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

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plenipotentiaries in Italy, endeavouring to bring Bonaparte back to the
terms fixed in the Preliminaries, or to gain additional territory for
Austria in Italy. The Jacobin victory at Paris depressed the Austrians as
much as it elated the French leader. Bonaparte was resolved on concluding a
peace that should be all his own, and this was only possible by
anticipating an invasion of Germany, about to be undertaken by Augereau at
the head of the Army of the Rhine. It was to this personal ambition of
Bonaparte that Venice was sacrificed. The Directors were willing that
Austria should receive part of the Venetian territory: they forbade the
proposed cession of Venice itself. Within a few weeks more, the advance of
the Army of the Rhine would have enabled France to dictate its own terms;
but no consideration either for France or for Italy could induce Bonaparte
to share the glory of the Peace with another. On the 17th of October he
signed the final treaty of Campo Formio, which gave France the frontier of
the Rhine, and made both the Venetian territory beyond the Adige and Venice
itself the property of the Emperor. For a moment it seemed that the Treaty
might be repudiated at Vienna as well as at Paris. Thugut protested against
it, because it surrendered Mantua and the Rhenish Provinces without gaining
for Austria the Papal Legations; and he drew up the ratification only at
the absolute command of the Emperor. The Directory, on the other hand,
condemned the cession of Venice. But their fear of Bonaparte and their own
bad conscience left them impotent accessories of his treachery; and the
French nation at large was too delighted with the peace to resent its baser
conditions. [61]

[Treaty of Campo Formio, Oct. 17.]

By the public articles of the Treaty of Campo Formio, the Emperor ceded to
France the Austrian possessions in Lombardy and in the Netherlands, and
agreed to the establishment of a Cisalpine Republic, formed out of Austrian
Lombardy, the Venetian territory west of the Adige, and the districts
hitherto composing the new Cispadane State. France took the Ionian Islands,
Austria the City of Venice, with Istria and Dalmatia, and the Venetian
mainland east of the Adige. For the conclusion of peace between France and
the Holy Roman Empire, it was agreed that a Congress should meet at
Rastadt; but a secret article provided that the Emperor should use his
efforts to gain for France the whole left bank of the Rhine, except a tract
including the Prussian Duchies of Cleve and Guelders. With humorous
duplicity the French Government, which had promised Prussia the Bishopric
of Münster in return for this very district, now pledged itself to Austria
that Prussia should receive no extension whatever, and affected to exclude
the Prussian Duchies from the Rhenish territory which was to be made over
to France. Austria was promised the independent Bishopric of Salzburg, and
that portion of Bavaria which lies between the Inn and the Salza. The
secular princes dispossessed in the Rhenish Provinces were to be
compensated in the interior of the Empire by a scheme framed in concert
with France.

[Austria sacrifices Germany.]

The immense advantages which the Treaty of Campo Formio gave to France--its
extension over the Netherlands and the Rhenish Provinces, and the virtual
annexation of Lombardy, Modena, and the Papal Legations under the form of a
client republic--were not out of proportion to its splendid military
successes. Far otherwise was it with Austria. With the exception of the
Archduke's campaign of 1796, the warfare of the last three years had
brought Austria nothing but a series of disasters; yet Austria gained by
the Treaty of Campo Formio as much as it lost. In the place of the distant
Netherlands and of Milan it gained, in Venice and Dalmatia, a territory
touching its own, nearly equal to the Netherlands and Milan together in
population, and so situated as to enable Austria to become one of the naval
Powers of the Mediterranean. The price which Austria paid was the
abandonment of Germany, a matter which, in spite of Thugut's protests,
disturbed the Court of Vienna as little as the betrayal of Venice disturbed
Bonaparte. The Rhenish Provinces were surrendered to the stranger; German
districts were to be handed over to compensate the ejected Sovereigns of
Holland and of Modena; the internal condition and order of the Empire were
to be superseded by one framed not for the purpose of benefiting Germany,
but for the purpose of extending the influence of France.

[Policy of Bonaparte.]

As defenders of Germany, both Prussia and Austria had been found wanting.
The latter Power seemed to have reaped in Italy the reward of its firmness
in prolonging the war. Bonaparte ridiculed the men who, in the earlier
spirit of the Revolution, desired to found a freer political system in
Europe upon the ruins of Austria's power. "I have not drawn my support in
Italy," he wrote to Talleyrand (Oct. 7), "from the love of the peoples for
liberty and equality, or at least but a very feeble support. The real
support of the army of Italy has been its own discipline, ... above all,
our promptitude in repressing malcontents and punishing those who declared
against us. This is history; what I say in my proclamations and speeches is
a romance.... If we return to the foreign policy of 1793, we shall do so
knowing that a different policy has brought us success, and that we have no
longer the great masses of 1793 to enrol in our armies, nor the support of
an enthusiasm which has its day and does not return." Austria might well,
for the present, be left in some strength, and France was fortunate to have
so dangerous an enemy off her hands. England required the whole forces of
the Republic. "The present situation," wrote Bonaparte, after the Peace of
Campo Formio, "offers us a good chance. We must set all our strength upon
the sea; we must destroy England; and the Continent is at our feet."

[Battles of St. Vincent, Feb. 14, 1797, and Camperdown, Oct. 6.]

It had been the natural hope of the earlier Republicans that the Spanish
and the Dutch navies, if they could be brought to the side of France, would
make France superior to Great Britain as a maritime Power. The conquest of
Holland had been planned by Carnot as the first step towards an invasion of
England. For a while these plans seemed to be approaching their fulfilment,
Holland was won; Spain first made peace, and then entered into alliance
with the Directory (Aug. 1796). But each increase in the naval forces of
the Republic only gave the admirals of Great Britain new material to
destroy. The Spanish fleet was beaten by Jarvis off St. Vincent; even the
mutiny of the British squadrons at Spithead and the Nore, in the spring and
summer of 1797, caused no change in the naval situation in the North Sea.
Duncan, who was blockading the Dutch fleet in the Texel when his own
squadron joined the mutineers, continued the blockade with one ship beside
his own, signalling all the while as if the whole fleet were at his back;
until the misused seamen, who had lately turned their guns upon the Thames,
returned to the admiral, and earned his forgiveness by destroying the Dutch
at Camperdown as soon as they ventured out of shelter.

[Bonaparte about to invade Egypt.]

It is doubtful whether at any time after his return from Italy Bonaparte
seriously entertained the project of invading England. The plan was at any
rate soon abandoned, and the preparations, which caused great alarm in the
English coast-towns, were continued only for the purpose of disguising
Bonaparte's real design of an attack upon Egypt. From the beginning of his
career Bonaparte's thoughts had turned towards the vast and undefended
East. While still little known, he had asked the French Government to send
him to Constantinople to organise the Turkish army; as soon as Venice fell
into his hands, he had seized the Ionian Islands as the base for a future
conquest of the Levant. Every engagement that confirmed the superiority of
England upon the western seas gave additional reason for attacking her
where her power was most precarious, in the East. Bonaparte knew that
Alexander had conquered the country of the Indus by a land-march from the
Mediterranean, and this was perhaps all the information which he possessed
regarding the approaches to India; but it was enough to fix his mind upon
the conquest of Egypt and Syria, as the first step towards the destruction
of the Asiatic Empire of England. Mingled with the design upon India was a
dream of overthrowing the Mohammedan Government of Turkey, and attacking
Austria from the East with an army drawn from the liberated Christian races
of the Ottoman Empire. The very vagueness of a scheme of Eastern conquest
made it the more attractive to Bonaparte's genius and ambition. Nor was
there any inclination on the part of the Government to detain the general
at home. The Directory, little concerned with the real merits or dangers of
the enterprise, consented to Bonaparte's project of an attack upon Egypt,
thankful for any opportunity of loosening the grasp which was now closing
so firmly upon themselves.


Congress of Rastadt--The Rhenish Provinces ceded--Ecclesiastical States of
Germany suppressed--French intervention in Switzerland--Helvetic Republic--
The French invade the Papal States--Roman Republic--Expedition to Egypt--
Battle of the Nile--Coalition of 1798--Ferdinand of Naples enters
Rome--Mack's defeats--French enter Naples--Parthenopean Republic--War with
Austria and Russia--Battle of Stockach--Murder of the French Envoys at
Rastadt--Campaign in Lombardy--Reign of Terror at Naples--Austrian designs
upon Italy--Suvaroff and the Austrians--Campaign in Switzerland--Campaign
in Holland--Bonaparte returns from Egypt--Coup d'état of 18 Brumaire--
Constitution of 1799--System of Bonaparte in France--Its effect on the
influence of France abroad.

[Congress of Rastadt, Nov. 1797.]

The public articles of the Treaty of Campo Formio contained only the terms
which had been agreed upon by France and Austria in relation to Italy and
the Netherlands: the conditions of peace between France and the Germanic
Body, which had been secretly arranged between France and the two leading
Powers, were referred by a diplomatic fiction to a Congress that was to
assemble at Rastadt. Accordingly, after Prussia and Austria had each signed
an agreement abandoning the Rhenish Provinces, the Congress was duly
summoned. As if in mockery of his helpless countrymen, the Emperor informed
the members of the Diet that "in unshaken fidelity to the great principle
of the unity and indivisibility of the German Empire, they were to maintain
the common interests of the Fatherland with noble conscientiousness and
German steadfastness; and so, united with their imperial head, to promote a
just and lasting peace, founded upon the basis of the integrity of the
Empire and of its Constitution." [62] Thus the Congress was convoked upon
the pretence of preserving what the two greater States had determined to
sacrifice; while its real object, the suppression of the ecclesiastical
principalities and the curtailment of Bavaria, was studiously put out of

[Rivalry of the Germans.]

The Congress was composed of two French envoys, of the representatives of
Prussia and Austria, and of a committee, numbering with their secretaries
seventy-four persons, appointed by the Diet of Ratisbon. But the recognised
negotiators formed only a small part of the diplomatists who flocked to
Rastadt in the hope of picking up something from the wreck of the Empire.
Every petty German sovereign, even communities which possessed no political
rights at all, thought it necessary to have an agent on the spot, in order
to filch, if possible, some trifling advantage from a neighbour, or to
catch the first rumour of a proposed annexation. It was the saturnalia of
the whole tribe of busybodies and intriguers who passed in Germany for men
of state. They spied upon one another; they bribed the secretaries and
doorkeepers, they bribed the very cooks and coachmen, of the two omnipotent
French envoys. Of the national humiliation of Germany, of the dishonour
attaching to the loss of entire provinces and the reorganisation of what
remained at the bidding of the stranger, there seems to have been no sense
in the political circles of the day. The collapse of the Empire was viewed
rather as a subject of merriment. A gaiety of life and language prevailed,
impossible among men who did not consider themselves as the spectators of a
comedy. Cobenzl, the chief Austrian plenipotentiary, took his travels in a
fly, because his mistress, the _citoyenne_ Hyacinthe, had decamped with all
his carriages and horses. A witty but profane pamphlet was circulated, in
which the impending sacrifice of the Empire was described in language
borrowed from the Gospel narrative, Prussia taking the part of Judas
Iscariot, Austria that of Pontius Pilate, the Congress itself being the
chief priests and Pharisees assembling that they may take the Holy Roman
Empire by craft, while the army of the Empire figures as the "multitude who
smote upon their breasts and departed." In the utter absence of any German
pride or patriotism the French envoys not only obtained the territory that
they required, but successfully embroiled the two leading Powers with one
another, and accustomed the minor States to look to France for their own
promotion at the cost of their neighbours. The contradictory pledges which
the French Government had given to Austria and to Prussia caused it no
embarrassment. To deceive one of the two powers was to win the gratitude of
the other; and the Directory determined to fulfil its engagement to Prussia
at the expense of the bishoprics, and to ignore what it had promised to
Austria at the expense of Bavaria.

[Rhenish Provinces.]

[Ecclesiastical States suppressed.]

A momentary difficulty arose upon the opening of the Congress, when it
appeared that, misled by the Emperor's protestations, the Diet had only
empowered its Committee to treat upon the basis of the integrity of the
Empire (Dec. 9). The French declined to negotiate until the Committee had
procured full powers: and the prospects of the integrity of the Empire were
made clear enough a few days later by the entry of the French into Mainz,
and the formal organisation of the Rhenish Provinces as four French
Departments. In due course a decree of the Diet arrived, empowering the
Committee to negotiate at their discretion: and for some weeks after the
inhabitants of the Rhenish Provinces had been subjected to the laws, the
magistracy, and the taxation of France, the Committee deliberated upon the
proposal for their cession with as much minuteness and as much impartiality
as if it had been a point of speculative philosophy. At length the French
put an end to the tedious trifling, and proceeded to the question of
compensation for the dispossessed lay Princes. This they proposed to effect
by means of the disestablishment, or secularisation, of ecclesiastical
States in the interior of Germany. Prussia eagerly supported the French
proposal, both with a view to the annexation of the great Bishopric of
Münster, and from ancient hostility to the ecclesiastical States as
instruments and allies of Catholic Austria. The Emperor opposed the
destruction of his faithful dependents; the ecclesiastical princes
themselves raised a bitter outcry, and demonstrated that the fall of their
order would unloose the keystone of the political system of Europe; but
they found few friends. If Prussia coveted the great spoils of Münster, the
minor sovereigns, as a rule, wore just as eager for the convents and abbeys
that broke the continuity of their own territories: only the feeblest of
all the members of the Empire, the counts, the knights, and the cities,
felt a respectful sympathy for their ecclesiastical neighbours, and foresaw
that in a system of annexation their own turn would come next. The
principle of secularisation was accepted by the Congress without much
difficulty, all the energy of debate being reserved for the discussion of
details: arrangements which were to transfer a few miles of ground and half
a dozen custom-houses from some bankrupt ecclesiastic to some French-bought
duke excited more interest in Germany than the loss of the Rhenish
Provinces, and the subjection of a tenth part of the German nation to a
foreign rule.

