Part 8 out of 12
another. From this day I will begin. Will you lend me your
"Yes," replied the officers of his staff, "we will!"
"Well, then it is all right," said Blucher, nodding; "from to-day M.
Napoleon had better beware of me. Hitherto, I have only hated him;
now I abhor him, and the word backward exists no longer for me and
my Prussians!" He quickly galloped up to his troops. "Well, boys,"
he cried, "the heights of Kreckwitz are of no use to us, and it is
better for us, therefore, to descend from them, and leave them to
Bonaparte, who may put them into his pocket, if it affords him
pleasure; but henceforth let us reverse matters, and put HIM into
our pocket and keep him warm; otherwise, he might feel cold again,
as he did in Russia. Forward now, boys; forward! And as we are now
moving, I am sure you see that we do not move backward; he who
asserts that we are retreating is a blockhead. Forward!"
But whatever Blucher said--how plausibly soever he tried to
represent to his troops that they were not retreating, but
advancing--it was unfortunately but too true that the battle of
Bautzen was lost, and that the Prussians and Russians were obliged
to fall back. It is true, they did so in excellent order, but--they
retreated and Napoleon could boast of a new victory on German soil.
The whole army of the allies commenced retreating about dusk on the
same day, and turned again toward Silesia. The troops marched
sullenly, and sombre too were the faces of the two sovereigns, the
Emperor Alexander and King Frederick William. Full of hope that they
would achieve a victory, they had taken the field with their troops;
but now their hopes were blasted, and they were compelled to return
whence they had set out.
While the troops were marching down the wide highways, the two
sovereigns, preceding their forces, took a short cut to Reichenbach.
They were alone; only two footmen followed them at some distance;
not a vestige of their earthly greatness surrounded them. They were
both silent; slowly riding along, the king looked grave, while the
emperor frequently turned his eyes, with an expression of mournful
emotion, upon his friend, or raised them heavenward, with an
entreating glance. Silence reigned around; only at a great distance
was heard the dull rumbling of wagons, and here and there on the
horizon still flickered the burning ruins of a village.
For some time they thus rode side by side, when the king stopped his
horse. "There must be a change!" he exclaimed, in a tone of grief
and despair. "We are moving eastward, but we must advance westward."
"We must all move eastward," said the emperor, in a deep, fervent
tone; "from the east came our salvation; eastward, therefore, every
good Christian turns his face whenever he prays for assistance and
The king, perhaps, did not hear these words, for he made no reply,
but looked moody and thoughtful. Both did not notice that the sky
had brightened, and that the sun in its splendor was shedding its
setting beams. It was a beautiful evening. The earth, refreshed by
the rain, exhaled sweet odors; the air was fresh and balmy, and the
blooming fields waved as a gentle sea. The sovereigns were too much
concerned with themselves to be attracted by the beauties of outward
nature. Their eyes were turned inward.
"Oh," resumed the king, after a pause, "what will be the end of all
this? Were not they right who cautioned me against this war, and
pointed to Napoleon's luck in order to prevent me from entering upon
it? Have not my troops done all that can be demanded of human
strength? Have they not braved with heroic resolution all fatigues
and privations, and behaved in battle with unsurpassed valor? Have
not the Russians also manifested the noblest devotion, and the most
intrepid constancy? And still our armies have been defeated in two
pitched battles--and still we are retreating? What have we to hope
for? What new resources have we? May we still hope for the accession
of Austria to our alliance?"
He uttered these questions in an undertone and thoughtfully, as if
to himself, and forgetful of the presence of another who could hear
him. When the emperor, therefore, replied to him, Frederick William
gave a start, and raised his head almost in surprise.
"No," said the emperor, gravely--"no, we must not count on Austria;
or, if you please, NOT YET. The mission of Count Stadion ought to
have proved this to us. They sent their diplomatist to treat with us
that, in case of a victory, we might not consider Austria, too, as
our enemy. Now, that we have not been victorious. Count Stadion will
undoubtedly leave our headquarters, repair to those of Napoleon, and
assure him of the most faithful and sincere devotion of Austria.
Austria desires only negotiation--to fight with words, not with the
"But, without Austria," cried the king, vehemently, "we are too
weak! Oh, at times it seems to me as though no human strength were
able to accomplish any thing against the surpassing genius of
Napoleon, and as though God alone, who made him so great, and raised
him so high, could humble him! We have done all that men could do,
but it is all in vain! He has conquered!"
