Full Text Archive logoFull Text Archive — Books, poems, drama…

History of Modern Europe 1792-1878 by C. A. Fyffe

Part 5 out of 21

Adobe PDF icon
Download this document as a .pdf
File size: 2.5 MB
What's this? light bulb idea Many people prefer to read off-line or to print out text and read from the real printed page. Others want to carry documents around with them on their mobile phones and read while they are on the move. We have created .pdf files of all out documents to accommodate all these groups of people. We recommend that you download .pdfs onto your mobile phone when it is connected to a WiFi connection for reading off-line.

that Palm was even acquainted with the contents of the pamphlet; but as in
the case of the Duke of Enghien, two years before, Napoleon had required a
victim to terrify the House of Bourbon, so now he required a victim to
terrify those who among the German people might be inclined to listen to
the call of patriotism. Palm was not too obscure for the new Charlemagne.
The innocent and unoffending man, innocent even of the honourable crime of
attempting to save his country, was dragged before a tribunal of French
soldiers, and executed within twenty-four hours, in pursuance of the
imperative orders of Napoleon (August 26). The murder was an unnecessary
one, for the Bavarians and the Würtembergers were in fact content with the
yoke they bore; its only effect was to arouse among a patient and
home-loving class the doubt whether the German citizen and his family might
not after all have some interest in the preservation of national
independence.

[Austria neutral. England and Russia can give Prussia no prompt help.]

When, several years later, the oppressions of Napoleon had given to a great
part of the German race at least the transient nobleness of a real
patriotism, the story of Palm's death was one of those that kindled the
bitterest sense of wrong: at the time, it exercised no influence upon the
course of political events. Southern Germany remained passive, and supplied
Napoleon with a reserve of soldiers: Prussia had to look elsewhere for
allies. Its prospects of receiving support were good, if the war should
prove a protracted one, but not otherwise. Austria, crippled by the
disasters of 1805, could only hope to renew the struggle if victory should
declare against Napoleon. In other quarters help might be promised, but it
could not be given at the time and at the place where it was needed. The
Czar proffered the whole forces of his Empire; King George III. forgave the
despoilers of his patrimony when he found that they really intended to
fight the French; but the troops of Alexander lay far in the East, and the
action of England in any Continental war was certain to be dilatory and
ineffective. Prussia was exposed to the first shock of the war alone. In
the existing situation of the French armies, a blow unusually swift and
crushing might well be expected by all who understood Napoleon's warfare.

[Situation of the French and Prussian armies, Sept., 1806.]

[French on the Main.]

[Prussians on the Saale.]

A hundred and seventy thousand French soldiers, with contingents from the
Rhenish Confederate States, lay between the Main and the Inn. The last
weeks of peace, in which the Prussian Government imagined themselves to be
deceiving the enemy while they pushed forward their own preparations, were
employed by Napoleon in quietly concentrating this vast force upon the Main
(September, 1806). Napoleon himself appeared to be absorbed in friendly
negotiations with General Knobelsdorff, the new Prussian Ambassador at
Paris. In order to lull Napoleon's suspicions, Haugwitz had recalled
Lucchesini from Paris, and intentionally deceived his successor as to the
real designs of the Prussian Cabinet. Knobelsdorff confidentially informed
the Emperor that Prussia was not serious in its preparations for war.
Napoleon, caring very little whether Prussia intended to fight or not,
continued at Paris in the appearance of the greatest calm, while his
lieutenants in Southern Germany executed those unobserved movements which
were to collect the entire army upon the Upper Main. In the meantime the
advisers of King Frederick William supposed themselves to have made
everything ready for a vigorous offensive. Divisions of the Prussian army,
numbering nearly 130,000 men, were concentrated in the neighbourhood of
Jena, on the Saale. The bolder spirits in the military council pressed for
an immediate advance through the Thuringian Forest, and for an attack upon
what were supposed to be the scattered detachments of the French in
Bavaria. Military pride and all the traditions of the Great Frederick
impelled Prussia to take the offensive rather than to wait for the enemy
upon the strong line of the Elbe. Political motives pointed in the same
direction, for the support of Saxony was doubtful if once the French were
permitted to approach Dresden.

[Confusion of the Prussians.]

On the 23rd of September King Frederick William arrived at the
head-quarters of the army, which were now at Naumburg, on the Saale. But
his presence brought no controlling mind to the direction of affairs.
Councils of war held on the two succeeding days only revealed the discord
and the irresolution of the military leaders of Prussia. Brunswick, the
commander-in-chief, sketched the boldest plans, and shrank from the
responsibility of executing them. Hohenlohe, who commanded the left wing,
lost no opportunity of opposing his superior; the suggestions of officers
of real ability, like Scharnhorst, chief of the staff, fell unnoticed among
the wrangling of pedants and partisans. Brunswick, himself a man of great
intelligence though of little resolution, saw the true quality of the men
who surrounded him. "Rüchel," he cried, "is a tin trumpet, Möllendorf a
dotard, Kalkreuth a cunning trickster. The generals of division are a set
of stupid journeymen. Are these the people with whom one can make war on
Napoleon? No. The best service that I could render to the King would be to
persuade him to keep the peace." [132] It was ultimately decided, after two
days of argument, that the army should advance through the Thuringian
Forest, while feints on the right and left deceived the French as to its
real direction. The diplomatists, however, who were mad enough to think
that an ultimatum which they had just despatched to Paris would bring
Napoleon on to his knees, insisted that the opening of hostilities should
be deferred till the 8th of October, when the term of grace which they had
given to Napoleon would expire.

[Prussians at Erfurt, Oct. 4.]

A few days after this decision had been formed, intelligence arrived at
head-quarters that Napoleon himself was upon the Rhine. Before the
ultimatum reached the hands of General Knobelsdorff in Paris, Napoleon had
quitted the capital, and the astonished Ambassador could only send the
ultimatum in pursuit of him after he had gone to place himself at the head
of 200,000 men. The news that Napoleon was actually in Mainz confounded the
diplomatists in the Prussian camp, and produced an order for an immediate
advance. This was the wisest as well as the boldest determination that had
yet been formed; and an instant assault upon the French divisions on the
Main might perhaps even now have given the Prussian army the superiority in
the first encounter. But some fatal excuse was always at hand to justify
Brunswick in receding from his resolutions. A positive assurance was
brought into camp by Lucchesini that Napoleon had laid his plans for
remaining on the defensive on the south of the Thuringian Forest. If this
were true, there might yet be time to improve the plan of the campaign; and
on the 4th of October, when every hour was of priceless value, the forward
march was arrested, and a new series of deliberations began at the
head-quarters at Erfurt. In the council held on the 4th of October, a total
change in the plan of operations was urged by Hohenlohe's staff. They
contended, and rightly, that it was the design of Napoleon to pass the
Prussian army on the east by the valley of the Saale, and to cut it off
from the roads to the Elbe. The delay in Brunswick's movements had in fact
brought the French within striking distance of the Prussian communications.
Hohenlohe urged the King to draw back the army from Erfurt to the Saale, or
even to the east of it, in order to cover the roads to Leipzig and the
Elbe. His theory of Napoleon's movements, which was the correct one, was
adopted by the council, and the advance into the Thuringian Forest was
abandoned; but instead of immediately marching eastwards with the whole
army, the generals wasted two more days in hesitations and half-measures.
At length it was agreed that Hohenlohe should take post at Jena, and that
the mass of the army should fall back to Weimar, with the object of
striking a blow at some undetermined point on the line of Napoleon's
advance.

[Encounter at Saalfeld, Oct. 10.]

[Napoleon defeats Hohenlohe at Jena, Oct. 14.]

[Davoust defeats Brunswick at Auerstädt, Oct. 14.]

[Ruin of the Prussian Army.]

Napoleon, who had just received the Prussian ultimatum with unbounded
ridicule and contempt, was now moving along the roads that lead from
Bamberg and Baireuth to the Upper Saale. On the 10th of October, as the
division of Lannes was approaching Saalfeld, it was attacked by Prince
Louis Ferdinand at the head of Hohenlohe's advanced guard. The attack was
made against Hohenlohe's orders. It resulted in the total rout of the
Prussian force. Though the numbers engaged were small, the loss of
magazines and artillery, and the death of Prince Louis Ferdinand, the hero
of the war-party, gave to this first repulse the moral effect of a great
military disaster. Hohenlohe's troops at Jena were seized with panic;
numbers of men threw away their arms and dispersed; the drivers of
artillery-waggons and provision-carts cut the traces and rode off with
their horses. Brunswick, however, and the main body of the army, were now
at Weimar, close at hand; and if Brunswick had decided to fight a great
battle at Jena, the Prussians might have brought nearly 90,000 men into
action. But the plans of the irresolute commander were again changed. It
was resolved to fall back upon Magdeburg and the Elbe. Brunswick himself
moved northwards to Naumburg; Hohenlohe was ordered to hold the French in
check at Jena until this movement was completed. Napoleon reached Jena. He
had no intelligence of Brunswick's retreat, and imagined the mass of the
Prussian army to be gathered round Hohenlohe, on the plateau before him. He
sent Davoust, with a corps 27,000 strong, to outflank the enemy by a march
in the direction of Naumburg, and himself prepared to make the attack in
front with 90,000 men, a force more than double Hohenlohe's real army. The
attack was made on the 14th of October. Hohenlohe's army was dashed to
pieces by Napoleon, and fled in wild disorder. Davoust's weak corps, which
had not expected to meet with any important forces until it fell upon
Hohenlohe's flank, found itself in the presence of Brunswick's main army,
when it arrived at Auerstädt, a few miles to the north. Fortune had given
to the Prussian commander an extraordinary chance of retrieving what
strategy had lost. A battle conducted with common military skill would not
only have destroyed Davoust, but have secured, at least for the larger
portion of the Prussian forces, a safe retreat to Leipzig or the Elbe. The
French general, availing himself of steep and broken ground, defeated
numbers nearly double his own through the confusion of his adversary, who
sent up detachment after detachment instead of throwing himself upon
Davoust with his entire strength. The fighting was as furious on the
Prussian side as its conduct was unskilful. King Frederick William, who led
the earlier cavalry charges, had two horses killed under him. Brunswick was
mortally wounded. Many of the other generals were killed or disabled. There
remained, however, a sufficient number of unbroken regiments to preserve
some order in the retreat until the army came into contact with the remnant
of Hohenlohe's forces, flying for their lives before the cavalry of Murat.
Then all hope was lost. The fugitive mass struck panic and confusion into
the retreating columns; and with the exception of a few regiments which
gathered round well-known leaders, the soldiers threw away their arms and
spread over the country in headlong rout. There was no line of retreat, and
no rallying-point. The disaster of a single day made an end of the Prussian
army as a force capable of meeting the enemy in the field. A great part of
the troops was captured by the pursuing enemy during the next few days. The
regiments which preserved their coherence were too weak to make any attempt
to check Napoleon's advance, and could only hope to save themselves by
escaping to the fortresses on the Oder.

[Haugwitz and Lord Morpeth.]

[Retreat and surrender of Hohenlohe.]

Two days before the battle of Jena, an English envoy, Lord Morpeth, had
arrived at the head-quarters of the King of Prussia, claiming the
restoration of Hanover, and bearing an offer of the friendship and support
of Great Britain. At the moment when the Prussian monarchy was on the point
of being hurled to the ground, its Government might have been thought
likely to welcome any security that it should not be abandoned in its
utmost need. Haugwitz, however, was at head-quarters, dictating lying
bulletins, and perplexing the generals with ridiculous arguments of policy
until the French actually opened fire. When the English envoy made known
his arrival, he found that no one would transact business with him.
Haugwitz had determined to evade all negotiations until the battle had been
fought. He was unwilling to part with Hanover, and he hoped that a victory
over Napoleon would enable him to meet Lord Morpeth with a bolder
countenance on the following day. When that day arrived, Ministers and
diplomatists were flying headlong over the country. The King made his
escape to Weimar, and wrote to Napoleon, begging for an armistice; but the
armistice was refused, and the pursuit of the broken army was followed up
without a moment's pause. The capital offered no safe halting-place; and
Frederick William only rested when he had arrived at Graudenz, upon the
Vistula. Hohenlohe's poor remnant of an army passed the Elbe at Magdeburg,
and took the road for Stettin, at the mouth of the Oder, leaving Berlin to
its fate. The retreat was badly conducted; alternate halts and strained
marches discouraged the best of the soldiers. As the men passed their
native villages they abandoned the famishing and broken-spirited columns;
and at the end of a fortnight's disasters Prince Hohenlohe surrendered to
his pursuers at Prenzlau with his main body, now numbering only 10,000 men
(Oct. 28).

[Blücher at Lübeck.]

Blücher, who had shown the utmost energy and fortitude after the
catastrophe of Jena, was moving in the rear of Hohenlohe with a
considerable force which his courage had gathered around him. On learning
of Hohenlohe's capitulation, he instantly reversed his line of march, and
made for the Hanoverian fortress of Hameln, in order to continue the war in
the rear of the French. Overwhelming forces, however, cut off his retreat
to the Elbe; he was hemmed in on the east and on the west; and nothing
remained for him but to throw himself into the neutral town of Lübeck, and
fight until food and ammunition failed him. The French were at his heels.
The magistrates of Lübeck prayed that their city might not be made into a
battle-field, but in vain; Blücher refused to move into the open country.
The town was stormed by the French, and put to the sack. Blücher was driven
out, desperately fighting, and pent in between the Danish frontier and the
sea. Here, surrounded by overpowering numbers, without food, without
ammunition, he capitulated on the 7th of November, after his courage and
resolution had done everything that could ennoble both general and soldiers
in the midst of overwhelming calamity.

