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defeated in Germany and in Spain. The English minister was foremost to abet the policy of treating France generously, and yet in his reply it was particularly against England that Napoleon showed his animosity.
Nothing could be more ill-judged. Napoleon's answer plainly proved to the English Government that, however forbearing or generous their policy, it would find no corresponding policy in him, and would not modify in the least his old inveteracy to England. The consequence was, that the British Cabinet came to consider Lord Aberdeen as too mild a negotiator, and too favourable to France, and that it was necessary to correct that tendency, first by a change in his instructions, and then by the presence of the minister himself, Lord Castlereagh. The reply of Napoleon being considered evasive, the allies turned their whole attention to an immediate invasion of France, the Austrians by Basle, the Prussians and Russians between Mayence and Strasburg. The English Government at the same time relapsed into more hostile sentiments; Lord Wellington, defeating Soult on the Nivelle, established himself in front of Bayonne. Whilst the return of Holland under the dominion of the House of Orange, left the troops of Bernadotte free to invade the Belgian provinces.
The French, detested in the countries they had oppressed, were nowhere so thoroughly so as in maritime ones like Holland. And a foe to France had but to appear
in any strength in order to make the Dutch rise and expel French governors, soldiers and douaniers. By unanimous acclamation the House of Orange was restored to its supremacy.
It then occurred to the English Government, that so propitious a revolution ought not to stop at the Rhine. To free the Scheldt from French domination, and make Antwerp cease to be a hostile arsenal and a menace to England, was a national object. And as a marriage between the Prince of Orange and the heiress to the English throne
was then in contemplation, to make him sovereign of CHAP.
XLIII. the Scheldt, as well as of the Texel, was a feasible and well-imagined scheme. When this idea got possession of the English mind, the abettal of Lord Aberdeen's views, that of allowing to France the frontier of the Rhine, became impossible. And in the council of the allies, England, instead of adopting and seconding Metternich's ideas, leaned more decidedly to the Russian.
Whilst Napoleon was thus awakening English enmity to him and higgling with the proffers of Austria, instead of accepting them frankly, he had scarcely 60,000 men to oppose to the 300,000 which poured over the Rhine in the first days of 1814; the Austrians at Basle, Blücher lower down the river. The former advanced by the opening of Béfort through the Vosges, the latter crossed the hills into Champagne. Napoleon had not expected their immediate advance, nor was he prepared for the pressure of a winter campaign. Despondency or surprise, however, did not relax his efforts. And yet he cannot be said to have made those which might best have saved him. Had the population of France unanimously risen in his favour, and displayed anything like the enthusiasm of 1793, the allies, several of whom hesitated and shrank from a march on Paris, would have been deterred. But Napoleon knew not how to address a free people. He, indeed, called the Legislative Body together, and laid before them his necessities and his prospects. Although they did not refuse to aid him, still their first impulse was to criticise his acts, and blame the obstinacy which had impelled him to reject all offers of peace. Even on this point he gave them but partial information. He shunned publicity as much as freedom. The Assembly, therefore, showed more signs of discontent than adhesion. And the Emperor, instead of using his Legislature as a medium to address and appeal to his people, convened them merely to scold and dismiss them.
The Emperor's reliance was solely upon force. Yet he did not take decisive steps to rally even that which he possessed. Had he, during the armistice in Germany, recalled his garrisons from Dantzic, and the other towns on the Vistula and Oder, he might have fought a much more successful battle at Leipzig. Could he
now obtain succour from Murat and from Eugène in Italy, from Suchet and Soult in Spain, he would be at the head of a formidable army. Murat, however, was alienated from Napoleon, and prepared to attack, not second, Eugène in North Italy, on the condition of his kingdom being secured to him by Austria. To embarrass him, and to wipe away the greatest outrage on the Catholic world, Napoleon allowed the Pope to leave Fontainebleau and recross the Alps to Italy. He had sought to provide for the return of his Spanish army by negotiations with Ferdinand at Valençay. But the Spanish Juntas and Cortès would not obey a prince in French captivity. And Ferdinand was at last set free without having any effect upon the Duke of Wellington and his Spanish force, who had entered France and taken up positions north of the Pyrenees.
