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what force and fire they may contain, in sight clearer and their judgment more
of thirteen became a notary of Thus Bonaparte-himself sprung the village. The stirring events pass. from the middle class of society-select- ing around him inflamed his youthful ed men to lead his armies from their imagination, and at the age of sevenpersonal qualities alone. This is the teen he entered the army as a hussar, great secret of his astonishing victories. and commenced his military career. Dukes and princes led the allied armies, We do not design to follow him through while men headed the battalions of all his history, but select out those acts France. Bonaparte judged men by which illustrate the great and striking what they could do, and not by their qualities he possessed. His air and beargenealogy. He looked not at the deco- ing stamped him as a soldier, and made rations that adorned the breast, but the him from the first a great favorite in deeds that stamped the warrior—not his corps. Being selected by them to at the learning that made the perfect challenge the fencing master of another tactician, but the real practical force that regiment, for some real or supposed inwrought out great achievements. Vic- sult, he gladly undertook the commistorious battlefields were to him the birth- sion. The day was appointed to settle place of titles and the commencement of the difficulty, but just as the combagenealogies; and stars were hung on tants had crossed their sabres, they scarred and war-battered, rather than were arrested by their officers and noble breasts. Napoleon had learned thrown into prison. As soon, however, the truth taught in every physical or as young Ney was released, he renewed moral revolution, that the great effective the quarrel
, and having met his an. moulding characters of our race always tagonist in a secret place, fought and spring from the middle and lower clasz. wounded him in the hand, so that he es. All reformers also start there and was unable to practise his profession, they always must, for not only is their and was consequently reduced to poverty. Ney did not forget him in the Germany should be taken. The genday of his greatness, and settled on the erals of the army met in frequent conpoor fencing master a pension for life. sultation, on the best mode of attacking In 1793, he was promoted for his it. Ney, in the mean time, thinking it bravery and skill, and the next year, could be better taken by surprise, rebeing then twenty-four years of age, solved to visit it in disguise and ascerhe was presented with a company. tain its weak points. So, one evening General Kleber having noticed his ad- assuming the garb of a peasant, he enmirable qualities, placed him at the tered the city, and, after satisfying himhead of a corps composed of five hun- self as to the best mode of attack, redred partisans, who received no pay turned. Selecting a hundred and fifty and lived on plunder. It was their brave men, he recrossed the river at duty to reconnoitre the enemy's posi- eight in the evening, and at eleven tion and cut off their convoys, which ex- made a furious assault on the outposts. posed them to many hair-breadth es. A portion of the garrison having made capes, and adventures exceeding even a sally he repulsed them, and following those of romance. Young Ney being hard after the fugitives entered the resolved on promotion, brought to this town with them, and after a short but perilous service all his mental and desperate engagement captured it. This physical powers. His iron will seemed fixed his rising fame. At Worms, and to compensate for the loss of sleep and Frankenthal, and Frankfort, and Stuttfood and rest. Daunted by no danger, gard, and Zurich, he maintained the exhausted by no toil, caught by no stra- character he had gained. In 1802, we tagem, he acquired at the head of this find him again in Paris, holding the bold band of warriors the sobriquet of office of inspector-general of cavalry. the “ Indefatigable.” Three years after He there married Mademoiselle Augnè, he found occasion to distinguish him- an intimate friend of Hortense Beauself in the engagements of Dierdorf harnais. Bonaparte presented him at Altenkirchen, and Montabour. With the nuptials with a magnificent Egypone hundred cavalry he took two tian sabre, which eventually cost the thousand prisoners and obtained posses- bold marshal his life. In 1803, he was sion of Wurtzberg. He led two columns sent as Minister Plenipotentiary into straight into the river, and forcing the Switzerland, where he exhibited those opposite banks, though lined with