[Napoleon at Berlin, Oct. 27.]

[Capitulation of Prussian fortresses.]

The honour of entering the Prussian capital was given by Napoleon to
Davoust, whose victory at Auerstädt had in fact far surpassed his own.
Davoust entered Berlin without resistance on the 25th of October; Napoleon
himself went to Potsdam, and carried off the sword and the scarf that lay
upon the grave of Frederick the Great. Two days after Davoust, the Emperor
made his own triumphal entry into the capital. He assumed the part of the
protector of the people against the aristocracy, ordering the formation of
a municipal body and of a civic guard for the city of Berlin. The military
aristocracy he treated with the bitterest hatred and contempt. "I will make
that noblesse," he cried, "so poor that they shall beg their bread." The
disaster of Jena had indeed fearfully punished the insolence with which the
officers of the army had treated the rest of the nation. The Guards were
marched past the windows of the citizens of Berlin, a miserable troop of
captives; soldiers of rank who remained in the city had to attend upon the
French Emperor to receive his orders. But calamity was only beginning. The
overthrow of Jena had been caused by faults of generalship, and cast no
stain upon the courage of the officers; the surrender of the Prussian
fortresses, which began on the day when the French entered Berlin, attached
the utmost personal disgrace to their commanders. Even after the
destruction of the army in the field, Prussia's situation would not have
been hopeless if the commanders of fortresses had acted on the ordinary
rules of military duty. Magdeburg and the strongholds upon the Oder were
sufficiently armed and provisioned to detain the entire French army, and to
give time to the King to collect upon the Vistula a force as numerous as
that which he had lost. But whatever is weakest in human nature--old age,
fear, and credulity--seemed to have been placed at the head of Prussia's
defences. The very object for which fortresses exist was forgotten; and the
fact that one army had been beaten in the field was made a reason for
permitting the enemy to forestall the organisation of another. Spandau
surrendered on the 25th of October, Stettin on the 29th. These were places
of no great strength; but the next fortress to capitulate, Küstrin on the
Oder, was in full order for a long siege. It was surrendered by the older
officers, amidst the curses of the subalterns and the common soldiers: the
artillerymen had to be dragged from their guns by force. Magdeburg, with a
garrison of 24,000 men and enormous supplies, fell before a French force
not numerous enough to beleaguer it (Nov. 8).

[Napoleon's demands.]

Neither Napoleon himself nor any one else in Europe could have foreseen
such conduct on the part of the Prussian commanders. The unexpected series
of capitulations made him demand totally different terms of peace from
those which he had offered after the battle of Jena. A week after the
victory, Napoleon had demanded, as the price of peace, the cession of
Prussia's territory west of the Elbe, with the exception of the town of
Magdeburg, and the withdrawal of Prussia from the affairs of Germany. These
terms were communicated to King Frederick William; he accepted them, and
sent Lucchesini to Berlin to negotiate for peace upon this basis.
Lucchesini had scarcely reached the capital when the tidings arrived of
Hohenlohe's capitulation, followed by the surrender of Stettin and Küstrin.
The Prussian envoy now sought in vain to procure Napoleon's ratification of
the terms which he had himself proposed. No word of peace could be
obtained: an armistice was all that the Emperor would grant, and the terms
on which the armistice was offered rose with each new disaster to the
Prussian arms. On the fall of Magdeburg becoming known, Napoleon demanded
that the troops of Prussia should retire behind the Vistula, and surrender
every fortress that they still retained, with the single exception of
Königsberg. Much as Prussia had lost, it would have cost Napoleon a second
campaign to make himself master of what he now asked; but to such a depth
had the Prussian Government sunk, that Lucchesini actually signed a
convention at Charlottenburg (November 16), surrendering to Napoleon, in
return for an armistice, the entire list of uncaptured fortresses,
including Dantzig and Thorn on the Lower Vistula, Breslau, with the rest of
the untouched defences of Silesia, Warsaw and Praga in Prussian Poland, and
Colberg upon the Pomeranian coast. [133]

[Frederick William continues the war.]

The treaty, however, required the King's ratification. Frederick William,
timorous as he was, hesitated to confirm an agreement which ousted him from
his dominions as completely as if the last soldier of Prussia had gone into
captivity. The patriotic party, headed by Stein, pleaded for the honour of
the country against the miserable Cabinet which now sought to complete its
work of ruin. Assurances of support arrived from St. Petersburg. The King
determined to reject the treaty, and to continue the war to the last
extremity. Haugwitz hereupon tendered his resignation, and terminated a
political career disastrous beyond any recorded in modern times. For a
moment, it seemed as if the real interests of the country were at length to
be recognised in the appointment of Stein to one of the three principal
offices of State. But the King still remained blind to the necessity of
unity in the government, and angrily dismissed Stein when he refused to
hold the Ministry if representatives of the old Cabinet and of the
peace-party were to have places beside him. The King's act was ill
calculated to serve the interests of Prussia, either at home or abroad.
Stein was the one Minister on whom the patriotic party of Prussia and the
Governments of Europe could rely with perfect confidence. [134] His
dismissal at this crisis proved the incurable poverty of Frederick
William's mental nature; it also proved that, so long as any hope remained
of saving the Prussian State by the help of the Czar of Russia, the
patriotic party had little chance of creating a responsible government at
home.

[Napoleon at Berlin.]

[The Berlin decree against English commerce, Nov. 21, 1806.]

Throughout the month of November French armies overran Northern Germany:
Napoleon himself remained at Berlin, and laid the foundations of a
political system corresponding to that which he had imposed upon Southern
Germany after the victory of Austerlitz. The Houses of Brunswick and
Hesse-Cassel were deposed, in order to create a new client-kingdom of
Westphalia; Saxony, with Weimar and four other duchies, entered the
Confederation of the Rhine. A measure more widely affecting the Continent
of Europe dated from the last days of the Emperor's residence at the
Prussian capital. On the 21st of November, 1806, a decree was published at
Berlin prohibiting the inhabitants of the entire European territory allied
with France from carrying on any commerce with Great Britain, or admitting
any merchandise that had been produced in Great Britain or in its colonies.
[135] The line of coast thus closed to the shipping and the produce of the
British Empire included everything from the Vistula to the southern point
of Dalmatia, with the exception of Denmark and Portugal and the Austrian
port of Trieste. All property belonging to English subjects, all
merchandise of British origin, whoever might be the owner, was ordered to
be confiscated: no vessel that had even touched at a British port was
permitted to enter a Continental harbour. It was the fixed purpose of
Napoleon to exhaust Great Britain, since he could not destroy its navies,
or, according to his own expression, to conquer England upon the Continent.
All that was most harsh and unjust in the operation of the Berlin Decree
fell, however, more upon Napoleon's own subjects than upon Great Britain.
The exclusion of British ships from the harbours of the allies of France
was no more than the exercise of a common right in war; even the seizure of
the property of Englishmen, though a violation of international law, bore
at least an analogy to the seizure of French property at sea; but the
confiscation of the merchandise of German and Dutch traders, after it had
lain for weeks in their own warehouses, solely because it had been produced
in the British Empire, was an act of flagrant and odious oppression. The
first result of the Berlin Decree was to fill the trading towns of North
Germany with French revenue-officers and inquisitors. Peaceable tradesmen
began to understand the import of the battle of Jena when French gendarmes
threw their stock into the common furnace, or dragged them to prison for
possessing a hogshead of Jamaica sugar or a bale of Leeds cloth. The
merchants who possessed a large quantity of English or colonial wares were
the heaviest sufferers by Napoleon's commercial policy: the public found
the markets supplied by American and Danish traders, until, at a later
period, the British Government adopted reprisals, and prevented the ships
of neutrals from entering any port from which English vessels were
excluded. Then every cottage felt the stress of the war. But if the full
consequences of the Berlin Decree were delayed until the retaliation of
Great Britain reached the dimensions of Napoleon's own tyranny, the Decree
itself marked on the part of Napoleon the assumption of a power in conflict
with the needs and habits of European life. Like most of the schemes of
Napoleon subsequent to the victories of 1806, it transgressed the limits of
practical statesmanship, and displayed an ambition no longer raised above
mere tyranny by its harmony with forms of progress and with the better
tendencies of the age.

[Napoleon and the Poles.]

Immediately after signing the Berlin Decree, Napoleon quitted the Prussian
capital (Nov. 25). The first act of the war had now closed. The Prussian
State was overthrown; its territory as far as the Vistula lay at the mercy
of the invader; its King was a fugitive at Königsberg, at the eastern
extremity of his dominions. The second act of the war began with the
rejection of the armistice which had been signed by Lucchesini, and with
the entry of Russia into the field against Napoleon. The scene of
hostilities was henceforward in Prussian Poland and in the Baltic Province
lying between the lower Vistula and the Russian frontier. Napoleon entered
Poland, as he had entered Italy ten years before, with the pretence of
restoring liberty to an enslaved people. Kosciusko's name was fraudulently
attached to a proclamation summoning the Polish nation to arms; and
although Kosciusko himself declined to place any trust in the betrayer of
Venice, thousands of his countrymen flocked to Napoleon's standard, or
anticipated his arrival by capturing and expelling the Prussian detachments
scattered through their country. Promises of the restoration of Polish
independence were given by Napoleon in abundance; but the cause of Poland
was the last to attract the sympathy of a man who considered the sacrifice
of the weak to the strong to be the first principle of all good policy. To
have attempted the restoration of Polish independence would have been to
make permanent enemies of Russia and Prussia for the sake of an ally weaker
than either of them. The project was not at this time seriously entertained
by Napoleon. He had no motive to face a work of such enormous difficulty as
the creation of a solid political order among the most unpractical race in
Europe. He was glad to enrol the Polish nobles among his soldiers; he knew
the value of their enthusiasm, and took pains to excite it; but, when the
battle was over, it was with Russia, not Poland, that France had to settle;
and no better fate remained, even for the Prussian provinces of Poland,
than in part to be formed into a client-state, in part to be surrendered as
a means of accommodation with the Czar.

[Campaign in Poland against Russia, Dec., 1806.]

The armies of Russia were at some distance from the Vistula when, in
November, 1806, Napoleon entered Polish territory. Their movements were
slow, their numbers insufficient. At the moment when all the forces of the
Empire were required for the struggle against Napoleon, troops were being
sent into Moldavia against the Sultan. Nor were the Russian commanders
anxious to save what still remained of the Prussian kingdom. The disasters
of Prussia, like those of Austria at the beginning of the campaign of 1805,
excited less sympathy than contempt; and the inclination of the Czar's
generals was rather to carry on the war upon the frontier of their own
country than to commit themselves to a distant campaign with a despised
ally. Lestocq, who commanded the remnant of the Prussian army upon the
Vistula, was therefore directed to abandon his position at Thorn and to
move eastwards. The French crossed the Vistula higher up the river; and by
the middle of December the armies of France and Russia lay opposite to one
another in the neighbourhood of Pultusk, upon the Ukra and the Narew. The
first encounter, though not of a decisive character, resulted in the
retreat of the Russians. Heavy rains and fathomless mud checked the
pursuit. War seemed almost impossible in such a country and such a climate;
and Napoleon ordered his troops to take up their winter quarters along the
Vistula, believing that nothing more could be attempted on either side
before the spring.

[Eylau, Feb. 8, 1807.]

[Napoleon and Bennigsen in East Prussia.]

But the command of the Russian forces was now transferred from the aged and
half-mad Kamenski, [136] who had opened the campaign, to a general better
qualified to cope with Napoleon. Bennigsen, the new commander-in-chief, was
an active and daring soldier. Though a German by birth, his soldiership was
of that dogged and resolute order which suits the character of Russian
troops; and, in the mid-winter of 1806, Napoleon found beyond the Vistula
such an enemy as he had never encountered in Western Europe. Bennigsen
conceived the design of surprising the extreme left of the French line,
where Ney's division lay stretched towards the Baltic, far to the
north-east of Napoleon's main body. Forest and marsh concealed the movement
of the Russian troops, and both Ney and Bernadotte narrowly escaped
destruction. Napoleon now broke up his winter quarters, and marched in
great force against Bennigsen in the district between Königsberg and the
mouth of the Vistula. Bennigsen manoeuvred and retired until his troops
clamoured for battle. He then took up a position at Eylau, and waited for
the attack of the French. The battle of Eylau, fought in the midst of
snowstorms on the 8th of February, 1807, was unlike anything that Napoleon
had ever yet seen. His columns threw themselves in vain upon the Russian
infantry. Augereau's corps was totally destroyed in the beginning of the
battle. The Russians pressed upon the ground where Napoleon himself stood;
and, although the superiority of the Emperor's tactics at length turned the
scale, and the French began a forward movement, their advance was stopped
by the arrival of Lestocq and a body of 13,000 Prussians. At the close of
the engagement 30,000 men lay wounded or dead in the snow; the positions of
the armies remained what they had been in the morning. Bennigsen's
lieutenants urged him to renew the combat on the next day; but the
confusion of the Russian army was such that the French, in spite of their
losses and discouragement, would probably have gained the victory in a
second battle; [137] and the Russian commander determined to fall back
towards Königsberg, content with having disabled the enemy and given
Napoleon such a check as he had never received before. Napoleon, who had
announced his intention of entering Königsberg in triumph, fell back upon
the river Passarge, and awaited the arrival of reinforcements.

