Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

sula but with disastrous consequences to the offensive party-witness the repeated stormings of St. Sebastian-was literally reversed before Dresden. The assault began late in the evening, the enemy had full light to observe the approach of the allied columns, now necessarily unable to effect any good purpose in consequence of the darkness which involved them, and which, of course, favoured the operations of the garrison. It was before Dresden that Moreau, the famous French general, who had but recently arrived from America and joined the allied forces, was killed by a cannot shot. We expected some original account of the unbappy termination of this warrior's career from a brother in arms, but we have been disappointed, as the only novelty connected with the death of Moreau, which proceeds from the pen of Lord Londonderry, is the fact that after he received the wound, a groan or an expression of complaint never passed the lips of Moreau ; and that the instant after the fatal shot struck him he tranquilly smoked a cigar.

There can be no doubt that the defeat of the allies before Dresden was attended with greater disasters than their friends have ever been willing to avow; at all events that defeat, and the hasty retrograde movement which they were forced to make in consequence, had a wonderful effect in opening the eyes of the sovereigns afresh to the blessings of peace. On what a straw were the hopes and wishes of England doomed to rest once more! ' From the general complexion of affairs,' says Lord Londonderry, it appeared that if Buona parte persevered in making propositions, there was great probability they would be listened to!' Then it seems that the Eniperor of Russia became disgusted that the supreme command was given to an Austrian in preference to himself, and Prince Schwartzenburgh informed our author personally that he deemed it judicious to act for the present altogether on the defensive. What a leveller of high boasters and lofty pretenders does true history ultimately prove! The whole of this glorious crusade against French principles, which the allies took up as a duty; which they were ever ready, they said, to make sacrifices to promote; nay, which they contracted with England, for a very handsome consideration, to carry on,—this crusade, they were, at any instant, ready to break off, and if they did not succeed in bringing the war to a premature close, the cause is to be ascribed solely to the impracticable obstinacy of Napoleon himself. But the time for the developement of that singular man's destiny had arrived, and every event connected with him must contribute to bring it about. The allies rallied ; and in several encounters with the French, gained advantages which encouraged them to still further and better combined exertions, and ultimately produced the victory of Leipsic. Even after this success, the harniony of the alliance was in danger of being every hour shattered to pieces by the operation of the mean, selfish views of the individual powers which composed it. Russia did all she could to establish the seat of war in Saxony, in the hope of

vieThe account attentively perns of items,

making that duchy her own spoil. Prussia had a strong interest in keeping the war away from Silesia, in order that she might recover there her strong holds; and the great aim of Austria was to rouse the Tyrolese. Each of the powers wanted to destroy Buonaparte, but to destroy him in their own way, and with an exclusive view to their own aggrandizement respectively.

The account of the battle of Leipsic, by the Noble Marquess, deserves to be attentively perused, because it is a sober catalogue of events—a mere collection of items, recording the operations connected with the battle; they are given without embellishment, or any attempt to produce effect, and resemble very much indeed the progress of a real action in the field, which some persons would be astonished to find contained so little of the picturesque. An anecdote connected with this battle deserves to be mentioned. The despatch which brought the account of it to England was, as we remember, written by our author, and he now informs us that it was penned on a stone in the field of batile. In the next place, the copy, we believe the first that arrived in this country, was conveyed, at great personal risk, by a Mr. Solby, a Prussian, extensively connected in England, through the midst of the French armies.

During the retreat of the French which ensued, it will be remembered, that the Polish Prince Poniatowski met his death by plunging into the Elster. “The Prince, observes Lord Londonderry, urged by what the French call un beau desespoir, was drowned in that river; decked, it was said, with brilliants, and too heavily charged with coin, for a retreat a la nage. The levity of the noble writer on the fate of Poniatowski, and the facility with which he gives currency to what is evidently no more than a calumnious on dit, may be very well pardoned in one who cannot comprehend the heroic love of freedom, which would induce such a person as Poniatowski to take the only chance-joining the French--that was left of rescuing his country from oppression. Would not the Prince have been able effectually to retain his coins had he, like other princes of his day, turned traitor to the cause which first he had disinterestedly preferred ?

