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Title: Life of Napoleon Bonaparte, Volume IV.
Author: Scott, Walter
Language: English
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VOL. 4.

[Illustration: Mayence]





CHAP. XLIX.--Conduct of Russia and England during the War with
  Austria--Meditated Expedition of British Troops to the Continent--Sent
  to Walcheren--Its Calamitous Details and Result--Proceedings of
  Napoleon with regard to the Pope--General Miollis enters
  Rome--Napoleon publishes a Decree, uniting the States of the Church to
  the French Empire--Is Excommunicated--Pius VII. is banished from Rome,
  and sent to Grenoble--afterwards brought back to Savona--Buonaparte is
  attacked by an Assassin--Definitive Treaty of Peace signed at
  Schoenbrun--Napoleon returns to France on the 14th November, 1809,   1

CHAP. L.--Change in Napoleon's Domestic Life--Causes which led to
  it--His anxiety for an Heir--A Son of his Brother Louis is fixed upon,
  but dies in Childhood--Character and influence of Josephine--Strong
  mutual Attachment betwixt her and Napoleon--Fouché opens to Josephine
  the Plan of a Divorce--Her extreme Distress--On 5th December, Napoleon
  announces her Fate to Josephine--On 15th they are formally separated
  before the Imperial Council--Josephine retaining the rank of Empress
  for Life--Espousals of Buonaparte and Maria Louisa of Austria take
  place at Vienna, 11th March, 1810,                                  17

CHAP. LI.--Almost all the Foreign French Settlements fall into the
  hands of the British--French Squadron destroyed at the Isle of Aix, by
  Lord Cochrane--and at the Isle of Rosas, by Lord Collingwood--Return
  to the Proceedings in Spain--Soult takes Oporto--Attacked and Defeated
  by Sir Arthur Wellesley--Ferrol and Corunna retaken by the
  Patriots--Battle of Talavera, gained by Sir Arthur Wellesley--Created
  Lord Wellington--The French Armies take many Towns and Strong
  Places--Supreme Junta Retreat to Cadiz--The Guerilla System--Growing
  Disappointment of Buonaparte--His immense Exertions--Battle of
  Busaco--Lord Wellington's famous Retreat on Torres Vedras,          28

CHAP. LII.--Change in Napoleon's Principles of Government--Becomes
  suspicious of Talleyrand and Fouché--Fouché endeavours, without the
  knowledge of Napoleon, to ascertain the Views of England with respect
  to Peace--His Plan is defeated by a singular Collision with a similar
  one of Napoleon--and Fouché is sent away as Governor-General of
  Rome--His Moral and Political Character--Murmurings of the People
  against the Austrian Alliance--Continental System--Ignorance of
  Napoleon of the Actual Political Feelings of Great Britain--The
  License System--Louis Buonaparte--Endeavours in vain to Defend Holland
  from the Effects of the Continental System--He Abdicates the Throne,
  and retires to Gratz in Styria--Holland is annexed to the French
  Empire,                                                             41

CHAP. LIII.--Gustavus IV. of Sweden is Dethroned and succeeded by his
  Uncle--The Crown Prince killed by a fall from his Horse--Candidates
  proposed for the Succession--The Swedes, thinking to conciliate
  Napoleon, fix on Bernadotte--Buonaparte reluctantly acquiesces in the
  Choice--Parting Interview between Bernadotte and Napoleon--Subsequent
  attempts of the latter to bind Sweden to the Policy of France--The
  Crown Prince unwillingly accedes to the Continental System--Napoleon
  makes a Tour through Flanders and Holland--Returns to Paris, and takes
  measures for extending the Continental System--Seizure of the
  Valois--Coast along the German Ocean annexed to France--Protest by the
  Czar against the appropriation of Oldenburg--Russia allows the
  Importation, at certain Seaports, of various articles of British
  Commerce--Negotiations for Exchange of Prisoners between France and
  England; and for a General Peace, broken off by Buonaparte's
  unreasonable demands,                                               59

CHAP. LIV.--View of Napoleon's gigantic Power--The Empress Maria
  Louisa delivered of a Son--Criticism on the Title given him, of King
  of Rome--Speculations in regard to the advantages or disadvantages
  arising from this Event--Retrospect--Ex-Queen of Etruria--Her severe
  and unjustifiable Treatment by Napoleon--Lucien Buonaparte is invited
  to England, where he writes Epic Poetry--Attempt to deliver Ferdinand,
  defeated--Operations in Portugal--Retreat of Massena--Battles of
  Fuentes d'Onoro fought by Lord Wellington--On the South Frontier of
  Portugal, by Lord Beresford--Of Barossa, by General Graham--Enterprise
  of Arroyo-Molinas--Spaniards defeated under Blake--Valencia captured
  by the French, and he and his Army made Prisoners of War--Disunion
  among the French Generals--Joseph wishes to abdicate the Throne of
  Spain,                                                              72

CHAP. LV.--Retrospect of the Causes leading to the Rupture with
  Russia--Originate in the Treaty of Tilsit--Russia's alleged Reasons of
  Complaint--Arguments of Napoleon's Counsellors against War with
  Russia--Fouché is against the War--Presents a Memorial to Napoleon
  upon the Subject--His answer--Napoleon's Views in favour of the War,
  as urged to his various Advisers,                                   86

CHAP. LVI.--Allies on whose assistance Buonaparte might count--Causes
  which alienated from him the Prince-Royal of Sweden--who signs a
  Treaty with Russia--Delicate situation of the King of Prussia, whose
  alliance the Emperor Alexander on that account declines--A Treaty with
  France dictated to Prussia--Relations between Austria and France--in
  order to preserve them Buonaparte is obliged to come under an
  Engagement not to Revolutionize Poland--His error of Policy in
  neglecting to cultivate the alliance of the Porte--Amount of
  Buonaparte's Army--Levies for the Protection of France in the
  Emperor's absence--Storming of Ciudad Rodrigo by Lord
  Wellington--Buonaparte makes Overtures of Peace to Lord
  Castlereagh--The Correspondence broken off--Ultimatum of Russia
  rejected--Napoleon sets out from Paris, 9th May, 1812--and meets the
  Sovereigns his allies at Dresden--A last attempt of Napoleon to
  negotiate with Alexander proves unsuccessful,                       95

CHAP. LVII.--Napoleon's Plan of the Campaign against
  Russia--Understood and provided against by Barclay de Tolly, the
  Russian Generalissimo--Statement of the Grand French Army--Of the
  Grand Russian Army--Disaster on the River Wilia--Difficulties of the
  Campaign, on the part of the French--Their defective Commissariat and
  Hospital Department--Cause of Buonaparte's determination to
  advance--His forced Marches occasion actual Delay--Napoleon remains
  for some days at Wilna--Abbé de Pradt--His intrigues to excite the
  Poles--Neutralized by Napoleon's engagements with Austria--An attempt
  to excite Insurrection in Lithuania also fails,                    113

CHAP. LVIII.--Proceedings of the Army under Prince
  Bagration--Napoleon's manœuvres against him--King Jerome of
  Westphalia is disgraced for alleged inactivity--Bagration is defeated
  by Davoust, but succeeds in gaining the interior of Russia, and
  re-establishing his communication with the Grand Army--which retreats
  to Drissa--Barclay and Bagration meet at Smolensk on the 20th
  July--The French Generals become anxious that Napoleon should close
  the campaign at Witepsk for the season--He persists in
  proceeding--Smolensk evacuated by De Tolly, after setting fire to the
  place--Reduced condition of the French, and growing strength of the
  Russian Armies--Peace effected between Russia, and England, Sweden,
  and Turkey--Napoleon resolves to advance upon Moscow,              127

CHAP. LIX.--Napoleon detaches Murat and other Generals in pursuit of
  the Russians--Bloody, but indecisive Action, at Valoutina--Barclay de
  Tolly's defensive System relinquished, and Koutousoff appointed to the
  chief command of the Russian Army--Napoleon advances from
  Smolensk--Battle of Borodino fought, on 5th September--Prince
  Bagration slain--Koutousoff Retreats upon Mojaisk, and thence upon
  Moscow--Napoleon continues his Advance on the 12th--Count Rostopchin,
  Governor of Moscow--His Character--The Russians abandon Moscow, which
  is evacuated by the Inhabitants--The Grand Russian Army marches
  through Moscow--Last public Court of Justice held there by Rostopchin,
  after which he follows the march of the Army,                      141

CHAP. LX.--On 14th September, Napoleon reaches Moscow, which he finds
  deserted by the Inhabitants--The City is discovered to be on
  fire--Napoleon takes up his quarters in the Kremlin--The fire is stopt
  next day, but arises again at night--Believed to be wilful, and
  several Russians apprehended and shot--On the third night, the Kremlin
  is discovered to be on Fire--Buonaparte leaves it, and takes his abode
  at Petrowsky--The Fire rages till the 19th, when four-fifths of the
  City are burnt down--On the 20th, Buonaparte returns to the
  Kremlin--Discussion as to the Origin of this great
  Conflagration--Disorganisation and Indiscipline of the French
  Army--Difficulty as to the Route on leaving Moscow--Lauriston sent
  with a Letter to the Emperor Alexander--Retrospect of the March of the
  Russian Army, after leaving Moscow--Lauriston has an Interview with
  Koutousoff on 5th October--The Result--Armistice made by
  Murat--Preparations for Retreat--The Emperor Alexander refuses to
  treat,                                                             151

CHAP. LXI.--Murat's Armistice broken off--Napoleon leaves Moscow on
  19th October--Bloody Skirmish at Malo-Yarrowslavetz--Napoleon in great
  danger while reconnoitring--He Retreats to Vereia, where he meets
  Mortier and the Young Guard--Winzingerode made Prisoner, and insulted
  by Buonaparte--The Kremlin is blown up by the French--Napoleon
  continues his Retreat towards Poland--Its Horrors--Conflict near
  Wiazma, on 3d November, where the French lose 4000 Men--Cross the
  River Wiazma during the Night--The Viceroy of Italy reaches Smolensk,
  in great distress--Buonaparte arrives at Smolensk, with the headmost
  Division of the Grand Army--Calamitous Retreat of Ney's Division--The
  whole French Army now collected at Smolensk--Cautious conduct of
  Prince Schwartzenberg--Winzingerode freed on his road to Paris by a
  body of Cossacks--Tchitchagoff occupies Minsk--Perilous situation of
  Napoleon,                                                          166

CHAP. LXII.--Napoleon divides his Army into four Corps, which leaves
  Smolensk on their Retreat towards Poland--Cautious proceedings of
  Koutousoff--The Viceroy's Division is attacked by Miloradowitch, and
  effects a junction with Napoleon at Krasnoi, after severe
  loss--Koutousoff attacks the French at Krasnoi; but only by a distant
  Cannonade--The division under Davoust is reunited to Napoleon, but in
  a miserable state--Napoleon marches to Liady; and Mortier and Davoust
  are attacked, and suffer heavy loss--Details of the Retreat of Ney--He
  crosses the Losmina, with great loss of Men and Baggage, and joins
  Napoleon at Orcsa, with his Division reduced to 1500 men--The whole
  Grand Army is now reduced to 12,000 effective men, besides 30,000
  stragglers--Dreadful Distress and Difficulties of Buonaparte and his
  Army--Singular scene betwixt Napoleon and Duroc and Daru--Napoleon
  moves towards Borizoff, and falls in with the Corps of Victor and
  Oudinot--Koutousoff halts at Kopyn, without attacking
  Buonaparte--Napoleon crosses the Beresina at Studzianka--Partouneaux's
  division cut off by Witgenstein--Severe Fighting on both sides of the
  River--Dreadful losses of the French in crossing it--According to the
  Russian official account, 36,000 bodies were found in the Beresina
  after the thaw,                                                    188

CHAP. LXIII.--Napoleon determines to return to Paris--He leaves
  Smorgoni on 5th December--reaches Warsaw on the 10th--Curious
  Interview with the Abbé de Pradt--Arrives at Dresden on the 14th--and
  at Paris on the 18th at Midnight--Dreadful State of the Grand Army,
  when left by Napoleon--Arrive at Wilna, whence they are driven by the
  Cossacks, directing their Flight upon Kowno--Dissensions among the
  French Generals--Cautious Policy of the Austrians under
  Schwartzenberg--Precarious state of Macdonald--He Retreats upon
  Tilsit--D'Yorck separates his Troops from the French--Macdonald
  effects his Retreat to Königsberg--Close of the Russian Expedition,
  with a loss on the part of the French of 450,000 Men in Killed and
  Prisoners--Discussion of the Causes which led to this ruinous
  Catastrophe,                                                       203

CHAP. LXIV.--Effects of Napoleon's return upon the
  Parisians--Congratulations and Addresses by all the Public
  Functionaries--Conspiracy of Mallet--very nearly successful--How at
  last defeated--The impression made by this event upon
  Buonaparte--Discussions with the Pope, who is brought to France, but
  remains inflexible--State of Affairs in Spain--Napoleon's great and
  successful exertions to Recruit his Army--Guards of Honour--In the
  month of April, the Army is raised to 350,000 men, independently of
  the Troops left in Garrison in Germany, and in Spain and Italy,    224

CHAP. LXV.--Murat leaves the Grand Army abruptly--Eugene appointed in
  his place--Measures taken by the King of Prussia for his
  disenthraldom--He leaves Berlin for Breslau--Treaty signed between
  Russia and Prussia early in March--Alexander arrives at Breslau on
  15th; on the 16th Prussia declares War against France--Warlike
  preparations of Prussia--Universal enthusiasm--Blucher appointed
  Generalissimo--Vindication of the Crown Prince of Sweden for joining
  the Confederacy against France--Proceedings of Austria--Unabated
  spirit and pretensions of Napoleon--A Regency is appointed in France
  during his absence--and Maria Louisa appointed Regent, with nominal
  powers,                                                            234

CHAP. LXVI.--State of the French Grand Army--The Russians advance, and
  show themselves on the Elbe--The French evacuate Berlin, and retreat
  on the Elbe--The Crown-Prince of Sweden joins the Allies, with 35,000
  Men--Dresden is occupied by the Sovereigns of Russia and
  Prussia--Marshal Bessières killed on 1st May--Battle of Lutzen fought
  on the 2d--The Allies retire to Bautzen--Hamburgh taken possession of
  by the Danes and French--Battle of Bautzen fought on the 20th and 21st
  May--The Allies retire in good order--The French Generals, Bruyères
  and Duroc, killed on the 22d--Grief of Napoleon for the death of the
  latter--An Armistice signed on 4th June,                           244

CHAP. LXVII.--Change in the results formerly produced by the French
  Victories--Despondency of the Generals--Decay in the discipline of the
  Troops--Views of Austria--Arguments in favour of Peace stated and
  discussed--Pertinacity of Napoleon--State of the French Interior--hid
  from him by the slavery of the Press--Interview betwixt Napoleon and
  the Austrian Minister Metternich--Delays in the Negotiations--Plan of
  Pacification proposed by Austria, on 7th August--The Armistice broken
  off on the 10th, when Austria joins the Allies--Sudden placability of
  Napoleon at this period--Ascribed to the news of the Battle of
  Vittoria,                                                          256

CHAP. LXVIII.--Amount and distribution of the French Army at the
  resumption of Hostilities--of the Armies of the Allies--Plan of the
  Campaign on both sides--Return of Moreau from America, to join the
  Allies--Attack on Dresden by the Allies on 26th August--Napoleon
  arrives to its succour--Battle continued on the 27th--Death of General
  Moreau--Defeat and Retreat of the Allies, with great loss--Napoleon
  returns from the pursuit to Dresden, indisposed--Vandamme attacks the
  Allies at Culm--is driven back towards Peterswald--Conflict on the
  heights of Peterswald--Vandamme is Defeated and made prisoner--Effects
  of the victory of Culm, on the Allies--and on Napoleon,            268

CHAP. LXIX.--Military Proceedings in the North of Germany--Luckau
  submits to the Crown-Prince of Sweden--Battles of Gross-Beeren and
  Katzbach--Operations of Ney upon Berlin--He is defeated at Dennewitz,
  on the 6th September--Difficult and embarrassing situation of
  Napoleon--He abandons all the right side of the Elbe to the
  Allies--Operations of the Allies in order to effect a
  junction--Counter-exertions of Napoleon--The French Generals averse to
  continuing the War in Germany--Dissensions betwixt them and the
  Emperor--Napoleon at length resolves to retreat upon Leipsic,      279

CHAP. LXX.--Napoleon reaches Leipsic on 15th of October--Statement of
  the French and Allied Forces--BATTLE OF LEIPSIC, commenced on 16th,
  and terminates with disadvantage to the French at nightfall--Napoleon
  despatches General Mehrfeldt (his prisoner) to the Emperor of Austria,
  with proposals for an armistice--No answer is returned--The Battle is
  renewed on the morning of the 18th, and lasts till night, when the
  French are compelled to retreat, after immense loss on both
  sides--They evacuate Leipsic on the 19th, the Allies in full
  pursuit--Blowing up of one of the bridges--Prince Poniatowski drowned
  in the Elster--25,000 French are made prisoners--The Allied Sovereigns
  meet in triumph, at noon, in the Great Square at Leipsic--King of
  Saxony sent under a Guard to Berlin--Reflections,                  289

CHAP. LXXI.--Retreat of the French from Germany--General Defection of
  Napoleon's Partisans--Battle of Hannau fought on 30th and 31st
  October--Napoleon arrives at Paris on 9th November--State in which he
  finds the public mind in the capital--Fate of the French Garrisons
  left in Germany--Arrival of the Allied Armies on the banks of the
  Rhine--General view of Napoleon's political
  relations--Italy--Spain--Restoration of Ferdinand--Liberation of the
  Pope, who returns to Rome--Emancipation of Holland,                303

CHAP. LXXII.--Preparations of Napoleon against the Invasion of
  France--Terms of Peace offered by the Allies--Congress held at
  Manheim--Lord Castlereagh--Manifesto of the Allies--Buonaparte's
  Reply--State of Parties in France--The Population of France, in
  general, wearied of the War, and desirous of the Deposition of
  Buonaparte--His unsuccessful attempts to arouse the National
  Spirit--Council of State Extraordinary, held Nov. 11th, when new taxes
  are imposed, and a new Conscription of 300,000 men decreed--Gloom of
  the Council, and violence of Buonaparte--Report of the State of the
  Nation presented to Napoleon by the Legislative Body--The Legislative
  Body is prorogued--Unceasing activity of the Emperor--National Guard
  called out--Napoleon, presenting to them his Empress and Child, takes
  leave of the People--He leaves Paris for the Armies,               317

CHAP. LXXIII.--Declaration of the Allies on entering
  France--Switzerland--Schwartzenberg crosses the Rhine--Apathy of the
  French--Junction of Blucher with the Grand Army--Crown-Prince of
  Sweden--Inferiority of Napoleon's numerical Force--Battles of
  Brienne--and La Rothière--Difficulties of Buonaparte, during which he
  meditates to resign the Crown--He makes a successful Attack on the
  Silesian Army at Champ-Aubert--Blucher is compelled to retreat--The
  Grand Army carries Nogent and Montereau--Buonaparte's violence to his
  Generals--The Austrians resolve on a general Retreat, as far as Nancy
  and Langres--Prince Wenceslaus sent to Buonaparte's headquarters--The
  French enter Troyes--Execution of Goualt, a Royalist--A Decree of
  Death against all wearing the Bourbon emblems, and all Emigrants who
  should join the Allies,                                            333

CHAP. LXXIV.--Retrospect of Events on the Frontiers--Defection of
  Murat--Its consequences--Augereau abandons Franche Comté--Carnot
  intrusted with the command of Antwerp--Attack on Bergen-op-Zoom, by
  Sir Thomas Graham--The Allies take, and evacuate Soissons--Bulow and
  Winzegerode unite with Blucher--Wellington forces his way through the
  Pays des Gaves--Royalists in the West--Discontent of the old
  Republicans--Views of the different Members of the Alliance as to the
  Dynasties of Bourbon, and Napoleon--Proceedings of the Dukes of Berri
  and Angoulême, and Monsieur--Battle of Orthez--Bourdeaux surrendered
  to Marshal Beresford--Negotiations of Chatillon--Treaty of
  Chaumont--Napoleon's contre-projet--Congress at Chatillon broken up, 353


  No. I.--Reflections on the Conduct of Napoleon towards the
  Prince-Royal of Sweden,                                            373

  No. II.--Extract from Manuscript Observations on Napoleon's Russian
  Campaign, by an English Officer of Rank,                           378

[Illustration: FRANCE,



    _Conduct of Russia and England during the War with
    Austria--Meditated Expedition of British Troops to the
    Continent--Sent to Walcheren--Its Calamitous Details and
    Result--Proceedings of Napoleon with regard to the Pope--General
    Miollis enters Rome--Napoleon publishes a Decree, uniting the States
    of the Church to the French Empire--Is Excommunicated--Pius VII. is
    banished from Rome, and sent to Grenoble--afterwards brought back to
    Savona--Buonaparte is attacked by an Assassin--Definitive Treaty of
    Peace signed at Schoenbrun--Napoleon returns to France on the 14th
    November, 1809._

The particular conditions of the peace with Austria were not adjusted
until the 14th October, 1809, although the armistice was signed nearly
three months before. We avail ourselves of the interval to notice other
remarkable events, which happened during this eventful summer; and
first, we must briefly revert to the conduct of Russia and England
during the war.

Notwithstanding the personal friendship betwixt the Emperors Alexander
and Napoleon--notwithstanding their engagements entered into at Tilsit,
and so lately revived at Erfurt, it seems to have been impossible to
engage Russia heartily as an ally of Napoleon, in a war which had the
destruction or absolute humiliation of Austria. The Court of St.
Petersburgh had, it is true, lost no time in securing the advantages
which had been stipulated for Russia in the conferences alluded to.
Finland had been conquered, torn from Sweden, to which the province had
so long belonged, and united with Russia, to whom it furnished a most
important frontier and barrier.[1] Russia was also, with connivance of
France, making war on the Porte, in order to enlarge her dominions by
the addition of Moldavia and Wallachia. But though the Court of St.
Petersburgh had gained one of these advantages, and was in a way of
obtaining the other, the Russian Ministers saw with anxiety the
impending fate of Austria, the rather that they themselves were bound by
treaty to lend their aid for her destruction. We have seen that Russia
had interposed to prevent the war. She was now unwillingly compelled to
take part in it; yet when Prince Galatzin marched into Galicia at the
head of 30,000 Russians, the manifesto which he published could be
hardly termed that of a hostile nation. The Emperor, it stated, had done
all in his power to prevent things from coming to this extremity; but
now, the war having actually broken out, he was bound by the faith of
treaties to send the stipulated number of auxiliaries.[2] The motions of
this body of Russians were slow, and their conduct in the Austrian
dominions rather that of allies than enemies. Some of the Russian
officers of rank avowed their politics to be in direct opposition to
those of the Emperor, and declared that three-fourths of the generals
commanding territorial divisions in Russia were of their opinion. These
expressions, with the unusual slowness and lenity just alluded to, were
for the present passed over without remark, but were recorded and
remembered as matter of high offence, when Napoleon thought that the
time was come to exact from Russia a severe account for every thing in
which she had disappointed his expectations.

The exertions of England, at the same period, were of a nature and upon
a scale to surprise the world. It seemed as if her flag literally
overshadowed the whole seas on the coasts of Italy, Spain, the Ionian
Islands, the Baltic Sea. Wherever there was the least show of resistance
to the yoke of Buonaparte, the assistance of the English was appealed
to, and was readily afforded. In Spain, particularly, the British
troops, led by a general whose name began soon to be weighed against
those of the best French commanders, displayed their usual gallantry
under auspices which no longer permitted it to evaporate in actions of
mere eclat.

Yet the British administration, while they had thus embraced a broader
and more adventurous, but at the same time a far wiser system of
conducting the war, showed in one most important instance, that they, or
a part of them, were not entirely free from the ancient prejudices,
which had so long rendered vain the efforts of Britain in favour of the
liberties of the world. The general principle was indeed adopted, that
the expeditions of Britain should be directed where they could do the
cause of Europe the most benefit, and the interests of Napoleon the
greatest harm; but still there remained a lurking wish that they could
be so directed, as, at the same time, to acquire some peculiar and
separate advantage to England, and to secure the accomplishment of what
was called a British object. Some of the English ministers might thus
be said to resemble the ancient converts from Judaism, who, in embracing
the Christian faith, still held themselves bound by the ritual, and
fettered by the prejudices of the Jewish people, separated as they were
from the rest of mankind.

It is no wonder that the voice of what is in reality selfishness, is
listened to in national councils with more respect than it deserves,
since in that case it wears the mask and speaks the language of a
species of patriotism, against which it can only be urged, that it is
too exclusive in its zeal. Its effects, however, are not the less to be
regretted, as disabling strong minds, and misleading wise men; of which
the history of Britain affords but too many instances.


Besides the forces already in the Peninsula, Britain had the means of
disposing of, and the will to send to the continent, 40,000 men, with a
fleet of thirty-five ships of the line, and twenty frigates, to assist
on any point where their services could have been useful. Such an
armament on the coast of Spain might have brought to a speedy decision
the long and bloody contest in that country, saved much British blood,
which the protracted war wasted, and struck a blow, the effects of
which, as that of Trafalgar, Buonaparte might have felt on the banks of
the Danube. Such an armament, if sent to the north of Germany, ere the
destruction of Schill and the defeat of the Duke of Brunswick's
enterprise, might have been the means of placing all the northern
provinces in active opposition to France, by an effort for which the
state of the public mind was already prepared. A successful action would
even have given spirits to Prussia, and induced that depressed kingdom
to resume the struggle for her independence. In a word, Britain might
have had the honour of kindling the same flame, which, being excited by
Russia in 1813, was the means of destroying the French influence in
Germany, and breaking up the Confederation of the Rhine.

Unhappily, neither of these important objects seemed to the planners of
this enterprise to be connected in a manner sufficiently direct, with
objects exclusively interesting to Britain. It was therefore agreed,
that the expedition should be sent against the strong fortresses, swampy
isles, and dangerous coasts of the Netherlands, in order to seek for
dock-yards to be destroyed, and ships to be carried off. Antwerp was
particularly aimed at. But, although Napoleon attached great importance
to the immense naval yards and docks which he had formed in the Scheldt,
yet, weighed with the danger and difficulty of an attack upon them, the
object of destroying them seems to have been very inadequate. Admitting
that Buonaparte might succeed in building ships in the Scheldt, or
elsewhere, there was no possibility, in the existing state of the world,
that he could have been able to get sailors to man them; unless, at
least, modern seamen could have been bred on dry land, like the crews of
the Roman galleys during the war with Carthage. If even the ships could
have been manned, it would have been long ere Napoleon, with his utmost
exertions, could have brought out of the Scheldt such a fleet as would
not have been defeated by half their own numbers of British ships. The
dangers arising to Britain from the naval establishments in the Scheldt
were remote, nor was the advantage of destroying them, should such
destruction be found possible, commensurate with the expense and hazard
of the enterprise which was directed against them. Besides, before
Antwerp could be attacked, the islands of Beveland and Walcheren were to
be taken possession of, and a long amphibious course of hostilities was
to be maintained, to enable the expedition to reach the point where
alone great results were expected.

The commander-in-chief was the Earl of Chatham, who, inheriting the
family talents of his father, the great minister, was remarkable for a
spirit of inactivity and procrastination, the consequences of which had
been felt in all the public offices which he held, and which, therefore,
were likely to be peculiarly fatal in an expedition requiring the utmost
celerity and promptitude of action. It is remarkable, that though these
points in Lord Chatham's character were generally known, the public
voice at the time, in deference to the talents which distinguished his
house, did not censure the nomination.

[Sidenote: WALCHEREN.]

Upon the 30th of July, the English disembarked on the islands of South
Beveland and Walcheren; on the 1st of August they attacked Flushing, the
principal place in the neighbourhood, by land and sea. On the 15th of
August, the place surrendered, and its garrison, four or five thousand
men strong, were sent prisoners of war to England. But here the success
of the British ended. The French, who had at first been very much
alarmed, had time to recover from their consternation. Fouché, then at
the head of the police, and it may be said of the government, (for he
exercised for the time the power of minister of the interior,) showed
the utmost readiness in getting under arms about 40,000 national guards,
to replace the regular soldiers, of which the Low Countries had been
drained. In awakening the military ardour of the citizens of France, in
which he succeeded to an unusual degree, Fouché made use of these
expressions:--"Let Europe see, that if the genius of Napoleon gives
glory to France, still his presence is not necessary to enable her to
repel her enemies from her soil." This phrase expressed more
independence than was agreeable to Napoleon, and was set down as
intimating a self-sufficiency, which counterbalanced the services of the

Neither did Fouché's selection of a military chief to command the new
levies, prove more acceptable. Bernadotte, whom we have noticed as a
general of republican fame, had been, at the time of Buonaparte's
elevation, opposed to his interests, and attached to those of the
Directory. Any species of rivalry, or pretence of dispute between them,
was long since ended; yet still Bernadotte was scarce accounted an
attached friend of the Emperor, though he was in some sort connected
with the house of Napoleon, having married a sister-in-law of Joseph,
the intrusive King of Spain[4]. In the campaign of Vienna, which we have
detailed, Bernadotte, (created Prince of Ponte Corvo,) commanded a
division of Saxons, and had incurred Buonaparte's censure more than
once, and particularly at the battle of Wagram, for the slowness of his
movements. The Prince of Ponte Corvo came, therefore, to Paris in a sort
of disgrace, where Fouché, in conjunction with Clarke, the minister at
war, invited him to take on himself the defence of Antwerp. Bernadotte
hesitated to accept the charge; but having at length done so, he availed
himself of the time afforded by the English to put the place in a
complete state of defence, and assembled within, and under its walls,
above thirty thousand men. The country was inundated by opening the
sluices; strong batteries were erected on both sides of the Scheldt, and
the ascending that river became almost impossible.[5]

The British naval and military officers also disagreed among themselves,
as often happens where difficulties multiply, and there appears no
presiding spirit to combat and control them. The final objects of the
expedition were therefore abandoned; the navy returned to the English
ports, and the British forces were concentrated--for what reason, or
with what expectation, it is difficult to see--in that fatal conquest,
the isle of Walcheren. Among the marshes, stagnant canals, and
unwholesome trenches of this island, there broods continually, a fever
of a kind deeply pestilential and malignant, and which, like most
maladies of the same description, is more destructive to strangers than
to the natives, whose constitutions become by habit proof against its
ravages. This dreadful disease broke out among our troops with the force
of a pestilence, and besides the numerous victims who died on the spot,
shattered, in many cases for ever, the constitution of the survivors.
The joy with which Napoleon saw the army of his enemy thus consigned to
an obscure and disgraceful death, broke out even in his bulletins, as if
the pestilence under which they fell had been caused by his own policy,
and was not the consequence of the climate, and of the ill-advised delay
which prevented our soldiers being withdrawn from it. "We are
rejoiced," he said, in a letter to the minister at war, "to see that
the English have packed themselves in the morasses of Zealand. Let them
be only kept in check, and the bad air and fevers peculiar to the
country will soon destroy their army." At length, after the loss of more
lives than would have been wasted in three general battles, the
fortifications of Flushing were blown up, and the British forces
returned to their own country.[6]

The evil consequences of this expedition did not end even here. The mode
in which it had been directed and conducted, introduced dissensions into
the British Cabinet, which occasioned the temporary secession of one of
the most able and most eloquent of its members, Mr. George Canning, who
was thus withdrawn from public affairs when his talents could be least
spared by the country. On the other hand, the appointment of Marquis
Wellesley to the situation of secretary at war, gave, in the estimation
of the public, a strong pledge that the efficient measures suggested by
the talents of that noble statesman, would be supported and carried
through by his brother Sir Arthur, to whom alone, as a general, the army
and the people began to look with hope and confidence.

While England was thus exerting herself, Buonaparte, from the castle of
Schoenbrun, under the walls of Vienna, was deciding the fate of the
continent on every point where British influence had no means of
thwarting him. One of the revolutions which cost him little effort to
accomplish, yet which struck Europe with surprise, by the numerous
recollections which it excited, was his seizure of the city of Rome, and
the territories of the Church, and depriving the Pope of his character
of a temporal prince.


It must be allowed, by the greatest admirers of Napoleon, that his
policy, depending less upon principle than upon existing circumstances,
was too apt to be suddenly changed, as opportunity or emergency seemed
to give occasion. There could, for example, be scarce a measure of his
reign adopted on more deep and profound consideration than that of the
Concordat, by which he re-established the national religion of France,
and once more united that country to the Catholic Church. In reward for
this great service, Pope Pius VII., as we have seen, had the unusual
complaisance to cross the Alps, and visit Paris, for the sake of adding
religious solemnity, and the blessing of St. Peter's successor, to the
ceremony of Napoleon's coronation. It might have been thought that a
friendship thus cemented, and which, altogether essential to the safety
of the Pope, was far from indifferent to the interests of Buonaparte,
ought to have subsisted undisturbed, at least for some years. But the
Emperor and Pontiff stood in a suspicious attitude with respect to each
other. Pius VII. felt that he had made, in his character of chief of
the Church, very great concessions to Napoleon, and such as he could
hardly reconcile to the tenderness of his own conscience. He, therefore,
expected gratitude in proportion to the scruples which he had
surmounted, while Buonaparte was far from rating the services of his
Holiness so high, or sympathizing with his conscientious scruples.

Besides, the Pope, in surrendering the rights of the Church in so many
instances, must have felt that he was acting under motives of
constraint, and in the character of a prisoner; for he had sacrificed
more than had been yielded by any prelate who had held the see of Rome,
since the days of Constantine. He may therefore have considered himself,
not only as doubly bound to secure what remained of the authority of his
predecessors, but even at liberty, should opportunity offer, to reclaim
some part of that which he had unwillingly yielded up. Thus
circumstanced in respect to each other, Pius VII. felt that he had done
more in complaisance to Buonaparte than he could justify to his
conscience; while Napoleon, who considered the reunion of France to
Rome, in its spiritual relations, as entirely his own work, thought it
of such consequence as to deserve greater concessions than his Holiness
had yet granted.

The Pope, on his first return to Italy, showed favourable prepossessions
for Napoleon, whom he commemorated in his address to the College of
Cardinals, as that mighty Emperor of France, whose name extended to the
most remote regions of the earth; whom Heaven had used as the means of
reviving religion in France, when it was at the lowest ebb; and whose
courtesies towards his own person, and compliance with his requests,
merited his highest regard and requital. Yet Napoleon complained, that
subsequent to this period, Pius VII. began by degrees to receive counsel
from the enemies of France, and that he listened to advisers, who
encouraged him to hold the rights of the Church higher than the desire
to gratify the Emperor. Thus a suppressed and unavowed, but perpetual
struggle took place, and was carried on betwixt the Emperor and the
Pope; the former desirous to extend and consolidate his recent
authority, the latter to defend what remained of the ancient privileges
of the Church.

It is probable, however, that, had there been only spiritual matters in
discussion between them, Napoleon would have avoided an open rupture
with the Holy Father, to which he was conscious much scandal would
attach. But in the present situation of Italy, the temporal states of
the Pope furnished a strong temptation for his ambition. These extend,
as is well known, betwixt the kingdom of Naples, then governed by
Joachim Murat, and the northern Italian provinces, all of which, by the
late appropriation of Tuscany, were now amalgamated into one state, and
had become, under the name of the kingdom of Italy, a part of the
dominions of Buonaparte. Thus the patrimony of the Church was the only
portion of the Italian peninsula which was not either directly, or
indirectly, under the empire of France; and, as it divided the
Neapolitan dominions from those of Napoleon, it afforded facilities for
descents of British troops, either from Sicily or Sardinia, and, what
Buonaparte was not less anxious to prevent, great opportunities for the
importation of English commodities. The war with Austria in 1809, and
the large army which the Archduke John then led into Italy, and with
which, but for the defeat at Eckmühl, he might have accomplished great
changes, rendered the independence of the Roman States the subject of
still greater dislike and suspicion to Buonaparte.

His ambassador, therefore, had instructions to press on the Pope the
necessity of shutting his ports against British commerce, and adhering
to the continental system; together with the further decisive measure,
of acceding to the confederacy formed between the kingdom of Italy and
that of Naples, or, in other words, becoming a party to the war against
Austria and England. Pius VII. reluctantly submitted to shut his ports,
but he positively refused to become a party to the war. He was, he said,
the father of all Christian nations; he could not, consistently with
that character, become the enemy of any.[7]

Upon receiving this refusal, Buonaparte would no longer keep terms with
him; and, in order, as he said, to protect himself against the
inconveniences which he apprehended from the pertinacity of the Holy
Father, he caused the towns of Ancona and Civita Vecchia to be occupied
by French troops, which were necessarily admitted when there were no
means of resistance.

This act of aggression, to which the Pope might have seen it prudent to
submit without remonstrance, as to what he could not avoid, would
probably have sufficiently answered all the immediate purposes of
Buonaparte; nor would he, it may be supposed, have incurred the further
scandal of a direct and irreconcilable breach with Pius VII., but for
recollections, that Rome had been the seat of empire over the Christian
world, and that the universal sovereignty to which he aspired, would
hardly be thought to exist in the full extent of majesty which he
desired to attach to it, unless the ancient capital of the world made a
part of his dominions. Napoleon was himself an Italian,[8] and showed
his sense of his origin by the particular care which he always took of
that nation, where whatever benefits his administrations conferred on
the people, reached them both more profusely and more directly than in
any other part of his empire. That swelling spirit entertained the
proud, and, could it have been accomplished consistently with justice,
the noble idea, of uniting the beautiful peninsula of Italy into one
kingdom, of which Rome should once more be the capital. He also
nourished the hope of clearing out the Eternal City from the ruins in
which she was buried, of preserving her ancient monuments, and of
restoring what was possible of her ancient splendour.[9] Such ideas as
these, dearer to Napoleon, because involving a sort of fame which no
conquest elsewhere could be attended with, must have had charms for a
mind which constant success had palled to the ordinary enjoyment of
victory; and no doubt the recollection that the existence of the Pope as
a temporal prince was totally inconsistent with this fair dream of the
restoration of Rome and Italy, determined his resolution to put an end
to his power.

[Sidenote: ROME.]

On the 2d February, 1809, General Miollis, with a body of French troops,
took possession of Rome itself, disarmed and disbanded the Pope's guard
of gentlemen, and sent his other soldiers to the north of Italy,
promising them as a boon that they should be no longer under the command
of a priest. The French cardinals, or those born in countries occupied
by, or subjected to the French, were ordered to retire to the various
lands of their birth, in order to prevent the Holy Father from finding
support in the councils of the conclave. The proposal of his joining the
Italian League, offensive and defensive, was then again pressed on the
Pope as the only means of reconciliation. He was also urged to cede some
portion of the estates of the Church, as the price of securing the rest.
On both points, Pius VII. was resolute; he would neither enter into an
alliance which he conceived injurious to his conscience, nor consent to
spoil the See of any part of its territories. This excellent man knew,
that though the temporal strength of the Popedom appeared to be gone,
every thing depended on the courage to be manifested by the Pope

At length, on the 17th May, Napoleon published a decree,[10] in which,
assuming the character of successor of Charlemagne, he set forth, 1st,
That his august predecessor had granted Rome and certain other
territories in feoff to the bishops of that city, but without parting
with the sovereignty thereof. 2d, That the union of the religious and
civil authority had proved the source of constant discord, of which many
of the Pontiffs had availed themselves to extend their secular dominion,
under pretext of maintaining their religious authority. 3d, That the
temporal pretensions of the Pope were irreconcilable with the
tranquillity and well-being of the nations whom Napoleon governed; and
that all proposals which he had made on the subject had been rejected.
Therefore it was declared by the decree, that the estates of the Church
were reunited to the French empire. A few articles followed for the
preservation of the classical monuments, for assigning to the Pope a
free income of two millions of francs, and for declaring that the
property and palace belonging to the See were free of all burdens or
right of inspection. Lastly, The decree provided for the interior
government of Rome by a Consultum, or Committee of Administrators, to
whom was delegated the power of bringing the city under the Italian
constitution. A proclamation of the Consultum, issued upon the 10th
June, in consequence of the Imperial rescript, declared that the
temporal dominion of Rome had passed to Napoleon, but she would still
continue to be the residence of the visible Head of the Catholic Church.

It had doubtless been thought possible to persuade the Pope to acquiesce
in the annihilation of his secular power, as the Spanish Bourbons were
compelled to ratify the usurpation of the Spanish crown, their
inheritance. But Pius VII. had a mind of a firmer tenor. In the very
night when the proclamation of the new functionaries finally divested
him of his temporal principality, the Head of the Church assumed his
spiritual weapons, and in the name of God, from whom he claimed
authority, by missives drawn up by himself, and sealed with the seal of
the Fisherman, declared Napoleon, Emperor of the French, with his
adherents, favourers, and counsellors, to have incurred the solemn doom
of excommunication, which he proceeded to launch against them
accordingly.[11] To the honour of Pius VII. it must be added, that,
different from the bulls which his predecessors used to send forth on
similar occasions, the present sentence of excommunication was
pronounced exclusively as a spiritual punishment, and contained a clause
prohibiting all and any one from so construing its import, as to hold it
authority for any attack on the person either of Napoleon or any of his


The Emperor was highly incensed at the pertinacity and courage of the
Pontiff in adopting so bold a measure, and determined on punishing him.
In the night betwixt the 5th and 6th of July, the Quirinal palace, in
which his Holiness resided, was forcibly entered by soldiers, and
General Radet, presenting himself before the Holy Father, demanded that
he should instantly execute a renunciation of the temporal estates
belonging to the See of Rome. "I ought not--I will not--I cannot make
such a cession," said Pius VII. "I have sworn to God to preserve
inviolate the possessions of the Holy Church--I will not violate my
oath." The general then informed his Holiness he must prepare to quit
Rome. "This, then, is the gratitude of your Emperor," exclaimed the aged
Pontiff, "for my great condescension towards the Gallican Church, and
towards himself? Perhaps in that particular my conduct has been
blameworthy in the eyes of God, and he is now desirous to punish me. I
humbly stoop to his divine pleasure."

At three o'clock in the morning, the Pope was placed in a carriage,
which one cardinal alone was permitted to share with him, and thus
forcibly carried from his capital. As they arrived at the gate del
Popolo, the general observed it was yet time for his Holiness to
acquiesce in the transference of his secular estates. The Pontiff
returned a strong negative, and the carriage proceeded.[12]

At Florence, Pius was separated from Cardinal Pacca, the only person of
his court who had been hitherto permitted to attend him; and the
attendance of General Radet was replaced by that of an officer of
gendarmes. After a toilsome journey, partly performed in a litter, and
sometimes by torch-light, the aged Pontiff was embarked for Alexandria,
and transferred from thence to Mondovi, and then across the Alps to

But the strange sight of the Head of the Catholic Church travelling
under a guard of gendarmes, with the secrecy and the vigilance used in
transporting a state criminal, began to interest the people in the south
of France. Crowds assembled to beseech the Holy Father's benediction,
perhaps with more sincerity than when, as the guest of Buonaparte, he
was received there with all the splendour the Imperial orders could

At the end of ten days, Grenoble no longer seemed a fitting place for
his Holiness's residence, probably because he excited too much interest,
and he was again transported to the Italian side of the Alps, and
quartered at Savona. Here, it is said, he was treated with considerable
harshness, and for a time at least confined to his apartment. The
prefect of Savoy, M. de Chabrol, presented his Holiness with a letter
from Napoleon, upbraiding him in strong terms for his wilful obstinacy,
and threatening to convoke at Paris a Council of Bishops, with a view to
his deposition. "I will lay his threats," said Pius VII., with the
firmness which sustained him through his sufferings, "at the foot of the
crucifix, and I leave with God the care of avenging my cause, since it
has become his own."

The feelings of the Catholics were doubtless enhanced on this
extraordinary occasion, by their belief in the sacred, and, it may be
said, divine character, indissolubly united with the Head of the Church.
But the world, Papist and Protestant, were alike sensible to the
outrageous indecency with which an old man, a priest and a sovereign, so
lately the friend and guest of Buonaparte, was treated, for no other
reason that could be alleged, than to compel him to despoil himself of
the territories of the Church, which he had sworn to transmit inviolate
to his successors. Upon reflection, Napoleon seems to have become
ashamed of the transaction, which he endeavoured to shift from his own
shoulders, while in the same breath he apologized for it, as the act of
the politician, not the individual.[13]

Regarded politically, never was any measure devised to which the
interest of France and the Emperor was more diametrically opposed.
Napoleon nominally gained the city of Rome, which, without this step, it
was in his power to occupy at any time; but he lost the support, and
incurred the mortal hatred of the Catholic clergy, and of all whom they
could influence. He unravelled his own web, and destroyed, by this
unjust and rash usurpation, all the merit which he had obtained by the
re-establishment of the Gallican Church. Before this period he had said
of the French clergy, and certainly had some right to use the language,
"I have re-established them, I maintain them--they will surely continue
attached to me." But in innovating upon their religious creed, in
despoiling the Church, and maltreating its visible Head, he had cut the
sinews of the league which he had formed betwixt the Church and his own
government. It is easy to see the mistaken grounds on which he reckoned.
Himself an egotist, Napoleon supposed, that when he had ascertained and
secured to any man, or body of men, their own direct advantage in the
system which he desired should be adopted, the parties interested were
debarred from objecting to any innovations which he might afterwards
introduce into that system, providing their own interest was not
affected. The priests and sincere Catholics of France, on the other
hand, thought, and in conscience could not think otherwise, that the
Concordat engaged the Emperor to the preservation of the Catholic
Church, as, on the other hand, it engaged them to fealty towards
Napoleon. When, therefore, by his unprovoked aggression against the Head
of the Church, he had incurred the spiritual censure of excommunication,
they held, by consequence, that all their engagements to him were
dissolved by his own act.


The natural feelings of mankind acted also against the Emperor. The
Pope, residing at Rome in the possession of temporal power and worldly
splendour, was a far less interesting object to a devout imagination,
than an old man hurried a prisoner from his capital, transported from
place to place like a criminal, and at length detained in an obscure
Italian town, under the control of the French police, and their

The consequences of this false step were almost as injurious as those
which resulted from the unprincipled invasion of Spain. To place that
kingdom under his more immediate control, Napoleon converted a whole
nation of docile allies into irreconcilable enemies; and, for the vanity
of adding to the empire of France the ancient capital of the world, he
created a revolt in the opinion of the Catholics, which was in the
long-run of the utmost prejudice to his authority. The bulls of the
Pope, in spite of the attention of the police, and of the numerous
arrests and severe punishments inflicted on those who dispersed them,
obtained a general circulation; and, by affording a religious motive,
enhanced and extended the disaffection to Napoleon, which, unavowed and
obscure, began generally to arise against his person and government even
in France, from the repeated draughts upon the conscription, the
annihilation of commerce, and the other distressing consequences
arising out of the measures of a government, which seemed only to exist
in war.

While Buonaparte, at Schoenbrun, was thus disposing of Rome and its
territories, and weighing in his bosom the alternative of dismembering
Austria, or converting her into a friend, his life was exposed to one of
those chances, to which despotic princes are peculiarly liable. It had
often been predicted, that the dagger of some political or religious
enthusiast, who might be willing to deposit his own life in gage for the
success of his undertaking, was likely to put a period to Napoleon's
extended plans of ambition. Fortunately, men like Felton[15] or
Sandt[16] are rarely met with, for the powerful instinct of
self-preservation is, in the common case, possessed of influence even
over positive lunatics, as well as men of that melancholy and
atrabilious temperament, whose dark determination partakes of insanity.
Individuals, however, occur from time to time, who are willing to
sacrifice their own existence, to accomplish the death of a private or
public enemy.

The life of Buonaparte at Schoenbrun was retired and obscure. He
scarcely ever visited the city of Vienna;[17] and spent his time as if
in the Tuileries, amid his generals, and a part of his ministers, who
were obliged to attend him during his military expeditions. His most
frequent appearance in public was when reviewing his troops. On one of
these occasions [23d Sept.] while a body of the French guard was passing
in review, a young man, well dressed, and of the middle rank, rushed
suddenly forward, and attempted to plunge a long sharp knife, or
poniard, in Napoleon's bosom. Berthier threw himself betwixt his master
and the assassin, and Rapp made the latter prisoner. On his examination,
the youth evinced the coolness of a fanatic. He was a native of Erfurt,
son of a Lutheran clergyman, well educated, and of a decent condition in
life. He avowed his purpose to have killed Napoleon, as called to the
task by God, for the liberation of his country. No intrigue or
correspondence with any party appeared to have prompted his
unjustifiable purpose, nor did his behaviour or pulse testify any sign
of insanity or mental alienation. He told Buonaparte, that he had so
much respect for his talents, that if he could have obtained an audience
of him, he would have commenced the conference by an exhortation to him
to make peace; but if he could not succeed, he was determined to take
his life. "What evil have I done you?" asked Napoleon. "To me
personally, none; but you are the oppressor of my country, the oppressor
of the world, and to have put you to death would have been the most
glorious act a man of honour could do."

Stapps, for that was his name, was justly condemned to die; for no cause
can justify assassination.[18] His death was marked by the same
fanatical firmness which had accompanied his crime; and the adventure
remained a warning, though a fruitless one, to Buonaparte, that any man
who is indifferent to his own life, may endanger that of the most
absolute sovereign upon earth, even when at the head of his military

The negotiations for peace with Austria continued, notwithstanding the
feeble state of the latter power, to be unusually protracted. The
reason, at that time secret, became soon after publicly known.


Buonaparte's first intentions had been to dismember the empire, which he
had found so obstinate and irreconcilable in its enmity, and, separating
from the dominions of Austria either the kingdom of Hungary, or that of
Bohemia, or both, to reduce the House of Hapsburg to the rank of a
second-rate power in Europe. Napoleon himself affirmed, when in Saint
Helena, that he was encouraged by one of the royal family (the Archduke
Charles is indicated) to persist in his purpose, as the only means of
avoiding future wars with Austria; and that the same prince was willing
to have worn one of the crowns, thus to be torn from the brows of his
brother Francis.[20] We can only say, that the avowals of Napoleon when
in exile, like his bulletins when in power, seem so generally dictated
by that which he wished to be believed, rather than by a frank adherence
to truth, that we cannot hold his unsupported and inexplicit testimony
as sufficient to impose the least stain on the noble, devoted, and
patriotic character of the archduke, whose sword and talents had so
often served his brother's cause, and whose life exhibits no indication
of that meanness which would be implied in a wish to share the spoils of
his country, or accept at the hands of the conqueror a tributary
kingdom, reft from the dominions of his king and brother. Buonaparte
himself paid the courage and devotion of the Austrian prince a
flattering compliment, when, in sending to him a decoration of the
Legion of Honour, he chose that which was worn by the common soldier, as
better suited to the determination and frankness of his character, than
one of those richly ornamented, which were assigned to men of rank, who
had perhaps never known, or only seen at some distance, the toils and
dangers of battle.

The crisis, however, approached, which was to determine the fate of
Austria. Buonaparte's favourite minister, Champagny, Duke of Cadore, had
been for some time at Presburg, arranging with Metternich the extent of
cession of territory by which Austria was to pay for her unfortunate
assumption of hostilities. The definitive treaty of peace, when at
length published, was found to contain the following articles:--I.
Austria ceded, in favour of the Princes of the Confederation of the
Rhine, Saltsburg, Berchtolsgaden, and a part of Upper Austria. II. To
France directly, she ceded her only seaport of Trieste, the districts of
Carniola, Friuli, the circle of Villach, and some part of Croatia and
Dalmatia. These dominions tended to strengthen and enlarge the French
province of Illyria, and to exclude Austria from the Adriatic, and the
possibility of communication with Great Britain. A small lordship,
called Razons, lying within the territories of the Grison League, was
also relinquished. III. To the King of Saxony, in that character,
Austria ceded some small part of Bohemia, and in the capacity of Duke of
Warsaw, she gave up to him the city of Cracow, and the whole of Western
Galicia. IV. Russia had a share, though a moderate one, in the spoils of
Austria. She was to receive, in reward of her aid, though tardily and
unwillingly tendered, a portion of Eastern Galicia, containing a
population of four hundred thousand souls. But from this cession the
town of Brody, a commercial place of consequence, was specially
excepted; and it has been said that this exception made an unfavourable
impression on the Emperor Alexander, which was not overbalanced by the
satisfaction he received from the portion of spoil transferred to

In his correspondence with the Russian Court, Napoleon expressed himself
as having, from deference to Alexander's wishes, given Austria a more
favourable peace than she had any reason to expect.[22] Indeed, Europe
in general was surprised at the moderation of the terms; for though
Austria, by her cessions at different points, yielded up a surface of
45,000 square miles, and a population of between three and four
millions, yet the extremity in which she was placed seemed to render
this a cheap ransom, as she still retained 180,000 square miles, and
upwards, of territory, which, with a population of twenty-one millions,
rendered her, after France and Russia, even yet the most formidable
power on the continent. But her good angel had not slept. The House of
Rodolph of Hapsburg had arisen, from small beginnings, to its immense
power and magnitude, chiefly by matrimonial alliances,[23] and it was
determined that, by another intermarriage of that Imperial House, with
the most successful conqueror whom the world had ever seen, she should
escape with comparative ease from the greatest extremity in which she
had ever been placed. There is no doubt, also, that by secret articles
of treaty, Napoleon, according to his maxim of making the conquered
party sustain the expense of the war, exacted for that purpose heavy
contributions from the Austrian Government.

He left Schoenbrun on the 16th October, the day after the definitive
treaty of peace, which takes its name from that palace, had been signed
there; and it is remarkable that no military caution was relaxed in the
evacuation of the Austrian dominions by the French troops. They
retreated by echelon, so as to be always in a position of mutual
support, as if they had still been manœuvring in an enemy's country.

On the 14th November, Napoleon received at Paris the gratulations of the
Senate, who too fondly complimented him on having acquired, by his
triumphs, the palm of peace. That emblem, they said, should be placed
high above his other laurels, upon a monument which should be dedicated
by the gratitude of the French people. "To the Greatest of Heroes who
never achieved victory but for the happiness of the world."


[1] See Russian proclamation to the inhabitants of Finland, Feb. 18,
1808 Annual Register, vol. l., p. 301.

[2] Annual Register, vol. l., p. 759.

[3] Mémoires de Fouché, tom. i., p. 337.

[4] In 1798, Bernadotte married Eugénie Cléry, the daughter of a
considerable merchant at Marseilles, and sister to Julia, the wife of
Joseph Buonaparte.

[5] "It was not Bernadotte whom Cambêcérès and the Duke of Feltre
requested to undertake the defence of Antwerp; but it was I who received
several couriers on this subject, and who in fact took the command of
the combined army, sufficiently in time to prevent the English
surprising Antwerp, as they already had done Walcheren. It was I who
flooded the borders of the Scheldt, and erected batteries there.
Bernadotte arrived a fortnight afterwards; and, in pursuance of the
orders of Napoleon and Clarke, which were officially communicated to me,
I resigned the command to him."--LOUIS BUONAPARTE, p. 60.

[6] See Papers relating to the expedition to the Scheldt, Parliamentary
Debates, vol. xv., Appendix; and Annual Register, vol. l., pp. 543, 546,

[7] See Declaration of the Pope against the usurpations of Napoleon,
dated May 19, 1808; Annual Register, vol. l., p. 314.

[8] "Napoleon was of Italian origin, but he was born a Frenchman. It is
difficult to comprehend for what purpose are those continual repetitions
of his Italian origin. His partiality for Italy was natural enough,
since he had conquered it, and this beautiful peninsula was a trophy of
the national glory, of which Sir Walter Scott allows Napoleon to have
been very jealous. I nevertheless doubt whether he had the intention of
uniting Italy, and making Rome its capital. Many of my brother's actions
contradict the supposition. I was near him one day when he received the
report of some victories in Spain, and amongst others, of one in which
the Italian troops had greatly distinguished themselves. One of the
persons who were with him exclaimed, at this news--that the Italians
would show themselves worthy of obtaining their independence, and it was
to be desired that the whole of Italy should be united into one national
body. 'Heaven forbid it!' exclaimed Napoleon, with involuntary emotion,
'they would soon be masters of the Gauls.' Amongst all the calumnies
heaped against him, there are none more unjust than those which attack
his patriotism: he was essentially French, indeed, too exclusively so;
for all excess is bad."--LOUIS BUONAPARTE, p. 62.

[9] "With regard to the removal of the monuments of antiquity, and to
the works undertaken by my brother for their preservation, they were not
merely projected; they were not only begun, but even far advanced, and
many of them finished."--LOUIS BUONAPARTE, p. 63.

[10] Published, May 17, at Vienna, and proclaimed in all the public
squares, markets, &c., of that capital.

[11] Annual Register, vol. li., p. 513; Botta, tom. iv., p. 394.

[12] Botta, tom. iv., p. 395; Jomini, tom. iii., p. 242; Savary, tom.
ii., part ii., p. 140.

[13] See Las Cases, vol. ii., pp. 12 and 13. He avowed that he himself
would have refused, as a man and an officer, to mount guard on the Pope,
"whose transportation into France," he added, "was done without my
authority." Observing the surprise of Las Cases, he added, "that what he
said was very true, together with other things which he would learn by
and by. Besides," he proceeded, "you are to distinguish the deeds of a
sovereign, who acts collectively, as different from those of an
individual, who is restrained by no consideration that prevents him from
following his own sentiments. Policy often permits, nay orders, a prince
to do that which would be unpardonable in an individual." Of this denial
and this apology, we shall only say, that the first seems very
apocryphal, and the second would justify any crime which Machiavel or
Achitophel could invent or recommend. Murat is the person whom the
favourers of Napoleon are desirous to load with the violence committed
on the Pope. But if Murat had dared to take so much upon himself, would
it not have been as king of Naples? and by what warrant could he have
transferred the Pontiff from place to place in the north of Italy, and
even in France itself, the Emperor's dominions, and not his own?
Besides, if Napoleon was, as has been stated, surprised, shocked, and
incensed at the captivity of the Pope, why did he not instantly restore
him to his liberty, with suitable apologies, and indemnification? His
not doing so plainly shows, that if Murat and Radet had not express
orders for what they did, they at least knew well it would be agreeable
to the Emperor when done, and his acquiescence in their violence is a
sufficient proof that they argued justly.--S.

"The Emperor knew nothing of the event until it had occurred; and then
it was too late to disown it. He approved of what had been done,
established the Pope at Savona, and afterwards united Rome to the French
empire, thereby annulling the donation made of it by Charlemagne. This
annexation was regretted by all, because every one desired
peace."--SAVARY, tom. ii., part ii., p. 142.

[14] "In the eyes of Europe, Pius VII. was considered as an illustrious
and affecting victim of greedy ambition. A prisoner at Savona, he was
despoiled of all his external honours, and shut out from all
communication with the cardinals, as well as deprived of all means of
issuing bulls and assembling a council. What food for the _petite
église_, for the turbulence of some priests, and for the hatred of some
devotees! I immediately saw all these leavens would reproduce the secret
associations we had with so much difficulty suppressed. In fact,
Napoleon, by undoing all that he had hitherto done to calm and
conciliate the minds of the people, disposed them in the end to withdraw
themselves from his power, and even to ally themselves to his enemies,
as soon as they had the courage to show themselves in force."--FOUCHÉ,
tom. i., p. 335.

[15] The assassin of Villiers, Duke of Buckingham, in 1628.

[16] The political fanatic of Jena, who assassinated Kotzebue at
Manheim, in 1819.

[17] "In the midst of the Emperor's occupations at Vienna, he was not
unmindful of the memory of the Chevalier Bayard. The chapel of the
village of Martinière, in which that hero had been christened, was
repaired at great expense by his orders. He also directed that the heart
of the chevalier should be removed to the said chapel with due ceremony;
and an inscription, dictated by the Emperor himself, recording the
praises of the knight 'without fear and without reproach,' was placed on
the leaden box containing his heart."--SAVARY, tom. ii., part ii., p.

[18] Las Cases, tom. ii., p. 12; Savary, tom. ii., part ii., p. 151;
Rapp, p. 141.

[19] "The wretched young man was taken to Vienna, brought before a
council of war, and executed on the 27th. He had taken no sustenance
since the 24th, because, as he said, he had sufficient strength to walk
to the place of execution. His last words were--'Liberty forever!
Germany for ever! Death to the tyrant!' I delivered the report to
Napoleon, who desired me to keep the knife that had been found upon the
criminal. It is still in my possession."--RAPP, p. 147.

[20] Las Cases, tom. ii., p. 104.

[21] For a copy of the treaty, see Annual Register, vol. li., p. 791.

[22] Annual Register, vol. li., p. 790.

[23] The verses are well known,--

    "Bella gerant alii, tu, felix Austria, nube," &c.--S.


    _Change in Napoleon's Domestic Life--Causes which led to it--His
    anxiety for an Heir--A Son of his brother Louis is fixed upon, but
    dies in Childhood--Character and influence of Josephine--Strong
    mutual attachment betwixt her and Napoleon--Fouché opens to
    Josephine the Plan of a Divorce--her extreme Distress--On 5th
    December, Napoleon announces her Fate to Josephine--On 15th they are
    formally separated before the Imperial Council--Josephine retaining
    the rank of Empress for life--Espousals of Buonaparte and Maria
    Louisa of Austria take place at Vienna, 11th March, 1810._


There is perhaps no part of the varied life of the wonderful person of
whom we treat, more deeply interesting, than the change which took place
in his domestic establishment, shortly after the peace of Vienna. The
main causes of that change are strongly rooted in human nature, but
there were others which arose out of Napoleon's peculiar situation. The
desire of posterity--of being represented long after our own earthly
career is over, by those who derive their life and condition in society
from us, is deeply rooted in our species. In all ages and countries,
children are accounted a blessing, barrenness a misfortune at least, if
not a curse. This desire of maintaining a posthumous connexion with the
world, through the medium of our descendants, is increased, when there
is property or rank to be inherited; and, however vain the thought,
there are few to which men cling with such sincere fondness, as the
prospect of bequeathing to their children's children the fortunes they
have inherited from their fathers, or acquired by their own industry.
There is kindness as well as some vanity in the feeling; for the
attachment which we bear to the children whom we see and love, naturally
flows downward to their lineage, whom we may never see. The love of
distant posterity is in some degree the metaphysics of natural

It was impossible that the founder of so vast an empire as that of
Napoleon, could be insensible to a feeling which is so deeply grafted in
our nature, as to influence the most petty proprietor of a house and a
few acres--it is of a character to be felt in proportion to the extent
of the inheritance; and so viewed, there never existed in the world
before, and, it is devoutly to be hoped, will never be again permitted
by Providence to arise, a power so extensive, so formidable as
Napoleon's. Immense as it was, it had been, moreover, the work of his
own talents; and, therefore, he must have anticipated, with the greater
pain, that the system, perfected by so much labour and blood, should
fall to pieces on the death of him by whom it had been erected, or that
the reins of empire should be grasped after that event "by some unlineal

    "No son of his succeeding."

The drop of gall, which the poet describes so naturally as embittering
the cup of the Usurper of Scotland, infused, there is no doubt, its full
bitterness into that of Napoleon.

[Sidenote: JOSEPHINE.]

The sterility of the Empress Josephine was now rendered, by the course
of nature, an irremediable evil, over which she mourned in hopeless
distress; and conscious on what precarious circumstances the continuance
of their union seemed now to depend, she gave way occasionally to fits
of jealousy, less excited, according to Napoleon,[24] by personal
attachment, than by suspicion that her influence over her husband's mind
might be diminished, in case of his having offspring by some paramour.

She turned her thoughts to seek a remedy, and exerted her influence over
her husband, to induce him to declare some one his successor, according
to the unlimited powers vested in him by the Imperial constitution. In
the selection, she naturally endeavoured to direct his choice towards
his step-son, Eugene Beauharnois, her own son by her first marriage; but
this did not meet Buonaparte's approbation. A child, the son of his
brother Louis, by Hortense Beauharnois, appeared, during its brief
existence, more likely to become the destined heir of this immense
inheritance. Napoleon seemed attached to the boy; and when he
manifested any spark of childish spirit, rejoiced in the sound of the
drum, or showed pleasure in looking upon arms and the image of war, he
is said to have exclaimed--"_There_ is a child fit to succeed, perhaps
to surpass me."[25]

The fixing his choice on an heir so intimately connected with herself,
would have secured the influence of Josephine, as much as it could
receive assurance from any thing save bearing her husband issue herself;
but she was not long permitted to enjoy this prospect. The son of Louis
and Hortense died of a disorder incident to childhood; and thus was
broken, while yet a twig, the shoot, that, growing to maturity, might
have been reckoned on as the stay of an empire. Napoleon showed the
deepest grief, but Josephine sorrowed as one who had no hope.[26]

Yet, setting aside her having the misfortune to bear him no issue, the
claims of Josephine on her husband's affections were as numerous as
could be possessed by a wife. She had shared his more lowly fortunes,
and, by her management and address during his absence in Egypt, had
paved the way for the splendid success which he had attained on his
return. She had also done much to render his government popular, by
softening the sudden and fierce bursts of passion to which his
temperament induced him to give way. No one could understand, like
Josephine, the peculiarities of her husband's temper--no one dared, like
her, to encounter his displeasure, rather than not advise him for his
better interest--no one could possess such opportunities of watching the
fit season for intercession--and no one, it is allowed on all hands,
made a more prudent, or a more beneficent use of the opportunities she
enjoyed. The character of Buonaparte, vehement by temper, a soldier by
education, and invested by Fortune with the most despotic power,
required peculiarly the moderating influence of such a mind, which could
interfere without intrusion, and remonstrate without offence.

To maintain this influence over her husband, Josephine made not only
unreluctantly, but eagerly, the greatest personal sacrifices. In many of
the rapid journeys which he performed, she was his companion. No
obstacle of road or weather was permitted to interfere with her
departure. However sudden the call, the Empress was ever ready; however
untimely the hour, her carriage was in instant attendance. The influence
which she maintained by the sacrifice of her personal comforts, was used
for the advancement of her husband's best interests--the relief of those
who were in distress, and the averting the consequences of hasty
resolutions, formed in a moment of violence or irritation.

Besides her considerable talents, and her real beneficence of
disposition, Josephine was possessed of other ties over the mind of her
husband. The mutual passion which had subsisted between them for many
years, if its warmth had subsided, seems to have left behind
affectionate remembrances and mutual esteem. The grace and dignity with
which Josephine played her part in the Imperial pageant, was calculated
to gratify the pride of Napoleon, which might have been shocked at
seeing the character of Empress discharged with less ease and
adroitness; for her temper and manners enabled her, as one early
accustomed to the society of persons of political influence, to conduct
herself with singular dexterity in the intrigues of the splendid and
busy court, where she filled so important a character. Lastly, it is
certain that Buonaparte, who, like many of those that affect to despise
superstition, had a reserve of it in his own bosom, believed that his
fortunes were indissolubly connected with those of Josephine; and loving
her as she deserved to be beloved, he held his union with her the more
intimate, that there was attached to it, he thought, a spell affecting
his own destinies, which had ever seemed most predominant when they had
received the recent influence of Josephine's presence.

Notwithstanding all these mutual ties, it was evident to the politicians
of the Tuileries, that whatever attachment and veneration for the
Empress Napoleon might profess and feel, it was likely, in the long-run,
to give way to the eager desire of a lineal succession, to which he
might bequeath his splendid inheritance. As age advanced, every year
weakened, though in an imperceptible degree, the influence of the
Empress, and must have rendered more eager the desire of her husband to
form a new alliance, while he was yet at a period of life enabling him
to hope he might live to train to maturity the expected heir.


Fouché, the minister of police, the boldest political intriguer of his
time, discovered speedily to what point the Emperor must ultimately
arrive, and seems to have meditated the ensuring his own power and
continuance in favour, by taking the initiative in a measure in which,
perhaps, Napoleon might be ashamed to break the ice in person.[27]
Sounding artfully his master's disposition, Fouché was able to discover
that the Emperor was struggling betwixt the supposed political
advantages to be derived from a new matrimonial union on the one hand,
and, on the other, love for his present consort, habits of society which
particularly attached him to Josephine, and the species of superstition
which we have already noticed. Having been able to conjecture the state
of the Emperor's inclinations, the crafty counsellor determined to make
Josephine herself the medium of suggesting to Buonaparte the measure of
her own divorce, and his second marriage, as a sacrifice necessary to
consolidate the empire, and complete the happiness of the Emperor.

One evening at Fontainbleau, as the Empress was returning from mass,
Fouché detained her in the embrasure of a window in the gallery, while,
with an audacity almost incomprehensible, he explained, with all the
alleviating qualifications his ingenuity could suggest, the necessity of
a sacrifice, which he represented as equally sublime and inevitable. The
tears gathered in Josephine's eyes--her colour came and went--her lips
swelled--and the least which the counsellor had to fear, was his advice
having brought on a severe nervous affection. She commanded her
emotions, however, sufficiently to ask Fouché, with a faltering voice,
whether he had any commission to hold such language to her. He replied
in the negative, and said that he had only ventured on such an
insinuation from his having predicted with certainty what must
necessarily come to pass; and from his desire to turn her attention to
what so nearly concerned her glory and happiness.[28]

In consequence of this interview, an impassioned and interesting scene
is said to have taken place betwixt Buonaparte and his consort, in which
he naturally and truly disavowed the communication of Fouché, and
attempted, by every means in his power, to dispel her apprehensions. But
he refused to dismiss Fouché, when she demanded it as the punishment due
to that minister's audacity, in tampering with her feelings; and this
refusal alone might have convinced Josephine, that though ancient
habitual affection might for a time maintain its influence in the
nuptial chamber, it must at length give way before the suggestions of
political interest, which were sure to predominate in the cabinet. In
fact, when the idea had once been started, the chief objection was
removed, and Buonaparte, being spared the pain of directly communicating
the unkind and ungrateful proposal to Josephine, had now only to afford
her time to familiarise herself with the idea of a divorce, as that
which political combinations rendered inevitable.

The communication of Fouché was made before Napoleon undertook his
operations in Spain; and by the time of the meeting at Erfurt, the
divorce seems to have been a matter determined, since the subject of a
match betwixt Buonaparte and one of the archduchesses, the possibility
of which had been anticipated as far back as the treaty of Tilsit, was
resumed, seriously treated of, and if not received with cordiality by
the Imperial family of Russia, was equally far from being finally
rejected. The reigning Empress, and the Empress Mother, were, however,
opposed to it. The ostensible motive was, as we have elsewhere said, the
difference of religion; but these high-minded princesses rejected the
alliance chiefly on account of the personal character of the suitor. And
although it must have been managed with the greatest secrecy imaginable,
it seems probable that the idea of substituting an Archduchess of
Austria for her whose hand was refused him, was started in the course of
the treaty of Schoenbrun, and had its effects in providing lenient terms
for the weaker party. Napoleon himself says, that he renounced his
purpose of dismembering Austria when his marriage was fixed upon. But
the conditions of peace were signed on the 15th of October, and
therefore the motive which influenced Napoleon in granting them must
have had existence previous to that period.

Yet the contrary is boldly asserted. The idea of the match is said to
have been suggested by the Austrian government at a later period, upon
understanding that difficulties had occurred in Napoleon's negotiation
for a matrimonial alliance in the family of Alexander. Fouché ascribes
the whole to the address of his own agent, the Comte de Narbonne, a
Frenchman of the old school, witty, pliant, gay, well-mannered, and
insinuating, who was ambassador at Vienna in the month of January

But, whether the successor of Josephine were or were not already
determined upon, the measures for separating this amiable and
interesting woman from him whose fortunes she had assisted to raise, and
to whose person she was so much attached, were in full and public
operation soon after her husband's return from the campaign of Wagram.
Upon the 3d of December, Buonaparte attended the solemn service of Te
Deum for his victories. He was clad with unusual magnificence, wearing
the Spanish costume, and displaying in his hat an enormous plume of
feathers. The Kings of Saxony and Wirtemberg, who attended as his
satellites on this occasion, were placed beside him in full uniform, and
remained uncovered during the ceremony.

From the cathedral, Napoleon passed to the opening of the Legislative
Body, and boasted, in the oration he addressed to them, of the victories
which he had achieved, and the trophies which he had acquired; nay, he
vaunted of his having reunited Tuscany to the empire--as if the spoiling
the inoffensive and unresisting widow and orphan could ever be a
legitimate subject of triumph. From the existing affairs of Spain, no
direct reason for gratulation could be derived; but when Napoleon could
no longer claim praise from things as they presently stood, he was
profuse in his promises of a rapid change to the better, and spoke as a
prophet when he ceased to be the reporter of agreeable facts. "When I,"
he said, "show myself on the other side of the Pyrenees, the terrified
Leopard shall plunge into the ocean, to avoid shame, defeat, and
destruction. The triumph of my arms shall be that of the Genius of Good
over the Genius of Evil, of moderation, order, and morals, over civil
war, anarchy, and the malevolent passions." With such fair colouring
will ambition and injustice attempt to screen their purposes. A poetical
reply from M. de Fontanes assured the Emperor, that whatever was
connected with him must arise to grandeur, whatever was subjected to any
other influence was threatened with a speedy fall. "It was therefore
necessary," he continued, "to submit to your ascendency, whose counsels
are at once recommended by heroism and by policy." To this speech
Buonaparte made a rejoinder, in which, resuming the well-worn themes of
his own praises, he alluded to the obstacles which he had surmounted,
and concluded, "I and my family will always know how to sacrifice our
most tender affections to the interests and welfare of the Great
Nation." These concluding words, the meaning of which was already
guessed by all who belonged to the Court, were soon no riddle to the
public in general.

Two days afterwards, Napoleon made Josephine acquainted with the cruel
certainty, that the separation was ultimately determined upon. But not
the many months which had passed since the subject was first touched
upon by Fouché--not the conviction which she must have long since
received from various quarters, that the measure was unalterably
resolved upon, could strengthen her to hear the tongue of her beloved
husband announce what was in fact, though not in name, a sentence of
repudiation. She fell into a long and profound swoon. Napoleon was much
affected, but his resolution was taken, and could not be altered. The
preparations for the separation went on without delay.

On the 15th December, just ten days after the official communication of
her fate had been given to the Empress, Napoleon and Josephine appeared
in presence of the Arch-Chancellor, the family of Napoleon, the
principal officers of state--in a word, the full Imperial Council. In
this assembly, Napoleon stated the deep national interest which required
that he should have successors of his own body, the heirs of his love
for his people, to occupy the throne on which Providence had placed him.
He informed them, that he had for several years renounced the hope of
having children by his well-beloved Empress Josephine; and that
therefore he had resolved to subject the feelings of his heart to the
good of the state, and desire the dissolution of their marriage. He was,
he said, but forty years old, and might well hope to live to train up
such children as Providence might send him, in his own sentiments and
arts of government. Again he dwelt on the truth and tenderness of his
beloved spouse, his partner during fifteen years of happy union. Crowned
as she had been by his own hand, he desired she should retain the rank
of Empress during her life.

Josephine arose, and with a faltering voice, and eyes suffused with
tears, expressed in a few words[30] sentiments similar to those of her
husband. The Imperial pair then demanded from the Arch-Chancellor a
written instrument in evidence of their mutual desire of separation; and
it was granted accordingly, in all due form, with the authority of the

The Senate were next assembled; and on the 16th December, pronounced a
consultum, or decree, authorising the separation of the Emperor and
Empress, and assuring to Josephine a dowry of two millions of francs,
and the rank of Empress during her life. Addresses were voted to both
the Imperial parties, in which all possible changes were rung on the
duty of subjecting our dearest affections to the public good; and the
conduct of Buonaparte in exchanging his old consort for a young one, was
proclaimed a sacrifice, for which the eternal love of the French people
could alone console his heart.

The union of Napoleon and Josephine being thus abrogated by the supreme
civil power, it only remained to procure the intervention of the
spiritual authorities. The Arch-Chancellor, duly authorised by the
Imperial pair, presented a request for this purpose to the Diocesan of
the Officiality, or ecclesiastical court of Paris, who did not hesitate
to declare the marriage dissolved, assigning, however, no reason for
such their doom. They announced it, indeed, as conforming to the decrees
of councils, and the usages of the Gallican Church--a proposition which
would have cost the learned and reverend officials much trouble, if they
had been required to make it good either by argument or authority.

When this sentence had finally dissolved their union, the Emperor
retired to St. Cloud, where he lived in seclusion for some days.
Josephine, on her part, took up her residence in the beautiful villa of
Malmaison, near St. Germains. Here she principally dwelt for the
remaining years of her life, which were just prolonged to see the first
fall of her husband; an event which might have been averted had he been
content to listen more frequently to her lessons of moderation. Her life
was chiefly spent in cultivating the fine arts, of which she collected
some beautiful specimens, and in pursuing the science of botany; but
especially in the almost daily practice of acts of benevolence and
charity, of which the English _détenus_, of whom there were several at
St. Germains, frequently shared the benefit.[31] Napoleon visited her
very frequently, and always treated her with the respect to which she
was entitled. He added also to her dowry a third million of francs, that
she might feel no inconvenience from the habits of expense to which it
was her foible to be addicted.

[Sidenote: MARIA LOUISA.]

This important state measure was no sooner completed, than the Great
Council was summoned, on the 1st February, to assist the Emperor in the
selection of a new spouse. They were given to understand, that a match
with a Grand Duchess of Russia had been proposed, but was likely to be
embarrassed by disputes concerning religion. A daughter of the King of
Saxony was also mentioned, but it was easily indicated to the Council
that their choice ought to fall upon a Princess of the House of Austria.
At the conclusion of the meeting, Eugene, the son of the repudiated
Josephine, was commissioned by the Council to propose to the Austrian
ambassador a match between Napoleon and the Archduchess Maria
Louisa.[32] Prince Schwartzenberg had his instructions on the subject;
so that the match was proposed, discussed, and decided in the Council,
and afterwards adjusted between plenipotentiaries on either side, in the
space of twenty-four hours.[33] The espousals of Napoleon and Maria
Louisa were celebrated at Vienna, 11th March, 1810. The person of
Buonaparte was represented by his favourite Berthier, while the Archduke
Charles assisted at the ceremony, in the name of the Emperor Francis. A
few days afterwards, the youthful bride, accompanied by the Queen of
Naples, proceeded towards France.

With good taste, Napoleon dispensed with the ceremonies used in the
reception of Marie Antoinette, whose marriage with Louis XVI., though
never named or alluded to, was in other respects the model of the
present solemnity. Near Soissons, a single horseman, no way
distinguished by dress, rode past the carriage in which the young
Empress was seated, and had the boldness to return, as if to reconnoitre
more closely. The carriage stopped, the door was opened, and Napoleon,
breaking through all the tediousness of ceremony, introduced himself to
his bride, and came with her to Soissons.[34] The marriage ceremony was
performed at St. Cloud by Buonaparte's uncle, the Cardinal Fesch. The
most splendid rejoicings, illuminations, concerts, festivals, took place
upon this important occasion. But a great calamity occurred, which threw
a shade over these demonstrations of joy. Prince Schwartzenberg had
given a distinguished ball on the occasion, when unhappily the
dancing-room, which was temporary, and erected in the garden, caught
fire. No efforts could stop the progress of the flames, in which several
persons perished, and amongst them even the sister of Prince
Schwartzenberg. This tragic circumstance struck a damp on the public
mind, and was considered as a bad omen, especially when it was
remembered that the marriage of Louis XVI. with a former Princess of
Austria had been signalized by a similar disaster.[35]

As a domestic occurrence, nothing could more contribute to Buonaparte's
happiness than his union with Maria Louisa. He was wont to compare her
with Josephine, by giving the latter all the advantages of art and
grace; the former the charms of simple modesty and innocence. His former
Empress used every art to support or enhance her personal charms; but
with so much prudence and mystery, that the secret cares of her toilette
could never be traced--her successor trusted for the power of pleasing,
to youth and nature. Josephine mismanaged her revenue, and incurred debt
without scruple. Maria Louisa lived within her income, or if she desired
any indulgence beyond it, which was rarely the case, she asked it as a
favour of Napoleon. Josephine, accustomed to political intrigue, loved
to manage, to influence, and to guide her husband; Maria Louisa desired
only to please and to obey him. Both were excellent women, of great
sweetness of temper, and fondly attached to Napoleon.[36] In the
difference between these distinguished persons, we can easily
discriminate the leading features of the Parisian, and of the simple
German beauty; but it is certainly singular that the artificial
character should have belonged to the daughter of the West Indian
planter; that marked by nature and simplicity, to a princess of the
proudest court in Europe.

Buonaparte, whose domestic conduct was generally praiseworthy, behaved
with the utmost kindness to his princely bride. He observed, however,
the strictest etiquette, and required it from the Empress. If it
happened, for example, as was often the case, that he was prevented from
attending at the hour when dinner was placed on the table, he was
displeased if, in the interim of his absence, which was often prolonged,
she either took a book or had recourse to any female occupation--if, in
short, he did not find her in the attitude of waiting for the signal to
take her place at table. Perhaps a sense of his inferior birth made
Napoleon more tenacious of this species of form, as what he could not
afford to relinquish. On the other hand, Maria Louisa is said to have
expressed her surprise at her husband's dispensing with the use of arms
and attendance of guards, and at his moving about with the freedom of an
individual;[37] although this could be no great novelty to a member of
the Imperial Family of Austria, most of whom, and especially the Emperor
Francis, are in the habit of mixing familiarly with the people of
Vienna, at public places, and in the public walks.

As it influenced his political fate, Buonaparte has registered his
complaint, that the Austrian match was a precipice covered with flowers,
which he was rashly induced to approach by the hopes of domestic
happiness.[38] But if this proved so, it was the fault of Napoleon
himself; his subjects and his allies augured very differently of its
consequences, and to himself alone it was owing that these auguries were
disappointed. It was to have been expected, that a connexion formed with
the most ancient Imperial Family in Christendom, might have induced
Buonaparte to adopt some of those sentiments of moderation which regard
rather the stability than the increase of power. It constituted a point
at which he might pause. It might have been thought that, satiated with
success, and wearied with enterprise, he would have busied himself more
in consolidating the power which he desired to transmit to his expected
posterity, than in aiming at rendering his grandeur more invidious and
more precarious, by further schemes of ambition. Even the charms which
this union added to his domestic life, might, it was hoped, bring on a
taste for repose, which, could it have influenced that fiery imagination
and frame of iron, might have been of such essential advantage to

Napoleon knew what was expected, and endeavoured to vindicate himself
beforehand for the disappointment which he foresaw was about to ensue.
"The good citizens rejoice sincerely at my marriage, monsieur?" he said
to Decrés, his minister.--"Very much, Sire."--"I understand they think
the Lion will go to slumber, ha?"--"To speak the truth, Sire, they
entertain some hopes of that nature." Napoleon paused an instant, and
then replied, "They are mistaken; yet it is not the fault of the Lion;
slumber would be as agreeable to him as to others. But see you not that
while I have the air of being constantly the attacking party, I am, in
fact, acting only on the defensive?" This sophism, by which Napoleon
endeavoured to persuade all men, that his constant wars arose, not from
choice, but out of the necessity of his situation, will be best
discussed hereafter.

In the meantime, we may only notice, that the Emperor Alexander judged
most accurately of the consequences of the Austrian match, when he said,
on receiving the news, "Then the next task will be, to drive me back to
my forests;" so certain he was that Napoleon would make his intimate
alliance with the Emperor Francis, the means of an attack upon Russia;
and so acute was he in seeing the germs of future and more desperate
wars, in a union from which more shortsighted politicians were looking
for the blessings of peace.


[24] "'A son by Josephine would have completed my happiness. It would
have put an end to her jealousy, by which I was continually harassed.
She despaired of having a child, and she in consequence looked forward
with dread to the future.'"--NAPOLEON, _Las Cases_, tom. ii., p. 298.

[25] Fouché, tom. i., p. 324.

[26] "Never did I see Napoleon a prey to deeper and more concentrated
grief; never did I see Josephine in more agonizing affliction. They
appeared to find in it a mournful presentiment of a futurity without
happiness and without hope."--FOUCHÉ, tom. i., p. 324.

[27] "It would ill have become me to have kept within my own breast the
suggestions of my foresight. In a confidential memoir, which I read to
Napoleon himself, I represented to him the necessity of dissolving his
marriage; of immediately forming, as Emperor, a new alliance more
suitable and more happy; and of giving an heir to the throne on which
Providence had placed him. Without declaring any thing positive,
Napoleon let me perceive, that, in a political point of view, the
dissolution of his marriage was already determined in his
mind."--FOUCHÉ, tom. i., p. 326.

[28] Fouché, tom. i., p. 328.

[29] Mémoires de Fouché, tom. i., p. 348.

[30] "By the permission of our dear and august consort, I ought to
declare, that not perceiving any hope of having children, which may
fulfil the wants of his policy and the interests of France, I am pleased
to give him the greatest proof of attachment and devotion which has ever
been given on earth. I possess all from his bounty; it was his hand
which crowned me; and from the height of this throne I have received
nothing but proofs of affection and love from the French people. I think
I prove myself grateful in consenting to the dissolution of a marriage
which heretofore was an obstacle to the welfare of France, which
deprived it of the happiness of being one day governed by the descendant
of a great man, evidently raised up by Providence, to efface the evils
of a terrible revolution, and to re-establish the altar, the throne, and
social order. But the dissolution of my marriage will in no degree
change the sentiments of my heart; the Emperor will ever have in me his
best friend. I know how much this act, demanded by policy, and by
interest so great, has chilled his heart; but both of us exult in the
sacrifice which we make for the good of the country."--_Moniteur_, Dec.
17, 1809; _Annual Register_, vol. li., p. 808.

[31] "In quitting the court, Josephine drew the hearts of all its
votaries after her: she was endeared to all by a kindness of disposition
which was without a parallel. She never did the smallest injury to any
one in the days of her power: her very enemies found in her a
protectress: not a day of her life but what she asked a favour for some
person, oftentimes unknown to her, but whom she found to be deserving of
her protection. Regardless of self, her whole time was engaged in
attending to the wants of others."--SAVARY, tom. ii., part ii., p. 177.

[32] Maria Louisa, the eldest daughter of the Emperor of Austria and
Maria Theresa of Naples, was born the 12th December, 1791. Her stature
was sufficiently majestic, her complexion fresh and blooming, her eyes
blue and animated, her hair light, and her hand and foot so beautiful,
that they might have served as models for the sculptor.

[33] Fouché, tom. i., p. 350.

[34] "She had always been given to understand that Berthier, who had
married her by proxy at Vienna, in person and age exactly resembled the
Emperor: she, however, signified that she observed a very pleasing
difference between them."--LAS CASES, tom. i., p. 312.

[35] "The most unfortunate presages were drawn from it; Napoleon himself
was struck with it."--FOUCHÉ, tom. i., p. 355.

[36] Las Cases, tom. i., p. 310.

[37] Voice from St. Helena, vol. ii., p. 225.

[38] "Austria had become a portion of my family; and yet my marriage
ruined me. If I had not thought myself safe, and protected by this
alliance, I should have delayed the insurrection of Poland: I should
have waited until Spain was subdued and tranquil. I set foot on an
abyss, concealed by a bed of flowers!"--NAPOLEON, _Las Cases_, tom. ii.,
p. 105.


    _Almost all the foreign French Settlements fall into the hands of
    the British--French Squadron destroyed at the Isle of Aix, by Lord
    Cochrane--and at the Isle of Rosas, by Lord Collingwood--Return to
    the Proceedings in Spain--Soult takes Oporto--Attacked and Defeated
    by Sir Arthur Wellesley--Ferrol and Corunna retaken by the
    Patriots--Battle of Talavera, gained by Sir Arthur
    Wellesley--Created Lord Wellington--The French Armies take many
    towns and strong Places--Supreme Junta retreat to Cadiz--The
    Guerilla System--Growing disappointment of Buonaparte--His immense
    exertions--Battle of Busaco--Lord Wellington's famous Retreat on
    Torres Vedras._

Notwithstanding the credit which Napoleon had acquired, by dictating to
the House of Austria the triumphant treaty of Schoenbrun, and also by
allying himself with that ancient Imperial House, which had, on
different occasions, showed towards him the signs of persevering enmity,
this period of his history did not pass without his experiencing several
reverses of fortune. The few foreign settlements which hitherto remained
united to France, were now successively taken by the British. Cayenne,
Martinico, Senegal, and Saint Domingo, were conquered and occupied in
the West Indies; while Lord Collingwood, with troops furnished from
Sicily, occupied the islands of Cephalonia, Zante, Ithaca, and Cerigo.

A French squadron of men-of-war being blockaded in the roadstead of the
isle of Aix, the determined valour of Lord Cochrane was employed for
their destruction. Fire-ships were sent against the French vessels, and
though the execution was less complete than had been expected, owing to
some misunderstanding between Lord Cochrane and Admiral Gambier, who
commanded in chief, yet the greater part of the French ships were burnt,
or driven ashore and destroyed. Lord Collingwood also destroyed an
important French convoy, with the armed vessels who protected it, in
the isle of Rosas. Every thing announced that England retained the full
command of what has been termed her native element; while the
transactions in Spain showed, that, under a general who understood at
once how to gain victories, and profit by them when obtained, the land
forces of Britain were no less formidable than her navy. This subject
draws our attention to the affairs of the Peninsula, where it might be
truly said "the land was burning."

The evacuation of Corunna by the army of the late Sir John Moore, and
their return to England, which their disastrous condition rendered
indispensable, left Soult in seeming possession of Galicia, Ferrol and
Corunna having both surrendered to him. But the strength of the Spanish
cause did not lie in walls and ramparts, but in the indomitable courage
of the gallant patriots. The Galicians continued to distinguish
themselves by a war of posts, in which the invaders could claim small
advantages; and when Soult determined to enter Portugal, he was obliged
to leave Ney, with considerable forces, to secure his communication with


Soult's expedition began prosperously, though it was doomed to terminate
very differently. He defeated General Romana, and compelled him to
retreat to Senabria. The frontier town of Chaves was taken by Soult,
after some resistance, and he forced his way towards Oporto. But no
sooner had the main body of Soult's army left Chaves, than, in spite of
the efforts of the garrison, the place was relieved by an
insurrectionary army of Portuguese, under General Silviera. The invader,
neglecting these operations in his rear, continued to advance upon
Oporto, carried that fine city by storm, after a desultory defence of
three days, and suffered his troops to commit the greatest cruelties,
both on the soldiers and unarmed citizens.[39]

But when Marshal Soult had succeeded thus far, his situation became
embarrassing. The Galicians, recovering their full energy, had retaken
Vigo and other places; and Silviera, advancing from Chaves to the bridge
of Amarante, interposed betwixt the French general and Galicia, and
placed himself in communication with the Spaniards.

While Soult was thus cooped up in Oporto, the English Ministry,
undaunted by the failure of their late expedition, resolved to continue
the defence of the Portuguese, and to enter into still closer alliance
with the Supreme Junta of Spain. Consulting their own opinion and the
public voice, all consideration of rank and long service was laid aside,
in order to confer the command of the troops which were to be sent to
the continent, on Sir Arthur Wellesley, whose conduct in the battle of
Vimeiro, and the subsequent explanations which he afforded at the Court
of Inquiry, had taught all Britain to believe, that if Portugal could be
defended at all, it must be by the victor of that day. He was scarce
landed at Lisbon [April 22] ere he fully justified the good opinion of
his countrymen. He crossed the Douro at different points with a celerity
for which the French were unprepared, and, after a brilliant action
under the walls of Oporto, compelled Soult to evacuate that city, and
commence a retreat, so disastrous as to resemble that of Sir John Moore.
In this retrograde movement, the French left behind them cannon,
equipments, baggage--all that can strengthen an army, and enable it to
act as such; and, after all these sacrifices, their leader could hardly
make his escape into Galicia, with scarce three-fourths of his army
remaining, where he found great difficulty in remodelling his forces.
Ney, whom he had left as governor of that province, was hard pressed by
the patriots, who defeated the French in several battles, and eventually
retook the towns of Ferrol and Corunna.

Sir Arthur Wellesley was prevented from completing Soult's defeat by
pursuing him into Galicia, because, after the Spaniards had sustained
the severe defeat of Tudela, the French had penetrated into Andalusia in
great strength, where they were only opposed by an ill-equipped and
dispirited army of 40,000 men, under the rash and ill-starred General
Cuesta. It was evident, that Marshal Victor, who commanded in Andalusia,
had it in his power to have detached a considerable part of his force on
Lisbon, supposing that city had been uncovered, by Sir Arthur
Wellesley's carrying his forces in pursuit of Soult. This was to be
prevented, if possible. The English general formed the magnificent plan,
for which Napoleon's departure to the Austrian campaign afforded a
favourable opportunity, of marching into Andalusia, uniting the British
forces with those of Cuesta, and acting against the invaders with such
vigour, as might at once check their progress in the South, and endanger
their occupation of Madrid. Unhappily an ill-timed jealousy seems to
have taken possession of Cuesta, which manifested itself in every
possible shape, in which frowardness, and a petty obstinacy of spirit,
could be exhibited. To no one of the combined plans, submitted to him by
the English general, would he give assent or effectual concurrence; and
when a favourable opportunity arrived of attacking Victor, before he was
united with the forces which Joseph Buonaparte and Sebastiani were
bringing from Madrid to his support, Cuesta alleged he would not give
battle on a Sunday.[40]


The golden opportunity was thus lost; and when the allies were obliged
to receive battle instead of giving it, on the 28th July, 1809, it was
without the advantages which the former occasion held out. Yet the
famous battle of Talavera de la Reina, in which the French were
completely defeated, was, under these unfavourable circumstances,
achieved by Sir Arthur Wellesley. The event of this action, in which the
British forces had been able to defend themselves against double their
own number, with but little assistance from the Spanish army, became,
owing to the continued wilfulness of Cuesta, very different from what
such a victory ought to have produced. The French troops, assembling
from every point, left Sir Arthur no other mode of assuring the safety
of his army, than by a retreat on Portugal; and for want of means of
transport, which the Spanish general ought to have furnished, more than
fifteen hundred of the wounded were left to the mercy of the French.[41]
They were treated as became a courteous enemy, yet the incident afforded
a fine pretext to contest the victory, which the French had resigned by
flying from the field.

The assertions of the bulletins in the _Moniteur_ could not deceive men
on the true state of affairs. The Spanish Junta were sensible of the
services rendered by the English general, and, somewhat of the latest,
removed Cuesta from the command, to manifest their disapprobation of his
unaccountable conduct. At home, Sir Arthur Wellesley was promoted to the
peerage, by the title of Lord Wellington, who was destined to ascend,
with the universal applause of the nation, as high as our constitution
will permit. But Buonaparte paid the greatest compliment to the victor
of Talavera, by the splenetic resentment with which he was filled by the
news. He had received the tidings by his private intelligence, before
the officer arrived with the regular despatches. He was extremely ill
received by the Emperor; and, as if the messengers had been responsible
for the tidings they brought, a second officer, with a duplicate of the
same intelligence, was treated still more harshly, and for a time put
under arrest. This explosion of passion could not be occasioned by the
consequences of the action, for the experienced eye of Napoleon must
have discriminated the circumstances by which the effects of victory
were in a great measure lost to the allied armies; but he saw in the
battle of Talavera, an assurance given to both English and Spanish
soldiers, that, duly resisted, the French would fly from them. He
foresaw, also, that the British Government would be tempted to maintain
the contest on the continent, and that the Spaniards would be encouraged
to persevere in resistance. He foresaw, in short, that war of six
desperate and bloody campaigns, which did not terminate till the battle
of Tholouse, in 1814.

But it needed no anticipation to fill Napoleon's mind with anxiety on
the subject of Spain. It is true, fortune seemed every where to smile on
his arms. Zaragossa, once more besieged, maintained its former name, but
without the former brilliant result. After a defence as distinguished as
in the first siege, the brave garrison and citizens, deprived of means
of defence, and desperate of all hope of relief, had been compelled to
surrender some months before.[42]

Gerona, Tarragona, Tortosa, though still vigorously defended, were so
powerfully invested, that it seemed as if Catalonia, the most warlike of
the Spanish departments, was effectually subdued; and, accordingly,
these fortresses also were afterwards obliged to capitulate.

Andalusia, the richest province which sustained the patriot cause,
certainly was conquered, in consequence of a total defeat encountered by
the Spanish grand army, under Areizaga, at Ocana, November 1809, after
the English troops had retreated to the Portuguese frontier.[43] Joseph
Buonaparte, whose road was cleared by this last success, entered Cordoba
in triumph upon the 17th of January, 1810, and proud Seville itself upon
the 1st of February following. Yet the chief prize of victory had not
yet been gained. The Supreme Junta had effected their retreat to Cadiz,
which city, situated in an island, and cut off from the mainland, on one
side by a canal, and on the other three by the ocean, was capable of the
most strenuous defence.

Cadiz contained a garrison of 20,000 men, English, Spanish, and
Portuguese, under the command of General Graham, a distinguished
officer, whose merits, like those of Buonaparte, had been first
distinguished at the siege of Toulon. Marshal Soult, as first in command
in Spain, disposed himself to form the siege of this city, the capture
of which would have been almost the death-knell to the cause of the

But although these important successes read well in the _Moniteur_, yet
such was the indomitable character of the Spaniards, which Napoleon had
contrived fully to awaken, that misfortunes, which would have crushed
all hope in any other people, seemed to them only an incentive to
further and more desperate resistance. When they talked of the state of
their country, they expressed no dismay at their present adverse
circumstances. It had cost their ancestors, they said, two centuries to
rid themselves of the Moors; they had no doubt that in a shorter time
they should free themselves of the yoke of France; but they must reckon
on time and opportunity, as well as valour. The events of the war in
many respects gave credit to their hopes. The Spaniards, often found
weak where they thought themselves strongest, proved sometimes most
powerful, where, to all human appearance, they seemed weakest. While
they lost Andalusia, believed to be so defensible, the mountainous
province of Galicia, through which the French had so lately marched
triumphantly in pursuit of the British, taking in their progress the
important maritime towns of Corunna and Ferrol, was wrenched from the
conquerors by the exertions of Romana, assisted by the warlike natives
of the country, and at the head of an undisciplined and ill-equipped


In Catalonia, too, the French had hardly time to accomplish the conquest
of towns and fortresses to which we have alluded, when they found
themselves checked, baffled, and sometimes defeated, by the Catalans,
under Lacy, O'Donnell, and D'Eroles, who maintained the patriotic cause
at the head of those energetic marksmen, the Somatenes, or Miquelets.
Nay, while the French were extending their seeming conquests to the
Mediterranean Sea, and thundering at the gates of Cadiz, so little were
they in peaceful possession of Navarre, and the other provinces
adjoining to France, that not an officer with despatches could pass from
Burgos to Bayonne without a powerful escort, and bands of Spaniards even
showed themselves on the French frontier, and passed it for the purpose
of skirmishing and raising contributions. Such being the case on the
frontiers nearest to France, it may be well supposed, that the midland
provinces were not more subordinate. In fact, through the whole
Peninsula the French held no influence whatever that was not inspired by
the force of the bayonet and sabre; and where these could not operate,
the country was in universal insurrection.

The basis of this extensive and persevering resistance was laid in the
general system of Guerilla, or partisan warfare, to which the genius of
the Spanish people, and the character of their country, are peculiarly
fitted, and which offered a resistance to the invaders more formidable
by far than that of regular armies, because less tangible, and less
susceptible of being crushed in general actions. It was with the
defenders of Spain, as with the guardian of the enchanted castle in the
Italian romance. An armed warrior first encountered the champion who
attempted the adventure, and when he had fallen under the sword of the
assailant, the post which he had occupied appeared manned by a body of
pigmies, small in size, but so numerous and so enterprising as to annoy
the knight-errant far more than the gigantic force of his first
adversary. The qualities of a partisan, or irregular soldier, are
inherent in the national character of the Spaniard. Calm, temperate,
capable of much fatigue, and veiling under a cold demeanour an ardent
and fiery character, they are qualified to wait for opportunities of
advantage, and are not easily discouraged by difficulty or defeat. Good
marksmen in general, and handling the lance, sword, and dagger with
address, they are formidable in an ambush, and not less so in a close
mêlée, where men fight hand to hand, more as nature dictates than
according to the rules of war. The obstinacy of the Castilian character
also, had its advantages in this peculiar state of warfare. Neither
promises nor threats made any impression on them; and the severities
executed in fulfilment of menaces, only inflamed the spirit of hostility
by that of private revenge, to which the Spaniard is far more accessible
than either to the voice of caution or persuasion.

Neither were the officers less qualified for the task than the men. The
command of a guerilla was of a character not to be desired by any who
did not find himself equal to, and in some measure called upon to
accept, the dangerous pre-eminence. There were few Spanish officers
possessed of the scientific knowledge of war, and of course few adequate
to lead armies into the field; but the properties necessary for a
guerilla leader are imprinted in the human mind, and ready for exercise
whenever they are required. These leaders were, as it chanced: some of
them men of high birth and military education; some had been smugglers
or peasants, or had practised other professions; as was discovered from
their noms-de-guerre, as the Curate, the Doctor, the Shepherd, and so
forth.[44] Many of their names will be long associated with the
recollection of their gallant actions; and those of others, as of Mina
and the Empecinado,[45] will, at the same time, remind us of the gross
ingratitude with which their heroic efforts have been rewarded.

These daring men possessed the most perfect knowledge of the passes,
strengths, woods, mountains, and wildernesses, of the provinces in which
they warred; and the exact intelligence which they obtained from the
peasantry, made them intimately acquainted with the motions of the
enemy. Was too weak a French detachment moved, it ran the risk of being
cut off; was the garrison too feeble at the place which it left, the
fort was taken. The slightest as well as the most important objects, met
the attention of the guerillas; a courier could not move without a large
escort, nor could the intrusive King take the amusement of hunting,
however near to his capital, unless, like Earl Percy in the ballad,
attended by a guard of fifteen hundred men. The Juramentados, those
Spaniards that is, who had sworn allegiance to King Joseph, were of
course closely watched by the guerillas, and if they rendered themselves
inconveniently or obnoxiously active in the cause they had espoused,
were often kidnapped and punished as traitors; examples which rendered
submission to, or active co-operation with the French, at least as
imprudent as boldly opposing the invaders.

[Sidenote: THE GUERILLAS.]

The numbers of the guerillas varied at different times, as the chiefs
rose or declined in reputation, and as they possessed the means of
maintaining their followers. Some led small flying armies of two
thousand and upwards. Others, or the same chiefs under a reverse of
fortune, had only ten or twenty followers. The French often attempted to
surprise and destroy the parties by which they suffered most, and for
that purpose detached moveable columns from different points, to
assemble on the rendezvous of the guerilla. But, notwithstanding all
their activity and dexterity on such expeditions, they rarely succeeded
in catching their enemy at unawares; or if it so happened, the
individuals composing the band broke up, and dispersed by ways only
known to themselves; and when the French officers accounted them totally
annihilated, they were again assembled on another point, exercising a
partisan war on the rear, and upon the communications, of those who
lately expected to have them at their mercy. Thus invisible when they
were sought for, the guerillas seemed every where present when damage
could be done to the invaders. To chase them was to pursue the wind, and
to circumvent them was to detain water with a sieve.