[Sieges of Dantzig and Colberg, March, 1807.]

[Inaction of England.]

[Fall of Grenville's Ministry, March 24, 1807.]

[Treaty of Barrenstein between Russia, Prussia, England, and Sweden.
April, 1807.]

The warfare of the next few months was confined to the reduction of the
Prussian fortresses which had not yet fallen into the hands of the French.
Dantzig surrendered after a long and difficult siege; the little town of
Colberg upon the Pomeranian coast prolonged a defence as honourable to its
inhabitants as to the military leaders. Two soldiers of singularly
different character, each destined to play a conspicuous part in coming
years, first distinguished themselves in the defence of Colberg. Gneisenau,
a scientific soldier of the highest order, the future guide of Blücher's
victorious campaigns, commanded the garrison; Schill, a cavalry officer of
adventurous daring, gathered round him a troop of hardy riders, and
harassed the French with an audacity as perplexing to his military
superiors as to the enemy. The citizens, led by their burgomaster, threw
themselves into the work of defence with a vigour in striking contrast to
the general apathy of the Prussian people; and up to the end of the war
Colberg remained uncaptured. Obscure as Colberg was, its defence might have
given a new turn to the war if the Government of Great Britain had listened
to the entreaties of the Emperor Alexander, and despatched a force to the
Baltic to threaten the communications of Napoleon. The task was not a
difficult one for a Power which could find troops, as England now did, to
send to Constantinople, to Alexandria, and to Buenos Ayres; but military
judgment was more than ever wanting to the British Cabinet. Fox had died at
the beginning of the war; his successors in Grenville's Ministry, though
they possessed a sound theory of foreign policy, [138] were not fortunate
in its application, nor were they prompt enough in giving financial help to
their allies. Suddenly, however, King George quarrelled with his Ministers
upon the ancient question of Catholic Disabilities, and drove them from
office (March 24). The country sided with the King. A Ministry came into
power, composed of the old supporters of Pitt, men, with the exception of
Canning and Castlereagh, of narrow views and poor capacity, headed by the
Duke of Portland, who, in 1793, had given his name to the section of the
Whig party which joined Pitt. The foreign policy of the new Cabinet, which
concealed its total lack of all other statesmanship, returned to the lines
laid down by Pitt in 1805. Negotiations were opened with Russia for the
despatch of an English army to the Baltic; arms and money were promised to
the Prussian King. For a moment it seemed as if the Powers of Europe had
never been united in so cordial a league. The Czar embraced the King of
Prussia in the midst of his soldiers, and declared with tears that the two
should stand or fall together. The Treaty of Bartenstein, signed in April
1807 pledged the Courts of St. Petersburg, Stockholm, and Berlin to a joint
prosecution of the war, and the common conclusion of peace. Great Britain
joined the pact, and prepared to fulfil its part in the conflict upon the
Baltic. But the task was a difficult one, for Grenville's Ministry had
dispersed the fleet of transports; and, although Canning determined upon
the Baltic expedition in April, two months passed before the fleet was
ready to sail.

[Summer campaign in East Prussia, 1807.]

[Battle of Friedland.]

In the meantime army upon army was moving to the support of Napoleon, from
France, from Spain, from Holland, and from Southern Germany. The fortresses
of the Elbe and the Oder, which ought to have been his barrier, had become
his base of operations; and so enormous were the forces at his command,
that, after manning every stronghold in Central Europe, he was able at the
beginning of June to bring 140,000 men into the field beyond the Vistula.
The Russians had also received reinforcements, but Bennigsen's army was
still weaker than that of the enemy. It was Bennigsen, nevertheless, who
began the attack; and now, as in the winter campaign, he attempted to
surprise and crush the northern corps of Ney. The same general movement of
the French army followed as in January. The Russian commander, outnumbered
by the French, retired to his fortified camp at Heilsberg. After sustaining
a bloody repulse in an attack upon this position, Napoleon drew Bennigsen
from his lair by marching straight upon Königsberg. Bennigsen supposed
himself to be in time to deal with an isolated corps; he found himself face
to face with the whole forces of the enemy at Friedland, accepted battle,
and was unable to save his army from a severe and decisive defeat (June
14). The victory of Friedland brought the French into Königsberg. Bennigsen
retired behind the Niemen; and on the 19th of June an armistice closed the
operations of the hostile forces upon the frontiers of Russia. [139]

The situation of Bennigsen's army was by no means desperate. His men had
not been surrounded; they had lost scarcely any prisoners; they felt no
fear of the French. But the general exaggerated the seriousness of his
defeat. Like most of his officers, he was weary of the war, and felt no
sympathy with the motives which led the Emperor to fight for the common
cause of Europe. The politicians who surrounded Alexander urged him to
withdraw Russia from a conflict in which she had nothing to gain. The
Emperor wavered. The tardiness of Great Britain, the continued neutrality
of Austria, cast a doubt upon the wisdom of his own disinterestedness; and
he determined to meet Napoleon, and ascertain the terms on which Russia
might be reconciled to the master of half the Continent.

[Interview of Napoleon and Alexander at Tilsit, June 25.]

On the 25th of June the two sovereigns met one another on the raft of
Tilsit, in the midstream of the river Niemen. The conversation, which is
alleged to have been opened by Alexander with an expression of hatred
towards England, was heard by no one but the speakers. But whatever the
eagerness or the reluctance of the Russian monarch to sever himself from
Great Britain, the purpose of Napoleon was effected. Alexander surrendered
himself to the addresses of a conqueror who seemed to ask for nothing and
to offer everything. The negotiations were prolonged; the relations of the
two monarchs became more and more intimate; and the issue of the struggle
for life or death was that Russia accepted the whole scheme of Napoleonic
conquest, and took its place by the side of the despoiler in return for its
share of the prey. It was in vain that the King of Prussia had rejected
Napoleon's offers after the battle of Eylau, in fidelity to his engagements
towards his ally. Promises, treaties, and pity were alike cast to the
winds. The unfortunate Frederick William received no more embraces; the
friend with whom he was to stand or fall bargained away the larger half of
his dominions to Napoleon, and even rectified the Russian frontier at his
expense. Prussia's continued existence in any shape whatever was described
as a concession made by Napoleon to Alexander. By the public articles of
the Treaties of Tilsit, signed by France, Russia, and Prussia in the first
week of July, the King of Prussia ceded to Napoleon the whole of his
dominions west of the Elbe, and the entire territory which Prussia had
gained in the three partitions of Poland, with the exception of a district
upon the Lower Vistula connecting Pomerania with Eastern Prussia. Out of
the ceded territory on the west of the Elbe a Kingdom of Westphalia was
created for Napoleon's brother Jerome; the Polish provinces of Prussia,
with the exception of a strip made over to Alexander, were formed into the
Grand-Duchy of Warsaw, and presented to Napoleon's vassal, the King of
Saxony. Russia recognised the Napoleonic client-states in Italy, Holland,
and Germany. The Czar undertook to offer his mediation in the conflict
between France and Great Britain; a secret article provided that, in the
event of Great Britain and France being at war on the ensuing 1st of
December, Prussia should declare war against Great Britain.

[Secret Treaty of Alliance.]

[Conspiracy of the two Emperors.]

Such were the stipulations contained in the formal Treaties of Peace
between the three Powers. These, however, contained but a small part of the
terms agreed upon between the masters of the east and of the west.
A secret Treaty of Alliance, distinct from the Treaty of Peace, was also
signed by Napoleon and Alexander. In the conversations which won over the
Czar to the cause of France, Napoleon had offered to Alexander the spoils
of Sweden and the Ottoman Empire. Finland and the Danubian provinces were
not too high a price for the support of a Power whose arms could paralyse
Austria and Prussia. In return for the promise of this extension of his
Empire, Alexander undertook, in the event of Great Britain refusing terms
of peace dictated by himself, to unite his arms to those of Napoleon, and
to force the neutral maritime Powers, Denmark and Portugal, to take part in
the struggle against England. The annexation of Moldavia and Wallachia to
the Russian Empire was provided for under the form of a French mediation.
In the event of the Porte declining this mediation, Napoleon undertook to
assist Russia to liberate all the European territory subject to the yoke of
the Sultan, with the exception of Roumelia and Constantinople. A partition
of the liberated territory between France and Russia, as well as the
establishment of the Napoleonic house in Spain, probably formed the subject
rather of a verbal understanding than of any written agreement. [140]

Such was this vast and threatening scheme, conceived by the man whose whole
career had been one consistent struggle for personal domination, accepted
by the man who among the rulers of the Continent had hitherto shown the
greatest power of acting for a European end, and of interesting himself in
a cause not directly his own. In the imagination of Napoleon, the national
forces of the western continent had now ceased to exist. Austria excepted,
there was no State upon the mainland whose army and navy were not
prospectively in the hands of himself and his new ally. The commerce of
Great Britain, already excluded from the greater part of Europe, was now to
be shut out from all the rest; the armies which had hitherto fought under
British subsidies for the independence of Europe, the navies which had
preserved their existence by neutrality or by friendship with England, were
soon to be thrown without distinction against that last foe. If even at
this moment an English statesman who had learnt the secret agreement of
Tilsit might have looked without fear to the future of his country, it was
not from any imperfection in the structure of Continental tyranny. The
fleets of Denmark and Portugal might be of little real avail against
English seamen; the homes of the English people might still be as secure
from foreign invasion as when Nelson guarded the seas; but it was not from
any vestige of political honour surviving in the Emperor Alexander. Where
Alexander's action was of decisive importance, in his mediation between
France and Prussia, he threw himself without scruple on to the side of
oppression. It lay within his power to gain terms of peace for Prussia as
lenient as those which Austria had gained at Campo Formio and at Lunéville:
he sacrificed Prussia, as he allied himself against the last upholders of
national independence in Europe, in order that he might himself receive
Finland and the Danubian Provinces.

[English expedition against Denmark, July, 1807.]

Two days before the signature of the Treaty of Tilsit the British troops
which had once been so anxiously expected by the Czar landed in the island
of Rügen. The struggle in which they were intended to take their part was
over. Sweden alone remained in arms; and even the Quixotic pugnacity of
King Gustavus was unable to save Stralsund from a speedy capitulation. But
the troops of Great Britain were not destined to return without striking a
blow. The negotiations between Napoleon and Alexander had scarcely begun,
when secret intelligence of their purport was sent to the British
Government. [141] It became known in London that the fleet of Denmark was
to be seized by Napoleon, and forced to fight against Great Britain.
Canning and his colleagues acted with the promptitude that seldom failed
the British Government when it could effect its object by the fleet alone.
They determined to anticipate Napoleon's violation of Danish neutrality,
and to seize upon the navy which would otherwise be seized by France and
Russia.

[Bombardment of Copenhagen, Sept. 2.]

On the 28th of July a fleet with 20,000 men on board set sail from the
British coast. The troops landed in Denmark in the middle of August, and
united with the corps which had already been despatched to Rügen. The
Danish Government was summoned to place its navy in the hands of Great
Britain, in order that it might remain as a deposit in some British port
until the conclusion of peace. While demanding this sacrifice of Danish
neutrality, England undertook to protect the Danish nation and colonies
from the hostility of Napoleon, and to place at the disposal of its
Government every means of naval and military defence. Failing the surrender
of the fleet, the English declared that they would bombard Copenhagen. The
reply given to this summons was such as might be expected from a courageous
nation exasperated against Great Britain by its harsh treatment of neutral
ships of commerce, and inclined to submit to the despot of the Continent
rather than to the tyrants of the seas. Negotiations proved fruitless, and
on the 2nd of September the English opened fire on Copenhagen. For three
days and nights the city underwent a bombardment of cruel efficiency.
Eighteen hundred houses were levelled, the town was set on fire in several
places, and a large number of the inhabitants lost their lives. At length
the commander found himself compelled to capitulate. The fleet was handed
over to Great Britain, with all the stores in the arsenal of Copenhagen. It
was brought to England, no longer under the terms of a friendly neutrality,
but as a prize of war.

The captors themselves were ashamed of their spoil. England received an
armament which had been taken from a people who were not our enemies, and
by an attack which was not war, with more misgiving than applause. In
Europe the seemingly unprovoked assault upon a weak neutral State excited
the utmost indignation. The British Ministry, who were prevented from
making public the evidence which they had received of the intention of the
two Emperors, were believed to have invented the story of the Secret
Treaty. The Danish Government denied that Napoleon had demanded their
co-operation; Napoleon and Alexander themselves assumed the air of
indignant astonishment. But the facts alleged by Canning and his colleagues
were correct. The conspiracy of the two Emperors was no fiction. The only
question still remaining open--and this is indeed an essential one--relates
to the engagements entered into by the Danish Government itself. Napoleon
in his correspondence of this date alludes to certain promises made to him
by the Court of Denmark, but he also complains that these promises had not
been fulfilled; and the context of the letter renders it almost certain
that, whatever may have been demanded by Napoleon, nothing more was
promised by Denmark than that its ports should be closed to English
vessels. [142] Had the British Cabinet possessed evidence of the
determination of the Danish Government to transfer its fleet to Napoleon
without resistance, the attack upon Denmark, considered as virtually an act
of war, would not have been unjust. But beyond an alleged expression of
Napoleon at Tilsit, no such evidence was even stated to have reached
London; and the undoubted conspiracy of the Emperors against Danish
neutrality was no sufficient ground for an action on the part of Great
Britain which went so far beyond the mere frustration of their designs. The
surrender of the Danish fleet demanded by England would have been an
unqualified act of war on the part of Denmark against Napoleon; it was no
mere guarantee for a continued neutrality. Nor had the British Government
the last excuse of an urgent and overwhelming necessity. Nineteen Danish
men-of-war would not have turned the scale against England. The memory of
Trafalgar might well have given a British Ministry courage to meet its
enemies by the ordinary methods of war. Had the forces of Denmark been far
larger than they actually were, the peril of Great Britain was not so
extreme as to excuse the wrong done to mankind by an example encouraging
all future belligerents to anticipate one another in forcing each neutral
state to take part with themselves.

