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

A Lombard nobleman As for your country


"Andrea Doria," he wrote, "was a great sailor and a great statesman. Aristocracy was liberty in his time. The whole of Europe envies your city the honour of having produced that celebrated man. You will, I doubt not, take pains to rear his statue again: I pray you to let me bear a part of the expense which that will entail, which I desire to share with those who are most zealous for the glory and welfare of your country."

In contrasting this wise and dignified conduct with the hatred which most Corsicans still cherished against Genoa, Bonaparte's greatness of soul becomes apparent and inspires the wish: _Utinam semper sic fuisses!_

Few periods of his life have been more crowded with momentous events than his sojourn at the Castle of Montebello in May-July, 1797. Besides completing the downfall of Venice and reinvigorating the life of Genoa, he was deeply concerned with the affairs of the Lombard or Cisalpine Republic, with his family concerns, with the consolidation of his own power in French politics, and with the Austrian negotiations. We will consider these affairs in the order here indicated.

The future of Lombardy had long been a matter of concern to Bonaparte. He knew that its people were the _fittest_ in all Italy to benefit by _constitutional rule_, but it must be dependent on France. He felt little confidence in the Lombards if left

to themselves, as is seen in his conversation with Melzi and Miot de Melito at the Castle of Montebello. He was in one of those humours, frequent at this time of dawning splendour, when confidence in his own genius betrayed him into quite piquant indiscretions. After referring to the Directory, he turned abruptly to Melzi, a Lombard nobleman:

"As for your country, Monsieur de Melzi, it possesses still fewer elements of republicanism than France, and can be managed more easily than any other. You know better than anyone that we shall do what we like with Italy. But the time has not yet come. We must give way to the fever of the moment. We are going to have one or two republics here of our own sort. Monge will arrange that for us."

He had some reason for distrusting the strength of the democrats in Italy. At the close of 1796 he had written that there were three parties in Lombardy, one which accepted French guidance, another which desired liberty even with some impatience, and a third faction, friendly to the Austrians: he encouraged the first, checked the second, and repressed the last. He now complained that the Cispadanes and Cisalpines had behaved very badly in their first elections, which had been conducted in his absence; for they had allowed clerical influence to override all French predilections. And, a little later, he wrote to Talleyrand that the genuine love of liberty was feeble in Italy, and that, as soon as French influences were withdrawn, the Italian Jacobins would be murdered by the populace. The sequel was to justify his misgivings, and therefore to refute the charges of those who see in his conduct respecting the Cisalpine Republic nothing but calculating egotism. The difficulty of freeing a populace that had learnt to hug its chains was so great that the temporary and partial success which his new creation achieved may be regarded as a proof of his political sagacity.

After long preparations by four committees,


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