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"The ofler," said Carnot, in his letter to Napoleon, "of an arm sixty years old is, without doubt, but little. But I thought that the example of a soldier, whose patriotic sentiments are known, might have the effect of rallying to your eagles a number of persons, hesitating as to the part which they should take, and who might possibly think, that the only way to serve their country was to abandon it."
In many of the departments of France, the populace, uninfluenced by the libels against Napoleon, enthusiastically demanded arms, and entreated that they might be led against the invading foe. The leaders of the Jacobin clubs in Paris, offered their services in rousing 4he frenzy of the lower orders, as in the days of the old revolution, if Napoleon would receive them in.o his alliance, surrender to their writers and to ihcir orators the press and the tribune, and allow hem to sing their revolutionary songs in the street' and in the theatres. Napoleon listened serious!,, to their proposition, hesitated for a moment, a. d then resolutely replied:
"No. I shall find in battle some chance of safety, but nono with these wild demagogues. There can be no connection between them and monarchy; none between furious clubs and a regular ministry; between revolutionary tribunals and the tribunal of the law. Il l must fall, I will not bequeath France to the revolution from which I rescued her."
Gustavus, the deposedliing of Sweden, who had always strenuously affirmed that Napoleon was the Beast, described in the Apocalypse, now strangely offered his services to the Emperor. He wished to make himself the rallying point of the old royalist party in Sweden. He would thus greatly embarrass the movements of the treacherous Bernadotte, and stand some chance of regaining his throne. It was a curious case of a legitimate monarch, who had been deposed by the people, applying for aid to Napoleon, in order to overthrow the elected monarch, and to restore him to his hereditary claims. Notwithstanding the strength of the temptation. Napoleon refused, magnanimously u'used, to listen to his overtures.
"I have reflected," he said, " that if I received him, my dignity would require me to make exertions in his favor; and as I no longer rule the '.orl'\ common minds would not have failed to discover, in the interest I might have displayed for him, an impotent hatred against Bernadotte. Besides, Gustavus had been dethroned by the voice of the people, and it was by the voice of the people that I had been elevated. In taking up his cause I should have been guilty of inconsistency in my conduct, and have acted upon discordant principles."
The Duke of Wellington, with a hundred and forty thousand British, Portuguese, and Spanish troops, having driven the French soldiers out of Spain, was now overrunning the southern departments of France. Spain was lost. Napoleon consequently released Ferdinand, and restored him to his throne. The perfidious wretch
manifested no gratitude whatever toward his English deliverers. He promptly entered into a treaty hostile to England. "Thus did the sovereign," says Alison, "who had regained his liberty and his crown by the profuse shedding of English blood, make the fust use of his promised freedom, to banish from his dominions the allies whose swords had liberated him from prison, and placed him on the throne." "Ferdinand," says Colonel Napier, " became once more the King of Spain. He had been a rebellious son in the palace; a plotting traitor at Aranjucz, a dastard at Bayonne, an effeminate, superstitious, fawning slave at Valencay, and now, after six years of captivity, he returned to his own country an ungrateful and cruel tyrant. He would have been the most odious and contemptible of princes, if his favorite brother, Don Carlos, had not existed." Such were the results of the English war in Spain. A greater curse one nation ncM'r inflicted upon another. What is Spain now? What would she now have been, had the energies of a popular government, under. Joseph Bonaparte, been difiueed throughout the Peninsula? This king, whom the English drove from Spain, was a sincere, enlightened, conscientious man, devoted to the public w elfare.
The last days of the month of January had now arrived. An army of one million twenty-eight thousand men, from the north, the east, and tho south, were on the march for the overthrow of the imperial republic. Such forces the world had never before seen. Napoleon, having lost some five hundred thousand men in the Russian campaign, three hundred thousand en the plains of Saxony, two hundred and fifty thousand in the Spanish Peninsula, and having nearly a hundred thousand besieged in the fortresses of the Elbe and the Oder, was unable, with his utmost exertions, to bring forward more than two hundred thousand in the field, to meet the enormous armies of the Allies. He could take but seventy thousand to encounter the multitudinous hosts crowding down upon him from the Rhine.