"But we have made him purchase his victories very dearly," said
Alexander, "and if we yielded, it was at least with honor. None of
our battalions were dispersed, and I believe the number of prisoners
is about the same on both sides. On the whole, nothing is lost as
yet, and with God's help we will soon do better."
"Yes, but only with God's help," cried the king; "we need it above
all; without it we are lost."
"But God is with us," exclaimed Alexander, enthusiastically, "I know
it; I have gained this firm conviction ever since the great and
terrible days of Moscow and the Beresina. God sent me those days of
trial and terror that I might believe--and now I do believe. Until
then I was a man enthralled by worldly doubts, relying upon my own
strength, and rejoicing, not without vanity, in my earthly
greatness. I thought of God, I loved Him, but He did not fill my
whole soul--I pursued my own path, and diverted myself. But the
conflagration of Moscow illuminated my mind, and the judgment of the
Lord on the ice-fields filled my heart with a fervor of faith which
it had never felt until then. With the flames of the holy city the
hand of God wrote on the reddened sky, 'I am the Lord thy God!' With
the rivers of blood flowing from the grand army of the French, the
finger of the Lord wrote on the snow-fields, 'Thou shalt have no
other gods before me!' Since then there is a wonderful joy, an
indescribable humility, and an immovable faith in my heart--since
then I have become another man. To the deliverance of Europe from
utter ruin I owe my own soul's salvation." [Footnote: The emperor's
words.--Vide Eylert, "Frederick William III.," vol. ii., p. 248.]
"It is He alone who is able to deliver us," said the king,
profoundly moved; "I bow my head in humility, and confess that we
are nothing without Him. May He send us His support!"
"He will," exclaimed Alexander, fervently; "God will be with us, for
we are engaged in a just cause!"
"Yes, it is just," responded Frederick William, with deep emotion,
and, slowly raising his eyes, he whispered, "Pray for us, Louisa,
that we may conquer!"
Both were silent, and, with pious emotion, they lifted their hearts
to heaven. Suddenly a joyful gleam kindled the face of the king,
and, offering his hand to Alexander, he said in a deeply-moved tone,
"We must not despond, but courageously continue the struggle. If
God, as I hope, bless our united efforts, we will profess before the
whole world that the glory belongs to Him alone." [Footnote: The
king's words.--Vide Eylert, "Frederick William III.," vol. ii., p.
"Yes," cried Alexander, putting his right hand into that of his
friend. "Let us not be ashamed to declare that the glory belongs to
God. And now, my friend," exclaimed the emperor, when they halted,
"let us repair to our headquarters, and hold a council of war with
"Very well," replied Frederick William; "let us examine the strength
of our forces, and see what ought to be done. The battle of Bautzen
must not be the end of this war."
A moment of repose had interrupted the great contest. Napoleon had
offered an armistice to the allies prior to the battle of Bautzen;
they rejected it, full of confidence in their strength. After the
battle of Bautzen, the offer was repeated, and accepted. Time was
needed for levying additional troops, organizing new regiments, and
concentrating new corps. But Napoleon, deceived by his victories,
relying on his good luck, and on the mistakes of his enemies, was
fully satisfied that this armistice was but the forerunner of peace;
and that the allies, warned by the two lost battles, would be eager
to accept any peace not altogether dishonorable. The negotiations
were opened at Prague. France, Prussia, and Russia, sent their
plenipotentiaries to that city; and Austria, having taken upon
herself the part of a mediator, instructed her envoy, Minister
Metternich, to participate in the congress. The armistice was from
the 4th of June to the 24th of July--time enough for agreeing on a
peace equally advantageous to both sides--time enough, too, in case
it should not be concluded, to concentrate the armies and bring
reinforcements from France.
So soon as the armistice was signed, Napoleon returned to Dresden,
to await there the result of the negotiations. At the Marcolini
Palace the emperor again established his headquarters; but no
brilliant festivals were given, as previous to his expedition to
Russia; the kings and princes of Germany did not gather round the
powerful conqueror. The Emperor of Austria remained quietly but
sullenly at Vienna; the King of Prussia was at Reichenbach, and was
now the enemy of Napoleon, and all the princes of the German
Confederation of the Rhine, who, but a year before, were humble
courtiers of Napoleon, kept aloof in morose silence, or refused
obedience to their former master, and raised difficulties when
called upon to furnish new troops and open additional resources.
