th. Here began negotiations.
There has been much misconception of the preliminaries of Leoben, because Bonapartes position and objects have not been properly understood. We expect to find these preliminaries containing conditions most triumphant for France, since they were won by an invasion which stopped little short of Vienna, and followed a series of victories most ruinous to the Austrian military power. But it was not France that imposed these conditions, it was Bonaparte, whose interest was not by any means identical with that of France. His object was not so much to vanquish Austria as to eclipse the French generals on the Rhine and wrest from them the honor of concluding the war. In order to do this it was necessary to surprise Austria by his moderation, and this he did in the preliminaries of Leoben. The object of the war on the part of France had long been to obtain definitive possession of Belgium and the Rhine frontier; this might now have been obtained at the expense of Bonapartes Italian conquests. At Leoben, however, no such arrangement was made. Belgium indeed, so far as it belonged to Austria, was ceded, and the emperor agreed to "recognize the limits of France as decreed by the laws of the republic." This expression afterwards was made to seem ambiguous, but at the time it appears to have been understood to refer almost exclusively to the Belgian territories, which had been organized by the French into nine departments. It seems certainly not to have included that large territory limited by the Rhine which it was not competent to Austria to cede, since in the main it did not belong to Austria but to the Gemanic empire. But what was to become of Bonapartes conquests in Lombardy? Here we meet with a principle of action which, though not invented by him, was mainly instrumental in founding his empire. An independent republic was to be set up in Lombardy, and for this Austria was to receive as an indemnity the continental possession of the Venetian republic as far as the Oglio, with Istria and Dalmatia. But how came this territory to be at the disposal of Bonaparte, since the Venetian republic was a neutral state? The answer is that its neutrality had been utterly disregarded by Bonaparte during the war, and that, as its territory had been freely trampled on by his troops, irritation had necessarily arisen among the Venetians, thence quarrels with the French, thence on the side of the French an attack on the aristocratic government and the setting up of democracy. Of all this the result was now found to be that the Venetian empire was a conquered territory, which in her next treaty France could cede in exchange for any desired advantage. This had been the principle of the partition of Poland; it was now to be the principle of a universal conquest.
The summer of 1797 was passed by Bonaparte at Montebello near Milan. Here he rehearsed in Italy the part of emperor, formed his court, and accustomed himself to all the functions of government. He was chiefly engaged at this time in accomplishing the dissolution of the Venetian republic. He had begun early in the spring by provoking insurrections in Brescia and Bergamo. In April the insolence of a French officer provoked a rising against the French at salo, for which Junot, sent by Bonaparte, demanded satisfaction of the senate on the 15th. The French now attempted to disarm all the Venetian garrisons that remained on the terra firma, and this led to a rising at Verona in which some hundreds of Frenchmen were massacred (April 17th). On the 19th a French sea-captain, violating the customs of the port of at the Lido, was fired upon from a Venetian fort. Bonaparte now declared that he would be a new Attila to Venice, and issued a declaration of war. The feeble Government could only submit. A revolution took place at Venice, and French troops took possession of the town on May 16th. A treaty was now concluded by Bonaparte "establishing peace and friendship between the French republic and the republic of Venice," and providing that "the French occupation should cease as soon as the new Government should declare that it no longer needed foreign assistance." "A principal object of this treaty," as Bonaparte candidly explained to the Directory, "was to obtain possession without hindrance of the city, the arsenal, and everything." At the time that he was thus establishing friendship he was, as we know, ceding the territory of Venice, including at last the town, to Austria.
When we read the letters written by him at this period we see that already, only a year after he assumed for the first time the command on an army, he has fully conceived the utmost of what he afterwards realized. Had he been shown in vision at this time what he was to be at this zenith in 1812, when he was the astonishment and terror of the world, he would probably have said that it fell short of his expectations.
One concession he had made in order to prevent Hoche and Moreau from sharing his laurels; at Leoben he had granted good terms to Austria. But the definitive treaty was not yet concluded, and it was still possible to withdraw this concession. This was the more possible as Austria might now be threatened with an attack from Bonaparte and Hoche at the same time. By virtue of the new principle she might also be bribed. The town of Venice might be ceded to her as well as the province, and in return for the left bank of the Rhine indemnity might be granted to her within the Germanic empire. The principle of ceding what is not ones own is evidently s capable of wide application. But Austria had still one hope, for it seemed impossible that France herself could suffer Bonaparte to run his headlong career without interference, especially as she now had popular assemblies. The difficulty which Bonaparte had dissipated by his cannon in Vendemiaire had returned, as it could not fail to do. A Jacobinical regicide republic had to support itself in the midst of a nation which was by no means Jacobinical, and which had representative assemblies. These assemblies, renewed by a third for the second time in the spring of 1797, placed Pichegru, suspected of royalism, in the chair of the Five Hundred, and Europe began to ask whether the restoration of the Bourbons was about to follow. Bonaparte at Montebello found that the Austrian negotiators were bent upon delay.
