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Macdonald, who accompanied him, still more essentially contributed to that victory. His terrible advance on that day is one of the most memorable deeds in military annals, and both consequently were re-installed in the imperial favour. But Grouchy, on the plea that civic honours were inconsistent with a soldier's duties, refused to become a member of Napoleon's senate.
On the projected expedition to Russia, he received the command of one of the three corps into which the French cavalry was divided, and was the first Frenchman who crossed the Boristhenes. Napoleon was still twenty leagues distant, and Grouchy was thus enabled to come first into contact with the Russians at Krasnoe. He routed, and compelled them to fall back upon Smolensk, where Napoleon next day defeated them decisively. The terrific battle of Moscow followed, and the cavalry under Grouchy, by turning a Russian redoubt, ultimately put an end to the slaughter of the day. With his son, Grouchy was severely wounded; and he was still suffering at Moscow when Napoleon commenced his memorable retreat. But necessity compelled him to take the field, and when a fearful frost struck down almost all the horses of the army in a night, he received the command of the "sacred squadron' formed to secure the personal safety of the emperor. By the exertions of this devoted band, still more than of its leader, Napoleon was enabled to escape the fate of Charles XII. after the battle of Pultawa; and the terrible passage of the Berezino at last interposed shelter between him and his fierce pursuers. In the campaign of 1813, Grouchy took no part. Having been refused a division of infantry, he retired discontented to Calvados; but after the battle of Leipsic he complied with the imperial commands and again placed himself at the head of the horse. He was too feeble to restrain the enemy. The splendid cavalry of France was no more, and all the efforts of Grouchy consequently failed to avert the passage of the Rhine. Yet they were so great, that Napoleon at last bestowed on him the long-coveted marshal's baton. But the emperor's power and his honours now alike were passing; and 1815 saw Grouchy in the service of the Bourbons. The injudicious conduct of the restored government, however, detached him and many others from its cause; and having been superseded in the command of the favourite chasseurs by the Duke de Berri, he again joined Napoleon on returning from Elba. He was entrusted with the duty of counteracting the Duke D'Angouleme, and in a few days so succeeded as to compel him to capitulate; but the terms displeased Napoleon, who designed to make the duke prisoner and exchange him for Maria Louisa, then detained by her father in Italy. Grouchy's conduct was considered so sinister that Corbinau, a devoted adherent of the emperor, was detached as aid-de-camp to watch him. But Napoleon could not then stand on trifles nor afford to lose the services of so important an arm. Grouchy accordingly was continued in command; and now the ambiguous part of his conduct commences. The campaign of 1815 opened with unexpected success on the part of Napoleon. The battle of Fleurus, though indecisive, was brilliant; and the attitude assumed by the French was exceedingly menacing. On the 17th June, Grouchy was despatched with thirty-four thousand men and a hundred guns to pursue or hold in check the Prussians; and during the whole of the 18th remained at Wavres. The murderous conflict of Waterloo was waging in the interval; and Grouchy, though but four leagues distant, rested inactive. He distinctly heard the guns; but the positive orders of the emperor, it is alleged on
the one hand, fixed him to the spot, while, on the other, it is asserted that he was acting in collusion with the enemy; £20,000 have been mentioned as the bribe; but the friends of the marshal reply that till three o'clock in the afternoon the victory on the part of the French was secure. At that hour, however, two Prussian corps under Bulow, which Grouchy had permitted to escape, suddenly cleared the defile of St. Lambert, and unexpectedly assailing the French, turned the fortune of the day.
The issue is known: but Grouchy in his "Observations on the campaign of 1815," published at Philadelphia, states that he was ignorant of Napoleon's disastrous overthrow till next day, and the course he then adopted contributes, with his subsequent banishment, to render his conduct more inexplicable. Rallying the remains of the imperial army at Laon, he proclaimed Napoleon II Emperor, and proposed to unite with Soult in a vigorous effort for the preservation of French independence. From Soult, however, he received information that ill-health and Napoleon's abdication prevented him from longer acting either as the emperor's major-general or commander of Paris; and the Provisional Government, immediately on Soult's resignation, appointed Grouchy to the command of all the corps of the grand army remaining. On receiving this intelligence, Grouchy set out for Paris, resolving to approach by the left bank of the Oise; but the allies occupied the right bank and the intercommuning bridges in such force that he was unable to proceed farther than the forest of Compiegne. Finding the enemy ranged strongly in possession of the town, he resolved to draw up his force behind the wood, to cover if possible the route to the capital. A fresh order from the Provisional Government, however, to repair by forced marches to Paris, induced him to abandon this design; and on his arrival there he found Davoust invested with the chief command. The latter, according to Grouchy, informed him that it was all over with the imperial cause, and that nothing remained but to mount the white cockade of the Bourbons.
