The Worlds Famous Orations. Continental Europe (3801906). 1906.
III. Speech to the Directory
Napoleon I (17691821)
Born in 1769, died in 1821; served in Corsica and at Toulon in 1793; went to Italy in 1794; to Egypt in 1798; executed coup détat of Brumaire in 1799; won the Battle of Marengo in 1800; made Consul for life in 1802; Emperor in 1804; won the Battle of Austerlitz in 1805, Jena and Friedland in 1807; fled from Moscow in 1812; lost the Battle of Leipsic in 1813; abdicated April 11, 1814; escaped from Elba in February, 1815; defeated at Waterloo in June, 1815; exiled to St. Helena in October of the same year.
CITIZENS,1 the French people, in order to be free, had kings to combat. To obtain a Constitution founded on reason, it had the prejudices of eighteen centuries to overcome, The Constitution of the year 3 and you have triumphed over all obstacles. Religion, feudalism, royalty have successively for twenty centuries past governed Europe; but from the peace which you have just concluded dates the era of republican governments.
You have succeeded in organizing the great nation whose vast territory is circumscribed only because Nature herself has fixed its limits. You have done more. The two finest countries in Europe, formerly so renowned for the arts, the sciences, and the great men whose cradle they were, see with the greatest hopes genius and freedom issuing from the tomb of their ancestors. These are two pedestals on which the destinies are about to place two powerful nations.
I have the honor to deliver to you the treaty signed at Campo Formio, and ratified by his majesty, the emperor. Peace insures the liberty, prosperity, and the glory of the Republic. When the happiness of the French people shall be seated on better organic laws, all Europe shall become free.
Note 1. Delivered on December 10, 1797, soon after his arrival in Paris, victorious from Italy and bringing the Treaty of Campo Formio. The Moniteur of Paris, in its report of this speech, said the speakers simple and modest countenance contrasted with his great reputation. According to St. Amand the speech, delivered in a jerky voice with a tone of command, produced a deeper impression than would have done the voice of the most famous orators of the century. The translation was made for Thierss History of the French Revolution. [back]