History of the French Revolution from 1789 to 1814
by
F. A. M. Mignet

Part 8 out of 8



replaced the government of assemblies; its special courts, its lyceums, in
which military education was substituted for the republican education of
the central schools; its hereditary nobility, which in 1808 completed the
establishment of inequality; its civil discipline, which rendered all
France like an army obedient to the word of command; and externally by its
secondary kingdoms, its confederate states, its great fiefs, and its
supreme chief. Napoleon, no longer meeting resistance anywhere, could
command from one end of the continent to the other.

At this period all the emperor's attention was directed to England, the
only power that could secure itself from his attacks. Pitt had been dead a
year, but the British cabinet followed with much ardour and pertinacity
his plans with respect to France. After having vainly formed a third and a
fourth coalition, it did not lay down arms. It was a war to the death.
Great Britain had declared France in a state of blockade, and furnished
the emperor with the means of cutting off its continental intercourse by a
similar measure. The continental blockade, which began in 1807, was the
second period of Bonaparte's system. In order to attain universal and
uncontested supremacy, he made use of arms against the continent, and the
cessation of commerce against England. But in forbidding to the
continental states all communication with England, he was preparing new
difficulties for himself, and soon added to the animosity of opinion
excited by his despotism, and the hatred of states produced by his
conquering domination, the exasperation of private interests and
commercial suffering occasioned by the blockade.

Yet all the powers seemed united in the same design. England was placed
under the ban of continental Europe, at the peace. Russia and Denmark in
the Northern Seas; France, Spain, and Holland, in the Mediterranean and
the ocean, were obliged to declare against it. This period was the height
of the imperial sway. Napoleon employed all his activity and all his
genius in creating maritime resources capable of counter-balancing the
forces of England, which had then eleven hundred ships of war of every
class. He caused ports to be constructed, coasts to be fortified, ships to
be built and prepared, everything for combating in a few years upon this
new battle-field. But before that moment arrived, he wished to secure the
Spanish peninsula, and to found his dynasty there, for the purpose of
introducing a firmer and more favourable policy. The expedition of
Portugal in 1807, and the invasion of Spain in 1808, began for him and for
Europe a new order of events.

Portugal had for some time been a complete English colony. The emperor, in
concert with the Bourbons of Madrid, decided by the treaty of
Fontainebleau, of the 27th of October, 1807, that the house of Braganza
had ceased to reign. A French army, under the command of Junot, entered
Portugal. The prince-regent embarked for Brazil, and the French took
possession of Lisbon on the 30th of November, 1807. This invasion was only
an approach towards Spain. The royal family were in a state of the
greatest anarchy. The favourite, Godoy, was execrated by the people, and
Ferdinand, prince of the Asturias, conspired against the authority of his
father's favourite. Though the emperor had not much to fear from such a
government, he had taken alarm at a clumsy armament prepared by Godoy
during the Prussian war. No doubt, at this time he formed the project of
putting one of his brothers on the throne of Spain; he thought he could
easily overturn a divided family, an expiring monarchy, and obtain the
consent of a people whom he would restore to civilization. Under the
pretext of the maritime war and the blockade, his troops entered the
peninsula, occupied the coasts and principal places, and encamped near
Madrid. It was then suggested to the royal family to retire to Mexico,
after the example of the house of Braganza. But the people rose against
this departure; Godoy, the object of public hatred, was in great risk of
losing his life, and the prince of the Asturias was proclaimed king, under
the title of Ferdinand VII. The emperor took advantage of this court
revolution to bring about his own. The French entered Madrid, and he
himself proceeded to Bayonne, whither he summoned the Spanish princes.
Ferdinand restored the crown to his father, who in his turn resigned it in
favour of Napoleon; the latter had it decreed on his brother Joseph by a
supreme junta, by the council of Castille, and the municipality of Madrid.
Ferdinand was sent to the Château de Valençay, and Charles VI. fixed his
residence at Compiègne. Napoleon called his brother-in-law, Murat, grand-
duke of Berg, to the throne of Naples, in the place of Joseph.

At this period began the first opposition to the domination of the emperor
and the continental system. The reaction manifested itself in three
countries hitherto allies of France, and it brought on the fifth
coalition. The court of Rome was dissatisfied; the peninsula was wounded
in its national pride by having imposed upon it a foreign king; in its
usages, by the suppression of convents, of the Inquisition, and of the
grandees; Holland suffered in its commerce from the blockade, and Austria
supported impatiently its losses and subordinate condition. England,
watching for an opportunity to revive the struggle on the continent,
excited the resistance of Rome, the peninsula, and the cabinet of Vienna.
The pope had been cold towards France since 1805; he had hoped that his
pontifical complaisance in reference to Napoleon's coronation would have
been recompensed by the restoration to the ecclesiastical domain of those
provinces which the directory had annexed to the Cisalpine republic.
Deceived in this expectation, he joined the European counter-revolutionary
opposition, and from 1807 to 1808 the Roman States became the rendezvous
of English emissaries. After some warm remonstrances, the emperor ordered
general Miollis to occupy Rome; the pope threatened him with
excommunication; and Napoleon seized on the legations of Ancona, Urbino,
Macerata, and Camerino, which became part of the Italian kingdom. The
legate left Paris on the 3rd of April, 1808, and the religious struggle
for temporal interests commenced with the head of the church, whom
Napoleon should either not have recognised, or not have despoiled.

