Memoirs of Napoleon Bonaparte, v2
Louis Antoine Fauvelet de Bourrienne
Part 1 out of 2
This etext was produced by David Widger
MEMOIRS OF NAPOLEON BONAPARTE, VOLUME 2.
By LOUIS ANTOINE FAUVELET DE BOURRIENNE
His Private Secretary
Edited by R. W. Phipps
Colonel, Late Royal Artillery
Chapter V. to Chapter XIV. 1798
Signature of the preliminaries of peace--Fall of Venice--My arrival
and reception at Leoben--Bonaparte wishes to pursue his success--
The Directory opposes him--He wishes to advance on Vienna--Movement
of the army of the Sombre-et-Mouse--Bonaparte's dissatisfaction--
Arrival at Milan--We take up our residence at Montebello--Napoleon's
judgment respecting Dandolo and Melzi.
I joined Bonaparte at Leoben on the 19th of April, the day after the
signature of the preliminaries of peace. These preliminaries resembled
in no respect the definitive treaty of Campo Formio. The still
incomplete fall of the State of Venice did not at that time present an
available prey for partition. All was arranged afterwards. Woe to the
small States that come in immediate contact with two colossal empires
Here terminated my connection with Bonaparte as a comrade and equal, and
those relations with him commenced in which I saw him suddenly great,
powerful, and surrounded with homage and glory. I no longer addressed
him as I had been accustomed to do. I appreciated too well his personal
importance. His position placed too great a social distance between him
and me not to make me feel the necessity of fashioning my demeanour
accordingly. I made with pleasure, and without regret, the easy
sacrifice of the style of familiar companionship and other little
privileges. He said, in a loud voice, when I entered the salon where he
was surrounded by the officers who formed his brilliant staff, "I am glad
to see you, at last"--"Te voila donc, enfin;", but as soon as we were
alone he made me understand that he was pleased with my reserve, and
thanked me for it. I was immediately placed at the head of his Cabinet.
I spoke to him the same evening respecting the insurrection of the
Venetian territories, of the dangers which menaced the French, and of
those which I had escaped, etc. "Care thou' nothing about it," said he;
--[He used to 'tutoyer' me in this familiar manner until his return
"those rascals shall pay for it. Their republic has had its day, and is
done." This republic was, however, still existing, wealthy and powerful.
These words brought to my recollection what I had read in a work by one
Gabriel Naude, who wrote during the reign of Louis XIII. for Cardinal de
Bagin: "Do you see Constantinople, which flatters itself with being the
seat of a double empire; and Venice, which glories in her stability of a
thousand years? Their day will come."
In the first conversation which Bonaparte had with me, I thought I could
perceive that he was not very well satisfied with the preliminaries. He
would have liked to advance with his army to Vienna. He did not conceal
this from me. Before he offered peace to Prince Charles, he wrote to the
Directory that he intended to pursue his success, but that for this
purpose he reckoned on the co-operation of the armies of the Sambre-et-
Meuse and the Rhine. The Directory replied that he must not reckon on a
diversion in Germany, and that the armies of the Sambre-et-Meuse and the
Rhine were not to pass that river. A resolution so unexpected--
a declaration so contrary to what he had constantly solicited, compelled
him to terminate his triumphs, and renounce his favourite project of
planting the standard of the republic on the ramparts of Vienna, or at
least of levying contributions on the suburbs of that capital.
A law of the 23d of August 1794 forbade the use of any other names than
those in the register of births. I wished to conform to this law, which
very foolishly interfered with old habits. My eldest brother was living,
and I therefore designated myself Fauvelet the younger. This annoyed
General Bonaparte. "Such change of name is absolute nonsense," said he.
"I have known you for twenty years by the name of Bourrienne. Sign as
you still are named, and see what the advocates with their laws will do."
On the 20th of April, as Bonaparte was returning to Italy, he was obliged
to stop on an island of the Tagliamento, while a torrent passed by, which
had been occasioned by a violent storm. A courier appeared on the right
bank of the river. He reached the island. Bonaparte read in the
despatches of the Directory that the armies of the Sambre-et-Meuse and
the Rhine were in motion; that they were preparing to cross the Rhine,
and had commenced hostilities on the very day of the signing of the
preliminaries. This information arrived seven days after the Directory
had written that "he must not reckon on the co-operation of the armies of
Germany." It is impossible to describe the General's vexation on reading
these despatches. He had signed the preliminaries only because the
Government had represented the co-operation of the armies of the Rhine as
impracticable at that moment, and shortly afterwards he was informed that
the co-operation was about to take place! The agitation of his mind was
so great that he for a moment conceived the idea of crossing to the left
bank of the Tagliamento, and breaking off the negotiations under some
pretext or other. He persisted for some time in this resolution, which,
however, Berthier and some other generals successfully opposed. He
exclaimed, "What a difference would there have been in the preliminaries,
if, indeed, there had been any!"
His chagrin, I might almost say his despair, increased when, some days
after his entry into the Venetian States, he received a letter from
Moreau, dated the 23d of April, in which that general informed him that,
having passed the Rhine on the 20th with brilliant success, and taken
four thousand prisoners, it would not be long before he joined him.
Who, in fact, can say what would have happened but for the vacillating
and distrustful policy of the Directory, which always encouraged low
intrigues, and participated in the jealousy excited by the renown of the
young conqueror? Because the Directory dreaded his ambition they
sacrificed the glory of our arms and the honour of the nation; for it
cannot be doubted that, had the passage of the Rhine, so urgently
demanded by Bonaparte, taken place some days sooner, he would have been
able, without incurring any risk, to dictate imperiously the conditions
of peace on the spot; or, if Austria were obstinate, to have gone on to
Vienna and signed it there. Still occupied with this idea, he wrote to
the Directory on the 8th of May: "Since I have received intelligence of
the passage of the Rhine by Hoche and Moreau, I much regret that it did
not take place fifteen days sooner; or, at least, that Moreau did not say
that he was in a situation to effect it." (He had been informed to the
contrary.) What, after this, becomes of the unjust reproach against
Bonaparte of having, through jealousy of Moreau, deprived France of the
advantages which a prolonged campaign would have procured her? Bonaparte
was too devoted to the glory of France to sacrifice it to jealousy of the
glory of any individual.
In traversing the Venetian States to return to Milan, he often spoke to
me of Venice. He always assured me that he was originally entirely
unconnected with the insurrections which had agitated that country; that
common sense would show, as his project was to advance into the basin of
the Danube, he had no interest in having his rear disturbed by revolts,
and his communications interrupted or cut off: "Such an idea," said he,
"would be absurd, and could never enter into the mind of a man to whom
even his enemies cannot deny a certain degree of tact." He acknowledged
that he was not vexed that matters had turned out as they had done,
because he had already taken advantage of these circumstances in the
preliminaries and hoped to profit still more from them in the definitive
peace. "When I arrive at Milan," said he, "I will occupy myself with
Venice." It is therefore quite evident to me that in reality the
General-in-Chief had nothing to do with the Venetian insurrections; that
subsequently he was not displeased with them; and that, later still, he
derived great advantage from them.
We arrived at Milan on the 5th of May, by way of Lawbook, Thrust, Palma-
Nova, Padua, Verona, and Mantua. Bonaparte soon took up his residence at
Montebello, a very fine chateau, three leagues from Milan, with a view
over the rich and magnificent plains of Lombard. At Montebello commenced
the negotiations for the definitive peace which were terminated at
Passeriano. The Marquis de Gallo, the Austrian plenipotentiary, resided
half a league from Montebello.
During his residence at Montebello the General-in-Chief made an excursion
to the Lake of Como and to the Ago Maguire. He visited the Borromean
Islands in succession, and occupied himself on his return with the
organization of the towns of Venice, Genoa, and Milan. He sought for men
and found none. "Good God," said he, "how rare men are! There are
eighteen millions in Italy, and I have with difficulty found two, Dandolo
He appreciated them properly. Dandolo was one of the men who, in those
revolutionary times, reflected the greatest honour upon Italy. After
being a member of the great council of the Cisalpine Republic, he
exercised the functions of Proveditore-General in Dalmatia. It is only
necessary to mention the name of Dandolo to the Dalmatians to learn from
the grateful inhabitants how just and vigorous his administration was.
The services of Melzi are known. He was Chancellor and Keeper of the
Seals of the Italian monarchy, and was created Duke of Lodi.
--[Francesco, Comte de Melzi d'Eryl (1753-1816), vice President of
the Italian Republic, 1802; Chancellor of the Kingdom of Italy,
1805; Duc de Loth, 1807.]--
In those who have seen the world the truth of Napoleon's reproach excites
little astonishment. In a country which, according to biographies and
newspapers, abounds with extraordinary men, a woman of much talent
--(Madame Roland.)--said, "What has most surprised me, since the elevation
of my husband has afforded me the opportunity of knowing many persons,
and particularly those employed in important affairs, is the universal
mediocrity which exists. It surpasses all that the imagination can
conceive, and it is observable in all ranks, from the clerk to the
minister. Without this experience I never could have believed my species
to be so contemptible."
Who does not remember Oxenstiern's remark to his son, who trembled at
going so young to the congress of Munster: "Go, my son. You will see by
what sort of men the world is governed."
Napoleon's correspondence--Release of French prisoners at Olmutz--
Negotiations with Austria--Bonaparte's dissatisfaction--Letter of
complaint from Bonaparte to the Executive Directory--Note respecting
the affairs of Venice and the Club of Clichy, written by Bonaparte
and circulated in the army--Intercepted letter of the Emperor
During the time when the preliminaries of Leoben suspended military
operations, Napoleon was not anxious to reply immediately to all letters.
He took a fancy to do, not exactly as Cardinal Dubois did, when he threw
into the fire the letters he had received, saying, "There! my
correspondents are answered," but something of the same kind. To satisfy
himself that people wrote too much, and lost, in trifling and useless
answers, valuable time, he told me to open only the letters which came by
extraordinary couriers, and to leave all the rest for three weeks in the
basket. At the end of that time it was unnecessary to reply to four-
fifths of these communications. Some were themselves answers; some were
acknowledgments of letters received; others contained requests for
favours already granted, but of which intelligence had not been received.
Many were filled with complaints respecting provisions, pay, or clothing,
and orders had been issued upon all these points before the letters were
written. Some generals demanded reinforcements, money, promotion, etc.
By not opening their letters Bonaparte was spared the unpleasing office
of refusing. When the General-in-Chief compared the very small number of
letters which it was necessary to answer with the large number which time
alone had answered, he laughed heartily at his whimsical idea. Would not
this mode of proceeding be preferable to that of causing letters to be
opened by any one who may be employed, and replying to them by a circular
to which it is only necessary to attach a date?
During the negotiations which followed the treaty of Leoben, the
Directory ordered General Bonaparte to demand the liberty of MM. de La
Fayette, Latour-Marbourg, and Bureau de Puzy, detained at Olmutz since
1792 as prisoners of state. The General-in-Chief executed this
commission with as much pleasure as zeal, but he often met with
difficulties which appeared to be insurmountable. It has been very
incorrectly stated that these prisoners obtained their liberty by one of
the articles of the preliminaries of Leoben. I wrote a great deal on
this subject to the dictation of General Bonaparte, and I joined him only
on the day after the signature of these preliminaries. It was not till
the end of May of the year 1797 that the liberation of these captives was
demanded, and they did not obtain their freedom till the end of August.