Soult had recourse to severity to intimidate these desultory but most
annoying enemies, by publishing a proclamation [May 9] threatening to
treat the members of the guerillas, not as regular soldiers, but as
banditti taken in the fact, and thus execute such of them as chanced to
be made prisoners. The chiefs, in reply to this proclamation, published
a royal decree, as they termed it, declaring that each Spaniard was, by
the necessity of the times, a soldier, and that he was entitled to all
military privileges when taken with arms in his hands. They therefore
announced, that having ample means of retaliation in their power, they
would not scruple to make use of them, by executing three Frenchmen for
every one of their followers who should suffer in consequence of Soult's
unjust and inhuman proclamation.[46] These threats were fulfilled on
both sides. It is said, a horrid example of cruelty was given by a
French general, who in a manner crucified, by nailing to trees, eight
prisoners, whom he had taken from the guerillas of the Empecinado. The
daring Spaniard's passions were wound up too high to listen either to
pity or fear; he retaliated the cruelty by nailing the same number of
Frenchmen to the same trees, and leaving them to fill the forest of
Guadarama with their groans. But these excesses became rare on either
side; for the mutual interest of both parties soon led them to recur to
the ordinary rules of war.

We have given a slight sketch of the peculiar character of this singular
warfare, which constitutes a curious and interesting chapter in the
history of mankind, and serves to show how difficult it is to subject,
by the most formidable military means, a people who are determined not
to submit to the yoke. The probability of the case had not escaped the
acute eye of Buonaparte himself, who, though prescient of the
consequences, had not been able to resist the temptation of seizing upon
this splendid sovereignty, and who was still determined, as he is said
to have expressed himself, to reign at least over Spain, if he could not
reign over the Spanish people. But even this stern wish, adopted in
vengeance rather than in soberness of mind, could not, if gratified,
have removed the perplexity which was annexed to the affairs of the

Buonaparte, in the spirit of calculation which was one of his great
attributes, had reckoned that Spain, when in his hands, would retain the
same channels of wealth which she had possessed from her South American
provinces. Had he been able to carry into execution his whole plan--had
the old king really embarked for Peru or Mexico, it might have happened,
that Napoleon's influence over Charles, his Queen, and her favourite
Godoy, could have been used to realize these expectations. But, in
consequence of the rupture which had taken place, the Spanish colonies,
at first taking part with the patriots of the mother country, made large
remittances to Cadiz for the support of the war against the French; and
when afterwards, adopting another view of the subject, the opportunity
appeared to them favourable for effecting their own independence, the
golden tide which annually carried tribute to Old Spain was entirely
dried up.

This Buonaparte had not reckoned upon, and he had now to regret an
improvident avidity, similar to that of Esop's boy, who killed the bird
which laid eggs of gold. The disappointment was as great as unexpected.
Napoleon had, from his private treasure, and the means he possessed in
France, discharged the whole expense of the two large armies, by whom
the territory of Spain was first occupied; and it was natural for him to
suppose, that in this, as in so many other cases, the French troops
should, after this first expedition, be paid and maintained at the
expense of the provinces in which they were quartered. This was the
rather to be expected, when Andalusia, Grenada, Valencia, fertile and
rich provinces, were added to the districts overrun by the invading
army. But, so general was the disinclination to the French, so universal
the disappearance of specie, so unintermitting the disturbances excited
by the guerillas, that both King Joseph, his court, and the French army,
were obliged to have constant recourse to Napoleon for the means of
supporting themselves; and such large remittances were made for these
purposes, that in all the countries occupied by the French, the Spanish
coin gradually disappeared from the circulation, and was replaced by
that of France. The being obliged, therefore, to send supplies to the
kingdom from which he had expected to receive them, was a subject of
great mortification to Napoleon, which was not, however, the only one
connected with the government he had established there.


In accepting the crown of Spain at the hands of Napoleon, Joseph, who
was a man of sense and penetration, must have been sufficiently aware
that it was an emblem of borrowed and dependent sovereignty, gleaming
but with such reflected light as his brother's Imperial diadem might
shed upon it. He could not but know, that in making him King of Spain,
Napoleon retained over him all his rights as a subject of France, to
whose Emperor, in his regal as well as personal capacity, he still,
though a nominal monarch, was accounted to owe all vassalage. For this
he must have been fully prepared. But Joseph, who had a share of the
family pride, expected to possess with all others, save Buonaparte, the
external appearance at least of sovereignty, and was much dissatisfied
with the proceedings of the marshals and generals sent by his brother to
his assistance. Each of these, accustomed to command his own separate
corps d'armée, with no subordination save that to the Emperor only,
proceeded to act on his own authority, and his own responsibility,
levied contributions at pleasure, and regarded the authority of King
Joseph as that of a useless and ineffective civilian, who followed the
march along with the impediments and baggage of the camp, and to whom
little honour was reckoned due, and no obedience. In a word, so
complicated became the state of the war and of the government, so
embarrassing the rival pretensions set up by the several French
generals, against Joseph and against each other, that when Joseph came
to Paris to assist at the marriage of Napoleon and Maria Louisa, he made
an express demand, that all the French troops in Spain should be placed
under his own command, or rather that of his Major-General; and in case
this was declined, he proposed to abdicate the crown, or, what was
equivalent, that the French auxiliaries should be withdrawn from Spain.
Buonaparte had on a former occasion, named his brother generalissimo of
the troops within his pretended dominions; he now agreed that the French
generals serving in Spain should be subjected, without exception, to the
control of Marshal Jourdan, as Major-General of King Joseph. But as
these commanders were removed from Buonaparte's immediate eye, and were
obliged to render an account of their proceedings both to the intrusive
king and to Napoleon, it was not difficult for them to contrive to play
off the one against the other, and in fact to conduct themselves as if
independent of both.

These very embarrassing circumstances were increased by the presence of
the English army, which, having twice driven the French from Portugal,
showed no intention of returning to their ships, but lay on the
frontiers of the latter kingdom, ready to encourage and assist the
continued resistance of Spain. It was not the fault of the
commander-in-chief that their duties were, for the present, in a great
measure limited to those of an army of observation. If the troops which
assisted in the ill-advised Walcheren expedition had been united to
those under the command of Lord Wellington, they would, at a loss
infinitely less, and yet greatly more honourably incurred, have driven
the French beyond the Ebro, or, more probably, have compelled them to
evacuate Spain. But the British Cabinet, though adopting new and more
bold, as well as more just ideas of the force of the country, could not
be expected perhaps all at once, and amid the clamour of an Opposition
who saw nothing but reckless desperation in whatever measures were
calculated to resist France, to hazard so much of the national force
upon one single adventure, although bearing in their own eyes a
promising aspect. Statesmen, and even those of no mean character, are
apt to forget, that where a large supply of men and money is necessary
to ensure the object aimed at, it is miserable policy to attempt to
economize either; and that such ill-timed thrift must render the
difficulties attending the expedition either altogether insurmountable,
or greatly add to the loss which must be encountered to overcome them.

In the meantime, Buonaparte, with respect to the Peninsula, convulsed as
it was by civil war in every province--half-subdued and
half-emancipated--causing him an immense expense, as well as endless
contradiction and mortification--stood much in the condition, to use a
popular simile, of one, who, having hold of a wolf, feels it equally
difficult to overpower the furious animal, and dangerous to let him go.
His power over the general mind, however, rested a great deal on the
opinion commonly received, that he was destined to succeed in whatever
enterprise he undertook. He himself entertained some such ideas
concerning the force of his own destiny; and as it was no part either of
his temper or his policy to abandon what he had once undertaken, he
determined to make a gigantic effort to drive the Leopards and their
Sepoy general, as the French papers called the British and Lord
Wellington, out of Portugal; to possess himself of Lisbon; and to shut
that avenue against foreign forces again attempting to enter the

In obedience to the Emperor's commands, an army, to be termed that of
Portugal, was assembled, on a scale which the Peninsula had scarcely yet
seen. It was called by the French themselves 110,000 men, but certainly
rather exceeded than fell short of the number of 80,000. This large
force was put under the command of Massena, Prince of Essling, the
greatest name in the French army, after that of Napoleon, and so
favoured by fortune, that his master was wont to call him the Spoilt
Child of Victory.[47]

Lord Wellington's British troops did not exceed 25,000 in number, and
there were among them so many invalids, that his motions were
necessarily entirely limited to the defensive. He had, however, a
subsidiary force under his command, consisting of 30,000 Portuguese, in
whom other generals might have rested little confidence; but they were
receiving British pay and British allowances, were disciplined in the
British manner, and commanded by British officers; and Lord Wellington,
who had seen the unwarlike Hindu behave himself in similar
circumstances, like a companion not unworthy of the English soldier, had
little doubt of being able to awaken the dormant and suppressed, but
natural ardour of the natives of Portugal. This force had been, in a
great measure, trained under the auspices of Marshal Beresford, an
officer who has eternal claims on the gratitude of his country, for the
generous manner in which he devoted himself to a labour, which had at
first little that was flattering or promising; and for the very great
perfection to which, by dint of skill, good temper, and knowledge of
human nature, he was able to bring his task to completion at such an
important crisis.

It was, however, of the utmost importance to avoid trusting too much to
the Portuguese troops, which were so recently levied and trained, until
they had acquired something of the practice, as well as the theory, of
the military profession.

Thus, between the weak state of the British, and the imperfect
discipline of the Portuguese, Lord Wellington was reduced to temporary
inactivity, and had the mortification to see the frontier places of
Ciudad Rodrigo and Almeida taken almost in the presence of his army. The
fears of the British nation were as usual excited in an unreasonable
degree by these two sinister events; but they had both come within the
calculations of Lord Wellington, whose advance to the frontier was
without the intention of incurring any risk for the preservation of
those places, but merely, by inducing the garrisons to hold out, to
protract as long as possible a defence, the duration of which must be
equally advantageous to the allies, and wasteful to the French.

[Sidenote: TORRES VEDRAS.]

The position on which he meant to maintain the defence of Portugal, had
been long since fixed upon, and the fortifications had been as long in
progress. It was that of Torres Vedras, where, as appears from his own
evidence before the Cintra Court of Inquiry, he had expected Junot to
make a defence, after the battle of Vimeiro. All Lord Wellington's
previous movements were adjusted carefully, for the purpose of drawing
the enemy from his supplies and communications to that point, beyond
which he proposed the invader should pass no farther.

Admirably as Lord Wellington's premises were connected with the
conclusion he aimed at, chance, or rather the presumption of the French
general, favoured him with an unexpected opportunity of adding glory to
a retreat, which was dictated by prudence. Massena, if he did justice to
British courage, thought himself entitled to set the military skill of
their general at utter defiance. He saw, indeed, their retrograde
movements, from the banks of the Coa towards Lisbon, conducted with all
the deliberate and guarded caution of a game at chess; but still these
movements were retrograde, nor could he resist the temptation, by a bold
and sudden attack, to attempt to precipitate the retreat of the British,
and drive them, if not into the sea, at least into their ships, to which
he doubted not they were ultimately bound.

This led to the battle of Busaco, which was fought on the 27th of
September 1810. Upon that memorable day the British army was assembled
on the Sierra, or ridge of the hills called Busaco. Massena, by turning
the extremity of the ridge, might have compelled the English general to
recommence his retreat; but he meditated a direct attack on the
position. It was made by five strong divisions of the French. Two
attacked on the right, one of which, forcing its way to the top of the
ridge, was bayoneted and driven headlong down; the other, suffering
great loss from the fire, gave way before reaching the top. Three
divisions attacked on the left, with nearly the same fate. Defeated upon
such unfavourable ground, the enemy lost, it was computed, at least 2000
men slain, besides very many wounded. The moral effect of the battle of
Busaco was immense. It assured both the English themselves, and the
people of Portugal, that the retreat of Lord Wellington's army was not
the effect of fear, but of a deliberate choice. It evinced, also, what
degree of trust might be securely reposed in the Portuguese levies.
"They had shown themselves worthy of contending," said Lord Wellington,
in his official despatch, "in the same ranks with British troops;" and
they felt their own confidence rise as their merits became

The French army, declining any farther attack on the Sierra, proceeded
to turn its extremity, and move upon Lisbon by the way of Coimbra. Here
Massena established a strong rear-guard with his hospitals and wounded,
but the inspiration occasioned by the victory of Busaco had not yet
subsided among the Portuguese. Colonel Trant, a British officer, who
commanded a body of Portuguese militia, rushed gallantly into Coimbra,
and carried the place by a sudden attack. About 5000 men, many of course
wounded, with all the French hospital stores, fell into the hands of the
Portuguese; and Massena who could not recover the place, suffered all
the loss of stores and provisions which that city afforded as a depôt,
and which the fertile district in the neighbourhood might have enabled
him to collect.

Great was the surprise of both armies when the retreat of the British,
and advance of the French, suddenly terminated. The former entered a
regular position, which, by the utmost exertion of skill and labour, had
been rendered almost impregnable, being most formidably protected by
field-works and heavy guns. They found that the Tagus and port of Lisbon
afforded them assurance of subsistence, even in plenty, and that their
inferiority in numbers was completely made-up to them by the strength of
their position.

The French, on the contrary, who had fondly expected to enter Lisbon as
conquerors, found themselves in a country wasted by the hands of its
cultivators; without hospitals or magazines in their rear; in front a
foe, of whom they had lately felt the strength; and around, a hostile
population, for the greater part in arms. If, in such a situation,
Massena could be said to besiege Lisbon, he was, nevertheless, in the
utmost danger of suffering those extremities of famine which usually
fall to the lot of the beleaguered party. He seemed, by some strange
transmutation, to have changed lots with the natives of Lisbon, and to
suffer all the evils which he expected to inflict.

The war now paused on both sides. Lord Wellington had reached the point
of his defence. Massena seemed at a loss where to commence his attack.
The deer was turned to bay, but the dog sprung not. The eyes of all
Europe were rested upon the Tagus, on whose banks were to be decided the
pretensions to superiority asserted by two great generals in the name of
two mighty nations. But that event was suspended for several months,
during which it is fitting that we should resume the narrative of other


[39] "It was in vain that Soult strove with all his power to stop the
slaughter. The frightful scene of rape, pillage, and murder, closed not
for many hours, and what with those who fell in battle, those who were
drowned, and those sacrificed to revenge, it is said that 10,000
Portuguese died on that unhappy day! The loss of the French did not
exceed 500 men."--NAPIER, vol. ii., p. 207. See also SOUTHEY, vol. iii.,
p. 249.

[40] Southey, vol. iv., p. 10. The reader is requested to compare this
account with that given by Lord Burghersh, in his "Memoir on the Early
Campaigns of Wellington," p. 77--where the details are somewhat
differently represented--ED. (1842.)

[41] "Victor sent soldiers to every house, with orders to the
inhabitants immediately to receive and accommodate the wounded of the
two nations, who were lodged together, one English and one Frenchman;
and he expressly directed that the Englishman should always be served
first."--SOUTHEY, vol. iv., p. 49.

[42] Southey, vol. iii., p. 168.

[43] Southey, vol. iv., p. 159.

[44] Napier, vol. ii., p. 349; Southey, vol. iii., p. 511.

[45] "Various explanations have been offered of this name. One account
says, that upon finding his family murdered by the French, Juan Martin
Diaz smeared his face with pitch and made a solemn vow of vengeance.
Another, that he was so called because of his swarthy complexion. But in
the account of his life it is said, that all the inhabitants of
Castrillo de Duero, where he was born, have this nickname
indiscriminately given them by their neighbours, in consequence of a
black mud, called _pecina_, deposited by a little stream which runs
through the place; and the appellation became peculiar to him from his
celebrity."--SOUTHEY, vol. iii., p. 511.

[46] Southey, vol. iv., p. 405.

[47] Southey, vol. iv., p. 415.

[48] Southey, vol. iv., p. 482.


    _Change in Napoleon's Principles of Government--Becomes suspicious
    of Talleyrand and Fouché--Fouché endeavours, without the knowledge
    of Napoleon, to ascertain the Views of England with respect to
    Peace--His Plan is defeated by a singular collision with a similar
    one of Napoleon--and Fouché is sent away as Governor-General of
    Rome--His Moral and Political Character--Murmurings of the People
    against the Austrian Alliance--Continental System--Ignorance of
    Napoleon of the Actual Political Feelings of Great Britain--The
    License System--Louis Buonaparte--Endeavours in vain to defend
    Holland from the Effects of the Continental System--He abdicates the
    Throne, and retires to Gratz in Styria--Holland is annexed to the
    French Empire._


Since Buonaparte obtained, in 1804, the absolute rule of the French
Republic, a change had been gradually taking place in his principles of
government, and in the character of the statesmen whom he employed as
his ministers and advisers. For the first two years, and more, he had
governed on the principle of a limited monarch, who avails himself of
the best talents he can find among his subjects, and shows a deference
to those who are distinguished, either for the political part which they
have performed, or the share they possess in the good opinion of the
public. Among his advisers at this period, we find many of the leading
men of the Revolution; persons who, though they had been induced, from
various motives, to see the rise of Napoleon with equanimity, and even
to aid him, then their equal, in his attempt to climb to supreme power,
yet still remembered in what relation he and they had originally stood
to each other. In counselling an Emperor, these statesmen did it with
the more freedom, that they remembered a period when they were on a
level with him, nay, perhaps, when they stood a good deal higher.

This period of his reign, during which Napoleon suffered the wild and
powerful flights of his own ambition to be, in some degree, restrained
and directed by the judgment of others, formed the most laudable and
useful certainly, if not the most brilliant part of his career. But,
gradually as his power became augmented and consolidated, the Emperor
began to prefer that class of complaisant ministers, who would rather
reflect his own opinions, prefaced with additional recommendations and
arguments, than less courteously attempt to criticise and refute them.

The history of Napoleon justifies, or at least excuses him, for falling
into this natural error. He felt, and justly, that he was the sole
projector of his gigantic plans, and also, in a great measure, the agent
who carried them through; and he was led to believe, that, because he
did so much, he might as well do the whole. The schemes which he had
himself originally formed, were executed by his own military genius; and
thus it seemed as if the advice of counsellors, so indispensable to
other princes, might be unnecessary to a sovereign who had shown himself
all-sufficient alike in the cabinet and in the field. Yet this, though a
plausible, was a delusive argument, even though it appeared to be borne
out by the actual fact. It may be true, that in Buonaparte's councils,
few measures of consequence were suggested by his ministers, and that he
himself generally took the lead in affairs of importance. But still it
was of great consequence that such plans, having been proposed, should
be critically weighed, and canvassed by men of too much experience to be
deceived by appearances, and too much courage to be prevented from
speaking their mind. The advice of such men as Talleyrand and Fouché,
operated as a restraint upon schemes hastily adopted, or opinionatively
maintained; and their influence, though unseen and unheard, save in the
Imperial cabinet, might yet be compared to the keel of a vessel, which,
though invisible, serves to steady her among the waves, and regulate the
force by which she is propelled by her swelling canvass; or to the
pendulum of a time-piece, which checks and controls the mainspring of
the machinery. Yet, though Buonaparte must have been sensible of these
advantages, he was still more accessible to the feelings of jealousy,
which made him suspect that these statesmen were disposed rather to
establish separate interests for themselves in the government and
nation, than to hold themselves completely dependent on the Imperial


The character of both Talleyrand and Fouché, indeed, authorised some
such suspicion. They had been distinguished in the French Revolution
before Napoleon's name had been heard of, were intimately acquainted
with all the springs which had moved it, and retained, as Buonaparte
might suspect, the inclination, and even the power, to interfere at some
possible state-crisis more effectually than accorded with his views of
policy. He had gorged them indeed with wealth; but, if he consulted his
own bosom, he might learn that wealth is but an indifferent compensation
for the loss of political power. In a word, he suspected that the great
services which Talleyrand rendered him with regard to foreign relations,
and Fouché as minister of police, were calculated to raise them into
necessary and indispensable agents, who might thus become, to a certain
degree, independent of his Authority. He doubted, moreover, that they
still kept up relations with a political society called Philadelphes,
consisting of old republicans and others, of different political creeds,
but who were united in their views of obtaining some degree of freedom,
either by availing themselves of such slender means of restraint as the
constitution, so carefully purged of every means of opposing the
Imperial will, might yet afford, or by waiting for some disaster
befalling Napoleon which might render their voice potential.[49]

The suspicions with which Buonaparte regarded his ministers did not rest
on vague conjecture. While he was in Spain, he received information,
appearing to indicate that a party was forming itself in the Legislative
Assembly, the bond connecting which was opposition to the Imperial will.
That body voted, it must be remembered, by ballot; and great was the
surprise and alarm of the assembly, when black balls, disapproving a
measure suggested to their consideration by government, were counted to
the number of an hundred and twenty-five, being a full third of the
members present.[50]

An official note, dated from Valladolid, 4th December, instantly
recalled the presumptuous dissentients to a sense that the power of
rejecting the laws laid before them in the Emperor's name, which they
had attempted thus boldly to exercise, was only intrusted to them for
show, but was meant to contain no really effectual power of control. The
words of Napoleon, the friend, as has been pretended, of liberal
institutions, are well worthy of remark. "Our evils," he said, "have
arisen in part from an exaggeration of ideas, which has tempted the
Legislative Body to consider itself as representing the nation; an idea
which is chimerical and even criminal, since implying a claim of
representation which is vested in the Emperor alone. The Legislative
Body ought to be called the Legislative Council--it does not possess the
right of making laws, since it has not the right of propounding them. In
the constitutional hierarchy, the Emperor, and the ministers his
organs, are the first representatives of the nation. If any other
pretensions, pretending to be constitutional, should pervert the
principles of our monarchical constitution, every thing is undone."[51]

This is all very intelligible, and shows that in principle, if not in
practice, the monarchical constitution of France rested upon the same
basis of despotism which supports the monarchical constitution of
Constantinople, where the Ulemats, or men of law, have an ostensible
title to resist the Grand Signior's edicts, and are only exposed to the
penalty of being pounded to death in a mortar, should they presume to
exercise it. Yet, a member of the French Legislative Body might have
been pardoned for being inquisitive on two subjects. 1st, He might wish
to know, if that body, chosen by the people, though indeed not directly,
did not represent their electors, whom was it that they did represent?
2dly, What was their real authority in the state, since they were not to
enjoy the power of rejecting the overtures which the constitution
contended should be laid before them, before they were passed into laws?

[Sidenote: FOUCHÉ.]

Buonaparte entertained strong suspicion that this recalcitrating humour,
so suddenly testified by so complaisant an assembly, must have had the
countenance of Talleyrand and of Fouché. So soon as he returned to
Paris, therefore, he sounded the latter minister on the revolt in the
Legislative Body, and desired his opinion on the sort of measures by
which he had repressed it. Fouché had been too long a spy upon the
private thoughts of others, to be capable of the weakness of betraying
his own. He expatiated, in a tone of panegyric, on the decisive tone of
the official note, affirmed that this was the only way to govern a
kingdom, and added, that if any constitutional body arrogated the right
of national representation, the sovereign had no choice but instantly to
dissolve it. "If Louis XVI. had acted thus," said the minister, "he
might have been alive, and King of France at this day." Astonished at
the zeal and promptitude of this reply, Buonaparte looked for an instant
with wonder at his minister, who thus avouched sentiments so different
from those which had governed the earlier part of his political life.
"And yet, Duke of Otranto," said the Emperor to the ex-jacobin,
"methinks you were yourself one of those whose voices sent Louis XVI. to
the scaffold?"--"I was," answered the supple statesman, without
confusion or hesitation; "and it was the first service which I had the
honour to render to your Majesty."[52]--This courtly answer saved the
minister for the moment; but Napoleon did not the less continue to see
in Fouché an object of suspicion and apprehension, whose power, owing to
his having been so long at the head of the police, was immense; whose
duplicity was unfathomable, and who evinced many indications of desiring
to secure some separate individual authority, either by being too
necessary to be dismissed, or too formidable to be offended.

Fouché himself has, indeed, admitted, that he endeavoured to regulate
the duties of his office, so as to secure as much power to himself as
possible, and was anxious, out of a desire of popularity, as well as
from respect for the virtue which he did not himself possess, to execute
those duties with the least possible harm to individuals. His mode of
transacting business with the Emperor was thus characteristically
described by himself. A person of rank, one of the _détenus_, desirous
of escaping from the durance in which he was confined, had been
fortunate enough to engage the interest of Fouché in his behalf. He had
received more than one intimation from this statesman, that his passport
would certainly be granted, but still it never received the Imperial
signature; and Fouché, who began to fear that his own sincerity might be
called in question, commenced one morning, in the presence of our
informer, and of one of the distinguished generals of the empire, the
following oblique explanation of the cause of his failure. "You no doubt
think yourself a brave man?" said he, addressing the general.--"Bah!"
replied the other, entering in to the same vein of raillery--"Brave?
brave as an hundred lions."--"But I," continued the statesman, "am much
braver than you. Look you, I desire some favour, the liberation of a
friend, or the like; I watch the happy moment of access, select the
moment of persuasion, am insinuating--eloquent--at length, by argument
or importunity, I am successful. Next day, the paper which should ratify
the boon which I had requested, is rejected when offered, torn perhaps,
or flung beneath a heap of petitions and supplications. Now, herein is
displayed my courage, which consists in daring again and again to
recommence the unacceptable suit, and, what is perhaps the last verge of
audacity, to claim it as a promise, which, being once pledged, can only
be redeemed by specific performance." In this confession we read the
account of a minister, still possessing influence, but declining in
favour, and already become the object of his sovereign's jealousy; to
whose personal request a favour cannot be decently refused, although a
promise, reluctantly conceded to importunity, is willingly forgotten, or
at length tardily and disobligingly granted.

Standing on these terms with a master at once watchful and jealous, we
cannot be surprised at the audacity of Fouché, who feared not to affect
a sort of independence, by anticipating the desires of Napoleon in the
public service, and even in the Imperial family. A striking instance of
the last occurred in his intrigue with Josephine on the subject of the
divorce;[53] and perhaps it was his escape out of that former
involvement,[54] without loss of power or credit, which urged him to a
second interference of a more public and national character, by which he
endeavoured to sound the possibility of accomplishing a peace with

We may discover more than one motive for Fouché's proceeding in this
most important business without either the knowledge or consent of
Napoleon. He was aware that his master might have rendered it, in his
way of treating, impossible even at starting, to discover on what terms
Great Britain would conclude peace, by stating as preliminaries certain
concessions which it was probable would not be granted, but from which,
once stated, Napoleon could not himself recede. If, therefore, Fouché
could find some secret mode of ascertaining upon what terms a treaty
with England might really be obtained, he was doing a service to France,
to Britain, to Napoleon himself, and to the world. It is not the Duke of
Otranto, however, in particular, whom we would expect to incur disgrace,
and even personal hazard, on mere public grounds. But, besides the
pleasure which those who have long engaged in political intrigues find
in carrying them on, until the habit becomes as inveterate as that of
the gambler, we can see that Fouché might reasonably propose to himself
an important accession of influence by the success of such a
negotiation. If he could once acquire a knowledge of the price at which
Napoleon might obtain that peace for which the world sighed in vain, he
would become possessed of an influence over public opinion, both at home
and abroad, which could not but render him a person of extreme
importance; and if he was able to become the agent in turning such
knowledge to advantage, and negotiating such an important treaty, he
might fix himself even on Napoleon, as one of those ministers frequently
met with in history, whom their sovereign may have disliked, but could
not find means to dismiss.

[Sidenote: M. OUVRARD--FOUCHÉ.]

Acting upon such motives, or on others which we can less easily
penetrate, Fouché anxiously looked around, to consider what concessions
France might afford to make, to soothe the jealousy of England; trusting
it would be possible to come to some understanding with the British
Ministry, weakened by the loss of Mr. Canning, and disheartened by the
defeats sustained by the Spanish patriots, and the sinister event of the
Walcheren expedition. The terms which he would have been willing to have
granted, comprehended an assurance of the independence of the two
kingdoms of Holland and Spain (as if such a guarantee could have availed
any thing while these kingdoms had for sovereigns the brothers of
Napoleon, men reigning as his prefects, and, we shall presently see,
subject to removal at his pleasure,) together with the acknowledgment of
the Sicilian monarchy in the present King, and that of Portugal in the
House of Braganza. M. Ouvrard, a gentleman who had been permitted to go
to London on commercial business, was employed by Fouché to open this
delicate and furtive negotiation with the Marquis of Wellesley. But the
negotiation was disconcerted by a singular circumstance.[55]

The idea of endeavouring to know on what terms peace could be obtained,
had occurred to Napoleon as well as to Fouché; and the sovereign, on his
part, unsuccessful as he had been on two occasions in his attempt to
open a personal correspondence with the King of England, had followed
the steps of his minister, in making M. Labouchère, a commercial person,
agent of a great Dutch mercantile establishment, the medium of
communication with the British Government. The consequence was, that
Ouvrard, and the agent of the Emperor, neither of whom knew of the
other's mission, entered about the same time into correspondence with
the Marquis Wellesley, who, returned from his Spanish mission, was now
secretary at war. The British statesman, surprised at this double
application, became naturally suspicious of some intended deception, and
broke off all correspondence both with Ouvrard and his competitor for
the office of negotiator.[56]

Napoleon must naturally have been so highly incensed with Fouché for
tampering without his consent[57] in a matter of such vital consequence,
that one is almost surprised to find him limiting the effects of his
resentment to disgracing the minister. He sent for Fouché [June 2,] and
having extorted from him an avowal of his secret negotiation, he
remarked, "So, then, you make peace or war without my leave?"[58] The
consequence was, that the Duke of Otranto was deprived of his office of
minister of police, in which he was succeeded by Savary; and he was
shortly after sent into a species of honourable exile, in the character
of Governor-general of Rome.[59] It cost Buonaparte no little trouble to
redeem from the clutches of his late minister the confidential notes
which he had himself written to him upon affairs of police. For a long
time Fouché pretended that he had consigned these important documents to
the flames; and it was not until he had before his eyes the alternative
of submission or a dungeon, that he at length delivered up the Imperial
warrants, containing, no doubt, much that would have been precious to
history. Dismissed at present from the stage, we shall again meet with
this bold statesman at other periods of our history, when, as is
observed of some kinds of sea-fowl, his appearance seldom failed to
announce danger and tempest.

The character of Fouché, in point of principle or morality, could
scarcely be accounted even tolerable; but he had high talents, and in
many points the soundness of his judgment led him to pursue and
recommend moderate and beneficent measures, out of policy, if not from a
higher motive. On other accounts, also, many of the French had some
partiality to him; especially those who cast their eyes backward upon
their national history, and regretted the total loss of that freedom, so
eagerly longed for, so briefly possessed, and which they could never be
properly said to have enjoyed; and to the recovery of which, in part at
least, Fouché was understood to be favourable as far as he could or
dared. The remnant of the sterner Republicans might despise him as a
time server, yet they respected him, at the same time, as a relic of the
Revolution, and on different occasions experienced his protection. To
the Royalists also he had been courteous, and so decidedly so, as
encouraged one of the boldest agents of the Bourbons to penetrate to his
presence, and endeavour to bring him over to the cause of the exiled
family. Fouché dismissed him, indeed, with a peremptory refusal to
listen to his proposal; but he did not deliver him to the police, and he
allowed him twenty-four hours to leave the kingdom. These various
feelings occasioned to many, alarm and regret at the dismissal of the
Duke of Otranto.

The discharge of this able minister seemed the more portentous, that
shortly before it occurred, the terrible charge of which he was about to
be deprived, had received an alarming extension of jurisdiction. The
number of state prisons was extended from one, being the old tower of
Vincennes, to no less than six, situated in different parts of
France.[60] These Bastiles, chiefly old Gothic castles, were destined to
be the abode of captives, whom the Government described as persons who
could not be convicted of any crime perpetrated, but whom, as
entertaining dangerous thoughts, and principles, it was not safe to
permit to remain at large. The _lettre de cachet_, by authority of which
these victims of political suspicion were to be secluded from liberty,
was to consist in a decree of the Privy Council, which might have been
as well termed the pleasure of the Emperor. This measure was adopted on
the 3d of March, 1810, upon a report made to the Council of State in the
name of Fouché, and agreed to by them; but it was well understood, that,
in this and similar instances, the individual at the head of any
department was obliged to father the obloquy of such measures as
Napoleon desired to introduce into it. The minister of police was
therefore held guiltless of recommending an extension of the
Government's encroachments upon public liberty; which, in fact, were the
exclusive device of Napoleon and his Privy Council.[61]


It was another unfortunate circumstance for Napoleon, that the observers
of the times ascribed the dismissal of the old Republican counsellors,
and the more rigorous measures adopted against political malecontents,
to the influence of the Austrian alliance. With many persons in France,
Buonaparte, as the Heir of the Revolution, might, like Danton,
Robespierre, and others, have exercised the most despotic authority,
providing he claimed his right to do so by and through the Revolution.
But they could not endure to see the Emperor Napoleon, while exercising
the same authority with a thousand times more lenity, attempt to improve
his right to the submission of his subjects by an alliance with one of
the ancient houses of Europe, against whom the principles of the
Revolution had declared eternal war. Every class of politicians has its
fanatics, and in that of the ancient Jacobins were many who would rather
have perished by the short, sharp terrors of the Republican guillotine,
than survived to linger in a dungeon during the pleasure of a son-in-law
of the Emperor of Germany. Such ideas, inconsistent as they were in
themselves, and utterly irreconcilable with the quiet, gentle, and
irreproachable character of Maria Louisa, who could never be justly
accused of even attempting to influence her husband upon any political
subject, circulated, nevertheless, and were even accredited in political
society. There was indeed this argument in their favour, that no other
motive could be assigned for Buonaparte's sparing Austria when she was
lying at his mercy, and choosing a partner out of her royal family, than
the desire of allying himself with the House of Hapsburg, and of gaining
such access as could be attained by such an alliance to a share in the
rights and privileges of the most ancient hereditary dynasty of Europe.
But in approaching to that fraternal alliance with legitimate royalty,
Napoleon proportionally abandoned those revolutionary principles and
associates, by whose means he had first climbed to power; and by this
change, rather of the basis of his authority than of the authority
itself, he offended many of the Republicans, without effectually gaining
the aristocrats, to whom his new connexion might have seemed a
recommendation. Indeed, when his right to sovereignty was considered
without reference to his possession, and his power to maintain it,
Napoleon was in some measure censured like the bat in the fable. The
democrats urged against him his matrimonial alliance with a house of the
ancient régime; while the aristocrats held him disqualified on account
of the origin of his power under the revolutionary system.

But although such objections existed among the zealots of both political
factions, the great body of the French people would have cared little on
what principle Napoleon had ascribed his title to the Imperial crown,
providing he had but been contented to allow the subject and himself the
advantage of a short repose from wars and conquests. This tranquillity,
however, was becoming every day less probable, for new incidents seemed
to dictate new acquisitions to the empire; and, unhappily for his own
and other countries, the opportunity of aggrandisement was with
Buonaparte all that it wanted to recommend it, and the pressure of the
occasion was always a complete justification of any measure which the
time rendered expedient.

That which now chiefly occupied him, since the overtures for peace with
England had been rendered abortive by the collision of his own
confidential emissary with that of Fouché, was the destruction of the
strength, and the sapping of the resources of that country, by dint of
enforcing and extending what he called the European Continental System;
which consisted of the abolition of all commerce, and the reducing each
nation, as in the days of primitive barbarism, to remain satisfied with
its own productions, however inadequate to the real or artificial wants
to which its progress in society had gradually given rise.

Like most foreigners, Napoleon understood little or nothing of the
constitutional opinions, or influential principles belonging to England.
He was well acquainted with human character, as modified by the
governments and customs of France and Italy; but this experience no more
qualified him to judge of the English character, than the most perfect
acquaintance with the rise and fall of the Mediterranean, amounting to
five or six inches in height, would prepare a navigator to buffet with
the powerful tides which burst and foam on the shores of the British
islands. The information which he received from that hostile country,
Buonaparte construed according to his wishes; and when it was supplied
by private intelligencers, they were of course desirous of enhancing the
value of what they told, by exaggerating its importance. It was, indeed,
no difficult task to impose on a statesman, ignorant enough of the
present state of North Britain, to believe that he could, even at this
time of day, have disturbed the security of the reigning family, by
landing in Scotland some candidate, having pretensions to the crown
through the House of Stuart. With the same inaccuracy, he concluded
every warm speech in Parliament a summons to revolt--every temporary
riot or testimony of popular displeasure, from whatever cause, a
commencement of open rebellion. He could not be convinced, that from the
peculiarity of the English constitution, and the temper of her people,
such disturbances and such violent debates must frequently exist; and
although, like eruptions on the human body, they are both unpleasant and
unseemly, they are yet the price at which sound internal health is


Actuated by such erroneous views as we have stated, Napoleon conceived
that in 1810 he saw in England the important results of his Continental
System, or interdiction of British commerce with the continent.

The associations of the Luddites, as they were called, were at this time
giving great disturbance in the manufacturing districts of England.
These, it is well known, were framed to prevent the introduction of
looms wrought by machinery, or power-looms, to the superseding the
ordinary looms wrought by hand. The cause would have equally existed,
and the discontent also, if the Continental System had never been heard
of; for such discontent must and will exist in every trade where a
number of men are suddenly thrown out of employment by the introduction
of abbreviated means of labour. Yet Napoleon never doubted that these
heart-burnings, and the violence of the Parliamentary debates, arose
entirely from the new mode he had found of striking at Great Britain by
the destruction of her commerce. He, therefore, as we shall presently
see, examined all Europe, with the intention of shutting every creek and
fishing-port, through which cargoes of muslins or cotton goods could by
possibility penetrate; and the absolute authority which he could
exercise over the whole continent, with the exception of Russia, and of
the "still vexed" Peninsula, entitles us to compare him to the heedful
governor of a jail, who traverses his gloomy dominions at stated hours,
striking with his hammer every bar to ascertain that it rings sound, and
proving every lock, to see that no secret means of communication exists
with the free part of humanity. Thus commerce, the silken tie which
binds nations to each other, whose influence is so salutary to all
states, so essential to the very existence of many, was in danger of
being totally abrogated, unless in as far as it was carried on by a
system of licenses.

The adoption of this system, which went in a great measure to counteract
the effects of that very Continental System which he made it such an
especial point to press and enforce upon all neutral powers, was a
singular sacrifice made by Napoleon, partly to necessity, partly to the
desire of accumulating treasure.

The license system was a relaxation of the continental blockade, of
which England had set the example by giving protections to such neutral
vessels, as, clearing out from a British port, had a certain proportion
of their cargo made up of British goods or colonial produce. This was
what, in mercantile language, is termed a real transaction--the British
merchandise was purchased by such as designed to make a profit, by
selling it again upon any part of the continent to which they might be
able to introduce it. Buonaparte, in like manner, granted Imperial
licenses, purchased for large sums of money, by which trading vessels
were permitted to import a certain quantity of colonial produce, on
condition of exporting an equal proportion of French manufactures. This
system differed from that of England, in this important respect, that
the demand for articles of the French manufactures was entirely
simulated. The goods were not wanted in Britain, could not be re-sold
there without payment of heavy duties, and were often thrown into the
sea in preference to discharging the English duties upon them. Editions
of books, a commodity thus exported, and thus disposed of, were wittily
said to be _ad usum Delphini_. The prime cost at which these French
goods had been purchased, in compliance with Buonaparte's regulations,
was of course laid upon the colonial goods, which were the only actual
subject of trade. Thus, if the French manufacturers derived any profit
from the transaction, it was raised, not by their goods being exported
and sold in foreign countries, in the usual course of trade, but by the
prime cost being imposed as a tax upon the colonial produce imported;
and the price was paid, of course, not by the foreign market, which the
goods seldom reached, but by the French consumers of sugar, rum, and

The real temptation for continuing this attempt to force a trade, was,
as we have seen, the impossibility of dispensing with colonial produce
entirely, and the large revenue accruing to the French government from
these licenses, who, in this manner, exercising a complete monopoly in a
trade which they interdicted to all others, made immense additions to
the treasure which almost choked the vaults of the pavilion Marsan, in
the Tuileries. The language held by the minister of Napoleon to the
powers thus affected, amounted therefore to the following
proposition:--"You shall shut your ports against British commodities;
for without your doing so, it will be impossible for the Emperor
Napoleon to humble the Mistress of the Seas. But while you are thus
deprived of all commerce, whether passive or active, Napoleon reserves
to himself, by the system of license, the privilege of purchasing and
dealing in the commodities of Britain and her colonies, which, reaching
your country by any other mode than through his permission, will be
subject to confiscation, nay, to destruction."

At a later period, Buonaparte greatly regretted that he had suffered the
emolument derived from the license-trade, to seduce him into relaxing
his Continental System.[62] He seems to lament having relinquished his
supposed advantage, as a vindictive freebooter might regret his having
been reduced to let go his hold on his enemy's throat, by the tempting
opportunity of plunging his hand into the pocket of a bystander. The
injustice which thus imposed on neutrals the necessity of abstaining
from a lucrative commerce, which France, the belligerent power, reserved
to herself the privilege of carrying on, in such degree as she might
find convenient, was of so crying a description, that, at any other time
than during the irresistible ascendency of Napoleon, the very mention of
it would have revolted all Europe. And even as times stood, the
non-compliance with terms so harsh and unjust, cost the fall of two
European thrones, ere it became the means of undermining that of
Napoleon himself.


The first of the royal sufferers was the brother of Napoleon, Louis
Buonaparte, who had been created King of Holland. By every account which
we have been able to collect, Louis was an amiable, well-intentioned,
and upright man, of a romantic disposition, and a melancholic
complexion, which he had increased by studying the sentimental
philosophy of Rousseau.[63] But he was, in his brother's language, an
ideologist; that is, one who is disposed to do that which is right
according to principle, rather than that which circumstances render
expedient. He was embarrassed by some family disputes, and lived on
indifferent terms with his wife,[64] who was a greater favourite with
Napoleon than was Louis himself. Since he had been under the necessity
of accepting the crown of Holland, he had endeavoured to afford that
country all the protection which could be derived from his near
relationship to Napoleon; and if he could not save his subjects entirely
from the evils of a conquered and dependent state, he endeavoured to
diminish these as much as his means permitted. The Dutch, a calm and
deliberate people, gave Louis full credit for his efforts, and, in
general, regarded him as their friend and protector. But at the period
we treat of, the evils which approached their state were far beyond
Louis' power to avert or even to modify. Other countries may have more
or less of a commercial character, but Holland exists by commerce
entirely. It was the influence of commerce which gained her amphibious
territory from the waves, and, were that influence withdrawn, her fair
towns must again become fishing villages; her rich pastures must return
to their original state of salt-water marshes, shallows, and sand-banks.
The French exactions already paid, to the amount of one hundred millions
of francs, had purchased, as the natives of Holland fondly imagined,
some right to exert the small means of commerce which remained to them,
and which, under King Louis' sanction, were almost entirely engaged in
traffic with England, now declared contraband.

Napoleon used threats and commands to induce Louis to bring his subjects
to a more rigorous observance of the Continental System, while Louis
employed expostulation and entreaty in behalf of the nation over whom he
had been called to rule. Each brother grew more obstinate in his
opinion, and at length, as the Emperor began to see that neither fear
nor favour could induce Louis to become the agent of oppression in
Holland, his removal from that country was distinctly pointed at as the
consequence of his obstinacy. It was intimated, in a report by
Champagny, the Duke de Cadore, that the situation of Louis on the throne
of Holland was rendered critical, by his feelings being divided betwixt
the imprescriptible duties which he owed to France and to his family,
and the interest which it was natural he should take in the welfare of
Dutch commerce. To terminate this strife in his brother's mind, the
report informed the public that Napoleon meant to recall the prince of
his blood whom he had placed on the Dutch throne, since the first duty
of a French prince having a place in the succession to that monarchy,
was to France exclusively; and it was intimated, that Holland, divested
of her King, and her nominal independence, would be reduced to the
condition of a province of France, occupied by French troops, and
French officers of the revenue; and thus deprived of the means of
thwarting the Continental System, so necessary for the subjugation of
Britain, by the obstinate continuance of commercial intercourse with a
nation under the ban of the empire.[65]


This report is peculiarly interesting, as explanatory of Buonaparte's
views respecting the rights and regal authority of the sovereigns whom
he created and displaced at pleasure, as the interests of France, or
rather as his own, required, or seemed to require. Either, however,
Napoleon became, for the moment, ashamed to acknowledge this fact so
broadly; or he thought that such a contradiction of his repeated
declarations might have a bad effect upon the Westphalian subjects of
Jerome, and upon the Spaniards, whom he desired to become those of
Joseph; or, perhaps, the remonstrances of Louis produced some temporary
effect upon his mind; for he stopped short in his full purpose, and on
the 16th March concluded a treaty with Louis, the terms of which were
calculated, it was said, to arrange disputed points betwixt the
sovereigns, and render the independence of Holland consistent with the
necessary conformity to the Continental System.

[Sidenote: July 1.]

By this treaty, Zealand, Dutch Brabant, and the whole course of the
Rhine, as well the right as the left bank, were transferred from Holland
to France. French officers of the customs were to be placed in all the
Dutch harbours; 18,000 troops were to be maintained by the kingdom of
Holland, of whom 6000 were to be French; a fleet was to be fitted out by
the same kingdom for the service of France; English manufactures were to
be prohibited by the Dutch government; and other restrictions were
subscribed to by Louis,[66] in hopes his brother's stern resolution
might be so far softened as to leave the remaining portions of the
territories of Holland in a state of nominal independence. But he was
soon made sensible that this was no part of Napoleon's intentions.
Instead of 6000 French troops, 20,000 were assembled at Utrecht, with
the purpose of being poured into Holland. Instead of this foreign
soldiery being stationed on the coasts, where alone their presence could
be requisite to prevent the contraband trade, which was the sole pretext
of introducing them at all, Louis was informed, that they were to take
military possession of the whole country; and that the headquarters of
this army, which was totally independent of his authority, were to be
established at Amsterdam, his capital.

Seeing himself thus deprived by his brother of all power in the kingdom
which was still called his, Louis generously refused to play the pageant
part of a monarch, who could neither exert his rights nor protect his
subjects. On the 1st of July he executed a deed of abdication in favour
of his son, then a minor, expressing an affectionate hope, that though
he himself had been so unhappy as to offend his brother the Emperor, he
would not, nevertheless, visit with his displeasure his innocent and
unoffending family. In a letter from Haarlem, dated the 1st July, Louis
enlarged on the causes of his abdication, in a manner honourable to his
head and his heart, and with a moderation, when he spoke of his brother,
which gave weight to his just complaints. "He could not," he said,
"consent to retain the mere title of King, separated from all real
authority in his kingdom, his capital, or even his palace. He should be,
in such a case, the witness of all that passed, without the power of
influencing the current of events for the good of his people, yet
remaining responsible for evils which he could neither remedy nor
prevent. He had long foreseen the extremity to which he was now reduced,
but could not avoid it without sacrificing his most sacred duties,
without ceasing to bear at heart the happiness of his people, and to
connect his own fate with that of the country. This," he said, "was
impossible. Perhaps," he continued, "I am the only obstacle to the
reconciliation of Holland with France. Should that prove the case, I may
find some consolation in dragging out the remainder of a wandering and
languishing life, at a distance from my family, my country, and the good
people of Holland, so lately my subjects."[67]

Having finished his vindication, and adjusted means for making it
public, which he could only do by transmitting it to England, the
Ex-King of Holland entertained a chosen party of friends at his palace
at Haarlem until near midnight, and then, throwing himself into a plain
carriage which was in attendance, left behind him the kingly name and
the kingly revenue, rather than hold them without the power of
discharging the corresponding duties of a sovereign. Louis retired to
Gratz, in Styria, where he lived in a private manner, upon a moderate
pension,[68] amusing his leisure with literature.[69] His more ambitious
consort, with a much more ample revenue, settled herself at Paris, where
her wit and talents, independent of her connexion with Napoleon,
attracted around her the world of fashion, of which she was a
distinguished ornament.

Buonaparte, as was to have been expected, paid no regard to the claim of
Louis's son, in whose favour his father had abdicated. He created that
young person Grand Duke of Berg, and, although he was yet a child, he
took an opportunity to make him a speech, which we have elsewhere
adverted to, in which, after inculpating the conduct of his brother, the
tenor of which he stated could be accounted for by _malady_ alone,[70]
he explained in few words the duties incurred by his satellite
sovereigns. "Never forget, that whatever position you may be required to
occupy, in order to conform to my line of politics, and the interest of
my empire, your first duty must always regard ME, your second must have
reference to France. All your other duties, even those towards the
countries which I commit to your charge, are secondary to these primary

Thus was the leading principle clearly announced, upon which the nominal
independence of kingdoms allied to France was in future to be understood
as resting. The monarchs, to whom crowns were assigned, were but to be
regarded as the lieutenants of the kingdoms in which they ruled; and
whatever part the interest of their dominions might call upon them to
act, they were still subject, in the first instance, to the summons and
control of their liege lord the Emperor, and compelled to prefer what
his pleasure should term the weal of France, to every other call of duty


The fate of Holland was not long undecided. Indeed, it had probably been
determined on as far back as Champagny's first report, in which it had
been intimated, that Holland, with all its provinces, was to become an
integral part of France. This was contrary to the pledge given by
Napoleon to the Senate, that the Rhine should be considered as the
natural boundary of France; nor was it less inconsistent with his
pretended determination, that the independence of Holland should be
respected and maintained. But both these engagements yielded to the
force of the reasoning used by his mouth-piece Champagny, in
recommending the union of Holland with the French empire, and with
France itself. They are worth quoting, were it only to show how little
men of sense are ashamed to produce the weakest and most inconsistent
arguments, when they speak as having both the power and the settled
purpose to do wrong. "Holland," said the minister, whose very effrontery
renders his arguments interesting; "is in a manner an emanation from the
territory of France, and is necessary to the full complement of the
empire. To possess the entire Rhine," (which had been proposed as the
natural boundary of France,) "your majesty must extend the frontier to
the Zuyder-Zee. Thus the course of all the rivers which arise in France,
or which bathe her frontier, will belong to her as far as the sea. To
leave in the hands of strangers the mouths of our rivers, would be,
Sire, to confine your power to an ill-bounded monarchy, instead of
extending its dominions to the natural limits befitting an imperial
throne." On such precious reasoning (much on a par with the claim which
Napoleon set up to Great Britain as the natural appendage of France,
along with the isle of Oleron,) Holland was, 9th July, 1810, declared an
integral part of the French empire.

But the usurpation was not unavenged. It cost Buonaparte a greater
declension in public opinion than had arisen even from his unprincipled
attempts on Spain. It is true, none of the bloody and extensively
miserable consequences had occurred in Holland, which had been
occasioned by the transactions at Bayonne. But the seizure of Holland
brought Buonaparte's worst fault, his ambition, before the public, in a
more broad and decided point of view.[71]

There were people who could endure his robbing strangers, who were yet
shocked that he, so fond of his kindred, and in general so liberal to
them, should not have hesitated to dethrone his own brother, merely for
entertaining sentiments becoming the rank to which he had been raised by
himself; to disinherit his nephew; to go nigh taxing so near a relation
with mental imbecility; and all on so slight a provocation;--for the
only real point of difference, that, viz. respecting the English
commerce, had been yielded by Louis in the treaty which Napoleon had
signed, but only, it seemed, for the purpose of breaking it. It was
observed, too, that in the manly, but respectful opposition made by
Louis to his brother's wishes, there appeared nothing to provoke the
displeasure of Napoleon, though one of the most irritable of men on
subjects with which his ambition was implicated. It seemed a species of
gratuitous violence, acted as if to show that no circumstance of
relationship, family feeling, or compassion (to make no mention of
justice or moderation,) could interfere with or check the progress of
Napoleon's ambition; and whilst the more sanguine prophesied, that he
who ran so rashly, might one day run himself to a close, all agreed that
his empire, composed of such heterogeneous parts, could not, in all
probability, survive the mortal date of the founder, supposing it to
last so long. In the meantime, it was evident, that the condition of no
state, however solemnly guaranteed by Buonaparte himself, could be
considered as secure or free from change while it was subject to his
influence. To conclude the whole, the Dutch were informed by the Emperor
with bitter composure, that "he had hoped to unite them to France as
allies, by giving them a prince of his own blood as a ruler; that his
hopes, however, had been deceived; and that he had shown more
forbearance than consisted with his character, or than his rights
required;"--thus intimating some farther and unexpressed severity, which
he might have felt himself justified in adding to the virtual exile of
his brother, and the confiscation of his late dominions; and
insinuating, that the Dutch had escaped cheaply with the loss of their
separate national existence.


[49] Southey, vol. iii., p. 405; Fouché, tom. i., p. 339.

[50] Fouché, tom. i., p. 329.

[51] Fouché, tom. i., p. 329.

[52] Mémoires de Fouché, tom. i., p. 331.

[53] Fouché, tom. i., p. 32.

[54] "It is well known that Josephine never spoke to the Emperor
otherwise than in favourable terms of all those who were about his
person; she was even of service to M. Fouché, though he had attempted to
become the instrument for bringing about her divorce."--SAVARY, tom.
ii., p. 178.

[55] "Although Sir Walter Scott does not mention me, I am able to speak
pertinently to this affair: the following is the truth. I went to Paris
in 1809, against my inclination, to comply with the wish of the
principal Dutch, who imagined that I could prevent, or at least adjourn
by my presence in Paris, and my immediate efforts, the evident intention
of seizing upon Holland. During my stay at Paris, I was persuaded that
all the tricks, the attacks, and ill-treatment, of which I was the
object, had not for their real end the union of Holland, since it was
the interest of France to aggrandise that kingdom, but that it was a
political stratagem, to induce the English government to repeal its
decrees of council, and to conclude the peace; and I was therefore
prevailed upon while at Paris to send M. Labouchère from Amsterdam to
London with instructions to make known to the Marquis Wellesley, that if
England did not withdraw its decrees of council, the union of Holland
with France was inevitable. The reply of the marquis proved at once how
favourable my government in Holland had been to France, since the
English Government declared, 'that the fate of Holland could not fail to
occasion much interest in England; but that, in the present state of
that country, the influence of France was so entire there, that the
political change spoken of, must have some weight in the determination
of the British Cabinet.' This attempt having proved useless, I could
only succeed in delaying the union of Holland, the decree for which
being prepared beforehand, and always in readiness, was often placed
before me--by sacrificing Brabant and Zealand. After my return to
Amsterdam, I was requested to allow M. Ouvrard a passage to England. I
consented to this the more willingly, as I imagined that it was in
consequence of the step I had already taken in sending M. Labouchère to
London. A short time after, the Emperor visited Antwerp. Whilst
conversing with him there, I assured him that there had been no
communication with England except that which had taken place through M.
Ouvrard, according to his request. My astonishment was extreme on
learning, that not only it was without his request, but that he was
ignorant of it, and from that moment he determined on the discharge of
M. Fouché, who had allowed so singular a proceeding."--LOUIS BUONAPARTE,
p. 65.

[56] Fouché, tom. i., p. 354; Savary, tom. ii., part ii., p. 208.

[57] "Ah, Fouché! how well the Emperor knew you, when he said, that your
ugly foot was sure to be thrust in every body's shoes."--LAS CASES, tom.
ii., p. 18.

[58] "Napoleon left the council, and gave orders to Savary to arrest M.
Ouvrard; at the same time, I was forbidden to have any communication
with the prisoner. The next day the portfolio of the police was given to
Savary. This time it was a real disgrace."--FOUCHÉ, tom. i., p. 358.

[59] "The decree constituting Fouché Governor-general of Rome, bears
date June 3, 1810. 'This nomination,' says Fouché, 'was nothing but an
honourable veil woven by Napoleon's policy, in order to conceal and
mitigate, in the eyes of the public, my disgrace, of which his intimates
alone had the secret."--_Mémoires_, tom. ii., p. 7.

[60] Saumar, Ham, Landskaone, Pierre-Châtel, and Fennestrelles.

[61] Fouché, tom. i., p. 352.

[62] Las Cases, tom. ii., p. 283.

[63] See _ante_, vol. ii., p. 211, _note_. "Louis had been spoiled by
reading the works of Rousseau."--NAPOLEON, _Las Cases_, tom. ii., p.

[64] "As Louis and Hortensia had lived almost always separate since
their marriage, except three short periods of a few months, they each
demanded of the family council a separation, presently after Louis
arrived at Paris in 1809. But after a meeting of the said council was
granted, the separation was refused, though it had long existed in point
of fact. He was informed of the refusal verbally: no document whatever
was transmitted to him on a result, on which however depended the ease,
condition, and fame of a man of honour."--LOUIS BUONAPARTE, _La
Hollande_, tom. iii., p. 199.

[65] Documens Historiques sur la Hollande, tom. iii., p. 238.

[66] "This treaty, which was rather a capitulation, was imposed by the
Emperor, signed by Verhueil, and ratified conditionally by the King, who
added the words, '_as far as possible_.'"--LOUIS BUONAPARTE, _Documens
Hist._, tom. iii., p. 248.

[67] Documens Historiques, tom. iii., p. 310.

[68] "This is not correct. I did not, nor could not, receive a pension
from any one: my revenue was derived principally from the sale of my
decorations and jewels, and the interest of the obligations I had taken
upon me, in order to encourage the loan from Holland to Prussia at the
time of the greatest misfortunes of the virtuous sovereign of that
country, who, in spite of all opposition and every political
consideration, was anxious to acquit himself towards me with scrupulous
exactitude."--LOUIS BUONAPARTE, p. 69.

[69] In 1808, Louis gave to the world a sentimental romance, called
"Marie, ou les Peines de l'Amour," of which a second edition appeared in
1814, under the title of "Marie, ou les Hollandaises." A distinguished
critic describes the royal production as "a farrago of dulness, folly,
and bad taste."--(_Quart. Rev._, vol. xii., p. 391.) His treatise,
entitled "Documens Historiques, et Réflexions sur le Gouvernement de la
Hollande," is an unpresuming account of his administration in Holland.

[70] "The conduct of your father grieves me to the heart: his disorder
alone can account for it. When you are grown up you will pay his debt
and your own."--_Documens Hist._, tom. iii., p. 326; and _Moniteur_,
July 23, 1810. "When Napoleon received the news of his brother's
abdication, he was struck with astonishment: he remained silent for a
few moments, and after a kind of momentary stupor, suddenly appeared to
be greatly agitated. His heart was ready to burst, when he exclaimed,
'Was it possible to suspect so mischievous a conduct in the brother most
indebted to me.' When I was a mere lieutenant of artillery, I brought
him up with the scanty means which my pay afforded me I divided my bread
with him; and this is the return he makes for my kindness!' The Emperor
was so overpowered by his emotion, that his grief was said to have
vented itself in sobs."--SAVARY, tom. ii., part ii., p. 239.

[71] Napoleon acknowledged at St. Helena, that the "annexation of Louis'
kingdom to his own was a measure which contributed to ruin his credit in
Europe."--LAS CASES, tom. ii., p. 307.


    _Gustavus IV. of Sweden is Dethroned and succeeded by his Uncle--The
    Crown Prince killed by a fall from his horse--Candidates proposed
    for the Succession--The Swedes, thinking to conciliate Napoleon, fix
    on Bernadotte--Buonaparte reluctantly acquiesces in the
    choice--Parting Interview between Bernadotte and
    Napoleon--Subsequent attempts of the latter to bind Sweden to the
    policy of France--The Crown Prince unwillingly accedes to the
    Continental System--Napoleon makes a Tour through Flanders and
    Holland--returns to Paris, and takes measures for extending the
    Continental System--Seizure of the Valois--Coast along the German
    Ocean annexed to France--Protest by the Czar against the
    appropriation of Oldenburg--Russia allows the importation, at
    certain Seaports, of various articles of British
    Commerce--Negotiations for Exchange of Prisoners between France and
    England; and for a general Peace, broken off by Buonaparte's
    unreasonable Demands._


In the destruction of the kingdom of Holland, a new sceptre, and that of
Napoleon's own forming, was broken, as he wrenched it out of the hands
of his brother. In the case of Sweden, and in hopes of ensuring the
patronage of the French Emperor, or averting his enmity, a diadem was
placed on the brows of one, who, like Napoleon himself, had commenced
his career as a soldier of fortune.

We have repeatedly observed, that the high spirit and intrepid
enterprise of Gustavus IV., unsupported as they were either by
distinguished military abilities, or by effectual power, seemed as if he
aped the parts of Gustavus Adolphus or Charles XII., without considering
the declined condition of the country he governed, or the inferiority of
his own talents. Sweden had suffered great losses by the daring manner
in which this prince maintained the ancient principles of aristocracy
against the overwhelming power of France.

Pomerania, being the only dominion belonging to Sweden on the south side
of the Baltic, had been taken possession of by France in the war of
1806-7; and Russia, who had been a party to that war, and who had
encouraged Gustavus to maintain it, had, since changing her politics at
the treaty of Tilsit, herself declared war against Sweden, for the sole
and undisguised purpose of possessing herself of Finland, which she had
succeeded in appropriating. Sweden had, therefore, lost, under this
ill-fated monarch, above one-third of her territories, and the
inhabitants became anxious to secure, even were it by desperate
measures, the independence of that which remained. There were fears
lest Russia should aspire to the conquest of the rest of the ancient
kingdom--fears that France might reward the adhesion and the sufferings
of Denmark, by uniting the crown of Sweden with that of Denmark and
Norway, and aiding the subjugation of the country with an auxiliary
army. While these calamities impended over their ancient state, the
Swedes felt confident that Gustavus was too rash to avert the storm by
submission, too weak, and perhaps too unlucky, to resist its violence.
This conviction led to a conspiracy, perhaps one of the most universally
known in history.

The unfortunate king was seized upon and made prisoner in March, 1809,
without any other resistance than his own unassisted sword could
maintain; and so little were the conspirators afraid of his being able
to find a party in the state desirous of replacing him in the
government, that they were content he should have his liberty and a
suitable pension on his agreeing to consider himself as an exile from
Sweden;[72] in which sentence of banishment, with little pretence to
justice, his wife, sister of the Empress of Russia, and his children,
comprehending the heir of his crown, were also included.[73]

The Duke of Sudermania, uncle of the dethroned prince, was called to the
throne, and the succession of the kingdom was destined to Christian of
Augustenberg, a prince of the house of Holstein. Peace was made by the
new King with Russia, at the expense of ceding Finland and the isle of
Aland to that power. Soon afterwards a treaty was signed at Paris, by
which Charles XIII. promised to adhere to the Continental System, and to
shut his ports against all British commerce, with certain indulgences on
the articles of salt and colonial produce. In requital, Napoleon
restored to Sweden her continental province of Pomerania, with the isle
of Rugen, reserving, however, such dotations or pensions as he had
assigned to his soldiers or followers, upon those territories. But
though the politics of Sweden were thus entirely changed, its revolution
was destined to proceed.

The King being aged, the eyes of the people were much fixed on the
successor, or Crown Prince, who took upon himself the chief labour of
the government, and appears to have given satisfaction to the nation.
But his government was of short duration. On the 28th of May, 1810,
while reviewing some troops, he suddenly fell from his horse, and
expired on the spot, leaving Sweden again without any head excepting
the old King. This event agitated the whole nation, and various
candidates were proposed for the succession of the kingdom.

Among these was the King of Denmark, who, after the sacrifices he had
made for Buonaparte, had some right to expect his support. The son of
the late unfortunate monarch, rightful heir of the crown, and named like
him Gustavus, was also proposed as a candidate. The Duke of Oldenburg,
brother-in-law of the Emperor of Russia, had partisans. To each of these
candidates there lay practical objections. To have followed the line of
lawful succession, and called Gustavus to the throne (which could not be
forfeited by his father's infirmity, so far as he was concerned,) would
have been to place a child at the head of the state, and must have
inferred, amid this most arduous crisis, all the doubts and difficulties
of choosing a regent. Such choice might, too, be the means, at a future
time, of reviving his father's claim to the crown. The countries of
Denmark and Sweden had been too long rivals for the Swedes to subject
themselves to the yoke of the King of Denmark; and to choose the Duke of
Oldenburg would have been, in effect, to submit themselves to Russia, of
whose last behaviour towards her Sweden had considerable reason to

[Sidenote: BERNADOTTE.]

In this embarrassment they were thought to start a happy idea, who
proposed to conciliate Napoleon by bestowing the ancient crown of the
Goths upon one of his own field-marshals, and a high noble of his
empire, namely, John Baptiste Julian Bernadotte, Prince of Ponte Corvo.
This distinguished officer was married to a sister of Joseph
Buonaparte's wife (daughter of a wealthy and respectable individual,
named Cléry,) through whom he had the advantage of an alliance with the
Imperial family of Napoleon, and he had acquired a high reputation in
the north of Europe, both when governor of Hanover, and administrator of
Swedish Pomerania. On the latter occasion, Bernadotte was said to have
shown himself in a particular manner the friend and protector of the
Swedish nation; and it was even insinuated, that he would not be averse
to exchange the errors of Popery for the reformed tenets of Luther. The
Swedish nation fell very generally into the line of policy which
prompted this choice. Humiliating as it might, at another period, have
been to a people proud of their ancient renown, to choose for their
master a foreign soldier, differing from them in birth and religious
faith, such an election yet promised to place at the head of the nation
a person admirably qualified to comprehend and encounter the
difficulties of the time; and it was a choice, sure, as they thought, to
be agreeable to him upon whose nod the world seemed to depend.

Yet, there is the best reason to doubt, whether, in preferring
Bernadotte to their vacant throne, the Swedes did a thing which was
gratifying to Napoleon. The name of the Crown Prince of Sweden elect,
had been known in the wars of the Revolution, before that of Buonaparte
had been heard of. Bernadotte had been the older, though certainly not
therefore the better soldier. On the 18th Brumaire, he was so far from
joining Buonaparte in his enterprise against the Council of Five
Hundred, notwithstanding all advances made to him, that he was on the
spot at St. Cloud armed and prepared, had circumstances permitted, to
place himself at the head of any part of the military, who might be
brought to declare for the Directory. And although, like every one else,
Bernadotte submitted to the Consular system, and held the government of
Holland under Buonaparte, yet then, as well as under the empire, he was
always understood to belong to a class of officers, whom Napoleon
employed indeed, and rewarded, but without loving them, or perhaps
relying on them, more than he was compelled to do, although their
character was in most instances a warrant for their fidelity.

These officers formed a comparatively small class yet comprehending some
of the most distinguished names in the French army, who, in seeing the
visionary Republic glide from their grasp, had been, nevertheless,
unable to forget the promises held out to them by the earlier dawn of
the Revolution. Reconciled by necessity to a state of servitude which
they could not avoid, this party considered themselves as the soldiers
of France, not of Napoleon, and followed the banner of their country
rather than the fortunes of the Emperor. Without being personally
Napoleon's enemies, they were not the friends of his despotic power; and
it was to be expected, should any opportunity occur, that men so
thinking would make a stand, for the purpose of introducing some
modifications into the arbitrary system which the Emperor had

Napoleon, always deeply politic, unless when carried off by sudden
bursts of temperament, took, as already mentioned, great care, in his
distribution of duties and honours, at once to conceal from the public
the existence of a difference in opinion among his general officers, and
also to arm the interests of those patriots themselves against their own
speculative opinions, by rendering the present state of things too
beneficial to them for their being easily induced to attempt any change.
Still it may nevertheless be conceived, that it was not out of this
class of lukewarm adherents he would have voluntarily selected a
candidate for a kingdom, which, being removed at some distance from the
influence of France, he would more willingly have seen conferred on some
one, whose devotion to the will of his Emperor was not likely to be
disturbed by any intrusion of conscientious patriotism.

But, besides the suspicion entertained by Napoleon of Bernadotte's
political opinions, subjects of positive discord had recently arisen
between them. Bernadotte had been blamed by the Emperor for permitting
the escape of Romana and the Spaniards, as already mentioned. At a later
period, he was commander of the Saxon troops in the campaign of Wagram;
and, notwithstanding a set of very scientific manœuvres, by which he
detained General Bellegarde on the frontiers of Bohemia, when his
presence might have been essentially useful to the Archduke Charles, he
was censured by Napoleon as tardy in his movements.

The landing of the English at Walcheren induced Fouché, as has been
already said, with the concurrence of Clarke, then minister at war, to
intrust Bernadotte with the charge of the defence of Flanders and
Holland. But neither in this service had he the good fortune to please
the Emperor. Fouché, at whose instance he had accepted the situation,
was already tottering in office; and the ill-selected expression, "that
however necessary Napoleon was to the glory of France, yet his presence
was not indispensable to repel invasion,"[74] was interpreted into a
magnifying of themselves at the expense of the Emperor. Napoleon made
his displeasure manifest by depriving Bernadotte of the command in
Belgium, and sending him back to the north of Germany; and it is said
that the general, on his part, was so little inclined to make a secret
of his resentment, that he was remarked as a fiery Gascon, who, if he
should ever have an opportunity, would be likely to do mischief.

[Sidenote: SWEDEN.]

But while such were the bad terms betwixt the Emperor and his general,
the Swedes, unsuspicious of the true state of the case, imagined, that
in choosing Bernadotte for successor to their throne, they were paying
to Buonaparte the most acceptable tribute. And notwithstanding that
Napoleon was actually at variance with Bernadotte, and although, in a
political view, he would much rather have given his aid to the
pretensions of the King of Denmark,[75] he was under the necessity of
reflecting, that Sweden retained a certain degree of independence; that
the sea separated her shores from his armies; and that, however willing
to conciliate him, the Swedes were not in a condition absolutely to be
compelled to receive laws at his hand. It was necessary to acquiesce in
their choice, since he could not dictate to them; and by doing so he
might at the same time exhibit another splendid example of the height to
which his service conducted his generals, of his own desire to assist
their promotion, and of that which might be much more doubtful than the
two first propositions--of his willingness to pay deference to the
claims of a people in electing their chief magistrate. When, therefore,
Bernadotte, protesting that he would be exclusively guided by Napoleon's
wishes in pursuing or relinquishing this important object, besought him
for his countenance with the States of Sweden, who were to elect the
Crown Prince, Buonaparte answered, that he would not interfere in the
election by any solicitations or arguments, but that he gave the Prince
of Ponte Corvo his permission to be a candidate, and should be well
pleased if he proved a successful one. Such is Napoleon's account of the
transaction.[76] We have, however, been favoured with some manuscript
observations, in which a very different colour is given to Napoleon's
proceedings, and which prove distinctly, that while Napoleon treated the
Crown Prince Elect of Sweden with fair language, he endeavoured by
underhand intrigues to prevent the accomplishment of his hopes.[77]

The Swedes, however, remained fixed in their choice, notwithstanding the
insinuations of Desaugier, the French envoy, whom Napoleon afterwards
affected to disown and recall, for supporting in the diet of Orebro, the
interest of the King of Denmark, instead of that of Bernadotte.

Napoleon's cold assent, or rather an assurance that he would not
dissent, being thus wrung reluctantly from him, Bernadotte, owing to his
excellent character among the Swedes, and their opinion of his interest
with Napoleon, was chosen Crown Prince of Sweden, by the States of that
kingdom, 21st August, 1810. Napoleon, as he himself acknowledges, was
enabled to resist, though with difficulty, a strong temptation to
retract his consent, and defeat the intended election. Perhaps this
unfriendly disposition might be in some degree overcome by the
expectation, that by their present choice the Emperor of France would
secure the accession of Sweden to the anti-commercial system; whereas,
by attempting a game which he was not equally sure of winning, he might,
indeed, have disappointed a man whom he loved not, but by doing so must
run the risk of throwing the States of Sweden, who were not likely to be
equally unanimous in behalf of any other French candidate, into the arms
of England, his avowed foe; or of Russia, who, since the treaty of
Schoenbrun, and Napoleon's union with the House of Austria, could only
be termed a doubtful and cloudy friend.

But he endeavoured to obtain from Bernadotte some guarantee of his
dependence upon France and its Emperor. He took the opportunity of
making the attempt when Bernadotte applied to him for letters of
emancipation from his allegiance to France, which could not decently be
withheld from the Prince Royal of another country. "The expediting of
the letters patent," said Napoleon, "has been retarded by a proposal
made by the Council, that Bernadotte should previously bind himself
never to bear arms against Napoleon." Bernadotte exclaimed against a
proposal which must have left him in the rank of a French general. The
Emperor was ashamed to persist in a demand so unreasonable, and
dismissed him with the almost prophetic words--"Go--our destinies must
be accomplished." He promised the Prince Royal two millions of francs as
an indemnity for the principality of Ponte Corvo, and other possessions
which had been assigned to him in Holland, and which he restored on
ceasing to be a subject of France. It is singular enough that Napoleon,
while at St. Helena, permitted himself to assert that he had made a
present of this money (of which only one million was ever paid,) to
enable Bernadotte to take possession of his new dignity with becoming

To bring the affairs of Sweden to a close for the present, we may here
add, that, though that nation were desirous to escape the renewal of the
desperate and hopeless struggle with France, they were most unwilling,
nevertheless, to lose the advantages of their commerce with England. The
conduct of the national business soon devolved entirely upon the Crown
Prince, the age and infirmities of the King not permitting him to
conduct them any longer. It became Bernadotte's, or, as he was now
named, Charles John's difficult and delicate task, to endeavour at once
to propitiate France, and to find excuses which might dispose Buonaparte
to grant some relaxation on the subject of the Continental System. But
as it was impossible for the Prince of Sweden to disguise his motive for
evading a cordial co-operation in Napoleon's favourite measure, so the
latter, about three months after the accession of his former companion
in arms to supreme power, grew impatient enough to overwhelm the Swedish
minister, Baron Lagerbjelke, with a tirade similar to his celebrated
attack on Lord Whitworth. He discoursed with the utmost volubility for
an hour and a quarter, leaving the astonished ambassador scarce an
opening to thrust in a word by way of observation, defence, or answer.
"Do they believe in Sweden that I am to be so easily duped? Do they
think I will be satisfied with this half state of things? Give me no
sentiments! it is from facts we form our opinions. You signed the peace
with me in the beginning of the year, and engaged yourself then to break
off all communication with Britain; yet you retained an English agent
till late in the summer, and kept the communication open by way of
Gottenburg. Your small islands are so many smuggling magazines; your
vessels meet the English and exchange freights. I have not slept an hour
to-night on account of your affairs; yet you ought to suffer me to take
repose, I have need of it. You have vessels in every port in England.
You talk of the necessity of buying salt, forsooth. Is it for salt you
go into the Thames?--You talk of suffering, by superseding the trade. Do
you not believe that I suffer? That Germany, Bourdeaux, Holland, and
France suffer? But it must all be ended. You must fire on the English,
and you must confiscate their merchandise, or you must have war with
France. Open war, or constant friendship--this is my last word, my
ultimate determination. Could they think in Sweden that I would modify
my system, because I love and esteem the Prince Royal? Did I not love
and esteem the King of Holland? He is my brother, yet I have broken with
him: I have silenced the voice of nature to give ear to that of the
general interest." These, and many violent expressions to the same
purpose, Buonaparte poured out in an elevation of voice that might be
heard in the adjoining apartments.

The Emperor's remonstrances, transmitted by the ambassador, were
seconded at the Court of Stockholm by the arguments of Denmark and
Russia; and the Crown Prince was at last obliged to give the national
adherence of Sweden to the Continental System, and to declare war
against England.[78] The British Government were fully sensible of the
constraint under which Sweden acted, and, so far from acting hostilely
towards that kingdom, did not seem to make any perceptible change in the
relations which had before subsisted between the countries.

In the meantime, Bernadotte and Napoleon, for a time, veiled under the
usual forms of courtesy their mutual dislike and resentment. But the
Crown Prince could not forgive the Emperor for an attempt to lord it
over him like a superior over a vassal, and compelling him,
notwithstanding his entreaties, to distress his subjects, and to render
his government unpopular, by sacrificing a lucrative trade. Napoleon, on
the other hand, was incensed that Bernadotte, whose greatness he
considered as existing only by his own permission, should affect to
differ in opinion from him, or hesitate betwixt obliging France and
injuring Sweden.

On other occasional differences betwixt the sovereigns, it appeared that
there was no eager desire on the part of the Crown Prince of Sweden to
oblige the Emperor of France. Repeated demands for sailors and soldiers
to be engaged in the French service, were made by Napoleon. These
Bernadotte always contrived to evade, by referring to the laws of
Sweden, as a limited monarchy, which did not permit him, like the
absolute Majesty of Denmark, to dispose of her sailors at pleasure; and
by enlarging on the nature of the Swedes, who, bold and willing soldiers
at home, were too much attached to their own climate and manners, to
endure those of any other country. In these, and such like excuses, no
one could read more readily than Napoleon, a fixed resolution on the
part of his old companion in arms, not to yield to the influence of
France in any point in which he could avoid it. And though an outward
show of friendship was maintained between the countries, and even
between the sovereigns, yet it was of that insincere kind which was sure
to be broken off on the slightest collision of their mutual interests.
It remained, however, undisturbed till the eventful year of 1812.--We
return to the affairs of France.


The Emperor undertook a tour through the provinces of Flanders and
Holland with his young Empress, with the view of enforcing his views and
purposes in church and state. In the course of this journey, one or two
remarkable circumstances took place. The first was his furious
reproaches to the clergy of Brabant, who, more rigorous Papists than in
some other Catholic countries, had circulated among their congregations
the bull of excommunication fulminated by the Pope against Napoleon. The
provocation was certainly considerable, but the mode of resenting it was
indecently violent. He was especially angry that they appeared without
their canonical dresses. "You call yourselves priests," he said; "where
are your vestments? Are you attorneys, notaries, or peasants? You begin
by forgetting the respect due to me; whereas, the principle of the
Christian Church, as these gentlemen" (turning to the Protestant
deputies) "can teach you, is, as they have just professed, to render
unto Cæsar the things which are Cæsar's. But you--you will not pray for
your sovereign, because a Romish priest excommunicated me. But who gave
him such a right? Perhaps it is your wish to bring back tortures and
scaffolds, but I will take care to baffle you. I bear the temporal
sword, and know how to use it. I am a monarch of God's creation, and you
reptiles of the earth dare not oppose me. I render an account of my
government to none save God and Jesus Christ. Do you think I am one
formed to kiss the Pope's slipper? Had you the power, you would shave my
head, clap a cowl on me, and plunge me in a cloister. But if you preach
not the Gospel as the Apostles did, I will banish you from the empire,
and disperse you like so many Jews.--And, Monsieur le Préfet, see that
these men swear to the Concordat; and take care that the orthodox Gospel
be taught in the ecclesiastical seminaries, that they may send out men
of sense, and not idiots like these." Thus closed this edifying

The Dutch were under the necessity of assuming the appearance of great
rejoicing; yet even the danger of indulging their blunt humour, could
not altogether restrain these downright merchants. When the Emperor made
a stir about establishing a Chamber of Commerce at Amsterdam, one of the
burgomasters gravely observed, there was no need of a chamber, since a
closet would hold all the commerce left them. In like manner, when
Napoleon was vaunting, that he would soon have a fleet of two hundred
sail; "And when you have got them," said a plain-spoken citizen, "the
English will have double the number."

But, more formidable than blunt truths and indifferent jests, there
appeared, while Buonaparte was in Holland, one of those stern
invocations exciting the people against foreign tyranny, which have
often occasioned the downfall of unjust power, and always rendered those
who possess it unhappy and insecure. "People of Holland," said this
singular paper (which may be compared to the tract called Killing no
Murder, which drove sleep from Cromwell's pillow,) "why do you fear your
oppressor?--he is one, you are many. Appeal to his very soldiers; their
desertions in Spain show how they hate him; and even his generals would
abandon him, could they secure their own rank and grandeur independent
of his. But above all, arise to the task of your own redemption; rise in
the fulness of national strength. A general revolt of the Continent will
ensue; the oppressor will fall, and your triumph will be a warning to
tyrants, and an example to the world." This address produced no
perceptible effect at the time, but, with other papers of the kind, it
made a profound impression on the public mind.

On his return to Paris, Napoleon set himself still farther to impose the
extension of the Continental System, which he was induced to attempt by
the appropriation of Holland, and the revolution in Sweden. Holding his
plan as much more decisive than it could have been, even if his power
and his spleen had been adequate to effect his purpose, he cast his eyes
in every direction, to close every aperture, however small, through
which British commerce, the victim he hoped entirely to smother, might
draw ever so slight a gasp of breath.

It was a feature of Buonaparte's ambition--as indeed it is of inordinate
ambition in general--that whatever additions were made to his Empire
extended his wish of acquisition. Holland, whose traders were princes,
and she herself the Queen of Commerce, had been already devoured, with
her ample sea-coast and far-famed harbours. But other cities, less
wealthy and famed, yet still venerable from their ancient importance,
must become a part of France, ere Buonaparte thought his blockade
against British commerce complete and impervious.

The seizure of the poor regions called the Valais, which had hitherto
been suffered to exist as a free republic, gave France the absolute
command of the road over the Simplon; the property, and perhaps the
command of which passage, it being the great means of communication
betwixt France and Italy, Napoleon did not incline should remain with a
petty republic. It was a sufficient reason, at this unhappy period, for
depriving any country of its independence, that France was to be
benefited by the change. It was not in this case a bloodless one. The
poor mountaineers drew to arms, and it required some fighting before
they were compelled to submission, and their barren mountains were
annexed to France.

But it was of much greater importance, in Napoleon's eye, to prevent the
commerce which he had expelled from Holland from shifting its residence
to the trading towns of the north of Germany, composing what was called
the Hanseatic League. A new appropriation of territory, therefore,
united to France the whole sea-coast along the German Ocean,
comprehending the mouths of the Scheldt, the Meuse, and the Rhine; the
Ems, the Weser, and the Elbe. And it was the Emperor's proposal to unite
these maritime territories to France by a canal, which was to join the
Baltic ocean to the Seine. A considerable proportion of the kingdom of
Westphalia, and of the Grand Duchy of Berg, both principalities of
Napoleon's own creation, fell under this appropriation, and formed
another example, had not that of Holland been sufficient, to show how
little respect Napoleon was disposed to pay even to those rights which
emanated from himself, when they interfered with fresher plans and wider
prospects of ambition.

Had Prussia retained her ancient influence as protector of the North,
Hamburgh, Bremen, and Lubeck, would not have been thus unceremoniously
melted down and confounded with the French Empire. But while these
venerable and well-known free cities sunk without protection or
resistance under a despotism which threatened to become universal, a
petty state of far less consequence, scarce known as having an
independent existence by any who was not intimate with the divisions of
the north of Germany, found a patron, and a powerful one. This was
Oldenburg, a dukedom, the present prince of which was related to the
Emperor of Russia, as both were descended of the House of Holstein
Gottorp, and was, moreover, Alexander's brother-in-law. This state of
Oldenburg had been studiously excepted from the changes made in the
North of Germany, after the treaty of Tilsit, which made the present
confiscation of its territory an act of more marked slight towards the
court of Russia. A formal expostulation being transmitted to Napoleon,
he proposed to repair the injury of the Duke of Oldenburg, by assigning
to him the town and territory of Erfurt, with the lordship of
Blankenheim. But the duke felt himself too strongly supported to be
under the necessity of surrendering his dominions, and receiving others
in exchange. The offer of indemnity was haughtily rejected; France
persevered in her purpose of usurping Oldenburg; and the Emperor
Alexander, in a protest, gravely but temperately worded, a copy of which
was delivered to every member of the diplomatic body, intimated that he
did not acquiesce in the injury done to a prince of his family, although
he continued to adhere to that great line of political interest which
had occasioned the alliance between France and Russia.

The real truth was, that Napoleon, secure of the friendship of Austria
by the late alliance, had not, it would seem, regarded Russia as any
longer worthy of the same observance which he had originally found it
politic to pay to the Emperor Alexander. The Czar himself felt this; and
the very large proportion of his subjects, composing the party of Old
Russians, as they termed themselves, who were favourable to the English
alliance, and detested the connexion with France, improved the
opportunity by pointing out the evils which all classes in the country
endured, from the Czar's having, in complaisance to the plans of
Napoleon, decreed the abolition of English commerce. They showed that
this compliance with the views of France had been attended with great
detriment to his own subjects, who could neither sell their commodities,
and the produce of their estates, for which Britain always offered a
market, nor acquire the colonial produce and British manufactured goods,
which the consumption of Russia almost peremptorily demanded.


An ukase was issued on the 31st of December, 1810, which was drawn up
with considerable art; for while in words it seemed to affirm the
exclusion of British manufactures from the empire in general, it
permitted importations to be made at Archangel, Petersburgh, Riga,
Revel, and five or six other seaports, where various articles of
merchandise, and, in particular, colonial produce, unless proved to
belong to Britain, might be freely imported. So that, while appearing to
quote and respect the Continental System, Napoleon could not but be
sensible that Russia virtually renounced it. But as Alexander had not
ventured to avail himself of the seizure of Oldenburg as a reason for
breaking off his alliance with France, so Napoleon, on his part, though
the changed tone of Russian policy could not escape him, paused,
nevertheless, in coming to a final rupture with an enemy so powerful,
upon the subject of the ukase of December 1810.


Meantime, the French Emperor became probably sensible that peace with
England was the surest ground upon which he could secure his throne. In
the month of April, 1810, some attempt at obtaining terms of
pacification had been made during the mission of Mr. Mackenzie, who was
sent to Morlaix as agent on the part of the British Government. It had
been not the least cruel peculiarity of this inveterate war, that no
cartel for exchange of prisoners had been effected on either side, and,
of course, that those unhappy persons whom chance had thrown into the
power of the enemy, had no visible alternative but to linger out their
lives in a distant and hostile country, or at least remain captives till
the conclusion of hostilities, to which no one could presume to assign a
date. The original impediment to such an exchange, which has in all
civilized countries been considered as a debt indispensably due to
soften the rigours of war and lessen the sufferings of its victims, was
a demand of Napoleon that the persons possessing no military character,
whom he had made prisoners contrary to the law of nations at the
commencement of hostilities, should be exchanged against French sailors
and soldiers. The British ministers for a long time resisted so unusual
an application, to which policy, indeed, forbade them to accede. At
length, however, the sufferings of individuals, and of their families,
induced the British government to allow the French Emperor the advantage
of his oppressive act in detaining these unfortunate persons, and agree
that they should be included in the proposed cartel. But when the
commissioners met at Morlaix, Mr. Mackenzie found himself as far from
approaching an agreement as ever. The number of French prisoners in
Britain was more by many thousands than that of the British in France;
and Buonaparte, who seldom made a bargain in which he did not secure the
advantage to himself, insisted that the surplus of French prisoners
should be exchanged for Germans, Spaniards, Portuguese, or others who
should be captive in France.

This was readily agreed to, so far as regarded foreign troops in British
pay; but it was equally unreasonable and contrary to usage to require
that we should restore to France her native subjects, whose services she
might use to augment her military force, while we received in exchange
foreigners, unconnected with us by service or allegiance, and who,
perhaps, when set at liberty, might be as apt to join the French ranks,
as those of the nation in whose name they had obtained freedom.

After much wrangling and dispute, Mr. Mackenzie, to show the sincere
desire which the British government entertained of releasing the
prisoners on both sides, made a proposal that the exchange should
commence by liberating as many French prisoners as could be balanced by
British captives in the French prisons; that after this, captives of
every nation should be exchanged indifferently on both sides; and
whatever number of prisoners might remain on either side, after the
general balance had been struck, should also be set at liberty, upon an
engagement not to serve till regularly exchanged. To this proposal--a
more liberal one could hardly be made--the French only answered by
starting new demands, and making new objections. Among these, perhaps,
it will scarcely be believed, that Moustier, the French commissioner,
had the modesty to propose that Lord Wellington and his army, lying in
the lines at Torres Vedras, should be reckoned as French prisoners in
the proposed cartel! Mr. Mackenzie answered with becoming spirit, that
he would neither be the medium through which his Government should be
insulted by such a proposal, nor would he proceed in the negotiation
until this impertinence were atoned for.

It is needless to proceed farther in the elusory detail of a treaty,
which Napoleon had previously determined should be brought to no useful
issue. He had calculated which country could best support the absence of
their prisoners, or rather to whom their services were of most
consequence. He felt that he himself, by the conscription, as well as by
the auxiliary troops which he could summon at pleasure from his
neighbours or dependents, could always command a sufficiency of men even
for his gigantic undertakings; while to Britain, whose soldiers could
only be obtained by a high bounty, the deliverance of her prisoners was
proportionally more valuable. Whatever was his view in establishing the
negotiation, which was probably only to satisfy the French army, by
evincing a seeming interest in the unfortunate portion of their brethren
in arms who were immured in English prisons, they gave way to the
consideration, that while things remained as they were, Britain
suffered more in proportion than France.

Some proposals for a general peace had been made during the conferences
at Morlaix; and the British Government had stated three different
principles, any of which they expressed themselves willing to admit as a
basis. These were, first, the state of possession before the war; or,
secondly, the present state of possession; or, thirdly, a plan of
reciprocal compensations. But none of these principles suited the French
Government to act upon; so that the treaty for a general peace, and that
for restoring, taking into calculation the prisoners on both sides,
upwards of a hundred thousand human beings to liberty, their country,
and their home, proved both of them altogether nugatory.

The note of defiance was therefore resumed, so soon as it had been
ascertained that Britain would reject any terms of peace which were not
founded on equal and liberal principles. An oration of Count Semonville
demonstrated, that it was all owing to the persevering ambition of
England that Buonaparte had been obliged to possess himself of the
sea-coast of Europe--that all his encroachments on the land were the
necessary consequences of her empire of the seas. He then demanded, in
prophetic fury, to know what in future would be the bounds of
possibility. "It is the part of England," he said, "to reply. Let her
turn her eyes on the past, and learn to judge from thence the events of
the future. France and Napoleon will never change."


[72] Annual Register, vol. li., p. 475.

[73] "A conspiracy of no common kind tore him from the throne, and
transported him out of his states. The unanimity evinced against him is,
no doubt, a proof of the wrongs he had committed. I am ready to admit,
that he was inexcusable and even mad; but it is, notwithstanding,
extraordinary and unexampled, that, in that crisis a single sword was
not drawn in his defence, whether from affection, from gratitude, from
virtuous feeling, or even from mere simplicity, if it must be so; and
truly, it is a circumstance which does little honour to the atmosphere
of kings."--NAPOLEON, _Las Cases_, tom. iii., p. 169.

[74] Fouché, tom. i., p. 337.

[75] "The real king," he said, "according to my political system and the
true interests of France, was the king of Denmark; because I should then
have governed Sweden by the influence of my simple contact with the
Danish provinces."

[76] "I, the elected monarch of the people, had to answer, that I could
not set myself against the elections of other people. It was what I told
Bernadotte, whose whole attitude betrayed the anxiety excited by the
expectation of my answer. I added, that he had only to take advantage of
the good-will of which he had been the object; that I wished to be
considered as having had no weight in his election, but that it had my
approbation and my best wishes. I felt, however, shall I say it, a
secret instinct, which made the thing disagreeable and painful.
Bernadotte was, in fact, the serpent which I nourished in my
bosom."--NAPOLEON, _Las Cases_, tom. iii., p. 171.

OF SWEDEN, in the Appendix to this Volume, No. I.

[78] Annual Register, vol. lii., p. 518.


    _View of Napoleon's gigantic Power--The Empress Maria Louisa
    delivered of a Son--Criticism on the Title given him, of King of
    Rome--Speculations in regard to the advantages or disadvantages
    arising from this Event--Retrospect--Ex-Queen of Etruria--Her severe
    and unjustifiable Treatment by Napoleon--Lucien Buonaparte is
    invited to England, where he writes Epic Poetry--Attempt to deliver
    Ferdinand, defeated--Operations in Portugal--Retreat of
    Massena--Battles of Fuentes d'Onoro fought by Lord Wellington--On
    the South Frontier of Portugal, by Lord Beresford--Of Barossa, by
    General Graham--Enterprise of Arroyo-Molinas--Spaniards defeated
    under Blake--Valencia captured by the French, and he and his Army
    made Prisoners of War--Disunion among the French Generals--Joseph
    wishes to abdicate the Throne of Spain._


The natural consequences of an overgrown empire were already sapping
that of Napoleon; for extent of territory does not constitute power, any
more than corpulence in the human frame constitutes strength or health;
and Napoleon's real authority was in truth greater some years before,
than now when his dominion was so much enlarged. The war in Spain,
maintained at such an expense of blood and treasure, was a wasting and
consuming sore. The kingdom of Holland had afforded him supplies more
readily, and had more the means of doing so, when under the dominion of
his brother Louis, than the Dutch now either showed or possessed, when
ranked as a constituent part of the French empire. The same might be
said of the states and free towns in the north of Germany; where, in
many instances, strong bands of smugglers, dressed and armed as guerilla
parties, maintained a desultory war with the officers of the French
customs; and, moved equally by national hatred and the love of gain won
by desperate risks, made in some districts a kind of petty civil war.
Yet, though such cankerworms gnawed the root of the tree, the branches
and foliage, to all outward appearance, extended a broader shade than
ever. It was especially when a formal annunciation, both in France and
Austria, called the good subjects of both realms to rejoice in the
prospect that Maria Louisa would soon give an heir to Napoleon, that men
who opened the map of Europe saw with fear and wonder the tremendous
inheritance to which the expected infant was likely to succeed.

The actual dominions of France, governed by Napoleon in his own proper
right as Emperor of the French, had gradually attained the following
extravagant dimensions. They extended, from north-east to south-west,
from Travemunde, on the Baltic ocean, to the foot of the Pyrenees; and,
from north-west to south-east, from the port of Brest to Terracina, on
the confines of the Neapolitan territories. A population of forty-two
millions of people, fitted in various ways to secure the prosperity of a
state, and inhabiting, for wealth, richness of soil, and felicity of
climate, by far the finest portion of the civilized earth, formed the
immediate liege subjects of this magnificent empire.

Yet, to stop here were greatly to undervalue the extent of Napoleon's
power. We have to add to his personal empire Carniola and the Illyrian
provinces, and also the fine kingdom of Italy. Then, in his character of
Mediator of the Helvetian Republic, the Emperor exercised an almost
absolute authority in Switzerland, which furnished him, though
unwillingly, with several fine regiments of auxiliaries. The German
confederation of the Rhine, though numbering kings among their league,
were at the slightest hint bound to supply him each with his prescribed
quota of forces, with a readiness and an affectation of zeal very
different from the slack and reluctant manner in which they formerly
supplied their paltry contingents to the Emperor of Germany.

Murat, with his kingdom of Naples, was at his brother-in-law's disposal;
and if, as Buonaparte's hopes whispered, the Peninsula should ultimately
prove unable to resist the war he waged, then Spain and Portugal would
be added to his immense empire, being now in the state of sturdy and
contumacious rebels, whose resistance seemed in the speedy prospect of
being finally subdued. Thus, an empire of 800,000 square miles, and
containing a population of 85 millions, in territory one-fifth part, and
in the number of inhabitants one-half, of united Europe, was either in
quiet subjection to Napoleon's sceptre, or on the point, as was
supposed, of becoming so.

Of those who shared amongst them the residue of Europe, and still
maintained some claim to independence, Britain might make the proud
boast, that she was diametrically in opposition to the Ruler of the
world; that, in the long-continued strife, she had dealt him injuries as
deep as she had ever received, and had disdained, under any
circumstances, to treat with him on less terms than those of equality.
Not to that fair land be the praise, though she supported many burdens
and endured great losses; but to Providence, who favoured her efforts
and strengthened her resolutions; who gave her power to uphold her own
good cause, which, in truth, was that of European independence, and
courage to trust in the justice of Heaven, when the odds mustered
against her seemed, in earthly calculation, so dreadful as to deprive,
the wise of the head to counsel; the brave, of the heart to resist!

Denmark, so powerful was the voice which France had in her councils,
might almost be accounted humbled to one of the federative

Sweden had but a moderate and second-rate degree of power. She felt, as
other German nations, the withering blight of the Continental, or
Anti-social System; but, circumstanced as she was, with the possession
of Swedish Pomerania dependent on French pleasure, she had no other
remedy than to wait her opportunity.

Still more was this the case with Prussia, through all her provinces the
mortal enemy of the French name, but whom the large garrisons which
France had planted in her dominions, and the numerous forces which she
maintained there, compelled for the time to be as submissive as a
handmaiden. It was true that the court were as noiselessly as possible,
endeavouring to revive their military establishment; that they were
dismissing the villains who had sold and betrayed their country, and
replacing them by age which had been tried, or youth which had witnessed
the agony of their country, and been trained up in thinking, that to
avenge her was their dearest duty. True it was, also, that the people in
Prussia, and many other parts of Germany, waited as for the day dawning,
for the hope of winning back their freedom; but outward appearances
indicated nothing of these smothered hopes, wishes, and preparations;
and the general eye saw in Prussia only a nation resigned to her
bondage, without, apparently, any hope of redemption.

Austria, besides the terrible losses which the last war had brought upon
her, was now fettered to Napoleon by a link which gave the proud House
of Hapsburg an apology for the submission, or at least the observance,
which she paid to the son-in-law of her Emperor.

Turkey, though she would have had her turn, had the tide of fortune
continued to keep the course in which it had so long flowed, was not yet
in the way of being comprehended in Napoleon's plan of politics.

Russia was waging with the Porte an impolitic war of acquisition, to
realise some of the selfish plans of aggrandisement which Napoleon had
assented to, or perhaps suggested, at Tilsit and Erfurt. But he now
witnessed them without wishing them success, and listened to the
complaints of Austria, who unwillingly saw the ambitious views of Russia
in these provinces. Of all the continental states, therefore, assuming
even the semblance of independence, Russia seemed alone to possess it in
reality; and from late acts of estrangement--such as the protest on the
subject of the Duchy of Oldenburg, and the reception of British ships
and merchandise into her ports--it certainly appeared that a different
spirit was in the councils of this great empire than had ruled them
during the meetings at Tilsit and Erfurt. Yet there were but few who
thought that Russia, in opposition to the whole continent of Europe,
would dare confront Napoleon; and still fewer, even of the most sanguine
politicians, had any deep-grounded hope that her opposition would be
effectual. Out of such a Cimmerian midnight, to all human views, was the
day-spring of European liberty destined to arise.

America, happy in the Atlantic which severed her from Europe, now an
almost universal scene of war or slavery, looked on in conscious
security, and by reviving at this crisis disputed claims upon Britain,
seemed to listen more to the recollection of recent enmity, than of
mutual language, manners, and descent.


Within a year after her marriage with Napoleon, the young Empress was
announced to have been taken with the pains of labour. The case was a
difficult and distressing one; and the professional person employed lost
courage, and was afraid to do what was necessary. Napoleon appeared in
the apartment, and commanded him to proceed as if the patient were the
wife of an ordinary burgess. She was at length successfully and safely
delivered of a fine boy, which Buonaparte, with feelings, doubtless, as
highly strung as after a battle gained, carried into the next apartment,
and exhibited in triumph to the great officers and courtiers, by whom he
was unanimously hailed King of Rome, the dignity which had been destined
to the heir of the French Republic.

The title did not, indeed, pass uncriticised. Some said, that taking the
regal designation from a city where the very name of king had been
accounted unlucky, had an ominous presage. Catholics objected to it, as
it necessarily carried with it the recollection of the sacrilegious
violence which had stripped the Pope of his temporal possessions. And
lastly, it was asked, what chance there ever was of the execution of
that part of the Italian constitution, which, after Napoleon's death,
guaranteed the succession in the kingdom of Italy to some one different
from the Emperor of France, when the title of King of Rome was assumed
as that of the heir of the French empire?[79]

Such ominous remarks, however, only circulated among the disaffected, or
passed with anti-imperial jests, satires, and calembourgs, through such
saloons of the Faubourg St. Germain, as were still tenanted by the
ancient and faithful adherents of the House of Bourbon. The city of
Paris made as general a show of rejoicing as they ever testified when an
heir was born to one of their most beloved sovereigns; deputations with
addresses came from public bodies of every description; and, that
flattery might sound the very base string of humility, the fashionable
colour of dress for the season bore a name alluding to the young King of
Rome, which delicacy, if not pride, ought to have rejected. But,
perhaps, the strangest circumstance of the whole was, that the old
dethroned King of Spain, and his consort, undertook a journey, for the
purpose of carrying their personal congratulations on the birth of an
heir, to one who had deposed, and was detaining in prison their own
lineage, and had laid Spain, their native dominions, in blood, from the
Pyrenees to the Pillars of Hercules.

Napoleon, and his more devoted admirers, rejoiced in this happy
incident, as that which was most likely, in their eyes, to sustain the
Empire of France, when fate should remove him by whom it was founded.
The protection of the House of Austria, and the charm flung around the
child by the high fame of the father, could not, it was thought, but
ensure a peaceful accession to the throne, and an undisturbed security
in possessing it. His life, too, was ensured in future against such
fanatics as that of Schoenbrun; for what purpose would it serve to cut
off the Emperor, when the empire was to survive, and descend in all its
strength upon his son and heir?

Others there were, who pretended that the advantages arising from the
birth of the King of Rome, were balanced by corresponding
inconveniences. These asserted, that several of the French great
generals had followed the fortunes of Napoleon, in hopes that, upon his
death in battle, or upon his natural decease, they, or some of them,
might, like the successors of Alexander the Great, share amongst them
the ample succession of kingdoms and principalities which were likely to
become the property of the strongest and bravest, in the lottery which
might be expected to take place on the death of the great favourite of
Fortune. These great soldiers, it was surmised, being cut short of this
fair prospect, would no longer have the same motives for serving the
living Napoleon, whose inheritance at his death was now to descend, like
the patrimony of a peasant or burgess, in the regular and lawful line of
inheritance. But the politicians who argued thus, did not sufficiently
regard the pitch of superiority which Napoleon had attained over those
around him; his habit of absolute command, theirs of implicit obedience;
and the small likelihood there was of any one who served under him
venturing to incur his displeasure, and the risk of losing the rank and
fortune which most had actually obtained, by showing any marks of
coldness or dissatisfaction, on account of the disappointment of distant
and visionary hopes.

