« ZurückWeiter »
nobles, of the first distinction, belonging to the different potentates, were r assembled ; resorting, as they now did, to the seat of deliberation and
war, for every thing that was valuable or important to them. Many were
joined by their consorts, and the beauty and attractions of the Princess BC Pauline of Wirtemburg, Madame d’Alopaeus, the Princesses of Courlande,
and others, deserve to be eloquently described, and, with other anecdotes, might prove more intereresting to many than my military narrative. But my duty is not to deviate from, but to adhere to, the dry detail of the campaign. However, it will be seen from the above that female society of the most perfect description was within our reach; and its allurements and dissipations divided the minds of soldiers and politicians from their more severe duties.
• Exercise after dinner, des courses, or parties of pleasure in the neigh5 bourhood, and reunion in the evening, filled up the period of each day,
when the army was stationary; and each ambassador or minister, of any
calibre, kept his own table, and always received a certain number of in guests.'—p. 75, 76.
It will be remembered by the reader, that the armistice was raI tified on the 4th June, 1813, and was continued from time to time
until the 10th of August. Wherefore should such a delay have i taken place ? How was it that Austria could not sooner make up
her mind ? The Marquess of Londonderry is most provokingly s silent as to the history of this most interesting interval, which
thoroughly and faithfully understood, must present matter of deep importance for history. To all the world it cannot be otherwise than obvious, that, in the circumstances in which he was then placed, delay was an object of paramount importance to Napoleon. They who voluntarily procured ihat delay, must, beyond all doubt, have had a leaning to the cause of that Emperor, for both he and his army were in the condition of men, who had but just risen from the effects of an exhausting fever, and every instant of repose, consequently, was to them a fresh accumulation of strength. The allies conducted themselves exactly in such a manner, as that the course which they pursued, would suit afterwards with either relation—a state of hostility, or a state of friendship-with Buona
parte. The Austrian monarch who was to give to the other sove5 reigns the cue, was himself kept in suspense, but he shewed that
he was ready to adopt the course which circumstances might point out as most safe and prudent for himself. At the moment we are speaking of, Wellington—so far as was known in Austria-still remained within the lines in Portugal. That illustrious chief had returned to those lines the year before, it must now be admitted, under circumstances that were by no means encouraging; for, after having gained the hard-earned, and, in some respects, accidental victory of Salamanca, we say accidental, because a blunder of Marmont's was the immediate cause of the defeat of the French, -Wellington proceeded to Madrid without being able to occupy that metropolis for any time, and from which he was forced to retire amidst the harrassings and threats of the enemy, making
well kno a more ) Further,
through thes, it any wonderlish soldier upor
and minintay, and counsels of that the coon the
forced marches back to Portugal. Here he remained for no inconsiderable period in a state of total inactivity. An Austrian, or even a Prussian minister having regard merely to these facts, must necessarily be impressed with very unfavourable opinions as to the future success of ihe British forces in Spain, and the more so as it was now well known, that the French forces were augmented, that they were in a more healthy state, and were led by better generals than formerly ; and, further, that the strong holds throughout Spain were garrisoned by French troops. The supposition, then, was a very probable one, that in no little time the arms of France would have triumphed over the peninsula, and left not a space for the foot of an English soldier upon the whole of its continent. Was it any wonder that the counsels of Austria, and, through them, the counsels of the allies, were haunted with doubt and dismay, and that the whole host of speculators, sovereigns and ministers as they were, sought refuge from the apparitions of their own fears in procrastination ? But in a moment all was changed ; Wellington had roused from his lair, and crossing by a rapid movement the Ebro, won the field of Vittoria. We presume that the news of this victory arrived at the head quarters of the allies towards the end of July; we know, at all events, that the notice for terminating irrevocably the armistice with Napoleon, was given on the part of the allies about the same period. Thus was the cabinet, over which Austria as mediatrix presided, then teeming with every sordid and selfish calculation, at once broken up. Prince Metternich made a point of confidentially communicating a few days beforehand to the representative of the English government, the sort of declaration which Austria would make, as if Austria had all along made up its mind to join the alliance against Buonaparte. If, then, Austria made her decision ; if by that decision the confederacy against the French emperor was rendered effectual to crush him in due time, was it not the duty of a brother officer and a countryman, to have conspicuously held up the man to whom the glory of producing such inestimable results was due? To say the truth, however, the Marquess has not been quite so squeamish with respect to another and rather an equivocal member of the Alliance,-we mean the Crown Prince of Sweden. The conduct of his Royal Highness as it is represented by Lord Londonderry, appears to us from the very beginning to have been controuled by the irregular impulses of a mean and shirking disposition. Bernadotte never cordially entered into a friendly relation with England, notwithstanding the humiliating lengths to which Lord Castlereagh went, in his private communications, to conciliate this adopted child of legitimacy.