On Sunday the 24th of January, the Emperor, after attending mass, received the dignitatis of the'empire in the grand saloon of the Tuileries. The Emperor entered the apartment, preceded by the Empress, and leading by the hand his idolized son, a child of extraordinary beauty, not yet three years of age. The child w dressed in the uniform of the National Guaro, while luxuriant ringlets of golden hair were clustering over his shoulders. The Emperor w as calm, but a deep shade of melancholy overspread his features. The most profound sadness reigned in the assembly. In a ceremony, grave and solemn, the Empress was invested with the regency, and took the requisite oath of office. The Emperor then advancing with his child into the centre of the circle, in tones which thrilled upon every heart, thus addressed them :*
* It is to be regretted that Lamartine can not record tho most simple tact respecting Napoleon without interweaving some hostile comment. In reference to this extraordinary struggle he says: "Seventy thousand troops cea
"Gentlemen, I depart to-night to place myself at the head of the army. On quitting the capital I leave behind, with confidence, my wife and son, upon whom so many hopes repose. I shall depart with a mind freed from a weight of disquietude, when I know that these pledges arc under
stituted the only army with which Napoleon had to mamruvre and combat a million of men in the heart of France. Victory itself could do nothing for so small a Dumber. It could only waste them less rapidly than defeat. Did he depend on impossibilities; or was he only desirous of illustrating his last struggle I No one knows what was passing in that soul, mnddened for Ro many years by illusions. The most likely solution is, that he calculated upon some brilliant but passing success, which might serve as a pretext for the Emperor of Austria to scgotiate with him. He never thought a father would dishonor his son-in-law, or that kings would dethrone the eonquaror of the revolution. But at all events, he did not doubt that if conquered or deprived of his throne, the empin would be transmitted to his son."
your faithful guardianship. To you I confide what, next to France, I hold dearest in the world. Let there be no political divisions. Endeavors will not be wanting to shake your fidelity to your duties. I depend on you to repel all such perfidious instigations. Let the respect for property, the maintenance of order, and above all the love of France, animate every bosom." As Napoleon uttered these words his voice trembled with emotion, and many of his auditors were affected even to tears. At an early hour he withdrew, saying to those near him, "Farewell, gentlemen; we shall perhaps meet again."
At three o'clock in the morningof the 25th of January, Napoleon, after having burned all his private papers, and embraced his wife and his son for the last time, left the Tuileries to join the army. He never saw either wife or child again.
The Allies had now crossed the Rhine, and were sweeping all opposition before them. They issued the atrocious proclamation that every' French peasant who should be taken with arms in his hands, endeavoring to defend his country, should be shot as a brigand ; and that every village and town, which offered any resistance, should be burned to the ground. Even Mr. r.ockhart exclaims, "This assuredly was a flagrant outrage, against the most sacred and inalienable rights of mankind."
Napoleon drove rapidly in his carriage, about one hundred miles east of Paris, to Vitry and St. Dizier. Here, at the head of a few thousand soldiers, he encountered the leading Cossacks of Blucher's army. He immediately fell upon them, and routed them entirely. Being informed that Blucher had a powerful army near Troyes, about fifty miles south of Vitry, Napoleon marched all the next day, through wild forest roads, and in a drenching rain, to surprise the unsuspecting and self-confident foe The ground was covered with snow, and the wheels of the cannon were with the utmost difficulty dragged through the deep quagmires. But intense enthusiasm inspired the soldiers of Napoleon, and the inhabitants of the country through which they passed,
gave tho most affecting demonstrations of their gratitude and their love. "The humblest cabins," says Lamartine, " gave up their little stores, with cordial hospitality, to warm and nourish these last defenders of the soil of France." Napoleon, in the midst of a column of troops, marched frequently on foot, occasionally entering a peasant's hut, to examine his maps, or to catch a moment's sleep by the fire on the cottage hearth.
