Imagens das páginas
PDF
ePub

XLIII.

himself upon having abandoned his scheme of invading England. And no doubt his appropriation of Dalmatia and the mouths of the Cattaro was the first point of some great scheme for overrunning Turkey and reaching the British dominions in the East, through that country. The importance placed upon Cattaro by Napoleon was so strong, that when he heard of its being given over to Russia, he threatened Austria with a renewal of hostilities. In his subsequent treaty with Russia, Napoleon received back Cattaro, ceding Corfu to the latter. However fatal to his naval hopes, Trafalgar at least produced one result of which Napoleon gladly took advantage. This was the encouragement it gave to the Bourbon court of Naples to embark in hostilities with him. He replied by nominating his brother Joseph King of Naples, and placing under his command an army for the conquest of that country. It was soon achieved.

When Talleyrand recommended the aggrandizement of Austria, he was not aware of the expansion which his sovereign meditated giving to his scheme of reducing the greater part of Germany under his own empire. As the immediate result of Austerlitz, he had rounded the territories and augmented the dignities of the three sovereigns of South Germany, Bavaria, Wurtemburg, and Baden, uniting all by marriages with his imperial house,* and severing the links which had previously bound them to Austria. Other German states more central, such as Darmstadt, seeing Austria prostrate and Prussia set aside, demanded a similar treatment. And thus was Napoleon led and enabled to form the Confederation of the Rhine, which made him the protector of the minor States of Germany and President of their Diet, all uniting to form a military League of which France was to furnish 200,000, the rest, some 30,000,

* Prince Eugène Beauharnais rine of Wurtemburg, and the grandmarried Princess Augusta of Bavaria, son of the Duke of Baden became the Jerome espoused the Princess Cathe- husband of Stephanie Beauharnais.

CHAP.
XLIII.

some 12,000, to the amount of 60,000 men. The liberties of Frankfort were annihilated, and the city given to the Duke D'Alberg, as Prince Primate of the new confederation. Austria, under the menace of war if it opposed, sanctioned the new Confederacy by waiving its supremacy over the old and its sovereign's title of Emperor of Germany.

These were grave events for Prussia, which was as much set aside as Austria. France, to be sure, had given Hanover in a treaty concluded soon after Austerlitz, but it had at the same time taken Anspach to give to Bavaria, with Berg and Cleves to form a Grand Duchy for Murat. Hanover, too, had scarcely been made over to Prussia, when there was a talk and more than a talk, an intention of recalling it, and restoring it to England, * in the negotiation which then opened with Lords Yarmouth and Lauderdale. Peace with Great Britain was not indeed far from conclusion; Sicily which the English would not give up being the only obstacle.

French historians, and Napoleon himself, represent Prussia as actuated by mere court caprice and fatuous folly when rushing into war at this epoch. They depict the quarrel as one inspired by the beautiful and indignant Queen of Prussia, and the young princes in her confidence. But war had been long counselled to Frederic William by his wisest and best statesman, Hardenburg—not war, indeed, after Austria had suc. cumbed in the battle of Austerlitz, but before it, when Russia and Austria were in arms, and when Prussia could have brought 150,000 men to their support. The King's slow and hesitating character, as well as his honourable scruples; allowed the time to pass, and prevented his acting against the French, as he had promised the Emperor Alexander. Napoleon, after Austerlitz, was willing to pardon this weakness, but it

Napoleon no sooner heard of Hanover to Prussia, in his hope of Fox's accession to office than he coming to an accord with the Whig countermanded the transference of administration.

CHAP.
XLIII.

was only on the condition that Prussia should at length cordially ally with him, and break decidedly with Russia and with England. Here, again, the King's scruples interfered to prevent his joining France, as it had just prevented him attacking that power. The court of Berlin rejected or sought to modify the first treaty concluded with France after Austerlitz. It shrunk from accepting Hanover, even when greedy to get it. A harsher treaty was sent from Paris and accepted. But all kinds of slights, especially the arrangements respecting the Confederation of the Rhine, were put upon Prussia, which maddened the war party, and enabled it to over-rule the King. Napoleon's bulletins issued after the commencement of hostilities with Prussia, give no untrue account of the manner in which they were precipitated.