None of them came to offer homage to him whom they had just feared
as the most powerful ruler in the world. Only the old, feeble King
of Saxony (who, at the commencement of the war had fled with his
millions, and the diamonds of the Green Vault, to Plauen, in the
most remote corner of his territories), [Footnote: Lebensbilder,
"vol. iii., p. 466."] returned at the rather imperious request of
Napoleon to Dresden. The emperor dined with him sometimes, but only
in the most intimate family circle, and without any outward
splendor; at night he went to the French theatre, which had been
ordered to Dresden during the armistice. Sometimes, his favorites,
the ladies Mars and Georges, and the great Talma, were allowed to
sup with the emperor after the performance, and the beautiful Mars,
the impassioned fervor of the gifted Georges, and the conversation
of the no less genial than adroit Talma, succeeded in dispelling the
emperor's discontent. But no sooner was he alone with his thoughts,
his labors, his plans, than his countenance assumed its sombre
expression. Thus days and weeks elapsed, and the congress was still
assembled at Prague; the end of the armistice was drawing nigh, and
the plenipotentiaries had not yet been able to agree on the
conditions of peace.
It was on the morning of the 28th of June. Napoleon had just
finished his breakfast, and entered his map-room to conceive there
the plans of future campaigns, when the door of the reception-room
opened, and Minister Maret, Duke de Bassano, came in. Maret belonged
to the few men in whom his master placed implicit confidence, and
whose fidelity he never doubted; to those who had at all times free
access to him, and were permitted to enter his apartments without
being announced. Nevertheless, his arrival seemed to surprise
Napoleon. Never before had the duke entered his room at so early an
hour, for he knew well that the emperor, engaged in examining his
maps and devising plans, did not like to be disturbed. It was
undoubtedly something unusual that induced the Duke de Bassano to
come to him at such a time.
Napoleon cast a quick glance on Maret's face. Standing up beside the
map-table, and leaning his hand upon it, he asked, vehemently,
"Well, Maret, what is it?"
"Sire, I have come only to deliver to your majesty a few letters
which the courier has just brought from Paris," said the duke,
handing him some sealed packages.
"Is a letter from the empress among them?" asked Napoleon, hastily.
The emperor had already found it, and, throwing the others upon the
table, he hastily opened the one from his wife and read it. His
face, which until then had been so stern and gloomy, gradually
assumed a milder and kindlier expression.
"Ah, dear Louisa," he said, when he had read it, "how affectionately
she writes, how she is yearning for me, and how well she knows how
to tell me of the King of Rome, who is constantly inquiring for his
father, and every night, when he goes to bed, calls aloud, 'Dear
papa emperor come back soon!'"
"A call, sire, in which, I am satisfied, all France joins," said
"Ah!" exclaimed the emperor, contemptuously shrugging his shoulders,
"I know well that France--that even my marshals join in it, not from
any devotion to myself, but because they want peace. The little King
of Rome, however, is longing for me, and the empress, too, is
wishing for my return, without caring much whether there is war or
peace. These two love me! Ah, what a happy family would we three be
if a lasting peace could be established! I am tired of war; like all
of you, I am yearning to return home, and to enjoy a little the
fruits of our numerous victories."
"Sire," said Maret, in a low, entreating voice, "it is easy for your
majesty to do so, and to restore peace to Europe."
"Do you wish also to join in the nonsense asserted by the fools?"
asked Napoleon, sharply. "Always the same air--the same strain! You
at least, Maret, ought not to sing it, for you alone are aware of
the proposals and negotiations between me and my enemies, and should
know that it does not depend on me alone to restore peace, but that
I shall, perhaps, only be he who must receive it."
"Still, sire, a few concessions on the part of your majesty would be
sufficient to bring about peace," Maret ventured to say.
