« AnteriorContinuar »
accept them.-Art. 8. Before their feparation, and during the time of their atting, each council fhall name, from among their members, a committee of twenty-five members. Art. 9. The committees appointed by the two councils will, in conjunction with the executive confular commiffion, determine upon all urgent objects relative to the police, legiflation, and finance.-Art. 10. To the committee of the council of five hundred fhall belong the right of propofing, and to that of the council of elders that of fanctioning. -Art. 11. The two committees thall alfo, in the order above mentioned, regulate the changes in thofe parts of the conftitution which experience may have fhewn to be inconvenient or vicious Art. 12. Thefe changes can have no other object but that of confolidating and guaranteeing inviolably the fove. reignty of the French people, the republic one and indivifible, the reprefentative fyftem, the divifion of power, liberty, equality, and the tecurity of property.-Art. 13. The executive confular commiflion may lay before the committee their views apon this fubject.-Art. 14. The two committees are charged to prepare a civil code. Art. 15. Their fittings fhall be held at Paris in the palace of the legislative body, which they may convoke extraordiBarily for the ratification of peace, or in cafe of great public danger. Art. 16. Thefe refolutions fall be printed, and fent by extraordinary couriers to the departments, and folemnly published and fuck up in all communes of the republic.
As foon as the acceptance of the elders was notified, the prefident, Lucian Buonaparte, addrelled the
council of five hundred, to the fol-" lowing effect Reprefentatives of the people, the liberty of France was born in the Tennis-Court of Verfailles. From the immortal day of the aflembly at that place to the prefent, it has been without efficacy tofled about, a prey to different factions, and fubject to the weaknefs and convulfive maladies of infancy. It this day puts on the toga virilis. The days of its convulfions are at an end. No fooner have you feated her on the confidence and love of the French nation, peace and plenty fmile and fparkle on her lips Liften to the benedictions of this people, of her armies, long the sport of inteftine factions, and let` their cries of acclamation penetrate into the bottom of your fouls. Hear alto-the fublime cry of pofterity:
If liberty was born in the TennisCourt of Veriailles, fhe attained to duc ftrength in the Orangery of St. Cloud. If the conflituents of 1789 were the fathers of the revo-lution, the legiflators of the year 8 are the fathers and pacificators of their country. Already is the fublime cry re-echoed by Europe.--Every day it fhall wax louder and louder, and fhall by and by fill the hundred mouths of fame. You have juft created a magiftracy of an extraordinary and temporary nature, which may be expected to refore order and victory, the only means of peace. Nexi to this ma giftracy you have appointed two commifions to fecond its efforts, and the improvement of the focial fyftem, fo dear to every heart. In tinee months your confuls (who were prefent) are to give an account of your proceedings. They are to labour for the good of their cotemporaic, and of poterity.
They are invefted with all the powers neceflary for doing good. No more acts of oppreffon, no more lifts of prefcription, no more fwinifhnefs and immorality! Henceforth liberty and fecurity of property for the French citizens: a fure guarantee for fuch foreign governments as are willing to make peace! And as for those who are difpofed to continue the war, if they have been unable to prevail againft France, in a state of diforganization, and exhaufted by plunder, what can they do now?"
Thus we have feen the overthrow of four different conftitutions in France in the pace of ten years. The fame foldier who established the conftitution of 1795, by the mouth of the cannon, diffolved it, in 1799, by the point of the bayonet. It seems to be a law in the moral as well as political world, that nothing that is quickly produced, is of long duration. Two maxims both equally erroneous produced thefe rapid changes: the one, that governments may be made and perfected by one continuous and uninterrupted effort, like any inanimate machine or ftructure, and without a gradual and leifurely improvement of times and circumftances: the other, that the end juftifies the means; and confequently that without any regard to oaths, compacts, or established authority, a political conftitution may be taken to pieces without ceremony or hefitation, in order to make way for a new one. But this feries of revolutions is marked by two diftinct tendencies, by which, both in the order of time, caufe, and effect, they were equally divided. From 1790 to 1795, the new inftitutions ran in favour of democratic anarchy;
from 1795, in favour of executive government.