[Austria determines on war, 1798.]

One more question was unexpectedly presented to the Congress. After
proclaiming for six years that the Rhine was the natural boundary of
France, the French Government discovered that a river cannot be a military
frontier at all. Of what service, urged the French plenipotentiaries, were
Strasburg and Mainz, so long as they were commanded by the guns on the
opposite bank? If the Rhine was to be of any use to France, France must be
put in possession of the fortresses of Kehl and Castel upon the German
side. Outrageous as such a demand appears, it found supporters among the
venal politicians of the smaller Courts, and furnished the Committee with
material for arguments that extended over four months. But the policy of
Austria was now taking a direction that rendered the resolutions of the
Congress of very little importance. It had become clear that France was
inclining to an alliance with Prussia, and that the Bavarian annexations
promised to Austria by the secret articles of Campo Formio were to be
withheld. Once convinced, by the failure of a private negotiation in
Alsace, that the French would neither be content with their gains of 1797,
nor permit Austria to extend its territory in Italy, Thugut determined upon
a renewal of the war. [63] In spite of a powerful opposition at Court,
Thugut's stubborn will still controlled the fortune of Austria: and the
aggressions of the French Republic in Switzerland and the Papal States, at
the moment when it was dictating terms of peace to the Empire, gave only
too much cause for the formation of a new European league.

[French intervention in Switzerland.]

At the close of the last century there was no country where the spirit of
Republican freedom was so strong, or where the conditions of life were so
level, as in Switzerland; its inhabitants, however, were far from enjoying
complete political equality. There were districts which stood in the
relation of subject dependencies to one or other of the ruling cantons: the
Pays de Vaud was governed by an officer from Berne; the valley of the
Ticino belonged to Uri; and in most of the sovereign cantons themselves
authority was vested in a close circle of patrician families. Thus,
although Switzerland was free from the more oppressive distinctions of
caste, and the Governments, even where not democratic, were usually just
and temperate, a sufficiently large class was excluded from political
rights to give scope to an agitation which received its impulse from Paris.
It was indeed among communities advanced in comfort and intelligence, and
divided from those who governed them by no great barrier of wealth and
prestige, that the doctrines of the Revolution found a circulation which
they could never gain among the hereditary serfs of Prussia or the
priest-ridden peasantry of the Roman States. As early as the year 1792 a
French army had entered the territory of Geneva, in order to co-operate
with the democratic party in the city. The movement was, however, checked
by the resolute action of the Bernese Senate; and the relations of France
to the Federal Government had subsequently been kept upon a friendly
footing by the good sense of Barthélemy, the French ambassador at Berne,
and the discretion with which the Swiss Government avoided every occasion
of offence. On the conquest of Northern Italy, Bonaparte was brought into
direct connection with Swiss affairs by a reference of certain points in
dispute to his authority as arbitrator. Bonaparte solved the difficulty by
annexing the district of the Valteline to the Cisalpine Republic; and from
that time he continued in communication with the Swiss democratic leaders
on the subject of a French intervention in Switzerland, the real purpose of
which was to secure the treasure of Berne, and to organise a government,
like that of Holland and the Cisalpine Republic, in immediate dependence
upon France.

[Helvetic Republic, April 12.]

[War between France and Swiss Federation, June, 1798.]

At length the moment for armed interference arrived. On the 15th December,
1797, a French force entered the Bishopric of Basle, and gave the signal
for insurrection in the Pays de Vaud. The Senate of Berne summoned the Diet
of the Confederacy to provide for the common defence: the oath of
federation was renewed, and a decree was passed calling out the Federal
army. It was now announced by the French that they would support the
Vaudois revolutionary party, if attacked. The Bernese troops, however,
advanced; and the bearer of a flag of truce having been accidentally
killed, war was declared between the French Republic and the Government of
Berne. Democratic movements immediately followed in the northern and
western cantons; the Bernese Government attempted to negotiate with the
French invaders, but discovered that no terms would be accepted short of
the entire destruction of the existing Federal Constitution. Hostilities
commenced; and the Bernese troops, supported by contingents from most of
the other cantons, offered a brave but ineffectual resistance to the
advance of the French, who entered the Federal capital on the 6th of March,
1798. The treasure of Berne, amounting to about £800,000, accumulated by
ages of thrift and good management, was seized in order to provide for
Bonaparte's next campaign, and for a host of voracious soldiers and
contractors. A system of robbery and extortion, more shameless even than
that practised in Italy, was put in force against the cantonal governments,
against the monasteries, and against private individuals. In compensation
for the material losses inflicted upon the country, the new Helvetic
Republic, one and indivisible, was proclaimed at Aarau. It conferred an
equality of political rights upon all natives of Switzerland, and
substituted for the ancient varieties of cantonal sovereignty a single
national government, composed, like that of France, of a Directory and two
Councils of Legislature.

The towns and districts which had been hitherto excluded from a share in
government welcomed a change which seemed to place them on a level with
their former superiors: the mountain-cantons fought with traditional
heroism in defence of the liberties which they had inherited from their
fathers; but they were compelled, one after another, to submit to the
overwhelming force of France, and to accept the new constitution. Yet, even
now, when peace seemed to have been restored, and the whole purpose of
France attained, the tyranny and violence of the invaders exhausted the
endurance of a spirited people. The magistrates of the Republic were
expelled from office at the word of a French Commission; hostages were
seized; at length an oath of allegiance to the new order was required as a
condition for the evacuation of Switzerland by the French army. Revolt
broke out in Unterwalden, and a handful of peasants met the French army at
the village of Stanz, near the eastern shore of the Lake of Lucerne (Sept.
8). There for three days they fought with unyielding courage. Their
resistance inflamed the French to a cruel vengeance; slaughtered families
and burning villages renewed, in this so-called crusade of liberty, the
savagery of ancient war.

[French intrigues in Rome.]

Intrigues at Rome paved the way for a French intervention in the affairs of
the Papal States, coincident in time with the invasion of Switzerland. The
residence of the French ambassador at Rome, Joseph Bonaparte, was the
centre of a democratic agitation. The men who moved about him were in great
part strangers from the north of Italy, but they found adherents in the
middle and professional classes in Rome itself, although the mass of the
poor people, as well as the numerous body whose salaries or profits
depended upon ecclesiastical expenditure, were devoted to the priests and
the Papacy. In anticipation of disturbances, the Government ordered
companies of soldiers to patrol the city. A collision occurred on the 28th
December, 1797, between the patrols and a band of revolutionists, who,
being roughly handled by the populace as well as by the soldiers, made
their way for protection to the courtyard of the Palazzo Corsini, where
Joseph Bonaparte resided. Here, in the midst of a confused struggle,
General Duphot, a member of the Embassy, was shot by a Papal soldier. [64]

[Berthier enters Rome, Feb. 10, 1798.]

[Roman Republic, Feb. 15, 1798.]

The French had now the pretext against the Papal Government which they
desired. Joseph Bonaparte instantly left the city, and orders were sent to
Berthier, chief of the staff in northern Italy, to march upon Rome.
Berthier advanced amid the acclamations of the towns and the curses of the
peasantry, and entered Rome on the 10th of February, 1798. Events had
produced in the capital a much stronger inclination towards change than
existed on the approach of Bonaparte a year before. The treaty of Tolentino
had shaken the prestige of Papal authority; the loss of so many well-known
works of art, the imposition of new and unpopular taxes, had excited as
much hatred against the defeated government as against the extortionate
conquerors; even among the clergy and their retainers the sale of a portion
of the Church-lands and the curtailment of the old Papal splendours had
produced alienation and discontent. There existed too within the Italian
Church itself a reforming party, lately headed by Ricci, bishop of Pistoia,
which claimed a higher degree of independence for the clergy, and condemned
the assumption of universal authority by the Roman See. The ill-judged
exercise of the Pope's temporal power during the last six years had gained
many converts to the opinion that the head of the Church would best perform
his office if emancipated from a worldly sovereignty, and restored to his
original position of the first among the bishops. Thus, on its approach to
Rome, the Republican army found the city ripe for revolution. On the 15th
of February an excited multitude assembled in the Forum, and, after
planting the tree of liberty in front of the Capitol, renounced the
authority of the Pope, and declared that the Roman people constituted
itself a free Republic. The resolution was conveyed to Berthier, who
recognised the Roman Commonwealth, and made a procession through the city
with the solemnity of an ancient triumph. The Pope shut himself up in the
Vatican. His Swiss guard was removed, and replaced by one composed of
French soldiers, at whose hands the Pontiff, now in his eighty-first year,
suffered unworthy insults. He was then required to renounce his temporal
power, and, upon his refusal, was removed to Tuscany, and afterwards beyond
the Alps to Valence, where in 1799 he died, attended by a solitary

In the liberated capital a course of spoliation began, more thorough and
systematic than any that the French had yet effected. The riches of Rome
brought all the brokers and contractors of Paris to the spot. The museums,
the Papal residence, and the palaces of many of the nobility were robbed of
every article that could be moved; the very fixtures were cut away, when
worth the carriage. On the first meeting of the National Institute in the
Vatican it was found that the doors had lost their locks; and when, by
order of the French, masses were celebrated in the churches in expiation of
the death of Duphot, the patrols who were placed at the gates to preserve
order rushed in and seized the sacred vessels. Yet the general robbery was
far less the work of the army than of the agents and contractors sent by
the Government. In the midst of endless peculation the soldiers were in
want of their pay and their food. A sense of the dishonour done to France
arose at length in the subordinate ranks of the army; and General Massena,
who succeeded Berthier, was forced to quit his command in consequence of
the protests of the soldiery against a system to which Massena had
conspicuously given his personal sanction. It remained to embody the
recovered liberties of Rome in a Republican Constitution, which was, as a
matter of course, a reproduction of the French Directory and Councils of
Legislature, under the practical control of the French general in command.
What Rome had given to the Revolution in the fashion of classical
expressions was now more than repaid. The Directors were styled Consuls;
the divisions of the Legislature were known as the Senate and the
Tribunate; the Prætorship and the Quæstorship were recalled to life in the
Courts of Justice. That the new era might not want its classical memorial,
a medal was struck, with the image and superscription of Roman heroism, to
"Berthier, the restorer of the city," and to "Gaul, the salvation of the
human race."

[Expedition to Egypt, May, 1798.]

It was in the midst of these enterprises in Switzerland and Central Italy
that the Directory assembled the forces which Bonaparte was to lead to the
East. The port of Expedition to embarkation was Toulon; and there, on the
9th of May, 1798, Bonaparte took the command of the most formidable
armament that had ever left the French shores. Great Britain was still but
feebly represented in the Mediterranean, a detachment from St. Vincent's
fleet at Cadiz, placed under the command of Nelson, being the sole British
force in these waters. Heavy reinforcements were at hand; but in the
meantime Nelson had been driven by stress of weather from his watch upon
Toulon. On the 19th of May the French armament put out to sea, its
destination being still kept secret from the soldiers themselves. It
appeared before Malta on the 16th of June. By the treachery of the knights
Bonaparte was put in possession of this stronghold, which he could not even
have attempted to besiege. After a short delay the voyage was resumed, and
the fleet reached Alexandria without having fallen in with the English, who
had now received their reinforcements. The landing was safely effected, and
Alexandria fell at the first assault. After five days the army advanced
upon Cairo. At the foot of the Pyramids the Mameluke cavalry vainly threw
themselves upon Bonaparte's soldiers. They were repulsed with enormous loss
on their own side and scarcely any on that of the French. Their camp was
stormed; Cairo was occupied; and there no longer existed a force in Egypt
capable of offering any serious resistance to the invaders.

[Battle of the Nile, Aug. 1.]

But the fortune which had brought Bonaparte's army safe into the Egyptian
capital was destined to be purchased by the utter destruction of his fleet.
Nelson had passed the French in the night, when, after much perplexity, he
decided on sailing in the direction of Egypt. Arriving at Alexandria before
his prey, he had hurried off in an imaginary pursuit to Rhodes and Crete.
At length he received information which led him to visit Alexandria a
second time. He found the French fleet, numbering thirteen ships of the
line and four frigates, at anchor in Aboukir Bay. [65] His own fleet was
slightly inferior in men and guns, but he entered battle with a
presentiment of the completeness of his victory. Other naval battles have
been fought with larger forces; no destruction was ever so complete as that
of the Battle of the Nile (August 1). Two ships of the line and two
frigates, out of the seventeen sail that met Nelson, alone escaped from his
hands. Of eleven thousand officers and men, nine thousand were taken
prisoners, or perished in the engagement. The army of Bonaparte was cut off
from all hope of support or return; the Republic was deprived of
communication with its best troops and its greatest general.

