I can understand how it was that men worn out by the turmoil of the
Revolution, and afraid of that liberty which had long been associated
with death, looked for repose under the dominion of an able ruler on
whom fortune was seemingly resolved to smile. I can conceive that
they regarded his elevation as a decree of destiny and fondly believed
that in the irrevocable they should find peace, I may confidently assert
that those persons believed
quite sincerely that Bonaparte, whether as consul or emperor, would exert his authority to oppose the intrigues of faction and would save us from the perils of anarchy.
None dared to utter the word "republic," so deeply had the Terror stained that name and the government pf the Directory had perished in the contempt with which its chiefs were regarded. The return of the Bourbons could only be brought about by the aid of a revolution: and the slightest disturbance terrified the French people, in whom enthusiasm of every kind seemed dead. Besides, the men in whom they had trusted had one after the other deceived them; and as, this time, they were yielding to force, they were at least certain that they were not deceiving themselves.
The belief, or rather the error, that only despotism could at that epoch
maintain order in France was very widespread. It became the mainstay of
Bonaparte; and it is due to him to say that he also believed it. The