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State. It was no doubt a boon to the population, subject previously to many conflicting laws, half feudal, half revolutionary. But the promulgation of the Code almost superseded the science of law, and promised to render legal learning useless, until difficult questions arose requiring reference to the principles and precedents on which the Code was founded. Thus deprived of freedom of speech, and of learning, or of winning its way by talent to office, the legal profession became a nullity.
The Church was not more fortunate. Bonaparte restored it as an element of order, and as providing for a numerous class of clerical functionaries, performing the ceremonies and maintaining the appearance of religion. What he established, however, was mere form. He furnished but the shell, in which the dead body of the defunct Church was laid, and respected if not revered. He promised that he himself and his chief functionaries should attend and bow to the usual ceremonies, but the Pope must dispense him and them from what was essential either in faith or practice. Bonaparte declined confession and communion as indecorous and unsuited to the spirit of the age. * In other words he re-established the Church, partly as a decoration, partly as a moral police. The bishops, appointed and paid by the government, formed a portion of its functionary aristocracy, and at the same time the lower clergy were placed completely under the jurisdiction and at the mercy of the prelates. He was enabled thus to render the clergy subservient to him by the low state to which the political and military events of Italy had reduced the Pope. That pontiff he was at first inclined to respect and restore, but he soon found that the spirit of the old ecclesiastical body was radically hostile to his system of government and to what the revolution had consummated. He saw, in consequence, the necessity of depriving the
CHAP. pontiff of all temporal power, which at a time when
spiritual power was in abeyance was tantamount to a dethroning of the pontiff altogether.
It would be unfair to blame the First Consul for what was either lukewarm or ultra-sacerdotal in these arrangements. He did what was possible, and restored the old religion of the monarchy, whilst preserving the preponderance of the lay authority. He re-enacted the old laws of the Gallican Church, declared dissident creeds entitled to tolerance and the right of worship, and maintained the revolutionary prohibition against monastic institutions. Upon one liberal principle he largely insisted, the freedom of education from ecclesiastical dictation or control. With this view he proscribed the Jesuits altogether, and established a University under the most eminent and enlightened men that could be found. If he preferred the teaching of science to that of literature or philosophy, it was that he feared the resuscitation of doctrines and sentiments which had produced so much disgust and anarchy. But the chiefs of his university did not proscribe philosophy for all that, and founded a school between the materialism of the eighteenth century and the bigot theology of the seventeenth, which, though it produced its chief results and professors after the fall of the empire, still remains indebted to Napoleon for its birth and its development.
The Institute formed the Senatorial Body of Learning. Its members, chiefly men of science, did not shrink from ridiculing the First Consul's scheme of resuscitating religion and the priesthood. But he fought his battle well with them, and demonstrated priests to be as useful as philosophers. Far from taking revenge, he on the contrary protected his little aristocracy of science, and when a journal ventured to mock them, Louis Bonaparte, as Minister of the Interior, suppressed it, thus assimilating the Institute to the Divinity or the Sovereign, whom it was not permitted to ridicule. The
government retained full power over the press, as over printing and publishing. They were reduced to utter nullity.
This reversal of the principles of the revolution, save the much prized one of equality, even that being but equality of prostration, required that the forms of government should be changed to suit it. Even Siéyes’ ingenious system of removing the legislature from the people and carefully separating the right to vote from the liberty to speak, was too liberal. That Solon had, however, rendered it easy to emasculate the republic altogether. With the senate rested the powers of election. It was made to eliminate and rechoose onefifth of the tribunate and the legislative body, and the government managed that the one-fifth chosen to go out should precisely be the liberal party. It was the old system of ostracism of the Directory. The conduct of the tribunate had rendered this especially necessary. Consisting of young and clever men chosen by the senate merely, it would appear, to show their oratory, it at once eschewed all moderation and rejected everything, codes, treaties, the most useful as well as most objectionable of measures. In one treaty the people were styled in diplomatic language subjects, and this raised a terrible storm. Bonaparte's temper and language were quite as menacing, and he proposed no less than a repetition of the 18th Brumaire. But Cambacérès dissuaded him from a coup d'état so violent, and invented the mode, which was adopted, of getting rid of the troublesome members of the Assembly by the elimination and re-election of one-fifth, for which the constitution had provided.
This veiled coup d'état, at which Siéyes grumbled, was followed by a formal abrogation of his constitution. His permanent list of notables was suppressed, and an election of two degrees was ordained; those whom the people chose were to form a college, and this college was to present a list, from which as before the senate
was to choose. There was little difference betwen the two systems, save the semblance of popular election. The tribunate was reduced to fifty members, to be subsequently abolished altogether, the senate to eighty. The latter was endowed with the power of prolonging the executive, in other words of declaring the First Consul to hold his office for life. But whilst endowing the senate with these powers, the jealous ruler would not commit to it the examination or vote of treaties. This he reserved to a Council of State of his nomination. The senate sought to retain a shadow of power by voting the prolongation of the consulate for only ten years. Bonaparte, dissatisfied, instantly resolved to do without that senate which he had just created, and appeal to a plebiscite or general vote of the population to sanction his consulate for life. Of course the people voted for the conqueror, and the senate was allowed to proclaim what they could not oppose. August, 1802, was the date of the re-inauguration of absolute sovereignty in France.
Whilst the base and summit of the new structure were thus made to proceed from the same forge with the most rude and antiquated fetters of tyranny, elaborate care was taken to adorn and gild the edifice with the most decorous and even gorgeous externals. Splendid museums were opened and filled with works of art taken from every capital in Europe. Architectural plans for the renovation of palaces and the beautifying of the metropolis were ordained and acted upon. Gardens were opened, triumphal arches erected, fountains made to spout.
Everything that could efface the memory of freedom, and substitute gaping admiration for it, was created. And whilst the tendency of laws and institutions was seriously to degrade the spirit of man and convert him into a mere servile machine, ingenuity was tasked to flatter his vanity and please his eye.
Yet it would be unjust to attribute this to any deep
laid scheme of tyranny and deceit. Bonaparte knew nothing of freedom, but its shameful and sanguinary excesses. His political education had been scant. He had never learned either to revere the principles of constitutional freedom or to appreciate its happy results. His idea of order was to enregiment mankind, and his scheme of national happiness to dominate. He knew nothing higher, nothing better, and he proceeded to apply these narrow principles, with the conviction that he was a Solon as well as an Alexander.
Such a system of government and such a character in a ruler, rendered any lasting agreement difficult, if not impossible, with other and neighbouring countries possessed of a vestige of either freedom or pride. The Cisalpine republic soon found that it was but a republic in name. It was not permitted even to be Italian, and was compelled to elect Bonaparte its first magistrate. Piedmont about the same period was annexed to France, and divided into French departments. Tuscany was styled the Kingdom of Etruria, under a young and imbecile Spanish Bourbon, but the French General Clarke ruled at Florence in his name. Elba was seized by the French, evidently for the sake of encircling and closing the port of Leghorn. The Pope Pius the Seventh had accepted with the Concordat the loss of the Legations, and could be looked upon as little more than a French bishop. The First Consul was supreme in Italy.
In Switzerland he was no less so. Geneva formed a French department. The Valais was destined to be another, as through it ran the great road which the French Consul was opening over the Simplon to Milan. The Vaud, which lay between Geneva and the Valais, was scarcely less French from gratitude. It was necessary, however, to make a show of Swiss independence, and the French ministry avowed it. The moment it did, a national party arose within the Confederation, and the French government sent an army to put it