Throughout the whole of the laft revolution, effected on the ninth and tenth of November, the oppofite characters of its principal authors were ftrikingly difplayed.Sieyes was as ufual filent, referved, and trufted for fuccefs entirely to intrigue and management. Not a word efcaped from him. He might have been taken for a spectator.— Buonaparte difcovered the natural impetuofity of his temper, the franknefs of a foldier, and the confidence and affurance of a conqueror. Their oppofite modes of conduct were variously spoken of, not only in point of moral and political propriety, but as they were calculated to effect or to fruftrate the end proposed by both. It was certainly intended by abbé Sieyes, and others in the fecret, to bring about the revolution, agreeably to the declaration of Boulay la Meurthe, by moral, though certainly not altogether conflitutional influence; and by this influence, it was alleged by the partizans of Sieyes, it might easily have been brought about without violence, which was an object much to be defired, on many accounts." By the conflitution, the elders were empowered to remove the legiflature to St. Cloud, or any other place within a certain diftance of the capital. By the conftitution they were even authorized to propofe a revifion of it. It is true, that three affirmative refolutions of the two councils, in the course of nine years, were neceflary to give authority to the aflembly, which was to be charged with reviewing and correcting the laws. But the aflemblies at St. Cloud might eafily have found, in the urgency of affairs,
excufes for departing from the decree, by fhewing that the revifion could not be deferred. The prefence of the foldiers might have influenced the votes, without violating them by open force. A majority of the five hundred might, in a very fhort time, have been gained over to join the elders, by addrefs; and the odious means of armed violence might have been avoided. But the impetuous and domineering character of Buonaparte, it was faid, altered the original plan of the revolution for the worfe.In his fpeeches, proclamations, and all his deportment, particularly in his audaciously penetrating into the hall the five hundred, while his myrmidons accompanied, or were ready in an inftant to follow him. In all thefe particulars he affumed the ftyle of an arbitrary legislator, determined to deal, alone, the definy of the republic, which alienated the council of five hundred to fuch a degree, that, inftead of following the example of the elders, they appeared almoft unanimous for renewing the oath to the conftitution; and a majority of them were even of opinion that Buonaparte fhould be outlawed. There remained now, indeed, no other means of overcoming their refiftance, and laving himself; but that refiftance, and the danger in which he was placed, were of his own creation. A little more condefcenfion, moderation, openness, and attention to the members of the council of five hundred, would have fmoothed the way to the object in view, without the odium, and the danger too that was incurred by a contrary mode of proceeding. So inattentive to that affembly, and fo confident was Buonaparte that they
would follow the impulle given by himself, and the council of elders, that he was not at the pains to gain over more than ten or twelve of the members. What an illufion, to imagine that the majority of the five hundred, animated by the old conventionalists, who, out of power, had the profpect only of contempt, would lay down their offices without a ftruggle? What skill or prudence can be traced in the conduct of this military politician, who, elated with his military glory, could fpeak only of his victories, his foldiers, his brothers in arms?" Others, on the point of the general's conduct, as far as it related to the accomplishment of his defign, observed "that any advantages that might have accrued to him from courting and cajoling, and giving his confidence to a greater number of the five hundred, were more than compenfated, by ferefy and promptitude of execution. In the courfe of the time neceffary to gain over a majority in the council, though oppofition in certain quarters might have been avoided, adverle accidents might have happened, not thought of. The fecret disclosed to a great number must have reached the ears of the three directors, Barras, Moulins, and Gohier, who would have arrefted Buonaparte. In fact, he had croffed the Rubicon, and having gained the council of elders, and being fure of a few firm and able fupporters among the five hundred, he trufted with confidence, and it was juftified by the event, that the reft would be brought to fubmiffion, by terror."
It has been justly obferved that in this, as in other great revolutions, not a little was owing to accident or fortune. If the minority in the [D4]
council of elders had been joined by a majority in that of five hundred, in a calm and regular manner, it is by no means certain that the foldiers would have caft the balance in favour of the former council and their general. The general was admirably feconded throughout the whole by his brother, the prefident: had it not been for his feafonable appearance and addrefs to the troops, they might have heû tated which party to obey, divided by their refpect for the general, and that authority which always at tends every fhew of established government. Time would have been afforded for the council to mufter
a force, though fmall perhaps, vet not undecided; and this might have brought the events of the day to a quite different iffue. But, after all, there arifes, in the courfe of ages, men of fuch force of mind as in fome meafure controls fortune, The council of five hundred was not permitted to carry on their proceedings in a calm and regular manuer any longer than it fuited the general and his party that they fhould be thrown into confufion: and, on the whole, it may be faid, that on the prefent great occafion, the ge nius of Buonaparte carried all before it,
CHA P. IV.
First Measures of the confular Government.-Proclamations by the legislative Body. And by the Chief Conful.-New Oath to be taken by all public Functionaries.-Letter to the foreign Minifiers of France.-Written Defences of the Revolution of St. Cloud, and the provifional Government.— Letter from the Chief Conjul to the Army of Egypt.-Conciliatory Conduct of Buonaparte.-Profeffed Spirit of the new Government.-Odious Lars repeated.-Measures of Finance.-Of police and internal Government.Mercy extended to various Claffes of Men.-Marine and Commerce.—A new Conftitution.
HE confular government were anxious, above all things, and, in the first place, to confirm their authority by the confidence and attachment of the French nation; and thefe they endeavoured to gain by good words and good actions, with out, however, relaxing from that vigour, or even from fuch a degree of feverity as might be neceflary to maintain order and fubordination among fo numerous and inflammable a people. Proclamations explaining the caules of the recent revolution were published and fent to the armies, the departments, and all the principal divifions or claffes of the citizens. The moment that the provifional government was agreed on, an addrefs was published from the Jeg flative body, dated at St. Cloud, the tenth of November, 1799, to the French people, briefly flating the reafons which had determined them to feek an afylum from the revoLonary government, in the arms of a conflitution which promited, at leaft, fome repofe. For the purpole of arriving more speedily at
this end, a provifional government had been inftituted; and they exhorted all Frenchmen to rally around their magiftrates, and the foldiers of liberty to pursue the course of their victories, which would be followed by peace, and thofe honours and rewards referved for their glorious labours. Buonaparte, in the character of commander-in-chief, illued a proclamation on the fame day, dated eleven o'clock at night, in which he gave an account of the ftate of parties and public affairs, and of his own conduct, from the time of his return to Paris to the prefent moment. In the conclution, he fays, "the factious were intimidated, and difperfed themfelves. The majority, releafed from their blows, entered freely and peaceably into the hall of fitting, heard the propofitions which were made to them for the public fafety, deliberated and prepared the falutary refolution, which is to become the new and provifional law of the republic. Frenchmen! you will recognize, without doubt, in this