The rising party was not perhaps mainly royalist; its most conspicuous representative, carnot, the Director, was himself as regicide. In the main it aimed only at respectable government and peace, but a minority were open to some suspicion of royalism. This suspicion was fatal to the whole party, since royalism had at this time been thoroughly discredited by the follies of the émigrés. An outcry is raise db y the soldiers. We can measure the steady progress which had been made by the military power since Vendemiaire; it had then been an instrument in the hands of the Government, now it gives the law and makes the Government its instrument. The armies of the Rhine, represented by Hoche, oppose the new movement; as to Bonaparte, he was driven into opposition by self-defence. Dumolard, a deputy, had called attention to his monstrous treatment of the Venetian republic; he anticipated the judgment of history by comparing it to the partition of Poland. Bonaparte had already divulged to a friend the secret that he despised republicanism, but this attack made him once more, for the last time, a republican and a Jacobin. It is, however, probable that he would in any case have sided with the majority of the Directory, since anything which favored the bourbons was a hindrance to his ambition. And thus the armies of the republic stood united against the tendency of public opinion at home. Imperialism stood opposed to parliamentary government, believing itself-such was the bewilderment of the time-to be more in favor of the sovereignty of the people than the people itself, and not aware that it was paving the way for military despot.
The catastrophe came on 18th Fructidor (September 4, 1797), when Augereau, one of Bonapartes generals of division, who had been sent by Bonaparte to Paris, surrounded the Corps Legislatif with twelve thousand men and arrested the most obnocious representatives, while another force marched to the Luxembourg, arrested the Director Barthelemi, and would have arrested Carnot had he not received warning in time to make his escape. This stroke was followed by an outrageous proscription of the new party, of whom a large number, consisting partly of members of the Councils, partly of journalists, were transported to die at Cayenne, and the elections were annulled in forty-eight departments.
Such was Fructidor, which may be considered as the third of the revolutions which compose the complex event usually known as the French Revolution. In 1789 the absolute monarchy had given place to a constitutional monarchy, which was definitively established in 1791. In 1792 the constitutional monarchy fell, giving place to a republic which was definitively established in 1795. Since 1795 it had been understood that revolution was over, and that France was living under a constitution. But in Fructidor this constitution also fell, and government became revolutionary again. It was evident that a third constitution must be established; it was evident also that this constitution must set up a military form of government,- that is, an imperialism; but two more years passed before this was done.
The benefit of the change was reaped in the end by Bonaparte. Naturally he favored it and took a great share in contriving it. But it seems an exaggeration to represent him as the exclusive or even the principal author of Fructidor. Hoche took the same side as Bonaparte; Augeraeu outran him (and yet Augereau at this time was by no means a mere echo of Bonaparte); the division of the army of Italy commanded by Bernadotte, which had been recently detached from the army of Sambre-et-Meuse, and stood somewhat aloof from Bonapartes influence, sided with him in this instance. The truth is that the rising party of Moderates gave offence to the whole military world b y making peace their watchword. Outside the armies too there was profound alarm in the whole republican party, so that the circle of Madame de Stael was strongly Fructidorian, and this certainly was not guided by the influence of Bonaparte, though at this time madame de Stael was among his warmest admirers. When the blow had been struck, Bonaparte knew how to reap the utmost advantage from it, and to exhibit it in its true light as mortal at the same time to the Moderates and to the republican Government itself, which now ceased to be legal and became once more revolutionary, and as favorable only to the military power and to the rising imperialism. He congratulated the armies on the fall of "the enemies of the soldier and especially of the army of Italy," but accorded only the faintest approval to the Directory.
The death of Hoche, occurring soon after, removed from Bonapartes path his only rival in the affections of the already omnipotent soldiery. Hoche alone among the generals beside Bonaparte had shown political talents; had he lived longer, he might have played with success the part in which Moreau afterwards failed.