There was no article in the treaty, public or secret, which had reference
to them. Neither was it at his own suggestion that Bonaparte demanded
the enlargement of the prisoners, but by order of the Directory. To
explain why they did not go to France immediately after their liberation
from Olmutz, it is necessary to recollect that the events of the 18th
Fructidor occurred between the period when the first steps were taken to
procure their liberty and the date of their deliverance. It required all
Bonaparte's ascendency and vigour of character to enable him to succeed
in his object at the end of three months.
We had arrived at the month of July, and the negotiations were tediously
protracted. It was impossible to attribute the embarrassment which was
constantly occurring to anything but the artful policy of Austria: Other
affairs occupied Bonaparte. The news from Paris engrossed all his
attention. He saw with extreme displeasure the manner in which the
influential orators of the councils, and pamphlets written in the same
spirit as they spoke, criticised him, his army, his victories, the
affairs of Venice, and the national glory. He was quite indignant at the
suspicions which it was sought to create respecting his conduct and
The following excerpts, attributed to the pens of Dumouriez or Rivarol,
are specimens of some of the comments of the time:
EXTRACTS OF LETTERS IN "LE SPECTATUER DU NORD" of 1797.
General Bonaparte is, without contradiction, the most brilliant
warrior who has appeared at the head of the armies of the French
Republic. His glory is incompatible with democratic equality, and
the services he has rendered are too great to be recompensed except
by hatred and ingratitude. He is very young, and consequently has
to pursue a long career of accusations and of persecutions.
........Whatever may be the crowning event of his military career,
Bonaparte is still a great man. All his glory is due to himself
alone; because he alone has developed s character end a genius of
which no one else has furnished an example.
EXTRACT OF LETTER OR 18TH APRIL 1797 in "THE SPECTATEUR DU NORD."
Regard, for instance, this wretched war. Uncertain in Champagne, it
becomes daring under Dumouriez, unbridled under the brigands who
fought the Vendeeans, methodic under Pichegru, vulgar under Jourdan,
skilled under Moreau, rash under Bonaparte. Each general has put
the seal of his genius on his career, and has given life or death to
his army. From the commencement of his career Bonaparte has
developed an ardent character which is irritated by obstacles, and a
quickness which forestalls every determination of the enemy. It is
with heavier and heavier blows that, he strikes. He throws his army
on the enemy like an unloosed torrent. He is all action, and he is
so in everything. See him fight, negotiate, decree, punish, all is
the matter of a moment. He compromises with Turin as with Rome. He
invades Modena as he burns Binasco. He never hesitates; to cut the
Gordian knot is always his method.
Bonaparte could not endure to have his conduct predicated; and enraged at
seeing his campaigns depreciated, his glory and that of his army
--[The extraordinary folly of the opposition to the Directory in
throwing Bonaparte on to the side of the Directory, will be seen by
reading the speech of Dumolard, so often referred to by Bourrienne
(Thiers, vol. v. pp. 110-111), and by the attempts of Mathieu Dumas
to remove the impression that the opposition slighted the fortunate
General. (See Dumas, tome iii. p. 80; see also Lanfrey, tome i.
and intrigues formed against him in the Club of Clichy, he wrote the
following letter to the Directory:--
TO THE PRESIDENT OF THE EXECUTIVE DIRECTORY.
I have just received, Citizens-Directors, a copy of the motion of
Dumolard (23d June 1797).
This motion, printed by order of the Assembly, it is evident, is
directed against me. I was entitled, after, having five times
concluded peace, and given a death-blow to the coalition, if not to
civic triumphs, at least to live tranquilly under the protection of
the first magistrates of the Republic. At present I find myself
ill-treated, persecuted, and disparaged, by every shameful means,
which their policy brings to the aid of persecution. I would have
been indifferent to all except that species of opprobrium with which
the first magistrates of the Republic endeavour to overwhelm me.
After having deserved well of my country by my last act, I am not
bound to hear myself accused in a manner as absurd as atrocious.
I have not expected that a manifesto, signed by emigrants, paid by
England, should obtain more credit with the Council of Five Hundred
than the evidence of eighty thousand men--than mine! What! we were
assassinated by traitors--upwards of four hundred men perished; and
the first magistrates of the Republic make it a crime to have
believed the statement for a moment. Upwards of four hundred
Frenchmen were dragged through the streets. They were assassinated
before the eyes of the governor of the fort. They were pierced with
a thousand blows of stilettos, such as I sent you and the
representatives of the French people cause it to be printed, that if
they believed this fact for an instant, they were excusable. I know
well there are societies where it is said, "Is this blood, then, so
If only base men, who are dead to the feeling of patriotism and
national glory, had spoken of me thus, I would not have complained.
I would have disregarded it; but I have a right to complain of the
degradation to which the first magistrates of the Republic reduce
those who have aggrandised, and carried the French name to so high a
pitch of glory. Citizens-Directors, I reiterate the demand I made
for my dismissal; I wish to live in tranquillity, if the poniards of
Clichy will allow me to live. You have employed me in negotiations.
I am not very fit to conduct them.
About the same time he drew up the following note respecting the affairs
of Venice, which was printed without the author's name, and circulated
through the whole army:--
Bonaparte, pausing before the gates of Turin, Parma, Rome, and
Vienna, offering peace when he was sure of obtaining nothing but
fresh triumphs--Bonaparte, whose every operation exhibits respect
for religion, morality, and old age; who, instead of heaping, as he
might have done, dishonour upon the Venetians, and humbling their
republic to the earth, loaded her with acts of kindness, and took
such great interest in her glory--is this the same Bonaparte who is
accused of destroying the ancient Government of Venice, and
democratising Genoa, and even of interfering in the affairs of the
prudent and worthy people of the Swiss Cantons? Bonaparte had
passed the Tagliamento, and entered Germany, when insurrections
broke out in the Venetian States; these insurrections were,
therefore, opposed to Bonaparte's project; surely, then, he could
not favour them. When he was in the heart of Germany the Venetians
massacred more than four hundred French troops, drove their quarters
out of Verona, assassinated the unfortunate Laugier, and presented
the spectacle of a fanatical party in arms. He returned to Italy;
and on his arrival, as the winds cease their agitation at the
presence of Neptune, the whole of Italy, which was in commotion,
which was in arms, was restored to order.
However, the deputies from Bonaparte drew up different articles
conformable to the situation of the country, and in order to
prevent, not a revolution in the Government, for the Government was
defunct, and had died a natural death, but a crisis, and to save the
city from convulsion, anarchy, and pillage. Bonaparte spared a
division of his army to save Venice from pillage and massacre. All
the battalions were in the streets of Venice, the disturbers were
put down, and the pillage discontinued. Property and trade were
preserved, when General Baragney d'Hilliers entered Venice with his
division. Bonaparte, as usual, spared blood, and was the protector
of Venice. Whilst the French troops remained they conducted
themselves peaceably, and only interfered to support the provisional
Bonaparte could not say to the deputies of Venice, who came to ask
his protection and assistance against the populace, who wished to
plunder them, "I cannot meddle with your affairs." He could not say
this, for Venice, and all its territories, had really formed the
theatre of war; and, being in the rear of the army of Italy, the
Republic of Venice was really under the jurisdiction of that army.
The rights of war confer upon a general the powers of supreme police
over the countries which are the seat of war. As the great
Frederick said, "There are no neutrals where there is war."
Ignorant advocates and babblers have asked, in the Club of Clichy,
why we occupy the territory of Venice. These declaimers should
learn war, and they would know that the Adige, the Brenta, and the
Tagliamento, where we have been fighting for two years, are within
the Venetian States. But, gentlemen of Clichy, we are at no loss to
perceive your meaning. You reproach the army of Italy for having
surmounted all difficulties--for subduing all Italy for having twice
passed the Alps--for having marched on Vienna, and obliged Austria
to acknowledge the Republic that, you, men of Clichy, would destroy.
You accuse Bonaparte, I see clearly, for having brought about peace.
But I know you, and I speak in the name of eighty thousand soldiers.
The time is gone when base advocates and wretched declaimers could
induce soldiers to revolt. If, however, yon compel them, the
soldiers of the army of Italy will soon appear at the Barrier of
Clichy, with their General. But woe unto you if they do!
Bonaparte having arrived at Palma-Nova, issued a manifesto on the 2d
of May 1797. Arrived at Mestre, where he posted his troops, the
Government sent three deputies to him, with a decree of the Great
Council, without Bonaparte having solicited it and without his
having thought of making any change in the Government of that
country: The governor of Venice was an old man, ninety-nine years-of
age, confined by illness to his apartment. Everyone felt the
necessity of renovating this Government of twelve hundred years'
existence, and to simplify its machinery, in order to preserve its
independence, honour, and glory. It was necessary to deliberate,
first, on the manner of renovating the Government; secondly, on the
means of atoning for the massacre of the French, the iniquity of
which every one was sensible..
Bonaparte, after having received the deputation at Mestre, told them
that in order to obtain satisfaction, for the assassination of his
brethren is arms, he wished the Great Council to arrest the
inquisitors. He afterwards granted them an armistice, and appointed
Milan as the place of conference. The deputies arrived at Milan on
the . . . A negotiation commenced to re-establish harmony between
the Governments. However, anarchy, with all its horrors, afflicted
the city of Venice. Ten thousand Sclavonians threatened to pillage
the shops. Bonaparte acquiesced in the proposition submitted by the
deputies, who promised to verify the loss which had been sustained
Bonaparte also addressed a manifesto to the Doge, which appeared in all
the public papers. It contained fifteen articles of complaint, and was
followed by a decree ordering the French Minister to leave Venice, the
Venetian agents to leave Lombard, and the Lion of St. Mark to be pulled
down in all the Continental territories of Venice.
The General-in-Chief now openly manifested his resolution of marching on
Paris; and this disposition, which was well known in the army, was soon
communicated to Vienna. At this period a letter from the Emperor Francis
II. to his brother, the Grand Duke of Tuscany, was intercepted by
Bonaparte. I translated the letter, which proved to him that Francis II.
was acquainted with his project. He likewise saw with pleasure the
assurances which the Emperor gave his brother of his love of peace, as
well as the wavering of the imperial resolves, and the incertitude
respecting the fate of the Italian princes, which the Emperor easily
perceived to depend on Bonaparte. The Emperor's letter was as follows:--
MY DEAR BROTHER--I punctually received your third letter, containing
a description of your unhappy and delicate situation. You may be
assured that I perceive it as clearly as you do yourself; and I pity
you the more because, in truth, I do not know what advice to give
you. You are, like me, the victim of the former inactivity of the
princes of Italy, who ought, at once, to have acted with all their
united forces, while I still possessed Mantua. If Bonaparte's
project be, as I learn, to establish republics in Italy, this is
likely to end in spreading republicanism over the whole country. I
have already commenced negotiations for peace, and the preliminaries
are ratified. If the French observe them as strictly as I do, and
will do, then your situation will be improved; but already the
French are beginning to disregard them. The principal problem which
remains to be solved is, whether the French Directory approve of
Bonaparte's proceedings, and whether the latter, as appears by some
papers distributed through his army, is not disposed to revolt
against his country, which also seems to be probable, from his
severe conduct towards Switzerland, notwithstanding the assurances
of the Directory, that he had been ordered to leave the country
untouched. If this should be the case, new and innumerable
difficulties may arise. Under these circumstances I can, at
present, advise nothing; for, as to myself, it is only time and the
circumstances of the moment which can point out how I am to act.
There is nothing new here. We are all well; but the heat is
extraordinary. Always retain your friendship and love for me.
Make my compliments to your wife, and believe me ever
Your best Friend and Brother,
HETZENDORF, July 20, 1797.