can- higher qualities of justice and kindness non, made himself master of Forsheim. so uniformly, that the Swiss Cantons For these exploits he was appointed presented him with a medal on his degeneral of a brigade. At the battle of parture. The next year Bonaparte Neuwied he had charge of the cavalry, made him a Marshal." The year foland in a desperate charge passed en- lowing this, he was created Duke of tirely through the Austrian lines; but Elchingen, in honor of the battle he being surrounded by a superior force he there fought. In the campaigns of was compelled to retreat, and his horse 1806–7, he reached the height of his having fallen under him, he was taken fame and power, and ever alter Bonaprisoner. Having been liberated by parte regarded him as one of the exchange, he was raised to the rank of strongest pillars of his power. general of division. For awhile after The three great distinguishing chathe peace of Leoben, he remained in racteristics of Ney were great persunParis, and having joined the Clichian al bravery almost unparalleled coolparty became entangled in politics. ness in the hour of peril, and an excelBut the commencement of hostilities lent judgment. In the first two, all in 1799, found Ney again in the field writers are agreed, while the last is not of battle, struggling with the allied generally conceded to him. No man forces on the banks of the Rhine. Here can deny he was brave, for there can occurred one of those adventures that be no appeal from the decision of an belong rather to the period of romance, army of heroes, who named him than to the practical history of our “bravest of the brave." Such a distimes. The Rhine flowed between him tinction among the men and in the and the city of Manheim, which was times he lived, was not won by ordinary strongly garrisoned and filled with actions. In an army where Davoust, stores of every kind. It was a matter Junot, Macdonald, Murat and Lannes, of much discussion how this key of commanded, to be crowned " bravest of the brave," was the highest honor a tions of his mind. The alarming cry military chieftain could desire. But through his own ranks, " Sauve qui his courage was not the rashness of peut," or the full belief that all was lost, headlong excitement, like that of Junot could not shake his rock-fast steadiness. and Murat. The enthusiasm born in One would have thonght him a marblethe hour of battle amid the tossing of man, strung with no ordinary nerves, plumes, the tramping of the host, the had they not seen him in a desperate shout of trumpets and roar of cannon, charge. Then his eye glanced like an has always been found sufficient to eagle's, and with his form lowering amid hurl man into any scene of horror or the smoke of battle and Hash of sabres, peril. Junot could coolly sit and write he seemed an embodied hurricane to Bonaparte's dictation, while the shot sweeping over the field. Much of this whistled around him, and laughingly doubtless was constitutional, and much shake the paper as a cannon ball was owing to the wonderful power of ploughing past him threw the dirt over mental concentration. He could liter. it ; with the exclamation“ This is lucky, ally shut up his mind to the one object I shall have no need of sand.” Murat he had in view. The overthrow of the could ride on his magnificent steed up to enemy absorbed every thought within a whole company of Cossacks, and dis- him, and he had none to give to danger perse them by a single wave of the or death. Where he placed his mind hand. Davoust could forage like the he held it, and not all the uproar and lion mid the foe at Montibello, while confusion of battle could divert it. He the cannon shot wasted so awfully would not allow himself to see anything around him, that he himself said after- else, and hence he was almost as inward, “ I could hear the bones crash in sensible to the danger around him, as a my division like hail-stones against a deaf and dumb and blind man would window." Yet each of these was but have been. He himself once expressed one among a thousand heroic acts, and the true secret of his calmness, when gained for their authors no such title as after one of these exhibitions of comthat given to Ney. There was a reason posure, amid the most awful carnage, for this. It was a heroism called forth one of his officers asked him if he by sudden emergencies, such as the never felt fear, he replied, “ I never had commonest soldier often exhibits in the time.” This was another way of sayheat of battle. Ney's courage was ing that fear and danger had nothing something more than all this. It dared to do with the object before him, and just as