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the Mountain in the Convention had produced the domination of Robespierre. The fall of Robespierre had been followed by the Thermidorian reaction, and the White Terror: and the Convention, rapidly becoming more and more odious to the people, had at length dissolved, bequeathing to France as the result of its labours the constitution of the Directory. In the midst of all these changes France had been assailed by all Europe in arms. Yet she had shown no signal of distress. Neither the ferocious contests of her leaders, nor their deadly revenges, nor their gross follies, nor their reckless policy, had wasted her elastic powers. On the contrary, France was animated with a new life. That liberty which she had purchased with so many crimes and sacrifices she had proved herself able to defend. Nor was this all. In vindicating that liberty, she had wrested from her assailants trophies which threw into the shade the conquests of the Grand Monarque himself. In less than three years she had become actual mistress of nearly all that lay between the Rhine, the Alps, the Pyrenees, and the ocean, and potentially mistress of all the rest. She had attained a position, which, if maintained, would prove the destruction of the old balance of power in Europe.
In the eyes of Europe, the establishment of the Directory was the most important incident since the abolition of the monarchy. It confirmed the republican form of government: and its filiation with the Convention justified the transfer to it of the epithet Regicide. The execution of Louis XVI, though of small importance in the internal politics of France, had been the turning point in the relations of the Republic to the European world. But European intervention, in a feeble and undecided form, had commenced long before the tragedy of January 1793. The King's breach of his sworn fidelity to the new order of things had been followed by an attempted flight to the camp of a general who was plotting the destruction of the Revolution by arms. Two months after that attempt, the Emperor and the King of Prussia had held the meeting of Pilnitz: in the following year the forces of the Armed Coalition were on the soil of France. The capture of Longwy, followed by the invasion of Champagne, acted on France like an electric stroke. Feeble and momentary in itself, it set in motion other forces of far other compass. Longwy was taken on the 23rd of
August, 1792. Before the end of the year, the generals of France had not only hurled the Germans back on the Rhine, but had sprung in all its parts that deep mine which was destined to shatter the ancient fabric of Europe. They had seized Spires, Worms, and Mentz. They had levied contributions on the rich city of Frankfort: they had incorporated Savoy with France, by the name of the Department of Mont Blanc: they had annexed the county of Nice. On the northern frontier they had been even more successful. A few years before, the Imperial throne had been occupied by a sovereign whose head was full of modern ideas. Joseph the Second was a man of progress and enlightenment. Relying on the alliance with France which had been cemented by the marriage of the French king with an Austrian princess, he had ordered the demolition of all the Austrian fortresses on the Flemish frontier, and transferred his military strength to the frontiers of Bavaria and Turkey. The consequences, as soon as France became an enemy, were obvious. The single fight of Gemappe laid Austrian Flanders prostrate. Mons, Tournay, Nieuport, Ostend, Bruges, and finally Brussels itself, threw open their gates to Dumouriez and Miranda: and the Convention decreed the invasion of Holland and the opening of the Scheldt.
The year 1793 opened a new phase of the struggle. France was no longer the helpless object of intervention and plunder. France had braced herself for resistance: she had proved her strength. Europe began to dread as well as to hate her. Meanwhile a fiercer element was added to the ferment. The dark days of December had witnessed the trial of Louis at the bar of the Convention : the 21st of January witnessed his execution. The attitude of England had for above two years been one of mere carelessness. Burke's voice had been raised almost alone in tones of alarm : and Burke had been unanimously laughed down. The English nation were not unlike the Spanish Admiral Don Alonzo del Campo, with his fleet peaceably riding at anchor in the lake of Maracaibo. Two days before the redoubtable Morgan destroyed that fleet, a negro, says the chronicler, came on board, telling him, “Sir, be pleased to have great care of yourself: for the English have prepared a fire-ship, with design to burn your fleet.' But Don Alonzo, not believing this, answered: 'How can that be? Have they peradventure
wit enough to build a fire-ship? Or what instruments have they to do it withal ?' The English parliament gave as little attention to the alarms of Burke. But as the year 1792 wore on, more and more came to light of the intrigues between French revolutionists and English sympathizers. English representatives presented themselves in the Convention: revolutionary clubs on the Parisian model sprang up all over Great Britain. Some thought a civil war, in which France would be the ally of a revolutionary element, to be at hand. And even thus early the brigand-like character of the New France revealed itself. The system of plunder which the French pursued in Belgium excited English indignation : and when Holland was invaded and the Scheldt declared to be open, the unprincipled and reckless aims of the Convention became clear. They were boldly avowed by Danton: France intended to grasp all that lay within her natural boundaries, the Ocean, the Rhine, the Alps, and the Pyrenees. Since the abolition of the Monarchy, England had held no regular communication with the French government. The French Minister, however, remained in London: and