Life of Napoleon Bonaparte. Volume IV. Вальтер Скотт
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Название: Life of Napoleon Bonaparte. Volume IV

Автор: Вальтер Скотт

Издательство: Public Domain






      Life of Napoleon Bonaparte, Volume IV


      Conduct of Russia and England during the War with Austria – Meditated Expedition of British Troops to the Continent – Sent to Walcheren – Its Calamitous Details and Result – Proceedings of Napoleon with regard to the Pope – General Miollis enters Rome – Napoleon publishes a Decree, uniting the States of the Church to the French Empire – Is Excommunicated – Pius VII. is banished from Rome, and sent to Grenoble – afterwards brought back to Savona – Buonaparte is attacked by an Assassin – Definitive Treaty of Peace signed at Schoenbrun – Napoleon returns to France on the 14th November, 1809.

      The particular conditions of the peace with Austria were not adjusted until the 14th October, 1809, although the armistice was signed nearly three months before. We avail ourselves of the interval to notice other remarkable events, which happened during this eventful summer; and first, we must briefly revert to the conduct of Russia and England during the war.

      Notwithstanding the personal friendship betwixt the Emperors Alexander and Napoleon – notwithstanding their engagements entered into at Tilsit, and so lately revived at Erfurt, it seems to have been impossible to engage Russia heartily as an ally of Napoleon, in a war which had the destruction or absolute humiliation of Austria. The Court of St. Petersburgh had, it is true, lost no time in securing the advantages which had been stipulated for Russia in the conferences alluded to. Finland had been conquered, torn from Sweden, to which the province had so long belonged, and united with Russia, to whom it furnished a most important frontier and barrier.1 Russia was also, with connivance of France, making war on the Porte, in order to enlarge her dominions by the addition of Moldavia and Wallachia. But though the Court of St. Petersburgh had gained one of these advantages, and was in a way of obtaining the other, the Russian Ministers saw with anxiety the impending fate of Austria, the rather that they themselves were bound by treaty to lend their aid for her destruction. We have seen that Russia had interposed to prevent the war. She was now unwillingly compelled to take part in it; yet when Prince Galatzin marched into Galicia at the head of 30,000 Russians, the manifesto which he published could be hardly termed that of a hostile nation. The Emperor, it stated, had done all in his power to prevent things from coming to this extremity; but now, the war having actually broken out, he was bound by the faith of treaties to send the stipulated number of auxiliaries.2 The motions of this body of Russians were slow, and their conduct in the Austrian dominions rather that of allies than enemies. Some of the Russian officers of rank avowed their politics to be in direct opposition to those of the Emperor, and declared that three-fourths of the generals commanding territorial divisions in Russia were of their opinion. These expressions, with the unusual slowness and lenity just alluded to, were for the present passed over without remark, but were recorded and remembered as matter of high offence, when Napoleon thought that the time was come to exact from Russia a severe account for every thing in which she had disappointed his expectations.

      The exertions of England, at the same period, were of a nature and upon a scale to surprise the world. It seemed as if her flag literally overshadowed the whole seas on the coasts of Italy, Spain, the Ionian Islands, the Baltic Sea. Wherever there was the least show of resistance to the yoke of Buonaparte, the assistance of the English was appealed to, and was readily afforded. In Spain, particularly, the British troops, led by a general whose name began soon to be weighed against those of the best French commanders, displayed their usual gallantry under auspices which no longer permitted it to evaporate in actions of mere eclat.

      Yet the British administration, while they had thus embraced a broader and more adventurous, but at the same time a far wiser system of conducting the war, showed in one most important instance, that they, or a part of them, were not entirely free from the ancient prejudices, which had so long rendered vain the efforts of Britain in favour of the liberties of the world. The general principle was indeed adopted, that the expeditions of Britain should be directed where they could do the cause of Europe the most benefit, and the interests of Napoleon the greatest harm; but still there remained a lurking wish that they could be so directed, as, at the same time, to acquire some peculiar and separate advantage to England, and to secure the accomplishment of what was called a British object. Some of the English ministers might thus be said to resemble the ancient converts from Judaism, who, in embracing the Christian faith, still held themselves bound by the ritual, and fettered by the prejudices of the Jewish people, separated as they were from the rest of mankind.

      It is no wonder that the voice of what is in reality selfishness, is listened to in national councils with more respect than it deserves, since in that case it wears the mask and speaks the language of a species of patriotism, against which it can only be urged, that it is too exclusive in its zeal. Its effects, however, are not the less to be regretted, as disabling strong minds, and misleading wise men; of which the history of Britain affords but too many instances.


      Besides the forces already in the Peninsula, Britain had the means of disposing of, and the will to send to the continent, 40,000 men, with a fleet of thirty-five ships of the line, and twenty frigates, to assist on any point where their services could have been useful. Such an armament on the coast of Spain might have brought to a speedy decision the long and bloody contest in that country, saved much British blood, which the protracted war wasted, and struck a blow, the effects of which, as that of Trafalgar, Buonaparte might have felt on the banks of the Danube. Such an armament, if sent to the north of Germany, ere the destruction of Schill and the defeat of the Duke of Brunswick's enterprise, might have been the means of placing all the northern provinces in active opposition to France, by an effort for which the state of the public mind was already prepared. A successful action would even have given spirits to Prussia, and induced that depressed kingdom to resume the struggle for her independence. In a word, Britain might have had the honour of kindling the same flame, which, being excited by Russia in 1813, was the means of destroying the French influence in Germany, and breaking up the Confederation of the Rhine.

      Unhappily, neither of these important objects seemed to the planners of this enterprise to be connected in a manner sufficiently direct, with objects exclusively interesting to Britain. It was therefore agreed, that the expedition should be sent against the strong fortresses, swampy isles, and dangerous coasts of the Netherlands, in order to seek for dock-yards to be destroyed, and ships to be carried off. Antwerp was particularly aimed at. But, although Napoleon attached great importance to the immense naval yards and docks which he had formed in the Scheldt, yet, weighed with the danger and difficulty of an attack upon them, the object of destroying them seems to have been very inadequate. Admitting that Buonaparte might succeed in building ships in the Scheldt, or elsewhere, there was no possibility, in the existing state of the world, that he could have been able to get sailors to man them; unless, at least, modern seamen could have been bred on dry land, like the crews of the Roman galleys during the war with Carthage. If even the ships could have been manned, it would have been long ere Napoleon, with his utmost exertions, could have brought out of the Scheldt such a fleet as would not have been defeated by half their own numbers of British ships. The dangers arising to Britain from the naval establishments in the Scheldt were remote, nor was the advantage of destroying them, should such destruction be found possible, commensurate with the expense and hazard of the enterprise which was directed against them. Besides, before Antwerp could be attacked, the islands of Beveland and Walcheren were to be taken possession of, and a long amphibious course of hostilities was to be maintained, to enable the expedition to reach the point where alone great results were expected.

      The commander-in-chief was the Earl of Chatham, who, inheriting the family talents of his father, the great minister, was remarkable for a spirit of inactivity and procrastination, the consequences of which had been felt in all the public offices which he held, and which, therefore, were likely to be peculiarly fatal in an expedition requiring the utmost celerity and promptitude of action. It is remarkable, that though these points in Lord Chatham's character were generally known, the public voice at the time, in СКАЧАТЬ


See Russian proclamation to the inhabitants of Finland, Feb. 18, 1808 Annual Register, vol. l., p. 301.


Annual Register, vol. l., p. 759.