"What do you mean?" inquired Napoleon, whose voice now assumed an
angry tone. "Do you intend to intimate, by your longing for
concessions, that I should submit to the disgraceful and humiliating
terms on which Austria gives me hopes of her further friendship and
alliance? She dares ask of me the restoration of Illyria and the
territory annexed to the grand-duchy of Warsaw; she demands for
Prussia the evacuation of her fortresses, the restitution of
Dantzic, and the restoration of the whole sea-shore of Northern
Germany. And Austria, in making these proposals to me, in her
equivocal part as mediator, does not do so with the friendliness of
an ally, but she dares to threaten me, to say to me, 'If France does
not accept, Austria will be obliged to side with the enemies of
France, and make common cause with them.' I am ready to make peace,
but I shall die sword in hand rather than sign conditions forced
upon me. I will negotiate, but will not allow them to dictate laws
to me." [Footnote: Napoleon's words.--Vide Beitzke, vol. i., p.
"Sire, none would dare dictate laws to your majesty. On the
contrary, Austria will be glad if you merely declare that you are
ready to negotiate, and she will not have much to ask. She will be
content if you restore Illyria to her; and I am convinced of it,
never will the Emperor Francis ally himself seriously with the
enemies of his son-in-law."
"But the Emperor Francis is not his cabinet," exclaimed Napoleon. "I
might, perhaps, repose confidence in the personal attachment of my
father-in-law, but this could not blind me to the policy of his
cabinet. This policy never changes. Treaties of alliance and
marriages may somewhat retard its course, but never deflect it.
Austria never renounces what she was compelled to cede. When she is
weaker than her enemy, she resorts to peace, but this is always only
an armistice for her, and, in signing it, she thinks of a new war.
Such has been her conduct during the long series of years during
which I have been fighting and negotiating with her. When closely
pressed, she always accepted peace, and offered me her hand for the
conclusion of an alliance; but whenever a reverse befell me, she
withdrew her hand and broke the alliance. Now believing that she
sees her own interest, she immediately resumes a hostile attitude
toward me. She will open the passes of Bohemia to the allies, and
thereby permit them to turn the positions of the French army, attack
us in the rear, and cut us off from France. In a word, Austria ia
unable to forget any thing! She will remain our enemy, not only so
long as she has losses to make up, but so long as the power of
France might threaten her with new humiliations. This instinct of
jealousy is more powerful than her attachment; she will always
strive to aggrandize herself and to weaken France, and if I should
grant her Illyria to-day, she would, perhaps, to-morrow claim the
whole of Lombardy, and her former provinces in the Netherlands.
[Footnote: Napoleon's words.--Vide "The Emperor Francis and
Metternich," p. 80.] Do not deceive yourself about it, Maret, and
do not think that Austria wants peace with us because the Emperor
Francis is my father-in-law. I must dictate peace to them sword in
hand, and then they will hasten to remind me that I am the son-in-
law of the emperor, and in consideration of this relationship they
will ask of me favorable terms."
"But this, it seems to me, is the very situation in which your
majesty is placed now," exclaimed Maret. "Your majesty has recently
achieved two new victories."
"But what victories!" said Napoleon, gloomily; "they have cost me as
many soldiers as the enemy, and procured me no advantages. I had
hoped to gain many trophies; but in the battles of Lutzen and
Bautzen not a cannon, not a flag, but a few insignificant prisoners
fell into our hands. After two dreadful massacres, we have obtained
no results whatever--and those men have not left me a single nail to
pick up. [Footnote: Napoleon's words.--Constant, vol. v.] They are
no longer the soldiers of Jena, you may be sure of it, Maret;
another spirit animates them and their commanders. The Prussians
fought like lions in those battles, and their commander, General
Blucher, is like a chieftain in the Illiad. He is at the same time a
general and a private soldier, a madcap and a Ulysses. The army
loves him, and the king confides in him. He hates me, and has an
excellent memory for his defeats of Auerstadt and Lubeck, and wants
to take revenge for them."
"But it is unnecessary for Russia to take revenge," said Maret.
"Yes," murmured Napoleon, gloomily. "On her snow-fields I lost my
army, and perhaps also my luck. But, no matter; I shall struggle on
to the end, and compel Fortune to become again my friend, that I may
do without other allies. She surely owes me attachment and fidelity,
for have I not again paid her a heavy tribute? was it not necessary
for me to act like Polycrates to keep out of bad luck? He sacrificed
only a ring to the gods, while I sacrificed two friends to Fortune,
and one of them my best friend--Duroc. The victory of Lutzen cost me
Bessieres; that of Bautzen, Duroc. It was a heavy sacrifice, Maret;
my heart is still bleeding in consequence of it, and this wound will
Maret made no reply, but turned his head aside, and his face had a
strange expression of uneasiness and embarrassment.
