Εικόνες σελίδας
PDF
Ηλεκτρ. έκδοση

WAR ON THE FRONTIER OF THE NETHERLANDS. 51

course,

and what must be more shocking than this conduct of the Convention, is, that of the clergy themselves. The Bishop of Paris, his Vicars, and almost the whole ecclesiastical body, made a public and solemn renunciation of their offices and religion at the same time. Gregoire, bishop of Blois, known in the United States from the correspondence which took place between him and our countryman, Joel Barlow, was the only one who refused to renounce christianity ; but he declared a willingness to relinquish the emoluments of his office to the good of the republic. The Convention also passed a decree abolishing lotteries.

The war with the coalesced powers, on the frontier of the Netherlands, was prosecuted with astonishing vigour and success. Under the direction of Kleber and Lefevre, the French advanced like a mighty torrent which sweeps away every thing that opposes its

The combined powers were compelled to retreat from place to place, and from one position to another with such celerity, and so rapid was the advance of the French, that their march although in the country of an enemy filled with troops, resembled the triumphal entry of armies into the capital of their own country. They advanced conquering and to conquer ; their march was one continual triumph, and their victories, when, and where, they found the enemy. Namur, where the allies attempted to check their career, was evacuated; the strong defile at Lier, was forced, and a trumpeter sent before them to Antwerp, to announce their coming, that they might not be surprised with unexpected and unwelcome guests. They advanced and entered that city without opposition, where they found immense magazines of forage, and thirty pieces of cannon.

The republican arms were every where victorious; the armies of the Rhine, and the Moselle, had their share of glory. The standard of the Republic was triumphant at Spires, where after two days sanguinary fighting, the Austrians and Prussians, were defeated

[ocr errors]

52 WAR ON THE FRONTIER OF THE NETHERLANDS.

with great loss; at Tripstadt, at Newstadt, and at Treves. Landrecy surrendered without firing a gun, Quesnay followed the example, and Valenciennes fell into the hands of the victorious French. In the latter place they found immense military stores, cattle, corn, two hundred pieces of cannon, one million pounds of gun-powder, and six and a half millions of livres in specie. At Conde, the surrender of which soon followed, the victors possessed themselves. of 160 pieces of cannon, 6,000 muskets, 300,000 pounds of gunpowder, 100,000 bomb-balls and shells, 1,500,000 cartridges, 600,000 pounds of lead, and 191 waggons of stores and provisions.

The unexampled career and rapid success of the republican troops, filled the allies with astonishment and dismay. The Prince of Cobourg, speaking of the allies in a letter to the Duke of York, remarked “we are, or seem to be, bewitched." The French stormed the Austrian entrenchments at Liege, and possessed themselves of the passes at the point of the bayonet; drove on and made a triumphal entry into Aixla-Chapelle. Having crossed the Roer, they gave battle to the whole line of the Austrian posts, extending thirty two miles. A tremendous conflict ensued, which continued five days, when victory declared for the French, and the city of Juliers, fell into their hands, filled with cannon and munitions of war.

Cologne submitted to the republican troops, who were viewed by the inhabitants with demonstrations of joy. Coblentz, odious from its having been an asylum of the emigrants, after an obstinate defence surrendered ; Frankendal followed the example, and the tricoloured flag soon waved triumphantly on the ramparts of Worms.

CHAPTER III.

Bonaparte sent on an expedition to Corsica-it fails he is thrown

out of employment, and in great distress-He is appointed to command the troops of the Convention at Paris-Defeats the troops of the Parisians-His marriage--Appointed to the command of the army of Italy-His first successful and glorious campaign-Conquers all Italy, and obtains immense treasures.

NOTWITHSTANDING the activity and the heroic conduct of Bonaparte at Toulon, and the applause which it procured him, his prospects of advancement were far from being flattering. Having been ordered to Nice, he was arrested by Beffrori the Deputy, displaced from his command, charged with being a terrorist, and with sanguinary conduct towards the persecuted inhabitants, at the siege of Toulon. He however was soon released, but lost his command in the artillery, yet was not discharged the service.