much without the least appar. therefore he would not suffer his ent excitement. His thoughts were thoughts to rest on them for a single just as clear, and his eye as quiet amid moment. It would not require much the falling ranks, as if he were stand- “ time," we should think, to see the daning on some far observatory anu looking ger of marching straight into the flash over the scene of slaughter. He would of a hundred cannon, or to feel a thrill of stand almost within the blaze of two terror, as the last discharge left him hundred cannon, and while his horses almost alone, amid his dead and dying were sinking under him, his guard fall- guard. But he had trained his mind ing around him, and whole companies not to see these things for the time melting like frost-work before his eyes, being. This devotion and concentragive orders as calmly as though ma- tion of all his powers, gave him great neuvering at a grand review. It was advantage in moments of peril and his wonderful, almost marble calmness when the fate of a battle was turnin the most sudden and extremest dan- ing on a single thought. Where other ger, that struck even heroes with asto- men would become confused in the nishment. He would stand within confusion around them, he was as musket shot of a most terrific and hotly clear as ever, and hence was able freworked battery, and while the storm of quently to redeem everything, when bullets swept where he stood, eye all its everything seemed lost. He would not operations, and scan its assailable be beat, and in the last extremity, rallied points with imperturbable quietness. like a dying man for a final blow, then The fierce shock of cavalry, and the ter- planted it where the clearest practical ritic charge of Englislı bayonets, could wisdom would have done. His tenacity not for one moment divert his gaze, of resolution was equal to his bravery. or disturb the clear and natural opera. He disputed every inch he yielded, as if it were his last hope, and fought on the the enemy's position, and Napoleon saw threshold of the next as if that were from a distance with delight his favorite but the commencement of the struggle. marshal in the very heart of the PrusSu in encountering obstacles in the ex- sian lines. Repulsing for awhile with ecution of any plan he had formed, he prodigious slaughter every aitempt of the would scarcely admit their existence, enemy to regain it, he again ufrolled his and seemed to think he could wring the column and marched through most decree against him ont of the iron devouring fire, straight on the Prusband of fate itself. These qualities sian's right. The tempest of musketry rendered him an invaluable ally to Bo- and grape through which he advanced, naparte in his great battles. Standing drove like a storm of sleet in the face in his observatory, and looking over the of his men; but nothing could resist conflict, Napoleon often saw where the his impetuous charge, and the right whole issue turned on a single point line of the allies was swept away. Such a column must be shaken-such Around the wall of Erfurt and Magdea place in the lines broken or a certain burg-crossing the Vistula-at the terbattery carried, or the day was lost. rible battle of Soldau-annihilating a On sich missions he always sent Ney, Russian corps at Deppen, at Gustadt knowing if human skill and valor and Amskerdorff—he is the same calm, could avail, it would be done. When determined and terrible man. In the he saw him start with his column and picture our im ination draws of the move down towards the spot where the battle of Friedland, Ney always occufate of the battle was vibrating, his pies the foreground. There, as usual, countenance always wore a compla- . he was appointed to commence the accent look. Again and again, did he tion. The engagements with detached fling his crown and France into Ney's corps had ceased, and both armies were keeping, and that of his legion ; and drawn up in battle array. For several almost without fear, see them borne on hours there had been no firing, and it into the smoke of battle. The bold being now four o'clock, the Russian Marshal never disappointed him, and it general supposed there would be no enwas for this reason Bonaparte placed gagement till morning. But at five his throne and empire into his hands, o'clock the sudden discharge of twenty and saw them both go down in the last cannon from the French centre, the charge of the Old Guard at Waterloo. signal of attack, announced to the RusEven here Ney would have saved his sian army that the day was to end in master, if bravery and devotion could blood. 'They were ordered to stand to have done it.
