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CHA P. III.
Effeds of what passed in the Council of Five Hundred on the Deliberations and Meafures of the Council of Elders.-Meeting of the moderate Party in the late Council of Five Ilundred.-Speech of Lucian Buonaparte on the critical State of the Nation.-A Committee of Five appointed to report on the MeaJures proper to be adopted in the prefent Crifis.-The Council addressed by the Chairman of the Committee, by Boulay de la Meurthe, and again by Lucian Buonaparte.-The Council adjourned, and the Seffion terminated.— Reflections.
Thas already been mentioned that
adjournment from five to nine o'clock in the evening, had refolved itself into a committee of the whole houfe. Their deliberations on the prefent juncture of affairs, were interrupted by the beating of drums, and fhouts from the court of the palace, and at the fame time by the arrival of deputies from the Orangery, announcing the outrage committed on the national repre. fentation, and the diffolution of the council of five hundred, by military force. The prefident of the council, Le Mercier, faid, that affaffins, armed with poniards, were not worthy of the name of reprefentatives. Another of the deputies began to reply, but the council determined to hear none but thofe of their own body. The ftruggle between Buonaparte and the council of five hundred being terminated in the manner we have feen, a commiffion of five elders brought forward their report of the meafures proper to be adopted in the prefent
moment. It ftated, that the coun
of the nation, and, from what had juft paffed, the whole of the national reprefentation; that it was their duty, fince it was in their power, to provide means for the fafety of the country, and for liberty; that the executive power exifted no longer, fince military power was nothing more than the organ of the executive power, effentially civil. In confideration of these, and this farther circumstance, that four members of the directory had given in their demiffion, and that the other was under an arrest, the five elders propofed, that an executive provifionary commiffion, compofed of three members, fhould be appointed; that the legiflative body fhould be adjourned to the twenty-firft of December; that an intermediary commiffion, for preferving the rights of the national reprefentation, fhould be formed, which fhould have the power of convoking the legiflative body fooner, if it thought proper; and that the affem
bly fhould be adjourned till nine in the evening, as above. ftated, when the prefent measures fhould be taken into confideration.-Thefe propofitions, after fome little debate, were agreed to; and being adopted, by whatever could be collected, on the fpot, of the council of five hundred, a kind of rump* parliament formed the bafis of a provifional arrangemeli, to take place of the legiflatur ad government now diffolved, until a new conftitution fhould be eftabited. Though the council of elders declared themselves to be the whole of the national reprefentation, and competent of themfelves to take meafures fuitable to the occafion, they judged it proper to fanction their proceedings, as much as poffible, by every appearance of legal formality. For this purpofe, it was concerted with their friends in the other council, that as many of the council of five hundred as had remained at St. Cloud, who were all of them of the moderate party, fhould affemble together in the evening, and refume their deliberations. Thefe members accordingly returned to the Orangery between the hours of fix and feven, the time appointed by the elders, and the council was opened under the prefidency of Lucian Buonaparte.
Bournonville, Money, St. Remi, Andréoffi, Solignac, admiral Bruix, Louis Buonaparte, chief of a fquadron, Eugene Beauharnois, aid-decamp, with other officers mentioned by name, the foldiers of the guard, the foldiers of the line, the grenadiers, who, with their bodies, had formed a field for Buonaparte, had deferved well of their country, by faving a majority of the legislative body and the republic, attacked by a minority, confifting of aflaffins." This motion was agreed to, and a correfpondent refolution was passed unanimoufly. After this, a plan, or project, as it was called, for an intermediary government, was prefented by Chazal, and was fubmitted to the confideration of a special commiffion of five members, who were to make a report during the fitting. While this report was in a ftate of preparation, Lucian Buo naparte, defcending from the prefident's chair to the tribune, addreffed the council as follows:-" Reprefentatives of the people, the republic ill governed, distracted in every refpect, weakened by the deftruction of its finances, is falling on all fides; without confidence or refources, without strength or union in the government; incertitude and inteftine war every where reviving; no affurance to foreign powers, and, befides, no hopes of peace.
