페이지 이미지
PDF
ePub

and in those of others, "to return instantly to head-quarters, as the marshal had agreed, not merely proposed, but actually agreed in a written note, to meet Lauriston at midnight beyond the Russian advanced posts."

Having communicated with Milaradowitch, the English General hastened to Beningsen, whom he found with a dozen generals, anxiously awaiting his arrival.

They afforded him proof that Kutusow, in answer to a proposition made by Lauriston on behalf of Napoleon, had agreed to meet him this same night at a station several miles from his most advanced videttes, on the road to Moscow, there to confer on the terms of a convention "for the immediate retreat of the whole invading army, from the territories of Russia, which convention was also to serve as the basis of a peace, to which it was to be the preliminary."

They added that Napoleon himself might be expected at the interview, as Lauriston had stated that he would be accompanied by a friend. They therefore required from the English General that he would act as commissioner of the emperor under his delegated authority, and " as an English commissioner charged with the protection of the British and allied interests;" adding the resolve of the chiefs, which would be sustained by the army, not to allow Kutusow to return and resume the command if once he quitted it for this midnight interview in the enemy's camp. They declared that "they wished to avoid extreme measures, but that their minds were made up to dispossess the marshal of his authority if he should inflexibly persevere."

It was a critical commission to execute-perhaps more critical than the mission to the emperor himself; but the English General felt that he had a duty to perform from which he could not shrink with honour.

The marshal, on seeing him enter, looked already embarrassed, but asked "whether he had brought any news from the advanced guard?" After some slight conversation on that subject, the English General intimated a wish to

confer with the marshal alone.

[ocr errors]

An officer or two present having withdrawn, the English General said that "he had returned to head-quarters in consequence of a report, an idle one he trusted, which had reached him that morning." That it was, however, a mischievous report, causing much excitement and uneasiness; and therefore that it was desirable at once to put an end, under the marshal's own authority, to the scandal."

The marshal's countenance confirmed the allegation; but the English General proceeded with as much courtesy as possible to communicate the rumour, and afford opportunity for the voluntary cancel of the arrangement, without any humiliating or irritating éclaircissement.

The marshal was confused, but in a tone of some asperity replied that "he was commander-in-chief of the army, and knew best what the interests confided to him required; that it was true that he had agreed to give General Lauriston, at the request of the French emperor, an interview during that night, under the circumstances reported, in order to avoid notice, which might be accompanied with misrepresentation or misunderstanding of motives; that he should keep his engagement, hear the propositions which General Lauriston was empowered to offer, and determine his future proceedings according to their nature."

He then added that "he would admit that he already knew those propositions to be of a pacific character, and perhaps they might lead to an arrangement satisfactory and honourable for Russia.'

The English General having patiently listened to all the explanations of the marshal, asked him "if such was his final determination ?" He said "Yesirrevocable;" and he expressed his hope that the English General would, on reflection, acquiesce in its propriety; and after taking into due consideration the state of the empire, and the fact that although the Russian army was becoming numerous, it was still far from being efficient in proportion, that he would in this instance suffer his affection for the emperor and Russia to prevail over his wellknown hostile feelings to the Emperor of France.

These last expressions were uttered in a very sarcastic tone, and he seemed

to think, or to desire, the conference terminated; but the English General was equally tenacious of his purpose, and commenced his reply by assurance of his deep regret at the discharge of a most painful duty which necessity imposed; but he had no alternative-no means of evasion.

He then reminded the marshal of the Emperor Alexander's last words to himself, the marshal, on quitting S. Petersburg, relative to the rejection of all negotiation whilst an armed Frenchman was in the country; and of the renewal of that solemn pledge to him, the English General, with instructions to intervene when he saw that pledge and connecting interests endangered by any one, of whatsoever rank he might be.

He then said that "the time was now come when unfortunately his intervention, in conformity with that instruction, had become necessary.'

,,

That "his, the marshal's, project of meeting an enemy's general and envoy beyond his own advanced posts at midnight, was unheard of in the annals of war, except when illicit communications had been intended-so illicit as not to admit of a third person being employed; that the army would believe, and would be authorised to believe, that the marshal on quitting the Russian lines was about to make a treaty, or enter into some transaction with the enemy, in defiance and contravention of their emperor's promises and orders; that the interests of Russia and the honour of the imperial army would be compromised by any treaty, however speciously framed: that the destruction or capitulation of the enemy was the only 'point de mire' which should be entertained by the marshal."

