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History of Modern Europe 1792-1878 by C. A. Fyffe

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itself to neutrality, other acts of the Convention were certainly
infringements of the rights of allies of England. A series of European
treaties, oppressive according to our own ideas, but in keeping with the
ideas of that age, prohibited the navigation of the River Schelde, on which
Antwerp is situated, in order that the commerce of the North Sea might flow
exclusively into Dutch ports. On the conquest of Belgium the French
Government gave orders to Dumouriez to send a flotilla down the river, and
to declare Antwerp an open port in right of the law of nature, which
treaties cannot abrogate. Whatever the folly of commercial restraints, the
navigation of the Schelde was a question between the Antwerpers and the
Dutch, and one in which France had no direct concern. The incident, though
trivial, was viewed in England as one among many proofs of the intention of
the French to interfere with the affairs of neighbouring States at their
pleasure. In ordinary times it would not have been easy to excite much
interest in England on behalf of a Dutch monopoly; but the feeling of this
country towards the French Revolution had been converted into a passionate
hatred by the massacres of September, and by the open alliance between the
Convention and the Revolutionary societies in England itself. Pitt indeed,
whom the Parisians imagined to be their most malignant enemy, laboured
against the swelling national passion, and hoped against all hope for
peace. Not only was Pitt guiltless of the desire to add this country to the
enemies of France, but he earnestly desired to reconcile France with
Austria, in order that the Western States, whose embroilment left Eastern
Europe at the mercy of Catherine of Russia, might unite to save both Poland
and Turkey from falling into the hands of a Power whose steady aggression
threatened Europe more seriously than all the noisy and outspoken
excitement of the French Convention. Pitt, moreover, viewed with deep
disapproval the secret designs of Austria and Prussia. [24] If the French
executive would have given any assurance that the Netherlands should not be
annexed, or if the French ambassador, Chauvelin, who was connected with
English plotters, had been superseded by a trustworthy negotiator, it is
probable that peace might have been preserved. But when, on the execution
of King Louis (Jan. 21, 1793), Chauvelin was expelled from England as a
suspected alien, war became a question of days. [25]

[Holland and Mediterranean States enter the war.]

[War with England, Feb. 1st, 1793.]

Points of technical right figured in the complaints of both sides; but the
real ground of war was perfectly understood. France considered itself
entitled to advance the Revolution and the Rights of Man wherever its own
arms or popular insurrection gave it the command. England denied the right
of any Power to annul the political system of Europe at its pleasure. No
more serious, no more sufficient, ground of war ever existed between two
nations; yet the event proved that, with the highest justification for war,
the highest wisdom would yet have chosen peace. England's entry into the
war converted it from an affair of two or three campaigns into a struggle
of twenty years, resulting in more violent convulsions, more widespread
misery, and more atrocious crimes, than in all probability would have
resulted even from the temporary triumph of the revolutionary cause in
1793. But in both nations political passion welcomed impending calamity;
and the declaration of war by the Convention on February 1st only
anticipated the desire of the English people. Great Britain once committed
to the struggle, Pitt spared neither money nor intimidation in his efforts
to unite all Europe against France. Holland was included with England in
the French declaration of war. The Mediterranean States felt that the navy
of England was nearer to them than the armies of Austria and Prussia; and
before the end of the summer of 1793, Spain, Portugal, Naples, Tuscany, and
the Papal States had joined the Coalition.

[French wrongly think England inclined to revolution.]

The Jacobins of Paris had formed a wrong estimate of the political
condition of England. At the outbreak of the war they believed that England
itself was on the verge of revolution. They mistook the undoubted
discontent of a portion of the middle and lower classes, which showed
itself in the cry for parliamentary reform, for a general sentiment of
hatred towards existing institutions, like that which in France had swept
away the old order at a single blow. The Convention received the addresses
of English Radical societies, and imagined that the abuses of the
parliamentary system under George III. had alienated the whole nation. What
they had found in Belgium and in Savoy--a people thankful to receive the
Rights of Man from the soldiers of the Revolution--they expected to find
among the dissenting congregations of London and the factory-hands of
Sheffield. The singular attraction exercised by each class in England upon
the one below it, as well as the indifference of the nation generally to
all ideals, was little understood in France, although the Revolutions of
the two countries bore this contrast on their face. A month after the fall
of the Bastille, the whole system of class-privilege and monopoly had
vanished from French law; fifteen years of the English Commonwealth had
left the structure of English society what it had been at the beginning.
But political observation vanished in the delirium of 1793; and the French
only discovered, when it was too late, that in Great Britain the Revolution
had fallen upon an enemy of unparalleled stubbornness and inexhaustible

[The Whigs not democratic.]

[Political condition of England.]

In the first Assembly of the Revolution it was usual to speak of the
English as free men whom the French ought to imitate; in the Convention it
was usual to speak of them as slaves whom the French ought to deliver. The
institutions of England bore in fact a very different aspect when compared
with the absolute monarchy of the Bourbons and when compared with the
democracy of 1793. Frenchmen who had lived under the government of a Court
which made laws by edict and possessed the right to imprison by
letters-patent looked with respect upon the Parliament of England, its
trial by jury, and its freedom of the press. The men who had sent a king to
prison and confiscated the estates of a great part of the aristocracy could
only feel compassion for a land where three-fourths of the national
representatives were nominees of the Crown or of wealthy peers. Nor, in
spite of the personal sympathy of Fox with the French revolutionary
movement, was there any real affinity between the English Whig party and
that which now ruled in the Convention. The event which fixed the character
of English liberty during the eighteenth century, the Revolution of 1688,
had nothing democratic in its nature. That revolution was directed against
a system of Roman Catholic despotism; it gave political power not to the
mass of the nation, which had no desire and no capacity to exercise it, but
to a group of noble families and their retainers, who, during the reigns of
the first two Georges, added all the patronage and influence of the Crown
to their social and constitutional weight in the country. The domestic
history of England since the accession of George III. had turned chiefly
upon the obstinate struggle of this monarch to deliver himself from all
dependence upon party. The divisions of the Whigs, their jealousies, but,
above all, their real alienation from the mass of the people whose rights
they professed to defend, ultimately gave the King the victory, when, after
twenty years of errors, be found in the younger Pitt a Minister capable of
uniting the interests of the Crown with the ablest and most patriotic
liberal statesmanship. Bribes, threats, and every species of base influence
had been employed by King George to break up the great Coalition of 1783,
which united all sections of the Whigs against him under the Ministry of
Fox and North; but the real support of Pitt, whom the King placed in office
with a minority in the House of Commons, was the temper of the nation
itself, wearied with the exclusiveness, the corruption, and the
party-spirit of the Whigs, and willing to believe that a popular Minister,
even if he had entered upon power unconstitutionally, might do more for the
country than the constitutional proprietors of the rotten boroughs.

[Pitt Minister, 1783.]

[Effect of French Revolution on English Parties.]

From 1783 down to the outbreak of the French Revolution, Pitt, as a Tory
Minister confronted by a Whig Opposition, governed England on more liberal
principles than any statesman who had held power during the eighteenth
century. These years were the last of the party-system of England in its
original form. The French Revolution made an end of that old distinction in
which the Tory was known as the upholder of Crown-prerogative and the Whig
as the supporter of a constitutional oligarchy of great families. It
created that new political antagonism in which, whether under the names of
Whig and Tory, or of Liberal and Conservative, two great parties have
contended, one for a series of beneficial changes, the other for the
preservation of the existing order. The convulsions of France and the dread
of revolutionary agitation in England transformed both Pitt and the Whigs
by whom he was opposed. Pitt sacrificed his schemes of peaceful progress to
foreign war and domestic repression, and set his face against the reform of
Parliament which he had once himself proposed. The Whigs broke up into two
sections, led respectively by Burke and by Fox, the one denouncing the
violence of the Revolution, and ultimately uniting itself with Pitt; the
other friendly to the Revolution, in spite of its excesses, as the cause of
civil and religious liberty, and identifying itself, under the healthy
influence of parliamentary defeat and disappointment, with the defence of
popular rights in England and the advocacy of enlightened reform.

[Burke's "Reflections," Oct. 1790.]

[Most of the Whigs support Pitt against France.]

The obliteration of the old dividing-line in English politics may be said
to date from the day when the ancient friendship of Burke and Fox was
bitterly severed by the former in the House of Commons (May 6, 1791). The
charter of the modern Conservative party was that appeal to the nation
which Burke had already published, in the autumn of 1790, under the title
of "Reflections on the French Revolution." In this survey of the political
forces which he saw in action around him, the great Whig writer, who in
past times had so passionately defended the liberties of America and the
constitutional tradition of the English Parliament against the aggression
of George III., attacked the Revolution as a system of violence and caprice
more formidable to freedom than the tyranny of any Crown. He proved that
the politicians and societies of England who had given it their sympathy
had given their sympathy to measures and to theories opposed to every
principle of 1688. Above all, he laid bare that agency of riot and
destructiveness which, even within the first few months of the Revolution,
filled him with presentiment of the calamities about to fall upon France.
Burke's treatise was no dispassionate inquiry into the condition of a
neighbouring state: it was a denunciation of Jacobinism as fierce and as
little qualified by political charity as were the maledictions of the
Hebrew prophets upon their idolatrous neighbours; and it was intended, like
these, to excite his own countrymen against innovations among themselves.
It completely succeeded. It expressed, and it heightened, the alarm arising
among the Liberal section of the propertied class, at first well inclined
to the Revolution; and, although the Whigs of the House of Commons
pronounced in favour of Fox upon his first rupture with Burke, the tide of
public feeling, rising higher with every new outrage of the Revolution,
soon invaded the legislature, and carried the bulk of the Whig party to the
side of the Minister, leaving to Fox and his few faithful adherents the
task of maintaining an unheeded protest against the blind passions of war,
and the increasing rigour with which Pitt repressed every symptom of
popular disaffection.

[The Gironde and the Mountain in the Convention.]

[The Gironde and the Commune of Paris.]

The character of violence which Burke traced and condemned in the earliest
acts of the Revolution displayed itself in a much stronger light after the
overthrow of the Monarchy by the insurrection of August 10th. That event
was the work of men who commanded the Parisian democracy, not the work of
orators and party-leaders in the Assembly. The Girondins had not hesitated
to treat the victory as their own, by placing the great offices of State,
with one exception, in the hands of their leaders; they instantly found
that the real sovereignty lay elsewhere. The Council of the Commune, or
Municipality, of Paris, whose members had seized their post at the moment
of the insurrection, was the only administrative body that possessed the
power to enforce its commands; in the Ministries of State one will alone
made itself felt, that of Danton, whom the Girondins had unwillingly
admitted to office along with themselves. The massacres of September threw
into full light the powerlessness of the expiring Assembly. For five
successive days it was unable to check the massacres; it was unable to
bring to justice the men who had planned them, and who called upon the rest
of France to follow their example. With the meeting of the Convention,
however, the Girondins, who now regarded themselves as the legitimate
government, and forgot that they owed office to an insurrection, expected
to reduce the capital to submission. They commanded an overwhelming
majority in the new chamber; they were supported by the middle class in all
the great cities of France. The party of the Mountain embraced at first
only the deputies of Paris, and a group of determined men who admitted no
criticism on the measures which the democracy of Paris had thought
necessary for the Revolution. In the Convention they were the assailed, not
the assailants. Without waiting to secure themselves by an armed force, the
orators of the Gironde attempted to crush both the Municipality and the
deputies who ruled at the Clubs. They reproached the Municipality with the
murders of September; they accused Robespierre of aiming at the
Dictatorship. It was under the pressure of these attacks that the party of
the Mountain gathered its strength within the Convention, and that the
populace of Paris transferred to the Gironde the passionate hatred which it
had hitherto borne to the King and the aristocracy. The gulf that lay
between the people and those who had imagined themselves to be its leaders
burst into view. The Girondins saw with dismay that the thousands of hungry
workmen whose victory had placed them in power had fought for something
more tangible than Republican phrases from Tacitus and Plutarch. On one
side was a handful of orators and writers, steeped in the rhetoric and the
commonplace of ancient Rome, and totally strange to the real duties of
government; on the other side the populace of Paris, such as centuries of
despotism, privilege, and priestcraft had made it: sanguinary, unjust,
vindictive; convulsed since the outbreak of the Revolution with every
passion that sways men in the mass; taught no conception of progress but
the overthrow of authority, and acquainted with no title to power but that
which was bestowed by itself. If the Girondins were to remain in power,
they could do so only by drawing an army from the departments, or by
identifying themselves with the multitude. They declined to take either
course. Their audience was in the Assembly alone; their support in the
distant provinces. Paris, daily more violent, listened to men of another
stamp. The Municipality defied the Government; the Mountain answered the
threats and invectives of the majority in the Assembly by displays of
popular menace and tumult. In the eyes of the common people, who after so
many changes of government found themselves more famished and more
destitute than ever, the Gironde was now but the last of a succession of
tyrannies; its statesmen but impostors who stood between the people and the
enjoyment of their liberty.

