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ever, and the political bands were intent on a desperate struggle for power. Thus after ten years of terrible convulsions, France seemed no nearer to the promised land of Liberty and Order than at the beginning.
Speaking of this epoch, October, 1799, Thiers remarks" It was not so much a defender that was needed at this moment as a chief to seize the reins of government. The mass of the population desired at any cost quiet, order, the end of dissensions, and unity of government. It was afraid of the Terrorists, of the Royalists, of the Chouans, of all the parties. It was the moment of marvellous fortune for him who should allay all their fears."* And it was at this propitious moment that the arrival of General Bonaparte from Egypt was announced, and the nation rose to greet him. Bonaparte was then just thirty, and the greatest Captain and profoundest Politician of his time. He accomplished a double object by his trip to the East. He added to his renown, and avoided contact with a disorganized Government and unscrupulous Factions. But his hour had come. He saw it with his eagleglance; he seized it with his lion-courage.
* Another author gives the following graphic sketch of France at the same time.-"Merit was generally persecuted; all men of honour chased from public situations; robbers everywhere assembled in their infernal caverns; the wicked were in power; the apologists of the system of terror were thundering in the tribune; spoliation was re-established under the name of false loans; thousands of victims were already designed, under the name of hostages; the signal for pillage, murder, and conflagration, anxiously looked for, couched in the words 'the Country is in Danger!' the citizens had no security for their lives; the State for its finances. All Europe was in arms against us. Our armies were routed; our conquests were lost; the territory of the republic menaced with invasion. Such was the situation of France previous to the revolution of the 18th of Brumaire and the establishment of the Consulate."
+ A packet of French papers reached Bonaparte in Egypt. Devour. ing their contents, he exclaimed, "Heavens, my prediction is verified ; the fools have lost Italy. All the fruits of our victories are gone. I must leave Egypt."
orders he crossed the Mediterranean amid the enemy's cruisers, and landing in France sped on to Paris. As he hurried onwards, bells rang, bonfires blazed, and shouts echoed from hill to hill. He comprehended this outburst: France hailed him as her Deliverer from new scenes of blood and anarchy.
He entered the Capital, October 18th, and every General came to offer his sword.* This was the main point. He sounded the Politicians. All the discontented and ambitious gave their adhesion. Two of the Directors, Sieyes and Ducos, agreed to resign: another, Barras, was ready to imitate them. On the 18th Brumaire, November 9th, 1799, the signal was given. Three of the five Directors resigned; and so the Executive power was dissolved. The Two Chambers were left: the Upper Chamber took the side of Bonaparte, and appointed him by decree Commander of all the troops in Paris. The Capital was quiet the whole day: Bonaparte forbade any interference with business.†
On the succeeding day, November 10th, the Two Chambers were to meet at St. Cloud. The General entered the hall of the Upper Chamber, and harangued the Members, who replied with hearty applause. He then went among the "Five Hundred," but had scarcely entered when he was surrounded and furiously denounced. The leaders of the Royalists and Terrorists who saw that the Government, at which they aimed, was falling into the hands of a great Soldier, were
* Three only held back, Bernadotte, Jourdan, and Augereau. †The chief of the police had ordered the barriers to be closed, &c. Bonaparte indignant said to him, "Wherefore all these precautions? We go with the nation, and by its strength alone. Let no citizen be disturbed, and let the triumph of opinion have nothing in common with the transactions of days in which a faction prevailed."
frantic with rage. Probably the General, like Cæsar, would have been assassinated, were it not that his enemies dreaded the fury of the people. After a stormy scene, Bonaparte retired. The President of the "Five Hundred," Lucien Bonaparte, then declared the Lower Chamber dissolved, and called on the troops to disperse it. A battalion of Grenadiers appeared at the doors, and unlike their courageous predecessors of the Convention, the Members fled in all directions. They knew too well that the country was weary of anarchy.
The next day the Upper Chamber met, and created a Consulate of three members, Bonaparte, Ducos, and Sieyès. A portion of the Lower Chamber confirmed these decrees. Bonaparte was now at the head of the Government. The Executive power that had passed from the King into the hands of the "Committee of Public Safety "—all Politicians-and then into the hands of the Directory-again Politicians—now was deposited in the firm grasp of a Soldier. Military power became dominant, and the reign of the Demagogues was over.
ABSOLUTE Power was restored in France when Bonaparte became First Consul. This was the inevitable result of the fearful vicissitudes through which the country had passed since the Insurrection of July, 1789. So complete was the disorganization into which everything had fallen that it required nothing less than the wonderful genius and resolute will of Bonaparte to revive the civil and moral life of the Nation. With matchless sagacity and vigor he began the work of reconstruction.
The three Consuls named by the late Chamber of the "Ancients"- Bonaparte, Sieyès, and Ducos-set to work immediately to draw up a definite Constitution. Sieyes, who believed himself specially endowed for such a task, proposed an elaborate Scheme of Government which the practical genius of Bonaparte rejected as impracticable, if not absurd. A plan was drawn up under his direction concentrating the Executive power entirely in his own hands, with the title of First Consul, and for a period of ten years. Two other Consuls were created as "Advisers." A Senate of sixty-six Members, and a Legislative Body of three hundred were added more for ornament than utility; for no power was confided to them--not even the
privilege of debate.
The Senate was nominated by the First Consul; the Legislative Body was elected by the Senate: therefore both were composed solely of the adherents of Bonaparte.
This Constitution, which made him absolute master of France, was submitted to the sanction of the Nation 3rd December, 1799, and was approved by a Vote of three millions and upwards.
He next turned his attention to military matters, reorganizing every arm of the Service with wonderful celerity. In May, 1800, he crossed the Alps with an army, fell unawares on the Austrians at Marengo in June, and regained possession of Italy. He forced Austria to make Peace by the Treaty of Luneville in February, 1801. In March, 1802, he concluded a Peace with England, Spain, and Holland by the Treaty of Amiens.
This general pacification enabled him to enter on that vast scheme of internal Reform which constitutes his strongest claim to the gratitude of France. He ordered the entire legal system to be reorganized; and the most eminent Jurisconsults-Tronchet, Portalis, Merlin-were appointed to draw up new Codes, Civil, Commercial, and Penal.*
The Civil Code, known as the Code Napoléon, went finally into effect in March, 1804. Up to that period, France had been under the control of a variety of laws which were often contradictory-the written or Roman laws; the laws of custom, or Common Law; also those known as the Royal Ordinances: and Bonaparte rendered
*The Civil Code was divided into three books. The first treated of persons; the second of property; the third of the modes of acquiring property.