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councilors of the Emperor were in despair. They urged him, from absolute necessity, to accede to any terms which the Allies might extort.
The firmness which Napoleon displayed under these trying circumstances, soars into sublimity. To their entreaties that he would yield to dishonor, he calmly replied:
"No! no! we must think of other things just now. I am on the eve of beating Blucher. He is advancing on the road to Paris. I am about to set off to attack him. I will beat him to-morrow. I will beat him the day after to-morrow. If that movement is attended with the success it deserves, the face of alfiirs will be entirely changed. Then we shall see what is to be done."
Nipoleon had farmed one of those extraordinary plans which so often, during his career, had changed apparent ruin into the most triumphant success. Leaving ten thousand men at Nogent, to retard the advance of the two hundred thousand Austrians, he hastened, with the remaining thirty thousand troops, by forced marches across the country, to the valley of the Marne. It was his intention to fall suddenly upon the flank of Blucher's self-confident and unsuspecting army.
The toil of the wintery march, through miry roids and through storms of sleet and rain, was so exhausting that he had but twenty-five thousand men to form in line of battle, when he encountered the enemy. It was early in the morning of the 10th of February, as the sun rose brilliantly over the snow-covered hills, when the French soldiers burst upon the Russians, who were quietly preparing their breakfasts. The victory was most brilliant. Napoleon pierced the centre of the multitudinous foe, then turned upon one wing, and then upon the other, and proudly scattered the fragments of the army before him. But he had no reserves, with which to profit by this extraordinary victory. His weary troops could not pursue the fugitives.
The next day Blucher, by energetically bringing forward reinforcements, succeeded in collecting sixty thousand men, and fell with terrible fury upon the little band who were gathered around Napoleon. A still more sanguinary battle ensued, in which the Emperor was again, and still more signally triumphant. These brilliant achievements elated the French soldiers beyond measure. They fait that nothing could withstand the genius of the Emperor, and even Napoleon began to hope that fortune would again smile upon him. From the field of battle he wrote a hurried line to Caulaincourt, who was his plenipotentiary at Chatillon, where the Allies had opened their pretended negotiation. "I have conquered," he wrote; "your attitude must be the same for peace. But sign nothing without my order, because I alone know my position."
While Napoleon was thus cutting up the army of Blucher upon the Marne, a singular scene was transpiring in Troyes. The royalists there, encouraged by Napoleon's apparently hopeless defeat, resolved to make a vigorous movement for the restoration of the Bourbons. A deputation, consisting of the Marquis de Vidranges and the
Chevalier de Goualt, accompanied by five or six of the inhabitants, with the white cockade of the fallen dynasty upon their breasts, treasonably called upon the Emperor Alexander, and said:
"We entreat your Majesty, in the name of all the respectable inhabitants of Troyes, to accept with favor the wish which we form, for the re-establishment of the royal house of Bourbon on the throne of France."
But Alexander, apprehensive that the genius of Napoleon might still retrieve his fallen fortunes, cautiously replied: "Gentlemen, I receive you with pleasure. I wish well to your cause, but I fear your proceedings arc rather premature. The chances of war arc uneertain, and I should be grieved to see brave men like you compromised or sacrificed. We do not coine ourselves to give a king to France. We desire to know its wishes, and to leave it to declare itself."
"But it will never declare itself," M. de Goualt replied, "as long as it is under the knife. Never, so long as Bonaparte shall be in authority in France, will Europe be tranquil."
"It is for that very reason," replied Alexander, "that the first thing we must think of is to beat him—to beat him—to beat him."
The royalist deputation retired, encouraged with the thought that, from prudential considerations, their cause was adjourned, but only for a few days. At the same time the Marquis of Vitrolles, one of the most devoted of the Bourbon adherents, arrived at the head-quarters of the Allies, with a message from the royalist conspirators in Paris, entreating the monarchs to advance as rapidly as possible to the capital. A baser act of treachery has seldom been recorded. These very men had been rescued from penury and exile by the generosity of Napoleon. Ho had pardoned their hostility to republican France; had sheltered them from insult and from injury, and, with warm sympathy for their woes, which Napoleon neither caused or could have averted, had received them under the protection of the imperial regime.