Among the leaders of the Mountain, Danton aimed at the creation of a
central Revolutionary Government, armed with absolute powers for the
prosecution of the war; and he attacked the Girondins only when they
themselves had rejected his support. Robespierre, himself the author of
little beyond destruction, was the idol of those whom Rousseau's writings
had filled with the idea of a direct exercise of sovereignty by the people.
It was in the trial of the King that the Gironde first confessed its
submission to the democracy of Paris. The Girondins in their hearts desired
to save the King; they voted for his death with the hope of maintaining
their influence in Paris, and of clearing themselves from the charge of
lukewarmness in the cause of the Revolution. But the sacrifice was as vain
as it was dishonourable. The populace and the party of the Mountain took
the act in its true character, as an acknowledgment of their own victory. A
series of measures was brought forward providing for the poorer classes at
the expense of the wealthy. The Gironde, now forced to become the defenders
of property, encountered the fatal charge of deserting the cause of the
people; and from this time nothing but successful foreign warfare could
have saved their party from ruin.

[Defeat and treason of Dumouriez, March, 1793.]

Instead of success came inaction, disaster, and treason. The army of
Flanders lay idle during January and February for want of provisions and
materials of war; and no sooner had Dumouriez opened the campaign against
Holland than he was recalled by intelligence that the Austrians had fallen
upon his lieutenant, Miranda, at Maestricht, and driven the French army
before them. Dumouriez returned, in order to fight a pitched battle before
Brussels. He attacked the Austrians at Neerwinden (March 18), and suffered
a repulse inconsiderable in itself, but sufficient to demoralise an army
composed in great part of recruits and National Guards. [26] His defeat
laid Flanders open to the Austrians; but Dumouriez intended that it should
inflict upon the Republic a far heavier blow. Since the execution of the
King, he had been at open enmity with the Jacobins. He now proposed to the
Austrian commander to unite with him in an attack upon the Convention, and
in re-establishing monarchy in France. The first pledge of Dumouriez's
treason was the surrender of three commissioners sent by the Convention to
his camp; the second was to have been the surrender of the fortress of
Condé. But Dumouriez had overrated his influence with the army. Plainer
minds than his own knew how to deal with a general who intrigues with the
foreigner. Dumouriez's orders were disregarded; his movements watched; and
he fled to the Austrian lines under the fire of his own soldiers. About
thirty officers and eight hundred men passed with him to the enemy.

[Defeats on the North and East. Revolt of La Vendée, March, 1793.]

[The Commune crushes the Gironde, June 2.]

The defeat and treason of Dumouriez brought the army of Austria over the
northern frontier. Almost at the same moment Custine was overpowered in the
Palatinate; and the conquests of the previous autumn, with the exception of
Mainz, were lost as rapidly as they had been won. Custine fell back upon
the lines of Weissenburg, leaving the defence of Mainz to a garrison of
17,000 men, which, alone among the Republican armies, now maintained its
reputation. In France itself civil war broke out. The peasants of La
Vendée, a district destitute of large towns, and scarcely touched either by
the evils which had produced the Revolution or by the hopes which animated
the rest of France, had seen with anger the expulsion of the parish priests
who refused to take the oath to the Constitution. A levy of 300,000 men,
which was ordered by the Convention in February, 1793, threw into revolt
the simple Vendeans, who cared for nothing outside their own parishes, and
preferred to fight against their countrymen rather than to quit their
homes. The priests and the Royalists fanned these village outbreaks into a
religious war of the most serious character. Though poorly armed, and
accustomed to return to their homes as soon as fighting was over, the
Vendean peasantry proved themselves a formidable soldiery in the moment of
attack, and cut to pieces the half-disciplined battalions which the
Government sent against them. On the north, France was now assailed by the
English as well as by the Austrians. The Allies laid siege to Condé and
Valenciennes, and drove the French army back in disorder at Famars. Each
defeat was a blow dealt to the Government of the Gironde at Paris. With
foreign and civil war adding disaster to disaster, with the general to whom
the Gironde had entrusted the defence of the Republic openly betraying it
to its enemies, the fury of the capital was easily excited against the
party charged with all the misfortunes of France. A threatening movement of
the middle classes in resistance to a forced loan precipitated the
struggle. The Girondins were accused of arresting the armies of the
Republic in the midst of their conquests, of throwing the frontier open to
the foreigner, and of kindling the civil war of La Vendée. On the 31st of
May a raging mob invaded the Convention. Two days later the representatives
of France were surrounded by the armed forces of the Commune; the
twenty-four leading members of the Gironde were placed under arrest, and
the victory of the Mountain was completed. [27]

[Civil War. The Committee of Public Safety.]

The situation of France, which was serious before, now became desperate;
for the Girondins, escaping from their arrest, called the departments to
arms against Paris. Normandy, Bordeaux, Marseilles, Lyons, rose in
insurrection against the tyranny of the Mountain, and the Royalists of the
south and west threw themselves into a civil war which they hoped to turn
to their own advantage. But a form of government had now arisen in France
well fitted to cope with extraordinary perils. It was a form of government
in which there was little trace of the constitutional tendencies of 1789,
one that had come into being as the stress of conflict threw into the
background the earlier hopes and efforts of the Revolution. In the two
earlier Assemblies it had been a fixed principle that the representatives
of the people were to control the Government, but were not to assume
executive powers themselves. After the overthrow of Monarchy on the 10th
August, the Ministers, though still nominally possessed of powers distinct
from the representative body, began to be checked by Committees of the
Convention appointed for various branches of the public service; and in
March, 1793, in order to meet the increasing difficulties of the war, a
Committee of Public Safety was appointed, charged with the duty of
exercising a general surveillance over the administration. In this
Committee, however, as in all the others, the Gironde were in the majority;
and the twenty-four members who composed it were too numerous a body to act
with effect. The growing ascendancy of the Mountain produced that
concentration of force which the times required. The Committee was reduced
in April to nine members, and in this form it ultimately became the supreme
central power. It was not until after the revolt of Lyons that the
Committee, exchanging Danton's influence for that of Robespierre, adopted
the principle of Terror which has made the memory of their rule one of the
most sinister in history. Their authority steadily increased. The members
divided among themselves the great branches of government. One directed the
army, another the navy, another foreign affairs; the signature of three
members practically gave to any measure the force of law, for the
Convention accepted and voted their reports as a matter of course.

[Commissioners of the Convention]

Whilst the Committee gave orders as the supreme executive, eighty of the
most energetic of the Mountain spread themselves over France, in parties of
two and three, with the title of Commissioners of the Convention, and with
powers over-riding those of all the local authorities. They were originally
appointed for the purpose of hastening on the levy ordered by the
Convention in March, but their powers were gradually extended over the
whole range of administration. Their will was absolute, their authority
supreme. Where the councillors of the Departments or the municipal officers
were good Jacobins, the Commissioners availed themselves of local
machinery; where they suspected their principles, they sent them to the
scaffold, and enforced their own orders by whatever means were readiest.
They censured and dismissed the generals; one of them even directed the
movements of a fleet at sea. What was lost by waste and confusion and by
the interference of the Commissioners in military movements was more than
counterbalanced by the vigour which they threw into all the preparations of
war, and by the unity of purpose which, at the price of unsparing
bloodshed, they communicated to every group where Frenchmen met together.

[Local revolutionary system of 1793]

But no individual energy could have sustained these dictatorships without
the support of a popular organisation. All over France a system of
revolutionary government sprang up, which superseded all existing
institutions just as the authority of the Commissioners of the Convention
superseded all existing local powers. The local revolutionary
administration consisted of a Committee, a Club, and a Tribunal. [28] In
each of 21,000 communes a committee of twelve was elected by the people,
and entrusted by the Convention, as the Terror gained ground, with
boundless powers of arrest and imprisonment. Popular excitement was
sustained by clubs, where the peasants and labourers assembled at the close
of their day's work, and applauded the victories or denounced the enemies
of the Revolution. A Tribunal with swift procedure and powers of life and
death sat in each of the largest towns, and judged the prisoners who were
sent to it by the committees of the neighbouring district. Such was the
government of 1793--an executive of uncontrolled power drawn from the
members of a single Assembly, and itself brought into immediate contact
with the poorest of the people in their assemblies and clubs. The balance
of interests which creates a constitutional system, the security of life,
liberty, and property, which is the essence of every recognised social
order, did not now exist in France. One public purpose, the defence of the
Revolution, became the law before which all others lost their force.
Treating all France like a town in a state of siege, the Government took
upon itself the duty of providing support for the poorest classes by
enactments controlling the sale and possession of the necessaries of life.

[Law of the Maximum]

The price of corn and other necessaries was fixed; and, when the traders
and producers consequently ceased to bring their goods to market, the
Commissioners of the Convention were empowered to make requisition of a
certain quantity of corn for every acre of ground. Property was thus placed
at the disposal of the men who already exercised absolute political power.
"The state of France," said Burke, "is perfectly simple. It consists of but
two descriptions, the oppressors and the oppressed." It is in vain that the
attempt has been made to extenuate the atrocious and senseless cruelties of
this time by extolling the great legislative projects of the Convention, or
pleading the dire necessity of a land attacked on every side by the
foreigner, and rent with civil war. The more that is known of the Reign of
Terror, the more hateful, the meaner and more disgusting is the picture
unveiled. France was saved not by the brutalities, but by the energy, of
the faction that ruled it. It is scarcely too much to say that the cause of
European progress would have been less injured by the military overthrow of
the Republic, by the severance of the border provinces from France and the
restoration of some shadow of the ancient _régime_, than by the traditions
of horror which for the next fifty years were inseparably associated in
men's minds with the victory of the people over established power.

[French disasters, March-Sept., 1793.]

The Revolutionary organisation did not reach its full vigour till the
autumn of 1793, when the prospects of France were at their worst. Custine,
who was brought up from Alsace to take command of the Army of the North,
found it so demoralised that he was unable to attempt the relief of the
fortresses which were now besieged by the Allies. Condé surrendered to the
Austrians on the 10th of July; Valenciennes capitulated to the Duke of York
a fortnight later. In the east the fortune of war was no better. An attack
made on the Prussian army besieging Mainz totally failed; and on the 23rd
of July this great fortress, which had been besieged since the middle of
April, passed back into the hands of the Germans. On every side the
Republic seemed to be sinking before its enemies. Its frontier defences had
fallen before the victorious Austrians and English; Brunswick was ready to
advance upon Alsace from conquered Mainz; Lyons and Toulon were in revolt;
La Vendée had proved the grave of the forces sent to subdue it. It was in
this crisis of misfortune that the Convention placed the entire male
population of France between the ages of eighteen and twenty-five at the
disposal of the Government, and turned the whole country into one great camp
and arsenal of war. Nor was there wanting a mind equal to the task of
giving order to this vast material. The appointment of Carnot, an officer
of engineers, to a seat on the Committee of Public Safety placed the
military administration of France in the hands of a man who, as an
organiser, if not as a strategist, was soon to prove himself without equal
in Europe.

[The Allies seek each their separate ends.]

Nevertheless, it was to the dissensions and to the bad policy of the Allies
more than to the energy of its own Government that France owed its safety.
The object for which the Allies professed to be carrying on the war, the
establishment of a pacific Government in France, was subordinated to
schemes of aggrandisement, known as the acquisition of just indemnities.
While Prussia, bent chiefly on preventing the Emperor from gaining Bavaria
in exchange for Belgium, kept its own army inactive on the Rhine, [29]
Austria, with the full approval of Pitt's Cabinet, claimed annexations in
Northern France, as well as Alsace, and treated the conquered town of Condé
as Austrian territory. [30] Henceforward all the operations of the northern
army were directed to the acquisition of frontier territory, not to the
pursuit and overthrow of the Republican forces. The war was openly
converted from a war of defence into a war of spoliation. It was a change
which mocked the disinterested professions with which the Allies had taken
up arms; in its military results it was absolutely ruinous. In face of the
immense levies which promised the French certain victory in a long war, the
only hope for the Allies lay in a rapid march to Paris; they preferred the
extreme of division and delay. No sooner had the advance of their united
armies driven Custine from his stronghold at Famars, than the English
commander led off his forces to besiege Dunkirk, while the Austrians, under
Prince Coburg, proceeded to invest Cambray and Le Quesnoy. The line of the
invaders thus extended from the Channel to Brunswick's posts at Landau, on
the border of Alsace; the main armies were out of reach of one another, and
their strength was diminished by the corps detached to keep up their
communications. The French held the inner circle; and the advantage which
this gave them was well understood by Carnot, who now inspired the measures
of the Committee. In steadiness and precision the French recruits were no
match for the trained armies of Germany; but the supply of them was
inexhaustible, and Carnot knew that when they were thrown in sufficient
masses upon the enemy their courage and enthusiasm would make amends for
their inexperience. The successes of the Allies, unbroken from February to
August, now began to alternate with defeats; the flood of invasion was
first slowly and obstinately repelled, then swept away before a victorious

[York driven from Dunkirk Sept. 8.]