Whilst he remained at Nice, he employed his time in professional studies, with an increased ardour, inspired by the operations of the war, which furnished great and valuable materials, to a mind so weil versed in the theory of war, and so strongly imbued with military enthusiasm. On a particular occasion, one of his friends called at his apartment, long before day, and supposing that Bonaparte was asleep, and not wishing to disturb him abruptly, knocked softly at the door of his chamber; on entering which, he was sur. prised to find him dressed and deeply engaged, with plans, maps and books before him : " what,» said his friend “not yet in bed ?"-" In bed? I am already risen," answered Bonaparte. “Indeed,” observed the other, “What, so early?" "Yes, so early, two or three hours are enough for sleep."

He hastened from Nice to Paris, where he complained of the treatment he had experienced to Aubry, then at the head of the military department of the commit.

54

DISCOURAGING PROSPECTS OF BONAPARTE.

tee of public safety. His complaints were not attended to, and he was only offered a commission in the infantry, which he refused. Indignant at this conduct, Bonaparte demanded his discharge, which was denied ; he then asked permission to retire to Constantinople, with the view, no doubt, of serving in the Turkish army, but this was also refused.

In the year 1794, he obtained the command of an expedition fitted out against Ajaccio, his native town in the Island of Corsica, in which he failed, being repulsed in all his attempts by one of his own relations named Masteria, who was at that time in the British service. The expedition having failed in its object, returned to France.

His removal from the artillery and the ill success of the expedition to Corsica cast a shade over the military prospects of Bonaparte, depressed his spirits, threw him into obscurity and even distress. He was obliged to submit to the mortification of soliciting pecuniary assistance from his friends. He remained in this disagreeable situation, having no prospect of employment, that might afford him a support, much less that should open a road to military renown, until near the close of the year 1794.

After the establishment of the Directory as the Executive department of the Government, Bonaparte obtained the command of the troops of Paris, a situation, which, if it did not present a field for military activity and farne, tended to bring him into notice, and make him acquainted with the leading men of the different political parties. It afforded him however, one occasion which first displayed his extraordinary milita

ry talents.

The convention having continued in session three years, framed a new constitution of government, and transmitted it to the people, in connection with a decree they had passed, which required that the electorial bodies in organizing the new government should choose two thirds of the Deputies from the members

HE ATTACKS THE TROOPS OF THE PARISIANS. 55

of the Convention, and that in case they did not, the Convention should itself, appoint that number from its own members. This decree was considered as violating the fundamental rights of the people, and the principles of the constitution which the convention had formed, as that purported to be an elective government. Great excitement was produced, and the Parisians in defiance of the convention, met in their primary assemblies and elected their deputies without regarding the decree. The convention employed a military force to disperse them ; the Parisians were terrified at the time, but continued to inveigh against the arbitrary conduct of the convention, and persisted in their designs of disregarding the obnoxious decree. The Parisians, having transformed the citizens into soldiers, on the 4th of October 1795, marched against the troops of the convention, at the head of whom, was the young general Bonaparte. A most desperate and sanguinary conflict ensued; the Parisians fought with the greatest bravery and enthusiasm; but the military skill and generalship of young Bonaparte decided the victo

Vast multitudes of citizens were collecting from all quarters to reinforce the Parisian troops, but they were overawed by the signal success of the conventional troops, and the great slaughter that had been made. About one thousand of the Parisians were killed ; the insurgents submitted, and the power of the Convention was established over the Capital, and exercised without mercy; the leaders of the Parisian faction being punished with great severity.

Soon after this appointment, he, with his aids, waited upon Carnot, one of the directors, at his house. As they entered the room, the appearance of Bonaparte, a little olive complexioned youth, surrounded by five or six tall young men, who seemed to pay

him great attention, and from his engaging manner, bowing with an air of ease and self possession, he excited particular and marked observation. A celebrated writer who was present, inquired of the Director who the

« ΠροηγούμενηΣυνέχεια »