[Napoleon's demands upon Portugal.]

The fleet which Napoleon had meant to turn against this country now lay
safe within Portsmouth harbour. Denmark, in bitter resentment, declared war
against Great Britain, and rendered some service to the Continental League
by the attacks of its privateers upon British merchant-vessels in the
Baltic. The second neutral Power whose fate had been decided by the two
Emperors at Tilsit received the summons of Napoleon a few days before the
attack on Copenhagen. The Regent of Portugal himself informed the British
Government that he had been required by Napoleon to close his ports to
British vessels, to declare war on England, and to confiscate all British
property within his dominions. Placed between a Power which could strip him
of his dominions on land, and one which could despoil him of everything he
possessed beyond the sea, the Regent determined to maintain his ancient
friendship with Great Britain, and to submit to Napoleon only in so far as
the English Government would excuse him, as acting under coercion. Although
a nominal state of war arose between Portugal and England, the Regent
really acted in the interest of England, and followed the advice of the
British Cabinet up to the end.

[Treaty of Fontainebleau between France and Spain for the partition of
Portugal, Oct. 27.]

The end was soon to come. The demands of Napoleon, arbitrary and oppressive
as they were, by no means expressed his full intentions towards Portugal.
He had determined to seize upon this country, and to employ it as a means
for extending his own dominion over the whole of the Spanish Peninsula. An
army-corps, under the command of Junot, had been already placed in the
Pyrenees. On the 12th of October Napoleon received the answer of the Regent
of Portugal, consenting to declare war upon England, and only rejecting the
dishonourable order to confiscate all English property. This single act of
resistance was sufficient for Napoleon's purpose. He immediately recalled
his ambassador from Lisbon, and gave orders to Junot to cross the frontier,
and march upon Portugal. The King of Spain, who was to be Napoleon's next
victim, was for the moment employed as his accomplice. A treaty was
concluded at Fontainebleau between Napoleon and King Charles IV. for the
partition of Portugal (Oct. 27). [143] In return for the cession of the
kingdom of Etruria, which was still nominally governed by a member of the
Spanish house, the King of Spain was promised half the Portuguese colonies,
along with the title of Emperor of the Indies; the northern provinces of
Portugal were reserved for the infant King of Etruria, its southern
provinces for Godoy, Minister of Charles IV.; the central districts were to
remain in the hands of France, and to be employed as a means of regaining
the Spanish colonies from England upon the conclusion of a general peace.

[Junot invades Portugal, Nov., 1807.]

[Flight of the House of Braganza.]

Not one of these provisions was intended to be carried into effect. The
conquest of Portugal was but a part of the conquest of the whole peninsula.
But neither the Spanish Court nor the Spanish people suspected Napoleon's
design. Junot advanced without resistance through the intervening Spanish
territory, and pushed forward upon Lisbon with the utmost haste. The speed
at which Napoleon's orders forced him to march reduced his army to utter
prostration, and the least resistance would have resulted in its ruin. But
the Court of Lisbon had determined to quit a country which they could not
hope to defend against the master of the Continent. Already in the
seventeenth and eighteenth centuries the House of Braganza had been
familiar with the project of transferring the seat of their Government to
Brazil; and now, with the approval of Great Britain, the Regent resolved to
maintain the independence of his family by flight across the Atlantic. As
Junot's troops approached the capital, the servants of the palace hastily
stowed the royal property on ship-board. On the 29th of November, when the
French were now close at hand, the squadron which bore the House of
Braganza to its colonial home dropped down the Tagus, saluted by the cannon
of the English fleet that lay in the same river. Junot entered the capital
a few hours later, and placed himself at the head of the Government without
encountering any opposition. The occupation of Portugal was described by
Napoleon as a reprisal for the bombardment of Copenhagen. It excited but
little attention in Europe; and even at the Spanish Court the only feeling
was one of satisfaction at the approaching aggrandisement of the Bourbon
monarchy. The full significance of Napoleon's intervention in the affairs
of the Peninsula was not discovered until some months were passed.

[Prussia after the Peace of Tilsit.]

[Stein Minister, Oct. 5, 1807.]

Portugal and Denmark had felt the consequences of the peace made at Tilsit.
Less, however, depended upon the fate of the Danish fleet and the
Portuguese Royal Family than upon the fate of Prussia, the most cruelly
wronged of all the victims sacrificed by Alexander's ambition. The
unfortunate Prussian State, reduced to half its former extent, devastated
and impoverished by war, and burdened with the support of a French army,
found in the crisis of its ruin the beginning of a worthier national life.
Napoleon, in his own vindictive jealousy, unwittingly brought to the head
of the Prussian Government the ablest and most patriotic statesman of the
Continent. Since the spring of 1807 Baron Hardenberg had again been the
leading Minister of Prussia, and it was to his counsel that the King's
honourable rejection of a separate peace after the battle of Eylau was due.
Napoleon could not permit this Minister, whom he had already branded as a
partisan of Great Britain, to remain in power; he insisted upon
Hardenberg's dismissal, and recommended the King of Prussia to summon
Stein, who was as yet known to Napoleon only as a skilful financier, likely
to succeed in raising the money which the French intended to extort.

[Edict of Emancipation, Oct. 9, 1807.]

Stein entered upon office on the 5th of October, 1807, with almost
dictatorial power. The need of the most radical changes in the public
services, as well as in the social order of the Prussian State, had been
brought home to all enlightened men by the disasters of the war; and a
commission, which included among its members the historian Niebuhr, had
already sketched large measures of reform before Hardenberg quitted office.
Stein's appointment brought to the head of the State a man immeasurably
superior to Hardenberg in the energy necessary for the execution of great
changes, and gave to those who were the most sincerely engaged in civil or
military reform a leader unrivalled in patriotic zeal, in boldness, and in
purity of character. The first great legislative measure of Stein was the
abolition of serfage, and of all the legal distinctions which fixed within
the limits of their caste the noble, the citizen, and the peasant. In
setting his name to the edict [144] which, on the 9th of October, 1807,
made an end of the mediæval framework of Prussian society, Stein was indeed
but consummating a change which the progress of neighbouring States must
have forced upon Prussia, whoever held its government. The Decree was
framed upon the report of Hardenberg's Commission, and was published by
Stein within six days after his own entry upon office. Great as were the
changes involved in this edict of emancipation, it contained no more than
was necessary to bring Prussia up to the level of the least advanced of the
western Continental States. In Austria pure serfage had been abolished by
Maria Theresa thirty years before; it vanished, along with most of the
legal distinctions of class, wherever the victories of France carried a new
political order; even the misused peasantry of Poland had been freed from
their degrading yoke within the borders of the newly-founded Duchy of
Warsaw. If Prussia was not to renounce its partnership in European progress
and range itself with its barbarous eastern neighbour, that order which
fettered the peasant to the soil, and limited every Prussian to the
hereditary occupations of his class could no longer be maintained. It is
not as an achievement of individual genius, but as the most vivid
expression of the differences between the old and the new Europe, that the
first measure of Stein deserves a closer examination.

[The Prussian peasant before and after the Edict of Oct. 9.]

The Edict of October 9, 1807, extinguished all personal servitude; it
permitted the noble, the citizen, and the peasant to follow any calling; it
abolished the rule which prevented land held by a member of one class from
passing into the hands of another class; it empowered families to free
their estates from entail. Taken together, these enactments substitute the
free disposition of labour and property for the outworn doctrine which
Prussia had inherited from the feudal ages, that what a man is born that he
shall live and die. The extinction of serfage, though not the most
prominent provision of the Edict, was the one whose effects were the
soonest felt. In the greater part of Prussia the marks of serfage, as
distinct from payments and services amounting to a kind of rent, were the
obligation of the peasant to remain on his holding, and the right of the
lord to take the peasant's children as unpaid servants into his house. A
general relation of obedience and command existed, as between an hereditary
subject and master, although the lord could neither exact an arbitrary
amount of labour nor inflict the cruel punishments which had been common in
Poland and Hungary. What the villein was in England in the thirteenth
century, that the serf was in Prussia in the year 1806; and the change
which in England gradually elevated the villein into the free copyholder
was that change which, so many centuries later, the Prussian legislator
effected by one great measure. Stein made the Prussian peasant what the
English copyholder had become at the accession of Henry VII., and what the
French peasant had been before 1789, a free person, but one bound to render
fixed dues and service to the lord of the manor in virtue of the occupation
of his land. These feudal dues and services, which the French peasant,
accustomed for centuries before the Revolution to consider himself as the
full proprietor of the land, treated as a mere grievance and abuse, Stein
considered to be the best form in which the joint interest of the lord and
the peasant could be maintained. It was reserved for Hardenberg, four years
later, to free the peasant from all obligations towards his lord, and to
place him in unshackled proprietorship of two-thirds of his former holding,
the lord receiving the remaining one-third in compensation for the loss of
feudal dues. Neither Stein nor Hardenberg interfered with the right of the
lord to act as judge and police-magistrate within the limits of his manor;
and the hereditary legal jurisdiction, which was abolished in Scotland in
1747, and in France in 1789, continued unchanged in Prussia down to the
year 1848.

[Relative position of the peasant in Prussia and England.]

The history of Agrarian Reform upon the Continent shows how vast was the
interval of time by which some of the greatest social changes in England
had anticipated the corresponding changes in almost all other nations. But
if the Prussian peasant at the beginning of this century remained in the
servile condition which had passed out of mind in Great Britain before the
Reformation, the early prosperity of the peasant in England was dearly
purchased by a subsequent decline which has made his present lot far
inferior to that of the children or grandchildren of the Prussian serf.
However heavy the load of the Prussian serf, his holding was at least
protected by law from absorption into the domain of his lord. Before
sufficient capital had been amassed in Prussia to render landed property an
object of competition, the forced military service of Frederick had made it
a rule of State that the farmsteads of the peasant class must remain
undiminished in number, at whatever violence to the laws of the market or
the desires of great landlords. No process was permitted to take place
corresponding to that by which in England, after the villein had become the
free copyholder, the lord, with or without technical legal right,
terminated the copyhold tenure of his retainer, and made the land as much
his own exclusive property as the chairs and tables in his house. In
Prussia, if the law kept the peasant on the land, it also kept the land for
the peasant. Economic conditions, in the absence of such control in
England, worked against the class of small holders. Their early
enfranchisement in fact contributed to their extinction. It would perhaps
have been better for the English labouring class to remain bound by a
semi-servile tie to their land, than to gain a free holding which the law,
siding with the landlord, treated as terminable at the expiration of
particular lives, and which the increasing capital of the rich made its
favourite prey. It is little profit to the landless, resourceless English
labourer to know that his ancestor was a yeoman when the Prussian was a
serf. Long as the bondage of the peasant on the mainland endured,
prosperity came at last. The conditions which once distinguished
agricultural England from the Continent are now reversed. Nowhere on the
Continent is there a labouring class so stripped and despoiled of all
interest in the soil, so sedulously excluded from all possibilities of
proprietorship, as in England. In England alone the absence of internal
revolution and foreign pressure has preserved a class whom a life spent in
toil leaves as bare and dependent as when it began, and to whom the only
boon which their country can offer is the education which may lead them to
quit it.

[Reform of Prussian Army.]

[Short service.]

Besides the commission which had drafted the Edict of Emancipation, Stein
found a military commission engaged on a plan for the reorganisation of the
Prussian army. The existing system forced the peasant to serve in the ranks
for twenty years, and drew the officers from the nobility, leaving the
inhabitants of towns without either the duty or the right to enter the army
at all. Since the battle of Jena, no one doubted that the principle of
universal liability to military service must be introduced into Prussia; on
the other hand, the very disasters of the State rendered it impossible to
maintain an army on anything approaching to its former scale. With half its
territory torn from it, and the remainder devastated by war, Prussia could
barely afford to keep 40,000 soldiers in arms. Such were the conditions
laid before the men who were charged with the construction of a new
Prussian military system. Their conclusions, imperfect in themselves, and
but partially carried out in the succeeding years, have nevertheless been
the basis of the latest military organisation of Prussia and of Europe
generally. The problem was solved by the adoption of a short period of
service and the rapid drafting of the trained conscript into a
reserve-force. Scharnhorst, President of the Military Commission, to whom
more than to any one man Prussia owed its military revival, proposed to
maintain an Active Army of 40,000 men; a Reserve, into which soldiers
should pass after short service in the active army; a Landwehr, to be
employed only for the internal defence of the country; and a Landsturm, or
general arming of the population, for a species of guerilla warfare.
Scharnhorst's project was warmly supported by Stein, who held a seat and a
vote on the Military Commission; and the system of short service, with a
Reserve, was immediately brought into action, though on a very limited
scale. The remainder of the scheme had to wait for the assistance of
events. The principle of universal military obligation was first proclaimed
in the war of 1813, when also the Landwehr was first enrolled.