It was on the British commander that the first blow was struck. The forces
that could be detached from the French Northern army were not sufficient to
drive York from before Dunkirk; but on the Moselle there were troops
engaged in watching an enemy who was not likely to advance; and the
Committee did not hesitate to leave this side of France open to the
Prussians in order to deal a decisive stroke in the north. Before the
movement was noticed by the enemy, Carnot had transported 30,000 men from
Metz to the English Channel; and in the first week of September the German
corps covering York was assailed by General Houchard with numbers double
its own. The Germans were driven back upon Dunkirk; York only saved his own
army from destruction by hastily raising the siege and abandoning his heavy
artillery. The victory of the French, however, was ill followed up.
Houchard was sent before the Revolutionary Tribunal, and he paid with his
life for his mistakes. Custine had already perished, unjustly condemned for
the loss of Mainz and Valenciennes.

[Commands given to men of the people.]

[Jourdan's victory at Wattignies, Oct 15.]

It was no unimportant change for France when the successors of Custine and
Houchard received their commands from the Committee of Public Safety. The
levelling principle of the Reign of Terror left its effect on France
through its operation in the army, and through this almost alone. Its
executions produced only horror and reaction; its confiscations were soon
reversed; but the creation of a thoroughly democratic army, the work of the
men who overthrew the Gironde, gave the most powerful and abiding impulse
to social equality in France. The first generals of the Revolution had been
officers of the old army, men, with a few exceptions, of noble birth, who,
like Custine, had enrolled themselves on the popular side when most of
their companions quitted the country. These generals were connected with
the politicians of the Gironde, and were involved in its fall. The victory
of the Mountain brought men of another type into command. Almost all the
leaders appointed by the Committee of Public Safety were soldiers who had
served in the ranks. In the levies of 1792 and 1793 the officers of the
newly-formed battalions were chosen by the recruits themselves. Patriotism,
energy of character, acquaintance with warfare, instantly brought men into
prominence. Soldiers of the old army, like Massena, who had reached middle
life with their knapsacks on their backs; lawyers, like the Breton Moreau;
waiters at inns, like Murat, found themselves at the head of their
battalions, and knew that Carnot was ever watching for genius and ability
to call it to the highest commands. With a million of men under arms, there
were many in whom great natural gifts supplied the want of professional
training. It was also inevitable that at the outset command should
sometimes fall into the hands of mere busy politicians; but the character
of the generals steadily rose as the Committee gained the ascendancy over a
knot of demagogues who held the War Ministry during the summer of 1793; and
by the end of the year there was scarcely one officer in high command who
had not proved himself worthy of his post. In the investigation into
Houchard's conduct at Dunkirk, Carnot learnt that the victory had in fact
been won by Jourdan, one of the generals of division. Jourdan had begun
life as a common soldier fifteen years before. Discharged at the end of the
American War, he had set up a draper's shop in Limoges, his native town. He
joined the army a second time on the outbreak of the Revolutionary War, and
the men of his battalion elected him captain. His ability was noticed; he
was made successively general of brigade and general of division; and, upon
the dismissal of Houchard, Carnot summoned him to the command of the Army
of the North. The Austrians were now engaged in the investment of Maubeuge.
On the 15th of October Jourdan attacked and defeated their covering army at
Wattignies. His victory forced the Austrians to raise the siege, and
brought the campaign to an end for the winter.

[Lyons, Toulon, La Vendée, conquered Oct.-Dec. 1793.]

Thus successful on the northern frontier, the Republic carried on war
against its internal enemies without pause and without mercy. Lyons
surrendered in October; its citizens were slaughtered by hundreds in cold
blood. Toulon had thrown itself into the hands of the English, and
proclaimed King Louis XVII. It was besieged by land; but the operations
produced no effect until Napoleon Bonaparte, captain of artillery, planned
the capture of a ridge from which the cannon of the besiegers would command
the English fleet in the harbour. Hood, the British admiral, now found his
position hopeless. He took several thousands of the inhabitants on board
his ships, and put out to sea, blowing up the French ships which he left in
the harbour. Hood had received the fleet from the Royalists in trust for
their King; its destruction gave England command of the Mediterranean and
freed Naples from fear of attack; and Hood thought too little of the
consequences which his act would bring down upon those of the inhabitants
of Toulon whom he left behind. [31]

The horrors that followed the entry of the Republican army into the city
did not prevent Pitt from including among the subjects of congratulation in
the King's Speech of 1794 "the circumstances attending the evacuation of
Toulon." It was perhaps fortunate for the Royalists in other parts of
France that they failed to receive the assistance of England. Help was
promised to the Vendeans, but it arrived too late. The appearance of Kleber
at the head of the army which had defended Mainz had already turned the
scale. Brave as they were, the Vendeans could not long resist trained
armies. The war of pitched battles ended on the Loire with the year 1793.
It was succeeded by a war of merciless and systematic destruction on the
one side, and of ambush and surprises on the other.

[Prussia withdrawing from the war on account of Polish affairs.]

At home the foes of the Republic were sinking; its invaders were too much
at discord with one another to threaten it any longer with serious danger.
Prussia was in fact withdrawing from the war. It has been seen that when
King Frederick William and the Emperor concerted the autumn campaign of
1792, the understanding was formed that Prussia, in return for its efforts
against France, should be allowed to seize part of western Poland, if the
Empress Catherine should give her consent. With this prospect before it,
the thoughts of the Prussian Government had been from the first busied more
with Poland, where it hoped to enter into possession, than with France,
where it had only to fight Austria's battles. Negotiations on the Polish
question had been actively carried on between Berlin and St. Petersburg
during the first months of the war; and in January, 1793, the Empress
Catherine had concluded a Treaty of Partition with King Frederick William,
in virtue of which a Prussian army under General Mollendorf immediately
entered western Poland. It was thought good policy to keep the terms of
this treaty secret from Austria, as it granted a much larger portion of
Poland to Prussia than Austria was willing that it should receive. Two
months passed before the Austrian Sovereign learnt how he had been treated
by his ally. He then denounced the treaty, and assumed so threatening an
attitude that the Prussians thought it necessary to fortify the territory
that they had seized. [32] The Ministers who had been outwitted by the
Court of Berlin were dismissed; Baron Thugut, who from the first had
prophesied nothing but evil of the Prussian alliance, was called to power.
The history of this statesman, who for the next eight years directed the
war-policy of Austria, and filled a part in Europe subordinate only to
those of Pitt and Bonaparte, has until a recent date been drawn chiefly
from the representations of his enemies. Humbly born, scornful and
inaccessible, Thugut was detested by the Viennese aristocracy; the French
emigrants hated and maligned him on account of his indifference to their
cause; the public opinion of Austria held him responsible for unparalleled
military disasters; Prussian generals and ambassadors, whose reports have
formed the basis of Prussian histories, pictured him as a Satanic
antagonist. It was long believed of Thugut that while ambassador at
Constantinople he had sold the Austrian cypher to the French; that in 1794
he prevented his master's armies from winning victories because he had
speculated in the French funds; and that in 1799 he occasioned the murder
of the French envoys at Rastadt, in order to recover documents
incriminating himself. Better sources of information are now opened, and a
statesman, jealous, bitter, and over-reaching, but not without great
qualities of character, stands in the place of the legendary criminal. It
is indeed clear that Thugut's hatred of Prussia amounted almost to mania;
it is also clear that his designs of aggression, formed in the school of
the Emperor Joseph, were fatally in conflict with the defensive principles
which Europe ought to have opposed to the aggressions of France. Evidence
exists that during the eight years of Thugut's ministry he entertained,
together or successively, projects for the annexation of French Flanders,
Bavaria, Alsace, part of Poland, Venice and Dalmatia, Salzburg, the Papal
Legations, the Republic of Genoa, Piedmont, and Bosnia; and to this list
Tuscany and Savoy ought probably to be added. But the charges brought
against Thugut of underhand dealings with France, and of the willing
abandonment of German interests in return for compensation to Austria in
Italy, rest on insufficient ground. Though, like every other politician at
Vienna and Berlin, he viewed German affairs not as a matter of nationality
but in subordination to the general interests of his own Court, Thugut
appears to have been, of all the Continental statesmen of that time, the
steadiest enemy of French aggression, and to have offered the longest
resistance to a peace that was purchased by the cession of German soil.

[Victories of Hoche and Pichegru at Wörth and Weissenburg, Dec. 23, 26.]

Nevertheless, from the moment when Thugut was called to power the alliance
between Austria and Prussia was doomed. Others might perhaps have averted a
rupture; Thugut made no attempt to do so. The siege of Mainz was the last
serious operation of war which the Prussian army performed. The mission of
an Austrian envoy, Lehrbach, to the Prussian camp in August, 1793, and his
negotiations on the Polish and the Bavarian questions, only widened the
breach between the two Courts. It was known that the Austrians were
encouraging the Polish Diet to refuse the cession of the provinces occupied
by Prussia; and the advisers of King Frederick William in consequence
recommended him to quit the Rhine, and to place himself at the head of an
army in Poland. At the headquarters of the Allies, between Mainz and the
Alsatian frontier, all was dissension and intrigue. The impetuosity of the
Austrian general, Wurmser, who advanced upon Alsace without consulting the
King, was construed as a studied insult. On the 29th of September, after
informing the allied Courts that Prussia would henceforth take only a
subordinate part in the war, King Frederick William quitted the army,
leaving orders with the Duke of Brunswick to fight no great battle. It was
in vain that Wurmser stormed the lines of Weissenburg (Oct. 13), and
victoriously pushed forward into Alsace. The hopes of a Royalist
insurrection in Strasburg proved illusory. The German sympathies shown by a
portion of the upper and middle classes of Alsace only brought down upon
them a bloody vengeance at the hands of St. Just, commissioner of the
Convention. The peasantry, partly from hatred of the feudal burdens of the
old _régime_, partly from fear of St. Just and the guillotine, thronged to
the French camp. In place of the beaten generals came Hoche and Pichegru:
Hoche, lately a common soldier in the Guards, earning by a humble industry
little sums for the purchase of books, now, at the age of twenty-six, a
commander more than a match for the wrangling veterans of Germany;
Pichegru, six years older, also a man sprung from the people, once a
teacher in the military school of Brienne, afterwards a private of
artillery in the American War. A series of harassing encounters took place
during December. At length, with St. Just cheering on the Alsatian peasants
in the hottest of the fire, these generals victoriously carried the
Austrian positions at Wörth and at Weissenburg (Dec. 23, 26). The Austrian
commander declared his army to be utterly ruined; and Brunswick, who had
abstained from rendering his ally any real assistance, found himself a
second time back upon the Rhine. [34]

[Pitt's bargain with Prussia, April, 1794.]

[Revolt of Kosciusko. April, 1794.]

[Möllendorf refuses to help in Flanders.]

The virtual retirement of Prussia from the Coalition was no secret to the
French Government: amongst the Allies it was viewed in various lights. The
Empress Catherine, who had counted on seeing her troublesome Prussian
friend engaged with her detested French enemy, taunted the King of Prussia
with the loss of his personal honour. Austria, conscious of the antagonism
between Prussian and Austrian interests and of the hollow character of the
Coalition, would concede nothing to keep Prussia in arms. Pitt alone was
willing to make a sacrifice, in order to prevent the rupture of the
alliance. The King of Prussia was ready to continue the struggle with
France if his expenses were paid, but not otherwise. Accordingly, after
Austria had refused to contribute the small sum which Pitt asked, a bargain
was struck between Lord Malmesbury and the Prussian Minister Haugwitz, by
which Great Britain undertook to furnish a subsidy, provided that 60,000
Prussian troops, under General Möllendorf, were placed at the disposal of
the Maritime Powers. [35] It was Pitt's intention that the troops which he
subsidised should be massed with Austrian and English forces for the
defence of Belgium: the Prussian Ministry, availing themselves of an
ambiguous expression in the treaty, insisted on keeping them inactive upon
the Upper Rhine. Möllendorf wished to guard Mainz: other men of influence
longed to abandon the alliance with Austria, and to employ the whole of
Prussia's force in Poland. At the moment when Haugwitz was contracting to
place Möllendorf's army at Pitt's disposal, Poland had risen in revolt
under Kosciusko, and the Russian garrison which occupied Warsaw had been
overpowered and cut to pieces. Catherine called upon the King of Prussia
for assistance; but it was not so much a desire to rescue the Empress from
a momentary danger that excited the Prussian Cabinet as the belief that her
vengeance would now make an absolute end of what remained of the Polish
kingdom. The prey was doomed; the wisdom of Prussia was to be the first to
seize and drag it to the ground. So large a prospect offered itself to the
Power that should crush Poland during the brief paralysis of the Russian
arms, that, on the first news of the outbreak, the King's advisers urged
him instantly to make peace with France and to throw his whole strength
into the Polish struggle. Frederick William could not reconcile himself to
making peace with the Jacobins; but he ordered an army to march upon
Warsaw, and shortly afterwards placed himself at its head (May, 1794). When
the King, who was the only politician in Prussia who took an interest in
the French war, thus publicly acknowledged the higher importance of the
Polish campaign, his generals upon the Rhine made it their only object to
do nothing which it was possible to leave undone without actually
forfeiting the British subsidy. Instead of fighting, Möllendorf spent his
time in urging other people to make peace. It was in vain that Malmesbury
argued that the very object of Pitt's bargain was to keep the French out of
the Netherlands: Möllendorf had made up his mind that the army should not
be committed to the orders of Pitt and the Austrians. He continued in the
Palatinate, alleging that any movement of the Prussian army towards the
north would give the French admittance to southern Germany. Pitt's hope of
defending the Netherlands now rested on the energy and on the sincerity of
the Austrian Cabinet, and on this alone.