Unfounded reports--Carnot--Capitulation of Mantua--General Clarke--
The Directory yields to Bonaparte--Berthier--Arrival of Eugene
Beauharnais at Milan--Comte Delannay d'Entraigues--His interview
with Bonaparte--Seizure of his papers--Copy of one describing a
conversation between him and Comte de Montgaillard--The Emperor
Francis--The Prince de Conde and General Pichegru.
While Bonaparte was expressing his opinion on his campaigns and the
injustice with which they had been criticised, it was generally believed
that Carnot dictated to him from a closet in the Luxembourg all the plans
of his operations, and that Berthier was at his right hand, without whom,
notwithstanding Carnot's plans, which were often mere romances, he would
have been greatly embarrassed. This twofold misrepresentation was very
current for some time; and, notwithstanding it was contrary to the
evidence of facts, it met with much credence, particularly abroad. There
was, however, no foundation for the opinion: Let us render to Caesar that
which is Caesar's due. Bonaparte was a creator in the art of war, and no
imitator. That no man was superior to him in that art is incontestable.
At the commencement of the glorious campaign in Italy the Directory
certainly sent out instructions to him; but he always followed his own
plans, and continually, wrote back that all would be lost if movements
conceived at a distance from the scene of action were to be blindly
executed. He also offered to resign. At length the Directory perceived
the impossibility of prescribing operations of war according to the view
of persons in Paris; and when I became the secretary of the General-in-
Chief I saw a despatch of the Directory, dated May, 1796, committing the
whole plan of the campaign to his judgment; and assuredly there was not a
single operation or movement which did not originate with him. Carnot
was obliged to yield to his firmness. When the Directory, towards the
end of 1796, felt disposed to treat for peace, General Clarke, appointed
to conclude the armistice, was authorised, in case Mantua should not be
taken before the negotiation was brought to a close, to propose leaving
the blockade in statu quo. Had such a condition been adopted it would
doubtless hays been stipulated that the Emperor of Austria should be
allowed to provision the garrison and inhabitants of the city day by day.
Bonaparte, convinced that an armistice without Mantua would by no means
conduce to peace, earnestly opposed such a condition. He carried his
point; Mantua capitulated, and the result is well known. Yet he was not
blind to the hazards of war; while preparing, during the blockade, an
assault on Mantua, he wrote thus to the Directory: "A bold stroke of this
nature depends absolutely for success on a dog or a goose." This was
about a question of surprise.
Bonaparte was exceedingly sensitive to the rumours which reached him
respecting Carnot and Berthier. He one day said to me: "What gross
stupidity, is this? It is very well to say to a general, 'Depart for
Italy, gain battles, and sign a peace at Vienna;' but the execution that
is not so easy. I never attached any value to the plans which the
Directory sent me. Too many circumstances occur on the spot to modify
them. The movement of a single corps of the enemy's army may confound a
whole plan arranged by the fireside. Only fools can believe such stuff!
As for Berthier, since you have been with me, you see what he is--he is a
blockhead. Yet it is he who does it all; it is he who gathers a great
part of the glory of the army of Italy." I told him that this erroneous
opinion could not last long; that each person would be allowed his merit,
and that at least posterity would judge rightly. This observation seemed
to please him.
Berthier was a man full of honour, courage, and probity, and exceedingly
regular in the performance of his duties. Bonaparte's attachment to him
arose more from habit than liking. Berthier did not concede with
affability, and refused with harshness. His abrupt, egotistic, and
careless manners did not, however, create him many enemies, but, at the
same time, did not make him many friends. In consequence of our frequent
intercourse he had contracted the friendly practice of speaking to me in
the second person singular; but he never wrote to me is that style. He
was perfectly acquainted with the disposition of all the corps, and could
name their commanders and their respective forces. Day or night he was
always at hand and made out with clearness all the secondary orders which
resulted from the dispositions of the General-in-Chief. In fact, he was,
an excellent head of the staff of an army; but that is all the praise
that can be given, and indeed he wished for no greater. He had such
entire confidence in Bonaparte, and looked up to him with so much
admiration, that he never would have presumed to oppose his plans or give
any advise. Berthier's talent was very limited, and of a special nature;
his character was one of extreme weakness. Bonaparte's friendship for
him and the frequency of his name in the bulletins and official
despatches have unduly elevated his reputation. Bonaparte, giving his
opinion to the Directory respecting the generals employed in his army,
said, "Berthier has talents, activity, courage, character--all in his
favour." This was in 1796. He then made an eagle of him; at St. Helena
he called him a goose. He should neither have, raised him so high nor
sunk him so low.
Berthier neither merited the one nor the other. Bonaparte was a man of
habit; he was much attached to all the people about him, and did not like
new faces. Berthier loved him. He carried out his orders well, and that
enabled him to pass off with his small portion of talent.
It was about this time that young Beauharnais came to Milan. He was
seventeen years old. He had lived in Paris with his mother since the
departure of Bonaparte. On his arrival he immediately entered the
service as 'aide de camp' to the General-in-Chief, who felt for him an
affection which was justified by his good qualities.
Comte Delaunay d'Entraigues, well known in the French Revolution, held a
diplomatic post at Venice when that city was threatened by the French.
Aware of his being considered the agent of all the machinations then
existing against France, and especially against the army of Italy, he
endeavoured to escape; but the city being, surrounded, he was seized,
together with all his papers. The apparently frank manners of the Count
pleased Bonaparte, who treated him with indulgence. His papers were
restored, with the exception of three relating to political subjects.
He afterwards fled to Switzerland, and ungratefully represented himself
as having been oppressed by Bonaparte. His false statements have induced
many writers to make of him an heroic victim. He was assassinated by his
own servant in 1802.
I kept a copy of one of his most interesting papers. It has been much
spoken of, and Fauche-Borel has, I believe, denied its authenticity and
the truth of its contents. The manner in which it fell into the hands of
the General-in-Chief, the importance attached to it by d'Entraigues, the
differences I have observed between the manuscript I copied and versions
which I have since read, and the, knowledge of its, authenticity, having
myself transcribed it from the handwriting of the Count, who in my
presence vouched for the truth of the facts it details--all these
circumstances induce me to insert it here, and compel me to doubt that it
was, as Fauche-Borel asserted, a fabrication.
This manuscript is entitled, 'My Conversation with Comte de Montgaillard,
on the 4th of December 1796, from Six in the Afternoon till midnight, in
the presence of the Abbe Dumontel.'
[On my copy are written the words, "Extracts from this conversation, made
by me, from the original." I omitted what I thought unimportant, and
transcribed only the most interesting passages. Montgaillard spoke of
his escape, of his flight to England, of his return to France, of his
second departure, and finally of his arrival at Bale in August 1795.]
The Prince de Conde soon afterwards, he said, called me to Mulheim,
and knowing the connections I had had in France, proposed that I
should sound General Pichegru, whose headquarters were at Altkirch,
where he then was, surrounded by four representatives of the
I immediately went to Neufchatel, taking with me four or five
hundred Louis. I cast my eyes on Fauche-Borel, the King's printer
at Neufchatel, and also yours and mine, as the instrument by which
to make the first overture, and I selected as his colleague M.
Courant, a native of Neufchatel. I persuaded them to undertake the
business: I supplied them with instructions and passports. They
were foreigners: so I furnished them with all the necessary
documents to enable them to travel in France as foreign merchants
and purchasers of national property. I went to Bale to wait for
news from them.
On the 13th of August Fauche and Courant set out for the
headquarters at Altkirch. They remained there eight days without
finding an opportunity to speak to Pichegru, who was surrounded by
representatives and generals. Pichegru observed them, and seeing
them continually wheresoever he went, he conjectured that they had
something to say to him, and he called out in a loud voice, while
passing them, "I am going to Huningen." Fauche contrived to throw
himself in his way at the end of a corridor. Pichegru observed him,
and fixed his eyes upon him, and although it rained in torrents, he
said aloud, "I am going to dine at the chateau of Madame Salomon."
This chateau was three leagues from Huningen, and Madame Salomon was
Fauche set off directly to the chateau, and begged to speak with
General Pichegru. He told the general that, being in the possession
of some of J. J. Rousseau's manuscripts, he wished to publish them
and dedicate them to him. "Very good," said Pichegru; "but I should
like to read them first; for Rousseau professed principles of
liberty in which I do not concur, and with which I should not like
to have my name connected."--"But," said Fauche, "I have something
else to speak to you about."--"What is it, and on whose behalf?"--
"On behalf of the Prince de Conde."--"Be silent, then, and follow
He conducted Fauche alone into a retired cabinet, and said to
him, "Explain yourself; what does Monseigneur le Prince de Conde
wish to communicate to me?" Fauche was embarrassed, and stammered
out something unintelligible. "Compose yourself." said Pichegru;
"my sentiments are the same, as the Prince de Conde's. What does he
desire of me?" Fauche, encouraged by these words, replied, "The
Prince wishes to join you. He counts on you, and wishes to connect
himself with you."
"These are vague and unmeaning words," observed Pichegru. "All this
amounts to nothing. Go back, and ask for written instructions, and
return in three days to my headquarters at Altkirch. You will find
me alone precisely at six o'clock in the evening."
Fauche immediately departed, arrived at Bale, and informed me of all
that had passed. I spent the night in writing a letter to General
Pichegru. (The Prince de Conde, who was invested with all the
powers of Louis XVIII, except that of granting the 'cordon-bleu',
had, by a note in his own handwriting, deputed to me all his powers,
to enable me to maintain a negotiation with General Pichegru).
I therefore wrote to the general, stating, in the outset, everything
that was calculated to awaken in him that noble sentiment of pride
which is the instinct of great minds; and after pointing out to him
the vast good it was in his power to effect, I spoke of the
gratitude of the King, and the benefit he would confer on his
country by restoring royalty. I told him that his Majesty would
make him a marshal of France, and governor of Alsace, as no one
could better govern the province than he who had so valiantly
defended it. I added that he would have the 'cordon-rouge', the
Chateau de Chambord, with its park, and twelve pieces of cannon
taken from the Austrians, a million of ready money, 200,000 livres
per annum, and an hotel in Paris; that the town of Arbors,
Pichegru's native place, should bear his name, and be exempt from
all taxation for twenty-five years; that a pension of 200,000 livres
would be granted to him, with half reversion to his wife, and 50,000
livres to his heirs for ever, until the extinction of his family.
Such were the offers, made in the name of the King, to General
Pichegru. (Than followed the boons to be granted to the officers
and soldiers, an amnesty to the people, etc). I added that the
Prince de Coude desired that he would proclaim the King in the
camps, surrender the city of Huningen to him, and join him for the
purpose of marching on Paris.
Pichegru, having read my letter with great attention, said to
Fauche, "This is all very well; but who is this M. de Montgaillard
who talks of being thus authorised? I neither know him nor his
signature. Is he the author?"--"Yes," replied Fauche. "But," said
Pichegru, "I must, before making any negotiation on my part, be
assured that the Prince de Conde, with whose handwriting I am well
acquainted, approves of all that has been written is his name by M.
de Montgaillard. Return directly to M. de Montgaillard, and tell
him to communicate my answer to the Prince."
Fauche immediately departed, leaving M. Courant with Pichegru. He
arrived at Bale at nine o'clock in the evening. I set off directly
for Malheim, the Prince de Conde's headquarters, and arrived there
at half-past twelve. The Prince was in bed, but I awoke him. He
made me sit down by his bedside, and our conference then commenced.