The war with the peninsula was still more serious. The Spaniards
recognised Ferdinand VII. as king, in a provincial junta, held at Seville,
on the 27th of May, 1808, and they took arms in all the provinces which
were not occupied by French troops. The Portuguese also rose at Oporto, on
the 16th of June. These two insurrections were at first attended with the
happiest results; in a short time they made rapid progress. General Dupont
laid down arms at Baylen in the province of Cordova, and this first
reverse of the French arms excited the liveliest hope and enthusiasm among
the Spaniards. Joseph Napoleon left Madrid, where Ferdinand VII. was
proclaimed; and about the same time, Junot, not having troops enough to
keep Portugal, consented, by the convention of Cintra, to evacuate it with
all the honours of war. The English general, Wellington, took possession
of this kingdom with twenty-five thousand men. While the pope was
declaring against Napoleon, while the Spanish insurgents were entering
Madrid, while the English were again setting foot on the continent, the
king of Sweden avowed himself an enemy of the European imperial league,
and Austria was making considerable armaments and preparing for a new
struggle.

Fortunately for Napoleon, Russia remained faithful to the alliance and
engagements of Tilsit. The emperor Alexander had at that time a fit of
enthusiasm and affection for this powerful and extraordinary mortal.
Napoleon wishing to be sure of the north, before he conveyed all his
forces to the peninsula, had an interview with Alexander at Erfurt, on the
27th September, 1808. The two masters of the north and west guaranteed to
each other the repose and submission of Europe. Napoleon marched into
Spain, and Alexander undertook Sweden. The presence of the emperor soon
changed the fortune of the war in the peninsula. He brought with him
eighty thousand veteran soldiers, just come from Germany. Several
victories made him master of most of the Spanish provinces. He made his
entry into Madrid, and presented himself to the inhabitants of the
peninsula, not as a master, but as a liberator. "I have abolished," he
said to them, "the tribunal of the Inquisition, against which the age and
Europe protested. Priests should direct the conscience, but ought not to
exercise any external or corporal jurisdiction over the citizens. I have
suppressed feudal rights; and every one may set up inns, ovens, mills,
fisheries, and give free impulse to his industry. The selfishness, wealth,
and prosperity of a few did more injury to your agriculture than the heats
of the extreme summer. As there is but one God, one system of justice only
should exist in a state. All private tribunals were usurped and opposed to
the rights of the nation. I have suppressed them. The present generation
may change its opinion; too many passions have been brought into play; but
your grandchildren will bless me as your regenerator; they will rank among
their memorable days those in which I appeared among you, and from those
days will Spain date its prosperity."

Such was indeed the part of Napoleon in the peninsula, which could only be
restored to a better state of things, and to liberty, by the revival of
civilization. The establishment of independence cannot be effected all at
once, any more than anything else; and when a country is ignorant, poor,
and backward, covered with convents, and governed by monks, its social
condition must be reconstructed before liberty can be thought of.
Napoleon, the oppressor of civilized nations, was a real regenerator for
the peninsula. But the two parties of civil liberty and religious
servitude, that of the cortes and that of the monks, though with far
different aims, came to an understanding for their common defence. The one
was at the head of the upper and the middle classes, the other of the
populace; and they vied with each other in exciting the Spaniards to
enthusiasm with the sentiments of independence or religious fanaticism.
The following is the catechism used by the priests: "Tell me, my child,
who you are? A Spaniard by the grace of God.--Who is the enemy of our
happiness? The emperor of the French.--How many natures has he? Two: human
and diabolical.--How many emperors of the French are there? One true one,
in three deceptive persons.--What are their names, Napoleon, Murat, and
Manuel Godoy.--Which of the three is the most wicked? They are all three
equally so.--Whence is Napoleon derived? From sin.--Murat? From Napoleon.
--And Godoy? The junction of the two.--What is the ruling spirit of the
first? Pride and despotism.--Of the second? Rapine and cruelty.--Of the
third? Cupidity, treason, and ignorance.--Who are the French? Former
Christians become heretics.--Is it a sin to kill a Frenchman? No, father;
heaven is gained by killing one of these dogs of heretics.--What
punishment does the Spaniard deserve who has failed in his duty? The death
and infamy of a traitor.--What will deliver us from our enemies?
Confidence in ourselves and in arms."