About noon on the 29th, with but twenty thousand men, he encountered sixty thousand Russians, commanded by Blucher, formidably posted in the castle and upon the eminences of Brienne. Napoleon gazed for a moment upon these familiar scenes. hallowed by the reminiscences of childhood, and ordered an immediate assault, without allowing his troops a moment to dry their soaked garments. Before that day's sun went down behind the frozen hills, the snow was crimsoned with the blood of ten thousand of the Allies, and Blucher was retreating to effect a junction with Schwartzenbcrg at Bar-sur-Aube, some few miles distant.
As Napoleon was slowly returning to his quarters, after the action, indulging in melancholy thought, a squadron of Russian artillery, hearing the footfalls of his feeble escort, made a sudden
charge in the dark. Napoleon was assailed, at the same moment, by two dragoons. General Corbineau threw himself upon one of the Cossacks, while General Gourgaud shot down the other. The escort, who were but a few steps behind, immediately charged, and rescued the Emperor. Napoleon had lost In the conflict at Brienne five or six thousand men in killed and wounded.
The next day Blucher and Schwartzenberg, having effected a junction, marched with a hundred and fifty thousand men, to attack Napoleon at Rothierre, nine miles from Brienne. Prince Schwartzes Tg sent a confidential officer to Blucher, to inquire respecting the plan of attack. He abruptly replied, " We must inarch to Paris Napoleon has been in all the capitals of Europe. We must make him descend from a throne, which it would have been well for us all that he hail never mounted. We shall have no repose, till we pull him down."
The Emperor had with much difficulty assembled there, forty thousand troops. The French, desperately struggling against such fearful odds, maintained their position during the day. As a gloomy winter's night again darkened the scene, Napoleon retreated to Troyes, leaving six thousand of his valiant band, in every hideous form of mutilation, upon the frozen ground. Alexander and Frederic Williafn, from one of the ncighbjring heights, witnessed, with unbounded exultation, this triumph of their arms. Blucher, though, a desperate fighter, was in his private character one of the most degraded of bacchanals and debauchees. '' The day after the battle," says Sir Archibald Alison, " the sovereigns, embassadors, and principal generals supped together, anil Blucher striking off, in his eagerness, the necks of the bottles of champagne with his knife, quaffed off copious and repeated libations to the toast, drank with enthusiasm by all present,' To Paris'"
Napoleon was now in a state of most painful perplexity. His enemies, in bodies vastly outnumbering any forces he could raise, were marching upon Paris, from all directions. A movement toward the north only opened an unobstructed highway to his capital, from the east and the south. Tidings of disaster were continually reaching his cars. A conference was still carried on between Napoleon and the Allies in reference to peace. Napoleon wrote to Caulaincou rt, to agree to any reasonable terms " which would save the capital and avoid a final battle, which would swallow up the last forces of the kingdom."
The Allies, however, had no desire for peace. They wished only to create the impression that Napoleon was the one who refused to sheathe the sword. Consequently they presented only such terms as Napoleon could not, without dishonor, accept. On receiving, at this time, one of those merciless dispatches, requiring that he should surrender all the territory which France had acquired since his accession to the throne, Napoleon nai plunged into an agony of per
plexity. Such a concession would dishonor him in the eyes of France and of Europe. It would leave France weakened and defenseless ;—exposed not only to insult, but to successful invasion from the powerful and banded enemies who surrounded the republican empire. Napoleon' shut himself up for hours jeondering the terrible crisis. Ruin was coming, like an avalanche, upon him and upon France. The generals of the army urged him to submit to the dire necessity. With reluctance Napoleon transmitted these inexorable conditions of the Allies to his privy council at Paris. All but one voted for accepting them. His brother Joseph wrote to him: "Yield to events. Preserve what may yet be preserved. Save your life, precious to millions of men. Tlieroi is no dishonor in yielding to numbeis and accepting peace. There would be dishonor in abandoning the throne, because you would thus abandon a crowd of men who have devoted themselves to you. Make peace at any price."