In ten days Napoleon had gained five victories. The inundating wave of invasion was still rolling steadily on toward Paris. The activity and energy of Napoleon surpassed all which mortal man had ever attempted before. In a day and night march of thirty hours he hurried back to the banks of the Seine. The Austrians, now three hundred thousand strong, were approaching Fontainebleau. Sixty miles southeast of Paris, at the confluence of the Seine and the Yonne, is situated, in a landscape of remarkable beauty, the little town of Montereau.
Here Napoleon, having collected around him forty thousand men, presented a bold front, to arrest the farther progress of the Allies. An awful battle now ensued. Napoleon, in tho eagerness of the conflict, as the projectiles from the Austrian batteries plowed the ground around him, and his artillerymen fell dead at his feet, leaped from his horse, and with his own hand directed a gun against the masses of the enemy. As the balls from the hostile batteries tore through the French ranks, strewing the ground with the wounded and the dead, the cannoneers entreated the Emperor to retire to a place of safety. With a serene eye he looked around him, upon the storm of iron and of lead, and smiling, said: "Courage, my friends, the ball which is to kill me is not yet cast."* The bloody combat terminated with the night. Napoleon was the undisputed victor.
The whole allied army, confounded by such unexpected disasters, precipitately retreated, and began to fear that no numbers could triumph over Napoleon. The Emperors of Russia and Austria, and the King of Prussia, bewildered by such unanticipated blows, were at a loss what orders to
* In one of the charges which took place at the bridge of Montereau, a bomb literally entered the chest of General PiiIoli's charger, and burst in the stomach of the poor animal; sending its rider a considerable height into the air. General Pa|oli fell, dreadfully mangled, but almost miraculously escaped mortal injury. When this singular occurrence was mentioned to the Emperor, he said to the general, that nothing but the interposition of Providence could have preserved his life under such circumstances. This aneedote was related to W. II. Ireland, Esq., by General Pajoli himself.
issue. Napoleon, with but forty thousand men, pursued the retreating army, one hundred thousand strong, up the valley of the Seine, till they took refuge in the vicinity of Chauinont, about a hundred and sixty miles from the field of battle.
"My heart is relieved," said Napoleon joyfully, as he beheld the flight of the Allies. "I have saved the capital of my empire." Amazing as were these achievements, they only postponed the day of ruin. The defeat of one or two hundred thousand, from armies numbering a million of men, with another army of a million held in reserve, to fill up the gaps caused by the casualties of war. could be of but little avail *
4 "Meantime hostilities were maintained with Increased vigor over a vast line of operations. How much useless glory did our soldiers not gain in these conflicts. But in spite of prodigies of valor, the enemy's masses advanced and approximated to a central point, so that this war might be compared to the battle of the ravens and the eagles on the Alps. The eagle kills them by hundreds. Every stroke of his beak is the death of an enemy. Bui still the ravens return to the charge, and press upon the eagle, until he is literally overwhelmed by the number of his assailants."—Bocrrienne.
In the midst of these terrific scenes, Napoleon almost daily corresponded with Josephine, whom he still loved as he loved no one else. On one occasion, when the movements of battle brought him not far from her residence, he turned aside from the army, and sought a hurried interview with his most faithful friend. It was their last meeting. At the close of the short and melancholy visit, Napoleon took her hand, and gazing tenderly upon her, said:
"Josephine, I have been as fortunate as was ever man upon the face of this earth. But in this hour, when a storm is gathering over my head, I have not, in this wide world, any one but you upon whom I can repose."
His letters, written amidst all the turmoil of the camp, though exceedingly brief, were more confiding and affectionate than ever, and, no matter in what business he was engaged, a courier from Josephine immediately arrested his attention, and a line from her was torn open with the utmost eagerness. His last letter to her was written from the vicinity of Brienne, after a desperato engagement against overwhelming numbers. It was concluded in the following affecting words:
"On beholding these scenes, where I had passed my boyhood, and comparing my peaceful condition then with the agitation and terrors which I now experience, I several times said in my own mind, ' I have sought to meet death in many conflicts. I can no longer fear it. To me death would now be a blessing. But I would once more see Josephine.'"
There was an incessant battle raging for a circuit of many miles around the metropolis. All the hospitals were filled with the wounded and the dying. Josephine and her ladies were employed at Malmaison in scraping lint, and forming bandages, for the suffering victims of war. At last it became dangerous for Josephine to remain any longer at Malmaison, as bands of barbarian soldiers, with rapins and violence, were wandering all over the country. One stormy morning, when the rain was falling in floods, she took her carriage for the more distant retreat of Navarre. She had proceeded about thirty miles, when some horsemen appeared in the distance, rapidly approaching. She heard the cry, "The Cossacks, the Cossacks!" In her terror she leaped from her carriage, and, in the drenching rain, fled across the fields. The attendants soon discovered that they were French hussars, and the unhappy Empress was recalled. She again entered her carriage, and proceeded the rest of the way without molestation.