[Stein's plans of political reform.]

[Design for a Parliament, for Municipalities, and District boards.]

The reorganisation of the Prussian military system and the emancipation of
the peasant, though promoted by Stein's accession to power, did not
originate in Stein himself; the distinctive work of Stein was a great
scheme of political reform. Had Stein remained longer in power, he would
have given to Prussia at least the beginnings of constitutional government.
Events drove him from office when but a small part of his project was
carried into effect; but the project itself was great and comprehensive. He
designed to give Prussia a Parliament, and to establish a system of
self-government in its towns and country districts. Stein had visited
England in his youth. The history and the literature of England interested
him beyond those of any other country; and he had learnt from England that
the partnership of the nation in the work of government, so far from
weakening authority, animates it with a force which no despotic system can
long preserve. Almost every important State-paper written by Stein
denounces the apathy of the civil population of Prussia, and attributes it
to their exclusion from all exercise of public duties. He declared that the
nation must be raised from its torpor by the establishment of
representative government and the creation of free local institutions in
town and country. Stein was no friend of democracy. Like every other
Prussian statesman he took for granted the exercise of a vigorous
monarchical power at the centre of the State; but around the permanent
executive he desired to gather the Council of the Nation, checking at least
the caprices of Cabinet-rule, and making the opinion of the people felt by
the monarch. Stein's Parliament would have been a far weaker body than the
English House of Commons, but it was at least not intended to be a mockery,
like those legislative bodies which Napoleon and his clients erected as the
disguise of despotism. The transaction of local business in the towns and
country districts, which had hitherto belonged to officials of the Crown,
Stein desired to transfer in part to bodies elected by the inhabitants
themselves. The functions allotted to the new municipal bodies illustrated
the modest and cautious nature of Stein's attempt in the direction of
self-government, including no more than the care of the poor, the
superintendence of schools, and the maintenance of streets and public
buildings. Finance remained partly, police wholly, in the hands of the
central Government. Equally limited were the powers which Stein proposed to
entrust to the district councils elected by the rural population. In
comparison with the self-government of England or America, the
self-government which Stein would have introduced into Prussia was of the
most elementary character; yet his policy stood out in striking contrast to
that which in every client-state of Napoleon was now crushing out the last
elements of local independence under a rigid official centralisation.

[Municipal reform alone carried out.]

Stein was indeed unable to transform Prussia as he desired. Of the
legislative, the municipal, and the district reforms which he had sketched,
the municipal reform was the only one which he had time to carry out before
being driven from power; and for forty years the municipal institutions
created by Stein were the only fragment of liberty which Prussia enjoyed. A
vehement opposition to reform was excited among the landowners, and
supported by a powerful party at the Court. Stein was detested by the
nobles whose peasants he had emancipated, and by the Berlin aristocracy,
which for the last ten years had maintained the policy of friendship with
France, and now declared the only safety of the Prussian State to lie in
unconditional submission to Napoleon. The fire of patriotism, of energy, of
self-sacrifice, which burned in Stein made him no representative of the
Prussian governing classes of his time. It was not long before the
landowners, who deemed him a Jacobin, and the friends of the French, who
called him a madman, had the satisfaction of seeing the Minister sent into
banishment by order of Napoleon himself (Dec., 1808). Stein left the
greater part of his work uncompleted, but he had not laboured in vain. The
years of his ministry in 1807 and 1808 were the years that gathered
together everything that was worthiest in Prussia in the dawn of a national
revival, and prepared the way for that great movement in which, after an
interval of the deepest gloom, Stein was himself to light the nation to its
victory.

CHAPTER VIII.

Spain in 1806--Napoleon uses the quarrel between Ferdinand and Godoy--He
affects to be Ferdinand's protector--Dupont's army enters Spain--Murat in
Spain--Charles abdicates--Ferdinand King--Savary brings Ferdinand to
Bayonne--Napoleon makes both Charles and Ferdinand resign--Spirit of the
Spanish Nation--Contrast with Germany--Rising of all Spain--The Notables at
Bayonne--Campaign of 1808--Capitulation of Baylen--Wellesley lands in
Portugal--Vimieiro--Convention of Cintra--Effect of the Spanish Rising on
Europe--War Party in Prussia--Napoleon and Alexander at Erfurt--Stein
resigns, and is proscribed--Napoleon in Spain--Spanish Misgovernment--
Campaign on the Ebro--Campaign of Sir John Moore--Corunna--Napoleon
leaves Spain--Siege of Saragossa--Successes of the French.

[Spanish affairs, 1793-1806.]

[Spain in 1806.]

Spain, which had played so insignificant a part throughout the
Revolutionary War, was now about to become the theatre of events that
opened a new world of hope to Europe. Its King, the Bourbon Charles IV.,
was more weak and more pitiful than any sovereign of the age. Power
belonged to the Queen and to her paramour Godoy, who for the last fourteen
years had so conducted the affairs of the country that every change in its
policy had brought with it new disaster. In the war of the First Coalition
Spain had joined the Allies, and French armies had crossed the Pyrenees. In
1796 Spain entered the service of France, and lost the battle of St.
Vincent. At the Peace of Amiens, Napoleon surrendered its colony Trinidad
to England; on the renewal of the war he again forced it into hostilities
with Great Britain, and brought upon it the disaster of Trafalgar. This
unbroken humiliation of the Spanish arms, combined with intolerable
oppression and impoverishment at home, raised so bitter an outcry against
Godoy's government, that foreign observers, who underrated the loyalty of
the Spanish people, believed the country to be on the verge of revolution.
At the Court itself the Crown Prince Ferdinand, under the influence of his
Neapolitan wife, headed a party in opposition to Godoy and the supporters
of French dominion. Godoy, insecure at home, threw himself the more
unreservedly into the arms of Napoleon, who bestowed upon him a
contemptuous patronage, and flattered him with the promise of an
independent principality in Portugal. Izquierdo, Godoy's agent at Paris,
received proposals from Napoleon which were concealed from the Spanish
Ambassador; and during the first months of 1806 Napoleon possessed no more
devoted servant than the man who virtually held the government of Spain.

[Spain intends to join Prussia in 1806.]

The opening of negotiations between Napoleon and Fox's Ministry in May,
1806, first shook this relation of confidence and obedience. Peace between
France and England involved the abandonment on the part of Napoleon of any
attack upon Portugal; and Napoleon now began to meet Godoy's inquiries
after his Portuguese principality with an ominous silence. The next
intelligence received was that the Spanish Balearic Islands had been
offered by Napoleon to Great Britain, with the view of providing an
indemnity for Ferdinand of Naples, if he should give up Sicily to Joseph
Bonaparte (July, 1806.) This contemptuous appropriation of Spanish
territory, without even the pretence of consulting the Spanish Government,
excited scarcely less anger at Madrid than the corresponding proposal with
regard to Hanover excited at Berlin. The Court began to meditate a change
of policy, and watched the events which were leading Prussia to arm for the
war of 1806. A few weeks more passed, and news arrived that Buenos Ayres,
the capital of Spanish South America, had fallen into the hands of the
English. This disaster produced the deepest impression, for the loss of
Buenos Ayres was believed, and with good reason, to be but the prelude to
the loss of the entire American empire of Spain. Continuance of the war
with England was certain ruin; alliance with the enemies of Napoleon was at
least not hopeless, now that Prussia was on the point of throwing its army
into the scale against France. An agent was despatched by the Spanish
Government to London (Sept., 1806); and, upon the commencement of
hostilities by Prussia, a proclamation was issued by Godoy, which, without
naming any actual enemy, summoned the Spanish people to prepare for a war
on behalf of their country.

[Treaty of Fontainebleau, Oct., 1807.]

Scarcely had the manifesto been read by the Spaniards when the Prussian
army was annihilated at Jena. The dream of resistance to Napoleon vanished
away; the only anxiety of the Spanish Government was to escape from the
consequences of its untimely daring. Godoy hastened to explain that his
martial proclamation had been directed not against the Emperor of the
French, but against the Emperor of Morocco. Napoleon professed himself
satisfied with this palpable absurdity: it appeared as if the events of the
last few months had left no trace on his mind. Immediately after the Peace
of Tilsit he resumed his negotiations with Godoy upon the old friendly
footing, and brought them to a conclusion in the Treaty of Fontainebleau
(Oct., 1807), which provided for the invasion of Portugal by a French and a
Spanish army, and for its division into principalities, one of which was to
be conferred upon Godoy himself. The occupation of Portugal was duly
effected, and Godoy looked forward to the speedy retirement of the French
from the province which was to be his portion of the spoil.

[Napoleon uses the enmity of Ferdinand against Godoy.]

[Napoleon about to intervene as protector of Ferdinand.]

Napoleon, however, had other ends in view. Spain, not Portugal, was the
true prize. Napoleon had gradually formed the determination of taking Spain
into his own hands, and the dissensions of the Court itself enabled him to
appear upon the scene as the judge to whom all parties appealed. The Crown
Prince Ferdinand had long been at open enmity with Godoy and his own
mother. So long as Ferdinand's Neapolitan wife was alive, her influence
made the Crown Prince the centre of the party hostile to France; but after
her death in 1806, at a time when Godoy himself inclined to join Napoleon's
enemies, Ferdinand took up a new position, and allied himself with the
French Ambassador, at whose instigation he wrote to Napoleon, soliciting
the hand of a princess of the Napoleonic House. [145] Godoy, though unaware
of the letter, discovered that Ferdinand was engaged in some intrigue. King
Charles was made to believe that his son had entered into a conspiracy to
dethrone him. The Prince was placed under arrest, and on the 30th of
October, 1807, a royal proclamation appeared at Madrid, announcing that
Ferdinand had been detected in a conspiracy against his parents, and that
he was about to be brought to justice along with his accomplices. King
Charles at the same time wrote a letter to Napoleon, of whose connection
with Ferdinand he had not the slightest suspicion, stating that he intended
to exclude the Crown Prince from the succession to the throne of Spain. No
sooner had Napoleon received the communication from the simple King than he
saw himself in possession of the pretext for intervention which he had so
long desired. The most pressing orders were given for the concentration of
troops on the Spanish frontier; Napoleon appeared to be on the point of
entering Spain as the defender of the hereditary rights of Ferdinand. The
opportunity, however, proved less favourable than Napoleon had expected.
The Crown Prince, overcome by his fears, begged forgiveness of his father,
and disclosed the negotiations which had taken place between himself and
the French Ambassador. Godoy, dismayed at finding Napoleon's hand in what
he had supposed to be a mere palace-intrigue, abandoned all thought of
proceeding further against the Crown Prince; and a manifesto announced that
Ferdinand was restored to the favour of his father. Napoleon now
countermanded the order which he had given for the despatch of the Rhenish
troops to the Pyrenees, and contented himself with directing General
Dupont, the commander of an army-corps nominally destined for Portugal, to
cross the Spanish frontier and advance as far as Vittoria.

[Dupont enters Spain, Dec., 1807.]

[French welcomed in Spain as Ferdinand's protectors.]

Dupont's troops entered Spain in the last days of the year 1807, and were
received with acclamations. It was universally believed that Napoleon had
espoused the cause of Ferdinand, and intended to deliver the Spanish nation
from the detested rule of Godoy. Since the open attack made upon Ferdinand
in the publication of the pretended conspiracy, the Crown Prince, who was
personally as contemptible as any of his enemies, had become the idol of
the people. For years past the hatred of the nation towards Godoy and the
Queen had been constantly deepening, and the very reforms which Godoy
effected in the hope of attaching to himself the more enlightened classes
only served to complete his unpopularity with the fanatical mass of the
nation. The French, who gradually entered the Peninsula to the number of
80,000, and who described themselves as the protectors of Ferdinand and of
the true Catholic faith, were able to spread themselves over the northern
provinces without exciting suspicion. It was only when their commanders, by
a series of tricks worthy of American savages, obtained possession of the
frontier citadels and fortresses, that the wiser part of the nation began
to entertain some doubt as to the real purpose of their ally. At the Court
itself and among the enemies of Ferdinand the advance of the French roused
the utmost alarm. King Charles wrote to Napoleon in the tone of ancient
friendship; but the answer he received was threatening and mysterious. The
utterances which the Emperor let fall in the presence of persons likely to
report them at Madrid were even more alarming, and were intended to terrify
the Court into the resolution to take flight from Madrid. The capital once
abandoned by the King, Napoleon judged that he might safely take everything
into his own hands on the pretence of restoring to Spain the government
which it had lost.

[Murat sent to Spain, Feb., 1808.]

[Charles IV. abdicates, March 17, 1808.]

