Napoleon: For and Against

By Pieter Geyl; Olive Renier | Go to book overview

CHAPTER Ill
G. PARISET

IN the great history of France under the direction of Ernest Lavisse, one of those collective works which had become fashionable in historiography, there appeared in 1921 as the third of the ten copious volumes in which contemporary history beginning with 1789 is surveyed, the volume of G. Pariset, on Consulate and Empire. It is a textbook of high quality, sane, sober and clear, but by no means impersonal. It unhesitatingly presents an original conception. Let me illustrate the nature of this with a few of its main points.


FOREIGN POLICY

Bonaparte's victory at Marengo and that of Moreau near Hohenlinden led to the peace of Lunéville. Hohenlinden formed an indispensable element in this situation and to that extent Bonaparte rejoiced at it, but the fact that it was Moreau's victory irked him: 'He could not forgive victorious generals.'1 Anyhow, it was peace, and the joy that reigned in France was indescribable. Some people, however, were already afraid that the First Consul would use his success to expand his own power and to undertake new adventures. But even the most timid admonition in the Tribunate was apt to anger Bonaparte, and it is therefore difficult to find out how widespread this concern may have been. 'This much is certain, that France was profoundly and decidedly pacific; never was she less militaristically inclined than immediately after his greatest successes in the field.' No doubt men take pride in the glorious character of the peace. 'But the destinies of Holland, Switzerland, Italy, the German princes, touch the nation only indirectly. It is satisfied now that the safety of France, for ever firmly established within her natural frontiers, is no longer threatened. It remains indifferent, to Bonaparte's distant combinations. The nation was even more fatigued than in the days of the Directory. It imagined that the object had now been attained, its

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1
p. 51.

-364-

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