[Battles on the Sambre, May-June, 1794.]

After breaking up from winter quarters in the spring of 1794, the Austrian
and English allied forces had successfully laid siege to Landrecies, and
defeated the enemy in its neighbourhood. [36] Their advance, however, was
checked by a movement of the French Army of the North, now commanded by
Pichegru, towards the Flemish coast. York and the English troops were
exposed to the attack, and suffered a defeat at Turcoing. The decision of
the campaign lay, however, not in the west of Flanders, but at the other
end of the Allies' position, at Charleroi on the Sambre, where a French
victory would either force the Austrians to fall back eastwards, leaving
York to his fate, or sever their communications with Germany. This became
evident to the French Government; and in May the Commissioners of the
Convention forced the generals on the Sambre to fight a series of battles,
in which the French repeatedly succeeded in crossing the Sambre, and were
repeatedly driven back again. The fate of the Netherlands depended,
however, on something beside victory or defeat on the Sambre. The Emperor
had come with Baron Thugut to Belgium in the hope of imparting greater
unity and energy to the allied forces, but his presence proved useless.
Among the Austrian generals and diplomatists there were several who desired
to withdraw from the contest in the Netherlands, and to follow the example
of Prussia in Poland. The action of the army was paralysed by intrigues.
"Every one," wrote Thugut, "does exactly as he pleases: there is absolute
anarchy and disorder." [37] At the beginning of June the Emperor quitted
the army; the combats on the Sambre were taken up by Jourdan and 50,000
fresh troops brought from the army of the Moselle; and on the 26th of June
the French defeated Coburg at Fleurus, as he advanced to the relief of
Charleroi, unconscious that Charleroi had surrendered on the day before.
Even now the defence of Belgium was not hopeless; but after one council of
war had declared in favour of fighting, a second determined on a retreat.
It was in vain that the representatives of England appealed to the good
faith and military honour of Austria. Namur and Louvain were abandoned; the
French pressed onwards; and before the end of July the Austrian army had
fallen back behind the Meuse. York, forsaken by the allies, retired
northwards before the superior forces of Pichegru, who entered Antwerp and
made himself master of the whole of the Netherlands up to the Dutch
frontier. [38]

[England disappointed by the Allies.]

Such was the result of Great Britain's well-meant effort to assist the two
great military Powers to defend Europe against the Revolution. To the aim
of the English Minister, the defence of existing rights against democratic
aggression, most of the public men alike of Austria and Prussia were now
absolutely indifferent. They were willing to let the French seize and
revolutionise any territory they pleased, provided that they themselves
obtained their equivalent in Poland. England was in fact in the position of
a man who sets out to attack a highway robber, and offers each of his arms
to a pickpocket. The motives and conduct of these politicians were justly
enough described by the English statesmen and generals who were brought
into closest contact with them. In the councils of Prussia, Malmesbury
declared that he could find no quality but "great and shabby art and
cunning; ill-will, jealousy, and every sort of dirty passion." From the
head quarters of Möllendorf he wrote to a member of Pitt's Cabinet: "Here I
have to do with knavery and dotage.... If we listened only to our feelings,
it would be difficult to keep any measure with Prussia. We must consider it
an alliance with the Algerians, whom it is no disgrace to pay, or any
impeachment of good sense to be cheated by." To the Austrian commander the
Duke of York addressed himself with royal plainness: "Your Serene Highness,
the British nation, whose public opinion is not to be despised, will
consider that it has been bought and sold." [39]

[French reach the Rhine, Oct., 1794.]

[Pichegru conquers Holland, Dec., 1794.]

The sorry concert lasted for a few months longer. Coburg, the Austrian
commander, was dismissed at the peremptory demand of Great Britain; his
successor, Clerfayt, after losing a battle on the Ourthe, offered no
further resistance to the advance of the Republican army, and the campaign
ended in the capture of Cologne by the French, and the disappearance of the
Austrians behind the Rhine. The Prussian subsidies granted by England
resulted in some useless engagements between Möllendorf's corps in the
Palatinate and a French army double its size, followed by the retreat of
the Prussians into Mainz. It only remained for Great Britain to attempt to
keep the French out of Holland. The defence of the Dutch, after everything
south of the river Waal had been lost, Pitt determined to entrust to abler
hands than those of the Duke of York; but the presence of one high-born
blunderer more or less made little difference in a series of operations
conceived in indifference and perversity. Clerfayt would not, or could not,
obey the Emperor's orders and succour his ally. City after city in Holland
welcomed the French. The very elements seemed to declare for the Republic.
Pichegru's army marched in safety over the frozen rivers; and, when the
conquest of the land was completed, his cavalry crowned the campaign by the
capture of the Dutch fleet in the midst of the ice-bound waters of the
Texel. The British regiments, cut off from home, made their way eastward
through the snow towards the Hanoverian frontier, in a state of prostrate
misery which is compared by an eye-witness of both events to that of the
French on their retreat in 1813 after the battle of Leipzig. [40]

[Treaties of Basle with Prussia, April 5, and Spain, July 22, 1795.]

The first act of the struggle between France and the Monarchies of Europe
was concluded. The result of three years of war was that Belgium, Nice, and
Savoy had been added to the territory of the Republic, and that French
armies were in possession of Holland, and the whole of Germany west of the
Rhine. In Spain and in Piedmont the mountain-passes and some extent of
country had been won. Even on the seas, in spite of the destruction of the
fleet at Toulon, and of a heavy defeat by Lord Howe off Ushant on the 1st
of June, 1794, the strength of France was still formidable; and the losses
which she inflicted on the commercial marine of her enemies exceeded those
which she herself sustained. England, which had captured most of the French
West Indian Islands, was the only Power that had wrested anything from the
Republic. The dream of suppressing the Revolution by force of arms had
vanished away; and the States which had entered upon the contest in levity,
in fanaticism, or at the bidding of more powerful allies, found it
necessary to make peace upon such terms as they could obtain. Holland, in
which a strong Republican party had always maintained connection with
France, abolished the rule of its Stadtholder, and placed its resources at
the disposal of its conquerors. Sardinia entered upon abortive
negotiations. Spain, in return for peace, ceded to the Republic the Spanish
half of St. Domingo (July 22, 1795). Prussia concluded a Treaty at Basle
(April 5), which marked and perpetuated the division of Germany by
providing that, although the Empire as a body was still at war with France,
the benefit of Prussia's neutrality should extend to all German States
north of a certain line. A secret article stipulated that, upon the
conclusion of a general peace, if the Empire should cede to France the
principalities west of the Rhine, Prussia should cede its own territory
lying in that district, and receive compensation elsewhere. [41]

[Austria and England continue the war, 1795.]

Humiliating such a peace certainly was; yet it would probably have been the
happiest issue for Europe had every Power been forced to accept its
conditions. The territory gained by France was not much more than the very
principle of the Balance of Power would have entitled it to demand, at a
moment when Russia, victorious over the Polish rebellion, was proceeding to
make the final partition of Poland among the three Eastern Monarchies; and,
with all its faults, the France of 1795 would have offered to Europe the
example of a great free State, such as the growth of the military spirit
made impossible after the first of Napoleon's campaigns. But the dark
future was withdrawn from the view of those British statesmen who most
keenly felt the evils of the present; and England, resolutely set against
the course of French aggression, still found in Austria an ally willing to
continue the struggle. The financial help of Great Britain, the Russian
offer of a large share in the spoils of Poland, stimulated the flagging
energy of the Emperor's government. Orders were sent to Clerfayt to advance
from the Rhine at whatever risk, in order to withdraw the troops of the
Republic from the west of France, where England was about to land a body of
Royalists. Clerfayt, however, disobeyed his instructions, and remained
inactive till the autumn. He then defeated a French army pushing beyond the
Rhine, and drove back the besiegers of Mainz; but the British expedition
had already failed, and the time was passed when Clerfayt's successes might
have produced a decisive result. [42]

[Landing at Quiberon, June 27, 1795.]

[France in 1795.]

A new Government was now entering upon power in France. The Reign of Terror
had ended in July, 1794, with the life of Robespierre. The men by whom
Robespierre was overthrown were Terrorists more cruel and less earnest than
himself, who attacked him only in order to save their own lives, and
without the least intention of restoring a constitutional Government to
France. An overwhelming national reaction forced them, however, to
represent themselves as the party of clemency. The reaction was indeed a
simple outburst of human feeling rather than a change in political opinion.
Among the victims of the Terror the great majority had been men of the
lower or middle class, who, except in La Vendée and Brittany, were as
little friendly to the old _régime_ as their executioners. Every class in
France, with the exception of the starving city mobs, longed for security,
and the quiet routine of life. After the disorders of the Republic a
monarchical government naturally seemed to many the best guarantee of
peace; but the monarchy so contemplated was the liberal monarchy of 1791,
not the ancient Court, with its accessories of a landed Church and
privileged noblesse. Religion was still a power in France; but the peasant,
with all his superstition and all his desire for order, was perfectly free
from any delusions about the good old times. He liked to see his children
baptised; but he had no desire to see the priest's tithe-collector back in
his barn: he shuddered at the summary marketing of Conventional
Commissioners; but he had no wish to resume his labours on the fields of
his late seigneur. To be a Monarchist in 1795, among the shopkeepers of
Paris or the farmers of Normandy, meant no more than to wish for a
political system capable of subsisting for twelve months together, and
resting on some other basis than forced loans and compulsory sales of
property. But among the men of the Convention, who had abolished monarchy
and passed sentence of death upon the King, the restoration of the Crown
seemed the bitterest condemnation of all that the Convention had done for
France, and a sentence of outlawry against themselves. If the will of the
nation was for the moment in favour of a restored monarchy, the Convention
determined that its will must be overpowered by force or thwarted by
constitutional forms. Threatened alternately by the Jacobin mob of Paris
and by the Royalist middle class, the Government played off one enemy
against the other, until an ill-timed effort of the emigrant noblesse gave
to the Convention the prestige of a decisive victory over Royalists and
foreigners combined. On the 27th of June, 1795, an English fleet landed the
flower of the old nobility of France at the Bay of Quiberon in southern
Brittany. It was only to give one last fatal proof of their incapacity that
these unhappy men appeared once more on French soil. Within three weeks
after their landing, in a region where for years together the peasantry,
led by their landlords, baffled the best generals of the Republic, this
invading army of the nobles, supported by the fleet, the arms, and the
money of England, was brought to utter ruin by the discord of its own
leaders. Before the nobles had settled who was to command and who was to
obey, General Hoche surprised their fort, beat them back to the edge of the
peninsula where they had landed, and captured all who were not killed
fighting or rescued by English boats (July 20). The Commissioner Tallien,
in order to purge himself from the just suspicion of Royalist intrigues,
caused six hundred prisoners to be shot in cold blood. [43]

[Project of Constitution, 1795.]

At the moment when the emigrant army reached France, the Convention was
engaged in discussing the political system which was to succeed its own
rule. A week earlier, the Committee appointed to draw up a new constitution
for France had presented its report. The main object of the new
constitution in its original form was to secure France against a recurrence
of those evils which it had suffered since 1792. The calamities of the last
three years were ascribed to the sovereignty of a single Assembly. A vote
of the Convention had established the Revolutionary Tribunal, proscribed
the Girondins, and placed France at the mercy of eighty individuals
selected by the Convention from itself. The legislators of 1795 desired a
guarantee that no party, however determined, should thus destroy its
enemies by a single law, and unite supreme legislative and executive power
in its own hands. With the object of dividing authority, the executive was,
in the new draft-constitution, made independent of the legislature, and the
legislature itself was broken up into two chambers. A Directory of five
members, chosen by the Assemblies, but not responsible except under actual
impeachment, was to conduct the administration, without the right of
proposing laws; a Chamber of five hundred was to submit laws to the
approval of a Council of two hundred and fifty Ancients, or men of middle
life; but neither of these bodies was to exercise any influence upon the
actual government. One director and a third part of each of the legislative
bodies were to retire every year. [44]

[Constitution of 1795. Insurrection of Vendémiaire, Oct. 4.]

The project thus outlined met with general approval, and gained even that
of the Royalists, who believed that a popular election would place them in
a majority in the two new Assemblies. Such an event was, however, in the
eyes of the Convention, the one fatal possibility that must be averted at
every cost. In the midst of the debates upon the draft-constitution there
arrived the news of Hoche's victory at Quiberon. The Convention gained
courage to add a clause providing that two-thirds of the new deputies
should be appointed from among its own members, thus rendering a Royalist
majority in the Chambers impossible. With this condition attached to it,
the Constitution was laid before the country. The provinces accepted it;
the Royalist middle class of Paris rose in insurrection, and marched
against the Convention in the Tuileries. Their revolt was foreseen; the
defence of the Convention was entrusted to General Bonaparte, who met the
attack of the Parisians in a style unknown in the warfare of the capital.
Bonaparte's command of trained artillery secured him victory; but the
struggle of the 4th of October (13 Vendémiaire) was the severest that took
place in Paris during the Revolution, and the loss of life in fighting
greater than on the day that overthrew the Monarchy.