There were others who augured different consequences, from the effect of
the same event on the feelings of Buonaparte's enemies, both open and
unavowed. It had been a general belief, and certainly was founded on
probability, that the immense but ill-constructed empire which Napoleon
had erected would fall to pieces, so soon as it was not kept steady and
compact by the fear and admiration of his personal talents. Hence the
damp cast by persons affecting a wise caution, upon the general desire
to shake off the yoke of France. They enlarged upon the invincible
talent, upon the inevitable destinies of Napoleon personally; but they
consoled the more impatient patriots, by counselling them to await his
death, before making a daring attempt to vindicate their freedom. Such
counsels were favourably listened to, because men are, in spite of
themselves, always willing to listen to prudent arguments, when they
tend to postpone desperate risks. But this species of argument was
ended, when the inheritance of despotism seemed ready to be transmitted
from father to son in direct descent. There was no termination seen to
the melancholy prospect, nor was it easy for the most lukewarm of
patriots to assign any longer a reason for putting off till Napoleon's
death the resistance which to-day demanded. Under these various lights
was the birth of the King of Rome considered; and it may after all
remain a matter of doubt, whether the blessing of a son and heir,
acceptable as it must necessarily have been to his domestic feelings,
was politically of that advantage to him which the Emperor of France
unquestionably expected.

And now, before we begin to trace the growing differences betwixt France
and Russia, which speedily led to such important consequences, we may
briefly notice some circumstances connected with Spain and with Spanish
affairs, though the two incidents which we are to mention first, are
rather of a detached and insulated nature.


The first of these refers to the Ex-Queen of Etruria, a daughter, it
will be remembered, of Charles, King of Spain, and a sister of
Ferdinand. Upon this princess and her son, Buonaparte had settled the
kingdom of Etruria, or Tuscany. Preparatory to the Bayonne intrigue, he
had forcibly deprived her of this dignity, in order to offer it as an
indemnification to Ferdinand for the cession, which he proposed to that
unhappy prince, of the inheritance of Spain. Having contrived to obtain
that cession without any compensation, Buonaparte reserved Etruria to
himself, and retained the late Queen as a hostage. For some time she was
permitted to reside with her parents at Compeigne; but afterwards, under
pretext of conducting her to Parma, she was escorted to Nice, and there
subjected to the severe vigilance of the police. The princess appears to
have been quicker in her feelings than the greater part of her family,
which does not, indeed, argue any violent degree of sensibility.
Terrified, however, and alarmed at the situation in which she found
herself, she endeavoured to effect an escape into England. Two gentlemen
of her retinue were sent to Holland, for the purpose of arranging her
flight, but her project was discovered. On the 16th April, 1811,
officers of police and gendarmes broke into the residence of the Queen
at Nice, seized her person and papers, and, after detaining her in
custody for two months, and threatening to try her by a military
tribunal, they at length intimated to her a sentence, condemning her,
with her daughter (her son had been left very much indisposed at
Compeigne,) to be detained close prisoners in a monastery at Rome, to
which she was compelled to repair within twenty-four hours after the
notice of her doom. Her two agents, who had been previously made
prisoners, were sent to Paris. They were condemned to death by a
military commission, and were brought out for that purpose to the plain
of Gresnelle. One was shot on the spot, and pardon was extended to his
companion when he was about to suffer the same punishment. The mental
agony of the poor man had, however, affected the sources of life, and he
died within a few days after the reprieve. The severity of this conduct
towards a princess--a Queen indeed--who had placed her person in
Napoleon's hands, under the expectation that her liberty at least should
not be abridged, was equally a breach of justice, humanity, and
gentlemanlike courtesy.[80]


It is curious, that about the same time when Napoleon treated with so
much cruelty a foreign and independent princess, merely because she
expressed a desire to exchange her residence from France to England, his
own brother, Lucien, was received with hospitality in that island, so
heartily detested, so frequently devoted to the fate of a second
Carthage. Napoleon, who was always resolute in considering the princes
of his own blood as the first slaves in the state, had become of late
very urgent with Lucien to dismiss his wife, and unite himself with some
of the royal families on the continent, or at least to agree to bestow
the hand of his daughter upon young Ferdinand of Spain, who had risen
in favour by his behaviour on an occasion immediately to be mentioned.
But Lucien, determined at this time not to connect himself or his family
with the career of his relative's ambition, resolved to settle in
America, and place the Atlantic betwixt himself and the importunities of
his Imperial brother. He applied to the British minister at Sardinia for
a pass, who was under the necessity of referring him to his Government.
On this second application he was invited to England, where he was
permitted to live in freedom upon his parole, one officer only having a
superintendence of his movements and correspondence.[81] These were in
every respect blameless; and the ex-statesman, who had played so
distinguished a part in the great revolutionary game, was found able to
amuse himself with the composition of an epic poem on the subject of
Charlemagne;[82]--somewhat more harmlessly than did his brother
Napoleon, in endeavouring again to rebuild and consolidate the vast
empire of the son of Pepin.

Another intrigue of a singular character, and which terminated in an
unexpected manner, originated in an attempt of the English Ministry to
achieve the liberty of Ferdinand, the lawful King of Spain. A royal and
a popular party had begun to show themselves in that distracted country,
and to divert the attention of the patriots from uniting their efforts
to accomplish the object of most engrossing importance, the recovery,
namely, of their country, from the intruding monarch and the French
armies. The English Government were naturally persuaded that Ferdinand,
to whose name his subjects were so strongly attached, would be desirous
and capable of placing himself, were he at liberty, at their head,
putting an end to their disputes by his authority, and giving their
efforts an impulse, which could be communicated by no one but the King
of Spain to the Spanish nation. It is no doubt true, that, had the
Government of England known the real character of this prince, a wish
for his deliverance from France, or his presence in Spain, would have
been the last which they would have formed. This misapprehension,
however, was natural, and was acted upon.

A Piedmontese, of Irish extraction, called the Baron Kolli (or Kelly,)
the selected agent of the British government, was furnished with some
diamonds and valuable articles, under pretext of disposing of which he
was to obtain admission to the Prince, then a prisoner at Valençay,
where his chief amusement, it is believed, was embroidering a gown and
petticoat, to be presented to the Virgin Mary. Kolli was then to have
informed the Prince of his errand, effected Ferdinand's escape by means
of confederates among the royalist party, and conveyed him to the coast,
where a small squadron awaited the event of the enterprise, designed to
carry the King of Spain to Gibraltar, or whither else he chose. In March
1810, Kolli was put ashore in Quiberon bay, whence he went to Paris, to
prepare for his enterprise. He was discovered, however, by the
police,[83] and arrested at the moment when he was setting out for
Valençay. Some attempts were made to induce him to proceed with the
scheme, of which his papers enabled the police to comprehend the general
plan, keeping communication at the same time with the French minister.
As he disdained to undertake this treacherous character, Kolli was
committed close prisoner to the castle of Vincennes, while a person--the
same who betrayed his principal, and whose exterior in some degree
answered the description of the British emissary--was sent to represent
him at the castle of Valençay.

But Ferdinand, either suspicious of the snare which was laid for him, or
poor-spirited enough to prefer a safe bondage to a brave risk incurred
for liberty, would not listen to the supposed agent of Britain, and
indeed denounced the pretended Kolli to Barthemy, the governor of the
castle. The false Kolli, therefore, returned to Paris, while the real
one remained in the castle of Vincennes till the capture of Paris by the
allies. Ferdinand took credit, in a letter to Buonaparte, for having
resisted the temptation held out to him by the British Government, who
had, as he pathetically observed, abused his name, and occasioned, by
doing so, the shedding of much blood in Spain. He again manifested his
ardent wish to become the adopted son of the Emperor; his hope that the
author and abettors of the scheme to deliver him might be brought to
condign punishment; and concluded with a hint, that he was extremely
desirous to leave Valençay, a residence which had nothing about it but
what was unpleasant, and was not in any respect fitted for him. The hint
of Ferdinand about a union with Buonaparte's family, probably led to the
fresh importunity on the Emperor's part, which induced Lucien to leave
Italy. Ferdinand did not obtain the change of residence he desired, nor
does he seem to have profited in any way by his candour towards his
keeper, excepting that he evaded the strict confinement, or yet worse
fate, to which he might have been condemned, had he imprudently confided
in the false Baron Kolli.[84]


In Portugal, the great struggle betwixt Massena and Wellington, upon
which, as we formerly observed, the eyes of the world were fixed, had
been finally decided in favour of the English general. This advantage
was attained by no assistance of the elements--by none of those casual
occurrences which are called chances of war--by no dubious, or even
venturous risks--by the decision of no single battle lost or won; but
solely by the superiority of one great general over another, at the
awful game in which neither had yet met a rival.

For more than four months, Massena, with as fine an army as had ever
left France, lay looking at the impregnable lines with which the British
forces, so greatly inferior in numerical strength, were covering Lisbon,
the object of his expedition. To assail in such a position troops, whose
valour he had felt at Busaco, would have been throwing away the lives of
his soldiers; and to retreat, was to abandon the enterprise which his
master had intrusted to him, with a confidence in his skill and his
good fortune, which must, in that case, have been thereafter sorely
abated. Massena tried every effort which military skill could supply, to
draw his foe out of his place of advantage. He threatened to carry the
war across the Tagus--he threatened to extend his army towards Oporto;
but each demonstration he made had been calculated upon and anticipated
by his antagonist, and was foiled almost without an effort. At length,
exhausted by the want of supplies, and the interruption of his
communications, after lying one month at Alenquer, Massena retreated to
Santarem, as preferable winter-quarters; but, in the beginning of March,
he found that these were equally untenable, and became fully sensible,
that if he desired to save the remnant of a sickly and diminished army,
it must necessarily be by a speedy retreat.

This celebrated movement, decisive of the fate of the campaign,
commenced about the 4th of March. There are two different points in
which Massena's conduct may be regarded, and they differ as light and
darkness. If it be considered in the capacity of that of a human being,
the indignant reader, were we to detail the horrors which he permitted
his soldiers to perpetrate, would almost deny his title to the name. It
is a vulgar superstition, that when the Enemy of mankind is invoked, and
appears, he destroys in his retreat the building which has witnessed the
apparition. It seemed as if the French, in leaving Portugal, were
determined that ruins alone should remain to show they had once been
there. Military license was let loose in its most odious and frightful
shape, and the crimes which were committed embraced all that is horrible
to humanity. But if a curtain is dropped on these horrors, and Massena
is regarded merely as a military leader, his retreat, perhaps, did him
as much honour as any of the great achievements which formerly had made
his name famous. If he had been rightly called Fortune's favourite, he
now showed that his reputation did not depend on her smile, but could be
maintained by his own talents, while she shone on other banners. In
retreating through the north of Portugal, a rugged and mountainous
country, he was followed by Lord Wellington, who allowed him not a
moment's respite. The movements of the troops, to those who understood,
and had the calmness to consider them, were as regular consequences of
each other, as occur in the game of chess.[85]

The French were repeatedly seen drawn up on ground where it seemed
impossible to dislodge them; and as often the bayonets of a British
column, which had marched by some distant route, were observed twinkling
in the direction of their flank, intimating that their line was about to
be turned. But this was only the signal for Massena to recommence his
retreat, which he did before the English troops could come up; nor did
he fail again to halt where opportunity offered, until again dislodged
by his sagacious and persevering pursuer. At length the French were
fairly driven out of the Portuguese territory, excepting the garrison in
the frontier town of Almeida, of which Lord Wellington formed first the
blockade, and afterwards the siege.


So soon as he escaped from the limits of Portugal, Massena hastened to
draw together such reinforcements as he could obtain in Castile,
collected once more a large force, and within about a fortnight after he
had effected his retreat, resumed the offensive, with the view of
relieving Almeida, which was the sole trophy remaining to show his
triumphant advance in the preceding season. Lord Wellington did not
refuse the battle, which took place on the 5th of May, near Fuentes
d'Onoro. The conflict was well disputed, but the French general
sustained a defeat, notwithstanding his superiority of numbers, and
particularly of cavalry. He then retreated from the Portuguese frontier,
having previously sent orders for the evacuation of Almeida by the
garrison, which the French commandant executed with much dexterity.[86]

On the more southern frontier of Portugal, Lord Beresford fought also a
dreadful and sanguinary battle. The action was in some measure
indecisive, but Soult, who commanded the French, failed in obtaining
such a success as enabled him to accomplish his object, which was the
raising of the siege of Badajos. In Portugal, therefore, and along its
frontiers, the British had been uniformly successful, and their
countrymen at home began once more to open their ears to the suggestions
of hope and courage.

Cadiz, also, the remaining bulwark of the patriots, had been witness to
a splendid action. General Graham, with a body of British troops, had
sallied out from the garrison in March 1811, and obtained a victory upon
the heights of Barossa, which, had he been properly seconded by the
Spanish General Lapena, would have been productive of a serious
influence upon the events of the siege; and which, even though it
remained imperfect, gave heart and confidence to the besieged, and
struck a perpetual damp into the besiegers, who found themselves bearded
in their own position. There had been much fighting through Spain with
various results. But if we dare venture to use such an emblem, the bush,
though burning, was not consumed, and Spain continued that sort of
general resistance which seemed to begin after all usual means of
regular opposition had failed, as Nature often musters her strength to
combat a disease which the medical assistants have pronounced mortal.

Catalonia, though her strongholds were lost, continued, under the
command of De Lacy and D'Eroles, to gain occasional advantages over the
enemy; and Spain saw Figueras, one of her strongest fortresses,
recovered by the bold stratagem of Rovira, a doctor of divinity, and
commander of a guerilla party. Being instantly besieged by the French,
and ill supplied with provisions, the place was indeed speedily
regained; but the possibility of its being taken, was, to the peculiarly
tenacious spirit of the Spaniards, more encouraging than its recapture
was matter of dismay.

But chiefly the auxiliary British, with the Portuguese, who, trained by
the care of Lord Beresford, were fit to sustain their part in line by
the side of their allies, showed that they were conducted in a different
spirit from that which made their leaders in former expeditions stand
with one foot on sea and one on land, never venturing from the sight of
the ocean, as if they led amphibious creatures, who required the use of
both elements to secure their existence; and the scheme of whose
campaign was to rout and repel, as they best could, the attacks of the
enemy, but seldom to venture upon anticipating or disconcerting his
plans. To protect Galicia, for example, when invaded by the French, Lord
Wellington, though with a much inferior army than he was well aware
could be brought against him, formed the blockade of Ciudad Rodrigo;
thus compelling the enemy to desist from their proposed attempt on that
province, and to concentrate their forces for the relief of that
important place. Such a concentration could not, in the condition of the
French armies, be effected without much disadvantage. It afforded
breathing space for all the guerillas, and an opportunity, which they
never neglected, of acting with their usual courage and sagacity against
small parties and convoys of the French, as well as that of seizing upon
any posts which the enemy might have been obliged to leave imperfectly
defended. And when the French had collected their whole force to
overwhelm the British general and his forces, Marmont had the
mortification to see the former withdraw from the presence of a superior
enemy, with as much calmness and security as if marching through a
peaceful country.

Nothing remained for the French general, save to detail in the pages of
the _Moniteur_, what must have been the fate of the English but for
their hasty and precipitate flight, when the well-concerted and
boldly-executed enterprise of Arroyo-Molinos, convinced him to his cost
that a retreat was no rout. In this village upwards of 1400 French were
taken prisoners, at a moment when they least expected to be attacked.
This little action showed a spirit of hazard, a disposition to assume
the offensive, which the French did not expect from the British forces;
and they were, for the first time, foiled in their own military
qualities of vigilance, enterprise, and activity. In Britain, also, the
nation perceived that their army showed the same courage and the same
superiority, which had been considered as the exclusive property of
their gallant sailors. The French were defeated under the rock of
Gibraltar by the Spanish General Ballasteros, and their general,
Godinet, blew out his own brains, rather than face the account, to which
Soult, his commander-in-chief, was about to summon him. Tarifa, in the
same quarter, was defended successfully by a garrison of mingled
Spaniards and British, and the French were computed to have lost before
it about two thousand five hundred men.

On the other hand, the French discipline continued to render them
superior over the patriots, wherever the latter could be brought to face
them in any thing resembling a pitched battle. Thus Blake, after a
gallant action, was totally defeated near Murviedro, and that town
itself fell into possession of the enemy. A more severe consequence of
the battle of Ocana, as that disastrous action was termed, was the
capture of Valencia, where Blake and the remainder of his army were made

But amid those vicissitudes of good or bad fortune, Spain continued to
Buonaparte the same harassing and exhausting undertaking, which it had
been almost from the commencement. Sickness and want made more ravages
amongst the French troops than the sword of the enemy, though that did
not lie idle. Many of the districts are unhealthy to strangers; but of
these, as well as others, it was necessary for the invaders to retain
possession. There, while numerous deaths happened among the troops, the
guerillas watched the remnant, until sickness and fatigue had reduced
the garrisons to a number insufficient for defence, and then pounced
upon them like birds of prey on a fallen animal, upon whom they have
been long in attendance.


Besides, disunion continued to reign among the French generals. Joseph,
although in point of power the very shadow of what a king ought to be,
had spirit enough to resent the condition in which he was placed amid
the haughty military chiefs who acknowledged no superior beside the
Emperor, and listened to no commands save those emanating from Paris. He
wrote to his brother a letter, accompanying a formal abdication of the
throne of Spain, unless he was to be placed in more complete authority
than even the orders of Napoleon himself had hitherto enabled him to
attain. But the prospect of a northern war approaching nearer and
nearer, Napoleon was induced to postpone his brother's request, although
so pressingly urged, and Spain was in some measure left to its fate
during the still more urgent events of the Russian campaign.[87]


[79] Jests, as well as serious observations, were made on this occasion.
"Have you any commands for France?" said a Frenchman at Naples to an
English friend; "I shall be there in two days."--"In France?" answered
his friend, "I thought you were setting off for Rome."--"True; but Rome,
by a decree of the Emperor, is now indissolubly united to France."--"I
have no news to burden you with," said his friend; "but can I do any
thing for you in England? I shall be there in half an hour."--"In
England?" said the Frenchman, "and in half an hour!"--"Yes," said his
friend, "within that time I shall be at sea, and the sea has been
indissolubly united to the British empire."--S.

[80] See Mémoires de Savary, tom. iii., part i., p. 37.

[81] Lucien landed at Portsmouth in December, 1810, and was conveyed to
Ludlow, which he soon after quitted for an estate called Thorngrove,
fifteen miles from that town. Restored to personal liberty by the peace
of Paris in 1814, he reached Rome in May; and was received by the
sovereign pontiff on the very night of his arrival. The holy father
immediately conferred on him the dignity of a Roman prince; and on the
next day all the nobles came to salute him, by the title of Prince of

[82] Lucien's poem of "Charlemagne, ou l'Eglise Delivrée," an epic in
twenty-four books, commenced at Tusculum, continued at Malta, and
completed in England, appeared in 1814. It was translated into English
by Dr. Butler and Mr. Hodgson. From the eighteenth canto, which was
written at Malta, and which opens with a digression personal to the
poet, we shall make a short extract:--

    "Je n'oublirai jamais ta bonté paternelle
    Favori du très-haut, Clermont, Pontife-roi!
    Au nouvel hémisphère entrainé loin de toi,
    Je t'y conserverai le cœur le plus fidèle:
    Confiant à la mer et ma femme et mes fils
          Sur des bords ennemis,
    J'espérai vainement un asile éphémère,
    Par un triste refus rejetté sur les flots,
    Après avoir long temps erré loin de la terre,
    Mélite dans son port enferma nos vaisseaux.

    "De la captivité je sens ici le poids!
    Rien ne plait en ces lieux à mon ame abbattue;
    Rien ne parle à mon cœur; rien ne s'offre à ma vue
    Accourez, mes enfants: viens, épouse chérie.
          Doux charme de ma vie,
    D'un seul de tes regards viens me rendre la paix.
    Il n'est plus de désert, ou brille ton sourire,
    Fuyez, sombres chagrins, souvenirs inquiets,
    Sur ce roc Africain, je resaissis ma lyre."

    "Prince Pontiff! loved of heaven--O, Clermont, say,
    What filial duties shall thy cares repay?
    E'en on the shores that skirt the western main,
    Still shall this heart its loyal faith maintain.
    My precious freight confiding to the deep,
    Children and wife, I left Frescati's steep,
    And ask'd a short retreat--I sought no more--
    But vainly sought it on a hostile shore.
    Thence by refusal stern and harsh repell'd,
    O'er the wide wat'ry waste my course I held,
    In sufferings oft, and oft in perils cast,
    Till Malta's port received our ships at last.

    "Here sad captivity's dull weight I find;
    Nought pleases here, nought soothes my listless mind:
    Nought here can bid my sickening heart rejoice,
    Speak to my soul, or animate my voice.
    Run to my knees, my children! cherish'd wife,
    Come, softest charm and solace of my life,
    One look from thee shall all my peace restore:
    Where beams thy smile, the desert is no more.
    Hence, restless memory--hence, repinings vain!--
    On Afric's rock I seize my lyre again."

[83] "He was discovered by his always drinking a bottle of the best
wine, which so ill corresponded with his dress and apparent poverty,
that it excited a suspicion amongst some of the spies, and he was
arrested, searched, and his papers taken from him."--NAPOLEON, _Voice,
&c._, vol. ii., p. 119.

[84] See "Report concerning Kolli's Plan for liberating Ferdinand, King
of Spain," Annual Register, vol. lii., p. 497.

[85] Savary, tom. iii., part i., p. 53.

[86] "The Emperor recalled Massena, who was quite exhausted by fatigue,
and unable to bestow that attention to his troops which was necessary
for restoring them to their former state of efficiency; and he selected
for his successor in the command Marshal Marmont, the Governor of
Illyria."--SAVARY, tom. iii., part i., p. 54.

[87] Fouché, tom. ii., p. 71.


    _Retrospect of the causes leading to the Rupture with
    Russia--originate in the Treaty of Tilsit--Russia's alleged Reasons
    of Complaint--Arguments of Napoleon's Counsellors against War with
    Russia--Fouché is against the War--Presents a Memorial to Napoleon
    upon the Subject--His Answer--Napoleon's Views in favour of the War,
    as urged to his various Advisers._


We are now approaching the verge of that fated year, when Fortune,
hitherto unwearied in her partiality towards Napoleon, turned first upon
himself, personally, a clouded and stormy aspect. Losses he had
sustained both by land and sea, but he could still remark, as when he
first heard of the defeat at Trafalgar--"I was not there--I could not be
every where at once." But he was soon to experience misfortunes, to the
narrative of which he could not apply this proud commentary. The reader
must be first put in remembrance of the causes of the incipient quarrel
betwixt the empire of France and that of Russia.

Notwithstanding the subsequent personal intimacy which took place
betwixt the two sovereigns, and which for five years prevented the
springing up of any enmity betwixt Alexander and Napoleon, the seeds of
that quarrel were, nevertheless, to be found in the treaty of
pacification of Tilsit itself.[88] Russia, lying remote from aggression
in every other part of her immense territory, is open to injury on that
important western frontier by which she is united with Europe, and in
those possessions by virtue of which she claims to be a member of the
European republic. The partition of Poland, unjust as it was in every
point of view, was a measure of far greater importance to Russia than
either to Austria or Prussia; for, while that state possessed its former
semi-barbarous and stormy independence, it lay interposed in a great
measure betwixt Russia and the rest of Europe, or, in other words,
betwixt her and the civilized world. Any revolution which might restore
Poland to the independence, for which the inhabitants had not ceased to
sigh, would have effectually thrust the Czar back upon his forests,
destroyed his interest and influence in European affairs, and reduced
him comparatively to the rank of an Asiatic sovereign. This liberation
of their country, and the reunion of its dismembered provinces under a
national constitution, was what the Poles expected from Buonaparte. For
this they crowded to his standard after the battle of Jena; and although
he was too cautious to promise any thing explicitly concerning the
restoration of Poland to its rank among nations, yet most of his
measures indicated a future purpose of accomplishing that work. Thus,
when those Polish provinces which had fallen to the portion of Prussia,
were formed into the Grand Duchy of Warsaw, as an independent
principality, and the sovereignty was conferred, not without a secret
meaning, on the King of Saxony, a descendant of the ancient monarchs of
Poland, what could this be supposed to indicate, save the commencement
of an independent state, to which might be added, as opportunity
occurred, the remaining districts of Poland which had been seized upon
by Austria and Russia? "To what purpose," asked those statesmen, who
belonged to the old Russian or anti-Gallican party in the empire, "are
those stipulations for a free military road and passage of troops from
Saxony to Warsaw and its territory, through Silesia, if it is not that
France may preserve the means of throwing an overpowering force into the
duchy, so soon as it shall be her pleasure to undo the work of the sage
Catherine, by depriving Russia of those rich Polish provinces, which her
policy had added to the empire? Wherefore," asked the same persons,
"should there have been a special article in the same treaty of Tilsit,
that France should retain Dantzic until a maritime peace, unless it was
to serve as a place of arms in the event of a new war with Russia, the
probability of which Napoleon, therefore, must certainly have calculated
upon, even at the very moment when he cultivated such close personal
intimacy with the Emperor Alexander?"

These suspicions were considerably increased by the articles of peace
concluded with Austria at Schoenbrun. By that treaty all Western
Galicia, together with the city of Cracow, and other territories, were
disjoined from Austria, and added to the dukedom of Warsaw, marking, it
was supposed, still farther, the intention of Napoleon, at one time or
another, to restore in its integrity the ancient kingdom of Poland, of
which Russia alone now held the full share allotted to her by the
partition treaties.

Other causes led to the same conclusion. The old Russians, a numerous
and strong party in the empire, which comprehended the greater part of
the large landholders, felt, as they had done under the Emperor Paul,
much distress, national and personal, from the interruption of the
British trade by Buonaparte's Continental System. Their timber, their
pitch, their potash, their hemp, and other bulky and weighty
commodities, the chief produce of their estates, for which the British
had been ready customers, remained on their hands, while they were
deprived of the colonial produce and manufactures of Britain, which they
were wont to receive in exchange for those articles, with mutual profit
and convenience to both parties. It was in vain that, to reconcile them
to this state of interdiction, they saw in the speeches and decrees of
Buonaparte, tirades about the freedom of the seas, and the maritime
tyranny of England. It seemed an ill-omened species of liberation, which
began by the destruction of their commerce and impoverishment of their
estates; and the Russian Boyards could no more comprehend the
declamation of Buonaparte against the English, than the millers of the
Ebro could be made to understand the denunciation of Don Quixote against
their customers. These magnates only saw that the Ruler of France wished
them to submit to great commercial distress and inconvenience, in order
to accelerate his plan of ruining Great Britain, after which achievement
he might find it a more easy undertaking to destroy their own natural
importance as a European power, by re-establishing Poland, and resuming
the fertile provinces on the western boundary; thus leading the Russian
Cabinet, if the French interest should remain paramount there, by a very
disadvantageous road to a still more disastrous conclusion.

There was, besides, spread through the Russian nation generally, a sense
that France was treating their Emperor rather on the footing of an
inferior. It is a thing entirely unknown in diplomacy, that one
government should pretend a right to dictate to another who is upon
terms of equality, the conditions on which she should conduct her
commerce; and the assuming such a right, seconded by threatening
language in case of non-compliance, has been always held a legitimate
cause of war. Indeed, the opinion that the French league disgraced the
Russian nation, plunged their country into embarrassments, and was
likely to occasion still farther misfortunes to them, became so general,
that the Emperor must have paid some attention to the wishes of his
people, even if his own friendship with Buonaparte had not been cooled
by late occurrences.

The alliance with Austria was of a character calculated to alarm
Alexander. Russia and Austria, though they had a common interest to
withstand the overpowering strength of Buonaparte, had been in ordinary
times always rivals, and sometimes enemies. It was the interference of
Austria, which, upon several occasions, checked the progress of the
Russians in Turkey, and it was Austria also which formed a barrier
against the increase of their power in the south of Europe. The family
connexion, therefore, formed by Buonaparte with the House of Hapsburg,
made him still more formidable to Russia, as likely to embrace the
quarrels and forward the pretensions of that power against the Czar,
even if France herself should have none to discuss with him.

But there was no need to have recourse to remote causes of suspicion.
Russia had, and must always have had, direct and immediate cause of
jealousy, while France or her Emperor claimed the permanent right of
thinking and deciding for her, as well as other nations, in the
relations of commerce and others, in which every independent state is
most desirous of exercising the right of deliberating for herself. This
was the true state of the case. To remain the ally of Buonaparte,
Alexander must have become his vassal; to attempt to be independent of
him, was to make him his enemy; and it can be no wonder that a
sovereign so proud and powerful as the Czar, chose rather to stand the
hazard of battle, than diminish the lustre, or compromise the
independence, of his ancient crown.

The time, too, for resistance, seemed as favourable as Russia could ever
expect. The war of Spain, though chequered in its fortune, was in no
respect near a sudden end. It occupied 250,000 of the best and oldest
French troops; demanded also an immense expenditure, and diminished, of
course, the power of the French Emperor to carry on the war on the
frontiers of Russia. A conclusion of these wasting hostilities would
have rendered him far more formidable with respect to the quality, as
well as the number, of his disposable forces, and it seemed the interest
of Russia not to wait till that period should arrive.

The same arguments which recommended to Russia to choose the immediate
moment for resisting the extravagant pretensions of France, ought, in
point of prudence, to have induced Napoleon to desist from urging such
pretensions, and to avoid the voluntarily engaging in two wars at the
same time, both of a character decidedly national, and to only one of
which he could give the influence of his own talents and his own
presence. His best and wisest generals, whom he consulted, or, to speak
more properly, to whom he opened his purpose, used various arguments to
induce him to alter, or at least defer his resolution. He himself
hesitated for more than a year, and was repeatedly upon the point of
settling with Russia the grounds of disagreement betwixt them upon
amicable terms.


The reasons of complaint, on the part of the Czar, were four in number.

I. The alarm given to Russia by the extension of the grand duchy of
Warsaw by the treaty of Schoenbrun, as if it were destined to be the
central part of an independent state, or kingdom, in Poland, to which
those provinces of that dismembered country, which had become part of
Russia, were at some convenient time to be united. On this point the
Czar demanded an explicit engagement, on the part of the French Emperor,
that the kingdom of Poland should not be again established. Napoleon
declined this form of guarantee, as it seemed to engage him to warrant
Russia against an event which might happen without his co-operation; but
he offered to pledge himself that he would not favour any enterprise
which should, directly or indirectly, lead to the re-establishment of
Poland as an independent state. This modified acquiescence in what was
required by Russia fell considerably short of what the Czar wished; for
the stipulation, as at first worded, would have amounted to an
engagement on the part of France to join in opposing any step towards
Polish independence; whereas, according to the modification which it
received at Paris, it only implied that France should remain neuter if
such an attempt should take place.

II. The wrong done by including the duchy of Oldenburg, though
guaranteed by the treaty of Tilsit to its prince, the Czar's near
relative and ally, in the territory annexed to France, admitted of being
compensated by an indemnification. But Russia desired that this
indemnification should be either the city of Dantzic, or some equally
important territory, on the frontiers of the grand duchy of Warsaw,
which might offer an additional guarantee against the apprehended
enlargement of that state. France would not listen to this, though she
did not object to compensation elsewhere.

III. The third point in question, was the degree to which the Russian
commerce with England was to be restricted. Napoleon proposed to grant
some relaxation on the occasions where the produce of Russia was
exported in exchange for that of England, to be effected by the way of
mutual licenses.

IV. It was proposed to revise the Russian tariff of 1810, so as, without
injuring the interests of Russia, it might relax the heavy duties
imposed on the objects of French commerce.

From this statement, which comprehends the last basis on which Napoleon
expressed himself willing to treat, it is quite evident, that had there
not been a deeper feeling of jealousy and animosity betwixt the two
Emperors, than those expressed in the subjects of actual debate betwixt
them, these might have been accommodated in an amicable way. But as it
was impossible for Napoleon to endure being called to account, like a
sovereign of the second rate, or at least in the tone of an equal, by
the Emperor of Russia; so the latter, more and more alarmed by the
motions of the French armies, which were advancing into Pomerania, could
not persuade himself, that, in agreeing to admit the present grounds of
complaint, Napoleon meant more than to postpone the fatal struggle for
superiority, until he should find a convenient time to commence it with
a more absolute prospect of success.

In the meantime, and ere the negotiations were finally broken off,
Buonaparte's counsellors urged him with as much argument as they dared,
to desist from running the hazard of an enterprise so remote, so
hazardous, and so little called for. They contended, that no French
interest, and no national point of honour, were involved in the
disagreement which had arisen. The principles upon which the points of
dispute might be settled, being in a manner agreed upon, they argued
that their master should stop in their military preparations. To march
an army into Prussia, and to call forth the Prussians as auxiliaries,
would, they contended, be using measures towards Russia, which could not
but bring on the war which they anxiously deprecated. To submit to
menaces supported by demonstrations of open force, would be destructive
of the influence of Russia, both at home and abroad. She could not be
expected to give way without a struggle.

[Sidenote: WAR WITH RUSSIA.]

These advisers allowed, that a case might be conceived for justifying
an exertion to destroy the power of Russia, a case arising out of the
transactions between France and the other states of Europe, and out of
the apprehension that these states, aggrieved and irritated by the
conduct of France, might be tempted to seek a leader, patron, and
protector, in the Emperor Alexander. But this extremity, they alleged,
could not exist so long as France had the means of avoiding a perilous
war, by a mitigation of her policy towards her vassals and auxiliaries;
for if the states whose revolt (so to call it) was apprehended, could be
reconciled to France by a more lenient course of measures to be adopted
towards them, they would lose all temptation to fly to Russia as a
protector. In such case the power of Russia would no longer give
jealousy to France, or compel her to rush to a dubious conflict, for the
purpose of diminishing an influence which could not then become
dangerous to the southern empire, by depriving France of her clientage.

It might have been added, though it could not be so broadly spoken out,
that in this point of view nothing would have been more easy for France,
than to modify or soften her line of policy in favour of the inferior
states, in whose favour the Russian interference was expected or
apprehended. That policy had uniformly been a system of insult and
menace. The influence which France had gained in Europe grew less out of
treaty than fear, founded on the recollection of former wars. All the
states of Germany felt the melancholy consequences of the existence of
despotic power vested in men, who, like Napoleon himself, and the
military governors whom he employed, were new to the exercise and
enjoyment of their authority; and, on the other hand, the French Emperor
and his satellites felt, towards the people of the conquered, or
subjected states, the constant apprehension which a conscious sense of
injustice produces in the minds of oppressors, namely, that the
oppressed only watch for a safe opportunity to turn against them. There
was, therefore, no French interest, or even point of honour, which
called on Napoleon to make war on Alexander; and the temptation seems to
have amounted solely to the desire on Napoleon's part to fight a great
battle--to gain a great victory--to occupy, with his victorious army,
another great capital--and, in fine, to subject to his arms the power of
Russia, which, of all the states on the continent, remained the only one
that could be properly termed independent of France.

It was in this light that the question of peace and war was viewed by
the French politicians of the day; and it is curious to observe, in the
reports we have of their arguments, the total absence of principle which
they display in the examination of it. They dwell on the difficulty of
Napoleon's undertaking, upon its dangers, upon its expense, upon the
slender prospect of any remuneration by the usual modes of confiscation,
plunder, or levy of contributions. They enlarge, too, upon the little
probability there was that success in the intended war would bring to a
conclusion the disastrous contest in Spain; and all these various
arguments are insinuated or urged with more or less vehemence, according
to the character, the station, or the degree of intimacy with Napoleon,
of the counsellor who ventured to use the topics. But among his
advisers, none that we read or hear of, had the open and manly courage
to ask, Where was the justice of this attack upon Russia? What had she
done to merit it? The Emperors were friends by the treaty of Tilsit,
confirmed by personal intimacy and the closest intercourse at Erfurt.
How had they ceased to be such? What had happened since that period to
place Russia, then the friend and confessed equal of France, in the
situation of a subordinate and tributary state? On what pretence did
Napoleon confiscate to his own use the duchy of Oldenburg, acknowledged
as the property of Alexander's brother-in-law, by an express article in
the treaty of Tilsit? By what just right could he condemn the Russian
nation to all the distresses of his Anti-commercial System, while he
allowed them to be a free and independent state?--Above all, while he
considered them as a sovereign and a people entitled to be treated with
the usual respect due between powers that are connected by friendly
treaties, with what pretence of justice, or even decency, could he
proceed to enforce claims so unfounded in themselves, by introducing his
own forces on their frontier, and arming their neighbours against them
for the same purpose? Of these pleas, in moral justice, there was not a
word urged; nor was silence wonderful on this fruitful topic, since to
insist upon it would have been to strike at the fundamental principle of
Buonaparte's policy, which was, never to neglect a present advantage for
the sake of observing a general principle. "Let us hear of no general
principles," said Buonaparte's favourite minister of the period. "Ours
is a government not regulated by theory, but by emerging circumstances."


We ought not to omit to mention that Fouché, among others, took up a
testimony against the Russian war. He had been permitted to return to
his chateau of Ferrières, near Paris, under the apology that the air of
Italy did not agree with his constitution. But Napoleon distrusted him,
and the police were commissioned to watch with the utmost accuracy the
proceedings of their late master. Fouché was well aware of this; and,
desirous that his remonstrance with the Emperor should have all the
force of an unexpected argument, he shut himself up in the strictest
seclusion while engaged in composing a production, which perhaps he
hoped might be a means of recalling him to recollection, if not to

In an able and eloquent memorial, Fouché reminded Buonaparte, that he
was already the absolute master of the finest empire the world had ever
seen; and that all the lessons of history went to demonstrate the
impossibility of attaining universal monarchy. The French empire had
arrived, according to the reasoning of this able statesman, at that
point when its ruler should rather think of securing and consolidating
his present acquisitions, than of achieving farther conquests, since,
whatever his empire might acquire in extent, it was sure to lose in
solidity. Fouché stated the extent of the country which Napoleon was
about to invade, the poverty of the soil, the rigour of the climate, and
the distance which each fresh victory must remove him from his
resources, annoyed as his communications were sure to be by nations of
Cossacks and Tartars. He implored the Emperor to remember the fate of
Charles XII. of Sweden. "If that warlike monarch," he said, "had not,
like Napoleon, half Europe in arms at his back, neither had his
opponent, the Czar Peter, four hundred thousand soldiers, and fifty
thousand Cossacks. The invader, it was stated, would have against him
the dislike of the higher ranks, the fanaticism of the peasantry, the
exertions of soldiers accustomed to the severity of the climate. There
were, besides, to be dreaded, in case of the slightest reverse, the
intrigues of the English, the fickleness of his continental allies, and
even the awakening of discontent and conspiracy in France itself, should
an idea generally arise, that he was sacrificing the welfare of the
state to the insatiable desire of fresh enterprises and distant

Fouché presented himself at the Tuileries, and requested an audience of
the Emperor, hoping, doubtless, that the unexpected circumstance of his
appearing there, and the reasoning in his memorial, would excite
Napoleon's attention. To his great surprise, Napoleon, with an air of
easy indifference, began the audience. "I am no stranger, Monsieur le
Duc, to your errand here. You have a memorial to present me--give it me;
I will read it, though I know already its contents. The war with Russia
is not more agreeable to you than that of Spain."--"Your Imperial
Majesty will pardon my having ventured to offer some observations on
this important crisis?" said the statesman, astonished to find himself
anticipated, when he believed he had laboured in the most absolute

"It is no crisis," resumed Napoleon; "merely a war of a character
entirely political. Spain will fall when I have annihilated the English
influence at St. Petersburgh. I have 800,000 men; and to one who has
such an army, Europe is but an old prostitute, who must obey his
pleasure. Was it not yourself who told me that the word _impossible_ was
not good French? I regulate my conduct more on the opinion of my army
than the sentiments of you grandees, who are become too rich; and while
you pretend anxiety for me, only are apprehensive of the general
confusion which would follow my death. Don't disquiet yourself, but
consider the Russian war as a wise measure, demanded by the true
interests of France, and the general security. Am I to blame, because
the great degree of power I have already attained forces me to assume
the dictatorship of the world? My destiny is not yet accomplished--my
present situation is but a sketch of a picture which I must finish.
There must be one universal European code, one court of appeal. The same
money, the same weights and measures, the same laws, must have currency
through Europe. I must make one nation out of all the European states,
and Paris must be the capital of the world. At present you no longer
serve me well, because you think my affairs are in danger; but before a
year is over you will assist me with the same zeal and ardour as at the
periods of Marengo and Austerlitz. You will see more than all this--it
is I who assure you of it. Adieu, Monsieur le Duc. Do not play the
disgraced courtier, or the captious critic of public affairs; and be so
good as to put a little confidence in your Emperor."[90]

He then turned his back on Fouché, and left him to reflect by what means
he, who so well knew all the machinations of the police, could himself
have become exposed to their universal vigilance, with some cause,
perhaps, to rejoice, that his secret employment, though unpleasing to
Buonaparte, was not of a character to attract punishment as well as


As Napoleon discountenanced and bore down the remonstrances of the
subtle Fouché, so he represented to his various advisers the war upon
which he was unalterably determined, in the light most proper to bring
them over to his own opinion. To the army in general the mere name of
war was in itself a sufficient recommendation. It comprehended
preferment, employment, plunder, distinction, and pensions. To the
generals, it afforded mareschals' batons; to the mareschals, crowns and
sceptres; to the civilians he urged, as to Fouché, that it was a war of
policy--of necessity--the last act in the drama, but indispensably
requisite to conclude the whole; to his most intimate friends he
expressed his conviction that his fortune could not stand still--that it
was founded on public opinion--and that, if he did not continue to
advance, he must necessarily retrograde. To his uncle, Cardinal Fesch,
he used a still more extraordinary argument. This prelate, a devout
Catholic, had begun to have compunction about his nephew's behaviour
towards the Pope; and these sentiments mingled like an ominous feeling
with the alarms excited by the risks of this tremendous undertaking.
With more than usual freedom, he conjured his kinsman to abstain from
tempting Providence. He entreated him not to defy heaven and earth, the
wrath of man, and the fury of the elements, at the same time; and
expressed his apprehension that he must at length sink under the weight
of the enmity which he incurred daily.[92] The only answer which
Buonaparte vouchsafed, was to lead the cardinal to the window, and,
opening the casement, and pointing upwards, to ask him, "If he saw
yonder star?"--"No, Sire," answered the astonished cardinal. "But I see
it," answered Buonaparte; and turned from his relation as if he had
fully confuted his arguments.

This speech might admit of two meanings; either that Napoleon wished in
this manner to express that his own powers of penetration were superior
to those of the cardinal, or it might have reference to a certain
superstitious confidence in his predestined good fortune, which, we have
already observed, he was known to entertain. But as it was not
Napoleon's fashion, whatever reliance he might place on such auguries,
to neglect any means of ensuring success within his power, we are next
to inquire what political measures he had taken to carry on the proposed
Russian war to advantage.


[88] Fouché, tom. ii., p. 71.

[89] Fouché, tom. ii., p. 80.

[90] Mémoires de Fouché, tom. ii., p. 90.

[91] Fouché afterwards remembered, that an individual in his
neighbourhood, mayor of a municipality, and whom he himself had employed
in matters of police, had one morning intruded rather hastily on him in
his study, under pretext of pleading the cause of a distressed tenant;
and concluded, that while he was searching for the papers concerning his
visitor's ostensible business, Mr. Mayor had an opportunity to glance at
the sheets on his scrutoire, where the repetition of V. M. I. and R. M.
(intimating your Imperial and Royal Majesty,) betrayed that he was
drawing up a memorial to Napoleon, and a word or two of the context
explained its purport.

[92] It is not unworthy of notice, that the Emperor's mother (Madame
Mère, as she was termed) always expressed a presentiment, that the
fortunes of her family, splendid as they were, would be altered before
her death; and when ridiculed by her children for her frugal
disposition, she used to allege she was saving money for them in their
distress; and in fact she lived to apply her boards to that purpose.--S.


    _Allies on whose assistance Buonaparte might count--Causes which
    alienated from him the Prince-Royal of Sweden--who signs a Treaty
    with Russia--Delicate situation of the King of Prussia, whose
    alliance the Emperor Alexander on that account declines--A Treaty
    with France dictated to Prussia--Relations between Austria and
    France--in order to preserve them Buonaparte is obliged to come
    under an engagement not to revolutionize Poland--His error of policy
    in neglecting to cultivate the alliance of the Porte--Amount of
    Buonaparte's Army--Levies for the protection of France in the
    Emperor's absence--Storming of Ciudad Rodrigo by Lord
    Wellington--Buonaparte makes overtures of Peace to Lord
    Castlereagh--The Correspondence broken off--Ultimatum of Russia
    rejected--Napoleon sets out from Paris, 9th May, 1812--and meets the
    Sovereigns his allies at Dresden--A last attempt of Napoleon to
    negotiate with Alexander proves unsuccessful._

The several powers, who might in their different degrees of strength aid
or impede the last and most daring of Buonaparte's undertakings,
were--Denmark, Saxony, Sweden, and Prussia, in the north of Europe; in
the south, Austria, and the Turkish empire.

Denmark and Saxony were both devoted to the cause of France; but the
former power, who had made over to Napoleon her seamen, had no land
troops to spare for his assistance. The few that she had on foot were
scarce sufficient to protect her against any enterprise of Sweden or

Saxony was also the firm friend of Napoleon, who had enlarged her
dominions, and changed her ruler's electoral bonnet into a royal crown.
It is true, if Poland was to be regenerated, as seemed to be the natural
consequence of a war with Russia, the King of Saxony must have reckoned
upon losing his ducal interest in the grand duchy of Warsaw. But from
this he derived little present advantage; and as he was secure of
indemnification, the apprehension of that loss did not prevent him from
following the banner of Napoleon, with the same good-will as ever.


Very different was the condition of Sweden. That kingdom, since the
reign of Francis I., had been the ancient and natural ally of France
against Russia; in acting against which last power her local advantages
afforded great facility. Sweden was also governed at the moment by a
Frenchman. But the Prince-Royal had received more injuries and affronts
than favours at the hands of the Emperor Napoleon; and the violent
policy which the latter was in the habit of using towards those of his
allies and neighbours, who did not submit unresistingly to all his
demands, had alienated from France the hearts of the Swedes, and from
his own person the friendship of his old companion in arms. We have
mentioned the mode of argument, or rather declamation, which he had used
to compel the Swedes into a total exclusion of English manufactures,
contrary to a reservation made in a recent treaty, by which the Swedes
had retained the right of importing colonial goods and salt, while
consenting to exclude British commodities generally. With the same
urgency and menaces, he had compelled the Crown Prince to declare war
against Britain.

But although Napoleon succeeded in both points, he could not oblige
Britain to treat Sweden as a belligerent power. On the contrary, England
seemed not in the slightest degree to alter the relations of amity to a
state whom she considered as having adopted the attitude of an enemy
towards her, merely from compulsion too powerful to be resisted. This
moderation on the part of Great Britain did not prevent Sweden from
feeling all the evils of the anti-social system of Buonaparte. Her
commerce was reduced to a mere coasting trade, and her vessels skulked
from port to port, exposed to the depredations of Danish and French
privateers, who seized upon and confiscated upwards of fifty Swedish
ships, under pretence of enforcing the non-intercourse system. The
Prince-Royal applied for redress at the court of Paris; but although
vague promises were given, yet neither were the acts of piracy
discontinued, nor any amends made for those daily committed. The Baron
Alquier, who was the French envoy at Stockholm, used, according to
Bernadotte's expression, the language of a Roman proconsul, without
remembering that he did not speak to slaves.[93]

When asked, for example, to state categorically what Napoleon expected
from Sweden, and what he proposed to grant her in return, Alquier
answered, that "the Emperor expected from Sweden compliance in every
point conformable to his system; after which it would be time enough to
inquire into what his Imperial Majesty might be disposed to do in favour
of Sweden."

On another occasion, the French envoy had the assurance to decline
farther intercourse with the Crown Prince on the subject of his mission,
and to desire that some other person might be appointed to communicate
with him. There can be no doubt, that, in this singular course of
diplomacy, Baron Alquier obeyed his master's instructions, who was
determined to treat the Prince-Royal of Sweden, emancipated as he was
from his allegiance to France by letters-patent from the Imperial
Chancery, as if he had still been his subject, and serving in his
armies. Napoleon went so far as to say, before his courtiers, that he
had a mind to make Bernadotte finish his lessons in the Swedish language
in the Castle of Vincennes. It is even said, that the Emperor thought
seriously of putting this threat into execution, and that a plot was
actually formed to seize the person of the Prince-Royal, putting him on
board a vessel, and bringing him prisoner to France. But he escaped this
danger by the information of an officer named Salazar, formerly an
aide-de-camp of Marmont, who conveyed to the Prince timely information
of the outrage which was intended.[94]

With so many causes of mutual animosity between France and Sweden, all
arising out of the impolitic vehemence by which Buonaparte endeavoured
to drive, rather than lead, the Prince-Royal into the measures he
desired, it can hardly be supposed that the last would neglect any
opportunity to assert his independence, and his resolution not to submit
to a superiority so degrading in itself, and so ungraciously and even
unmercifully exercised.

Such was the state of matters betwixt the two countries, when, from the
approaching war with Russia, the assistance of Sweden became essential
to France. But what bait could Napoleon hold out to bring back an
alienated friend? He might, indeed, offer to assist Bernadotte in
regaining the province of Finland, which, by the connivance of Napoleon,
had been conquered by Russia. But the Crown Prince concluded, that, to
enter into a war with the view of recovering Finland, would occasion
expenses which the country could not afford, and which the acquisition
of Finland could not compensate, even supposing it sure to be
accomplished. Besides, the repossession of Finland would engage Sweden
in perpetual disputes with Russia, whereas the two nations, separated by
the Gulf of Bothnia, had at present no cause of difference. On the other
hand, by siding with Russia in the great contest which was impending,
Sweden might expect the assistance of that empire, as well as of
Britain, to achieve from Denmark, the ally of France, the conquest of
her kingdom of Norway, which, in its geographical situation, lay so
conveniently for Sweden, and afforded her the whole range of sea-coast
along the western shores of Scandinavia. It is said that the
Prince-Royal offered to Napoleon to enter into a league, offensive and
defensive, with France, providing Norway as well as Finland were added
to his dominions; but the Emperor rejected the terms with disdain. The
whole alleged negotiation, however, has been disputed and denied.[95]

So soon as Bonaparte found there was no hope of conciliating the
Prince-Royal, which indeed he scarce seems seriously to have attempted,
he proceeded, without waiting for the ceremony of declaring war, to
strike against Sweden the most severe, or rather the only blow, in his
power. In January 1812, General Davoust marched into Swedish Pomerania,
the only possession of Sweden south of the Baltic sea, seized upon the
country and its capital, and proceeded to menace the military occupation
of Prussia, so far as that country was not already in the hands of

Receiving no satisfaction for this aggression, Sweden, 24th March, 1812,
signed a treaty with Russia, declaring war against France, and proposing
a diversion, with a joint force of 25 or 30,000 Swedes, together with 15
or 20,000 Russians, upon some point of Germany. And the Emperor of
Russia became bound, either by negotiation or military co-operation, to
unite the kingdom of Norway to that of Sweden, and to hold the Russian
army, which was at present in Finland, as disposable for that purpose.
Thus was the force of Sweden, rendered yet more considerable by the high
military character of its present chief, thrown into the scale against
France, to whom, but for the passionate and impolitic character of
Napoleon's proceedings towards her, she might, in all probability, have
remained the same useful and faithful ally which she had been since the
alliance of Francis I. with Gustavus Vasa.

No reason can be discovered for insulting Sweden at the precise moment
when her co-operation would have been so useful, excepting the animosity
of Napoleon against a prince, whom he regarded as an ancient rival
before the 18th Brumaire, and now as a contumacious and rebellious
vassal. A due regard to the honour and interest of France would have
induced him to lay aside such personal considerations. But this does
not appear to have been in Buonaparte's nature, who, if he remembered
benefits, had also a tenacious recollection of enmities, said to be
peculiar to the natives of Corsica. When this feeling obtained the
ascendency, he was too apt to sacrifice his policy to his spleen.

[Sidenote: PRUSSIA.]

The situation of the King of Prussia, at the breaking out of the dispute
between the empires of France and Russia, was truly embarrassing. His
position lying betwixt the contending parties, rendered neutrality
almost impossible; and if he took up arms, it was a matter of
distracting doubt on which side he ought to employ them. Oppressed by
French exactions and French garrisons; instigated, besides, by the
secret influence of the Tugendbund, the people of Prussia were almost
unanimous in their eager wish to seize the sword against France, nor was
the King less desirous to redeem the independence, and revenge the
sufferings, of his kingdom. The recollections of an amiable and beloved
Queen, who had died in the prime of life, heart-broken with the
distresses of her country, with her hands locked in those of her
husband, called also for revenge on France, which had insulted her when
living, and slandered her when dead.[96]

Accordingly it is now well understood, that the first impulse of the
King of Prussia's mind was to throw himself into the arms of Russia, and
offer, should it cost him his life and crown, to take share in the war
as his faithful ally. But the Emperor Alexander was sensible that, in
accepting this offered devotion, he would come under an obligation to
protect Prussia in case of those reverses, which might be almost
reckoned on as likely to occur in the early part of the campaign. The
strongest fortresses in Prussia were in the hands of the French, the
army of the King did not amount to more than 40,000 men, and there was
no time to arm or organise the national forces. In order to form a
junction with these 40,000 men, or as many of them as could be
collected, it would be necessary that Alexander should precipitate the
war, and march a strong army into Silesia, upon which the Prussians
might rally. But such an army, when it had attained its object, must
have had in front the whole forces of France, Saxony, and the
Confederacy of the Rhine, while the hostile troops of the grand duchy of
Warsaw, with probably a body of Austrian auxiliaries, would have been in
their rear. This premature movement in advance, would have resembled the
conduct of Austria in the unhappy campaigns of 1805 and 1809; in both of
which she precipitated her armies into Bavaria, in hopes of acquiring
allies, but only exposed them to the decisive defeats of Ulm and
Eckmühl. It would also have been like the equally ill-omened advance of
the Prussian army in 1806, when hurrying forward to compel Saxony to
join him, the Duke of Brunswick gave occasion to the unhappy battle of

Experience and reflection, therefore, had led the Russian Emperor and
cabinet to be of opinion, that they ought to avoid encountering the
French in the early part of the campaign; and, in consequence, that far
from advancing to meet them, they should rather suffer the invaders to
involve themselves in the immense wastes and forests of the territories
of Russia itself, where supplies and provisions were not to be found by
the invader, and where every peasant would prove an armed enemy. The
support which could be derived from an auxiliary army of Prussians,
amounting only to 40,000 men, of whom perhaps the half could not be
drawn together, was not, it appeared, an adequate motive for altering
the plan of the campaign, which had been founded on the most mature
consideration. The Emperor Alexander, therefore, declined accepting of
the King of Prussia's alliance, as only tending to bring upon that
Prince misfortunes, which Russia had not even the chance of averting,
without entirely altering those plans of the campaign which had been
deliberately adopted. Foreseeing at the same time that this refusal on
his part must have made it necessary for Frederick, whose situation
rendered neutrality impossible, to take part with France, the Emperor
Alexander generously left him at liberty to take the measures, and form
the connexions, which his circumstances rendered inevitable, assuring
him, nevertheless, that if Russia gained the ascendant, Prussia should
derive the same advantage from the victory, whatever part she might be
compelled to adopt during the struggle.

While the King of Prussia saw his alliance declined by Russia, as rather
burdensome than beneficial, he did not find France at all eager to
receive him on her part as a brother of the war. He offered his alliance
to Buonaparte repeatedly, and especially in the months of March, May,
and August, 1811; but receiving no satisfaction, he began to be
apprehensive that his destruction was intended. There was some reason
for this fear, for Napoleon seems to have entertained a personal dislike
towards Frederick, and is said to have exclaimed, when he was looking
over a map of the Prussian territories, "Is it possible I can have been
simple enough to leave that man in possession of so large a kingdom?"
There is great reason, besides, to suppose, that Napoleon may have
either become acquainted with the secret negotiations betwixt Prussia
and Russia, or may have been induced to assume from probability the fact
that such had existed. He hesitated, certainly, whether or not he would
permit Prussia to remain an independent power.

At length, however, on the 24th of February, 1812, a treaty was dictated
to Frederick, under condition of subscribing which, the name and title
of King of Prussia were to be yet left him; failing his compliance,
Davoust, who had occupied Swedish Pomerania, was to march into Prussia,
and treat it as a hostile country. In thus sparing for the time a
monarch, of whom he had every reason to be jealous, Napoleon seems to
have considered it more advisable to use Frederick's assistance, than to
throw him into the arms of Russia. The conditions of this lenity were
severe; Prussia was to place at the disposal of France about 20,000 men,
with sixty pieces of artillery, the disposable part of the poor remnant
of the standing army of the great Frederick. She was also to supply the
French army with every thing necessary for their sustenance as they
passed through her dominions; but the expense of these supplies was to
be imputed as part of the contributions imposed on Prussia by France,
and not yet paid. Various other measures were taken to render it easy
for the French, in case of necessity, to seize such fortresses belonging
to Prussia as were not already in their hands, and to keep the Prussian
people as much as possible disarmed, a rising amongst them being
considered inevitable if the French arms should sustain any reverse.
Thus, while Russia fortified herself with the assistance of France's old
ally Sweden, France advanced against Russia, supported by the remaining
army of Frederick of Prussia, who was at heart Alexander's best


Napoleon had, of course, a weighty voice in the councils of his
father-in-law of Austria. But the Austrian cabinet were far from
regarding his plans of ambitious aggrandisement with a partial eye. The
acute Metternich had been able to discover and report to his master, on
his return to Vienna in the spring of 1811, that the marriage which had
just been celebrated, would not have the effect of inducing Napoleon to
sheathe his sword, or of giving to Europe permanent tranquillity. And
now, although on the approach of the hostilities into which they were to
be involved by their formidable ally, Austria agreed to supply an
auxiliary army of 30,000 men, under Prince Schwartzenberg, it seems
probable that she remembered, at the same time, the moderate and lenient
mode of carrying on the war practised by Russia, when the ally of
Napoleon during the campaign of Wagram, and gave her general secret
instructions to be no further active in the campaign than the decent
supporting of the part of an auxiliary peremptorily required.

In one most material particular, the necessity of consulting the
interests of Austria interfered with Napoleon's readiest and most
formidable means of annoying Russia. We have repeatedly alluded to the
re-establishment of Poland as an independent kingdom, as a measure which
would have rent from Russia some of the finest provinces which connect
her with Europe, and would have gone a certain length in thrusting her
back into the character of an Asiatic sovereignty, unconnected with the
politics of the civilized world. Such re-construction of Poland was
however impossible, so long as Austria continued to hold Galicia; and
that state, in her treaty of alliance with France against Russia, made
it an express condition that no attempt should be made for the
restoration of Polish independence by Napoleon, without the consent of
Austria, or without making compensation to her for being, in the event
supposed, deprived of her share of Poland. This compensation, it was
stipulated, was to consist in the retrocession, on the part of France,
of the Illyrian provinces, yielded up by his Imperial Majesty of Austria
at the treaty of Schoenbrun.

By submitting to this embargo on his proceedings in Poland, Napoleon
lost all opportunity of revolutionizing that military country, from
which he drew therefore little advantage, unless from the duchy of
Warsaw. Nothing but the tenacity with which Buonaparte retained every
territory that fell into his power, would have prevented him from at
once simplifying this complicated engagement, by assigning to Austria
those Illyrian provinces, which were entirely useless to France, but on
which her ally set great value, and stipulating in return--what Austria
would then have willingly granted--the power of disposing, according to
his own pleasure, as well of Galicia, as of such parts of the Polish
provinces as should be conquered from Russia; or in case, as De Pradt
insinuates,[97] the Court of Austria were averse to the exchange, it was
in the power of Napoleon to have certainly removed their objections, by
throwing Venice itself into the scale. But we have good reason to
believe that Illyria would have been a sufficient inducement to the

We cannot suppose Buonaparte blind to the importance of putting, as he
expressed it, all Poland on horseback; but whether it was, that in
reality he did not desire to establish an independent state upon any
terms, or whether he thought it hard to give up the Illyrian provinces,
ceded to France in property, in order to reconstruct a kingdom, which,
nominally at least, was to be independent; or whether, in fine, he had
an idea, that, by vague promises and hopes, he could obtain from the
Poles all the assistance he desired--it is certain that he embarrassed
himself with this condition in favour of Austria, in a manner which
tended to render complex and difficult all that he afterwards attempted
in Polish affairs; and lost the zealous co-operation and assistance of
the Lithuanians, at a time when it would have been invaluable to him.

[Sidenote: TURKEY.]

Turkey remains to be noticed as the sole remaining power whom Buonaparte
ought in prudence to have propitiated, previous to attacking Russia, of
which empire she is the natural enemy, as she was also held the natural
and ancient ally of France. Were it not that the talents of Napoleon
were much better fitted to crush enemies than to gain or maintain
friends, it would be difficult to account for his losing influence over
the Porte at this important period. The Turkish Government had been
rendered hostile to France by the memorable invasion of Egypt; but
Sultan Selim, an admirer of Napoleon's valour and genius, had become the
friend of the Emperor of France. Selim was cut off by a conspiracy, and
his successor was more partial to the English interests. In the treaty
of Tilsit, the partition of Turkey was actually agreed upon, though the
term was adjourned;[98] as, at the negotiations of Erfurt, Napoleon
agreed to abandon the Turkish dominions as far as the Danube, to become
the property of Russia, if it should be in her power to conquer them.

The Court of St. Petersburgh were ill-advised enough to make the
attempt, although they ought to have foreseen, even then, that the
increasing power of France should have withheld them from engaging in
any scheme of conquest at that period. Indeed, their undertaking this
war with the Ottoman empire, a proceeding so impolitic in case of a
rupture with France, may be quoted to show the Emperor Alexander's
confidence that no such event was likely to take place, and consequently
to prove his own determination to observe good faith towards Napoleon.

The Turks made a far better defence than had been anticipated; and
though the events of war were at first unfavourable to them, yet at
length the Grand Vizier obtained a victory before Routschouk, or at
least gave the Russian general such a serious check as obliged him to
raise the siege of that place. But the gleam of victory on the Turkish
banners was of brief duration. They were attacked by the Russians in
their intrenched camp, and defeated in a battle so sanguinary, that the
vanquished army was almost annihilated.[99] The Turks, however,
continued to maintain the war, forgotten and neglected as they were by
the Emperor of France, whose interest it chiefly was, considering his
views against Russia, to have sustained them in their unequal struggle
against that formidable power. In the meanwhile, hostilities languished,
and negotiations were commenced; for the Russians were of course
desirous, so soon as a war against France became a probable event, to
close that with Turkey, which must keep engaged a very considerable
army, at a time when all their forces were necessary to oppose the
expected attack of Napoleon.

At this period, and so late as the 21st March, 1812, it seemed to occur
all at once to Buonaparte's recollection, that it would be highly
politic to maintain, or rather to renew, his league with a nation, of
whom it was at the time most important to secure the confidence. His
ambassador was directed to urge the Grand Signior in person to move
towards the Danube, at the head of 100,000 men; in consideration of
which, the French Emperor proposed not only to obtain possession for
them of the two disputed provinces of Moldavia and Wallachia, but also
to procure the restoration to the Porte of the Crimea.

This war-breathing message arrived too late, the Porte having adopted a
specific line of policy. The splendid promises of France succeeded too
abruptly to so many years of neglect, to obtain credit for sincerity.
The envoys of England, with a dexterity which it has not been always
their fortune to display, obtained a complete victory in diplomacy over
those of France, and were able to impress on the Sublime Porte the
belief, that though Russia was their natural enemy among European
nations, yet a peace of some permanence might be secured with her, under
the guarantee of England and Sweden; whereas, if Napoleon should
altogether destroy Russia, the Turkish empire, of which he had already
meditated the division, would be a measure no state could have influence
to prevent, as, in subduing Russia, he would overcome the last
terrestrial barrier to his absolute power. It gives no slight idea of
the general terror and suspicion impressed by the very name of Napoleon,
that a barbarous people like the Turks, who generally only comprehend so
much of politics as lies straight before them, should have been able to
understand that there was wisdom in giving peace on reasonable terms to
an old and inveterate enemy, rather than, by assisting in his
destruction, to contribute to the elevation of a power still more
formidable, more ambitious, and less easily opposed. The peace of
Bucharest was accordingly negotiated betwixt Russia and Turkey; of which
we shall hereafter have occasion to speak.

Thus was France, on the approaching struggle, deprived of her two
ancient allies, Sweden and Turkey. Prussia she brought to the field like
a slave at her chariot-wheels; Denmark and Saxony in the character of
allies, who were favoured so long as they were sufficiently subservient;
and Austria, as a more equal confederate, but who had contrived to
stipulate, that, in requital of an aid coldly and unwillingly granted,
the French Emperor should tie himself down by engagements respecting
Poland, which interfered with his using his influence over that country
in the manner which would best have served his purposes. The result must
lead to one of two conclusions. Either that Napoleon, confident in the
immense preparations of his military force, disdained to enter into
negotiations to obtain that assistance which he could not directly
command, or else that his talents in politics were inferior to those
which he displayed in military affairs.

[Sidenote: STATE OF THE ARMY.]

It is true, that if the numbers, and we may add the quality, of the army
which France brought into the field on this momentous occasion, were
alone to be considered, Napoleon might be excused for holding cheap the
assistance which he might have derived from Sweden or the Porte. He had
anticipated the conscription of 1811, and he now called out that of
1812; so that it became plain, that so long as Napoleon lived and
warred, the conscription of the first class would be--not a conditional
regulation, to be acted or not acted upon according to occasion--but a
regular and never-to-be-remitted tax of eighty thousand men, annually
levied, without distinction, on the youth of France. To the amount of
these conscriptions for two years, were to be added the contingents of
household kings, vassal princes, subjected republics--of two-thirds of
Europe, in short, which were placed under Buonaparte's command. No such
army had taken the field since the reign of Xerxes, supposing the
exaggerated accounts of the Persian invasion to be admitted as
historical. The head almost turns dizzy as we read the amount of their

The gross amount of the whole forces of the empire of France, and its
dependencies and allies, is thus given by Boutourlin:--[100]

  Total amount of the French army,                    850,000 men.
  The army of Italy, under the Viceroy Eugene,         50,000
           of the Grand Duchy of Warsaw, with other
               Poles,                                  60,000
           of Bavaria,                                 40,000
           of Saxony,                                  30,000
           of Westphalia,                              30,000
           of Wurtemberg,                              15,000
           of Baden,                                    9,000
           of the Princes of the Confederacy of the
               Rhine,                                  23,000
  The corps of Prussian auxiliaries,                   20,000
            of Austrian auxiliaries,                   30,000
  The army of Naples,                                  30,000
                                                    1,187,000 men.

But to approximate the actual force, we must deduce from this total of
1,187,000, about 387,000 men, for those in the hospital, absent upon
furlough, and for incomplete regiments. Still there remains the
appalling balance of 800,000 men, ready to maintain the war; so that
Buonaparte was enabled to detach an army to Russia greatly superior to
what the Emperor Alexander could, without immense exertions, get under
arms, and this without withdrawing any part of his forces from Spain.

Still, however, in calculating all the chances attending the eventful
game on which so much was to be staked, and to encounter such attempts
upon France as England might, by his absence, be tempted to make,
Napoleon judged it prudent to have recourse to additional means of
national defence, which might extend the duty of military service still
more widely among his subjects than was effected even by the
conscription. As the measure was never but in one particular brought
into general activity, it may be treated of the more slightly. The
system consisted in a levy of national guards, divided into three
general classes--the Ban, the Second Ban, and Arriere-Ban; for
Buonaparte loved to retain the phrases of the old feudal institutions.
The First Ban was to contain all men, from twenty to twenty-six years,
who had not been called to serve in the army. The Second Ban included
all capable of bearing arms, from the age of twenty-six to that of
forty. The Arriere-Ban comprehended all able-bodied men from forty to
sixty. The levies from these classes were not to be sent beyond the
frontiers of France, and were to be called out in succession, as the
danger pressed. They were divided into cohorts of 1120 men each. But it
was the essential part of this project, that it placed one hundred
cohorts of the First Ban--(that is, upwards of 100,000 men, between
twenty and twenty-six years)--at the immediate disposal of the minister
of war. In short, it was a new form of conscription, with the advantage,
to the recruits, of limited service.

The celebrated philosopher Count La Cepède, who, from his researches
into natural history, as well as from the ready eloquence with which he
could express the acquiescence of the Senate in whatever scheme was
proposed by the Emperor, had acquired the title of King of Reptiles, had
upon this occasion his usual task of justifying the Imperial measures.
In this allotment of another mighty draught of the youth of France to
the purposes of military service, at a time when only the unbounded
ambition of Napoleon rendered such a measure necessary, he could
discover nothing save a new and affecting proof of the Emperor's
paternal regard for his subjects. The youths, he said, would be relieved
by one-sixth part of a cohort at a time; and, being at an age when
ardour of mind is united to strength of body, they would find in the
exercise of arms rather salutary sport, and agreeable recreation, than
painful labour or severe duty. Then the express prohibition to quit the
frontiers would be, their parents might rest assured, an absolute check
on the fiery and impetuous character of the French soldier, and prevent
the young men from listening to their headlong courage, and rushing
forward into distant fields of combat, which no doubt there might be
otherwise reason to apprehend. All this sounded very well, but the time
was not long ere the Senate removed their writ _ne exeat regno_, in the
case of these hundred cohorts; and, whether hurried on by their own
impetuous valour, or forced forward by command of their leaders, they
were all engaged in foreign service, and marched off to distant and
bloody fields, from which few of them had the good fortune to return.


While the question of peace or war was yet trembling in the scales, news
arrived from Spain that Lord Wellington had opened the campaign by an
enterprise equally successfully conceived and daringly executed. Ciudad
Rodrigo, which the French had greatly strengthened, was one of the keys
of the frontier between Spain and Portugal. Lord Wellington had
blockaded it, as we have seen, on the preceding year, but more with the
purpose of compelling General Marmont to concentrate his forces for its
relief, than with any hope of taking the place. But, in the beginning of
January 1812, the French heard with surprise and alarm that the English
army, suddenly put in motion, had opened trenches before Ciudad Rodrigo,
and were battering in breach.

Marmont once more put his whole forces in motion, to prevent the fall of
a place which was of the greatest consequence to both parties; and he
had every reason to hope for success, since Ciudad Rodrigo, before its
fortifications had been improved by the French, had held out against
Massena for more than a month, though his army consisted of 100,000 men.
But, in the present instance, within ten days from the opening of the
siege, the place was carried by storm, almost under the very eyes of the
experienced general who was advancing to its relief, and who had no
alternative but to retire again to cantonments, and ponder upon the
skill and activity which seemed of a sudden to have inspired the British

Lord Wellington was none of those generals who think that an advantage,
or a victory gained, is sufficient work for one campaign. The French
were hardly reconciled to the loss of Ciudad Rodrigo, so extraordinary
did it appear to them, when Badajos was invested, a much stronger place,
which had stood a siege of thirty-six days against the French in the
year 1811, although the defences were then much weaker, and the place
commanded by an officer of no talent, and dubious fidelity. It was now,
with incomprehensible celerity, battered, breached, stormed, and taken,
within twelve days after the opening of the trenches. Two French
Marshals had in vain interfered to prevent this catastrophe. Marmont
made an unsuccessful attempt upon Ciudad Rodrigo, and assumed the air of
pushing into Portugal; but no sooner did he learn the fall of the place,
than he commenced his retreat from Castel-Branco. Soult, who had
advanced rapidly to relieve Badajos, was in the act, it is said, of
informing a circle of his officers that it was the commands of the
Emperor--commands never under any circumstances to be disobeyed--that
Badajos should be relieved, when an officer, who had been sent forward
to reconnoitre, interrupted the shouts of "_Vive l'Empereur!_" with the
equally dispiriting and incredible information, that the English colours
were flying on the walls.

These two brilliant achievements were not only of great importance by
their influence on the events of the campaign, but still more so as they
indicated that our military operations had assumed an entirely new
character, and that the British soldiers, as now conducted, had not only
the advantage of their own strength of body and natural courage, not
only the benefit of the resources copiously supplied by the wealthy
nation to whom they belonged, but also, as began to be generally
allowed, an undoubted superiority in military art and science. The
objects of the campaign were admirably chosen, for the exertion to be
made was calculated with a degree of accuracy which dazzled and
bewildered the enemy; and though the loss incurred in their attainment
was very considerable, yet it was not in proportion to the much greater
advantages attained by success.

Badajos fell on the 7th April; and on the 18th of that month, an
overture of pacific tendency was made by the French Government to that
of Britain. It is not unlikely that Buonaparte, on beholding his best
commanders completely out-generalled before Ciudad Rodrigo and Badajos,
might foresee in this inauspicious commencement the long train of defeat
and disaster which befell the French in the campaign of 1812, the events
of which could not have failed to give liberty to Spain, had Spain, or
rather had her Government, been united among themselves, and cordial in
supporting their allies.

It might be Lord Wellington's successes, or the lingering anxiety to
avoid a war involving so many contingencies as that of Russia; or it
might be a desire to impress the French public that he was always
disposed towards peace, that induced Napoleon to direct the Duke of
Bassano[101] to write a letter to Lord Castlereagh, proposing that the
integrity and independence of Spain should be guaranteed under the
_present reigning dynasty_; that Portugal should remain under the rule
of the Princes of Braganza; Sicily under that of Ferdinand; and Naples
under Murat; each nation, in this manner, retaining possession of that
which the other had not been able to wrench from them by force of war.
Lord Castlereagh immediately replied, that if the reign of King Joseph
were meant by the phrase, "the dynasty actually reigning," he must
answer explicitly, that England's engagements to Ferdinand VII. and the
Cortes presently governing Spain, rendered her acknowledging him

The correspondence went no farther.[103] The nature of the overture
served to show the tenacity of Buonaparte's character, who, in treating
for peace, would yield nothing save that which the fate of war had
actually placed beyond his reach; and expected the British to yield up
to him the very kingdom of Spain, whose fate depended upon the bloody
arbitrement of the sword. It also manifested the insincerity with which
he could use words to mislead those who treated with him. He had in many
instances, some of which we have quoted, laid it down as a sacred
principle, that princes of his blood, called to reign over foreign
states, should remain still the subjects of France and vassals of its
Emperor, whose interest they were bound to prefer on all occasions to
that of the countries they were called to govern. Upon these grounds he
had compelled the abdication of King Louis of Holland; and how was it
possible for him to expect to receive credit, when he proposed to render
Spain independent under Joseph, whose authority was unable to control
even the French marshals who acted in his name?


This feeble effort towards a general peace having altogether miscarried,
it became subject of consideration, whether the approaching breach
betwixt the two great empires could yet be prevented. The most active
preparations for war were taking place on both sides. Those of Russia
were defensive; but she mustered great armies on the Niemen, as if in
expectation of an assault; while France was rapidly pouring troops into
Prussia, and into the grand duchy of Warsaw, and assuming those
positions most favourable for invading the Russian frontier. Yet amid
preparations for war, made on such an immense scale as Europe had never
before witnessed, there seemed to be a lingering wish on the part of
both Sovereigns, even at this late hour, to avoid the conflict. This
indeed might have been easily done, had there been on the part of
Napoleon a hearty desire to make peace, instead of what could only be
termed a degree of hesitation to commence hostilities. In fact, the
original causes of quarrel were already settled, or, what is the same
thing, principles had been fixed, on which their arrangement might be
easily adjusted. Yet still the preparations for invading Russia became
more and more evident--the purpose was distinctly expressed in the
treaty between France and Prussia; and the war did not appear the less
certain that the causes of it seemed to be in a great measure abandoned.
The anxiety of Alexander was therefore diverted from the source of the
dispute to its important consequences; and he became most naturally more
solicitous about having the French troops withdrawn from the frontiers
of Poland, than about the cause that originally brought them there.

Accordingly, Prince Kourakin, the Russian plenipotentiary, had orders
to communicate to the Duke of Bassano his master's ultimatum. The
grounds of arrangement proposed by the Czar were, the evacuation of
Prussia and Pomerania by the French troops; a diminution of the garrison
of Dantzic; and an amicable arrangement of the dispute between Napoleon
and Alexander. On these conditions, which, in fact, were no more than
necessary to assure Russia of France's peaceable intentions, the Czar
agreed to place his commerce upon a system of licenses as conducted in
France; to introduce the clauses necessary to protect the French trade;
and farther, to use his influence with the Duke of Oldenburg, to obtain
his consent to accept some reasonable indemnification for the territory
which had been so summarily annexed to France.

In looking back at this document, it appears to possess as much the
character of moderation, and even of deference, as could be expected
from the chief of a great empire. His demand that France, unless it were
her determined purpose to make war, should withdraw the armies which
threatened the Russian frontier, seems no more than common sense or
prudence would commend. Yet this condition was made by Napoleon, however
unreasonably, the direct cause of hostilities.

The person, in a private brawl, who should say to an angry and violent
opponent, "Sheathe your sword, or at least lower its point, and I will
accommodate with you, on your own terms, the original cause of quarrel,"
would surely not be considered as having given him any affront, or other
cause for instant violence. Yet Buonaparte, in nearly the same
situation, resented as an unatonable offence, the demand that he should
withdraw his armies from a position, where they could have no other
purpose save to overawe Russia. The demand, he said, was insolent; he
was not accustomed to be addressed in that style, nor to regulate his
movements by the commands of a foreign sovereign. The Russian ambassador
received his passports; and the unreasonable caprice of Napoleon, which
considered an overture towards an amicable treaty as a gross offence,
because it summoned him to desist from his menacing attitude, led to the
death of millions, and the irretrievable downfall of the most
extraordinary empire which the world had ever seen. On the 9th May,
1812, Buonaparte left Paris; the Russian ambassador had his passports
for departure two days later.


Upon his former military expeditions, it had been usual for Napoleon to
join his army suddenly, and with a slender attendance; but on the
present occasion he assumed a style of splendour and dignity becoming
one, who might, if any earthly sovereign ever could, have assumed the
title of King of Kings. Dresden was appointed as a mutual rendezvous for
all the Kings, Dominations, Princes, Dukes, and dependent royalties of
every description, who were subordinate to Napoleon, or hoped for good
or evil at his hands. The Emperor of Austria, with his Empress, met his
mighty son-in-law upon this occasion, and the city was crowded with
princes of the most ancient birth, as well as with others who claimed
still higher rank, as belonging to the family of Napoleon. The King of
Prussia also was present, neither a willing nor a welcome guest, unless
so far as his attendance was necessary to swell the victor's triumph.
Melancholy in heart and in looks, he wandered through the gay and
splendid scenes, a mourner rather than a reveller. But fate had amends
in store, for a prince whose course, in times of unparalleled distress,
had been marked by courage and patriotism.[104]

Amidst all these dignitaries, no one interested the public so much as
he, for whom, and by whom the assembly was collected; the wonderful
being who could have governed the world, but could not rule his own
restless mind. When visible, Napoleon was the principal figure of the
group; when absent, every eye was on the door, expecting his
entrance.[105] He was chiefly employed in business in his cabinet, while
the other crowned personages (to whom, indeed, he left but little to do)
were wandering abroad in quest of amusement. The feasts and banquets, as
well as the assemblies of the royal personages and their suites, after
the theatrical representations, were almost all at Napoleon's expense,
and were conducted in a style of splendour, which made those attempted
by any of the other potentates seem mean and paltry.

The youthful Empress had her share of these days of grandeur. "The reign
of Maria Louisa," said her husband, when at St. Helena, "has been very
short, but she had much to make her enjoy it. She had the world at her
feet." Her superior magnificence in dress and ornaments, gave her a
great pre-eminence over her mother-in-law, the Empress of Austria,
betwixt whom and Maria Louisa there seems to have existed something of
that petty feud, which is apt to divide such relations in private life.
To make the Austrian Empress some amends, Buonaparte informs us, that
she often visited her daughter-in-law's toilette, and seldom went back
without receiving some marks of her munificence.[106] Perhaps we may say
of this information, as Napoleon says of something else, that an Emperor
should not have known these circumstances, or at least should not have
told them. The truth is, Buonaparte did not love the Empress of Austria;
and though he represents that high personage as showing him much
attention, the dislike was mutual. The daughter of the Duke of Modena
had not forgot her father's sufferings by the campaigns of Italy.[107]

In a short time, however, the active spirit of Napoleon led him to tire
of a scene, where his vanity might for a time be gratified, but which
soon palled on his imagination as empty and frivolous. He sent for De
Pradt, the Archbishop of Malines, whose talents he desired to employ as
ambassador at Warsaw, and in a singular style of diplomacy, thus gave
him his commission: "I am about to make a trial of you. You may believe
I did not send for you here to say mass" (which ceremony the Archbishop
had performed that morning.) "You must keep a great establishment; have
an eye to the women, their influence is essential in that country. You
know Poland; you have read Rulhières. For me, I go to beat the Russians;
time is flying; we must have all over by the end of September; perhaps
we are even already too late. I am tired to death here; I have been here
eight days playing the courtier to the Empress of Austria." He then
threw out indistinct hints of compelling Austria to quit her hold on
Galicia, and accept an indemnification in Illyria, or otherwise remain
without any. As to Prussia, he avowed his intention, when the war was
over, to ruin her completely, and to strip her of Silesia. "I am on my
way to Moscow," he added. "Two battles there will do the business. I
will burn Thoula; the Emperor Alexander will come on his knees, and then
is Russia disarmed. All is ready, and only waits my presence. Moscow is
the heart of their empire; besides, I make war at the expense of the
blood of the Poles. I will leave fifty thousand of my Frenchmen in
Poland. I will convert Dantzic into another Gibraltar. I will give fifty
millions a-year in subsidies to the Poles. I can afford the expense.
Without Russia be included, the Continental System would be mere folly.
Spain costs me very dear; without her I should be master of the world;
but when I am so, my son will have nothing to do but to keep his place,
and it does not require to be very clever to do that. Go, take your
instructions from Maret."[108]

The complete confidence of success implied in these disjointed, yet
striking expressions, was general through all who approached Napoleon's
person, whether French or foreigners. The young military men looked on
the expedition against Russia as on a hunting party which was to last
for two months. The army rushed to the fatal country, all alive with
the hopes of plunder, pensions, and promotion. All the soldiers who were
not included railed against their own bad luck, or the partiality of
Napoleon, for detaining them from so triumphant an enterprise.[109]

[Sidenote: WAR WITH RUSSIA.]

Meantime, Buonaparte made a last attempt at negotiation, or rather to
discover what was the state of the Emperor Alexander's mind, who, while
he was himself surrounded by sovereigns, as the sun by planets, remained
lonely in his own orbit, collecting around him means of defence, which,
immense as they were, seemed scarcely adequate to the awful crisis in
which he stood. General Lauriston had been despatched to Wilna, to
communicate definitively with Alexander. Count de Narbonne, already
noticed as the most adroit courtier of the Tuileries was sent to invite
the Czar to meet Napoleon at Dresden, in hopes that, in a personal
treaty, the two sovereigns might resume their habits of intimacy, and
settle between themselves what they had been unable to arrange through
their ambassadors. But Lauriston could obtain no audience of the
Emperor, and the report of Narbonne was decidedly warlike. He found the
Russians neither depressed nor elated, but arrived at the general
conclusion, that war was become inevitable, and therefore determined to
submit to its evils, rather than avoid them by a dishonourable


[93] Meredith's Memorials of Charles John, King of Sweden and Norway, p.

[94] See Appendix to this Volume, No. I.

[95] See Meredith's Memorials, p. 38.

[96] In the _Moniteur_, a scandalous intrigue was repeatedly alluded to
as existing between this princess and the Emperor Alexander, and both to
M. Las Cases, and to others; Buonaparte affirmed the same personally;
telling, at the same time, as a good jest, that he himself had kept the
King of Prussia out of the way, to provide the lovers a stolen meeting
[vol. ii., p. 213.] These averments are so inconsistent with the
character universally assigned to this high-spirited and unhappy
princess, that we have no hesitation to assign them directly to calumny;
a weapon which Napoleon never disdained to wield, whether in private or
national controversy.--S.

[97] Histoire de l'Ambassade dans le Grand Duché de Varsovie en 1812.

[98] The fact is now pretty generally admitted to have been as stated in
the text. But in the public treaty, it appeared that France negotiated
an armistice, called that of Slobodsea, by which it was stipulated, that
the two disputed provinces of Moldavia and Wallachia were to be restored
to the Turks. But the armistice, as had previously been settled between
Napoleon and Alexander, broke up without any such restoration; and a
congress, which was held at Jassy for the arrangement of the quarrel
between the Porte and Court of St. Petersburgh, having been also
dissolved without coming to an agreement, the war between the Turks and
Russians recommenced upon the Danube.--S.

[99] Jomini, tom. iii., p. 541.

[100] Histoire Militaire de la Campagne de Russie en 1812.

[101] "When Napoleon had determined that all the springs of his
diplomacy should be put in motion towards the north, he changed his
minister of foreign affairs, the complication of so many intrigues and
manœuvres becoming too much, not indeed for the zeal, but for the
energy of Champagny-Cadore. Napoleon did not think himself secure in
confiding the weight of affairs so important to any other person than
Maret, the chief of his _secrétariat_--that is to say, all foreign
affairs were, from that moment, concentrated in his cabinet, and
received no other impulse than from him. Under this point of view,
Maret, who was a true official machine, was the very man whom the
Emperor wanted. He really admired his master, with whose thoughts,
secrets, and inclinations he was acquainted. It was also he who kept the
secret-book, in which the Emperor made his notes of such individuals of
all countries and parties who might be useful to him, as well as of men
who were pointed out to his notice, and whose intentions he

[102] "Here the matter dropped. Ashamed of its overtures, our cabinet,
whose only object was to have drawn Russia into some act of weakness,
perceived too late that it had impressed upon our diplomacy a character
of fickleness, bad faith, and ignorance."--FOUCHÉ.

[103] For copies of the Correspondence with the French Government
relative to Peace, see Parliamentary Debates, vol. xxiii., p. 10, 56.

[104] "Napoleon had expressed a wish that the Emperor of Austria,
several kings, and a crowd of princes, should meet him at Dresden: his
desire was fulfilled; all thronged to meet him; some induced by hope,
others prompted by fear; for himself, his motives were to feel his
power, to exhibit it, and enjoy it."--COUNT PHILIP DE SÉGUR, _Hist. de
Napoleon, et de la Grande Armée, en 1812_, tom. i., p. 89.

[105] "Whole nations had quitted their homes to throng his path; rich
and poor, nobles and plebeians, friends and enemies, all hurried to the
scene. Their curious and anxious groups were seen collecting in the
streets, the roads, and the public places. It was not his crown, his
rank, the luxury of his court, but him--himself--on whom they desired to
feast their eyes; a memento of his features which they were anxious to
obtain: they wished to be able to say to their less fortunate countrymen
and posterity that they had seen Napoleon."--SÉGUR, tom. i., p. 90.

[106] Las Cases, tom. i., p. 299.

[107] "The Empress of Austria made herself remarked, by her aversion,
which she vainly endeavoured to disguise; it escaped from her by an
involuntary impulse, which Napoleon instantly detected, and subdued by a
smile: but she employed her spirit and attraction in gently winning
hearts to her opinion, in order to sow them afterwards with the seeds of
hate."--SÉGUR, tom. i., p. 92.

[108] De Pradt, Histoire de l'Ambassade en Pologne, p. 55.

[109] De Pradt, Histoire de l'Ambassade en Pologne, p. 58.

[110] Ségur, tom. i., p. 97.


    _Napoleon's Plan of the Campaign against Russia--Understood and
    provided against by Barclay de Tolly, the Russian
    Generalissimo--Statement of the Grand French Army--Of the Grand
    Russian Army--Disaster on the river Wilia--Difficulties of the
    Campaign, on the part of the French--Their defective Commissariat
    and Hospital Department--Cause of Buonaparte's determination to
    advance--His forced marches occasion actual delay--Napoleon remains
    for some days at Wilna--Abbé de Pradt--His intrigues to excite the
    Poles--Neutralized by Napoleon's engagements with Austria--An
    attempt to excite Insurrection in Lithuania also fails._

In ancient history, we often read of the inhabitants of the northern
regions, impelled by want, and by the desire of exchanging their frozen
deserts for the bounties of a more genial climate, breaking forth from
their own bleak regions, and, with all the terrors of an avalanche,
bursting down upon those of the south. But it was reserved for our
generation to behold the invasion reversed, and to see immense hosts of
French, Germans, and Italians, leaving their own fruitful, rich, and
delightful regions, to carry at once conquest and desolation through
the dreary pine forests, swamps, and barren wildernesses of Scythia. The
philosopher, Hume, dedicated an essay to consider, whether futurity
might expect a new inundation of barbarian conquerors; a fresh "living
cloud of war," from the northern hives; but neither to him nor any one
else had it occurred to anticipate the opposite danger, of combined
hundreds of thousands from the fairest and most fertile regions of
Europe, moving at the command of a single man, for the purpose of
bereaving the wildest country of Europe of its national independence.
"Russia," said Buonaparte, in one of his Delphic proclamations, "is
dragged on by her fate; her destiny must be accomplished. Let us march;
let us cross the Niemen; let us carry war into her territories. The
second war of Poland will be as glorious to the French arms as the
first; but the peace we shall conclude shall carry with it its
guarantee, and terminate that haughty influence which Russia has
exercised for more than fifty years on the affairs of Europe."[111]
Napoleon's final object was here spoken out; it was to thrust Russia
back upon her Asiatic dominions, and deprive her of her influence in
European politics.

The address of the Russian Emperor to his troops was in a different,
more manly, rational, and intelligible strain, devoid of those
blustering attempts at prophetic eloquence, which are in bad taste when
uttered, and, if they may acquire some credit among the vulgar when
followed by a successful campaign, become the most bitter of satires,
if fortune does not smile on the vaticination. Alexander enforced on his
subjects the various efforts which he had made for the preservation of
peace, but which had proved fruitless. "It now only remains," he said,
"after invoking the Almighty Being who is the witness and defender of
the true cause, to oppose our forces to those of the enemy. It is
unnecessary to recall to generals, officers, and soldiers, what is
expected from their loyalty and courage; the blood of the ancient
Sclavonians circulates in their veins. Soldiers, you fight for your
religion, your liberty, and your native land. Your Emperor is amongst
you, and God is the enemy of the aggressor."[112]

The sovereigns who addressed their troops, each in his own peculiar mode
of exhortation, had their different plans for the campaign. Buonaparte's
was formed on his usual system of warfare. It was his primary object to
accumulate a great force on the centre of the Russian line, to break it
asunder, and cut off effectually as many divisions, as activity could
surprise and overmaster in such a struggle. To secure the possession of
large towns, if possible one of the two capitals, Petersburgh or Moscow;
and to grant that which he doubted not would by that time be humbly
craved, the terms of a peace which should strip Russia of her European
influence, and establish a Polish nation in her bosom, composed of
provinces rent from her own dominions--would have crowned the


The tactics of Napoleon had, by long practice, been pretty well
understood, by those studious of military affairs. Barclay de Tolly,
whom Alexander had made his generalissimo, a German by birth, a
Scotchman by extraction, had laid down and recommended to the Czar, with
whom he was in great favour, a plan of foiling Buonaparte upon his own
system. He proposed that the Russians should first show only so much
opposition on the frontier of their country, as should lay the invaders
under the necessity of marching with precaution and leisure; that they
should omit no means of annoying their communications, and disturbing
the base on which they rested, but should carefully avoid every thing
approaching to a general action.[113] On this principle it was proposed
to fall back before the invaders, refusing to engage in any other action
than skirmishes, and those upon advantage, until the French lines of
communication, extended to an immeasurable length, should become liable
to be cut off even by the insurgent peasantry. In the meanwhile, as the
French became straitened in provisions, and deprived of recruits and
supplies, the Russians were to be reinforcing their army, and at the
same time refreshing it. Thus, it was the object of this plan of the
campaign not to fight the French forces, until the bad roads, want of
provisions, toilsome marches, diseases, and loss in skirmishes, should
have deprived the invading army of all its original advantages of
numbers, spirit, and discipline. This procrastinating system of tactics
suited Russia the better, that her preparations for defensive war were
very far from being completed, and that it was important to gain time to
receive arms and other supplies from England, as well as, by making
peace with the Turks, to obtain the disposal of the large army now
engaged upon the Danube.

At the same time it was easy to foresee, that so long a retreat,
together with the desolation occasioned to the Russian territory by the
presence of an invading army, might wear out the patience of the Russian
soldiery. Some advantageous position was therefore to be selected, and
skilfully fortified before hand, in which a stand might be made, like
that of Lord Wellington in the lines at Torres Vedras. For this purpose,
a very large fortified camp was prepared at Drissa, on the river Düna,
or Dwina, which, supposing the object of the French to have been St.
Petersburgh, would have been well calculated to cover that capital. On
the other hand, were the French to move on Moscow, which proved their
final determination, the intrenchments at Drissa were of no importance.

We must speak of the immense hosts combined under Buonaparte, as if they
were all constituent parts of one army, although the theatre of war
which they occupied was not less than an hundred and twenty French
leagues in extent of front.

Macdonald commanded the left wing of the whole French army, which
consisted of above 30,000 men: his orders were to penetrate into
Courland, and threaten the right flank of the Russians; and, if it were
found advisable, to besiege Riga, or at least to threaten that important
sea-port. The extreme right of Napoleon's army was placed towards Pinsk,
in Volhynia, and consisted almost entirely of the Austrian auxiliaries,
under Prince Schwartzenberg. They were opposed to the Russian army under
General Tormazoff, which had been destined to protect Volhynia. This was
a false step of Napoleon, adopted, doubtless, to allay the irritable
jealousy of his ally Austria, on the subject of freeing and restoring
the kingdom of Poland. The natives of Volhynia, it must be remembered,
are Poles, subjected to the yoke of Russia. Had French troops, or those
of the grand duchy of Warsaw, been sent amongst them, the Volhynians
would probably have risen in arms to vindicate their liberty. But they
had little temptation to do so when they only saw the Austrians, by
whose arms Galicia was yet detained in subjection, and whose Emperor was
as liable as Alexander himself to suffer from the resuscitation of
Polish independence.

Betwixt the left wing, commanded by Macdonald, and the right under
Schwartzenberg, lay the grand French army, divided into three masses.
Buonaparte himself moved with his Guards, of which Bessières commanded
the cavalry, the Maréschals Lefebvre and Mortier the infantry. The
Emperor had also under his immediate command and corps d'armée,
commanded by Davoust, Oudinot, and Ney; which, with the divisions of
cavalry under Grouchy, Montbrun, and Nansouty, amounting, it was
computed, to no fewer than 250,000 men, were ready to rush forward and
overpower the opposite army of Russians, called the Army of the West.
King Jerome of Westphalia, with the divisions of Junot, Poniatowski, and
Regnier, and the cavalry of Latour Maubourg, forming a mass of about
80,000 men, were destined in the same manner to move forward on the
Russian second, or supporting army. Lastly, a central army, under
Eugene, the Viceroy of Italy, had it in charge to press between the
first and second Russian army, increase their separation, render their
junction impossible, and act against either, or both, as opportunity
should arise. Such was the disposition of the invading force. Murat,
King of Naples, well-known by his old name of "_Le Beau Sabreur_,"
commanded the whole cavalry of this immense army.

On the other hand, the grand Russian army, commanded by the Emperor in
person, and more immediately by Barclay de Tolly, advanced its
headquarters as far as Wilna; not that it was their purpose to defend
Lithuania, or its capital, but to oblige the French to manœuvre, and
so show their intentions. It amounted to 120,000 men. On the north,
towards Courland, this grand army communicated with a division of 10,000
men, under Count Essen; and on the south held communication, but on a
line rather too much prolonged, with the second army under the gallant
Prince Bagration, one of the best and bravest of the Russian generals.
Platoff, the celebrated Hettman, or captain-general of the Cossacks,
attended this second army, with 12,000 of his children of the desert.
Independent of these, Bagration's army might amount to 80,000 men. On
the extreme left, and watching the Austrians, from whom perhaps no very
vigorous measures were apprehended, was Tormazoff, with what was termed
the army of Volhynia, amounting to 20,000 men. Two armies of reserve
were in the course of being formed at Novogorod and Smolensk. They might
amount to about 20,000 men each.[114]

Thus, on the whole, the Russians entered upon the campaign with a sum
total of 260,000 men, opposed to 470,000, or with an odds of almost one
half against them. But during the course of the war, Russia raised
reinforcements of militia and volunteers to greatly more than the
balance which was against her at the commencement.


The grand imperial army marched upon the river Niemen in its three
overwhelming masses; the King of Westphalia upon Grodno, the Viceroy of
Italy on Pilony, and the Emperor himself on a point called Nagaraiski,
three leagues beyond Kowno. When the head of Napoleon's columns reached
the river which rolled silently along under cover of immense forests on
the Russian side, he advanced in person to reconnoitre the banks, when
his horse stumbled and threw him. "A bad omen," said a voice, but
whether that of the Emperor or one of his suite, could not be
distinguished; "a Roman would return." On the Russian bank appeared only
a single Cossack, who challenged the first party of French that crossed
the river, and demanded their purpose in the territories of Russia. "To
beat you, and to take Wilna," was the reply. The patrol withdrew, nor
was another soldier seen.[115]

A dreadful thunder-storm was the welcome which they received in this
wild land; and shortly after the Emperor received intelligence that the
Russians were falling back on every side, and manifested an evident
intention to evacuate Lithuania without a battle. The Emperor urged
forward his columns with even more than his usual promptitude, eager to
strike one of those formidable blows by which he was wont to annihilate
his enemy at the very commencement of the campaign. This gave rise to
an event more ominous than the fall of his horse, or the tempest which
received him on the banks of the Niemen. The river Wilia being swollen
with rain, and the bridges destroyed, the Emperor, impatient of the
obstacle, commanded a body of Polish cavalry to cross by swimming. They
did not hesitate to dash into the river. But ere they reached the middle
of the stream, the irresistible torrent broke their ranks, and they were
swept down and lost almost to a man, before the eyes of Napoleon, to
whom some of them in the last struggle turned their faces, exclaiming,
"_Vive l'Empereur!_" The spectators were struck with horror.[116] But
much greater would that feeling have been, could they have known that
the fate of this handful of brave men was but an anticipation of that
which impended over the hundreds of thousands, who, high in health and
hope, were about to rush upon natural and artificial obstacles, no less
formidable and no less insurmountable than the torrent which had swept
away their unfortunate advanced guard.

While his immense masses were traversing Lithuania, Napoleon fixed his
headquarters at Wilna,[117] the ancient capital of that province, where
he began to experience the first pressure of those difficulties which
attended his gigantic undertaking. We must pause to detail them; for
they tend to show the great mistake of those who have followed Napoleon
himself in supposing, that the Russian expedition was a hopeful and
well-conceived plan, which would certainly have proved successful, if
not unexpectedly disconcerted by the burning of Moscow, and the severity
of the weather, by which the French armies were compelled to retreat
into Poland.

We have elsewhere mentioned, that, according to Napoleon's usual style
of tactics, the French troops set out upon their campaign with bread and
biscuit for a few days, and when that was expended (which, betwixt waste
and consumption, usually happened before the calculated period,) they
lived on such supplies as they could collect in the country, by the
means of marauding or pillage, which they had converted into a regular
system. But Napoleon had far too much experience and prudence to trust,
amid the wastes of Russia, to a system of supplies, which had sufficed
for maintenance of the army in the rich fields of Austria. He knew well
that he was plunging with half a million of men into inhospitable
deserts, where Charles XII. could not find subsistence for twenty
thousand Swedes. He was aware, besides, of the impolicy there would be
in harassing the Lithuanians by marauding exactions. To conciliate them
was a great branch of his plan, for Lithuania, in respect to Russia, was
a conquered province, into which Napoleon hoped to inspire the same
desire of independence which animated Poland, and thus to find friends
and allies among the very subjects of his enemy. The utmost exertion of
his splendid talents, putting into activity the full extent of his
almost unlimited power, had been, therefore, turned towards collecting
immense magazines of provisions, and for securing the means of
transporting them along with the army. His strong and impassioned genius
was, for months before the expedition, directed to this important
object, which he pressed upon his generals with the utmost solicitude.
"For masses like those we are about to move, if precautions be not
taken, the grain of no country can suffice," he said, in one part of his
correspondence.--In another, "All the provision-waggons must be loaded
with flour, rice, bread, vegetables, and brandy, besides what is
necessary for the hospital service. The result of my movements will
assemble 400,000 men on a single point. There will be nothing to expect
from the country, and it will be necessary to have every thing within

These undeniable views were followed up by preparations, which,
abstractedly considered, must be regarded as gigantic. The cars and
waggons, which were almost innumerable, destined for the carriage of
provisions, were divided into battalions and squadrons. Each battalion
of cars was capable of transporting 6000 quintals of flour; each
squadron of heavy waggons nearly 4800 quintals; besides the immense
number dedicated to the service of the engineers and the hospitals, or
engaged in transporting besieging materiel and pontoons.


This sketch must convince the reader that Napoleon had in his eye, from
the outset, the prospect of deficiency in supplying his army with
provisions, and that he had bent his mind to the task of overcoming it
by timely preparation. But all his precautions proved totally
inadequate. It was found a vain attempt to introduce military discipline
amidst the carters and waggon-drivers; and when wretched roads were
encumbered with fallen horses and broken carriages, when the soldiers
and wain-drivers began to plunder the contents of the cars and waggons
which they were appointed to protect and to manage, the confusion became
totally inextricable. Very far from reaching Lithuania, where their
presence was so essential, few of the heavy waggons ever attained the
banks of the Vistula, and almost none proceeded to the Niemen. Weeks and
months after the army had passed, some of the light cars and herds of
cattle did arrive, but comparatively few in number, and in most
miserable plight. The soldiers were, therefore, at the very commencement
of the campaign, compelled to have recourse to their usual mode of
supplying themselves, by laying contributions on the country; which,
while they continued in Poland, the immense fertility of the soil
enabled it to supply. But matters became greatly worse after entering
Lithuania, which the Russians had previously endeavoured to strip of all
that could benefit the French.

Thus, in the very first march from the Niemen and the Wilia, through a
country which was regarded as friendly, and before they had seen an
enemy, the immense army of Napoleon were incurring great loss
themselves, and doing infinite damage to the country on which they lived
at free cost, in spite of all the measures which Buonaparte had devised,
and all the efforts he had made to maintain them from their own stores.

This uncertain mode of subsistence was common to the whole army, though
its consequences were especially disastrous in particular corps.
Ségur[118] informs us, that the armies under Eugene and Davoust were
regular in their work of collecting contributions, and distributing them
among the soldiers; so that their system of marauding was less
burdensome to the country, and more advantageous to themselves. On the
other hand, the Westphalian, and other German auxiliaries, under King
Jerome, having learned the lesson of pillaging from the French, and
wanting, according to Ségur, the elegant manner of their teachers,
practised the arts they had acquired with a coarse rapacity, which made
the French ashamed of their pupils and imitators. Thus the Lithuanians,
terrified, alienated, and disgusted, with the injuries they sustained,
were far from listening to the promises of Napoleon, or making common
cause with him against Russia, who had governed them kindly, and with
considerable respect to their own habits and customs.