After having informed the Prince of the state of affairs, all that
remained was to prevail on him to write to General Pichegru to
confirm the truth of what had been stated in his name. This matter,
which appeared so simple, and so little liable to objection,
occupied the whole night. The Prince, as brave a man as can
possibly be, inherited nothing from the great Conde but his
undaunted courage. In other respects he is the most insignificant
of men; without resources of mind, or decision of character;
surrounded by men of mediocrity, and even baseness; and though he
knows them well, he suffers himself to be governed by them.
It required nine hours of hard exertion on my part to get him to
write to General Pichegru a letter of eight lines. 1st. He did not
wish it to be in his handwriting. 2d. He objected to dating it
3d. He was unwilling to call him General, lest he should recognise
the republic by giving that title. 4th. He did not like to address
it, or affix his seal to it.
At length he consented to all, and wrote to Pichegru that he might
place full confidence in the letters of the Comte de Montgaillard.
When all this was settled, after great difficulty, the Prince next
hesitated about sending the letter; but at length he yielded. I set
off for Bale, and despatched Fauche to Altkirch, to General
The general, after reading the letter of eight lines, and
recognising the handwriting and signature, immediately returned it
to Fauche, saying, "I have seen the signature: that is enough for
me. The word of the Prince is a pledge with which every Frenchman
ought to be satisfied. Take back his letter." He then inquired
what was the Prince's wish. Fauche explained that he wished--1st.
That Pichegru should proclaim the King to his troops, and hoist the
White flag. 2d. That he should deliver up Huningen to the Prince.
Pichegru objected to this. "I will never take part in such a plot,"
said he; "I have no wish to make the third volume of La Fayette and
Dumouriez. I know my resources; they are as certain as they are
vast. Their roots are not only in my army, but in Paris, in the
Convention, in the departments, and in the armies of those generals,
my colleagues, who think as I do. I wish to do nothing by halves.
There must be a complete end of the present state of things. France
cannot continue a Republic. She must have a king, and that king
must be Louis XVIII. But we must not commence the counter-
revolution until we are certain of effecting it. 'Surely and
rightly' is my motto. The Prince's plan leads to nothing. He would
be driven from Huningen in four days, and in fifteen I should be
lost. My army is composed both of good men and bad. We must
distinguish between them, and, by a bold stroke, assure the former
of the impossibility of drawing back, and that their only safety
lies in success. For this purpose I propose to pass the Rhine, at
any place and any time that may be thought necessary. In the
advance I will place those officers on whom I can depend, and who
are of my way of thinking. I will separate the bad, and place them
in situations where they can do no harm, and their position shall be
such as to prevent them from uniting. That done, as soon as I shall
be on the other side of the Rhine, I will proclaim the King, and
hoist the white flag. Conde's corps and the Emperor's army will
then join us. I will immediately repass the Rhine, and re-enter
France. The fortresses will be surrendered, and will be held in the
King's name by the Imperial troops. Having joined Conde's army, I
immediately advance. All my means now develop themselves on every
side. We march upon Paris, and in a fortnight will be there. But
it is necessary that you should know that you must give the French
soldier wine and a crown in his hand if you would have him cry 'Vive
le Roi! Nothing must be wanting at the first moment. My army must
be well paid as far as the fourth or fifth march in the French
territory. There go and tell all this to the Prince, show my
handwriting, and bring me back his answer."
During these conferences Pichegru was surrounded by four
representatives of the people, at the head of whom was Merlin de
Thionville, the most insolent and the most ferocious of inquisitors.
These men, having the orders of the Committee, pressed Pichegru to
pass the Rhine and go and besiege Manheim, where Merlin had an
understanding with the inhabitants. Thus, if on the one hand the
Committee by its orders made Pichegru wish to hasten the execution
of his plan, on the other he had not a moment to lose; for to delay
obeying the orders of the four representatives was to render himself
suspected. Every consideration, therefore, called upon the Prince
to decide, and decide promptly. Good sense required him also to do
another thing, namely, to examine without prejudice what sort of man
Pichegru was, to consider the nature of the sacrifice he made, and
what were his propositions. Europe acknowledged his talents, and he
had placed the Prince in a condition to judge of his good faith.
Besides, his conduct and his plan afforded fresh proofs of his
sincerity. By passing the Rhine and placing himself between the
armies of Conde and Wurmser, he rendered desertion impossible; and,
if success did not attend his attempt, his own acts forced him to
become an emigrant. He left in the power of his fierce enemies his
wife, his father, his children. Everything bore testimony to his
honesty; the talents he had shown were a pledge for his genius, his
genius for his resources; and the sacrifices he would have to make
in case of failure proved that he was confident of success.
What stupid conceit was it for any one to suppose himself better
able to command Pichegru's army than Pichegru himself!--to pretend
to be better acquainted with the frontier provinces than Pichegru,
who commanded them, and had placed his friends in them as commanders
of the towns! This self-conceit, however, ruined the monarchy at
this time, as well as at so many others. The Prince de Conde, after
reading the plan, rejected it in toto. To render it successful it
was necessary to make the Austrians parties to it. This Pichegru
exacted, but the Prince of Conde would not hear a word of it,
wishing to have confined to himself the glory of effecting the
counter-revolution. He replied to Pichegru by a few observations,
and concluded his answer by returning to his first plan--that
Pichegru should proclaim the King without passing the Rhine, and
should give up Huningen; that then the army of Conde by itself, and
without the aid of the Austrians, would join him. In that case he
could promise 100,000 crowns in louis, which he had at Bale, and
1,400,000 livres, which he had in good bills payable at sight.
No argument or entreaty had any effect on the Prince de Condo. The
idea of communicating his plan to Wurmser and sharing his glory with
him rendered him blind and deaf to every consideration. However, it
was necessary to report to Pichegru the observations of the Prince
de Conde, and Courant was commissioned to do so.
This document appeared so interesting to me that while Bonaparte was
sleeping I was employed in copying it. Notwithstanding posterior and
reiterated denials of its truth, I believe it to be perfectly correct.
Napoleon had ordered plans of his most famous battles to be engraved, and
had paid in advance for them. The work was not done quickly enough for
him. He got angry, and one day said to his geographer, Bacler d'Albe,
whom he liked well enough, "Ah! do hurry yourself, and think all this is
only the business of a moment. If you make further delay you will sell
nothing; everything is soon forgotten!"
We were now in July, and the negotiations were carried on with a
tardiness which showed that something was kept in reserve on both sides.
Bonaparte at this time was anything but disposed to sign a peace, which
be always hoped to be able to make at Vienna, after a campaign in
Germany, seconded by the armies of the Rhine and the Sambre-et-Meuse.
The minority of the Directory recommended peace on the basis of the
preliminaries, but the majority wished for more honourable and
advantageous terms; while Austria, relying on troubles breaking out in
France, was in no haste to conclude a treaty. In these circumstances
Bonaparte drew up a letter to be sent to the Emperor of Austria, in which
he set forth the moderation of France; but stated that, in consequence of
the many delays, nearly all hope of peace had vanished. He advised the
Emperor not to rely on difficulties arising in France, and doubted, if
war should continue and the Emperor be successful in the next campaign,
that he would obtain a more advantageous peace than was now at his
option. This letter was never sent to the Emperor, but was communicated
as the draft of a proposed despatch to the Directory. The Emperor
Francis, however, wrote an autograph letter to the General-in-Chief of
the army of Italy, which will be noticed when I come to the period of its
reception: It is certain that Bonaparte at this time wished for war. He
was aware that the Cabinet of Vienna was playing with him, and that the
Austrian Ministers expected some political convulsion in Paris, which
they hoped would be favourable to the Bourbons. He therefore asked for
reinforcements. His army consisted of 35,900 men, and he desired it to
be raised to 60,000 infantry and 10,000 cavalry ready for the field.
General Desaix, profiting by the preliminaries of Leoben, came in the end
of July to visit the scene of the army of Italy's triumphs. His
conversations with Bonaparte respecting the army of the Rhine were far
from giving him confidence in his military situation in Italy, or
assurance of support from that army in the event of hostilities
commencing beyond the mountains. It was at this period that their
intimacy began. Bonaparte conceived for Desaix the greatest esteem and
the sincerest friendship.
--[Desaix discontented with the conduct of affairs in Germany,
seceded from the army of the Rhine, to which he belonged, to join
that of Napoleon. He was sent to Italy to organise the part of the
Egyptian expedition starting from Civita Vecchia. He took with him
his two aides de camp, Rapp and Savary (later Duc de Rovigo), both
of whom, on his death, were given the same post with Bonaparte.]--
When Desaix was named temporary commander of the force called the army of
England, during the absence of General Bonaparte, the latter wrote to the
Directory that they could not have chosen a more distinguished officer
than Desaix; these sentiments he never belied. The early death of Desaix
alone could break their union, which, I doubt not, would eventually have
had great influence on the political and military career of General
All the world knows the part which the General-in-Chief of the army of
Italy took at the famous crisis of the 18th Fructidor; his proclamation,
his addresses to the army, and his celebrated order of the day.
Bonaparte went much into detail on this subject at St. Helena; and I
shall now proceed to state what I knew at the time respecting that
memorable event, which was in preparation in the month of June.
The royalists of the interior--Bonaparte's intention of marching on
Paris with 25,000 men--His animosity against the emigrants and the
Clichy Club--His choice between the two parties of the Directory--
Augereau's order of the day against the word 'Monsieur'--Bonaparte
wishes to be made one of the five Directors--He supports the
majority of the Directory--La Vallette, Augereau, and Bernadotte
sent to Paris--Interesting correspondence relative to the 18th
Bonaparte had long observed the struggle which was going on between the
partisans of royalty and the Republic. He was told that royalism was
everywhere on the increase. All the generals who returned from Paris to
the army complained of the spirit of reaction they had noticed.
Bonaparte was constantly urged by his private correspondents to take one
side or the other, or to act for himself. He was irritated by the
audacity of the enemies of the Republic, and he saw plainly that the
majority of the councils had an evident ill-will towards him. The
orators of the Club of Clichy missed no opportunity of wounding his self-
love in speeches and pamphlets. They spared no insults, disparaged his
success, and bitterly censured his conduct in Italy, particularly with
respect to Venice. Thus his services were recompensed by hatred or
ingratitude. About this time he received a pamphlet, which referred to
the judgments pronounced upon him by the German journals, and more
particularly by the Spectator of the North, which he always made me
Bonaparte was touched to the quick by the comparison make between him and
Moreau, and by the wish to represent him as foolhardy ("savants sous
Moreau, fougueuse sous Buonaparte"). In the term of "brigands," applied
to the generals who fought in La Vendee, he thought he recognized the
hand of the party he was about to attack and overthrow. He was tired of
the way in which Moreau's system of war was called "savants." But what
grieved him still more was to see sitting in the councils of the nation
Frenchmen who were detractors and enemies of the national glory.
He urged the Directory to arrest the emigrants, to destroy the influence
of foreigners, to recall the armies, to suppress the journals sold to
England, such as the 'Quotidienne', the 'Memorial', and the 'The', which
he accused of being more sanguinary than Marat ever was. In case of
there being no means of putting a stop to assassinations and the
influence of Louis XVIII., he offered to resign.
His resolution of passing the Alps with 25,000 men and marching by Lyons
and Paris was known in the capital, and discussions arose respecting the
consequences of this passage of another Rubicon. On the 17th of August
1797 Carnot wrote to him: "People attribute to you a thousand absurd
projects. They cannot believe that a man who has performed so many great
exploits can be content to live as a private citizen." This observation
applied to Bonaparte's reiterated request to be permitted to retire from
the service on account of the state of his health, which, he said,
disabled him from mounting his horse, and to the need which he constantly
urged of having two years' rest.