On the 20th of February, 1808, Murat was ordered to quit Paris in order to
assume the command in Spain. Not a word was said by Napoleon to him before
his departure. His instructions first reached him at Bayonne; they were of
a military nature, and gave no indication of the ultimate political object
of his mission. Murat entered Spain on the 1st of March, knowing no more
than that he was ordered to reassure all parties and to commit himself to
none, but with full confidence that he himself was intended by Napoleon to
be the successor of the Bourbon dynasty. It was now that the Spanish Court,
expecting the appearance of the French army in Madrid, resolved upon that
flight which Napoleon considered so necessary to his own success. The
project was not kept a secret. It passed from Godoy to the Ministers of
State, and from them to the friends of Ferdinand. The populace of Madrid
was inflamed by the report that Godoy was about to carry the King to a
distance, in order to prolong the misgovernment which the French had
determined to overthrow. A tumultuous crowd marched from the capital to
Aranjuez, the residence of the Court. On the evening of the 17th of March,
the palace of Godoy was stormed by the mob. Godoy himself was seized, and
carried to the barracks amid the blows and curses of the populace. The
terrified King, who already saw before him the fate of his cousin, Louis
XVI., first published a decree depriving Godoy of all his dignities, and
then abdicated in favour of his son. On the 19th of March Ferdinand was
proclaimed King.

[French enter Madrid, March 23.]

Such was the unexpected intelligence that met Murat as he approached
Madrid. The dissensions of the Court, which were to supply his ground of
intervention, had been terminated by the Spaniards themselves: in the place
of a despised dotard and a menaced favourite, Spain had gained a youthful
sovereign around whom all classes of the nation rallied with the utmost
enthusiasm. Murat's position became a very difficult one; but he supplied
what was wanting in his instructions by the craft of a man bent upon
creating a vacancy in his own favour. He sent his aide-de-camp, Monthieu,
to visit the dethroned sovereign, and obtained a protest from King Charles
IV., declaring his abdication to have been extorted from him by force, and
consequently to be null and void. This document Murat kept secret; but he
carefully abstained from doing anything which might involve a recognition
of Ferdinand's title. On the 23rd of March the French troops entered
Madrid. Nothing had as yet become known to the public that indicated an
altered policy on the part of the French; and the soldiers of Murat, as the
supposed friends of Ferdinand, met with as friendly a reception in Madrid
as in the other towns of Spain. On the following day Ferdinand himself made
his solemn entry into the capital, amid wild demonstrations of an almost
barbaric loyalty.

[Savary brings Ferdinand to Bayonne, April, 1808.]

In the tumult of popular joy it was noticed that Murat's troops continued
their exercises without the least regard to the pageant that so deeply
stirred the hearts of the Spaniards. Suspicions were aroused; the
enthusiasm of the people for the French soldiers began to change into
irritation and ill-will. The end of the long drama of deceit was in fact
now close at hand. On the 4th of April General Savary arrived at Madrid
with instructions independent of those given to Murat. He was charged to
entice the new Spanish sovereign from his capital, and to bring him, either
as a dupe or as a prisoner, on to French soil. The task was not a difficult
one. Savary pretended that Napoleon had actually entered Spain, and that he
only required an assurance of Ferdinand's continued friendship before
recognising him as the legitimate successor of Charles IV. Ferdinand, he
added, could show no greater mark of cordiality to his patron than by
advancing to meet him on the road. Snared by these hopes, Ferdinand set out
from Madrid, in company with Savary and some of his own foolish confidants.
On reaching Burgos, the party found no signs of the Emperor. They continued
their journey to Vittoria. Here Ferdinand's suspicions were aroused, and he
declined to proceed farther. Savary hastened to Bayonne to report the delay
to Napoleon. He returned with a letter which overcame Ferdinand's scruples
and induced him to cross the Pyrenees, in spite of the prayers of statesmen
and the loyal violence of the simple inhabitants of the district. At
Bayonne Ferdinand was visited by Napoleon, but not a word was spoken on the
object of his journey. In the afternoon the Emperor received Ferdinand and
his suite at a neighbouring château, but preserved the same ominous
silence. When the other guests departed, the Canon Escoiquiz, a member of
Ferdinand's retinue, was detained, and learned from Napoleon's own lips the
fate in store for the Bourbon Monarchy. Savary returned to Bayonne with
Ferdinand, and informed the Prince that he must renounce the crown of
Spain. [146]

[Charles and Ferdinand surrender their rights to Napoleon.]

[Attack on the French in Madrid, May 2.]

For some days Ferdinand held out against Napoleon's demands with a
stubbornness not often shown by him in the course of his mean and
hypocritical career. He was assailed not only by Napoleon but by those
whose fall had been his own rise; for Godoy was sent to Bayonne by Murat,
and the old King and Queen hurried after their son in order to witness his
humiliation. Ferdinand's parents attacked him with an indecency that
astonished even Napoleon himself; but the Prince maintained his refusal
until news arrived from Madrid which terrified him into submission. The
irritation of the capital had culminated in an armed conflict between the
populace and the French troops. On an attempt being made by Murat to remove
the remaining members of the royal family from the palace, the capital had
broken into open insurrection, and wherever French soldiers were found
alone or in small bodies they were massacred. (May 2.) Some hundreds of the
French perished; but the victory of Murat was speedy, and his vengeance
ruthless. The insurgents were driven into the great central square of the
city, and cut down by repeated charges of cavalry. When all resistance was
over, numbers of the citizens were shot in cold blood. Such was the
intelligence which reached Bayonne in the midst of Napoleon's struggle with
Ferdinand. There was no further need of argument. Ferdinand was informed
that if he withheld his resignation for twenty-four hours longer he would
be treated as a rebel. He yielded; and for a couple of country houses and
two life-annuities the crown of Spain and the Indies was renounced in
favour of Napoleon by father and son.

[National spirit of the Spaniards.]

The crown had indeed been won without a battle. That there remained a
Spanish nation ready to fight to the death for its independence was not a
circumstance which Napoleon had taken into account. His experience had as
yet taught him of no force but that of Governments and armies. In the
larger States, or groups of States, which had hitherto been the spoil of
France, the sense of nationality scarcely existed. Italy had felt it no
disgrace to pass under the rule of Napoleon. The Germans on both sides of
the Rhine knew of a fatherland only as an arena of the keenest jealousies.
In Prussia and in Austria the bond of citizenship was far less the love of
country than the habit of obedience to government. England and Russia,
where patriotism existed in the sense in which it existed in Spain, had as
yet been untouched by French armies. Judging from the action of the Germans
and the Italians, Napoleon might well suppose that in settling with the
Spanish Government he had also settled with the Spanish people, or, at the
worst, that his troops might have to fight some fanatical peasants, like
those who resisted the expulsion of the Bourbons from Naples. But the
Spanish nation was no mosaic of political curiosities like the Holy Roman
Empire, and no divided and oblivious family like the population of Italy.
Spain, as a single nation united under its King, had once played the
foremost part in Europe: when its grandeur departed, its pride had remained
behind: the Spaniard, in all his torpor and impoverishment, retained the
impulse of honour, the spirited self-respect, which periods of national
greatness leave behind them among a race capable of cherishing their
memory. Nor had those influences of a common European culture, which
directly opposed themselves to patriotism in Germany, affected the
home-bred energy of Spain. The temper of mind which could find satisfaction
in the revival of a form of Greek art when Napoleon's cavalry were scouring
Germany, or which could inquire whether mankind would not profit by the
removal of the barriers between nations, was unknown among the Spanish
people. Their feeling towards a foreign invader was less distant from that
of African savages than from that of the civilised and literary nations
which had fallen so easy a prey to the French. Government, if it had
degenerated into everything that was contemptible, had at least failed to
reduce the people to the passive helplessness which resulted from the
perfection of uniformity in Prussia. Provincial institutions, though
corrupted, were not extinguished; provincial attachments and prejudices
existed in unbounded strength. Like the passion of the Spaniard for his
native district, his passion for Spain was of a blind and furious
character. Enlightened conviction, though not altogether absent, had small
place in the Spanish war of defence. Religious fanaticism, hatred of the
foreigner, delight in physical barbarity, played their full part by the
side of nobler elements in the struggle for national independence.

[Rising of Spain, May, 1808.]

The captivity of Ferdinand, and the conflict of Murat's troops with the
inhabitants of Madrid, had become known in the Spanish cities before the
middle of May. On the 20th of the same month the _Gaceta_ announced
the abdication of the Bourbon family. Nothing more was wanting to throw
Spain into tumult. The same irresistible impulse seized provinces and
cities separated by the whole breadth of the Peninsula. Without
communication, and without the guidance of any central authority, the
Spanish people in every part of the kingdom armed themselves against the
usurper. Carthagena rose on the 22nd. Valencia forced its magistrates to
proclaim King Ferdinand on the 23rd. Two days later the mountain-district
of Asturias, with a population of half a million, formally declared war on
Napoleon, and despatched envoys to Great Britain to ask for assistance. On
the 26th, Santander and Seville, on opposite sides of the Peninsula, joined
the national movement. Corunna, Badajoz, and Granada declared themselves on
the Feast of St. Ferdinand, the 30th of May. Thus within a week the entire
country was in arms, except in those districts where the presence of French
troops rendered revolt impossible. The action of the insurgents was
everywhere the same. They seized upon the arms and munitions of war
collected in the magazines, and forced the magistrates or commanders of
towns to place themselves at their head. Where the latter resisted, or were
suspected of treachery to the national cause, they were in many cases put
to death. Committees of Government were formed in the principal cities, and
as many armies came into being as there were independent centres of the
insurrection.

[Joseph Bonaparte made King.]

[Napoleon's Assembly at Bayonne, June, 1808.]

Napoleon was in the meantime collecting a body of prelates and grandees at
Bayonne, under the pretence of consulting the representatives of the
Spanish nation. Half the members of the intended Assembly received a
personal summons from the Emperor; the other half were ordered to be chosen
by popular election. When the order, however, was issued from Bayonne, the
country was already in full revolt. Elections were held only in the
districts occupied by the French, and not more than twenty representatives
so elected proceeded to Bayonne. The remainder of the Assembly, which
numbered in all ninety-one persons, was composed of courtiers who had
accompanied the Royal Family across the Pyrenees, and of any Spaniards of
distinction upon whom the French could lay their hands. Joseph Bonaparte
was brought from Naples to receive the crown of Spain. [147] On the 15th of
June the Assembly of the Notables was opened. Its discussions followed the
order prescribed by Napoleon on all similar occasions. Articles disguising
a central absolute power with some pretence of national representation were
laid before the Assembly, and adopted without criticism. Except in the
privileges accorded to the Church, little indicated that the Constitution
of Bayonne was intended for the Spanish rather than for any other nation.
Its political forms were as valuable or as valueless as those which
Napoleon had given to his other client States; its principles of social
order were those which even now despotism could not dissever from French
supremacy--the abolition of feudal services, equality of taxation,
admission of all ranks to public employment. Titles of nobility were
preserved, the privileges of nobility abolished. One genuine act of homage
was rendered to the national character. The Catholic religion was declared
to be the only one permitted in Spain.

[Attempts of Napoleon to suppress the Spanish rising.]

While Napoleon was thus emancipating the peasants from the nobles, and
reconciling his supremacy with the claims of the Church, peasants and
townspeople were flocking to arms at the call of the priests, who so little
appreciated the orthodoxy of their patron as to identify him in their
manifestos with Calvin, with the Antichrist, and with Apollyon. [148] The
Emperor underrated the military efficiency of the national revolt, and
contented himself with sending his lieutenants to repress it, while he
himself, expecting a speedy report of victory, remained in Bayonne.
Divisions of the French army moved in all directions against the
insurgents. Dupont was ordered to march upon Seville from the capital,
Moncey upon Valencia; Marshal Bessières took command of a force intended to
disperse the main army of the Spaniards, which threatened the roads from
the Pyrenees to Madrid. The first encounters were all favourable to the
practised French troops; yet the objects which Napoleon set before his
generals were not achieved. Moncey failed to reduce Valencia; Dupont found
himself outnumbered on passing the Sierra Morena, and had to retrace his
steps and halt at Andujar, where the road to Madrid leaves the valley of
the Guadalquivir. Without sustaining any severe loss, the French divisions
were disheartened by exhausting and resultless marches; the Spaniards
gained new confidence on each successive day which passed without
inflicting upon them a defeat. At length, however, the commanders of the
northern army were forced by Marshal Bessières to fight a pitched battle at
Rio Seco, on the west of Valladolid (July 13th). Bessières won a complete
victory, and gained the lavish praises of his master for a battle which,
according to Napoleon's own conception, ended the Spanish war by securing
the roads from the Pyrenees to Madrid.

[Capitulation of Baylen, July 19.]

[Dupont in Andalusia.]