[Coalition of 1798.]

A coalition was now gathering against France superior to that of 1793 in
the support of Russia and the Ottoman Empire, although Spain was now on the
side of the Republic, and Prussia, in spite of the warnings of the last two
years, refused to stir from its neutrality. The death of the Empress
Catherine, and the accession of Paul, had caused a most serious change in
the prospects of Europe. Hitherto the policy of the Russian Court had been
to embroil the Western Powers with one another, and to confine its efforts
against the French Republic to promises and assurances; with Paul, after an
interval of total reaction, the professions became realities. [66] No
monarch entered so cordially into Pitt's schemes for a renewal of the
European league; no ally had joined the English minister with a sincerity
so like his own. On the part of the Ottoman Government, the pretences of
friendship with which Bonaparte disguised the occupation of Egypt were
taken at their real worth. War was declared by the Porte; and a series of
negotiations, carried on during the autumn of 1798, united Russia, England,
Turkey, and Naples in engagements of mutual support against the French

[Nelson at Naples, Sept., 1798.]

A Russian army set out on its long march towards the Adriatic: the levies
of Austria prepared for a campaign in the spring of 1799; but to the
English Government every moment that elapsed before actual hostilities was
so much time given to uncertainties; and the man who had won the Battle of
the Nile ridiculed the precaution which had hitherto suffered the French to
spread their intrigues through Italy, and closed the ports of Sicily and
Naples to his own most urgent needs. Towards the end of September, Nelson
appeared in the Bay of Naples, and was received with a delirium that
recalled the most effusive scenes in the French Revolution. [67] In the
city of Naples, as in the kingdom generally, the poorest classes were the
fiercest enemies of reform, and the steady allies of the Queen and the
priesthood against that section of the better-educated classes which had
begun to hope for liberty. The system of espionage and persecution with
which the sister of Marie Antoinette avenged upon her own subjects the
sufferings of her kindred had grown more oppressive with every new victory
of the Revolution. In the summer of 1798 there were men languishing for the
fifth year in prison, whose offences had never been investigated, and whose
relatives were not allowed to know whether they were dead or alive. A mode
of expression, a fashion of dress, the word of an informer, consigned
innocent persons to the dungeon, with the possibility of torture. In the
midst of this tyranny of suspicion, in the midst of a corruption which made
the naval and military forces of the kingdom worse than useless, King
Ferdinand and his satellites were unwearied in their theatrical invocations
of the Virgin and St. Januarius against the assailants of divine right and
the conquerors of Rome. A Court cowardly almost beyond the example of
Courts, a police that had trained every Neapolitan to look upon his
neighbour as a traitor, an administration that had turned one of the
hardiest races in Europe into soldiers of notorious and disgraceful
cowardice--such were the allies whom Nelson, ill-fitted for politics by his
sailor-like inexperience and facile vanity, heroic in his tenderness and
fidelity, in an evil hour encouraged to believe themselves invincible
because they possessed his own support. On the 14th of November, 1798, King
Ferdinand published a proclamation, which, without declaring war on the
French, announced that the King intended to occupy the Papal States and
restore the Papal government. The manifesto disclaimed all intention of
conquest, and offered a free pardon to all compromised persons. Ten days
later the Neapolitan army crossed the frontier, led by the Austrian
general, Mack, who passed among his admirers for the greatest soldier in
Europe. [68]

[Ferdinand enters Rome, Nov. 29.]

The mass of the French troops, about twelve thousand in number, lay in the
neighbourhood of Ancona; Rome and the intermediate stations were held by
small detachments. Had Mack pushed forward towards the Upper Tiber, his
inroad, even if it failed to crush the separated wings of the French army,
must have forced them to retreat; but, instead of moving with all his
strength through Central Italy, Mack led the bulk of his army upon Rome,
where there was no French force capable of making a stand, and sent weak
isolated columns towards the east of the peninsula, where the French were
strong enough to make a good defence. On the approach of the Neapolitans to
Rome, Championnet, the French commander, evacuated the city, leaving a
garrison in the Castle of St. Angelo, and fell back on Civita Castellana,
thirty miles north of the capital. The King of Naples entered Rome on the
29th November. The restoration of religion was celebrated by the erection
of an immense cross in the place of the tree of liberty, by the immersion
of several Jews in the Tiber, by the execution of a number of compromised
persons whose pardon the King had promised, and by a threat to shoot one of
the sick French soldiers in the hospital for every shot fired by the guns
of St. Angelo. [69] Intelligence was despatched to the exiled Pontiff of
the discomfiture of his enemies. "By help of the divine grace," wrote King
Ferdinand, "and of the most miraculous St. Januarius, we have to-day with
our army entered the sacred city of Rome, so lately profaned by the
impious, who now fly terror-stricken at the sight of the Cross and of my
arms. Leave then, your Holiness, your too modest abode, and on the wings of
cherubim, like the virgin of Loreto, come and descend upon the Vatican, to
purify it by your sacred presence." A letter to the King of Piedmont, who
had already been exhorted by Ferdinand to encourage his peasants to
assassinate French soldiers, informed him that "the Neapolitans, guided by
General Mack, had sounded the hour of death to the French, and proclaimed
to Europe, from the summit of the Capitol, that the time of the Kings had

[Mack defeated by Championnet, Dec. 6-13.]

The despatches to Piedmont fell into the hands of the enemy, and the usual
modes of locomotion would scarcely have brought Pope Pius to Rome in time
to witness the exit of his deliverer. Ferdinand's rhapsodies were cut short
by the news that his columns advancing into the centre and east of the
Papal States had all been beaten or captured. Mack, at the head of the main
army, now advanced to avenge the defeat upon the French at Civita
Castellana and Terni. But his dispositions were as unskilful as ever:
wherever his troops encountered the enemy they were put to the rout; and,
as he had neglected to fortify or secure a single position upon his line of
march, his defeat by a handful of French soldiers on the north of Rome
involved the loss of the country almost up to the gates of Naples. On the
first rumour of Mack's reverses the Republican party at Rome declared for
France. King Ferdinand fled; Championnet re-entered Rome, and, after a few
days' delay, advanced into Neapolitan territory. Here, however, he found
himself attacked by an enemy more formidable than the army which had been
organised to expel the French from Italy. The Neapolitan peasantry, who, in
soldiers' uniform and under the orders of Mack, could scarcely be brought
within sight of the French, fought with courage when an appeal to their
religious passions collected them in brigand-like bands under leaders of
their own. Divisions of Championnet's army sustained severe losses; they
succeeded, however, in effecting their junction upon the Volturno; and the
stronghold of Gaeta, being defended by regular soldiers and not by
brigands, surrendered to the French at the first summons.

[French enter Naples, Jan. 23, 1799.]

Mack was now concentrating his troops in an entrenched camp before Capua.
The whole country was rising against the invaders; and, in spite of lost
battles and abandoned fortresses, the Neapolitan Government if it had
possessed a spark of courage, might still have overthrown the French army,
which numbered only 18,000 men. But the panic and suspicion which the
Government had fostered among its subjects were now avenged upon itself.
The cry of treachery was raised on every side. The Court dreaded a
Republican rising; the priests and the populace accused the Court of
conspiracy with the French; Mack protested that the soldiers were resolved
to be beaten; the soldiers swore that they were betrayed by Mack. On the
night of the 21st of December, the Royal Family secretly went on board
Nelson's ship the _Vanguard_, and after a short interval they set sail
for Palermo, leaving the capital in charge of Prince Pignatelli, a courtier
whom no one was willing to obey. [70] Order was, however, maintained by a
civic guard enrolled by the Municipality, until it became known that Mack
and Pignatelli had concluded an armistice with the French, and surrendered
Capua and the neighbouring towns. Then the populace broke into wild uproar.
The prisons were thrown open; and with the arms taken from the arsenal the
lazzaroni formed themselves into a tumultuous army, along with thousands of
desperate men let loose from the gaols and the galleys. The priests,
hearing that negotiations for peace were opened, raised the cry of treason
anew; and, with the watchword of the Queen, "All the gentlemen are
Jacobins; only the people are faithful," they hounded on the mob to riot
and murder. On the morning of January 15th hordes of lazzaroni issued from
the gates to throw themselves upon the French, who were now about nine
miles from the city; others dragged the guns down from the forts to defend
the streets. The Republican party, however, and that considerable body
among the upper class which was made Republican by the chaos into which the
Court, with its allies, the priests, and the populace, had thrown Naples,
kept up communication with Championnet, and looked forward to the entrance
of the French as the only means of averting destruction and massacre. By a
stratagem carried out on the night of the 20th they gained possession of
the fort of St. Elmo, while the French were already engaged in a bloody
assault upon the suburbs. On the 23rd Championnet ordered the attack to be
renewed. The conspirators within St. Elmo hoisted the French flag and
turned their guns upon the populace; the fortress of the Carmine was
stormed by the French; and, before the last struggle for life and death
commenced in the centre of the city, the leaders of the lazzaroni listened
to words of friendship which Championnet addressed to them in their own
language, and, with the incoherence of a half-savage race, escorted his
soldiers with cries of joy to the Church of St. Januarius, which
Championnet promised to respect and protect.

[Parthenopean Republic.]

Championnet used his victory with a discretion and forbearance rare amongst
French conquerors. He humoured the superstition of the populace; he
encouraged the political hopes of the enlightened. A vehement revulsion of
feeling against the fugitive Court and in favour of Republican government
followed the creation of a National Council by the French general, and his
ironical homage to the patron saint. The Kingdom of Naples was converted
into the Parthenopean Republic. New laws, new institutions, discussed in a
representative assembly, excited hopes and interests unknown in Naples
before. But the inevitable incidents of a French occupation, extortion and
impoverishment, with all their bitter effects on the mind of the people,
were not long delayed. In every country district the priests were exciting
insurrection. The agents of the new Government, men with no experience in
public affairs, carried confusion wherever they went. Civil war broke out
in fifty different places; and the barbarity of native leaders of
insurrection, like Fra Diavolo, was only too well requited by the French
columns which traversed the districts in revolt.

[War with Austria and Russia, March, 1799.]

The time was ill chosen by the French Government for an extension of the
area of combat to southern Italy. Already the first division of the Russian
army, led by Suvaroff, had reached Moravia, and the Court of Vienna was
only awaiting its own moment for declaring war. So far were the
newly-established Governments in Rome and Naples from being able to assist
the French upon the Adige, that the French had to send troops to Rome and
Naples to support the new Governments. The force which the French could
place upon the frontier was inferior to that which two years of preparation
had given to Austria: the Russians, who were expected to arrive in Lombardy
in April, approached with the confidence of men who had given to the French
none of their recent triumphs. Nor among the leaders was personal
superiority any longer markedly on the side of the French, as in the war of
the First Coalition. Suvaroff and the Archduke Charles were a fair match
for any of the Republican generals, except Bonaparte, who was absent in
Egypt. The executive of France had deeply declined. Carnot was in exile;
the work of organisation which he had pursued with such energy and
disinterestedness flagged under his mediocre and corrupt successors.
Skilful generals and brave soldiers were never wanting to the Republic; but
no single controlling will, no storm of national passion, inspired the
Government with the force which it had possessed under the Convention, and
which returned to it under Napoleon.

A new character was given to the war now breaking out by the inclusion of
Switzerland in the area of combat. In the war of the First Coalition,
Switzerland had been neutral territory; but the events of 1798 had left the
French in possession of all Switzerland west of the Rhine, and an Austrian
force subsequently occupied the Grisons. The line separating the combatants
now ran without a break from Mainz to the Adriatic. The French armies were
in continuous communication with one another, and the movements of each
could be modified according to the requirements of the rest. On the other
hand, a disaster sustained at any one point of the line endangered every
other point; for no neutral territory intervened, as in 1796, to check a
lateral movement of the enemy, and to protect the communications of a
French army in Lombardy from a victorious Austrian force in southern
Germany. The importance of the Swiss passes in this relation was understood
and even overrated by the French Government; and an energy was thrown into
their mountain warfare which might have produced greater results upon the

[The Archduke Charles defeats Jourdan at Stockach, March, 25.]

Three armies formed the order of battle on either side. Jourdan held the
French command upon the Rhine; Massena in Switzerland; Scherer, the least
capable of the Republican generals, on the Adige. On the side of the
Allies, the Archduke Charles commanded in southern Germany; in Lombardy the
Austrians were led by Kray, pending the arrival of Suvaroff and his corps;
in Switzerland the command was given to Hotze, a Swiss officer who had
gained some distinction in foreign service. It was the design of the French
to push their centre under Massena through the mountains into the Tyrol,
and by a combined attack of the central and the southern army to destroy
the Austrians upon the upper Adige, while Jourdan, also in communication
with the centre, drove the Archduke down the Danube upon Vienna. Early in
March the campaign opened. Massena assailed the Austrian positions east of
the head-waters of the Rhine, and forced back the enemy into the heart of
the Orisons. Jourdan crossed the Rhine at Strasburg, and passed the Black
Forest with 40,000 men. His orders were to attack the Archduke Charles,
whatever the Archduke's superiority of force. The French and the Austrian
armies met at Stockach, near the head of the Lake of Constance (March 25).
Overwhelming numbers gave the Archduke a complete victory. Jourdan was not
only stopped in his advance, but forced to retreat beyond the Rhine.
Whatever might be the fortune of the armies of Switzerland and Italy, all
hope of an advance upon Vienna by the Danube was at an end.