But what astonishes us most of all in the history of this retreat is, that whilst Napoleon was retracing the line of his communications even towards France, driven by the allies, we find all of a sudden that Prince Metternich is carrying on an under current of communication with the French Emperor through a Monsieur de St. Aignau, and that too without the consent of England; so that Metternich was already striving to gain an excuse to shuffle out of the war, no doubt well convinced that Russia and Prussia would have also retired from it; and then what was to become of England and all her generous objects for Spain, Portugal, Sicily, and the Bourbons? Like a man holding a lump of fire, our author seems to be in a state of painful impatience whilst handling this matter, which he at last suffers to fall from his hands with most provoking

rapidity. It is certain, however, that so bent were the allies on peace, that England was at length compelled to be a party to the negotiation; and it is not now denied, that when Lord Castlereagh was sent over to attend the conferences at Chatillon, he was instructed to agree to terms of peace “honourable to France.” Our author, with very laudable consistency, expresses his disapprobation of these conferences, and the breach of principle in which they began, and, of course, he was very happy at their failure. The harmony and good humour, however, of all the ministers made the time pass very agreeably at Chatillon,—the diplomatists dining with each other alternately, and Caulaincourt smuggling, through the French advanced posts, the choicest liquors, &c. from Paris, for the tables of his brother ministers. What followed the rupture of these negotiations need not now be told, as few even of the youngest of the present generation are ignorant that, hostilities being resumed, the allies drove the French to Paris, and decreed that Buonaparte should be sent to Elba. Lord Londonderry's details respecting the manœuvres of Napoleon in this last struggle, demand the attention of every military man, as exhibiting the most consummate skill in the late Emperor in the art of strategy. One personal anecdote, an adventure of Lord Londonderry's, the circumstances of which occurred during the subsequent progress of the allies to Paris, must not be omitted. We perhaps regard it with greater interest, as being nearly the only trait of the kind with which the monotony of the narrative is relieved.

'I witnessed here a very interesting, but I fear, unfortunately, too usual an occurrence, that took place in the capture of the convoy and enemy's baggage, &c. at La Fere Champenoise. "Being forward in the Mélie, I perceived that some Cossacks, most probably from Bashkir, had not only secured a French colonel's calèche and baggage, but one of them had seized his wife, whose cries rent the air, and, with the aid of two other gallant Tartars, was placing her behind him. I will not detail the frequent histories of lawless troops, nor add to these pages instances of barbarity which I fear have been too justly given of the conduct of the Russian predatory hordes in their march through France ; but I reflect with satisfaction, that it was my good fortune to rescue, even for a moment, a lovely and most interesting Frenchwoman from the hands of these wild soldiers. Being, however, unable to listen to her afflicting details, and not knowing in what manner better to place her in security, I ordered my own orderly hussar, of the King's German Legion, to place ber for the moment en croupe, and carry her to my billet at head-quarters. I was unwilling, and indeed could not at that moment leave the field; but consoled myself with the thought, that when I returned at night to my quarters, I should receive the gratitude of a beautiful creature, and pictured to myself romance connected with this occurrence. But, alas! how little can we reckon on any future event, and how idly do we all build des châteaux en Espagne! I fear that my precautions were not so great as I flattered myself they were. The distance between the champ de bataille and Fere Champenoise was inconsiderable ; the town was in sight; and from the number of officers and troops moving about, I could not imnagine my beautiful prisoner would be recaptured; but, sad to relate, either the same Cossacks returned, or others more savage and determined, and perceiving my faithful orderly hussar and prize, fell upon him, and nearly annihilating him re-seized their victim; and although the strictest investigation was made throughout his whole army, the Emperor of Russia, to whom I immediately repaired, and related the melancholy tale (and who heard it with all that compassion and interest it could not fail to inspire), the beautiful and interesting Frenchwoman never reappeared again. I drop a veil over the horrible sequel which imagination might conjure up, and I took much blame for my neglect of a sufficient escort. My hussar crawled to me next morning, half dead from ill usage ; and his pathetic tale placed me in a state of mind scarcely less deplorable.'—pp. 289, 290.