their arms, and the next moment the During the whole campaign of 1806– head of Ney's mighty column was seen 7, Ney moves before us as some hero to emerge from the wood behind Postheof former ages. We see him at Jena, nen and stretch itself like a huge Anawhen borne on by his impetuous cous conda out into the open field. In close rage, he charged and took a battery, and array and quick time it moved straight the next instant found himself surround- upon Friedland. The sun was stooped by an arıny that no other man would ing to the western horizon as if hasting have thought of resisting. But though from the scene of carnage about to open hemmed in, and apparently over- -yet his departing light gave new whelined, instead of yielding, as pru- splendor to the magnificent array. A dence itself seemed to dictate, he inime- forest of glittering steel seemed moving diately formed his men into squares and over the field. From the steeples and kept up such a rolling, devouring fire, towers of Friedland the countless thou. on every side, that the headlong masses sands of those that still remained in fell by hundreds at every discharge. the wood were visible. But all eyes Bonaparte, seeing the imminent peril of were directed on Ney and his magnif. his brave inarshal, detached Bertrand cent column, that, crossing the field at a with several regiments of horse to his rapid step, scattered like a whirlwind relief. No sooner was he extricated, everything that opposed their progress. than he unrolled his men again into Whole regiments of cavalry and Coscolumn, and with a firm and rapid step sacks, the chasseurs of the guard, miliascended the bill on which vierzehn tia and all, went down, or were driven beHeiligen stood, and after a fierce con- fore the tide-like movement of that coflict, took it. This was the centre of lumn. On every side were seen flying horsemen and scattered infantry: the character of his own officers. He The other divisions now advanced rated all military leaders low but himto the attack, but the victory seem- self. Accustomed to plan for his geed about to be won by Ney alone, nerals, he came to think they could not for haralas close upon Friedland, and plan for themselves. - So also their amour golling along the whole column achievements, when put in comparison arres trd above the roar of battle, an- with his own, he invariably depreciated. nounced that the town was about to be Bonaparte made the pass of St. Bernard, carried by assault. But just at this and he wished it to stand alone beside crisis the Russian Imperial Guard was that of Hannibal's : so that McDonald's ordered to advance. With fixed bayo- passage of the Splugen, to which his nets, this mass of living valor hurled own was mere child's play, he declared itself on its adversary. The head of repeatedly to have been no great affair, Ney's column went down before the and so reported it to the French Govterrific charge, and the whole body was ernment at home. The whole history rolled back over the field. But falling of Bonaparte's career-the confidence on Victor's corps rapidly advancing to he everywhere reposed in Ney's skill as sustain him, he rallied his broken ranks well as bravery, pronounce this declaand again pressed to the assanlt. Fried- ration false, while the manner in which land was carried after an obstinate re- he managed the rear guard in that sistance and immense slaughter, and awful and disastrous retreat of the soon the bridges in the rear over the grand army from Russia,, shows the inAlle were in flames. The smoke rolled justice of the charge in every way. over the field of battle like that of a Something more than bravery was needburning forest—the sun went down in ed to cover the retreat of the French gloom, and the dead were piled over the there, and Bonaparte knew it. He ground, and Ney had made Bonaparte never placed Ney at the head of the again conqueror by his indomitable va- army in invading Russia, and in the lor.
rear when retreating from it, simply beNapoleon's confidence in him was cause he was a brare man.
His acalmost unbounded. During the battle tions and statements here contradict of Bautzen, he lay on the ground, shel- each other, and the former is more liketered by a height in front of the town, ly to be honest than the latter. The at his breakfast, when suddenly he two great and ruinous errors of Boraheard the sound of Ney's guns thunder- parte's ambitious career would have ing on the left. At the same instant a been prevented had he listened to Ney's bomb burst over his head. Without counsel. The conquest of Spain brought noticing the bursting shell, he sat down nothing but disaster, and the invasion and wrote to Marie Louise that the vic- of Russia overturned his throne. tory was gained. He waited only to Against both these Ney urged his strenulearn that Ney was where the crisis ous remonstrance as long as it seemturned, to be sure of victory.
ed of any avail, and then did his utmost Yet Ney has been often accused of to prevent the ruin he knew must folwanting generalship. Mr. Alison makes low. One day at Madrid Napoleon him a brave man and no more. This de- entered the room where Ney and sevecision is based on a single declaration ral other officers were standing, and of Bonaparte,-speaking once of Ney, he said in great glee, “ Everything goes said “ he was the bravest of men; there on well ; Romana will be reduced in a terminated all his faculties.” Now we fortnight ; the English are defeated and do not place the least confidence in this will be unable to advance; in three assertion of Napoleon. His opinion of months the war will be finished.” The his generals changed with their success. officers to whom this was addressed, A brilliant achievement brought down made no reply; but Ney, shaking his on them the most extravagant enco- head, said with his characteristic bluntmiums from the Emperor ; a defeat, on ness, "Sire, this war has lasted long the contrary, his bitterest invectives. already, and our affairs are not improve This disparagement of Ney was doubt- ed. l'hese people are obstinate, even less made, alter contemplating some their women and children fight; they failure in which the marshal was im- massacre our men in detail. To-day plicated. Besides, Bonaparte was the we cut the enemy in pieces, to-morrow last man we should choose, to estimate we have to oppose another twice as