[Murder of the French envoys at Rastadt, April 28.]

Freed from the invader's presence, the Austrians now spread themselves over
Baden, up to the gates of Rastadt, where, in spite of the war between
France and Austria, the envoys of the minor German States still continued
their conferences with the French agents. On the 28th of April the French
envoys, now three in number, were required by the Austrians to depart
within twenty-four hours. An escort, for which they applied, was refused.
Scarcely had their carriages passed through the city gates when they were
attacked by a squadron of Austrian hussars. Two of French envoys the French
envoys were murdered; the third left for dead. Whether this frightful
violation of international law was the mere outrage of a drunken soldiery,
as it was represented to be by the Austrian Government; whether it was to
any extent occasioned by superior civil orders, or connected with French
emigrants living in the neighbourhood, remains unknown. Investigations
begun by the Archduke Charles were stopped by the Cabinet, in order that a
more public inquiry might be held by the Diet. This inquiry, however, never
took place. In the year 1804 all papers relating to the Archduke's
investigation were removed by the Government from the military archives.
They have never since been discovered. [71]

[Battle of Magnano, April 5.]

The outburst of wrath with which the French people learnt the fate of their
envoys would have cost Austria dear if Austria had now been the losing
party in the war; but, for the present, everything seemed to turn against
the Republic. Jourdan had scarcely been overthrown in Germany before a
ruinous defeat at Magnano, on the Adige, drove back the army of Italy to
within a few miles of Milan; while Massena, deprived of the fruit of his
own victories by the disasters of his colleagues, had to abandon the
eastern half of Switzerland, and to retire upon the line of the river
Limnat, Lucerne, and the Gothard. Charles now moved from Germany into
Switzerland. Massena fixed his centre at Zürich, and awaited the Archduke's
assault. For five weeks Charles remained inactive: at length, on the 4th of
June, he gave battle. After two days' struggle against greatly superior
forces, Massena was compelled to evacuate Zürich. He retreated, however, no
farther than to the ridge of the Uetliberg, a few miles west of the city;
and here, fortifying his new position, he held obstinately on, while the
Austrians established themselves in the central passes of Switzerland, and
disaster after disaster seemed to be annihilating the French arms in Italy.

[Suvaroff's Campaign in Lombardy, April-June.]

Suvaroff, at the head of 17,000 Russians, had arrived in Lombardy in the
middle of April. His first battle was fought, and his first victory won, at
the passage of the Adda on the 25th of April. It was followed by the
surrender of Milan and the dissolution of the Cisalpine Republic. Moreau,
who now held the French command, fell back upon Alessandria, intending to
cover both Genoa and Turin; but a sudden movement of Suvaroff brought the
Russians into the Sardinian capital before it was even known to be in
jeopardy. The French general, cut off from the roads over the Alps, threw
himself upon the Apennines above Genoa, and waited for the army which had
occupied Naples, and which, under the command of Macdonald, was now
hurrying to his support, gathering with it on its march the troops that lay
scattered on the south of the Po. Macdonald moved swiftly through central
Italy, and crossed the Apennines above Pistoia in the beginning of June.
His arrival at Modena with 20,000 men threatened to turn the balance in
favour of the French. Suvaroff, aware of his danger, collected all the
troops within reach with the utmost despatch, and pushed eastwards to meet
Macdonald on the Trebbia. Moreau descended from the Apennines in the same
direction; but he had underrated the swiftness of the Russian general; and,
before he had advanced over half the distance, Macdonald was attacked by
Suvaroff on the Trebbia, and overthrown in three days of the most desperate
fighting that had been seen in the war (June 18). [72]


All southern Italy now rose against the Governments established by the
French. Cardinal Ruffo, with a band of fanatical peasants, known as the
Army of the Faith, made himself master of Apulia and Calabria amid scenes
of savage cruelty, and appeared before Naples, where the lazzaroni were
ready to unite with the hordes of the Faithful in murder and pillage.
Confident of support within the city, and assisted by some English and
Russian vessels in the harbour, Ruffo attacked the suburbs of Naples on the
morning of the 13th of June. Massacre and outrage continued within and
without the city for five days. On the morning of the 19th, the Cardinal
proposed a suspension of arms. It was accepted by the Republicans, who were
in possession of the forts. Negotiations followed. On the 23rd conditions
of peace were signed by Ruffo on behalf of the King of Naples, and by the
representatives of Great Britain and of Russia in guarantee for their
faithful execution. It was agreed that the Republican garrison should march
out with the honours of war; that their persons and property should be
respected; that those who might prefer to leave the country should be
conveyed to Toulon on neutral vessels; and that all who remained at home
should be free from molestation.

[Reign of Terror.]

The garrison did not leave the forts that night. On the following morning,
while they were embarking on board the polaccas which were to take them to
Toulon, Nelson's fleet appeared in the Bay of Naples. Nelson declared that
in treating with rebels Cardinal Ruffo had disobeyed the King's orders, and
he pronounced the capitulation null and void. The polaccas, with the
Republicans crowded on board, were attached to the sterns of the English
ships, pending the arrival of King Ferdinand. On the 29th of June, Admiral
Caracciolo, who had taken office under the new Government, and on its fall
had attempted to escape in disguise, was brought a captive before Nelson.
Nelson ordered him to be tried by a Neapolitan court-martial, and, in spite
of his old age, his rank, and his long service to the State, caused him to
be hanged from a Neapolitan ship's yard-arm, and his body to be thrown into
the sea. Some days later, King Ferdinand arrived from Palermo, and Nelson
now handed over all his prisoners to the Bourbon authorities. A reign of
terror followed. Innumerable persons were thrown into prison.
Courts-martial, or commissions administering any law that pleased
themselves, sent the flower of the Neapolitan nation to the scaffold. Above
a hundred sentences of death were carried out in Naples itself:
confiscation, exile, and imprisonment struck down thousands of families. It
was peculiar to the Neapolitan proscriptions that a Government with the
names of religion and right incessantly upon its lips selected for
extermination both among men and women those who were most distinguished in
character, in science, and in letters, whilst it chose for promotion and
enrichment those who were known for deeds of savage violence. The part
borne by Nelson in this work of death has left a stain on his glory which
time cannot efface. [73]

[Austrian designs in Italy.]

[New plan of the War.]

It was on the advance of the Army of Naples under Macdonald that the French
rested their last hope of recovering Lombardy. The battle of the Trebbia
scattered this hope to the winds, and left it only too doubtful whether
France could be saved from invasion. Suvaroff himself was eager to fall
upon Moreau before Macdonald could rally from his defeat, and to drive him
westwards along the coast-road into France. It was a moment when the
fortune of the Republic hung in the scales. Had Suvaroff been permitted to
follow his own counsels, France would probably have seen the remnant of her
Italian armies totally destroyed, and the Russians advancing upon Lyons or
Marseilles. The Republic was saved, as it had been in 1793, by the
dissensions of its enemies. It was not only for the purpose of resisting
French aggression that Austria had renewed the war, but for the purpose of
extending its own dominion in Italy. These designs were concealed from
Russia; they were partially made known by Thugut to the British Ambassador,
under the most stringent obligation to secrecy. On the 17th of August,
1799, Lord Minto acquainted his Government with the intentions of the
Austrian Court. "The Emperor proposes to retain Piedmont, and to take all
that part of Savoy which is important in a military view. I have no doubt
of his intention to keep Nice also, if he gets it, which will make the Var
his boundary with France. The whole territory of the Genoese Republic seems
to be an object of serious speculation ... The Papal Legations will, I am
persuaded, be retained by the Emperor ... I am not yet master of the
designs on Tuscany." [74] This was the sense in which Austria understood
the phrase of defending the rights of Europe against French aggression. It
was not, however, for this that the Czar had sent his army from beyond the
Carpathians. Since the opening of the campaign Suvaroff had been in
perpetual conflict with the military Council of Vienna. [75] Suvaroff was
bent upon a ceaseless pursuit of the enemy; the Austrian Council insisted
upon the reduction of fortresses. What at first appeared as a mere
difference of military opinion appeared in its true political character
when the allied troops entered Piedmont. The Czar desired with his whole
soul to crush the men of the Revolution, and to restore the governments
which France had overthrown. As soon as his troops entered Turin, Suvaroff
proclaimed the restoration of the House of Savoy, and summoned all
Sardinian officers to fight for their King. He was interrupted by a letter
from Vienna requiring him to leave political affairs in the hands of the
Viennese Ministry. [76] The Russians had already done as much in Italy as
the Austrian Cabinet desired them to do, and the first wish of Thugut was
now to free himself from his troublesome ally. Suvaroff raged against the
Austrian Government in every despatch, and tendered his resignation. His
complaints inclined the Czar to accept a new military scheme, which was
supported by the English Government in the hope of terminating the
contention between Suvaroff and the Austrian Council. It was agreed at St.
Petersburg that, as soon as the French armies were destroyed, the reduction
of the Italian fortresses should be left exclusively to the Austrians; and
that Suvaroff, uniting with a new Russian army now not far distant, should
complete the conquest of Switzerland, and then invade France by the Jura,
supported on his right by the Archduke Charles. An attack was to be made at
the same time upon Holland by a combined British and Russian force.

If executed in its original form, this design would have thrown a
formidable army upon France at the side of Franche Comté, where it is least
protected by fortresses. But at the last moment an alteration in the plan
was made at Vienna. The prospect of an Anglo-Russian victory in Holland
again fixed the thoughts of the Austrian Minister upon Belgium, which had
been so lightly abandoned five years before, and which Thugut now hoped to
re-occupy and to barter for Bavaria or some other territory. "The Emperor,"
he wrote, "cannot turn a deaf ear to the appeal of his subjects. He cannot
consent that the Netherlands shall be disposed of without his own
concurrence." [77] The effect of this perverse and mischievous resolution
was that the Archduke Charles received orders to send the greater part of
his army from Switzerland to the Lower Rhine, and to leave only 25,000 men
to support the new Russian division which, under General Korsakoff, was
approaching from the north to meet Suvaroff. The Archduke, as soon as the
new instructions reached him, was filled with the presentiment of disaster,
and warned his Government that in the general displacement of forces an
opportunity would be given to Massena, who was still above Zürich, to
strike a fatal blow. Every despatch that passed between Vienna and St.
Petersburg now increased the Czar's suspicion of Austria. The Pope and the
King of Naples were convinced that Thugut had the same design upon their
own territories which had been shown in his treatment of Piedmont. [78]
They appealed to the Czar for protection. The Czar proposed a European
Congress, at which the Powers might learn one another's real intentions.
The proposal was not accepted by Austria; but, while disclaiming all desire
to despoil the King of Sardinia, the Pope, or the King of Naples, Thugut
admitted that Austria claimed an improvement of its Italian frontier, in
other words, the annexation of a portion of Piedmont, and of the northern
part of the Roman States. The Czar replied that he had taken up arms in
order to check one aggressive Government, and that he should not permit
another to take its place.

[Battle of Novi, Aug. 15.]

For the moment, however, the allied forces continued to co-operate in Italy
against the French army on the Apennines covering Genoa. This army had
received reinforcements, and was now placed under the command of Joubert,
one of the youngest and most spirited of the Republican generals. Joubert
determined to attack the Russians before the fall of Mantua should add the
besieging army to Suvaroff's forces in the field. But the information which
he received from Lombardy misled him. In the second week of August he was
still unaware that Mantua had fallen a fortnight before. He descended from
the mountains to attack Suvaroff at Tortona, with a force about equal to
Suvaroff's own. On reaching Novi he learnt that the army of Mantua was also
before him (Aug. 15). It was too late to retreat; Joubert could only give
to his men the example of Republican spirit and devotion. Suvaroff himself,
with Kray, the conqueror of Mantua, began the attack: the onset of a second
Austrian corps, at the moment when the strength of the Russians was
failing, decided the day. Joubert did not live to witness the close of a
defeat which cost France eleven thousand men. [79]

[Suvaroff goes into Switzerland.]

The allied Governments had so framed their plans that the most overwhelming
victory could produce no result. Instead of entering France, Suvaroff was
compelled to turn back into Switzerland, while the Austrians continued to
besiege the fortresses of Piedmont. In Switzerland Suvaroff had to meet an
enemy who was forewarned of his approach, and who had employed every
resource of military skill and daring to prevent the union of the two
Russian armies now advancing from the south and the north. Before Suvaroff
could leave Italy, a series of admirably-planned attacks had given Massena
the whole network of the central Alpine passes, and closed every avenue of
communication between Suvaroff and the army with which he hoped to
co-operate. The folly of the Austrian Cabinet seconded the French general's
exertions. No sooner had Korsakoff and the new Russian division reached
Schaffhausen than the Archduke Charles, forced by his orders from Vienna,
turned northwards (Sept. 3), leaving the Russians with no support but
Hotze's corps, which was scattered over six cantons. [80] Korsakoff
advanced to Zürich; Massena remained in his old position on the Uetliberg.
It was now that Suvaroff began his march into the Alps, sorely harassed and
delayed by the want of the mountain-teams which the Austrians had promised
him, and filled with the apprehension that Korsakoff would suffer some
irreparable disaster before his own arrival.