If Grouchy is to be credited, he vehemently opposed this design, and repaired to Fouchè to remonstrate; but all he obtained from the unscrupulous minister of police was a recommendation to go and offer terms to the allies. From this, the marshal says, he indignantly revolted. He proceeded, instead, to the council then sitting at Villette, and advised them either to assail the English or the Prussians; offering his services as a private soldier, if he was not permitted to command. But he was either viewed with distrust, or the advice was overruled. His colleagues pronounced it impracticable; and in the ordinance of the 24th July, which followed, Grouchy's name was amongst the list of those who were exiled from France.
From this period, he lived in retirement; at first in the United States of America, whither he withdrew on his banishment, and latterly at St. Etienne, where he died. In 1831 he was placed on the list of Marshals by King Louis Philippe. In a memoir of him published a few years ago when his conduct was vehemently impeached, he is represented to have been during twenty-three years intrusted with important commands, to have been present in twelve great battles and sixty minor actions, to have received nineteen wounds, and after thirty-five years of active service to have found himself of poorer fortune than he received at his birth. Such considerations are affecting; but there is a doubt overhanging his memory and outweighing all.
CURIOUS TRIALS CONNECTED WITH THE
No. XI.-THE TRIAL OF EARL FERRERS FOR MURDER.
IN the whole annals of our criminal jurisprudence no trial perhaps has excited more lasting interest, and is more generally known, than that of the unfortunate Lawrence Shirley, fourth Earl Ferrers. We say unfortunate, because there seems little doubt, at the present day, that the noble offender committed the deed whilst in a state of insanity. Indeed, the very crime itself, and the mode of its accomplishment could have scarcely been other than the work of a madman. The evidence adduced on the part of his lordship, would certainly now have established a case of lunacy sufficient to have saved the murderer from the extreme penalty of the law. The rejection of his lordship's plea of insanity may, even at the time, have been caused by his examining the witnesses himself with so much apparent sense and skill, and by his own evident disinclination to rely on such a defence. The excitement caused by the trial, and execution of Earl Ferrers, is to be easily accounted for. The almost unparalleled sight of a peer of this realm brought to the bar of justice, and publicly put to death on other than political grounds, made a deep and lasting impression; and, though we may quarrel with the verdict, we cannot but admire the stern rectitude of a government which, once persuaded of the sanity of the culprit, would allow no consideration of rank or station to intervene in the vindication of the law. George II, when applied to, to alter the punishment from hanging to beheading, is reported to have said "No, he has done the deed of the bad man, and he shall die the death of the bad man." The Earl's fate may be truly regarded as an example of the impartial majesty of the English law: But to proceed to Lord Ferrers' personal history.
Lawrence Shirley, fourth Earl Ferrers, the subject of this trial, was the grandson of Robert the first Earl, through his fourth son Lawrence, who married Anne, fourth daughter of Sir Walter Clarges, baronet, and whose three eldest sons, though he did not succeed to the title himself, were successively fourth, fifth, and sixth Earls Ferrers. The family of Shirley, Lords Ferrers, is one of highantiquity and honour, dating its eminence back to the time of the Normans. The first Earl Ferrers had, while Sir Robert Shirley, and prior to the creation of his Earldom, become Lord Ferrers, of Chartley, Bourchier, and Louvaine; King Charles II. having terminated the abeyance of those baronies in his favour, as one of the de scendants of the famous Robert Devereux, Earl of Essex. His grandson, the unhappy Lord Ferrers of the trial, was born in August, 1720; he married the 16th Sept. 1752, Mary, youngest daughter of Amos Meredith, Esq., son and heir of Sir William Meredith, baronet, of Henbury; but his lordship's irrational and cruel usage of this lady, who was remarkable for her mild disposition, obliged her to apply to parliament for redress; and accordingly, an act was passed by which they were separated. She had no issue by the Earl, and after his death, she was again
VOL. IV. NO. XV.
married to Lord Frederick Campbell, brother to John, fourth Duke of Argyll.
The trial of Lord Ferrers took place in Westminster Hall; it commenced on the 16th April, 1760, and lasted three days; the Lord Keeper, Lord Henley, acting as Lord High Steward.
After the usual preliminary formalities, the Earl was brought to the bar by the deputy governor of the Tower, having the axe carried before him by the gentleman gaoler, who stood with it on the left hand of the prisoner, with the edge turned from him. The prisoner, when he approached the bar, made three reverences, and then fell upon his knees at the bar.
L. H. S.
Your lordship may rise.
The prisoner rose up, and bowed to his Grace the Lord High Steward, and to the House of Peers; the compliment was returned him by his Grace and the Lords.