As the allied armies approached Paris, a letter written by the Empress of France to Buonaparte was intercepted. The noble Marquess describes it as an unaffected effusion of affection ; it detailed the impressions made on the Parisians by the reverses which the French arms sustained and it ended with the account of a dream, by which the young King of Rome was greatly disturbed a short time before. The child in his sleep began to cry bitterly, and frequently called on his papa. When awoke, he could not be prevailed on to give the slightest explanation of the nature of the dream. It is satisfactory to have Lord Londonderry's testimony to the laudable conduct of the empress during difficulties almost unexampled. With whatever reluctance she first yielded to the state reasons, that called for her acquiescence in a marriage with Buonaparte, she never remembered that repugnance afterwards, but discharged her duties as a wife and mother, ' in a manner,' says our author, 'that must hand her name down to posterity as a character of the first order.' Nothing very novel or interesting is related by Lord Londonderry respecting the occupation of Paris by the allies, with an account of which the work closes ; but he notices an incident which, though apparently trivial, manifests in a most striking manner the utter confusion which reigned at the time in the Councils of Great Britain. It will be remembered, that the Conferences at Chatillon were terminated on the 18th of March, up to which day the British Government was willing to treat with France upon terms honourable to the latter, that is to say, upon the basis of Napoleon's keeping the throne. And yet we find that upon the 2d of February previously, the Duke of Wellington issued a proclamation, which distinctly pointed to the restoration of the Bourbons! That the English Cabinet resolved originally upon the demolition of the imperial throne, and on restoring the Bourbons, there is every reason to believe;' and if Lord Castlereagh, at Chatillon, consented to a termination of the war upon conditions short of these results, he must have been either intimidated, or wheedled into such an agreement by Metternich; and as he was compelled to form his resolution hastily, there was not time sufficient to communicate with the Duke of Wellington. What can

rapidity. It is certain, however, that so bent were the allies on peace, that England was at length compelled to be a party to the negotiation; and it is not now denied, that when Lord Castlereagh was sent over to attend the conferences at Chatillon, he was instructed to agree to terms of peace “honourable to France.” Our author, with very laudable consistency, expresses his disapprobation of these conferences, and the breach of principle in which they began, and, of course, he was very happy at their failure. The barmony and good humour, however, of all the ministers made the time pass very agreeably at Chatillon,—the diplomatists dining with each other alternately, and Caulaincourt smuggling, through the French advanced posts, the choicest liquors, &c. from Paris, for the tables of his brother ministers. What followed the rupture of these negotiations need not now be told, as few even of the youngest of the present generation are ignorant that, hostilities being resumed, the allies drove the French to Paris, and decreed that Buonaparte should be sent to Elba. Lord Londonderry's details respecting the manæuvres of Napoleon in this last struggle, demand the attention of every military man, as exhibiting the most consummate skill in the late Emperor in the art of strategy. One personal anecdote, an adventure of Lord Londonderry's, the circumstances of which occurred during the subsequent progress of the allies to Paris, must not be omitted. We perhaps regard it with greater interest, as being nearly the only trait of the kind with which the monotony of the narrative is relieved.

I witnessed here a very interesting, but I fear, unfortunately, too usual an occurrence, that took place in the capture of the convoy and enemy's baggage, &c. at La Fere Champenoise. Being forward in the Mélie, I perceived that some Cossacks, most probably from Bashkir, had not only secured a French colonel's calèche and baggage, but one of them had seized his wife, whose cries rent the air, and, with the aid of two other gallant Tartars, was placing her behind him. I will not detail the frequent histories of lawless troops, nor add to these pages instances of barbarity which I fear have been too justly given of the conduct of the Russian predatory hordes in their march through France; but I reflect with satisfaction, that it was my good fortune to rescue, even for a moment, a lovely and most interesting Frenchwoman from the hands of these wild soldiers. Being, however, unable to listen to her afflicting details, and not knowing in what manner better to place her in security, I ordered my own orderly hussar, of the King's German Legion, to place her for the moment en croupe, and carry her to my billet at head-quarters. I was unwilling, and indeed could not at that moment leave the field; but consoled myself with the thought, that when I returned at night to my quarters, I should receive the gratitude of a beautiful creature, and pictured to myself romance connected with this occurrence. But, alas! how little can we reckon on any future event, and how idly do we all build des châteaux en Espagne! I fear that my precautions were not so great as I flattered myself they were. The distance between the champ de bataille and Fere Champenoise was inconsiderable ; the town was in sight; and from the number of officers

« ZurückWeiter »