[Second Battle of Zürich, Sept. 26.]

Two roads lead from the Italian lakes to central Switzerland; one, starting
from the head of Lago Maggiore and crossing the Gothard, ends on the shore
of Lake Lucerne; the other, crossing the Splügen, runs from the Lake of
Como to Reichenau, in the valley of the Rhine. The Gothard in 1799 was not
practicable for cannon; it was chosen by Suvaroff, however, for his own
advance, with the object of falling upon Massena's rear with the utmost
possible speed. He left Bellinzona on the 21st of September, fought his way
in a desperate fashion through the French outposts that guarded the defiles
of the Gothard, and arrived at Altorf near the Lake of Lucerne. Here it was
discovered that the westward road by which Suvaroff meant to strike upon
the enemy's communications had no existence. Abandoning this design,
Suvaroff made straight for the district where his colleague was encamped,
by a shepherd's path leading north-eastwards across heights of 7,000 feet
to the valley of the Muotta. Over this desolate region the Russians made
their way; and the resolution which brought them as far as the Muotta would
have brought them past every other obstacle to the spot where they were to
meet their countrymen. But the hour was past. While Suvaroff was still
struggling in the mountains, Massena advanced against Zürich, put
Korsakoff's army to total rout, and drove it, with the loss of all its
baggage and of a great part of its artillery, outside the area of

[Retreat of Suvaroff.]

The first rumours of the catastrophe reached Suvaroff on the Muotta; he
still pushed on eastwards, and, though almost without ammunition, overthrew
a corps commanded by Massena in person, and cleared the road over the
Pragel at the point of the bayonet, arriving in Glarus on the 1st of
October. Here the full extent of Korsakoff's disaster was made known to
him. To advance or to fall back was ruin. It only remained for Suvaroff's
army to make its escape across a wild and snow-covered mountain-tract into
the valley of the Rhine, where the river flows below the northern heights
of the Grisons. This exploit crowned a campaign which filled Europe with
astonishment. The Alpine traveller of to-day turns with some distrust from
narratives which characterise with every epithet of horror and dismay
scenes which are the delight of our age; but the retreat of Suvaroff's
army, a starving, footsore multitude, over what was then an untrodden
wilderness of rock, and through fresh-fallen autumn snow two feet deep, had
little in common with the boldest feats of Alpine hardihood. [81] It was
achieved with loss and suffering; it brought the army from a position of
the utmost danger into one of security; but it was followed by no renewed
attack. Proposals for a combination between Suvaroff and the Archduke
Charles resulted only in mutual taunts and menaces. The co-operation of
Russia in the war was at an end. The French remained masters of the whole
of the Swiss territory that they had lost since the beginning of the

[British and Russian expedition against Holland Aug. 1799.]

In the summer months of 1799 the Czar had relieved his irritation against
Austria by framing in concert with the British Cabinet the plan for a joint
expedition against Holland. It was agreed that 25,000 English and 17,000
Russian troops, brought from the Baltic in British ships, should attack the
French in the Batavian Republic, and raise an insurrection on behalf of the
exiled Stadtholder. Throughout July the Kentish coast-towns were alive with
the bustle of war; and on the 13th of August the first English division,
numbering 12,000 men, set sail from Deal under the command of Sir Ralph
Abercromby. After tossing off the Dutch coast for a fortnight, the troops
landed at the promontory of the Helder. A Dutch corps was defeated on the
sand-hills, and the English captured the fort of the Helder, commanding the
Texel anchorage. Immediately afterwards a movement in favour of the
Stadtholder broke out among the officers of the Dutch fleet. The captains
hoisted the Orange flag, and brought their ships over to the English.

This was the first and the last result of the expedition. The Russian
contingent and a second English division reached Holland in the middle of
September, and with them came the Duke of York, who now took the command
out of the hands of Abercromby. On the other side reinforcements daily
arrived from France, until the enemy's troops, led by General Brune, were
equal in strength to the invaders. A battle fought at Alkmaar on the 19th
of September gave the Allies some partial successes and no permanent
advantage; and on the 3rd of October the Duke of York gained one of those
so-called victories which result in the retreat of the conquerors. Never
were there so many good reasons for a bad conclusion. The Russians moved
too fast or too slow; the ditches set at nought the rules of strategy; it
was discovered that the climate of Holland was unfavourable to health, and
that the Dutch had not the slightest inclination to get back their
Stadtholder. The result of a series of mischances, every one of which would
have been foreseen by an average midshipman in Nelson's fleet, or an
average sergeant in Massena's army, was that York had to purchase a retreat
for the allied forces at a price equivalent to an unconditional surrender.
He was allowed to re-embark on consideration that Great Britain restored to
the French 8,000 French and Dutch prisoners, and handed over in perfect
repair all the military works which our own soldiers had erected at the
Helder. Bitter complaints were raised among the Russian officers against
York's conduct of the expedition. He was accused of sacrificing the Russian
regiments in battle, and of courting a general defeat in order not to
expose his own men. The accusation was groundless. Where York was,
treachery or bad faith was superfluous. York in command, the feeblest enemy
became invincible. Incompetence among the hereditary chiefs of the English
army had become part of the order of nature. The Ministry, when taxed with
failure, obstinately shut their eyes to the true cause of the disaster.
Parliament was reminded that defeat was the most probable conclusion of any
military operations that we might undertake, and that England ought not to
expect success when Prussia and Austria had so long met only with
misfortune. Under the command of Nelson, English sailors were indeed
manifesting that kind of superiority to the seamen of other nations which
the hunter possesses over his prey; yet this gave no reason why foresight
and daring should count for anything ashore. If the nation wished to see
its soldiers undefeated, it must keep them at home to defend their country.
Even among the Opposition no voice was raised to protest against the system
which sacrificed English life and military honour to the dignity of the
Royal Family. The collapse of the Anglo-Russian expedition was viewed with
more equanimity in England than in Russia. The Czar dismissed his
unfortunate generals. York returned home, to run horses at Newmarket, to
job commissions with his mistress, and to earn his column at St. James's

[Unpopularity of the Directory.]

[Plans of Siéyès 1799.]

It was at this moment, when the tide of military success was already
turning in favour of the Republic, that the revolution took place which
made Bonaparte absolute ruler of France. Since the attack of the Government
upon the Royalists in Fructidor, 1797, the Directory and the factions had
come no nearer to a system of mutual concession, or to a peaceful
acquiescence in the will of a parliamentary majority. The Directory,
assailed both by the extreme Jacobins and by the Constitutionalists, was
still strong enough to crush each party in its turn. The elections of 1798,
which strengthened the Jacobins, were annulled with as little scruple as
the Royalist elections in the preceding year; it was only when defeat in
Germany and Italy had brought the Government into universal discredit that
the Constitutionalist party, fortified by the return of a large majority in
the elections of 1799, dared to turn the attack upon the Directors
themselves. The excitement of foreign conquest had hitherto shielded the
abuses of Government from criticism; but when Italy was lost, when generals
and soldiers found themselves without pay, without clothes, without
reinforcements, one general outcry arose against the Directory, and the
nation resolved to have done with a Government whose outrages and
extortions had led to nothing but military ruin. The disasters of France in
the spring of 1799, which resulted from the failure of the Government to
raise the armies to their proper strength, were not in reality connected
with the defects of the Constitution. They were caused in part by the
shameless jobbery of individual members of the Administration, in part by
the absence of any agency, like that of the Conventional Commissioners of
1793, to enforce the control of the central Government over the local
authorities, left isolated and independent by the changes of 1789. Faults
enough belonged, however, to the existing political order; and the
Constitutionalists, who now for the second time found themselves with a
majority in the Councils, were not disposed to prolong a system which from
the first had turned their majorities into derision. A party grew up around
the Abbé Siéyès intent upon some change which should give France a
government really representing its best elements. What the change was to be
few could say; but it was known that Siéyès, who had taken a leading part
in 1789, and had condemned the Constitution of 1795 from the moment when it
was sketched, had elaborated a scheme which he considered exempt from every
error that had vitiated its predecessors. As the first step to reform,
Siéyès himself was elected to a Directorship then falling vacant. Barras
attached himself to Siéyès; the three remaining Directors, who were
Jacobins and popular in Paris, were forced to surrender their seats. Siéyès
now only needed a soldier to carry out his plans. His first thought had
turned on Joubert, but Joubert was killed at Novi. Moreau scrupled to raise
his hand against the law; Bernadotte, a general distinguished both in war
and in administration, declined to play a secondary part. Nor in fact was
the support of Siéyès indispensable to any popular and ambitious soldier
who was prepared to attack the Government. Siéyès and his friends offered
the alliance of a party weighty in character and antecedents; but there
were other well-known names and powerful interests at the command of an
enterprising leader, and all France awaited the downfall of a Government
whose action had resulted only in disorder at home and defeat abroad.

[Bonaparte returns from Egypt, Oct., 1799.]

Such was the political situation when, in the summer of 1799, Bonaparte,
baffled in an attack upon the Syrian fortress of St. Jean d'Acre, returned
to Egypt, and received the first tidings from Europe which had reached him
since the outbreak of the war. He saw that his opportunity had arrived. He
determined to leave his army, whose ultimate failure was inevitable, and to
offer to France in his own person that sovereignty of genius and strength
for which the whole nation was longing. On the 7th of October a despatch
from Bonaparte was read in the Council of Five Hundred, announcing a
victory over the Turks at Aboukir. It brought the first news that had been
received for many months from the army of Egypt; it excited an outburst of
joyous enthusiasm for the general and the army whom a hated Government was
believed to have sent into exile; it recalled that succession of victories
which had been unchecked by a single defeat, and that Peace which had given
France a dominion wider than any that her Kings had won. While every
thought was turned upon Bonaparte, the French nation suddenly heard that
Bonaparte himself had landed on the coast of Provence. "I was sitting that
day," says Béranger in his autobiography, "in our reading-room with thirty
or forty other persons. Suddenly the news was brought in that Bonaparte had
returned from Egypt. At the words, every man in the room started to his
feet and burst into one long shout of joy." The emotion portrayed by
Béranger was that of the whole of France. Almost everything that now
darkens the early fame of Bonaparte was then unknown. His falsities, his
cold, unpitying heart were familiar only to accomplices and distant
sufferers; even his most flagrant wrongs, such as the destruction of
Venice, were excused by a political necessity, or disguised as acts of
righteous chastisement. The hopes, the imagination of France saw in
Bonaparte the young, unsullied, irresistible hero of the Republic. His fame
had risen throughout a crisis which had destroyed all confidence in others.
The stale placemen of the factions sank into insignificance by his side;
even sincere Republicans, who feared the rule of a soldier, confessed that
it is not always given to a nation to choose the mode of its own
deliverance. From the moment that Bonaparte landed at Fréjus, he was master
of France.

[Conspiracy of Siéyès and Bonaparte.]

Siéyès saw that Bonaparte, and no one else, was the man through whom he
could overthrow the existing Constitution. [82] So little sympathy existed,
however, between Siéyès and the soldier to whom he now offered his support,
that Bonaparte only accepted Siéyès' project after satisfying himself that
neither Barras nor Bernadotte would help him to supreme power. Once
convinced of this, Bonaparte closed with Siéyès' offers. It was agreed that
Siéyès and his friend Ducos should resign their Directorships, and that the
three remaining Directors should be driven from office. The Assemblies, or
any part of them favourable to the plot, were to appoint a Triumvirate
composed of Bonaparte, Siéyès, and Ducos, for the purpose of drawing up a
new Constitution. In the new Constitution it was understood, though without
any definite arrangement, that Bonaparte and Siéyès were to be the leading
figures. The Council of Ancients was in great part in league with the
conspirators: the only obstacle likely to hinder the success of the plot
was a rising of the Parisian populace. As a precaution against attack, it
was determined to transfer the meeting of the Councils to St. Cloud.
Bonaparte had secured the support of almost all the generals and troops in
Paris. His brother Lucien, now President of the Council of Five Hundred,
hoped to paralyse the action of his own Assembly, in which the conspirators
were in the minority.

[Coup d'état, 18 Brumaire (Nov. 9), 1799.]

Early on the morning of the 9th of November (18 Brumaire), a crowd of
generals and officers met before Bonaparte's house. At the same moment a
portion of the Council of Ancients assembled, and passed a decree which
adjourned the session to St. Cloud, and conferred on Bonaparte the command
over all the troops in Paris. The decree was carried to Bonaparte's house
and read to the military throng, who acknowledged it by brandishing their
swords. Bonaparte then ordered the troops to their posts, received the
resignation of Barras, and arrested the two remaining Directors in the
Luxembourg. During the night there was great agitation in Paris. The arrest
of the two Directors and the display of military force revealed the true
nature of the conspiracy, and excited men to resistance who had hitherto
seen no great cause for alarm. The Councils met at St. Cloud at two on the
next day. The Ancients were ready for what was coming; the Five Hundred
refused to listen to Bonaparte's accomplices, and took the oath of fidelity
to the Constitution. Bonaparte himself entered the Council of Ancients, and
in violent, confused language declared that he had come to save the
Republic from unseen dangers. He then left the Assembly, and entered the
Chamber of the Five Hundred, escorted by armed grenadiers. A roar of
indignation greeted the appearance of the bayonets. The members rushed in a
mass upon Bonaparte, and drove him out of the hall. His brother now left
the President's chair and joined the soldiers outside, whom he harangued in
the character of President of the Assembly. The soldiers, hitherto
wavering, were assured by Lucien's civil authority and his treacherous
eloquence. The drums beat; the word of command was given; and the last free
representatives of France struggled through doorways and windows before the
levelled and advancing bayonets.

[Siéyès' plan of Constitution.]

The Constitution which Siéyès hoped now to impose upon France had been
elaborated by its author at the close of the Reign of Terror. Designed at
that epoch, it bore the trace of all those apprehensions which gave shape
to the Constitution of 1795. The statutory outrages of 1793, the Royalist
reaction shown in the events of Vendémiaire, were the perils from which
both Siéyès and the legislators of 1795 endeavoured to guard the future of
France. It had become clear that a popular election might at any moment
return a royalist majority to the Assembly: the Constitution of 1795
averted this danger by prolonging the power of the Conventionalists; Siéyès
overcame it by extinguishing popular election altogether. He gave to the
nation no right but that of selecting half a million persons who should be
eligible to offices in the Communes, and who should themselves elect a
smaller body of fifty thousand, eligible to offices in the Departments. The
fifty thousand were in their turn to choose five thousand, who should be
eligible to places in the Government and the Legislature. The actual
appointments were to be made, however, not by the electors, but by the
Executive. With the irrational multitude thus deprived of the power to
bring back its old oppressors, priests, royalists, and nobles might safely
do their worst. By way of still further precaution, Siéyès proposed that
every Frenchman who had been elected to the Legislature since 1789 should
be inscribed for ten years among the privileged five thousand.

Such were the safeguards provided against a Bourbonist reaction. To guard
against a recurrence of those evils which France had suffered from the
precipitate votes of a single Assembly, Siéyès broke up the legislature
into as many chambers as there are stages in the passing of a law. The
first chamber, or Council of State, was to give shape to measures suggested
by the Executive; a second chamber, known as the Tribunate, was to discuss
the measures so framed, and ascertain the objections to which they were
liable; the third chamber, known as the Legislative Body, was to decide in
silence for or against the measures, after hearing an argument between
representatives of the Council and of the Tribunate. As a last impregnable
bulwark against Jacobins and Bourbonists alike, Siéyès created a Senate
whose members should hold office for life, and be empowered to annul every
law in which the Chambers might infringe upon the Constitution.

It only remained to invent an Executive. In the other parts of his
Constitution, Siéyès had borrowed from Rome, from Greece, and from Venice;
in his Executive he improved upon the political theories of Great Britain.
He proposed that the Government should consist of two Consuls and a Great
Elector; the Elector, like an English king, appointing and dismissing the
Consuls, but taking no active part in the administration himself. The
Consuls were to be respectively restricted to the affairs of peace and of
war. Grotesque under every aspect, the Constitution of Siéyès was really
calculated to effect in all points but one the end which he had in view.
His object was to terminate the convulsions of France by depriving every
element in the State of the power to create sudden change. The members of
his body politic, a Council that could only draft, a Tribunate that could
only discuss, a Legislature that could only vote, Yes or No, were impotent
for mischief; and the nation itself ceased to have a political existence as
soon as it had selected its half-million notables.

[Siéyès and Bonaparte.]

So far, nothing could have better suited the views of Bonaparte; and up to
this point Bonaparte quietly accepted Siéyès' plan. But the general had his
own scheme for what was to follow. Siéyès might apportion the act of
deliberation among debating societies and dumb juries to the full extent of
his own ingenuity; but the moment that he applied his disintegrating method
to the Executive, Bonaparte swept away the flimsy reasoner, and set in the
midst of his edifice of shadows the reality of an absolute personal rule.
The phantom Elector, and the Consuls who were to be the Elector's
tenants-at-will, corresponded very little to the power which France desired
to see at its head. "Was there ever anything so ridiculous?" cried
Bonaparte. "What man of spirit could accept such a post?" It was in vain
that Siéyès had so nicely set the balance. His theories gave to France only
the pageants which disguised the extinction of the nation beneath a single
will: the frame of executive government which the country received in 1799
was that which Bonaparte deduced from the conception of an absolute central
power. The First Consul summed up all executive authority in his own
person. By his side there were set two colleagues whose only function was
to advise. A Council of State placed the highest skill and experience in
France at the disposal of the chief magistrate, without infringing upon his
sovereignty. All offices, both in the Ministries of State and in the
provinces, were filled by the nominees of the First Consul. No law could be
proposed but at his desire.

[Contrast of the Institutions of 1791 and 1799.]

[Centralisation of 1799.]

The institutions given to France by the National Assembly of 1789 and those
given to it in the Consulate exhibited a direct contrast seldom found
outside the region of abstract terms. Local customs, survivals of earlier
law, such as soften the difference between England and the various
democracies of the United States, had no place in the sharp-cut types in
which the political order of France was recast in 1791 and 1799. The
Constituent Assembly had cleared the field before it began to reconstruct.
Its reconstruction was based upon the Rights of Man, identified with the
principle of local self-government by popular election. It deduced a system
of communal administration so completely independent that France was
described by foreign critics as partitioned into 40,000 republics; and the
criticism was justified when, in 1793, it was found necessary to create a
new central Government, and to send commissioners from the capital into the
provinces. In the Constitution of 1791, judges, bishops, officers of the
National Guard, were all alike subjected to popular election; the Minister
of War could scarcely move a regiment from one village to another without
the leave of the mayor of the commune. In the Constitution of 1799 all
authority was derived from the head of the State. A system of
centralisation came into force with which France under her kings had
nothing to compare. All that had once served as a check upon monarchical
power, the legal Parliaments, the Provincial Estates of Brittany and
Languedoc, the rights of lay and ecclesiastical corporations, had vanished
away. In the place of the motley of privileges that had tempered the
Bourbon monarchy, in the place of the popular Assemblies of the Revolution,
there sprang up a series of magistracies as regular and as absolute as the
orders of military rank. [83] Where, under the Constitution of 1791, a body
of local representatives had met to conduct the business of the Department,
there was now a Préfet, appointed by the First Consul, absolute, like the
First Consul himself, and assisted only by the advice of a nominated
council, which met for one fortnight in the year. In subordination to the
Préfet, an officer and similar council transacted the local business of the
Arrondissement. Even the 40,000 Maires with their communal councils were
all appointed directly or indirectly by the Chief of the State. There
existed in France no authority that could repair a village bridge, or light
the streets of a town, but such as owed its appointment to the central
Government. Nor was the power of the First Consul limited to the
administration. With the exception of the lowest and the highest members of
the judicature, he nominated all judges, and transferred them at his
pleasure to inferior or superior posts.

Such was the system which, based to a great extent upon the preferences of
the French people, fixed even more deeply in the national character the
willingness to depend upon an omnipresent, all-directing power. Through its
rational order, its regularity, its command of the highest science and
experience, this system of government could not fail to confer great and
rapid benefits upon the country. It has usually been viewed by the French
themselves as one of the finest creations of political wisdom. In
comparison with the self-government which then and long afterwards existed
in England, the centralisation of France had all the superiority of
progress and intelligence over torpor and self-contradiction. Yet a heavy,
an incalculable price is paid by every nation which for the sake of
administrative efficiency abandons its local liberties, and all that is
bound up with their enjoyment. No practice in the exercise of public right
armed a later generation of Frenchmen against the audacity of a common
usurper: no immortality of youth secured the institutions framed by
Napoleon against the weakness and corruption which at some period undermine
all despotisms. The historian who has exhausted every term of praise upon
the political system of the Consulate lived to declare, as Chief of the
State himself, that the first need of France was the decentralisation of
power. [84]

[State policy of Bonaparte.]

After ten years of disquiet, it was impossible that any Government could be
more welcome to the French nation than one which proclaimed itself the
representative, not of party or of opinion, but of France itself. No
section of the nation had won a triumph in the establishment of the
Consulate; no section had suffered a defeat. In his own elevation Bonaparte
announced the close of civil conflict. A Government had arisen which
summoned all to its service which would employ all, reward all, reconcile
all. The earliest measures of the First Consul exhibited the policy of
reconciliation by which he hoped to rally the whole of France to his side.
The law of hostages, under which hundreds of families were confined in
retaliation for local Royalist disturbances, was repealed, and Bonaparte
himself went to announce their liberty to the prisoners in the Temple.
Great numbers of names were struck off the list of the emigrants, and the
road to pardon was subsequently opened to all who had not actually served
against their country. In the selection of his officers of State, Bonaparte
showed the same desire to win men of all parties. Cambacérès, a regicide,
was made Second Consul; Lebrun, an old official of Louis XVI., became his
colleague. In the Ministries, in the Senate, and in the Council of State
the nation saw men of proved ability chosen from all callings in life and
from all political ranks. No Government of France had counted among its
members so many names eminent for capacity and experience. One quality
alone was indispensable, a readiness to serve and to obey. In that
intellectual greatness which made the combination of all the forces of
France a familiar thought in Bonaparte's mind, there was none of the moral
generosity which could pardon opposition to himself, or tolerate energy
acting under other auspices than his own. He desired to see authority in
the best hands; he sought talent and promoted it, but on the understanding
that it took its direction from himself. Outside this limit ability was his
enemy, not his friend; and what could not be caressed or promoted was
treated with tyrannical injustice. While Bonaparte boasted of the career
that he had thrown open to talent, he suppressed the whole of the
independent journalism of Paris, and banished Mme. de Stael, whose guests
continued to converse, when they might not write, about liberty. Equally
partial, equally calculated, was Bonaparte's indulgence towards the ancient
enemies of the Revolution, the Royalists and the priests. He felt nothing
of the old hatred of Paris towards the Vendean noble and the superstitious
Breton; he offered his friendship to the stubborn Breton race, whose
loyalty and piety he appreciated as good qualities in subjects; but failing
their submission, he instructed his generals in the west of France to burn
down their villages, and to set a price upon the heads of their chiefs.
Justice, tolerance, good faith, were things which had no being for
Bonaparte outside the circle of his instruments and allies.

[France ceases to excite democracy abroad, but promotes equality under
monarchical systems.]

[Effect of Bonaparte's autocracy outside France.]

In the foreign relations of France it was not possible for the most
unscrupulous will to carry aggression farther than it had been already
carried; yet the elevation of Bonaparte deeply affected the fortunes of all
those States whose lot depended upon France. It was not only that a mind
accustomed to regard all human things as objects for its own disposal now
directed an irresistible military force, but from the day when France
submitted to Bonaparte, the political changes accompanying the advance of
the French armies took a different character. Belgium and Holland, the
Rhine Provinces, the Cisalpine, the Roman, and the Parthenopean Republics,
had all received, under whatever circumstances of wrong, at least the forms
of popular sovereignty. The reality of power may have belonged to French
generals and commissioners; but, however insincerely uttered, the call to
freedom excited hopes and aspirations which were not insincere themselves.
The Italian festivals of emancipation, the trees of liberty, the rhetoric
of patriotic assemblies, had betrayed little enough of the instinct for
self-government; but they marked a separation from the past; and the period
between the years 1796 and 1799 was in fact the birth-time of those hopes
which have since been realised in the freedom and the unity of Italy. So
long as France had her own tumultuous assemblies, her elections in the
village and in the county-town, it was impossible for her to form republics
beyond the Alps without introducing at least some germ of republican
organisation and spirit. But when all power was concentrated in a single
man, when the spoken and the written word became an offence against the
State, when the commotion of the old municipalities was succeeded by the
silence and the discipline of a body of clerks working round their chief,
then the advance of French influence ceased to mean the support of popular
forces against the Governments. The form which Bonaparte had given to
France was the form which he intended for the clients of France. Hence in
those communities which directly received the impress of the Consulate, as
in Bavaria and the minor German States, authority, instead of being
overthrown, was greatly strengthened. Bonaparte carried beyond the Rhine
that portion of the spirit of the Revolution which he accepted at home, the
suppression of privilege, the extinction of feudal rights, the reduction of
all ranks to equality before the law, and the admission of all to the
public service. But this levelling of the social order in the client-states
of France, and the establishment of system and unity in the place of
obsolete privilege, cleared the way not for the supremacy of the people,
but for the supremacy of the Crown. The power which was taken away from
corporations, from knights, and from ecclesiastics, was given, not to a
popular Representative, but to Cabinet Ministers and officials ranged after
the model of the official hierarchy of France. What the French had in the
first epoch of their Revolution endeavoured to impart to Europe--the spirit
of liberty and self-government--they had now renounced themselves. The
belief in popular right, which made the difference between the changes of
1789 and those attempted by the Emperor Joseph, sank in the storms of the

[Bonaparte legislates in the spirit of the reforming monarchs of the 18th

Yet the statesmanship of Bonaparte, if it repelled the liberal and
disinterested sentiment of 1789, was no mere cunning of a Corsican soldier,
or exploit of mediæval genius born outside its age. Subject to the fullest
gratification of his own most despotic or most malignant impulse, Bonaparte
carried into his creations the ideas upon which the greatest European
innovators before the French Revolution had based their work. What
Frederick and Joseph had accomplished, or failed to accomplish, was
realised in Western Germany when its Sovereigns became the clients of the
First Consul. Bonaparte was no child of the French Revolution; he was the
last and the greatest of the autocratic legislators who worked in an unfree
age. Under his rule France lost what had seemed to be most its own; it most
powerfully advanced the forms of progress common to itself and the rest of
Europe. Bonaparte raised no population to liberty: in extinguishing
privilege and abolishing the legal distinctions of birth, in levelling all
personal and corporate authority beneath the single rule of the State, he
prepared the way for a rational freedom, when, at a later day, the
Government of the State should itself become the representative of the
nation's will.