A deputy of the name of Barringer opened the council, with a review of the events of the day, and after beflowing the highest praife on the conduct of the troops, the prudence of the officers, and the wifdom of the general, moved, that the commander-in-chief, Buonaparte, the generals Lefebre, Berthier, Murat, Serrurier, Leclerc,
"The hearts of all good citizens feel the evil; every one withes for the remedy. The wildom of the council of elders is awakened; but their attention ftill fixed on the late attempts of an execrable faction, they have transferred the fittings of the legiflative body out of Paris.
The long parliament of England, under the reign of Oliver Cromwell, was fo called, after it was forged by colonel Pride.
the work, we who ought to pro-, pofe remedies against that general diffolution which threatens us. The people and the army regards us. Shall we fear to heal the wound? Shall we, by a degree of bafe cowardice, change the public fpirit into indignation?
"It is we who ought to begin promifed, and of which fo many hands have obliterated its scarce finished pages; and that it is only an offenfive or defenfive weapon in the hands of the factions, who by turns prevail? If it is true, that none of our rights are guaranteed by it, ought we to delay modifying it? If we do delay, fhall we not have reafon to expect that the promoters of the dangers of the country will revive their attempts the firft opportunity that offers
"Dragged onward by the torrent of opinion, a few members of the directory have laid down their authority, others have imitated them, perfuaded that the caufe of all our misfortunes is in the bad organization of the politic fyftem. There is no longer an executive directory; experience, like reafon, proves that the prefent organization of the conftitution is as vicious as its bafis is anguft. This incoherent organization renders political convulfions neceflary every year, and it is only to prevent the repetition of political convulfions that the people form conftitutions.
"The whole national fentiment attributes all the misfortunes of the country to our vices. Placed in our prefent pofition, protected from factions, we have no excufe if we do not act right; if we forget that the fafety of the people is the fupreme law; if we do not render a prompt fupport to the edifice which is crumbling to duft, we fball deferve the juft execration of the prefent and all futures ages.
"There are conftitutional principles exifting: but there no longer exifts a confiitutional organization, for that which did exift was daily violated by parties. But the beft informed and moft impatient people, on earth, are not to be impofed upon. Do you think they are not fenfible that this organization is no afurance for their rights, fo long
"Such is the queftion which I addrefs to each of my colleagues. Let us meditate and determine upon the principles of that liberty, which actuates our fouls as to the fituation of the country. This ancient palace of kings, where we are now fitting, on this foleran night, attefts that power is nothing, and that glory is every thing. If we are now unworthy to be reckoned the first nation on earth; if from patillanimous confiderations we do not alter the fituation in which we are placed; if we de reive our hopes, we fall from this day lofe our glory, and we cannot long preferve our power; when the meafure of the evil is completed, and the indignation of the people reaches us.
"I have flattered myself, reprefentatives of the people, that I might hold this language. On your deliberations depend the public property and peace. You ought to forget all factio us connections, and to think only of the happiness ot the French nati on, with which you are entrusted. I read in your profound meditations, the ideas I have juft uttered. I demand that there be appointed a special committee of nine members, charged to lay be fore you its o pinion as to your pre
fent fituation and the means of ameliorating it.
"This morning affaffins, clothed with the robe of office, made thefe roofs refound with the exclamations of rage and the accents of fury. Your courage and that of the foldiers of the country have arrested them; but let us finish depicturing to the astonished world the hideous phyfiognomy of thefe children of terror. What has been faid on this night (the nineteenth Brumaire, tenth of November) in the midft of this hall will be repeated to after ages. "While your committee is employ ed in devifing measures of public fafety, permit rne for the laft time to allude to those who have vowed its deftruction.
"They inceffintly talk of attempts against the conftitution, and of violated oaths. Thofe very men, who, when the idea of giving peace and happiness to the people of France was agitated, affected fo many political fcruples. What did they fay, what did they do a few months ago? Had they then forgot their oaths, when confpiring in obfcurity, and affembling all the elements of revolution, they truck difcord and difmay into the bolom of their country, and devoted every honourable man to profcription? Did they think that we had forgotten, that France had forgotten, thofe days of forrow and woe, when terror hung dark and difmal on the black horizon? Did they think that we had forgotten their projects of new conventions, new revolutionary committees, new carnage and devaftation? What did they then think of their prefent oaths? Speak! The people of France liften. But fince they dare to difguife themfelves under the mask of virtue, I
will tear it from them, and prefent to astonished, affrightened, France, their hideous blood-ftained countenances, livid with imagined horrors, writhing in the very contrivance of the miferies which our courage has prevented.