through him, though unofficially, the English ministry endeavoured to recall the politicians of France to peace and moderation. But there was in truth, no common ground of negotiation. Crediting the reports of English sympathizers, the Parisian politicians believed the English Monarchy to be on the verge of a dissolution as complete as that which had befallen their own. They showed no respect to Grenville's remonstrances : and by the middle of January war was known by diplomatists to be a certainty. The execution of the French King precipitated it. George III then broke off all negotiation with the French Minister, and ordered him to quit England in eight days. England was at war with France, and the Armed Coalition was thus reinforced by all the wealth, power and authority of the leading nation in Europe. The rest of Europe soon followed. Before the summer of 1793 Austria, Prussia, England, Holland, Russia, Spain, and all Italy except the Republics of Venice and Genoa, were at war with the French Republic. Pitted against such a Coalition France might well expect
She could hardly expect to keep her bold and reckless conquests: she might well have been content to purchase the right to choose her own government with the loss of a con
siderable part of her own territory. Austria and Prussia were bent on dismembering her: England coveted her rich possessions beyond seas. Disaster after disaster befell the armies of the Revolution. The Austrian generals, better skilled in tactics and in command of veteran soldiers, quickly rescued Flanders from the undisciplined levies of the French. At Neerwinden the French were totally defeated: and before the end of March they were driven to their own soil. The Armed Coalition now seemed to have its way made plain before its face. The second invasion of France was a different matter to the desultory irruption of the preceding summer. Condé and Valenciennes were invested: and the capture of Condé was the first-fruits of the invasion. On the 28th of July, 1793, Valenciennes was taken by the Duke of York. In every quarter the prospects of the Republic darkened. Mentz was retaken. From the lower Loire came the news of the formidable insurrection of La Vendée. British ships occupied Toulon, seized the French islands in the West Indies, and did not even spare the petty fishing stations of St. Pierre and Miquelon, which were all that remained to the French of their vast and rich titular empire in North America. British troops seized the poor remains of the once brilliant French empire in India. Greater ills than the loss of Tobago and Pondicherry were menacing at home. Famine stalked through the people. Bankruptcy threatened the treasury. In that dark hour France drew strength from her perils. Throughout the departments the people cheerfully gave up their all to the imperious necessities of the public cause. France became one vast camp. Cathedrals were turned into barracks : church bells were cast into cannon. The decree went forth that all Frenchmen should be in permanent readiness for military service. Custine, the general who had surrendered Mentz, was executed. Meanwhile, the Duke of York was besieging Dunkirk; and the existence of the Republic depended on the defence of the Iron Frontier. On all sides, indeed, the defence of France aroused all the energy and ingenuity of the French character. And the French were now no longer in the hands of generals who hesitated between the Dauphin, the Duke of Orleans, and the Assembly: who had not decided whether to play the part of a Cromwell or of a Monk. In Carnot, Moreau, and Jourdan they had leaders who were stout and earnest republicans.
Pichegru and Hoche defended the Rhine: Davoust and Labourdonnaye the Pyrenees: Kellermann and Massena the Alps. Before the end of the year, La Vendée was pacified: Toulon was recovered: while Moreau and Jourdan had not only stayed the progress of the Allies on the Iron Frontier, but had a second time effected a lodgment on the soil of Flanders. The end of the year 1793 found France, though surrounded by the whole world as an enemy, in a far stronger position than the beginning.
The fortunes of France steadily rose from the hour when the Duke of York was forced to raise the siege of Dunkirk. During the winter, the army in Flanders was reinforced to the utmost: and early in 1794 the command of it was transferred from Jourdan to Pichegru. Meanwhile, the spirit of the Allies began to flag. There was little union or sympathy among them: and as for Austria and Prussia, they hated each other with their old hatred. Prussia, jealous of the aggrandisement of Austria, left her unsupported: there was no combined plan: and the spring was wasted in desultory fighting on the Sambre and the Meuse. The French gained daily: and on the 26th of June the decisive action was fought on the plains of Fleurus, where victory had already in old times twice attended the French arms. Pichegru now entered Brussels; and before the summer of 1794 was ended, the Allies were swept from the Austrian Netherlands and driven back on Holland. Here the party of the Stadtholder had long maintained with great difficulty a doubtful ascendancy. The French sympathizers at once took fresh heart; and throughout Holland the approach of the French produced a powerful revival of the republican party. Everywhere the Revolution reproduced itself. Province after province of the United Netherlands gladly capitulated as the French advanced. While the Stadtholder fled to England, the British contingent was falling back on Gröningen and Friesland: and it at length retired to German soil, and sailed homeward. The French had conquered the key of Europe.
The policy of the Coalition throughout the war was so bad that no French patriot could have wished it worse.
Union among them there was none: they had not even united plans for the Flemish campaign. Of the French royalists they made no account whatever. They sometimes sought advice from