The General-in-Chief was justly of opinion that the tardiness of the
negotiations and the difficulties which incessantly arose were founded on
the expectation of an event which would change the government of France,
and render the chances of peace more favourable to Austria. He still
urgently recommended the arrest of the emigrants, the stopping of the
presses of the royalist journals, which he said were sold to England and
Austria, the suppression of the Clichy Club. This club was held at the
residence of Gerard Desodieres, in the Rue de Clichy. Aubry, was one of
its warmest partisans, and he was the avowed enemy of the revolutionary
cause which Bonaparte advocated at this period. Aubry's conduct at this
time, together with the part he had taken in provoking Bonaparte's
dismissal in 1795, inspired the General with an implacable hatred of him.
Bonaparte despised the Directory, which he accused of weakness,
indecision, pusillanimity, wasteful expenditure, of many errors, and
perseverance in a system degrading to the national glory.
--[The Directory merited those accusations. The following sketches
of two of their official sittings present a singular contrast:
"At the time that the Directory were first installed in the
Luxembourg (27th October 1795)." says M. Baileul, "there was hardly
a single article of furniture in it. In a small room, round a
little broken table, one of the legs of which had given way from
age, on which table they had deposited a quire of letter-paper, and
a writing desk 'a calamet', which luckily they had had the
precaution to bring with them from the Committee of Public safety,
seated on four rush-bottomed chairs, in front of some logs of wood
ill-lighted, the whole borrowed from the porter Dupont; who would
believe that it was in this deplorable condition that the member's
of the new Government, after having examined all the difficulties,
nay, let me add, all the horrors of their situation, resolved to
confront all obstacles, and that they would either deliver France
from the abyss in which she was plunged or perish in the attempt?
They drew up on a sheet of letter-paper the act by which they
declared themselves constituted, and immediately forwarded it to the
And the Comte de La Vallette, writing to M. Cuvillier Fleury, says:
"I saw our five kings, dressed in the robes of Francis I., his hat,
his pantaloons, and his lace: the face of La Reveilliere looked like
a cork upon two pins, with the black and greasy hair of Clodion. M.
de Talleyrand, in pantaloons of the colour of wine dregs, sat in a
folding chair at the feet of the Director Barras, in the Court of
the Petit Luxembourg, and gravely presented to his sovereigns as
ambassador from the Grand Duke of Tuscany, while the French were
eating his master's dinner, from the soup to the cheese. At the
right hand there were fifty musicians and singers of the Opera,
Laine, Lays, Regnault, and the actresses, not all dead of old age,
roaring a patriotic cantata to the music of Mehul. Facing them, on
another elevation, there were two hundred young and beautiful women,
with their arms and bosoms bare, all in ecstasy at the majesty of
our Pentarchy and the happiness of the Republic. They also wore
tight flesh-coloured pantaloons, with rings on their toes. That was
a sight that never will be seen again. A fortnight after this
magnificent fete, thousands of families wept over their banished
fathers, forty-eight departments were deprived of their
representatives, and forty editors of newspapers were forced to go
and drink the waters of the Elbe, the Synamary or the Ohio! It
would be a curious disquisition to seek to discover what really were
at that time the Republic and Liberty."]
He knew that the Clichy party demanded his dismissal and arrest. He was
given to understand that Dumolard was one of the most decided against
him, and that, finally, the royalist party was on the point of
Before deciding for one party or the other Bonaparte first thought of
himself. He did not imagine that he had yet achieved enough to venture
on possessing himself of that power which certainly he might easily have
obtained. He therefore contented himself with joining the party which
was, for the moment, supported by public opinion. I know he was
determined to march upon Paris with 25,000 men had affairs taken a turn
unfavourable to the Republic, which he preferred to royalty. He
cautiously formed his plan. To defend the Directory was, he conceived,
to defend his own future fortune; that is to say, it was protecting a
power which appeared to have no other object than to keep a place for him
until his return.
The parties which rose up in Paris produced a reaction in the army. The
employment of the word 'Monsieur' had occasioned quarrels, and even
bloodshed. General Augereau, in whose division these contests had taken
place, published an order of the day, setting forth that every individual
in his division who should use the word 'Monsieur', either verbally or in
writing, under any pretence whatever, should be deprived of his rank, and
declared incapable of serving in the Republican armies. This order was
read at the head of each company.
Bonaparte viewed the establishment of peace as the close of his military
career. Repose and inactivity were to him unbearable. He sought to take
part in the civil affairs of the Republic, and was desirous of becoming
one of the five Directors, convinced that, if he obtained that object, he
would speedily stand single and alone. The fulfilment of this wish would
have prevented the Egyptian expedition, and placed the imperial crown
much sooner upon his head. Intrigues were carried on in Paris in his
name, with the view of securing to him a legal dispensation on the score
of age. He hoped, though he was but eight-and-twenty, to supersede one
of the two Directors who were to go out of office.
--[The Directors had to be forty years of ago before they could be
His brothers and their friends made great exertions for the success of
the project, which, however, was not officially proposed, because it was
too adverse to the prevailing notions of the day, and seemed too early a
violation of the constitution of the year III., which, nevertheless, was
violated in another way a few months after.
The members of the Directory were by no means anxious to have Bonaparte
for their colleague. They dissembled, and so did he. Both parties were
lavish of their mutual assurances of friendship, while they cordially
hated each other. The Directory, however, appealed for the support of
Bonaparte, which he granted; but his subsequent conduct clearly proves
that the maintenance of the constitution of the year III. was a mere
pretest. He indeed defended it meanwhile, because, by aiding the triumph
of the opposite party, he could not hope to preserve the influence which
he exercised over the Directory. I know well that, in case of the Clichy
party gaining the ascendency, he was determined to cross the Alps with
his army, and to assemble all the friends of the Republic at Lyons,
thence to march upon Paris.
In the Memorial of St. Helena it is stated, in reference to the 18th
Fructidor, "that the triumph of the majority of the councils was his
desire and hope, we are inclined to believe from the following fact,
viz., that at the crisis of the contest between the two factions a secret
resolution was drawn up by three of the members of the Directory, asking
him for three millions to support the attack on the councils, and that
Napoleon, under various pretences, did not send the money, though he
might easily have done so."
This is not very comprehensible. There was no secret resolution of the
members who applied for the three millions. It was Bonaparte who offered
the money, which, however, he did not send; it was he who despatched
Augereau; and he who wished for the triumph of the Directorial majority.
His memory served him badly at St. Helena, as will be seen from some
correspondence which I shall presently submit to the reader. It is very
certain that he did offer the money to the Directory; that is to say, to
three of its members.
--[Barras, La Revelliere-Lepaux, and Rewbell, the three Directors
who carried out the 'coup d'etat' of the 18th Fructidor against
their colleagues Carnot and Bartholemy. (See Thiers' French
Revolution", vol. v. pp. 114,139, and 163.)]--
Bonaparte had so decidedly formed his resolution that on the 17th of
July, wishing to make Augereau his confidant, he sent to Vicenza for him
by an extraordinary courier.
Bonaparte adds that when Bottot, the confidential agent of Barras, came
to Passeriano, after the 18th Fructidor, he declared to him that as soon
as La Vallette should make him acquainted with the real state of things
the money should be transmitted. The inaccuracy of these statements will
be seen in the correspondence relative to the event. In thus distorting
the truth Napoleon's only object could have been to proclaim his
inclination for the principles he adopted and energetically supported
from the year 1800, but which, previously to that period, he had with no
less energy opposed.
He decidedly resolved to support the majority of the Directory, and to
oppose the royalist faction; the latter, which was beginning to be
important, would have been listened to had it offered power to him.
About the end of July he sent his 'aide de camp' La Vallette to Paris.
La Vallette was a man of good sense and education, pleasing manners,
pliant temper, and moderate opinions. He was decidedly devoted to
Bonaparte. With his instructions he received a private cipher to enable
him to correspond with the General-in-Chief.
Augereau went, after La Vallette, on the 27th of July. Bonaparte
officially wrote to the Directory that Augereau "had solicited leave to
go to Paris on his own private business."
But the truth is, Augereau was sent expressly to second the revolution
which was preparing against the Clichy party and the minority of the
Bonaparte made choice of Augereau because he knew his staunch republican
principles, his boldness, and his deficiency in political talent. He
thought him well calculated to aid a commotion, which his own presence
with the army of Italy prevented him from directing in person; and
besides, Augereau was not an ambitious rival who might turn events to his
own advantage. Napoleon said, at St. Helena, that he sent the addresses
of the army of Italy by Augereau because he was a decided supporter of
the opinions of the day. That was the true reason for choosing him.
Bernadotte was subsequently despatched on the same errand. Bonaparte's
pretence for sending him was, that he wished to transmit to the Directory
four flags, which, out of the twenty-one taken at the battle of Rivoli,
had been left, by mistake, at Peschiera. Bernadotte, however, did not
take any great part in the affair. He was always prudent.
The crisis of the 18th Fructidor, which retarded for three years the
extinction of the pentarchy, presents one of the most remarkable events
of its short existence. It will be seen how the Directors extricated
themselves from this difficulty. I subjoin the correspondence relating
to this remarkable episode of our Revolution, cancelling only such
portions of it as are irrelevant to the subject. It exhibits several
variations from the accounts given by Napoleon at St. Helena to his noble
companions in misfortune.
Augereau thus expressed himself on the 18th Fructidor (4th September
At length, General, my mission is accomplished, and the promises of
the army of Italy are fulfilled. The fear of being anticipated has
caused measures to be hurried.
At midnight I despatched orders to all the troops to march towards
the points specified. Before day all the bridges and principal
places were planted with cannon. At daybreak the halls of the
councils were surrounded, the guards of the councils were amicably
mingled with our troops, and the members, of whom I send you a list,
were arrested and conveyed to the Temple. The greater number have
escaped, and are being pursued. Carnot has disappeared.'
--[In 1824 Louis XVIII. sent letters of nobility to those members
of the two councils who were, as it was termed, 'fructidorized'.
Paris is tranquil, and every one is astounded at an event which
promised to be awful, but which has passed over like a fete.
The stout patriots of the faubourgs proclaim the safety of the
Republic, and the black collars are put down. It now remains for
the wise energy of the Directory and the patriots of the two
councils to do the rest. The place of sitting is changed, and the
first operations promise well. This event is a great step towards
peace; which it is your task finally to secure to us.
On the 24th Fructidor (10th September 1797) Augereau writes:
My 'aide de camp', de Verine, will acquaint you with the events of
the 18th. He is also to deliver to you some despatches from the
Directory, where much uneasiness is felt at not hearing from you.
No less uneasiness is experienced on seeing in Paris one of your
'aides de camp',--(La Vallette)--whose conduct excites the
dissatisfaction and distrust of the patriots, towards whom he has
behaved very ill.
The news of General Clarke's recall will have reached you by this
time, and I suspect has surprised you. Amongst the thousand and one
motives which have determined the Government to take this step may
be reckoned his correspondence with Carnot, which has been
communicated to me, and in which he treated the generals of the army
of Italy as brigands.
Moreau has sent the Directory a letter which throws a new light on
Pichegru's treason. Such baseness is hardly to be conceived.
The Government perseveres in maintaining the salutary measures which
it has adopted. I hope it will be in vain for the remnant of the
factions to renew their plots. The patriots will continue united.