The scenes of woe which invariably accompany the march of brutal armies, no imagination can conceive. We will record but one, as illustrative of hundreds which might be narrated. In the midst of a bloody skirmish, Lord Londonderry saw a young and beautiful French lady, the wife of a colonel, seized from a caleche by three semibarbarian Russian soldiers, who were hurrying into the woods with their frantic and shrieking victim. With a small band of soldiers he succeeded in rescuing her. The confusion and peril Vol. IX —No. 49.—D
of the battle still continuing, he ordered a dragoon to conduct her to his own quarters, till she could be provided with suitable protection. The dragoon took the lady, fainting with terror, upon his horse behind him, when another ruffian band of Cossacks struck him dead from his steed, and seized again the unhappy victim. She was never heard of more. And yet every heart must know her awful doom. Such is war, involving in its inevitable career every conceivable crime, and every possible combination of misery.
The Allies, in consternation, held a council of war. Great despondency prevailed. "The Grand Army," said the Austrian officers, "has lost half its numbers by the sword, disease, and wet weather. The country we are now in is ruined. The sources of our supplies arc dried up „ All around us the inhabitants are ready to raise the standard of insurrection. It has become indispensable to secure a retreat to Germany, and wait for reinforcements." These views were adopted by the majority. The retreat was continued in great confusion, and Count Lichtenstein was dispatched to the head-quarters of Napoleon, to solicit an armistice. Napoleon received the envoy in the hut of a peasant, where he had stopped to pass the night. Prince Lichtenstein, as he proposed the armistice, presented Napoleon with a private note from the Emperor Francis. This letter was written in a conciliatory and almost apologetic spirit; admitting that the plans of the Allies had been most effectually frustrated, and that in the rapidity and force of the strokes which had been given, the Emperor of Austria recognized anew the resplendent genius of his son-inlaw. Napoleon, according to his custom on such occasions, entered into a perfectly frank and unreserved conversation with the Prince. He inquired of him if the Allies intended the restoration of the Bourbons to the throne of France.
"Is it a war against the throne," said he, "which you intend to carry on? The Count d'Artois is with the grand army in Switzerland. The Duke d'Angouleme is at the head-quarters of the Duke of Wellington, from thence addressing proclamations to the southern portions of my empire. Can I believe that my father-in-law, the Emperor Francis, is so blind, or so unnatural, as to project the dethronement of his own daughter, and the disinheriting of his own grandson?"
The Prince assured Napoleon that the Allies had no such idea; that the residence of the Bourbon princes with the allied armies was merely on sufferance; and that the Allies wished only for peace, not to destroy the empire. Napoleon acceded to the proposal for an armistice. He appointed the city of Lusigny as the place for opening the conference. Three of the allied generals were deputed as commissioners, one each on the part of Austria, Russia, and Prussia. Hostilities, however, were not to be suspended till the terms of the armistice were agreed upon. On the morning of the 24th Napoleon re-entered Troyes, the enemy having abandoned the town during the night. The masses of the people Crowded around him with warm and heartfelt greetings. They thronged the streets through which he passed, strove to kiss his hand, and even to touch his horse, and with loud acclamation hailed him as the saviour of his country. Napoleon immediately ordered the arrest of Vidranges and Goualt. The former had escaped and joined the Allies. The latter was arrested, tried by a court-martial, and condemned to be shot. Napoleon, conscious of the peril he encountered from the royalist conspirators in every town, thought that he could not safely pardon so infamous an act of treason. The nobleman was left to his fate. At eleven o'clock at night he was led out to his execution. A large placard was suspended upon his breast upon which were inscribed, in conspicuous letters, the words, "Traitor to his country." He died firmly, protesting to the last his devotion to the Bourbons. This act of severe but apparently necessary justice, Lamartine has stigmatized as a "selfish piece of vengeance."
