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The French, on leaving the right side of the Rhine, had provided the fortress of Kehl with a garrison, composed of select officers and sol. diers. Moreau's intention was to find the Austrians such employment, in the siege of this important place, that they should not have leisure to turn their attention to any other ob ject in that quarter. His project succeeded so well, that, till the commencement of the ensuing year, their whole time and strength were spent in efforts to reduce this fortress. Herein they lost numbers of their best men. A very serious action took place on the twenty-second of November. The garrison made a general sally, and, driving the besiegers from their line of circumvallation, spiked all their can. non, and, after making a great slaughter, carried off a large number of prisoners.
In order to balance this check, the Austrians attacked, on the thirtieth of November, the fortification that covered the head of the bridge of Huninguen, on their side. The attempt was made in the middle of the night, and the French were driven from their works. Recovering, however, from their disorder, they fell upon the assailants, retook their works, and defeated them so Completely, that they were obliged to retire, with the utmost speed, to a great distance, furiously pursued by the French who slew and took vast numbers, though not without a severe loss on their side, at the first onset, which was very unfavourable, and had nearly put the enemy in possession of the head of the bridge, whereby the communication with Kehl would have been cut off, and its reddition accelerated. Vol. XXXVIII.
This action, for the time it lasted, and from the mutual animosity of the combatants, was reputed the most destructive of any that had yet happened during this war. Such was the fury of both the French and Austrians, that they were wholly intent upon slaughter. Few pri soners were made; and the killed and wounded, on both sides, was computed at four thousand, the loss being nearly equal.
The month of December was consumed in operations of this kind, which occasioned the loss of numbers, and served only to exercise the skill and bravery of both parties. It was not till the opening of the next year, that, after a valiant defence of two months, the fortress of Kehl surrendered to the Austrians, who thereby became possessed of a heap of rubbish and ruins. The garrison carried away the very pallisadoes, and left nothing worth the taking. The works at the head of the bridge were in like manner evacuated some time after, and a final termination put to the operations of the campaign in this quarter.
The French and Austrian armies, on the lower Rhine, harrassed by the incessant fatigues they had undergone, came also to the determi nation of concluding hostilities during the winter. An armistice took place between them, about the middle of December, by which they mutually agreed to retire into cantonments, and to remain there peaceably, till the suspension should be formally declared at an end.
The termination of a campaign so unfortunate in its commencement, and so favourable in its termination, to the Austrian interest in Germany, totally revived its in[L]
State of Parties in France.-A Revival of the Reign of Terror threatened in the Southern Departments by Freron.-The Directory desert and oppose the Jacobin Interest-Conspiracy of Jacobins.-Discovered and defeated— Arrangements respecting the Estates of Emigrants.-Influence of the nonjuring or refractory Clergy troublesome to Government.-Scandalous Neglect of the Execution of Justice.-Criminal Trials.-Money and Finance. The same Impositions laid on the People of the Austrian Nether lands as on those of France.-New Plots and Insurrections.-Law for reconciling the different Factions in France, by the Extinction of Terror.Proposal for repealing a Law which appeared to some to bear too hard on the Relations of Emigrants-Rejected. But an equitable Alteration made in that severe Law. -This a Matter of Triumph to the moderate Party.
was the policy of the directory, as above observed, to se care their own power, by engag. ing the French nation in continued military exploits, by which the public mind might be occupied other wise than in inquiries into their own past or present conduct; and by which they might acquire popularity, in proportion to the success and glory of the French arms. Yet there was, in the midst of all the saccesses of Buonaparte, in the heart of France, a very numerous party in opposition to the measures of the government; and this party, by the repulse of the French from Germany, was daily increased. The French, at this period, might be divided into two great classes: the
men, bred in times before France was seized with a rage for innovation, whose prejudices were all in favour of monarchy, though not perhaps unlimited; and of others too, who, though they had originally favoured the principles of the revolution, longed now, above all things, to enjoy the blessings of peace. When this peaceable party, whether inclined to monarchy, or republicanism, reflected that all the golden dreams of the reformers had passed away like visions of the night, and been followed by nothing but the accumulated evils of war; horror on horror, disappointment on disappointment. When they looked back on former times, plentiful and tranquil; a period too, when they were younger than now, knew more happiness, and saw every thing around them in the light of joy and gladness; they were sensible of the liveliest anguish and regret, and ar[L 2]
dently wished for a return of such times as they had formerly enjoyed. This party was the most numerous in France, but they were forced to Conceal their sentiments, and they were not united. They were of course, as usually happens in all countries, kept under by a smaller number, in possession of the powers of government. But, in the capital, where the minds of men were stimulated and fortified in their sentiments and designs, by mutual intercourse, and which had so long been the seat of intrigues and attempts of opposite parties, there was a great number of discontented individuals, waiting for opportunities of publicly avowing their sentiments, in opposition to those of the present rulers, and to support them by open force. The vigilance of the directory obviated their designs, and contained them within bounds. So restless and determined, however, were the enemies to the present government, that, farther to secure the public tranquillity, they thought it expedient to add another minister to the six already appointed by the constitution, to whom was given the official title of minister of the police.
