Графични страници
PDF файл
ePub

the French reserve; and during this period, whole ranks of the Republicans were swept away by grape-shot. At length the preparations being completed, the divisions of the reserve rushed from the defiles and precipitated themselves on the Austrian centre; the remainder of the army re-formed, and advanced once more into the field. The irruption of the reserve, composed entirely of fresh troops, led on by the brave Desaix, was irresistible; the village of Marengo was, in a moment, recaptured, and the hostile centre pierced. The example of this phalanx of heroes acted electrically upon the rest of the army. The Austrians, whose ranks were disordered, attempted to retrieve the fortune of the day. Their second line presented a formidable resistance, and the bayonet was the weapon almost exclusively employed; but a brilliant charge of cavalry by Murat; the capture of an entire column of 6000 men by a force of 300 horse, under the younger Kellerman ; the explosion of a powder waggon in the midst of the Austrian columns, and a movement of the Chief Consul, which turned one of their wings, decided the fate of the day. The Austrian army fled, closely pursued by the French. Numbers were drowned in the Bormida. If the battle was murderous to the French, who lost at least 8000. men, it was still more destructive to the Austrians; their loss was reckoned at 15,000 men, killed, wounded, and prisoners, and 26 pieces of cannon.

This loss, heavy as it was, might have been retrieved, had not Melas been entirely surrounded. In front was the victorious army of Buonaparte; in his rear were the united forces of Massena and Suchet, amounting to nearly 20,000 men; on his right flank hovered the division of General Thureau, which menaced Turin. The troops had lost their magazines, and in a few days they must have perished with hunger had they failed to effect a passage through their opponents. Moved by these weighty and distressing considerations, Melas sent an officer to the head-quarters of Buonaparte, who negociated with Berthier the terms of an armistice, which was of course sufficiently unfavourable to the vanquished.

In this manner was the fate of half Lombardy decided in a campaign of about twenty days. Had Napoleon been defeated in the battle of Marengo, his army would unquestionably have been destroyed, as there was no possible means of retreating. * After the armistice, the Chief Consul repaired to Milan, and spent a short time in reorganizing the Cisalpine Republic. On 25th June he passed on, by way of Turin, Mouut Cenis and Chamberry, and arrived at Lyons on 28th. He was received with the greatest distinction. All France was intoxicated with the splendour of his achievements. · The anniversary of the revolution was celebrated with great pomp at Paris on 23d of September; when the standards taken in Italy, and at the battle of Marengo, were presented to the government. The speeches of the Chief Consul on that occasion, and in reply to a committee, whose object was to entreat his acceptance of some signal mark of the public gratitude, are striking, and develope his sagacity and self-government, before prosperity had emboldened him to throw off the mask of disinterestedness. · In Germany the career of Moreau rivalled the brightness of Buonaparte's fame. We cannot afford space to follow him in his various movements. Suffice it to remark, that after several bloody battles, he was enabled to accomplish that part of the plan of the general campaign which required him to detach a powerful division of his troops across the mountains of Switzerland, to co-operate with the army of reserve in Italy. It is not possible for us, in a work like the present, to enter into particulars of the German campaign. We can only mention, that finding himself reduced to a situation of the greatest

• On this occasion we cannot feel much surprise at the personal activity and bravery of Napoleon. Like Richard III, in the field of Bosworth, he knew that all must be staked. “ The glare of a courage thus elicited by danger (observes an able modern writer,) where fear conquers fear, is not to be compared to that calm sunshine which constantly cheers and illuminates the breast of him, who builds his confidence on virtuous principle; it is rather the transient and evanescent lightning of the storm, and which derives half its lustre from the darkness that surrounds it.”

peril, the Emperor Francis sued for an armistice, by which he surrendered the three fortresses of Ulm, Ingolstadt, and Phillipsburg, and left the French army in undisturbed possession of the whole of Suabia and a part of Bavaria.