Fresh troops having been summoned to Paris, and my presence at their
head being considered indispensable by the Government, I shall not
have the satisfaction of seeing you so soon as I hoped. This has
determined me to send for my horses and carriages, which I left at
Bernadotte wrote to Bonaparte on the 24th Fructidor as follows:--
The arrested deputies are removed to Rochefort, where they will be
embarked for the island of Madagascar. Paris is tranquil. The
people at first heard of the arrest of the deputies with
indifference. A feeling of curiosity soon drew them into the
streets; enthusiasm followed, and cries of 'Vive la Republique',
which had not been heard for a long time, now resounded in every
street. The neighbouring departments have expressed their
discontent. That of Allier has, it is said, protested; but it will
cut a fine figure. Eight thousand men are marching to the environs
of Paris. Part is already within the precincts; under the orders of
General Lemoine. The Government has it at present in its power to
elevate public spirit; but everybody feels that it is necessary the
Directory should be surrounded by tried and energetic Republicans.
Unfortunately a host of men, without talent and resources, already
suppose that what has taken place has been done only in order to
advance their interests. Time is necessary to set all to rights.
The armies have regained consistency. The soldiers of the interior
are esteemed, or at least feared. The emigrants fly, and the non-
juring priests conceal themselves. Nothing could have happened more
fortunately to consolidate the Republic.
Bonaparte wrote as follows, to the Directory on the 26th Fructidor:
Herewith you will receive a proclamation to the army, relative to
the events of the 18th. I have despatched the 45th demi-brigade,
commanded by General Bon, to Lyons, together with fifty cavalry;
also General Lannes, with the 20th light infantry and the 9th
regiment of the line, to Marseilles. I have issued the enclosed
proclamation in the southern departments. I am about to prepare a
proclamation for the inhabitants of Lyons, as soon as I obtain some
information of what may have passed there.
If I find there is the least disturbance, I will march there with
the utmost rapidity. Believe that there are here a hundred thousand
men, who are alone sufficient to make the measures you have taken to
place liberty on a solid basis be respected. What avails it that we
gain victories if we are not respected in our country. In speaking
of Paris, one may parody what Cassius said of Rome: "Of what use to
call her queen on the banks of the Seine, when she is the slave of
After the 18th Fructidor Augereau wished to have his reward for his share
in the victory, and for the service which he had rendered. He wished to
be a Director. He got, however, only the length of being a candidate;
honour enough for one who had merely been an instrument on that day.
Bonaparte's joy at the result of the 18th Fructidor.--His letter to
Augerean--His correspondence with the Directory and proposed
resignation--Explanation of the Directory--Bottot--General Clarke--
Letter from Madame Bacciocchi to Bonaparte--Autograph letter of the
Emperor Francis to Bonaparte--Arrival of Count Cobentzel--Autograph
note of Bonaparte on the conditions of peace.
Bonaparte was delighted when he heard of the happy issue of the 18th
Fructidor. Its result was the dissolution of the Legislative Body and
the fall of the Clichyan party, which for some months had disturbed his
tranquillity. The Clichyans had objected to Joseph Bonaparte's right to
sit as deputy for Liamone in the Council of Five Hundred.
--[He was ambassador to Rome, and not a deputy at this time. When
he became a member of the council, after his return from Rome, he
experienced no opposition (Bourrienne et ses Erreurs, tome i.
His brother's victory removed the difficulty; but the General-in-Chief
soon perceived that the ascendant party abused its power, and again
compromised the safety of the Republic, by recommencing the Revolutionary
Government. The Directors were alarmed at his discontent and offended by
his censure. They conceived the singular idea of opposing to Bonaparte,
Augereau, of whose blind zeal they had received many proofs. The
Directory appointed Augereau commander of the army of Germany. Augereau,
whose extreme vanity was notorious, believed himself in a situation to
compete with Bonaparte. What he built his arrogance on was, that, with a
numerous troop, he had arrested some unarmed representatives, and torn
the epaulettes from the shoulders of the commandant of the guard of the
councils. The Directory and he filled the headquarters at Passeriano
with spies and intriguers.
Bonaparte, who was informed of everything that was going on, laughed at
the Directory, and tendered his resignation, in order that he might be
supplicated to continue in command.
The following post-Thermidorian letters will prove that the General's
judgment on this point was correct.
On the 2d Vendemiaire, year VI. (23d September 1797), he wrote to
Augereau, after having announced the arrival of his 'aide de camp' as
The whole army applauds the wisdom and vigour which you have
displayed upon this important occasion, and participates in the
success of the country with the enthusiasm and energy which
characterise our soldiers. It is only to be hoped, however, that
the Government will not be playing at see saw, and thus throw itself
into the opposite party. Wisdom and moderate views alone can
establish the happiness of the country on a sure foundation. As for
myself, this is the most ardent wish of my heart. I beg that you
will sometimes let me know what you are doing in Paris.
On the 4th Vendemiaire Bonaparte wrote a letter to the Directory in the
The day before yesterday an officer arrived at the army from Paris.
He reported that he left Paris on the 25th, when anxiety prevailed
there as to the feelings with which I viewed the events of the 18th
He was the bearer of a sort of circular from General Augereau to all
the generals of division; and he brought a letter of credit from the
Minister of War to the commissary-general, authorising him to draw
as much money as he might require for his journey.
It is evident from these circumstances that the Government is acting
towards me in somewhat the same way in which Pichegru was dealt with
after Vendemiaire (year IV.).
I beg of you to receive my resignation, and appoint another to my
place. No power on earth shall make me continue in the service
after this shocking mark of ingratitude on the part of the
Government, which I was very far from expecting. My health, which
is considerably impaired, imperiously demands repose and
The state of my mind, likewise, requires me to mingle again in the
mass of citizens. Great power has for a longtime been confided to
my hands. I have employed it on all occasions for the advantage of
my country; so much the worse for those who put no faith in virtue,
and may have suspected mine. My recompense is in my own conscience,
and in the opinion of posterity.
Now that the country is tranquil and free from the dangers which
have menaced it, I can, without inconvenience, quit the post in
which I have been placed.
Be sure that if there were a moment of danger, I would be found in
the foremost rank of the defenders of liberty and of the
constitution of the year III.
The Directory, judging from the account which Bottot gave of his mission
that he had not succeeded in entirely removing the suspicions of
Bonaparte, wrote the following letter on the 30th Vendemiaire:
The Directory has itself been troubled about the impression made on
you by the letter to the paymaster-general, of which an 'aide de
camp' was the bearer. The composition of this letter has very much
astonished the Government, which never appointed nor recognised such
an agent: it is at least an error of office. But it should not
alter the opinion you ought otherwise to entertain of the manner in
which the Directory thinks of and esteems you. It appears that the
18th Fructidor was misrepresented in the letters which were sent to
the army of Italy. You did well to intercept them, and it may be
right to transmit the most remarkable to the Minister of Police.
--(What an ignoble task to propose to the conqueror of Italy.)
In your observations on the too strong tendency of opinion towards
military government, the Directory recognises an equally enlightened
and ardent friend of the Republic.
Nothing is wiser than the maxim, 'cedant arma togae', for the
maintenance of republics. To show so much anxiety on so important a
point is not one of the least glorious features in the life of a
general placed at the head of a triumphant army.
The Directory had sent General Clarke
--[H. J. G. Clarke, afterwards Minister of War under Napoleon,
1807-1814, acid under the Bourbons in 1816, when he was made a
Marshal of France. He was created Due de Feltre in 1819.]--
to treat for peace, as second plenipotentiary. Bonaparte has often told
me he had no doubt from the time of his arrival that General Clarke was
charged with a secret mission to act as a spy upon him, and even to
arrest him if an opportunity offered for so doing without danger. That
he had a suspicion of this kind is certain; but I must own that I was
never by any means able to discover its grounds; for in all my
intercourse since with Clarke he never put a single question to me, nor
did I ever hear a word drop from his mouth, which savoured of such a
character. If the fact be that he was a spy, he certainly played his
part well. In all the parts of his correspondence which were intercepted
there never was found the least confirmation of this suspicion. Be this
as it may, Bonaparte could not endure him; he did not make him acquainted
with what was going on, and his influence rendered this mission a mere
nullity. The General-in-Chief concentrated all the business of the
negotiation in his own closet; and, as to what was going on, Clarke
continued a mere cipher until the 18th Fructidor, when he was recalled.
Bonaparte made but little count of Clarke's talents. It is but justice,
however, to say that he bore him no grudge for the conduct of which he
suspected he was guilty in Italy. "I pardon him because I alone have the
right to be offended."
He even had the generosity to make interest for an official situation for
him. These amiable traits were not uncommon with Bonaparte.
Bonaparte had to encounter so many disagreeable contrarieties, both in
the negotiators for peace and the events at Paris, that he often
displayed a good deal of irritation and disgust. This state of mind was
increased by the recollection of the vexation his sister's marriage had
caused him, and which was unfortunately revived by a letter he received
from her at this juncture. His excitement was such that he threw it down
with an expression of anger. It has been erroneously reported in several
publications that "Bacciocchi espoused Marie-Anne-Eliza Bonaparte on the
5th of May 1797. The brother of the bride was at the time negotiating
the preliminaries of peace with Austria."
In fact, the preliminaries were signed in the month of April, and it was
for the definitive peace we were negotiating in May. But the reader will
find by the subjoined letter that Christine applied to her brother to
stand godfather to her third child. Three children in three months would
be rather quick work.
AJACCIO, 14th, Thermidor, year V. (1st August 1797).
GENERAL--Suffer me to write to you and call you by the name of
brother. My first child was born at a time when you were much
incensed against us. I trust she may soon caress you, and so make
you forget the pain my marriage has occasioned you. My second child
was still-born. Obliged to quit Paris by your order,
--[Napoleon had written in August 1796 to Carnot, to request that
Lucien might be ordered to quit Paris; see Iung, tome iii.
I miscarried in Germany. In a month's time I hope to present you
with a nephew. A favourable time, and other circumstances, incline
me to hope my next will be a boy, and I promise you I will make a
soldier of him; but I wish him to bear your name, and that you
should be his godfather. I trust you will not refuse your sister's
Will you send, for this purpose, your power of attorney to
Baciocchi, or to whomsoever you think fit? I shall expect with
impatience your assent. Because we are poor let not that cause you
to despise us; for, after all, you are our brother, mine are the
only children that call you uncle, and we all love you more than we
do the favours of fortune. Perhaps I may one day succeed in
convincing you of the love I bear you.--Your affectionate sister,
--[Madame Bacciocchi went by the name of Marianne at St. Cyr, of
Christine while on her travels, and of Eliza under the Consulate.--
P.S.--Do not fail to remember me to your wife, whom I strongly
desire to be acquainted with. They told me at Paris I was very like
her. If you recollect my features you can judge. C. B.
This letter is in the handwriting of Lucien Bonaparte.'
--[Joseph Bonaparte in his Notes says, "It is false that Madame
Bonaparte ever called herself Christine; it is false that she ever
wrote the letter of which M. de Bourrienne here gives a copy." It
will be observed that Bourrienne says it was written by her brother
Lucien. This is an error. The letter is obviously from Christine
Boyer, the wife of Lucien Bonaparte, whose marriage had given such
displeasure to Napoleon. (See Erreurs, tome i. p. 240, and Iung's
Lucien, tome i p. 161).]--
General Bonaparte had been near a month at Passeriano when he received
the following autograph letter from the Emperor of Austria:
TO MONSIEUR LE GENERAL BONAPARTE, GENERAL-IN-CHIEF
OF THE ARMY OF ITALY.
MONSIEUR LE GENERAL BONAPARTE--When I thought I had given my
plenipotentiaries full powers to terminate the important negotiation
with which they were charged, I learn, with as much pain as
surprise, that in consequence of swerving continually from the
stipulations of the preliminaries, the restoration of tranquillity,
with the tidings of which I desire to gladden the hearts of my
subjects, and which the half of Europe devoutly prays for, becomes
day after day more uncertain.
Faithful to the performance of my engagements, I am ready to execute
what was agreed to at Leoben, and require from you but the
reciprocal performance of so sacred a duty. This is what has
already been declared in my name, and what I do not now hesitate
myself to declare. If, perhaps, the execution of some of the
preliminary articles be now impossible, in consequence of the events
which have since occurred, and in which I had no part, it may be
necessary to substitute others in their stead equally adapted to the
interests and equally conformable to the dignity of the two nations.
To such alone will I put my hand. A frank and sincere explanation,
dictated by the same feelings which govern me, is the only way to
lead to so salutary a result. In order to accelerate this result as
far as in me lies, and to put an end at once to the state of
uncertainty we remain in, and which has already lasted too long, I
have determined to despatch to the place of the present negotiations
Comte de Cobentzel, a man who possesses my most unlimited
confidence, and who is instructed as to my intentions and furnished
with my most ample powers. I have authorised him to receive and
accept every proposition tending to the reconciliation of the two
parties which may be in conformity with the principles of equity and
reciprocal fitness, and to conclude accordingly.
After this fresh assurance of the spirit of conciliation which
animates me, I doubt not you will perceive that peace lies in your
own hands, and that on your determination will depend the happiness
or misery of many thousand men. If I mistake as to the means I
think best adapted to terminate the calamities which for along time
have desolated Europe, I shall at least have the consolation of
reflecting that I have done all that depended on me. With the
consequences which may result I can never be reproached.
I have been particularly determined to the course I now take by the
opinion I entertain of your upright character, and by the personal
esteem I have conceived towards you, of which I am very happy, M. le
General Bonaparte, to give you here an assurance.
In fact, it was only on the arrival of the Comte de Cobentzel that the
negotiations were seriously set on foot. Bonaparte had all along clearly
perceived that Gallo and Meerweldt were not furnished with adequate
powers. He saw also clearly enough that if the month of September were,
to be trifled away in unsatisfactory negotiations, as the month which
preceded it had been, it would be difficult in October to strike a blow
at the house of Austria on the side of Carinthia. The Austrian Cabinet
perceived with satisfaction the approach of the bad weather, and insisted
more strongly on its ultimatum, which was the Adige, with Venice.
Before the 18th Fructidor the Emperor of Austria hoped that the movement
which was preparing in Paris would operate badly for France and
favourably to the European cause. The Austrian plenipotentiaries, in
consequence, raised their pretensions, and sent notes and an ultimatum
which gave the proceedings more an air of trifling than of serious
negotiation. Bonaparte's original ideas, which I have under his hand,
were as follows:
1. The Emperor to have Italy as far as the Adda.
2. The King of Sardinia as far as the Adda.
3. The Genoese Republic to have the boundary of Tortona as far as
the Po (Tortona to be demolished), as also the imperial fiefs.
(Coni to be ceded to France, or to be demolished.)
4. The Grand Duke of Tuscany to be restored.
5. The Duke of Parma to be restored.
Influence of the 18th Fructidor on the negotiations--Bonaparte's
suspicion of Bottot--His complaints respecting the non-erasure of
Bourrienne--Bourrienne's conversation with the Marquis of Gallo--
Bottot writes from Paris to Bonaparte on the part of the Directory
Agents of the Directory employed to watch Bonaparte--Influence of
the weather on the conclusion of peace--Remarkable observation of
Bonaparte--Conclusion of the treaty--The Directory dissatisfied with
the terms of the peace--Bonaparte's predilection for representative
government--Opinion on Bonaparte.
After the 18th Fructidor Bonaparte was more powerful, Austria less
haughty and confident. Venice was the only point of real difficulty.
Austria wanted the line of the Adige, with Venice, in exchange for
Mayence, and the boundary of the Rhine until that river enters Holland.
The Directory wished to have the latter boundary, and to add Mantua to
the Italian Republic, without giving up all the line of the Adige and
Venice. The difficulties were felt to be so irreconcilable that within
about a month of the conclusion of peace the Directory wrote to General
Bonaparte that a resumption of hostilities was preferable to the state of
uncertainty which was agitating and ruining France. The Directory,
therefore, declared that both the armies of the Rhine should take the
field. It appears from the Fructidorian correspondence, which has been
already given, that the majority of the Directory then looked upon a
peace such as Bonaparte afterwards made as infamous.
But Bonaparte, from the moment the Venetian insurrection broke out,
perceived that Venice might be used for the pacification. Bonaparte,
who was convinced that, in order to bring matters to an issue, Venice and
the territory beyond the Adige must fall beneath the Hapsburg sceptre,
wrote to the Directory that he could not commence operations,
advantageously, before the end of March, 1798; but that if the objections
to giving Venice to the Emperor of Austria were persisted in, hostilities
would certainly be resumed in the month of October, for the Emperor would
not renounce Venice. In that case it would be necessary to be ready on
the Rhine for an advance in Germany, as the army of Italy, if it could
make head against the Archduke Charles, was not sufficiently strong for
any operations on a grand scale. At this period the conclusion of peace
was certainly very doubtful; it was even seriously considered in, what
form the rupture should be notified.
Towards the end of September Bottot, Barras' secretary, arrived at
Passeriano. He was despatched by the Directory. Bonaparte immediately
suspected he was a new spy, come on a secret mission, to watch him. He
was therefore received and treated with coolness; but Bonaparte never
had, as Sir Walter Scott asserts, the idea of ordering him to be shot.
That writer is also in error when he says that Bottot was sent to
Passeriano to reproach Bonaparte for failing to fulfil his promise of
sending money to the Directory.
Bonaparte soon gave Bottot an opportunity of judging of the kind of
spirit which prevailed at headquarters. He suddenly tendered his
resignation, which he had already several times called upon the Directory
to accept. He accused the Government, at table, in Bottot's presence,
of horrible ingratitude. He recounted all his subjects of complaint,
in loud and impassioned language, without any restraint, and before
twenty or thirty persons.
Indignant at finding that his reiterated demands for the erasure of my
name from the list of emigrants had been slighted, and that, in spite of
his representations, conveyed to Paris by General Bernadotte, Louis
Bonaparte, and others, I was still included in that fatal list, he
apostrophised M. Bottot at dinner one day, before forty individuals,
among whom were the diplomatists Gallo, Cobentzel, and Meerweldt. The
conversation turned upon the Directory. "Yes, truly," cried Bonaparte,
in a loud voice, "I have good reason to complain; and, to pass from great
to little things, look, I pray you, at Bourrienne's case. He possesses
my most unbounded confidence. He alone is entrusted, under my orders,
with all the details of the negotiation. This you well know; and yet
your Directory will not strike him off the list. In a word it is not
only an inconceivable, but an extremely stupid piece of business; for he
has all my secrets; he knows my ultimatum, and could by a single word
realize a handsome fortune, and laugh at your obstinacy. Ask M. de Gallo
if this be not true."
Bottot wished to offer some excuse; but the general murmur which followed
this singular outburst reduced him to silence.
The Marquis de Gallo had conversed with me but three days before, in the
park of Passeriano, on the subject of my position with regard to France,
of the determination expressed by the Directory not to erase my name, and
of the risk I thereby ran. "We have no desire," continued he, "to renew
the war; we wish sincerely for peace; but it must be an honourable one.
The Republic of Venice presents a large territory for partition, which
would be sufficient for both parties. The cessions at present proposed
are not, however, satisfactory. We want to know Bonaparte's ultimatum;
and I am authorised to offer an estate in Bohemia, with a title and
residence, and an annual revenue of 90,000 florins."
I quickly interrupted M. de Gallo, and assured him that both my
conscience and my duty obliged me to reject his proposal; and so put at
once an end to the conversation.
I took care to let the General-in-Chief know this story, and he was not
surprised at my reply. His conviction, however, was strong, from all
that M. de Gallo had said, and more particularly from the offer he had
made, that Austria was resolved to avoid war, and was anxious for peace.
After I had retired to rest M. Bottot came to my bedroom and asked me,
with a feigned surprise, if it was true that my name was still on the
list of emigrants. On my replying in the affirmative, he requested me to
draw up a note on the subject. This I declined doing, telling him that
twenty notes of the kind he required already existed; that I would take
no further steps; and that I would henceforth await the decision in a
state of perfect inaction.
General Bonaparte thought it quite inexplicable that the Directory should
express dissatisfaction at the view he took of the events of the 18th
Fructidor, as, without his aid, they would doubtless have been overcome.
He wrote a despatch, in which he repeated that his health and his spirits
were affected--that he had need of some years' repose-that he could no
longer endure the fatigue of riding; but that the prosperity and liberty
of his country would always command his warmest interests. In all this
there was not a single word of truth. The Directory thought as much, and
declined to accept his resignation in the most flattering terms.
Bottot proposed to him, on the part of the Directory, to revolutionise
Italy. The General inquired whether the whole of Italy would be included
in the plan. The revolutionary commission had, however, been entrusted
to Bottot in so indefinite a way that he could only hesitate, and give a
vague reply. Bonaparte wished for more precise orders. In the interval
peace was concluded, and the idea of that perilous and extravagant
undertaking was no longer agitated. Bottot, soon after his return to
Paris, wrote a letter to General Bonaparte, in which he complained that
the last moments he had passed at Passeriano had deeply afflicted his
heart. He said that cruel suspicions had followed him even to the gates
of the Directory. These cruel suspicions had, however, been dissipated
by the sentiments of admiration and affection which he had found the
Directory entertained for the person of Bonaparte.
These assurances, which were precisely what Bonaparte had expected, did
not avail to lessen the contempt he entertained for the heads of the
Government, nor to change his conviction of their envy and mistrust of
himself. To their alleged affection he made no return. Bottot assured
the hero of Italy of "the Republican docility" of the Directory, and
touched upon the reproaches Bonaparte had thrown out against them, and
upon his demands which had not been granted. He said:
"The three armies, of the North, of the Rhine, and of the Sambre-et-
Meuse, are to form only one, the army of Germany.--Augereau? But you
yourself sent him. The fault committed by the Directory is owing to
yourself! Bernadotte?--he is gone to join you. Cacault?--he is
recalled. Twelve thousand men for your army?--they are on their march.
The treaty with Sardinia?--it is ratified. Bourrienne?--he is erased.
The revolution of Italy?--it is adjourned. Advise the Directory, then: I
repeat it, they have need of information, and it is to you they look for
The assertion regarding me was false. For six months Bonaparte demanded
my erasure without being able to obtain it. I was not struck off the
list until the 11th of November 1797.
Just before the close of the negotiation Bonaparte, disgusted at the
opposition and difficulties with which he was surrounded, reiterated
again and again the offer of his resignation, and his wish to have a
successor appointed. What augmented his uneasiness was an idea he
entertained that the Directory had penetrated his secret, and attributed
his powerful concurrence on the 18th Fructidor to the true cause--his
personal views of ambition. In spite of the hypocritical assurances of
gratitude made to him in writing, and though the Directory knew that his
services were indispensable, spies were employed to watch his movements,
and to endeavour by means of the persons about him to discover his views.
