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The Life of Napoleon I (Volume 1 of 2) by Rose

The two new Consuls were Cambaceres and Lebrun


The

two new Consuls were Cambaceres and Lebrun. The former was known as a learned jurist and a tactful man. He had voted for the death of Louis XVI., but his subsequent action had been that of a moderate, and his knowledge of legal affairs was likely to be of the highest service to Bonaparte, who intrusted him with a general oversight of legislation. His tact was seen in his refusal to take up his abode in the Tuileries, lest, as he remarked to Lebrun, he might have to move out again soon. The third Consul, Lebrun, was a moderate with leanings towards constitutional royalty. He was to prove another useful satellite to Bonaparte, who intrusted him with the general oversight of finance and regarded him as a connecting link with the moderate royalists. The chief secretary to the Consuls was Maret, a trusty political agent, who had striven for peace with England both in 1793 and in 1797.

As for the Ministers, they were now reinforced by Talleyrand, who took up that of Foreign Affairs, and by Berthier, who brought his powers of hard work to that of War, until he was succeeded for a time by Carnot. Lucien Bonaparte, and later Chaptal, became Minister of the Interior, Gaudin controlled Finance, Forfait the Navy, and Fouche the Police. The Council of State was organized in the following sections; that of _War_, which was presided over by General Brune: _Marine_, by Admiral Gantheaume: _Finance_, by Defermon: _Legislation_, by Boulay de la Meurthe: the _Interior_,

by Roederer.

The First Consul soon showed that he intended to adopt a non-partisan and thoroughly national policy. That had been, it is true, the aim of the Directors in their policy of balance and repression of extreme parties on both sides. For the reasons above indicated, they had failed: but now a stronger and more tactful grasp was to succeed in a feat which naturally became easier every year that removed the passions of the revolutionary epoch further into the distance. Men cannot for ever perorate, and agitate and plot. A time infallibly comes when an able leader can successfully appeal to their saner instincts: and that hour had now struck. Bonaparte's appeal was made to the many, who cared not for politics, provided that they themselves were left in security and comfort: it was urged quietly, persistently, and with the reserve power of a mighty prestige and of overwhelming military force. Throughout the whole of the Consulate, a policy of moderation, which is too often taken for weakness, was strenuously carried through by the strongest man and the greatest warrior of the age.

The truly national character of his rule was seen in many ways. He excluded from high office men who were notorious regicides, excepting a few who, like Fouche, were too clever to be dispensed with. The constitutionals of 1791 and even declared royalists were welcomed back to France, and many of the Fructidorian exiles also returned.[134] The list of _emigres_ was closed, so that neither political hatred nor private greed could misrepresent a journey as an act of political emigration. Equally generous and prudent was the treatment of Roman Catholics. Toleration was now extended to orthodox or non-juring priests, who were required merely to _promise_ allegiance to the new constitution. By this act of timely clemency, orthodox priests were allowed to return to France, and they were even suffered to officiate in places where no opposition was thereby aroused.

While thus removing one of the chief grievances of the Norman, Breton and Vendean peasants, who had risen as much for their religion as for their king, he determined to crush their revolts. The north-west, and indeed parts of the south of France, were still simmering with rebellions and brigandage. In Normandy a daring and able leader


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