Overtures of Bonaparte to Austria and England--The War continues--Massena
besieged in Genoa--Moreau invades Southern Germany--Bonaparte crosses the
St. Bernard, and descends in the rear of the Austrians--Battle of
Marengo--Austrians retire behind the Mincio--Treaty between England and
Austria--Austria continues the War--Battle of Hohenlinden--Peace of
Lunéville--War between England and the Northern Maritime League--Battle of
Copenhagen--Murder of Paul--End of the Maritime War--English Army enters
Egypt--French defeated at Alexandria--They capitulate at Cairo and
Alexandria--Preliminaries of Peace between England and France signed at
London, followed by Peace of Amiens--Pitt's Irish Policy and his
retirement--Debates on the Peace--Aggressions of Bonaparte during the
Continental Peace--Holland, Italy, Switzerland--Settlement of Germany under
French and Russian influence--Suppression of Ecclesiastical States and Free
Cities--Its effects--Stein--France under the Consulate--The Civil Code--The

[Overtures of Bonaparte to Austria and to England, 1799.]

The establishment of the Consulate gave France peace from the strife of
parties. Peace from foreign warfare was not less desired by the nation; and
although the First Consul himself was restlessly planning the next
campaign, it belonged to his policy to represent himself as the mediator
between France and Europe. Discarding the usual diplomatic forms, Bonaparte
addressed letters in his own name to the Emperor Francis and to King George
III., deploring the miseries inflicted by war upon nations naturally
allied, and declaring his personal anxiety to enter upon negotiations for
peace. The reply of Austria which was courteously worded, produced an offer
on the part of Bonaparte to treat for peace upon the basis of the Treaty of
Campo Formio. Such a proposal was the best evidence of Bonaparte's real
intentions. Austria had re-conquered Lombardy, and driven the armies of the
Republic from the Adige to within a few miles of Nice. To propose a peace
which should merely restore the situation existing at the beginning of the
war was pure irony. The Austrian Government accordingly declared itself
unable to treat without the concurrence of its allies. The answer of
England to the overtures of the First Consul was rough and defiant. It
recounted the causes of war and distrust which precluded England from
negotiating with a revolutionary Government; and, though not insisting on
the restoration of the Bourbons as a condition of peace, it stated that no
guarantee for the sincerity and good behaviour of France would be so
acceptable to Great Britain as the recall of the ancient family. [85]

Few State papers have been distinguished by worse faults of judgment than
this English manifesto. It was intended to recommend the Bourbons to France
as a means of procuring peace: it enabled Bonaparte to represent England as
violently interfering with the rights of the French people, and the
Bourbons as seeking their restoration at the hand of the enemy of their
country. The answer made to Pitt's Government from Paris was such as one
high-spirited nation which had recently expelled its rulers might address
to another that had expelled its rulers a century before. France, it was
said, had as good a right to dismiss an incapable dynasty as Great Britain.
If Talleyrand's reply failed to convince King George that before restoring
the Bourbons he ought to surrender his own throne to the Stuarts, it
succeeded in transferring attention from the wrongs inflicted by France to
the pretensions advanced by England. That it affected the actual course of
events there is no reason to believe. The French Government was well
acquainted with the real grounds of war possessed by England, in spite of
the errors by which the British Cabinet weakened the statement of its
cause. What the mass of the French people now thought, or did not think,
had become a matter of very little importance.

[Situation of the Armies.]

[Moreau invades South Germany, April, 1800.]

The war continued. Winter and the early spring of 1800 passed in France
amidst vigorous but concealed preparations for the campaign which was to
drive the Austrians from Italy. In Piedmont the Austrians spent months in
inaction, which might have given them Genoa and completed the conquest of
Italy before Bonaparte's army could take the field. It was not until the
beginning of April that Melas, their general, assailed the French positions
on the Genoese Apennines; a fortnight more was spent in mountain warfare
before Massena, who now held the French command, found himself shut up in
Genoa and blockaded by land and sea. The army which Bonaparte was about to
lead into Italy lay in between Dijon and Geneva, awaiting the arrival of
the First Consul. On the Rhine, from Strasburg to Schaffhausen, a force of
100,000 men was ready to cross into Germany under the command of Moreau,
who was charged with the task of pushing the Austrians back from the Upper
Danube, and so rendering any attack through Switzerland upon the
communications of Bonaparte's Italian force impossible. Moreau's army was
the first to move. An Austrian force, not inferior to Moreau's own, lay
within the bend of the Rhine that covers Baden and Würtemberg. Moreau
crossed the Rhine at various points, and by a succession of ingenious
manoeuvres led his adversary, Kray, to occupy all the roads through the
Black Forest except those by which the northern divisions of the French
were actually passing. A series of engagements, conspicuous for the skill
of the French general and the courage of the defeated Austrians, gave
Moreau possession of the country south of the Danube as far as Ulm, where
Kray took refuge in his entrenched camp. Beyond this point Moreau's
instructions forbade him to advance. His task was fulfilled by the
severance of the Austrian army from the roads into Italy.

[Bonaparte crosses the Alps, May, 1800.]

Bonaparte's own army was now in motion. Its destination was still secret;
its very existence was doubted by the Austrian generals. On the 8th of May
the First Consul himself arrived at Geneva, and assumed the command. The
campaign upon which this army was now entering was designed by Bonaparte to
surpass everything that Europe had hitherto seen most striking in war. The
feats of Massena and Suvaroff in the Alps had filled his imagination with
mountain warfare. A victory over nature more imposing than theirs might, in
the present position of the Austrian forces in Lombardy, be made the
prelude to a victory in the field without a parallel in its effects upon
the enemy. Instead of relieving Genoa by an advance along the coast-road,
Bonaparte intended to march across the Alps and to descend in the rear of
the Austrians. A single defeat would then cut the Austrians off from their
communications with Mantua, and result either in the capitulation of their
army or in the evacuation of the whole of the country that they had won,
Bonaparte led his army into the mountains. The pass of the Great St.
Bernard, though not a carriage-road, offered little difficulty to a
commander supplied with every resource of engineering material and skill;
and by this road the army crossed the Alps. The cannons were taken from
their carriages and dragged up the mountain in hollowed trees; thousands of
mules transported the ammunition and supplies; workshops for repairs were
established on either slope of the mountain; and in the Monastery of St.
Bernard there were stores collected sufficient to feed the soldiers as they
reached the summit during six successive days (May 15-20). The passage of
the St. Bernard was a triumph of organisation, foresight, and good
management; as a military exploit it involved none of the danger, none of
the suffering, none of the hazard, which gave such interest to the campaign
of Massena and Suvaroff.

[Bonaparte cuts off the Austrian army from Eastern Lombardy.]

Bonaparte had rightly calculated upon the unreadiness of his enemy. The
advanced guard of the French army poured down the valley of the Dora-Baltea
upon the scanty Austrian detachments at Ivrea and Chiusella, before Melas,
who had in vain been warned of the departure of the French from Geneva,
arrived with a few thousand men at Turin to dispute the entrance into
Italy. Melas himself, on the opening of the campaign, had followed a French
division to Nice, leaving General Ott in charge of the army investing
Genoa. On reaching Turin he discovered the full extent of his peril, and
sent orders to Ott to raise the siege of Genoa and to join him with every
regiment that he could collect. Ott, however, was unwilling to abandon the
prey at this moment falling into his grasp. He remained stationary till the
5th of June, when Massena, reduced to the most cruel extremities by famine,
was forced to surrender Genoa to the besiegers. But his obstinate endurance
had the full effect of a battle won. Ott's delay rendered Melas powerless
to hinder the movements of Bonaparte, when, instead of marching upon Genoa,
as both French and Austrians expected him to do, he turned eastward, and
thrust his army between the Austrians and their own fortresses. Bonaparte
himself entered Milan (June 2); Lannes and Murat were sent to seize the
bridges over the Po and the Adda. The Austrian detachment guarding Piacenza
was overpowered; the communications of Melas with the country north of the
Powere completely severed. Nothing remained for the Austrian commander but
to break through the French or to make his escape to Genoa.

[Battle of Marengo, June 14, 1800.]

[Conditions of Armistice.]

The French centre was now at Stradella, half-way between Piacenza and
Alessandria. Melas was at length joined by Ott at Alessandria, but so
scattered were the Austrian forces, that out of 80,000 men Melas had not
more than 33,000 at his command. Bonaparte's forces were equal in number;
his only fear was that Melas might use his last line of retreat, and escape
to Genoa without an engagement. The Austrian general, however, who had
shared with Suvaroff the triumph over Joubert at Novi, resolved to stake
everything upon a pitched battle. He awaited Bonaparte's approach at
Alessandria. On the 12th of June Bonaparte advanced westward from
Stradella. His anxiety lest Melas might be escaping from his hands
increased with every hour of the march that brought him no tidings of the
enemy; and on the 13th, when his advanced guard had come almost up to the
walls of Alessandria without seeing an enemy, he could bear the suspense no
longer, and ordered Desaix to march southward towards Novi and hold the
road to Genoa. Desaix led off his division. Early the next morning the
whole army of Melas issued from Alessandria, and threw itself upon the
weakened line of the French at Marengo. The attack carried everything
before it: at the end of seven hours' fighting, Melas, exhausted by his
personal exertions, returned into Alessandria, and sent out tidings of a
complete victory. It was at this moment that Desaix, who had turned at the
sound of the cannon, appeared on the field, and declared that, although one
battle had been lost, another might be won. A sudden cavalry-charge struck
panic into the Austrians, who believed the battle ended and the foe
overthrown. Whole brigades threw down their arms and fled; and ere the day
closed a mass of fugitives, cavalry and infantry, thronging over the
marshes of the Bormida, was all that remained of the victorious Austrian
centre. The suddenness of the disaster, the desperate position of the army,
cut off from its communications, overthrew the mind of Melas, and he agreed
to an armistice more fatal than an unconditional surrender. The Austrians
retired behind the Mincio, and abandoned to the French every fortress in
Northern Italy that lay west of that river. A single battle had produced
the result of a campaign of victories and sieges. Marengo was the most
brilliant in conception of all Bonaparte's triumphs. If in its execution
the genius of the great commander had for a moment failed him, no mention
of the long hours of peril and confusion was allowed to obscure the
splendour of Bonaparte's victory. Every document was altered or suppressed
which contained a report of the real facts of the battle. The descriptions
given to the French nation claimed only new homage to the First Consul's
invincible genius and power. [86]

[Austria continues the war.]

At Vienna the military situation was viewed more calmly than in Melas'
camp. The conditions of the armistice were generally condemned, and any
sudden change in the policy of Austria was prevented by a treaty with
England, binding Austria, in return for British subsidies, and for a secret
promise of part of Piedmont, to make no separate peace with France before
the end of February, 1801. This treaty was signed a few hours before the
arrival of the news of Marengo. It was the work of Thugut, who still
maintained his influence over the Emperor, in spite of growing unpopularity
and almost universal opposition. Public opinion, however, forced the
Emperor at least to take steps for ascertaining the French terms of peace.
An envoy was sent to Paris; and, as there could be no peace without the
consent of England, conferences were held with the object of establishing a
naval armistice between England and France. England, however, refused the
concessions demanded by the First Consul; and the negotiations were broken
off in September. But this interval of three months had weakened the
authority of the Minister and stimulated the intrigues which at every great
crisis paralysed the action of Austria. At length, while Thugut was
receiving the subsidies of Great Britain and arranging for the most
vigorous prosecution of the war, the Emperor, concealing the transaction
from his Minister, purchased a new armistice by the surrender of the
fortresses of Ulm and Ingolstadt to Moreau's army. [87]

[Battle of Hohenlinden, Dec. 3, 1800.]

A letter written by Thugut after a council held on the 25th of September
gives some indication of the stormy scene which then passed in the
Emperor's presence. Thugut tendered his resignation, which was accepted;
and Lehrbach, the author of the new armistice, was placed in office. But
the reproaches of the British ambassador forced the weak Emperor to rescind
this appointment on the day after it had been published to the world. There
was no one in Vienna capable of filling the vacant post; and after a short
interval the old Minister resumed the duties of his office, without,
however, openly resuming the title. The remainder of the armistice was
employed in strengthening the force opposed to Moreau, who now received
orders to advance upon Vienna. The Archduke John, a royal strategist of
eighteen, was furnished with a plan for surrounding the French army and
cutting it off from its communications. Moreau lay upon the Isar; the
Austrians held the line of the Inn. On the termination of the armistice the
Austrians advanced and made some devious marches in pursuance of the
Archduke's enterprise, until a general confusion, attributed to the
weather, caused them to abandon their manoeuvres and move straight against
the enemy. On the 3rd of December the Austrians plunged into the
snow-blocked roads of the Forest of Hohenlinden, believing that they had
nothing near them but the rear-guard of a retiring French division. Moreau
waited until they had reached the heart of the forest, and then fell upon
them with his whole force in front, in flank, and in the rear. The defeat
of the Austrians was overwhelming. What remained of the war was rather a
chase than a struggle. Moreau successively crossed the Inn, the Salza, and
the Traun; and on December 25th the Emperor, seeing that no effort of Pitt
could keep Moreau out of Vienna, accepted an armistice at Steyer, and
agreed to treat for peace without reference to Great Britain.