[The Directory, Oct., 1795.]

The new Government of France now entered into power. Members of the
Convention formed two-thirds of the new legislative bodies; the one-third
which the country was permitted to elect consisted chiefly of men of
moderate or Royalist opinions. The five persons who were chosen Directors
were all Conventionalists who had voted for the death of the King; Carnot,
however, who had won the victories without sharing in the cruelties of the
Reign of Terror, was the only member of the late Committee of Public Safety
who was placed in power. In spite of the striking homage paid to the great
act of regicide in the election of the five Directors, the establishment of
the Directory was accepted by Europe as the close of revolutionary
disorder. The return of constitutional rule in France was marked by a
declaration on the part of the King of England of his willingness to treat
for peace. A gentler spirit seemed to have arisen in the Republic. Although
the laws against the emigrants and non-juring priests were still
unrepealed, the exiles began to return unmolested to their homes. Life
resumed something of its old aspect in the capital. The rich and the gay
consoled themselves with costlier luxury for all the austerities of the
Reign of Terror. The labouring classes, now harmless and disarmed, were
sharply taught that they must be content with such improvement in their lot
as the progress of society might bring.

[What was new to Europe in the Revolution.]

[Absolute governments of 18th century engaged in reforms.]

At the close of this first period of the Revolutionary War we may pause to
make an estimate of the new influences which the French Revolution had
brought into Europe, and of the effects which had thus far resulted from
them. The opinion current among the French people themselves, that the
Revolution gave birth to the modern life not of France only but of the
Western Continent generally, is true of one great set of facts; it is
untrue of another. There were conceptions in France in 1789 which made
France a real contrast to most of the Continental monarchies; there were
others which it shared in common with them. The ideas of social, legal, and
ecclesiastical reform which were realised in 1789 were not peculiar to
France; what was peculiar to France was the idea that these reforms were to
be effected by the nation itself. In other countries reforms had been
initiated by Governments, and forced upon an unwilling people. Innovation
sprang from the Crown; its agents were the servants of the State. A
distinct class of improvements, many of them identical with the changes
made by the Revolution in France, attracted the attention in a greater or
less degree of almost all the Western Courts of the eighteenth century. The
creation of a simple and regular administrative system; the reform of the
clergy; the emancipation of the Church from the jurisdiction of the Pope,
and of all orders in the State from the jurisdiction of the Church; the
amelioration of the lot of the peasant; the introduction of codes of law
abolishing both the cruelties and the confusion of ancient practice,--all
these were purposes more or less familiar to the absolute sovereigns of the
eighteenth century, whom the French so summarily described as benighted
tyrants. It was in Austria, Prussia, and Tuscany that the civilising energy
of the Crown had been seen in its strongest form, but even the Governments
of Naples and Spain had caught the spirit of change. The religious
tolerance which Joseph gave to Austria, the rejection of Papal authority
and the abolition of the punishment of death which Leopold effected in
Tuscany, were bolder efforts of the same political rationalism which in
Spain minimised the powers of the Inquisition and in Naples attempted to
found a system of public education. In all this, however, there was no
trace of the action of the people, or of any sense that a nation ought to
raise itself above a state of tutelage. Men of ideas called upon
Governments to impose better institutions upon the people, not upon the
people to wrest them from the Governments.

[In France, the nation itself acted.]

In France alone a view of public affairs had grown up which impelled the
nation to create its reforms for itself. If the substance of many of the
French revolutionary changes coincided with the objects of Austrian or of
Tuscan reform, there was nothing similar in their method. In other
countries reform sprang from the command of an enlightened ruler; in France
it started with the Declaration of the Rights of Man, and aimed at the
creation of local authority to be exercised by the citizens themselves. The
source of this difference lay partly in the influence of England and
America upon French opinion, but much more in the existence within France
of a numerous and energetic middle class, enriched by commerce, and keenly
interested in all the speculation and literary activity of the age. This
was a class that both understood the wrongs which the other classes
inflicted or suffered, and felt itself capable of redressing them. For the
flogged and over-driven peasant in Naples or Hungary no ally existed but
the Crown. In most of those poor and backward States which made up
monarchical Europe, the fraction of the inhabitants which neither enjoyed
privilege nor stood in bondage to it was too small to think of forcing
itself into power. The nobles sought to preserve their feudal rights: the
Crown sought to reduce them; the nation, elsewhere than in France, did not
intervene and lay hands upon power for itself, because the nation was
nothing but the four mutually exclusive classes of the landlords who
commanded, the peasants who served, the priests who idled, and the soldiers
who fought. France differed from all the other monarchies of the Continent
in possessing a public which blended all classes and was dominated by none;
a public comprehending thousands of men who were familiar with the great
interests of society, and who, whether noble or not noble, possessed the
wealth and the intelligence that made them rightly desire a share in power.

[Movements against governments outside France.]

Liberty, the right of the nation to govern itself, seemed at the outset to
be the great principle of the Revolution. The French people themselves
believed the question at issue to be mainly between authority and popular
right; the rest of Europe saw the Revolution under the same aspect. Hence,
in those countries where the example of France produced political
movements, the effect was in the first instance to excite agitation against
the Government, whatever might be the form of the latter. In England the
agitation was one of the middle class against the aristocratic
parliamentary system; in Hungary, it was an agitation of the nobles against
the Crown; on the Rhine it was an agitation of the commercial classes
against ecclesiastical rule. But in every case in which the reforming
movement was not supported by the presence of French armies, the terrors
which succeeded the first sanguine hopes of the Revolution struck the
leaders of these movements with revulsion and despair, and converted even
the better Governments into engines of reaction. In France itself it was
seen that the desire for liberty among an enlightened class could not
suddenly transform the habits of a nation accustomed to accept everything
from authority. Privilege was destroyed, equality was advanced; but instead
of self-government the Revolution brought France the most absolute rule it
had ever known. It was not that the Revolution had swept by, leaving things
where they were before: it had in fact accomplished most of those great
changes which lay the foundation of a sound social life: but the faculty of
self-government, the first condition of any lasting political liberty,
remained to be slowly won.


Outside France reaction set in without the benefit of previous change. At
London, Vienna, Naples, and Madrid, Governments gave up all other objects
in order to devote themselves to the suppression of Jacobinism. Pitt, whose
noble aims had been the extinction of the slave-trade, the reform of
Parliament, and the advance of national intercourse by free trade,
surrendered himself to men whose thoughts centred upon informers, Gagging
Acts, and constructive treasons, and who opposed all legislation upon the
slave-trade because slaves had been freed by the Jacobins of the
Convention. State trials and imprisonments became the order of the day; but
the reaction in England at least stopped short of the scaffold. At Vienna
and Naples fear was more cruel. The men who either were, or affected to be,
in such fear of revolution that they discovered a Jacobinical allegory in
Mozart's last opera, [45] did not spare life when the threads of anything
like a real conspiracy were placed in their hands. At Vienna terror was
employed to crush the constitutional opposition of Hungary to the Austrian
Court. In Naples a long reign of cruelty and oppression began with the
creation of a secret tribunal to investigate charges of conspiracy made by
informers. In Mainz, the Archbishop occupied the last years of his
government, after his restoration in 1793, with a series of brutal
punishments and tyrannical precautions.

These were but instances of the effect which the first epoch of the
Revolution produced upon the old European States. After a momentary
stimulus to freedom it threw the nations themselves into reaction and
apathy; it totally changed the spirit of the better governments, attaching
to all liberal ideas the stigma of Revolution, and identifying the work of
authority with resistance to every kind of reform. There were States in
which this change, the first effect of the Revolution, was also its only
one; States whose history, as in the case of England, is for a whole
generation the history of political progress unnaturally checked and thrown
out of its course. There were others, and these the more numerous, where
the first stimulus and the first reaction were soon forgotten in new and
penetrating changes produced by the successive victories of France. The
nature of these changes, even more than the warfare which introduced them,
gives its interest to the period on which we are about to enter.


Triple attack on Austria--Moreau, Jourdan--Bonaparte in Italy--Condition of
the Italian States--Professions and real intentions of Bonaparte and the
Directory--Battle of Montenotte--Armistice with Sardinia--Campaign in
Lombardy--Treatment of the Pope, Naples, Tuscany--Siege of Mantua--
Castiglione, Moreau and Jourdan in Germany Their retreat--Secret Treaty
with Prussia--Negotiations with England--Cispadane Republic--Rise of the
idea of Italian Independence--Battles of Arcola and Rivoli--Peace with the
Pope at Tolentino--Venice--Preliminaries of Leoben--The French in
Venice--The French take the Ionian Islands and give Venice to
Austria--Genoa--Coup d'état of 17 Fructidor in Paris--Treaty of Campo
Formio--Victories of England at sea--Bonaparte's project against Egypt.

[Armies of Italy, the Danube, and the Main, 1796.]

With the opening of the year 1796 the leading interest of European history
passes to a new scene. Hitherto the progress of French victory had been in
the direction of the Rhine: the advance of the army of the Pyrenees had
been cut short by the conclusion of peace with Spain; the army of Italy had
achieved little beyond some obscure successes in the mountains. It was the
appointment of Napoleon Bonaparte to the command of the latter force, in
the spring of 1796, that first centred the fortunes of the Republic in the
land beyond the Alps. Freed from Prussia by the Treaty of Basle, the
Directory was now able to withdraw its attention from Holland and from the
Lower Rhine, and to throw its whole force into the struggle with Austria.
By the advice of Bonaparte a threefold movement was undertaken against
Vienna, by way of Lombardy, by the valley of the Danube, and by the valley
of the Main. General Jourdan, in command of the army that had conquered the
Netherlands, was ordered to enter Germany by Frankfort; Moreau crossed the
Rhine at Strasburg: Bonaparte himself, drawing his scanty supplies along
the coast-road from Nice, faced the allied forces of Austria and Sardinia
upon the slopes of the Maritime Apennines, forty miles to the west of
Genoa. The country in which he was about to operate was familiar to
Bonaparte from service there in 1794; his own descent and language gave him
singular advantages in any enterprise undertaken in Italy. Bonaparte was no
Italian at heart; but he knew at least enough of the Italian nature to work
upon its better impulses, and to attach its hopes, so long as he needed the
support of Italian opinion, to his own career of victory.

[Condition of Italy.]

Three centuries separated the Italy of that day from the bright and
vigorous Italy which, in the glow of its Republican freedom, had given so
much to Northern Europe in art, in letters, and in the charm of life. A
long epoch of subjection to despotic or foreign rule, of commercial
inaction, of decline in mind and character, had made the Italians of no
account among the political forces of Europe. Down to the peace of
Aix-la-Chapelle in 1748 their provinces were bartered between the Bourbons
and the Hapsburgs; and although the settlement of that date left no part of
Italy, except the Duchy of Milan, incorporated in a foreign empire, yet the
crown of Naples was vested in a younger branch of the Spanish Bourbons, and
the marriage of Maria Theresa with the Archduke Francis made Tuscany an
appanage of the House of Austria. Venice and Genoa retained their
independence and their republican government, but little of their ancient
spirit. At the outbreak of the Revolutionary War, Austrian influence was
dominant throughout the peninsula, Marie Caroline, the Queen and the ruler
of Ferdinand of Naples, being the sister of the Emperor Leopold and Marie
Antoinette. With the exception of Piedmont, which preserved a strong
military sentiment and the tradition of an active and patriotic policy, the
Italian States were either, like Venice and Genoa, anxious to keep
themselves out of danger by seeming to hear and see nothing that passed
around them, or governed by families in the closest connection with the
great reigning Houses of the Continent. Neither in Italy itself, nor in the
general course of European affairs during the Napoleonic period, was
anything determined by the sentiment of the Italian people. The peasantry
at times fought against the French with energy; but no strong impulse, like
that of the Spaniards, enlisted the upper class of Italians either on the
side of Napoleon or on that of his enemies. Acquiescence and submission had
become the habit of the race; the sense of national unity and worth, the
personal pride which makes the absence of liberty an intolerable wrong,
only entered the Italian character at a later date.

[Revival after 1740.]

Yet, in spite of its political nullity, Italy was not in a state of
decline. Its worst days had ended before the middle of the eighteenth
century. The fifty years preceding the French Revolution, if they had
brought nothing of the spirit of liberty, had in all other respects been
years of progress and revival. In Lombardy the government of Maria Theresa
and Joseph awoke life and motion after ages of Spanish torpor and misrule.
Traditions of local activity revived; the communes were encouraged in their
works of irrigation and rural improvement; a singular liberality towards
public opinion and the press made the Austrian possessions the centre of
the intellectual movement of Italy. In the south, progress began on the day
when the last foreign Viceroy disappeared from Naples (1735), and King
Charles III., though a member of the Spanish House, entered upon the
government of the two Sicilies as an independent kingdom. Venice and the
Papal States alone seemed to be untouched by the spirit of material and
social improvement, so active in the rest of Italy before the interest in
political life had come into being.