“The peace signed with Russia on the 10th of July, the negotiations almost brought to a successful conclusion with England, excited the utmost alarm at Berlin. Rumour ran of secret articles in these treaties, that Constantine was to be declared King of Poland, that Austria was to have Silesia instead of Gallicia, that England was to have Hanover.” It was also said that Murat was to be King of Westphalia, to which the negotiations of France with regard to Germany, without in the least consulting Prussia, lent probability. Accounts of this nature, brought, not by common fame, but set forth in the despatches from Paris of the Prussian minister Lucchesini, by no means without foundation, notwithstanding the contradiction of the bulletin, reached Berlin on the 11th of August.* This produced an explosion of war resolves, menaces, and preparations. Somewhat calmed by the subsequent intelligence that Russia had not ratified the treaty with France, the Prussian king wrote on the 23rd an

* Mémoires tirés des papiers d'un homme d'État.

CHAP.
XLIII.

explanatory letter to Napoleon. It was too late. Prussia had armed. Napoleon at the same time had lost all hopes of peace by the death of Fox and the rejection of the scarcely signed treaty by the Emperor Alexander. He preferred war with Prussia as the means of at least cutting that knot with the sword.

The Prussians were able to muster 180,000 men, of which about one half advanced to oppose the French if they attempted to force their way northward. Erfurt they selected as the best position whence to observe their enemy. The French, with a force fully equal to the Prussians, occupied Wurzburg. From this town Napoleon resolved to push his way towards the Saale and Leipzig by the eastern roads and passes of the Thuringian Forest, whilst the Prussians lay westward of it, vainly guarding the great northern road, which runs from Frankfort to Leipzig. Some cavalry encounters on the 9th and 10th of October at Schleiz and Saalfeld, in one of which Prince Louis of Prussia was killed, first

gave warning not only of the French march, but of their having attained the Saale. The Prussians instantly turned back in haste from Erfurt to that river, and both arrived in approximation one to the other near Jena, the Prussians occupying the heights on the left, or westward of this river, the French those on the right. The Duke of Brunswick, who commanded the chief force, and who heard of the approach of the French lower down the Saale, feared that they intended to cut him off from the Elbe, and to prevent it, hurried away with the greater portion of his army in that direction, leaving the rest under Prince Hohenlohe on the heights above Jena.

There ensued on the following day, the 14th, a double engagement: one between Prince Hohenlohe and Napoleon on the heights of Jena, the other at Naumbourg four leagues distant, between Marshal Davoust and the main army of the Prussians under the Duke of Bruns

VOL. V.

K

XLIII.

CHAP. wick. French bulletins and history chiefly magnify

what took place at Jena, and the immense labour and activity by which at night the French dragged up their guns to the height in order to be in a condition to fight on the morrow. The Germans however say, that Prince Hohenlohe had little more than 40,000 men, and that his defeat by the superior force of Napoleon was not any wonderful achievement. Davoust had a far more difficult task in repulsing the main Prussian army, where the King himself was present, as they give the Marshal but 26,000 men whilst the Prussians were between 40,000 and 50,000. The resistance of these was consequently stubborn, and even at the last it is thought, that had Blucher's advice been adopted of making a last effort and a general attack, the battle of Auerstadt, as it was called, might not have been lost. Bignon attributes this victory to the superior discipline, experience, and steadiness of the French. Their cavalry broke into the Prussian squares, whilst the Prussian cavalry never could penetrate or disperse a French one. The King, however, having given ample proofs of personal valour, ordered a retreat, and both Prussian armies were mingled in a confused rout. Of this double victory, Auerstadt was far the greatest, and Davoust the real conqueror of the Prussians. The imperial bulletin, however, represents Jena as everything, Auerstadt as a skirmish. And Davoust durst not contradict it by an official report or despatch.*

In two days after the battles of Jena † and Auerstadt, Napoleon was at Berlin. The scattered Prussian divisions were defeated and made captive, Magdeburg

Bignon excuses this unfairness explanation of it. by alleging that Napoleon was not † For the battle of Jena, and the at first aware of the gravity and im- incapacity of the Duke of Brunsportance of Davoust's victory at wick, see Hopfner, der Krieg von Anerstadt. His excuse thus admits 1806 and 1807. the unfairness whilst giving a lame

« AnteriorContinuar »