Although advancing in connection with his allies into the heart of France, the Emperor of Austria did not abandon the hope of bringing his formidable son-in-law to such terms as Russia and England were bent on. Napoleon had not, indeed, accepted the conditions offered from Frankfort, and he remained ignorant of the immense change that his non-acceptance had wrought in the sentiments of his foes. He therefore sent Caulaincourt, Duke of Vicenza, his Minister of Foreign Affairs, to treat. This personage was not allowed to advance beyond the French outposts. And so, perceiving his enemies bent upon war, Napoleon left Paris on the 25th of January to meet them. His army extended from Troyes to Châlons. Schwarzenberg was at Langres, anxious to await negotiations; but Blücher,
more ardent, was in advance upon the Aube. On the 29th, Napoleon attacked the Prussian general at Brienne, and drove him from the town after a sharp contest. The success was unfortunate, for it drew Schwarzenberg from his passive attitude, compelled him to come to the succour of Blücher, and Napoleon thus found himself with some 30,000 men in the presence of an enemy of triple that force. Still, rather than retreat, he accepted battle, and fought it with the utmost gallantry, at La Rothière, on the 1st of February.* At the close of the engagement the French maintained their ground, but were glad to retreat upon Troyes, during the night, leaving many cannon behind them, and thus confessing they had been worsted.
This battle had a marked effect upon the Congress which opened a few days later at Chatillon. Although the allies had invaded France, in consequence of the non-acceptance by Napoleon of the terms offered at Frankfort, still it was their, and especially Austria's, desire that negotiations should remain open. Caulaincourt had come with the intention of proceeding to Manheim, the place at first fixed for the Congress, but Metternich sent him word that they must await Lord Castlereagh's presence. Chatillon was then named as the place of meeting. Thither went Caulaincourt in the first days of February with instructions from his master to hold by the Frankfort proposition, and insist on the frontier of the Rhine. Lord Castlereagh, on the other hand, emboldened by the attitude of both Wellington and the allies on the soil of France, as well as by the Dutch revolution, came to insist on France being made to withdraw within the limits of 1790. Between such
“Napoleon led on his young set his life upon a die, exposed guards himself to wrest the village himself everywhere, and had his of La Rothière from the gallant horse shot under him."--Sir C. corps of Sacken. Their repeated Stuart to Lord Castlereagh. efforts were ineffectual. Napoleon
CHAP: conflicting sentiments there was little chance of agree
ment. And, in fact, everything depended upon the war. This was evident, when after the battle of La Rothière Napoleon sent Caulaincourt carte blanche to do or sign anything which might arrest the progress of the enemy, avoid another battle, and preserve the capital.
Such instructions were too vague for Caulaincourt to act upon. He sent back to the Emperor for clearer and more decisive ones. But he was then deeply engaged in an attempt to retrieve his losses at La Rothière.
Immediately after that engagement the allied armies had separated, the Austrians to pursue a leisurely advance down the left bank of the Seine, whilst the Russians and Prussians under Blücher undertook to penetrate to Paris by the Marne. Napoleon, who had retired to Nogent, was thus between his foes, a position of which he did not fail to take immediate advantage. He marched at once to pounce upon his prey, and the consequence of Blücher's rashness was, that the French Emperor came upon a corps of 6,000 Russians under Olsufief at ChampAubert on the 9th of February. Completely destroying them, he reached Sacken, who was in advance with 20,000 men at Montmirail, on the 11th, and defeated him. York, with a still greater number, had got as far as Château-Thierry. He was attacked and defeated on the 12th, as was the rest of Blücher's army on the 14th at Vauchamps. Thus caught and crushed in detail, Blücher's force was reduced so considerably that he declared it impossible for him to keep the field unless reinforced by the divisions of Bülow and Winzingerode, which were in the north with Bernadotte.
The result of Blücher's defeat was that the Austrian and English ministers compelled Alexander to treat once more. They resolved to meet the chief objections of Caulaincourt by submitting to him a full treaty, and moreover granting an immediate armistice, if he would accept the frontier of 1790. After the victory of Vau