World's Best Histories — Volume 7: France
Henriette Elizabeth Witt
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France had been seeking for a free and regular government, that might assure to her the new rights which had only been gained through tribulation. She had overthrown the Monarchy and attempted a Republic; she had accepted and rejected three constitutions, all the while struggling single-handed with Europe, leagued against her. She had undergone the violence of the Reign of Terror, the contradictory passions of the Assemblies, and the incoherent feebleness of the Directory. For the first time since the death of King Louis XIV. , her history finds once more a centre, and henceforth revolves round a single man. For fifteen years, victorious or vanquished, at the summit of glory, or in the depths of abasement, France and Europe, overmastered by an indomitable will and unbridled passion for power, were compelled to squander their blood and their treasure upon that page of universal history which General Bonaparte claims for his own, and which he has succeeded in covering with glory and crime.