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hill, which commands an extensive prospect over the fertile plains of Lombardy. The ladies of the highest rank, as well as those celebrated for beauty and accomplishments,-all, in short, who could add charms to society,-were daily paying their homage to Josephine, who received them with a felicity of address which seemed as if she had been born for exercising the high courtesies that devolved upon the wife of so distinguished a person as Napoleon.
Negotiations proceeded amid gaiety and pleasure. The various ministers and envoys of Austria, of the Pope, of the Kings of Naples and Sardinia, of the Duke of Parma, of the Swiss Cantons, of several of the Princes of Germany,--the throng of Generals, of persons in authority, of deputies of towns,—with the daily arrival and despatch of numerous couriers, the bustle of important business, mingled with fetes and entertainments, with balls and with hunting parties,-gave the picture of a splendid court, and the assemblage was called accordingly, by the Italians, the Court of Montebello. It was such in point of importance; for the deliberations agitated there were to regulate the political relations of Germany, and decide the fate of the King of Sardinia, of Switzerland, of Venice, of Genoa; all destined to hear from the voice of Napoleon, the terms on which their national existence was to be prolonged or terminated.
" Montebello was not less the abode of pleasure. The sovereigns of this diplomatic and military court made excursions to the Lago-Maggiore, to Lago di Como, to the Borromean islands, and occupied, at pleasure, the villas which surround those delicious regions. Every town, every village, desired to distinguish itself by some peculiar mark of homage and respect to him, whom they then named the Liberator of Italy. These expressions are, in a great measure, those of Napoleon himself, who seems to have looked back on this period of his life with warmer recollections of pleasurable enjoyment than he had experienced on any other occasion.
“ It was probably the happiest time of his life. Honour beyond that of a crowned head, was his own, and had the full relish of novelty to a mind, which, two or three years before, was pining in obscurity. Power was his, and he had not experienced its cares and risks; high hopes were formed of him by all around, and he had not yet disappointed them. He was in the flower of youth, and married to the woman of his heart. Above all, he had the glow of Hope, which was marshalling him even to more exalted dominion: and he had not yet become aware that possession brings satiety, and that all earthly desires and wishes terminate, when fully attained, in vanity and vexation of spirit.” Vol. i.
Describing the sanguinary battles which took place in France during the two months preceding his first abdication; our author
“It is difficult for the inhabitants of a peaceful territory to picture to themselves the miseries sustained by the country which formed the theatre of this sanguinary contest. While Bonaparte, like a tiger, hemVOL. II.-NO. 3.
med in by hounds and hunters, now menaced one of his foes, now sprung furiously upon another, and while, although his rapid movements disconcerted and dismayed them, he still remained unable to destroy the individuals whom he had assailed, lest, while aiming to do so, he should afford a fatal advantage to those who were disengaged, the scene of this desultory warfare was laid waste in the most merciless
The soldiers on both parts, driven to desperation by rapid marches through roads blocked with snow, or trodden into swamps, became reckless and pitiless; and, straggling from their columns in all directions, committed every species of excess upon the inhabitants.These evils are mentioned in the bulletins of Napoleon, as well as in the general orders of Schwartzenberg.
“ The peasants, with their wives and children, fled to caves, quarries, and woods, where the latter were starved to death by the inclemency of the season, and want of sustenance ; and the former, collecting into small bodies, increased the terrors of war by pillaging the convoys of both armies, attacking small parties of all nations, and cutting off the sick, the wounded, and the stragglers. The repeated advance and retreat of the different contending powers, exasperated these evils. Every fresh band of plunderers which arrived, was savagely eager after spoil, in proportion as the gleanings became scarce. In the words of Scripture, what the locust left was devoured by the palmer-worm—what escaped the Baskirs, and Kirgas, and Croats, of the Wolga, and Caspian and Turkish frontier, was seized by the half-clad and half-starved conscripts of Napoleon, whom want, hardship, and an embittered spirit, rendered as careless of the ties of country and language, as the others were indifferent to the general claims of humanity. The towns and villages, which were the scenes of actual conflict, were frequently burnt to the ground; and this not only in the course of the actions of importance which we have detailed, but in consequence of innumerable skirmishes fought in different points, which had no influence, indeed, upon the issue of the campaign, but increased incalculably the distress of the invaded country, by extending the terrors of battle, with fire, famine, and slaughter for its accompaniments, into the most remote and sequestered districts. The woods afforded no concealment, the churches no sanctuary ; even the grave itself gave no cover to the relics of mortality. The villages were every where burnt, the farms wasted and pillaged, the abodes of man, and all that belongs to peaceful industry and domestic comfort, desolated and destroyed. Wolves, and other savage animals, increased fearfully in the districts which had been laid waste by human hands, with ferocity congenial to their own. Thus were the evils, which France had unsparingly inflicted upon Spain, Prussia, Russia, and almost every European nation, terribly retaliated within a few leagues of her own metropolis; and such were the consequences of a system, which, assuming military force for its sole principle and law, taught the united nations of Europe to repel its aggressions by means yet more formidable in extent, than those which had been used in supporting them.” Vol. iii.