But this was not the only evil. The direct loss sustained by the French
army was very great. In the course of the very first marches from the
Niemen and the Wilia, not less than 10,000 horses, and numbers of men
were left dead on the road. Of the young conscripts especially, many
died of hunger and fatigue; and there were instances of some who
committed suicide, rather than practise the cruel course of pillage by
which only they could subsist; and of others, who took the same
desperate step, from remorse at having participated in such cruelties.
Thousands turned stragglers, and subsisted by robbery. The Duke of
Treviso, who followed the march of the grand army, informed Napoleon,
that, from the Niemen to the Wilia, he had seen nothing but ruined
habitations abandoned, carriages overturned, broke open and pillaged,
corpses of men and horses--all the horrible appearances, in short, which
present themselves in the route of a defeated army.[119]

Those who desired to flatter Buonaparte, ascribed this loss to the storm
of rain, which fell at the time they were entering Lithuania. But summer
rain, whatever its violence, does not destroy the horses of an army by
hundreds and thousands. That which does destroy them, and renders those
that survive almost unfit for service during the campaign, and incapable
of bearing the hardships of winter, is hard work, forced marches, want
of corn or dry fodder, and the supporting them on the green crop which
is growing in the fields. It was now the season when, of all others, a
commander, who values the serviceable condition of his army, will avoid
such enterprises as require from his cavalry hard work and forced
marches. In like manner, storms of summer rain do not destroy the foot
soldiers exposed to them, more than other men; but forced marches on bad
roads, and through a country unprovided with shelter, and without
provisions, must ruin infantry, since every man, who, from fatigue, or
from having straggled too far in quest of food, chances to be left
behind, is left exposed without shelter to the effects of the climate,
and if he cannot follow and rejoin his corps, has no resource but to lie
down and die.

The provisions of the hospital department had been as precarious as
those of the commissariat. Only 6000 patients could be accommodated in
the hospitals at Wilna, which is too small a proportion for an army of
400,000 men, even if lying in quarters in a healthy and peaceful
country, where one invalid in fifty is a most restricted allowance; but
totally inadequate to the numbers which actually required assistance, as
well from the maladies introduced by fatigue and bad diet, as by the
casualties of war. Although no battle, and scarce a skirmish had been
fought, 25,000 patients encumbered the hospitals of Wilna; and the
villages were filled with soldiers who were dying for want of medical
assistance. The King of Westphalia must be exempted from this general
censure; his army was well provided with hospitals, and lost much fewer
men than the others. This imperfection of the hospital department was an
original defect in the conception of the expedition, and continued to
influence it most unfavourably from beginning to end.

Napoleon sometimes repined under these losses and calamities, sometimes
tried to remedy them by threats against marauders, and sometimes
endeavoured to harden himself against the thought of the distress of his
army, as an evil which must be endured, until victory should put an end
to it. But repining and anger availed nothing; denunciations against
marauders could not reasonably be executed upon men who had no other
means of subsistence; and it was impossible to obtain a victory over an
enemy who would not risk a battle.

The reader may here put the natural question, Why Buonaparte, when he
found the stores, which he considered as essential to the maintenance of
his army, had not reached the Vistula, should have passed on, instead of
suspending his enterprise until he was provided with those means, which
he had all along judged essential to its success? He might in this
manner have lost time, but he would have saved his men and horses, and
avoided distressing a country which he desired to conciliate. The truth
is, that Napoleon had suffered his sound and cooler judgment to be led
astray, by strong and ardent desire to finish the war by one brilliant
battle and victory. The hope of surprising the Emperor Alexander at
Wilna, of defeating his grand army, or at least cutting off some of its
principal corps, resembled too much many of his former exploits, not to
have captivation for him. For this purpose, and with this expectation,
forced marches were to be undertaken, from the Vistula even to the Dwina
and Dnieper; the carts, carriages, cattle, all the supplies brought from
France, Italy, and Germany, were left behind, the difficulties of the
enterprise forgotten, and nothing thought of but the expectation of
finding the enemy at unawares, and totally destroying him at one blow.
The fatal consequence of the forced marches we have stated; but what may
appear most strange is, that Napoleon, who had recourse to this
expeditious and reckless advance, solely to surprise his enemy by an
unexpected attack, rather lost than gained that advantage of time, to
procure which he had made such sacrifices. This will appear from the
following detail:--

The army which had been quartered on the Vistula, broke up from thence
about the 1st of June, and advanced in different columns, and by forced
marches upon the Niemen, which it reached upon different points, but
chiefly near Kowno, upon the 23d, and commenced the passage on the 24th
of the same month. From the Vistula to the Niemen is about 250 wersts,
equal to 235 or 240 English miles; from Kowno, on the banks of the
Niemen, to Vitepsk, on the Dwina, is nearly the same distance. The whole
space might be marched by an army, moving with its baggage, in the
course of forty marches, at the rate of twelve miles a-day; yet the
traversing this distance took, as we shall presently see, four days
more, notwithstanding the acceleration of forced marches, than would
have been occupied by an army moving at an ordinary and easy rate, and
carrying its own supplies along with its columns. The cause why this
overhaste should have been attended with actual delay, was partly owing
to the great mass of troops which were to be supplied by the principle
of the marauding system, partly to the condition of the country, which
was doomed to afford them; and partly, it may be, to the political
circumstances which detained Napoleon twenty precious days at Wilna. The
first reason is too obvious to need illustration, as a flying army of
20,000 men bears comparatively light on the resources of a country, and
may be pushed through it in haste; but those immense columns, whose
demands were so unbounded, could neither move rapidly, nor have their
wants hastily supplied. But, besides, in a country like Lithuania, the
march could not be regular, and it was often necessary to suspend the
advance; thus losing in some places the time which great exertion had
gained in others. Wildernesses and pathless forests were necessarily to
be traversed in the utmost haste, as they afforded nothing for the
marauders, on whose success the army depended for support. To make
amends for this, it was necessary to halt the troops for one day, or
even more, in the richest districts, or in the neighbourhood of large
towns, to give leisure and opportunity to recruit their supplies at the
expense of the country. Thus the time gained by the forced marches was
lost in inevitable delays; and the advance, though attended with such
tragic consequences to the soldier, did not secure the advantage which
the general proposed to attain.

[Sidenote: WILNA.]

Upon arriving at Wilna, Napoleon had the mortification to find, that
although the Emperor Alexander had not left the place until two days
after he had himself crossed the Niemen, yet the Russian retreat had
been made with the utmost regularity; all magazines and provisions,
which could yield any advantage to the invaders, having been previously
destroyed to a very large amount. While Buonaparte's generals had orders
to press forward on their traces, the French Emperor himself remained
at Wilna, to conduct some political measures, which seemed of the last
importance to the events of the campaign.

The Abbé de Pradt had executed with ability the task intrusted to him,
of exciting the Poles of the grand duchy of Warsaw, with the hope of a
general restoration of Polish freedom. This brave but unhappy country,
destined, it would seem, to spend its blood in every cause but its own,
had, in that portion of it which formerly belonged to Prussia, and now
formed the grand duchy of Warsaw, gained but little by its nominal
independence. This state had only a population of about five millions of
inhabitants, yet maintained for the service of France, rather than for
its own, an armed force of 85,000 men. Eighteen regiments of these were
embodied with the Emperor's army, and paid by France; but the formation
and expense of the rest far exceeded the revenues of the duchy. The last
amounted only to forty millions of francs, while the expenses more than
doubled that sum. The grand duchy had also suffered its full share of
distress from the Continental System of Napoleon. The revenue of Poland
depends on the sale of the grain which her fertile soil produces; and
that grain, in the years previous to the present, had lain rotting in
the warehouses. The misery of the poor was extreme; the opulence of the
rich classes had disappeared, and they could not relieve them. The year
1811 had been a year of scarcity here as well as elsewhere; and, as in
former years the Poles had grain which they could not send to market, so
at present they had neither corn nor means to purchase it. To all these
disadvantages must be added, the plunder and misery sustained by the
duchy during the march of Buonaparte's numerous forces from the Vistula
to the Niemen.

Yet so highly toned is the national patriotism of the Poles, that it
kindled at the name of independence, notwithstanding the various
accumulated circumstances which tended to damp the flame. When,
therefore, a diet of the duchy of Warsaw was convened, where the nobles
assembled according to ancient form, all were anxious to meet Napoleon's
wishes; but an unfortunate hint which the Emperor had thrown out
concerning the length of the discourse with which the Diet was to be
opened, induced the worthy Count Mathuchewitz, whose duty it was to draw
up the peroration, to extend it to fifty pages of very close writing.

As all the assembly exclaimed against the prolixity of this mortal
harangue, the French ambassador, the Abbé de Pradt, was required to
substitute something more suitable for the occasion. Accordingly, he
framed a discourse more brief, more in the taste of his own country,
and, we doubt not, more spirited and able than that of Count
Mathuchewitz. It was hailed by the warm and enthusiastic applause of the
Diet. Notwithstanding which, when sent to Napoleon, then at Wilna, he
disapproved of it, as too obviously written in the French style of
composition, and intimated, in plain terms, that language, like that of
an ancient Pole, speaking his national sentiments in the Oriental tropes
of his national language, would better have suited the occasion.

The intimation of this dissatisfaction tore the veil from the Abbé de
Pradt's eyes, as he himself assures us. He foresaw that the infatuated
want of judgment which the Emperor displayed in disliking his discourse,
was that of a doomed and falling man; he dated from that epoch the
overthrow of Napoleon's power, and was so much moved with the spirit of
prophecy, that he could not withhold his predictions even before the
young persons connected with his embassy.

[Sidenote: DIET OF WARSAW.]

But a more fatal sign of Napoleon's prospects than could be inferred by
any except the author, from his disapprobation of the Abbé de Pradt's
discourse, occurred in his answer to the address of the Diet of the
grand duchy.

The Diet of Warsaw, anticipating, as they supposed, Napoleon's wishes,
had declared the whole kingdom, in all its parts, free and independent,
as if the partition treaties had never existed; and no just-thinking
person will doubt their right to do so. They entered into a general
confederation, declared the kingdom of Poland restored, summoned all
Poles to quit the service of Russia, and finally, sent deputations to
the Grand Duke and the King of Saxony, and another to Napoleon,
announcing their desire to accelerate the political regeneration of
Poland, and their hope to be recognised by the entire Polish nation as
the centre of a general union. The expressions addressed to Napoleon
were in a tone of idolatry. They applied for the countenance of the
"Hero who dictated his history to the age, in whom resided the force of
Providence," language which is usually reserved to the Deity alone. "Let
the Great Napoleon," they said, "only pronounce his fiat that the
kingdom of Poland should exist, and it will exist accordingly. The
natives of Poland will unite themselves at once and unanimously to the
service of Him to whom ages are as a moment, and space no more than a
point." In another case, this exaggerated eloquence would have induced
some suspicion of sincerity on the part of those who used it; but the
Poles, like the Gascons, to whom they have been compared, are fond of
superlatives, and of an exalted and enthusiastic tone of language,
which, however, they have in all ages been observed to support by their
actions in the field.

The answer of Buonaparte to this high-toned address was unexpectedly
cold, doubtful, and indecisive. It was at this moment, probably, he felt
the pressure of his previous engagements with Austria, which prevented
his at once acquiescing in the wishes of the Polish mission. "He loved
the Polish nation," he said, "and in the situation of the Diet at
Warsaw, would act as they did. But he had many interests to reconcile,
and many duties to fulfil. Had he reigned when Poland was subjected to
those unjust partitions which had deprived her of independence, he would
have armed in her behalf, and as matters stood, when he conquered
Warsaw and its surrounding territories, he instantly restored them to a
state of freedom.----He applauded what they had done--authorised their
future efforts, and would do all he could to second their resolution. If
their efforts were unanimous, they might compel their oppressors to
recognise their rights; but these hopes must rest on the exertions of
the population." These uncertain and cool assurances of his general
interest in the Polish cause, were followed by the express declaration,
"That he had guaranteed to the Emperor of Austria the integrity of his
dominions, and he could not sanction any manœuvre, or the least
movement, tending to disturb the peaceable possession of what remained
to _him_ of the Polish provinces. As for the provinces of Poland
attached to Russia, he was content with assuring them, that, providing
they were animated by the spirit evinced in the grand duchy, Providence
would crown their good cause with success."

This answer, so different from that which the Poles had expected, struck
the mission with doubt and dismay. Instead of countenancing the reunion
of Poland, Napoleon had given an assurance, that, in the case of
Galicia, he neither could nor would interfere to detach that province
from Austria; and in that of the Polish provinces attached to Russia, he
exhorted the natives to be unanimous, in which case, instead of assuring
them of his powerful assistance, he was content with recommending them
to the care of that Providence, in whose place the terms of their
bombastic address had appeared to install Napoleon himself. The Poles
accordingly began from that period to distrust the intentions of
Napoleon towards the re-establishment of their independence, the more
so, as they observed that neither Polish nor French troops were employed
in Volhynia or elsewhere, whose presence might have given countenance to
their efforts, but Austrians only, who, for example's sake, were as
unwilling to encourage the Russian provinces of Poland to declare for
the cause of independence, as they would have been to preach the same
doctrines in those which belonged to Austria.[120]

Napoleon afterwards often and bitterly regretted the sacrifice which he
made on this occasion to the wishes of Austria; and he had the more
occasion for this regret, as the error seemed to be gratuitous. It is
true, that to have pressed Austria on the subject of emancipating
Galicia, might have had the effect of throwing her into the arms of
Russia; but this might probably have been avoided by the cession of the
Illyrian provinces as an indemnity. And, if this exchange could not be
rendered acceptable to Austria, by throwing in Trieste, or even Venice,
Napoleon ought then to have admitted the impossibility of reinstating
the independence of Poland, to have operated as a reason for entirely
declining the fatal war with Russia.

[Sidenote: LITHUANIA.]

The French ruler miscarried also in an effort to excite an insurrection
in Lithuania, although he named a provisional government in the
province, and declared the country was free of the Russian yoke. But the
Lithuanians, a colder people than the Poles, were not in general much
dissatisfied with the government of Russia, while the conduct of the
French armies in their territories alienated their minds from Napoleon.
They observed also the evasive answer which he returned to the Poles,
and concluded, that if the French Emperor should have occasion to make
peace with Alexander, he would not hesitate to do so at the expense of
those whom he was now encouraging to rise in insurrection. Thus the
moral effect which Napoleon expected to produce on the Russian frontier,
was entirely checked and counteracted; insomuch that of a guard of
honour, which the Lithuanians had proposed to serve for the Emperor's
person, only three troopers ever made their appearance on parade. Nor
did the country at large take any steps, either generally or
individually, to intimate a national interest in the events of the war,
seeming to refer themselves entirely to the course of events.


[111] Second Bulletin of the Grand Army, dated Wilkowiski, June 22,

[112] Dated Wilna, June 25. "The difference between the two nations, the
two sovereigns, and their reciprocal position, were remarked in these
proclamations. In fact, the one which was defensive was unadorned and
moderate; the other, offensive, was replete with audacity and the
confidence of victory. The first sought support in religion, the other
in fatality; the one in love of country, the other in love of
glory."--SÉGUR, tom. i., p. 117.

[113] The _base_ of military operations is, in strategie, understood to
mean that space of country which every army, marching through a hostile
territory, must keep open and free in the rear, otherwise his main body
must necessarily be deprived of its communications, and probably cut
off. The base, therefore, contains the supplies and depôts of the

[114] Ségur, tom. i., p. 117; Jomini, tom. iv., p. 50.

[115] Ségur, tom. i., p. 122.

[116] Ségur, tom. i., p. 128.

[117] "Napoleon, at Wilna, had a new empire to organise; the politics of
Europe, the war of Spain, and the government of France to direct. His
political, military, and administrative correspondence, which he had
suffered to accumulate for some days, imperiously demanded his
attention. Such, indeed, was his custom, on the eve of a great event, as
that would necessarily decide the character of many of his replies, and
impart a colouring to all. He therefore established himself at his
quarters, and in the first instance, threw himself on a bed, less for
the sake of sleep than of quiet meditation; whence, abruptly starting up
directly after, he rapidly dictated the orders which he had
conceived."--SÉGUR, tom. i., p. 131.

[118] Here and elsewhere we quote, as a work of complete authority,
Count Philip de Ségur's account of this memorable expedition. The author
is, we have always understood, a man of honour, and his work evinces him
to be a man of talent. We have had the opinion of several officers of
high character, who had themselves served in the campaign, that although
unquestionably there may be some errors among the details, and although
in some places the author may have given way to the temptation of
working up a description, or producing effect by a dialogue, yet his
narrative on the whole is candid, fair, and liberal. The unfriendly
criticism of General Gourgaud ["Examen Critique de l'Ouvrage de Ségur"]
impeaches Count Ségur's opportunities of knowing the facts he relates,
because his duty did not call him into the line of battle, where he
might have seen the military events with his own eyes. We conceive with
deference, that, as an historian, Count Ségur's situation was more
favourable for collecting intelligence than if he had been actually
engaged. We speak from high authority in saying, that a battle is in one
respect like a ball--every one recollects the next morning, the partner
with whom he danced, and what passed betwixt them, but none save a
bystander can give a general account of the whole party. Now, Count
Ségur eminently resembled the bystander in his opportunities of
collecting exact information concerning the whole events of the
campaign. His duty was to take up and distribute the lodgings at the
general headquarters. It was, therefore, seldom that an officer could go
to or return from headquarters without holding communication with Count
Ségur; and, having his plan of a narrative in view, he could not be the
man of ability he appears, if he did not obtain from those who arrived
at or left headquarters such information as they had to communicate. As
he had no pressing military duty to perform, he had nothing to prevent
his arranging and recording the information he collected; and when
General Gourgaud urges the impossibility of the historian's being
present at some of the most secret councils, he forgets that many such
secrets _percolate_ from the cabinet into the better-informed circles
around it, even before the seal of secrecy is removed, but especially
when, as in the present case, a total change of circumstances renders
secrecy no longer necessary. We have only to add, that though the
idolatry of Count Ségur towards Napoleon is not sufficient to satisfy
his critic, he must in other eyes be considered as an admirer of the
late Emperor; and that those who knew the French army, will find no
reason to suspect him of being a false brother.--S.

[119] Ségur, tom. i., p. 147; Jomini, tom. iv., p. 58.

[120] Ségur, tom. i., p. 122; De Pradt, p. 119.


    _Proceedings of the Army under Prince Bagration--Napoleon's
    manœuvres against him--King Jerome of Westphalia is disgraced for
    alleged inactivity--Bagration is defeated by Davoust, but succeeds
    in gaining the interior of Russia, and re-establishing his
    communication with the Grand Army--which retreats to Drissa--Barclay
    and Bagration meet at Smolensk on the 20th July--The French Generals
    become anxious that Napoleon should close the campaign at Witepsk
    for the season--He persists in proceeding--Smolensk evacuated by De
    Tolly, after setting fire to the place--Reduced condition of the
    French, and growing strength of the Russian Armies--Peace effected
    between Russia, and England, Sweden, and Turkey--Napoleon resolves
    to advance upon Moscow._


Napoleon continued to occupy his headquarters at Wilna, from 28th June
to 16th July, the space of eighteen days. It was not usual with him to
make such long halts; but Wilna was his last point of communication with
Europe, and he had probably much to arrange ere he could plunge into the
forests and deserts of Russia, whence all external intercourse must be
partial and precarious. He named Maret Duke of Bassano, Governor of
Lithuania, and placed under the management of that minister the whole
charge of correspondence with Paris and with the armies; thus rendering
him the centre of administrative, political, and even military
communication between the Emperor and his dominions.

It must not be supposed, however, that these eighteen days passed
without military movements of high importance. The reader must remember,
that the grand army of Russia was divided into two unequal portions.
That commanded under the Emperor by Barclay de Tolly, had occupied Wilna
and the vicinity, until the French entered Lithuania, when, by a
preconcerted and well-executed retreat, they fell back on their strong
fortified camp at Drissa. The smaller army, under Prince Bagration, was
much farther advanced to the south-westward, and continued to occupy a
part of Poland. The Prince's headquarters were at Wolkowisk; Platoff,
with 7000 Cossacks, lay at Grodno, and both he and Bagration maintained
communication with the main army through its left wing, which, under
Dorokhoff, extended as far as Lida. The army of Bagration had been
posted thus far to the south-west, in order that when Napoleon crossed
the Niemen, this army might be placed in his rear as he advanced to
Wilna. To execute this plan became impossible, so much greater was the
invading army than the Russians had anticipated. On the contrary, the
French were able to protect the flank of their advance against Wilna by
an army of 30,000 men, under the King of Westphalia, placed betwixt them
and this secondary Russian army. And far from having it in his power to
annoy the enemy, Bagration was placed so much in advance, as greatly to
hazard being separated from the main body, and entirely cut off. The
Russian prince accordingly had directions from Barclay de Tolly to get
his army out of their perilous situation; and again, on the 13th of
July, he had orders from Alexander to move on the camp of Drissa.

When Napoleon arrived at Wilna, the danger of Bagration became imminent;
for the intrenched camp at Drissa was the rendezvous of all the Russian
corps, and Napoleon being 150 wersts, or seven days' march, nearer to
Drissa than Bagration, neither Napoleon nor any other general had ever
so fair an opportunity for carrying into execution the French Emperor's
favourite manœuvre, of dividing into two the line of his enemy, which
was unquestionably too much extended.

It was the 30th of July ere Napoleon was certain of the advantage which
he possessed, and he hastened to improve it. He had despatched the
greater part of his cavalry under Murat, to press on the retreat of the
grand Russian army; the second corps under Oudinot, and the third under
Ney, with three divisions of the first corps, were pushed towards the
Dwina on the same service, and constituted a force too strong for the
army of Barclay de Tolly to oppose. On the right of the army, the King
of Westphalia had directions to press upon Bagration in front, and throw
him upon the army of Davoust, which was to advance on his flank and
towards his rear. It was concluded, that Bagration, cut off from the
grand army, and attacked at once by Jerome and Davoust, must necessarily
surrender or be destroyed.

Having thus detached very superior forces against the only two Russian
armies which were opposed to him, Buonaparte himself, with the Guards,
the army of Italy, the Bavarian army, and three divisions of Davoust's
corps d'armée was at liberty to have marched forward upon Witepsk,
occupying the interval between the corps of Murat, who pressed upon
Alexander and De Tolly, and of Davoust, who was pursuing Bagration. By
thus pressing on where there was no hostile force opposed to him,
Napoleon might have penetrated between the two Russian armies, to each
of whom a superior force was opposed, might have forced himself between
them and occupied Witepsk, and threatened both St. Petersburgh and
Moscow; or, if he decided for the latter capital, might have advanced as
far as Smolensk. That Buonaparte, formed this plan of the campaign on
the 10th of July at Wilna, we are assured by Ségur; but it was then too
late for putting it in execution--yet another week was lost at
Wilna.[121] All seem to have been sensible of an unusual slowness in
Napoleon's motions on this important occasion; and Ségur attributes it
to a premature decay of constitution,[122] of which, however, we see no
traces in the campaigns of 1813 and 1814.[123] But the terrible disorder
of an army, the sick and stragglers of which absolutely filled
Lithuania, and that army one of such immense size, required considerable
time to remodel and new-organise it; and this of itself, a misfortune
inherent in the enterprise, is sufficient to account for the halt at

Meantime Bagration, in a precarious situation, defended himself with the
greatest skill and gallantry. Being cut off from the direct road to
Drissa, it was his object to retreat eastward to his rear, instead of
moving northward by his right flank, and thus to make his way towards
the Dwina, either through Ostrowno and Minsk, or by the town of
Borizoff. When he gained the Dwina, Bagration trusted to form a junction
with the grand army, from which he was now so fearfully separated. The
actual strength of his army was, however, increased not only by the
Hettman Platoff with his Cossacks, who, being advanced south-westward as
far as Grodno, made in fact a part of Bagration's command, and assisted
him materially in his retreat; but also by the division of General
Dorokhoff, which, forming the extreme left of the grand Russian army,
was cut off in the retreat upon Drissa by the advance of the French, and
therefore had been placed also in communication with Bagration. So that,
numerically, the prince might have under his command from 40 to 50,000

The ground which Bagration had to traverse was the high plain of
Lithuania, where arise the sources of the rivers which take different
directions to the Black and Baltic Seas. The soil is unusually marshy,
and traversed by long causeways, which the Russians made use of in
defending themselves against the attacks of Jerome's advanced guard. But
while Bagration struggled against the attempt on his front, Davoust,
having occupied all the posts on the Russian's right flank, and
succeeded in preventing him taking the shortest road to Drissa, began
next to cut him off from his more circuitous route to the east,
occupying the town of Minsk, and the defiles by which Bagration must
issue from Lithuania towards Witepsk and the Dwina. The occupation of
Minsk greatly embarrassed the retreat of Bagration; insomuch, that the
French were of opinion that it was only the want of skill and enterprise
on the part of King Jerome of Westphalia, who did not, it was said,
press the Russians with sufficient vigour, that prevented the Russian
prince being thrust back on Davoust, and totally destroyed. At any rate,
Jerome, whether guilty or not of the alleged slowness of movement, was,
according to the fashion in which the chief of the Napoleon dynasty
treated the independent princes whom he called to sovereignty, sent back
in disgrace to his Westphalian dominions, unaccompanied even by a
soldier of his guards, for all of whom Napoleon had sufficient

Several skirmishes were fought between the corps of Bagration, and those
opposed to it, of which the event was dubious. Platoff and his Cossacks
had more than one distinguished success over the Polish cavalry, who,
with all their fiery courage, had not yet the intimate acquaintance with
partisan war, which seems to be a natural attribute of the modern
Scythians. In the meanwhile, Bagration, continuing his attempts at
extricating his army, made another circuitous march towards the south,
and avoiding his pursuers, he effected the passage of the Beresina at
Bobruisk. The Dnieper (anciently the Borysthenes) was the next obstacle
to be overcome, and with a view to regain the ground he had lost,
Bagration ascended that stream as far as Mohiloff. Here he found
himself again anticipated by Davoust, who was equally, though less
unpleasantly surprised, by finding himself in front of Bagration, who
prepared to clear his way by the sword. The combat was at first
advantageous to the Russians, but they were at length repulsed roughly,
and lost the battle; without, however, suffering much, except in the
failure of their purpose. Disappointed in this attempt, Bagration, with
unabated activity, once more altered his line of retreat, descended the
Dnieper so far as to reach Nevoi-Bikoff, finally crossed at that point,
and thus gained the interior of Russia, and an opportunity of again
placing himself in communication with the grand Russian army, from which
he had been so nearly cut off.[124]

It was certainly a new event in the history of Napoleon's wars, that two
large armies of French should be baffled and out-manœuvred by a
foreign general. And yet this was clearly the case; for, admitting that
the Russians committed originally the great error of extending their
line too far from Drissa, the intended point of union, and although, in
consequence, the army of Bagration run great risk of being cut off, yet
the manœuvres by which he effectually eluded the enemy, showed
superior military talent on the part of the general, as well as
excellent discipline on that of the soldiers, and were sufficient for
the extrication of both.[125]


We return to the grand army, commanded by the Emperor, or rather by
Barclay de Tolly, which, though pressed by Murat, at the head of the
greater part of the French cavalry, as well as by Oudinot and Ney, all
burning for combat, made a regular and successful retreat to the
intrenched camp at Drissa, where the Russian army had been appointed to
concentrate itself. The French troops, on their part, approached the
left bank of the Dwina, and that river now separated the hostile armies,
and there took place only partial actions between detached corps with
various success. But the Russian general Witgenstein, whose name began
to be distinguished both for enterprise and conduct, observing that
Sebastiani's vanguard of French cavalry had quartered themselves with
little precaution in the town of Drissa, he passed the river
unexpectedly on the night of the 2d July, beat up Sebastiani's quarters,
and was completely successful in the skirmish which ensued. Enterprises
of this sort show a firm and energetic character, and Napoleon began
already to be aware of the nature of the task he had before him, and of
the necessity of employing his own talents in the campaign.

In the meantime, Barclay was led to change his plan, from learning the
danger to which Prince Bagration was exposed. The camp at Drissa became
too distant a point of junction, and there was every risk that the whole
body of the French army, which was now getting itself into motion, would
force a passage across the Dwina at Witepsk, a good deal higher up than
Drissa, and thus at once turn Barclay's left flank, and entirely
separate him from Bagration and his corps d'armée. Alarmed at this
prospect, Barclay evacuated the camp, and began to ascend the right side
of the Dwina, by Polotsk, towards Witepsk. This line of movement
converged with that of Bagration's retreat, and served essentially to
favour the desired junction of the two Russian armies. Witgenstein was
left near Drissa to observe the enemy, and cover the road to St.
Petersburgh. The army first arrived at Polotsk, when the Emperor
Alexander left the troops and hastened to Moscow, to recommend and
enforce energetic measures, and solicit the heavy sacrifices which the
emergency demanded. Barclay continued his march upon Witepsk, hoping to
get into communication with Bagration, to whom he had sent orders,
directing him to descend the Dnieper as far as Orcsa (or Orcha,) which
is about fifty-six wersts from Witepsk.

At this period Napoleon was directing his whole reserved forces upon the
same point of Witepsk, with a purpose as anxious to prevent the junction
of the two Russian armies, as that of Barclay to accomplish that
important movement. Had Napoleon's march commenced earlier, there can be
no doubt that he must have attained the disputed position sooner by
marching from Wilna, than Barclay could have reached it by ascending the
Dwina from Drissa. Hasting from Wilna upon the 4th, he might easily have
reached Witepsk on the 20th, and would then have found himself, with a
chosen army of 120,000 men, without an enemy on his front, posted
between the two hostile armies, each of which was pressed by a force
superior to their own, and having their flanks and communications at his
mercy. Instead of this advantageous condition, the Emperor found himself
in front of the grand army of Russia, in a situation where they could
not easily be brought to action, although severe and bloody skirmishes
took place between the cavalry on both sides.

On his part, Barclay was far from easy. He heard nothing of Bagration,
whom he expected to approach from Orcsa; and rather than abandon him to
his fate by a retreat, he formed, on the 14th July, the almost desperate
resolution of risking a general action with very superior forces
commanded by Napoleon. But just as he had made his dispositions for
battle, the Russian general received news from one of the prince's
aides-de-camp, which made him joyfully alter his determination. The
repulse at Mohiloff had, as before noticed, obliged Bagration to change
his line of retreat, which was now directed upon Smolensk. Barclay,
renouncing instantly his purpose of battle, commenced a retreat upon
the same point, and arriving at Smolensk on the 20th, was joined by
Bagration within two days after. The result of these manœuvres had
been on the whole disappointing to the Emperor of the French. The two
armies of Russians had united without material loss, and placed
themselves upon their own lines of communication. No battle had been
fought and won; and although Napoleon obtained possession of the
fortified camp at Drissa, and afterwards of Witepsk, it was only as
positions which it no longer served the enemy's purpose to retain.[126]

[Sidenote: WITEPSK.]

The marshals and generals who surrounded Napoleon began to wish and hope
that he would close at Witepsk the campaign of the season, and,
quartering his troops on the Dwina, await supplies, and the influence of
the invasion upon the mind of the Russian nation, till next spring. But
this suggestion Buonaparte treated with contempt, asking those who
favoured such a sentiment, whether they thought he had come so far only
to conquer a parcel of wretched huts.[127] If ever, therefore, he had
seriously thought of settling his winter-quarters at Witepsk, which
Ségur affirms, and Gourgaud positively denies, it had been but a passing
purpose. Indeed, his pride must have revolted at the very idea of
fortifying himself with intrenchments and redoubts in the middle of
summer, and confessing his weakness to Europe, by stopping short in the
midst of a campaign, in which he had lost one-third of the active part
of his great army, without even having fought a general action, far less
won a decisive victory.

Meanwhile the Russians, finding their two wings united, to the number of
120,000, were not inclined to remain inactive. The French army at
Witepsk lay considerably more dispersed than their own, and their plan
was, by moving suddenly upon Napoleon, to surprise him ere his army
could be concentrated. With this view, General Barclay directed the
march of a great part of the grand army upon Rudneia, a place about
half-way between Witepsk and Smolensk, being nearly the centre of the
French line of position. Their march commenced on the 26th July; but on
the next day, Barclay received information from the out-posts, which
induced him to conclude that Napoleon was strengthening his left flank
for the purpose of turning the Russian right wing, and assaulting the
town of Smolensk in their rear. To prevent this misfortune, Barclay
suspended his march in front, and began by a flank movement to extend
his right wing, for the purpose of covering Smolensk. This error, for
such it was, led to his advanced guard, who had not been informed of the
change of plan, being placed in some danger at Inkowo, a place about two
wersts from Rudneia. Platoff, however, had the advantage in the cavalry
skirmish which took place. The Russian general, in consequence of the
extension of his flank, discovered that there was no French force on the
left, and consequently, that he was in no danger on that point; and he
resumed his original plan of pressing the French at Rudneia. But while
Barclay lost four days in these fruitless marches and countermarches, he
at length learned, that the most speedy retreat towards Smolensk would
be necessary to save him from that disaster which he had truly
apprehended, though he mistook the quarter from which the danger was to

While Barclay was in hopes of surprising Napoleon, the Emperor had laid
a scheme of a singularly audacious character, for inflicting the
surprise with which he had been himself threatened. Without allowing his
purpose to be suspended by the skirmishing on his front, he resolved
entirely to change his line of operations from Witepsk[128] upon the
Dwina, to concentrate his army on the Dnieper, making Orcsa the central
point of his operations, and thus, turning the left of the Russians
instead of their right, as Barclay had apprehended, he hoped to gain the
rear of their forces, occupy Smolensk, and act upon their lines of
communication with Moscow. With this purpose Napoleon withdrew his
forces from Witepsk and the line of the Dwina, with equal skill and
rapidity, and, by throwing four bridges over the Dnieper, effected a
passage for Ney, the Viceroy and Davoust. The King of Naples accompanied
them, at the head of two large corps of cavalry. Poniatowski, with
Junot, advanced by different routes to support the movement. Ney and
Murat, who commanded the vanguard, drove every thing before them until
they approached Krasnoi, upon 14th August, where a remarkable action
took place.[129] This manœuvre, which transferred the Emperor's line
of operations from the Dwina to the Dnieper, has been much admired by
French and Russian tacticians, but it has not escaped military

General Newerowskoi had been stationed at Krasnoi with above 6000 men, a
part of the garrison of Smolensk, which had been sent out for the
purpose of making a strong recognisance. But finding himself attacked by
a body of infantry stronger than his own, and no less than 18,000
cavalry besides, the Russian general commenced his retreat upon the road
to Smolensk. The ground through which the road lay was open, flat, and
favourable for the action of cavalry. Murat, who led the pursuit, and,
while he affected the dress and appearance of a cavalier of romance, had
the fiery courage necessary to support the character, sent some of his
light squadrons to menace the front of the Russian corps, while with his
heavy horse he annoyed their flanks or thundered upon their rear. To add
to the difficulties of the Russians, their columns consisted of raw
troops, who had never been under fire, and who might have been expected
to shrink from the furious onset of the cavalry. They behaved bravely,
however, and availed themselves of a double row of trees which borders
the high road to Smolensk on each side, to make their musketry
effectual, and to screen themselves from the repeated charges.
Protecting themselves as they retreated by a heavy fire, Newerowskoi
made good a lion-like retreat into Smolensk, having lost 400 men,
chiefly by the artillery, and five guns, but receiving from friend and
foe the testimony due to a movement so bravely and ably conducted.[131]

Upon the 14th of August,[132] the same day with this skirmish, Napoleon
arrived at Rassassina, upon the Dnieper, and continued during the 15th
to press forward towards Smolensk, in the rear of Ney and Murat. Prince
Bagration, in the meantime, threw General Raefskoi into Smolensk, with a
strong division, to reinforce Newerowskoi, and advanced himself to the
Dnieper, along the left bank of which he pressed with all possible speed
towards the endangered town. Barclay de Tolly was now made aware, as we
have already stated, that while he was engaged in false manœuvres to
the right, his left had been in fact turned, and that Smolensk was in
the utmost danger. Thus the two Russian generals pressed forward from
different points to the relief of the city, whilst Napoleon used every
effort to carry the place before their arrival.

[Sidenote: SMOLENSK.]

Smolensk, a town of consequence in the empire, and, like Moscow,
honoured by the appellation of the Sacred, and of the Key of Russia,
contains about 12,600 inhabitants. It is situated on the heights of the
left bank of the Dnieper, and was then surrounded by fortifications of
the ancient Gothic character. An old wall, in some places dilapidated,
was defended by about thirty towers, which seemed to flank the
battlements; and there was an ill-contrived work, called the Royal
Bastion, which served as a species of citadel. The walls, however, being
eighteen feet thick, and twenty-five high, and there being a ditch of
some depth, the town, though not defensible if regularly approached,
might be held out against a _coup-de-main_. The greatest inconvenience
arose from the suburbs of the place, which, approaching near to the wall
of the town, preserved the assailants from the fire of the besieged, as
they approached it. Raefskoi prepared to defend Smolensk at the head of
about sixteen thousand men. He was reinforced on the 16th of August by a
division of grenadiers under Prince Charles of Mecklenberg, who were
detached for that purpose by Bagration.

Ney arrived first under the walls of the city, and instantly rushed
forward to attack the citadel. He failed entirely, being himself
wounded, and two-thirds of the storming party cut off. A second attempt
was made to as little purpose, and at length he was forced to confine
his efforts to a cannonade, which was returned from the place with equal
spirit. Later in the day, the troops of Napoleon appeared advancing from
the eastward on one side of the Dnieper, while almost at the same moment
there were seen upon the opposite bank clouds of dust enveloping long
columns of men, moving from different points with uncommon celerity.
This was the grand army of Russia under Barclay, and the troops of
Bagration, who, breathless with haste and anxiety, were pressing forward
to the relief of Smolensk.

"At length," said Napoleon, as he gazed on the advance from the opposite
side, "at length I have them!"[133] He had no doubt it was the purpose
of the Russians to pass through the city, and, deploying from its gates,
to offer him under the walls that general action for which he longed,
and on which so much depended. He took all the necessary measures for
preparing his line of battle.

But the cautious Barclay de Tolly was determined, that not even for the
protection of the sacred city would he endanger the safety of his army,
so indispensably necessary to the defence of the empire. He dismissed to
Ellnia his more impatient coadjutor, Prince Bagration, who would
willingly have fought a battle, incensed as he was at beholding the
cities of Russia sacked, and her fields laid waste, without the
satisfaction either of resistance or revenge. Barclay in the meanwhile
occupied Smolensk, but only for the purpose of covering the flight of
the inhabitants, and emptying the magazines.

Buonaparte's last look that evening, was on the still empty fields
betwixt his army and Smolensk. There was no sign of any advance from its
gates, and Murat prophesied that the Russians had no purpose of
fighting. Davoust entertained a different opinion; and Napoleon,
continuing to believe what he most wished, expected with the peep of day
to see the whole Russian army drawn up betwixt his own front and the
walls of Smolensk. Morning came, however, and the space in which he
expected to see the enemy was vacant as before. On the other hand, the
high-road on the opposite side of the Dnieper was filled with troops and
artillery, which showed that the grand army of the Russians was in full
retreat. Disappointed and incensed, Napoleon appointed instant measures
to be taken to storm the place, resolving as speedily as possible to
possess himself of the town, that he might have the use of its bridge in
crossing to the other side of the Dnieper, in order to pursue the
fugitive Russians. There are moments when men of ordinary capacity may
advise the wisest. Murat remarked to Buonaparte, that as the Russians
had retired, Smolensk, left to its fate, would fall without the loss
that must be sustained in an attack by storm, and he more than hinted
the imprudence of penetrating farther into Russia at this late season of
the year. The answer of Napoleon[134] must have been almost insulting;
for Murat, having exclaimed that a march to Moscow would be the
destruction of the army, spurred his horse like a desperate man to the
banks of the river, where the Russian guns from the opposite side were
cannonading a French battery, placed himself under a tremendous fire, as
if he had been courting death, and was with difficulty forced from the
dangerous spot.[135]


Meantime, the attack commenced on Smolensk, but the place was defended
with the same vigour as on the day before. The field-guns were found
unable to penetrate the walls; and the French lost four or five thousand
men in returning repeatedly to the attack. But this successful defence
did not alter Barclay's resolution of evacuating the place. It might no
doubt have been defended for several days more, but the Russian general
feared that a protracted resistance on this advanced point might give
Napoleon time to secure the road to Moscow, and drive the Russian armies
back upon the barren and exhausted provinces of the northwest, besides
getting betwixt them and the ancient capital of Russia. In the middle of
the night, then, while the French were throwing some shells into the
place, they saw fires beginning to kindle, far faster and more generally
than their bombardment could have occasioned.[136] They were the work of
the Russian troops, who, having completed their task of carrying off or
destroying the magazines, and having covered the flight of the
inhabitants, had now set the dreadful example of destroying their own
town, rather than that its houses or walls should afford assistance to
the enemy.

[Sidenote: SMOLENSK.]

When the Frenchmen entered Smolensk, which they did the next morning,
18th August, most of the town, which consisted chiefly of wooden houses,
was yet blazing--elsewhere they found nothing but blood and ashes.[137]
The French troops were struck with horror at the inveterate animosity of
the Russians, and the desperation of the resistance which they met with;
and all began to wish a period to a war, where there was nothing to be
gained from the retreating enemy, except a long vista of advance through
an inhospitable wilderness of swamps, pine-forests, and deserts; without
provisions, and without shelter; without hospitals for the sick, and
dressings for the wounded; and without even a shed where the weary might
repose, or the wounded might die.

Buonaparte himself hesitated,[138] and is reported to have then spoken
of concluding the campaign at Smolensk, which would, he said, be an
admirable head of cantonments.[139] "Here," he said, "the troops might
rest and receive reinforcements. Enough was done for the campaign.
Poland was conquered, which seemed a sufficient result for one year. The
next year they would have peace, or they would seek it at Moscow." But
in the interior of his councils, he held a different language, and
endeavoured to cover, with the language of prudence, the pride and
pertinacity of character which forbade him to stop short in an
enterprise which had yet produced him no harvest of renown. He stated to
his generals the exhausted state of the country, in which his soldiers
were living from hand to mouth; and the risk and difficulty of drawing
his supplies from Dantzic or Poland, through Russian roads, and in the
winter season. He alleged the disorganised state of the army, which
might move on, though it was incapable of stopping. "Motion," he said,
"might keep it together; a halt or a retreat would be at once to
dissolve it. It was an army of attack, not of defence; an army of
operation, not of position. The result was, they must advance on Moscow,
possess themselves of the capital, and there dictate a peace."[140]

The language which Ségur has placed in the mouth of the Emperor, by no
means exaggerates the dreadful condition of the French army. When
Napoleon entered the country, only six weeks before, the corps which
formed his operating army amounted to 297,000 men; and by the 5th
August, when preparing to break up from Witepsk, that number was
diminished to 185,000, not two-thirds of their original number, and a
great additional loss had been sustained in the movements and encounters
on the Dnieper. The wounded of the army were in the most miserable
state, and it was in vain that the surgeons tore up their own linen for
dressings; they were obliged to use parchment, and the down that grows
on the birch-trees; it is no wonder that few recovered.

Thus it may be concluded, that this rash enterprise carried with it,
from the beginning, the seeds of destruction, which, even without the
conflagration of Moscow, or the Russian climate, though the latter must
have been at all events included, made the expedition resemble that of
Cambyses into Egypt; of Crassus, and after him Julian, into Parthia; and
so many others of the same character, where the extent of preparation
only rendered the subsequent fate of the invaders more signally

While the French army was thus suffering a gradual or rather hasty
decay, that of the Russians was now receiving rapid reinforcements. The
Emperor Alexander, on leaving the army for Moscow, had convoked the
nobles and the merchants of that capital in their several assemblies,
had pledged to them his purpose never to make peace while a Frenchman
remained in Russia, and had received the most enthusiastic assurances
from both ranks of the state, of their being devoted to his cause with
life and property. A large sum was voted by the merchants as a general
tax, besides which, they opened a voluntary subscription, which produced
great supplies. The nobility offered a levy of ten men in the hundred
through all their estates; many were at the sole expense of fitting out
and arming their recruits, and some of these wealthy boyards furnished
companies, nay battalions, entirely at their own expense. The word peace
was not mentioned, or only thought of as that which could not be
concluded with an invader, without an indelible disgrace to Russia.

Other external circumstances occurred, which greatly added to the effect
of these patriotic exertions.

A peace with England, and the restoration of commerce, was the instant
consequence of war with France. Russia had all the support which British
diplomacy could afford her, in operating a reconciliation with Sweden,
and a peace with Turkey. The former being accomplished, under the
mediation of England, and the Crown Prince being assured in possession
of Norway, the Russian army under General Steigenteil, or Steingel,
which was, while Bernadotte's amicable disposition might be doubted,
necessarily detained in Finland, was now set at liberty, for the more
pressing service of defending the empire.

A peace, even still more important, was made with the Turks, at
Bucharest, on the 16th May. The Porte yielded up to Russia, Bessarabia,
and that part of Moldavia situated on the left of the river Pruth, and
Russia renounced all claim to the rest of the two provinces of Moldavia
and Wallachia. But the great advantage which accrued to Russia by this
treaty, was its setting at liberty a veteran army of 45,000 men, and
rendering them a disposable force in the rear of the French troops.

If the able statesman who at that period conducted the foreign affairs
of Great Britain [Lord Castlereagh] had never rendered to his own
country and to the world any other service than the influence which he
successfully exercised in these important diplomatic affairs, he must
have gone down to posterity as the minister who had foreseen and
provided, in the most critical moment, the mode of strengthening Russia
to combat with her formidable invaders, and which, after all her
exertions, was the means of turning the balance in her favour.

It was at Witepsk that Napoleon learned that the Turks had made peace;
and as it had only instigated him to precipitate his measures against
Smolensk, so now the same reason urged him to continue his march on
Moscow. Hitherto his wings had had the advantage of the enemy.
Macdonald, in blockading Riga, kept all Courland at his disposal, and
alarmed St. Petersburgh. More to the south, Saint Cyr had some hard
fighting with Witgenstein, and, after a severe battle at Polotsk, had
reduced that enterprising officer to the defensive.

Equally favourable intelligence had reached from Volhynia, the extreme
right of the terrible line of invasion. The Russian General Tormasoff
had made, when least expected, his appearance in the grand duchy, driven
before him Regnier, who was covering that part of Poland, destroyed a
Saxon brigade, and alarmed Warsaw. But Regnier united himself with the
Austrian general Schwartzenberg, advanced on Tormasoff, and engaging him
near a place called Gorodeczna, defeated him with loss, and compelled
him to retreat. It was obvious, however, that the advantage of these two
victories at Polotsk and Gorodeczna, would be entirely lost, if General
Steingel, with the Finland army, should join Witgenstein, while
Tormasoff fell back on the Moldavian army of Russia, commanded by
Admiral Tchitchagoff.[141]


For Napoleon to await in cantonments at Smolensk, in a wasted country,
the consequences of these junctions, which were likely to include the
destruction of his two wings, would have been a desperate resolution. It
seemed waiting for the fate which he had been wont to command. To move
forward was a bold measure. But the French army, in its state of
disorganisation, somewhat resembled an intoxicated person, who possesses
the power to run, though he is unable to support himself if he stand
still. If Napoleon could yet strike a gallant blow at the Russian grand
army; if he could yet obtain possession of Moscow the Holy, he reckoned
on sending dismay into the heart of Alexander, and dictating to the
Czar, as he had done to many other princes, the conditions of peace from
within the walls of his own palace. Buonaparte, therefore, resolved to
advance upon Moscow. And perhaps, circumstanced as he was, he had no
safer course, unless he had abandoned his whole undertaking, and fallen
back upon Poland, which would have been an acknowledgment of defeat that
we can hardly conceive his stooping to, while he was yet at the head of
an army.


[121] "The fortnight's halt at Wilna decided, in all probability, the
fate of the war. This delay, on the part of the conqueror of Ratisbon
and Ulm is so extraordinary, that it can alone be attributed to a cause
which will for ever remain a secret."--JOMINI, tom. iv., p. 58.

[122] "Those who were nearest to Napoleon's person said to each other,
that a genius so vast as his, and always increasing in activity and
audacity, was not now seconded as it had been formerly by a vigorous
constitution. They were alarmed at no longer finding their chief
insensible to the heat of a burning atmosphere; and they remarked to
each other with melancholy forebodings, the tendency to corpulence by
which his frame was now distinguished, the certain forerunner of
premature decay."--SÉGUR, tom. i., p. 165.

[123] "How happens it that the English author is more just towards
Napoleon than one of his generals? Sir Walter allows here, what I have
already observed, namely, the inconceivable accusation brought against
the faculties of Napoleon at a time when he showed so much energy and
perseverance, and when he not only resisted, and extricated himself
from, the most frightful reverses imaginable, but even rose from them
with surprising splendour. In an operation so gigantic as the attack
upon Russia, in a plan for the boldest campaign, prudence and extreme
slowness were imperative. How then, under such circumstances, can a
general officer, a pupil, as it were, of Napoleon, criticise his stay at
Wilna, and the extraordinary slowness of his movements? Would to heaven
that this delay had been carried far enough to prevent the grand army
from crossing the Dnieper during this campaign! But the great
inconvenience of Napoleon, as general of the grand army, was the
necessity of not prolonging his absence from Paris, and consequently of
terminating the campaign as quickly as possible; and this is another
powerful reason why he should not have hazarded so distant an
expedition."--LOUIS BUONAPARTE, p. 82.

[124] "This was no doubt taking a great circuit; but the prince
succeeded in his object, and restored to the hostile army a large body
of troops, which would have been rendered completely useless if
Napoleon's orders had been punctually executed. The success of this
movement proved for the Russians fully equivalent to the gain of a
battle. They were drawing nearer to their resources, whilst the French
army was compelled to follow them through vast barren wastes, where it
could not fail to be eventually annihilated."--SAVARY, tom. ii., p. 187.

[125] Jomini, tom. iv., p. 66; Ségur, tom. i., p. 160.

[126] Ségur, tom. i., p. 171; Jomini, tom. iv., p. 84.

[127] "Surrounded by disapproving countenances, and opinions contrary to
his own, he felt himself uncomfortable. All the officers of his
household opposed his plan, each in the way that marked his peculiar
character; Berthier, by a melancholy countenance, by lamentations, and
even tears; Lobau and Caulaincourt, by a frankness, which in the first
was stamped by a cold and haughty roughness, excusable in so brave a
warrior; and which, in the second, was persevering even to obstinacy,
and impetuous even to violence. The Emperor exclaimed, 'that he had
enriched his generals too much; that all they now aspired to was to
follow the pleasures of the chase, and to display their brilliant
equipages in Paris; and that doubtless they had become disgusted with
war.' When their honour was thus attacked, there was no longer any reply
to be made; they merely bowed and remained silent. During one of his
impatient fits, he told one of the generals of his guard, 'you were born
in a bivouac, in a bivouac you will die.'"--SÉGUR, tom. i., p. 200.

[128] "This town contained 20,000 inhabitants, and presented, from the
beauty of its situation, a most delightful aspect. Poland and Lithuania
had, during more than two months, and through a space of more than 300
leagues, offered nothing to our view but deserted villages, and a
ravaged country. Destruction seemed to precede our steps, and in every
direction the whole population was seen flying at our approach, leaving
their habitations to hordes of Cossacks, who destroyed every thing which
they could not carry away. Having long experienced the most painful
deprivations, we regarded, with envious eyes, those well-built and
elegant houses, where peace and abundance seemed to dwell. But that
repose, which we had so eagerly anticipated, was again denied us, and we
were compelled to renew our pursuit of the Russians, leaving on our left
this town, the object of our most ardent wishes, and our dearest
hopes."--LABAUME, _Relation de la Campagne de Russie en 1812_, p. 74.

[129] Jomini, tom. iv., p. 95; Thirteenth Bulletin of Grand Army; Ségur,
tom. i., p. 221.

[130] See in the Appendix, No. II., an interesting extract from

[131] Ségur, tom. i., p. 223; Thirteenth Bulletin of the Grand Army.

[132] "As chance would have it, the day of this success was the
Emperor's birth-day. The army never thought of celebrating it. In the
disposition of the men and of the place, there was nothing that
harmonized with such a celebration; empty acclamations would have been
lost amid those vast deserts. In our situation there was no other
festival than the day of a complete victory. Murat and Ney, however, in
reporting their success to the Emperor, paid homage to that anniversary.
They caused a salute of a hundred guns to be fired. The Emperor
remarked, with displeasure, that in Russia it was necessary to be more
sparing of French powder; he was answered that it was Russian powder
taken the preceding day. The idea of having his birth-day celebrated at
the expense of the enemy drew a smile from Napoleon. It was admitted
that this very rare species of flattery became such men."--SÉGUR, tom.
i., p. 223.

[133] Ségur, tom. i., p. 230.

[134] "The Emperor replied; but the rest of their conversation was not
overheard. As, however, the King afterwards declared that he 'had thrown
himself at the knees of his brother, and conjured him to stop, but that
Napoleon saw nothing but Moscow; that honour, glory, rest, every thing
for him was there; that this Moscow would be our ruin!'--it was obvious
what had been the cause of their disagreement. So much is certain that
when Murat quitted his brother-in-law, his face wore the expression of
deep chagrin; his motions were abrupt; a gloomy and concentrated
vehemence agitated him; and the name of Moscow several times escaped his
lips."--SÉGUR, tom. i., p. 234.

[135] "Belliard warned him that he was sacrificing his life to no
purpose and without glory. Murat answered only by pushing on still
farther. Belliard observed to him, that his temerity would be the
destruction of those about him. 'Well then,' replied Murat, 'do you
retire and leave me here by myself.' All refused to leave him; when the
King angrily turning about, tore himself from the scene of carnage, like
a man who is suffering violence."--SÉGUR, tom. i., p. 235.

[136] "Napoleon, seated before his tent, contemplated in silence this
awful spectacle. It was as yet impossible to ascertain either the cause
or the result, and the night was passed under arms."--SÉGUR, tom. i., p.

[137] "The bridges and public buildings were a prey to the flames. The
churches, in particular, poured out torrents of fire and smoke. The
domes, the spires, and the multitude of small towers which arose above
the conflagration, added to the effect of the picture, and produced
these ill-defined emotions which are only to be found on the field of
battle. We entered the place. It was half-consumed, of a barbarous
appearance, encumbered with the bodies of the dead and wounded, which
the flames had already reached. The spectacle was frightful. What a
train is that of glory!"--_Mémoires de RAPP_, p. 190.

"The army entered within the walls; it traversed the reeking and
bloodstained ruins with its accustomed order, pomp, and martial music,
and having no other witness of its glory but itself;--a show without
spectators, an almost fruitless victory, a melancholy glory, of which
the smoke that surrounded us and seemed to be our only conquest, was but
too faithful an emblem."--SÉGUR, tom. i., p. 237.

[138] "Napoleon slowly proceeded towards his barren conquest. He
inspected the field of battle. Melancholy review of the dead and dying!
dismal account to make up and deliver! The pain felt by the Emperor
might be inferred from the contraction of his features and his
irritation; but in him policy was a second nature, which soon imposed
silence on the first."--SÉGUR, tom. i., p. 238.

[139] "In the passage through its massive walls, Count Lobau exclaimed,
'What a fine head for cantonments!' This was the same thing as advising
the Emperor to stop there; but he returned no other answer to this
counsel than a stern look."--SÉGUR, tom. i., p. 244.

[140] Ségur, tom. i., p. 250.

[141] Ségur, tom. i., p. 242; Jomini, tom. iv., p. 105.


    _Napoleon detaches Murat and other Generals in pursuit of the
    Russians--Bloody, but indecisive Action, at Valoutina--Barclay de
    Tolly's defensive system relinquished, and Koutousoff appointed to
    the chief command of the Russian Army--Napoleon advances from
    Smolensk--Battle of Borodino fought, on 5th September--Prince
    Bagration slain--Koutousoff retreats upon Mojaisk, and thence upon
    Moscow--Napoleon continues his advance on the 12th--Count
    Rostopchin, Governor of Moscow--His Character--The Russians abandon
    Moscow, which is evacuated by the Inhabitants--The Grand Russian
    Army marches through Moscow--Last public Court of Justice held there
    by Rostopchin, after which he follows the march of the Army._

Without communicating his purpose of advancing in person from Smolensk,
and completing, without any interval of delay, his great undertaking,
Napoleon failed not to detach Murat, Ney, Junot, and Davoust, in pursuit
of the Russians, as they retired from Smolensk. Either, however, his own
mind was not made up, or he did not wish his purpose of going onward to
be known. He represented this demonstration as arising merely out of the
desire of pressing the Russian retreat, though in fact it was
preliminary to his own advance.

Barclay de Tolly having performed the stern duty of burning Smolensk,
had retired for two or three miles along the road to St. Petersburgh,
which route he chose in order to avoid a cannonade from the left side of
the Dnieper. Having proceeded a little way in this direction, he turned
southward to regain the road to Moscow, which he would have taken at
first, but for its exposing him to loss from the enemy's artillery,
where it bordered on the river. The French could not for some time
determine on which route they were to pursue the Russians. At length,
finding the track, they overtook the rear-guard at a place called
Valoutina, encumbered as it was with guns and baggage. Here a desperate
action took place, the Russians reinforcing their rear-guard as fast as
the French brought new bodies to attack them. Both parties fought most
obstinately, and the distinguished French general Gudin was mortally
wounded. The French blamed Junot,[142] who having been despatched across
the Dnieper, showed no alertness in advancing to charge the enemy. There
was seen, indeed, in this affair of Valoutina, or Lombino, that the
marshals and the great officers who had been accustomed each to command
a separate corps d'armée, disdained to receive either orders, or even
advice or hints, from a brother of the same rank. Wherever there were
two or three of these dignitaries on the field, it was necessary
Buonaparte should be within reach, to issue the necessary orders; for
no voice save that of the Emperor was implicitly obeyed by all.[143]


In the meantime, the bloody action of Valoutina had an unsatisfactory
result. The Russians, whose rear-guard had been attacked, had moved off
without losing either guns, prisoners, or baggage. They had lost equal
numbers with the French, but the time was fast approaching when they
must possess a numerical superiority, and when, of course, an equal loss
would tell in favour of the party which was nearest to its

The plan of Barclay de Tolly had hitherto been scrupulously adhered to.
All general actions had been cautiously avoided; and while no means were
left unemployed to weaken the enemy in partial actions, and to draw him
on from swamp to swamp, from conflagration to conflagration, from one
wild and waste scene to another of equal sterility and disconsolation,
the end had been in a great measure attained, of undermining the force
and breaking the moral courage of the invading army, who wandered
forward like men in a dream, feeling on all hands a sense of oppressive
and stifling opposition, yet unable to encounter any thing substantial
which the slumberer can struggle with and overcome. Barclay de Tolly, if
he had made some faults by extending his line too much at the
commencement of the campaign, and afterwards by his false movements upon
Rudneia, had more than atoned for these errors by the dexterity with
which he had manœuvred before Smolensk, and the advantages which he
had gained over the enemy on various other occasions. But they were now
approaching Moscow the Grand, the Sanctified--and the military councils
of Russia were about to change their character.

The spirit of the Russians, especially of the new levies, was more and
more exasperated at the retreat, which seemed to have no end; and at the
style of defence, which seemed only to consist in inflicting on the
country, by the hands of Cossacks or Tartars, the very desolation which
was perhaps the worst evil they could experience from the French. The
natural zeal of the new levies, their confidence and their desire to be
led to fight in the cause for which they were enlisted, eagerly declared
against further retreat; and they demanded a halt, and a battle under a
Russian general, more interested, as they supposed such must be, in the
defence of the country, than a German stranger. The Emperor almost alone
continued to adhere to the opinion of Barclay de Tolly. But he could
not bid defiance to the united voice of his people and his military
council. The political causes which demanded a great battle in defence
of Moscow, were strong and numerous, and overcame the military reasons
which certainly recommended that a risk so tremendous should not be

In compliance, therefore, with the necessity of the case, the Emperor
sacrificed his own opinion. General Koutousoff, an officer high in
military esteem among the Russians, was sent for from the corps which
had been employed on the Danube against the Turks, to take the chief
command of the grand army; and it was to Barclay's great honour, that,
thus superseded, he continued to serve with the utmost zeal and good
faith in a subordinate situation.

The French were not long of learning that their enemy's system of war
was to be changed, and that the new Russian general was to give them
battle, the object which they had so long panted for. Buonaparte, who
had halted six days at Smolensk, moved from thence on the 24th August,
and now pressed forward to join the advanced guard of his army at Gjatz.
In this place his followers found a Frenchman who had dwelt long in
Russia. They learned from this man the promotion of Koutousoff to the
chief command of the army opposed to them, and that he was placed there
for the express purpose of giving battle to the French army. The news
were confirmed by the manner of a Russian officer, who arrived under
some pretext with a flag of truce, but probably to espy the state of the
invader's army. There was defiance in the look of this man; and when he
was asked by a French general what they would find between Wiazma and
Moscow, he answered sternly, "Pultowa." There was, therefore, no doubt,
that battle was approaching.[145]

But the confusion of Buonaparte's troops was still such, that he was
obliged to halt two days at Gjatz,[146] in order to collect and repose
his army. He arrived at the destined field of battle, an elevated plain,
called Borodino, which the Russians had secured with lines and


The French army were opposed to them on the 5th September, having
consumed seventeen days in marching 280 wersts. Their first operation
was a successful attack upon a redoubt in the Russian front, but
which--a great error in war--was situated too distant from it to be
effectually supported. The French gained it and kept it. The armies lay
in presence of each other all the next day, preparing for the
approaching contest. Upon a position naturally strong, the Russians had
raised very formidable fieldworks. Their right flank rested on a wood,
which was covered by some detached intrenchments. A brook, occupying in
its course a deep ravine, covered the front of the right wing and the
centre of the position as far as the river of Borodino; from that
village the left extended down to another village, called Semoneskoie,
which is more open, yet protected by ravines and thickets in front.
This, as the most accessible point, was anxiously secured by redoubts
and batteries; and in the centre of the position, upon a gentle
elevation, arose a sort of double battery, like a citadel, for the
protection of the whole line.

In this strong position was stationed the Russian army, equal now in
numbers to the French, as each army might be about 120,000 men. They
were commanded by a veteran, slow, cautious, tenacious of his purpose,
wily, too, as Napoleon afterwards found to his cost, but perhaps not
otherwise eminent as a military leader. The army he led were of one
nation and language, all conscious that this battle had been granted to
their own ardent wishes, and determined to make good the eagerness with
which they had called for it.

The French army, again, consisted of various nations; but they were the
_élite_, and seasoned soldiers who had survived the distresses of a most
calamitous march; they were the veterans of the victors of Europe; they
were headed by Napoleon in person, and under his immediate command by
those marshals, whose names in arms were only inferior to his own.
Besides a consciousness of their superiority in action, of which, from
the manner in which they had covered themselves in intrenchments, the
enemy seemed aware, the French had before them the prospect of utter
destruction, if they should sustain a defeat in a country so difficult
that they could hardly advance even as a successful army, and certainly
could never hope to retreat as a routed one. Buonaparte's address to his
troops[147] had less of the tinsel of oratory than he generally used on
such occasions. "Soldiers," he said, "here is the battle you have longed
for; it is necessary, for it brings us plenty, good winter-quarters, and
a safe return to France. Behave yourselves so that posterity may say of
each of you, 'He was in that great battle under the walls of

In the Russian camp was a scene of a different kind, calculated to
awaken feelings to which France had long ceased to appeal. The Greek
clergy showed themselves to the troops, arrayed in their rich vestments,
and displaying for general worship the images of their holiest saints.
They told their countrymen of the wrongs which had been offered by the
invaders to earth as well as Heaven, and exhorted them to merit a place
in paradise by their behaviour in that day's battle. The Russians
answered with shouts.

Two deeply interesting circumstances occurred to Napoleon the day before
the battle. An officer brought him a portrait of his boy, the King of
Rome, which he displayed on the outside of the tent, not only to satisfy
the officers, but the soldiers, who crowded to look upon the son of
their Emperor. The other was the arrival of an officer from Spain with
despatches, giving Napoleon news of the loss of the battle of Salamanca.
He bore the evil tidings with temper and firmness, and soon turned his
thoughts alike from domestic enjoyments and foreign defeats, to forming
the necessary plans for the action before him.[149]

Davoust proposed a plan for turning the left of the enemy's intrenched
line, by following the old road from Smolensk to Moscow, and placing
35,000 men in the flank and rear of that part of the Russian position.
This operation was partly to be accomplished by a night march, partly on
the morning, while the rest of the army was engaging the enemy's
attention in front. The ground to which this road would have conducted
Davoust and his troops, forms the highest land in the neighbourhood, as
appears from the rivulets taking their source there. Upon this
commanding position the attacking corps might have been formed in the
rear of the Russian line. Such a movement on that point must have cut
off the Russians from their point of retreat on Mojaisk and Moscow, and
Davoust might have come down their line, driving every thing before him,
advancing from redoubt to redoubt, and dispersing reserve after reserve,
till the Russians should no longer have the semblance of an army.
Perhaps Napoleon considered this plan as too hazardous, as it implied a
great weakening of his front line, which, in that case, might have been
attacked and broken before the corps d'armée under Davoust had attained
the desired position.[150]

The Emperor therefore determined that Poniatowski, with not more than
5000 men, should make a demonstration, that should commence upon their
left, in the direction proposed by Davoust, and that then a general
attack should commence on the Russian right and centre. Foreseeing an
obstinate resistance, he had ordered as much artillery as possible to be
brought into line, and the guns on each side are said to have amounted
to a thousand.[151] The battle began about seven o'clock, by Ney's
attacking the bastioned redoubt on the Russian centre, with the greatest
violence, while Prince Eugene made equal efforts to dislodge the enemy
from the village of Semoneskoie, and the adjoining fortifications. No
action was ever more keenly debated, nor at such a wasteful expenditure
of human life. The fury of the French onset at length carried the
redoubts, but the Russians rallied under the very line of their enemy's
fire, and advanced again to the combat, to recover their intrenchments.
Regiments of peasants, who till that day had never seen war, and who
still had no other uniform than their grey jackets, formed with the
steadiness of veterans, crossed their brows, and having uttered their
national exclamation--"_Gospodee pomiloui nas!_--God have mercy upon
us!"--rushed into the thickest of the battle, where the survivors,
without feeling fear or astonishment, closed their ranks over their
comrades as they fell, while, supported at once by enthusiasm for their
cause, and by a religious sense of predestination, life and death seemed
alike indifferent to them.

The fate of the day seemed more than once so critical, that Napoleon was
strongly urged on more than one occasion to bring up the Young Guard,
whom he had in reserve, as the last means of deciding the contest. He
was censured by some of those around him for not having done so; and it
has been imputed to illness, as he had passed a bad night, and seemed
unusually languid during the whole of the day. But the secret of his
refusal seems to be contained in his reply to Berthier, when he urged
him on the subject--"And if there is another battle to-morrow, where is
my army?"[152] The fact is, that this body of 10,000 household troops
were his last reserve. They had been spared as far as possible in the
march, and had, of course, retained their discipline in a proportional
degree; and had they sustained any considerable loss, which, from the
obstinate resistance and repeated efforts of the Russians, was to be
apprehended, Buonaparte, whom even victory must leave in a perilous
condition, would in that case have lost the only corps upon whom, in the
general disorganisation of his army, he could thoroughly depend. The
compromising the last reserve is an expedient reluctantly resorted to by
prudent generals; and perhaps, if Napoleon had been as circumspect on
that subject at Waterloo as at Borodino, his retreat from that bloody
field might have been less calamitous than it proved.

The Russians, whose desperate efforts to recover their line of redoubts
had exposed them to so much loss, were at length commanded to retreat;
and although the victory was certainly with the French, yet their
enemies might be said rather to desist from fighting, than to have
suffered a defeat. Indeed, it was the French who, after the battle, drew
off to their original ground, and left the Russians in possession of the
bloody field of battle, where they buried their dead, and carried off
their wounded, at their leisure. Their cavalry even alarmed the French
camp on the very night of their victory.

Both parties sustained a dreadful loss in this sanguinary battle. Among
that of the Russians, the death of the gallant Prince Bagration, whose
admirable retreat from Poland we have had occasion to commemorate, was
generally lamented. General Touczkoff also died of his wounds; and many
other Russian generals were wounded. Their loss amounted to the awful
sum total of 15,000 men killed, and more than 30,000 wounded. The French
were supposed to have at least 10,000 men killed, and double the number
wounded. Of these last few recovered, for the great convent of
Kolotskoi, which served them as an hospital, was very ill-provided with
any thing for their relief; and the medical attendants could not procure
a party to scour the neighbouring villages, to obtain lint and other
necessaries--for it seems even the necessaries of an hospital could, in
this ill-fated army, only be collected by marauding. Eight French
generals were slain, of whom Monbrun and Caulaincourt, brother of the
grand equerry, were men of distinguished reputation. About thirty other
generals were wounded. Neither party could make any boast of military
trophies, for the Russians made a thousand prisoners, and the French
scarce twice the number; and Koutousoff carried away ten pieces of
cannon belonging to the French, leaving in their hands thirteen guns of
his own. So slight, except in the numbers of slain, had been the
consequences of the battle, that it might have seemed to have been
fought, as in the games of chivalry, merely to ascertain which party had
the superior strength and courage.[153]

[Sidenote: MOJAISK.]

According to the Russian accounts, Koutousoff entertained thoughts of
giving battle again the next day; but the reports from various corps
having made him acquainted with the very large loss they had sustained,
he deemed the army too much exhausted to incur such a risk. He
retreated the next day upon Mojaisk, without leaving behind him a single
fragment to indicate that he had the day before sustained such an
immense loss. Upon the 9th September, the French arrived at Mojaisk, and
came again in sight of the Russian rear-guard, and made dispositions to
attack them. But on the 11th, they found that the Russian army had again
disappeared, by a retreat so well conducted, and so effectually masked
and concealed, as to leave Napoleon altogether uncertain whether they
had taken the road to Moscow, or to Kalouga. Owing to this uncertainty,
Napoleon was obliged to remain at Mojaisk till the 12th, when he
received positive intelligence that the Russian army had retreated upon
their capital.

It is impossible to avoid observing, how often the Russian army, though
large, and consisting of new levies, had, in the course of this
campaign, escaped from the front of the French, and left Napoleon at a
loss to conjecture whither they had gone. Besides the present occasion,
the same circumstance took place at Witepsk, and again before the walls
of Moscow. No doubt the Russians were in their own country, and
possessed clouds of Cossacks, by means of whom they might cover the
retreat of their main body; yet with all these advantages, we are led to
admire the natural spirit of obedience, and instinct of discipline, by
which they were brought to execute that movement with such steadiness,
that not a single straggler remained to betray their secret.

On the 12th September, Buonaparte resumed his march, the army having no
better guide than the direction of the high road, and the men no better
food than horse flesh and bruised wheat. Upon the previous day, Murat
and Mortier, who led the vanguard, found the Russians strongly posted
near Krymskoie, where the inconsiderate valour of the King of Naples
brought on an action, in which the French lost two thousand men. Still
Buonaparte pursued the traces of the Russians, because he could not
suppose it possible that they would resign their capital without a
second struggle. He was the more anxious to meet it, as two divisions of
the Italian army, under Laborde and Pino, had joined him from Smolensk,
which again carried his numbers, sore thinned after the battle of
Borodino, to upwards of one hundred thousand men.

A council of war, of the Russian generals, had been called to deliberate
on the awful question, whether they should expose the only army which
they had in the centre of Russia, to the consequences of a too probable
defeat, or whether they should abandon without a struggle, and as a prey
to the spoiler, the holy Moscow--the Jerusalem of Russia--the city
beloved of God and dear to man, with the name and existence of which so
many historical, patriotic, national, and individual feelings were now
involved. Reason spoke one language, pride and affection held another.

To hazard a second battle, was in a great measure to place the fate of
their grand army upon the issue; and this was too perilous an adventure,
even for the protection of the capital. The consideration seems to have
prevailed, that Napoleon being now in the centre of Russia, with an army
daily diminishing, and the hard season coming on, every hour during
which a decisive action could be delayed was a loss to France, and an
advantage to Russia. This was the rather the case, that Witgenstein, on
the northern frontier, being reinforced by Steingel with the army of
Finland; and, on the south, that of Moldavia being united to
Tormasoff--Lithuania, and Poland, which formed the base of Napoleon's
operations, were in hazard of being occupied by the Russians from both
flanks, an event which must endanger his supplies, magazines, reserves,
and communications of every kind, and put in peril at once his person
and his army. Besides, the Russian generals reflected, that by
evacuating Moscow, a measure which the inhabitants could more easily
accomplish than those of any other city in the civilized world, they
would diminish the prize to the victor, and leave him nothing to triumph
over save the senseless buildings. It was therefore determined, that the
preservation of the army was more essential to Russia than the defence
of Moscow, and it was agreed that the ancient capital of the Czars
should be abandoned to its fate.

Count Rostopchin, the governor of Moscow, was a man of worth and talent,
of wit also, as we have been informed, joined to a certain eccentricity.
He had, since the commencement of the war, kept up the spirits of the
citizens with favourable reports and loyal declarations, qualified to
infuse security into the public mind. After the fate of Smolensk,
however, and especially after the recommencement of Buonaparte's march
eastward, many of the wealthy inhabitants of Moscow removed or concealed
their most valuable effects, and left the city themselves. Rostopchin
continued, however, his assurances, and took various means to convince
the people that there was no danger. Among other contrivances, he
engaged a great number of females in the task of constructing a very
large balloon, from which he was to shower down fire, as the people
believed, upon the French army. Under this pretext, he is stated to have
collected a large quantity of fire-work and combustibles, actually
destined for a very different purpose.


As time passed on, however, the inhabitants became more and more
alarmed, and forming a dreadful idea of the French, and of the horrors
which would attend their entrance into the city, not only the nobility,
gentry, and those of the learned professions, but tradesmen, mechanics,
and the lower orders in general, left Moscow by thousands, while the
governor, though keeping up the language of defiance, did all he could
to superintend and encourage the emigration. The archives and the public
treasures were removed; the magazines, particularly those of provisions,
were emptied, as far as time permitted; and the roads, especially to
the south, were crowded with files of carriages, and long columns of
men, women, and children on foot, singing the hymns of their church, and
often turning their eyes back to the magnificent city, which was so soon
destined to be a pile of ruins.

The grand army of Moscow arrived in the position of Fili, near the
capital; not, it was now acknowledged, to defend the sacred city, but to
traverse its devoted streets, associating with their march the garrison,
and such of the citizens as were fit to bear arms, and so leave the
capital to its fate. On the 14th of September, the troops marched with
downcast looks, furled banners, and silent drums, through the streets of
the metropolis, and went out at the Kolomna gate. Their long columns of
retreat were followed by the greater part of the remaining population.
Meanwhile Rostopchin, ere departing, held a public court of justice. Two
men were brought before him, one a Russian, an enthusiast, who had
learned in Germany, and been foolish enough to express at Moscow, some
of the old French republican doctrines. The other was a Frenchman, whom
the near approach of his countrymen had emboldened to hold some
indiscreet political language. The father of the Russian delinquent was
present. He was expected to interfere. He did so; but it was to demand
his son's death. "I grant you," said the governor, "some moments to take
leave and to bless him."--"Shall I bless a rebel?" said this Scythian
Brutus. "Be my curse upon him that has betrayed his country!" The
criminal was hewed down on the spot. "Stranger," said Rostopchin to the
Frenchman, "thou hast been imprudent; yet it is but natural thou
shouldst desire the coming of thy countrymen. Be free, then, and go to
meet them. Tell them there was one traitor in Russia, and thou hast seen
him punished."

The governor then caused the jails to be opened, and the criminals to be
set at liberty; and, abandoning the desolate city to these banditti, and
a few of the lowest rabble, he mounted his horse, and putting himself at
the head of his retainers, followed the march of the army.


[142] "Napoleon, on the following day, visited the places where the
action had been fought, and gazing with an angry look on the position
which Junot had occupied, he exclaimed, 'It was there that the
Westphalians should have attacked! all the battle was there! what was
Junot about?' His irritation became so violent, that nothing could at
first allay it. He called Rapp, and told him to 'take the command from
the Duke of Abrantes:--he had lost his marshal's staff without retrieve!
this blunder would probably block the road to Moscow against them; that
to him, Rapp, he should intrust the Westphalians.' But Rapp refused the
place of his old companion in arms; he appeased the Emperor, whose anger
always subsided quickly, as soon as it had vented itself in
words."--SÉGUR, tom. i., p. 259; RAPP, p. 191.

[143] Jomini, tom. iv., p. 99; Ségur, tom. i., p. 255; Rapp, p. 192;
Fourteenth Bulletin of the Grand Army.

[144] "When Napoleon learned that his men had proceeded eight leagues
without overtaking the enemy, the spell was dissolved. In his return to
Smolensk, the jolting of his carriage over the relics of the fight, the
stoppages caused on the road by the long file of the wounded, who were
crawling or being carried back, and in Smolensk by the tumbrils of
amputated limbs going to be thrown away at a distance, in a word, all
that is horrible and odious out of fields of battle, completely disarmed
him. Smolensk was but one vast hospital, and the loud groans which
issued from it drowned the shout of glory which had just been raised on
the fields of Valoutina."--SÉGUR, tom. i., p. 264.

[145] Ségur, tom. i., p. 304.

[146] "Napoleon quietly employed himself in exploring the environs of
his headquarters. At the sight of the Gjatz, which pours its waters into
the Wolga, he who had conquered so many rivers, felt anew the first
emotions of his glory; he was heard to boast of being the master of
those waves destined to visit Asia--as if they were going to announce
his approach, and to open for him the way to that quarter of the
globe."--SÉGUR, tom. i., p. 308.

[147] Eighteenth Bulletin of the Grand Army.

[148] "I slept in Napoleon's tent. At three in the morning he called a
valet-de-chambre, and made him bring some punch; I had the honour of
taking some with him. He said, 'we shall have an affair to-day with this
famous Koutousoff. It was he who commanded at Braunau in the campaign of
Austerlitz. He remained three weeks in that place without leaving his
chamber once.' He took a glass of punch, read the reports, and added,
'Well, Rapp, do you think that we shall manage our concerns properly
to-day?'--'There is not the least doubt of it, Sire; we have exhausted
all our resources, we are obliged to conquer.' Napoleon continued his
discourse, and replied, 'Fortune is a liberal mistress; I have often
said so, and begin to experience it.' He sent for Prince Berthier, and
transacted business till half-past five. We mounted on horseback; the
trumpets sounded, the drums were beaten; and as soon as the troops knew
it, there was nothing but acclamations. 'It is the enthusiasm of
Austerlitz,' cried Napoleon, 'let the proclamation be read.'"--RAPP, p.

[149] Ségur, tom. i., p. 328.

[150] "Davoust, from conviction, persisted in his point; he protested
that in another hour the greatest part of its effects would be produced.
Napoleon, impatient of contradiction, sharply replied, with this
exclamation, 'Ah! you are always for turning the enemy; it is too
dangerous a manœuvre!' The marshal, after this rebuff, said no more,
but returned to his post, murmuring against a prudence to which he was
not accustomed."--SÉGUR, tom. i., p. 321.

[151] "On General Caulaincourt's return from the conquered redoubt, as
no prisoners had fallen into our hands, Napoleon, surprised, kept asking
him repeatedly, 'Had not his cavalry then charged à propos? Were the
Russians determined to conquer or die?' The answer was, that 'being
fanaticised by their leaders, and accustomed to fight with the Turks,
who gave no quarter, they would be killed sooner than surrender!' The
Emperor then fell into a deep meditation; and judging that a battle of
artillery would be the most certain, he multiplied his orders to bring
up with speed all the parks which had not yet joined him."--SÉGUR, tom.
i., p. 314.

[152] "The Emperor said also to Bessières, 'that nothing was yet
sufficiently unravelled: that to make him give his reserves, he wanted
to see more clearly upon his chess-board.' This was his expression,
which he repeated several times, at the same time pointing to the great
redoubt, against which the efforts of Prince Eugene had been
ineffectual."--SÉGUR, tom. i., p. 342.

[153] "The day ended; 50,000 men lay on the field of battle. A multitude
of generals were killed and wounded: we had forty disabled. We made some
prisoners; took some pieces of cannon. This result did not compensate
for the losses which it had cost us."--RAPP, p. 208.


    _On 14th September, Napoleon reaches Moscow, which he finds deserted
    by the Inhabitants--The City is discovered to be on fire--Napoleon
    takes up his quarters in the Kremlin--The fire is stopt next day,
    but arises again at night--Believed to be wilful, and several
    Russians apprehended and shot--On the third night, the Kremlin is
    discovered to be on Fire--Buonaparte leaves it, and takes his abode
    at Petrowsky--The Fire rages till the 19th, when four-fifths of the
    City are burnt down--On the 20th, Buonaparte returns to the
    Kremlin--Discussion as to the Origin of this great
    Conflagration--Disorganisation and Indiscipline of the French
    Army--Difficulty as to the Route on leaving Moscow--Lauriston sent
    with a Letter to the Emperor Alexander--Retrospect of the March of
    the Russian Army, after leaving Moscow--Lauriston has an Interview
    with Koutousoff on 5th October--The Result--Armistice made by
    Murat--Preparations for Retreat--The Emperor Alexander refuses to

On the 14th September, 1812, while the rearguard of the Russians were in
the act of evacuating Moscow, Napoleon reached the hill called the Mount
of Salvation, because it is there where the natives kneel and cross
themselves at first sight of the Holy City.

Moscow seemed lordly and striking as ever, with the steeples of its
thirty churches, and its copper domes glittering in the sun; its palaces
of Eastern architecture mingled with trees, and surrounded with gardens;
and its Kremlin, a huge triangular mass of towers, something between a
palace and a castle, which rose like a citadel out of the general mass
of groves and buildings. But not a chimney sent up smoke, not a man
appeared on the battlements, or at the gates. Napoleon gazed every
moment, expecting to see a train of bearded boyards arriving to fling
themselves at his feet, and place their wealth at his disposal. His
first exclamation was, "Behold at last that celebrated city!"--His next,
"It was full time." His army, less regardful of the past or the future,
fixed their eyes on the goal of their wishes, and a shout of
"Moscow!--Moscow!"--passed from rank to rank.[154]

Meantime no one interrupted his meditations, until a message came from
Murat. He had pushed in among the Cossacks, who covered the rear of the
Russians, and readily admitted to a parley the chivalrous champion, whom
they at once recognised, having so often seen him blazing in the van of
the French cavalry.[155] The message which he sent to Buonaparte
intimated, that Miloradovitch threatened to burn the town, if his rear
was not allowed time to march through it. This was a tone of defiance.
Napoleon, however, granted the armistice, for which no inhabitants were
left to be grateful.

After waiting two hours, he received from some French inhabitants, who
had hidden themselves during the evacuation, the strange intelligence
that Moscow was deserted by its population. The tidings that a
population of 250,000 persons had left their native city was incredible,
and Napoleon still commanded the boyards, the public functionaries, to
be brought before him; nor could he be convinced of what had actually
happened, till they led to his presence some of that refuse of humanity,
the only live creatures they could find in the city, but they were
wretches of the lowest rank. When he was at last convinced that the
desertion of the capital was universal, he smiled bitterly, and said,
"The Russians will soon learn better the value of their capital."[156]

The signal was now given for the troops to advance; and the columns,
still in a state of wonder at the solitude and silence which received
them every where, penetrated through that assemblage of huts, mingled
with palaces, where it seemed that Penury, which had scarce means to
obtain the ordinary necessaries of life, had for her next door neighbour
all the wealth and profuse expenditure of the East. At once the silence
was broken by a volley of musketry, which some miserable fanatics poured
from the battlements of the Kremlin on the first French troops that
approached the palace of the Czars. These wretches were most of them
intoxicated; yet the determined obstinacy with which they threw away
their lives, was another feature of that rugged patriotism of which the
French had seen, and were yet to see, so many instances.


When he entered the gates of Moscow, Buonaparte, as if unwilling to
encounter the sight of the empty streets, stopt immediately on entering
the first suburb.[157] His troops were quartered in the desolate city.
During the first few hours after their arrival, an obscure rumour, which
could not be traced, but one of those which are sometimes found to get
abroad before the approach of some awful certainty, announced that the
city would be endangered by fire in the course of the night. The report
seemed to arise from those evident circumstances which rendered the
event probable, but no one took any notice of it, until at midnight,
when the soldiers were startled from their quarters by the report that
the town was in flames. The memorable conflagration began amongst the
coachmakers' warehouses and workshops in the Bazaar, or general market,
which was the most rich district of the city. It was imputed to
accident, and the progress of the flames was subdued by the exertions of
the French soldiers. Napoleon, who had been roused by the tumult,
hurried to the spot, and when the alarm seemed at an end, he retired,
not to his former quarters in the suburbs, but to the Kremlin,[158] the
hereditary palace of the only sovereign whom he had ever treated as an
equal, and over whom his successful arms had now attained such an
apparently immense superiority. Yet he did not suffer himself to be
dazzled by the advantage he had obtained, but availed himself of the
light of the blazing Bazaar, to write to the Emperor proposals of peace
with his own hand. They were despatched by a Russian officer of rank,
who had been disabled by indisposition from following the army. But no
answer was ever returned.

Next day the flames had disappeared, and the French officers luxuriously
employed themselves in selecting out of the deserted palaces of Moscow,
that which best pleased the fancy of each for his residence. At night
the flames again arose in the north and west quarters of the city. As
far the greater part of the houses were built of wood, the conflagration
spread with the most dreadful rapidity. This was at first imputed to the
blazing brands and sparkles which were carried by the wind; but at
length it was observed, that, as often as the wind changed, and it
changed three times in that terrible night, new flames broke always
forth in that direction, where the existing gale was calculated to
direct them on the Kremlin. These horrors were increased by the chance
of explosion. There was, though as yet unknown to the French, a magazine
of powder in the Kremlin; besides that a park of artillery, with its
ammunition, was drawn up under the Emperor's window. Morning came, and
with it a dreadful scene. During the whole night, the metropolis had
glared with an untimely and unnatural light. It was now covered with a
thick and suffocating atmosphere, of almost palpable smoke. The flames
defied the efforts of the French soldiery, and it is said that the
fountains of the city had been rendered inaccessible, the water-pipes
cut, and the fire-engines destroyed or carried off.

Then came the reports of fire-balls having been found burning in
deserted houses; of men and women, that, like demons, had been seen
openly spreading the flames, and who were said to be furnished with
combustibles for rendering their dreadful work more secure. Several
wretches against whom such acts had been charged, were seized upon, and,
probably without much inquiry, were shot on the spot.[159] While it was
almost impossible to keep the roof of the Kremlin clear of the burning
brands which showered down the wind, Napoleon watched from the windows
the course of the fire which devoured his fair conquest, and the
exclamation burst from him, "These are indeed Scythians!"[160]

The equinoctial gales rose higher and higher upon the third night, and
extended the flames, with which there was no longer any human power of
contending. At the dead hour of midnight, the Kremlin itself was found
to be on fire. A soldier of the Russian police, charged with being the
incendiary, was turned over to the summary vengeance of the Imperial
Guard.[161] Buonaparte was then, at length, persuaded, by the entreaties
of all around him, to relinquish his quarters in the Kremlin, to which,
as the visible mark of his conquest, he had seemed to cling with the
tenacity of a lion holding a fragment of his prey. He encountered both
difficulty and danger in retiring from the palace, and before he could
gain the citygate, he had to traverse with his suite streets arched with
fire,[162] and in which the very air they breathed was suffocating. At
length, he gained the open country, and took up his abode in a palace of
the Czar's called Petrowsky, about a French league from the city. As he
looked back on the fire, which, under the influence of the autumnal
wind, swelled and surged around the Kremlin, like an infernal ocean
around a sable Pandemonium, he could not suppress the ominous
expression, "This bodes us great misfortune."[163]

The fire continued to triumph unopposed, and consumed in a few days what
it had cost centuries to raise. "Palaces and temples," says a Russian
author, "monuments of art, and miracles of luxury, the remains of ages
which had past away, and those which had been the creation of yesterday;
the tombs of ancestors, and the nursery-cradles of the present
generation, were indiscriminately destroyed. Nothing was left of Moscow
save the remembrance of the city, and the deep resolution to avenge its

The fire raged till the 19th with unabated violence, and then began to
slacken for want of fuel. It is said, four-fifths of this great city
were laid in ruins. On the 20th, Buonaparte returned to the
Kremlin;[165] and, as if in defiance of the terrible scene which he had
witnessed, took measures as if he were disposed to make Moscow his
residence for some time. He even caused a theatre to be fitted up, and
plays to be acted by performers sent from Paris, to show, perhaps, that
it was not in the most terrible of elements to overawe his spirit, or
interrupt his usual habits of life. In the same style of indifference or
affectation, a set of very precise regulations respecting the Théâtre
Français was drawn up by the Emperor amid the ruins of Moscow. He was
not superior to the affectation of choosing distant places and foreign
capitals for the date of domestic and trifling ordinances. It gave the
Emperor an air of ubiquity, to issue rules for a Parisian theatre from
the Kremlin. It had already been prophesied that he would sacrifice his
army to have the pleasure of dating a decree from Moscow.[166]

The conflagration of Moscow was so complete in its devastation; so
important in its consequences; so critical in the moment of its
commencement, that almost all the eye-witnesses have imputed it to a
sublime, yet almost horrible exertion of patriotic decision on the part
of the Russians, their government, and, in particular, of the governor,
Rostopchin. Nor has the positive denial of Count Rostopchin himself
diminished the general conviction, that the fire was directed by him.
All the French officers continue to this day to ascribe the
conflagration to persons whom he had employed.

On the other hand, there are many, and those good judges of the
probabilities in such an event, who have shown strong reasons for
believing, that Moscow shared but the fate of a deserted city, which is
almost always burnt as well as pillaged. We shall only observe, that
should the scale of evidence incline to the side of accident, History
will lose one of the grandest, as well as most terrible incidents which
she has on record. Considered as a voluntary Russian act, the burning of
their capital is an incident of gigantic character, which we consider
with awe and terror; our faculties so confused by the immensity of the
object, considered in its different bearings, that we hardly know
whether to term it vice or virtue, patriotism or vengeance.

Whether the conflagration of Moscow was, or was not, the work of Russian
will, and Russian hands, the effects which it was to produce on the
campaign were likely to be of the most important character. Buonaparte's
object in pressing on to the capital at every risk, was to grasp a
pledge, for the redemption of which he had no doubt Alexander would be
glad to make peace on his own terms. But the prize of his victory,
however fair to the sight, had, like that fabled fruit, said to grow on
the banks of the Dead Sea, proved in the end but soot and ashes. Moscow,
indeed, he had seized, but it had perished in his grasp; and far from
being able to work upon Alexander's fears for its safety, it was
reasonable to think that its total destruction had produced the most
vehement resentment on the part of the Russian monarch, since Napoleon
received not even the civility of an answer to his conciliatory letter.
And thus the acquisition so much desired as the means of procuring
peace, had become, by this catastrophe, the cause of the most
irreconcilable enmity.

Neither was it a trifling consideration, that Napoleon had lost by this
dreadful fire a great part of the supplies, which he expected the
capture of the metropolis would have contributed for the support of his
famished army. Had there existed in Moscow the usual population of a
capital, he would have found the usual modes of furnishing its markets
in full activity. These, doubtless, are not of the common kind, for
provisions are sent to this capital, not, as is usual, from fertile
districts around the city, but from distant regions, whence they are
brought by water-carriage in the summer, and by sledges, which travel on
the ice and frozen snow, in the winter time. To Moscow, with its usual
inhabitants, these supplies must have been remitted as usual, lest the
numerous population of 250,000 and upwards, should be famished, as well
as the enemy's army. But Moscow deserted--Moscow burnt, and reduced to
mountains of cinders and ashes--had no occasion for such supplies; nor
was it to be supposed that the provinces from which they were usually
remitted, would send them to a heap of ruins, where there remained none
to be fed, save the soldiers of the invading army. This conviction came
with heavy anticipation on the Emperor of France and his principal

Meanwhile, the ruins of Moscow, and the remnant which was left standing,
afforded the common soldiers an abundance of booty during their short
day of rest; and, as is their nature, they enjoyed the present moment
without thinking of futurity. The army was dispersed over the city,
plundering at pleasure whatever they could find; sometimes discovering
quantities of melted gold and silver, sometimes rich merchandize and
precious articles, of which they knew not the value; sometimes articles
of luxury, which contrasted strangely with their general want of
comforts, and even necessaries. It was not uncommon to see the most
tattered, shoeless wretches, sitting among bales of rich merchandize, or
displaying costly shawls, precious furs, and vestments rich with
barbaric pearl and gold.[167] In another place, there were to be seen
soldiers possessed of tea, sugar, coffee, and similar luxuries, while
the same individuals could scarce procure carrion to eat, or muddy water
to drink. Of sugar, in particular, they had such quantities, that they
mixed it with their horse-flesh soup. The whole was a contrast of the
wildest and most lavish excess, with the last degree of necessity,
disgusting to witness, and most ominous in its presage. _They_ esteemed
themselves happiest of all, who could procure intoxicating liquors, and
escape by some hours of insensibility from the scene of confusion around

Napoleon and his officers toiled hard to restore some degree of
organisation to the army. The plundering, which could not be
discontinued, was latterly set about more regularly; and detachments
were sent to pillage the ruins of Moscow, as in turn of duty. The rest
of the troops were withdrawn from the city, or confined to their
quarters in the buildings which remained entire. Everything was done to
protect the few peasants, who brought provisions to the camp for sale.
Nevertheless, few appeared, and at length not one was to be seen. The
utmost exertion, therefore, could not, it was obvious, render Moscow a
place of rest for many days; and the difficulty of choosing the route by
which to leave it, became now an embarrassing consideration.

There were three modes of proceeding on evacuating Moscow, all of which
had in their turn Napoleon's anxious consideration. First, he might
march on St. Petersburgh, and deal with the modern, as he had with the
ancient capital of Russia. This counsel best suited the daring genius of
Buonaparte, ever bent upon the game by which all is to be lost, or all
won. He even spoke of that measure as a thing resolved; but Berthier and
Bessières prevailed in convincing him, that the lateness of the season,
the state of the roads, the want of provisions, and the condition of the
army, rendered such an attempt totally desperate. The second proposed
measure, was to move southwards upon the fertile province of Kalouga,
and thence to proceed westward towards Smolensk, which was their first
depôt. In this route Napoleon must have fought a general action with
Koutousoff, who, as we shall presently see, had taken a position to the
south of Moscow. This, indeed, would have been, in many respects, a
motive with Napoleon to take the route to Kalouga; but a second battle
of Borodino, as obstinately fought, and as doubtful in its termination,
would have been a bad commencement for a retreat, the flanks of which
would certainly be annoyed, even if the Moldavian army did not intercept
the front. The third plan was, to return by the route on which he had
advanced, and on which, by a few places hastily fortified, he still
preserved a precarious communication with Smolensk, Witepsk, and so on
to Wilna. This line, however, lay through the countries which had been
totally destroyed and wasted by the advance of the army, and where all
the villages and hamlets had been burned and abandoned, either by the
French or the Russians themselves. To take this direction was to
confront famine.[169]

Napoleon's hesitation on this important point, was increased by the
eagerness with which he still adhered to his own plan for the conclusion
of the war, by a triumphant peace with Alexander, concluded on the ruins
of his capital. His mind, which ever clung with tenacity to the opinions
he had once formed, revolved the repeated instances in which his voice
had in such circumstances commanded peace, and dictated the articles.
The idea which he had formed of Alexander's disposition during the
interviews of Tilsit and Erfurt, had made him regard the Czar as docile,
and disposed to submit to the rebuke of his own predominant genius. But
he mistook the character of the sovereign, and of the nation he
commanded. The one, although he had hitherto encountered nothing but
defeat and disaster, was determined not to submit, while his immense
resources furnished the means of resistance. The other, in all
probability, would not have permitted the sovereign to act otherwise,
for the popular indignation was now at spring-tide; and from the palace
of the Czar to the hut of the slave, there was nothing breathed save
resistance and revenge.


It was in vain, therefore, that Napoleon expected that Alexander would
open some communication on the subject of, or would answer, the letter
which he had sent, during the first night he possessed Moscow, by a
Russian officer. He grew impatient at length, and resolved himself to
make further advances. But not even to his confidential advisers would
he own that he sought peace on his own score; he affected to be anxious
only on account of Alexander. "He is my friend," he said; "a prince of
excellent qualities; and should he yield to his inclinations, and
propose peace, the barbarians in their rage will dethrone and put him to
death, and fill the throne with some one less tractable. We will send
Caulaincourt to break the way for negotiation, and prevent the odium
which Alexander might incur, by being the first to propose a treaty."
The Emperor abode by this resolution, excepting in so far as he was
persuaded with some difficulty to despatch General Count Lauriston, his
aide-de-camp, upon this embassy; lest Caulaincourt's superior rank of
Master of the Horse, might indicate that his master sought a treaty,
less for Alexander's security than his own, and that of his army.
Lauriston, who was well acquainted with the Russian character, urged
several doubts against the policy of the mission intrusted to him, as
betraying their necessity to the enemy; and recommended that the army
should, without losing a day, commence its retreat by Kalouga, and the
more southern route. Buonaparte, however, retained his determination,
and Lauriston was dismissed with a letter to the Emperor Alexander, and
the parting instruction,--"I must have peace, and will sacrifice, to
obtain it, all except my honour."[170]

Before we give the result of Lauriston's mission, it is proper to trace
the movements of the Russian grand army, since their melancholy march
through the city of Moscow. They left the city by the route of Kolomna,
and marched for two days in that direction; and having thus imposed on
the enemy a belief, that they were bent in securing a retreat to the
south-east, leaving at once the eastern and southern provinces
undefended, Koutousoff executed one of the most dexterous movements of
the Russian army during the campaign. The observation of the Petersburgh
road was intrusted to Winzengerode, with a small flying army. Koutousoff
himself, turning to the southward, performed a circular march, of which
Moscow was the centre, so as to transfer the grand army to the route
towards Kalouga. They marched in stern dejection; for the wind, great as
the distance was, showered among their ranks the ashes of their burning
capital, and in the darkness, the flames were seen to rage like a huge
ocean of fire. The movement was a bold one also, for, although performed
at a respectful distance from the French army, yet the march was for
three days a flank march, and consequently of a very delicate character.
The Russians manœuvred, however, with such precision, that they
performed their movements in perfect safety; and while the French
troops, who had been sent in their pursuit, were amusing themselves with
pursuing two regiments of horse, which had been left on the Kolomna
road, they were astonished to find that the grand Russian army had
assumed a position on the south-eastern side of Moscow, from which they
could operate upon and harass, nay, intercept at pleasure, Napoleon's
line of communication with Smolensk and with Poland, and at the same
time cover the town of Kalouga, where great magazines had been
assembled, and that of Toula, famed for the fabrication of arms and

The ardent King of Naples, with the advanced guard of his
brother-in-law's army, at length moved against their enemies on the
Kalouga road; but little took place save skirmishes, by which the
Russians protected their rear, until they took up a stationary posture
in the strong position of Taroutino. They were here admirably placed for
the purpose of covering the important town of Kalouga. There are three
routes which lead from Moscow to that city; and Taroutino being situated
in the middle road, an army placed there can with little trouble, by
moving to the right or the left, occupy either of the other two. The
front of the Russian position was covered by the river Nara. The camp
was amply supplied with provisions from the wealthy and plentiful
districts in the rear; and as the spirit of the country more and more
developed itself, recruits and new-raised regiments arrived faster than
the exertions of the veteran soldiers could train them to arms, although
the Russian, from his docility and habits of obedience, receives
military discipline with unusual readiness. The Ukraine and Don sent
twenty regiments of Cossacks, most of them men who, having already
served their stipulated time, were excused from military duty, but who
universally assumed the lance and sabre at a crisis of such emergency.

Murat at the same time pressed forward to establish himself in front of
the Russian camp, for the purpose of watching their motions. In his
progress, he passed what had been a splendid domain, belonging to Count
Rostopchin, the governor of Moscow. It was in ashes; and a letter from
the proprietor informed the French he had destroyed it, lest it should
give an invader comfort or shelter.[172] The same spirit possessed the
peasantry. They set fire to their hamlets, wherever they could be of use
to the invaders; proclaimed the punishment of death to all of their own
order, who, from avarice or fear, should be tempted to supply the enemy
with provisions; and they inflicted it without mercy on such as incurred
the penalty. It is an admitted fact, that when the French, in order to
induce their refractory prisoners to labour in their service, branded
some of them on the hand with the letter N, as a sign that they were the
serfs of Napoleon, one peasant laid his branded hand on a log of wood,
and struck it off with the axe which he held in the other, in order to
free himself from the supposed thraldom. The French who looked on
shuddered, and cursed the hour which brought them into collision with
enemies of such a rugged and inexorable disposition. The patriotism of
the peasants in general had been turned to still better account by the
partisan or guerilla warfare, for which Spain had given an example.


Lieutenant-Colonel Dennis Davidoff, who became well known to the French
by the name of _le Capitaine Noir_, had suggested this species of war to
Prince Bagration, a little before the battle of Borodino; and had
obtained distinguished success at the head of a small party of Cossacks
and hussars, by his operations on the route betwixt Gjatz and Wiazma, in
cutting off supplies, and defeating small detached parties of the enemy.
He was speedily put at the head of a much larger force; and other free
corps of the same kind were raised, with brave and active spirits at
their head. They scoured the country, infested the French lines of
communication, drove in their outposts, and distressed them on every

The peasants also took arms, and formed themselves into bodies of
partisans, rendered formidable by their perfect knowledge of the woods,
by-paths, and passes. They have a natural contempt for foreigners, for
whom they have no other name than "the deaf and dumb," to denote their
ignorance of the Russian language. The events of the campaign,
especially the conflagration of Moscow, had converted their scorn into
deadly hatred; and whatever soldier of Napoleon fell into their hands,
was put to death without scruple or pity.

Meantime the cavalry of Murat, which afforded the best means of
chastising and repressing these bands, gradually declined under hard
work and want of subsistence; and, although little used to droop or
distress himself about the future, the King of Naples wrote repeatedly
from his advanced post, to press Napoleon no longer to delay a retreat
which was become absolutely necessary. It was while matters were in this
state that General Lauriston arrived at the Russian outposts, and after
a good deal of difficulty, real or affected, was at length admitted to
an interview with Koutousoff, at midnight on the 5th October. His
reception was such as to make him consider himself a welcome envoy.

Lauriston opened his business with a proposal for exchange of prisoners,
which was of course declined on the part of Koutousoff, aware, that
while soldiers were plenty among the Russians, the ranks of Napoleon
must become every day thinner. Lauriston next introduced the subject of
the independent bands, and proposed that an end should be put to this
species of unusual war, in which so many cruelties were committed.
Koutousoff replied, that this kind of partisan war did not depend on his
orders, but arose from the native spirit of the country, which led the
Russians to regard the French invasion as an incursion of Tartars.
General Lauriston then entered on the real business of his mission, by
asking whether "this war, which had assumed such an unheard-of
character, was to last for ever?" declaring, at the same time, his
master the Emperor of France's sincere desire, to terminate hostilities
between two great and generous nations.

The astucious old Russian saw Buonaparte's evident necessity in his
affected wish for peace, and immediately adopted the course most likely
to gain time, which must at once increase the difficulties of the
French, and his own power of availing himself of them. He affected a
sincere desire to promote a pacification, but declared he was
absolutely prohibited either to receive any proposal to that effect
himself, or to transmit such to the Emperor. He therefore declined to
grant General Lauriston the desired passport to the presence of
Alexander, but he offered to send General Wolkonsky, an aide-de-camp of
the Czar, to learn his imperial pleasure.

The express charge which Lauriston had received from his master, that
peace was to be obtained on any terms not inferring dishonour, did not
permit him to object to this arrangement. He was even encouraged to hope
it might prove effectual, so much satisfaction was expressed by General
Koutousoff and the officers of his military family, all of whom seemed
to deplore the continuance of the war, and went so far as to say, that
this annunciation of a treaty would be received at Petersburgh with
public rejoicings. These accounts being transmitted to Napoleon, lulled
him into a false security. He returned to his original opinion, which
had been shaken, but not subverted; and announced to his generals, with
much satisfaction, that they had but to wait a fortnight for a
triumphant pacification. He boasted his own superior knowledge of the
Russian character, and declared, that on the arrival of his overture for
peace, Petersburgh would be full of bonfires.[173]


Napoleon, however, was not so confident of peace as to approve a
singular sort of armistice which Murat had entered into with the
Russians. It was to be broken off, on an intimation of three hours'
space, by either party to the other; and, while in existence, it only
subsisted along the fronts of the two armies, leaving the Russians at
liberty to carry on their partisan war on the flanks as much as ever.
The French could not obtain a load of furze, or a cart of provisions,
without fighting for it, and often to disadvantage. A large party of the
dragoons of the Imperial Guard were surprised and piked by the Cossacks.
Two considerable convoys were surprised and cut off on the road to
Mojaisk, the only communication which the French army had with its
magazines and reinforcements. The French were surprised, and lost a
detachment in the town of Vereia, on Murat's left flank. Thus the war
continued everywhere except on the front of the armies, where it had the
greatest chance to be favourable to the French.

This bad policy is not to be imputed to Napoleon, who had refused to
authorise the armistice, but to the vanity of Murat, under whose
authority it was still observed. It gave him an opportunity of amusing
himself, by caracoling on the neutral ground betwixt the camps,
displaying his handsome form, gallant horsemanship, and splendid
dresses, to the soldiers on both sides; receiving the respectful salutes
of the Russian patrols, and the applause of the Cossacks. These last
used to crowd around him, partly in real admiration of his chivalrous
appearance and character, which was of a kind to captivate these
primitive warriors, and partly, doubtless, from their natural shrewdness
which saw the utility of maintaining his delusion. They called him their
Hettman; and he was so intoxicated with their applause, as to have been
said to nourish the wild idea of becoming in earnest King of the

Such delusions could not for ever lull Murat's vigilance to sleep. The
war was all around him, and his forces were sinking under a succession
of petty hostilities; while the continual rolling of drums, and the
frequent platoon firing, heard from behind the Russian encampment,
intimated how busily they were engaged in drilling numerous bodies of
fresh recruits. The Russian officers at the outposts began to hold
ominous language, and ask the French if they had made a composition with
the Northern Winter, Russia's most fearful ally. "Stay another
fortnight," they said, "and your nails will drop off, and your fingers
fall from your hands, like boughs from a blighted tree." The numbers of
the Cossacks increased so much, as to resemble one of the ancient
Scythian emigrations; and wild and fantastic figures, on unbroken
horses, whose manes swept the ground, seemed to announce that the inmost
recesses of the desert had sent forth their inhabitants. Their
grey-bearded chiefs sometimes held expostulations with the French
officers, in a tone very different from that which soothed the ears of
Murat. "Had you not," they said, "in France, food enough, water enough,
air enough, to subsist you while you lived--earth enough to cover you
when you died; and why come you to enrich our soil with your remains,
which by right belong to the land where you were born?" Such evil
bodements affected the van of the army, from whence Murat transmitted
them to the Emperor.[175]

Immured in the recesses of the Kremlin, Napoleon persisted in awaiting
the answer to the letter despatched by Lauriston. It had been sent to
Petersburgh on the 6th, and an answer could not be expected before the
26th. To have moved before that period, might be thought prudent in a
military point of view; but, politically considered, it would greatly
injure his reputation for sagacity, and destroy the impression of his
infallibility. Thus sensible, and almost admitting that he was wrong, he
determined, nevertheless, to persevere in the course he had chosen, in
hopes that Fortune, which never before failed him, might yet stand his
friend in extremity.

[Sidenote: MOSCOW.]

A bold scheme is said to have been suggested by Daru, to turn Moscow
into an intrenched camp, and occupy it as winter-quarters. They might
kill the remainder of the horses, he said, and salt them down; foraging
must do the rest. Napoleon approved of what he termed a Lion's counsel.
But the fear of what might happen in France, from which this plan would
have secluded them for six months, induced him finally to reject it. It
might be added, that the obtaining supplies by marauding was likely to
become more and more difficult, as winter and the scarcity increased,
especially now that the country around Moscow was completely ruined.
Besides, if Napoleon fixed himself at Moscow for the winter, not only
his line of communications, but Lithuania, and the grand duchy, which
formed the base of his operations, ran every risk of being invaded. On
the south-west, the dubious faith of Austria was all he had to trust to,
for the purpose of resisting the united armies of Tchitchagoff and
Tormasoff, which might be augmented to 100,000 men, and make themselves
masters of Warsaw and Wilna. On the northern extremity of his general
line of operations, Macdonald and St. Cyr might prove unable to resist
Witgenstein and Steingel; and he had in his rear Prussia, the population
of which Napoleon justly considered as ready to take arms against him at
the first favourable opportunity. The scheme, therefore, for occupying
winter-quarters at Moscow was rejected as fraught with dangers.[176]

Even when appearances of a fall of snow reminded the Emperor of the
climate which he was braving, his preparations for retreat were slowly
and reluctantly made; and some of them were dictated by his vanity,
rather than his judgment. All the pictures, images, and ornaments of the
churches, which were left unburnt, were collected, and loaded upon
wains, to follow the line of march, already too much encumbered with
baggage. A gigantic cross, which stood on the tower of Ivan the Great,
the tallest steeple of Moscow, was dismounted with much labour,[177]
that it might add to the trophies, which were already sufficiently
cumbrous. On the same principle, Napoleon was angry when it was proposed
to leave some of his immense train of artillery, which was greatly too
numerous for the reduced size of his army. "He would leave no trophy for
the Russians to triumph over." That all the artillery and baggage might
be transported, he surprised his officers by an order to buy twenty
thousand horses, where, perhaps, there were not an hundred to be sold,
and when those which they had already were daily dying for want of
forage. The latter article, he ordered, should be provided for two
months, in depôts on his route. This mandate might make known his wants;
but as it certainly could contribute little to supply them, it must only
have been issued for the purpose of keeping up appearances. Perhaps the
desire to have some excuse to himself and others for indulging in his
lingering wish to remain a day or two longer, to await the answer from
St Petersburgh, might be a secret cause of issuing orders, which must
occasion some inquiry ere it could be reported in what extent they could
be obeyed.

If this were the case, it was the rash indulgence of a groundless hope.
The Emperor Alexander refused to hear of any negotiation for peace, and
took no other notice of that which had been transmitted to him by
Walkonsky, than to pass a censure on the Russian officers concerned, and
Prince Koutousoff himself, for having had the least intercourse with the
French generals. He reminded the generalissimo how positive his
instructions had been on this subject, and that he had enjoined him on
no account to enter into negotiations or correspondence with the
invaders; and he revived and enforced his injunctions to that effect.

The sagacious general was not, it is to be supposed, greatly affected by
a rebuke which was only given for form's sake. He made his soldiers
acquainted with the Emperor's unalterable resolution to give no terms to
the invaders; and spreading through the camp, at the same time, the news
of the victory at Salamanca, and the evacuation of Madrid, pointed out
to them, that Frenchmen, like others, were liable to defeat; and called
on his soldiers to emulate the courage of the British and patriotism of
the Spaniards. While the minds of the soldiery were thus excited and
encouraged, Koutousoff took measures for anticipating Napoleon, by
putting an end to the armistice and assuming an offensive posture.[178]


[154] "Every one quickened his pace; the troops hurried on in disorder;
and the whole army clapping their hands, repeated with transport,
'Moscow! Moscow!' just as sailors shout 'land! land!' at the conclusion
of a long and tedious voyage."--SÉGUR, tom. ii., p. 28. "At the sound of
this wished for name, the soldiers ran up the hill in crowds, and each
discovered new wonders every instant. One admired a noble chateau on our
left, the elegant architecture of which displayed more than Eastern
magnificence; another directed his attention towards a palace or a
temple; but all were struck with the superb picture which this immense
town afforded."--LABAUME, p. 179.

[155] "Murat was recognised by the Cossacks, who thronged around him,
and by their gestures and exclamations extolled his valour, and
intoxicated him with their admiration. The king took the watches of his
officers, and distributed them among these yet barbarous warriors. One
of them called him his _hettman_. Murat was for a moment tempted to
believe that in these officers he should find a new Mazeppa, or that he
himself should become one; he imagined that he had gained them
over."--SÉGUR, tom. ii., p. 31.

[156] Ségur, tom. ii., p. 33.

[157] "Napoleon appointed Marshal Mortier governor of the capital.
'Above all,' said he to him, 'no pillage! For this you shall be
answerable to me with your life. Defend Moscow against all, whether
friend or foe.'"--SÉGUR, tom. ii., p. 38.

[158] "Napoleon pensively entered the Kremlin. 'At length,' he
exclaimed, 'I am in Moscow, in the ancient palace of the Czars, in the
Kremlin.' He examined every part of it with pride, curiosity, and
gratification."--SÉGUR, tom. ii., p. 39.

[159] "Three hundred incendiaries have been arrested and shot; they were
provided with fuses, six inches long; they had also squibs, which they
threw upon the roofs of the houses. The wretch Rostopchin had these
prepared on the pretence that he wished to send up a balloon, full of
combustible matter, amidst the French army."--_Twenty-first Bulletin._

[160] "Napoleon was seized with extreme agitation; he seemed to be
consumed by the fires which surrounded him. He traversed his apartments
with quick steps. Short and incoherent exclamations burst from his
labouring bosom."--SÉGUR, tom. ii., p. 45.

[161] "Napoleon caused the man to be interrogated in his presence. He
had executed his commission at the signal given by his chief. The
gestures of the Emperor betokened disdain and vexation. The wretch was
hurried into the first court, where the enraged grenadiers despatched
him with their bayonets."--SÉGUR, tom. ii., p. 46.

[162] "I saw Napoleon pass by, and could not, without abhorrence, behold
the chief of a barbarous expedition evidently endeavouring to escape the
decided testimony of public indignation, by seeking the darkest road. He
sought it, however, in vain. On every side the flames seemed to pursue
him; and their horrible and mournful glare, flashing on his guilty head,
reminded me of the torches of the Eumenides pursuing the destined
victims of the Furies."--LABAUME, p. 206.

[163] Ségur, tom. ii., p. 49.

[164] Karamzin, a Russian historian of eminence, whose works were
expressly excepted from the censorship by the late Emperor
Alexander.--See _Histoire de l'Empire de Russie_, traduit par St.
Thomas, Jauffret, et de Divoff.

[165] "On his re-entering the Kremlin, a few houses scattered among the
ruins were all that was left of the mighty Moscow. The suburbs were
sprinkled with Russians of both sexes, covered with garments nearly
burned. They flitted like spectres among the ruins; squatted in the
gardens, some of them were scratching up the earth in quest of
vegetables; while others were disputing with the crows for the relics of
the dead animals which the army had left behind."--SÉGUR, tom. ii., p.

[166] "Amidst the dreadful storm of men and elements which was gathering
around him, his ministers and his aides-de-camp saw him pass whole days
in discussing the merits of some new verses which he had received, or
the regulations for the Comédie Française at Paris, which he took three
evenings to finish. As they were acquainted with his deep anxiety, they
admired the strength of his genius, and the facility with which he could
take off or fix the whole force of his attention on whatever he pleased.
It was remarked, too, that he prolonged his meals, which had hitherto
been so simple and so short. He seemed desirous of stifling thought by
repletion. He would pass whole hours, half reclined, as if torpid, and
awaiting, with a novel in his hand, the catastrophe of his terrible
history."--SÉGUR, tom. ii., p. 67-87.

[167] "It was common to see walking in our camp soldiers dressed _à la
Tartare_, _à la Cosaque_, _à la Chinoise_; one wore the Polish cap,
another the high bonnet of the Persians, the Baskirs, or the Kalmouks.
In short, our army presented the image of a carnival; and from what
followed, it was justly said, that our retreat commenced with a
masquerade, and ended with a funeral."--LABAUME, p. 222.

[168] Labaume, p. 222; Ségur, tom. ii., p. 56.

[169] Jomini, tom. iv., p. 154.

[170] Ségur, tom. ii., p. 70.

[171] "This movement of the Russians, though censured by Wilson,
Vaudoncourt, and Fain, is one of the most skilful operations of the war.
By what fatality is it, that we ever condemn that in the enemy, which
we applaud vehemently, when it happens to be effected by
ourselves."--JOMINI, tom. iv., p. 152.

[172] "Frenchmen," this was the tenor of this remarkable intimation,
"for eight years it has been my pleasure to embellish this my family
residence. The inhabitants, 1720 in number, will leave it as you
approach; and it will be reduced to ashes that not one of you may
pollute it by your presence. I have left you two palaces in Moscow, with
their furniture, worth half a million of rubles. Here you will only find
ashes."--_Twenty-third Bulletin._--S.

[173] Ségur, tom. ii., p. 71; Jomini, tom. iv., p. 153.

[174] Ségur, tom. ii., p. 74.

[175] Ségur, tom. ii., p. 77.

[176] Ségur, tom. ii., p. 86.

[177] "During the work, it was remarked that great numbers of ravens
surrounded this cross, and that Napoleon, weary of their hoarse
croaking, exclaimed, that 'it seemed as if these flocks of ill-omened
birds meant to defend it.' We cannot pretend to tell all that he thought
in this critical situation, but it is well known that he was accessible
to every kind of presentiment. His daily excursions, always illumined by
a brilliant sun, in which he strove himself to perceive and to make
others recognise his star, did not amuse him. To the sullen silence of
inanimate Moscow was superadded that of the surrounding deserts, and the
still more menacing silence of Alexander."--SÉGUR.

[178] "Koutousoff made his camp ring with the news of the victory of
Salamanca. 'The French,' said he, 'are expelled from Madrid: the hand of
the Most High presses heavily upon Napoleon. Moscow will be his prison,
his grave, and that of all his grand army. We shall soon take France in
Russia.'"--SÉGUR, tom. ii., p. 88.


    _Murat's Armistice broken off--Napoleon leaves Moscow on 19th
    October--Bloody Skirmish at Malo-Yarowslavetz--Napoleon in great
    danger while reconnoitring--He retreats to Vereia, where he meets
    Mortier and the Young Guard--Winzengerode made Prisoner, and
    insulted by Buonaparte--The Kremlin is blown up by the
    French--Napoleon continues his Retreat towards Poland--Its
    Horrors--Conflict near Wiazma, on 3d November, where the French lose
    4000 Men--Cross the River Wiazma during the Night--The Viceroy of
    Italy reaches Smolensk, in great distress--Buonaparte arrives at
    Smolensk, with the headmost division of the Grand Army--Calamitous
    Retreat of Ney's Division--The whole French Army now collected at
    Smolensk--Cautious conduct of Prince Schwartzenberg--Winzengerode
    freed on his road to Paris, by a body of Cossacks--Tchitchagoff
    occupies Minsk--Perilous situation of Napoleon._


It was easy to make Murat himself the active person in breaking off the
armistice, a step which the Russian general preferred, lest a formal
intimation of rupture on his own side, might lead the King of Naples to
suspect his further purpose. Accordingly, a Cossack having fired his
carabine when Murat was examining the advanced guards, irritated, as it
was designed to do, that fiery soldier, and induced him to announce to
the Russian generals that the armistice was ended. The Russians were the
first to commence hostilities.

The camp, or position, which Murat occupied, Worodonow, was covered on
the right, and on the centre, by a rivulet or brook, running in a deep
ravine; but the stream taking another direction, left a good part of the
left wing uncovered, which was at the same time exposed to surprise from
a wood covering a little plain where his left rested. The sum of Murat's
force, which consisted of the cavalry, and Poniatowski's division, was
computed to be upwards of 30,000. It is singular that since the King of
Naples expected an attack, as was intimated by his letter to his
brother-in-law, he did not take the precaution of placing videttes and
advanced guards in the woody plain. But the French, from their long
train of success, were accustomed to despise their enemies, and to
consider a surprise as a species of affront which they were never to be
exposed to.

The Russians had laid a plan, which, had it been dexterously executed,
must have destroyed the whole French advanced guard. An attack upon the
left of Murat's position, by two Russian columns, under Count Orloff
Dennizoff, was completely successful; but other two columns, by whom he
should have been supported, did not arrive in time upon the point of
action; the Poles, under Poniatowski, made a glorious defence upon the
right, and the vanguard was saved from utter destruction. But there was
a complete defeat; the King of Naples lost his cannon, his position, and
his baggage, had 2000 men killed, and lost 1500 prisoners. The French
cavalry, except a few of those belonging to the guard, might be said to
be utterly destroyed. Every thing which the Russians saw in the enemy's
camp, convinced them of the distress to which the French were reduced.
Flayed cats and horse-flesh were the dainties found in the King of
Naples' kitchen.

It was the 18th of October when first the noise of the cannon, and soon
after, the arrival of an officer, brought intelligence of this mishap to
Buonaparte. His energy of character, which had appeared to slumber
during the days he had spent in a species of irresolution at Moscow,
seemed at once restored. He poured forth, without hesitation, a torrent
of orders suited for the occasion, directing the march of the troops to
support Murat at Worodonow. Notwithstanding the miscellaneous variety
of directions, each was distinct in itself, yet critically connected
with the others, so as to form, on the whole, a perfect and
well-connected plan of movements. Part of the army marched that night;
the rest had their route for the next morning. A garrison, under
Maréchal Mortier, was left as a rear-guard in the Kremlin; from which it
may be inferred that Napoleon did not as yet intend a final retreat.

On the 19th October, before day-break, the Emperor in person left
Moscow, after an abode of thirty-four days. "Let us march," he said, "on
Kalouga, and woe to those who shall oppose us."[179] In this brief
sentence he announced the whole plan of his retreat which was to defeat
the army of Koutousoff, or compel him to retire, and then himself to
return to the frontiers of Poland, by the unwasted route of Kalouga,
Medyn, Ynkowo, Elnia, and Smolensk.

The French army, which now filed from the gates of Moscow, and which
continued to move on in a living mass for many hours, comprehended about
120,000 men, indifferently well appointed, and marching in good order.
They were followed by no less than 550 pieces of cannon, a train beyond
proportion to their numbers, and 2000 artillery waggons.[180] So far the
march had a martial and imposing aspect. But in the rear of these came a
confused crowd of many thousands, consisting of followers of the camp,
stragglers who had rejoined it, and prisoners, many of them employed in
carrying, or driving forward in wheelbarrows, the spoil of the

Among these were French families formerly inhabitants of Moscow, and
composing what was called the French colony there, who could no longer
reckon upon it as a safe place of abode, and who took the opportunity of
retiring with their countrymen. There was, besides, a mixture and
confusion of all imaginable kind of carriages, charged with the baggage
of the army, and with the spoils of Moscow, to swell those trophies
which Napoleon had seized upon to amuse the Parisians, as well as what
had been seized by individuals. This miscellaneous crowd resembled,
according to Ségur, a horde of Tartars returning from a successful


There were, as has been said, three routes from Moscow to Kalouga. The
central, or old road, was that upon which the Russians lay encamped at
their grand position of Taroutino, and in front of it was that of
Worodonow, or Ynkowo, where they had so lately defeated Murat. Napoleon
advanced a day's march on this route, in order to induce Koutousoff to
believe that he proposed to attack his army in front; but this was only
a feint, for, on the next day, he turned off by cross-roads into the
western, or new road to Kalouga, with the view of advancing by that
route until he should be past the Russian camp at Taroutino, on the
right flank, and then of again crossing from the new road to the old
one, and thus getting possession of Borowsk and Malo-Yarowslavetz, towns
on the same road to the southward of Taroutino. Thus the Russian
position would be turned and avoided, while the main body of the French
Emperor would be interposed betwixt Koutousoff and Kalouga, and the
fertile southern provinces laid open to supply his army.

On the 23d, the Emperor with his main body, attained Borowsk, and
learned that the division of Delzons, which formed his vanguard, had
occupied Malo-Yarowslavetz without opposition. Thus far all seemed to
have succeeded according to Napoleon's wish.

But Koutousoff, so soon as he was aware of the danger in which he stood
of being cut off from Kalouga, retaliated upon Napoleon his own
manœuvre, and detached Generals Doktoroff and Raefskoi to the
southward with a strong division, to outmarch the French, and occupy the
position of Malo-Yarowslavetz, or to regain it if it was taken. He
himself breaking up his camp at Taroutino, followed with his whole army
by the road of Lectazowo, and marched so rapidly as to outstrip the
French army, and reach the southward of Malo-Yarowslavetz, and
consequently again interpose himself between Napoleon and Kalouga.

Malo-Yarowslavetz offers a strong position. The town is built on a rapid
declivity, broken with cliffs, the bottom of which is washed by the
river Louja. On the northern side of the Louja, and connected with the
town by a bridge, is a small plain with some huts, where Delzon's army
bivouacked, having stationed two battalions to defend the town, and to
watch the motions of the enemy. About four in the morning, when all were
asleep, save the few sentinels who kept a careless watch, the Russians
rushed into the place with dreadful outcries, drove the two battalions
out of the town, and pushed them down the declivity and across the Louja
to their main body. The noise of the artillery drew the attention of
Eugene the viceroy, who being only about three leagues from the scene of
action, arrived there about the dawn. The soldiers of Delzons' division
were then discovered struggling to regain the southern bank on which the
town was situated. Encouraged by the approach of Eugene, Delzons pushed
forward across the bridge, repelled the Russians, gained the middle of
the village, and was shot dead. His brother, who endeavoured to drag
the general's body from the spot, incurred the same fate. General
Guilleminot succeeded to the command, and threw a strong party of French
into the church, which served as a citadel during the continuance of the
action. The Russians rushed in once more, and drove Guilleminot back to
the bridge. He was, however, succoured by Prince Eugene, who, after
various less serious attempts, directed a whole division on the

Malo-Yarowslavetz was then recovered by the French; but, on
reconnoitring a little farther, the whole of Koutousoff's army appeared
on the plain beyond it, upwards of 100,000 men in number, and already
possessed of a good position, which they were improving by
intrenchments. Reinforcements from the Russian ranks immediately
attacked the French, who were driven back on the town, which, being
composed of wooden huts, was now in flames, and the French were again
dispossessed of Malo-Yarowslavetz. The miserable ruins of this place
were five times won and lost. At length, as the main body of the grand
army came up under Napoleon himself, he found the French still in
possession of the disputed village and its steep bank. But beyond them
lay the numerous Russian army, stationed and intrenched, supported by a
very large train of artillery, and seeming to render a battle absolutely
indispensable to dislodge them from the position they had taken, and the
fortifications with which they had secured themselves.

A council of war was held in the headquarters of the Emperor, the hut of
a poor weaver, divided by a screen, which served as the only
partition.[184] Here he received and meditated upon the reports of his
generals, together with their opinions, and learned, to his distress,
that Bessières, and other good officers, reported that the position
occupied by Koutousoff was unassailable.[185] He resolved to judge with
his own eyes on the next day, and in the meantime turned a negligent ear
to the reports which informed him that the Cossacks were stealing
through the woods, and insinuating themselves betwixt him and his
advanced guard.

At dawning, Napoleon mounted his horse, in order to reconnoitre, and
incurred in the attempt a great risk of his life or freedom. It was
about daybreak, when, as attended by his staff and orderly soldiers, he
crossed the little plain on the northern side of the Louja in order to
gain the bridge, the level ground was suddenly filled with fugitives, in
the rear of whom appeared some black masses. At first, the cries they
made seemed to be those of _Vive l'Empereur_; but the wild hourra of the
Cossacks, and the swiftness of their advance, soon announced the
children of the desert. "It is the Cossacks," said Rapp, seizing the
reins of the Emperor's bridle. "You must turn back." Napoleon refused to
retreat, drew his sword, as did his attendants, and placed themselves on
the side of the highway. Rapp's horse was wounded, and borne down by one
of these lancers; but the Emperor and suite preserved their liberty by
standing their ground, while the cloud of Cossacks, more intent on
plunder than prisoners, passed them within lance's length, without
observing the inestimable prey which was within their grasp, and threw
themselves upon some carriages which were more attractive. The arrival
of the cavalry of the guard cleared the plain of this desultory but
venturous and pertinacious enemy; and Napoleon proceeded to cross the
river and ascend the further bank, for the purpose of reconnoitring. In
the meantime, the audacity of the Cossacks in their retreat, was equal
to the wild character of their advance. They halted between the
intervals of the French cavalry to load their pistols and carabines,
perfectly secure that if pressed, their horses, at a touch of the whip
which is attached to their bridle, would outstrip the exhausted chargers
of the French Imperial Guard.[186]

When the plain was attained, Napoleon saw on the front, and barring the
road to Kalouga, Koutousoff, strongly posted with upwards of 100,000
men, and on the right, Platoff and 6000 Cossacks, with artillery. To
this belonged the pulk which he had just encountered, and who were
returning from the flanks of his line, loaded with booty, while others
seemed to meditate a similar attack. He returned to his miserable
headquarters, after having finished his reconnoitring party.


A second council of war was held, in which Buonaparte, having heard the
conflicting opinions of Murat, who gave his advice for attacking
Koutousoff, and of Davoust, who considered the position of the Russian
general as one which, covering a long succession of defiles, might be
defended inch by inch, at length found himself obliged to decide between
the angry chiefs, and with a grief which seemed to deprive him of his
senses for a little while, gave the unusual orders--to retreat.[187]
Buonaparte's own personal experience had convinced him how much, in
advancing, his flanks would be exposed to the Hettman and his Cossacks,
who had mustered in great force in the neighbourhood of Medyn. Other
intelligence informed him that his rear had been attacked by another
body of Cossacks coming from Twer, and who belonged not to Koutousoff's
army, but to another Russian division under the command of Winzengerode,
which was advancing from the northward to re-occupy Moscow. This showed
that the communications of the French were at the enemy's mercy on the
west and the north, on flank and in rear, and seems to have determined
the Emperor to give at length, and most reluctantly, the orders to
retreat, for the purpose of returning to the frontiers by Vereia and
Wiazma, the same road by which they had advanced.

It was very seldom that Napoleon resigned the settled purpose of his own
mind, either to the advice of those around him, or to any combination of
opposing circumstances. He usually received any objection founded on the
difficulty of executing his orders, with an evasive answer, "_Ah, on ne
peut pas!_" which, from the sarcastic mode in which he uttered the
words, plainly showed that he imputed the alleged impossibility to the
imbecility of the officer who used the apology. It might have been
better for Napoleon, in many instances, had he somewhat abated this
pertinacity of disposition; and yet it happened, that by yielding with
unwonted docility to the advice of his generals upon the present
occasion, he actually retreated at the very moment when the grand
Russian army were withdrawing from the position in which Davoust had
pronounced them unassailable. The reason of this retrograde movement,
which involved the most serious risk, and which, had Napoleon been aware
of it, might have yielded him access to the most fertile and unharassed
provinces of Russia, was said to be Koutousoff's fears that the French,
moving from their right flank, might have marched round the Russian army
by the way of Medyn. The truth seems to be, that Koutousoff, though
placed in command of the grand army, in order to indulge the soldiers
with a general action, was slow and cautious by nature, and rendered
more so by his advanced age. He forgot, that in war, to gain brilliant
results, or even to prevent great reverses, some risks must be run; and
having received just praise for his practised and cautious movements
from the battle of Borodino till that of Malo-Yarowslavetz, he now
carried the qualities of prudence and circumspection to the extreme, and
shunned a general action, or rather the hazard of a general attack from
the French, when he might certainly have trusted, first, in the chance
(which turned out the reality) of Buonaparte's retreat; secondly, in the
courage of his troops, and the strength of his position. "But Fortune,"
says Tacitus, "has the chief influence on warlike events;" and she so
ordered it, that both the hostile armies retired at once. So that while
Buonaparte retreated towards Borowsk and Vereia, the route by which he
had advanced, the Russians were leaving open before him the road to
Kalouga, to gain which he had fought, and fought in vain, the bloody
battle of Malo-Yarowslavetz. Favoured, however, by their immense clouds
of light cavalry, the Russians learned the retrograde movement of
Napoleon long before he could have any certain knowledge of theirs; and
in consequence, manœuvred from their left so as to approach the
points of Wiazma and Gjatz, by which the French must needs pass, if they
meant to march on Smolensk.


At Vereia, where Napoleon had his headquarters on the 27th October, he
had the satisfaction to meet with Mortier, and that part of the Young
Guard which had garrisoned the Kremlin. They brought with them an
important prisoner, whom chance, or rather his own imprudence, had
thrown into their hands. We have said incidentally, that upon the French
army evacuating Moscow, Winzengerode, with a considerable body of
forces, advanced upon the Twer to regain possession of the city. All was
vacant and silent except where the French garrison lay, deserted and
moody in the Kremlin, with a few detached outposts. Winzengerode, with a
single aide-de-camp, rode imprudently forward, and both were seized by
the French soldiers. The general waved a white handkerchief, and claimed
the privilege of a flag of truce, alleging that he came to summon the
French marshal to surrender. But Mortier refused him the privilege he
claimed, observing, plausibly, that it was not the custom of general
officers to summon garrisons in person.

Before leaving Moscow, the French, by the especial command of Napoleon,
prepared to blow up the ancient palace of the Czars. As the Kremlin was
totally useless as a fortification, even if Napoleon could have hoped
ever to return to Moscow as a victor, this act of wanton mischief can
only be imputed to a desire to do something personally displeasing to
Alexander, because he had been found to possess a firmer character than
his former friend had anticipated.[188] The mode of executing this
mandate, which, however, should be probably ascribed to the engineers,
was a piece of additional barbarity. Aware that some of the Russians who
were left behind, men of the lowest rank and habits, would crowd in to
plunder the palace when the French retreated, they attached long
slow-matches to the gunpowder which was stored in the vaults of the
palace, and lighted them when the rear of the French column marched out.
The French were but at a short distance, when the explosion took place,
which laid a considerable part of the Kremlin in ruins, and destroyed at
the same time, in mere wantonness, a number of wretches, whom curiosity
or love of plunder had, as was anticipated, induced to crowd within the
palace.[189] The Russian troops poured in, destroyed the mines which had
not yet exploded, and extinguished the fire which had already caught the
building. The patriotic foresight of the Russian peasants was now made
manifest. We have mentioned the extreme wants of the French in the
desolate city. No sooner was the Russian flag hoisted, than these wants
vanished, as if by magic. Eighteen hundred cars, loaded with bread,
poured in from the neighbourhood, on the very day that saw Moscow
re-occupied. The bread, and the mode of conveying it, had been in secret
prepared by these rustic patriots.

We return to the movements of the French army.

The dreadful explosion of the Kremlin shook the ground like an
earthquake, and announced to Napoleon, then on his march against
Koutousoff, that his commands had been obeyed. On the next day, a
bulletin announced in a triumphant tone that the Kremlin, coeval with
the Russian monarchy, _had existed_; and that Moscow was now but an
impure laystall, while "the 200,000 persons which once formed her
population, wandered through the forests, subsisting on wild roots, or
perishing for want of them." With yet more audacity, the same official
annunciation represents the retreat of the French as an advance on the
road to victory. "The army expects to be put in motion on the 24th, to
gain the Dwina, and to assume a position which will place it eighty
leagues nearer to St. Petersburgh, and to Wilna; a double advantage,
since it will bring us nearer the mark we aim at, and the means by which
it may be accomplished."[190] While such splendid figments were
circulated for the satisfaction of the people of Paris, the real
question was, not whether the French were to approach St. Petersburgh,
but by what means they were to get out of Russia with the semblance of
an army remaining together.

Napoleon's spirit was observed to be soured by the result of the affair
at Malo-Yarowslavetz. It was indeed an operation of the last
consequence, since it compelled a broken and suffering army to retreat
through a country already wasted by their own advance, and by the acts
of the Russians, where the houses were burnt, the inhabitants fled, and
the roads broken up, instead of taking the road by Kalouga, through a
region which offered both the means of subsistence and shelter. When the
advanced season of the year was considered, it might be said that the
retreat upon Vereia sounded the death-knell of the French army. These
melancholy considerations did not escape Buonaparte himself, though he
endeavoured to disguise them from others, by asserting, in a bulletin
dated from Borowsk, that the country around was extremely rich, might be
compared to the best parts of France and Germany, and that the weather
reminded the troops of the sun and the delicious climate of
Fontainbleau.[191] His temper was visibly altered. Among other modes of
venting his displeasure, he bitterly upbraided his prisoner
Winzengerode, who was then brought before him.--"Who are you?" he
exclaimed[192]--"A man without a country!--You have ever been my
enemy--You were in the Austrian ranks when I fought against them--I have
become Austria's friend, and I find you in those of Russia--You have
been a warm instigator of the war; nevertheless, you are a native of the
Confederation of the Rhine--you are my subject--you are a rebel--Seize
on him, gendarmes!--Let him be brought to trial!"[193]


To this threat, which showed that Napoleon accounted the states of the
Confederacy not as appertaining in sovereignty to the princes whose
names they bore, but as the immediate subjects of France, from whom the
French Emperor was entitled to expect direct fealty, Napoleon added
other terms of abuse; and called Winzengerode an English hireling and
incendiary, while he behaved with civility to his aide-de-camp
Narishkin, a native Russian. This violence, however, had no other
consequence than that of the dismissal of Winzengerode, a close
prisoner, to Lithuania, to be from thence forwarded to Paris.[194] The
presence of a captive of rank and reputation, an aide-de-camp of the
Emperor of Russia, was designed of course to give countenance to the
favourable accounts, which Napoleon might find it convenient to
circulate on the events of the campaign. It was not, however,
Winzengerode's fortune to make this disagreeable journey. He was, as
will be hereafter mentioned, released in Lithuania, when such an event
was least to be hoped for.

Accounts had been received, tending to confirm the opinion that the
Russian army were moving on Medyn, with the obvious purpose of
intercepting the French army, or at least harassing their passage at
Wiazma or at Gjatz. By the orders of Napoleon, therefore, the army
pressed forward on the last named town. They marched on in three corps
d'armée. Napoleon was with the first of these armies. The second was
commanded by the Viceroy of Italy, Prince Eugene. The third, which was
destined to act as a rear-guard, was led by Davoust, whose love of order
and military discipline might be, it was hoped, some check upon the
license and confusion of such a retreat. It was designed that one day's
march should intervene between the movements of each of these bodies, to
avoid confusion, and to facilitate the collecting subsistence; being a
delay of two, or at most three days, betwixt the operations of the
advanced guard and that of the rear.

It has been often asked, nor has the question ever been satisfactorily
answered, why Napoleon preferred that his columns should thus creep over
the same ground in succession, instead of the more combined and rapid
mode of marching by three columns in front, by which he would have saved
time, and increased, by the breadth of country which the march occupied,
the means of collecting subsistence. The impracticability of the roads
cannot be alleged, because the French army had come thither arranged in
three columns, marching to the front abreast of each other, which was
the reverse of their order in the retreat.

In the road, the army passed Borodino, the scene of the grand battle
which exhibited so many vestiges of the French prowess, and of the loss
they had sustained.[195] This, the most sanguinary conflict of modern
times, had been entirely without adequate advantages to the victors. The
momentary possession of Moscow had annihilated every chance of an
essential result by the catastrophe which followed; and the army which
had been victorious at Borodino was now escaping from their conquests,
surrounded by danger on every hand, and already disorganised on many
points, by danger, pain, and privation. At the convent of Kolotskoi,
which had been the grand hospital of the French after the battle, many
of the wounded were found still alive, though thousands more had
perished for want of materials necessary for surgical treatment, food of
suitable quality, bandages, and the like. The survivors crawled to the
door, and extended their supplicating hands to their countrymen as they
passed onwards on their weary march. By Napoleon's orders, such of the
patients as were able to bear being moved were placed on the suttlers'
carts, while the rest were left in the convent, together with some
wounded Russian prisoners, whose presence, it was hoped, might be a
protection to the French.[196]

Several of those who had been placed in the carriages did not travel
very far. The sordid wretches to whom the carts and wains, loaded with
the plunder of Moscow, belonged, got rid in many cases of the additional
burden imposed on them, by lagging behind the column of march in
desolate places, and murdering the men intrusted to their charge. In
other parts of the column, the Russian prisoners were seen lying on the
road, their brains shot out by the soldiers appointed to guard them, but
who took this mode of freeing themselves of the trouble. It is thus that
a continued course of calamity renders men's minds selfish, ravenous,
and fiendish, indifferent to what evil they inflict, because it can
scarcely equal that which they endure; as divines say of the condemned
spirits, that they are urged to malevolent actions against men, by a
consciousness of their own state of reprobation.

[Sidenote: GJATZ--WIAZMA.]

Napoleon, with his first division of the grand army, reached Gjatz[197]
without any other inconvenience than arose from the state of the roads,
and the distresses of the soldiery. From Gjatz he advanced in two
marches to Wiazma, and halted there to allow Prince Eugene and Marshal
Davoust to come up, who had fallen five days' march to the rear, instead
of three days only, as had been directed. On the 1st November, the
Emperor again resumed his painful retreat, leaving, however, the corps
of Ney at Wiazma to reinforce and relieve the rear-guard under Davoust,
who, he concluded, must be worn out with the duty. He resumed with his
Old Guard the road to Dorogobouje, on which town he thought it probable
the Russians might be moving to cut him off, and it was most important
to prevent them.

Another order of Napoleon's confirms his sense of the danger which had
now begun to oppress him. He commanded the spoils of Moscow, ancient
armour, cannon, and the great cross of Ivan, to be thrown into the lake
of Semelin, as trophies which he was unwilling to restore, and unable to
carry off.[198] Some of the artillery, which the unfed horses where
unable to drag forward, were also now necessarily left behind, though
the circumstance was not communicated in every instance to Napoleon,
who, bred in the artillery department, cherished, like many officers of
that branch of service, a sort of superstitious reverence for his guns.

The Emperor, and the vanguard of his army, had hitherto passed
unopposed. It was not so with the centre and rear. They were attacked,
during the whole course of that march, by clouds of Cossacks, bringing
with them a species of light artillery mounted on sledges, which,
keeping pace with their motions, threw showers of balls among the
columns of the French; while the menaced charge of these irregular
cavalry frequently obliged the march to halt, that the men might form
lines or squares to protect themselves. The passage of streams where the
bridges were broken down, and the horses and waggons were overturned on
the precipitous banks, or in the miry fords, and where drivers and
horses dropped down exhausted, added to this confusion when such
obstacles occurred. The two divisions, however, having as yet seen no
regular forces, passed the night of the 2d November in deceitful
tranquillity, within two leagues of Wiazma, where Ney was lying ready to
join them.

In that fatal night, Miloradowitch, one of the boldest, most
enterprising, and active of the Russian generals, and whom the French
were wont to call the Russian Murat, arrived with the vanguard of the
Russian regulars, supported by Platoff and many thousand Cossacks, and
being the harbinger of Koutousoff, and the whole grand army of Russia.

The old Russian general, when he learned the French Emperor's plan of
retiring by Gjatz and Wiazma, instantly turning his own retreat into a
movement to the left, arrived by cross-roads from Malo-Yarowslavetz. The
Russians now reached the point of action at daybreak, pushed through
Prince Eugene's line of march, and insulated his vanguard, while the
Cossacks rode like a whirlwind among the host of stragglers and
followers of the army, and drove them along the plain at the lance's
point. The viceroy was succoured by a regiment which Ney, though himself
hardly pressed, despatched to his aid from Wiazma, and his rear-guard
was disengaged by the exertions of Davoust, who marched hastily forward
to extricate them. The Russian artillery, which is superior in calibre,
and carries farther than the French, manœuvred with rapidity, and
kept up a tremendous cannonade, to which the French had no adequate
means of replying. Eugene and Davoust made a most gallant defence; yet
they would not have been able to maintain their ground, had Koutousoff,
as was to have been expected, either come up in person, or sent a strong
detachment to support his vanguard.

The battle lasted from seven in the morning till towards evening, when
Eugene and Davoust pushed through Wiazma with the remains of their
divisions, pursued by and almost mingled with the Russians, whose army
marched into the town at the charging step, with drums beating, and all
the indications of victory. The French divisions, under cover of the
night, and having passed the river (which, like the town, is called
Wiazma,) established themselves in obscurity and comparative safety upon
the left bank. The day had been disastrous to the French arms, though
their honour remained unsullied. They had lost about 4000 men, their
regiments were mouldered down to battalions, their battalions to
companies, their companies to weak picquets.[199]

All tacticians agree, that, if Koutousoff had reinforced Miloradowitch
as warmly urged by Sir Robert Wilson, or if he had forced the town of
Wiazma, which his numbers might have enabled him to do, both the centre
and rear divisions of Napoleon's force, and probably the troops under
Ney also, must have been inevitably cut off. But the aged general
confided in the approach of the Russian winter, and declined to
purchase, by the blood of his countrymen, a victory of which he held
himself secured by the climate. The French were so far from any place
where they could procure either food or shelter; they were so hemmed in,
and confined to the desolated high-roads, which every column as it
passed rendered more impracticable to the rest, that he refused to gain,
at the sword's point, advantages which he deemed himself sure of
possessing without effort. Determined, therefore, to avoid a general
battle, yet to maintain his advantages over the French by manœuvring,
Koutousoff, turning a deaf ear to the remonstrances, and even threats,
of those who differed in opinion from him, removed his headquarters to
Krasnoi, leaving to Miloradowitch the duty of beating up the rear of the
French on their retreat, by following the course of the high-road, while
the Hettman Platoff, flanking the French march with his Cossacks, took
advantage of every opportunity to distress them.

In the meanwhile, the viceroy received orders from Napoleon to abandon
the straight road to Smolensk, which was the route of the corps of
Davoust and Ney, and to move northward on Dowkhowtchina and Poreczie, to
afford countenance and support to Maréchal Oudinot, now understood to be
hard pressed by Witgenstein, who, as we shall presently see, had
regained the superiority in the north of Russia. The viceroy, in
obedience to this order, began his march on the new route which was
enjoined him, by marching himself upon Zasselie, closely pursued,
watched, and harassed by his usual Scythian attendants. He was compelled
to leave behind him sixty-four pieces of cannon; and these, with three
thousand stragglers, fell into the prompt grasp of the pursuers.


A large cloud of Cossacks, with Platoff at their head, accompanied the
movements of the viceroy and his Italian army. Whoever strayed from the
column was inevitably their prey. Eugene passed a night at Zasselie,
without having as yet encountered any great misfortune. But in advancing
from thence to Dowkhowtchina, the French had to cross the Wop, a river
swelled by rains, while the passage to the ford was steep and frozen.
Here the viceroy passed over his infantry with great difficulty, but was
obliged to abandon twenty-three pieces of cannon and all his baggage to
the Cossacks. The unhappy Italians, wetted from head to foot, were
compelled to pass a miserable night in bivouac upon the other side; and
many expired there, whose thoughts, when perishing so miserably, must
have been on their own mild climate and delicious country. Next day, the
shivering, half-naked, and persecuted column reached Dowkhowtchina,
where they expected some relief; but their first welcome was from a
fresh swarm of Cossacks, which rushed out from the gates with cannon.
These were the advanced corps of the troops which had occupied Moscow,
and were now pressing westward where their services were more necessary.

Notwithstanding their opposition, Prince Eugene forced his way into the
place with much gallantry, and took up quarters for the night. But
having lost his baggage, the greater part of his artillery and
ammunition, and with the utter destruction of his cavalry, he saw no
prospect of being able to march forward to Witepsk to support Oudinot,
nor was he in a condition to have afforded him assistance, even if he
had been in communication. In this situation of distress, the viceroy
determined to rejoin the grand army, and for that purpose marched upon
Wlodimerowa, and from thence to Smolensk, where, harassed by the
Cossacks, he arrived in a miserable condition upon the 13th of November,
having fallen in with Maréchal Ney, upon his march, as we shall
afterwards mention.

The Emperor, in the meantime, had halted at Stakawo, during the 3d and
4th November. On the 5th he slept at Dorogobuje.

On the 6th November commenced that terrible Russian winter of which the
French had not yet experienced the horrors, although the weather had
been cold, frosty, and threatening. No sun was visible, and the dense
and murky fog which hung on the marching column, was changed into a
heavy fall of snow in large broad flakes, which at once chilled and
blinded the soldiers. The march, however, stumbled forward, the men
struggling, and at last sinking, in the holes and ravines which were
concealed from them by the new and disguised appearance of the face of
nature. Those who yet retained discipline and their ranks, stood some
chance of receiving assistance; but amid the mass of the stragglers,
men's hearts, intent upon self-preservation, became hardened and closed
against every feeling of sympathy and compassion, the sentiments of
which are sometimes excluded by the selfishness of prosperity, but are
almost always destroyed by the egotism of general and overwhelming
misfortune. A stormy wind also began to arise, and whirl the snow from
the earth, as well as that from the heavens, into dizzy eddies around
the soldiers' heads. There were many hurled to the earth in this manner,
where the same snows furnished them with an instant grave, under which
they were concealed until the next summer came, and displayed their
ghastly remains in the open air. A great number of slight hillocks on
each side of the road, intimated, in the meanwhile, the fate of these
unfortunate men.[200]

[Sidenote: SMOLENSK.]

There was only the word Smolensk, which, echoed from man to man, served
as a talisman to keep up the spirits of the soldiers. The troops had
been taught to repeat that name, as indicating the place where they were
once more to be welcomed to plenty and repose. It was counted upon as a
depôt of stores for the army, especially of such supplies as they had
outstripped by their forced marches, first on Wilna, and afterwards on
Moscow. They were now falling back, as was hoped and trusted, upon these
resources, and continued their march with tolerable spirit, which even
the snow-storm could not entirely depress. They reckoned also upon a
reinforcement of 30,000 men under Victor, who were waiting their arrival
at Smolensk; but a concourse of evil tidings had made the services of
that division necessary elsewhere.

On the same fatal 6th of November, Buonaparte received intelligence of
two events, both of deep import, and which corresponded but too well
with the storms around him. The one was the singular conspiracy of
Mallet, so remarkable for its temporary success, and its equally sudden
discomfiture. This carried his mind to Paris, with the conviction that
all could not be well with an empire where such an explosion could so
nearly attain success.[201] On the other hand, his thoughts were
recalled to his present situation by the unpleasing intelligence that
Witgenstein had assumed the offensive, beaten St. Cyr, taken Polotsk and
Witepsk, and re-occupied the whole line of the Dwina. Here was an
unexpected obstacle to his retreat, which he endeavoured to remove by
ordering Victor to move from Smolensk with the division just mentioned,
and instantly to drive Witgenstein behind the Dwina; not perhaps
considering, with sufficient accuracy, whether the force which his
marshal commanded was equal to the task.

Similar bad news came from other quarters. Four demi-brigades of
recruits from France had arrived at Smolensk. Baraguay d'Hilliers, their
general, had, by command from Buonaparte, sent forward these troops
towards Ellnia, intimating at the time, that they should clear the road
towards Kalouga, by which last town he then expected the Emperor to
approach Smolensk. As Napoleon was excluded from the Kalouga road, these
troops, as no longer useful at Ellnia, ought to have been drawn back on
Smolensk; but Baraguay d'Hilliers had no certain information of this
change of route. The consequence was, that the celebrated Russian
partisans, Orloff-Denizoff, Davidoff, Seslavin, and others, surprised
these raw troops in their cantonments, and made them all prisoners, to
the number of better than two thousand men. Other detachments of the
French about the same time fell into the hands of the Russians.

At length the longed-for Smolensk was visible. At the sight of its
strong walls and lofty towers, the whole stragglers of the army, which
now included treble the number of those who kept their ranks, rushed
headlong to the place. But instead of giving them ready admission, their
countrymen in the town shut the gates against them with horror; for
their confused and irregular state, their wild, dirty, and unshaved
appearance, their impatient cries for entrance--above all, their
emaciated forms, and starved, yet ferocious aspects--made them to be
regarded rather as banditti than soldiers. At length, the Imperial
Guards arrived and were admitted; the miscellaneous crowd rushed in
after them. To the guards, and some few others who had kept order,
rations were regularly delivered; but the mass of stragglers, being
unable to give any account of themselves or their regiments, or to bring
with them a responsible officer, died, many of them, while they besieged
in vain the doors of the magazines. Such was the promised distribution
of food--the promised quarters were nowhere to be found. Smolensk, as is
already recorded, had been burnt by the Russians, and no other covering
was to be had than was afforded by miserable sheds, reared against such
blackened walls as remained yet standing. But even this was shelter and
repose, compared to the exposed bivouac on wreaths of snow; and as the
straggling soldiers were compelled by hunger to unite themselves once
more with their regiments, they at length obtained their share in the
regular distribution of rations, and an approach towards order and
discipline began to prevail in the headmost division of the Grand Army
of France.

The central part of the army, under Davoust, who had relinquished the
rear-guard to Ney, continued to advance from Wiazma to Dorogobuje; but
at this point his distress became extreme, from the combined influence
of the storm, the enemy, and the disheartened condition of men driven
from their standards by want of food, searching for it in vain, and
afterwards unable from weakness to resume their ranks. Many fell into
the hands of the incensed peasants, by whom they were either killed, or
stripped naked and driven back to the high-road.

The rear-guard, under Ney, suffered yet more than these. Every house had
been burnt before their arrival, and their sufferings from the enemy
were the severer, that they were the last French whom they had to work
their revenge upon. Yet Ney continued to evince a degree of personal
firmness and resolution which has been rarely witnessed. At the passage
of the Dnieper, he was attacked by the enemy, and all was nearly lost in
one general confusion, when the Maréchal, seizing a musket to encourage
the few men who could be brought to act, succeeded, against all the
hopes of the Russians, and equally against the despairing calculations
of the French, in bringing over a part of his rear-guard. But he lost on
this fatal spot a great part of his artillery, and a great number of his
soldiers. We can give only one unvarying sketch of Ney's dreadful
retreat. On every point he was attacked by the same wasting, wearying
warfare, and every cessation from fighting was necessarily employed in
pushing forward towards Smolensk, which he was approaching on the 13th
of November, when suddenly the hills to his left were covered with a
disorderly mob of fugitives, whom a band of Cossacks were pursuing and
slaughtering at pleasure. Having succeeded in dispersing the Cossacks,
the next apparition was that of the army of Italy, to which the flying
stragglers belonged. This corps d'armée was on its return, as the reader
is aware, from Dowkhowtchina towards Smolensk, and was, as usual,
severely pushed at every step by the Cossacks. The passage of the Wop
had stripped the soldiers of baggage, provisions such as they had, and
artillery and cavalry. They kept their march, however, with sufficient
regularity. It was only the stragglers whom the Cossacks chased before
them, and wounded, took, and slew at pleasure.

These wretched fugitives no sooner saw Ney's army, than they flew to
shelter themselves under its protection, and by doing so communicated
their own terror to the Maréchal's ranks. All, both stragglers and
soldiers, began to hurry towards the Dnieper, over which was a bridge,
which their numbers soon choked up. Great loss was sustained, until
Eugene and the indefatigable Ney again presented a defensive front, and
repelled the assailants, who had again gathered around them. They were
so near Smolensk, that Napoleon could send them refreshments and
succour, during the action. The viceroy and Ney at length extricated
themselves from their persecutors, and entered Smolensk, where Davoust
had before found refuge. Napoleon allowed his army, which was now
entirely collected, five days to consume such supplies as were to be
found in the place, and to prepare for the terrors of a farther retreat.
But though such a delay was indispensable, the evil news which continued
to arrive from every quarter, positively prohibited his prolonging this
period of repose.[202]


It is now necessary to trace more particularly the incidents which had
taken place on the extreme flanks of Napoleon's line of advance, on both
of which, as we have already intimated, the Russians, powerfully
reinforced, had assumed the offensive, with the apparent purpose of
forming a communication with each other, and acting in conjunction, to
intercept the retreat of the grand army.

Upon the 18th of August, St. Cyr having beaten Witgenstein, and taken
Polotsk, the war had languished in that quarter. The French army lay in
an intrenched camp, well secured with barracks for shelter, and
fortifications for defence. But in the partisan war which they carried
on for two months, St. Cyr's army sustained great loss, while that of
Witgenstein was more than doubled by the arrival of recruits. Finally,
General Steingel, with two divisions of the Russian army from Finland,
amounting to 15,000, landed at Riga, and after some inefficient
movements against Macdonald, marched to the support of Witgenstein. The
Russian general, thus reinforced, began to act on the offensive with
great vigour. On the 17th of October, the French outposts were driven
into their intrenched camp at Polotsk. On the 18th, the camp itself was
furiously attacked, and the redoubts by which it was protected were
taken and retaken several times. The French remained in possession of
them, but St. Cyr was wounded, and his situation became very precarious.
In fact, the next day, 19th October, the attack was renewed by
Witgenstein on the right bank of the Dwina, while Steingel, advancing up
the opposite bank, threatened to occupy Polotsk and its bridge, and thus
to enclose St. Cyr in the intrenched camp.

Fortunately for the French general, night and a thick mist enabled him
to cross the river to the left bank, and thus to effect a retreat, which
Steingel was unable to prevent. But besides the disasters of the loss of
the camp, and of the important place of Polotsk, which the Russians
occupied on the 20th October, discord broke out between the Bavarian
General Wrede and St. Cyr. When the latter was wounded, the command
naturally devolved in course upon the Bavarian; but the other French
generals refused to submit to this substitution, and St. Cyr was
obliged, in spite of his wounds, to continue to act as commander-in-chief.
Wrede, in the meanwhile, assumed an independence of movement quite
unusual in an auxiliary general, who was acting with a French maréchal;
and, separating altogether from St. Cyr, fell back upon Vileika, near
Wilna, and withdrew himself from action entirely. The French division
must have been cut off, had not Victor, who was then lying at Smolensk
with a covering army of 25,000 men, received, as lately mentioned,
Napoleon's orders, despatched on the 6th November, to advance and
reinforce St. Cyr, who thus became once more superior to Witgenstein.
Victor was under orders, however, to run no unnecessary risk, but to
keep as far as possible on the defensive; because it was to this army,
and that under Schwartzenberg, that Napoleon in a great measure trusted
to clear the way for his retreat, and prevent his being intercepted ere
he gained the Polish frontiers. But when Witgenstein, even in the
presence of Victor, took Witepsk, and began to establish himself on the
Dwina, Napoleon caused Oudinot, as a more enterprising soldier, to
replace the Duke of Belluno; and ordered Eugene to move from Wiazma to
Dowkhowtchina, for the purpose of reinforcing that army. Eugene's march,
as we have formerly shown, was rendered useless, by his misfortune at
crossing the river Wop; and he was compelled to move towards Smolensk,
where he arrived in a most dilapidated condition.

In the meantime, Witgenstein received reinforcements, and not only kept
Oudinot in complete check, but gradually advanced towards Borizoff, and
threatened at that town, which lay directly in the course of Napoleon's
retreat, to form a junction with the army of the Danube, which was
marching northward with the same purpose of co-operation, and to the
movements of which we have now to direct the reader's attention.

It has been mentioned, that General Tormasoff had, on the 12th of
August, been defeated at Gorodeczno by the Austrians under
Schwartzenberg, and the French under Regnier, and that the Russians had
fallen back beyond the Styr. Schwartzenberg, satisfied with this
advantage, showed no vehement desire to complete the disaster of his
enemy. The French go nigh to bring an accusation against him of
treachery, which we do not believe. But his heart was not in the war. He
was conscious, that the success of Alexander would improve the condition
of Austria, as well as of Europe in general, and he fought no harder
than was absolutely necessary to sustain the part of a general of an
auxiliary army, who felt by no means disposed to assume the character of
a principal combatant.

While Tormasoff and the Austrians watched each other upon the Styr, two
smaller corps of Russians and Poles were making demonstrations in the
same country. Prince Bagration, upon retreating from the banks of the
Dwina, had not altogether deprived that neighbourhood of Russian troops.
At Bobruisk he had left a considerable garrison, which had been
blockaded first by the French cavalry under Latour Maubourg, and
afterwards, when Maubourg was summoned to join Napoleon, by the Polish
General Dombrowski. The garrison was supported by a Russian corps under
General Ertell. It was an instance of Napoleon's extreme unwillingness
to credit any thing that contradicted his wishes, that he persisted in
believing, or desiring to have it believed, that the Russians on this
point, which commanded still an access from Russia to Poland, were
inferior to the Poles, whom he had opposed to them; and while Dombrowski
was acting against Ertell, he overwhelmed the embarrassed general with
repeated orders to attack and destroy the enemy, before whom he could
scarce maintain his ground.

The armies were thus occupied, when Admiral Tchitchagoff, with 50,000
Russians, whom the peace with the Turks permitted to leave Moldavia,
advanced upon Volhynia, with the purpose of co-operating with Tormasoff
and Ertell; and, finally, of acting in combination with Witgenstein, for
intercepting Buonaparte's retreat.

On the 14th September, this important junction betwixt the armies of
Tormasoff and Tchitchagoff was effected; and the Russian army, increased
to 60,000 men, became superior to all the force, whether of French,
Austrians, or Poles, which could be opposed to them. They crossed the
Styr, and moved forward on the duchy of Warsaw, while Schwartzenberg,
not without loss, retreated to the banks of the Bug. His pursuers might
have pressed on him still closer, but for the arrival of Prince
Czernicheff, the aide-de-camp of the Emperor, who, escorted by a body of
chosen Cossacks, had executed a perilous march in order to bring fresh
orders to Tormasoff and Tchitchagoff. The former was directed to repair
to the grand army, to occupy the situation formerly held by Prince
Bagration, while the command of the united Volhynian army was devolved
upon Admiral Tchitchagoff, who, to judge by subsequent events, does not
seem to have been, on great emergencies, very well fitted for so
important a trust.

Prince Czernicheff then set out with his band of Scythians, to carry to
the army of Witgenstein tidings of the purposes and movements of that of
Moldavia. The direct course between the Russian armies was held by the
Franco-Austrian army. To escape this obstacle, Czernicheff took his
course westwards, and, penetrating deep into Poland, made so long a
circuit, as completely to turn the whole army of Schwartzenberg.
Marching with extraordinary despatch through the wildest and most secret
paths, he traversed the interior of Poland, avoiding at once the
unfriendly population and the numerous detachments of the enemy, and
sustaining his cavalry, horses and men, in a way in which none but
Cossacks, and Cossack horses, could have supported existence. We have
good evidence, that this flying party, on one occasion travelled nearly
100 English miles in twenty-four hours.

This extraordinary expedition was marked by a peculiar and pleasing
circumstance. The reader must recollect the capture of the German
General Winzengerode before the Kremlin, and the ungenerous manner in
which Buonaparte expressed himself to that officer. Winzengerode, with
another Russian general, were despatched, under a suitable guard, from
Moscow to Wilna, in order to their being sent from thence to Paris,
where the presence of two captives of such distinction might somewhat
gild the gloomy news which the Emperor was under the necessity of
transmitting from Russia. When Winzengerode was prosecuting his
melancholy and involuntary journey, far advanced into Poland, and out of
all hope either of relief or escape, he saw by the side of a wood a
figure, which retreated so suddenly as hardly gave even his experienced
eye time to recognise a Cossack's cap and lance. A ray of hope was
awakened, which was changed into certainty, as a band of Cossacks,
bursting from the wood, overcame the guard, and delivered the prisoners.
Czernicheff proceeded successfully on his expedition, embellished by
this agreeable incident, and moving eastward with the same speed,
sagacity, and successful enterprise, joined Witgenstein's army, then
lying between Witepsk and Tchakniki, with communications from the
Moldavian army, and directions how Witgenstein was to co-operate with
them in the intended plan of cutting off Napoleon's return to Poland.

In virtue of the orders which he had received, Tchitchagoff advanced
upon Schwartzenberg, from whom Napoleon might have first expected the
service of a covering army, so soon as his broken and diminished troops
should approach Poland. But when Tchitchagoff appeared in force, this
Franco-Austrian, or rather Austro-Saxon army, was, after some
skirmishing, compelled to retire behind the Bug. The admiral left
General Sacken, a brave and active officer, to observe Schwartzenberg
and Regnier, and keep them at least in check, whilst he himself
retrograded towards the Beresina, where he expected to be able to
intercept Buonaparte.

Tchitchagoff succeeded, on the 14th November, in occupying Minsk; a most
essential conquest at the moment, for it contained a very large
proportion of those stores which had been destined to relieve the grand
army, or rather its remains, so soon as they should approach Poland.
This success was followed by another equally important. Count Lambert,
one of Tchitchagoff's generals, marched against Borizoff, situated on
the Beresina, at the very point where it was probable that Napoleon
would be desirous to effect a passage. The valiant Polish General
Dombrowski hastened to defend a place, in the loss of which the
Emperor's safety must stand completely compromised. The battle began
about daybreak on the 21st November, and, after severe fighting, Lambert
obtained possession of Borizoff, after a victory, in which Dombrowski
lost eight cannon, and 2500 prisoners. The Admiral Tchitchagoff removed
his headquarters thither, as directed by the combined plan for farther


While Tchitchagoff marched eastward to his place of destination on the
Beresina, Sacken, whom he had left in Volhynia, sensible of the
importance of the service destined for the admiral, made every exertion
to draw the whole attention of Schwartzenberg and Regnier upon himself.
In this daring and generous scheme he completely succeeded. As the
forces of the Austrian and the French generals were separated from each
other, Sacken marched against Regnier, and not only surprised, but
nearly made him prisoner. Nothing could have saved Regnier from
destruction, except the alertness with which Schwartzenberg came to his
assistance. The Austrian, with strong reinforcements, arrived nearly in
the moment when his presence must have annihilated Sacken, who, not
aware of the Austrians being so near, had, on the 15th November, engaged
in a serious action with Regnier near Wolkowitz. The Russian suffered
considerable loss, and effected a retreat with difficulty. He
concentrated his army, however, and continued his retreat from point to
point upon the position of Brzest, from which he had commenced his
advance. In this manner, Sacken withdrew the attention of Schwartzenberg
and the Austro-Saxon army to the banks of the Bug, at a moment when it
ought to have been riveted on the decisive scenes which were about to
take place on those of the Beresina.[203]

The French writers complain of the Austrian general on this occasion.
They cannot deny that Schwartzenberg was active and victorious; but they
complain that his activity exerted itself in a quarter which could not
greatly affect the issue of the campaign. Some tacticians account for
this, by supposing that his secret instructions, given when the Emperor
of Austria could not foresee that the personal safety of his son-in-law
would be implicated, prohibited Schwartzenberg to extend his military
operations beyond Volhynia and Lithuania.

From these details, it appears that Fortune was bending her blackest and
most ominous frowns on the favourite of so many years. Napoleon was
quartered, with the wretched relics of his grand army, amid the ruins of
the burnt town of Smolensk, in which he could not remain, although his
means of escape appeared almost utterly desperate.[204] The grand army
of the Russians waited on his flank to assault his columns the instant
they were in motion; and should he escape a pursuing enemy, all the
Polish towns in the front, where supplies had been provided for his
relief, had been taken, and the two large armies of Tchitchagoff and
Witgenstein lay in position on the Beresina to intercept him. Hemmed in
betwixt pursuers, and those who, in sportsman's phrase, were stationed
to head him back, destitute of cavalry to oppose the nations of Cossacks
which infested every motion, and having but little artillery to oppose
to that of the Russians, all probability of escape seemed removed to an
immeasurable distance.


[179] Ségur, tom. ii., p. 92; Twenty-fifth Bulletin of the Grand French

[180] "When we were about three leagues from Moscow, the Emperor stopped
to wait for news from Mortier, who had orders to destroy the Kremlin on
leaving the place. He was walking in a field with M. Daru; this
gentleman left him; I was called--'Well, Rapp, we are going to retreat
to the frontiers of Poland by the road to Kalouga; I shall take up good
winter-quarters. I hope that Alexander will make peace.'--'You have
waited a long time, Sire; the inhabitants foretell that it will be a
severe winter.'--'Poh! poh! with your inhabitants. It is the 19th of
October to-day; you see how fine it is. Do you not recognise my star.'
But all that he said to me in the way of encouragement did not deceive
even himself: his countenance bore the marks of uneasiness."--RAPP, p.

[181] Jomini, tom. iv., p. 163.

[182] Ségur, tom. ii., p. 95.

[183] Jomini, tom. iv., p. 166; Ségur, tom. ii., p. 101; Labaume, p.
247; Twenty-seventh Bulletin.

[184] "In the habitation of a weaver--an old, crazy, filthy, wooden hut,
and in a dirty, dark room--was the fate of the army and of Europe about
to be decided."--SÉGUR, tom. ii., p. 107.

[185] "'O heavens!' exclaimed Napoleon, clasping his hands, 'Are you
sure you are right? Are you not mistaken? Will you answer for that?'
Bessières repeated his assertion. He affirmed that '300 grenadiers would
suffice to keep in check a whole army.' Napoleon then crossed his arms
with a look of consternation, hung his head, and remained as if
overwhelmed with the deepest dejection."--SÉGUR, tom. ii., p. 108.

[186] Mémoires de Rapp, p. 227; Ségur, tom. ii., p. 110.

[187] Ségur, tom. ii., p. 117.

[188] Jomini, tom. iv., p. 165.

[189] "Barrels of powder had been placed in all the halls of the palace
of the Czars, and 183,000 pounds under the vaults which supported them.
While Mortier was rapidly retiring, some Cossacks and squalid Muscovites
approached: they listened, and emboldened by the apparent quiet which
pervaded the fortress, they ventured to penetrate into it; they
ascended, and their hands eager after plunder, were already stretched
forth, when in a moment they were all destroyed, crushed, hurled into
the air, with the buildings which they had come to pillage, and 30,000
stand of arms that had been left behind there; and then their mangled
limbs, mixed with fragments of walls and shattered weapons, blown to a
great distance, descended in a horrible shower."--SÉGUR, tom. ii., p.

[190] Twenty-sixth Bulletin of the Grand Army.

[191] "The inhabitants of Russia do not recollect such a season as we
have had for the last twenty years. The army is in an extremely rich
country: it may be compared to the best in France or
Germany."--_Twenty-sixth Bulletin._

[192] "Crossing his arms with violence, as if to grasp and to restrain
himself."--SÉGUR, tom. ii., p. 131.

[193] "The gendarmes remained motionless, like men accustomed to see
these violent scenes terminate without effect, and sure of obeying best
by disobeying."--SÉGUR, tom. ii., p. 131.

[194] "Each of us endeavoured to appease the Emperor; the King of
Naples, the Duke de Vicenza particularly, suggested to him how much, in
the present situation of things, any violence towards a man who had his
origin under the quality of a Russian general, would be to be lamented;
there was no council of war, and the affair rested there."--RAPP, p.

[195] "The ground was covered all around with fragments of helmets and
cuirasses, broken drums, gun-stocks, tatters of uniforms, and standards
died with blood. On this desolate spot lay thirty thousand half-devoured
corses. A number of skeletons, left on the summit of one of the hills,
overlooked the whole. It seemed as if death had here fixed his empire:
it was that terrible redoubt, the conquest and the grave of
Caulaincourt. The cry, 'It is the field of the great battle!' formed a
long and doleful murmur. Napoleon passed quickly--nobody stopped. Cold,
hunger, and the enemy urged us on; we merely turned our faces as we
proceeded, to take a last melancholy look at the vast grave of our
companions in arms."--SÉGUR, tom. ii., p. 137.--"On arriving at
Borodino, my consternation was inexpressible at finding the 20,000 men,
who had perished there, yet lying exposed. In one place were to be seen
garments yet red with blood, and bones gnawed by dogs and birds of prey;
in another were broken arms, drums, helmets, and swords."--LABAUME, p.

[196] Ségur, tom. ii., p. 138.

[197] "On approaching Gjatz, we felt the sincerest regret when we
perceived that the whole town had disappeared. Gjatz, constructed
entirely of wood, was consumed in a day. It contained many excellent
manufactories of cloth and leather, and furnished the Russian navy with
considerable quantities of tar, cordage, and marine stores."--LABAUME,
p. 270.

[198] "In this vast wreck, the army, like a great ship tossed by the
most tremendous of tempests, threw, without hesitation, into that sea of
ice and snow, all that could slacken or impede its progress."--SÉGUR,
tom. ii., p. 159.

[199] Jomini, tom. iv., p. 173; Ségur, tom. ii., p. 150; Twenty-eighth

[200] Labaume, p. 287; Ségur, tom. ii., p. 160.

[201] "I delivered the despatches to the Emperor. He opened the packet
with haste: a _Moniteur_ was uppermost. He ran it over; the first
article which caught his eye was the enterprise of Mallet: 'What is
this! what! plots! conspiracies!' He tore open his letters: they
contained the detail of the attempt: he was thunderstruck."--RAPP, p.
232.--"As soon as he was alone with the most devoted of his officers,
all his emotions burst forth at once in exclamations of astonishment,
humiliation, and anger. Presently after he sent for several others, to
observe the effect which so extraordinary a piece of intelligence would
produce upon them. He perceived a painful uneasiness, consternation, and
confidence in the stability of his government completely
shaken."--SÉGUR, tom. ii., p. 161.

[202] Jomini, tom. iv., p. 186; Rapp, p. 239; Ségur, tom. ii., p. 165.

[203] Jomini, tom. iv., p. 193; Twenty-eighth Bulletin of the Grand
Army; Ségur, tom. ii., p. 181-202.

[204] "Napoleon arrived at Smolensk on the 9th of November, amidst this
scene of desolation. He shut himself up in one of the houses in the New
Square, and never quitted it till the 14th, to continue his
retreat."--SÉGUR, tom. ii., p. 178.


    _Napoleon divides his Army into four Corps, which leave Smolensk on
    their retreat towards Poland--Cautious proceedings of
    Koutousoff--The Viceroy's division is attacked by Miloradowitch, and
    effects a junction with Napoleon at Krasnoi, after severe
    loss--Koutousoff attacks the French at Krasnoi, but only by a
    distant cannonade--The division under Davoust is reunited to
    Napoleon, but in a miserable state--Napoleon marches to Liady; and
    Mortier and Davoust are attacked, and suffer heavy loss--Details of
    the retreat of Ney--He crosses the Losmina, with great loss of men
    and baggage, and joins Napoleon at Orcsa, with his division reduced
    to 1500 men--The whole Grand Army is now reduced to 12,000 effective
    men, besides 30,000 stragglers--Dreadful distress and difficulties
    of Buonaparte and his Army--Singular scene betwixt Napoleon and
    Duroc and Daru--Napoleon moves towards Borizoff, and falls in with
    the corps of Victor and Oudinot--Koutousoff halts at Kopyn, without
    attacking Buonaparte--Napoleon crosses the Beresina at
    Studzianka--Partouneaux's division cut off by Witgenstein--Severe
    fighting on both sides of the river--Dreadful losses of the French
    in crossing it--According to the Russian official account, 36,000
    bodies were found in the Beresina after the thaw._


Cooped up, as we have said, in the ruins of Smolensk, and the slender
provision of food and supplies which that place offered to his army
almost entirely exhausted, Napoleon had now seriously to consider in
what direction he should make an effort to escape. As he had heard of
the loss of Witepsk, by which town he had advanced, and understood that
Witgenstein was in possession of the line of the Dwina, he naturally
determined to take the road to Wilna, by Krasnoi, Borizoff, and Minsk.
The two latter towns were stored with the provisions which he so much
wanted; and, ignorant as yet of what had happened on the south of
Lithuania, he might expect to find the banks of the Beresina in
possession of the Austro-Saxon army under Schwartzenberg.

For this effort he proceeded, as well as circumstances would admit, to
re-organise his army. It was reduced to about 40,000 men, with a
disproportioned train of baggage and of artillery, although much of the
former, and three hundred and fifty cannon, had already been left
behind. This force the Emperor divided into four corps, which were to
leave Smolensk, placing a day's interval betwixt the march of each. He
himself led the van, with 6000 of his Guard, and about as many soldiers,
the relics of different corps, amalgamated into battalions as well as
circumstances would permit. The Emperor's division left Smolensk on the
evening of the 13th and morning of the 14th November.

The division of the Viceroy Eugene, consisting of about the same number
as that of Napoleon, but inferior in quality, as comprehending none of
the Imperial Guard, could not be collected till late on the 15th
November, when the wearied wretches were once more put into march, by
promises of a safe arrival in that Lithuania, which so few of them were
ever to see again.

On the 16th, Davoust, after some high words with Ney, who would have
hurried his departure, set out with another fourth part of the grand
army, approaching to, or exceeding 10,000 men in number.

Ney remained till the 17th of November. As he had once more the perilous
task of covering the retreat, which duty he had performed so admirably
betwixt Wiazma and Smolensk, his division was fortified with about 4000
of the Imperial Guard, to whom, as better fed than the other troops,
besides their high character as veterans, more could be trusted even in
the most desperate circumstances. Ere the French left the town, they
obeyed the strict commands of the Emperor, in blowing up the towers with
which Smolensk was surrounded, that it might not again, as Napoleon
expressed himself, form an obstacle to a French army. Such was the
language of this extraordinary man, as if affecting to provide for
re-entering into Russia, at a time when it was the only question
whether he himself, or any individual of his army, should ever be able
to leave the fatal country.--We must next attend to the motions of the

The general voice of the Russian army had demanded Prince Golitcheff
Koutousoff, as a chief who would put an end to Barclay de Tolly's system
of retreat, and oppose the invaders in a pitched battle. He had done so
at Borodino, but it was his last effort of the kind. His character was
naturally the reverse of enterprising. Age had increased his disposition
to extreme prudence, and the success which attended his procrastinating
and cautious measures, while stationed at Taroutino, in the
neighbourhood of Moscow, had riveted him to his own system, of risking
as little as possible. It was in vain pointed out to him, that the
Russian troops were in high condition, and that against an enemy so
utterly broken and dispirited as the French then were, every thing might
be trusted to those brave soldiers, who had not shrunk from an equal
conflict with the same troops when in their vigour; and who, if then
worsted, had left the enemy very little to boast of, having insulted his
camp, and occupied the field of battle, even on the very night of his
victory. Could Suwarrow have been recalled from the dead, or even the
noble Bagration (the god of the army, as his name signifies in Russian;)
or had Barclay de Tolly, Bennigsen, or Miloradowitch, been permitted to
act when the moment of action approached, it seems probable that
Napoleon would have revisited the Kremlin, not as a conqueror but as a
prisoner. But Koutousoff, trusting to the climate of Russia, was
contented to let the French army decay under its influence. He had
determined not to encounter the slightest risk, but to glean up the
wreck of the elements, rather than anticipate their work by the sword.
His general plan was to maintain himself on the flank of Napoleon's
army, and from time to time to attack them by his vanguard, but by no
means to enter into a general action. He surrounded their corps with
Cossacks, who brought with them light field-guns mounted on sledges,
which did infinite damage on points where the heavy French guns could
not be easily pointed, so as to reply to them. This system may be traced
in the preceding pages, and still more in those which are about to
follow. It has been applauded by many competent judges, as gaining every
thing without putting any thing in hazard; but it is ridiculed by
others, and especially by the French, who acknowledge themselves obliged
to the tardiness of Koutousoff, and the blunders of the Admiral
Tchitchagoff, for the escape of the poor remnant of the grand army which
was preserved, and especially for the personal safety of the Emperor
himself. With these explanations we resume our melancholy and momentous

[Sidenote: KRASNOI.]

Without any purpose of departing from his maxims of caution, Koutousoff
commenced the attack on the retreating army by a movement which appeared
to indicate a more vigorous plan of procedure. He put his army in motion
towards Krasnoi, upon a parallel line with that of Buonaparte, moving on
the left flank of the French, so as to place Napoleon's line of advance
at his mercy, whenever he should think proper to assail it. At the same
time, he detached several large bodies to operate on the march of the
enemy's column.

Miloradowitch, with a large vanguard, pushed forward upon the high-road
leading from Smolensk to Krasnoi. Buonaparte had already reached the
latter point, at the head of his division, but Eugene, who brought up
the rear of the column, was effectually cut off. They were summoned to
lay down their arms, but the viceroy manfully rejected the proposal.
Immediately each surrounding hill poured forth, like a volcano, a
torrent of fire upon them. The French and Italians maintained their
ground with unavailing bravery. Numbers were killed, others made
prisoners, and the division almost entirely destroyed.

Still the viceroy made his defence good, till night, the friend of the
overmatched, approached to protect him; when, at the head of his
division, diminished to one half, he quitted the high-road, leaving his
fires burning to mislead the enemy, and, gaining the open fields,
accomplished, with great loss and ineffable fatigue, his junction with
Napoleon at Krasnoi, which he reached by a circuitous route. The
challenge of a sentinel during this delicate manœuvre might have been
utter destruction--and in fact they did encounter such a challenge. They
were saved from the consequences by a ready-witted Pole, who, answering
the sentinel in Russian, imposed silence on him, pretending that they
were the corps of Owaroff, employed upon a secret expedition.

At length, upon the next morning (17th November,) Eugene reached the
headquarters of his father-in-law, who had been very anxious on his
account. When the diminished division of Eugene was united to that of
the Emperor, they did not exceed 15,000 men in total amount. Yet on
being joined by Eugene, the active genius of Napoleon, in these most
disadvantageous circumstances, displayed its ascendency. He had caused
General Roguet, with a detachment of the Young Guard, in the night
between the 15th and 16th, to beat up the quarters of a Russian
detachment, which approached his own too closely; and having thus taught
the hunters to respect the lair of the lion, he embraced the audacious
resolution of remaining at Krasnoi in defiance of the Russian army, till
the detachments of Davoust and Ney should again join him. Whatever had
been his reasons for separating from these divisions, he now saw the
necessity of once more uniting his forces.

Even the cold and cautious spirit of Koutousoff could not miss the
opportunity occasioned by this halt of 15,000 men, in the face of
perhaps three times their number. But neither the persuasions of his
own officers, nor the reproaches of Sir Robert Wilson, the English
commissioner, could prevail on the old general to attack with the
vivacity which the occasion demanded. He would only consent to wage a
distant engagement with artillery. At daybreak on the 17th, Eugene,
whose forces the preceding battle had altogether disabled, was directed
to take the advance towards Liady, the next miserable stage of the
French army, while Buonaparte drew his sword, and saying he had already
played the Emperor, and must now once more be the general, led in person
his 6000 guards, attended by Mortier at the head of 5000 soldiers more,
to meet as great odds as it should please Koutousoff to despatch against
him.[206] In the sort of battle which followed, the Russians acted with
great caution. The name of Napoleon almost alone protected his army. The
French suffered, indeed, from the fire of 100 pieces of artillery, and
from charges of cavalry, which they had no means of answering or
repelling; but though gaps were made in their line, and some of their
squares were forced by the cavalry, yet neither success nor repulse
could induce Koutousoff to hazard a serious attack upon Napoleon, for
the purpose of altogether destroying the invader and his army. Even
Boutourlin, a friendly critic, where the reputation of the old Russian
general is concerned, regrets he had not taken the bold course of
placing his army across the direct line of Buonaparte's retreat, when
the French, overcome at once by physical suffering and moral depression,
must, even supposing them equal in numbers, have been extremely inferior
to their opponents. Upon the whole, Koutousoff seems to have acted
towards Napoleon and the grand army, as the Greenland fishers do to the
whale, whom they are careful not to approach in his dying agonies, when
pain, fury, and a sense of revenge, render the last struggles of the
leviathan peculiarly dangerous.

The battle, or cannonade of Krasnoi, was concluded by the appearance of
Davoust and his column, surrounded and followed by a large body of
Cossacks, from whom he endeavoured to extricate himself by a precipitate
march. When they came in sight of Krasnoi, most of the soldiers, who had
been horribly harassed since they left Smolensk, broke their ranks, and
hurried across the fields to escape the Russians, and gain the cover of
the town, in the streets of which their officers rallied them with
difficulty. In this miserable condition was the third corps of the army,
according to its latest division, when it was reunited to the main
body. Upon inquiring after Ney and the rear-guard, Napoleon had the
mortification to learn that Ney was probably still at Smolensk, or, if
upon the road, that he must be surrounded with difficulties out of which
it was impossible he could extricate himself.


In the meantime, Napoleon learned that the Russians were acting with
more vigour, and that Prince Galitzin was about to occupy Krasnoi; and
further, that if he did not advance with all despatch on Liady,[207] he
might probably find it in possession of the enemy. Gladly as Napoleon
would have kept the field, in order to protect the approach of Ney, he
now saw that such perseverance must necessarily expose himself and the
remnant of his army to the greatest peril, without, in all human
probability, being of use to his maréchal. Under this conviction, he put
himself at the head of the Old Guard, to march on as fast as possible,
and secure Liady, and with it the passage of the Dneiper, from which he
might otherwise have been excluded.[208] Davoust and Mortier were left
to defend Krasnoi, if practicable, till night-fall, and then to follow
under cover of the darkness. The retreat of Napoleon seemed to remove
the charm which had chilled the Russians and warmed the French. A very
fierce assault was made on the second and third divisions, and Mortier
and Ney, having both suffered greatly, made their escape to Liady with
much difficulty. The French left on this fatal field forty-five pieces
of cannon, upwards of 6000 prisoners, with a great number of slain, and
as many wounded, who were necessarily left to the mercy of the Russians.
To complete their losses, Ney's division of the army was, by the
direction of the other columns upon Liady, left with the whole Russian
army betwixt himself and Napoleon. The retreat of that celebrated
soldier must next be narrated.

On the 17th of November, Ney, last of the invading army, left Smolensk
at the head of 7 or 8000 fighting men, leaving behind 5000 sick and
wounded, and dragging along with them the remaining stragglers whom the
cannon of Platoff, who entered the town immediately on Ney's departure,
had compelled to resume their march. They advanced without much
interruption till they reached the field of battle of Krasnoi, where
they saw all the relics of a bloody action, and heaps of dead, from
whose dress and appearance they could recognise the different corps in
which they had served in Napoleon's army, though there was no one to
tell the fate of the survivors. They had not proceeded much farther
beyond this fatal spot, when they approached the banks of the Losmina,
where all had been prepared at leisure for their reception.
Miloradowitch lay here at the head of a great force; and a thick mist,
which covered the ground, occasioned Ney's column to advance under the
Russian batteries before being aware of the danger.

A single Russian officer appeared, and invited Ney to capitulate. "A
Maréchal of France never surrenders," answered that intrepid general.
The officer retired, and the Russian batteries opened a fire of
grape-shot, at the distance of only 250 yards, while at the concussion
the mist arose, and showed the devoted column of French, with a ravine
in front manned by their enemies, subjected on every side to a fire of
artillery, while the hills were black with the Russian troops placed to
support their guns. Far from losing heart in so perilous a situation,
the French Guards, with rare intrepidity, forced their way through the
ravine of the Losmina, and rushed with the utmost fury on the Russian
batteries. They were, however, charged in their turn with the bayonet,
and such as had crossed the stream suffered dreadfully. In spite of this
failure, Ney persevered in the attempt to cut his passage by main force
through this superior body of Russians, who lay opposed to him in front.
Again the French advanced upon the cannon, losing whole ranks, which
were supplied by their comrades as fast as they fell. The assault was
once more unsuccessful, and Ney, seeing that the general fate of his
column was no longer doubtful, endeavoured at least to save a part from
the wreck. Having selected about 4000 of the best men, he separated
himself from the rest, and set forth under shelter of the night, moving
to the rear, as if about to return to Smolensk. This, indeed, was the
only road open to him, but he did not pursue it long; for as soon as he
reached a rivulet, which had the appearance of being one of the feeders
of the Dnieper, he adopted it for his guide to the banks of that river,
which he reached in safety near the village of Syrokovenia. Here he
found a single place in the river frozen over, though the ice was so
thin that it bent beneath the steps of the soldiers.

Three hours were permitted, to allow stragglers from the column during
the night-march to rally at this place, should their good fortune enable
them to find it. These three hours Ney spent in profound sleep, lying on
the banks of the river, and wrapped up in his cloak. When the stipulated
time had elapsed, the passage to the other side began and continued,
although the motion of the ice, and the awful sound of its splitting
into large cracks, prevented more than one from crossing at once. The
waggons, some loaded with sick and wounded, last attempted to pass; but
the ice broke with them, and the heavy plunge and stifled moaning,
apprised their companions of their fate. The Cossacks, as usual,
speedily appeared in the rear, gleaned up some hundreds of prisoners,
and took possession of the artillery and baggage.

Ney had thus put the Dnieper betwixt him and the regulars of the Russian
army, by a retreat which has few parallels in military history. But he
had not escaped the Cossacks, who were spread abroad over the face of
the country, and soon assembled around the remains of his column, with
their light artillery and long lances. By these enemies they were
several times placed in the utmost jeopardy; nevertheless, at the head
of a reduced band of 1500 men, the maréchal fought his way to Orcsa, to
which town Napoleon had removed from Liady, having crossed the Dnieper.
Ney arrived on the 20th November, and found Eugene, Mortier, and
Davoust. The Emperor was two leagues in advance when they met. Napoleon
hailed Ney with the undisputed title, the Bravest of the Brave, and
declared he would have given all his treasures to be assured of his
existence.[209] His comrades hastened to welcome and to relieve him, and
being now in Poland, provisions and accommodation had become more plenty
among them.[210]


All Napoleon's grand army was now united. But the whole, which had at
Smolensk amounted to 40,000, consisted now of scarcely 12,000 men who
retained the name and discipline of soldiers, so much had want and the
sword thinned the ranks of these invincible legions. There were besides,
perhaps 30,000 stragglers of every description, but these added little
or nothing to the strength of the army; and only served to encumber its
numbers, as they were under no discipline, but plundered the country
without mercy.

At this dreadful crisis, too, Napoleon had the mortification to learn
the fall of Minsk, and the retreat of Schwartzenberg to cover Warsaw,
which, of course, left him no hopes of receiving succour from the
Austrians. He heard also that Victor and Oudinot had quarrelled in what
manner Witgenstein should be attacked, and had on that account left him
unattacked on any point. That general was therefore at freedom to
threaten the left of the grand army, should it remain long on the
Dnieper; while Koutousoff might resume, at his pleasure, his old station
on Napoleon's left, and Tchitchagoff might occupy the Beresina in his
front. In the bitterness of his heart the Emperor exclaimed, "Thus it
befalls, when we commit faults upon faults."[211]

Minsk being out of the question, Napoleon's next point of direction was
Borizoff. Here there was, over the Beresina, a bridge of 300 fathoms in
length, the possession of which appeared essential to his final escape
from Russia. But while Napoleon was considering what should be his next
movement, after crossing the Beresina at Borizoff, he was once more
surprised with the additional evil tidings, that this town also, with
the bridge so necessary to him, was lost; that Borizoff was taken, as
formerly mentioned, and Dombrowski defeated under its walls. "Is it then
written," he said, looking upwards and striking the earth with his cane,
"Is it written, that we shall commit nothing but errors!"

About the same gloomy period, Ségur relates the following
anecdote:--Napoleon had stretched himself on a couch, and apparently
slumbered, while his faithful servants, Duroc and Daru, sitting in his
apartment, talked over their critical situation. In their whispered
conversation, the words "prisoner of state," reached the sleepless ear
of Napoleon. "How!" said he, raising himself, "do you think they would
dare?"--In answer, Daru mentioned the phrase, well known to the Emperor,
of state policy, as a thing independent of public law or of morality.
"But France," said the Emperor, to whom state policy sounded at present
less pleasantly than when it was appealed to for deciding some great
movement of his own--"what will France say?"--"Who can answer that
question, Sire?" continued Duroc; but added, "it was his warmest wish
that the Emperor, at least, could reach France, were it through the air,
if earth were stopped against his passage."--"Then I am in your way, I
suppose?" said the Emperor. The reply was affirmative. "And you,"
continued the Emperor, with an affectation of treating the matter
lightly, "have no wish to become a prisoner of state?"--"To be a
prisoner of war is sufficient for me," said Daru. Napoleon was silent
for a time; then asked if the reports of his ministers were burnt.--"Not
yet," was the reply.--"Then let them be destroyed," he continued; "for
it must be confessed we are in a most lamentable condition."[212]

This was the strongest sign he had yet given, of Napoleon's deep feeling
of the situation to which he had reduced himself. In studying the map,
to discover the fittest place to pass the Beresina, he approached his
finger to the country of the Cossacks, and was heard to murmur, "Ah,
Charles XII.; Pultawa." But these were only the momentary ejaculations
dictated by a sense of his condition; all his resolutions were calmly
and firmly taken, with a sense of what was due to himself and to his

It was finally determined, that, in despite of Tchitchagoff and his
army, which occupied the left bank, the passage of the Beresina should
be attempted, at a place above Borizoff called Studzianka, where the
stream was only fifty-five fathoms across, and six feet deep. There were
heights, it is true, on the opposite bank, surrounding a piece of meadow
ground, and these the adventurers must look to find strongly occupied;
so that those who adventured on the passage must expect to land in that
marshy meadow, under a heavy fire from that position. Lastly, this
perilous attempt must, in all probability, be made in the very teeth of
the Moldavian army. With Napoleon's ten or twelve thousand fighting men,
and twice or three times the number of disorderly stragglers, the
attempt to force such a passage would have been utter insanity. But the
star of Napoleon had not yet set.


The first dawn of reviving fortune was marked by the success of Victor
and Oudinot. They were advancing with the hope of saving Borizoff, when
they received intelligence that Dombrowski was routed by Witgenstein,
and that the fragments of the Polish corps were close at hand, followed
by the victorious Russians. Oudinot instantly gathered the scattered
Poles under his protection, and moving on to meet the Russian advanced
guard, they drove them back with considerable loss. Witgenstein, in
consequence of this check, found himself obliged to abandon Borizoff,
and once more to place the Beresina betwixt himself and the French. But
in repassing that river, he took care to destroy the bridge at Borizoff,
so that the town, though secured by the French, was no longer useful to
them as a place of passage, and the Emperor, when he learned the news,
was still compelled to abide by the plan of crossing, as he best could,
at Studzianka. The task was rendered more easy, by the prospect of his
scattered and broken army being reinforced by the troops of Victor and
Oudinot, who were on the same side of the fatal river with himself, and
might form an immediate junction with him.

Meantime, as a preparation for the march, the Emperor limited all the
officers, even of the highest rank, to one carriage; and ordered one
half of the waggons to be destroyed, that all the horses and
draught-oxen might be applied to getting forward the ammunition and
artillery. There is reason to think these commands were very imperfectly
obeyed. Another order, marking strongly the exigencies of the time,
respected such officers as still retained their horses. The cavalry,
under Latour Maubourg, had, since leaving Smolensk, been reduced from
1800 to 150. To supply this deficiency, about 500 officers, all who
remained mounted, were formed into a body called the Sacred Squadron,
to attend upon the Emperor's person. Grouchy and Sebastiani had the
command of this body, in which officers formed the privates, and
generals of division served as captains. But it was not long ere fatigue
and want of forage, no respecters of rank or condition, dismounted the
greater part of the Sacred Squadron.[214]

The army thus in some small degree re-organised, and refreshed by the
better quarters and nourishment which they had received since the battle
of Krasnoi, now plunged into the immense pine forests which conceal the
course of the Beresina, to disguise their adventurous march the more
completely from the enemy. They were moving towards Borizoff, when loud
shouts from the forest at first spread confusion among their ranks,
under the idea of an unexpected attack; but this fear was soon changed
into joy, when they found themselves on the point of uniting with the
army of Victor and Oudinot, amounting to 50,000 men, complete and
provided with every thing. Yet whatever the joy on the part of the grand
army, it was at least equalled by the astonishment of their comrades,
when they recognised the remains of the innumerable host which had left
them in such splendid equipment, and now returned in the guise, and with
the gait and manner, of spectres raised from a churchyard. They filed
past their happier comrades with squalid countenances, their uniform
replaced by women's pelisses, or what various rags each could pick up;
their feet bare and bleeding, or protected by bundles of filthy rags
instead of shoes. All discipline seemed gone; the officer gave no
command, the soldier obeyed none. A sense of common danger led them to
keep together and to struggle forward, and mutual fatigue made them take
repose by the same fires; but what else they had learned of discipline
was practised rather by instinct than by duty, and in many cases was
altogether forgotten.[215]

The army of the two Maréchals, however, though scarce recovered from
their astonishment, joined the ranks of the grand army, and, as if
disorder had been infectious, very soon showed a disposition to get rid
of that military discipline, which their new associates had flung
aside.--Leaving Napoleon on his advance to the river, it is now
necessary to notice the motions of the Russians.

The glory and the trophies of the march of the grand army had been
enough entirely to satisfy Koutousoff. They were indeed sufficient to
gorge such a limited ambition as that general might be supposed to
possess at his advanced age, when men are usually more bent on saving
than on winning. From the 15th to the 19th November, the Russians had
obtained possession of 228 guns, had made 26,000 prisoners, of whom 300
were officers, besides 10,000 men slain in battle, or destroyed by
fatigue. Satisfied with such advantages, the cautious veteran proceeded
by short journeys to Kopyn, on the Dnieper, without crossing that
river, or attempting to second the defence of the Beresina by an attack
on the rear of the enemy.

It is true, that the Russian army had sustained great losses; not less,
it was said, than 30,000 sick and wounded, were for the present unable
to serve, although the greater part of them afterwards recovered. It is
no less true, that the Russian soldiers suffered greatly from want of
hospitals, being unprovided for a struggle on such an extensive scale as
Napoleon's invasion gave rise to. Nor can it be denied that Koutousoff's
minute attention to the proper providing of his army with all
necessaries was highly laudable. Yet we must still be of opinion, that
an object so important as the capture of Buonaparte and the destruction
of his army, would have vindicated, even if the soldier himself had been
appealed to, two or three forced marches, with the hardships attending
them. Such, however, was not Koutousoff's opinion; he halted at Kopyn,
and contented himself with despatching his Cossacks and light troops to
annoy Napoleon's rear.

[Sidenote: STUDZIANKA.]

The danger not being pressing on the part of the grand army of Russia,
Napoleon had only to apprehend the opposition of Tchitchagoff, whose
army, about 35,000 men in all, was posted along the Beresina to oppose
the passage of Buonaparte wherever it should be attempted.
Unfortunately, the admiral was one of an ordinary description of people,
who, having once determined in their own mind, that an adversary
entertains a particular design, proceed to act upon that belief as an
absolute certainty, and can rarely be brought to reason on the
possibility of his having any other purpose. Thus, taking it for granted
that Napoleon's attempt to cross the Beresina would take place _below_
Borizoff, Tchitchagoff could not be persuaded that the passage might be
as well essayed _above_ that town. Napoleon, by various inquiries and
reports transmitted through the Jews, who, for money, served as spies on
both sides, contrived to strengthen Tchitchagoff in the belief that he
was only designing a feint upon Studzianka, in order to withdraw the
attention of the Russians from the Lower Beresina. Never was a stratagem
more successful.[216]

On the very day when Napoleon prepared for the passage at Studzianka,
Tchitchagoff, instead of noticing what was going forward above Borizoff,
not only marched down the river with all the forces under his own
immediate command, but issued orders to the division of Tschaplitz,
which amounted to six thousand men, and at present watched the very spot
where Napoleon meant to erect his bridges, to leave that position, and
follow him in the same direction. These were the very orders which
Buonaparte would have dictated to the Russian leader, if he had had his

When the French arrived at Studzianka, their first business was to
prepare two bridges, a work which was attended with much danger and
difficulty. They laboured by night, expecting in the morning to be
saluted with a cannonade from the Russian detachment under Tschaplitz,
which occupied the heights already mentioned, on the opposite bank. The
French generals, and particularly Murat, considered the peril as so
eminent, that they wished Buonaparte to commit himself to the faith of
some Poles who knew the country, and leave the army to their fate; but
Napoleon rejected the proposal as unworthy of him.[217] All night the
French laboured at the bridges, which were yet but little advanced, and
might have been easily demolished by the artillery of the Russians. But
what was the joy and surprise of the French to see, with the earliest
beams of the morning, that artillery, and those Russians in full march,
retreating from their position! Availing himself of their disappearance,
Buonaparte threw across a body of men who swam their horses over the
river, with each a voltigeur behind him. Thus a footing was gained on
the other bank of this perilous stream. Great part of Victor's army had
moved up the river towards Studzianka, while the last division lay still
at Borizoff, of which town that maréchal had possession. This
constituted a rear-guard to protect the army of Napoleon during the
critical moment of its passage, from the interruption which might be
expected from the corps of Witgenstein.

During the 26th and 27th, Napoleon pushed troops across the river, those
of Oudinot forming the advance; and was soon so secure, that Tschaplitz,
discovering his error, and moving back to regain his important position
at Studzianka, found the French too strongly posted on the left bank of
the Beresina, for his regaining the opportunity which he had lost. He
halted, therefore, at Stakhowa, and waited for reinforcements and
orders. Meanwhile, the passage of the Beresina continued, slowly indeed,
for the number of stragglers and the quantity of baggage was immense;
yet by noon Napoleon and his guards had crossed the river.[218] Victor,
whose division constituted the rear-guard of the grand army, had
relieved the Imperial Guards in their post on the left bank; and
Partouneaux, who formed the rear of the whole army, was moving from
Borizoff, where he had been stationed with the purpose of fixing the
enemy's attention upon the spot. No sooner had he left the town than it
was again in the hands of the Russians, being instantly occupied by

But the indefatigable Witgenstein was in motion on the left bank,
pressing forward as Victor closed up towards Napoleon; and, throwing
himself betwixt Studzianka and Borizoff, on a plain called
Staroi-Borizoff, he cut off Partouneaux's division from the rest of the
French army. That general made a gallant resistance, and attempted to
force his way at the sword's point through the troops opposed to him. At
length the Hettman Platoff, and the Russian partisan Seslawin, coming
up, the French general found himself entirely overpowered, and after a
brave resistance laid down his arms. Three generals, with artillery, and
according to the Russian accounts, about 7000 men, fell into the hands
of the Russians--a prize the more valuable, as the prisoners belonged
chiefly to the unbroken and unexhausted division of Victor, and
comprehended 800 fine cavalry in good order.[219]


To improve this advantage, the Russians threw a bridge of pontoons
across the Beresina at Borizoff, and Tchitchagoff and Witgenstein having
communicated, resolved on a joint attack upon both banks of the river at
once. With this purpose, upon the 28th of November, Admiral Tchitchagoff
moved to Stakhowa, upon the right bank, to reinforce Tschaplitz, and
assault that part of the French army which had crossed the Beresina; and
Witgenstein with Platoff marched towards Studzianka, to destroy the
Emperor's rear-guard, which no exertion on the part of Napoleon or his
generals had yet been able to get across the river. Thus, the
extraordinary good fortune of finding a place of passage, and of being
enabled by an uncommon chance to complete his bridges without
opposition, was so far from placing Napoleon in safety, that his dangers
seemed only to multiply around him. But yet upon his side of the river,
now the right bank, his own presence of mind, and the bravery of his
soldiers, gave him a decided superiority, and the tardiness, to say the
least, of Tchitchagoff's motions, insured his safety.

Tschaplitz, who seems to have been a brave and active officer, commenced
the battle by advancing from Stakhowa. But he was worsted by the French,
who were superior in numbers, and he received no succours from the
admiral, though repeatedly demanded.[220] In this manner were the French
enabled to force their way towards a village called Brelowau, through
deep morasses, and over long bridges or railways, formed of the trunks
of pine-trees, where a bold attack might have rendered their advance
impossible. The least exertion on the part of Tchitchagoff might have
caused these bridges to be burnt; and as combustibles were laid ready
for the purpose, it required but, according to Ségur's expression, a
spark from the pipe of a Cossack, to have set them on fire. The
destruction of this railway, enclosing the French between the morass and
the river, must have rendered the passage of the Beresina entirely
useless. But it was not so decreed; and the French, under Oudinot, were
enabled to preserve the means of a movement so essential to their
safety. Meanwhile, the scene on the left bank had become the wildest and
most horrible which war can exhibit.

On the heights of Studzianka, Victor, who commanded the French
rear-guard, amounting perhaps to 8000 or 10,000 men, was prepared to
cover the retreat over the bridges. The right of this corps d'armée
rested on the river; a ravine full of bushes covered their front, but
the left wing had no point of support. It remained, according to the
military phrase, _in the air_, and was covered by two regiments of
cavalry. Behind this defensive line were many thousands of stragglers,
mingled with the usual followers of a camp, and with all those
individuals who, accompanying, for various reasons, the French from
Moscow, had survived the horrors of the march. Women, children,
domestics, the aged and the infants, were seen among the wretched mass,
and wandered by the side of this fatal river, like the fabled spectres
which throng the banks of the infernal Styx, and seek in vain for
passage. The want of order, which it was impossible to preserve, the
breaking of the bridges, and the time spent in the repair--the fears of
the unhappy wretches to trust themselves to the dangerous and crowded
passages, had all operated to detain them on the right bank. The
baggage, which, in spite of the quantity already lost, of the difficulty
of transportation, and of Napoleon's precise orders, amounted still to a
very great number of carts, wains, and the like, and which was now
augmented by all that belonged to the troops of Oudinot and Victor, was
seen, some filing towards the bridges, and the greater part standing in
confusion upon the shore. The artillery itself, such as remained, was in
no better state.

