Page:The life of Matthew Flinders.djvu/404

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313
GENERAL DECAEN

sulate had been established in December, 1799, and the First Consul was anxious to attach to him strong, able men. In 1802 Decaen ventured to use his influence with the Government regarding an appointment to the court of appeal at Caen, for which Lasseret, his old master in law, was a candidate; and we find Bonaparte writing to Cambacérès, who had charge of the law department, that "if the citizen possesses the requisite qualifications I should like to defer to the wishes of General Decaen, who is an officer of great merit."[1] He saw much of Bonaparte in Paris during 1801 and 1802, when the part he had to play was an extremely difficult one, demanding the exercise of tact and moral courage in an unusual measure. The Mémoires throw a vivid light on the famous quarrel between Moreau and Napoleon, which in the end led to the exile of the victor of Hohenlinden.

Moreau was Decaen's particular friend, the commander who had given him opportunities for distinction, one whom he loved and honoured as a man and a patriot. But he was jealous of Napoleon's success, was disaffected towards the consular government, and was believed to be concerned in plots for its overthrow. On the other hand, Napoleon was not only the head of the State, but was the greatest soldier of his age. Decaen's admiration of him was unbounded, and Napoleon's attitude towards Decaen was cordial. He tried to reconcile these two men whom he regarded with such warm affection, but failed. One day, when business was being discussed, Napoleon said abruptly, "Decaen, General Moreau is conducting himself badly; I shall have to denounce him." Decaen was moved to tears, and insisted that Napoleon was ill informed. "You are good yourself," said the First Consul, "and you think every

  1. Napoleon's Correspondance Document 5596.