That "he had under his command already a hundred thousand men and upwards, stationed on the enemy's principal lines of communication, of which force there were thirty thousand horse, with seven hundred pieces of cannon, perfectly equipped; whilst the enemy's army was scarcely equal in number, with a ruined cavalry and an inadequately horsed artillery, and both arms were daily becoming enfeebled from want of forage; that the whole force was in dismay at the prospect of a retreat through an exasperated and ruined country, with the hazards, difficulties, and terrors of an approaching wintry season. That under such circumstances the Russian generals and army (for he had been made acquainted with their feelings on the subject) might and would feel themselves under the terrible necessity of withdrawing his authority until the emperor's decision could be known; and that he, the English General, would be obliged to despatch instantly couriers to Constantinople, to Lord Walpole at Vienna, to London, and S. Petersburg, communicating these proceedings, which intelligence would have the most injurious effect by suspending all the succours in preparation, and breaking off the negotiations in progress.'

That Russia might now have the glory and advantage of redeeming Europe by the capture or annihilation of Napoleon and his army; but, abusing this opportunity, that she herself in a short time would be replaced in her former jeopardy, and being justly abandoned by every friend, would be overwhelmed with discredit and self-reproach.

The marshal manifesting increasing pertinacity, the English General left him for a moment to call into his presence Duke Alexander of Würtemberg, the emperor's uncle; the Duke of Oldenburg, brother-in-law to the emperor; and Prince Wolkonsky, aide-de-camp general to the emperor, who had just arrived from S. Petersburg with despatches, and who was to return the same evening: these personages had been previously selected to support the English General's remonstrance, as being most likely to exercise a salutary influence, and as being less liable to objection on the ground of subordination than any of the other chiefs under the marshal's orders.

The English General, on re-entering, stated that "he felt it right in a transaction of such magnitude to make another appeal to the marshal, and endeavour to change his resolve. He had therefore requested these personages, so imme diately connected with the emperor and acquainted with his most intimate feelings, to co-operate with him, as he trusted they would, in pressing his views and entreaties."

He then recapitulated at large, and as nearly as possible word for word, "the admission of the marshal, his own remonstrances, and his declarations as to the course he must pursue.”

The Duke of Würtemberg with urbanity and tact expressed "his full confidence in the marshal's loyalty, patriotism, and judgment; but recommended, under the considerations urged and the suspicious temper of the army, to which he could testify, that the marshal should annul the proposed interview out of the Russian camp, and invite General Lauriston to one at his own head-quarters, as a more becoming and less disquieting proceeding." The Duke of Oldenburg followed, and concurred. Prince Wolkonsky, resting his arguments chiefly on his knowledge of the emperor's determination to carry out the pledge he had made, and which he had renewed in the proclamation published after the capture of Moscow, also recommended revocation of the appointment with Lauriston.

The marshal, after much controversy and an expression of dissent which, however softened by phrases, conveyed strong disapprobation of the proposed counteraction of his measure, began to give way, but still argued the impossibility of breaking an arrangement to which his signature was affixed. The English General answered, "that it was better to break than keep such a promise; that in breaking it he committed no public wrong, whilst in keeping it he would render inevitable many and grave mischiefs."

At length the marshal submitted, and a note was despatched to General Lauriston advising that "the marshal was unable to keep the appointment made, and inviting him to the marshal's head-quarters at ten that same night."

General Lauriston wrote an urgent request that "the marshal would adhere to his original rendezvous, as the deviation would cause much disappointment and inconvenience;" but on the marshal's reply "that circumstances did not permit his acquiescence in that wish," General Lauriston understood that some unforeseen and insurmountable obstacle, which the marshal could not control, had arisen.

On the arrival of General Lauriston, about eleven at night, and blindfolded, he was ushered into the marshal's hut, and introduced to a circle of Russian generals and the English General by name; when, as General Lauriston afterwards said, "he immediately comprehended from what quarter the obstacle had e come to the execution of the original agreement."

After some general conversation every one withdrew, and left the marshal and the envoy together, who before his departure placed a letter from Napoleon for the Emperor Alexander in the marshal's hands: a fact which the marshal did not communicate, but which he acknowledged when he found that the delivery had been seen.

In the relation given by the marshal of such parts of the conversation as he judged it expedient to make public, he stated that "Lauriston had at first complained of the barbarity of the Russians to the French," to which he, the marshal, had replied, as he said, that "he could not civilise a nation in three months who regarded the enemy as worse than a marauding force of Tartars under Gingis Khan." Lauriston answered, "But there is at least some differ"There may be," returned the marshal, "but none in the eyes of the people; and I can only be responsible for the conduct of my troops.".

ence."

Lauriston had no complaint to make against them; but adverting to an armistice, said, "Nature herself would in a short time oblige it." The marshal told him that "he had no authority on that head." Returning again to the subject of the armistice, Lauriston continued, "You must not think we wish it because our affairs are desperate. Our two armies are nearly equal in force. You are, it is true, nearer your supplies and reinforcements than we are, but we also receive reinforcements. Perhaps you have heard that our affairs are disastrous in Spain ?" "I have," said the marshal, "from Sir Robert Wilson, whom you just saw leave me, and with whom I have daily interviews.” "General Wilson may have reasons to exaggerate our reverses. We have, indeed, received a check by the bêtise of Marshal Marmont, and Madrid, en attendant, is occupied by the English, but they will soon be driven out; every

thing will be retrieved in that country by the immense force marching thither." He then denied the burning of Moscow by the French army, and charged it as an act of the governour's, adding, "It is so much at variance with the French character, that if we take London we shall not fire it.""