Napoleon noticed it, and slightly shrugged his shoulders. "You think
that I grow sentimental, duke," he said, rudely, "and you mean that
my long military experience should have rendered me insensible to
such accidents. You are right; let us refer to them no more. Let us
rather read what the courier has brought."
He stretched out his hand for the other letters, and took up the
first one without looking at it. When he saw the superscription, his
face brightened, and, fixing a quick, reproachful glance upon Maret,
he said: "Fate is less rigorous than you are, Maret. It reminds me
that faithful friends still remain, and that all the companions of
my youth are not yet dead. There is a letter from Junot! He is one
of my faithful friends!" Opening it, he read hastily, and his face
darkened. "Maret," he cried, in an angry voice, "read--see what
Junot dares write to me!" He handed the letter to Maret. "Read it
aloud," he cried, "otherwise I shall be afraid lest my eyes deceive
me, and I mistake his words. Not the commencement, but the last page
is what I want to hear."
Maret read in a tremulous voice: "'I, who love your majesty with the
fervor which the savage feels for the sun--I, who belong to you with
body and soul--must tell you the truth; and this is: we must wage an
eternal war for you, BUT _I_ WILL DO SO NO MORE! I want peace! I
want at length to be able to rest my weary head and aching limbs in
my house, in the midst of my family, to enjoy their devotion, and no
longer to be a stranger to them--to enjoy what I have purchased with
a treasure that is more precious than all the riches of India--with
my blood, with the blood of a man of honor, a good Frenchman, a true
patriot. Well, then, I ask--I demand--the repose that I have
purchased by twenty-two years of active service, and by seventeen
wounds, from which my blood has welled, first for my country, and
then for your glory. It is enough!--my country needs repose, and
your glory is as radiant as the sun. I repeat, therefore, I want
peace. I speak in the name of all your marshals and generals, in the
name of your army, in the name of all France: WE DEMAND PEACE; give
it to us, then!--JUNOT, Duke d'Abrantes.'" [Footnote: "Memoirs of
the Duchess d'Abrantes," b. xvi., p. 323.]
"Well!" inquired Napoleon, when Maret had read the letter, "what do
you think of this impudence?"
"Sire," said Maret, in a low, tremulous voice, "your majesty knows
well that the Duke d'Abrantes is very dangerously ill, and that he
is said to be subject to frequent fits of insanity."
"It is true, it is the language of a madman, but one who knows very
well what he says. For he is right; he dares utter what all my
marshals are thinking, and gives utterance to their thoughts,
because he imagines that my friendship for him gives him that right.
The fool! I shall prove to him that I am, first and above all, the
emperor, and that the emperor will, without regard to the person,
punish the man who is so audacious as to threaten him. Oh, I am glad
that it is Junot who has made himself the mouth-piece of my generals
and marshals! I shall punish him with inexorable rigor, and that
will silence the others forever. They will not dare that which not
even Junot was permitted to do with impunity; they will obey when my
first anger has crushed this traitor Junot. For he is a traitor, a--
"Oh, sire, I implore you, do not proceed!" interposed Maret; "have
mercy upon him who stands already before a higher Judge, to receive
"What do you mean?" asked Napoleon.
"I mean, sire," replied Maret, solemnly, "that I came to bring you a
sad message, and that your majesty, therefore, just now did me
injustice. Sire, when you deplored the death of your lamented
friend, the Duke de Frioul, I was silent and embarrassed, not
because I deemed such regrets unbecoming, but because I was filled
with unbounded grief at the thought that I had come to communicate a
similar affliction. The courier brought me also a letter from M.
Albert de Comminges, Junot's brother-in-law. He requests me therein
to inform your majesty of a melancholy occurrence--the Duke
d'Abrantes is dead! Here is a letter from M. de Comminges to your
The emperor made no reply, but his face, which generally seemed
immovable, commenced quivering, and his lips trembled. He took the
letter in silence, and, opening it with a hasty hand, began to read
it. But suddenly he dropped it, and, pressing both his hands to his
forehead, he groaned aloud. Then he quickly stooped down, picked up
the letter and read it through. "Junot!" he then cried in a tone of
profound woe--"Junot!" He crumpled the letter in his hands, and,
with an expression from the depths of his heart, he repeated,
"Junot! Oh, my God, Junot, too!"