Thus relieved for a time from the operations of war on the continent, Buonaparte had leisure to coquet with the allies in respect to the conclusion of a general peace. It was clearly his interest to treat with each power separately, and, therefore, negociations for a maritime truce were conducted in this country between Mr. Hammond and M. Otto; but which proved abortive; Buonaparte insisting upon advantages which could be neither safely nor honourably conceded. With Austria he appeared for a time to succeed better; and preliminaries of peace were actually signed by the Austrian plenipotentiary on the basis of the treaty of Campo Formio; but they were disavowed by the Emperor. Buonaparte found leisure also to court the Emperor Paul, who, disgusted with the sequel of the Italian campaign under Suwarrow, and capriciously incensed at the British Government for some alleged irregularities as to the representations which had been made of the conduct of the Russian troops in the expedition to the Helder, in 1799, not only withdrew from the coalition, but entered into an intimate correspondence with the First Consul, who, by personal flattery, the influence of French agents, and, above all, the charms of a French mistress, (Madame Chevalier,) gained as great an ascendency as it was possible for address like his to acquire, over the boisterous passions of so complete a barbarian. · In the midst of these occupations, Buonaparte still continued to promote the internal prosperity of France; and amidst other ameliorations which distinguished this period of his government, effected one important and salutary improvement, the equalization of weights and measures. He also revised the list of emigrants, and restored to their native country not only individuals, but entire classes of persons.

Whilst thus engaged in projects that could not fail of benefiting his country, an attempt was made to assassinate him, as he was going to the opera in his carriage, December the 6th, by means of the explosion of the celebrated infernal machine, in a narrow street. His preservation was almost miraculous; but the circumstance. left upon the mind of the Chief Consul the most unfavourable impressions. It aroused in his bosom the fierce and gloomy passions which had slumbered, or been effectually concealed by his policy since his assumption of the consular power. The conspiracy furnished the Government with a pretext to establish arbitrary tribunals, called extraordinary commissioners, which superseded the functions of juries in all cases of a public nature, affecting the security of the administration, thereby placing the lives and liberties of the citizens completely within the grasp of the First Consul. Thus, by an arbitrary decree, the most celebrated and obnoxious of the terrorists were banished' to Cayennes without the form of a trial.. .

The coteries formed by Madame Buonaparte, were selected with as much care as in established sovereignties is shown to the admission of visitors to a royal or imperial drawing-room. In fact, every step privately taken by Buonaparte, had reference to the great object of his desires, - the assumption of the imperial diadem.

We should digress too far from our main object, were we to enter into a detail of the northern confederacy, as established by the Emperor Paul, at the probable instigation of Buon, aparte, formally acceded to by Prussia, Sweden, and Denmark, and which at the close of the 18th century, threatened the very existence of Great Britain by its formidable navy, as the assertion of the principles which it advocated struck at the root of her highest maritime prerogatives. To preserve our narrative unbroken, we must anticipate the natural order of events, by stating that the ferocious violence of the Emperor Paul, and the resolution of Denmark to adhere to the principles of the confederacy, produced the expedition to Copenhagen, in April, 1800, in which Lord Nelson acquired laurels that would of themselves have conferred immortality upon any other commander, but which could hardly exalt a

reputation already above that of any other seaman since the days of Blake.

The assassination of Paul, and the accession of the Emperor Alexander, destroyed the confederacy, and deprived France of a most important aid.

We have already mentioned that the Emperor Francis refused to ratify the preliminaries agreed to by his minister. Notice was, therefore, given in the usual form of the rupture of the armistice, and when it expired Moreau attacked the whole line of the Austrian army, not with a view to produce a decisive action, but merely to ascertain the vulnerable points of the enemy's line, and make his dispositions accordingly. In this attack he was repulsed, but on the next day, 2d December, was fought the great battle of Hohenlinden. The Austrian arny was commanded by the Archduke John, and was divided into columns, which advanced to the attack of the French lines; but it did not escape the experienced eye of Moreau, that intervals were left between the columns in the line of their march, of which he dexterously availed himself, and penetrating between the centre and wings, destroyed the connection of the different divisions; thus placing them between two fires. The result was the defeat of the Austrians, with the loss of about 10,000 men in killed, wounded, and prisoners, 80 pieces of cannon, and the whole of their baggage. This was the last great event of the campaign. The Austrians, driven froni one position to another, were incessantly and vigorously pursued by Moreau. Their army, diminished by every encounter, and thinned by constant desertions, lost its spirit, and very nearly its discipline. In vain was the Archduke Charles récalled from that obscurity to which he had been reduced by a despicable faction in the councils of his brother, - The great talents, however, of this eminent commander could not retard the victorious march of the French; and the Austrian monarchy was only preserved from destruction by the convention of Steyer, concluded within 90 miles from Vienna. The terms of this armistice were of

« ПредишнаНапред »