Some of the General's friends wrote to him from Paris, and for my part I
never ceased repeating to him that the peace, the power of making which
he had in his own hands, would render him far more popular than the
renewal of hostilities undertaken with all the chances of success and
reverse. The signing of the peace, according to his own ideas, and in
opposition to those of the Directory, the way in which he just halted at
Rastadt, and avoided returning to the Congress, and, finally, his
resolution to expatriate himself with an army in order to attempt new
enterprises, sprung more than is generally believed from the ruling idea
that he was distrusted, and that his ruin was meditated. He often
recalled to mind what La Vallette had written to him about his
conversation with Lacuee; and all he saw and heard confirmed the
impression he had received on this subject.
The early appearance of bad weather precipitated his determination. On
the 13th of October, at daybreak, on opening my window, I perceived the
mountains covered with snow. The previous night had been superb, and the
autumn till then promised to be fine and late. I proceeded, as I always
did, at seven o'clock in the morning, to the General's chamber. I woke
him, and told him what I had seen. He feigned at first to disbelieve me,
then leaped from his bed, ran to the window, and, convinced of the sudden
change, he calmly said, "What! before the middle of October! What a
country is this! Well, we must make peace!" While he hastily put on his
clothes I read the journals to him, as was my daily custom. He paid but
little attention to them.
Shutting himself up with me in his closet, he reviewed with the greatest
care all the returns from the different corps of his army. "Here are,"
said he, "nearly 80,000 effective men. I feed, I pay them: but I can
bring but 60,000 into the field on the day of battle. I shall gain it,
but afterwards my force will be reduced 20,000 men--by killed, wounded,
and prisoners. Then how oppose all the Austrian forces that will march
to the protection of Vienna? It would be a month before the armies of
the Rhine could support me, if they should be able; and in a fortnight
all the roads and passages will be covered deep with snow. It is
settled--I will make peace. Venice shall pay for the expense of the war
and the boundary of the Rhine: let the Directory and the lawyers say what
He wrote to the Directory in the following words: "The summits of the
hills are covered with snow; I cannot, on account of the stipulations
agreed to for the recommencement of hostilities, begin before five-and-
twenty days, and by that time we shall be overwhelmed with snow."
Fourteen years after, another early winter, in a more severe climate, was
destined to have a fatal influence on his fortunes. Had he but then
exercised equal foresight!
It is well known that, by the treaty of Campo-Formio, the two belligerent
powers made peace at the expense of the Republic of Venice, which had
nothing to do with the quarrel in the first instance, and which only
interfered at a late period, probably against her own inclination, and
impelled by the force of inevitable circumstances. But what has been the
result of this great political spoliation? A portion of the Venetian
territory was adjudged to the Cisalpine Republic; it is now in the
possession of Austria.
Another considerable portion, and the capital itself, fell to the lot of
Austria in compensation for the Belgic provinces and Lombard, which she
ceded to France. Austria has now retaken Lombard, and the additions then
made to it, and Belgium is in the possession of the House of Orange.
France obtained Corfu and some of the Ionian isles; these now belong to
--[Afterwards to be ceded by her to Greece. Belgium is free.]--
Romulus never thought he was founding Rome for Goths and priests.
Alexander did not foresee that his Egyptian city would belong to the
Turks; nor did Constantine strip Rome for the benefit of Mahomet II. Why
then fight for a few paltry villages?
Thus have we been gloriously conquering for Austria and England. An
ancient State is overturned without noise, and its provinces, after being
divided among different bordering States, are now all under the dominion
of Austria. We do not possess a foot of ground in all the fine countries
we conquered, and which served as compensations for the immense
acquisitions of the House of Hapsburgh in Italy. Thus that house was
aggrandised by a war which was to itself most disastrous. But Austria
has often found other means of extending her dominion than military
triumphs, as is recorded in the celebrated distich of Mathias Corvinus:
"Bella gerunt alli, to felix Austria nube;
Nam quae Mars allis, dat tibi regna Venus."
["Glad Austria wins by Hymen's silken chain
What other States by doubtful battle gain,
And while fierce Mars enriches meaner lands,
Receives possession from fair Venus' hands."]
The Directory was far from being satisfied with the treaty of Campo-
Formio, and with difficulty resisted the temptation of not ratifying it.
A fortnight before the signature the Directors wrote to General Bonaparte
that they would not consent to give to the Emperor Venice, Frioul, Padua,
and the 'terra firma' with the boundary of the Adige. "That," said they,
"would not be to make peace, but to adjourn the war. We shall be
regarded as the beaten party, independently of the disgrace of abandoning
Venice, which Bonaparte himself thought so worthy of freedom. France
ought not, and never will wish, to see Italy delivered up to Austria.
The Directory would prefer the chances of a war to changing a single word
of its ultimatum, which is already too favourable to Austria."
All this was said in vain. Bonaparte made no scruple of disregarding his
instructions. It has been said that the Emperor of Austria made an offer
of a very considerable sum of money, and even of a principality, to
obtain favourable terms. I was never able to find the slightest ground
for this report, which refers to a time when the smallest circumstance
could not escape my notice. The character of Bonaparte stood too high
for him to sacrifice his glory as a conqueror and peacemaker for even the
greatest private advantage. This was so thoroughly known, and he was so
profoundly esteemed by the Austrian plenipotentiaries, that I will
venture to say none of them would have been capable of making the
slightest overture to him of so debasing a proposition. Besides, it
would have induced him to put an end to all intercourse with the
plenipotentiaries. Perhaps what I have just stated of M. de Gallo will
throw some light upon this odious accusation. But let us dismiss this
story with the rest, and among them that of the porcelain tray, which was
said to have been smashed and thrown at the head of M. de Cobentzel.
I certainly know nothing of any such scene; our manners at Passeriano
were not quite so bad!
The presents customary on such occasions were given, and the Emperor of
Austria also took that opportunity to present to General Bonaparte six
magnificent white horses.
Bonaparte returned to Milan by way of Gratz, Laybach, Thrust, Mestre,
Verona, and Mantua.
At this period Napoleon was still swayed by the impulse of the age. He
thought of nothing but representative governments. Often has he said to
me, "I should like the era of representative governments to be dated from
my time." His conduct in Italy and his proclamations ought to give, and
in fact do give, weight to this account of his opinion. But there is no
doubt that this idea was more connected with lofty views of ambition than
a sincere desire for the benefit of the human race; for, at a later
period, he adopted this phrase: "I should like to be the head of the most
ancient of the dynasties cf Europe." What a difference between
Bonaparte, the author of the 'Souper de Beaucaire', the subduer of
royalism at Toulon; the author of the remonstrance to Albitte and
Salicetti, the fortunate conqueror of the 13th Vendemiaire, the
instigator and supporter of the revolution of Fructidor, and the founder
of the Republics of Italy, the fruits of his immortal victories,--and
Bonaparte, First Consul in 1800, Consul for life in 1802, and, above all,
Napoleon, Emperor of the French in 1804, and King of Italy in 1805!
Effect of the 18th Fructidor on the peace--The standard of the army
of Italy--Honours rendered to the memory of General Hoche and of
Virgil at Mantua--Remarkable letter--In passing through Switzerland
Bonaparte visits the field of Morat--Arrival at Rastadt--Letter from
the Directory calling Bonaparte to Paris--Intrigues against
Josephine--Grand ceremony on the reception of Bonaparte by the
Directory--The theatres--Modesty of Bonaparte--An assassination--
Bonaparte's opinion of the Parisians--His election to the National
Institute--Letter to Camus--Projects--Reflections.
The day of the 18th Fructidor had, without any doubt, mainly contributed
to the conclusion of peace at Campo Formio. On the one hand, the
Directory, hitherto not very pacifically inclined, after having effected
a 'coup d'etat', at length saw the necessity of appeasing the
discontented by giving peace to France. On the other hand, the Cabinet
of Vienna, observing the complete failure of all the royalist plots in
the interior, thought it high time to conclude with the French Republic a
treaty which, notwithstanding all the defeats Austria had sustained,
still left her a preponderating influence over Italy.
Besides, the campaign of Italy, so fertile in glorious achievements of
arms, had not been productive of glory alone. Something of greater
importance followed these conquests. Public affairs had assumed a
somewhat unusual aspect, and a grand moral influence, the effect of
victories and of peace, had begun to extend all over France.
Republicanism was no longer so sanguinary and fierce as it had been some
years before. Bonaparte, negotiating with princes and their ministers on
a footing of equality, but still with all that superiority to which
victory and his genius entitled him, gradually taught foreign courts to
be familiar with Republican France, and the Republic to cease regarding
all States governed by Kings as of necessity enemies.
In these circumstances the General-in-Chief's departure and his expected
visit to Paris excited general attention. The feeble Directory was
prepared to submit to the presence of the conqueror of Italy in the
It was for the purpose of acting as head of the French legation at the
Congress of Rastadt that Bonaparte quitted Milan on the 17th of November.
But before his departure he sent to the Directory one of those monuments,
the inscriptions on which may generally be considered as fabulous, but
which, in this case, were nothing but the truth. This monument was the
"flag of the Army of Italy," and to General Joubert was assigned the
honourable duty of presenting it to the members of the Executive
On one side of the flag were the words "To the Army of Italy, the
grateful country." The other contained an enumeration of the battles
fought and places taken, and presented, in the following inscriptions, a
simple but striking abridgment of the history of the Italian campaign.
150,000 PRISONERS; 170 STANDARDS; 550 PIECES OF SIEGE ARTILLERY;
6OO PIECES OF FIELD ARTILLERY; FIVE PONTOON EQUIPAGES; NINE 64-GUN
SHIPS; TWELVE 32-GUN FRIGATES; 12 CORVETTES; 18 GALLEYS; ARMISTICE
WITH THE KING OF SARDINIA; CONVENTION WITH GENOA; ARMISTICE WITH THE
DUKE OF PARMA; ARMISTICE WITH THE KING OF NAPLES; ARMISTICE WITH THE
POPE; PRELIMINARIES OF LEOBEN; CONVENTION OF MONTEBELLO WITH THE
REPUBLIC OF GENOA; TREATY OF PEACE WITH THE EMPEROR OF GERMANY AT
LIBERTY GIVEN TO THE PEOPLE OF BOLOGNA, FERRARA, MODENA, MASSA-
CARRARA, LA ROMAGNA, LOMBARD, BRESCIA, BERGAMO, MANTUA, CREMONA.
PART OF THE VERONESE, CHIAVENA, BORMIO, THE VALTELINE, THE GENOESE,
THE IMPERIAL FIEFS, THE PEOPLE OF THE DEPARTMENTS OF CORCYRA, OF THE
AEGEAN SEA, AND OF ITHACA.
SENT TO PARIS ALL THE MASTERPIECES OF MICHAEL ANGELO, OF GVERCINO,
OF TITIAN, OF PAUL VERONESE, OF CORREGGIO, OF ALBANA, OF THE
CARRACCI, OF RAPHAEL, AND OF LEONARDO DA VINCI.
Thus were recapitulated on a flag, destined to decorate the Hall of the
Public Sittings of the Directory, the military deeds of the campaign in
Italy, its political results, and the conquest of the monuments of art.
Most of the Italian cities looked upon their conqueror as a liberator-
such was the magic of the word liberty, which resounded from the Alps to
the Apennines. On his way to Mantua the General took up his residence in
the palace of the ancient dukes. Bonaparte promised the authorities of
Mantua that their department should be one of the most extensive;
impressed on them the necessity of promptly organising a local militia,
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