The revolution of Fructidor, being military, had an immediate effect on foreign affairs. It commences the period which was to last till the fall of Napoleon, a period of war pursued by France for its own sake, and as a kind of national business. As negotiations with England are at once violently broken off, so a change comes over the negotiations with Austria. With the fall of the peace party Austria loses all hope of favorable terms. Bonaparte is now residing at Passeriano in a villa belonging to Doge Manin, and the negotiations take place at Udine in the neighborhood. As at Leoben, Bonaparte is more pacific than the Directory. They are prepared to recommence the war; his ambition is to win from the other generals the distinction of terminating it. The struggle between them concerns the fate of Venice, the complete possession of which is a bribe sufficient to induce Austria to recede entirely from the preliminaries of Leoben, but which the Directory is unwilling to cede. Between the beginning of September and the middle of October this struggle continued; at length, on October 17th, the treaty was signed at the little village of Campo Formio (more correctly Campo Formido) close to Udine. Bonaparte took his own course, gave Venice, Istrias, Dalmatia, and all Ventian territory beyond the Adige to Austria, founded the Cisalpine republic, and reserved for France, besides Belgium, Corfu and the Ionian Islands. A congress was to open at Tastatt, and Austria bound herself by a secret article to do her best to procure for France from the Germanic body the left bank of the Rhine. By retaining the Ionian Islands. Bonaparte gave the first intimation of his design of opening the eastern question.
He now left Italy, setting out from Milan on November 17th, made a flying visit to Rastatt, where the congress had already assembled, and reached Paris on December 5th. What next would be attempted by the man who at twenty-seven had conquered Italy and brought to an end the most memorable Continental war of modern times? From a speech delivered by him on the occasion of his reception by the Directory it appears that he had two thoughts in his mind, - to make a revolution in France ("when the happiness of the French people shall be based on the best [or on better[ organic laws, all Europe will be free") and to emancipate Greece ("the two most beautiful parts of Europe, once so illustrious for arts, sciences, and the great men of whom they were the cradle, see with the loftiest hopes the genius of liberty issue from the tombs of their ancestors"). He had now some months in which to arrange the execution of these plans. The Directory, seeing no safety but in giving him employment, now committed the war with England to his charge. He becomes "general en-chef de larmee dAngleterre." His study of internal politics soon landed him in perplexity. Should he become a Director, procuring an exemption from the rule which required the Directors to be more than forty years of age? He could decide on nothing, but felt himself unprepared to mingle in French party strife. He decided therefore that "the pear was not ripe," and turned againto the military schemes which might raise his renown still higher during the year or two which the Directory would require to ruin itself. It seemed possible to combine war against England with the Oriental plan which had been suggested to him, it is said, by Monge at Passeriano. During the last war between Russia and Turkey some publicists (including Volney, an acquaintance of Bonaparte"s) had recommended France to abandon her ancient alliance with Turkey and seek rather to share with Russia in her spoils. Thus was suggested to Bonaparte in Italy the thought of seizing Greece. Now as head of the army of England he fixed his eyes on Egypt also. In India game was not yet quite lost for France, but England had now seized the Cape of Good Hope. To save therefore what remained of her establishments in India, France must seize Egypt. She must not only conquer but colonize it ("if forty or fifty thousand European families fixed their industries, their laws, and their administration in Egypt, India would be presently lost to the English much more even by the force of events than by that of arms"). Such was the scheme, according to which Turkey was to be partitioned in the course of a war with England, as Venice had disappeared in the course of a war with Austria.
That such a scheme could scarcely fail to kindle a new European war more universal than that which Bonaparte had just brought to a close was probably its principal recommendation in his eyes. He also instinctively saw that, while he conquered in the East, France, deprived of her best troops and generals, would suffer disasters at home, though he could not anticipate what actually happened-that she would be unfortunate both at home and in the East. But the European war showed signs of recommencing even before he could set sail. For the tide of militarism in France could not be arrested for a moment; scarcely a month passed but was marked by some new aggression and annexation. In the spring of 1798 the old constitution of Switzerland was overthrow, French troops entered Bern and seized a treasure of 40,000,000 francs; at the same time a quarrel was picked with the Papal Government; it was overthrown, the treasury plundered, and the aged pope, Pius VI., carried into captivity. Thus, as Bertheir said, money was furnished for the Egyptian campaign; but on the other hand Europe was thoroughly roused; England could meet the threatened attack by forming a new Coalition, and at the beginning of May, three weeks before Bonaparte set sail, the probability of a new Continental war was already so great that he rites, for the benefit of General Brune, a plan for defending Italy against an attack by a superior force of Austrians. It is asserted by Miot that at the last moment Bonaparte would gladly have abandone his Eastern expedition, since it would have suited him as well to take the command again against Austriua, but that the Directory, to be rid of him at all hazards, forced him to depart.