Never had Napoleon so gravely mistaken the true character of a campaign.
The vitality of the Spanish insurrection lay not in the support of the
capital, which had never passed out of the hands of the French, but in the
very independence of the several provincial movements. Unlike Vienna and
Berlin, Madrid might be held by the French without the loss being felt by
their adversary; Cadiz, Corunna, Lisbon, were equally serviceable bases for
the insurrection. The victory of Marshal Bessières in the north preserved
the communication between France and Madrid, and it did nothing more. It
failed to restore the balance of military force in the south of Spain, or
to affect the operations of the Spanish troops which were now closing round
Dupont upon the Guadalquivir. On the 15th of July Dupont was attacked at
Andujar by greatly superior forces. His lieutenant, Vedel, knowing the
Spaniards to be engaged in a turning movement, made a long march northwards
in order to guard the line of retreat. In his absence the position of
Baylen, immediately in Dupont's rear, was seized by the Spanish general
Reding. Dupont discovered himself to be surrounded. He divided his army
into two columns, and moved on the night of the 18th from Andujar towards
Baylen, in the hope of overpowering Reding's division. At daybreak on the
19th the positions of Reding were attacked by the French. The struggle
continued until mid-day, though the French soldiers sank exhausted with
thirst and with the burning heat. At length the sound of cannon was heard
in the rear. Castanos, the Spanish general commanding at Andujar, had
discovered Dupont's retreat, and pressed behind him with troops fresh and
unwearied by conflict. Further resistance was hopeless. Dupont had to
negotiate for a surrender. He consented to deliver up Vedel's division as
well as his own, although Vedel's troops were in possession of the road to
Madrid, the Spanish commander promising, on this condition, that the
captives should not be retained as prisoners of war in Spain, but be
permitted to return by sea to their native country. The entire army of
Andalusia, numbering 23,000 men, thus passed into the hands of an enemy
whom Napoleon had not believed to possess a military existence. Dupont's
anxiety to save something for France only aggravated the extent of the
calamity; for the Junta of Seville declined to ratify the terms of the
capitulation, and the prisoners, with the exception of the superior
officers, were sent to the galleys at Cadiz. The victorious Spaniards
pushed forwards upon Madrid. King Joseph, who had entered the city only a
week before, had to fly from his capital. The whole of the French troops in
Spain were compelled to retire to a defensive position upon the Ebro.

[Wellesley lands in Portugal, Aug. 1, 1808.]

[Vimeiro, Aug. 21.]

[Convention of Cintra, Aug. 30.]

The disaster of Baylen did not come alone. Napoleon's attack upon Portugal
had brought him within the striking-range of Great Britain. On the 1st of
August an English army, commanded by Sir Arthur Wellesley, landed on the
Portuguese coast at the mouth of the Mondego. Junot, the first invader of
the Peninsula, was still at Lisbon; his forces in occupation of Portugal
numbered nearly 30,000 men, but they were widely dispersed, and he was
unable to bring more than 13,000 men into the field against the 16,000 with
whom Wellesley moved upon Lisbon. Junot advanced to meet the invader. A
battle was fought at Vimieiro, thirty miles north of Lisbon, on the 21st of
August. The victory was gained by the British; and had the first advantage
been followed up, Junot's army would scarcely have escaped capture. But the
command had passed out of Wellesley's hands. His superior officer, Sir
Harry Burrard, took up the direction of the army immediately the battle
ended, and Wellesley had to acquiesce in a suspension of operations at a
moment when the enemy seemed to be within his grasp. Junot made the best
use of his reprieve. He entered into negotiations for the evacuation of
Portugal, and obtained the most favourable terms in the Convention of
Cintra, signed on the 30th of August. The French army was permitted to
return to France with its arms and baggage. Wellesley, who had strongly
condemned the inaction of his superior officers after the battle of the
21st, agreed with them that, after the enemy had once been permitted to
escape, the evacuation of Portugal was the best result which the English
could obtain. [149] Junot's troops were accordingly conveyed to French
ports at the expense of the British Government, to the great displeasure of
the public, who expected to see the marshal and his army brought prisoners
into Portsmouth. The English were as ill-humoured with their victory as the
French with their defeat. When on the point of sending Junot to a
court-martial for his capitulation, Napoleon learnt that the British
Government had ordered its own generals to be brought to trial for
permitting the enemy to escape them.

[Effect of Spanish rising on Europe.]

[War-party in Austria and Prussia.]

[Napoleon and Prussia.]

If the Convention of Cintra gained little glory for England, the tidings of
the successful uprising of the Spanish people against Napoleon, and of
Dupont's capitulation at Baylen, created the deepest impression in every
country of Europe that still entertained the thought of resistance to
France. The first great disaster had befallen Napoleon's arms. It had been
inflicted by a nation without a government, without a policy, without a
plan beyond that of the liberation of its fatherland from the foreigner.
What Coalition after Coalition had failed to effect, the patriotism and
energy of a single people deserted by its rulers seemed about to
accomplish. The victory of the regular troops at Baylen was but a part of
that great national movement in which every isolated outbreak had had its
share in dividing and paralysing the Emperor's force. The capacity of
untrained popular levies to resist practised troops might be exaggerated in
the first outburst of wonder and admiration caused by the Spanish rising;
but the difference made in the nature of the struggle by the spirit of
popular resentment and determination was one upon which mistake was
impossible. A sudden light broke in upon the politicians of Austria and
Prussia, and explained the powerlessness of those Coalitions in which the
wars had always been the affair of the Cabinets, and never the affair of
the people. What the Spanish nation had effected for itself against
Napoleon was not impossible for the German nation, if once a national
movement like that of Spain sprang up among the German race. "I do not
see," wrote Blücher some time afterwards, "why we should not think
ourselves as good as the Spaniards." The best men in the Austrian and
Prussian Governments began to look forward to the kindling of popular
spirit as the surest means for combating the tyranny of Napoleon. Military
preparations were pushed forward in Austria with unprecedented energy and
on a scale rivalling that of France itself. In Prussia the party of Stein
determined upon a renewal of the war, and decided to risk the extinction of
the Prussian State rather than submit to the extortions by which Napoleon
was completing the ruin of their country. It was among the patriots of
Northern Germany that the course of the Spanish struggle excited the
deepest emotion, and gave rise to the most resolute purpose of striking for
European liberty.

Since the nominal restoration of peace between France and Prussia by the
cession of half the Prussian kingdom, not a month had passed without the
infliction of some gross injustice upon the conquered nation. The
evacuation of the country had in the first instance been made conditional
upon the payment of certain requisitions in arrear. While the amount of
this sum was being settled, all Prussia, except Königsberg, remained in the
hands of the French, and 157,000 French soldiers lived at free quarters
upon the unfortunate inhabitants. At the end of the year 1807 King
Frederick William was informed that, besides paying to Napoleon 60,000,000
francs in money, and ceding domain lands of the same value, he must
continue to support 40,000 French troops in five garrison-towns upon the
Oder. Such was the dismay caused by this announcement, that Stein quitted
Königsberg, now the seat of government, and passed three months at the
head-quarters of the French at Berlin, endeavouring to frame some
settlement less disastrous to his country. Count Daru, Napoleon's
administrator in Prussia, treated the Minister with respect, and accepted
his proposal for the evacuation of Prussian territory on payment of a fixed
sum to the French. But the agreement required Napoleon's ratification, and
for this Stein waited in vain. [150]

[Stein urges war.]

[Demands of Napoleon, Sept., 1808.]

Month after month dragged on, and Napoleon made no reply. At length the
victories of the Spanish insurrection in the summer of 1808 forced the
Emperor to draw in his troops from beyond the Elbe. He placed a bold front
upon his necessities, and demanded from the Prussian Government, as the
price of evacuation, a still larger sum than that which had been named in
the previous winter: he insisted that the Prussian army should be limited
to 40,000 men, and the formation of the Landwehr abandoned; and he required
the support of a Prussian corps of 16,000 men, in the event of hostilities
breaking out between France and Austria. Not even on these conditions was
Prussia offered the complete evacuation of her territory. Napoleon still
insisted on holding the three principal fortresses on the Oder with a
garrison of 10,000 men. Such was the treaty proposed to the Prussian Court
(September, 1808) at a time when every soldierly spirit thrilled with the
tidings from Spain, and every statesman was convinced by the events of the
last few months that Napoleon's treaties were but stages in a progression
of wrongs. Stein and Scharnhorst urged the King to arm the nation for a
struggle as desperate as that of Spain, and to delay only until Napoleon
himself was busied in the warfare of the Peninsula. Continued submission
was ruin; revolt was at least not hopeless. However forlorn the condition
of Prussia, its alliances were of the most formidable character. Austria
was arming without disguise; Great Britain had intervened in the warfare of
the Peninsula with an efficiency hitherto unknown in its military
operations; Spain, on the estimate of Napoleon himself, required an army of
200,000 men. Since the beginning of the Spanish insurrection Stein had
occupied himself with the organisation of a general outbreak throughout
Northern Germany. Rightly or wrongly, he believed the train to be now laid,
and encouraged the King of Prussia to count upon the support of a popular
insurrection against the French in all the territories which they had taken
from Prussia, from Hanover, and from Hesse.

[Stein resigns, Nov. 24. Proscribed by Napoleon.]

[Napoleon and Alexander meet at Erfurt, Oct. 7, 1808.]

In one point alone Stein was completely misinformed. He believed that
Alexander, in spite of the Treaty of Tilsit, would not be unwilling to see
the storm burst upon Napoleon, and that in the event of another general war
the forces of Russia would more probably be employed against France than in
its favour. The illusion was a fatal one. Alexander was still the
accomplice of Napoleon. For the sake of the Danubian Principalities,
Alexander was willing to hold central Europe in check while Napoleon
crushed the Spaniards, and to stifle every bolder impulse in the simple
King of Prussia. Napoleon himself dreaded the general explosion of Europe
before Spain was conquered, and drew closer to his Russian ally.
Difficulties that had been placed in the way of the Russian annexation of
Roumania vanished. The Czar and the Emperor determined to display to all
Europe the intimacy of their union by a festal meeting at Erfurt in the
midst of their victims and their dependents. The whole tribe of vassal
German sovereigns was summoned to the meeting-place; representatives
attended from the Courts of Vienna and Berlin. On the 7th of October
Napoleon and Alexander made their entry into Erfurt. Pageants and
festivities required the attendance of the crowned and titled rabble for
several days; but the only serious business was the settlement of a treaty
confirming the alliance of France and Russia, and the notification of the
Czar to the envoy of the King of Prussia that his master must accept the
terms demanded by Napoleon, and relinquish the idea of a struggle with
France. [151] Count Goltz, the Prussian envoy, unwillingly signed the
treaty which gave Prussia but a partial evacuation at so dear a cost, and
wrote to the King that no course now remained for him but to abandon
himself to unreserved dependence upon France, and to permit Stein and the
patriotic party to retire from the direction of the State. Unless the King
could summon up courage to declare war in defiance of Alexander, there was,
in fact, no alternative left open to him. Napoleon had discovered Stein's
plans for raising an insurrection in Germany several weeks before, and had
given vent to the most furious outburst of wrath against Stein in the
presence of the Prussian Ambassador at Erfurt. If the great struggle on
which Stein's whole heart and soul were set was to be relinquished, if
Spain was to be crushed before Prussia moved an arm, and Austria was to be
left to fight its inevitable battle alone, then the presence of Stein at
the head of the Prussian State was only a snare to Europe, a peril to
Prussia, and a misery to himself. Stein asked for and received his
dismissal. (Nov. 24, 1808.)

Stein's retirement averted the wrath of Napoleon from the King of Prussia;
but the whole malignity of that Corsican nature broke out against the
high-spirited patriot as soon as fresh victories had released Napoleon from
the ill-endured necessity of self-control. On the 16th of December, when
Madrid had again passed into the possession of the French, an imperial
order appeared, which gave the measure of Napoleon's hatred of the fallen
Minister. Stein was denounced as the enemy of the Empire; his property was
confiscated; he was ordered to be seized by the troops of the Emperor or
his allies wherever they could lay their hands upon him. As in the days of
Roman tyranny, the west of Europe could now afford no asylum to the enemies
of the Emperor. Russia and Austria remained the only refuge of the exile.
Stein escaped into Bohemia; and, as the crowning humiliation of the
Prussian State, its police were forced to pursue as a criminal the
statesman whose fortitude had still made it possible in the darkest days
for Prussian patriots not to despair of their country.

[Misgovernment of the Spanish Junta.]

[Napoleon goes to Spain, Nov., 1808.]

Central Europe secured by the negotiations with Alexander at Erfurt,
Napoleon was now able to place himself at the head of the French forces in
Spain without fear of any immediate attack from the side of Germany. Since
the victory of Baylen the Spaniards had made little progress either towards
good government or towards a good military administration. The provincial
Juntas had consented to subordinate themselves to a central committee
chosen from among their own members; but this new supreme authority, which
held its meetings at Aranjuez, proved one of the worst governments that
even Spain itself had ever endured. It numbered thirty persons,
twenty-eight of whom were priests, nobles, or officials. [152] Its
qualities were those engrained in Spanish official life. In legislation it
attempted absolutely nothing but the restoration of the Inquisition and the
protection of Church lands; its administration was confined to a foolish
interference with the better generals, and the acquisition of enormous
supplies of war from Great Britain, which were either stolen by contractors
or allowed to fall into the hands of the French. While the members of the
Junta discussed the titles of honour which were to attach to them
collectively and individually, and voted themselves salaries equal to those
of Napoleon's generals, the armies fell into a state of destitution which
scarcely any but Spanish troops would have been capable of enduring. The
energy of the humbler classes alone prolonged the military existence of the
insurrection; the Government organised nothing, comprehended nothing. Its
part in the national movement was confined to a system of begging and
boasting, which demoralised the Spaniards, and bewildered the agents and
generals of England who first attempted the difficult task of assisting the
Spaniards to help themselves. When the approach of army after army, the
levies of Germany, Poland, Holland, and Italy, in addition to Napoleon's
own veteran troops of Austerlitz and Jena, gave to the rest of the world
some idea of the enormous force which Napoleon was about to throw on to
Spain, the Spanish Government could form no better design than to repeat
the movement of Baylen against Napoleon himself on the banks of the Ebro.

[Napoleon enters Madrid, Dec. 4.]