Such was the condition of matters at the bridge, when Witgenstein, warm
from his victory over Partouneaux, marching down the left bank of the
Beresina, engaged in a fierce combat with the rear-guard under Victor;
and the balls of the Russians began to fall among the mingled and
disordered mass which we have endeavoured to describe. It was then that
the whole body of stragglers and fugitives rushed like distracted beings
towards the bridges, every feeling of prudence or humanity swallowed up
by the animal instinct of self-preservation. The horrible scene of
disorder was augmented by the desperate violence of those who,
determined to make their own way at all risks, threw down and trampled
upon whatever came in their road. The weak and helpless either shrunk
back from the fray, and sat down to wait their fate at a distance, or,
mixing in it, were thrust over the bridges, crushed under carriages, cut
down perhaps with sabres, or trampled to death under the feet of their
countrymen. All this while the action continued with fury, and, as if
the Heavens meant to match their wrath with that of man, a hurricane
arose, and added terrors to a scene which was already of a character so


About mid-day the French, still bravely resisting, began to lose ground.
The Russians, coming gradually up in strength, succeeded in forcing the
ravine, and compelling them to assume a position nearer the bridges.
About the same time, the larger bridge, that constructed for artillery
and heavy carriages, broke down, and multitudes were forced into the
water. The scream of mortal agony, which arose from the despairing
multitude, became at this crisis for a moment so universal, that it rose
shrilly audible over the noise of the elements and the thunders of war,
above the wild whistling of the tempest, and the sustained and redoubled
hourras of the Cossacks. The witness from whom we have this information,
declares that the sound was in his ears for many weeks. This dreadful
scene continued till dark, many being forced into the icy river, some
throwing themselves in, betwixt absolute despair, and the faint hope of
gaining the opposite bank by swimming, some getting across only to die
of cold and exhaustion. As the obscurity came on, Victor, with the
remainder of his troops, which was much reduced, quitted the station he
had defended so bravely, and led them in their turn across. All night
the miscellaneous multitude continued to throng along the bridge, under
the fire of the Russian artillery, to whom, even in the darkness, the
noise which accompanied their march made them a distinct mark. At
daybreak, the French engineer, General Eblé, finally set fire to the
bridge. All that remained on the other side, including many prisoners,
and a great quantity of guns and baggage, became the prisoners and the
prey of the Russians. The amount of the French loss was never exactly
known; but the Russian report, concerning the bodies of the invaders
which were collected and burnt as soon as the thaw permitted, states
that upwards of 36,000 were found in the Beresina.[221]


[205] Ségur, tom. ii., p. 220.

[206] Colonel Boutourlin praises the address of Koutousoff, who, he
says, managed with such skill as always to present a superior force to
that which the French had upon the field of battle, although his army
was on the whole inferior to that of Napoleon. Without admitting the
exactness of the last statement, which there is considerable cause to
dispute, little merit can be assumed for the Russian general's dexterity
in obtaining a numerical superiority at Wiazma, Krasnoi, and elsewhere,
when it is considered that Napoleon himself had divided his army into
four columns, and placed one day's march betwixt each. The Russians had,
therefore, only one column of ten or twelve thousand men to deal with at

[207] "He called Mortier, and squeezing his hand sorrowfully, told him,
that he had not a moment to lose; that the enemy were overwhelming him
in all directions; that Koutousoff might have already reached Liady,
perhaps Orcsa, and the last winding of the Boristhenes before him; that
he would, therefore, proceed thither rapidly with his old guard, in
order to occupy the passage. Then, with his heart full of Ney's
misfortunes, and despair at being forced to abandon him, he withdrew
slowly towards Liady."--SÉGUR, tom. ii., p. 227.

[208] "Napoleon marched on foot at the head of his guard, and often
talked of Ney; he called to mind his _coup-d'œil_ so accurate and
true, his courage proof against every thing, in short all the qualities
which made him so brilliant on the field of battle. 'He is lost. Well! I
have three hundred millions in the Tuileries; I would give them all if
he were restored to me.'"--RAPP, p. 242.

[209] "When Napoleon heard that Ney had just reappeared, he leaped and
shouted for joy, and exclaimed, 'I have then saved my eagles! I would
have given three hundred millions from my treasury sooner than have lost
such a man.'"--SÉGUR, tom. ii., p. 268; Jomini, tom. iv., p. 190.

[210] Jomini, tom. iv., p. 189; Ségur, tom. ii., pp. 245-266.

[211] Ségur, tom. ii., p. 279.

[212] "Napoleon's confidence increased with his peril; in his eyes, and
in the midst of these deserts of mud and ice, that handful of men was
always the grand army! and himself the conqueror of Europe! and there
was no infatuation in this firmness: we were certain of it, when, in
this very town, we saw him burning with his own hands every thing
belonging to him which might serve as trophies to the enemy, in the
event of his fall. There also were unfortunately consumed all the papers
which he had collected in order to write the history of his life; for
such was his intention when he set out for that fatal war. He had then
determined to halt as a threatening conqueror on the borders of the
Dwina and the Boristhenes, to which he now returned as a disarmed
fugitive. At that time he regarded the ennui of six winter months, which
he would have been detained on these rivers as his greatest enemy; and
to overcome it, this second Cæsar intended there to have dictated his
Commentaries."--SÉGUR, tom. ii., p. 235.

[213] Ségur, tom. ii., p. 278.

[214] Ségur, tom. ii., p. 282.

[215] Ségur, tom. ii., p. 283.

[216] "The Emperor came out from his barrack, cast his eyes on the other
side of the river. 'I have outwitted the admiral' (he could not
pronounce the name Tchitchagoff;) 'he believes me to be at the point
where I ordered the false attack; he is running to Borizoff.' His eyes
sparkled with joy and impatience; he urged the erection of the bridges,
and mounted twenty pieces of cannon in battery. These were commanded by
a brave officer with a wooden leg, called Brechtel; a ball carried it
off during the action, and knocked him down. 'Look,' he said, to one of
his gunners, 'for another leg in waggon, No. 5.' He fitted it on, and
continued his firing."--RAPP, p. 246.

[217] "Ney took me apart: he said to me in German, 'Our situation is
unparalleled; if Napoleon extricates himself to-day, he must have the
devil in him.' We were very uneasy, and there was sufficient cause.
Murat came to us, and was not less solicitous. 'I have proposed to
Napoleon,' he observed to us, 'to save himself, and cross the river at a
few leagues distance from hence. I have some Poles who would answer for
his safety, and would conduct him to Wilna, but he rejects the proposal,
and will not even hear it mentioned. As for me, I do not think we can
escape.' We were all three of the same opinion."--RAPP, p. 245.

[218] "When Napoleon saw them fairly in possession of the opposite bank,
he exclaimed, 'Behold my star again appear!' for he was a strong
believer in fatality,"--SÉGUR, tom. ii., p. 295.

[219] "Napoleon was deeply affected with so unexpected a
misfortune--'Must this loss come to spoil all after having escaped as by
a miracle, and having completely beaten the Russians.'"--RAPP, p. 246.

[220] The conduct of the admiral was so unaccountable on this occasion,
that some attempted to explain it on his naval habits, and to suppose
that he was prevented from sending the reinforcements by the wind being

[221] Ségur, tom. ii., p. 317; Jomini, tom. iv., p. 195.


    _Napoleon determines to return to Paris--He leaves Smorgoni on 5th
    December--reaches Warsaw on the 10th--Curious Interview with the
    Abbé de Pradt--Arrives at Dresden on the 14th--and at Paris on the
    18th, at midnight--Dreadful State of the Grand Army, when left by
    Napoleon--Arrive at Wilna, whence they are driven by the Cossacks,
    directing their flight upon Kowno--Dissensions among the French
    Generals--Cautious Policy of the Austrians under
    Schwartzenberg--Precarious state of Macdonald--He retreats upon
    Tilsit--D'Yorck separates his Troops from the French--Macdonald
    effects his retreat to Königsberg--Close of the Russian expedition,
    with a loss on the part of the French of 450,000 Men in Killed and
    Prisoners--Discussion of the Causes which led to this ruinous

When the army of Buonaparte was assembled on the other side of the
Beresina, they exhibited symptoms of total disorganisation. The village
of Brilowau, where they halted on the night of their passage, was
entirely pulled down, that the materials might supply camp-fires; and a
considerable part of Buonaparte's headquarters was included in the same
fate, his own apartment being with difficulty saved from the soldiery.
They could scarcely be blamed for this want of discipline, for the night
was deadly cold; and of the wet and shivering wretches who had been
immersed in the icy river, many laid their heads down never to raise
them more.

On the 29th November, the Emperor left the fatal banks of the Beresina,
at the head of an army more disorganised than ever; for few of Oudinot's
corps, and scarcely any belonging to Victor's, who were yet remaining,
were able to resist the general contagion of disorder. They pushed on
without any regular disposition, having no more vanguard, centre, or
rear, than can be ascribed to a flock of sheep. To outstrip the Russians
was their only desire, and yet numbers were daily surprised by the
partisans and Cossacks. Most fortunately for Napoleon, the precaution of
the Duke of Bassano had despatched to the banks of the Beresina a
division of French, commanded by General Maison, who were sufficient to
form a rear-guard, and to protect this disorderly and defenceless mass
of fugitives. Thus they reached Malodeczno on the 3d December.[222]

Here Buonaparte opened to his chief confidants his resolution to leave
the army, and push forward to Paris. The late conspiracy of Mallet had
convinced him of the necessity of his presence there.[223] His remaining
with an army, which scarce had existence in a military sense, could be
of no use. He was near Prussia, where, from reluctant allies, the
inhabitants were likely to be changed into bitter enemies. He was
conscious of what he had meditated against the King of Prussia, had he
returned victorious, and judged from his own purposes the part which
Frederick was likely to adopt, in consequence of this great reverse in
his fortunes.

This resolution being adopted, Napoleon announced that preparations for
his departure should be made at Smorgoni, intending to remain at
Malodeczno till he should be joined by General Maison with the
rear-guard, which was left a day's march behind the main body. He now
waited until it should close up with him. They came at last, but with
Tschaplitz and the Russians at their heels. Intense cold (the
thermometer being twenty degrees below zero) prevented any thing more
than skirmishes between them.


On the 5th December, Buonaparte was at Smorgoni, where he again received
a welcome reinforcement, being joined by Loison, advancing at the head
of the garrison of Wilna, to protect his retreat to that place, and
whose opportune assistance gave a new rear-guard, to supply that
commanded by Maison, which the war and weather had already rendered as
incapable of effectual service as those whom they had protected from the
banks of the Beresina to Smorgoni. Loison had orders to take in his turn
this destructive duty, for which purpose he was to remain a day's march,
as usual, behind the mass of what had been the army.

The order of the march to Wilna thus arranged, Napoleon determined on
his own departure. Three sledges were provided; one of which was
prepared to carry him and Caulaincourt, whose title the Emperor proposed
to assume while travelling incognito, although their figures were
strikingly dissimilar, the Duke of Vicenza being a tall, raw-boned,
stiff-looking man. In a general audience, at which were present the King
of Naples, the viceroy, Berthier, and the maréchals, Napoleon announced
to them that he had left Murat to command the army, as generalissimo. He
talked to them in terms of hope and confidence. He promised to check the
Austrians and Prussians in their disposition for war, by presenting
himself at the head of the French nation, and 1,200,000 men;--he said he
had ordered Ney to Wilna, to re-organise the army, and to strike such a
blow as should discourage the advance of the Russians;--lastly, he
assured them of winter-quarters beyond the Niemen. He then took an
affectionate and individual farewell of each of his generals, and,
stepping into his traineau, a lively emblem of the fishing-boat of
Xerxes, he departed from Smorgoni at the late hour of ten at night.[224]

With what feelings this extraordinary man left the remains of the army,
we have no means even of guessing. His outward bearing, during his
extreme distresses, had been in general that of the utmost firmness; so
that such expressions of grief or irritation, as at times broke from
him, were picked up and registered by those who heard them, as curious
instances of departure from his usual state of composure. To preserve
his tranquillity, he permitted no details to be given him of the want
and misery with which he was surrounded. Thus, when Colonel d'Albignac
brought news of Ney's distresses, after the battle of Wiazma, he stopped
his mouth by saying sharply, "He desired to know no particulars." It was
of a piece with this resolution, that he always gave out orders as if
the whole Imperial army had existed in its various divisions, after
two-thirds had been destroyed, and the remainder reduced to an
undisciplined mob. "Would you deprive me of my tranquillity?" he said
angrily to an officer, who thought it necessary to dwell on the actual
circumstances of the army, when some orders, expressed in this manner,
had been issued. And when the persevering functionary persisted to
explain--thinking, perhaps, in his simplicity, that Napoleon did not
know that which in fact he only was reluctant to dwell upon--he
reiterated angrily, "I ask you, sir, why you would deprive me of my

It is evident, that Napoleon must have known the condition of his army
as well as any one around him; but, to admit that he was acquainted with
that which he could not remedy, would have been acknowledging a want of
power inconsistent with the character of one, who would willingly be
thought rather the controller than the subject of Fate. Napoleon was
none of those princes mentioned by Horace, who, in poverty and exile,
lay aside their titles of majesty, and language of authority. The
headquarters of Smorgoni, and the residences of Porto Ferrajo and Saint
Helena, can alike bear witness to the tenacity with which he clung not
only to power, but to the forms and circumstance attendant upon
sovereignty, at periods when the essence of that sovereignty was either
endangered or lost. A deeper glance into his real feelings may be
obtained from the report of the Abbé de Pradt, which is well worth

After narrowly escaping being taken by the Russian partisan Seslawin, at
a hamlet called Youpranoui, Napoleon reached Warsaw upon the 10th
December. Here the Abbé de Pradt, then minister of France to the Diet of
Poland, was in the act of endeavouring to reconcile the various rumours
which poured in from every quarter, when a figure like a spectre,
wrapped in furs, which were stiffened by hoar-frost, stalked into his
apartments, supported by a domestic, and was with difficulty recognised
by the ambassador as the Duke of Vicenza.


"You here, Caulaincourt?" said the astonished prelate.--"And where is
the Emperor?"--"At the hôtel d'Angleterre, waiting for you."--"Why not
stop at the palace?"--"He travels incognito."--"Do you need any
thing?"--"Some Burgundy or Malaga."--"All is at your service--but
whither are you travelling?"--"To Paris."--"To Paris! But where is the
army?"--"It exists no longer," said Caulaincourt, looking
upwards.--"And the victory of the Beresina--and the 6000
prisoners?"[227]--"We got across, that is all--the prisoners were a few
hundred men, who have escaped. We have had other business than to guard

His curiosity thus far satisfied, the Abbé de Pradt hastened to the
hotel. In the yard stood three sledges in a dilapidated condition. One
for the Emperor and Caulaincourt, the second for two officers of rank,
the third for the Mameluke Rustan and another domestic. He was
introduced with some mystery into a bad inn's bad room, where a servant
wench was blowing a fire made of green wood. Here was the Emperor, whom
the Abbé de Pradt had last seen when he played King of Kings among the
assembled sovereigns of Dresden. He was dressed in a green pelisse,
covered with lace and lined with furs, and, by walking briskly about the
apartment, was endeavouring to obtain the warmth which the chimney
refused. He saluted "Monsieur l'Ambassadeur," as he termed him, with
gaiety. The abbé felt a movement of sensibility, to which he was
disposed to give way, but, as he says, "The poor man did not understand
me." He limited his expressions of devotion, therefore, to helping
Napoleon off with his cloak. To us, it seems that Napoleon repelled the
effusions of the Bishop of Maline's interest, because he did not choose
to be the object either of his interest or his pity. He heard from his
minister, that the minds of the inhabitants of the grand duchy had been
much changed since they had been led to despair of the regeneration of
their country; and that they were already, since they could not be free
Polanders, studying how to reconcile themselves with their former
governors of Prussia. The entrance of two Polish ministers checked the
ambassador's communications. The conversation was maintained from that
moment by Napoleon alone; or rather he indulged in a monologue, turning
upon the sense he entertained that the failure of his Russian expedition
would diminish his reputation, while he struggled against the painful
conviction, by numbering up the plans by which he might repair his
losses, and alleging the natural obstacles to which he had been obliged
to succumb. "We must levy 10,000 Poles," he said, "and check the advance
of these Russians. A lance and a horse are all that is necessary.--There
is but a single step betwixt the sublime and the ridiculous."[228] The
functionaries congratulated him on his escape from so many dangers.
"Dangers!" he replied; "none in the world. I live in agitation. The more
I bustle the better I am. It is for Kings of Cockaigne to fatten in
their palaces--horseback and the fields are for me.--From the sublime to
the ridiculous there is but a single step--Why do I find you so much
alarmed here?"

"We are at a loss to gather the truth of the news about the army."

"Bah!" replied the Emperor; "the army is in a superb condition. I have
120,000 men--I have beat the Russians in every action--they are no
longer the soldiers of Friedland and Eylau. The army will recruit at
Wilna--I am going to bring up 300,000 men--Success will render the
Russians fool-hardy--I will give them battle twice or thrice upon the
Oder, and in a month I will be again on the Niemen--I have more weight
when on my throne, than at the head of my army.--Certainly I quit my
soldiers with regret; but I must watch Austria and Prussia, and I have
more weight seated on my throne than at the head of my army. All that
has happened goes for nothing--a mere misfortune, in which the enemy can
claim no merit--I beat them every where--they wished to cut me off at
the Beresina--I made a fool of that ass of an admiral"--(He could never
pronounce the name Tchitchagoff)--"I had good troops and cannon--the
position was superb--500 toises of marsh--a river"----This he repeated
twice, then run over the distinction in the 29th bulletin between men of
strong and feeble minds, and proceeded. "I have seen worse affairs than
this--At Marengo I was beaten till six o'clock in the evening--next day
I was master of Italy--At Essling, that archduke tried to stop me--He
published something or other--My army had already advanced a league and
a half--I did not even condescend to make any disposition. All the world
knows how such things are managed when I am in the field. I could not
help the Danube rising sixteen feet in one night--Ah! without that,
there would have been an end of the Austrian monarchy. But it was
written in Heaven that I should marry an archduchess." (This was said
with an air of much gaiety.) "In the same manner, in Russia, I could not
prevent its freezing. They told me every morning that I had lost 10,000
horses during the night. Well, farewell to you!" He bade them adieu five
or six times in the course of the harangue, but always returned to the
subject. "Our Norman horses are less hardy than those of the
Russians--they sink under ten degrees of cold (beneath zero.) It is the
same with the men. Look at the Bavarians; there is not one left. Perhaps
it may be said that I stopped too long at Moscow; that may be true, but
the weather was fine--the winter came on prematurely--besides, I
expected peace. On the 5th October, I sent Lauriston to treat. I thought
of going to St. Petersburgh, and I had time enough to have done so, or
to have gone to the south of Russia, or to Smolensk. Well, we will make
head at Wilna; Murat is left there. Ha, ha, ha! It is a great political
game. Nothing venture, nothing win--It is but one step from the sublime
to the ludicrous. The Russians have shown they have character--their
Emperor is beloved by his people--they have clouds of Cossacks--it is
something to have such a kingdom--the peasants of the crown love their
government--the nobility are all mounted on horseback. They proposed to
me to set the slaves at liberty, but that I would not consent to--they
would have massacred every one. I made regular war upon the Emperor
Alexander, but who could have expected such a blow as the burning of
Moscow? Now they would lay it on us, but it was in fact themselves who
did it. That sacrifice would have done honour to ancient Rome."

He returned to his favourite purpose of checking the Russians, who had
just annihilated his grand army, by raising a large body of Polish
lancers, to whom, as things stood, it would have been difficult to have
proposed any adequate motive for exertion. The fire went out, and the
counsellors listened in frozen despair, while, keeping himself warm by
walking up and down, and by his own energies, the Emperor went on with
his monologue; now betraying, in spite of himself, feelings and
sentiments which he would have concealed; now dwelling upon that which
he wished others to believe; and often repeating, as the burden of his
harangue, the aphorism which he has rendered immortal, concerning the
vicinity of the sublime and the ludicrous.

His passage through Silesia being mentioned, he answered in a doubtful
tone, "Ha, Prussia?" as if questioning the security of that route. At
length he decided to depart in good earnest; cut short the respectful
wishes for the preservation of his health with the brief assurance, that
he "could not be in better health were the very devil in him;" and threw
himself into the humble sledge which carried Cæsar and his fortunes. The
horses sprung forward, nearly overturning the carriage as it crossed the
courtyard gate, and disappeared in the darkness. Such is the lively
account of the Abbé de Pradt, who declares solemnly, that on taxing his
memory to the utmost, he accuses himself of neither want of accuracy nor
forgetfulness. Napoleon does not deny that such a long conversation took
place, but alleges that the abbé has caricatured it. In the meanwhile,
he said he scratched an order for Monsieur l'Ambassadeur to return
immediately to Paris;[229] which, considering what had happened in
Russia, and was about to happen in Poland, could not but be a most
welcome mandate, especially as it was likely to be soon enforced by the
lances of the Cossacks.


Napoleon continued to pass on with as much speed as possible. He said,
when at St. Helena, that he was nigh being arrested in Silesia.[230]
"But the Prussians," he said, "passed the time in consulting which they
ought to have employed in action. They acted like the Saxons, of whom
Charles XII. said gaily, when he left Dresden, 'They will be
deliberating to-day whether they should have arrested me yesterday.'" If
such an idea was entertained by any one, it may have been by some of the
Tugend-Bund, who might think it no crime to seize on one who made
universal liberty his spoil. But we do not believe that Frederick ever
harboured the thought, while he continued in alliance with France.

Meanwhile, Napoleon continued his journey in secrecy, and with rapidity.
On the 14th December he was at Dresden, where he had a long private
conference with the good old King, who did not feel his gratitude to the
Emperor, as a benefactor, abated by his accumulated misfortunes. The
interview--how different from their last--was held in the hotel where
Buonaparte alighted, and where Augustus came to visit him incognito. On
the 18th, in the evening, he arrived at Paris, where the city had been
for two days agitated by the circulation of the Twenty-ninth Bulletin,
in which the veil, though with a reluctant hand, was raised up to show
the disasters of the Russian war.

It may not be thought minute to mention, that Napoleon and his attendant
had difficulty in procuring admittance to the Tuileries at so late an
hour. The Empress had retired to her private apartment. Two figures
muffled in furs entered the anteroom, and one of them directed his
course to the door of the Empress's sleeping chamber. The lady in
waiting hastened to throw herself betwixt the intruder and the entrance,
but, recognising the Emperor, she shrieked aloud, and alarmed Maria
Louisa, who entered the anteroom. Their meeting was extremely
affectionate, and showed, that, amidst all his late losses, Napoleon had
still domestic happiness within his reach.

       *       *       *       *       *


We return to the grand army, or rather to the assemblage of those who
had once belonged to it, for of an army it had scarce the semblance
left. The soldiers of the Imperial Guard, who had hitherto made it their
pride to preserve some degree of discipline, would, after the departure
of Napoleon, give obedience to no one else. Murat, to whom the chief
command had been delegated, seemed scarcely to use it, nor when he did
was he obeyed. If Ney, and some of the Maréchals, still retained
authority, they were only attended to from habit, or because the
instinct of discipline revived when the actual battle drew near. They
could not, however, have offered any effectual defence, nor could they
have escaped actual slaughter and dispersion, had it not been for
Loison's troops, who continued to form the rear-guard, and who, never
having been on the eastern side of the fatal Beresina, had, amid great
suffering, still preserved sufficient discipline to keep their ranks,
behave like soldiers, and make themselves be respected, not only by the
Cossacks, but by Tschaplitz, Witgenstein, and the Russians detached
from the main army, who followed them close, and annoyed them
constantly. The division of Loison remained like a shield, to protect
the disorderly retreat of the main body.

Still, some degree of order is so essential to human society, that, even
in that disorganised mass, the stragglers, which now comprehended almost
the whole army, divided into little bands, who assisted each other, and
had sometimes the aid of a miserable horse, which, when it fell down
under the burden of what they had piled on it, was torn to pieces and
eaten, while life was yet palpitating in its veins. These bands had
chiefs selected from among themselves. But this species of union, though
advantageous on the whole, led to particular evils. Those associated
into such a fraternity, would communicate to none save those of their
own party, a mouthful of rye-dough, which, seasoned with gunpowder for
want of salt, and eaten with a bouillé of horse-flesh, formed the best
part of their food. Neither would they permit a stranger to warm himself
at their fires, and when spoil was found, two of these companies often,
especially if of different countries, fought for the possession of it;
and a handful of meal was a sufficient temptation for putting to death
the wretch who could not defend his booty. The prisoners, it is said
(and we heartily wish the fact could be refuted,) were parked every
night, without receiving any victuals whatever, and perished, like
impounded cattle, from want of food, cold, and the delirious fury which
such treatment inspired. Among these unfortunates some became cannibals,
and the same horrible reproach has been cast on the French

To enhance misfortunes so dreadful, the cold, which had been for some
time endurable, increased on the 6th December to the most bitter degree
of frost, being twenty-seven or twenty-eight degrees below zero. Many
dropped down and expired in silence, the blood of others was determined
to the head by the want of circulation; it gushed at length from eyes
and mouth, and the wretches sunk down on the gory snow, and were
relieved by death. At the night bivouacs, the soldiers approached their
frozen limbs to the fire so closely, that, falling asleep in that
posture, their feet were scorched to the bone, while their hair was
frozen to the ground. In this condition they were often found by the
Cossacks, and happy were those upon whom the pursuers bestowed a thrust
with the lance to finish their misery. Other horrors there were, which
are better left in silence. Enough has been said to show, that such a
calamity, in such an extent, never before darkened the pages of history.
In this horrible retreat, 20,000 recruits had joined the army since
crossing the Beresina, where, including the corps of Oudinot and Victor,
they amounted to 80,000 men. But of this sum of 80,000 men, one-half
perished betwixt the Beresina and the walls of Wilna.[232]

In such a plight did the army arrive at Wilna, where great provision had
been made for their reception. The magazines were groaning with plenty,
but, as at Smolensk, the administrators and commissioners, terrified for
their own responsibility, dared not issue provisions to a disorderly
mob, who could neither produce authority for drawing rations, nor give a
regular receipt. The famished wretches fell down in the streets before
the magazines, and died there, cursing with their latest breath the
ill-timed punctiliousness of office, which refused to starving men the
morsel that might have saved their lives. In other places of the town,
stores both of provision and liquor were broken open by the desperate
soldiery, plundered and wasted. Numbers became intoxicated, and to
those, as they sunk down in the street, death came before sobriety. The
sick who went to the hospitals found them crowded, not only with the
dying, but with the dead, whose corpses were left to freeze or to
putrefy on the stairs and in the corridors, and sometimes in the
apartments of those who yet survived. Such were the comforts of Wilna,
from which so much had been hoped.

Still, however, some of the citizens, moved by pity or terror, or from
desire of gain (for many soldiers had still about their persons some
remnants of the spoils of Moscow,) were willing to give lodging and food
to these exhausted phantoms, who begged such relief sometimes with
furious threats and imprecations, sometimes in the plaintive tone of men
ready to perish. Distributions began also to be made at the public
stores; and men who for long had not eat a morsel of bread, or reposed
themselves upon any better lair than the frozen earth, or under any
other canopy save that of the snow-fraught sky, deemed it Paradise to
enjoy the most common household comforts, of which we think so little
while we enjoy them, yet are miserable when they are abridged or
withdrawn. Some wept for joy at receiving an ordinary loaf of bread, and
finding themselves at liberty to eat it, seated, and under a roof.

On a sudden the repast, which seemed earnest of a return to safety and
to social life, was disturbed by a distant cannonade, which came nigher
and nigher--then by the fire of musketry--at length by their own drums
beating to arms in the streets. Every alarm was in vain; even the
Imperial Guard no longer attended to the summons. The soldiers were
weary of their lives, and it seemed as if they would have been contented
to perish like the Jews in the wilderness, with their food betwixt their
teeth. At length the distant hourra, and the nearer cry of Cossacks!
Cossacks! which for some time had been their most available signal for
marching, compelled them to tear themselves from their refreshment, and
rush into the street. There they found their rear-guard and Loison,
although they had been reinforced by the body of Bavarians commanded by
Wrede, who had been left on the verge of Volhynia, hurrying into the
town in disorder like men defeated, and learned that they had been
driven back by Witgenstein, with Platoff and other partisan leaders, who
had followed them up to the gates.

[Sidenote: WILNA--KOWNO.]

Wilna, besides the immense magazines belonging to the French army,
contained a vast deposit of wealth and property, which had been left
there in the advance upon Moscow, and, in particular, a quantity of
treasure belonging to Napoleon. The town, though open, might have been
made good till the magazines were destroyed and the baggage removed; but
such was the confusion of the moment, that the Russians forced their way
into the town by one access, whilst the French left it by another,
directing their flight upon Kowno, with the most valuable part of their
baggage, or such as could be most speedily harnessed. The inhabitants of
the town, the lower orders that is, and particularly the Jews, now
thought of propitiating the victors by butchering the wretches whom they
had received into their houses; or, at best, stripping and thrusting
them naked into the streets. For this inhumanity the Jews are said to
have been afterwards punished by the Russians, who caused several of
them to be hanged.

Meanwhile, the flying column had attained a hill and defile, called
Ponari, when the carriages became entangled, and at length one of the
treasure-waggons being overturned, burst, and discovered its contents.
All shadow of discipline was then lost; and, as if to anticipate the
Russians, the French soldiers themselves fell upon the baggage, broke
open the wains, and appropriated their contents. The Cossacks rode up
during the fray, and so rich was the booty, that even they were content
to plunder in company, suspending for the instant their national
animosity, where there seemed wealth enough for all, and no time to lose
in fighting. Yet it is said that the privates of the Imperial Guard
displayed a rare example of honour and discipline. The Count de Turenne,
having beaten off the Cossacks who pressed in, distributed the private
treasure of Napoleon among his guard, the individuals of which
afterwards restored them. "Not a single piece of money," says Ségur,
"was lost." This, however, must be partly imagination; for many of the
guard fell after this, and the Cossacks, who became their executors,
could have had little idea of making restitution.

It is not worth while to trace further the flight of this miserable body
of wanderers. They arrived at length at Kowno, the last town of Russian
Poland, Ney alone endeavouring to give them some military direction and
assistance, while they were at every instant deserting him and
themselves. At Kowno, it seems that about 1000 men were still under
arms, about twenty times that number in total dispersion. The pursuit
of the Russians appeared to cease after the fugitives had recrossed the
Niemen on the ice; they did not choose to push the war into Prussia.

At Gumbinnen, the remaining maréchals and commanders held a council, in
which Murat gave way to the stifled resentment he had long entertained
against his brother-in-law. He had been displeased with Napoleon, for
not severely repressing the insolence with which, as he conceived, he
had been treated by Davoust, and at another time by Ney; and he openly
inveighed against his relative as a madman, upon whose word no reliance
was to be placed. In these moments of anger and mutiny, Murat blamed
himself for rejecting the proposals of the English. Had he not done so,
he said, he might still have been a great king, like the sovereigns of
Austria and Russia. "These kings," answered Davoust, bitterly, "are
monarchs by the grace of God, by the sanction of time, and the course of
custom. But you--you are only a king by the grace of Napoleon, and
through the blood of Frenchmen. You are grossly ungrateful, and as such
I will denounce you to the Emperor."[233] Such was this strange scene,
of which the maréchals were silent witnesses. It served to show how
little unity there was in their councils when the Master Spirit ceased
to preside among them.

From Gumbinnen the French went to show their miseries at Königsberg.
Every where they were coldly, yet not coarsely, treated by the
Prussians, who had before felt their oppression, but did not consider
them in their present state as becoming objects of vengeance. At
Königsberg they learnt the fate of their two extreme wings, which was of
a nature to close all hopes.

On the right of the French original line of advance, Schwartzenberg had
no sooner learned that the Emperor was totally defeated, and his army
irretrievably dispersed, than, in the quality of a mere auxiliary, he
thought himself no longer entitled to hazard a single Austrian life in
the quarrel. There was an armistice concluded between the Austrians and
Russians, by the terms of which they agreed to manœuvre as at a game
of chess, but not to fight. Thus, when the Russians should gain such a
position, as in actual war would have given them an advantage, the
Austrians were under the engagement to retreat; and the campaign
resembled nothing so much as a pacific field-day, in which two generals
in the same service venture upon a trial of skill. Schwartzenberg, by
his manœuvres, protected the French corps under Regnier as long as
possible, obtained good terms for Warsaw, and gained for Regnier three
days advantage, when at last he ceased to cover the place. Having thus
protected his allies to the last, he retired into the Austrian
territories; and although Regnier was finally overtaken and surprised at
Khalish, it could not be imputed to Schwartzenberg's desertion of him,
but to his own making too long a halt to protect some Polish depôts.
The relics of Regnier's army, such at least as fled into the Austrian
territories, were well received there, and afterwards restored to their
own banners. Still the alliance with Austria, which in one sense had
cost Napoleon so dear, was now dissolved, and his right wing totally
dissipated by the defection of his allies. On the left wing matters had
no better, or rather, they had a much worse appearance.


During the eventful six months of the Russian campaign, Macdonald, who
commanded the left wing, had remained in Courland, with an army of about
30,000 men, of whom 22,000 were Prussians, the rest Germans of different
countries. It would seem that Napoleon had been averse from the
beginning to employ these unwilling auxiliaries upon any service where
their defection might influence the other parts of his army. Yet they
behaved well upon several occasions, when Macdonald had occasion to
repel the attacks and sallies of the numerous garrison of Riga, and
their active exertions enabled him to save the park of heavy artillery
destined for the siege of that place, which had almost fallen into the
hands of the Russian general Lewis, at Mittau, on the 29th of September.
But on this occasion, though having every reason to be pleased with the
soldiers, Macdonald saw room to suspect their leader, D'Yorck, of
coldness to the French cause. That officer was, indeed, engaged in a
service which at heart he detested. He was one of the Tugend-Bund, so
often mentioned, an ardent Prussian patriot, and eager to free his
native country from a foreign yoke. He therefore eagerly watched for a
plausible opportunity when he might, without dishonour, disunite his
forces from those of the French maréchal.

About the beginning of December, the situation of Macdonald became
precarious. Nothing was heard on every side, save of the rout and
disasters of the French grand army, and the maréchal anxiously expected
orders for a retreat while it was yet open to him. But such was the
confusion at the headquarters after the Emperor's departure, that
neither Murat nor Berthier thought of sending the necessary authority to
Macdonald; and when they did, though the order to retreat might have
reached him in five days, it was ten days on the road.

He commenced his retreat upon Tilsit, his vanguard consisting of
Massenbach's Prussian division, chiefly cavalry, he himself following
with the Bavarians, Saxons, &c., and D'Yorck bringing up the rear with
15,000 Prussians, the residue of that auxiliary army. In this order,
with the Prussians divided into two corps, and his own posted between
them, as if to secure against their combining, the maréchal marched on
in sufficient anxiety, but without complaint on his side, or
difficulties on that of the Prussian general. But when the maréchal,
upon 28th January, arrived at Tilsit, which was in the line of their
retreat, and had sent forward the cavalry of Massenbach as far as
Regnitz, the troops of D'Yorck in the rear had detached themselves so
far that Macdonald was obliged to halt for them. He sent letters to
D'Yorck, pressing him to come up--he sent to the cavalry of Massenbach
in the van, commanding them to return. From D'Yorck came no answer. At
Regnitz, the French general, Bachelu, who had been sent to act as
adjutant-general with Massenbach's corps, could find no obedience. The
colonels of the Prussian cavalry objected to the weather, and the state
of the roads; they would not give the order to sound to horse; and when
the horses were at length reluctantly ordered out and produced, the
soldiers were equally restive, they would not mount. While the Prussian
troops were in this state of mutiny, a Russian emissary was heard to
press them to deliver up the Frenchman; but the soldiers, though
resolved to leave Bachelu, would not betray him. The proposal shocked
their feelings of honour, and they mounted and marched back to Tilsit,
to restore Bachelu to Macdonald's army. But their purpose was unchanged.
As at Regnitz they had refused to mount their horses, so at Tilsit they
refused to alight. At length they were prevailed upon to dismount and
retire to their quarters, but it was only a feint; for, shortly after
they were supposed asleep, the Prussians mounted in great silence, and,
with Massenbach and their officers at their head, marched off to join
their countrymen under D'Yorck.

That general had, now and for ever, separated his troops from the
French. Upon 30th December, he had concluded an armistice with the
Russian general, Dibbeitsch. By this agreement, the Prussian troops were
to be cantoned in their own territories, and remain neutral for two
months; at the end of that period, if their king so determined, they
should be at liberty to rejoin the French troops. Both D'Yorck and
Massenbach wrote to Macdonald, announcing their secession from his army.
D'Yorck contented himself with stating, that he cared not what opinion
the world might form on his conduct, it was dictated by the purest
motives--his duty to his troops and to his country. Massenbach expressed
his respect and esteem for General Macdonald, and declared, that his
reason for leaving him without an interview, was the fear he felt that
his personal regard for the Maréchal might have prevented his obeying
the call of duty.

Thus did a Prussian general first set the example of deserting the cause
in which he served so unwillingly--an example which soon spread fast and
far. It was a choice of difficulties on D'Yorck's side, for his zeal as
a patriot was in some degree placed in opposition to the usual ideas of
soldierly honour. But he had not left Macdonald till the Maréchal's
safety, and that of the remainder of his army, was in some measure
provided for. He was out of the Russian territory, and free, or nearly
so, from Russian pursuit. D'Yorck had become neutral, but not the enemy
or his late commander.

Here the question arises, how long were the Prussians to be held bound
to sacrifice their blood for the foreigners, by whom they had been
conquered, pillaged, and oppressed; and to what extent were they bound
to endure adversity for those who had uniformly trampled on them during
their prosperity? One thing, we believe, we may affirm with certainty,
namely, that D'Yorck acted entirely on his own responsibility, and
without any encouragement, direct or indirect, from his sovereign. Nay,
there is room to suppose, that though the armistice of Taurogen was
afterwards declared good service by the King of Prussia, yet D'Yorck was
not entirely forgiven by his prince for having entered into it. It was
one of the numerous cases, in which a subject's departing from the
letter of the sovereign's command, although for that sovereign's more
effectual service, is still a line of conduct less grateful than
implicit obedience. Upon receiving the news, Frederick disavowed the
conduct of his general, and appointed Massenbach and him to be sent to
Berlin for trial. But the officers retained their authority, for the
Prussian army and people considered their sovereign as acting under the
restraint of the French troops under Augereau, who then occupied his

Macdonald, with the remains of his army, reduced to about 9000 men,
accomplished his retreat to Königsberg after a sharp skirmish.


And thus ended the memorable Russian expedition, the first of Napoleon's
undertakings in which he was utterly defeated, and of which we scarce
know whether most to wonder at the daring audacity of the attempt, or
the terrific catastrophe. The loss of the grand army was total, and the
results are probably correctly stated by Boutourlin as follows:--

  Slain in battle,                                     125,000
  Died from fatigue, hunger, and the severity of the
    climate,                                           132,000
  Prisoners, comprehending 48 generals, 3000 officers,
    and upwards of 190,000 men,                        193,000
  Total,                                               450,000

The relics of the troops which escaped from that overwhelming disaster,
independent of the two auxiliary armies of Austrians and Prussians, who
were never much engaged in its terrors, might be about 40,000 men, of
whom scarcely 10,000 were Frenchmen.[234] The Russians, notwithstanding
the care that was taken to destroy these trophies, took seventy-five
eagles, colours, or standards, and upwards of 900 pieces of cannon.

Thus had the greatest military captain of the age, at the head of an
innumerable array, rushed upon his gigantic adversary, defeated his
army, and destroyed, or been the cause of the destruction of his
capital, only to place himself in a situation where the ruin of nearly
the whole of his own force, without even the intervention of a general
action, became the indispensable price of his safe return.


The causes of this total and calamitous failure lay in miscalculations,
both moral and physical, which were involved in the first concoction of
the enterprise, and began to operate from its very commencement. We are
aware that this is, with the idolaters of Napoleon, an unpalatable view
of the case. They believe, according to the doctrine which he himself
promulgated, that he could be conquered by the elements alone. This was
what he averred in the twenty-ninth bulletin. Till the 6th November he
stated that he had been uniformly successful. The snow then fell, and in
six days destroyed the character of the army, depressed their courage,
elated that of the "despicable" Cossacks, deprived the French of
artillery, baggage, and cavalry, and reduced them, with little aid from
the Russians, to the melancholy state in which they returned to Poland.
This opinion Napoleon wished to perpetuate in a medal, on which the
retreat from Moscow is represented by the figure of Eolus blowing upon
the soldiers, who are shown shrinking from the storm, or falling under
it. The same statement he always supported; and it is one of those
tenets which his extravagant admirers are least willing to relinquish.

Three questions, however, remain to be examined ere we can subscribe to
this doctrine.--I. Does the mere fall of snow, nay, a march through a
country covered with it, necessarily, and of itself, infer the extent of
misfortune here attributed to its agency?--II. Was not the possibility
of such a storm a contingency which ought in reason to have entered into
Napoleon's calculations?--III. Was it the mere severity of the
snow-storm, dreadful as it was, which occasioned the destruction of
Buonaparte's army; or, did not the effects of climate rather come in to
aid various causes of ruin, which were inherent in this extravagant
expedition from the very beginning, and were operating actively, when
the weather merely came to their assistance?

On the first question it is needless to say much. A snow, accompanied
with hard frost, is not necessarily destructive to a retreating army.
The weaker individuals must perish, but, to the army, it affords, if
they are provided for the season, better opportunities of moving than
rainy and open weather. In the snow, hard frozen upon the surface, as it
is in Russia and Canada, the whole face of the country becomes a road;
and an army, lightly equipped, and having sledges instead of wains, may
move in as many parallel columns as they will, instead of being
confined, as in moist weather, to one high-road, along which the
divisions must follow each other in succession. Such an extension of the
front, by multiplying the number of marching columns, must be
particularly convenient to an army which, like that of Napoleon, is
obliged to maintain itself as much as possible at the expense of the
country. Where there are only prolonged columns, following each other
over the same roads, the marauders from the first body must exhaust the
country on each side; so that the corps which follow must send their
purveyors beyond the ground which has been already pillaged, until at
length the distance becomes so great, that the rearward must satisfy
themselves with gleaning after the wasteful harvest of those who have
preceded them. Supposing six, eight, or ten columns marching in parallel
lines upon the same front, and leaving an interval betwixt each, they
will cover six, eight, or ten times the breadth of country, and of
course supply themselves more plentifully, as well as much more easily.
Such columns, keeping a parallel front, can, if attacked, receive
reciprocal aid by lateral movements more easily than when assistance
must be sent from the van to the rear of one long moving line; and the
march being lateral on such occasions, does not infer the loss of time,
and other inconveniences inferred by a counter-march from the front to
support the rear. Lastly, the frost often renders bridges unnecessary,
fills ravines, and makes morasses passable; thus compensating, in some
degree, to a marching army, for the rigorous temperature to which it
subjects them.

But, 2dly, It may be asked, if frost and snow are so irresistible and
destructive in Russia, as to infer the destruction of whole armies, why
did not these casualties enter into the calculations of so great a
general entering on such an immense undertaking? Does it never snow in
Russia, or is frost a rare phenomenon there in the month of November? It
is said that the cold weather began earlier than usual. This, we are
assured, was not the case; but, at any rate, it was most unwise to
suffer the safety of an army, and an army of such numbers and
importance, to depend on the mere chance of a frost setting in a few
days sooner or later.[235]

The fact is, that Napoleon, whose judgment was seldom misled save by the
ardour of his wishes, had foreseen, in October, the coming of the frost,
as he had been aware, in July, of the necessity of collecting sufficient
supplies of food for his army, yet without making adequate provision
against what he knew was to happen, in either case. In the 22d bulletin,
it is intimated, that the Moskwa, and other rivers of Russia, might be
expected to be frozen over about the middle of November, which ought to
have prepared the Emperor for the snow and frost commencing five or six
days sooner; which actually took place. In the 26th bulletin, the
necessity of winter-quarters is admitted, and the Emperor is represented
as looking luxuriously around him, to consider whether he should choose
them in the south of Russia, or in the friendly country of Poland. The
weather is then stated to be fine, "but on the first days of November
cold was to be expected. Winter-quarters, therefore, must be thought
upon; the cavalry, above all, stand in need of them."

It is impossible that he, under whose eye, or by whose hand, these
bulletins were drawn up, could have been surprised by the arrival of
snow on the 6th November. It was a probability foreseen, though left
unprovided for.

Even the most ordinary precaution, that of rough-shoeing the horses of
the cavalry and the draught-horses, was totally neglected; for the
bulletins complain of the shoes being smooth. This is saying, in other
words, that the animals had not been new-shod at all; for French horses
may be termed always rough-shod, until the shoes are grown old and worn
smooth through use. If, therefore, frost and snow be so very dangerous
to armies, Napoleon wilfully braved their rigour, and by his want of due
preparations, brought upon himself the very disaster of which he
complained so heavily.

Thirdly, Though unquestionably the severity of the frost did greatly
increase the distress and loss of an army suffering under famine,
nakedness, and privations of every kind, yet it was neither the first,
nor, in any respect, the principal, cause of their disasters. The reader
must keep in remembrance the march through Lithuania, in which, without
a blow struck, Napoleon lost 10,000 horses at once, and nearly 100,000
men, when passing through a country which was friendly. Did this loss,
which happened in June and July, arise from the premature snow, as it
has been called, of the 6th of November? No, surely. It arose from what
the bulletin itself describes as "the uncertainty, the distresses, the
marches and counter-marches of the troops, their fatigues and
sufferances;" to the system, in short, of forced marches, by which,
after all, Napoleon was unable to gain any actual advance. This cost him
one-fourth, or nearly so, of his army, before a blow was struck. If we
suppose that he left on both his flanks, and in his rear, a force of
100,000 men, under Macdonald, Schwartzenberg, Oudinot, and others, he
commenced the actual invasion of Russia Proper with 200,000 soldiers. A
moiety of this large force perished before he reached Moscow, which he
entered at the head of less than 100,000 men. The ranks had been thinned
by fatigue, and the fields of battle and hospitals must answer for the
remainder. Finally, Napoleon left Moscow on the 19th October, as a place
where he could not remain, and yet from which he saw no safe mode of
exit. He was then at the head of about 120,000 men; so much was his army
recruited by convalescents, the collection of stragglers, and some
reserves which had been brought up. He fought the unavailing though most
honourably sustained battle of Malo-Yarowslavetz; failed in forcing his
way to Kalouga and Toula; and, like a stag at bay, was forced back on
the wasted and broken-up road to Smolensk by Borodino. On this road was
fought the battle of Wiazma, in which the French loss was very
considerable; and his columns were harassed by the Cossacks at every
point of their march, and many thousands of prisoners were taken. Two
battles so severely fought, besides the defeat of Murat and constant
skirmishes, cost the French, in killed and wounded, (and every wounded
man was lost to Napoleon,) not less than 25,000 men; and so far had the
French army been diminished.

This brought him to the 6th November, until which day not a flake had
fallen of that snow to which all his disasters are attributed, but which
in fact did not commence until he had in a great measure experienced
them. By this time also, his wings and reserves had undergone severe
fighting and great loss, without any favourable results. Thus, wellnigh
three-fourths of his original army were destroyed, and the remnant
reduced to a most melancholy and disorderly condition, before
commencement of the storm to which he found it afterwards convenient to
impute his calamities. It is scarcely necessary to notice, that when the
snow did begin to fall, it found Napoleon not a victor, but a fugitive,
quitting ground before his antagonists, and indebted for his safety, not
to the timidity of the Russians, but to the over-caution of their
general. The Cossacks, long before the snow-tempest commenced, were
muttering against Koutousoff for letting these skeletons, as they called
the French army, walk back into a bloodless grave.

When the severe frost came, it aggravated greatly the misery, and
increased the loss, of the French army. But Winter was only the ally of
the Russians; not, as has been contended, their sole protectress. She
rendered the retreat of the grand army more calamitous, but it had
already been an indispensable measure; and was in the act of being
executed at the lance-point of the Cossacks, before the storms of the
north contributed to overwhelm the invaders.

What, then, occasioned this most calamitous catastrophe? We venture to
reply, that a moral error, or rather a crime, converted Napoleon's
wisdom into folly; and that he was misled, by the injustice of his
views, into the great political, nay, military errors, which he acted
upon in his attempt to realize them.[236]

We are aware there are many who think that the justice of a quarrel is
of little moment, providing the aggressor has strength and courage to
make good what his adversary murmurs against as wrong. With such
reasoners, the race is uniformly to the swift, and the battle to the
strong; and they reply to others with the profane jest of the King of
Prussia, that the Deity always espouses the cause of the most powerful.
But the maxim is as false as it is impious. Without expecting miracles
in this later age, we know that the world is subjected to moral as well
as physical laws, and that the breach of the former frequently carries
even a temporal punishment along with it. Let us try by this test the
conduct of Napoleon in the Russian war.

The causes assigned for his breach with Russia, unjust in their essence,
had been put upon a plan of settlement; yet his armies continued to bear
down upon the frontiers of the Russian Empire; so that to have given up
the questions in dispute, with the French bayonets at his breast, would
have been on the part of Alexander a surrender of the national
independence. The demands of Napoleon, unjust in themselves, and
attempted to be enforced by means of intimidation, it was impossible for
a proud people, and a high-spirited prince, to comply with. Thus the
first act of Buonaparte went to excite a national feeling, from the
banks of the Boristhenes to the wall of China, and to unite against him
the wild and uncivilized inhabitants of an extended empire, possessed by
a love to their religion, their government, and their country, and
having a character of stern devotion, which he was incapable of
estimating. It was a remarkable characteristic of Napoleon, that when he
had once fixed his opinion, he saw every thing as he wished to see it,
and was apt to dispute even realities, if they did not coincide with his
preconceived ideas. He had persuaded himself, that to beat an army and
subdue a capital, was, with the influence of his personal ascendency,
all that was necessary to obtain a triumphant peace. He had especially a
confidence in his own command over the minds of such as he had been
personally intimate with. Alexander's disposition, he believed, was
perfectly known to him; and he entertained no doubt, that by beating his
army, and taking his capital, he should resume the influence which he
had once held over the Russian Emperor, by granting him a peace upon
moderate terms, and in which the acknowledgment of the victor's
superiority would have been the chief advantage stipulated. For this he
hurried on by forced marches, losing so many thousands of men and horses
in Lithuania, which an attention to ordinary rules would have saved from
destruction. For this, when his own prudence, and that of his council,
joined in recommending a halt at Witepsk or at Smolensk, he hurried
forward to the fight, and to the capture of the metropolis, which he had
flattered himself was to be the signal of peace. His wishes were
apparently granted. Borodino, the bloodiest battle of our battling age,
was gained--Moscow was taken--but he had totally failed to calculate the
effect of these events upon the Russians and their emperor. When he
expected their submission, and a ransom for their capital, the city was
consumed in his presence; yet even the desertion and destruction of
Moscow could not tear the veil from his eyes, or persuade him that the
people and their prince would prefer death to disgrace. It was his
reluctance to relinquish the visionary hopes which egotism still induced
him to nourish, that prevented his quitting Moscow a month earlier than
he did. He had no expectation that the mild climate of Fontainbleau
would continue to gild the ruins of Moscow till the arrival of December;
but he could not forego the flattering belief, that a letter and
proposal of pacification must at last fulfil the anticipations which he
so ardently entertained. It was only the attack upon Murat that finally
dispelled this hope.

Thus a hallucination, for such it may be termed, led this great soldier
into a train of conduct, which, as a military critic, he would have been
the first to condemn, and which was the natural consequence of his deep
moral error. He was hurried by this self-opinion, this ill-founded trust
in the predominance of his own personal influence, into a gross neglect
of the usual and prescribed rules of war. He put in motion an immense
army, too vast in numbers to be supported either by the supplies of the
country through which they marched, or by the provisions they could
transport along with them. And when, plunging into Russia, he defeated
her armies and took her metropolis, he neglected to calculate his line
of advance on such an extent of base, as should enable him to
consolidate his conquests, and turn to real advantage the victories
which he attained. His army was but precariously connected with
Lithuania when he was at Moscow, and all communication was soon
afterwards entirely destroyed. Thus, one unjust purpose, strongly and
passionately entertained, marred the councils of the wise, and rendered
vain the exertions of the brave. We may read the moral in the words of

                   "Jam non ad culmina rerum
    Injustos crevisse queror; tolluntur in altum,
    Ut lapsu graviore ruant."

      CLAUDIAN, _in Rufinum_, Lib. i., v. 21.


[222] "For a long time we had had no news from France; we were ignorant
of what was going on in the grand duchy; we were informed of it at
Malodeczno. Napoleon received nineteen despatches at once."--RAPP, p.

[223] The reader will find the details of this singular attempt in the
succeeding chapter.

[224] "Napoleon passed through the crowd of his officers, who were drawn
up in an avenue as he passed, bidding them adieu merely by forced and
melancholy smiles; their good wishes, equally silent, and expressed only
by respectful gestures, he carried with him. He and Caulaincourt shut
themselves up in a carriage; his Mameluke and Wakasowitch, captain of
his guard, occupied the box; Duroc and Lobau followed in a
sledge."--SÉGUR, tom. ii., p. 337.

[225] Ségur, tom. ii., p. 320.

[226] Histoire de l'Ambassade dans le Grand Duché de Varsovi, en 1812,
p. 207.

[227] This alludes to exaggerated reports circulated by Marat, Duke of
Bassano, then residing at Wilna, of a pretended victory obtained by
Napoleon, at the passage at Studzianka.--S.

[228] "Du sublime au ridicule il n'y a qu'un pas?"

[229] "He certainly had a long conversation with me, which he
misrepresents, as might be expected; and it was at the very moment when
he was delivering a long prosing speech, which appeared to me a mere
string of absurdity and impertinence, that I scrawled on the corner of
the chimney-piece the order to withdraw him from his embassy, and to
send him as soon as possible to France; a circumstance which was the
cause of a good deal of merriment at the time, and which the abbé seems
very desirous of concealing."--NAPOLEON, _Las Cases_, tom. ii., p. 94.

[230] "In Silesia, Napoleon was very nearly taken prisoner by the
Prussians; and at Dresden, he only escaped a plot for his seizure,
because Lord Walpole, who was at Vienna, dared not give the
signal."--FOUCHÉ, tom. ii., p. 117.

[231] Ségur, tom. ii., p. 341.

[232] Ségur, tom. ii., p. 351.

[233] Ségur, tom. ii., p. 371.

[234] "Of 400,000 men in arms, who had crossed the Niemen, scarcely
30,000 repassed that river five months afterwards, and of those
two-thirds had not seen the Kremlin."--FOUCHÉ, tom. ii., p. 118.

[235] "Sir Walter takes great pains to prove that the extraordinary
severity of the winter was not the principal cause of this frightful
catastrophe. He is facetious about the snow, to which he believes, or
pretends to believe, that the twenty-ninth bulletin attributes the
disaster; whereas, it was not the snow alone, but a cold of thirty
degrees below zero. And have we not often known, in the severe winters
of the north of France, where the cold is slight in comparison with that
of Russia--travellers to perish under the snow? How then can it be
denied that the extreme severity of the winter was the cause of the

[236] "Sir Walter Scott has not, in this outrage against Napoleon, the
merit of novelty: and what is more painful, French writers have been
guilty of repeating the ridiculous accusation. What! he who threw
himself upon his gigantic adversary at the head of an innumerable army,
and conducted it six hundred leagues from his country; who defeated all
the armies of his enemy--burned his capital, or was the cause of its
destruction--had such a man lost his senses? The expedition to Russia,
according to common rules, was ill-judged and rash, and the more so when
undertaken without the basis of Poland; and when we consider the
formation of the grand army, composed of so many different nations, and
that Napoleon persisted in the project in spite of all obstacles, and
the disapprobation of the majority of his greatest generals, we are
astonished how he succeeded in invading a great portion of the vast
territory of Russia, and penetrated as far as the capital of that
empire. Whatever his enemies may assert, had it not been for the
extraordinary havoc of the winter, the grand army would have returned to
the frontiers of Poland, established itself on that line, and menaced
the Russian empire anew, and in a more definitive manner, during the
following campaign."--LOUIS BUONAPARTE, p. 86.


    _Effects of Napoleon's return upon the Parisians--Congratulations
    and addresses by all the public Functionaries--Conspiracy of
    Mallet--very nearly successful--How at last defeated--The impression
    made by this event upon Buonaparte--Discussions with the Pope, who
    is brought to France, but remains inflexible--State of Affairs in
    Spain--Napoleon's great and successful exertions to recruit his
    Army--Guards of Honour--In the month of April, the army is raised to
    350,000 men, independently of the troops left in garrison in
    Germany, and in Spain and Italy._

Upon the morning succeeding his return, which was like the sudden
appearance of one dropped from the heavens, Paris resounded with the
news; which had, such was the force of Napoleon's character, and the
habits of subjection to which the Parisians were inured, the effect of
giving a new impulse to the whole capital. If the impressions made by
the twenty-ninth bulletin could not be effaced, they were carefully
concealed. The grumblers suppressed their murmurs, which had begun to be
alarming. The mourners dried their tears, or shed them in solitude. The
safe return of Napoleon was a sufficient cure for the loss of 500,000
men, and served to assuage the sorrows of as many widows and
orphans.[237] The emperor convoked the Council of State. He spoke with
apparent frankness of the misfortunes which had befallen his army, and
imputed them all to the snow.--"All had gone well," he said; "Moscow was
in our power--every obstacle was overcome--the conflagration of the city
had produced no change on the flourishing condition of the French army;
but winter has been productive of a general calamity, in consequence of
which the army had sustained very great losses." One would have thought,
from his mode of stating the matter, that the snow had surprised him in
the midst of victory, and not in the course of a disastrous and
inevitable retreat.

The _Moniteur_ was at first silent on the news from Russia, and
announced the advent of the Emperor as if he had returned from
Fontainbleau; but after an interval of this apparent coldness, like the
waters of a river in the thaw, accumulating behind, and at length
precipitating themselves over, a barrier of ice, arose the general
gratulation of the public functionaries, whose power and profit must
stand or fall with the dominion of the Emperor, and whose voices alone
were admitted to represent those of the people. The cities of Rome,
Florence, Milan, Turin, Hamburgh, Amsterdam, Mayence, and whatever
others there were of consequence in the empire, joined in the general
asseveration, that the presence of the Emperor alone was all that was
necessary to convert disquietude into happiness and tranquillity. The
most exaggerated praise of Napoleon's great qualities, the most
unlimited devotion to his service, the most implicit confidence in his
wisdom, were the theme of these addresses. Their flattery was not only
ill-timed, considering the great loss which the country had sustained;
but it was so grossly exaggerated in some instances, as to throw
ridicule even upon the high talents of the party to whom it was
addressed, as daubers are often seen to make a ridiculous caricature of
the finest original. In the few circles where criticism on these
effusions of loyalty might be whispered, the authors of the addresses
were compared to the duped devotee in Molière's comedy, who, instead of
sympathizing in his wife's illness, and the general indisposition of his
family, only rejoices to hear that Tartuffe is in admirable good health.
Yet there were few even among these scoffers who would have dared to
stay behind, had they been commanded to attend the Emperor to Notre
Dame, that Te Deum might be celebrated for the safe return of Napoleon,
though purchased by the total destruction of his great army.


But it was amongst the public offices that the return of the Emperor so
unexpectedly, produced the deepest sensation. They were accustomed to go
on at a moderate rate with the ordinary routine of duty, while the
Emperor was on any expedition; but his return had the sudden effect of
the appearance of the master in the school, from which he had been a
short time absent. All was bustle, alertness, exertion, and
anticipation. On the present occasion, double diligence, or the show of
it, was exerted; for all feared, and some with reason, that their
conduct on a late event might have incurred the severe censure of the
Emperor. We allude to the conspiracy of Mallet, a singular incident, the
details of which we have omitted till now.

During Buonaparte's former periods of absence, the government of the
interior of France, under the management of Cambacérès, went on in the
ordinary course, as methodically, though not so actively, as when
Napoleon was at the Tuileries; the system of administration was
accurate, that of superintendence not less so. The obligations of the
public functionaries were held as strict as those of military men. But
during the length of Napoleon's absence on the Russian expedition, a
plot was formed, which served to show how little firm was the hold which
the system of the Imperial government had on the feelings of the nation,
by what slight means its fall might be effected, and how small an
interest a new revolution would have excited.[238] It seemed that the
Emperor's power showed stately and stable to the eye, like a tall
pine-tree, which, while it spreads its shade broad around, and raises
its head to heaven, cannot send its roots, like those of the oak, deep
into the bowels of the earth, but, spreading them along the shallow
surface, is liable to be overthrown by the first assault of the

The final purpose of Mallet is not known. He was of noble birth, and
served in the Mousquetaires of the royal household before the
Revolution, which inclined many to think that he had the interest of the
Bourbons in view. As, however, he had risen to the head of chef de
brigade in the Republican army, it is more probable that he belonged to
the sect of Philadelphes.[239] In 1808, General Mallet was committed to
prison, as concerned in an intrigue against the Emperor; and he was
still under the restraint of the police, when he formed the audacious
scheme which had so nearly succeeded. While under a confinement now
lenient, in a Maison de Santé, he was able to execute, or procure to be
executed, a forged paper, purporting to be a decree of the Senate,
announcing officially the death of the Emperor, the abolition of the
Imperial government, and the establishment of a provisional committee of
administration. This document was to appearance attested by the official
seal and signatures.

On the 22d of October, at midnight, he escaped from his place of
confinement, dressed himself in his full uniform, and, accompanied by a
corporal in the dress of an aide-de-camp, repaired to the prison of La
Force, where he demanded and obtained the liberation of two generals,
Lahorie and Guidal, who were confined under circumstances not dissimilar
to his own. They went together to the barracks at the Minims, not then
inhabited by any part of the truest and most attached followers of
Napoleon, who, while his power was tottering at home, were strewing with
their bones the snows of Russia and the deserts of Spain, but by
battalions of raw conscripts and recruits. Here Mallet assumed an air of
absolute authority, commanded the drums to beat, ordered the troops on
parade, and despatched parties upon different services.

No one disputed his right to be obeyed, and Soulier, commandant of the
troops, placed them at his absolute disposal, being partly, as he
himself alleged, confused in mind by a fever which afflicted him at the
time, partly, perhaps, influenced by a check for 100,000 francs, which
was laid down upon his bed, to cover, it was said, a gratuity to the
soldiers, and an issue of double pay to the officers. One division
seized Savary, the minister of police, and conducted him to prison.
Another party found it as easy to arrest the person of the prefect of
police. A battalion of soldiers, under the same authority, occupied the
place de Grève, and took possession of the hôtel de Ville; while Compte
Frochot, who had been for thirteen years the Prefect of the Seine,
stupified by the suddenness of the intelligence, and flattered perhaps,
by finding his own name in the list of the provisional committee of
government, had the complaisance to put the conspirators in possession
of the tower of St. Jacques, from which the tocsin was usually sounded,
and get an apartment in the hôtel de Ville arranged for the reception of
the new administration. But the principal conspirator, like Fiesco at
Genoa, perished at the moment when his audacious enterprise seemed about
to be crowned with success. Hitherto none had thought of disobeying the
pretended decree of the Senate. Rumour had prepared all men for the
death of the Emperor, and the subsequent revolution seemed a consequence
so natural, that it was readily acquiesced in, and little interest shown
on the subject.

But Mallet, who had himself gone to obtain possession of the
headquarters in the place Vendôme, was unexpectedly resisted by General
Hullin. Prepared for every circumstance, the desperado fired a pistol at
the head of the general, and wounded him grievously; but in the
meanwhile, he was himself recognised by Laborde, chief of the military
police, who, incredulous that his late captive would have been selected
by the Senate for the important duty which he was assuming, threw
himself on Mallet, and made him prisoner. Thus ended the
conspiracy.[240] The soldiers, who had been its blind instruments, were
marched back to the barracks. Mallet, with twenty-four of his
associates, most of them military men, were tried by a military
tribunal, and twelve of them were shot in the plain of Grenelle, 30th of
October. He met his death with the utmost firmness.[241] The sun was
rising on the Hospital of Invalids, and the workmen were employed in
gilding that splendid dome, for which Buonaparte had given express
orders, in imitation, it was said, of those which he had seen in Moscow.
The prisoner made some remarks upon the improvement which this would be
to the capital. As he stepped towards the fatal ground, he said,
mysteriously, but sternly, "You have got the tail, but you will not get
the head." From this expression it has been gathered, that, as the
conspiracy of the infernal machine, formed originally among the
Jacobins, was executed by the Royalists, so this plot was the device of
the Royalists, though committed to the execution of republican
hands.[242] The truth, though it must be known to some now alive, has
never been made public.

This was the news which reached Buonaparte on the fatal 6th of November,
betwixt Wiazma and Smolensk, and which determined his retreat from the
army at Smorgoni, and his rapid journey to Paris. It was not so much the
conspiracy which alarmed him, as the supineness or levity with which the
nation, at least Paris, its capital, seemed ready to abandon the dynasty
which he had hoped to render perpetual. He was even startled by the
number of executions, and exclaimed against the indiscriminate severity
with which so many officers had been led to death, although rather dupes
than accomplices of the principal conspirator. "It is a massacre," he
said; "a fusillade! What impression will it make on France?"

[Sidenote: PARIS.]

When Napoleon reached the metropolis, he found the Parisians as little
interested in the execution of the criminals, as they had been in their
ephemeral success. But the sting remained in his own mind, and on the
first audience of his ministers, he exclaimed against ideology, or, in
other words, against any doctrine which, appealing to the general
feelings of patriotism or of liberty, should resist the indefeasible and
divine right of the sovereign. He sounded the praises of Harlai and
Molé, ministers of justice, who had died in protecting the rights of the
crown; and exclaimed, that the best death would be that of the soldier
who falls on the field of battle, if the end of the magistrate, who dies
in defence of the throne and laws, was not still more glorious.[243]

This key-note formed an admirable theme for the flourishes of the
various counsellors of the sections, to whom the fate of Frochot, the
peccant prefect, had been submitted with reference to the extent of his
crime and his punishment. Not even the addresses to James II. of Britain
(who had at least a hereditary right to the throne he occupied) poured
forth such a torrent of professions, or were more indifferently backed
with deeds, when the observant courtiers were brought to the proof, than
did those of the French functionaries at this period. "What is life,"
said the Comte de Chabrol, who had been created Prefect of Paris in room
of the timorous Frochot--"What is life, in comparison to the immense
interests which rest on the sacred head of the heir of the empire? For
me, whom an unexpected glance of your Imperial eye has called from a
distance to a post so eminent, what I most value in the distinction, is
the honour and right of setting the foremost example of loyal devotion."

It was the opinion of M. des Fontanges, senator, peer of France, and
grand-master of the Imperial University, that "Reason pauses with
respect before the mystery of power and obedience, and abandons all
inquiry into its nature to that religion which made the persons of kings
sacred, after the image of God himself. It is His voice which humbles
anarchy and factions, in proclaiming the divine right of sovereigns; it
is the Deity himself who has made it an unalterable maxim of France, an
unchangeable article of the law of our fathers; it is Nature who
appoints kings to succeed each other, while reason declares that the
royalty itself is immutable. Permit, sire," he continued, "that the
University of Paris turn their eyes for a moment from the throne which
you fill with so much glory, to the august cradle of the heir of your
grandeur. We unite him with your Majesty in the love and respect we owe
to both; and swear to him beforehand the same boundless devotion which
we owe to your Majesty."

In better taste, because with less affectation of eloquence, M. Seguier,
the President of the Court of Paris, contented himself with declaring,
that the magistrates of Paris were the surest supports of the Imperial
authority--that their predecessors had encountered perils in defence of
monarchy, and they in their turn were ready to sacrifice every thing for
the sacred person of the Emperor, and for perpetuating his dynasty.

Under cover of these violent protestations, the unfortunate Frochot
escaped, as a disabled vessel drops out of the line of battle under fire
of her consorts. He was divested of his offices, but permitted to
retire, either to prosecute his studies in ideology, or to indoctrinate
himself into more deep acquaintance in the mysteries of hereditary right
than he had hitherto shown himself possessed of.[244]

We have selected the above examples, not with the purpose of inquiring
whether the orators (whom we believe, in their individual capacity, to
have been men of honour and talents) did or did not redeem, by their
after-exertions, the pledges of which they were so profuse; but to mark
with deep reprobation the universal system of assentation and
simulation, to which even such men did not disdain to lend countenance
and example. By such overstrained flatteries and protestations,
counsellors are degraded and princes are misled--truth and sincere
advice become nauseous to the ear of the sovereign, falsehood grows
familiar to the tongue of the subject, and public danger is not
discovered until escape or rescue has become impossible.

Yet it cannot be denied that the universal tenor of these vows and
protestations, supported by Buonaparte's sudden arrival and firm
attitude, had the effect of suppressing for a time discontents, which
were silently making way amongst the French people. The more unthinking
were influenced by the tenor of sentiments which seemed to be universal
through the empire; and, upon the whole, this universal tide of
assentation operated upon the internal doubts, sorrows, discontents, and
approaching disaffection of the empire, like an effusion of oil on the
surface of a torrent, whose murmurs it may check, and whose bubbling
ripples it may smooth to the eye, but the deep and dark energy of whose
course the unction cannot in reality check or subdue.

To return to the current of our history. Buonaparte having tried the
temper of his Senate, and not finding reason to apprehend any opposition
among his subjects, proceeded, while straining every effort, as we shall
presently see, for supporting foreign war, to take such means as were in
his power for closing domestic wounds, which were the more dangerous
that they bled inwardly, without any external effusion to indicate their

The chief of these dissensions was the dispute with the Pope, which had
occasioned, and continued to foster, so much scandal in the Gallican
Church. We have mentioned already, that the Pope, refusing to consent to
any alienation of his secular dominions, had been forcibly carried off
from Rome, removed to Grenoble, then brought back over the Alps to
Savona, in Italy. Napoleon, who denied that he had authorised this usage
towards the father of the Church, yet continued to detain him at Savona.
He was confined there until June, 1812. In the meantime, a deputation of
the French bishops were sent with a decree by Napoleon, determining,
that if his holiness should continue to refuse canonical institution to
the French clergy, as he had done ever since the seizure of the city of
Rome, and the patrimony of Saint Peter's, a council of prelates should
be held for the purpose of pronouncing his deposition.

On 4th September, 1811, the holy father admitted the deputation,
listened to their arguments with patience, then knelt down before them,
and repeated the psalm, _Judica me, Domine_. When the prelates attempted
to vindicate themselves, Pius VII., in an animated tone, threatened to
fulminate an excommunication against any one who should attempt to
justify his conduct. Then, instantly recovering his natural benignity of
disposition, he offered his hand to the offended bishops, who kissed it
with reverence. The French prelates took leave sorrowfully, and in
tears. Several of them showed themselves afterwards opposed to the views
of Napoleon, and sustained imprisonment in consequence of their adhesion
to what appeared to them their duty.

The chemists of our time have discovered, that some substances can only
be decomposed in particular varieties of gas; and apparently it was, in
like manner, found that the air of Italy only confirmed the
inflexibility of the Pope.


His Holiness was hastily transported to Fontainbleau, where he arrived
19th June, 1812. The French historians boast, that the old man was not
thrown into a dungeon, but, on the contrary, was well lodged in the
palace, and was permitted to attend mass--a wonderful condescension
towards the head of the Catholic religion. But still he was a captive.
He abode at Fontainbleau till Napoleon's return from Russia; and it was
on the 19th January, 1813, that the Emperor, having left Saint Cloud
under pretext of a hunting-party, suddenly presented himself before his
venerable prisoner. He exerted all the powers of influence which he
possessed, and they were very great, to induce the Pontiff to close with
his propositions; and we readily believe that the accounts, which charge
him with having maltreated his person, are not only unauthenticated, but
positively false.[245] He rendered the submission which he required more
easy to the conscience of Pius VII., by not demanding from him any
express cession of his temporal rights, and by granting a delay of six
months on the subject of canonical instalment. Eleven articles were
agreed on, and subscribed by the Emperor and the Pope.

But hardly was this done ere the feud broke out afresh. It was of
importance to Napoleon to have the schism soldered up as soon as
possible, since the Pope refused to acknowledge the validity of his
second marriage, and, of course, to ratify the legitimacy of his son.
He, therefore, published the articles of treaty in the _Moniteur_, as
containing a new concordat.[246] The Pope complained of this, stating,
that the articles published were not a concordat in themselves, but only
the preliminaries, on which, after due consideration, such a treaty
might have been formed. He was indignant at what he considered as
circumvention on the part of the Emperor of France, and refused to abide
by the alleged concordat. Thus failed Napoleon's attempt to close the
schism of the Church, and the ecclesiastical feuds recommenced with more
acrimony than ever.

Looking towards Spain, Napoleon saw his affairs there in a better
posture than he could have expected, after the battle of Salamanca, and
the capture of Madrid. Lord Wellington, indifferently supported by the
Spanish army, among whom quarrels and jealousies soon rose high, had
been unable, from want of a sufficient battering-train, to take the
fortress of Burgos; and was placed in some danger of being intercepted
by Soult's army, who had raised the siege of Cadiz, while engaged with
that under D'Erlon, with whom was the intrusive King. The English
general, therefore, with his usual prudence, retreated into the
territories of Portugal, and Napoleon, seeing that his army in Spain
amounted to 270,000 men, thought them more than sufficient to oppose
what forces Spain could present, with the regular allied army of perhaps
70,000 at most, under Lord Wellington's command. He withdrew,
accordingly, 150 skeletons of battalions, which he meant to make the
means of disciplining his young conscripts.


It was now that the hundred cohorts, or 100,000 youths of the First Ban
of National Guards, who had been placed in frontier garrisons, under the
declaration that they were not, under any pretence, to go beyond the
limits of France, were converted into ordinary soldiers of the line, and
destined to fill up the skeleton corps which were brought from Spain.
Four regiments of guards, one of Polish cavalry, and one of gendarmes,
were at the same time withdrawn from the Peninsula. The sailors of the
French fleet, whose services were now indeed perfectly nominal, were
landed, or brought rather from the harbours and maritime towns in which
they loitered away their time, and formed into corps of artillery. This
reinforcement might comprehend 40,000 men. But while his credit
continued with the nation, the conscription was Napoleon's best and
never-failing resource, and with the assistance of a decree of the
Senate, it once more placed in his hands the anticipation of the year
1814. This decree carried his levies of every kind to 350,000 men.

The remounting and recruiting of the cavalry was a matter of greater
difficulty, and to that task was to be joined the restoration of the
artillery and _materiel_ of the army, all of which had been utterly
destroyed in the late fatal retreat. But the vaults under the Tuileries
were not yet exhausted, although they had contributed largely to the
preparations for the campaign of the preceding year. A profusion of
treasure was expended; every artisan, whose skill could be made use of,
was set to work; horses were purchased or procured in every direction;
and such was the active spirit of Napoleon, and the extent of his
resources, that he was able to promise to the Legislative
Representatives, that he would, without augmenting the national burdens,
provide the sum of three hundred millions of francs, which were wanted
to repair the losses of the Russian campaign.

We must not forget, that one of the ways and means of recruiting the
cavalry, was a species of conscription of a new invention, and which was
calculated to sweep into the ranks of the army the youth of the higher
ranks, whom the former draughts had spared, or who had redeemed
themselves from the service by finding a substitute. Out of this class,
hitherto exempted from the conscription, Napoleon proposed to levy
10,000 youths of the higher ranks, to be formed into four regiments of
Guards of Honour, who were to be regarded much as the troops of the
royal household under the old system. This idea was encouraged among the
courtiers and assentators, who represented the well-born and
well-educated youths, as eager to exchange their fowling-pieces for
muskets, their shooting-dresses for uniforms, and their rustic life for
the toils of war. Politicians saw in it something of a deeper design
than the mere adding ten thousand to the mass of recruits, and conceived
that this corps of proprietors was proposed with the view of bringing
into the Emperor's power a body of hostages, who should guarantee the
fidelity of their fathers. The scheme, however, was interrupted, and for
a time laid aside, owing to the jealousy of the Imperial Guard. These
Prætorian Bands did not relish the introduction of such patrician corps
as those proposed, whose privileges they conceived might interfere with
their own; and accordingly the institution of the Guard of Honour was
for some time suspended.

The wonderful energies of Napoleon's mind, and the influence which he
could exert over the minds of others, were never so striking as at this
period of his reign. He had returned to his seat of empire at a dreadful
crisis, and in a most calamitous condition. His subjects had been
ignorant, for six weeks, whether he was dead or alive, and a formidable
conspiracy, which was all but successful, had at once shown that there
was an awakening activity amongst his secret enemies, and an apathy and
indifference amongst his apparent friends. When he arrived, it was to
declare a dreadful catastrophe, of which his ambition had been the
cause; the loss of 500,000 men, with all their arms, ammunition and
artillery; the death of so many children of France as threw the whole
country into mourning. He had left behind him cold and involuntary
allies, changing fast into foes, and foes, encouraged by his losses and
his flight, threatening to combine Europe in one great crusade, having
for its object the demolition of his power. No sovereign ever presented
himself before his people in a situation more precarious, or overclouded
by such calamities, arrived or in prospect.

Yet Napoleon came, and seemed but to stamp on the earth, and armed
legions arose at his call; the doubts and discontents of the public
disappeared as mists at sun-rising, and the same confidence which had
attended his prosperous fortunes revived in its full extent, despite of
his late reverses. In the month of April his army was increased, as we
have seen, by 350,000 men, in addition to the great garrisons maintained
in Dantzic, Thorn, Modlin, Zamosk, Czenstochau, Custrin, &c., augmented
as they now were by the remains of the grand army, which had found
refuge in these places of strength. He had, besides, an active levy of
forces in Italy, and a very large army in Spain, notwithstanding all the
draughts which his present necessity had made him bring out of that
slaughter-house. Whether, therefore, it was Napoleon's purpose to
propose peace or carry on war, he was at the head of a force little
inferior to that which he had heretofore commanded.

Having thus given some account of the internal state of France, it is
now necessary to look abroad, and examine the consequences of the
Russian campaign upon Europe in general.


[237] "This was, on Napoleon's part, a new snare held out to the
devotedness and credulity of a generous nation; who, struck with
consternation, thought that their chief, chastened by misfortune, was
ready to seize the first favourable opportunity of bringing back peace,
and of at length consolidating the foundation of general
happiness."--FOUCHÉ, tom. ii., p. 118.

[238] "I shall make two observations on this passage: 1st, I am
persuaded that this conspiracy was the work of the Jacobin faction, who
always laid in wait to profit by every favourable occasion. This opinion
is confirmed by many of the avowals which escaped Fouché in his memoirs.
2dly, The fallacy of the sentiment attributed by Sir Walter Scott to the
notion with respect to Napoleon, is proved by the slight success of this
conspiracy, when he was not only absent, but as well as his armies, at
so considerable a distance from France; it is also proved by his return
from the island of Elba, in the month of March, 1815. I think that all
those who would after this deny the attachment of the nation to the
Emperor, would also deny the light of day."--LOUIS BUONAPARTE, p. 86.

[239] "A secret society in the army, whose immediate object it was to
overthrow the Imperial power, and whose ultimate purposes were not
perhaps known to themselves. Their founder was Colonel Jacques Joseph
Odet, a Swiss, at once a debauchee and an enthusiast, on the plan of his
countryman Rousseau. He was shot the night before the battle of Wagram,
not, as his followers alleged, by a party of Austrians, but by
gendarmes, commissioned for that purpose. His sect continued to subsist,
and Massena did not escape suspicions of being implicated in its
intrigues. There was a communication in their name to Lord Wellington,
in May 1809; but the negotiation was not of a character which the
British general chose to encourage."--SOUTHEY'S _Peninsular War_, vol.
ii., p. 303.--S.

[240] Savary, tom. iii., pp. 13, 32; Fouché, tom. ii., pp. 109, 116.

[241] "Mallet died with great _sang froid_, carrying with him the secret
of one of the boldest _coups-de-main_ which the grand epocha of our
Revolution bequeaths to history."--FOUCHÉ, tom. ii., p. 115.

[242] The Memoirs of Fouché contain a specific averment to this

[243] Moniteur, Dec. 21, 1812; Fouché, tom. ii., p. 120.

[244] He obtained a pension on the restoration of Louis XVIII., with the
title of honorary counsellor, which he had forfeited in July, 1815, in
consequence of having accepted, during the Hundred Days, the situation
of Prefect of the Bouches-du-Rhone. He died in 1828.

[245] "I knew Pius the Seventh from the time of his journey to Paris in
1804, and from that period until his death I never ceased to receive
from the venerable Pontiff marks, not of benevolence only, but even of
confidence and affection. Since the year 1814 I have resided at Rome: I
have often had occasion to see him, and I can affirm, that in many of my
interviews with his holiness, he assured me that he was treated by
Napoleon, in every personal respect, as he could have wished. These are
his very words:--'Personalmente non ho avuto di che dolermi; non ho mai
mancato di nulla; la mia persona fu sempre rispettata e trattata in modo
da non potermi lagnare.' 'I had nothing to complain of personally; I
wanted for nothing; my person was always respected, and treated in a way
to afford me no ground of complaint.'"--LOUIS BUONAPARTE.

[246] See Moniteur, Feb. 15, 1813.


    _Murat leaves the Grand Army abruptly--Eugene appointed in his
    place--Measures taken by the King of Prussia for his
    disenthraldom--He leaves Berlin for Breslau--Treaty signed between
    Russia and Prussia early in March--Alexander arrives at Breslau on
    15th; on the 16th Prussia declares War against France--Warlike
    preparations of Prussia--Universal enthusiasm--Blucher appointed
    Generalissimo--Vindication of the Crown Prince of Sweden for joining
    the Confederacy against France--Proceedings of Austria--Unabated
    spirit and pretensions of Napoleon--A Regency is appointed in France
    during his absence, and Maria Louisa appointed Regent, with nominal

The command of the relics of the grand army had been conferred upon
Murat, when Napoleon left them at Smorgoni. It was of too painful and
disagreeable a nature to afford any food to the ambition of the King of
Naples; nor did he accept it as an adequate compensation for various
mortifications which he had sustained during the campaign, and for
which, as has already been noticed, he nourished considerable resentment
against his brother-in-law. Having, besides, more of the soldier than of
the general, war lost its charms for him when he was not displaying his
bravery at the head of his cavalry; and to augment his impatience, he
became jealous of the authority which his wife was exercising at Naples
during his absence, and longed to return thither. He, therefore, hastily
disposed of the troops in the various Prussian fortresses recently
enumerated, where the French maintained garrisons, and suddenly left the
army upon the 16th January. Napoleon, incensed at his conduct, announced
his departure, and the substitution of Eugene, the Viceroy of Italy, in
the general command of the army, with this note of censure:--"The
viceroy is more accustomed to the management of military affairs on a
large scale, and besides, enjoys the full confidence of the
Emperor."[247] This oblique sarcasm greatly increased the coldness
betwixt the two brothers-in-law.[248]

Meantime, the Russians continued to advance without opposition into
Prussia, being desirous, by their presence, to bring that country to the
decision which they had long expected. The manner in which Prussia had
been treated by France; the extreme contributions which had been levied
from her; the threats which had been held out of altogether annihilating
her as a state; the occupation of her fortresses, and the depriving her
of all the rights of independence, constituted an abuse of the rights of
conquest, exercised in consequence of superior force, which was sure to
be ended so soon as that force ceased to be predominant. Napoleon, it is
true, had the affectation to express confidence in the friendship of
Prussia in his adversity, which he had never cultivated in prosperity.
It would have been as reasonable in the patron of a Turkish cruiser, to
expect his galley-slaves to continue, out of a point of honour, to pull
the oars, after the chain was broken which fettered them to their


Accordingly, King Frederick took his measures to shake himself free of
the French yoke; but he did so with wisdom and moderation. Whatever
wrongs the Prussians had sustained from the French, the King of Prussia
had sought no means of avenging them, even when routed armies, falling
back on his dominions in a defenceless condition, might have been
destroyed, in their desolate state, by his peasantry alone. Popular
violence, arising from the resentment of long-suffered injuries, did
indeed practise cruelties on the French at Königsberg and elsewhere; but
it was against the will of the government, which suppressed them as much
as possible. The King did not take any measures to intercept the retreat
even of Napoleon himself, although there was ground to expect he might
have come to that resolution. He renewed the armistice concluded by
D'Yorck; he suffered the distressed and frozen remains of the grand army
to augment the hostile garrisons which had occupied his own strongest
fortresses. He observed, in short, all the duties of an ally, though an
unwilling one, until the war, in which he was engaged as an auxiliary,
was totally ended, by the defeat and dispersion of the army of his
principal. It is the more proper to enter at large into this topic,
because the French historians usually mention the conduct of the King of
Prussia on this occasion as defection, desertion, or some such word,
indicating a breach of faith. Nothing can be more unjust.

It was not, surely, to be expected, that Frederick was to submit his own
dominions to the devastation of the Russians, by continuing a war in
which his share was only secondary; nor was it rational to believe, that
a country so much oppressed would neglect the means of emancipation
which now presented themselves. It is, therefore, no marvel that Prussia
should have taken this favourable opportunity for throwing off a yoke
which she had found so oppressive. Nay, it is believed, on good grounds,
that the course adopted by the King of Prussia was not only that of
wisdom and patriotism, but even of necessity; for it is very probable,
that, if he had refused to lead his subjects against the French, they
might, in that moment of excitation, have found some one else to have
placed at the head of the government. He had, as we have already said,
denounced the convention entered into by D'Yorck and Massenbach, and
ordered them both to Berlin for the purpose of undergoing trial. But the
generals had remained quietly in command of their troops, affording a
strong example, that, had Frederick laboured ever so much for that
purpose, it would have been vain, if not hazardous, to have opposed his
royal authority to the impulse of the national spirit.

Before the King took his final resolution, he resolved, as a measure of
prudence, to secure his own person, lest, like Ferdinand and the Spanish
Bourbons, he should be seized upon as a hostage. He therefore suddenly
left Berlin on 22d January, 1813, and betook himself to Breslau,[249]
where there were no French soldiery. Immediately afterwards he published
an address to his people, calling his armies together, and giving the
signal to the patriotism of thousands who longed to arise in arms. The
French ambassador was, nevertheless, invited to follow the King to
Breslau, where a variety of discussions immediately took place betwixt
him and the Prussian cabinet.

To the complaints of exactions and oppressions of every kind, the French
negotiators could only reply by reminding the Prussians, that Napoleon
had, after decisive victory, suffered the nation to retain the name of
independence, and the King to wear a precarious crown. A robber would
have the same defence against restoring the booty he had acquired from a
traveller, if he stated, that though he had despoiled, he had not
murdered him. It was by the right of the strongest that France had
acquired that influence over Prussia which she exercised so severely;
and, according to the dictates of common sense and human nature, when
the advantage was on Prussia's side, she had a right to regain by
strength what she had lost by weakness. Every obligation, according to
the maxim of the civil law, is made void in the same manner in which it
is rendered binding; as Arthegal, the emblematic champion of justice in
Spenser's allegory, decrees as law, that what the sea has brought the
sea may resume.

On the 1st of March, or about that period, Prussia, returning to a
system which nothing but the extremity of her circumstances had ever
interrupted, signed a treaty of alliance, offensive and defensive, with
Russia. On the 15th March, the Emperor Alexander arrived at Breslau. The
meeting was affecting betwixt the two sovereigns, who had been such
intimate friends, and had always retained the same personal attachment
for each other, although the circumstances of controlling necessity had
made them enemies, at a period when it was of importance to Russia to
have as few foes as possible thrown into the scale against her. The King
of Prussia wept. "Courage, my brother," said Alexander; "these are the
last tears which Napoleon shall cause you to shed."


On the 16th March, Prussia declared war against France. There is, in the
paper containing this denunciation, much reasoning respecting the extent
of contributions due and received, which might have been summed up in
the declaration, that "France had made Prussia her subject and her
slave, but that now Prussia was enabled to act for herself, and shake
off the fetters which violence had imposed on her." This real note was
touched where the manifesto declares, that, "Abandoned to herself, and
hopeless of receiving any effectual succour from an ally who had
declined to render her even the demands of justice, Prussia must take
counsel of herself, in order to raise anew and support her existence as
a nation. It was in the love and courage of his people that the King
sought means to extricate himself, and to restore to his monarchy the
independence which is necessary to ensure the future prosperity of the

The Emperor Napoleon received that declaration of war, with the calmness
of one by whom it had been for some time expected. "It was better," he
said, "to have a declared enemy than a doubtful ally."[250] By the
Prussians at large it was heard with all the rapture of gratified hope,
and the sacrifices which they made, not willingly only, but eagerly,
show more completely than any thing else can, the general hatred against
France, and the feelings which that nation had excited during her career
of success.

From a country so trampled down and exhausted as Prussia, it might have
been thought slender means of warfare could be provided. But vengeance
is like the teeth of the dragon, a seed which, wherever sown, produces a
crop of warriors. Freedom too, was at stake; and when a nation is
warring for its own rights, who shall place a limit to its exertions?
Some preparation had been made by the monarch. The jealousy of France
had limited the exercise of the Prussian militia to 25,000 men yearly.
But the government had contrived to double this amount, by calling out
the militia twice in the year, and training on the second occasion the
same number, but different individuals from those who had been first
summoned. Thus, a certain portion of discipline had become general among
the Prussian youth, and, incited by the desire of their country's
freedom, they rushed to battle against France as to a holy warfare. The
means of providing artillery had also been sedulously augmented. This
was not to be a war of posts or fortresses, but of fields of battle and
of bayonets. Many, therefore, of the brass pieces of ordnance, which
garnished the walls of such towns and fortresses as were yet unoccupied
by the French, had been recast, and converted into field-pieces. Money
was scarce, but England was liberal; and besides, the Prussian nobles
and burgesses taxed themselves to the uttermost. Even the ladies gave up
their diamonds and gold ornaments, for chains and bracelets beautifully
wrought out of iron, the state enjoying the advantage of the exchange.
In a future age, these relics, when found in the female casket, will be
more valuable than the richest Indian jewels.

Meanwhile the resentment and desire of revenge, which had so long
smouldered in the bosoms of the Prussians, broke forth with the force of
a volcano. The youth of every description rushed to fill the ranks, the
distinctions of birth were forgotten, nay, in a great measure abolished;
no question was asked of the Prussian, but whether he was able and
willing to assist in the liberation of his country. The students, the
cultivation of whose minds generally adds to their feeling for national
freedom and national honour, arrayed themselves into battalions and
squadrons. Some formed the Black Bands, who at this time distinguished
themselves; others assumed the arms and dress of the Cossacks, whose
name had become so terrible to the French. In general, these volunteers
were formed into mounted and dismounted squadrons of chasseurs, whose
appearance differed from that of the line only in their uniform being
dark green instead of blue. Their discipline, formed on a system devised
by Scharnhorst, was admirably calculated to give fresh levies the degree
of training and discipline necessary to render them serviceable, without
pretending to give them the accuracy in details which experience alone
can teach.

In a few weeks numerous armies were on foot, and Prussia, like a strong
man rousing himself from slumber, stepped forward to assume her rank
among independent nations. There could not be a greater contrast than
between the same nation in her hour of presumption, her period of
depression, and her present form of regeneration. To the battle of Jena
the Prussians had marched as to an assured conquest, with a splendid
army, well disposed, and admirably appointed, but conducted with that
negligence which is inspired by a presumptuous degree of confidence, and
that pride which goes before destruction. In the campaign of 1812, the
Black Eagles stooping their dishonoured crests beneath those of France,
they went a discouraged and reluctant band of auxiliaries, to assist in
the destruction of that power, whose subjugation they were well aware
must lead to their own irretrievable bondage. And now, such was the
change of a few weeks, nay, not many days, that Prussia again entered
the lists with an army, still deficient in its material provisions, but
composed of soldiers whose hearts were in the trim, whom misfortunes had
taught caution, and oppression had roused to resistance; who knew, by
melancholy experience, the strength of their powerful adversary, but
were not the less disposed to trust in their own good swords and good

[Sidenote: BLUCHER.]

A leader was selected, admirably formed by nature to command a national
army at such a crisis. This was the celebrated Blucher, one of the few
Prussian generals, who, even after the battle of Jena, continued to
maintain the fame of the Great Frederick, under whom he had been
trained, and to fight until every ray of hope had been entirely
destroyed. This high-spirited and patriotic officer had remained in
obscurity during the long period of the French domination. He was one of
those ardent and inflexible characters that were dreaded by Napoleon,
whose generosity, however it might display itself otherwise, was seldom
observed to forgive those who had shown a steady and conscientious
opposition to his power. Such men he held his enemies in every sense,
personal as well as political; and, watched closely by the police, their
safety could only be ensured by living strictly retired. But now the old
warrior sprang eagerly from his obscure retreat, as in the ancient Roman
shows a lion might have leaped from his dark den into the arena of the
crowded amphitheatre, on which he was soon to act his terrible part.
Blucher, was, indeed, by character and disposition, the very man whom
the exigence and the Prussian nation required to support a national war.
He was not possessed of war as a science, nor skilled in planning out
the objects of a campaign. Scharnhorst, and after him Gneisnau, were
intrusted with that part of the general's duty, as being completely
acquainted with strategie; but in the field of battle no man possessed
the confidence of his soldiers so completely as General Blucher. The
first to advance, the last to retreat, he was seldom too much elated by
victory, and never depressed by bad success. Defeated to-day, he was as
ready to renew the battle to-morrow. In his army was no instance of
whole divisions throwing down their arms, because they conceived their
line broken or their flank turned. It was his system, that the greater
part of fighting consists in taking and giving hard blows, and on all
occasions he presented himself with a good grace to the bloody exercise.
He was vigilant, too, as taught by the exercise of his youth in the
light cavalry; and so enterprising and active, that Napoleon was heard
to complain, with his accustomed sneer, that "he had more trouble from
that old dissipated hussar, than from all the generals of the allies
beside." Deeply resenting the injuries of his country, and his own
exile, Blucher's whole soul was in the war against France and her Ruler;
and utterly devoid of the milder feelings of modern military leaders, he
entered into hostilities with the embittered and personal animosity
which Hannibal entertained of old against the Roman name and

Such were the character and energies of the veteran to whom Prussia now
confided the defence of her dearest rights, the leading of her youth,
and the care of her freedom.[252]

Sweden, or, we ought rather to say, the Crown Prince, had joined the
confederacy, as already mentioned, and the spleen of Buonaparte,
personal as well as public, had been directed even more against him than
against the King of Prussia. The latter was represented as a rebellious
and ungrateful vassal, the first as a refugee Frenchman who had
renounced his country.

The last accusation, so grossly urged, was, if possible, more
unreasonably unjust than the first. The ties of our native country,
strict and intimate as they are, may be dissolved in more ways than one.
Its lawful government may be overthrown, and the faithful subjects of
that government, exiled to foreign countries for their adherence to it,
may lawfully bear arms, which, in that case, are not directed against
the home of their fathers, but against the band of thieves and robbers
by which it is temporarily occupied. If this is not the case, what are
we to think of the Revolution of 1688, and the invasion of King William?
In like manner, it is possible for a native of France or Britain so to
link himself with another country, as to transfer to it the devotion
which, in the general case, is only due to the land of his birth. In
becoming the heir of the crown of Sweden, Bernadotte had become in fact
a Swede; for no one, circumstanced as he was, is entitled, in
interweaving his personal fortunes with the fate of the nation which
adopts him, to make a reserve of any case in which he can be called to
desert their interest for that of another country, though originally his

In assuming a French general for their Crown Prince, Sweden no doubt
intended to give a pledge that she meant to remain on terms of amity
with France; but it would be a wide step to argue from thence that it
was her purpose to subject herself as a conquered province to that
empire, and to hold the prince whom she had chosen to be no better than
the lieutenant of Napoleon. This was indeed the construction which the
French Emperor put upon the kingdoms of his own creation--Holland,
Westphalia, Spain, and so forth. But in these countries the crowns were
at least of his conferring. That of Sweden, on the other hand, was given
by the Diet at Orebro, representing the Swedish people, to a person of
their own election; nor had Buonaparte any thing to do in it farther,
than by consenting that a French subject should become King of Sweden;
which consent, if available for any thing, must be certainly held as
releasing Bernadotte from every engagement to France, inconsistent with
the duties of a sovereign to an independent kingdom.

When, therefore, at a period only a few months afterwards, Napoleon
authorised piracies upon the Swedish commerce, and seized, with armed
hand, upon the only portion of the Swedish territories which lay within
his grasp, nothing could be more unreasonable than to require, that
because the Crown Prince was born in Bearn, he should therefore submit
to have war made upon him in his capacity of King of Sweden, without
making all the resistance in his power. Supposing, what might easily
have chanced, that Corsica had remained a constituent part of the
British dominions, it would have been ridiculous to have considered
Napoleon, when at the head of the French government, as bound by the
duties of a liege subject of George III., simply because he was born at
Ajaccio. Yet there is no difference betwixt the cases, excepting in the
relative size and importance of France and Corsica; a circumstance which
can have no influence upon the nature of the obligations incurred by
those who are born in the two countries.

It may be readily granted, that a person in the situation of the Crown
Prince must suffer as a man of feeling, when opposed to the ranks of his
own countrymen. So must a judge, if unhappily called upon to sit in
judgment and pronounce sentence upon a brother, or other near relation.
In both cases, public duty must take place of private or personal


While the powers of the North formed this coalition, upon terms better
concerted, and with forces of a different character from those which had
existed upon former less fortunate occasions, Austria looked upon the
approaching strife with a hesitating and doubtful eye. Her regard for a
sovereign allied to her royal family by so close a tie as Napoleon, had
not prevented her cabinet from feeling alarm at the overgrown power of
France, and the ambition of her ruler. She had reluctantly contributed
an auxiliary force to the assistance of France in the last campaign, and
had taken the posture of a neutral so soon as circumstances permitted.
The restoration of independence to the world must restore to Austria the
provinces which she had lost, especially Illyria and the Tyrol, and at
the same time her influence both in Italy and Germany. But this might be
obtained from Napoleon disabled, and willing to purchase his ransom from
the reprisals of allied Europe, by surrender of his pretensions to
universal monarchy; and Austria therefore concluded it best to assume
the office of mediator betwixt France and the allies, reserving to
herself to throw her sword into the scales, in case the forces and
ambition of Napoleon should again predominate; while, on the other hand,
should peace be restored by a treaty formed under her auspices, she
would at once protect the son-in-law of her Emperor, regain her lost
provinces and decayed influence, and contribute, by destroying the
arrogant pretensions of France, to the return of tranquillity to Europe.

Otto, the French minister at Vienna, could already see in the Austrian
administration a disposition to revive the ancient claims which had been
annulled by the victories of Napoleon, and wrote to his court, even in
the beginning of January, that they were already making a merit of not
instantly declaring war against France. A mission of General Bubna to
Paris put a more favourable character upon the interference of the
Austrian ministers. He informed the French Cabinet that the Emperor
Francis was about to treat with France as a good ally, providing Austria
was permitted also to treat with others as an independent nation.[253]

It was in short the object of Austria, besides recovering her own losses
(of which that cabinet, constantly tenacious of its objects, as it is
well known to be, had never lost sight,) to restore, as far as possible,
some equilibrium of power, by which the other states, of which the
European republic was composed, might become, as formerly, guarantees
for the freedom and independence of each other. Such was not the system
of Napoleon. He would gladly gratify any state who assisted him in
hostilities against and the destruction of another, with a handsome
share of the spoil; but it was contrary to his policy to allow any one a
protecting veto in behalf of a neutral power. It was according to his
system, in the present case, to open to Austria his determination to
destroy Prussia entirely, and to assure her of Silesia as her share of
the booty, if she would be his ally in the war. But he found, to his
surprise, that Austria had adopted a different idea of policy, and that
she rather saw her interest in supporting the weak against the strong,
than, while grasping at selfish objects, in winking at the engrossing
ambition of the ruler of France. Neither did he leave the Austrian
Cabinet long in the belief, that his losses had in any degree lowered
his lofty pretensions, or induced him to descend from the high claims
which he had formed of universal sovereignty. From his declarations to
the Senate and Representative Body of France, one of two things was
plain; either that no sense of past misfortunes, or fear of those which
might arrive, would be of any avail to induce him to abandon the most
unjustifiable of his usurpations, the most unreasonable of his
pretensions; or else that he was determined to have his armed force
re-established, and his sword once more in his hand; nay, that he had
settled that a victory or two should wash out the memory of his retreat
from Moscow, before he would enter into any treaty of pacification.

The notes in the _Moniteur_, during this winter of 1812-13, which were
always written by himself, contained Buonaparte's bold defiance to
Europe, and avowed his intention to maintain, abreast of each other, the
two wars of Spain and Germany. He proposed at once to open the campaign
in Germany (though he had lost the alliance both of Prussia and
Austria,) with an army of double the amount of that which marched
against Russia, and to reinforce and keep up the armies of Spain at
their complete establishment of 300,000 men. "If any one desired," he
said, "the price at which he was willing to grant peace, it had been
expressed in the Duke of Bassano's letter to Lord Castlereagh, before
commencement of the campaign of 1812."[254]

When that document is referred to, it will be found to contain no
cession whatever on the part of France, but a proposal that England
should yield up Spain (now almost liberated,) to his brother Joseph,
with the admission that Portugal and Sicily, none of which kingdoms
Napoleon had the means of making a serious impression upon, might remain
to their legitimate sovereigns. In other words, he would desist from
pretensions which he had no means to make good, on condition that every
point, which was yet doubtful, should be conceded in his favour.

It was extravagant to suppose that Britain, after the destruction
occasioned by the Russian retreat, would accept terms which were refused
when Napoleon was at the head of his fine army, and in the full hope of
conquests. When, therefore, Austria offered herself as a mediator at the
court of St. James's, the English ministers contented themselves with
pointing out the extravagant pretensions expressed by France, in
documents understood to be authentic, and demanding that these should be
disavowed, and some concessions made or promised by Napoleon, ere they
would hamper themselves by any approach to a treaty.

Upon the whole, it was clear, that the fate of the world was once more
committed to the chance of war, and that probably much more human blood
must be spilled, ere any principles could be settled, on which a general
pacification might be grounded.


A step of state policy was adopted by Napoleon, obviously to conciliate
his father-in-law, the Austrian Emperor. A regency was established
during his absence, and the Empress, Maria Louisa, was named regent. But
her authority was curtailed of all real or effectual power; for he
reserved to himself exclusively the privilege of presenting all decrees
to be passed by the Senate, and the Empress had only the right to
preside in that body.[255]


[247] Moniteur, 27th January, 1813. On the 24th, Napoleon wrote thus to
his sister, the Queen of Naples:--"Your husband quitted the army on the
16th. He is a brave man in the field of battle; but he is more cowardly
than a woman or a monk when not in presence of the enemy. He has no
moral courage."--BARON FAIN, _Manuscript de_, 1813, tom. i., p. 90.

