The reader has already been informed of the attempts made by Bonaparte to induce England and Austria to negotiate with the Consular Government, which the King of Prussia was the first of the sovereigns of Europe to recognise.
That is what I have promised this very day to my people in the proclamation lying on the table yonder; and I owe it, moreover, to myself. Either an honorable peace, or a decision by the fortune of war. If need be, I will call upon my whole people to take up arms; I will place myself at the head of this grand army, and either defeat Bonaparte, or succumb honorably."
Nelson's essentially military genius had in political matters a keenly sensitive intuition of the probable action of his fellow-warrior, Bonaparte. "Russia's going to war in the way I am sure she will, will cause the loss of Naples and Sardinia; for that Court will not send 100,000 men into Italy, and less are useless for any grand purpose."
Suddenly a window was opened. Upon Hell. Dante, had he leaned over the summit of the shadow, would have been able to see the eighth circle of his poem; the funereal Boulevard Montmartre. Paris, a prey to Bonaparte; a monstrous spectacle. The gloomy armed men massed together on this boulevard felt an appalling spirit enter into them; they ceased to be themselves, and became demons.
Most of the reports which he had received previous to his entrance had concurred in describing the dissatisfaction of the troops, who for some time had had to contend with bad roads, bad weather, and all aorta of privations. Bonaparte said to the generals who informed him that the enthusiasm of his troops had been succeeded by dejection and discontent, "Does their spirit fail them when they come in sight of the enemy?"
'An unjust law, said I, 'has deprived you of liberty; my first duty is to restore it to you. 'Was not this well done, Bourrienne?" As I was, no less than Bonaparte himself, an enemy to the revolutionary laws, I congratulated him sincerely; and he was very sensible to my approbation, for I was not accustomed to greet him with 'Good; very good, on all occasions.
On the first discovery which Bonaparte made of Bourrienne's infidelity, Talleyrand complimented him upon not having suffered from it. "Do you not see," answered Bonaparte, "that it is also one of the extraordinary gifts of my extraordinary good fortune? "Even traitors are unable to betray me. Plots respect me as much as bullets."
It is indisputable that extremely lax customs had been the result of the law of 1792, divorce being allowed on a mere declaration of incompatibility of temper. Against these scandals Bonaparte firmly set his face.
Such was the situation when young Bonaparte, twenty-six years of age, went down into Italy to take command of the French army. The generals, many of them as old as his father, began offering him advice, but he impatiently waved them aside and announced that he was going to wage war on a plan hitherto unheard of.
All these bodies, on leaving the First Consul, were presented to Madame Bonaparte, who received them with her accustomed grace, in, the evening Madame Bonaparte held a reception for the wives of the officials, at which the First Consul was present, of which fact some availed themselves to present to him several emigres, who had recently returned under the act of amnesty, and whom he received graciously.