The Companions of Jehu HTML version
24. The Eighteenth Brumaire
On entering the Rue de la Victoire, Bonaparte found Sebastiani's dragoons
drawn up in line of battle. He wished to address them, but they interrupted him at
the first words, shouting: "We want no explanations. We know that you seek only
the good of the Republic. Vive Bonaparte!"
The cortège followed the streets which led from the Rue de la Victoire to the
Tuileries, amid the cries of "Vive Bonaparte!"
General Lefebvre, according to promise, was waiting at the palace gates.
Bonaparte, on his arrival at the Tuileries, was hailed with the same cheers that
had accompanied him. Once there, he raised his head and shook it. Perhaps this
cry of "Vive Bonaparte!" did not satisfy him. Was he already dreaming of "Vive
He advanced in front of the troop, surrounded by his staff, and read the decree of
the Five Hundred, which transferred the sessions of the Legislature to Saint-
Cloud and gave him the command of the armed forces.
Then, either from memory, or offhand--Bonaparte never admitted any one to
such secrets--instead of the proclamation he had dictated to Bourrienne two days
earlier, he pronounced these words:
"Soldiers--The Council of Ancients has given me the command of the city and the
"I have accepted it, to second the measures to be adopted for the good of the
"The Republic has been ill governed for two years. You have hoped for my return
to put an end to many evils. You celebrated it with a unanimity which imposes
obligations that I now fulfil. Fulfil yours, and second your general with the vigor,
firmness and strength I have always found in you.
"Liberty, victory, and peace will restore the French Republic to the rank it
occupied in Europe, which ineptitude and treason alone caused her to lose!"
The soldiers applauded frantically. It was a declaration of war against the
Directory, and soldiers will always applaud a declaration of war.
The general dismounted, amid shouts and bravos, and entered the Tuileries. It
was the second time he had crossed the threshold of this palace of the Valois,
whose arches had so ill-sheltered the crown and head of the last Bourbon who
had reigned there. Beside him walked citizen Roederer. Bonaparte started as he
recognized him, and said:
"Ah! citizen Roederer, you were here on the morning of August 10."
"Yes, general," replied the future Count of the Empire.
"It was you who advised Louis XVI. to go before the National Assembly."
"Bad advice, citizen Roederer! I should not have followed it."
"We advise men according to what we know of them. I would not give General
Bonaparte the same advice I gave King Louis XVI. When a king has the fact of
his flight to Varennes and the 20th of June behind him, it is difficult to save him."