At this moment his wandering eye fell upon Maret, who was gazing at
him, pale and filled with profound compassion. Napoleon started and
concealed the tears which came to his eyes. Before an observer he
was not accustomed to show himself a man overcome by grief. He
smiled, but with an indescribably mournful expression, and said in a
firm voice, "Another brave soldier gone! The third victim that the
war has required of me, Maret! It takes the very men who were
indispensable to me, because they set so shining an example of
bravery and fidelity to the whole army. That is the only reason why
"Your majesty has a twofold right to complain," said Maret, in his
calm voice; "Junot loved your majesty with the obedience of a
servant, the submissiveness of a child, the enthusiasm of a pupil,
the ardor of a friend. He would have gone through fire for you, and
he was justified in saying that he loved your majesty with the love
the savage feels for the sun. Your majesty was his sun!"
"Yes, he loved me," said Napoleon, in a low voice, dropping his head
on his breast, "and I could count upon his fidelity. We had spent
our youth together, had overcome together a thousand dangers, and
courageously braved the vicissitudes of fate. His star had risen
with mine. Will not mine sink with his? Oh, Junot, how could you
leave me now, when you knew that I stood so greatly in need of you?
Junot, this is the first time that you desert me, and forget your
plighted faith. I am on the eve of a great and doubtful war,
surrounded by enemies--and my friends are deserting me and escaping
into the grave!" He paused, bowing his head lower upon his breast,
and wrinkling his forehead in his grief. A sad silence ensued, which
Maret dared not interrupt, by a motion or a word. At length, the
emperor raised his, face again, resuming his usual coldness and
indifference. "Maret," he said, in a firm voice, "I have no one in
Illyria now, since Junot, governor of that province, has died. I
must send another governor. But whom?"
"Sire," said Maret, in a timid voice, "will you not take the
proposals of Austria into consideration? She demands nothing but
Illyria as the price of her alliance and friendship. Fate itself
seems to give us a sign to grant this demand, for it has removed the
governor of Illyria."
"Fate!" cried Napoleon, shrugging his shoulders, "you only
acknowledge its hints when it suits your purposes; you deny its
existence when it would seem to be contrary to your wishes. Fate
caused the governor of Illyria to die, because, as you yourself
said, he was subject to fits of insanity; it has thereby given me an
opportunity to place a sensible and prudent man in Junot's stead, a
man who will not dare tell me such impudent things as you read to me
from his letter. Well, then, I will obey the hint of Fate. Write
immediately to Fouche. He is at Naples; tell him to set out at once
and come to Dresden. I intend to appoint him governor of Illyria.
Dispatch a courier with the letter. But wait! I have not yet read
all the dispatches brought from Paris."
He stepped back to the table, and took one of the letters from it.
"A letter from the Duke de Rovigo," he said, in a contemptuous tone,
"from the police minister of Paris! He will tell me a great many
stories; he will pretend to have seen many evil spirits, and, after
all, not know half of what he ought to know, and what Fouche would
have known if he still held that position. There, read it, Maret,
and communicate the most important passages to me." He threw himself
into the chair that stood in front of his desk, and, taking a
penknife, commenced whittling the wooden side-arm, while Maret
unfolded the dispatch and quickly glanced over its contents.
"Sire," he said, "this dispatch contains surprising news. It speaks
of a new enemy who might rise against your majesty."
"Well," said Napoleon, who was just cutting a large splinter from
the chair, "what new enemy is it?"
"Sire," said Maret, shrugging his shoulders, "it is Louis XVIII."
Napoleon started, and looked at his minister with a flash of anger.
"What do you mean?" he asked, sternly. "Who is Louis XVIII.? Where
is the country over which he rules?"
"Sire, I merely intended to designate the brother of the unfortunate
King Louis XVI."
"My uncle!" said Napoleon, with a proud smile, driving his knife
again into the back of the chair. "Well, what then? Whereby has the
Count de Lille surprised the world with the news of his existence?"
"Sire, by a proclamation addressed to the French, and in which he
implores them to return to their legitimate lord and king, making
them many promises, which, however, do not contain any thing but
what the French possess already by the grace of your majesty."