Nor was the age without its intellectual distinction. If the literature of
Italy in the second half of the eighteenth century had little that recalled
the inspiration of its splendid youth, it showed at least a return to
seriousness and an interest in important things. The political economists
of Lombardy were scarcely behind those of England; the work of the Milanese
Beccaria on "Crimes and Punishments" stimulated the reform of criminal law
in every country in Europe; an intelligent and increasing attention to
problems of agriculture, commerce, and education took the place of the
fatuous gallantries and insipid criticism which had hitherto made up the
life of Italians of birth and culture. One man of genius, Vittorio Alfieri,
the creator of Italian tragedy, idealised both in prose and verse a type of
rugged independence and resistance to tyrannical power. Alfieri was neither
a man of political judgment himself nor the representative of any real
political current in Italy; but the lesson which he taught to the Italians,
the lesson of respect for themselves and their country, was the one which
Italy most of all required to learn; and the appearance of this manly and
energetic spirit in its literature gave hope that the Italian nation would
not long be content to remain without political being.

[Social condition.]


Italy, to the outside world, meant little more than the ruins of the Roman
Forum, the galleries of Florence, the paradise of Capri and the Neapolitan
coast; the singular variety in its local conditions of life gained little
attention from the foreigner. There were districts in Italy where the
social order was almost of a Polish type of barbarism; there were others
where the rich and the poor lived perhaps under a happier relation than in
any other country in Europe. The difference depended chiefly upon the
extent to which municipal life had in past time superseded the feudal order
under which the territorial lord was the judge and the ruler of his own
domain. In Tuscany the city had done the most in absorbing the landed
nobility; in Naples and Sicily it had done the least. When, during the
middle ages, the Republic of Florence forced the feudal lords who
surrounded it to enter its walls as citizens, in some cases it deprived
them of all authority, in others it permitted them to retain a jurisdiction
over their peasants; but even in these instances the sovereignty of the
city deprived the feudal relation of most of its harshness and force. After
the loss of Florentine liberty, the Medici, aping the custom of older
monarchies, conferred the title of marquis and count upon men who preferred
servitude to freedom, and accompanied the grant of rank with one of
hereditary local authority; but the new institutions took no deep hold on
country life, and the legislation of the first Archduke of the House of
Lorraine (1749) left the landed aristocracy in the position of mere country
gentlemen. [46] Estates were not very large: the prevalent agricultural
system was, as it still is, that of the _mezzeria_, a partnership between
the landlord and tenant; the tenant holding by custom in perpetuity, and
sharing the produce with the landlord, who supplied a part of the stock and
materials for farming. In Tuscany the conditions of the _mezzeria_ were
extremely favourable to the tenant; and if a cheerful country life under a
mild and enlightened government were all that a State need desire, Tuscany
enjoyed rare happiness.

[Naples and Sicily.]


Far different was the condition of Sicily and Naples. Here the growth of
city life had never affected the rough sovereignty which the barons
exercised over great tracts of country withdrawn from the civilised world.
When Charles III. ascended the throne in 1735, he found whole provinces in
which there was absolutely no administration of justice on the part of the
State. The feudal rights of the nobility were in the last degree
oppressive, the barbarism of the people was in many districts extreme. Out
of two thousand six hundred towns and villages in the kingdom, there were
only fifty that were not subject to feudal authority. In the manor of San
Gennaro di Palma, fifteen miles from Naples, even down to the year 1786 the
officers of the baron were the only persons who lived in houses; the
peasants, two thousand in number, slept among the corn-ricks. [47] Charles,
during his tenure of the Neapolitan crown, from 1735 to 1759, and the
Ministers Tanucci and Caraccioli under his feeble successor Ferdinand IV.,
enforced the authority of the State in justice and administration, and
abolished some of the most oppressive feudal rights of the nobility; but
their legislation, though bold and even revolutionary according to an
English standard, could not in the course of two generations transform a
social system based upon centuries of misgovernment and disorder. At the
outbreak of the French Revolution the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies was, as
it still in a less degree is, a land of extreme inequalities of wealth and
poverty, a land where great estates wasted in the hands of oppressive or
indolent owners, and the peasantry, untrained either by remunerative
industry or by a just and regular enforcement of the law, found no better
guide than a savage and fanatical priesthood. Over the rest of Italy the
conditions of life varied through all degrees between the Tuscan and the
Neapolitan type. Piedmont, in military spirit and patriotism far superior
to the other Italian States, was socially one of the most backward of all.
It was a land of priests, nobles, and soldiers, where a gloomy routine and
the repression of all originality of thought and character drove the most
gifted of its children, like the poet Alfieri, to seek a home on some more
liberal soil.

[Professions and real intentions of the Directory and Bonaparte, 1796.]

During the first years of the Revolution, an attempt had been made by
French enthusiasts to extend the Revolution into Italy by means of
associations in the principal towns; but it met with no great success. A
certain liberal movement arose among the young men of the upper classes at
Naples, where, under the influence of Queen Marie Caroline, the Government
had now become reactionary; and in Turin and several of the Lombard cities
the French were not without partisans; but no general disaffection like
that of Savoy existed east of the Alps. The agitation of 1789 and 1792 had
passed by without bringing either liberty or national independence to the
Italians. When Bonaparte received his command, that fervour of Republican
passion which, in the midst of violence and wrong, had seldom been wanting
in the first leaders of the Revolutionary War, had died out in France. The
politicians who survived the Reign of Terror and gained office in the
Directory repeated the old phrases about the Rights of Man and the
Liberation of the Peoples only as a mode of cajolery. Bonaparte entered
Italy proclaiming himself the restorer of Italian freedom, but with the
deliberate purpose of using Italy as a means of recruiting the exhausted
treasury of France. His correspondence with the Directory exposes with
brazen frankness this well-considered system of pillage and deceit, in
which the general and the Government were cordially at one. On the further
question, how France should dispose of any territory that might be
conquered in Northern Italy, Bonaparte and the Directory had formed no
understanding, and their purposes were in fact at variance. The Directory
wished to conquer Lombardy in order to hand it back to Austria in return
for the Netherlands; Bonaparte had at least formed the conception that an
Italian State was possible, and he intended to convert either Austrian
Lombardy itself, or some other portion of Northern Italy, into a Republic,
serving as a military outwork for France.

[Bonaparte separates the Austrian and Sardinian Armies, April, 1796.]

[Armistice and peace with Sardinia.]

The campaign of 1796 commenced in April, in the mountains above the
coast-road connecting Nice and Genoa. Bonaparte's own army numbered 40,000
men; the force opposed to it consisted of 38,000 Austrians, under Beaulieu,
and a smaller Sardinian army, so placed upon the Piedmontese Apennines as
to block the passes from the coast-road into Piedmont, and to threaten the
rear of the French if they advanced eastward against Genoa. The Piedmontese
army drew its supplies from Turin, the Austrian from Mantua; to sever the
two armies was to force them on to lines of retreat conducting them farther
and farther apart from one another. Bonaparte foresaw the effect which such
a separation of the two armies would produce upon the Sardinian Government.
For four days he reiterated his attacks at Montenotte and Millesimo, until
he had forced his own army into a position in the centre of the Allies;
then, leaving a small force to watch the Austrians, he threw the mass of
his troops upon the Piedmontese, and drove them back to within thirty miles
of Turin. The terror-stricken Government, anticipating an outbreak in the
capital itself, accepted an armistice from Bonaparte at Cherasco (April
28), and handed over to the French the fortresses of Coni, Ceva, and
Tortona, which command the entrances of Italy. It was an unworthy
capitulation for Turin could not have been taken before the Austrians
returned in force; but Bonaparte had justly calculated the effect of his
victory; and the armistice, which was soon followed by a treaty of peace
between France and Sardinia, ceding Savoy to the Republic, left him free to
follow the Austrians, untroubled by the existence of some of the strongest
fortresses of Europe behind him.

[Bridge of Lodi, May 10.]

In the negotiations with Sardinia Bonaparte demanded the surrender of the
town of Valenza, as necessary to secure his passage over the river Po.
Having thus led the Austrian Beaulieu to concentrate his forces at this
point, he suddenly moved eastward along the southern bank of the river, and
crossed at Piacenza, fifty miles below the spot where Beaulieu was awaiting
him. It was an admirable movement. The Austrian general, with the enemy
threatening his communications, had to abandon Milan and all the country
west of it, and to fall back upon the line of the Adda. Bonaparte followed,
and on the 10th of May attacked the Austrians at Lodi. He himself stormed
the bridge of Lodi at the head of his Grenadiers. The battle was so
disastrous to the Austrians that they could risk no second engagement, and
retired upon Mantua and the line of the Mincio. [48]

[Bonaparte in Milan. Extortions.]

Bonaparte now made his triumphal entry into Milan (May 15). The splendour
of his victories and his warm expressions of friendship for Italy excited
the enthusiasm of a population not hitherto hostile to Austrian rule. A new
political movement began. With the French army there came all the partisans
of the French Republic who had been expelled from other parts of Italy.
Uniting with the small revolutionary element already existing in Milan,
they began to form a new public opinion by means of journals and patriotic
meetings. It was of the utmost importance to Bonaparte that a Republican
party should be organised among the better classes in the towns of
Lombardy; for the depredations of the French army exasperated the peasants,
and Bonaparte's own measures were by no means of a character to win him
unmixed goodwill. The instructions which he received from the Directory
were extremely simple. "Leave nothing in Italy," they wrote to him on the
day of his entry into Milan, "which will be useful to us, and which the
political situation will allow you to remove." If Bonaparte had felt any
doubt as to the meaning of such an order, the pillage of works of art in
Belgium and Holland in preceding years would have shown him that it was
meant to be literally interpreted. Accordingly, in return for the gift of
liberty, the Milanese were invited to offer to their deliverers twenty
million francs, and a selection from the paintings in their churches and
galleries. The Dukes of Parma and Modena, in return for an armistice, were
required to hand over forty of their best pictures, and a sum of money
proportioned to their revenues. The Dukes and the townspeople paid their
contributions with good grace: the peasantry of Lombardy, whose cattle were
seized in order to supply an army that marched without any stores of its
own, rose in arms, and threw themselves into Pavia, killing all the French
soldiers who fell in their way. The revolt was instantly suppressed, and
the town of Pavia given up to pillage. In deference to the Liberal party of
Italy, the movement was described as a conspiracy of priests and nobles.


[Battle on the Mincio, May 29.]

The way into Central Italy now lay open before Bonaparte. Rome and Naples
were in no condition to offer resistance; but with true military judgment
the French general declined to move against this feeble prey until the army
of Austria, already crippled, was completely driven out of the field.
Instead of crossing the Apennines, Bonaparte advanced against the Austrian
positions upon the Mincio. It suited him to violate the neutrality of the
adjacent Venetian territory by seizing the town of Brescia. His example was
followed by Beaulieu, who occupied Peschiera, at the foot of the Lake of
Garda, and thus held the Mincio along its whole course from the lake to
Mantua. A battle was fought and lost by the Austrians half-way between the
lake and the fortress. Beaulieu's strength was exhausted; he could meet the
enemy no more in the field, and led his army out of Italy into the Tyrol,
leaving Mantua to be invested by the French. The first care of the
conqueror was to make Venice pay for the crime of possessing territory
intervening between the eastern and western extremes of the Austrian
district. Bonaparte affected to believe that the Venetians had permitted
Beaulieu to occupy Peschiera before he seized upon Brescia himself. He
uttered terrifying threats to the envoys who came from Venice to excuse an
imaginary crime. He was determined to extort money from the Venetian
Republic; he also needed a pretext for occupying Verona, and for any future
wrongs. "I have purposely devised this rupture," he wrote to the Directory
(June 7th), "in case you should wish to obtain five or six millions of
francs from Venice. If you have more decided intentions, I think it would
be well to keep up the quarrel." The intention referred to was the
disgraceful project of sacrificing Venice to Austria in return for the
cession of the Netherlands, a measure based on plans familiar to Thugut as
early as the year 1793. [49]

[Armistice with Naples, June 6.]

[Armistice with the Pope, June 23.]

The Austrians were fairly driven out of Lombardy, and Bonaparte was now
free to deal with southern Italy. He advanced into the States of the
Church, and expelled the Papal Legate from Bologna. Ferdinand of Naples,
who had lately called heaven and earth to witness the fury of his zeal
against an accursed horde of regicides, thought it prudent to stay
Bonaparte's hand, at least until the Austrians were in a condition to renew
the war in Lombardy. He asked for a suspension of hostilities against his
own kingdom. The fleet and the sea-board of Naples gave it importance in
the struggle between France and England, and Bonaparte granted the king an
armistice on easy terms. The Pope, in order to gain a few months' truce,
had to permit the occupation of Ferrara, Ravenna, and Ancona, and to
recognise the necessities, the learning, the taste, and the virtue of his
conquerors by a gift of twenty million francs, five hundred manuscripts, a
hundred pictures, and the busts of Marcus and Lucius Brutus. The rule of
the Pope was unpopular in Bologna, and a Senate which Bonaparte placed in
power, pending the formation of a popular Government gladly took the oath
of fidelity to the French Republic. Tuscany was the only State that
remained to be dealt with. Tuscany had indeed made peace with the Republic
a year before, but the ships and cargoes of the English merchants at
Leghorn were surely fair prey; and, with the pretence of punishing insults
offered by the English to the French flag, Bonaparte descended upon
Leghorn, and seized upon everything that was not removed before his
approach. Once established in Leghorn, the French declined to quit it. By
way of adjusting the relations of the Grand Duke, the English seized his
harbour of Porto Ferraio, in the island of Elba.