In about an hour Lauriston withdrew.

We cannot conclude without expressing our admiration of the careful and scholar-like way in which this work has been edited by Mr. Randolph. The remainder of his uncle's MSS. are safe in his hands, and they will not be the less welcome because they will be given to the world by one who has an affectionate remembrance of the man and appreciation of his private character, as well as that veneration for the hero and respect for his public conduct, in which we are also able to share.

INFINITUDE.

(FROM SCHILLER.)

BY W. CHARLES KENT.

I.

WHERE God's omnific mandate worlds from chaos drew to light,
Through viewless space, on lightning wings my spirit winged her flight,
Yearning yet to reach the shore

Where th' eternal billows roar,

Where the breath of life no longer can in ether find a place,
Where creation's awful verge denotes the boundary of space.

II.

Around me stars of deathless youth in countless swarms emerge,
A thousand years 'twixt wave and wave, in myriad shoals they surge-
In their ceaseless ebb and flow

Towards the mystic strand they go:

Speeding onwards thus-I gaze at length the trackless heavens around,
Where no solitary star gilds more the silent depths profound.

III.

Beyond the pomps and glories of these teeming floods of light
My soul's unflagging pinions steer to realms of nought their flight:
As through heaven her eyes turn back

Mist-like dims the vanquish'd track

But far on new systems glitter like the river foam to view,
As the wanderer's footsteps traverse like a thought the holy blue.

IV.

Lo! 'mid the dreadly solitude a pilgrim form I see

Swift gliding towards me-"Traveller, halt! say whither dost thou flee?" "I seek that final coast

Where the universe is lost,

Where the breath of life no longer can in ether find a place,
Where creation's awful verge denotes the boundary of space."

V.

"Then Pause! thou sailest vainly-an Infinitude behold!"
"Then Pause! thou sailest vainly-see another there unrolled!
Meekly droop thy plumage soaring,

Bend O Eagle-thought adoring:

Daring Voyager, behold how wild thy Phantasie in this—
That all space s but one shoreless, boundless, fathomless abyss!"

EAST LYNNE.

BY THE AUTHOR OF "ASHLEY."

PART THE FIFTH.

I.

LIFE AT CASTLE MARLING

ISABEL had been in her new home about ten days when Lord and Lady Mount Severn arrived at Castle Marling. Which was not a castle, you may as well be told, but only the name of a town, nearly contiguous to which was their residence, a small estate. Lord Mount Severn welcomed Isabel: Lady Mount Severn, also, after a fashion; but her manner was so repellant, so insolently patronising, that it brought the indignant crimson to the cheeks of Isabel. And, if this was the case at the first meeting, what do you suppose it must have been as time went on? Galling slights, petty vexations, chilling annoyances were put upon her, trying her powers of endurance to the very length of their tether: she would wring her hands when alone, and passionately wish that she could find another refuge.

Lady Mount Severn lived but in admiration, and she gathered around her those who would offer its incense. She carried her flirtations to the very verge of propriety: no further: there existed not a woman less likely to forget herself, or peril her fair fame, than Emma, Countess of Mount Severn; and no woman was more scornfully unforgiving to those who did forget themselves. She was the very essence of envy, of selfishness: she had never been known to invite a young and attractive woman to her house; she would as soon have invited a leper: and now you can understand her wrath, when she heard that Isabel Vane was to be her permanent inmate; Isabel, with her many charms, her youth, and her unusual beauty. At Christmas some visitors were down; mostly young men, and they were not wary enough to dissemble the fact, that the young beauty was a far greater attraction than the exacting countess. Then broke forth, beyond bounds, her passion, and in a certain private scene, when she forgot all but passion, and lost sight of the proprieties of life, Isabel was told that she was a hated intruder, her presence only suffered because there was no help for it.

The earl and countess had two children, both boys, and in February, the younger one, always a delicate child, died. This somewhat altered their plans. Instead of proceeding to London after Easter, as had been decided upon, they would not go till May. The earl had passed part of the winter at Mount Severn, looking after the repairs and renovations that were being made there. In March he went to Paris, full of grief for the loss of his boy; far greater grief than was experienced by Lady Mount Severn.

April approached, and with it Easter. To the unconcealed dismay of Lady Mount Severn, her grandmother, Mrs. Levison, wrote her word that she required change, and should pass Easter with her at Castle

« 이전계속 »