In any case the departure of Bonaparte for the east with 30,000 men and Generals Murat, Bertheir, Desaix, Kleber, Lannes, and Marmont- nelson in front of him and a European war behind-perhaps marks the moment of wildest confusion in the modern history of Europe. From his letters written on board "LOrient" it would seem that he scarcely realized the terrible risk he ran; it is to be considered that the superiority of the English marine had not yet been clearly proved, and that the name of Nelson was not yet redoubtable. He set sail on May 19, having stimulated the zeal of his soldiers by promising that each should return rich enough to buy six "arpents" of land (the Directory were obliged to deny the genuineness of the proclamation), and, eluding Nelson, who had been driven by a storm to the island of St Pietro near Sardinia, arrived on June 9 at Malta, where a squadron from Civita Vecchia and another from Ajaccio had preceded him. This island was in the possession of the Knights of St John of Jerusalem, who acknowledged the king of Naples as their feudal superior and the czar as their protector. To attack them was the direct way to involve France in war both with Naples and Russia. Bonaparte, demanding admission into the harbor for his fleet, and receiving answer that the treaties which guaranteed the neutrality of malta permitted only the admission of four ships, attacked at once, as indeed he had been expressly commanded by the Directory to do (Nap. Corr., iv. 53). The people rose against the knights; the grand master Hompesch opened negotiations, and on the 12th Bonaparte entered La Valette. He is enthusiastic about the strength and importance of the position thus won. "It is the strongest place in Europe; those who would dislodge us must pay dear." He spent some days in organizing a new Government for the island, and set sail again on the 19th. On July 2 he issues his first order in Alexandria.
During the passage we find him prosecuting his earlier schem of the emancipation of Greece. Thus from Malta he sends Lavalette with a letter to Ali Pasha of Janina. His plan therefore seems to embrace Greece and Egypt at once and thus to take for granted the command of the sea, almost as if no English fleet existed. The miscalculation was soon made manifest. Bonaparte himself, after occupying Alexandria, set out again on the 8th and marched on Cairo; he defeated the Mamelukes first at Chebreiss and then at Embabeh within sight of the Pyramids, where the enemy lost 2000 and the French about 20 or 30 killed and 120 wounded. He is in Cairo on the 24th, where for the most part he remains till January of 1799. but a week after his arrival in Cairo the fleet which had brought him from France, with its admiral brueys, was destroyed by Nelson in Aboukir Bay. For the first time, in reporting this event to the Directory, it seems to flash on Bonapartes mind that the English are masters of the sea. The grand design is ruined by this single stroke. France is left at war with almost all Europe, and with Turkey also (for Bonapartes hope of deceiving the sultan by representing himself as asserting his cause against the Mamelukes was frustrated), and her best generals with a fine army are imprisoned in another continent.
It might still be possible to create a revolution in Turkey Asia, if not in Turkey in Europe. The Turks were preparing an army in Syria, and in February 1799 Bonaparte anticipated their attack by invading Syria with about 12,000 men. He took El Arish on the 20th, then Gaza, and arrived at Jaffa on March 3. It was taken by assault, and a massacre commenced which, unfortunately for Bonapartes reputation, was stopped by some officers. The consequence was that upwards of 2000 prisoners were taken. Bonaparte, unwilling either to spare food for them or to let them go, ordered the adjutant-general to take them to the sea-shore and there shoot them, taking precautions to prevent any from escaping. This was done. "Now," writes Bonaparte, "there remains St Jean DAcre." This fortress was the seat of the pasha, Jezzar. It is on the sea-shore, and accordingly England could intervene. Admiral Sir Sidney Smith, commanding a squadron on the coast, opened fire on the French as they approached the shore, and was surprised to find his fire answered only by musketry. In a moment he divined that the siege artillery was to come from Alexandria be sea, and very speedily he discovered the ships that carried it and took possession of them. on March 19 Bonaparte is before Acre, but the place receives supplies from the sea, and support from the English ships, while his artillery is lost. He is detained there for two whole months, and retires at last without success. This check, he said, changed the destiny of the world, for he calculated that the fall of Jezzar would have been followed by the adhesion of all the subject tribes, Druses and Christians, which would have given him an army ready for the conquest of Asia.