The fault, or rather crime, of the Crown Prince was in affecting cordiality under the circumstances, and hence it was, that between his natural aversion and his pretended regard for England, his actions were marked by indecision, vacillation, and gross inconsistency. As illustrative of this conduct, we may mention, that when the gift of military stores, sent by the generosity of Great Britain, for the service of the Swedes, was brought to shore at Stralsund, the generous Bernadotte would have very quietly allowed us not only to pay the expences of the debarkation of those stores, but absolutely to discharge the rent of the storehouses in which they were temporarily kept in his (Bernadotte's) own dominions, but for the very spirited and praiseworthy remonstrance of Lord Londonderry! The Crown Prince, in the meantime, in all the interviews which our minister had with him, talked, in splendid terms, of the deeds which, in conjunction with the Allies, he pledged himself at no distant time to perform. The royal boaster, who all the time, kept at a respectable distance from the theatre of war, was in the habit of calling for maps, of evolving them with a majestic attitude before his company, and thereupon he would, with a most impotent mimicry of political omnipotence, push here and there, as his great designs required of him, ancient boundaries and time-honoured landmarks with the most elevated indifference; on parchment, however,-all on parchment. Now and again Londonderry, with that eye to business, which never winks in the forehead of a single son of the “country of shopkeepers,” used to pose the grandiloquent bravo by some simple proposition_“I want to see your army in motion.” “Ah,” replied the cunning Bernadotte, “it is not prudent to collect our masses too early, lest the enemy should be aware of our points of concentration.” His answers seemed generally to have satisfied our minister, and we are not surprised at their being so easily swallowed by him, since they were recommended by such condiments as the Prince Royal was, according to this authority, capable of combining with them.
· Whenever the Prince Royal,' we are informed by Lord Londonderry, 'conversed, it was always with the greatest affability and cordiality. It is impossible to resist the fascination of his eloquent expressions, or be indifferent to his insinuating tone and manner; and when armed, as he always is, with a bottle of Eau-de-Cologne in one hand, and a white handkerchief in the other, inundating every thing lavishly around him with the perfume, it requires some hardihood to be quite collected and insensible to beautiful phraseology, so as to discover the drift or solidity of the extraordinary man into whose presence you are at all times admitted, and accosted as “ Mon Ami.”—p. 88.
Now this very specious person, with his white handkerchief, appears after all to be a very finished dissembler, as is most unequivocally shewn in some of the pages of Lord Londonderry's work. It seems that the present Duke of Cumberland was extremely anxious at this time to have a command in some service or another, or, as it is more vaguely expressed in this narrative, his Royal Highness was anxious to see the active operations that might take place. The eagerness of the Duke was mentioned to Bernadotte, who at once put an extinguisher upon the ambition of the young VOL. XIII.
Prince, by saying, that any nomination to command over such troops as received pay from England, must originate with England. Lord Londonderry, however, shortly afterwards is thunderstruck on being told by the Duke of Cumberland himself, that Bernadotte actually pressed upon bis Royal Highness the command of all the Hanoverian troops in a most urgent manner, and that too within a very short period after the Prince Royal had so resolutely stated that such appointments must come from England! This conduct Lord Londonderry calls “disingenuous;" which diplomatic phrase, when translated into current language, means, we presume, utterly base and hypocritical. Of the two royal personages thus brought together, we may observe that Lord Londonderry mentions the following very curious, perhaps it may be found instructive, anecdote :
• During the stay of the Prince Royal at Mecklenburgh, we had no little difficulty as to the etiquette of this small court with the two princes. The Prince Royal, as heir to the throne of Sweden, considered that he should take the pas. The Duke of Cumberland, most properly and rationally. could not brook his blood should give way, at his uncle's court, to Bernadotte, much less did he incline to cede the fair princess who presided there. The old Duke of Mecklenburgh, under these circumstances, entreated me to settle some plan for them to get from the saloon into the dining room. After some reflection, I proposed that the two ladies of rank present, the Princess of Solms and the Landgravine of Darmstadt, should go out together, and that the Royal Princes should follow hand in hand. This was adopted after considerable difficulty ; but the Duke of Cumberland soon assumed his birth rights, and took the first place by the Princess; which the Prince Royal not only perceived, but certainly resented it, by showing extreme ill humour during the dinner.'—p. 91.