Thus urged and overwhelmed, Napoleon, at last, with extreme anguish, gave Caulaincourt permission to sign any treaty which he thought necessary to save the capital. His consent was given in a singularly characteristic manner. Calmly taking from a shelf a volume of the works of Montesquieu, he read aloud the following passage:
"I know nothing more magnanimous, than a resolution which a monarch took, who has reigned in our times, to bury himself under the ruins of his throne, rather than accept conditions unworthy of a king. He had a mind too lofty to descend lower than his fortunes had sunk him. He knew well that courage may strengthen a crown, but infamy never."
In silence he closed the book. Murat still entreated him to yield to the humiliating concessions. He represented that nothing could be more magnanimous than to sacrifice even his glory to the safety of the state, which would fall with him. The Emperor, after a moment's pause, replied:
"Well! be it so. Let Caulaincourt sign whatever is necessary to procure peace. I will bear the shame of it, but I will not dictate my own
But to make peace with the republican Emperor was the last thing in the thoughts of these banded kings. When they found that Napoleon was ready to accede to their cruel terms, they immediately abandoned them for other and still more exorbitant demands. Napoleon had consented to surrender all the territory which France had acquired since his accession to power.
The Allies nowdeinanded that Napoleon should cut down Yranee to the limits it possessed before the Resolution. The proposition was a gross insult. Can we conceive of the United States as being so humbled as even to listen to such a suggestion! Were England to combine the despotisms of Europe in a war against Republican America, and then to offer peace only upon the condition that we would surrender all the territory which has been annexed to the United States since the Revolution—Florida, Louisiana, Texas, New Mexico, California—what administration would dare to accede to such terms! And yet demands so atrocious the Allies pronounced moderate and reasonable. Napoleon nobly resolved to perish, rather than yield to such dishonor.
"What," he exclaimed, as he indignantly held up these propositions, "do they require that I should sign such a treaty as this, and that I should trample upon the oath I have taken, to detach nothing from the soil of the empire. Unheard of reverses may force from me a promise to renounce my own conquests; but that I should also abandon the conquests made before me—that as a reward for so many efforts, so much blood, such brilliant victories, I should leave France smaller than I found her! Never! Can I do so without deserving to be branded as a traitor and a coward? You are alarmed at the continuance of the war. But I am fearful of more certain dangers which you do not see. If we renounce the boundary of the Rhine, France not only recedes, but Austria and Prussia advance. France stands in need of peace. But the peace which the Allies wish to impose on her would .subject her to greater evils than the most sanguinary war. What would the French people think of me, if I were to sign their humiliation? What could I say to the republicans of the Senate, when they demanded the Iwrriers of the Rhine? Heaven preserve me from such degradation! Dispatch
an answer to Caulaincourt, and tell him that I reject the treaty. I would rather incur the risks of the most terrible war." This spirit his foes have stigmatized as insatiable ambition, and the love of carnage.
The exultant Allies, now confident of the ruin of their victim, urged their armies onward, to overwhelm with numbers the diminished bands still valiantly defending the independence of France. Napoleon, with forty thousand men, retreated some sixty miles down the valley of the Seine to Nogent. Schwartzenberg, with two hundred thousand Austrians, took possession of Troyes, about seventy-five miles above Nogent. With these resistless numbers be intended to Hollow the valley of the river to Paris, driving the Emperor before him.
Fifty miles north of the river Seine, lies the valley of the Marne. The two streams unite near Paris. Blucher, with an army of about seventy thousand Russians and Prussians, was rapidly inarching upon the metropolis, down the banks of the Marne, where there was no force to oppose him. The situation of Napoleon seemed now quite desperate. Wellington, with a vast army, was marching from the south. Bernadotte was leading uncounted legions from the north. Blucher and Schwartzenberg, with their several armies, were crowding upon Paris from the east. And the enormous navy of England had swept French commerce from all seas, and was bombarding every defenseless city of France The