[248] "The Emperor was very much dissatisfied with his conduct; and it
is well for the King of Naples that he did not pass through France,
where he would certainly have met with a very unfavourable
reception."--SAVARY, tom. iii., p. 43.

[249] "Upon receiving the news that the King of Prussia had escaped,
Napoleon regretted he had not treated him as he had done Ferdinand VII.
and the Pope. 'This is not the first instance,' said he, 'that in
politics, generosity is a bad counsellor.' He generous towards
Prussia!!"--FOUCHÉ, tom. ii., p. 127.

[250] See Savary, tom. iii., p. 44.


    "Sworn from his cradle Rome's relentless foe,
      Such generous hate the Punic champion bore;
    Thy lake, O Thrasymene, beheld it glow,
      And Cannæ's walls and Trebia's crimson'd shore."


[252] "Blucher," said Napoleon, at St. Helena, "is a very brave soldier,
_un bon sabreur_. He is like a bull who shuts his eyes, and, seeing no
danger, rushes on. He committed a thousand faults; and, had it not been
for circumstances, I could repeatedly have made _him_ prisoner. He is
stubborn and indefatigable, afraid of nothing, and very much attached to
his country."--_Napoleon in Exile_, vol. i., p. 200.

[253] Fouché, tom. ii., p. 124.

[254] Fouché, tom. ii., p. 125.

[255] "As the Empress-Regent could not authorise, by her signature, the
presentation of any _senatus consultum_, nor the promulgation of any
law, the part she had to act was limited to her appearance at the
council-board. Besides, she was herself under the tutorship of
Cambacérès, who was himself directed by Savary. In fact, after the
regency was set in motion, the soul of the government did not the less
travel with Napoleon, who did not fail of issuing forth numerous decrees
from all his moveable headquarters."--FOUCHÉ, tom. ii., p. 137.


    _State of the French Grand Army--The Russians advance, and show
    themselves on the Elbe--The French evacuate Berlin, and retreat on
    the Elbe--The Crown Prince of Sweden joins the Allies, with 35,000
    Men--Dresden is occupied by the Sovereigns of Russia and
    Prussia--Marshal Bessières killed on 1st May--Battle of Lutzen
    fought on the 2d.--The Allies retire to Bautzen--Hamburgh taken
    possession of by the Danes and French--Battle of Bautzen fought on
    the 20th and 21st May--The Allies retire in good order--The French
    Generals, Bruyères and Duroc, killed on the 22d.--Grief of Napoleon
    for the Death of the latter--An Armistice signed on 4th June._

We must once more look out upon Germany, to which country, so long the
scene on which were fought the quarrels of Europe, the success of the
Russians, and the total discomfiture of the army of Napoleon, had again
removed the war. We left the wrecks of the grand army thronging in upon
the fortresses held by their countrymen in Prussia, where they were
deposited as follows:--

  Into Thorn were thrown by Murat, before he left
    the grand army,                                6,000 men.
  Into Modlin,                                     8,000
  Into Zamosc,                                     4,000
  Into Graudentz, Prussians,                       6,000
  Into Dantzic,                                   30,000

This total of 54,000 men comprehended the sole remaining part of what
Napoleon continued to call the grand army of Russia; in which country,
however, not one-third of them had ever been, having been employed in
Lithuania or Volhynia, and having thus escaped the horrors of the
retreat. Almost all these troops were sickly, some distressingly so. The
garrison towns, were, however, filled with them, and put in a state of
defence judged sufficient to have checked the advance of the

It would, in all probability, have done so upon any occasion of ordinary
war; for Russia having not only gained back Lithuania, but taken
possession of Warsaw, and that part of Poland which formerly belonged to
Prussia, ought not, in a common case, to have endangered her success by
advancing beyond the Vistula, or by plunging her armies into Silesia,
leaving so many fortresses in the rear. But the condition of Prussia,
waiting the arrival of the Russians as a signal for rising at once, and
by her example encouraging the general insurrection of Germany, was a
temptation too powerful to be resisted, although unquestionably there
was a risk incurred in giving way to it. The various fortresses were
therefore masked with a certain number of troops; and the Russian light
corps, advancing beyond the line even of the Oder, began to show
themselves on the Elbe, joined every where by the inhabitants of the
country, who, influenced by the doctrines of the Tugend-Bund, and fired
with detestation of the French, took arms wherever their deliverers
appeared. The French every where retired, and Prince Eugene, evacuating
Berlin, retreated upon the Elbe. It seemed as if the allies had come
armed with lighted matches, and the ground had been strewed with
gunpowder; so readily did the Germans rise in arms at the hourra of a
body of Cossacks, or even at the distant gleam of their lances. The
purpose of the war was not, however, to procure partial and desultory
risings, from which no permanent benefit could be expected; but to
prepare the means of occupying the north of Germany by an army conducted
by one of the most celebrated generals of the age, and possessed of
regular strength, sufficient to secure what advantages might be gained,
and thus influence the final decision of the eventful campaign.


While the light troops of Russia and Prussia overran Germany, at least
the eastern and northern provinces, the King of Sweden, in virtue of the
convention into which he had entered at Abo, crossed over to Stralsund
in the month of May, 1813, with a contingent amounting to 35,000 men,
and anxiously awaited the junction which was to have placed under his
command such corps of Russians and Germans as should increase his main
body to 80,000 or 100,000. With such a force, the Crown Prince proposed
to undertake the offensive, and thus to compel Napoleon, when he should
take the field, to make head at once against his force upon his left
flank, and defend himself in front against the advancing armies of
Russia and Prussia. The proclamations of independence sent abroad by the
allies, made them friends wherever they came; and three flying corps,
under Czernicheff, Tettenborn, and Winzengerode, spread along both sides
of the Elbe. The French retreated every where, to concentrate themselves
under the walls of Madgeburg, and other fortified places, of which they
still held possession. Meantime, Hamburgh, Lubeck, and other towns,
declared for the allies, and received their troops with an alacrity,
which, in the case of Hamburgh, was severely punished by subsequent

The French general, Morand, endeavoured to put a stop to the stream of
what was termed defection, and occupied Luneburg, which had declared for
the allies, with nearly 4000 men. His troops were already in the place,
and about to proceed, it was said, to establish military tribunals, and
punish the political crimes of the citizens, when the Russians,
commanded by the active Czernicheff, suddenly appeared, forced their way
sword in hand into the town, and on 2d April, 1813, killed or took
prisoners the whole of Morand's corps. The Viceroy, Eugene, attempted to
impose some bounds on the audacity now manifested by the allies, by
striking a bold blow upon his side. He marched suddenly from the
neighbourhood of Madgeburg, with a view of surprising Berlin; but was
himself surprised at Mockern, driven back, defeated, and obliged to shut
himself up in Madgeburg, where he was blockaded.

The predominance of the allies in the north of Germany seemed now so
effectually ascertained, that the warmest adherents of France appeared
disposed to desert her cause. Denmark began to treat with the allies,
and even on one occasion, as will be hereafter noticed, made a
demonstration to join them in arms.

The King of Saxony, who had been always Napoleon's most sincere friend,
dared not now abide the storm. He retreated to a place of security in
Franconia, while his army separated themselves from the French, and,
throwing themselves into Torgau, began to stipulate for a neutrality,
which would probably have terminated like that of D'Yorck, in their
actually joining the allies.

Davoust retreated to the northward, after blowing up the fine bridge at
Dresden, amid the tumultuary opposition and execration of the
inhabitants. Dresden itself soon after became the headquarters of the
Emperor of Russia and King of Prussia, who were received with joyful
acclamations by all classes of the citizens.

In like manner, three of the fortresses held by the French in
Prussia--Thorn, Spandau, and Czenstochau--surrendered to the allies, and
afforded hope that the French might be dislodged from the rest in the
course of the summer. But the farther results of the activity of the
allied generals were in a great measure prevented, or postponed, by the
arrival of the numerous forces which Napoleon had so speedily levied to
restore his late losses.

It would be severe to give the name of rashness to the conduct of the
allies, in this bold advance into the middle and north of Germany. A
great part of their power was of a moral character, and consisted in
acting upon the feelings of the Germans, who were enchanted with the
prospect of freedom and independence. Still there was much audacity in
the allied monarchs venturing across the Elbe, and subjecting themselves
to the encounter of Napoleon and his numerous levies, before their own
resources had been brought forward. It was now, however, no time to
dispute which plan ought to have been preferred; the sovereigns of
Russia and Prussia had no other alternative than to follow out boldly
that from which they could not now retreat.

Eugene, at the approach of the new French levies through the passes of
the Thuringian mountains, removed to Madgeburg, and formed a junction
with them on the Saale. The force in total might amount to 115,000
present in the field; the greater part, however, were new levies, and
many almost mere boys. The allied army was collected towards Leipsic,
and lay full in Napoleon's road to that city, and from thence to
Dresden, which was the point on which he advanced.

[Sidenote: LUTZEN.]

It has been thought that the plains of Lutzen would have been the most
advantageous field of battle for the allies, whose strength lay in their
fine body of cavalry; to which it has been replied, that they expected
to encounter Buonaparte on the other side of the Saale, and there to
have obtained open ground for their cavalry, and a field fitting for
their vengeance in the plains of Jena. But though the activity of the
allies had of late been sufficient to distress Napoleon's lieutenants,
it was not as yet adequate to match that of the Emperor himself.

An important change had lately taken place in their army, by the death
of the veteran Koutousoff, in whose place Witgenstein had succeeded to
the supreme command.

Skirmishes took place at Weissenfels and Poserna, upon 29th April and
1st May, on which last day an event occurred distressing to Buonaparte's
feelings. A contest took place in the defile of Rippach, near Poserna,
which was only remarkable for the death of an excellent officer. Marshal
Bessières, whose name the reader must remember as the leader of
Napoleon's household troops, from the time they bore the humble name of
Guides, until now that they were the Imperial Guard, and he their
Colonel-general, coming up to see how the action went, was killed by a
cannon-shot. His body was covered with a white sheet, and the loss
concealed as long as possible from the guards, who were much attached to
him. Upon a former occasion, when his horse was killed, Buonaparte told
him he was obliged to the bullet, for making it known to him how much he
was beloved, since the whole guard had wept for him. His time was,
however, now come. He was sincerely lamented by Napoleon, who was thus,
when the world was going harder against him than formerly, deprived of
an early and attached follower.[257]

But the war kept its pace. The French army continued to advance upon
Leipsic on the south; the allies approached from the north to defend the


The centre of the French army was stationed at a village called Kaya. It
was under the command of Ney. He was sustained by the Imperial Guard,
with its fine artillery, drawn up before the well-known town of Lutzen,
which, having seen the last conflict of Gustavus Adolphus, was now to
witness a more bloody tragedy. Marmont, who commanded the right,
extended as far as the defile of Poserna, and rested with his left upon
the centre. The left wing of the French reached from Kaya to the Elster.
As they did not expect to be brought to action in that place, or upon
that day, (May 2d,) Napoleon was pressing forward from his right,
Lauriston being at the head of the column, with the purpose of
possessing himself of Leipsic, behind which he expected to see the army
of the allies.

But these, encouraged by the presence of the Emperor Alexander and King
of Prussia, had formed the daring resolution of marching southward along
the left bank of the Elster during the night, transporting themselves to
the right bank in the morning, and assaulting with the choicest of their
troops, under Blucher, the centre of the French, led by Ney. The fury of
the attack was irresistible, and, in despite of a most obstinate
defence, the allies obtained possession of Kaya, the point on which the
centre of the French army rested. This was a crisis worthy of Napoleon's
genius, and he was not wanting to himself. Assailed on the flank when in
the act of advancing in column, he yet contrived, by a masterly
movement, to wheel up his two wings, so as in turn to outflank those of
the enemy. He hurried in person to bring up his guard to support the
centre, which was in fact nearly broken through. The combat was the more
desperate and deplorable, that, on the one side, fought the flower of
the Prussian youth, which had left their universities to support the
cause of national honour and freedom; and on the other, the young men of
Paris, many of them of the best rank, who bravely endeavoured to sustain
their country's long pre-eminent claim to victory. Both combated under
the eyes of their respective sovereigns, maintained the honour of their
country, and paid an ample tribute to the carnage of the day.

The battle lasted for several hours, before it could be judged whether
the allies would carry their point by breaking through the French
centre, or whether the French, before sustaining that calamity, would be
able to wheel their wings upon the flanks of the allies. At length the
last event began to be anticipated as the most probable. The distant
discharge of musketry was seen on right and left closing inwards on the
central tumult, and recognised for the fire of Macdonald and Bertrand,
who commanded the French wings. At the same time the Emperor made a
successful struggle to recover the village of Kaya, and the allies,
extricating themselves skilfully from the combat, led back their
exhausted forces from between the forceps, as we may term it, formed by
the closing wings of Napoleon, without further loss than the carnage
sustained in the field of battle. But that was immense. The allies lost
20,000 men in killed and wounded. Among these was Scharnhorst, one of
the best staff-officers in Europe, and who had organised with such
ability the Prussian landwehr and volunteers. The Prince Leopold of
Hesse Hombourg, and the Prince of Mecklenburg-Strelitz, nearly allied to
the royal family of England, were also killed. The veteran Blucher was
wounded, but, refusing to retire, had his wounds dressed upon the field
of battle. Seven or eight French generals were also slain or wounded,
and the loss of the French army was very severe.[258]

Two circumstances greatly assisted to decide the fate of the action.
General Bertrand, who was not come up when it began, arrived in time to
act upon the left of the allies, and to permit Marmont, whose place he
occupied, to unite himself in the hour of need, to the defence of the
centre. On the part of the allies, on the contrary, the division of
Miloradowitch, from some mistake or want of orders, never came into
action. Few prisoners, and no artillery, were taken. The allies moved
off in safety, protected by their fine cavalry, and the sole trophy of
the victors was the possession of the bloody field.

But Napoleon had need of renown to animate his drooping partisans; and
accordingly the battle was scarce ended ere the most exaggerated reports
of the Emperor's success were despatched to every friendly court, and
even so far as Constantinople. The very best of Napoleon's rhetorical
ornaments were exhausted on this occasion. The battle of Lutzen was
described as having, like a clap of thunder, pulverized all the schemes
of the allies; and the cloudy train of intrigues, formed by the Cabinet
of St. James's as having been destroyed, like the Gordian knot under the
sword of Alexander. The eloquence of Cardinal Maury, who said _Te Deum_
on the occasion at Paris,[259] was equally florid; until at length his
wonder was raised so high, as scarce to admit that the hero who
surmounted so many difficulties, performed so many duties, united so
much activity to so much foresight, such brilliancy of conception to
such accuracy of detail, was only, after all, a mortal like himself and
the congregation.

The battle of Lutzen had indeed results of importance, though inferior
by far to those on which such high colouring was bestowed by the court
chaplain and the bulletins. The allied monarchs fell back upon the
Mulda, and all hope of engaging Saxony in the general cause was
necessarily adjourned. The French troops were again admitted into Torgau
by the positive order of their Sovereign, notwithstanding the opposition
of the Saxon general Thielman. The King of Saxony returned from Prague,
his last place of refuge, and came to Dresden on the 12th. Napoleon made
a military fête to receive the good old monarch, and conducted him in a
kind of triumph through his beautiful capital. It could afford little
pleasure at present to the paternal heart of Frederick Augustus; for
while that part of Dresden which was on the left side of the Elbe was
held by the French, the other was scarcely evacuated by the allies; and
the bridge of boats, burnt to the water's edge, was still the subject of
contest betwixt the parties--the French seeking to repair, the allies to
destroy it.

Another consequence of the battle of Lutzen was, that the allies could
no longer maintain themselves on the Elbe. The main army, however, only
retired to Bautzen, a town near the sources of the Spree, about twelve
French leagues from Dresden, where they selected a strong position. An
army of observation, under Bulow, was destined to cover Berlin, should
the enemy make any attempt in that direction; and they were thus in a
situation equally convenient for receiving reinforcements, or retiring
upon Silesia, in case of being attacked ere such succours came up. They
also took measures for concentrating their army, by calling in their
advanced corps in all directions.


One of the most unpleasant consequences was their being obliged upon the
whole line to withdraw to the right side of the Elbe. Czernicheff and
Tettenborn, whose appearance had occasioned Hamburgh, and other towns in
that direction, to declare themselves for the good cause, and levy men
in behalf of the allies, were now under the necessity of abandoning them
to the vengeance of the French, who were certain to treat them as
revolted subjects. The fate of Hamburgh in particular, in itself a town
so interesting, and which had distinguished itself by the number and
spirit of the volunteers which were raised there in the cause of the
allies, was peculiarly tantalizing.

No sooner were the main body of the allies withdrawn on the 9th May,
than the place was fiercely attacked by Davoust at the head of 5000 or
6000 men, uttering denunciations of vengeance against the city for the
part it had taken. When this force, which they possessed no adequate
means of repelling, was in the act of approaching to storm the place,
the alarmed citizens of Hamburgh, to their own wonder, were supported by
Danish artillery and gun-boats, sent from Altona to protect the city.
This kindness had not been expected at the hand of the Danes, who had as
yet been understood to be the allies of France. But the reality was,
that as the Danish treaty with the allies was still in dependence, it
was thought that this voluntary espousal of the cause of their neighbour
might have a good effect upon the negotiation. Something perhaps might
arise from the personal zeal of Blucher, the commandant of Altona, who
was a relation of the celebrated Prussian general. The Danes, however,
after this show of friendship, evacuated Hamburgh on the evening of the
12th of May, to return shortly after in a very different character; for
it being, in the interval, ascertained that the allies were determined
to insist upon Denmark's ceding Norway to Sweden, and the news of the
battle of Lutzen seeming to show that Napoleon's star was becoming again
pre-eminent, the Danish Prince broke off his negotiation with the
allies, and returned to his league, offensive and defensive, with

The hopes and fears of the citizens of Hamburgh were doomed to be yet
further tantalized. The Crown Prince of Sweden was at Stralsund with a
considerable army, and 3000 Swedes next appeared for the purpose of
protecting Hamburgh. But as this Swedish army, as already mentioned, was
intended to be augmented to the number of 90,000, by reinforcements of
Russians and Prussians, which had not yet appeared, and which the Crown
Prince was soliciting with the utmost anxiety, he could not divide his
forces without risking the grand objects for which this large force was
to be collected, and the additional chance of his Swedish army, of whose
blood he was justly and wisely frugal, being destroyed in detail. We may
add to this, that from a letter addressed by the Crown Prince to
Alexander, at this very period, it appears he was agitated with the
greatest doubt and anxiety concerning the arrival of these important
reinforcements, and justly apprehensive for the probable consequences of
their being delayed. At such a crisis, therefore, he was in no condition
to throw any part of his forces into Hamburgh as a permanent garrison.

The reasons urged for withdrawing the Swedish troops seem sufficient,
but the condition of the citizens of Hamburgh was not the less hard,
alternately deserted by Russians, Danes, and Swedes. On the 30th of May,
5000 Danes, now the allies of France, and 1500 French troops, took
possession of the town, in the name of Napoleon. They kept good
discipline, and only plundered after the fashion of regular exactions;
but this occupation was the prelude to a train of distresses, to which
Hamburgh was subjected during the whole continuance of the war.
Meanwhile, though this forlorn city was lost for the time, the war
continued in its neighbourhood.

The gallant Czernicheff, as if to avenge himself for the compulsory
retreat of his Cossacks from Hamburgh, contrived, near Halberstadt, to
cut off a body of French infantry forming a hollow square of musketry,
and having fourteen field-pieces. It was seen on this occasion, that
these sons of the desert were something very different from miserable
hordes, as they were termed in the language with which the French
writers, and Napoleon himself, indulged their spleen. At one shrill
whoop of their commander, they dispersed themselves much in the manner
of a fan when thrown open; at another signal, each horseman, acting for
himself, came on at full gallop. Thus they escaped in a considerable
degree the fire of the enemy which could not be pointed against any
mass, penetrated the square, took the cannon, made prisoners near 1000
men, and piked or sabred more than 700, not a Frenchman escaping from
the field of battle. This skirmish was so successfully managed on
Czernicheff's part, that a French force, much superior to his own, came
up in time to see the execution done, but not to render assistance to
their countrymen.

In the meanwhile, Dresden was the scene of political negotiations, and
its neighbourhood resounded with the din of war. Count Bubna, on the
part of the Austrian Emperor, made the strongest remonstrances to
Buonaparte on the subject of a general peace, while it seems probable
that Napoleon endeavoured to dazzle the Cabinet of Vienna with such
views of individual advantage, as to make her declare without scruple
for his side. The audiences of Count Bubna were prolonged till long past
midnight, and matters of the last importance seemed to be under

The war was for a few days confined to skirmishes of doubtful and
alternate success, maintained on the right bank of the Danube. On the
12th May, Ney crossed the river near Torgau, and menaced the Prussian
territories, directing himself on Spremberg and Hoyerswerder, as if
threatening Berlin, which was only protected by Bulow and his army of
observation. The purpose was probably, by exciting an alarm for the
Prussian capital, to induce the allies to leave their strong position at
Bautzen. But they remained stationary there, so that Napoleon moved
forward to dislodge them in person. On the 18th May he quitted Dresden.
In his road towards Bautzen, he passed the ruins of the beautiful little
town of Bischoffswerder, and expressed particular sympathy upon finding
it had been burnt by the French soldiery, after a rencounter near the
spot with a body of Russians. He declared that he would rebuild the
place, and actually presented the inhabitants with 100,000 francs
towards repairing their losses. On other occasions, riding where the
recently wounded had not been yet removed, he expressed, as indeed was
his custom, for he could never view bodily pain without sympathy, a very
considerable degree of sensibility. "His wound is incurable, Sire," said
a surgeon, upon whom he was laying his orders to attend to one of these
miserable objects.--"Try, however," said Napoleon; and added in a
suppressed voice--"There will always be one fewer of them,"--meaning,
doubtless, of the victims of his wars.

Napoleon's is not the only instance in which men have trembled or wept
at looking upon the details of misery which have followed in consequence
of some abstract resolutions of their own.


Arriving at Bautzen on the 21st, the Emperor in person reconnoitred the
formidable position of the allies. They were formed to the rear of the
town of Bautzen, which was too much advanced to make a part of their
position, and had the Spree in their front. Their right wing rested on
fortified eminences, their left upon wooded hills. On their right,
towards Hoyerswerder, they were watched by Ney and Lauriston, who, of
course, were prepared to act in communication with Napoleon. But the
allies disconcerted this part of the Emperor's scheme with singular
address and boldness. They surprised, by a movement from their right, a
column of 7000 Italians, and so entirely routed them, that those who
escaped dispersed and fled into Bohemia; after which exploit, De Tolly
and D'Yorck, who had commanded the attacking division, again united
themselves with the main force of the allies, and resumed their place in
the line.

Ney moved to the support of the Italians, but too late either for rescue
or revenge. He united himself with the Emperor about three in the
afternoon, and the army accomplished the passage of the Spree at
different points, in front of the allied army. Napoleon fixed his
headquarters in the deserted town of Bautzen; and his army, advancing
towards the enemy slowly and with caution, bivouacked, with their line
extending north and south, and their front to the allies. The latter
concentrated themselves with the same caution, abandoning whatever
points they thought too distant to be effectually maintained; their
position covering the principal road towards Zittau, and that to
Goerlitz; their right wing (Prussians) resting upon the fortified
heights of Klein, and Klein-Bautzen, which were the keys of the
position, while the left wing (composed of Russians) was supported by
wooded hills. The centre was rendered unapproachable by commanding

As it was vain to think of storming such a position in front, Napoleon
had recourse to the manœuvre of modern war, which no general better
understood--that of turning it, and thereby rendering it unserviceable.
Ney was, therefore, directed to make a considerable circuit round the
Russian extreme right, while their left was attacked more closely by
Oudinot, who was to engage their attention by attempting to occupy the
valleys, and debouching from the hills on which they rested. For this
last attempt the Russians were prepared. Miloradowitch and the Prince of
Wirtemberg made good the defence on this point with extreme gallantry,
and the fortune of the day, notwithstanding the great exertions of
Buonaparte, seemed to be with the allies. The next attempt was made on
the fortified heights on the right of the allies, defended by the
Prussians. Here also Napoleon encountered great difficulties, and
sustained much loss. It was not till he brought up all his reserves, and
combined them for one of those desperate exertions, which had so often
turned the fate of battle, that he was able to succeed in his purpose.
The attack was conducted by Soult, and it was maintained at the point of
the bayonet. At the price of nearly four hours' struggle, in the course
of which the heights were often gained, lost, and again retaken, the
French remained masters of them.

At the very time when their right point of support was carried by the
French, the corps of Ney, with that of Lauriston and that of Regnier,
amounting to 60,000 men, had established themselves in the enemy's rear.
It was then that Blucher was compelled to evacuate those heights which
he had defended so long and so valiantly.

But although the allies were thus turned upon both flanks, and their
wings in consequence forced in upon their centre, their retreat was as
orderly as it had been after the battle of Lutzen. Not a gun was taken,
scarce a prisoner made; the allies retired as if on the parade, placed
their guns in position wherever the ground permitted, and repeatedly
compelled the pursuers to deploy, for the purpose of turning them, in
which operation the French suffered greatly.[260]

The night closed, and the only decided advantage which Napoleon had
derived from this day of carnage, was the cutting off the allies from
their retreat by the great roads on Silesia, and its capital, Breslau,
and driving them on the more impracticable roads near to the Bohemian
frontier. But they accomplished this unfavourable change of position
without being thrown into disorder, or prevented from achieving the same
skilful defence by which their retreat had hitherto been protected.

The whole day of the 22d of May was spent in attacks upon the rear of
the allies, which were always repelled by their coolness and military
conduct. The Emperor Napoleon placed himself in the very front of the
pursuing column, and exposed his person to the heavy and well-aimed fire
by which Miloradowitch covered his retreat. He urged his generals to the
pursuit, making use of such expressions as betokened his impetuosity.
"You creep, scoundrel," was one which he applied to a general officer
upon such an occasion. He lost patience, in fact, when he came to
compare the cost of the battle with its consequences, and said, in a
tone of bad humour, "What, no results after so much carnage--not a
gun--not a prisoner?--these people will not leave me so much as a nail."

At the heights of Reichembach, the Russian rear-guard made a halt, and
while the cuirassiers of the guards disputed the pass with the Russian
lancers, the French general Bruyères was struck down by a bullet. He was
a veteran of the army of Italy, and favoured by Buonaparte, as having
been a companion of his early honours. But Fortune had reserved for that
day a still more severe trial of Napoleon's feelings. As he surveyed the
last point on which the Russians continued to make a stand, a ball
killed a trooper of his escort close by his side. "Duroc," he said to
his ancient and faithful follower and confidant, now the grand-master of
his palace, "Fortune has a spite at us to-day." It was not yet

Some time afterwards, as the Emperor with his suite rode along a hollow
way, three cannon were fired. One ball shivered a tree close to
Napoleon, and rebounding, killed General Kirchenner and mortally wounded
Duroc, whom the Emperor had just spoken to. A halt was ordered, and for
the rest of the day Napoleon remained in front of his tent, surrounded
by his guard, who pitied their Emperor, as if he had lost one of his
children. He visited the dying man, whose entrails were torn by the
shot, and expressed his affection and regret. On no other but that
single occasion was he ever observed so much exhausted, or absorbed by
grief, as to decline listening to military details, or giving military
orders. "Every thing to-morrow," was his answer to those who ventured
to ask his commands. He made more than one decree in favour of Duroc's
family, and impledged the sum of 200 Napoleons in the hands of the
pastor in whose house Duroc had expired, to raise a monument to his
memory, for which he dictated a modest and affecting epitaph.[261] In
Bessières and Duroc, Napoleon lost two of his best officers and most
attached friends, whose sentiments had more influence on him than others
in whom he reposed less confidence. The double deprivation was omen of
the worst kind for his fortunes.

In resuming the sum of the loss arising from the battle, we must observe
that the French suffered most, because the strong position of the allies
covered them from the fire. Nevertheless, the allies lost in slain and
wounded about 10,000 men. It would take perhaps 5000 more to approximate
the amount of the French loss.

[Sidenote: ARMISTICE.]

On the day preceding that sanguinary battle, an armistice had been
proposed by Count Nesselrode, in a letter to Caulaincourt, Duke of
Vicenza, in compliance, it was stated, with the wishes of the Court of
Vienna; it was seconded by a letter from Count Stadion to Talleyrand,
whom, as well as Fouché, Napoleon had summoned to his presence, because,
perhaps, he doubted the effect of their intrigues during his absence,
and in his difficulties. This armistice was to be preliminary to a
negotiation, in which Austria proposed to assume the character of

In the meanwhile Napoleon marched forward, occupied Breslau (from which
the princesses of the Prussian royal family removed into Bohemia,) and
relieved the blockade of Glogau, where the garrison had begun to suffer
by famine. Some bloody skirmishes were fought without any general
result, and where Victory seemed to distribute her favours equally. But
the main body of the allies showed no inclination to a third general
engagement, and retreating upon Upper Silesia, not even the
demonstration of advance upon Berlin itself could bring them to action.

The armistice was at length agreed upon, and signed on the 4th of June.
Buonaparte showed either a sincere wish for peace, or a desire to be
considered as entertaining such, by renouncing the possession of Breslau
and Lower Silesia to the allies, which enabled them to regain their
communications with Berlin. The interests of the world, which had been
so long committed to the decision of the sword, seemed now about to be
rested upon the arguments of a convention of politicians.


[256] See Jomini, tom. iv., p. 271.

[257] Napoleon caused the remains of Bessières to be conveyed to the
Invalides at Paris, and intended extraordinary honours for them, of
which subsequent events deprived them. "The death of this old and
faithful servant produced," says Savary, "a void in the Emperor's heart:
fate deprived him of his friends, as if to prepare him for the severe
reverses which she had yet in store."

[258] Jomini, tom. iv., p. 274; Military Reports to the Empress; Savary,
tom. iii., p. 66; Baron Fain, tom. i., p. 267; Lord Cathcart's Despatch,
London Gazette, May 25.

[259] "The Empress expressed great joy at the event, because, she said,
it would secure her countrymen, whom she suspected of wavering. She
ordered _Te Deum_ to be sung at Notre Dame, whither she herself repaired
in state. She was attended by the whole court, and the troops of the
guard, and the public, received her with expressions of the most ardent
enthusiasm."--SAVARY, tom. iii., p. 67.

[260] Jomini, tom. iv., p. 304; Manuscript de 1813, tom. i., p. 415;
Military Reports to the Empress.

[261] Military Reports to the Empress; Savary, tom. iii., p. 72; Baron
Fain, tom. i., p. 441.


    _Change in the results formerly produced by the French
    Victories--Despondency of the Generals--Decay in the discipline of
    the Troops--Views of Austria--Arguments in favour of Peace stated
    and discussed--Pertinacity of Napoleon--State of the French
    Interior--hid from him by the slavery of the Press--Interview
    betwixt Napoleon and the Austrian Minister Metternich--Delays in the
    Negotiations--Plan of Pacification proposed by Austria, on 7th
    August--The Armistice broken off on the 10th, when Austria joins the
    Allies--Sudden placability of Napoleon at this period--Ascribed to
    the news of the Battle of Vittoria._

The victories of Lutzen and Bautzen were so unexpected and so brilliant,
that they completely dazzled all those who, reposing a superstitious
confidence in Buonaparte's star, conceived that they again saw it
reviving in all the splendour of its first rising. But the expressions
of Augereau to Fouché, at Mentz,[262] as the latter passed to join
Buonaparte at Dresden, show what was the sense of Napoleon's best
officers. "Alas!" he said, "our sun has set. How little do the two
actions of which they make so much at Paris, resemble our victories in
Italy, when I taught Buonaparte the art of war, which he now abuses. How
much labour has been thrown away only to win a few marches onward! At
Lutzen our centre was broken, several regiments disbanded, and all was
lost but for the Young Guard. We have taught the allies to beat us.
After such a butchery as that of Bautzen, there were no results, no
cannon taken, no prisoners made. The enemy every where opposed us with
advantage, and we were roughly handled at Reichembach, the very day
after the battle. Then one ball strikes off Bessières, another Duroc;
Duroc, the only friend he had in the world. Bruyères and Kirchenner are
swept away by spent bullets. What a war! it will make an end of all of
us. He will not make peace; you know him as well as I do; he will cause
himself be surrounded by half a million of men, for, believe me, Austria
will not be more faithful to him than Prussia. Yes, he will remain
inflexible, and unless he be killed (as killed he will _not_ be,) there
is an end of all of us."[263]

It was, indeed, generally observed, that though the French troops had
all their usual brilliancy of courage, and although their Emperor showed
all his customary talent, the former effect of both upon the allies
seemed in a great measure lost. The rapidity with which Buonaparte's
soldiers made their attacks was now repelled with steadiness, or
anticipated with yet superior alertness; so that the French, who, during
their course of victory, had become so secure as to neglect the
precautions of sentinels and patrols, now frequently suffered for their
carelessness. On the other hand, the allies chose their days and hours
of battle, continued the conflict as long as they found convenient,
suspended it when it became unfavourable, and renewed it when they saw
cause. There was an end to the times when a battle decided the fate of a
campaign, and a campaign the course of the war.


It was also seen, that though Buonaparte had been able to renew the
numbers of his army, by an unparalleled effort of exertion, it was not
even in _his_ power to restore the discipline which the old soldiers had
lost in the horrors of the Russian retreat, and which the young levies
had never acquired. The Saxons and Silesians felt that the burdens which
the presence of an armed force always must inflict, were no longer
mitigated by the species of discipline which the French soldiers had
formerly exercised amongst themselves, and which secured against wanton
outrage, and waste of the plunder which they seized. But now, it was an
ordinary thing to see one body of soldiers treading down and destroying
the provisions, for want of which the next battalion was perhaps
starving. The courage and energy of the French soldier were the same,
but the recollection of former distresses had made him more selfish and
more wasteful, as well as more ferocious.

Those who saw matters under this disadvantageous light, went so far,
though friends both to France and Napoleon, as to wish that neither the
battle of Lutzen or Bautzen had been fought, since they became, in their
consequences, the greatest obstacles to a settled pacification. Even
Eugene Beauharnois used this despairing language. It is true, they
allowed that these memorable conflicts had sustained, or even elevated,
the Emperor's military character, and that there was some truth in the
courtly speech of Narbonne, who, when Napoleon desired to know what the
people at Vienna thought of these actions, replied, "Some think you an
angel, Sire; some a devil; but all agree you are more than man."[264]
But according to the sentiments of such persons, these encomiums on a
point of the Emperor's character, which had before rendered him
sufficiently feared, and sufficiently hated, were only calculated to
elevate his mind above prudential considerations, and to render his
chance of effecting a permanent reconciliation with other nations more
difficult, if not altogether impossible. The maxim of Europe at present
seemed to be--

    "Odi accipitrem qui semper vivit in armis."[265]


A point was now reached, when Buonaparte's talents as a soldier were
rather likely to disturb a negotiation, which an opinion of his moderate
views in future, could such have been entertained on plausible grounds,
would certainly have influenced favourably. This was particularly felt
by Austria, who, after having received so many humiliations from
Napoleon, seemed now to be called upon to decide on his destiny. The
views of that power could not be mistaken. She desired to regain her
lost provinces, and her influence in Germany, and unquestionably would
use this propitious hour to obtain both. But then she desired still
farther, for the preservation of her dominions, and of her influence,
that France should desist from her dream of absolute dominion, and
Napoleon from those extravagant claims of universal royalty, which he
had hitherto broadly acted upon. To what purpose, was asked by the
friends of peace, could it avail Buonaparte to maintain large armies in
Germany? To what purpose keep possession of the fortified towns, even on
the eastern frontier of that empire, excepting to show, that, whatever
temporary advantage Napoleon might look for in an alliance with Austria,
it was no part of his plan to abandon his conquests, or to sink from his
claims of supreme dominion, into a co-ordinate prince among the
independent sovereigns of Europe.

If he meant to prosecute the war, they urged, that his lingering in
Saxony and Prussia would certainly induce Austria to join the coalition
against him; and that, supposing Dresden to be the pivot of his
operations, he would be exposed to be taken in flank by the immense
armies of Austria descending upon the valley of the Elbe, from the
passes of the Bohemian mountains.

Another, and a very opposite course of measures, would, said the same
counsellors, be at once a guarantee to Austria of the French Emperor's
peaceable intentions, and tend to check and intimidate the other allies.
Let Napoleon evacuate of free will the blockaded fortresses upon the
Oder and Elbe, and thereby add to his army 50,000 veteran troops. Let
him, with these and his present army, fall back on the Rhine, so often
acknowledged as the natural boundary of France. Who would dare to attack
him on his own strong frontier, with such an army in front, and all the
resources of France in his rear? Not Austria; for, if assured that
Napoleon had abandoned his scheme to make France victorious, and limited
his views to making her happy, that power would surely desire to
maintain a dynasty connected with her own, on a throne which might
become a protection and ornament to Europe, instead of being her scourge
and terror. The northern nations, Russia, Prussia, and Sweden, would
have no motive to undertake so wild a crusade as a march to the Rhine;
and Great Britain, her commerce restored, and the peace of the continent
established, could not, if she were desirous, find any sound reason for
protracting the war, which she had always carried on against the system,
not the person, of Buonaparte, until events showed that they were
indivisible. Thus France, by assuming an attitude which expressed
moderation as well as firmness, might cause the swords of the allies to
fall from their hands without another drop of blood being shed.

Indeed, although it may appear, that by the course recommended Napoleon
must have made great sacrifices, yet, as circumstances stood, he
resigned claims dependent on the chance of war, rather than advantages
in possession, and yielded up little or nothing that was firmly and
effectually part of his empire. This will appear from a glance at the
terms of the supposed surrender.

Spain he must have relinquished all claim to. But Napoleon had just
received accounts of the decisive battle of Vittoria, which sealed the
emancipation of the Peninsula; and he must have been aware, that in this
long-contested point he would lose nothing of which the fate of war had
not previously deprived him, and would obtain for the south-western
provinces of France protection against the army of the Duke of
Wellington, which already threatened invasion.

Germany was indeed partly in Napoleon's possession, as far as the
occupation of fortresses, and such treaties as he had imposed on his
vassal-princes, could give him influence. But the whole nation, in every
city and province, was alienated from France and her ruler, on account
of the paramount sovereignty which he had assumed, and the distresses
which he had brought upon them by the unceasing demand of troops for
distant expeditions, and by his continental system. Besides, the
enfranchisement of Germany was the very question of war and peace; and
that not being granted, Napoleon must have been well aware that he must
fight out the battle with Russia, Prussia, and Sweden, the insurgent
Germans ready to arise on every hand, and all the weighty force of
Austria to back them. If peace was to be established on any terms, the
destruction of the unnatural influence of France on the right side of
the Rhine must have been an indispensable article; and it was better for
Napoleon to make the cession voluntarily, than to wait, till, through
the insurrection of the people, and the discontent of the monarchs
lately his dependents, the whole system should explode and go to pieces
of itself.

England would, doubtless, insist on the liberation of Holland; yet even
this could be no great sacrifice on the part of Napoleon, who would have
retained Flanders, and the whole left side of the Rhine, from Huningen
to Cleves, including the finest territories of the ancient Dukes of
Burgundy, which had never belonged to the former Kings of France. The
emancipation of Holland might have been also compensated, by the
restoration of some of the French colonies. England has never made hard
bargains on the occasion of a general peace.

There might have been difficulties on the subject of Italy; but the near
connexion betwixt the Emperors of Austria and France offered various
means of accommodating these. Italy might, for example, have made an
appanage for Eugene, or, in the case of such existing, for Buonaparte's
second son, so as to insure the kingdoms of France and Italy passing
into distinct and independent sovereignties in the next reign; or, it is
believed, that if Austria had been absolutely determined to break off
the treaty for this sole object, she would have found the belligerent
powers inclined in their turn to act as mediators, and been herself
compelled to listen to moderate terms.

From what has been said, it would appear that such cessions as have been
hinted at, would at once have put an end to the war, leaving Napoleon
still in possession of the fairest kingdom of Europe, augmented to an
extent of territory greatly beyond what her most powerful monarchs
before him had ever possessed; while, on the other hand, the countries
and claims which, in the case supposed, he was called upon to resign,
resembled the wounded mast in the tempest, which the seaman cuts away
purposely, as endangering the vessel which it has ceased to assist. But
it unfortunately happened, that Buonaparte, generally tenacious of his
own opinion, and particularly when his reputation was concerned,
imagined to himself that he could not cut away the mast without striking
the colours which were nailed to it; that he could not resign his high
pretensions, however unreasonable, without dimming his personal glory,
in the lustre of which he placed his happiness.[266]

He would not, therefore, listen to those, who, with such arguments as we
have above stated, pressed him to make a virtue of necessity, and assume
a merit from giving up what he could not attempt to hold, without its
being in all probability wrested from him. He persisted in maintaining
the contrary, referred back to the various instances in which he had
come off in triumph, when every other person had despaired of his
safety, and had previously protested against the hazardous means which
he used to ascertain it. This pertinacity did not arise solely out of
the natural confidence in his own superiority, which always attends
minds so powerful and so determined; it was fostered by the whole course
of his life. "At the age of thirty," he said of himself, "I had gained
victories--I had influenced the world--I had appeased a national
tempest--had melted parties into one--had rallied a nation. I have, it
must be allowed, been spoiled by success--I have always been in supreme
command. From my first entrance into life I have enjoyed high power, and
circumstances and my own force of character have been such, that from
the instant I gained a superiority, I have recognised neither masters
nor laws."[267]

To a confession so ingenuous, the historian can add nothing. It is no
wonder, that one to whom luck had been uniformly favourable, should love
the excitation of the play, and, making cast after cast in confidence of
his own fortune, press the winning game until it became a losing one,
instead of withdrawing from the table, as prudence would have dictated,
when the stakes deepened, and the luck began to change. Napoleon had
established in his own mind, as well as that of others, an opinion, that
he, in his proper person, enjoyed an amnesty from the ordinary chances
of fortune.[268] This was a belief most useful to him, as it was
received by others, but dangerous in his own adoption of it, since it
hindered him from listening in his own case to calculations, which in
that of others he would have allowed to be well founded.


Both Talleyrand and Fouché gave their master the advantage of their
experience on this occasion, and touched with less or more reserve upon
the terror which his ambition had spread, and the determination of the
allies, as well as Austria, not to make peace without such a guarantee
as should protect them against future encroachments. Napoleon rejected
their opinion and advice with disdain, imputing it to their doubts in
the persevering exertions of his genius, or to an anxiety for their own
private fortunes, which induced them to desire at all risks the end of
the war.

His military counsellors endeavoured to enforce similar advice, with the
same want of success. Berthier, with the assistance of the celebrated
engineer, Rogniat, had drawn up a plan for removing the French army,
reinforced with all the garrisons which they had in Germany, from the
line of the Elbe to that of the Rhine.

"Good God!" exclaimed Buonaparte, as he glanced at the labours of his
adjutant-general, "ten lost battles could not bring me so low as you
would have me stoop, and that, too, when I command so many strong places
on the Elbe and Oder. Dresden is the point on which I will manœuvre
to receive all attacks, while my enemies develope themselves like a line
of circumference round a centre. Do you suppose it possible for troops
of various nations, and variously commanded, to act with regularity upon
such an extensive line of operations? The enemy cannot force me back on
the Rhine, till they have gained ten battles; but allow me only one
victory, and I will march on their capitals of Berlin and Breslau,
relieve my garrisons on the Vistula and Oder, and force the allies to
such a peace as shall leave my glory untarnished. Your defensive retreat
does not suit me; besides, I do not ask you for plans, but for
assistance to carry into execution my own projects."[269]

Thus Napoleon silenced his military as well as his civil counsellors.
But there was one adviser whose mouth he had stopt, whose advice, if it
could have reached him, would probably have altered his fatal
resolution. One of Buonaparte's most impolitic as well as unjustifiable
measures had been, his total destruction of every mode by which the
public opinion of the people of France could be manifested. His system
of despotism, which had left no manner of expression whatever, either by
public meetings, by means of the press, or through the representative
bodies, by which the national sentiments on public affairs could be made
known, became now a serious evil. The manifestation of public opinion
was miserably supplied by the voices of hired functionaries, who, like
artificial fountains, merely returned back with various flourishes the
sentiments with which they had been supplied from the common reservoir
at Paris. Had free agents of any kind been permitted to report upon the
state of the public mind, Napoleon would have had before him a picture
which would have quickly summoned him back to France. He would have
heard that the nation, blind to the evils of war, while dazzled with
victory and military glory, had become acutely sensible of them so soon
as these evils became associated with defeats, and the occasion of new
draughts on the population of France. He would have learned that the
fatal retreat of Moscow, and this precarious campaign of Saxony, had
awakened parties and interests which had long been dormant--that the
name of the Bourbons was again mentioned in the west--that 50,000
recusant conscripts were wandering through France, forming themselves
into bands, and ready to join any standard which was raised against the
imperial authority; and that, in the Legislative Body, as well as the
Senate, there was already organised a tacit opposition to his
government, that wanted but a moment of weakness to show itself.

All this, and more, he would have learned; and must have been taught the
necessity of concentrating his forces, returning to the frontiers of
France, recovering the allegiance of those who hesitated, by accepting
the best terms of peace which he could extort from the allies, and
assuming on the Rhine such a firm attitude of defence as should at once
overawe domestic dissatisfaction, and repel foreign invasion. But the
least spiracle, by which the voice of France could find its way to the
ears of her sovereign, was effectually closed. The fate of Napoleon
turned on this circumstance; for the sovereign who deprives himself of
the means of collecting the general sense of the nation over which he
rules, is like the householder who destroys his faithful mastiff. Both
may, perhaps, alarm their master by baying without just cause, or at an
inconvenient time; but when the hour of action comes, no other sentinel
can supply the want of their vigilance.

The armistice now afforded an apt occasion for arranging a general
peace, or rather (for that was the real purpose) for giving Austria an
opportunity of declaring what were her real and definitive intentions in
this unexpected crisis, which had rendered her to a great degree
arbitress of the fate of Europe. Napoleon, from his first arrival in
Saxony, had adopted a belief, that although Austria was likely to use
the present crisis as an opportunity of compelling him to restore the
Illyrian provinces, and perhaps other territories of which former wars
had deprived her, yet that in the end, the family connexion, with the
awe entertained for his talents, would prevail to hinder her cabinet
from uniting their cause to that of the allies. An expression had dropt
from the Austrian minister Metternich, which would have altered this
belief, had it been reported to him.

Maret, Duke of Bassano, had pressed the Austrian hard on the ties
arising from the marriage, when the Austrian answered emphatically, "The
marriage--yes, the marriage--it was a match founded on political
considerations; _but_"----


This single brief word disclosed as much as does the least key when it
opens the strongest cabinet--it made it clear that the connexion formed
by the marriage would not prevent Austria from taking the line in the
present dispute which general policy demanded. And this was soon seen
when Count Metternich came to Dresden to have an audience of Napoleon.

This celebrated statesman and accomplished courtier had been very
acceptable at the Tuileries, and Napoleon seems to have imagined him one
of those persons whose gaiety and good-humour were combined with a
flexible character, liable to be mastered and guided by one of power and
energy like his own. This was a great mistake. Metternich, a man of
liveliness and address when in society, was firm and decisive in
business. He saw that the opportunity of controlling the absolute power
of France and of Buonaparte had at length arrived, and was determined,
so far as Austria was concerned, and under his administration, that no
partial views or advantages should prevent its being effectually
employed. His interview with Napoleon took place at Dresden on the 28th
June, and the following particulars are accredited:--

Napoleon always piqued himself on a plain, down-right style of
negotiation, or rather upon his system of at once announcing the only
terms on which he would consent to negotiate. He would hear of no
counter-project, and admit of no medium betwixt the resumption of
hostilities, and acceptance of peace upon the terms which it suited him
to dictate. This frank and unanswerable mode of treating greatly tended
to abridge the formalities of diplomacy; it had but this single
disadvantage, that it was only suitable for the lips of a victor, whose
renewal of war was to be, in all human probability, the resuming a
career of victory. Such a tone of negotiation became the Roman Prætor,
when he environed with a circle the feeble Eastern monarch, and insisted
on a categorical answer to the terms he had proposed, ere he should step
beyond the line; and perhaps it became Napoleon, when, at Campo Formio,
he threw down the piece of porcelain, declaring that the Austrian empire
should be destroyed in the same manner, unless they instantly accepted
his conditions. But the same abrupt dictatorial manner was less
felicitously employed, when the question was to persuade Austria not to
throw her force of 200,000 men into the scale of the allies, which
already too equally balanced that of France; yet that ill-chosen tone
may be observed in the following conference.

Napoleon upbraided Metternich with having favoured his adversaries, by
being so tardy in opening the negotiation. He intimated that the
Austrian minister perhaps staid away, in order that France might be
reduced to a lower state than at the opening of the campaign; while now
that he had gained two battles, Austria thrust in her mediation, that he
might be prevented from following up his success. In claiming to be a
negotiator, Austria, he said, was neither his friend nor his impartial
judge--she was his enemy. "You were about to declare yourself," he said,
"when the victory at Lutzen rendered it prudent in the first place to
collect more forces. Now you have assembled behind the screen of the
Bohemian mountains 200,000 men under Schwartzenberg's command. Ah,
Metternich! I guess the purpose of your Cabinet. You wish to profit by
my embarrassments, and seize on the favourable moment to regain as much
as you can of what I have taken from you. The only question with you is,
whether you will make most by allowing me to ransom myself, or by going
to war with me?--You are uncertain on that point; and perhaps you only
come here to ascertain which is your best course. Well, let us drive a
bargain--how much is it you want?"

To this insulting commencement Metternich replied, that "the only
advantage desired by his master, was to see that moderation and respect
for the rights of nations which filled his own bosom, restored to the
general councils of Europe, and such a well-balanced system introduced
as should place the universal tranquillity under the guarantee of an
association of independent states."

It was easy to see which way this pointed, and to anticipate the
conclusion. Napoleon affected to treat it as a figure of speech, which
was to cloak the private views of Austria. "I speak clearly," he said,
"and come to the point. Will it suit you to accept of Illyria, and to
remain neuter?--Your neutrality is all I require. I can deal with the
Russians and Prussians with my own army."--"Ah, Sire," replied
Metternich, "it depends solely on your Majesty to unite all our forces
with yours. But the truth must be told. Matters are come to that
extremity that Austria cannot remain neutral--We must be with you, or
against you."[270]

After this explicit declaration, from which it was to be inferred that
Austria would not lay aside her arms, unless Buonaparte would comply
with the terms which she had fixed upon as the conditions of a general
pacification, and that she was determined to refuse all that might be
offered as a bribe for her neutrality, the Emperor of France and the
Austrian statesman retired into a cabinet, apart from the secretaries,
where it is to be presumed Metternich communicated more specifically the
conditions which Austria had to propose. Napoleon's voice was presently
heard exclaiming aloud, "What! not only Illyria, but half of Italy, the
restoration of the Pope, and the abandoning of Poland, and the
resignation of Spain, and Holland, and the confederation of the Rhine,
and Switzerland! Is this your moderation? You hawk about your alliance
from the one camp to the other, where the greatest partition of
territory is to be obtained, and then you talk of the independence of
nations! In plain truth, you would have Italy; Sweden demands Norway;
Prussia requires Saxony; England would have Holland and Belgium--You
would dismember the French empire; and all these changes to be operated
by Austria's mere threat of going to war. Can you pretend to win, by a
single stroke of the pen, so many of the strongest fortresses in Europe,
the keys of which I have gained by battles and victories? And think you
that I will be so docile as to march back my soldiers, with their arms
reversed, over the Rhine, the Alps, and the Pyrenees, and by subscribing
a treaty, which is one vast capitulation, deliver myself, like a fool,
into the hands of my enemies, and trust for a doubtful permission to
exist, to their generosity? Is it when my army is triumphing at the
gates of Berlin and Breslau, that Austria hopes to extort such a cession
from me, without striking a blow or drawing a sword? It is an affront to
expect it. And is it my father-in-law who entertains such a project? Is
it he who sends you to me? In what attitude would he place me before the
eyes of the French people! He is in a strange mistake if he supposes
that a mutilated throne can, in France, afford shelter to his daughter
and his grandson----Ah, Metternich," he concluded, "what has England
given you to induce you to make war on me?"

The Austrian minister, disdaining to defend himself against so coarse
an accusation, only replied by a look of scorn and resentment. A
profound silence followed, during which Napoleon and Metternich
traversed the apartment with long steps, without looking at each other.
Napoleon dropt his hat, perhaps to give a turn to this awkward
situation. But Metternich was too deeply affronted for any office of
courtesy, and the Emperor was obliged to lift it himself. Buonaparte
then resumed the discourse, in a more temperate strain, and said he did
not yet despair of peace. He insisted that the congress should be
assembled, and that, even if hostilities should recommence, negotiations
for peace should, nevertheless, not be discontinued. And, like a wary
trader, when driving a bargain, he whispered Metternich, that his offer
of Illyria was _not his last word_.[271]

His last word, however, had been in reality spoken, and both he and
Metternich were fully acquainted with each other's views. Metternich had
refused all private conditions which could be offered to detach Austria
from the general cause, and Buonaparte had rejected as an insult any
terms which went to lower him to a rank of equality with the other
sovereigns of Europe. He would be Cæsar or nothing. It did not mend the
prospect of negotiation, that he had formally insulted one of the
persons most influential in the Austrian councils. The chance of peace
seemed farther off than ever.

Accordingly, all the proceedings at the Congress of Prague were
lingering and evasive. The meeting had been fixed for the 5th July, and
the dissolution was postponed till the 10th August, in order to allow
time for trying to adjust the disputed claims. England had declined
being concerned with the armistice, alleging she was satisfied that
Napoleon would come to no reasonable terms. Caulaincourt, to whom
Buonaparte chiefly trusted the negotiation, did not appear till 25th
July, detained, it was idly alleged, by his services as an officer of
the palace. Austria spun out the time by proposing that the other
commissioners should hold no direct intercourse, but only negotiate
through the medium of the mediator. Other disputes arose; and, in fact,
it seems as if all parties manœuvred to gain time, with a view to
forward military preparations, rather than to avail themselves of the
brief space allowed for adjusting the articles of peace. At length, so
late as the 7th August, Austria produced her plan of pacification, of
which the bases were the following:--I. The dissolution of the grand
duchy of Warsaw, which was to be divided between Russia, Prussia, and
Austria. II. The re-establishment of the Hanseatic towns in their former
independence. III. The reconstruction of Prussia, assigning to that
kingdom a frontier on the Elbe. IV. The cession to Austria of the
maritime town of Trieste, with the Illyrian provinces. The emancipation
of Spain and Holland, as matters in which England, no party to the
Congress, took chief interest, was not stirred for the present, but
reserved for consideration at the general peace. A concluding article
stipulated that the condition of the European powers, great and small,
as might be settled at the peace, should be guaranteed to all and each
of them, and not innovated upon except by general consent.

Buonaparte in return offered much, but most of his cessions were clogged
with conditions, which at once showed how unwillingly they were made,
and seemed in most cases, to provide the means of annulling them when
times should be favourable.

I. The grand duchy of Warsaw Napoleon agreed to yield up, but stipulated
that Dantzic, with its fortifications demolished, should remain a free
town, and that Saxony should be indemnified for the cession of the
duchy, at the expense of Prussia and Austria. II. The cession of the
Illyrian provinces was agreed to, but the seaport of Trieste was
reserved. III. Contained a stipulation that the German confederation
should extend to the Oder. Lastly, the territory of Denmark was to be


Before this tardy agreement to grant some of the terms which the allies
had demanded, could arrive at Prague, the 10th of August, the day which
concluded the armistice, had expired, and Austria had passed from the
friendship of France into the federation of the allies. On the night
betwixt the 10th and 11th, rockets of a new and brilliant kind flickered
in the air from height to height, betwixt Prague and Trachenberg, the
headquarters of the Emperor of Russia and King of Prussia, to announce
to these sovereigns that the armistice was broken off.

Metternich and Caulaincourt still continued their negotiations; and
Napoleon seemed on a sudden sincerely desirous of the peace about which
he had hitherto trifled. Metternich persisted in his demand of Trieste
and the Hanse towns. He rejected the extension of the Confederation of
the Rhine, as a demand made at a time so ill-chosen as to be nearly
ridiculous; and he required that the independence of Germany should be
declared free, as well as that of Switzerland.

Buonaparte at length consented to all these demands, which, if they had
been admitted during his interview with Metternich, on 28th June, or
declared to the Congress before the 10th August, must have availed to
secure peace. It is probable, either that Napoleon was unwilling to make
his mind up to consent to terms which he thought humiliating, or that he
made the concessions at a time when they would not, in all likelihood,
be accepted, in order that he might obtain the chance of war, yet
preserve with his subjects the credit of having been willing to make

It has been said, with much plausibility, that the allies, on their
part, were confirmed in their resolution to demand high terms, by the
news of the decisive battle of Vittoria, and the probability, that, in
consequence, the Duke of Wellington's army might be soon employed in the
invasion of France. Napoleon entertained the same impression, and sent
Soult, the ablest of his generals to make a stand, if possible, against
the victorious English general and protect at least the territory of
France itself.[272]


[262] Mémoires de Fouché, tom. ii., p. 139.

[263] "If Augereau did utter such nonsense, he would have bestowed upon
himself the double charge of folly and absurdity. Augereau did not know
Napoleon until the latter had become a general-in-chief; and certainly
Napoleon has sufficiently proved, that he had completed his course of
military study before he commenced his campaigns in Italy. The battles
of Lutzen and Bautzen are at least as memorable in the eyes of soldiers
as the first battles in Italy; perhaps more so, when we remember the
French army was composed of conscripts, marines, deficient in cavalry;
and when we call to mind the valour Napoleon displayed there. He
supplied every thing by the force of his genius and enthusiasm."--LOUIS

[264] Fouché, tom. ii., p. 147.

[265] "I hate the hawk who always lives in war."

[266] "Sir Walter Scott must allow that the end has too clearly shown
how well this opinion of Napoleon was founded. I confess having, at this
period, urged a peace at whatever price it might be obtained, and having
used every effort, however feeble, to influence my brother; but I also
confess, I then believed peace really was desired; whereas subsequent
events have proved, that the destruction of Napoleon and the abasement
of France, were the object in view."--LOUIS BUONAPARTE.

[267] Journal, &c. par le Comte de Las Cases, tom. iv., partie 7tième,
p. 26.--S.

[268] The following is a ludicrous instance. When the explosion of the
infernal machine took place, a bystander rushed into a company, and
exclaimed, "The First Consul is blown up." An Austrian veteran chancing
to be of the party, who had witnessed Napoleon's wonderful escapes
during the Italian campaigns, exclaimed, in ridicule of the facile
credulity of the newsmonger, "_He_ blown up!--Ah, you little know your
man--I will wager at this moment he is as well as any of us. I know all
his tricks many a day since."--S.

[269] Fouché, tom. ii., p. 152.

[270] Fouché, tom. ii., p. 148. See also Savary, tom. iii., p. 78.

[271] Fouché, tom. ii., p. 150.

[272] The court of Napoleon were amused at this time by an incident
connected with Soult's departure. As he had been designed to command in
the German campaign, this new destination compelled him to sell his
horses, and make various other inconvenient sacrifices to the hurry of
the moment. His wife, the Duchess of Dalmatia, a lady of a spirit equal
to that of the great soldier to whom she was wedded, went boldly into
the Emperor's presence to state her grievances; to insist that her
husband had been subjected to too much fatiguing service, and to
remonstrate against his being employed in the Pyrenees. "Go, madam,"
said Napoleon sternly; "remember that I am not your husband, and if I
were, you dared not use me thus. Go, and remember it is a wife's duty to
assist her husband, not to tease him." Such was (with every respect to
the lady, who might, notwithstanding, do well to be angry,) the Imperial
"Taming of a Shrew."--S.--See _Mémoires de FOUCHÉ_, tom. ii., p. 144.


    _Amount and distribution of the French Army at the resumption of
    Hostilities--of the Armies of the Allies--Plan of the Campaign on
    both sides--Return of Moreau from America, to join the
    Allies--Attack on Dresden by the Allies on 26th August--Napoleon
    arrives to its succour--Battle continued on the 27th--Death of
    General Moreau--Defeat and Retreat of the Allies, with great
    loss--Napoleon returns from the pursuit to Dresden,
    indisposed--Vandamme attacks the Allies at Culm--is driven back
    towards Peterswald--Conflict on the heights of Peterswald--Vandamme
    is Defeated and made prisoner--Effects of the victory of Culm, on
    the Allies--and on Napoleon._

At no period during the armistice had the hopes of peace been so
probable, as to suspend for a moment the most active preparations for

Napoleon, determined, as we have already seen, to render Dresden the
centre of his operations, had exerted the utmost industry in converting
that beautiful capital into a species of citadel. All the trees in the
neighbourhood, including those which so much adorned the public gardens
and walks, had been cut down, and employed in the construction of a
chain of redoubts and field-works, secured by fosses and palisades,
which were calculated to render the city very defensible. But, besides
Dresden itself, with the neighbouring mountain-fortresses, the French
Emperor possessed as strongly fortified places, Torgau, Wittenberg,
Magdeburg, and others on the Elbe, which secured him the possession of
the rich and beautiful valley of that river. He had established an
intrenched camp at the celebrated position of Pirna, and thrown a bridge
of boats over the Elbe, near Koenigstein, for the purpose of
maintaining a communication betwixt that mountain-fortress and the fort
of Stolpen. This showed Napoleon's apprehension of an attack from the
mountains of Bohemia, behind which the Austrians had been assembling
their army. In this destined battle-ground, Napoleon assembled the young
conscripts, who continued to pour from the French frontier; and who, by
a singularly ingenious species of combination, were learning the duties
of their new condition, even while, with arms in their hands for the
first time, they were marching to the field of action.[273]


In the beginning of August, Napoleon had assembled about 250,000 men in
Saxony and Silesia. This great force was stationed so as best to
confront the enemy on the points where they had assembled their troops.
At Leipsic, there were collected 60,000 men, under command of Oudinot.
At Loewenberg, Goldberg, Bantzlau, and other towns on the borders of
Silesia, were 100,000 men, commanded by Macdonald. Another army of
50,000 were quartered in Lusatia, near Zittau. St. Cyr, with 20,000, was
stationed near Pirna, to observe the mountains of Bohemia, and the
passes through which the Elbe discharges its waters upon Saxony. In
Dresden the Emperor himself lay with his guard, amounting to 25,000 men,
the flower of his army. Besides these hosts, Buonaparte had a
considerable army in Italy under the Viceroy Eugene; and 25,000
Bavarians were assembled as an army of reserve, under General Wrede.
Almost all his old lieutenants, who had fought, and won so often in his
cause, were summoned to attend this important war; and even Murat, who
had been on indifferent terms with his relative, came anew from his
beautiful capital of Naples, to enjoy the pleasure of wielding his sabre
against his old friends the Cossacks.

The preparations of the allies were upon a scale equally ample. The
accession of the Austrians had placed at disposal in Bohemia 120,000
men, to whom the allies joined 80,000 Russians and Prussians, which
brought the whole force to 200,000 men. Schwartzenberg had been selected
to command this, which was called the grand army of the allies--a
judicious choice, not only as a fitting compliment to the Emperor of
Austria, who had joined the confederacy at so critical a moment, but on
account of Schwartzenberg's military talents, his excellent sound sense,
penetration, good-humour, and placidity of temper; qualities essential
in every general, but especially in him upon whom reposes the delicate
duty of commanding an army composed of different nations. This large
host lay in and about Prague, and, concealed by the chain of hills
called the Erzgebirge, was ready to rush into Saxony as soon as an
opportunity should offer of surprising Dresden.

The other moiety of the original invading army amounting to 80,000,
consisting of Russians and Prussians, called the army of Silesia, and
commanded by Blucher, defended the frontier of that country, and the
road to Breslau. Nearer the gates of Berlin was the Crown Prince of
Sweden, with an army consisting of 30,000 Swedes, and about 60,000
Prussians and Russians; the former being the corps of Bulow and
Tauenzein, the latter those of Winzengerode and Woronzoff. Besides these
armies, Walmoden, with a force consisting of 30,000 Russians, Prussians,
and insurgent Germans, was at Schwerin, in the duchy of Mecklenberg;
Hiller, with 40,000 Austrians, watched the Italian army of the Viceroy;
and the Prince of Reuss confronted the Bavarian troops with an army
equal in strength to Wrede's own.

The allies had agreed upon a plan of operations equally cautious and
effective. It is believed to have been originally sketched by the Crown
Prince of Sweden, and afterwards revised and approved by the celebrated
Moreau. That renowned French general had been induced, by the complexion
of matters in Europe, and the invitation of Russia, to leave America,
join the camp of the allies, and bring all the knowledge of the art of
war, for which he was so famous, to enlighten their military councils.
His conduct in thus passing over to the camp of France's enemies, has
been ably defended by some as the act of a patriot who desired to
destroy the despotism which had been established in his country, while
others have censured him for arming against his native land, in revenge
for unworthy usage which he had received from its ruler. Much of the
justice of the case must rest upon what we cannot know--the purpose,
namely, of Moreau, in case of ultimate success. He certainly had not, as
Bernadotte might plead, acquired such rights in, and such obligations to
another country, as to supersede the natural claims of his birth-place.
Yet he might be justified in the eye of patriotism, if his ultimate
object really was to restore France to a rational degree of liberty,
under a regulated government; and such it is stated to have been. Any
purpose short of this must leave him guilty of the charge of having
sacrificed his duty to his country to his private revenge. He was,
however, highly honoured by the Emperor of Russia in particular; and his
presence was justly considered as a great accession to the council of
war of the allies.

So many men of talent, and two of them masters of the French tactics,
had no difficulty in divining the mode in which Buonaparte meant to
conduct the present campaign. They easily saw that he intended to join
his strong and effective reserve of the Guard to any of the armies
placed on the frontier of Saxony, where a point of attack presented
itself; and thus advance upon, overpower, and destroy the enemy whom he
should find in front, as the hunted tiger springs upon the victim which
he has selected out of the circle of hunters, who surround him with
protended spears. To meet this mode of attack, which might otherwise
have been the means of the allied armies being defeated successively and
in detail, it was resolved that the general against whom Buonaparte's
first effort should be directed, should on no account accept of the
proffered battle, but, withdrawing his troops before the Emperor, should
decoy him as far as possible in pursuit, while at the same time the
other armies of the allies should advance upon his rear, destroy his
communications, and finally effect their purpose of closing round him in
every direction.

[Sidenote: DRESDEN.]

The grand army, commanded by Schwartzenberg, was particularly directed
to this latter task, because, while it would have been dangerous in
Napoleon on that point to have sought them out by storming the
mountain-passes of Bohemia, nothing could be more easy for
Schwartzenberg than to rush down upon Dresden when Buonaparte should
leave that city uncovered, for however short an interval.

Blucher was the first who, advancing from Silesia, and menacing the
armies of Macdonald and Ney, induced Buonaparte to march to join them
with his Guard, and with a great body of cavalry commanded by Latour
Maubourg. He left Dresden on the 15th August; he threw bridges over the
Bober, and advanced with rapidity, bringing forward Macdonald's division
in aid of his own force. But the Prussian general was faithful to the
plan laid down. He made an admirable retreat across the Katzbach,
admitting the French to nothing but skirmishes, in which the allies had
some advantage. Finally, he established himself in a position on the
river Niesse, near Jauer, so as to cover Silesia and its capital.

On the 21st August, Napoleon learned the interesting news, that while he
was pressing forward on the retreating Prussians, Dresden was in the
utmost danger of being taken. His guards had instant orders to return to
Saxony. He himself set out early on the 23d. It was full time; for
Schwartzenberg, with whom came the Sovereigns of Russia and Prussia, as
well as General Moreau, had descended from Bohemia, and, concentrating
their grand army on the left bank of the Elbe, were already approaching
the walls of Dresden, Napoleon's point of support, and the pivot of his
operations. Leaving, therefore, to Macdonald the task of controlling
Blucher, the Emperor set out with the élite of his army; yet, with all
the speed he could exert, very nearly came too late to save the object
of his solicitude.

General St. Cyr, who had been left with about 20,000 men to observe the
Bohemian passes, was in no condition to make a stand, when they poured
out upon him six or seven times his own number. He threw himself with
his troops into Dresden, in hopes, by means of its recent
fortifications, to defend it until the arrival of Napoleon. The allies
having found little resistance on their march, displayed their huge army
before the city, divided into four columns, about four o'clock on the
25th August, and instantly commenced the assault. If they should be able
to take Dresden before it could be relieved by Buonaparte, the war might
be considered as nearly ended, since they would in that case obtain
complete command of his line of communication with France, and had at
their mercy his recruits and supplies of every kind.

The scheme of attack was excellently laid, but the allied generals did
not pursue it with the necessary activity. The signal for onset should
have been given instantly, yet they paused for the arrival of Klenau,
with an additional corps d'armée, and the assault was postponed until
next morning.

On the 26th, at break of day, the allies advanced in six columns, under
a tremendous fire. They carried a great redoubt near the city-gate of
Dippoldiswalde, and soon after another; they closed on the French on
every point; the bombs and balls began to fall thick on the streets and
houses of the terrified city; and in engaging all his reserves, St. Cyr,
whose conduct was heroical, felt he had yet too few men to defend works
of such extent. It was at this crisis, while all thought a surrender was
inevitable, that columns, rushing forward with the rapidity of a
torrent, were seen advancing on Dresden from the right side of the Elbe,
sweeping over its magnificent bridges, and pressing through the streets,
to engage in the defence of the almost overpowered city. The Child of
Destiny himself was beheld amidst his soldiers, who, far from exhibiting
fatigue, notwithstanding a severe forced march from the frontiers of
Silesia, demanded, with loud cries, to be led into immediate battle.
Napoleon halted to reassure the King of Saxony, who was apprehensive of
the destruction of his capital, while his troops, marching through the
city, halted on the western side, at those avenues, from which it was
designed they should debouche upon the enemy.

Two sallies were then made under Napoleon's eye, by Ney and Mortier. The
one column, pouring from the gate of Plauen, attacked the allies on the
left flank; the others, issuing from that of Pirna, assailed their
right. The Prussians were dislodged from an open space, called the Great
Garden, which covered their advance upon the ramparts; and the war began
already to change its face, the allies drawing off from the points they
had attacked so fiercely, where they found them secured by these
unexpected defenders. They remained, however, in front of each other,
the sentinels on each side being in close vicinity, until next morning.

On the 27th of August, the battle was renewed under torrents of rain,
and amid a tempest of wind. Napoleon, manœuvring with excellence
altogether his own, caused his troops, now increased by concentration to
nearly 200,000 men, to file out from the city upon different points, the
several columns diverging from each other like the sticks of a fan when
it is expanded; and thus directed them upon such points as seemed most
assailable along the allies' whole position, which occupied the heights
from Plauen to Strehlen. In this manner, his plan assisted by the
stormy weather, which served to conceal his movements, he commenced an
attack upon both flanks of the enemy. On the left he obtained an
advantage, from a large interval left in the allied line, to receive the
division of Klenau, who were in the act of coming up, but exhausted with
fatigue and bad weather, and their muskets rendered almost
unserviceable. In the meanwhile, as a heavy cannonade was continued on
both sides, Napoleon observed one of the batteries of the Young Guard
slacken its fire. General Gourgaud, sent to inquire the cause, brought
information that the guns were placed too low to reply with advantage to
the enemy's fire from the high ground, and that the balls from the
French battery were most of them lost in the earth. "Fire on,
nevertheless," was the Emperor's reply; "we must occupy the attention of
the enemy on that point."

The fire was resumed, and from an extraordinary movement amongst the
troops on the hill, the French became aware that some person of high
rank had been struck down. Napoleon supposed that the sufferer must be
Schwartzenberg. He paid him a tribute of regret, and added, with the
sort of superstition peculiar to his mind, "_He_, then, was the victim
whom the fatal fire at the ball indicated?[274] I always regarded it as
a presage--it is now plain whom it concerned."

[Sidenote: DEATH OF MOREAU.]

Next morning, however, a peasant brought to Napoleon more precise
accounts. The officer of distinction had both legs shattered by the
fatal bullet--he was transported from the field on a bier composed of
lances--the Emperor of Russia and King of Prussia had expressed the
greatest sorrow and solicitude. The man ended this account by bringing
the fallen officer's dog, a greyhound, whose collar bore the name of
Moreau. This great general died a few days afterwards, having suffered
amputation of the wounded limbs, which he bore with great fortitude. His
talents and personal worth were undisputed, and those who, more bold
than we are, shall decide that his conduct in one instance too much
resembled that of Coriolanus and the Constable of Bourbon, must yet
allow that the fault, like that of those great men, was atoned for by an
early and a violent death.

Moreau is said to have formed the plan on which the attack on Dresden
was conducted. His death must therefore have disconcerted it. But
besides this, the allies had calculated upon Buonaparte's absence, and
upon the place being slightly defended. They were disappointed in both
respects; and his sudden arrival at the head of a choice, if not a
numerous army, had entirely changed the nature of the combat. They had
become defenders at the very time when they reckoned on being
assailants; and their troops, particularly the Austrians, who had in
former wars received such dreadful cause to recollect the name of
Napoleon, were discouraged. Even if they repelled the French into
Dresden, they had provided no magazines of support in front of it,
should the allied army be designed to remain there. Jomini, the
celebrated Swiss engineer, who had exchanged, some short time before,
the service of Napoleon for that of the Emperor Alexander, proposed the
daring plan of changing the front of the army during the action, and
attacking in force the left of the French, which might have turned the
fortune of the day. But the experiment was thought, with some justice,
too perilous to be attempted, with a discouraged and disordered army. A
retreat was, therefore, resolved upon, and, owing to the weather, the
state of the roads, and the close pursuit of the French, it was a
disastrous one. The successful operations of the French had established
the King of Naples on the western road to Bohemia, by Freyberg; and
Vandamme, with a strong division, blocked up that which led directly
southward up the Elbe, by Pirna.

The two principal roads being thus closed against Schwartzenberg and his
army, nothing remained for them but to retreat through the interval
between these highways by such country paths as they could find, which,
bad in themselves, had been rendered almost impassable by the weather.
They were pursued by the French in every direction, and lost, what had
of late been unusual, a great number of prisoners. Seven or eight
thousand of the French were killed and wounded; but the loss of the
allies was as great, while their prisoners, almost all Austrians,
amounted to from 13,000 to 15,000. This is admitted by Boutourlin. The
French carry the loss to 50,000, which is an obvious exaggeration; but
half the number does not probably exceed the real extent of the loss. It
is singular, however, that in such roads as have been described, the
allies, out of more than one hundred guns which they brought into
position, should have lost only twenty-six. It was, notwithstanding, a
battle with important consequences, such as had not of late resulted
from any of Napoleon's great victories.[275] It proved, indeed, the last
favour of an unmixed character which Fortune reserved for her ancient
favourite, and it had all the dazzling rapidity and resistless strength
of an unexpected thunderbolt.

Having seen this brilliant day to a close, Napoleon returned to Dresden
on horseback, his grey capote and slouched hat streaming with water,
while the indifferent appearance of his horse and furniture, his awkward
seat and carriage, made a singular contrast with those of Murat, whose
bearing as a horseman was inimitable, and whose battle-dress was always
distinguished by its theatrical finery.[276]

The venerable King of Saxony received his deliverer with rapture, for to
him, personally, Buonaparte certainly was such, though considered by
many of his subjects in a very different light. Napoleon behaved
generously after the action, distributing money among the citizens of
Dresden, who had suffered from the cannonade, and causing the greatest
care to be taken of the wounded and prisoners belonging to the allies.

The next morning this ever-vigilant spirit was again on horseback,
directing his victorious troops in pursuit of the enemy. They were
despatched in different columns, to pursue the allies on the broken
roads by which they were compelled to retreat, and to allow them no rest
nor refuge. No frame, even of iron, could have supported the fatigues of
both mind and body to which Napoleon had subjected himself within the
last three or four days. He was perpetually exposed to the storm, and
had rarely taken rest or refreshment. He is also stated to have suffered
from having eaten hastily some food of a coarse and indigestible
quality.[277] Through one or other, or the whole of these causes
combined, Napoleon became very much indisposed, and was prevailed upon
to return in his carriage to Dresden, instead of remaining at Pirna,
more close in the rear of his pursuing battalions, to direct their
motions. The French officers, at least some of them, ascribe to this
circumstance, as the primary cause, a great, critical, and most
unexpected misfortune, which befell his arms at this time.

[Sidenote: VANDAMME.]

On the 29th of August, the French still continued to push their
advantages. The King of Naples, Marmont, and St. Cyr, were each pressing
upon the pursuit of the columns of the allies, to which they had been
severally attached. A corps d'armée, of about 30,000 men, had been
intrusted to the conduct of Vandamme, whose character as a general, for
skill, determined bravery, and activity, was respected, while he was
detested by the Germans on account of his rudeness and rapacity, and
disliked by his comrades because of the ferocious obstinacy of his
disposition.[278] With this man, who, not without some of the good
qualities which distinguished Buonaparte's officers, presented even a
caricature of the vices ascribed to them, the misfortunes of his master
in this campaign were destined to commence.

Vandamme had advanced as far as Peterswald, a small town in the
Erzgebirge, or Bohemian mountains, forcing before him a column of
Russians, feeble in number, but excellent in point of character and
discipline, commanded by Count Ostermann, who were retreating upon
Toplitz. This town was the point on which all the retiring, some of
which might be almost termed the fugitive, divisions of the allies were
directing their course. If Vandamme could have defeated Ostermann, and
carried this place, he might have established himself, with his corps of
30,000 men, on the only road practicable for artillery, by which the
allies could march to Prague; so that they must either have remained
enclosed between his corps d'armée, and those of the other French
generals who pressed on their rear, or else they must have abandoned
their guns and baggage, and endeavoured to cross the mountains by such
wild tracks as were used only by shepherds and peasants.

It was on the 29th, in the morning, that, acting under so strong a
temptation as we have mentioned, Vandamme had the temerity to descend
the hill from Peterswald to the village of Culm, which is situated in a
very deep valley betwixt that town and Toplitz. As he advanced towards
Toplitz, it appeared that his plan was about to be crowned with success.
The persons of the Emperor of Russia and the King of Prussia, the
members of their Cabinet, and the whole depôt of the headquarters of the
allies, seemed now within his clutch, and, already alarmed, his expected
prey were beginning to attempt their escape in different directions.
Vandamme seemed within a hand's grasp of the prize, for his operation,
if complete, must have totally disorganised the allied army, and the
French might perhaps have pursued them to the very gates of Prague, nay,
of Vienna. The French advanced-guard was within half a league of
Toplitz, when of a sudden Count Ostermann, who had hitherto retreated
slowly, halted, like a wild-boar brought to bay, and commenced the most
obstinate and inflexible resistance. His troops were few, but, as
already said, of excellent quality, being a part of the Imperial Russian
Guard, whom their commander gave to understand, that the safety of their
father (as the Russians affectionately term the Emperor) depended upon
their maintaining their ground. Never was the saying of Frederick II.,
that the Russians might be slain but not routed, more completely
verified. They stood firm as a grove of pines opposed to the tempest,
while Vandamme led down corps after corps, to support his furious and
repeated attacks, until at length he had brought his very last reserves
from the commanding ground of Peterswald, and accumulated them in the
deep valley between Culm and Toplitz. The brave Ostermann had lost an
arm in the action, and his grenadiers had suffered severely; but they
had gained the time necessary. Barclay de Tolly, who now approached the
scene of action, brought up the first columns of the Russians to their
support; Schwartzenberg sent other succours; and Vandamme, in his turn,
overpowered by numbers, retreated to Culm as night closed.

Prudence would have recommended to the French to have continued their
retreat during the night to the heights of Peterswald; but, expecting
probably the appearance of some of the French columns of pursuit,
morning found Vandamme in the valley of Culm, where night had set upon
him. In the meantime, still greater numbers of the allied corps, which
were wandering through these mountain regions, repaired to the banners
of Schwartzenberg and Barclay, and the attack was renewed upon the
French column at break of day on the 30th, with a superiority of force
with which it was fruitless to contend. Vandamme therefore disposed
himself to retreat towards the heights of Peterswald, from which he had
descended. But at this moment took place one of the most singular
accidents which distinguished this eventful war.

Among other corps d'armée of the allies, which were making their way
through the mountains, to rally to the main body as they best could, was
that of the Prussian General Kleist, who had evaded the pursuit of St.
Cyr, by throwing himself into the wood of Schoenwald, out of which he
debouched on the position of Peterswald, towards which Vandamme was
making his retreat. While, therefore, Vandamme's retreating columns were
ascending the heights, the ridge which they proposed to gain was seen
suddenly occupied by the troops of Kleist, in such a state of disorder
as announced they were escaped from some pressing scene of danger, or
hurrying on to some hasty attack.

When the Prussians came in sight of the French, they conceived that the
latter were there for the purpose of cutting them off; and, instead of
taking a position on the heights to intercept Vandamme, they determined,
it would seem, to precipitate themselves down, break their way through
his troops, and force themselves on to Toplitz. On the other hand, the
French, seeing their way interrupted, formed the same conclusion with
regard to Kleist's corps, which the Prussians had done concerning them;
and each army being bent on making its way through that opposed to them,
the Prussians rushed down the hill, while the French ascended it with a
bravery of despair, that supplied the advantage of ground.


The two armies were thus hurled on each other like two conflicting mobs,
enclosed in a deep and narrow road, forming the descent along the side
of a mountain. The onset of the French horse, under Corbineau, was so
desperate, that many or most of them broke through, although the
acclivity against which they advanced would not, in other circumstances,
have permitted them to ascend at a trot; and the guns of the Prussians
were for a moment in the hands of the French, who slew many of the
artillerymen. The Prussians, however, soon rallied, and the two
struggling bodies again mixing together, fought less for the purpose of
victory or slaughter, than to force their way through each other's
ranks, and escape in opposite directions. All became for a time a mass
of confusion, the Prussian generals finding themselves in the middle of
the French--the French officers in the centre of the Prussians. But the
army of the Russians, who were in pursuit of Vandamme, appearing in his
rear, put an end to this singular conflict. Generals Vandamme, Haxo, and
Guyot, were made prisoners, with two eagles and 7000 prisoners, besides
a great loss in killed and wounded, and the total dispersion of the
army, many of whom, however, afterwards rejoined their eagles.[279]

The victory of Culm, an event so unexpected and important in a military
view, was beyond appreciation in the consequences which it produced upon
the moral feelings of the allied troops. Before this most propitious
event, they were retiring as a routed army, the officers and soldiers
complaining of their generals, and their generals of each other. But now
their note was entirely altered, and they could sing songs of triumph,
and appeal to the train of guns and long columns of prisoners, in
support of the victory which they claimed. The spirits of all were
reconciled to the eager prosecution of the war, and the hopes of
liberation spread wider and wider through Germany. The other French
corps d'armée, on the contrary, fearful of committing themselves as
Vandamme had done, paused on arriving at the verge of the Bohemian
mountains, and followed no farther the advantages of the battle of
Dresden. The King of Naples halted at Sayda, Marmont at Zinnwalde, and
St. Cyr at Liebenau. The headquarters of the Emperor Alexander remained
at Toplitz.

Napoleon received the news of this calamity, however unexpected, with
the imperturbable calmness which was one of his distinguishing
qualities. General Corbineau, who commanded in the singular charge of
the cavalry up the hill of Peterswald, presented himself before the
Emperor in the condition in which he escaped from the field, covered
with his own blood and that of the enemy, and holding in his hand a
Prussian sabre, which, in the thick of the mêlée, he had exchanged for
his own. Napoleon listened composedly to the details he had to give.
"One should make a bridge of gold for a flying enemy," he said, "where
it is impossible, as in Vandamme's case, to oppose to him a bulwark of
steel." He then anxiously examined the instructions to Vandamme, to
discover if any thing had inadvertently slipped in to them, to encourage
the false step which that general had taken. But nothing was found which
could justify or authorise his advancing beyond Peterswald, although the
chance of possessing himself of Toplitz must have been acknowledged as a
strong temptation.

"This is the fate of war," said Buonaparte, turning to Murat. "Exalted
in the morning, low enough before night. There is but one step between
triumph and ruin." He then fixed his eyes on the map which lay before
him, took his compass, and repeated in a reverie, the following

    "J'ai servi, commandé, vaincu quarante années;
    Du monde, entre mes mains, j'ai vu les destinées,
    Et j'ai toujours connu qu'en chaque événement
    Le destin des états dependait d'un moment."


[273] According to orders accurately calculated, the little bands of
recruits, setting off from different points, or depôts on the frontier,
met together at places assigned, and, as their numbers increased by each
successive junction, were formed first into companies, next into
battalions, and last into regiments; learning, of course, to practise
successively the duties belonging to these various bodies. When they
joined the army, these combinations, which had but been adopted
temporarily, were laid aside, the union of the marching battalion
dissolved, and the conscripts distributed among old regiments, whose
example might complete the discipline which they had thus learned in a
general way.--S.

[274] Given on account of the marriage of Napoleon and Maria
Louisa.--See _ante_, p. 26.

[275] Jomini, tom. iv., p. 390; Savary, tom. iii., p. 106; Military
Reports to the Empress; Baron Fain, tom. ii., p. 309.

[276] Baron d'Odeleben, Relation Circonstanciée, tom. i., p. 198.

[277] To be precise--a shoulder of mutton, stuffed with garlic, was the
only dinner which his attendants could procure for him on the 27th.
Mahomet, who was a favourite of Napoleon, suffered by indulging in
similar viands. But the shoulder of mutton, in the case of the Arabian
prophet, had the condescension to give its consumer warning of its
deleterious qualities, though not till he had eaten too much for his

[278] The Abbé de Pradt represents Vandamme at Warsaw, as beating with
his own hand a priest, the secretary of a Polish bishop, for not having
furnished him with a supply of Tokay, although the poor man had to plead
in excuse that King Jerome had the day before carried off all that was
in the cellar. A saying was ascribed to Buonaparte, "that if he had had
two Vandammes in his service, he must have made the one hang the

[279] Jomini, tom. iv., p. 339; Baron Fain, tom. ii., p. 321.


    _Military Proceedings in the north of Germany--Luckau submits to the
    Crown Prince of Sweden--Battles of Gross-Beeren and
    Katzbach--Operations of Ney upon Berlin--He is defeated at Dennewitz
    on the 6th September--Difficult and embarrassing situation of
    Napoleon--He abandons all the right side of the Elbe to the
    Allies--Operations of the Allies in order to effect a
    junction--Counter-exertions of Napoleon--The French Generals averse
    to continuing the War in Germany--Dissensions betwixt them and the
    Emperor--Napoleon at length resolves to retreat upon Leipsic._

The advices which arrived at Dresden from the north of Germany, were no
balm to the bad tidings from Bohemia. We must necessarily treat with
brevity the high deeds of arms performed at a considerable distance from
Napoleon's person, great as was their influence upon his fortunes.

[Sidenote: BERLIN.]

Maréchal Blucher, it will be remembered, retreated across the river
Katzbach, to avoid the engagement which the Emperor of France
endeavoured to press upon him. The Crown Prince of Sweden, on the other
hand, had his headquarters at Potsdam. Napoleon, when departing to
succour Dresden, on the 21st of August, left orders for Oudinot to
advance on Berlin, and for Macdonald to march upon Breslau, trusting
that the former had force enough to conquer the Crown Prince, the latter
to defeat Blucher.

Oudinot began to move on Berlin by the road of Wittenberg, on the very
day when he received the orders. On the other hand, the Crown Prince of
Sweden, concentrating his troops, opposed to the French general a total
force of more than 80,000 men, drawn up for the protection of Berlin.
The sight of that fair city, with its towers and steeples, determined
Oudinot to try his fortune with his ancient comrade in arms. After a
good deal of skirmishing, the two armies came to a more serious battle
on the 23d August, in which General Regnier distinguished himself. He
commanded a corps which formed the centre of Oudinot's army, at the head
of which he made himself master of the village of Gross-Beeren, which
was within a short distance of the centre of the allies. The Prussian
general, Bulow, advanced to recover this important post, and with the
assistance of Borstal, who attacked the flank of the enemy, he succeeded
in pushing his columns into the village. A heavy rain having prevented
the muskets from being serviceable, Gross-Beeren was disputed with the
bayonet. Yet, towards nightfall, the two French divisions of Fournier
and Guilleminot again attacked the village, took it, and remained in it
till the morning. But this did not re-establish the battle, for Regnier
having lost 1500 men and eight guns, Oudinot determined on a general
retreat, which he conducted in the face of the enemy with great
deliberation. The Crown Prince obtained other trophies; Luckau, with a
garrison of a thousand French, submitted to his arms on 28th

Besides these severe checks on the Prussian frontier, General Girard, in
another quarter, had sustained a defeat of some consequence. He had
sallied from the garrison of Magdeburg, after the battle of
Gross-Beeren, with five or six thousand men. He was encouraged to this
movement by the removal of the blockading brigade of Herschberg, who, in
obedience to orders, had joined the Crown Prince to oppose the advance
of Oudinot. But, after the battle of Gross-Beeren, as the Prussian
brigade was returning to renew the blockade of Magdeburg, they
encountered Girard and his division near Leitzkau, on 27th August. The
French were at first successful, but Czernicheff having thrown himself
on them with a large body of Cossacks, Girard's troops gave way, losing
six cannons, fifteen hundred prisoners, and all their baggage.

During this active period, war had been no less busy on the frontiers of
Silesia than on those of Bohemia and Brandenburg. Maréchal Macdonald, as
already mentioned, had received orders from Napoleon to attack Blucher
and his Prussians, who had retired beyond the Katzbach, and occupied a
position near a town called Jauer. In obedience to this order, the
maréchal had sent General Lauriston, who commanded his right wing, to
occupy a position in front of Goldberg, with orders to despatch a part
of his division under General Puthod, to march upon Jauer, by the
circuitous route of Schonau. The eleventh corps, which formed the centre
of Macdonald's force, crossed the Katzbach at break of day, under his
own command, and advanced towards Jauer, up the side of a torrent called
the Wuthende (_i. e._ raging) Niesse. The third corps, under Souham,
destined to form the left wing, was to pass the Katzbach near Liegnitz,
and then moving southward, were to come upon the maréchal's left. With
this left wing marched the cavalry, under Sebastiani.[281]


It chanced that, on this very 26th of August, Blucher, aware that
Buonaparte was engaged at Dresden by the descent of the allies from
Bohemia, thought it a good time to seek out his opponent and fight him.
For this purpose, he was in the act of descending the river in order to
encounter Macdonald, when the maréchal, on his part, was ascending it,
expecting to find him in his position near Jauer.

The stormy weather, so often referred to, with mist and heavy rain,
concealed from each other the movements of the two armies, until they
met in the fields. They encountered in the plains which extend between
Wahlstadt and the Katzbach, but under circumstances highly unfavourable
to the French maréchal. His right wing was divided from his centre;
Lauriston being at Goldberg, and fiercely engaged with the Russian
General Langeron, with whom he had come into contact in the front of
that town; and Puthod at a much greater distance from the field of
battle. Macdonald's left wing, with the cavalry, was also far in the
rear. Blucher allowed no leisure for the junction of these forces. His
own cavalry being all in front, and ready for action, charged the French
without permitting them leisure to get into position; and when they did,
their right wing indeed rested on the Wuthende-Niesse, but the left,
which should have been covered by Sebastiani's cavalry, was altogether

Message on message was sent to hasten up the left wing; but a singular
fatality prevented both the cavalry and infantry from arriving in time.
Different lines of advance had been pointed out to Souham and
Sebastiani; but Souham, hearing the firing, and impatient to place
himself on the road which he thought likely to lead him most speedily
into action, unluckily adopted that which was appointed for the cavalry.
Thus 5000 horse, and five times the number of infantry, being thrown at
once on the same line of march, soon confused and embarrassed each
other's motions, especially in passing the streets of a village called
Kroitsch, a long and narrow defile, which the troops presently crowded
to such a degree with foot and horse, baggage and guns, that there was a
total impossibility of effecting a passage.

Macdonald, in the meanwhile, supported his high reputation by the
gallantry of his resistance, though charged on the left flank, which
these mistakes had left uncovered, by four regiments of cavalry, and by
General Karpoff, with a whole cloud of Cossacks. But at length the day
was decidedly lost. The French line gave way, and falling back on the
Wuthende-Niesse, now doubly raging from torrents of rain, and upon the
Katzbach, they lost a great number of men. As a last resource, Macdonald
put himself at the head of the troops, who were at length debouching
from the defile of Kroitsch; but they were driven back with great
slaughter, and the skirmish in that quarter concluded the battle, with
much loss to the French.

The evil did not rest here. Lauriston being also under the necessity of
retreating across the Katzbach, while Puthod, who had been detached
towards Schonau, was left on the right-hand side of that river, this
corps was speedily attacked by the enemy, and all who were not killed or
taken remained prisoners. The army which Buonaparte destined to act in
Silesia, and take Breslau, was, therefore, for the present, completely
disabled. The French are admitted to have lost 15,000 men, and more than
a hundred guns.

Though the battles of Gross-Beeren and Katzbach were severe blows to
Buonaparte's plan of maintaining himself on the Elbe, he continued
obstinate in his determination to keep his ground, with Dresden as his
central point of support, and attempted to turn the bad fortune which
seemed to haunt his lieutenants (but which in fact arose from their
being obliged to attempt great achievements with inadequate means,) by
appointing Ney to the command of the Northern army, with strict
injunctions to plant his eagles on the walls of Berlin. Accordingly, on
the 6th September, Ney took charge of the army which Oudinot had
formerly commanded, and which was lying under the walls of Wittenberg,
and, in obedience to the Emperor's orders, determined to advance on the
Prussian capital. The enemy (being the army commanded by the Crown
Prince) lay rather dispersed upon the grounds more to the east,
occupying Juterbock, Belzig, and other villages. Ney was desirous to
avoid approaching the quarters of any of them, or to give the least
alarm. That maréchal's object was to leave them on the left, and,
evading any encounter with the Crown Prince, to throw his force on the
road from Torgua to Berlin, and enter into communication with any troops
which Buonaparte might despatch from Dresden upon the same point.

On examining the plan more closely, it was found to comprehend the
danger of rousing the Prince of Sweden and his army upon one point, and
that was at Dennewitz, the most southern village held by the allies. It
was occupied by Tauentzein with a large force, and could not be passed
without the alarm being given. Dennewitz might, however, be masked by a
sufficient body of troops, under screen of which the maréchal and his
main body might push forward to Dahme, without risking an engagement. It
was concluded, that the rapidity of their motions would be so great as
to leave no time for the Crown Prince to concentrate his forces for
interrupting them.

[Sidenote: DENNEWITZ.]

On the 5th, Ney marched from Wittenberg. On the 6th, the division of
Bertrand, destined to mask Dennewitz, formed the left flank of the army.
When they approached the village, Tauentzein, who commanded there, took
the alarm, and drew up between Dennewitz and the French division. If
Bertrand had only had to maintain himself for a short interval in that
dangerous position, it would have been well, and he might have made head
against Tauentzein, till the last file of Ney's army had passed by; but
by some miscalculation (which began to be more common now than formerly
among the French officers of the staff,) the corps of Bertrand was
appointed to march at seven in the morning, while the corps which were
to be protected by him did not move till three hours later. Bertrand was
thus detained so long in face of the enemy, that his demonstration was
converted into an action, his false attack into a real skirmish.
Presently after the battle became sharp and serious, and the corps on
both sides advancing to sustain them were engaged. Bulow came to support
Tauentzein--Regnier advanced to repel Bulow--Guilleminot hastened up on
the French side--and Borstel came to support the Russians. However
unpremeditated, the battle became general, as if by common consent.

The Prussians suffered heavily from the French artillery, but without
giving way. The Swedes and Russians at length came up, and the line of
Ney began to yield ground. That general, who had hardly, though all his
forces were engaged, made his post good against the Russians alone,
despaired of success when he saw these new enemies appear. He began to
retreat; and his first movement in that direction was a signal of flight
to the 7th corps, composed chiefly of Saxons not over well inclined to
the cause of Napoleon, and who therefore made it no point of honour to
fight to the death in his cause. A huge blank was created in the French
line by their flight; and the cavalry of the allies rushing in at the
gap, the army of Ney was cut into two parts; one of which pushed
forwards to Dahme with the maréchal himself; the other, with Oudinot,
retreated upon Scharnitz. Ney afterwards accomplished his retreat on
Torgau. But the battle of Dennewitz had cost him 10,000 men, forty-three
pieces of cannon, and abundance of warlike trophies, relinquished to the
adversary, besides the total disappointment of his object in marching
towards Berlin.[282]

These repeated defeats, of Gross-Beeren, Katzbach, and Dennewitz, seemed
to intimate that the French were no longer the invincibles they had once
been esteemed; or at least, that when they yet worked miracles, it was
only when Buonaparte was at their head. Others saw the matter in a
different point of view. They said that formerly, when means were plenty
with Buonaparte, he took care that his lieutenants were supplied with
forces adequate to the purposes on which they were to be employed. But
it was surmised that now he kept the guard and the _élite_ of his forces
under his own immediate command, and expected his lieutenants to be as
successful with few and raw troops as they had formerly been with
numbers, and veterans. It cannot, however, be said that he saved his own
exertions; for during the month of September, while he persisted in
maintaining the war in Saxony, although no affair of consequence took
place, yet a series of active measures showed how anxious he was to
bring the war to a decision under his own eye.[283]

In perusing the brief abstract of movements which follows, the reader
will remember, that it was the purpose of Buonaparte to bring the allies
to a battle on some point, where, by superior numbers or superior skill,
he might obtain a distinguished victory; while, on the other hand, it
was the policy of the allies, dreading at once his talents and his
despair, to avoid a general action; to lay waste the ground around the
points he occupied; restrict his communications; raise Germany in arms
around him; and finally, to encompass and hem him in when his ranks were
grown thin, and the spirit of his soldiers diminished. Keeping these
objects in his eye, the reader, with a single glance at the map, will
conceive the meaning of the following movements on either side.

Having deputed to Ney, as we have just seen, the task of checking the
progress of the Crown Prince, and taking Berlin if possible, Buonaparte
started in person from Dresden on the 3d September, in hopes of fetching
a blow at Blucher, whose Cossacks, since the battle of the Katzbach, had
advanced eastward, and intercepted a convoy even near Bautzen. But
agreeably to the plan adopted at the general headquarters of the allies,
the Prussian veteran fell back and avoided a battle. Meanwhile, Napoleon
was recalled towards Dresden by the news of the defeat of Ney at
Dennewitz, and the yet more pressing intelligence that the allies were
on the point of descending into Saxony, and again arraying themselves
under the walls of Dresden. The advanced guard of Witgenstein had shown
itself, it was said, at Pirna, and the city was a prey to new alarms.
The French Emperor posted back towards the Elbe, and on the 9th came in
sight of Witgenstein. But the allied generals, afraid of one of those
sudden strokes of inspiration, when Napoleon seemed almost to dictate
terms to fate, had enjoined Witgenstein to retreat in his turn. The
passes of the Erzgebirge received him, and Buonaparte, following him as
far as Peterswald, gazed on the spot where Vandamme met his
unaccountable defeat, and looked across the valley of Culm to Toplitz,
where his rival Alexander still held his headquarters. With the glance
of an eye, the most expert in military affairs, he saw the danger of
involving himself in such impracticable defiles as the valley of Culm,
and the roads which communicated with it, and resolved to proceed no

Napoleon, therefore, returned towards Dresden, where he arrived on the
12th September. In his retreat, a trifling skirmish occurred, in which
the son of Blucher was wounded, and made prisoner. A victory was claimed
on account of this affair, in the bulletin. About the same period,
Blucher advanced upon the French troops opposed to him, endangered their
communications with Dresden, and compelled them to retreat from Bautzen,
and Neustadt, towards Bischoffswerder and Stolpen. While Buonaparte
thought of directing himself eastward towards this indefatigable enemy,
his attention was of new summoned southward to the Bohemian mountains.
Count Lobau, who was placed in observation near Gieshubel, was attacked
by a detachment from Schwartzenberg's army. Napoleon hastened to his
relief, and made a second attempt to penetrate into these mountain
recesses, from which the eagles of the allies made such repeated
descents. He penetrated, upon this second occasion, beyond Culm, and as
far as Nollendorf, and had a skirmish with the allies, which was rather
unfavourable to him. The action was broken off by one of the tremendous
storms which distinguished the season, and Buonaparte again retreated
towards Gieshubel. On his return to Dresden, he met the unpleasant news,
that the Prince-Royal was preparing to cross the Elbe, and that Bulow
had opened trenches before Wittenberg; while Blucher, on his side,
approached the right bank of the river, and neither Ney nor Macdonald
had sufficient force to check their progress.

On the 21st September, Napoleon once again came in person against his
veteran enemy, whom he met not far from Hartha; but it was once more in
vain. The Prussian field-maréchal was like the phantom knight of the
poet. Napoleon, when he advanced to attack him, found no substantial
body against which to direct his blows.

The Emperor spent some hours at the miserable thrice-sacked village of
Hartha, deliberating, probably, whether he should press on the Crown
Prince or Blucher, and disable at least one of these adversaries by a
single blow; but was deterred by reflecting, that the time necessary for
bringing either of them to action would be employed by Schwartzenberg in
accomplishing that purpose of seizing Dresden, which his movements had
so frequently indicated.


Thus Napoleon could neither remain at Dresden, without suffering the
Crown Prince and Blucher to enter Saxony, and make themselves masters of
the valley of the Elbe, nor make any distant movement against those
generals, without endangering the safety of Dresden, and, with it, of
his lines of communication with France. The last, as the more
irreparable evil, he resolved to guard against, by retreating to
Dresden, which he reached on the 24th. His maréchals had orders to
approach closer to the central point, where he himself had his
headquarters; and all the right side of the Elbe was abandoned to the
allies. It is said by Baron Odeleben,[284] that the severest orders were
issued for destroying houses, driving off cattle, burning woods, and
rooting up fruit-trees, reducing the country in short to a desert (an
evil reward for the confidence and fidelity of the old King of Saxony,)
but that they were left unexecuted, partly owing to the humanity of
Napoleon's lieutenants, and partly to the rapid advance of the allies.
There was little occasion for this additional cruelty; for so dreadfully
had these provinces been harassed and pillaged by the repeated passing
and repassing of troops on both sides, that grain, cattle, and forage of
every kind, were exhausted, and they contained scarce any other
sustenance for man or beast, except the potato crop, then in the ground.