Since the commencement of this brief campaign, Napoleon had performed the most brilliant achievements of his whole military career. It is the uncontradicted testimony of history, that feats so extraordinary had never before been recorded in military annals. The Allies were astounded and bewildered. Merely to gain time to bring up their enormous reserves they had proposed a truce, and now, to form a new plan, with which to plunge again upon their valiant foe, they held a council of war. The Kings of Russia and Prussia, and the Emperor of Austria were present, and a strong delegation of determined men from the court of St. James. Lord Castlereagh was the prominent representative of the British government. The Allies, while intimating that they had not determined upon the dethronement of Napoleon, still advanced resolutely to that result.
"Lord Castlereagh," says Alison, "in conformity with the declared purpose of British diplomacy, ever since the commencement of the war, made no concealment of his opinions either m or out of parliament, that the best security for the peace of Europe would be found in the restoration of the dispossessed race of princes to the French throne; and 'the ancient race, and the ancient territory,' was often referred to by him, in private conversation, as offering the only combination which was likely to give lasting repose to the world." To mitigate the indignation of the world against this atrocious interference of the Allies with the rights of the French people to elect their own sovereign, Sir Archibald ventures to add, "but it was little his design, as it was that of the British cabinet, to advance these views as preliminary to any, even the most lasting accommodation."
When Napoleon was elected to the chair of the First Consul, by the almost unanimous suffrages of France, he made overtures to England for peace. Lord Grenville returned an answer both hostile and grossly insulting, in which he said, "The best and most natural pledge of the
abandonment by France of those gigantic schemes of ambition by which the very existence of society in the adjoining states has so long been menaced, would be the restoration of that line of princes which for so many centuries maintained the French nation in prosperity at home, and consideration and respect abroad. Such an event would alone have removed, and will at any time remove, all obstacles in the way of negotiation or peace. It would confirm to France the unmolested enjoyment of its ancient territory; and it would give, to all the other nations of Europe, in tranquillity and peace, that security which they arc now compelled to seek by other means."
General Pozzo di Borgo was sent by Alexander on an embassy to the British government. Count d'Artois, afterward Charles X., urged him to induce the Allies openly to avow their intentions to reinstate the Bourbons. "My lord," General Borgo replied, "every thing has its time. Let us not perplex matters. To sovereigns you should not present complicated questions. It is with no small difficulty that they have been kept united in the grand object of overthrowing Bonaparte. As soon as that is done, and the imperial rule destroyed, the question of dynasty will present itself, and then your illustrious house will spontaneously occur to the thoughts of all."
Lord Castlereagh, in a speech in Parliament, on the 29th of June, 1814, said: "Every pacification would be incomplete, if you did not reestablish, on the throno of France, the ancient family of the Bourbons. Any peace with the man who had placed himself at the head of the French nation could have no other final result but to give Europe fresh subjects for alarms; it could be neither secure nor durable; nevertheless it was impossible to refuse to negotiate with him when invested with power, without doing violence to the opinion of Europe, and incurring the whole responsibility for the continuance of the war."
These proud despots were indeed committing a crime which was doing violence to the sense of justice of every unbiased mind. They were ashamed to acknowledge their intentions. While forcing, by the aid of two million of bayonets, upon a nation exhausted by compulsory wars, a detested king, they had the boldness to declare that they had no intention to interfere with the independence of France. When the indignant people again drove the Bourbons beyond the Rhine, again the invading armies of combined despotisms, crushing the sons of France beneath their artillery-wheels, conducted the hated dynasty to the throne. And England, liberty-loving England, was compelled, by her Tory government, to engage in this iniquitous work. Louis XVIII., encircled by the sabres of Wellington's dragoons, marched defiantly into the Tuileries. In the accomplishment of this crime Europe was, for a quarter of a century, deluged in blood, and shrouded in woe. And these conspirators against popular rights, instead of doing justice to the patriotism and the heroism of Napoleon, who, for twenty years, nobly sustained the independence of his country against the incessant coalitions of the monarchs of Europe, have endeavored to consign his name to infamy. But the world has changed. The people have now a voice in the decisions of history. They will reverse—they have already reversed—the verdict of despotisms. In the warm hearts of the people of all lands the memory of Napoleon has found a congenial throne.
The Allies now decided to embarrass Napoleon, by dividing their immense host into two armies. Blucher, taking the command of one, marched rapidly across the country to the Marne, to descend on both sides of that river to Paris. The other multitudinous host, under Schwartzenberg, having obtained abundant reinforcements, still trembling before the renown of Napoleon, were cautiously to descend the valley of the Seine. Napoleon, leaving ten thousand men at Troyes, to obstruct the march of Schwartzenberg, took thirty thousand troops with him, and resolutely pursued Blucher. The Prussians, astonished at the vigor of the pursuit, and bleeding beneath the blows which Napoleon incessantly dealt on their rear-guard, retreated precipitately. The name of Napoleon was so terrible, that one hundred thousand Prussians lied, in dismay, before the little band of thirty thousand exhausted troops, headed by the Emperor.