[Battles of Lonato and Castiglione, July, Aug., 1796.]

Mantua was meanwhile invested, and thither, after his brief incursion into
Central Italy, Bonaparte returned. Towards the end of July an Austrian
relieving army, nearly double the strength of Bonaparte's, descended from
the Tyrol. It was divided into three corps: one, under Quosdanovich,
advanced by the road on the west of Lake Garda; the others, under Wurmser,
the commander-in-chief, by the roads between the lake and the river Adige.
The peril of the French was extreme; their outlying divisions were defeated
and driven in; Bonaparte could only hope to save himself by collecting all
his forces at the foot of the lake, and striking at one or other of the
Austrian armies before they effected their junction on the Mincio. He
instantly broke up the siege of Mantua, and withdrew from every position
east of the river. On the 30th of July, Quosdanovich was attacked and
checked at Lonato, on the west of the Lake of Garda. Wurmser, unaware of
his colleague's repulse, entered Mantua in triumph, and then set out,
expecting to envelop Bonaparte between two fires. But the French were ready
for his approach. Wurmser was stopped and defeated at Castiglione, while
the western Austrian divisions were still held in check at Lonato. The
junction of the Austrian armies had become impossible. In five days the
skill of Bonaparte and the unsparing exertions of his soldiery had more
than retrieved all that appeared to have been lost. [50] The Austrians
retired into the Tyrol, beaten and dispirited, and leaving 15,000 prisoners
in the hands of the enemy.

Bonaparte now prepared to force his way into Germany by the Adige, in
fulfilment of the original plan of the campaign. In the first days of
September he again routed the Austrians, and gained possession of Roveredo
and Trent. Wurmser hereupon attempted to shut the French up in the
mountains by a movement southwards; but, while he operated with
insufficient forces between the Brenta and the Adige, he was cut off from
Germany, and only escaped capture by throwing himself into Mantua with the
shattered remnant of his army. The road into Germany through the Tyrol now
lay open; but in the midst of his victories Bonaparte learnt that the
northern armies of Moreau and Jourdan, with which he had intended to
co-operate in an attack upon Vienna, were in full retreat.

[Invasion of Germany by Moureau and Jourdan, June-Oct. 1796.]

[The Archduke Charles overpowers Jourdan.]

Moreau's advance into the valley of the Danube had, during the months of
July and August, been attended with unbroken military and political
success. The Archduke Charles, who was entrusted with the defence of the
Empire, found himself unable to bring two armies into the field capable of
resisting those of Moreau and Jourdan separately, and he therefore
determined to fall back before Moreau towards Nuremberg, ordering
Wartensleben, who commanded the troops facing Jourdan on the Main, to
retreat in the same direction, in order that the two armies might throw
their collected force upon Jourdan while still at some distance north of
Moreau. [51] The design of the Archduke succeeded in the end, but it opened
Germany to the French for six weeks, and showed how worthless was the
military constitution of the Empire, and how little the Germans had to
expect from one another. After every skirmish won by Moreau some
neighbouring State abandoned the common defence and hastened to make its
terms with the invader. On the 17th of July the Duke of Würtemberg
purchased an armistice at the price of four million francs; a week later
Baden gained the French general's protection in return for immense supplies
of food and stores. The troops of the Swabian Circle of the Empire, who
were ridiculed as "harlequins" by the more martial Austrians, dispersed to
their homes; and no sooner had Moreau entered Bavaria than the Bavarian
contingent in its turn withdrew from the Archduke. Some consideration was
shown by Moreau's soldiery to those districts which had paid tribute to
their general; but in the region of the Main, Jourdan's army plundered
without distinction and without mercy. They sacked the churches, they
maltreated the children, they robbed the very beggars of their pence.
Before the Archduke Charles was ready to strike, the peasantry of this
country, whom their governments were afraid to arm, had begun effective
reprisals of their own. At length the retreating movement of the Austrians
stopped. Leaving 30,000 men on the Lech to disguise his motions from
Moreau, Charles turned suddenly northwards from Neuburg on the [***] August,
met Wartensleben at Amberg, and attacked Jourdan at this place with greatly
superior numbers. Jourdan was defeated and driven back in confusion towards
the Rhine. The issue of the campaign was decided before Moreau heard of his
colleague's danger. It only remained for him to save his own army by a
skilful retreat. Jourdan's soldiers, returning through districts which they
had devastated, suffered heavier losses from the vengeance of the peasantry
than from the army that pursued them. By the autumn of 1796 no Frenchman
remained beyond the Rhine. The campaign had restored the military spirit of
Austria and given Germany a general in whom soldiers could trust; but it
had also shown how willing were the Governments of the minor States to
become the vassals of a foreigner, how little was wanting to convert the
western half of the Empire into a dependency of France.

[Secret Treaty with Prussia, Aug. 5.]

With each change in the fortunes of the campaign of 1796 the diplomacy of
the Continent had changed its tone. When Moreau won his first victories,
the Court of Prussia, yielding to the pressure of the Directory,
substituted for the conditional clauses of the Treaty of Basle a definite
agreement to the cession of the left bank of the Rhine, and a stipulation
that Prussia should be compensated for her own loss by the annexation of
the Bishopric of Münster. Prussia could not itself cede provinces of the
Empire: it could only agree to their cession. In this treaty, however,
Prussia definitely renounced the integrity of the Empire, and accepted the
system known as the Secularisation of Ecclesiastical States, the first step
towards an entire reconstruction of Germany. [52] The engagement was kept
secret both from the Emperor and from the ecclesiastical princes. In their
negotiations with Austria the Directory were less successful. Although the
long series of Austrian disasters had raised a general outcry against
Thugut's persistence in the war, the resolute spirit of the Minister never
bent; and the ultimate victory of the Archduke Charles more than restored
his influence over the Emperor. Austria refused to enter into any
negotiation not conducted in common with England, and the Directory were
for the present foiled in their attempts to isolate England from the
Continental Powers. It was not that Thugut either hoped or cared for that
restoration of Austrian rule in the Netherlands which was the first object
of England's Continental policy. The abandonment of the Netherlands by
France was, however, in his opinion necessary for Austria, as a step
towards the acquisition of Bavaria, which was still the cherished hope of
the Viennese Government. It was in vain that the Directory suggested that
Austria should annex Bavaria without offering Belgium or any other
compensation to its ruler. Thugut could hardly be induced to listen to the
French overtures. He had received the promise of immediate help from the
Empress Catherine; he was convinced that the Republic, already anxious for
peace, might by one sustained effort be forced to abandon all its
conquests; and this was the object for which, in the winter of 1796, army
after army was hurled against the positions where Bonaparte kept his guard
on the north of the still unconquered Mantua. [53]

[Malmesbury sent to Paris, Oct., 1796.]

In England itself the victory of the Archduke Charles raised expectations
of peace. The war had become unpopular through the loss of trade with
France, Spain, and Holland, and petitions for peace daily reached
Parliament. Pitt so far yielded to the prevalent feeling as to enter into
negotiations with the Directory, and despatched Lord Malmesbury to Paris;
but the condition upon which Pitt insisted, the restoration of the
Netherlands to Austria, rendered agreement hopeless; and as soon as Pitt's
terms were known to the Directory, Malmesbury was ordered to leave Paris.
Nevertheless, the negotiation was not a mere feint on Pitt's part. He was
possessed by a fixed idea that the resources of France were exhausted, and
that, in spite of the conquest of Lombardy and the Rhine, the Republic must
feel itself too weak to continue the war. Amid the disorders of
Revolutionary finance, and exaggerated reports of suffering and distress,
Pitt failed to recognise the enormous increase of production resulting from
the changes which had given the peasant full property in his land and
labour, and thrown vast quantities of half-waste domain into the busy hands
of middling and small proprietors. [54]

Whatever were the resources of France before the Revolution, they were now
probably more than doubled. Pitt's belief in the economic ruin of France,
the only ground on which he could imagine that the Directory would give up
Belgium without fighting for it, was wholly erroneous, and the French
Government would have acted strangely if they had listened to his demand.

[Bonaparte creates a Cispadane Republic, Oct., 1796.]

Nevertheless, though the Directory would not hear of surrendering Belgium,
they were anxious to conclude peace with Austria, and unwilling to enter
into any engagements in the conquered provinces of Italy which might render
peace with Austria more difficult. They had instructed Bonaparte to stir up
the Italians against their Governments, but this was done with the object
of paralysing the Governments, not of emancipating the peoples. They looked
with dislike upon any scheme of Italian reconstruction which should bind
France to the support of newly-formed Italian States. Here, however, the
scruples of the Directory and the ambition of Bonaparte were in direct
conflict. Bonaparte intended to create a political system in Italy which
should bear the stamp of his own mind and require his own strong hand to
support it. In one of his despatches to the Directory he suggested the
formation of a client Republic out of the Duchy of Modena, where
revolutionary movements had broken out. Before it was possible for the
Government to answer him, he published a decree, declaring the population
of Modena and Reggio under the protection of the French army, and deposing
all the officers of the Duke (Oct. 4). When, some days later, the answer of
the Directory arrived, it cautioned Bonaparte against disturbing the
existing order of the Italian States. Bonaparte replied by uniting to
Modena the Papal provinces of Bologna and Ferrara, and by giving to the
State which he had thus created the title of the Cispadane Republic. [55]

[Idea of free Italy.]

The event was no insignificant one. It is from this time that the idea of
Italian independence, though foreign to the great mass of the nation, may
be said to have taken birth as one of those political hopes which wane and
recede, but do not again leave the world. A class of men who had turned
with dislike from the earlier agitation of French Republicans in Italy
rightly judged the continued victories of Bonaparte over the Austrians to
be the beginning of a series of great changes, and now joined the
revolutionary movement in the hope of winning from the overthrow of the old
Powers some real form of national independence. In its origin the French
party may have been composed of hirelings and enthusiasts. This ceased to
be the case when, after the passage of the Mincio, Bonaparte entered the
Papal States. Among the citizens of Bologna in particular there were men of
weight and intelligence who aimed at free constitutional government, and
checked in some degree the more numerous popular party which merely
repeated the phrases of French democracy. Bonaparte's own language and
action excited the brightest hopes. At Modena he harangued the citizens
upon the mischief of Italy's divisions, and exhorted them to unite with
their brethren whom he had freed from the Pope. A Congress was held at
Modena on the 16th of October. The representatives of Modena, Reggio,
Bologna, and Ferrara declared themselves united in a Republic under the
protection of France. They abolished feudal nobility, decreed a national
levy, and summoned a General Assembly to meet at Reggio two months later,
in order to create the Constitution of the new Cispadane Republic. It was
in the Congress of Modena, and in the subsequent Assembly of Reggio (Dec.
23), that the idea of Italian unity and independence first awoke the
enthusiasm of any considerable body of men. With what degree of sincerity
Bonaparte himself acted may be judged from the circumstance that, while he
harangued the Cispadanes on the necessity of Italian union, he imprisoned
the Milanese who attempted to excite a popular movement for the purpose of
extending this union to themselves. Peace was not yet made with Austria,
and it was uncertain to what account Milan might best be turned.

[Rivoli, Jan. 14, 15, 1797.]

[Arcola, Nov. 15-17.]

Mantua still held out, and in November the relieving operations of the
Austrians were renewed. Two armies, commanded by Allvintzy and Davidovich,
descended the valleys of the Adige and the Piave, offering to Bonaparte,
whose centre was at Verona, a new opportunity of crushing his enemy in
detail. Allvintzy, coming from the Piave, brought the French into extreme
danger in a three days' battle at Arcola, but was at last forced to retreat
with heavy loss. Davidovich, who had been successful on the Adige, retired
on learning the overthrow of his colleague. Two months more passed, and the
Austrians for the third time appeared on the Adige. A feint made below
Verona nearly succeeded in drawing Bonaparte away from Rivoli, between the
Adige and Lake Garda, where Allvintzy and his main army were about to make
the assault; but the strength of Allvintzy's force was discovered before it
was too late, and by throwing his divisions from point to point with
extraordinary rapidity, Bonaparte at length overwhelmed the Austrians in
every quarter of the battle-field. This was their last effort. The
surrender of Mantua on the 2nd February, 1797, completed the French
conquest of Austrian Lombardy. [56]

[Peace of Tolentino, Feb. 19, 1797.]

The Pope now found himself left to settle his account with the invaders,
against whom, even after the armistice, he had never ceased to intrigue.
[57] His despatches to Vienna fell into the hands of Bonaparte, who
declared the truce broken, and a second time invaded the Papal territory. A
show of resistance was made by the Roman troops; but the country was in
fact at the mercy of Bonaparte, who advanced as far as Tolentino, thirty
miles south of Ancona. Here the Pope tendered his submission. If the Roman
Court had never appeared to be in a more desperate condition, it had never
found a more moderate or a more politic conqueror. Bonaparte was as free
from any sentiment of Christian piety as Nero or Diocletian; but he
respected the power of the Papacy over men's minds, and he understood the
immense advantage which any Government of France supported by the
priesthood would possess over those who had to struggle with its hostility.
In his negotiations with the Papal envoys he deplored the violence of the
French Executive, and consoled the Church with the promise of his own
protection and sympathy. The terms of peace which he granted, although they
greatly diminished the ecclesiastical territory were in fact more
favourable than the Pope had any right to expect. Bologna, Ferrara, and the
Romagna, which had been occupied in virtue of the armistice, were now ceded
by the Papacy. But conditions affecting the exercise of the spiritual power
which had been proposed by the Directory were withdrawn; and, beyond a
provision for certain payments in money, nothing of importance was added to
the stipulations of the armistice.