[Peace of Lunéville, Feb. 9, 1801.]

Defeats on the Mincio, announced during the following days, increased the
necessity for peace. Thugut was finally removed from power. Some resistance
was offered to the conditions proposed by Bonaparte, but these were
directed more to the establishment of French influence in Germany than to
the humiliation of the House of Hapsburg. Little was taken from Austria but
what she had surrendered at Campo Formio. It was not by the cession of
Italian or Slavonic provinces that the Government of Vienna paid for
Marengo and Hohenlinden, but at the cost of that divided German race whose
misfortune it was to have for its head a sovereign whose interests in the
Empire and in Germany were among the least of all his interests. The Peace
of Lunéville, [88] concluded between France and the Emperor on the 9th of
February, 1801, without even a reference to the Diet of the Empire, placed
the minor States of Germany at the mercy of the French Republic. It left to
the House of Hapsburg the Venetian territory which it had gained in 1797;
it required no reduction of the Hapsburg influence in Italy beyond the
abdication of the Grand Duke of Tuscany; but it ceded to France, without
the disguises of 1797, the German provinces west of the Rhine, and it
formally bound the Empire to compensate the dispossessed lay Sovereigns in
such a manner as should be approved by France. The French Republic was thus
made arbiter, as a matter of right, in the rearrangement of the maimed and
shattered Empire. Even the Grand Duke of Tuscany, like his predecessor in
ejection, the Duke of Modena, was to receive some portion of the German
race for his subjects, in compensation for the Italians taken from him. To
such a pass had political disunion brought a nation which at that time
could show the greatest names in Europe in letters, in science, and in art.

[Peace with Naples.]

[Russia turns against England.]

[Northern Maritime League, Dec., 1800.]

Austria having succumbed, the Court of Naples, which had been the first of
the Allies to declare war, was left at the mercy of Bonaparte. Its
cruelties and tyranny called for severe punishment; but the intercession of
the Czar kept the Bourbons upon the throne, and Naples received peace upon
no harder condition than the exclusion of English vessels from its ports.
England was now left alone in its struggle with the French Republic. Nor
was it any longer to be a struggle only against France and its
dependencies. The rigour with which the English Government had used its
superiority at sea, combined with the folly which it had shown in the
Anglo-Russian attack upon Holland, raised against it a Maritime League
under the leadership of a Power which England had offended as a neutral and
exasperated as an ally. Since the pitiful Dutch campaign, the Czar had
transferred to Great Britain the hatred which he had hitherto borne to
France. The occasion was skilfully used by Bonaparte, to whom, as a
soldier, the Czar felt less repugnance than to the Government of advocates
and contractors which he had attacked in 1799. The First Consul restored
without ransom several thousands of Russian prisoners, for whom the
Austrians and the English had refused to give up Frenchmen in exchange, and
followed up this advance by proposing that the guardianship of Malta, which
was now blockaded by the English, should be given to the Czar. Paul had
caused himself to be made Grand Master of the Maltese Order of St. John of
Jerusalem. His vanity was touched by Bonaparte's proposal, and a friendly
relation was established between the French and Russian Governments.
England, on the other hand, refused to place Malta under Russian
guardianship, either before or after its surrender. This completed the
breach between the Courts of London and St. Petersburg. The Czar seized all
the English vessels in his ports and imprisoned their crews (Sept. 9). A
difference of long standing existed between England and the Northern
Maritime Powers, which was capable at any moment of being made a cause of
war. The rights exercised over neutral vessels by English ships in time of
hostilities, though good in international law, were so oppressive that, at
the time of the American rebellion, the Northern Powers had formed a
league, known as the Armed Neutrality, for the purpose of resisting by
force the interference of the English with neutral merchantmen upon the
high seas. Since the outbreak of war with France, English vessels had again
pushed the rights of belligerents to extremes. The Armed Neutrality of 1780
was accordingly revived under the auspices of the Czar. The League was
signed on the 16th of December, 1800, by Russia, Sweden, and Denmark. Some
days later Prussia gave in its adhesion. [89]

[Points at issue.]

The points at issue between Great Britain and the Neutrals were such as
arise between a great naval Power intent upon ruining its adversary and
that larger part of the world which remains at peace and desires to carry
on its trade with as little obstruction as possible. It was admitted on all
sides that a belligerent may search a neutral vessel in order to ascertain
that it is not conveying contraband of war, and that a neutral vessel,
attempting to enter a blockaded port, renders itself liable to forfeiture;
but beyond these two points everything was in dispute. A Danish ship
conveys a cargo of wine from a Bordeaux merchant to his agent in New York.
Is the wine liable to be seized in the mid-Atlantic by an English cruiser,
to the destruction of the Danish carrying-trade, or is the Danish flag to
protect French property from a Power whose naval superiority makes capture
upon the high seas its principal means of offence? England announces that a
French port is in a state of blockade. Is a Swedish vessel, stopped while
making for the port in question, to be considered a lawful prize, when, if
it had reached the port, it would as a matter of fact have found no real
blockade in existence? A Russian cargo of hemp, pitch, and timber is
intercepted by an English vessel on its way to an open port in France. Is
the staple produce of the Russian Empire to lose its market as contraband
of war? Or is an English man-of-war to allow material to pass into France,
without which the repair of French vessels of war would be impossible?

[War between England and the Northern Maritime Powers, Jan., 1801.]

These were the questions raised as often as a firm of shipowners in a
neutral country saw their vessel come back into port cleared of its cargo,
or heard that it was lying in the Thames awaiting the judgment of the
Admiralty Court. Great Britain claimed the right to seize all French
property, in whatever vessel it might be sailing, and to confiscate, as
contraband of war, not only muskets, gunpowder, and cannon, but wheat, on
which the provisioning of armies depended, and hemp, pitch, iron, and
timber, out of which the navies of her adversary were formed. The Neutrals,
on the other hand, demanded that a neutral flag should give safe passage to
all goods on board, not being contraband of war; that the presence of a
vessel of State as convoy should exempt merchantmen from search; that no
port should be considered in a state of blockade unless a competent
blockading force was actually in front of it; and that contraband of war
should include no other stores than those directly available for battle.
Considerations of reason and equity may be urged in support of every
possible theory of the rights of belligerents and neutrals; but the theory
of every nation has, as a matter of fact, been that which at the time
accorded with its own interests. When a long era of peace had familiarised
Great Britain with the idea that in the future struggles of Europe it was
more likely to be a spectator than a belligerent, Great Britain accepted
the Neutrals' theory of international law at the Congress of Paris in 1856;
but in 1801, when the lot of England seemed to be eternal warfare, any
limitation of the rights of a belligerent appeared to every English jurist
to contradict the first principles of reason. Better to add a general
maritime war to the existing difficulties of the country than to abandon
the exercise of its naval superiority in crippling the commerce of an
adversary. The Declaration of armed Neutrality, announcing the intention of
the Allied Powers to resist the seizure of French goods on board their own
merchantmen, was treated in this country as a declaration of war. The
Government laid an embargo upon all vessels of the allied neutrals lying in
English ports (Jan. 14th, 1801), and issued a swarm of privateers against
the trading ships making for the Baltic. Negotiations failed to lower the
demands of either side, and England prepared to deal with the navies of
Russia, Denmark, Sweden, and Prussia.

[Battle of Copenhagen, April 2, 1801.]

At the moment, the concentrated naval strength of England made it more than
a match for its adversaries. A fleet of seventeen ships of the line sailed
from Yarmouth on the 12th of March, under the command of Parker and Nelson,
with orders to coerce the Danes and to prevent the junction of the
confederate navies. The fleet reached the Sound. The Swedish batteries
commanding the Sound failed to open fire. Nelson kept to the eastern side
of the channel, and brought his ships safely past the storm of shot poured
upon them from the Danish guns at Elsinore. He appeared before Copenhagen
at mid-day on the 30th of March. Preparations for resistance were made by
the Danes with extraordinary spirit and resolution. The whole population of
Copenhagen volunteered for service on the ships, the forts, and the
floating batteries. Two days were spent by the English in exploring the
shallows of the channel; on the morning of the 2nd of April Nelson led his
ships into action in front of the harbour. Three ran aground; the Danish
fire from land and sea was so violent that after some hours Admiral Parker,
who watched the engagement from the mid-channel, gave the signal of recall.
Nelson laughed at the signal, and continued the battle. In another hour the
six Danish men-of-war and the whole of the floating batteries were disabled
or sunk. The English themselves had suffered most severely from a
resistance more skilful and more determined than anything that they had
experienced from the French, and Nelson gladly offered a truce as soon as
his own victory was assured. The truce was followed by negotiation, and the
negotiation by an armistice for fourteen weeks, a term which Nelson
considered sufficient to enable him to visit and to overthrow the navies of
Sweden and Russia.

[Murder of Paul, March 23.]

[Peace between England and the Northern Powers.]

But an event had already occurred more momentous in its bearing upon the
Northern Confederacy than the battle of Copenhagen itself. On the night of
the 23rd of March the Czar of Russia was assassinated in his palace. Paul's
tyrannical violence, and his caprice verging upon insanity, had exhausted
the patience of a court acquainted with no mode of remonstrance but
homicide. Blood-stained hands brought to the Grand Duke Alexander the crown
which he had consented to receive after a pacific abdication. Alexander
immediately reversed the policy of his father, and sent friendly
communications both to the Government at London and to the commander of the
British fleet in the Baltic. The maintenance of commerce with England was
in fact more important to Russia than the protection of its carrying trade.
Nelson's attack was averted. A compromise was made between the two
Governments, which saved Russia's interests, without depriving England of
its chief rights against France. The principles of the Armed Neutrality
were abandoned by the Government of St. Petersburg in so far as they
related to the protection of an enemy's goods by the neutral flag. Great
Britain continued to seize French merchandise on board whatever craft it
might be found; but it was stipulated that the presence of a ship of war
should exempt neutral vessels from search by privateers, and that no port
should be considered as in a state of blockade unless a reasonable
blockading force was actually in front of it. The articles condemned as
contraband were so limited as not to include the flax, hemp, and timber, on
whose export the commerce of Russia depended. With these concessions the
Czar was easily brought to declare Russia again neutral. The minor Powers
of the Baltic followed the example of St. Petersburg; and the naval
confederacy which had threatened to turn the balance in the conflict
between England and the French Republic left its only trace in the
undeserved suffering of Denmark.

[Affairs in Egypt.]

Eight years of warfare had left France unassailable in Western Europe, and
England in command of every sea. No Continental armies could any longer be
raised by British subsidies: the navies of the Baltic, with which Bonaparte
had hoped to meet England on the seas, lay at peace in their ports. Egypt
was now the only arena remaining where French and English combatants could
meet, and the dissolution of the Northern Confederacy had determined the
fate of Egypt by leaving England in undisputed command of the approach to
Egypt by sea. The French army, vainly expecting reinforcements, and
attacked by the Turks from the east, was caught in a trap. Soon after the
departure of Bonaparte from Alexandria, his successor, General Kleber, had
addressed a report to the Directory, describing the miserable condition of
the force which Bonaparte had chosen to abandon. The report was intercepted
by the English, and the Government immediately determined to accept no
capitulation which did not surrender the whole of the French army as
prisoners of war. An order to this effect was sent to the Mediterranean.
Before, however, the order reached Sir Sidney Smith, the English admiral
cooperating with the Turks, an agreement had been already signed by him at
El Arish, granting Kleber's army a free return to France (Feb. 24, 1800).
After Kleber, in fulfilment of the conditions of the treaty, had withdrawn
his troops from certain positions, Sir Sidney Smith found himself compelled
to inform the French General that in the negotiations of El Arish he had
exceeded his powers, and that the British Government insisted upon the
surrender of the French forces. Kleber replied by instantly giving battle
to the Turks at Heliopolis, and putting to the rout an army six times as
numerous as his own. The position of the French seemed to be growing
stronger in Egypt, and the prospect of a Turkish re-conquest more doubtful,
when the dagger of a fanatic robbed the French of their able chief, and
transferred the command to General Menou, one of the very few French
officers of marked incapacity who held command at any time during the war.
The British Government, as soon as it learnt what had taken place between
Kleber and Sir Sidney Smith, declared itself willing to be bound by the
convention of El Arish. The offer was, however, rejected by the French. It
was clear that the Turks could never end the war by themselves; and the
British Ministry at last came to understand that Egypt must be re-conquered
by English arms.

[English army lands in Egypt, March, 1801.]

[French capitulate at Cairo, June 27, 1801.]

[And at Alexandria, Aug. 30.]

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