Napoleon had engaged in a long and dangerous enterprise, in which his
whole system of war was at fault. Victory, here, did not consist in the
defeat of an army and the possession of a capital, but in the entire
occupation of the territory, and, what was still more difficult, the
submission of the public mind. Napoleon, however, was preparing to subdue
this people with his irresistible activity and inflexible determination,
when the fifth coalition called him again to Germany.

Austria had turned to advantage his absence, and that of his troops. It
made a powerful effort, and raised five hundred and fifty thousand men,
comprising the Landwehr, and took the field in the spring of 1809. The
Tyrol rose, and king Jerome was driven from his capital by the
Westphalians; Italy wavered; and Prussia only waited till Napoleon met
with a reverse, to take arms; but the emperor was still at the height of
his power and prosperity. He hastened from Madrid in the beginning of
February, and directed the members of the confederation to keep their
contingents in readiness. On the 12th of April he left Paris, passed the
Rhine, plunged into Germany, gained the victories of Eckmühl and Essling,
occupied Vienna a second time on the 15th of May, and overthrew this new
coalition by the battle of Wagram, after a campaign of four months. While
he was pursuing the Austrian armies, the English landed on the island of
Walcheren, and appeared before Antwerp; but a levy of national guards
sufficed to frustrate the expedition of the Scheldt. The peace of Vienna,
of the 11th of October, 1809, deprived the house of Austria of several
more provinces, and compelled it again to adopt the continental system.

This period was remarkable for the new character of the struggle. It began
the reaction of Europe against the empire, and announced the alliance of
dynasties, people, nations, the priesthood, and commerce. All whose
interests were injured made an attempt at resistance, which at first was
destined to fail. Napoleon, since the peace of Amiens, had entered on a
career that must necessarily terminate in the possession or hostility of
all Europe. Carried away by his character and position, he had created
against the people a system of administration of unparalleled benefit to
power; against Europe, a system of secondary monarchies and grand fiefs,
which facilitated his plans of conquest; and, lastly, against England, the
blockade which suspended its commerce, and that of the continent. Nothing
impeded him in the realization of those immense but insensate designs.
Portugal opened a communication with the English: he invaded it. The royal
family of Spain, by its quarrels and vacillations, compromised the
extremities of the empire: he compelled it to abdicate, that he might
reduce the peninsula to a bolder and less wavering policy. The pope kept
up relations with the enemy: his patrimony was diminished. He threatened
excommunication: the French entered Rome. He realized his threat by a
bull: he was dethroned as a temporal sovereign in 1809. Finally, after the
battle of Wagram, and the peace of Vienna, Holland became a depot for
English merchandise, on account of its commercial wants, and the emperor
dispossessed his brother Louis of that kingdom, which, on the 1st of July,
1810, became incorporated with the empire. He shrank from no invasion,
because he would not endure opposition or hesitation from any quarter. All
were compelled to submit, allies as well as enemies, the chief of the
church as well as kings, brothers as well as strangers; but, though
conquered this time, all who had joined this new league only waited an
opportunity to rise again.

Meantime, after the peace of Vienna, Napoleon still added to the extent
and power of the empire. Sweden having undergone an internal revolution,
and the king, Gustavus Adolphus IV., having been forced to abdicate,
admitted the continental system. Bernadotte, prince of Ponte-Corvo, was
elected by the states-general hereditary prince of Sweden, and king
Charles XIII. adopted him for his son. The blockade was observed
throughout Europe; and the empire, augmented by the Roman States, the
Illyrian provinces, Valais, Holland, and the Hanse Towns, had a hundred
and thirty departments, and extended from Hamburg and Dantzic to Trieste
and Corfu. Napoleon, who seemed to follow a rash but inflexible policy,
deviated from his course about this time by a second marriage. He divorced
Josephine that he might give an heir to the empire, and married, on the
1st of April, 1810, Marie-Louise, arch-duchess of Austria. This was a
decided error. He quitted his position and his post as a parvenu and
revolutionary monarch, opposing in Europe the ancient courts as the
republic had opposed the ancient governments. He placed himself in a false
situation with respect to Austria, which he ought either to have crushed
after the victory of Wagram, or to have reinstated in its possessions
after his marriage with the arch-duchess. Solid alliances only repose on
real interests, and Napoleon could not remove from the cabinet of Vienna
the desire or power of renewing hostilities. This marriage also changed
the character of his empire, and separated it still further from popular
interests; he sought out old families to give lustre to his court, and did
all he could to amalgamate together the old and the new nobility as he
mingled old and new dynasties. Austerlitz had established the plebeian
empire; after Wagram was established the noble empire. The birth, on the
20th of March, 1811, of a son, who received the title of King of Rome,
seemed to consolidate the power of Napoleon by securing to him a
successor.