Here is one of those ridiculous situations into which fortune loves occasionally to thrust some of the great ones of the world, in order, perhaps, to afford a means of consolation to others in their comparative state of inferiority. To our minds, the Duke of Cumberland, as well as his com purgator Lord Londonderry, behaved op the occasion with egregious silliness. For, in the first place, the Royal Duke was a resident in his uncle's abode, and, from the circumstance of relationship to the host, was one of those inmates from whom the duties of hospitality were to be expected by a stranger guest. In the next place, the laws of precedency gave the pas to the Prince of Sweden, and it is utterly ridiculous in a man like Lord Londonderry, himself the creature (we speak it with no disrespect,) of conventional regulations, to applaud the Duke of Cumberland for not yielding the place of honour to Bernadotte ; birth is out of the question in such a case, and, if the authority which gave Bernadotte the right of precedence, is to be set at nought, what becomes of the rank of the Duke of Cumberland himself? But it is most agreeably ludicrous to think of the two overgrown children setting out together from the saloon, “hand in hand,” too, we suppose, as our first parents marched out of Paradise ; and, no doubt, like them also, advancing with “wandering steps and slow," while the “hastening angel” of the scene, Lord Londonderry, caught with either hand the lingering pair,
M" and to the dining-room
Led them direct.” But to return to Prague, the seat of the conferences. The 10th of August was approaching, the day for the termination of the armistice. Even yet Napoleon's existence, as Emperor of the French, lay upon the cast of a die; for, notwithstanding all the inauspicious clouds which ranged themselves on his side of the horizon, that Emperor might still have made his peace with the allies. The proposals of Austria, which he declined, must not have been of a nature so extremely difficult to be assented to, since Caulaincourt declared that they met his approbation, and that all he wanted was competent authority to close with Metternich at once. In what a state of jeopardy, then, was the gigantic plan of England, the progress of which even so far had cost her such amazing sacrifices ! But the fate of Buonaparte was decided. Austria enrolled herself amongst the allies, and afterwards afforded unquestionable evidence of the sincerity and cordiality with which she co-operated for the common object. It would be scarcely pardonable in us, were we to waste time in going over the diary, so minutely furnished to us by our author, of the various movements and operations performed by the allied armies, with the view of driving the enemy across the Elbe in the first instance, and pursuing him,—they scarcely dare yet imagine whither. One point, however, merits a little attention, and that is the embarrassment which now arose with respect to the individual to whom the supreme command of the allied forces should be entrusted. The Emperor Alexander was anxious for it, but Austria, in consequence of the high authority which she had a right to assume amongst the allies, thought that her choice ought to prevail, and Prince Schwartzenburgh was finally elevated to the rank of Generalissimo. Notwithstanding the concentration of all military authority in the hands of one person, very little, if any indeed, of the good results which we expect from a unity of influence, arose for some time from this appointment. The attempt on Dresden, which subsequently took place, by the allies, is a reproach on the advanced state of modern warfare. The Austrian columns of attack, for example, proceeded up to the glacis of the town, without any breach in it having been previously made, and unprovided with ladders, or any other implements whatever by which they could possibly make a lodgement. Again, the hour chosen for approaching the town was precisely that which was the most unfavourable to the assailants. If the practice of the best generals had not convinced us, certainly common sense must have informed us, that the time for advancing to a rampart should be a time of darkness-arrived at the point of attack, the storming party will wait for the light to begin operations. This principle, which was never departed from in the Penin