Through precautions of this nature, peace was maintained at Paris, but disturbances broke out, occasionally, in several parts of the republic. The southern departments, long a prey to that warmth and impetuosity of temper which characterize their inhabitants, were at this time plunged into confusions that required the immediate interposition of government to suppress them.
As the people in those parts bad been particularly ill treated by the jacobin party, they had, ever since the fall of Roberspierre, meditated schemes of vengeance against the in
struments of his tyranny, and of the many cruelties exercised upon them. They executed these schemes to their full extent; and many of the guilty agents, in the atrocities committed among them, were sacrificed to their revenge.
The moderation that governed the councils of those who succeeded to the power of Roberspierre, put a stop to those executions. The prudence of the commissioners sent to pacify these departments, had al most restored them to peace and mutual conciliation, when, unfortunately for their repose, a man was sent to represent and to exercise the supreme authority of the state in those parts, who had already signa. lized himself there by his enormi. ties.
This was the famous Freron, a man of courage and abilities, but of a fierce and sanguinary disposition. The people in those departments had filled the places of administration, in their respective districts, with persons of their own chusing. These were immediately displaced by Freron, who substituted to them individuals notorious for their crimes and the blood they had shed. He reinstituted the societies, and renewed those revolutionary committees that had filled France with such horror; and he authorized them to break those members of the various municipalities whose principles differed from their own.
During several months, the oppressed inhabitants of those departments were compelled to submit to the tyranny of Freron and his parti zans, who strove with indefatigable zeal to re-establish the reign of ter rorism. But the directory, who felt the necessity of putting an end to the influence which the jacobins
were endeavouring to recover, recalled Freron, and commissioned two men of moderate principles, Isnard and Jourdan, to inquire, in conjunction with others, into the causes of the discontents and disturbances that had happened in those departments. But the jacobin party laboured so earnestly to frustrate this commission, by calumniating the members that composed it, that, notwithstanding their accusations were formally declared malicious and ill-founded, it was judged requisite, in order to prevent feuds and animosities in the two councils, to dissolve the commission. Government was apprehensive it would make discoveries that might involve persons high in office, and occasion jealousies to be revived, which might defeat the conciliatory views proposed by the new constitution. The inquiry was, therefore, entrusted to the directory, which wisely determined to drop retrospective measures, and, by lenient means, to restore tranquillity to the departments in question.
The jacobins were highly offended by the moderate councils which they now perceived the directory was resolved to pursue. They accused it of having abandoned those democratical principles on which the republic was founded, and basely betrayed those from whom it derived its power in the state. But the directory, unintimidated by their threats, steadily adhered to its determinations, and gradually introduced into office individuals of their own opinions, in preference to the jacobins, who had hitherto enjoyed almost exclusively the first places under government.
This desertion of the jacobin interest subjected the directory to the
most violent rancour of that restless and daring party: but, heedless of their hatred and menaces, government alleged these as reasons for putting a period to their meetings, and shutting up their places of resort. They represented them to the public in the most odious light, exhorting all good citizens to watch their motions, as full of danger and malevolence to the state. They procured laws to be enacted, obviously levelled at them: those, for instance, that made it a capital crime to hold seditious meetings, or to attempt the re-establishment of the constitution under Roberspierre. Those members of the late conven. tion and committees, reputed the heads of this party, were ordered to leave the capital, and the major part of those in offices of trust were dismissed.
It was not without pressing motives that the directory acted with this severity towards the jacobins : they were labouring to disseminate a spirit of disobedience through all the civil and military departments in the metropolis. They had seduced into open rebellion a body of the latter, known by the appellation of legion of the police. It consisted of men selected from various corps of the army, and ordered to Paris for the support of the convention when the Parisians opposed that article of the constitution, which ordained a reelection of two thirds of its members to the new legislature.
As they amounted to ten thousand men, such a force appeared too formidable to be left in the hands of the jacobins, who had so perverted them, that they were no longer to be trusted. They were directed to repair to their respective regiments. Upon their refusal to obey, a power