The war in Spain was prosecuted with vigour during the years 1810 and
1811. The territory of the peninsula was defended inch by inch, and its
was necessary to take several towns by storm. Suchet, Soult, Mortier, Ney,
and Sebastiani made themselves masters of several provinces; and the
Spanish junta, unable to keep their post at Seville, retired to Cadiz,
which the French army began to blockade. The new expedition into Portugal
was less fortune. Masséna, who directed it, at first obliged Wellington to
retreat, and took Oporto and Olivença; but the English general having
entrenched himself in the strong position of Torres-Vedras, Masséna,
unable to force it, was compelled to evacuate the country.

While the war was proceeding in the peninsula with advantage, but without
any decided success, a new campaign was preparing in the north. Russia
perceived the empire of Napoleon approaching its territories. Shut up in
its own limits, it remained without influence or acquisitions; suffering
from the blockade, without gaining any advantage by the war. This cabinet,
moreover, endured with impatience a supremacy to which it itself aspired,
and which it had pursued slowly but without interruption since the reign
of Peter the Great. About the close of 1810, it increased its armies,
renewed its commercial relations with Great Britain, and did not seem
indisposed to a rupture. The year 1811 was spent in negotiations which led
to nothing, and preparations for war were made on both sides. The emperor,
whose armies were before Cadiz, and who relied on the co-operation of the
West and North against Russia, made with ardour preparations for an
enterprise which was intended to reduce the only power as yet untouched,
and to carry his victorious eagles even to Moscow. He obtained the
assistance of Prussia and Austria, which engaged by the treaties of the
24th of February and the 14th of March, 1812, to furnish auxiliary bodies;
one of twenty, and the other of thirty thousand men. All the unemployed
forces of France were immediately on foot. A senatus-consultus divided the
national guard into three bodies for the home service, and appropriated a
hundred of the first line regiments (nearly a hundred thousand men) for
active military service. On the 9th of March, Napoleon left Paris on this
vast expedition. During several months he fixed his court at Dresden,
where the emperor of Austria, the king of Prussia, and all the sovereigns
of Germany, came to bow before his high fortune. On the 22nd of June, war
was declared against Russia.

In this campaign, Napoleon was guided by the maxims he had always found
successful. He had terminated all the wars he had undertaken by the rapid
defeat of the enemy, the occupation of his capital, and concluded the
peace by parcelling out his territory. His project was to reduce Russia by
creating the kingdom of Poland, as he had reduced Austria by forming the
kingdoms of Bavaria and Wurtemberg, after Austerlitz; and Prussia, by
organizing those of Saxony and Westphalia, after Jena. With this object,
he had stipulated with the Austrian cabinet by the treaty of the 14th of
March, to exchange Gallicia for the Illyrian provinces. The establishment
of the kingdom of Poland was proclaimed by the diet of Warsaw, but in an
incomplete manner, and Napoleon, who, according to his custom, wished to
finish all in one campaign, advanced at once into the heart of Russia,
instead of prudently organizing the Polish barrier against it. His army
amounted to about five hundred thousand men. He passed the Niemen on the
24th of June, took Vilna, and Vitepsk, defeated the Russians at Astrowno,
Polotsk, Mohilev, Smolensk, at the Moskva, and on the 14th of September,
made his entry into Moscow.

The Russian cabinet relied for its defence not only upon its troops, but
on its vast territory and on its climate. As the conquered armies
retreated before ours, they burnt all the towns, devastated the provinces,
and thus prepared great difficulties for the foe in the event of reverses
or retreat. According to this plan of defence, Moscow was burnt by its
governor Rostopchin, as Smolensk, Dorigoboui, Viasma, Gjhat, Mojaisk, and
a great number of other towns and villages had already been. The emperor
ought to have seen that this war would not terminate as the others had
done; yet, conqueror of the foe, and master of his capital, he conceived
hopes of peace which the Russians skilfully encouraged. Winter was
approaching, and Napoleon prolonged his stay at Moscow for six weeks. He
delayed his movements on account of the deceptive negotiations of the
Russians, and did not decide on a retreat till the 19th of October. This
retreat was disastrous, and began the downfall of the empire. Napoleon
could not have been defeated by the hand of man, for what general could
have triumphed over this incomparable chief? what army could have
conquered the French army? But his reverses were to take place in the
remote limits of Europe; in the frozen regions which were to end his
conquering domination. He lost, with the close of this campaign, not by a
defeat, but by cold and famine, in the midst of Russian snows and
solitude, his old army, and the _prestige_ of his fortune.