Proclamation having been made again for silence, the Lord High Steward spoke to the prisoner as follows:
Lawrence Earl Ferrers; you are brought to this bar to receive your trial upon a charge of the murder of John Johnson; an accusation, with respect to the crime, and the persons who make it (the grand jury of the county of Leicester, the place of your lordship's residence), of the most solemn and serious nature.
Yet my lord, you may consider it but as an accusation; for the greatest or meanest subject of this kingdom (such is the tenderness of our law) cannot be convicted capitally, but by a charge made by twelve good and lawful men, and a verdict found by the same number of his equals at the least.
My lord, in this period of the proceedings, while your lordship stands only as accused, I touch but gently on the offence charged upon your lordship; yet, for your own sake, it behoves me strongly to mark the nature of the judicature before which you now appear.
It is a happiness resulting from your lordship's birth and the constitution of this country, that your lordship is now to be tried by your peers in full parliament: What 'greater consolation can be suggested to a person in your unhappy circumstances, than to be reminded, that you are to be tried by a set of judges, whose sagacity and penetration no material circumstances in evidence can escape, and whose justice nothing can influence or pervert?
This consideration, if your lordship is conscious of innocence, must free your mind from any perturbations that the soleninity of such a trial might excite; it will render the charge, heavy as it is, unembarrassing, and leave your lordship firm and composed, to avail yourself of every mode of defence, that the most equal and humane laws admit of.
Your lordship, pursuant to the course of this judicature, hath been furnished with a copy of the indictment, and hath had your own counsel assigned; you are therefore enabled to make such defence as is most for your benefit and advantage; if your lordship shall put yourself on trial, you must be assured to meet with nothing but justice, candour, and impartiality.
Before I conclude, I am, by command of the House, to acquaint your lordship, and all other persons who have occasion to speak to the Court, during the trial, that they are to address themselves to the Lords in general, and not to any lord in particular.
Lawrence Earl Ferrers, your lordship will do well to give attention, while you are arraigned on your indictment.
Here Earl Ferrers was arraigned, in the form of the indictment, against him, by the Clerk of the Crown in the King's-bench.
The case for the crown was most ably stated by the Attorney General, Charles Pratt, afterwards Lord Camden, Chief Justice of the Common Pleas, and Lord Chancellor. His speech, which is as follows, has been regarded as a model for an address on the part of the prosecution.
Mr. Attorney General. "May it please your lordships, it becomes my duty to open to your lordships the facts and circumstances of this case, out of which your lordships are to collect and find the crime that is charged in this indictment.
The noble prisoner stands here arraigned before your lordships for that odious offence, malicious and deliberate murder. There cannot be a crime in human society that deserves more to be punished, or more strictly to be enquired after; and therefore it is, that his Majesty, the great executive hand of justice in this kingdom, has promoted this inquiry, whereby all men may see, that in the case of murder his Majesty makes no difference between the greatest and meanest of his subjects.
The prisoner has a right, from his quality, to the privilege of being tried before this noble tribunal; if he is innocent, he has the greatest reason to be comforted, that your lordships are his judges; for that nobleness and humanity, which prompt you naturally to incline towards mercy, will strongly exert themselves in the protection of innocence. But, on the other hand, if the prisoner is really guilty of the charge, his case is truly deplorable; because your minds cannot be deceived by the false colouring of rhetoric, nor your zeal for justice perverted by any unmanly compassion.
This impartial disposition in your lordships call upon the prosecutors to observe a conduct worthy of this noble assembly; not to enlarge or aggravate any part, or advance a step beyond their instructions; but barely to state the naked facts, in order that, by that means, your lordships may be enabled the better to attend to the witnesses when they are called, to examine and cross-examine, and sift out the truth with more accuracy.
My lords, as I never thought it my duty in any case to attempt at eloquence, where a prisoner stood upon trial for his life; much less shall I think myself justified in doing it before your lordships; give me leave therefore to proceed to a narration of the facts.
My lords, the deceased person, Mr. Johnson, I find to have been employed by the Ferrers family almost during the whole course of his life he was taken into their service in his youth, and continued in it unfortunately to the time of his death.
At the time a bill was passed by your lordships, about two years ago, to separate Lord Ferrers from his lady, Mr. Johnson was appointed receiver of his lordship's estates. At that time his lordship seems to have entertained a good opinion of him, because I am told he was appointed receiver at his lordship's own nomination; but, very soon after he became invested with this trust, when the noble lord found there was no possible method, by any temptation whatever, to prevail on Mr. Johnson to break that trust, his lordship's mind grew to be alienated towards him, and his former friendship was converted into hatred.