After his return to Dresden, on the 24th September, Napoleon did not
leave it till the period of his final departure; and the tenacity with
which he held the place, has been compared by some critics to the wilful
obstinacy which led to his tarrying so long at Moscow. But the cases
were different. We have formerly endeavoured to show, that Napoleon's
wisdom in the commencement of this campaign would have been to evacuate
Germany, and, by consenting to its liberation, to have diminished the
odium attached to his assumption of universal power. As, however, he had
chosen to maintain his lofty pretensions at the expense of these bloody
campaigns, it was surely prudent to hold Dresden to the last moment. His
retreat from it, after so many losses and disappointments, would have
decided the defection of the whole Confederation of the Rhine, which
already was much to be dreaded. It would have given the allied armies,
at present separated from each other, an opportunity to form a junction
on the left side of the Elbe, the consequences of which could hardly
fail to be decisive of his fate. On the other hand, while he remained at
Dresden, Napoleon was in a condition to operate by short marches upon
the communications of the allies, and might hope to the last that an
opportunity would be afforded him of achieving some signal success
against one or other of them, or perhaps of beating them successively,
and in detail. The allied sovereigns and their generals were aware of
this, and, therefore, as we have seen, acted upon a plan of extreme
caution, for which they have been scoffed at by some French writers, as
if it were the result of fear rather than of wisdom. But it was plain
that the time for more decisive operations was approaching, and, with a
view to such, each party drew towards them such reinforcements as they
could command.

Buonaparte's soldiers had suffered much by fatigue and skirmishes,
though no important battle had been fought; and he found himself obliged
to order Augereau, who commanded about 16,000 men in the neighbourhood
of Wurtzberg, to join him at Dresden. He might, however, be said to lose
more than he gained by this supply; for the Bavarians, upon whose
inclinations to desert the French cause Augereau's army had been a
check, no sooner saw it depart, than an open and friendly intercourse
took place betwixt their army and that of Austria, which lay opposed to
them; negotiations were opened between their courts, without much
affectation of concealment; and it was generally believed, that only
some question about the Tyrol prevented their coming to an immediate

The allies received, on their side, the reinforcement of no less than
60,000 Russians, under the command of Bennigsen. The most of them came
from the provinces eastward of Moscow; and there were to be seen
attending them tribes of the wandering Baskirs and Tartars, figures
unknown in European war, wearing sheep-skins, and armed with bows and
arrows. But the main body consisted of regular troops, though some bore
rather an Asiatic appearance. This was the last reinforcement which the
allies were to expect; being the arriere-ban of the almost boundless
empire of Russia. Some of the men had travelled from the wall of China
to this universal military rendezvous.


Their utmost force being now collected, in numbers greatly superior to
that of their adversary, the allies proceeded to execute a joint
movement by means of which they hoped to concentrate their forces on the
left bank of the Elbe; so that if Napoleon should persist in remaining
at Dresden, he might be cut off from communication with France. With
this view Blucher, on the 3d October, crossed the Elbe near the junction
of that river with the Schwarze Elster, defeated Bertrand, who lay in an
entrenched camp to dispute the passage, and fixed his headquarters at
Duben. At the same time, the Crown Prince of Sweden in like manner
transferred his army to the left bank of the Elbe, by crossing at
Roslau, and entered into communication with the Silesian army. Thus
these two great armies were both transferred to the left bank, excepting
the division of Tauentzein, which was left to maintain the siege of
Wittenberg. Ney, who was in front of these movements, having no means to
resist such a preponderating force, retreated to Leipsic.

Simultaneously with the entrance of the Crown Prince and Blucher into
the eastern division of Saxony from the north-west, the grand army of
the allies was put in motion towards the same district, advancing from
the south by Sebastians-Berg and Chemnitz. On the 5th October, the
headquarters of Prince Schwartzenberg were at Marienberg.

These movements instantly showed Buonaparte the measures about to be
taken by the allies, and the necessity of preventing their junction.
This he proposed to accomplish by leaving Dresden with all his
disposable force, attacking Blucher at Duben, and, if possible,
annihilating that restless enemy, or, at least, driving him back across
the Elbe. At the same time, far from thinking he was about to leave
Dresden for ever, which he had been employed to the last in fortifying
yet more strongly, he placed a garrison of upwards of 15,000 men in that
city under St. Cyr. This force was to defend the city against any corps
of the allies, which, left in the Bohemian mountains for that purpose,
might otherwise have descended and occupied Dresden, so soon as Napoleon
removed from it. The King of Saxony, his Queen and family, preferred
accompanying Napoleon on his adventurous journey, to remaining in
Dresden, where a siege was to be expected, and where subsistence was
already become difficult.

The same alertness of movement, which secured Blucher on other
occasions, saved him in the present case from the meditated attack on
Duben. On the 9th of October, hearing of Napoleon's approach, he crossed
the Mulda, and formed a junction with the army of the Crown Prince, near
Zoerbig, on the left bank of that river. Napoleon, once more baffled,
took up his headquarters at Duben on the 10th. Here he soon learned that
the Crown Prince and Blucher, apprehensive that he might interpose
betwixt them and the grand army of Schwartzenberg, had retreated upon
the line of the Saale during the night preceding the 11th. They were
thus still placed on his communications, but beyond his reach, and in a
situation to communicate with their own grand army.

But this movement to the westward, on the part of the allies, had this
great inconvenience, that it left Berlin exposed, or inadequately
protected by the single division of Tauentzein at Dessau. This did not
escape the falcon eye of Napoleon. He laid before his maréchals a more
daring plan of tactics than even his own gigantic imagination had
(excepting in the Moscow campaign) ever before conceived. He proposed to
recross the Elbe to the right bank, and then resting his right wing on
Dresden, and his left on Hamburgh, there to maintain himself, with the
purpose of recrossing the Elbe on the first appearance of obtaining a
success over the enemy, dashing down on Silesia, and raising the
blockade of the fortresses upon the Oder. With this purpose he had
already sent Regnier and Bertrand across the Elbe, though their
ostensible mission had nothing more important than to raise the siege of

The counsellors of the Emperor were to a man dissatisfied with this
plan. It seemed to them that remaining in Germany was only clinging to
the defence of what could no longer be defended. They appealed to the
universal disaffection of all the Germans on the Rhine, and to the
destruction of the kingdom of Westphalia, recently effected by no
greater force than Czernicheff, with a pulk of Cossacks. They noticed
the almost declared defection of all their former friends, alluded to
their own diminished numbers, and remonstrated against a plan which was
to detain the army in a wasted country inhabited by a population
gradually becoming hostile, and surrounded with enemies whom they could
not defeat, because they would never fight but at advantage, and who
possessed the means of distressing them, while _they_ had no means of
retorting the injuries they received. This, they said, was the history
of the last three months, only varied by the decisive defeats of
Gross-Beeren, Katzbach, and Dennewitz.

Napoleon remained from the 11th to the 14th of October at Duben,
concentrating his own forces, waiting for news of the allies' motions,
and remaining in a state of uncertainty and inactivity, very different
from his usual frame of mind and natural habits. "I have seen him at
that time," says an eyewitness,[285] "seated on a sofa beside a table,
on which lay his charts, totally unemployed, unless in scribbling
mechanically large letters on a sheet of white paper." Consultations
with his best generals, which ended without adopting any fixed
determination, varied those unpleasing reveries. The councils were often
seasons of dispute, almost of dissension. The want of success had made
those dissatisfied with each other, whose friendship had been cemented
by uniform and uninterrupted prosperity. Great misfortunes might have
bound them together, and compelled them to regard each other as common
sufferers. But a succession of failures exasperated their temper, as a
constant drizzling shower is worse to endure than a thunder-storm.


Napoleon, while the maréchals were dissatisfied with each other and with
him, complained, on his part, that fatigue and discouragement had
overpowered most of his principal officers; that they had become
indifferent, lukewarm, awkward, and therefore unfortunate. "The general
officers," he said, "desired nothing but repose, and that at all rates."

On the other hand, the maréchals asserted that Napoleon no longer
calculated his means to the ends which he proposed to attain--that he
suffered himself to be deceived by phrases about the predominance of his
star and his destiny--and ridiculed his declaration that the word
Impossible was not good French. They said that such phrases were well
enough to encourage soldiers; but that military councils ought to be
founded on more logical arguments. They pleaded guilty of desiring
repose; but asked which was to blame, the horse or the rider, when the
over-ridden animal broke down with fatigue?

At length Napoleon either changed his own opinion, or deferred to that
of his military advisers; the orders to Regnier and Bertrand to advance
upon Berlin were annulled, and the retreat upon Leipsic was resolved
upon. The loss of three days had rendered the utmost despatch necessary,
and Buonaparte saw himself obliged to leave behind him in garrison,
Davoust at Hamburgh, Lemarrois at Magdeburg, Lapoype at Wittenberg, and
Count Narbonne at Torgau. Still he seems to have anticipated some
favourable chance, which might again bring him back to the line of the
Elbe. "A thunderbolt," as he himself expressed it, "alone could save
him; but all was not lost while battle was in his power, and a single
victory might restore Germany to his obedience."


[280] Baron Fain, tom. ii., p. 328; Jomini, tom. iv., p. 404.

[281] Jomini, tom. iv., p. 409; Baron Fain, tom. ii., p. 334.

[282] Jomini, tom. iv., p. 416; Baron Fain, tom. ii., p. 334.

[283] Jomini, tom. iv., p. 423.

[284] Relation Circonstanciée de la Campagne de 1813 en Saxe, tom. i.,
p. 234.

[285] Baron Odeleben, in his interesting Circumstantial Notice of the
Campaigns in Saxony.--S.


    _Napoleon reaches Leipsic on 15th of October--Statement of the
    French and Allied Forces--BATTLE OF LEIPSIC, commenced on 16th, and
    terminates with disadvantage to the French at nightfall--Napoleon
    despatches General Mehrfeldt (his prisoner) to the Emperor of
    Austria, with proposals for an armistice--No answer is returned--The
    battle is renewed on the morning of the 18th, and lasts till night,
    when the French are compelled to retreat, after immense loss on both
    sides--They evacuate Leipsic on the 19th, the Allies in full
    pursuit--Blowing up of one of the bridges--Prince Poniatowski
    drowned in the Elster--25,000 French are made prisoners--The Allied
    Sovereigns meet in triumph, at noon, in the Great Square at
    Leipsic--King of Saxony sent under a Guard to Berlin--Reflections._

The last act of the grand drama, so far as the scene lay in Germany, was
now fast approaching.

During the two first weeks of October, the various movements of the
troops had been of an indecisive character; but after the 14th, when the
belligerent powers became aware of each other's plans, the corps of the
allies, as well as those of the French, streamed towards Leipsic as to a
common centre.

Leaving Duben, the Emperor reached Leipsic early on the 15th of October,
and received the agreeable information that his whole force would be in
twenty-four hours under the walls; that the grand army of Austria was
fast approaching; but that his demonstration against Berlin had alarmed
Blucher, and therefore that maréchal might be longer of advancing, from
his anxiety to protect the Prussian capital. An opportunity of fighting
the one army without the presence of the other, was what Napoleon most
anxiously desired.

In the meantime, cannon were heard, and shortly after Murat brought an
account of a desperate cavalry skirmish, in which each party claimed the
victory. He himself, marked by the splendour of his dress, had with
difficulty escaped from a young Prussian officer, who was killed by an
orderly dragoon that waited upon the King of Naples. Another remarkable
circumstance in this skirmish was, the distinguished behaviour of a
Prussian regiment of cuirassiers. When complimented on their behaviour,
they replied, "Could we do otherwise?--this is the anniversary of the
battle of Jena." Such a spirit prevailed among the allies, nor is it to
be supposed that that of the French was inferior. If the one had wrongs
to avenge, the other had honours to preserve.

The venerable town of Leipsic forms an irregular square, surrounded by
an ancient Gothic wall, with a terrace planted with trees. Four
gates--on the north those of Halle and Ranstadt, on the east the gate of
Grimma, and on the south that called Saint Peter's gate--lead from the
town to the suburbs, which are of great extent, secured by walls and
barriers. Upon the west side of the town, two rivers, the Pleisse and
the Elster, wash its walls, and flowing through meadows, divide
themselves into several branches, connected by marshy islands. Leipsic
cannot, therefore, be esteemed capable of approach by an enemy in that
direction, excepting by a succession of bridges which cross those rivers
and their connecting streams. The first of these bridges leads to a
village called Lindeneau, and thence to Mark-Ranstadt. It is close to
the gate of the city which takes its name from that village. This road
forms the sole communication betwixt Leipsic and the banks of the Rhine.
On the east side, the river Partha makes a large semicircular bend
around the city, enclosing extensive plains, with various heights and
points of elevation, which make it well adapted for a military position;
on the south the same species of ground continues, but more broken into
eminences, one of which is called the Swedish Camp, from the wars,
doubtless, of Gustavus Adolphus; another is called the Sheep-walk of
Meusdorf; it is then bounded by the banks of the Pleisse. This line is
marked by a variety of villages, which, in the fearful days which we are
now to describe, gained a name in history. About the village of
Connewitz begins the marshy ground, inundated by the Pleisse and Elster.


It was on this last line that, on the 15th October, the columns of the
grand army of the allies were seen hastily advancing. Napoleon
immediately made his arrangements for defence. Lindenau, through which
ran the Mark-Ranstadt road, by which the French must retreat, was
occupied by Bertrand. Poniatowski, advancing to the right bank of the
Pleisse, held all the villages along the side of the river--Connewitz,
Lofsnig, Dooblitz, and so on to Markleberg. As the line of defence swept
to the eastward, Augereau was established on the elevated plain of
Wachau. He was supported by Victor and Lauriston at a considerable
village called Leibertwolkowitz. Cavalry were posted on the wings of
these divisions. The Imperial Guards were placed in the rear as a
reserve, at a village named Probstheyda; and Macdonald occupied a gentle
and sweeping rising-ground, extending from Stoetteriz to Holzhausen.

On the opposite, that is, the northern side of the city, Marmont
occupied a line betwixt Moeckern and Euterizt. His troops were intended
to make head against Blucher, whose approach from the north was
momentarily to be apprehended. Almost all along the ground thus
defended, but especially on the south front, the allies had prepared
columns of attack; and the sentinels of both armies were, when evening
fell, in some places within musket-shot of each other. Neither side,
however, seemed willing to begin the battle, in which the great question
was to be decided, whether France should leave other nations to be
guided by their own princes, or retain the unnatural supremacy with
which she had been invested by the talents of one great soldier.

The number of men who engaged the next morning, was said to be 136,000
French, omitting the corps of Souham, who was not engaged, and of
Regnier, who was not yet come up. The allies are by the same accounts
rated at 230,000, without counting the division of the Crown Prince, or
that of Bennigsen, which had not as yet joined. Almost all the
statements assign a predominating force to the allies of 80,000 or
100,000 men superior to their enemy. It thus appears that they had at
last acted according to Napoleon's own idea of the art of war, which he
defined as the art of assembling the greatest number upon a given point.

Napoleon himself visited all the posts, gave his last orders, and took
the opportunity, as he frequently did on the eve of battle, to
distribute eagles to those regiments of Augereau's division, which,
being new levies, had not yet received these military emblems. The
ceremony, performed with warlike pomp, may remind the reader of the
ancient fashion of making knights on the eve of a battle. The soldiers
were made to swear never to abandon their eagles; and the Emperor
concluded by saying, in a loud voice, "Yonder lies the enemy. Swear that
you will rather die than permit France to be dishonoured."--"We swear
it!" exclaimed the battalions. "Long live the Emperor!" And
unquestionably they kept their word in the tremendous series of actions
which followed.

Napoleon's preparations were made chiefly upon the southern side of
Leipsic. It has been supposed, though, we think, with small probability,
that he scarce expected a serious attack upon the northern side at all.
In the evening, however, of the 15th, three death-rockets (_feux de
mort_,) displaying long brilliant trains of white light, were observed
to rise high in the southerly quarter of the heavens, and they were
presently answered by four of a red colour, which were seen in the
distant north. It was concluded that these were signals of communication
between the grand army of the allies, and those of the Crown Prince and
Blucher. The latter, therefore, must be at no incalculable distance.

Napoleon remained in the rear of his own guards, behind the central
position, almost opposite to a village called Gossa, which was occupied
by the allies.

At break of day, on the 16th October, the battle began. The French
position was attacked along all the southern front with the greatest
fury. On the French right, the village of Markleberg was fiercely
assaulted by Kleist, while the Austrian division of Mehrfeldt, making
their way through the marshes to the left bank of the Pliesse,
threatened to force themselves across that river. Poniatowski, to whom
the defence was confided, was obliged to give ground, so that the
Emperor was compelled to bring up the troops under Souham, which had
joined during the night, and which had been designed to support Marmont
on the north of Leipsic. Maréchal Victor defended the village of Wachau,
in front of the position, against Prince Eugene of Wirtemberg. The town
of Leibertwolkowitz was made good by Lauriston against Klenau. The
allies made six desperate attempts on these points, but all were
unsuccessful. They were now something in the condition of wrestlers who
have exhausted themselves in vain and premature efforts; and Napoleon in
turn assuming the offensive, began to show his skill and power.


Macdonald was ordered to attack Klenau, and beat him back from
Leibertwolkowitz, with the cavalry of Sebastiani; while two divisions
descended to sustain General Lauriston. It was about noon when this
general advance took place along the centre of the French. It was for
some time fearfully successful. The village of Gossa, hitherto occupied
by the allies, and in the very centre of their line, was carried by the
bayonet. The eminence called the Sheepwalk was also in danger of being
lost, and the exertions of Macdonald put him in possession of the
redoubt called the Swedish Camp. The desperate impetuosity of the French
had fairly broken through the centre of the allies; and Napoleon, as if
desirous not to lose a moment in proclaiming his supposed victory, sent
the tidings to the King of Saxony, who commanded all the church-bells in
the city to be rung for rejoicing, even while the close continued roar
of the cannon seemed to give the lie to the merry peal. The King of
Naples, in the meantime, with Latour Maubourg, and Kellermann, poured
through the gap in the enemy's centre, and at the head of the whole body
of cavalry thundered forward as far as Magdeburg, a village in the rear
of the allies, bearing down General Rayefskoi, with the grenadiers of
the reserve, who threw themselves forward to oppose their passage.

But at this imminent moment of peril, while the French cavalry were
disordered by their own success, Alexander ordered the Cossacks of his
guard, who were in attendance on his person, to charge. They did so with
the utmost fury, as fighting under the eye of their sovereign,
disconcerted Buonaparte's manœuvre, and bore back with their long
lances the dense mass of cavalry who had so nearly carried the day.

In the meantime, while the carnage was continuing on the southern side
of Leipsic, a similar thunder of artillery commenced on the right, where
Blucher had arrived before the city, and suddenly come into action with
Marmont, with at least three men for one. Breathless aides-de-camp came
galloping to reclaim the troops of Souham, which, for the purpose of
supporting Poniatowski, had been withdrawn from their original
destination of assisting Marmont. They could, not however, be replaced,
and Blucher obtained, in consequence, great and decided results. He took
the village of Moeckern, with twenty pieces of artillery, and two
thousand prisoners; and when night separated the combat, had the
advantage of having greatly narrowed the position of the enemy.

But the issue on the south side of Leipsic continued entirely
indecisive, though furiously contested. Gossa was still disputed, taken
and retaken repeatedly, but at length remained in possession of the
allies. On the verge of the Pleisse, the combat was no less dreadful.
The Austrians of Bianchi's division poured on Markleberg, close to the
side of the river, with the most dreadful yells. Poniatowski, with
Augereau's assistance, had the utmost difficulty in keeping his
ground. From the left side of the Pleisse, Schwartzenberg manœuvred
to push a body of horse across the swampy river, to take the French in
the rear of the position. But such of the cavalry as got through a very
bad ford, were instantly charged and driven back, and their leader,
General Mehrfeldt, fell into the hands of the French. An Austrian
division, that of Guilay, manœuvred on the left bank of the Pleisse,
as far down as Lindenau, and the succession of bridges, which, we have
said, forms on the western side the sole exit from Leipsic towards the
Rhine. This was the only pass which remained for retreat to the French,
should they fail in the dreadful action which was now fighting. Guilay
might have destroyed these bridges; but it is believed he had orders to
leave open that pass for retreat, lest the French should be rendered
utterly desperate, when there was no anticipating what exertions they
might be goaded to.

The battle, thus fiercely contested, continued to rage till nightfall,
when the bloody work ceased as if by mutual consent. Three cannon-shot,
fired as a signal to the more distant points, intimated that the
conflict was ended for the time, and the armies on the southern line
retired to rest, in each other's presence, in the very positions which
they had occupied the night before. The French had lost the ground which
at one period they had gained, but they had not relinquished one foot of
their original position, though so fiercely attacked during the whole
day by greatly superior numbers. On the north their defence had been
less successful. Marmont had been forced back by Blucher, and the whole
line of defence on that side was crowded nearer to the walls of

Napoleon, in the meantime, had the melancholy task of arranging his
soldiers for a defence, sure to be honourable, and yet at length to be
unavailing. Retreat became inevitable; yet, how to accomplish it through
the narrow streets of a crowded city; how to pass more than 100,000 men
over a single bridge, while double that number were pressing on their
rear, was a problem which even Buonaparte could not solve. In this
perplexity, he thought of appealing to the sentiments of affection which
the Emperor of Austria must necessarily be supposed to entertain for his
daughter and grandchild. The capture of General Mehrfeldt served
opportunely to afford the means of communication with the better grace,
as, after the battle of Austerlitz, this was the individual, who, on the
part of the Emperor of Germany, had solicited a personal interview, and
favourable terms from Napoleon. In a private interview with this
officer, Napoleon received the confirmation of what he had long
apprehended, the defection of the King of Bavaria, the union of his army
with that of Austria, and their determination to intercept him on his
return to the Rhine. This fatal intelligence increased his desire of
peace, and he requested, yet in terms of becoming dignity, the
intercession of his father-in-law. He was now willing to adopt the
terms proposed at Prague. He offered to renounce Poland and Illyria. He
would consent to the independence of Holland, the Hanse towns, and
Spain; but he wished this last to be delayed till a general peace.
Italy, he proposed, should be considered as independent, and preserved
in its integrity. Lastly, as the price of the armistice to be
immediately concluded, he was willing to evacuate Germany and retreat
towards the Rhine.

These terms contained what, at an early part of the campaign, and
voluntarily tendered, would have been gladly accepted by the allies. But
Buonaparte's own character for ability and pertinacity; the general
impression, that, if he relinquished his views for a time, it was only
to recur to them in a more favourable season; and his terrible power of
making successful exertions for that purpose, hardened the hearts of the
allied sovereigns against what, from another (could any other save
Buonaparte be supposed in his situation) would, in the like
circumstances, have been favourably received. "Adieu, General
Mehrfeldt," said Napoleon, dismissing his prisoner; "when, on my part,
you name the word armistice to the two Emperors, I doubt not that the
voice which then strikes their ears will awaken many recollections."
Words affecting by their simplicity, and which, coming from so proud a
heart, and one who was reduced to ask the generosity which he had
formerly extended, cannot be recorded without strong sympathy.

General Mehrfeldt went out, like the messenger from the ark, and long
and anxiously did Buonaparte expect his return. But he was the raven
envoy, and brought back no olive branch. Napoleon did not receive an
answer until his troops had recrossed the Rhine. The allies had engaged
themselves solemnly to each other, that they would enter into no treaty
with him while an individual of the French army remained in Germany.


Buonaparte was now engaged in preparations for retreat; yet he made them
with less expedition than the necessities of the time required. Morning
came, and the enemy did not renew the attack, waiting for Bennigsen and
the Prince-Royal of Sweden. In the meanwhile, casks, and materials of
all kinds being plenty, and labourers to be collected to any extent, it
seems, that, by some of the various modes known to military
engineers,[287] temporary bridges might have been thrown over the Elster
and the Pleisse, which are tranquil still rivers, and the marshes
betwixt them rendered sufficiently passable. Under far more
disadvantageous circumstances Napoleon had bridged the Beresina within
the space of twelve hours. This censure is confirmed by a most competent
judge, the general of engineers, Rogniat, who affirms that there was
time enough to have completed six bridges, had it been employed with
activity. The answer, that he himself, as chief of the engineer
department at the time, ought to have ordered and prepared these means
of retreat, seems totally insufficient. Napoleon did not permit his
generals to anticipate his commands on such important occasions. It is
said, indeed, that the Emperor had given orders for three bridges, but
that, in the confusion of this dreadful period, that was seldom
completely accomplished which Napoleon could not look after with his own
eyes. Nothing of the kind was actually attempted, except at a place
called the Judges' Garden; and that, besides having its access, like the
stone bridge, through the town of Leipsic, was constructed of too slight
materials. Perhaps Napoleon trusted to the effect of Mehrfeldt's
mission; perhaps he had still latent hopes that his retreat might be
unnecessary; perhaps he abhorred the thought of that manœuvre so
much, as to lead him entirely to confide the necessary preparations to
another; but certain it is, the exertion was not made in a manner
suitable to the occasion. The village of Lindenau, on the left side of
the rivers, was nevertheless secured.

The 17th, as we have said, was spent in preparations on both sides,
without any actual hostilities, excepting when a distant cannonade, like
the growling of some huge monster, showed that war was only slumbering,
and that but lightly.

At eight o'clock on the 18th of October, the battle was renewed with
tenfold fury. Napoleon had considerably contracted his circuit of
defence; on the external range of heights and villages, which had been
so desperately defended on the 16th, the allies now found no opposition
but that of outposts. The French were posted in an interior line nearer
to Leipsic, of which Probtshedya was the central point. Napoleon
himself, stationed on an eminence called Thonberg, commanded a prospect
of the whole field.

Masses were drawn up behind the villages, which relieved their defenders
from time to time with fresh troops; cannon were placed in their front
and on their flanks, and every patch of wooded ground which afforded the
least shelter, was filled with tirailleurs. The battle then joined on
all sides. The Poles, with their gallant general, Poniatowski, to whom
this was to prove the last of his fields, defended the banks of the
Pleisse, and the villages connected with it, against the Prince of Hesse
Homberg, Bianchi, and Colleredo. In the centre, Barclay, Witgenstein,
and Kleist, advanced on Probtsheyda, where they were opposed by the King
of Naples, Victor, Augereau, and Lauriston, under the eye of Napoleon
himself. On the left, Macdonald had drawn back his division from an
advanced point called Holtzhausen, to a village called Stoetteritz,
which was the post assigned to them on the new and restricted line of
defence. Along all this extended southern line, the fire continued
furious on both sides, nor could the terrified spectators, from the
walls and steeples of Leipsic, perceive that it either advanced or
recoiled. The French had the advantage of situation and cover, the
allies that of greatly superior numbers; both were commanded by the
first generals of their country and age.

About two o'clock afternoon, the allies, under General Pirch and Prince
Augustus of Prussia, forced their way headlong into Probtsheyda; the
camp followers began to fly; the noise of the tumult overcame almost the
fire of the artillery. Napoleon in the rear, but yet on the verge of
this tumult, preserved his entire tranquillity. He placed the reserve of
the Old Guard in order, led them in person to recover the village, and
saw them force their entrance, ere he retreated to the eminence from
which he observed the action. During the whole of this eventful day, in
which he might be said to fight less for victory than for safety, this
wonderful man continued calm, decided, collected, and supported his
diminished and broken squadrons in their valiant defence, with a
presence of mind and courage, as determined as he had so often exhibited
in directing the tide of onward victory. Perhaps his military talents
were more to be admired, when thus contending at once against Fortune
and the superiority of numbers, than in the most distinguished of his
victories, when the fickle goddess fought upon his side.

The allies, notwithstanding their gallantry and their numbers, felt
themselves obliged to desist from the murderous attacks upon the
villages which cost them such immense loss; and drawing back their
troops as they brought forward their guns and howitzers, contented
themselves with maintaining a dreadful fire on the French masses as they
showed themselves, and throwing shells into the villages. The French
replied with great spirit; but they had fewer guns in position, and,
besides, their ammunition was falling short. Still, however, Napoleon
completely maintained the day on the south of Leipsic, where he was
present in person.

On the north side of Leipsic, the superiority of numbers, still greater
than that which existed on the south, placed Ney in a precarious
situation. He was pressed at once by the army of Blucher, and by that of
the Crown Prince, which was now come up in force. The latter general
forced his way across the Partha, with three columns, and at three
different points; and Ney saw himself obliged to retreat, in order to
concentrate his forces nearer Leipsic, and communicate by his right with
the army of Napoleon.

The Russians had orders to advance to force this new position, and
particularly to drive back the advanced guard of Regnier, stationed on
an eminence called Heiterblick, betwixt the villages of Taucha and
Paunsdorf. On a sudden, the troops who occupied the French line on that
point, came forward to meet the allies, with their swords sheathed, and
colours of truce displayed. This was a Saxon brigade, who, in the midst
of the action, embraced the time and opportunity to desert the service
of Napoleon, and declare for independence. These men had an
unquestionable right to espouse the cause of their country, and shake
off the yoke of a stranger, which Saxony had found so burdensome; but it
is not while on the actual battle-ground that one side ought to be
exchanged for the other; and those must be in every case accounted
guilty of treachery, who, bringing their swords into the field for one
party, shall suddenly, and without intimation given, turn them against
the power in whose ranks they had stood.

The Russians, afraid of stratagem, sent the Saxon troops, about 10,000
in number, to the rear of the position. But their artillery were
immediately brought into action; and having expended during that morning
one half of their ammunition on the allies, they now bestowed the other
half upon the French army. By this unexpected disaster, Ney was obliged
to contract his line of defence once more. Even the valour and exertions
of that distinguished general could not defend Schoenfeld. That fine
village forms almost one of the northern suburbs of Leipsic. It was in
vain that Buonaparte despatched his reserves of cavalry to check the
advance of the Crown Prince. He defeated all opposition that presented
itself, and pressed Ney into a position close under the walls of
Leipsic. The battle once more ceased on all points; and after the solemn
signal of three cannon-shot had been heard, the field was left to the
slain and the wounded.[288]

Although the French army kept its ground most valiantly during the whole
of this tremendous day, there was no prospect of their being able to
sustain themselves any longer around or in Leipsic. The allies had
approached so close to them, that their attacks might, on the third day,
be expected to be more combined and simultaneous than before. The
superiority of numbers became more efficient after the great carnage
that had taken place, and that for the simple reason, that the army
which had greatest numbers could best afford to lose lives. It is said
also by Baron Fain,[289] that the enormous number of 250,000
cannon-bullets had been expended by the French during the last four
days, and that there only remained to serve their guns about 16,000
cartridges, which could scarce support a hot fire for two hours. This
was owing to the great park of artillery having been directed on Torgau,
another circumstance which serves to show how little Buonaparte dreamed
of abandoning the Elbe when he moved from Dresden. To this the
increasing scarcity of provisions is to be added; so that every thing
combined to render Napoleon's longer stay at Dresden altogether
impossible, especially when the Bavarian general, now his declared
enemy, was master of his communications with France.

The retreat, however necessary, was doomed inevitably to be disastrous,
as is evident from the situation of the French army, cooped up by
superior forces under the walls of a large town, the narrow streets of
which they must traverse to reach two bridges, one of recent and hasty
construction, by which they must cross the Pleisse, the Elster, and the
marshy ground, streams, and canals, which divide them from each other;
and then, added to this was the necessity of the whole army debouching
by one single road, that which leads to Lindenau, and on which it would
be impossible to prevent dreadful confusion. But there was no remedy for
these evils; they must necessarily be risked.

[Sidenote: LEIPSIC.]

The retreat was commenced in the night time; and Buonaparte, retiring in
person to Leipsic, spent a third exhausting night in dictating the
necessary orders for drawing the corps of his army successively within
the town, and transferring them to the western bank of the two rivers.
The French troops accordingly came into Leipsic from all sides, and
filling the town with the ineffable confusion which always must attend
the retreat of so large a body in the presence of a victorious enemy,
they proceeded to get out of it as they best could, by the way
prescribed. Macdonald and Poniatowski, with their corps, were appointed
to the perilous honour of protecting the rear. "Prince," said Napoleon,
to the brave Polish prince, "you must defend the southern
suburbs."--"Alas, sire," he answered, "I have but few soldiers
left."--"Well, but you will defend them with what you have?"--"Doubt
not, sire, but that we will make good our ground; we are all ready to
die for your Majesty's service."--Napoleon parted with this brave and
attached prince, upon whom he had recently bestowed a maréchal's baton.
They never met again in this world.

The arrival of daylight had no sooner shown to the allies the
commencement of the French retreat, than their columns began to advance
in pursuit on every point, pushing forward, with all the animation of
victory, to overtake the enemy in the suburbs and streets of Leipsic.
The King of Saxony, the magistrates, and some of the French generals,
endeavoured to secure the city from the dangers which were to be
expected from a battle in the town, betwixt the rear-guard of the French
and the advanced guard of the allies. They sent proposals, that the
French army should be permitted to effect their retreat unmolested, in
mercy to the unfortunate town. But when were victorious generals
prevented from prosecuting military advantages, by the mere
consideration of humanity? Napoleon, on his side, was urged to set fire
to the suburbs, to check the pressure of the allies on his rear-guard.
As this, however, must have occasioned a most extensive scene of misery,
Buonaparte generously refused to give such a dreadful order, which,
besides, could not have been executed without compromising the safety of
a great part of his own rear, to whom the task of destruction must have
been committed, and who would doubtless immediately have engaged in an
extensive scene of plunder. Perhaps, also, Napoleon might be influenced
by the feeling of what was due to the confidence and fidelity of
Frederick Augustus of Saxony, who, having been so long the faithful
follower of his fortunes, was now to be abandoned to his own. To have
set fire to that unhappy monarch's city, when leaving him behind to make
terms for himself as he could, would have been an evil requital for all
he had done and suffered in the cause of France; nor would it have been
much better had Napoleon removed the Saxon King from his dominions, and
destroyed all chance of his making peace with the irritated sovereigns,
by transporting him along with the French army in its calamitous

At nine o'clock Napoleon had a farewell interview with Frederick
Augustus, releasing him formally from all the ties which had hitherto
combined them, and leaving him at liberty to form such other alliances
as the safety of his states might require. Their parting scene was
hurried to a conclusion by the heavy discharge of musketry from several
points, which intimated that the allies, forcing their way into the
suburbs, were fighting hand to hand, and from house to house, with the
French, who still continued to defend them. The King and Queen of Saxony
conjured Buonaparte to mount his horse, and make his escape; but, before
he did so, he discharged from their ties to France and to himself the
King of Saxony's body guard, and left them for the protection of the
royal family.


When Napoleon attempted to make his way to the single point of exit, by
the gate of Ranstadt, which led to the bridge, or succession of bridges,
so often mentioned, he found reason for thinking his personal safety in
actual danger. It must be remembered, that the French army, still
numbering nearly 100,000, were pouring into Leipsic, pursued by more
than double that number, and that the streets were encumbered with the
dead and wounded, with artillery and baggage, with columns so wedged up
that it was impossible for them to get forward, and with others, who,
almost desperate of their safety, would not be left behind. To fight his
way through this confusion, was impossible even for Napoleon. He and his
suite were obliged to give up all attempts to proceed in the direct road
to the bridge, and turning in the other direction, he got out of the
city through Saint Peter's Gate, moved on until he was in sight of the
advancing columns of the allies, then turning along the eastern suburb,
he found a circuitous by-way to the bridges, and was enabled to get
across. But the temporary bridge which we have before mentioned had
already given way, so that there remained only the old bridge on the
road to Lindenau, to serve as an exit to the whole French army. The
furious defence which was maintained in the suburbs, continued to check
the advance of the allies, otherwise the greater part of the French army
must inevitably have been destroyed. But the defenders themselves, with
their brave commanders, were at length, after exhibiting prodigies of
valour, compelled to retreat; and ere they could reach the banks of the
river, a dreadful accident had taken place.

The bridge, so necessary to the escape of this distressed army, had been
mined by Buonaparte's orders, and an officer of engineers was left to
execute the necessary measure of destroying it, so soon as the allies
should approach in force sufficient to occupy the pass. Whether the
officer to whom this duty was intrusted had fled, or had fallen, or had
been absent from his post by accident, no one seems to have known; but
at this critical period a sergeant commanded the sappers in his stead. A
body of Swedish sharp-shooters pushed up the side of the river about
eleven o'clock, with loud cries and huzzas, firing upon the crowds who
were winning their way slowly along the bridge, while Cossacks and
Hulans were seen on the southern side, rushing towards the same spot;
and the troops of Saxony and Baden, who had now entirely changed sides,
were firing on the French from the wall of the suburbs, which they had
been posted to defend against the allies, and annoying the retreat which
they had been destined to cover. The non-commissioned officer of
engineers imagined that the retreat of the French was cut off, and set
fire to the mine, that the allies might not take possession of the
bridge for pursuing Napoleon.[290] The bridge exploded with a horrible

This catastrophe effectually intercepted the retreat of all who remained
still on the Leipsic side of the river, excepting some individuals who
succeeded by swimming through the Pleisse and the Elster. Among these
was the brave Maréchal Macdonald, who surmounted all the obstacles
opposed to his escape. Poniatowski, the gallant nephew of Stanislaus,
King of Poland, was less fortunate. He was the favourite of his
countrymen, who saw in their imagination the crown of Poland glittering
upon his brow. He himself, like most of the Poles of sense and
reflection, regarded these hopes as delusive; but followed Napoleon with
unflinching zeal, because he had always been his friend and benefactor.
Besides a thousand other acts of valour, Poniatowski's recent defence of
the extreme right of the French position was as brilliant as any part of
the memorable resistance at Leipsic. He had been twice wounded in the
previous battles. Seeing the bridge destroyed, and the enemy's forces
thronging forward in all directions, he drew his sabre, and said to his
suite, and a few Polish cuirassiers, who followed him, "Gentlemen, it is
better to fall with honour than to surrender." He charged accordingly,
and pushed through the troops of the allied army opposed to him, in the
course of which desperate attempt he was wounded by a musket shot in the
arm. Other enemies appeared; he threw himself upon them with the same
success, making his way amongst them also, after receiving a wound
through the cross of his decoration. He then plunged into the Pleisse,
and with the assistance of his staff-officers, got across that river, in
which his horse was lost. Though much exhausted, he mounted another
horse, and seeing that the enemy were already occupying the banks of the
Elster with riflemen, he plunged into that deep and marshy river, to
rise no more. Thus bravely died a prince, who, in one sense, may be
termed the last of the Poles.[291]

The remainder of the French army, after many had been killed and drowned
in an attempt to cross these relentless rivers, received quarter from
the enemy. About 25,000 men were made prisoners, and as Napoleon seems
only to have had about 200 guns at the battle of Hannau, many must have
been abandoned in Leipsic and its neighbourhood.[292] The quantity of
baggage taken was immense.

The triumph of the allied monarchs was complete. Advancing at the head
of their victorious forces, each upon his own side, the Emperor of
Russia, the King of Prussia, and the Crown Prince of Sweden, met and
greeted each other in the great square of the city, where they were soon
joined by the Emperor of Austria. General Bertrand, the French
commandant of the city, surrendered his sword to these illustrious
personages. No interview took place between the allied monarchs and the
King of Saxony. He was sent under a guard of Cossacks to Berlin, nor was
he afterwards restored to his throne, until he had paid a severe fine
for his adherence to France.

When reflecting upon these scenes, the rank and dignity of the actors
naturally attract our observation. It seems as if the example of
Buonaparte, in placing himself at the head of his armies, had in some
respects changed the condition of sovereigns, from the reserved and
retired dignity in which most had remained, estranged from the actual
toils of government and dangers of war, into the less abstracted
condition of sharing the risk of battle, and the labours of negotiation.
Such scenes as those which passed at Leipsic on this memorable day,
whether we look at the parting of Napoleon from Frederick Augustus, amid
the fire and shouting of hostile armies, or the triumphant meeting of
the allied sovereigns in the great square of Leipsic, had been for
centuries only to be paralleled in romance. But considering how
important it is to the people that sovereigns should not be prompt to
foster a love of war, there is great room for question whether the
encouragement of this warlike propensity be upon the whole a subject for
Europe to congratulate itself upon.

Policy and the science of war alike dictated a rapid and close pursuit
after the routed French; but the allied army had been too much
exhausted, by the efforts required to gain the battle, to admit of its
deriving the full advantage from success. There was a great scarcity of
provisions around Leipsic; and the stores of the city, exhausted by the
French, afforded no relief. The bridge which had been destroyed was as
necessary for the advance of the allies as the retreat of Napoleon.
Besides, it must be admitted that an allied army is always less decided
and rapid in its movements than one which receives all its impulses from
a single commander of strong and vigorous talents. Of this we shall see
more proofs. But, in the meantime, a great point was gained. The
liberation of Germany was complete, even if Napoleon should escape the
united armies of Austria and Bavaria, which still lay betwixt him and
the banks of the Rhine. And indeed the battles which he fought for
conquest terminated at Leipsic. Those which he afterwards waged were for
his own life and the sceptre of France.


[286] Jomini, tom. iv., pp. 450, 462; Baron Fain, tom. ii., p. 384;
Baron d'Odeleben, tom. ii., p. 32; Savary, tom. iii., p. 117.

[287] See Sir Howard Douglas's work on Military Bridges.--S.

[288] Jomini, tom. iv., pp. 465, 480; Baron Fain, tom. ii., p. 403.

[289] Manuscript de 1813, par le Baron Fain, tom. ii., p. 420.

[290] This story was at first doubted, and it was supposed that Napoleon
had commanded the bridge to be blown up, with the selfish purpose of
securing his own retreat. But, from all concurring accounts, the
explosion took place in the manner, and from the cause, mentioned in the
text. There is, notwithstanding, an obscurity in the case. A French
officer of engineers, by name Colonel Monfort, was publicly announced as
the person through whose negligence or treachery the post was left to
subordinate keeping. Nevertheless, it is said, that the only officer of
that name, in the engineer service of Buonaparte's army, was actually at
Mentz when the battle of Leipsic took place. This is alluded to by
General Grouchy, who, in a note upon his interesting Observations on
General Gourgaud's Account of the Campaign of 1815, has this remarkable
passage.--"One would wish to forget the bulletin, which, after the
battle of Leipsic, delivered to the bar of public opinion, as
preliminary to bringing him before a military commission, Colonel
Monfort of the engineer service, gratuitously accused of the breaking
down the bridge at Leipsic." Neither the colonel nor the
non-commissioned officer was ever brought to a court-martial.--S.

[291] His body was found, and his obsequies performed with great
military pomp; both the victors and vanquished attending him to the
tomb, with every honour which could be rendered to his remains.--S.

[292] "The French were computed to have lost 50,000 men, including the
sick abandoned in the hospitals at Leipsic, and 250 guns."--LORD
BURGHERSH, _Operations_, &c., p. 28.


    _Retreat of the French from Germany--General Defection of Napoleon's
    Partisans--Battle of Hannau fought on 30th and 31st
    October--Napoleon arrives at Paris on 9th November--State in which
    he finds the public mind in the capital--Fate of the French
    Garrisons left in Germany--Arrival of the Allied Armies on the banks
    of the Rhine--General view of Napoleon's political
    relations--Italy--Spain--Restoration of Ferdinand--Liberation of the
    Pope, who returns to Rome--Emancipation of Holland._


Napoleon was now on his retreat, and it proved a final one, from Germany
towards France. It was performed with disorder enough, and great loss,
though far less than that which had attended the famous departure from
Moscow. The troops, according to Baron d'Odeleben, soured by misfortune,
marched with a fierce and menacing air, and the guards in particular
indulged in every excess. In this disordered condition, Napoleon passed
through Lutzen, late the scene of his brilliant success, now witness to
his disastrous losses. His own courage was unabated; he seemed indeed
pensive, but was calm and composed, indulging in no vain regrets, still
less in useless censures and recriminations. Harassed as he passed the
defiles of Eckartsberg, by the light troops of the allies, he pushed on
to Erfurt, where he hoped to be able to make some pause, and restore
order to his disorganised followers.

On the 23d of October, he reached that city, which was rendered by its
strong citadel a convenient rallying point; and upon collecting the
report of his losses, had the misfortune to find them much greater than
he had apprehended. Almost all the German troops of his army were now
withdrawn from it. The Saxons and the troops of Baden he had dismissed
with a good grace; other contingents, which saw their sovereigns on the
point of being freed from Napoleon's supremacy, withdrew of themselves,
and in most cases joined the allies. A great many of those Frenchmen who
arrived at Erfurt were in a miserable condition, and without arms. Their
wretched appearance extorted from Buonaparte the peevish observation,
"They are a set of scoundrels, who are going to the devil!--In this way
I shall lose 80,000 men before I can get to the Rhine."

The spirit of defection extended even to those who were nearest to the
Emperor. Murat, discouraged and rendered impatient by the incessant
misfortunes of his brother-in-law, took leave, under pretence, it was
said, of bringing forces up from the French frontier, but in reality to
return to his own dominions, without further allying his fortunes to
those of Napoleon.[293] Buonaparte, as if influenced by some secret
presentiment that they should never again meet, embraced his old
companion-in-arms repeatedly ere they parted.

The Poles who remained in Napoleon's army showed a very generous spirit.
He found himself obliged to appeal to their own honour, whether they
chose to remain in his service, or to desert him at this crisis. A part
had served so long under his banners, that they had become soldiers of
fortune, to whom the French camp served for a native country. But many
others were men who had assumed arms in the Russian campaign, with the
intention of freeing Poland from the foreign yoke under which it had so
long groaned. The manner in which Napoleon had disappointed their hopes
could not be forgotten by them; but they had too much generosity to
revenge, at this crisis, the injustice with which they had been treated,
and agreed unanimously that they would not quit Napoleon's service until
they had escorted him safely beyond the Rhine, reserving their right
then to leave his standard, of which a great many accordingly availed

[Sidenote: ERFURT--HANAU.]

Napoleon passed nearly two days at Erfurt, during which the
re-organisation of his troops advanced rapidly, as the magazines and
stores of the place were sufficient to recruit them in every department.
Their reassembled force amounted to about 80,000 men. This, together
with the troops left to their fate in the garrison towns in Germany,
was all that remained of 280,000, with which Napoleon had begun the
campaign. The garrisons amounted to about 80,000, so that the loss of
the French rose to 120,000 men. These garrisons, so imprudently left
behind, were of course abandoned to their fate, or to the discretion of
the enemy; Napoleon consoling himself with the boast, "that if they
could form a junction in the valley of the Elbe, 80,000 Frenchmen might
break through all obstacles." Instructions were sent to the various
commanders, to evacuate the places they held, and form such a junction;
but it is believed that none of them reached the generals to whom they
were addressed.

It is probable that, but for the relief afforded by this halt, and the
protection of the citadel and defences of Erfurt, Napoleon, in his
retreat from Leipsic, must have lost all that remained to him of an
army. He had received news, however, of a character to preclude his
longer stay in this place of refuge. The Bavarian army, so lately his
allies, with a strong auxiliary force of Austrians, amounting in all to
50,000, under Wrede, were hurrying from the banks of the Inn, and had
reached Wurtzburg on the Mayne, with the purpose of throwing themselves
in hostile fashion between the army of Napoleon and the frontier of
France. In addition to this unpleasing intelligence, he learned that the
Austrians and Prussians were pressing forward, as far as Weimar and
Laugensalza, so that he was once more in danger of being completely
surrounded. Urged by these circumstances, Napoleon left Erfurt on the
25th of October, amid weather as tempestuous as his fortunes.

An unfortunate determination of the allied councils directed Marshal
Blucher to move in pursuit of Napoleon by Giessen and Wetzlar, and
commanded him to leave the direct road to the banks of the Rhine, by
Fulda and Gelnhaussen, open for the march of an Austrian column,
expected to advance from Schmalkald.[294] The most active and energetic
of the pursuers was thus turned aside from Napoleon's direct path of
retreat, and the Austrians, to whom it was yielded, did not come up in
time to overtake the retreating enemy. The French were still followed,
however, by the arrival of Cossacks under their adventurous leaders,
Platoff, Czernicheff, Orloff-Denizoff, and Kowaiski, who continued their
harassing and destructive operations on their flanks and their rear.

In the meanwhile, General Wrede, notwithstanding the inferiority of his
forces to those of Buonaparte, persevered in his purpose of barring the
return of Napoleon into France, and took up a position at Hanau for that
purpose, where he was joined by the chiefs of the Cossacks already
mentioned, who had pushed on before the advance of the French army, in
hopes that they might afford Wrede their assistance. If Blucher and his
troops had been now in the rear of Napoleon, his hour had in all
probability arrived. But Wrede's force, of whom he had been unable to
bring up above 45,000 men, was inferior to the attempt, almost always a
dangerous one, of intercepting the retreat of a bold and desperate enemy
upon the only road which can lead him to safety. It was upon a point,
also, where the Bavarians had no particular advantage of position, which
might have presented natural obstacles to the progress of the enemy.

Upon the 30th, the Bavarians had occupied the large wood of Lamboi, and
were disposed in line on the right bank of a small river called the
Kintzig, near a village named Neuhoff, where there is a bridge. The
French threw a body of light troops into the wood, which was disputed
from tree to tree, the close fire of the sharpshooters on both sides
resembling that of a general _chasse_, such as is practised on the
continent. The combat was sustained for several hours without decided
success, until Buonaparte commanded an attack in force on the left of
the Bavarians. Two battalions of the guards, under General Curial, were
sent into the wood to support the French tirailleurs; and the Bavarians,
at the sight of their grenadier-caps, imagined themselves attacked by
the whole of that celebrated body, and gave way. A successful charge of
cavalry was at the same time made on Wrede's left, which made it
necessary for him to retreat behind the Kintzig. The Austro-Bavarian
army continued to hold Hanau; but as the main road to Frankfort does not
lead directly through that town, but passes on the south side of it, the
desired line of retreat was left open to Napoleon, whose business it was
to push forward to the Rhine, and avoid farther combat. But the
rear-guard of the French army, consisting of 18,000 men, under command
of Mortier, was still at Gelnhaussen; and Marmont was left with three
corps of infantry to secure their retreat, while Buonaparte, with the
advance, pushed on to Williamstadt, and from thence to Hockstadt, in the
direction of Frankfort.

On the morning of the 31st, Marmont made a double attack upon the town
of Hanau, and the position of Wrede. Of the first, he possessed himself
by a bombardment. The other attack took place near the bridge of
Neuhoff. The Bavarians had at first the advantage, and pushed a body of
1000 or 1200 men across the Kintzig; but the instant attack and
destruction of these by the bayonet, impressed their general with
greater caution. Wrede himself was at this moment dangerously wounded,
and the Prince of Oettingen, his son-in-law, killed on the spot. General
Fresnel, who succeeded Wrede in the command, acted with more reserve. He
drew off from the combat; and the French, more intent on prosecuting
their march to the Rhine than on improving their advantages over the
Bavarians, followed the Emperor's line of retreat in the direction of

An instance of rustic loyalty and sagacity was displayed during the
action, by a German miller, which may serve to vary the recurring detail
of military movements. This man, observing the fate of the battle, and
seeing a body of Bavarian infantry hard pressed by a large force of
French cavalry, had the presence of mind to admit the water into his
mill-stream when the Bavarians had passed its channel, and thus suddenly
interposed an obstacle between them and the pursuers, which enabled the
infantry to halt and resume their ranks. The sagacious peasant was
rewarded with a pension by the King of Bavaria.


The loss of the French in this sharp action was supposed to reach to
about 6000 men; that of the Austro-Bavarians exceeded 10,000. Escaped
from this additional danger, Napoleon arrived at Frankfort upon the 30th
October, and left, upon the first November, a town which was soon
destined to receive other guests. On the next day he arrived at Mayence,
(Mentz,) which he left upon the 7th November, and arriving on the 9th at
Paris, concluded his second unsuccessful campaign.

The Emperor had speedy information that the temper of the public was by
no means tranquil. The victory of Hanau, though followed by no other
effect than that of getting clear of the enemy, who had presumed to
check the retreat of the Emperor, alone shed a lustre on the arms of
Napoleon, which they greatly needed, for his late successive misfortunes
had awakened both critics and murmurers. The rupture of the armistice
seemed to be the date of his declension, as indeed the junction of the
Austrians enabled the allies to bear him down by resistless numbers.
Nine battles had been fought since that period, including the action at
Culm, which, in its results, is well entitled to the name. Of these,
Buonaparte only gained two--those of Dresden and Hanau; that at Wachau
was indecisive; while at Gross-Beeren, at Jauer on the Katzbach, at
Culm, at Dennewitz, at Mockern, and at Leipsic, the allies obtained
decisive and important victories.

The French had been still more unfortunate in the number of bloody
skirmishes which were fought almost every where through the scene of
war. They were outnumbered in cavalry, and especially in light cavalry;
they were outnumbered, too, in light corps of infantry and
sharpshooters; for the Germans, who had entered into the war with
general enthusiasm, furnished numerous reinforcements of this
description to the regular armies of the allies. These disasters,
however they might be glossed over, had not escaped the notice of the
French; nor was it the sight of a few banners, and a column of 4000
Bavarian prisoners, ostentatiously paraded, that prevented their asking,
what was become of upwards of 200,000 soldiers--what charm had dissolved
the Confederation of the Rhine--and why they heard rumours of Russians,
Austrians, Prussians, Germans, on the east, and of English, Spanish, and
Portuguese on the south, approaching the inviolable frontiers of the
great nation? During the bright sunshine of prosperity, a nation may be
too much dazzled with victory; but the gloomy horizon, obscured by
adversity, shows objects in their real colours.

The fate of the garrisons in Germany, which Buonaparte had so
imprudently omitted to evacuate, was not such as to cure this incipient
disaffection. The Emperor had never another opportunity during this war,
to collect the veteran troops thus unhappily left behind, under his
banner, though often missing them at his greatest need. The dates of
their respective surrender, referring to a set of detached facts, which
have no influence upon the general current of history, may be as well
succinctly recited in this place.

St. Cyr, at Dresden, finding himself completely abandoned to his own
slender resources, made on the 11th of November a capitulation to
evacuate the place, with his garrison of 35,000 men, (of whom very many
were, however, invalids,) who were to have a safe conduct to France,
under engagement not to serve against the allies for six months.
Schwartzenberg refused to ratify the capitulation, as being much too
favourable to the besieged. He offered St. Cyr, who had already left
Dresden, to replace him there in the same condition of defence which he
enjoyed when the agreement was entered into. This was contrary to the
rules of war; for how was it possible for the French commandant to be in
the same situation as before the capitulation, when the enemy had become
completely acquainted with his means of defence, and resources? But the
French general conceived it more expedient to submit, with his army, to
become prisoners of war, reserving his right to complain of breach of

Stettin surrendered on the 21st of November, after an eight months'
blockade. Eight thousand French remained prisoners of war. Here the
Prussians regained no less than 350 pieces of artillery.

On the 29th of November, the important city of Dantzic surrendered,
after trenches had been open before it for forty days. As in the case of
Dresden, the sovereigns refused to ratify the stipulation, which
provided for the return of the garrison to France, but made the
commandant, Rapp, the same proposal which had been offered to the
Maréchal St. Cyr, which Rapp in like manner declined. About 9000 French
were therefore sent prisoners into Russia. But the Bavarians,
Westphalians, and Poles, belonging to the garrison, were permitted to
return to their homes. Many of them took service with the allies. The
detention of this garrison must also be recorded against the allies as a
breach of faith, which the temptation of diminishing the enemy's forces
cannot justify.

After the battle of Leipsic, Tauentzein had been detached to blockade
Wittenberg, and besiege Torgau. The latter place was yielded on the 26th
December, with a garrison of 10,000 wretches, amongst whom a
pestilential fever was raging. Zamosc, in the duchy of Warsaw,
capitulated on the 22d, and Modlin on the 25th of December.

At the conclusion of the year 1813, only the following places, situated
in the rear of the allies, remained in the hands of the French;
Hamburgh, Madgeburg, Wittenberg, Custrin, Glogau, with the citadels of
Erfurt and of Wurtzburg, the French having in the last two instances
evacuated the towns.


Two circumstances are remarkable concerning the capture of the
surrendered fortresses. The first is the dismal state of the garrisons.
The men, who had survived the Russian campaign, and who had been
distributed into these cities and fortresses by Murat, were almost all,
from the hardships they had endured, and perhaps from their being too
suddenly accommodated with more genial food, subject to diseases which
speedily became infectious, and spread from the military to the
inhabitants. When the severities of a blockade were added to this
general tendency to illness, the deaths became numerous, and the case of
the survivors made them envious of those who died. So virulent was the
contagion at Torgau, that the Prussians, to whom the place was rendered
on the 26th December, did not venture to take possession of it till a
fortnight afterwards, when the ravage of the pestilence began to
decline. Thus widely extended, and thus late prolonged, were the fatal
effects of the Russian expedition.

The other point worth notice is, that the surrender of each fortress
rendered disposable a blockading army of the allies, proportioned to the
strength of the garrisons, which ought, according to the rules of war,
to be at least two to one.[295] Thus, while thousands after thousands of
the French were marched to distant prisons in Austria and Russia, an
addition was regularly made to the armies of the allies, equal at least
to double the number of those that were withdrawn from the French army.

While these successes were in the act of being obtained in their rear,
the allied sovereigns of Russia and Prussia advanced upon the Rhine, the
left bank of which was almost entirely liberated from the enemy. It is a
river upon which all the Germans look with a national pride, that
sometimes takes almost the appearance of filial devotion. When the
advanced guard of the army of the allies first came in sight of its
broad majesty of flood, they hailed the Father River with such
reiterated shouts, that those who were behind stood to their arms, and
pressed forward, supposing that an action was about to take place. The
proud and exulting feeling of recovered independence was not confined to
those brave men who had achieved the liberation of their country, but
extended every where, and animated the whole mass of the population of

The retreat of the French armies, or their relics, across the land which
they had so long overrun, and where they had levelled and confounded
all national distinctions, might be compared to the abatement of the
great deluge, when land-marks which had been long hid from the eye began
to be once more visible and distinguished. The reconstruction of the
ancient sovereignties was the instant occupation of the allies.

From the very field of battle at Leipsic, the Electoral Prince of Hesse
departed to assume, amid the acclamations of the inhabitants, the
sovereignty of the territories of his fathers. The allies, on 2d
November, took possession of Hanover and its dependencies in name of the
King of England. The gallant Duke of Brunswick, whose courage, as well
as his ardent animosity against Buonaparte, we have already had occasion
to commemorate, returned at the same time into the possession of his
hereditary estates; and the ephemeral kingdom of Westphalia, the
appanage of Jerome Buonaparte, composed out of the spoils of these
principalities, vanished into air, like the palace of Aladdin in the
Arabian tale.

Those members of the Confederacy of the Rhine who had hitherto been
contented to hold their crowns and coronets, under the condition of
being liege vassals to Buonaparte, and who were as much tired of his
constant exactions as ever a drudging fiend was of the authority of a
necromancer, lost no time in renouncing his sway, after his talisman was
broken. Bavaria and Wirtemberg had early joined the alliance--the latter
power the more willingly, that the Crown Prince had, even during
Napoleon's supremacy, refused to acknowledge his sway. The lesser
princes, therefore, had no alternative but to declare, as fast as they
could, their adherence to the same cause. Their ministers thronged to
the headquarters of the allied sovereigns, where they were admitted to
peace and fraternity on the same general terms; namely, that each state
should contribute within a certain period, a year's income of their
territories, with a contingent of soldiers double in numbers to that
formerly exacted by Buonaparte, for maintaining the good cause of the
alliance. They consented willingly; for though the demand might be heavy
in the meantime, yet, with the downfall of the French Emperor, there was
room to hope for that lasting peace which all men now believed to be
inconsistent with a continuance of his power.

Waiting until their reinforcements should come from the interior of
Germany, and until the subordinate princes should bring forward their
respective contingents of troops, and desirous also to give Napoleon
another opportunity of treating, the allied sovereigns halted on the
banks of the Rhine, and cantoned their army along the banks of that
river. This afforded a space to discover, whether the lofty mind of
Napoleon could be yet induced to bend to such a peace as might consist
with the material change in the circumstances of Europe, effected in the
two last campaigns. Such a pacification was particularly the object of
Austria; and the greater hope was entertained of its being practicable,
that the same train of misfortunes which had driven Napoleon beyond the
Rhine, had darkened his political horizon in other quarters.

[Sidenote: ITALY--SPAIN.]

Italy, so long the scene of his triumphs, was now undergoing the same
fate as his other conquests, and rapidly melting away from his grasp. At
the beginning of the campaign, the Viceroy Eugene, with about 45,000
men, had defended the north of Italy, with great skill and valour,
against the Austrian general, Hiller, who confronted him with superior
forces. The frontiers of Illyria were the chief scene of their military
operations. The French maintained themselves there until the defection
of the Bavarians opened the passes of the Tyrol to the Austrian army,
after which, Eugene was obliged to retire behind the Adige. The warlike
Croatians declaring in favour of their ancient sovereigns of Austria,
mutinied, and rose in arms on several points. The important seaport of
Trieste was taken by the Austrians on the 21st of October. General
Nugent had entered the mouth of the Po with an English squadron, with a
force sufficient to occupy Ferrara and Ravenna, and organise a general
insurrection against the French. It was known also, that Murat, who had
begun to fear lest he should be involved in the approaching fall of
Napoleon, and who remembered, with more feeling, the affronts which
Napoleon had put upon him from time to time, than the greatness to which
he had been elevated by him, was treating with the allies, and
endeavouring to make a peace which should secure his own authority under
their sanction. Thus, there was no point of view in which Italy could be
regarded as a source of assistance to Buonaparte: on the contrary, that
fair country, the subject of his pride and his favour, was in the
greatest danger of being totally lost to him.

The Spanish Peninsula afforded a still more alarming prospect. The
battle of Vittoria had entirely destroyed the usurped authority of
Joseph Buonaparte, and Napoleon himself had become desirous to see the
war ended, at the price of totally ceding the kingdom on which he had
seized so unjustifiably, and which he had, in his fatal obstinacy,
continued to grasp, like a furious madman holding a hot iron until it
has scorched him to the bone.

After that decisive battle, there was no obstacle in front to prevent
the Duke of Wellington from entering France, but he chose first to
reduce the strong frontier fortresses of Saint Sebastian and Pampeluna.
The first capitulated finally on the 9th September; and notwithstanding
the skill and bravery of Soult, which were exerted to the uttermost, he
could not relieve Pampeluna. The English army, at least its left wing,
passed the Bidassoa upon the 7th October, and Pampeluna surrendered on
the 31st of the same month. Thus was the most persevering and the most
hated of Buonaparte's enemies placed in arms upon the French soil, under
the command of a general who had been so uniformly successful, that he
seemed to move hand in hand with victory. It was but a slender
consolation, in this state of matters, that Suchet, the Duke of
Albufera, still maintained himself in Catalonia, his headquarters being
at Barcelona. In fact, it would have been of infinitely more importance
to Buonaparte, had the maréchal and those troops, who had not yet been
discouraged by defeat, been on the north side of the Pyrenees, and ready
to co-operate in defence of the frontiers of France.


To parry this pressing danger, Napoleon had recourse to a plan, which,
had it been practised the year before, might have placed the affairs of
Spain on a very different footing. He resolved, as we have hinted, to
desist from the vain undertaking, which had cost himself so much blood
and treasure; to undo his own favourite work; to resign the claims of
his brother to the crown of Spain; and, by restoring the legitimate
sovereign to the throne, endeavour to form such an alliance with him as
might take Spain out of the list of his enemies, and perhaps add her to
that of his friends. Had he had recourse to this expedient in the
previous year, Ferdinand's appearance in Spain might have had a very
important effect in embroiling the councils of the Cortes. It is well
known that the unfortunate distinctions of Royalists and Liberalists,
were already broken out among the Spaniards, and from the colours in
which his present Majesty of Spain has since shown himself, there is
great room to doubt whether he had either temper, wisdom, or virtue
sufficient to act as a mediator betwixt the two classes of his subjects,
of which both were inclined to carry their opposite opinions into
extremes. It is more than probable that a civil war might even then have
taken place, between the King, desirous of regaining the plenitude of
authority conferred on him by the ancient constitution, and the Cortes,
anxious to maintain the liberties which they had recently recovered, and
carried, by their new constitution, to the extent of republican license.
If such a war had arisen, King Ferdinand would probably have fallen into
the snare prepared for him by Buonaparte, and called in his late jailor,
in the capacity of his ally, against the Cortes, and perhaps also
against the English, who, though not approving of the theoretical
extravagances of the system of government, which had divided the
patriots into two civil factions, must, nevertheless, have considered
that assembly as the representatives of the Spanish people, and the
allies with whom the British had formed their league. Talleyrand is said
to have recommended the liberation of Ferdinand at a much earlier
period. He called the measure an olla podrida for Spain.

But Napoleon's present concession came too late, and was too evidently
wrung from him by the most pressing necessity, to permit Ferdinand,
however desirous of his liberty, to accept of it on the terms offered.
The reader may, indeed, be curious to know in what language Napoleon
could address the prince whose person he had seized and imprisoned like
a kidnapper, and on whose throne he had so long and so pertinaciously
endeavoured to support a usurper. Perhaps, when writing the following
letter, Buonaparte was himself sensible that his conduct admitted of no
glossing over; he, therefore, came to the point, it will be observed, at
once, trusting probably that the hope of being restored to his liberty
and kingdom would be so agreeable in itself, that the captive monarch
would not be disposed strictly to criticise the circumstances which had
occasioned so pleasing an offer, or the expressions in which it was

"My Cousin--The state of my empire and of my political situation, lead
me to put a final adjustment to the affairs of Spain. The English are
exciting anarchy and jacobinism; they endeavour to overthrow the crown
and the nobility, in order to establish a republic. I cannot, without
being deeply affected, think on the destruction of a nation which
interests me, both by its neighbourhood, and its common interest
concerning maritime commerce. I wish to re-establish the relations of
friendship and good neighbourhood, which have so long been established
betwixt France and Spain. You will therefore listen to what the Comte de
la Forest will propose in my name," &c.

Considering the terms of this letter, and contrasting them with the
manner in which the friendly relations alluded to had been broken off,
and that in which the interest taken by Napoleon in the kingdom of Spain
had been displayed, the hypocritical professions of the writer were too
obviously dictated by necessity, to impose upon the meanest
understanding. The answer of Ferdinand was not without dignity. He
declined to treat without having an opportunity of consulting with the
Regency of Spain, and required permission to hear a deputation of his
subjects, who might at once inform him of the actual state of affairs in
Spain, and point out a remedy for the evils under which the kingdom

"If," said the prince, in his reply to Napoleon's proposal, "this
liberty is not permitted to me, I prefer remaining at Valençay, where I
have now lived four years and a half, and where I am willing to die, if
such is God's pleasure." Finding the prince firm upon this score,
Napoleon, to whom his freedom might be possibly some advantage, and when
his captivity could no longer in any shape benefit him, consented that
Ferdinand should be liberated upon a treaty being drawn up between the
Duke of St. Carlos, as the representative of Ferdinand, and the Comte de
la Forest, as plenipotentiary of Napoleon; but which treaty should not
be ratified until it had been approved of by the Regency. The heads were
briefly these:--I. Napoleon recognised Ferdinand as King of Spain and
the Indies. II. Ferdinand undertook that the English should evacuate
Spain, and particularly Minorca and Ceuta. III. The two governments
became engaged to each other, to place their relations on the footing
prescribed by the treaty of Dunkirk, and which had been maintained until
1772. Lastly, The new king engaged to pay a suitable revenue to his
father, and a jointure to his mother, in case of her survivance; and
provision was made for re-establishing the commercial relations betwixt
France and Spain.

In this treaty of Valençay, subscribed the 11th of December, 1813, the
desire of Buonaparte to embroil Spain with her ally Great Britain, is
visible not only in the second article, but in the third. For as
Napoleon always contended that his opposition to the rights exercised on
the sea by the English, had been grounded on the treaty of Utrecht, his
reference to that treaty upon the present occasion, shows that he had
not yet lost sight of his Continental System.

The Regency of Spain, when the treaty of Valençay was laid before them,
refused to ratify it, both in virtue of a decree of the Cortes, which,
as early as January, 1811, declared that there be neither truce nor
negotiation with France, until the King should enjoy his entire liberty,
and on account of their treaty with England, in which Spain engaged to
contract no peace without England's concurrence. Thus obliged to
renounce the hopes of fettering Spain, as a nation, with any conditions,
Buonaparte at length released Ferdinand from his confinement, and
permitted him to return to his kingdom, upon his personal subscription
of the treaty, trusting that, in the political alterations which his
arrival might occasion in Spain, something might turn up to serve his
own views, which could never be advanced by Ferdinand's continuing in
confinement. Nothing of the kind, however, took place, nor is it needful
either to detain the reader farther with the Spanish affairs, or again
to revert to them. Ferdinand is said, by the French, to have received
Napoleon's proposals with much satisfaction, and to have written a
letter of thanks to the Emperor for his freedom, obtained after nearly
six years' most causeless imprisonment. If so, the circumstance must be
received as evidence of Ferdinand's singularly grateful disposition, of
which we believe there are few other examples to be quoted. The
liberated monarch returned to his territories, at the conclusion of all
this negotiation, in the end of March 1814. The event is here
anticipated, that there may be no occasion to return to it.

Another state-prisoner of importance was liberated about the same time.
Nearly at the commencement of the year 1814, proposals had been
transmitted, by the agency of Cardinal Maury and the Bishops of Evreux
and Plaisance, to Pius VII., still detained at Fontainbleau. His
liberation was tendered to him; and, on condition of his ceding a part
of the territories of the Church, he was to be restored to the
remainder. "The dominions of Saint Peter are not my property," answered
the Pontiff; "they belong to the Church, and I cannot consent to their
cession."--"To prove the Emperor's good intentions," said the Bishop of
Plaisance, "I have orders to announce your Holiness' return to
Rome."--"It must, then, be with all my cardinals," said Pius
VII.--"Under the present circumstances, that is impossible."--"Well,
then, a carriage to transport me is all I desire--I wish to be at Rome,
to acquit myself of my duties as Head of the Church."

An escort, termed a guard of honour, attended him, commanded by a
colonel, who treated his Holiness with much respect, but seemed disposed
to suffer no one to speak with him in private. Pius VII. convoked,
however, the cardinals who were at Fontainbleau, to the number of
seventeen, and took an affecting farewell. As the Pope was about to
depart, he commanded them to wear no decoration received from the French
Government; to accept no pension of their bestowing; and to assist at no
festival to which they might be invited. On the 24th of January, Pius
left Fontainbleau, and returned by slow journeys to Savona, where he
remained from the 19th of February to the 19th of March. He reached
Fiorenzuola on the 23d, where his French escort was relieved by an
Austrian detachment, by whom the Pontiff was received with all the usual
honours; and he arrived at Rome on the 18th of May, amid the
acclamations of thousands, who thronged to receive his benediction.

With such results terminated an act of despotic authority, one of the
most impolitic, as well as unpopular, practised by Buonaparte during his
reign. He himself was so much ashamed of it, as to disown his having
given any orders for the captivity of the Pontiff, though it was
continued under his authority for five years and upwards. It was
remarkable, that when the Pope was taken from Rome as a prisoner, Murat
was in possession of his dominions, as the connexion and ally of
Buonaparte; and now his Holiness found the same Murat and his army at
Rome, and received from his hands, in the opposite character of ally of
the Emperor of Austria, the re-delivery of the patrimony of Saint
Peter's in its full integrity.


Thus was restored to its ancient allegiance that celebrated city, which
had for a time borne the title of SECOND in the French dominions. The
revolution in Holland came also to augment the embarrassments of
Napoleon, and dislocate what remained of the immense additions which he
had attempted to unite with his empire. That country had been first
impoverished by the total destruction of its commerce, under pretence of
enforcing the continental system. It was from his inability to succeed
in his attempt to avert this pest from the peaceful and industrious
Dutchmen, that Louis Buonaparte had relinquished in disgust a sceptre,
the authority of which was not permitted to protect the people over whom
it was swayed.

The distress which followed, upon the introduction of these unnatural
restrictions into a country, the existence of which depended on the
freedom of its commerce, was almost incredible. At Amsterdam, the
population was reduced from 220,000 to 190,000 souls. In the Hague,
Delft, and elsewhere, many houses were pulled down, or suffered to fall
to ruin by the proprietors, from inability to pay the taxes. At
Haarlem, whole streets were in desolation, and about five hundred houses
were entirely dismantled. The preservation of the dikes was greatly
neglected for want of funds, and the sea breaking in at the Polders and
elsewhere, threatened to resume what human industry had withdrawn from
her reign.

The discontent of the people arose to the highest pitch, and their
thoughts naturally reverted to the paternal government of the House of
Orange, and the blessings which they had enjoyed under it. But with the
prudence, which is the distinguishing mark of the national character,
the Dutch knew, that until the power of France should be broken, any
attempt at insurrection in Holland must be hopeless; they therefore
contented themselves with forming secret confederations among the higher
order of citizens in the principal towns, who made it their business to
prevent all premature disturbances on the part of the lower classes,
insinuating themselves, at the same time, so much into their favour,
that they were sure of having them at their disposal, when a propitious
moment for action should arise. Those intrusted with the secret of the
intended insurrection, acted with equal prudence and firmness; and the
sagacious, temperate, and reasonable character of the nation was never
seen to greater advantage than upon this occasion. The national guards
were warmly disposed to act in the cause. The rumours of Buonaparte's
retreat from Leipsic--

                      "for such an host
    Fled not in silence through the affrighted deep,"

united to prepare the public mind for resistance to the foreign yoke;
and the approach of General Bulow towards the banks of the Yssel, became
the signal for general insurrection.

On the 14th November, the Orange flag was hoisted at the Hague and at
Amsterdam, amid the ancient acclamations of "Orange-boven" (Up with the
Orange.) At Rotterdam, a small party of the Dutch patriots, of the
better class, waited on the prefect, Le Brun, Duke of Placentia, and,
showing the orange cockade which they wore, addressed the French general
in these words:--"You may guess from these colours the purpose which has
brought us hither, and the events which are about to take place. You,
who are now the weakest, know that we are strongest--and we the
strongest, know that you are the weakest. You will act wisely to depart
from this place in quiet; and the sooner you do so, you are the less
likely to expose yourself to insult, and it may be to danger."

A revolution of so important a nature had never certainly been announced
to the sinking party, with so little tumult, or in such courteous terms.
The reply of General Le Brun was that of a Frenchman, seldom willing to
be outdone in politeness:--"I have expected this summons for some time,
and am very willing to accede to your proposal, and take my departure
immediately." He mounted into his carriage accordingly, and drove
through an immense multitude now assembled, without meeting any other
insult than being required to join in the universal cry of Orange-boven.

The Dutch were altogether without arms when they took the daring
resolution to re-construct their ancient government, and were for some
time in great danger. But they were secured by the advance of the
Russians to their support, while forces from England were sent over, to
the number of 6000 men, under General Graham, now Lord Lynedoch; so that
the French troops, who had thrown themselves into two or three forts,
were instantly blockaded, and prevented from disturbing the country by

No event during the war made a more general and deep impression on the
mind of the British nation, than the liberation of Holland, which is
well entitled by a recent author, "one of the most fortunate events
which could at that moment have taken place. The rapidity with which the
Dutch, from being obstacles to the invasion of France, became the
instruments by which that undertaking was most facilitated, could only
have been brought about through the detestable system of government
which Buonaparte had pursued with them."[296]

Thus victory, having changed her course, like some powerful spring-tide,
had now, in the end of the year 1813, receded at every point from the
dominions which its strong and rapid onward course had so totally


[293] "The hasty journey of the King of Naples through France created
general surprise. The first idea excited by it was, that the Emperor had
commissioned him to assemble the army and form a junction with the force
under the viceroy, in order to protect Italy from an invasion, which
appeared to be contemplated, and the execution of which was at that time
rendered probable, by the movements of the English troops in Sicily.
Nobody attributed his return to any other object."--SAVARY, tom. iii.,
p. 126.

[294] This account of Blucher's march is derived from Lord Burghersh's
"Memoir of the Operations of the Allied Armies in 1813 and 1814," pp.
35, &c.--ED. (1842.)

[295] Three to one, according to the general rule of war, is the
proportion of a blockading army to the garrison which it masks. But
where there is little apprehension of relief or of strong sorties, the
number may be much reduced.--S.

[296] See Memoir of the Operations of the Allied Armies in 1813 and
1814, by Major-General Lord Burghersh; second edition, p. 49.


    _Preparations of Napoleon against the Invasion of France--Terms of
    Peace offered by the Allies--Congress held at Manheim--Lord
    Castlereagh--Manifesto of the Allies--Buonaparte's Reply--State of
    Parties in France--The population of France, in general, wearied of
    the War, and desirous of the Deposition of Buonaparte--His
    unsuccessful attempts to arouse the national spirit--Council of
    State Extraordinary held Nov. 11th, when new taxes are imposed, and
    a new Conscription of 300,000 men decreed--Gloom of the Council, and
    violence of Buonaparte--Report of the State of the Nation presented
    to Napoleon by the Legislative Body--The Legislative Body is
    prorogued--Unceasing activity of the Emperor--National Guard called
    out--Napoleon, presenting to them his Empress and Child, takes leave
    of the People--He leaves Paris for the Armies._

While these scenes were passing in the vicinity of France, the Emperor
was using every effort to bring forward, in defence of her territory, a
force in some degree corresponding to the ideas which he desired men
should entertain of the great nation. He distributed the seventy or
eighty thousand men whom he had brought back with him, along the line of
the Rhine, unmoved by the opinions of those who deemed them insufficient
in number to defend so wide a stretch of frontier. Allowing the truth of
their reasoning, he denied its efficacy in the present instance. Policy
now demanded, he said, that there should be no voluntary abatement of
the lofty pretensions to which France laid claim. The Austrians and
Prussians still remembered the campaigns of the Revolution, and dreaded
to encounter France once more in the character of an armed nation. This
apprehension was to be kept up as long as possible, and almost at all
risks. To concentrate his forces would be to acknowledge his weakness,
to confess that he was devoid of means to supply the exhausted
battalions; and what might be still more imprudent, it was making the
nation itself sensible of the same melancholy truth; so that, according
to this reasoning, it was necessary to keep up appearances, however ill
seconded by realities. The allied sovereigns, on the other hand, were
gradually approaching to the right bank of the Rhine their immense
masses, which, including the reserves, did not, perhaps, amount to less
than half a million of men.

The scruples of the Emperor of Austria, joined to the respect
entertained for the courage of the French, and the talents of their
leader, by the coalition at large, influenced their councils at this
period, and before resuming a train of hostilities which must involve
some extreme conclusion, they resolved once more to offer terms of peace
to the Emperor of France.

The agent selected on this occasion was the Baron de St. Aignan,[297] a
French diplomatist of reputation, residing at one of the German courts,
who, falling into the hands of the allies, was set at liberty, with a
commission to assure the French Emperor of their willingness to enter
into a treaty on equal terms. The English Government also publicly
announced their readiness to negotiate for a peace, and that they would
make considerable concessions to obtain so great a blessing.[298]
Napoleon, therefore, had another opportunity for negotiating, upon such
terms as must indeed deprive him of the unjust supremacy among European
councils which he had attempted to secure, but would have left him a
high and honourable seat among the sovereigns of Europe. But the
pertinacity of Napoleon's disposition qualified him ill for a
negotiator, unless when he had the full power in his own hand to dictate
the terms. His determined firmness of purpose, in many cases a great
advantage, proved now the very reverse, as it prevented him from
anticipating absolute necessity, by sacrificing, for the sake of peace,
something which it was actually in his power to give or retain. This
tenacity was a peculiar feature of his character. He might, indeed, be
brought to give up his claims to kingdoms and provinces which were
already put beyond his power to recover; but when the question regarded
the cession of any thing which was still in his possession, the grasp of
the lion itself could scarce be more unrelaxing. Hence, as his
misfortunes accumulated, the negotiations between him and the allies
came to resemble the bargain driven with the King of Rome, according to
ancient history, for the books of the Sibyls. The price of peace, like
that of those mysterious volumes, was raised against him upon every
renewal of the conferences. This cannot surprise any one who considers,
that in proportion to the number of defeats sustained and power
diminished, the demands of the party gaining the advantage must
naturally be heightened.

This will appear from a retrospect to former negotiations. Before the
war with Russia, Napoleon might have made peace upon nearly his own
terms, providing they had been accompanied with a disavowal of that
species of superior authority, which, by the display of his armies on
the frontiers of Poland, he seemed disposed to exercise over an
independent and powerful empire. There was nothing left to be disputed
between the two Emperors, excepting the point of equality, which it was
impossible for Alexander to yield up, in justice to himself and to his


The Congress at Prague was of a different complexion. The fate of war,
or rather the consequence of Napoleon's own rashness, had lost him an
immense army, and had delivered from his predominant influence, both
Prussia and Austria; and these powers, united in alliance with Russia
and England, had a title to demand, as they had the means of enforcing,
such a treaty as should secure Prussia from again descending into a
state which may be compared to that of Helots or Gibeonites; and Austria
from one less directly dependent, but by the continuance of which she
was stripped of many fair provinces, and exposed along her frontier to
suffer turmoil from all the wars which the too well-known ambition of
the French empire might awaken in Germany. Yet even then the terms
proposed by Prince Metternich stipulated only the liberation of Germany
from French influence, with the restoration of the Illyrian provinces.
The fate of Holland, and that of Spain, were remitted till a general
peace, to which England should be a party. But Buonaparte, though Poland
and Illyria might be considered as lost, and the line of the Elbe and
Oder as indefensible against the assembled armies of the allies, refused
to accept these terms, unless clogged with the condition that the Hanse
Towns should remain under French influence; and did not even transmit
this qualified acquiescence to a treaty, until the truce appointed for
the purpose of the congress had expired.[299]

After gaining six battles, and after the allies had redeemed their
pledge, that they would not hear of farther negotiation while there was
a French soldier in Germany, except as a prisoner, or as belonging to
the garrison of a blockaded fortress, it was natural that the demands of
the confederated sovereigns should rise; more especially as England, at
whose expense the war had been in a great measure carried on, was become
a party to the conferences, and her particular objects must now be
attended to in their turn.

The terms, therefore, proposed to Napoleon, on which peace and the
guarantee of his dynasty might be obtained, had risen in proportion to
the success of his enemies.

The Earl of Aberdeen,[300] well known for his literature and talents,
attended, on the part of Great Britain, the negotiations held with the
Baron St. Aignan. The basis of the treaty proposed by the allies
were--That France, divesting herself of all the unnatural additions with
which the conquests of Buonaparte had invested her, should return to her
natural limits, the Rhine, the Alps, and the Pyrenees, which of course
left her in possession of the rich provinces of Belgium. The
independence of Italy, Germany, and Holland, were absolutely stipulated.
Spain, whom the power of Great Britain, seconded by her own efforts, had
nearly freed of the French yoke, was to be in like manner restored to
independence, under Ferdinand.

Such were the outlines of the terms proposed. But it is generally
admitted, that if Buonaparte had shown a candid wish to close with them,
the stipulations might have been modified, so as to be more agreeable to
him than they sounded in the abstract. There were ministers in the
cabinet of the allied sovereigns who advised an acquiescence in Eugene
Beauharnois, of whom a very favourable opinion was entertained, being
received as King of the upper part of Italy, while Murat retained the
southern half of that peninsula. The same counsellors would not have
objected to holding Holland as sufficiently independent, if the
conscientious Louis Buonaparte were placed at its head. As for Spain,
its destinies were now beyond the influence of Napoleon, even in his own
opinion, since he was himself treating with his captive at Valençay, for
re-establishing him on the throne. A treaty, therefore, might possibly
have been achieved by help of skilful management, which, while it
affirmed the nominal independence of Italy and Holland, would have left
Napoleon in actual possession of all the real influence which so
powerful a mind could have exercised over a brother, a step-son, and a
brother-in-law, all indebted to him for their rise to the rank they
held. His power might have been thus consolidated in the most formidable
manner, and his empire placed in such security, that he could fear no
aggression on any quarter, and had only to testify pacific intentions
towards other nations, to ensure the perfect tranquillity of France, and
of the world.

But it did not suit the high-soaring ambition of Napoleon to be
contented with such a degree of power as was to be obtained by
negotiation. His favourite phrase on such occasions, which indeed he had
put into the mouth of Maria Louisa upon a recent occasion,[301] was,
that he could not occupy a throne, the glory of which was tarnished.
This was a strange abuse of words; for if his glory was at all impaired,
as in a military point of view it certainly was, the depreciation arose
from his having lost many great battles, and could not be increased by
his acquiescing in such concessions as his defeat rendered necessary.
The loss of a battle necessarily infers, more or less, some censure on
the conduct of a defeated general; but it can never dishonour a
patriotic prince to make such sacrifices as may save his people from the
scourge of a protracted and losing warfare. Yet let us do justice to the
memory of a man so distinguished. If a merited confidence in the zeal
and bravery of his troops, or in his own transcendent abilities as a
general, could justify him in committing a great political error, in
neglecting the opportunity of securing peace on honourable terms, the
events of the strangely varied campaign of 1814 show sufficiently the
ample ground there was for his entertaining such an assurance.


At this period, Maret, Duke of Bassano, invited the allies to hold a
congress at Manheim, for considering the preliminaries of peace; and, on
the part of Great Britain, Lord Castlereagh, a cabinet minister, was
sent over to represent her on this important occasion. Faction, which in
countries where free discussion is permitted, often attaches its censure
to the best and worthiest of those to whose political opinions it is
opposed, has calumniated this statesman during his life, and even after
his death. This is one of the evils at the expense of which freedom is
purchased; and it is purchased the more cheaply, that the hour of
confutation fails not to come. Now, when his power can attract no
flattery, and excite no odium, impartial history must write on the tomb
of Castlereagh, that his undaunted courage, manly steadiness, and deep
political sagacity, had the principal share in infusing that spirit of
continued exertion and unabated perseverance into the councils of the
allies, which supported them through many intervals of doubt and
indecision, and finally conducted them to the triumphant conclusion of
the most eventful contest which Europe ever saw.[302]

In the meanwhile, both parties proclaimed their anxiety for peace, well
aware of the advantageous opinion, which the French public in particular
could not fail to entertain of that party, which seemed most disposed to
afford the world the blessings of that state of rest and tranquillity,
which was now universally sighed for.

A manifesto was published by the allied monarchs,[303] in which they
complain, unreasonably certainly, of the preparations which Buonaparte
was making for recruiting his army, which augmentation of the means of
resistance, whether Napoleon was to look to peace or war, was equally
justifiable when the frontiers of France were surrounded by the allied
armies. The rest of this state paper was in a better, because a truer
tone. It stated, that victory had brought the allies to the Rhine, but
they meant to make no farther use of their advantages than to propose to
Napoleon a peace, founded on the independence of France, as well as upon
that of every other country. "They desired," as this document stated,
"that France should be great, powerful, and happy, because the power of
France is one of the fundamental bases of the social system in Europe.
They were willing to confirm to her an extent of territory, greater than
she enjoyed under her ancient kings; but they desired, at the same time,
that Europe should enjoy tranquillity. It was, in short, their object to
arrange a pacification on such terms as might, by mutual guarantees, and
a well-arranged balance of power, preserve Europe in future from the
numberless calamities, which, during twenty years, had distracted the
world." This public declaration seemed intended to intimate, that the
war of the coalition was not as yet directed against the person of
Napoleon, or his dynasty, but only against his system of arbitrary
supremacy. The allies further declared, that they would not lay down
their arms until the political state of Europe should be finally
arranged on unalterable principles, and recognised by the sanctity of


The reply of Buonaparte to Maret's proposition, is contained in a letter
from Caulaincourt to Metternich, dated 2d December. It declared that
Buonaparte acquiesced in the principle which should rest the proposed
pacification on the absolute independence of the states of Europe, so
that neither one nor another should in future arrogate sovereignty or
supremacy in any form whatsoever, either upon land or sea. It was
therefore declared, that his Majesty adhered to the general bases and
abstracts communicated by M. St. Aignan. "They will involve," the letter
added, "great sacrifices on the part of France, but his Majesty would
make them without regret, if, by like sacrifices, England would give the
means of arriving at a general peace, honourable for all

The slightest attention to this document shows that Napoleon, in his
pretence of being desirous for peace on the terms held out in the
proposals of the allies, was totally insincere. His answer was artfully
calculated to mix up with the diminution of his own exorbitant power,
the question of the maritime law, on which England and all other nations
had acted for many centuries, and which gives to those nations that
possess powerful fleets, the same advantage, which those that have great
armies enjoy by the law martial. The rights arising out of this law
maritime, had been maintained by England at the end of the disastrous
American war, when the Armed Neutrality was formed for the express
purpose of depriving her, in her hour of weakness, of this bulwark of
her naval power. It had been defended during the present war against all
Europe, with France and Napoleon at her head. It was impossible that
Britain should permit any challenge of her maritime rights in the
present moment of her prosperity, when not only her ships rode
triumphant on every coast, but her own victorious army was quartered on
French ground, and the powerful hosts of her allies, brought to the
field by her means, were arrayed along the whole frontier of the Rhine.
The Emperor of the French might have as well proposed to make the peace
which Europe was offering to him, depend upon Great Britain's ceding
Ireland or Scotland.

Neither can it be pretended that there was an indirect policy in
introducing this discussion as an apple of discord, which might give
cause to disunion among the allies. Far from looking on the maritime
law, as exercised by Britain, with the eyes of jealousy, with which it
might at other times have been regarded, the continental nations
remembered the far greater grievances which had been entailed on them by
Buonaparte's memorable attempt to put down that law by his
anti-commercial system, which had made Russia herself buckle on her
armour, and was a cause, and a principal one, of the general coalition
against France. As Buonaparte, therefore, could have no hope to obtain
any advantage, direct or indirect, from mixing up the question of
maritime rights with that of the general settlement of the continent,
and as mere spleen and hatred to Great Britain would be scarce an
adequate motive in a mind so sagacious, we must suppose this
inadmissible stipulation to have been thrown in for the purpose of
enabling him to break off the negotiation when he pleased, and cast upon
the English the unpopularity attending the breach of it. It is very true
that England had offered to make sacrifices for obtaining a general
peace; but these sacrifices, as was seen by the event, regarded the
restoration to France of conquered colonies, not the cession of her own
naval rights, which, on no occasion whatsoever, a minister of Britain
will, can, or dare, permit to be brought into challenge. Accordingly,
the acceptance by Buonaparte of the terms transmitted by St. Aignan,
being provided with a slip-knot, as it were, by which he could free
himself from the engagement at pleasure, was considered, both by the
allies, and by a large proportion of the people of France, as elusory,
and indicating no serious purpose of pacification. The treaty therefore
languished, and was not fairly set on foot until the chance of war had
been again appealed to.[305]

In the meanwhile, the allies were bringing up their reserves as fast as
possible, and Buonaparte on his side was doing all he could to recruit
his forces. His measures for this purpose had been adopted long before
the present emergency. As far back as the 9th October, the Empress Maria
Louisa, in the character of Regent, presided in a meeting of the Senate,
held for the purpose of calling for fresh recruits to the armies. She
was an object of interest and compassion to all, when announcing the war
which had broken out betwixt her father and her husband; but the
following injudicious censure upon her country was put into the mouth of
the young sovereign, without much regard to delicacy. "No one," she
said, "can know so well as I what the French will have to dread, if they
permit the allies to be conquerors." The closing paragraph was also much
criticised, as attaching more importance to the personal feelings of the
sovereign, than ought to have been exclusively ascribed to them in so
great a public extremity. "Having been acquainted for four years with
the inmost thoughts of my husband, I know with what sentiments he would
be afflicted if placed on a tarnished throne, and wearing a crown
despoiled of glory."[306] The decree of the Senate, passive as usual,
appointed a levy of 280,000 conscripts.

When Buonaparte arrived at Saint Cloud, after having brought the remains
of his once great army to Mayence, his affairs were even in a worse
state than had been anticipated. But before we proceed to detail the
measures which he took for redeeming them, it is necessary to take
notice of two parties in the state, who, in consequence of the decay of
the Imperial power, were growing gradually into importance.

The first were the adherents of the Bourbons, who, reduced to silence by
the long-continued successes of Buonaparte, still continued to exist,
and now resumed their consequence. They had numerous partisans in the
west and south of France, and many of them still maintained
correspondence with the exiled family. The old noblesse, amongst whom
such as did not attach themselves to the court and person of Napoleon,
continued to be stanch royalists, had acquired, or rather regained, a
considerable influence in Parisian society. The superior elegance of
their manners, the seclusion, and almost mystery of their meetings,
their courage and their misfortunes, gave an interest to these relics of
the history of France, which was increased by the historical
remembrances connected with ancient names and high descent. Buonaparte
himself, by the restoration of nobility as a rank, gave a dignity to
those who had possessed it for centuries, which his own new creations
could not impart. It is true, that in the eye of philosophy, the great
man who first merits and wins a distinguished title, is in himself
infinitely more valuable and respectable than the obscure individual who
inherits his honours at the distance of centuries; but then he is valued
for his personal qualities, not for his noblesse. No one thought of
paying those marshals, whose names and actions shook the world, a
greater degree of respect when Napoleon gave them titles. On the
contrary, they will live in history, and be familiar to the imagination,
by their own names, rather than those arising from their peerages. But
the science of heraldry, when admitted as an arbitrary rule of society,
reverses the rule of philosophy, and ranks nobility, like medals, not
according to the intrinsic value of the metal, but in proportion to its
antiquity. If this was the case with even the heroes who had hewed a
soldier's path to honours, it was still more so with the titles granted
by Buonaparte, "upon carpet consideration," and the knights whom he
dubbed with unhacked rapier. It might be truly said of these that

    "Their fire-new stamp of honour scarce was current."[307]

When, therefore, the republican fury died away, and Buonaparte directed
the respect of the people at large towards title and nobility, a
distinct and superior influence was acquired by those who possessed such
honours by hereditary descent. Napoleon knew this, and courted, and in
some degree feared, the remainder of the old noblesse, who, unless he
could decidedly attach them to his own interest, were exposed to
surveillance and imprisonment on circumstances of slight suspicion. They
became, however, so circumspect and cautious, that it was impossible to
introduce the spies of the police into their _salons_ and private
parties. Still Napoleon was sensible of the existence of this party, and
of the danger which might attend upon it, even while his followers had
forgot perhaps that the Bourbons continued to live. "I thought him mad,"
said Ney (whose head, according to Fouché, could not embrace two
political ideas,) "when taking leave of the army at Smorgoni, he used
the expression, 'The Bourbons will make their own of this.'"[308]


This party began now to be active, and a Royalist confederation
organised itself in the centre of France as early as the month of March,
1813. The most distinguished members are said to have been the Dukes of
Duras, Trémouille, and Fitzjames; Messrs. de Polignac, Ferrand, Audrien
de Montmorency, Sosthène de la Rochefoucault, Sermaison, and La
Rochejacquelein. Royalist commanders had been nominated in different
quarters--Count Suzannet in the Lower Poitou, Duras in Orleans and
Tours, and the Marquis de Rivière in the province of Berry. Bourdeaux
was full of Royalists, most of them of the mercantile class, who were
ruined by the restrictions of the continental system, and all waited
anxiously a signal for action.

Another internal faction, noways desirous of the return of the Bourbons,
yet equally inimical to the power of Napoleon, consisted of the old
Republican statesmen and leaders, with the more zealous part of their
followers. These could not behold with indifference the whole fruits of
the Revolution, for which so much misery had been endured, so much blood
spilled, so many crimes committed, swept away by the rude hand of a
despotic soldier. They saw, with a mixture of shame and mortification,
that the issue of all their toils and all their systems had been the
monstrous concoction of a military despotism compared with which every
other government in Europe might be declared liberal, except perhaps
that of Turkey. During the monarchy, so long represented as a system of
slavery, public opinion had in the parliaments zealous advocates, and an
opportunity of making itself known; but in imperial France all was mute,
except the voice of hired functionaries, mere trumpets of the
Government, who breathed not a sound but what was suggested to them. A
sense of this degraded condition united in secret all those who desired
to see a free government in France, and especially such as had been
active in the commencement of the Revolution.

This class of politicians could not desire the return of the family in
whose exile they had been active, and had therefore cause to fear the
re-action with which such an event might be attended; but they wished to
get rid of Napoleon, whose government seemed to be alike inconsistent
with peace and with liberty. The idea of a regency suggested itself to
Fouché and others, as a plausible mode of attaining their purpose.[309]
Austria, they thought, might be propitiated by giving Maria Louisa the
precedence in the council of regency as guardian of her son, who should
succeed to the crown when he came to the age of majority. This
expedient, it was thought, would give an opportunity, in the meanwhile,
to introduce free principles into the constitution. But, while it does
not appear how these theorists intended to dispose of Napoleon, it is
certain that nothing but his death, captivity, or perpetual exile, would
have prevented such a man from obtaining the full management of a
regency, in which his wife was to preside in the name of his son.


A great part of the population of France, without having any distinct
views as to its future government, were discontented with that of
Buonaparte, which, after having drained the country of men and wealth,
seemed about to terminate, by subjecting it to the revenge of incensed
Europe. When these were told that Buonaparte could not bear to sit upon
a tarnished throne, or wear a crown of which the glory was diminished,
they were apt to consider how often it was necessary that the best blood
of France should be expended in washing the one and restoring the
brilliancy of the other. They saw in Napoleon a bold and obstinate man,
conscious of having overcome so many obstacles, that he could not endure
to admit the existence of any which might be insurmountable. They beheld
him obstinately determined to retain every thing, defend every thing,
venture every thing, without making the least sacrifice to
circumstances, as if he were in his own person independent of the Laws
of Destiny, to which the whole universe is subjected. These men felt the
oppression of the new taxes, the terrors of the new conscription,[310]
and without forming a wish as to the mode in which he was to be
succeeded, devoutly desired the Emperor's deposition. But when an end is
warmly desired, the means of attaining it soon come to occupy the
imagination; and thus many of those who were at first a sort of general
malecontents, came to attach themselves to the more decided faction
either of the Royalists or Liberalists.

These feelings, varying between absolute hostility to Napoleon, and
indifference to his fate, threw a general chillness over the disposition
to resist the invasion of the strangers, which Buonaparte had reckoned
on as certain to render the war national amongst so high-spirited a
people as the French. No effort was spared to dispel this apathy, and
excite them to resistance; the presses of the capital and the provinces,
all adopted the tone suggested by the Government, and called forth every
one to rise in mass for defence of the country. But although, in some
places, the peasants were induced to take arms, the nation at large
showed a coldness, which can only be accounted for by the general idea
which prevailed, that the Emperor had an honourable peace within his
power, whenever he should be disposed to accept of it.

In the meantime, new burdens were necessary to pay the expenses of the
approaching campaign, and recruit the diminished ranks of the army.
Napoleon, indeed, supplied from his own hoards a sum of 30 millions of
francs;[311] but, at the same time, the public taxes of the subject
were increased by one moiety, without any appeal to, or consultation
with the Legislative Body, who, indeed, were not sitting at the time. In
a council of state extraordinary, held on the 11th November, two days
after his return to Paris, Napoleon vindicated the infliction of this
heavy augmentation on a discontented and distressed country. "In
ordinary times," he said, "the contributions were calculated at
one-fifth of the income of the individual; but, according to the urgency
of events, there was no reason why it should not rise to a fourth, a
third, or a half of the whole income. In fact," he concluded, "the
contribution had no bounds; and if there were any laws intimating the
contrary, they were ill-considered laws, and undeserving of


There was then read to the council a decree of the Senate for a new
conscription of 300,000 men, to be levied upon those who had escaped the
conscription of former years, and who had been considered as exempted
from the service. There was a deep and melancholy silence. At length a
counsellor spoke, with some hesitation, though it was only to blame the
introductory clause of the senatorial decree, which stated the invasion
of the frontiers as the cause of this large levy. It was, he suggested,
a declaration too much calculated to spread alarm.

"And wherefore," said Napoleon, giving way to his natural vehemence, and
indicating more strongly than prudence warranted, the warlike and
vindictive purposes which exclusively occupied his breast--"wherefore
should not the whole truth be told? Wellington has entered the south;
the Russians menace the northern frontier; the Prussians, Austrians, and
Bavarians threaten the east. Shame!--Wellington is in France, and we
have not risen in mass to drive him back. All my allies have deserted
me; the Bavarians have betrayed me--They threw themselves on my rear to
cut off my retreat--But they have been slaughtered for their pains. No
peace--none till we have burned Munich. A triumvirate is formed in the
north, the same which made a partition of Poland. I demand of France
300,000 men--I will form a camp of a 100,000 at Bourdeaux--another at
Metz--another at Lyons. With the present levy, and what remains of the
last, I will have a million of men. But I must have grown men--not these
boy-conscripts, to encumber the hospitals, and die of fatigue upon the
highways--I can reckon on no soldiers now save those of France itself."

"Ah, Sire," said one of the assentators, glad to throw in a suggestion
which he supposed would suit the mood of the time, "that ancient France
must remain to us inviolate."

"And Holland!" answered Napoleon, fiercely. "Abandon Holland? sooner
yield it back to the sea. Counsellors, there must be an impulse
given--all must march--You are fathers of families, the heads of the
nation; it is for you to set the example. They speak of peace; I hear of
nothing but peace, when all around should echo to the cry of war."

This was one of the occasions on which Buonaparte's constitutional
vehemence overcame his political prudence. We might almost think we hear
the voice of the Scandinavian deity Thor, or the war-god of Mexico,
clamorous for his victims, and demanding that they be unblemished, and
worthy of his bloody altar. But Buonaparte was unable to inspire others
with his own martial zeal; they only foresaw that the nation must,
according to the system of its ruler, encounter a most perilous danger,
and that, even in case of success, when Napoleon reaped laurels, France
would only gather cypress. This feeling was chiefly predominant in the
Legislative Assembly; as every representative body which emanates,
however remotely, from the people, has a natural aptitude to espouse
their cause.

It is true, that the Emperor had by every precaution in his power,
endeavoured to deprive this part of the state, the only one which had
retained the least shadow of popular representation, of every thing
approaching to freedom of debate or right of remonstrance, and by a
recent act of despotic innovation, had even robbed them of the power of
choosing their own president. He is said also to have exerted his
authority over individuals by a practice similar to that adopted by
James the Second upon members of parliament, called _closeting_,
admitting individuals of the Legislative Body to private interviews, and
condescending to use towards them that personal intercession, which,
coming from a sovereign, it is so difficult to resist. But these arts
proved unsuccessful, and only tended to show to the world that the
Legislative Body had independence enough to intimate their desire for
peace, while their sovereign was still determined on war. A commission
of five of their members, distinguished for wisdom and moderation, were
appointed to draw up a report upon the state of the nation, which they
did in terms respectful to Napoleon, but such as plainly indicated their
conviction that he would act wisely to discontinue his schemes of
external ambition, to purchase peace by disclaimi