Napoleon shrugged his shoulders. "Savary, then, has at length seen a
copy of the English newspapers which published this proclamation,"
he said. "I read it several weeks ago."
"No, sire, it seems that the proclamation has not only appeared in
the English newspapers, but is circulating throughout France. The
Duke de Rovigo reports that secret agents of the Count de Lille are
actively at work in France. They are scattering every day thousands
of printed copies of the proclamation among the people. They are
circulated at night in the streets, secretly pushed under the doors
into the houses and rooms so that the police agents are unable to
take them away. These copies, it appears, are printed on hand-
presses, for their lines are often irregular and slanting, and
indicate an unpractised hand, but those who receive them try to
decipher them, and deliver them to the police only after having read
them." [Footnote: "Memoires du Duc Kovigo," vol. vi., p. 351.]
Napoleon said nothing; he was still whittling the back of his chair,
and did not once look up to his minister, who stood before him in
reverential silence. "I thought I had crashed this serpent of
legitimacy under my foot," he murmured at last to himself, "but it
still lives, and tries again to rise against me. Ah, I despise it,
and I have reason to do so. I alone am now the legitimate ruler of
France; the fifty battles in which I have fought and conquered for
France are my ancestors; the will of the French people has made me
emperor, and the voice of all the sovereign princes of Europe has
recognized my throne. The daughter of an emperor is my partner; and
the King of Rome, the future emperor of the French, will be more of
a legitimate ruler than any other prince, for the battles of his
father and the ancestors of the Hapsburgs form his pedigree. Let the
Count de Lille, then, flood France with copies of his proclamation,
I shall in the mean time win battles for France, and with the
bulletins of my victories drive his proclamations from the field. I-
At this moment the door opened, and Roustan's black face looked in.
"Sire, the Duke de Vicenza requests an audience," he said.
"Caulaincourt!" exclaimed Napoleon, surprised, rising and throwing
the penknife on the floor. "Caulaincourt! Let him come in!"
Roustan stepped back, and the imposing form of the Duke de Vicenza
appeared on the threshold. The emperor hastily met him and looked at
him with a keen, piercing glance. "Caulaincourt," he exclaimed,
"whence do you come, and what do you want here?"
"Sire," said the duke, gravely and solemnly, "I come from Prague,
whither the order of your majesty had sent me, to attend the
congress and to conduct the negotiations in the name of your
"These negotiations are broken off, then, as you have come without
having been recalled?"
"No, they are not broken off, but I have important news to
communicate to your majesty, and as I think that we are served best
when serving ourselves, I have made myself the bearer of my own
dispatches, to be sure that they reach your majesty in time. I have
travelled post-haste, and shall return to Prague in the same
"Well, then, inform me of the contents of your dispatches orally and
"Sire, I inform your majesty that the Count de Metternich is on the
road to this city to convey to you the ultimatum of Austria."
A flash of anger burst from the emperor's eyes. "He dares meet me!
does he not fear lest I crush him by hurling his duplicity and
treachery into his face? For I know that Austria is playing a double
game, negotiating at the same time with me and my enemies."
"But it is still in the power of your majesty to attach Austria to
France, and secure a continued alliance with her," exclaimed the
Duke do Vicenza. "This is the reason why I have hastened hither: to
implore your majesty not to reject entirely, in the first outburst
of your anger, the proposals of Austria, however inadmissible they
may appear to be. I left Vienna simultaneously with Count
Metternich, but succeeded in getting somewhat the start of him; he
will be here in an hour, and I have, therefore, time enough to
communicate to your majesty important news which I learned at Prague
yesterday, and which is sufficiently grave to influence perhaps your
"Speak!" commanded the emperor, throwing himself again into the
chair, and taking, for want of a penknife, a pair of scissors from
his desk, in order to bore the back of the chair with it. "Speak!"
"In the first place, I have to inform your majesty that the Emperor
of Austria has left Vienna for Castle Gitschin, in Bohemia, and that
an interview of the Emperor Francis with the allied monarchs took
place there on the 20th of June."
"Ah, the first step to open hostility has been taken, then," cried
"This interview, however, led to no results," added Caulaincourt.
"The Emperor Francis, on the contrary, declared emphatically that he
was still merely a mediator, and would consider the alliance with
France as dissolved, if your majesty should reject the ultimatum
with which he should send Metternich to Dresden."