101. After narrating the fall and first abdication of Bonaparte, he adds
“While we endeavour to sum the mass of misfortunes, with which Bonaparte was overwhelmed at this crisis, it seems as if fortune had been determined to show that she did not intend to reverse the lot of humanity, even in the case of one who had been so long her favourite, but that she retained the power of depressing the obscure soldier, whom she had raised to be almost King of Europe, in a degree as humiliating, as his exaltation had been splendid. All that three years before seemed inalienable from his person, was now reversed. The victor was defeated, the monarch was dethroned, the ransomer of prisoners was in captivity, the general was deserted by his soldiers, the master abandoned by his domestics, the brother parted from his brethren, the husband severed from the wife, and the father torn from his only child. To console him for the fairest and largest empire that ambition ever lorded it over, he had, with the mock name of Emperor, a petty isle, to which he was to retire, accompanied by the pity of such friends, as dared express their feelings, the unrepressed execrations of many of his former subjects, who refused to regard his present humiliation as an amends for what he had made them suffer during his power, and the ill-concealed triumph of the enemies into whose hands he had been delivered.” Vol. iii. p. 158.
The passage of Mount St. Bernard, previously to the battle of Marengo, has been much celebrated, and is narrated by our author with much beauty and effect. At Geneva, Bonaparte met General Marescot, who had been detached to survey Mount St. Bernard, and who had, with great difficulty, ascended as far as the Convent of the Chartreux.
“Is the route practicable ?' said Bonaparte. It is barely possible to pass,' replied the engineer. “Let us set forward then,' said Napoleon, and the extraordinary march was commenced.
• During the interval between the 15th and 18th of May, all the columns of the French army were put into motion to cross the Alps. Tureau, at the head of 5000 men, directed his march by Mount Cenis, on Exilles and Susa. A similar division commanded by Chabran, took the route of the Little St. Bernard. Bonaparte himself on the 15th, at the head of the main body of his army, consisting of 30,000 men and upwards, marched from Lausanne to the little village called St. Pierre, at which point there ended every thing resembling a practicable road. An immense and apparently inaccessible mountain, reared its head among general desolation and eternal frost; while precipices, glaciers, ravines, and a boundless extent of faithless snows, which the slightest concussion of the air converts into avalanches, capable of burying armies in their descent, appeared to forbid access to all living things but the chamois, and his scarce less wild pursuer. Yet, foot by foot, and man by man, did the French soldiers proceed to ascend this formidable barrier which nature had erected in vain to limit human ambition. The view of the Valley, emphatically called “ of Desolation," where nothing is to be seen but snow and sky, had no terrors for the First Consul and his army. They advanced up paths hitherto only practised by hunters,
or here and there a hardy pedestrian, the infantry loaded with their arms, and in full military equipment, the cavalry leading their horses. The musical bands played from time to time, at the head of the regiments, and, in places of unusual difficulty, the drums beat a charge, as if to encourage the soldiers to encounter the opposition of nature herself. The artillery, without which they could not have done service, were deposited in trunks of trees hollowed out for the purpose.
Each were dragged by a hundred men, and the troops making it a point of honour to bring forward their guns, accomplished this severe duty, not with cheerfulness only, but with enthusiasm. The carriages were taken to pieces, and harnessed on the backs of mules, or committed to the soldiers, who relieved each other in the task of bearing them with levers; and the ammunition was transported in the same manner. While one half of the soldiers were thus engaged, the others were obliged to carry the muskets, cartridge-boxes, knapsacks, and provisions of their comrades, as well as their own. Each man, so loaded, was calculated to carry from sixty to seventy pounds weight, up icy precipices, where a man totally without incumbrance, could ascend but slowly. Probably, no troops, save the French, could have endured the fatigue of such a march; and no other General than Bonaparte, would have ventured to require it at their hand.