The retreat was effected with some order as far as the Berezina, where it
became one vast rout. After the passage of this river, Napoleon, who had
hitherto accompanied his army, started in a sledge for Paris, in great
haste, a conspiracy having broken out there during his absence. General
Mallet, with a few others, had conceived the design of overthrowing this
colossus of power. His enterprise was daring; and as it was grounded on a
false report of Napoleon's death, it was necessary to deceive too many for
success to be probable. Besides, the empire was still firmly established,
and it was not a plot, but a slow and general defection which could
destroy it. Mallet's plot failed, and its leaders were executed. The
emperor, on his return, found the nation astounded at so unusual a
disaster. But the different bodies of the state still manifested implicit
obedience. He reached Paris on the 18th of December, obtained a levy of
three hundred thousand men, inspired a spirit of sacrifice, re-equipped in
a short time, with his wonderful activity, a new army, and took the field
again on the 15th of April, 1813.

But since the retreat of Moscow, Napoleon had entered on a new series of
events. It was in 1812 that the decline of the empire manifested itself.
The weariness of his domination became general. All those by whose consent
he had risen, took part against him. The priests had conspired in secret
since his rupture with the pope. Eight state prisons had been created in
an official manner against the dissentients of his party. The national
masses were as tired of conquest as they had formerly been of factions.
They had expected from him consideration for private interests, the
promotion of commerce; respect for men; and they were oppressed by
conscriptions, taxes, the blockade, provost courts, and duties which were
the inevitable consequences of this conquering system. He had no longer
for adversaries the few who remained faithful to the political object of
the revolution, and whom he styled _idéologues_, but all who, without
definite ideas, wished for the material advantages of better civilization.
Without, whole nations groaned beneath the military yoke, and the fallen
dynasties aspired to rise again. The whole world was ill at ease; and one
check served to bring about a general rising. "I triumphed," says Napoleon
himself, speaking of the preceding campaigns, "in the midst of constantly
reviving perils. I constantly required as much address as voice. Had I not
conquered at Austerlitz, all Prussia would have been upon me; had I not
triumphed at Jena, Austria and Spain would have attacked my rear; had I
not fought at Wagram, which action was not a decided victory, I had reason
to fear that Russia would forsake, Prussia rise against me, and the
English were before Antwerp." [Footnote: _Mémorial de Saint Hélène_, tome
ii. p. 221.] Such was his condition; the further he advanced in his
career, the greater need he had to conquer more and more decisively.
Accordingly, as soon as he was defeated, the kings he had subdued, the
kings he had made, the allies he had aggrandized, the states he had
incorporated with the empire, the senators who had so flattered him, and
even his comrades in arms, successively forsook him. The field of battle
extended to Moscow in 1812, drew back to Dresden in 1813, and to Paris in
1814: so rapid was the reverse of fortune.

The cabinet of Berlin began the defections. On the 1st of March, 1813, it
joined Russia and England, which were forming the sixth coalition. Sweden
acceded to it soon after; yet the emperor, whom the confederate powers
thought prostrated by the last disaster, opened the campaign with new
victories. The battle of Lützen, won by conscripts, on the 2nd of May, the
occupation of Dresden, the victory of Bautzen, and the war carried to the
Elbe, astonished the coalition. Austria, which, since 1810, had been on a
footing of peace, was resuming arms, and already meditating a change of
alliance. She now offered to act as mediator between the emperor and the
confederates. Her mediation was accepted; an armistice was concluded at
Plesswitz, on the 4th of June, and a congress assembled at Prague to
negotiate peace. It was impossible to come to terms. Napoleon would not
consent to diminished grandeur; Europe would not consent to remain subject
to him. The confederate powers, joined by Austria, required that the
limits of the empire should be to the Rhine, the Alps, and the Meuse. The
negotiators separated without coming to an agreement. Austria joined the
coalition, and war, the only means of settling this great contest, was
resumed.

The emperor had only two hundred and eighty thousand men against five
hundred and twenty thousand; he wished to force the enemy to retire behind
the Elbe, and to break up, as usual, this new coalition by the promptitude
and vigour of his blows. Victory seemed, at first, to second him. At
Dresden, he defeated the combined forces; but the defeats of his
lieutenants deranged his plans. Macdonald was conquered in Silesia; Ney,
near Berlin; Vandamme, at Kulm. Unable to obstruct the enemy, pouring on
him from all parts, Napoleon thought of retreating. The princes of the
confederation of the Rhine chose this moment to desert the cause of the
empire. A vast engagement having taken place at Leipzic between the two
armies, the Saxons and Wurtembergers passed over to the enemy on the field
of battle. This defection to the strength of the allied powers, who had
learned a more compact and skilful mode of warfare, obliged Napoleon to
retreat, after a struggle of three days. The army advanced with much
confusion towards the Rhine, where the Bavarians, who had also deserted,
attempted to prevent its passage. But it overwhelmed them at Hanau, and
re-entered the territory of the empire on the 30th of October, 1813. The
close of this campaign was as disastrous as that of the preceding one.
France was threatened in its own limits, as it had been in 1799; but the
enthusiasm of independence no longer existed, and the man who deprived it
of its rights found it, at this great crisis, incapable of sustaining him
or defending itself. The servitude of nations is, sooner or later, ever
avenged.

Napoleon returned to Paris on the 9th of November, 1813. He obtained from
the senate a levy of three hundred thousand men, and made with great
ardour preparations for a new campaign. He convoked the legislative body
to associate it in the common defence; he communicated to it the documents
relative to the negotiations of Prague, and asked for another and last
effort in order to secure a glorious peace, the general wish of France.
But the legislative body, hitherto silently obedient, chose this period to
resist Napoleon.

It shared the common exhaustion, and without desiring it, was under the
influence of the royalist party, which had been secretly agitating ever
since the decline of the empire had revived its hopes. A commission,
composed of MM. Lainé, Raynouard, Gallois, Flaugergues, Maine de Biran,
drew up a very hostile report, censuring the course adopted by the
government, and demanding that all conquests should be given up, and
liberty restored. This wish, so just at any other time, could then only
favour the invasion of the foe. Though the confederate powers seemed to
make the evacuation of Europe the condition of peace, they were disposed
to push victory to extremity. Napoleon, irritated by this unexpected and
harassing opposition, suddenly dismissed the legislative body. This
commencement of resistance announced internal defections. After passing
from Russia to Germany, they were about to extend from Germany and Italy
to France. But now, as before, all depended on the issue of the war, which
the winter had not interrupted. Napoleon placed all his hopes on it; and
started from Paris on the 25th of January, for this immortal campaign.

The empire was invaded in all directions. The Austrians entered Italy; the
English, having made themselves masters of the peninsula during the last
two years, had passed the Bidassoa, under general Wellington, and appeared
on the Pyrenees. Three armies pressed on France to the east and north. The
great allied army, amounting to a hundred and fifty thousand men, under
Schwartzenberg, advanced by Switzerland; the army of Silesia, of a hundred
and thirty thousand, under Blücher, by Frankfort; and that of the north,
of a hundred thousand men, under Bernadotte, had seized on Holland and
entered Belgium. The enemies, in their turn, neglected the fortified
places, and, taking a lesson from the conqueror, advanced on the capital.
When Napoleon left Paris, the two armies of Schwartzenberg and Blücher
were on the point of effecting a junction in Champaigne. Deprived of the
support of the people, who were only lookers on, Napoleon was left alone
against the whole world with a handful of veterans and his genius, which
had lost nothing of its daring and vigour. At this moment, he stands out
nobly, no longer an oppressor; no longer a conqueror; defending, inch by
inch, with new victories, the soil of his country, and at the same time,
his empire and renown.

He marched into Champaigne against the two great hostile armies. General
Maison was charged to intercept Bernadotte in Belgium; Augereau, the
Austrians, at Lyons; Soult, the English, on the Spanish frontier. Prince
Eugene was to defend Italy; and the empire, though penetrated in the very
centre, still stretched its vast arms into the depths of Germany by its
garrisons beyond the Rhine. Napoleon did not despair of driving these
swarms of foes from the territory of France by means of a powerful
military reaction, and again planting his standards in the countries of
the enemy. He placed himself skilfully between Blücher, who was descending
the Marne, and Schwartzenberg, who descended the Seine; he hastened from
one of these armies to the other, and defeated them alternately; Blücher
was overpowered at Champ-Aubert, Montmirail, Château-Thierry, and
Vauchamps; and when his army was destroyed, Napoleon returned to the
Seine, defeated the Austrians at Montereau, and drove them before him. His
combinations were so strong, his activity so great, his measures so sure,
that he seemed on the point of entirely disorganizing these two formidable
armies, and with them annihilating the coalition.

But if he conquered wherever he came, the foe triumphed wherever he was
not. The English had entered Bordeaux, where a party had declared for the
Bourbon family; the Austrians occupied Lyons; the Belgian army had joined
the remnant of that of Blücher, which re-appeared on Napoleon's rear.
Defection now entered his own family, and Murat had just followed, in
Italy, the example of Bernadotte, by joining the coalition. The grand
officers of the empire still served him, but languidly, and he only found
ardour and fidelity in his subaltern generals and indefatigable soldiers.
Napoleon had again marched on Blücher, who had escaped from him thrice: on
the left of the Marne, by a sudden frost, which hardened the muddy ways
amongst which the Prussians had involved themselves, and were in danger of
perishing; on the Aisne, through the defection of Soissons, which opened a
passage to them, at a moment when they had no other way of escape; and
Laon, by the fault of the duke of Ragusa, who prevented a decisive battle,
by suffering himself to be surprised by night. After so many fatalities,
which frustrated the surest plans, Napoleon, ill sustained by his
generals, surrounded by the coalition, conceived the bold design of
transporting himself to Saint-Dizier and closing on the enemy the egress
from France. This daring march so full of genius, startled for a moment
the confederate generals, from whom it cut off all retreat; but, excited
by secret encouragements, without being anxious for their rear, they
advanced on Paris.

This great city, the only capital of Europe which had not been the theatre
of war, suddenly saw all the troops of Europe enter its plains, and was on
the point of undergoing the common humiliation. It was left to itself. The
empress, appointed regent a few months before, had just left it to repair
to Blois. Napoleon was at a distance. There was not that despair and that
movement of liberty which drive a people to resistance; war was no longer
made on nations, but on governments, and the emperor had centred all the
public interest in himself, and placed all his means of defence in
mechanical troops. The exhaustion was great; a feeling of pride, of very
just pride, alone made the approach of the stranger painful, and oppressed
every Frenchman's heart at seeing his native land trodden by armies so
long vanquished. But this sentiment was not sufficiently strong to raise
the masses of the population against the enemy; and the measures of the
royalist party, at the head of which the prince of Benevento placed
himself, called the allied troops to the capital. An action took place,
however, on the 30th of March, under the walls of Paris; but on the 31st,
the gates were opened to the confederate forces, who entered in pursuance
of a capitulation. The senate consummated the great imperial defection by
forsaking its old master; it was influenced by M. de Talleyrand, who for
some time had been out of favour with Napoleon. This voluntary actor in
every crisis of power had just declared against him. With no attachment to
party, of a profound political indifference, he foresaw from a distance
with wonderful sagacity the fall of a government; withdrew from it
opportunely; and when the precise moment for assailing it had arrived,
joined in the attack with all his talents, his influence, his name, and
his authority, which he had taken care to preserve. In favour of the
revolution, under the constituent assembly; of the directory, on the 18th
Fructidor; for the consulate, on the 18th Brumaire; for the empire, in
1804, he was for the restoration of the royal family, in 1814; he seemed
grand master of the ceremonies for the party in power, and for the last
thirty years it was he who had dismissed and installed the successive
governments. The senate, influenced by him, appointed a provisional
government, and declared Napoleon deposed from his throne, the hereditary
rights of his family abolished, the people and army freed from their oath
of fidelity. It proclaimed him _tyrant_ whose despotism it had facilitated
by its adulation. Meantime, Napoleon, urged by those about him to succour
the capital, had abandoned his march on Saint-Dizier, and hastened to
Paris at the head of fifty thousand men, in the hope of preventing the
entry of the enemy. On his arrival (1st of April), he heard of the
capitulation of the preceding day, and fell back on Fontainebleau, where
he learned the defection of the senate, and his deposition. Then finding
that all gave way around him in his ill fortune, the people, the senate,
generals and courtiers, he decided on abdicating in favour of his son. He
sent the duke of Vicenza, the prince of the Moskva, and the duke of
Tarento, as plenipotentiaries to the confederates; on their way, they were
to take with them the duke of Ragusa, who covered Fontainebleau with a
corps.

Napoleon, with his fifty thousand men, and strong military position, could
yet oblige the coalition to admit the claim of his son. But the duke of
Ragusa forsook his post, treated with the enemy, and left Fontainebleau
exposed. Napoleon was then obliged to submit to the conditions of the
allied powers; their pretensions increased with their power. At Prague,
they ceded to him the empire, with the Alps and the Rhine for limits;
after the invasion of France, they offered him at Châtillon the
possessions of the old monarchy only; later, they refused to treat with
him except in favour of his son; but now, determined on destroying all
that remained of the revolution with respect to Europe, its conquest and
dynasty, they compelled Napoleon to abdicate absolutely. On the 11th of
April, 1814, he renounced for himself and children the thrones of France
and Italy, and received the little island of Elba in exchange for his vast
sovereignty, the limits of which had extended from Cadiz to the Baltic
Sea. On the 20th, after an affecting farewell to his old soldiers, he
departed for his new principality.

Thus fell this man, who alone, for fourteen years, had filled the world.
His enterprising and organising genius, his power of life and will, his
love of glory, and the immense disposable force which the revolution
placed in his hands, have made him the most gigantic being of modern
times. That which would have rendered the destiny of another
extraordinary, scarcely counts in his. Rising from an obscure to the
highest rank; from a simple artillery officer becoming the chief of the
greatest of nations, he dared to conceive the idea of universal monarchy,
and for a moment realized it. After having obtained the empire by his
victories, he wished to subdue Europe by means of France, and reduce
England by means of Europe, and he established the military system against
the continent, the blockade against Great Britain. This design succeeded
for some years; from Lisbon to Moscow he subjected people and potentates
to his word of command as general, and to the vast sequestration which he
prescribed. But in this way he failed in discharging his restorative
mission of the 18th Brumaire. By exercising on his own account the power
he had received, by attacking the liberty of the people by despotic
institutions, the independence of states by war, he excited against
himself the opinions and interests of the human race; he provoked
universal hostility. The nation forsook him, and after having been long
victorious, after having planted his standard in every capital, after
having during ten years augmented his power, and gained a kingdom with
every battle, a single reverse combined the world against him, proving by
his fall how impossible in our days is despotism.

Yet Napoleon, amidst all the disastrous results of his system, gave a
prodigious impulse to the continent; his armies carried with them the
ideas and customs of the more advanced civilization of France. European
societies were shaken on their old foundations; nations were mingled by
frequent intercourse; bridges thrown across boundary rivers; high roads
made over the Alps, Apennines, and Pyrenees, brought territories nearer to
each other; and Napoleon effected for the material condition of states
what the revolution had done for the minds of men. The blockade completed
the impulse of conquest; it improved continental industry, enabling it to
take the place of that of England, and replaced colonial commerce by the
produce of manufactures. Thus Napoleon, by agitating nations, contributed
to their civilization. His despotism rendered him counter-revolutionary
with respect to France; but his spirit of conquest made him a regenerator
with respect to Europe, of which many nations, in torpor till he came,
will live henceforth with the life he gave them. But in this Napoleon
obeyed the dictates of his nature. The child of war--war was his tendency,
his pleasure: domination his object; he wanted to master the world, and
circumstances placed it in his hand, in order that he might make use of
it.

Napoleon has presented in France what Cromwell presented for a moment in
England; the government of the army, which always establishes itself when
a revolution is contended against; it then gradually changes, and from
being civil, as it was at first, becomes military. In Great Britain,
internal war not being complicated with foreign war, on account of the
geographical situation of the country, which isolated it from other
states, as soon as the enemies of reform were vanquished, the army passed
from the field of battle to the government. Its intervention being
premature, Cromwell, its general, found parties still in the fury of their
passions, in all the fanaticism of their opinions, and he directed against
them alone his military administration. The French revolution taking place
on the continent saw the nations disposed for liberty, and sovereigns
leagued from a fear of the liberation of their people. It had not only
internal enemies, but also foreign enemies to contend with; and while its
armies were repelling Europe, parties were overthrowing each other in the
assemblies. The military intervention came later; Napoleon, finding
factions defeated and opinions almost forsaken, obtained obedience easily
from the nation, and turned the military government against Europe.

This difference of position materially influenced the conduct and
character of these two extraordinary men. Napoleon, disposing of immense
force and of uncontested power, gave himself up in security to the vast
designs and the part of a conqueror; while Cromwell, deprived of the
assent which a worn out people could give, and, incessantly attacked by
factions, was reduced to neutralise them one by the other, and keep
himself to the end the military dictator of parties. The one employed his
genius in undertaking; the other in resisting. Accordingly, the former had
the frankness and decision of power; the other, the craft and hypocrisy of
opposed ambition. This situation would destroy their sway.

All dictatorships are transient; and however strong or great, it is
impossible for any one long to subject parties or long to retain kingdoms.
It is this that, sooner or later, would have led to the fall of Cromwell
(had he lived longer,) by internal conspiracies; and that brought on the
downfall of Napoleon, by the raising of Europe. Such is the fate of all
powers which, arising from liberty, do not continue to abide with her. In
1814, the empire had just been destroyed; the revolutionary parties had
ceased to exist since the 18th Brumaire. All the governments of this
political period had been exhausted. The senate recalled the old royal
family. Already unpopular on account of its past servility, it ruined-
itself in public opinion by publishing a constitution, tolerably liberal,
but which placed on the same footing the pensions of senators and the
guarantees of the nation. The Count d'Artois, who had been the first to
leave France, was the first to return, in the character of lieutenant-
general of the kingdom. He signed, on the 23rd of April, the convention of
Paris, which reduced the French territory to its limits of the 1st of
January, 1792, and by which Belgium, Savoy, Nice, and Geneva, and immense
military stores, ceased to belong to us. Louis XVIII. landed at Calais on
the 24th of April, and entered Paris with solemnity on the 3rd of May,
1814, after having, on the 2nd, made the Declaration of Saint Omer, which
fixed the principles of the representative government, and which was
followed on the 2nd of June by the promulgation of the charter.

At this epoch, a new series of events begins. The year 1814 was the term
of the great movement of the preceding five and twenty years. The
revolution had been political, as directed against the absolute power of
the court and the privileged classes, and military, because Europe had
attacked it. The reaction which arose at that time only destroyed the
empire and brought about the coalition in Europe, and the representative
system in France; such was to be its first period. Later, it opposed the
revolution, and produced the holy alliance against the people, and the
government of a party against the charter. This retrograde movement
necessarily had its course and limits. France can only be ruled in a
durable manner by satisfying the twofold need which made it undertake the
revolution. It requires real political liberty in the government; and in
society, the material prosperity produced by the continually progressing
development of civilization.






 


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