Blucher crossed the Marne, blew up the bridges behind him, and escaped, some fifty miles north, to the vicinity of Laon. Napoleon reconstructed the bridges and followed on. By wonderful skill in manojuvring, he had placed Blucher in such a position that his destruction was inevitable, when suddenly Bernadotte came, with a powerful army, to the aid of his Prussian ally. Napoleon had now but about twenty-five thousand men with whom to encounter these two united armies, more than one hundred thousand. With the energies of despair he fell upon his foes. His little army was melted away and consumed before the terrific blaze of the hostile batteries. The battle was long and sanguinary. Contending against such fearful odds courage was of no avail. The enemy, however, could do no more than hold their ground. Napoleon rallied around him his mutilated band, and retired to Rheims. The enemy dared not pursue Iiim in his despair.
As soon as Schwartzenberg heard that Napoleon was in pursuit of Blucher, he commenced, with two hundred thousand men, his march upon Paris, by the valley of the Seine. The Duke of Wellington was, at the same time, at Bordeaux, with his combined army of English, Portuguese, and Spaniards, moving, almost without opposition, upon the metropolis of France. The Duke of Angouleme was with the English army, calling upon the royalists to rally beneath the unfurled banner of the Bourbons. Another army of the Allies had also crossed the Alps from Switzerland, and had advanced as far as Lyons. Wherever Napoleon looked he saw but the march of triumphant armies of invasion. Dispatches reached him with difficulty. He was often re
duced to conjectures. His generals were disheartened; France was in dismay.
In the midst of these scenes of impending peril, Napoleon was urged to request Maria Louisa, to interpose with her father, in behalf of her husband. "No," Napoleon promptly replied, with pride which all will respect, "the archduchess has seen me at the summit of human power. It does not belong to me to tell her now that I am descended from it, and still less to beg of her to uphold me with her support." Though he could not condescend to implore the aid of Maria Louisa, it is very evident that he hoped that she would anticipate his wishes, and secretly endeavor to disarm the hostility of the Emperor Francis. The Empress was with Napoleon when he received the intelligence that Austria would in all probability join the coalition. He tumed affectionately toward her, took her hand and said, in tones of sadness:
"Your father is then about to march anew against me. Now I am alone against all! yes alone! absolutely alone!" Maria Louisa burst into tears, arose, and left the apartment.
Napoleon now formed the bold resolve to fall upon the rear of Schwartzenberg's army, and cut off his communications with Germany and his supplies. With astonishing celerity he crossed the country again, from the Marne to the Seine, and Schwartzenberg, in dismay, heard the thunders of Napoleon's artillery in his rear. The Austrian army, though two hundred thousand strong, dared not advance. They turned and fled. Alexander, Francis, and Frederick William, mindful of Napoleon's former achievements, and dreading a snare, turned from Paris toward the Rhine, and put spurs to their horses. The enormous masses of the retreating Allies, unexpectedly encountered Napoleon at Arcis upon the Aube. A sanguinary battle ensued. "Napoleon," says Lamartine, " fought at hazard, without any other plan and with the resolution to conquer or die. He renewed, in this action, the miracles of bravery and sang froid of Lodi and of Rivoli; and his youngest soldiers blushed at the idea of deserting a chief, who hazarded his own life with such invincible courage. He was repeatedly seen spurring his horse to a gallop against the enemy's cannon, and reappearing, as if inaccessible to death, after the smoke had evaporated. A live shell having fallen in front of one of his young battalions, which recoiled and wavered in expectation of an explosion, Napoleon, to reassure them, spurred his charger toward the instrument of destruction, made him smell the burning match, waited unshaken for the explosion, and was blown up. Rolling in the dust with his mutilated steed, and rising without a wound amidst the plaudits of the soldiers, he calmly called for another horse, and continued to brave the grape-shot, and to fly into the thickest of the battle."
During the heat of the conflict a division of Russian cavalry, six thousand strong, preceded by an immense body of Cossacks, with wild hurrahs, broke through the feeble lines ofthc