“ He set out a considerable timē after the march had begun, alone, excepting his guide. He is described by the Swiss peasant who attended him in that capacity, as wearing his usual simple dress, a grey surtout, and three-corned hat. He travelled in silence, save a few short and hasty questions about the country, addressed to his guide from time to time. When these were answered, he relapsed into silence. There was a gloom on his brow, corresponding with the weather, which was wet and dismal. His countenance had acquired, during his eastern campaigns, a swarth complexion, which added to his natural severe gravity, and the Swiss peasant who guided him, felt fear as he looked on him. Occasionally, his route was stopt by some temporary obstacle, occasioned by a halt in the artillery or baggage; his commands, on such occasions, were peremptorily given and instantly obeyed; his very look seeming enough to silence all objection, and remove every difficulty.
“ The army now arrived at that singular convent, where, with courage equal to their own, but flowing from a much higher source, the Monks of St. Bernard have fixed their dwellings among the everlasting snows, that they may afford succour and hospitality to the forlorn travellers in those dreadful wastes. Hitherto, the soldiers had had no refreshment, save when they dipt a morsel of biscuit amongst the snow. The good fathers of the convent, who possess considerable magazines of provisions, distributed bread and cheese, and a cup of wine, to each soldier as he passed, which was more acceptable in their situation, than according to one, who shared their fatigues, would have been the gold of Mexico.
* The descent on the other side of Mount St. Bernard, was as difficult to the infantry as the ascent had been, and still more so to the cavalry. It was, however, accomplished without any material loss, and
their quarters for the night, after having marched fourteen French leagues. The next morning, 16th May, the vanguard took possession of Aosta, a village of Piedmont, from which extends the valley of the same name, watered by the river Dorea, a country pleasant in itself, but rendered delightful by its contrast with the hora rors which had been left behind.
“ Thus was achieved the celebrated passage of Mount St. Bernard, on the particulars of which we have dwelt the more willingly, because, although a military operation of importance, they do not involve the unwearied details of human slaughter.” Vol. i. pp. 472–474.
These passages, with others that were quoted in a former number of this work, will exhibit at the same time his pre-eminent talents as a writer, and some of his peculiar opinions. Yet, considered merely as a literary effort, this work betrays marks of great haste in the composition, and many inaccuracies.* Neither do we consider the style as uniformly so correct, so brilliant, or so animated, as in some of the happier productions of his prolific pen.
In reading history, we have frequently been amused with that spirit of prediction after the event; that exposition of causes which rendered inevitable the effects that have actually been produced ; and that prudent sagacity which judges of the wisdom of measures, when there is no longer any doubt about their results. Historians seem to adopt implicitly the sentiment of Juvenal, “nullum numen abest si sit prudentia," and consider man as the arbiter of his own fortunes.
In speaking of the Treaty of Tilsit, the following reflections and comments are made by our author.
“One of the most important private articles of the Treaty of Tilsit, seems to have provided, that Sweden should be despoiled of her provinces of Finland, in favour of the Czar, and be thus, with the consent of Bonaparte, deprived of all effectual means of annoying Russia. A single glance at the map will show, how completely the possession of Finland put a Swedish army, or the army of France, as an ally of Sweden, within a short march of St. Petersburgh; and how, by consenting to Sweden's being stripped of that important province, Napoleon relinquished the grand advantage to be derived from it, in case of his ever being again obliged to contend with Russia upon Prussian ground. Yet there can be no doubt, that at the Treaty of Tilsit, he became privy to the war, which Russia shortly afterwards waged against Sweden, in which Alexander deprived that ancient kingdom of her frontier province
* We have not noticed these inaccuracies, neither errors of date, nor position because, in subsequent editions, these can and will be corrected. The frequent mistaking of east for west, or the contrary, the repeated and extraordinary confusion in speaking of the wings of contending armies, would, without the anecdotes which were current during the time of its publication, of wagon loads of re-printed sheets passing from office to office, manifest the great haste in which the work was sent to the press.