"They speak of virtue, of the conftitution, of oaths! Let them anfwer. I dare them to the teft. Where were their oaths, when in the caverns of the manage, forgetting their character as reprefentatives of the people, they mingled · with cut-throats and murderers to point the dagger against our breafts? Where was their reverence, their profefled refpect, even for the conftitution, when, in the midst of their bravos and affaffins, they exclaimed that the people of France muft fave themselves, and that our lives no longer belonged to the nation?
Audacious confpirators; they prompted infurrection, and now! the vile cameleons, they invoke the fanctity of that conftitutional charter, on which they had already impreffed their blood-ftained hands, and fet their feal of destruction!!!
"They hoped again to let loofe the torrent of their odious domination, and then they thought the conftitution but a feeble barrier to oppose their progrefs; but, on the other hand, when it was propofed to give peace to France, the conftitution forfooth, was an invincible obftacle! Thus, ever changing their difguife, the national character still remained the fame. It was the hideous aflemblage of guilt, of meannefs, and of tyranny.
"But this day must unmask them entire and for ever. We have been filent refpecting their paricidal confpiracies, becaufe we thought they would prefer being
the object of our generofity to being the victims of our juftice. Yet they, men vile as they, mistake generofity for weakness, and now we must cease to be generous.
"They fpeak inceffantly of the people and for the people. Yes, then, if fuch is the appeal, I addrefs myself to the people, fpread over the immenfe track of the republic. Let them gather round in majeftic prefence let them hear and judge. "Since the conftitution was firft eftablished, demagogues have never ceafed to confpire against it, in order to fubftitute their code of the year 3. For four months paft they have thought that the moment of bloodfbed was at hand; they confpired night and day, and doubtles, in favour of the people! for they wished to restore the ineftimable bleffings of the maximum of famine, of revolutionary tribunals, and fo many other laws which they called the common good. For a moment the country was expofed to foreign enemies, and, as if they had waited that fignal, they darted like a vulture on its carcafe! They thought their projects realized.
Did thefe fenators, now fo full of respect, fo full of love, fo full of zeal for the conftitution, fnew in thofe critical days the fame fentiments? Did they then talk of rallying round the conftitution, when the band of aflaffins, collected by their order round our halls, prepared the prelude of our murder, by overwhelming us with infults? -The fierce unrelenting yells of their friends and brothers cried for our blood, and when with one hand they prefented to us the dead ly poniard, with the other was of fered the leaden fceptre: They, thefe men who now talk for the
conftitution, obferved-liftenedprompted-thofe favage murderers in the fhape of men; thofe frightful furies in the fhape of women, fmiled complacently to their fmiles. The conftitutionalists of to-day paraded their ranks calm and undifturbed, or rather with the triumphant air of the conqueror who enjoys the fhoats of public feftivity and mirth. They fhewed the badges of their dignity to thofe infernal groupes, and they were hailed by the title of faithful reprefentatives. Yes, they were faithful to murder and confifcation; and now they talk of principles, but they have forfeited all title to fuch an appeal, they are condemned to filence and to execration. The moment of indulgence and of weaknefs is paft, and men of worth have felt that even civil war would be lefs difaftrous than the infamy of their yoke.
But you, fathers of your country, you who are defirous of giving to France happiness and peace, you are at length feparated from those wicked men who must be no lefs terrified at the fmallnefs of their own number, than at the multitude of their crimes. Their odious gang is exhibited to public obfervation, to the animadverfion of the army, to the horror of mankind, to univerfal infamy.
"The eyes of France, of the armies, of Europe, of the world, are upon us. If we should fhew ourfelves feeble to-day, we are the baleft of the human race. For my own part, I should have blushed any longer to have worn the toga, when, in this aflembly, the clamours and the daggers of a few factious individuals, filenced the voice of thirty millions of men. I bould blush to