The failure had been partially redeemed by a victory won in April over an army which had marched from the interior to the relief of acre under Abdallah Pasha, and which Bonaparte defeated on the plain of Esdraelon (the battle is usually named from Mount Tabor). In the middle of May the retreat began, a counterpart of a small scale if the retreat from Moscow, heat and pestilence taking the place of frost and the Cossacks. On the 24th he is again at Jaffa, from which he writes his report to the Directory explaining that he had deliberately abstained from entering Acre because of the plague which, as he heard, was ravaging the city. On June 14 his letters are again dated from Cairo. His second stay in Egypt lasts two months, which were spent partly in hunting the dethroned chief of the Mamelukes, Murad Bey, partly in meeting a new Turkish army, which arrived in July in the Bay of Aboukir. He inflicted on it an annihilating defeat near its landing-place; according to his own account ten or twelve thousand persons were drowned. This victory masked the final failure of the expedition. It was a failure such as would have ruined Bonaparte in a state enjoying publicity, where the responsibility could have been brought home to him and the facts could have been discussed. For a year of warfare, for the loss of the fleet, of 6000 soldiers, and of several distinguished officers (Brueys, Caffarelli, Cretin), for disastrous defeats suffered in Europe, which might have been averted by Bonaparte and his army, for the loss for an indefinite time of the army itself, which could only return to France by permission of the English, there was nothing to show. No progress was made in conciliating the people. Bonaparte had arrived with an intention of appealing to the religious instinct of the Semitic races. He had imagined apparently that the rebellion of France against the Catholic religion might be presented to the Moslems as a victory of their faith. He had declared himself a Mussulman commissioned by the Most High to humble the cross. He had hoped at the same time to conciliate the sultan; it had been arranged that Talleyrand should go to Constantinople for the purpose. But talleyrand remained at Paris, the sultan was not conciliated, the people were not deluded by Bonapartes religious appeals. Rebellion after rebellion had broken out, and had been repressed with savage cruelty. It was time for him to extricate himself from so miserable a business.
It appears from the correspondence that he had promised to be back in France as early as October 1798, a fact which shows how completely all his calculations had been disappointed. Sir Sidney Smith now contrived that he should receive a packet of journals, by which he was informed of all that had passed recently in Europe and of the disasters that France had suffered. His resolution was immediately taken. On August 22 he wrote to Kleber announcing that he transferred to him the command of the expedition, and that he himself would return to Europe, taking with him Berthier, Lannes, Murat, Andreossi, marmont, Monge, and Berthollet, and giving orders that Junot should follow in October and Desaix in November. After carefully spreading false accounts of his intentions, he set sail with two frigates in the night of the same day. He arrived after a voyage of more than six weeks, during which he revisited Corsica, in the harbor of Frejus on October 9.
From this moment the tide of his fortune began to flow again, his reappearance seemed providential, and was hailed wit delight throughout France. The system established in Fructidor was essentially military. It had led directly to the violent aggressions of 1798, and to a great law of military service introduced by General Jourdan, which was the basis of the Napoleonic armies; it had created a new European war. But it was evidently inconsistent with the from of government established in 1795. A Directory of civilians were not qualified to conduct a policy so systematically warlike. Hence the war of 1799 had been palpably mismanaged. The armies and the generals were there but the presiding strategist and statesman was wanting. In Italy conquest had been pushed too far. Half the troops were locked up in fortresses or occupied in suppressing rebellion; hence Macdonld at the Trebbia and Joubert at Novi were defeated by Suwaroff, mantua fell, and the work of Bonaparte in Italy was well-nigh undone. Government was shaken by these disasters. A kind of revolution took place in June. Four new members entered the Directory, of whom three-Gohier, Roger-Ducos, and General Moulin represented on the whole the revival of the Jacobinism of 1793, while the fourth, Sieyes, the most important politician of this crisis, represented the desire for some new constitutional experiment. The remedy which first suggested itself was to return to the warlike fury and terrorism of 1793. the Jacobin Club revived and held its sittings in the Salle du Manege. Many leading generals, especially Jourdan and Bernadotte, favored it. But 1793 was not to be revived. Its passions had gone to sleep, and the memory of it was a nightmare. Nevertheless a sort of Terror began. The hardship of recruitment caused rebellions, particularly in the west. Chouannerie and Royalism revived, and the odious Law of Hostages was passed to meet them. after seven years of misery France in the autumn of 1799 was perhaps more miserable than ever.
If 1793 could not be revived, what alternative? Sieyes perceived that what was needed was a supreme general to direct the war. But though he had ceased to believe in popular institutions, and had become a convert to a new kind of aristocracy, he did not wish his supreme general to control civil affairs. He looked for an officer who should be intelligent without being too ambitious. His choice fell upon Joubert, who was nominated commander of the army of Italy that he might acquire the necessary renown. But Joubert was killed at Novi in August. From this time Sieyes had remained uncertain. Advances were made in vain to Moreau. Who can say what might have happened in a few months? Some general of abilities not very commanding would have risen to a position in which he would have controlled the fate of France. Perhaps Massena, whose reputation at this moment reached its highest point through the victories of Zurich, but who was not made either for an emperor or for a statesman, might have come forward to play the part of Monk.
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Napoleon I - Table of Contents
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