The History of Napoleon the First - Vol. 2

The History of Napoleon the First - Vol. 2

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The History of Napoleon the First - Vol. 2

The History of Napoleon the First - Vol. 2

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Excerpt

WHILE Bonaparte was playing this dangerous game in Piedmont, his adversaries in Paris, struck with the risk he was running, awaited the issue with mingled anxiety and hope. Unable to attempt any plot against him at such a time, they made up for long restraint by the boldness of their wishes and their dreams, the only liberty which was left them. With so adventurous a spirit, stability seemed impossible; it was necessary to be prepared for any contingency; and as there was a strong disposition to apprehend the worst, they speculated freely on the chances of war. Some went so far as to desire the death of the First Consul, even at the expense of a disaster; but the greater number confined themselves to considering the best course to pursue if he were killed. The obscurity in which the framers of the Constitution of the Year VIII had intentionally left that part of it which referred to the mode of replacing the head of the State justified these anxieties, and if it was wrong to wish for an accident at such a cost, it was at any rate an urgent duty to be prepared for it.

At the time of his departure for Italy, the First Consul alluded in private conversation, readily and with feigned indifference, to the possibility of his death: he tried to ascertain what impression it made on his interlocutors, so as to penetrate their most hidden thoughts; but he could not bear another person to discuss the subject, for the mere supposition seemed to betoken in one who expressed it a disbelief in the kind of supernatural mission which he . . .

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