The last days of the Venetian Republic were now at hand. It was in vain
that Venice had maintained its neutrality when all the rest of Italy joined
the enemies of France; its refusal of a French alliance was made an
unpardonable crime. So long as the war with Austria lasted, Bonaparte
exhausted the Venetian territory with requisitions: when peace came within
view, it was necessary that he should have some pretext for seizing it or
handing it over to the enemy. In fulfilment of his own design of keeping a
quarrel open, he had subjected the Government to every insult and wrong
likely to goad it into an act of war. When at length Venice armed for the
purpose of protecting its neutrality, the organs of the invader called upon
the inhabitants of the Venetian mainland to rise against the oligarchy, and
to throw in their lot with the liberated province of Milan. A French
alliance was once more urged upon Venice by Bonaparte: it was refused, and
the outbreak which the French had prepared instantly followed. Bergamo and
Brescia, where French garrisons deprived the Venetian Government of all
power of defence, rose in revolt, and renounced all connection with Venice.
The Senate begged Bonaparte to withdraw the French garrisons; its
entreaties drew nothing from him but repeated demands for the acceptance of
the French alliance, which was only another name for subjection. Little as
the Venetians suspected it, the only doubt now present to Bonaparte was
whether he should add the provinces of Venetia to his own Cispadane
Republic or hand them over to Austria in exchange for other cessions which
France required.

[Preliminaries of Leoben, April 18.]

Austria could defend itself in Italy no longer. Before the end of March the
mountain-passes into Carinthia were carried by Bonaparte. His army drove
the enemy before it along the road to Vienna, until both pursuers and
pursued were within eighty miles of the capital. At Leoben, on the 7th of
April, Austrian commander asked for a suspension of arms. It was granted,
and negotiations for peace commenced. [58] Bonaparte offered the Venetian
provinces, but not the city of Venice, to the Emperor. On the 18th of April
preliminaries of peace were signed at Leoben, by which, in return for the
Netherlands and for Lombardy west of the river Oglio, Bonaparte secretly
agreed to hand over to Austria the whole of the territory of Venice upon
the mainland east of the Oglio, in addition to its Adriatic provinces of
Istria and Dalmatia. To disguise the act of spoliation, it was pretended
that Bologna and Ferrara should be offered to Venice in return. [59]

[French enter Venice.]

But worse was yet to come. While Bonaparte was in conference at Leoben, an
outbreak took place at Verona, and three hundred French soldiers, including
the sick in the hospital, perished by popular violence. The Venetian Senate
despatched envoys to Bonaparte to express their grief and to offer
satisfaction; in the midst of the negotiations intelligence arrived that
the commander of a Venetian fort had fired upon a French vessel and killed
some of the crew. Bonaparte drove the envoys from his presence, declaring
that he could not treat with men whose hands were dripping with French
blood. A declaration of war was published, charging the Senate with the
design of repeating the Sicilian Vespers, and the panic which it was
Bonaparte's object to inspire instantly followed. The Government threw
themselves upon his mercy. Bonaparte pretended that he desired no more than
to establish a popular government in Venice in the place of the oligarchy.
His terms were accepted. The Senate consented to abrogate the ancient
Constitution of the Republic, and to introduce a French garrison into
Venice. On the 12th of May the Grand Council voted its own dissolution.
Peace was concluded. The public articles of the treaty declared that there
should be friendship between the French and the Venetian Republics; that
the sovereignty of Venice should reside in the body of the citizens; and
that the French garrison should retire so soon as the new Government
announced that it had no further need of its support. Secret articles
stipulated for a money payment, and for the usual surrender of works of
art; an indefinite expression relating to an exchange of territory was
intended to cover the surrender of the Venetian mainland, and the union of
Bologna and Ferrara with what remained of Venice. The friendship and
alliance of France, which Bonaparte had been so anxious to bestow on
Venice, were now to bear their fruit. "I shall do everything in my power,"
he wrote to the new Government of Venice, "to give you proof of the great
desire I have to see your liberty take root, and to see this unhappy Italy,
freed from the rule of the stranger, at length take its place with glory on
the scene of the world, and resume, among the great nations, the rank to
which nature, destiny, and its own position call it." This was for Venice;
for the French Directory Bonaparte had a very different tale. "I had
several motives," he wrote (May 19), "in concluding the treaty:--to enter
the city without difficulty; to have the arsenal and all else in our
possession, in order to take from it whatever we needed, under pretext of
the secret articles; ... to evade the odium attaching to the Preliminaries
of Leoben; to furnish pretexts for them, and to facilitate their

[French seize Ionian islands.]

[Venice to be given to Austria.]

As the first fruits of the Venetian alliance, Bonaparte seized upon Corfu
and the other Ionian Islands. "You will start," he wrote to General
Gentili, "as quickly and as secretly as possible, and take possession of
all the Venetian establishments in the Levant.... If the inhabitants
should be inclined for independence, you should flatter their tastes, and
in all your proclamations you should not fail to allude to Greece, Athens,
and Sparta." This was to be the French share in the spoil. Yet even now,
though stripped of its islands, its coasts, and its ancient Italian
territory, Venice might still have remained a prominent city in Italy. It
was sacrificed in order to gain the Rhenish Provinces for France. Bonaparte
had returned to the neighbourhood of Milan, and received the Austrian
envoy, De Gallo, at the villa of Montebello. Wresting a forced meaning from
the Preliminaries of Leoben, Bonaparte claimed the frontier of the Rhine,
offering to Austria not only the territory of Venice upon the mainland, but
the city of Venice itself. De Gallo yielded. Whatever causes subsequently
prolonged the negotiation, no trace of honour or pity in Bonaparte led him
even to feign a reluctance to betray Venice. "We have to-day had our first
conference on the definitive treaty," he wrote to the Directory, on the
night of the 26th of May, "and have agreed to present the following
propositions: the line of the Rhine for France; Salzburg, Passau for the
Emperor; ... the maintenance of the Germanic Body; ... Venice for the
Emperor. Venice," he continued, "which has been in decadence since the
discovery of the Cape of Good Hope and the rise of Trieste and Ancona, can
scarcely survive the blows we have just struck. With a cowardly and
helpless population in no way fit for liberty, without territory and
without rivers, it is but natural that she should go to those to whom we
give the mainland." Thus was Italy to be freed from foreign intervention;
and thus was Venice to be regenerated by the friendship of France!


In comparison with the fate preparing for Venice, the sister-republic of
Genoa met with generous treatment. A revolutionary movement, long prepared
by the French envoy, overthrew the ancient oligarchical Government; but
democratic opinion and French sympathies did not extend below the middle
classes of the population; and, after the Government had abandoned its own
cause, the charcoal-burners and dock-labourers rose in its defence, and
attacked the French party with the cry of "Viva Maria," and with figures of
the Virgin fastened to their hats, in the place where their opponents wore
the French tricolour. Religious fanaticism won the day; the old Government
was restored, and a number of Frenchmen who had taken part in the conflict
were thrown into prison. The imprisonment of the Frenchmen gave Bonaparte a
pretext for intervention. He disclaimed all desire to alter the Government,
and demanded only the liberation of his countrymen and the arrest of the
enemies of France. But the overthrow of the oligarchy had been long
arranged with Faypoult, the French envoy; and Genoa received a democratic
constitution which place the friends of France in power (June 5).

[France in 1797.]

While Bonaparte, holding Court in the Villa of Montebello, continued to
negotiate with Austria upon the basis of the Preliminaries of Leoben,
events took place in France which offered him an opportunity of interfering
directly in the government of the Republic. The elections which were to
replace one-third of the members of the Legislature took place in the
spring of 1797. The feeling of the country was now much the same as it had
been in 1795, when a large Royalist element was returned for those seats in
the Councils which the Convention had not reserved for its own members.
France desired a more equitable and a more tolerant rule. The Directory had
indeed allowed the sanguinary laws against non-juring priests and returning
emigrants to remain unenforced; but the spirit and traditions of official
Jacobinism were still active in the Government. The Directors themselves
were all regicides; the execution of the King was still celebrated by a
national _fête_; offices, great and small, were held by men who had risen
in the Revolution; the whole of the old gentry of France was excluded from
participation in public life. It was against this revolutionary class-rule,
against a system which placed the country as much at the mercy of a few
directors and generals as it had been at the mercy of the Conventional
Committee, that the elections of 1797 were a protest. Along with certain
Bourbonist conspirators, a large majority of men were returned who, though
described as Royalists, were in fact moderate Constitutionalists, and
desired only to undo that part of the Revolution which excluded whole
classes of the nation from public life. [60]

[Opposition to the Directory.]

Such a party in the legislative body naturally took the character of an
Opposition to the more violent section of the Directory. The Director
retiring in 1797 was replaced by the Constitutionalist Barthélemy,
negotiator of the treaty of Basle; Carnot, who continued in office, took
part with the Opposition, justly fearing that the rule of the Directory
would soon amount to nothing more than the rule of Bonaparte himself. The
first debates in the new Chamber arose upon the laws relating to emigrants;
the next, upon Bonaparte's usurpation of sovereign power in Italy. On the
23rd of June a motion for information on the affairs of Venice and Genoa
was brought forward in the Council of Five Hundred. Dumolard, the mover,
complained of the secrecy of Bonaparte's action, of the contempt shown by
him to the Assembly, of his tyrannical and un-republican interference with
the institutions of friendly States. No resolution was adopted by the
Assembly; but the mere fact that the Assembly had listened to a hostile
criticism of his own actions was sufficient ground in Bonaparte's eyes to
charge it with Royalism and with treason. Three of the Directors, Barras,
Rewbell, and Laréveillère, had already formed the project of overpowering
the Assembly by force. Bonaparte's own interests led him to offer them his
support. If the Constitutional party gained power, there was an end to his
own unshackled rule in Italy; if the Bourbonists succeeded, a different
class of men would hold all the honours of the State. However feeble the
Government of the Directory, its continuance secured his own present
ascendency, and left him the hope of gaining supreme power when the public
could tolerate the Directory no longer.

[Coup d'état, 17 Fructidor (Sept. 3).]

The fate of the Assembly was sealed. On the anniversary of the capture of
the Bastille, Bonaparte issued a proclamation to his army declaring the
Republic to be threatened by Royalist intrigues. A banquet was held, and
the officers and soldiers of every division signed addresses to the
Directory full of threats and fury against conspiring aristocrats.
"Indignation is at its height in the army," wrote Bonaparte to the
Government; "the soldiers are asking with loud cries whether they are to be
rewarded by assassination on their return home, as it appears all patriots
are to be so dealt with. The peril is increasing every day, and I think,
citizen Directors, you must decide to act one way or other." The Directors
had no difficulty in deciding after such an exhortation as this; but, as
soon as Bonaparte had worked up their courage, he withdrew into the
background, and sent General Augereau, a blustering Jacobin, to Paris, to
risk the failure or bear the odium of the crime. Augereau received the
military command of the capital; the air was filled with rumours of an
impending blow; but neither the majority in the Councils nor the two
threatened Directors, Carnot and Barthélemy, knew how to take measures of
defence. On the night of the 3rd September (17 Fructidor) the troops of
Augereau surrounded the Tuileries. Barthélemy was seized at the Luxembourg;
Carnot fled for his life; the members of the Councils, marching in
procession to the Tuileries early the next morning, were arrested or
dispersed by the soldiers. Later in the day a minority of the Councils was
assembled to ratify the measures determined upon by Augereau and the three
Directors. Fifty members of the Legislature, and the writers, proprietors,
and editors of forty-two journals, were sentenced to exile; the elections
of forty-eight departments were annulled; the laws against priests and
emigrants were renewed; and the Directory was empowered to suppress all
journals at its pleasure. This coup d'état was described as the suppression
of a Royalist conspiracy. It was this, but it was something more. It was
the suppression of all Constitutional government, and all but the last step
to the despotism of the chief of the army.

[Peace signed with Austria, Oct. 17.]

The effect of the movement was instantly felt in the negotiations with
Austria and with England. Lord Malmesbury was now again in France, treating
for peace with fair hopes of success, since the Preliminaries of Leoben had
removed England's opposition to the cession of the Netherlands, the
discomfiture of the moderate party in the Councils brought his mission to
an abrupt end. Austria, on the other hand, had prolonged its negotiations
because Bonaparte claimed Mantua and the Rhenish Provinces in addition to
the cessions agreed upon at Leoben. Count Ludwig Cobenzl, Austrian
ambassador at St. Petersburg, who had protected his master's interests only
too well in the last partition of Poland, was now at the head of the

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