[Campaign on the Ebro, Nov., 1808.]

The Emperor for the first time crossed the Pyrenees in the beginning of
November, 1808. The victory of the Spaniards in the summer had forced the
invaders to retire into the district between the Ebro and the Pyrenees, and
the Ebro now formed the dividing-line between the hostile armies. It was
the intention of Napoleon to roll back the extremes of the Spanish line to
the east and the west, and, breaking through its centre, to move straight
upon Burgos and Madrid. The Spaniards, for their part, were not content to
act upon the defensive. When Napoleon arrived at Vittoria on the 5th of
November, the left wing of the Spanish army under General Blake had already
received orders to move eastwards from the upper waters of the Ebro, and to
cut the French off from their communication with the Pyrenees. The movement
was exactly that which Napoleon desired; for in executing it, Blake had
only to march far enough eastwards to find himself completely surrounded by
French divisions. A premature movement of the French generals themselves
alone saved Blake from total destruction. He was attacked and defeated at
Espinosa, on the upper Ebro, before he had advanced far enough to lose his
line of retreat (Nov. 10); and, after suffering great losses, he succeeded
in leading off a remnant of his army into the mountains of Asturias. In the
centre, Soult drove the enemy before him, and captured Burgos. Of the army
which was to have cleared Spain of the French, nothing now remained but a
corps on the right at Tudela, commanded by Palafox. The destruction of this
body was committed by the Emperor to Lannes and Ney. Ney was ordered to
take a long march southwards in order to cut off the retreat of the
Spaniards; he found it impossible, however, to execute his march within the
time prescribed; and Palafox, beaten by Lannes at Tudela, made good his
retreat into Saragossa. A series of accidents had thus saved the divisions
of the Spanish army from actual capture, but there no longer existed a
force capable of meeting the enemy in the field. Napoleon moved forward
from Burgos upon Madrid. The rest of his march was a triumph. The batteries
defending the mountain-pass of Somo Sierra were captured by a charge of
Polish cavalry; and the capital itself surrendered, after a short artillery
fire, on the 4th of December, four weeks after the opening of the campaign.

[Campaign of Sir John Moore.]

An English army was slowly and painfully making its way towards the Ebro at
the time when Napoleon broke in pieces the Spanish line of defence. On the
14th of October Sir John Moore had assumed the command of 20,000 British
troops at Lisbon. He was instructed to march to the neighbourhood of
Burgos, and to co-operate with the Spanish generals upon the Ebro.
According to the habit of the English, no allowance was made for the
movements of the enemy while their own were under consideration; and the
mountain-country which Moore had to traverse placed additional obstacles in
the way of an expedition at least a month too late in its starting. Moore
believed it to be impossible to carry his artillery over the direct road
from Lisbon to Salamanca, and sent it round by way of Madrid, while he
himself advanced through Ciudad Rodrigo, reaching Salamanca on the 13th of
November. Here, while still waiting for his artillery, rumours reached him
of the destruction of Blake's army at Espinosa, and of the fall of Burgos.
Later came the report of Palafox's overthrow at Tudela. Yet even now Moore
could get no trustworthy information from the Spanish authorities. He
remained for some time in suspense, and finally determined to retreat into
Portugal. Orders were sent to Sir David Baird, who was approaching with
reinforcements from Corunna, to turn back towards the northern coast.
Scarcely had Moore formed this decision, when despatches arrived from
Frere, the British agent at Madrid, stating that the Spaniards were about
to defend the capital to the last extremity, and that Moore would be
responsible for the ruin of Spain and the disgrace of England if he failed
to advance to its relief. To the great joy of his soldiers, Moore gave
orders for a forward march. The army advanced upon Valladolid, with the
view of attacking the French upon their line of communication, while the
siege of the capital engaged them in front. Baird was again ordered
southwards. It was not until the 14th of December, ten days after Madrid
had passed into the hands of the French, that Moore received intelligence
of its fall. Neither the Spanish Government nor the British agent who had
caused Moore to advance took the trouble to inform him of the surrender of
the capital; he learnt it from an intercepted French despatch. From the
same despatch Moore learnt that to the north of him, at Saldanha, on the
river Carrion, there lay a comparatively small French force under the
command of Soult. The information was enough for Moore, heart-sick at the
mockery to which his army had been subjected, and burning for decisive
action. He turned northwards, and marched against Soult, in the hope of
surprising him before the news of his danger could reach Napoleon in the
capital.

[Napoleon marches against Moore, Dec. 19.]

[Retreat of the English.]

[Corunna, Jan. 16, 1809.]

On the 19th of December a report reached Madrid that Moore had suspended
his retreat on Portugal. Napoleon instantly divined the actual movement of
the English, and hurried from Madrid against Moore at the head of 40,000
men. Moore had met Baird on the 20th at Mayorga; on the 23rd the united
British divisions reached Sahagun, scarcely a day's march from Soult at
Saldanha. Here the English commander learnt that Napoleon himself was on
his track. Escape was a question of hours. Napoleon had pushed across the
Guadarama mountains in forced marches through snow and storm. Had his
vanguard been able to seize the bridge over the river Esla at Benavente
before the English crossed it, Moore would have been cut off from all
possibility of escape. The English reached the river first and blew up the
bridge. This rescued them from immediate danger. The defence of the river
gave Moore's army a start which rendered the superiority of Napoleon's
numbers of little effect. For a while Napoleon followed Moore towards the
northern coast. On the 1st of January, 1809, he wrote an order which showed
that he looked upon Moore's escape as now inevitable, and on the next day
he quitted the army, leaving to his marshals the honour of toiling after
Moore to the coast, and of seizing some thousands of frozen or drunken
British stragglers. Moore himself pushed on towards Corunna with a rapidity
which was dearly paid for by the demoralisation of his army. The sufferings
and the excesses of the troops were frightful; only the rear-guard, which
had to face the enemy, preserved soldierly order. At length Moore found it
necessary to halt and take up position, in order to restore the discipline
of his army. He turned upon Soult at Lugo, and offered battle for two
successive days; but the French general declined an engagement; and Moore,
satisfied with having recruited his troops, continued his march upon
Corunna. Soult still followed. On January 11th the English army reached the
sea; but the ships which were to convey them back to England were nowhere
to be seen. A battle was inevitable, and Moore drew up his troops, 14,000
in number, on a range of low hills outside the town to await the attack of
the French. On the 16th, when the fleet had now come into harbour, Soult
gave battle. The French were defeated at every point of their attack. Moore
fell at the moment of his victory, conscious that the army which he had so
bravely led had nothing more to fear. The embarkation was effected that
night; on the next day the fleet put out to sea.

[Siege of Saragossa, Dec., 1808.]

[Napoleon leaves Spain, Jan 19, 1809.]

Napoleon quitted Spain on the 19th of January, 1809, leaving his brother
Joseph again in possession of the capital, and an army of 300,000 men under
the best generals of France engaged with the remnants of a defeated force
which had never reached half that number. No brilliant victories remained
to be won; no enemy remained in the field important enough to require the
presence of Napoleon. Difficulties of transit and the hostility of the
people might render the subjugation of Spain a slower process than the
subjugation of Prussia or Italy; but, to all appearance, the ultimate
success of the Emperor's plans was certain, and the worst that lay before
his lieutenants was a series of wearisome and obscure exertions against an
inconsiderable foe. Yet, before the Emperor had been many weeks in Paris, a
report reached him from Marshal Lannes which told of some strange form of
military capacity among the people whose armies were so contemptible in the
field. The city of Saragossa, after successfully resisting its besiegers in
the summer of 1808, had been a second time invested after the defeats of
the Spanish armies upon the Ebro. [153] The besiegers themselves were
suffering from extreme scarcity when, on the 22nd of January, 1809, Lannes
took up the command. Lannes immediately called up all the troops within
reach, and pressed the battering operations with the utmost vigour. On the
29th, the walls of Saragossa were stormed in four different places.

[Defeats of the Spaniards, March, 1809.]

According to all ordinary precedents of war, the French were now in
possession of the city. But the besiegers found that their real work was
only beginning. The streets were trenched and barricaded; every dwelling
was converted into a fortress; for twenty days the French were forced to
besiege house by house. In the centre of the town the popular leaders
erected a gallows, and there they hanged every one who flinched from
meeting the enemy. Disease was added to the horrors of warfare. In the
cellars, where the women and children crowded in filth and darkness, a
malignant pestilence broke out, which, at the beginning of February, raised
the deaths to five hundred a day. The dead bodies were unburied; in that
poisoned atmosphere the slightest wound produced mortification and death.
At length the powers of the defenders sank. A fourth part of the town had
been won by the French; of the townspeople and peasants who were within the
walls at the beginning of the siege, it is said that thirty thousand had
perished; the remainder could only prolong their defence to fall in a few
days more before disease or the enemy. Even now there were members of the
Junta who wished to fight as long as a man remained, but they were
outnumbered. On the 20th of February what was left of Saragossa
capitulated. Its resistance gave to the bravest of Napoleon's soldiers an
impression of horror and dismay new even to men who had passed through
seventeen years of revolutionary warfare, but it failed to retard
Napoleon's armies in the conquest of Spain. No attempt was made to relieve
the heroic or ferocious city. Everywhere the tide of French conquest
appeared to be steadily making its advance. Soult invaded Portugal; in
combination with him, two armies moved from Madrid upon the southern and
the south-western provinces of Spain. Oporto fell on the 28th of March; in
the same week the Spanish forces covering the south were decisively beaten
at Ciudad Real and at Medellin upon the line of the Guadiana. The hopes of
Europe fell. Spain itself could expect no second Saragossa. It appeared as
if the complete subjugation of the Peninsula could now only be delayed by
the mistakes of the French generals themselves, and by the untimely removal
of that controlling will which had hitherto made every movement a step
forward in conquest.

CHAPTER IX.

Austria preparing for war--The war to be one on behalf of the German
Nation--Patriotic Movement in Prussia--Expected Insurrection in North
Germany--Plans of Campaign--Austrian Manifesto to the Germans--Rising of
the Tyrolese--Defeats of the Archduke Charles in Bavaria--French in
Vienna--Attempts of Dörnberg and Schill--Battle of Aspern--Second Passage
of the Danube--Battle of Wagram--Armistice of Znaim--Austria waiting for
events--Wellesley in Spain--He gains the Battle of Talavera, but
retreats--Expedition against Antwerp fails--Austria makes Peace--Treaty of
Vienna--Real Effects of the War of 1809--Austria after 1809--Metternich--
Marriage of Napoleon with Marie Louise--Severance of Napoleon and
Alexander--Napoleon annexes the Papal States, Holland, La Valais, and the
North German Coast--The Napoleonic Empire: Its Benefits and Wrongs--The
Czar withdraws from Napoleon's Commercial System--War with Russia
imminent--Wellington in Portugal: Lines of Torres Vedras; Massena's
Campaign of 1810, and retreat--Soult in Andalusia--Wellington's Campaign
of 1810--Capture of Ciudad Rodrigo and Badajoz--Salamanca.

[Austria preparing for war, 1808-9.]

Napoleon, quitting Spain in the third week of January, 1809, travelled to
Paris with the utmost haste. He believed Austria to be on the point of
declaring war; and on the very day of his arrival at the capital he called
out the contingents of the Rhenish Federation. In the course of the next
few weeks, however, he formed the opinion that Austria would either decline
hostilities altogether, or at least find it impossible to declare war
before the middle of May. For once the efforts of Austria outstripped the
calculations of her enemy. Count Stadion, the earnest and enlightened
statesman who had held power in Austria since the Peace of Presburg, had
steadily prepared for a renewal of the struggle with France. He was
convinced that Napoleon would soon enter upon new enterprises of conquest,
and still farther extend his empire at the expense of Austria, unless
attacked before Spain had fallen under his dominion. Metternich, now
Austrian Ambassador at Paris, reported that Napoleon was intending to
divide Turkey as soon as he had conquered Spain; and, although he advised
delay, he agreed with the Cabinet at Vienna that Austria must sooner or
later strike in self-defence. [154] Stadion, more sanguine, was only
prevented from declaring war in 1808 by the counsels of the Archduke
Charles and of other generals who were engaged in bringing the immense mass
of new levies into military formation. Charles himself attached little
value to the patriotic enthusiasm which, since the outbreak of the Spanish
insurrection, had sprung up in the German provinces of Austria. He saw the
approach of war with more apprehension than pleasure; but, however faint
his own hopes, he laboured earnestly in creating for Austria a force far
superior to anything that she had possessed before, and infused into the
mass of the army that confident and patriotic spirit which he saw in others
rather than felt in himself. By the beginning of March, 1809, Austria had
260,000 men ready to take the field.

[The war of 1809 to be a war for Germany.]

The war now breaking out was to be a war for the German nation, as the
struggle of the Spaniards had been a struggle for Spain. The animated
appeals of the Emperor's generals formed a singular contrast to the silence
with which the Austrian Cabinet had hitherto entered into its wars. The
Hapsburg sovereign now stood before the world less as the inheritor of an
ancient empire and the representative of the Balance of Power than as the
disinterested champion of the German race. On the part of the Emperor
himself the language of devotion for Germany was scarcely more than
ironical. Francis belonged to an age and to a system in which the idea of
nationality had no existence; and, like other sovereigns, he regarded his
possessions as a sort of superior property which ought to be defended by

Book of the day: