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NAPOLEON'S DISASTERS INCREASED.
der towards Frankfort, where on the 31st, Bonaparte fixed his head-quarters.
From here he immediately proceeded to Paris, convened the senate, laid before them his disasters with apparent frankness, and appealed to the nation to support him in so great a crisis. The danger being imminent, the allies having already invaded the frontiers of France, two decrees were passed, one providing for the immediate levy of 300,000 conscripts, and the other imposing additional taxes.
When a man begins to fall, every one will give him a kick; more especially one, who has been exalted, and who in the exercise of power, has forgot right, Thus it was with Bonaparte; the causes which overthrew his greatness were like a falling body, the momentum of which, increases as it proceeds. Bona parte's reverses constantly increased the causes which produced them; that disaster which to-day was the effect of a preceding one, becomes to-morrow the cause of a fresh misfortune. A revolution broke out in Holland; Hanover joined the allies; the coasts of Trieste and Dalmatia were obliged to be abandoned to the Austrians; numerous garrisons surrendered, and Dep. mark declared against France.
Manifesto of the allied Sovereigns.... The indifference of the peo
ple as to the contest....Extraordinary exertions of Bonaparte to recruit his armies.... France is invaded from the north and the south....Negociation at Chatillon.... Bonaparte leaves Paris to join the army.... Action at La Rotherie....Bonaparte attacks and pursues Blucher.... The grand allied army advances towards Paris....Bonaparte rejects the basis of peace proposed by the allies.... Action at Loan....Napoleon's ultimatum rejected, and the Congress dissolved.... Bonaparte marches to oppose the main army of the allies, and then to oppose that under Blucher....He is greatly harassed and fatigued by forced marches, and extraordinary exertions....His extraordinary movement to St. Dizier.... The allied armies approach the capital.. .Action before Paris....Capitulation of the city, and entry of the allies ...Bonaparte, on his way to Paris hears of the capitulation and returns to Fontainbleau....He abdicates....His treaty with the allied sovereigns....Louis 18th enters Paris.... Bonaparte leaves Fontainbleau for his destination at Elba.
The Allied Sovereigns assembled at Frankfort, where on the 1st of December they published a declation disclosing their views in the prosecution of the
Their only object they said, was the repose of Europe, and the security of their dominions; they had no hostile designs against France; and disclaimed all intention of interfering in the internal concerns or government of France; it was for the interest of Europe that she should be independent and powerful, and they were willing to guarantee to her a territory and power much greater than she originally possessed. These sentiments and intentions were repeatedly proelaimed. In the meantime the allied troops crossed the Rhine and invaded the territory of France. At this alarming crisis, it is evident that the people of France felt little interest in the contest; they had fought and bled, and suffered enough for glory, as that was nearly all the nation had received from the foreign wars, and an ambition of Bonaparte. The people did not consider the contest theirs; but only a struggle between kings who should have the mastery. The time was, when, if the troops of the allies had in
CHANGE IN THE SPIRIT OF FRANCE.
vaded France, the nation would have been electrified with patriotic ardour, and every Frenchman would have rallied round the tri-coloured flag.
Bonaparte now perceived the difference between a nation contending for liberty, and one fighting for a master; he perceived that by destroying the spirit of the revolution and of liberty, he had destroyed that spirit which animated his soldiers at the bridge of Lodi, which enabled him to scatter the Austrian Eagles, that spontaneously called forth all the resources of the nation, and rendered it powerful in proportion as its dangers increased; in fine, he discovered that he had destroyed that spirit which had made him, what he once was, the terror of Europe, and the most successful commander that ever lived. Perceiving that the levy of the conscripts proceeded slowly, he resolved to make a desperate effort, and on the 26th of December, issued a decree, announcing the appointment of councillors of state, as commissioners extraordinary, to visit the different departments, to provide and organize the means of national defence.
There were thirty of these officers, but their exertions were not attended with much success ; many of them probably did not feel very hearty in the cause themselves.
While these operations were going on in Germany, the war still raged in the Spanish Peninsula. The united forces of England and Spain, having obtained numerous advantages, compelled Soult to retreat beyond the Spanish frontier, and on the 7th of October, crossed the Bidassoa, and entered France, and after various operations, by the 13th of December, the French army had been compelled to retire, and secure themselves in the vicinity of Bayonne. France was at the same time, invaded from the north and the south, by numerous and victorious armies. By the middle of January 1814, the allied army from the north, had penetrated one hundred miles into France, without meeting with the least opposition, even the firing of a single gun, and took up a position at Langres, an ancient and considerable town.
Notwithstanding, that France was invaded on the
CONCENTRATES HIS FORCES NEAR THE MEUSE. 247
north and the south, and the extraordinary exertions which he had made, Bonaparte had not been able to collect any considerable force. The troops he had organized, had been sent a part of them under Victor, to Alsace, to oppose the Bavarians, and the residue under Marmont, to the frontier of the Rhine, 'to oppose Blucher, who had crossed that river near Manheim. These two divisions of French troops, were both unable to resist their opponents, and compelled to retire before them.
Bonaparte, alarmed for the internal security of France, not only the old royalists, but many of the republicans shewing symptoms of disaffection, and sensible that the troops he had raised were inadequate to cope with his numerous enemies, lingered in Paris. He was now desirous of treating, and dispatched Caulincourt as his minister, to the head quarters of the allied sovereigns at Chatillon.
The embarrasments' and difficulties of Bonaparte were increased by the stoppage of payment, by the national bank of France. At length, having appointed Maria Louisa regent, he left Paris, on the 25th of January.
The French armies were collected from different positions, and concentrated within the line of the Meuse, and the allied forces were concentrating and pressing on the same points, and by the first of February, their two grand armies were united. The Russians and Austrians, were commanded by the prince of Schwartsenburgh (formerly the archduke Charles,) and the Prussians by Blucher, under whose command two corps of Austrians were placed after the junction of the armies. After some partial movements, a general and most desperate action was fought at La Rotherie.
The French were led on by Bonaparte in person, who inspired his troops to make a vigorous and desperate effort ; for some time, they were successful, but the inferior number of the allies, and being animated by the presence of their sovereigns, they opposed to Bonaparte a firmness and perseverance,
APPARENT INDIFFERENCE OF THE PEOPLE.
which he could not overcome.
The conflict continu. ed with the greatest fury until ten at night, when the allies were masters of La Rotherie ; but the French held the ground beyond it, and occupied the heights of Brienne, near which their right had been posted at the commencement of the action.
Sensible of the importance of. La Rotherie, Bonaparte made several vigorous attempts to regain it, but did not succeed, and was finally obliged to retreat, having sustained a considerable loss. He retreated to Troyes, and from there to Nogent; the allies pursuing him with great rapidity, entered Troyes on the 7th of February. The people of France who would once have risen en masse to expel from their territory the mercenaries of the north, now beheld these mighty struggles in the midst of them, between their Emperor, and the allied despots, with apparent indifference. They seemed to regard the contest, as the man did that between a snake and a hawk, who was not disposed to interfere on either side. The mass of the people evidently did not wish for the restoration of the Bourbons, and were also tired of the despotism of Bonaparte. In the meantime, the negotiation was kept up at Chatillon ; but lord Castlereagh having arrived on the part of Great Britain, and the armies of the allies, having been successful, their tone was somewhat changed. The arriving of the British minister, and the prospect of their armies being able to penetrate to Paris, induced them, if not to decline treating on their former basis, at least to prolong the negotiation, that they might know the issue of the campaign, which, if successful, would enable them to refuse to treat with Bonaparte altogether.
From the great inferiority of his forces, Bonaparte perceived that he was unable to contend with the united armies of the allies; he resolved therefore to proceed with the whole of his force against Blucher, who
was separated some distance from the other allied army, with the hopes of overwhelming him ; and then turn upon the other; and thus conquer
his enemies singly. Previous to this however, he made