"That is the equivocal and insidious language which the Austrian
diplomacy has always used," exclaimed the emperor, shrugging his
shoulders. "They want to keep on good terms with all, in order to
succeed in being the friend of him who is victorious. My father-in-
law, it seems, has learned by heart, and recited the lesson which
Metternich taught him. Proceed, Caulaincourt."
"Next, I have to inform your majesty that a definite treaty was
concluded yesterday between Austria and the allies. It was concluded
at Reichenbach. Austria has solemnly engaged to declare war against
you if you refuse to accept her terms, the last she would send.
Besides, Prussia and Russia concluded a treaty with England, which
engaged to assist both powers with money and materiel, and which, in
return, received the promise that Hanover, England's possession in
Germany, should be considerably enlarged at the end of the war, and
that new territories should be added to it."
"And the short-sighted monarchs have been foolish enough to grant
this to England!" cried Napoleon, with a sneer. "In their blind
hatred against me they grant more territory in Germany to their most
dangerous enemy, that England may spread still further the vast net
of her egotism, and catch all Germany in it, flood the country with
her manufactured goods, and drive the commerce of the continent into
British hands! Ah, those gentlemen will soon perceive what a mistake
they have committed in yielding to the demands of those greedy
English traders. For if England gives money instead of asking it,
she must have a great many substantial advantages in view, and these
she can obtain only at the expense of the German sovereigns, to whom
she will furnish subsidies now. Are you through with your news,
"No, sire, I have still something to add," said the Duke of Vicenza,
in a melancholy voice.
The emperor looked at him with a piercing glance, which seemed to
fathom the depths of his soul.
"Speak!" he said, quickly.
"Your majesty knows that the crown prince of Sweden, Bernadotte,
landed with his army at Stralsund on the 20th of May?"
"Yes, I do," said Napoleon, shrugging his shoulders. "My former
marshal, who acquired in my service a name and some fame, whom I
permitted to accept the dignity of crown prince of Sweden that was
offered him, a Frenchman, had the meanness to turn his arms against
his country, and ally himself with the enemies of France. But still
it seems that his courage is failing him. A month ago he disembarked
in Germany, and is idle with his troops in Mecklenburg. He allowed
Hamburg to fall; he did nothing to save Brandenburg, and appears
ready to embark again for Sweden. Looking the crime of treason full
in the face, he was unable to bear the thought of it, and will
retreat from it to the steps of the Swedish throne."
"No, sire," said Caulaiueourt, gravely, "the crown prince of Sweden
has made up his mind, and hesitates no longer. The Emperor Alexander
sent an envoy to Bernadotte, and requested of him an interview with
the monarchs of Prussia and Russia, for the purpose of concerting
with them a joint plan of operations for the campaign. Bernadotte,
thanks to the persuasive eloquence of the Russian envoy, eagerly
accepted this invitation, and the interview is to take place on the
9th of July at Trachenberg, in Silesia. The crown prince is already
on the road with a truly royal suite, and he has been solemnly
assured that the sovereigns will receive him at Trachenberg with all
the honors due his rank as a sovereign and legitimate prince. The
envoy of the Emperor of Russia is accompanying Bernadotte on this
journey, to strengthen the favorable dispositions of the crown
prince, and render him at once an active and energetic member of the
"Who is this envoy whom Alexander has dispatched to Bernadotte?"
"Sire, it is Count Pozzo di Borgo."
"Ah, my Corsican countryman, and once an ardent friend," exclaimed
Napoleon. "He has never forgiven me for not having assisted him, the
enthusiastic republican, in becoming King of Corsica, but having
left France in possession of my native country. As he was unable to
become a king, M. Pozzo di Borgo entered the service of the Czar of
Russia to fight against me, his countryman, with the power of his
tongue, as my other countryman with the arms of the Swedes. Well, I
think it will not do the allies much good to unite with traitors and
apostates, and to look for assistance against me from them. I gain
more moral weight by this struggle against traitors than my enemies
by their support. Bernadotte's treason is my ally."
"Sire, another man has joined the traitor, a Frenchman, who wants to
fight against France, against his emperor and former comrade."
"Still another! A third traitor! Who is it?"
"Sire, it is General Moreau."
"What! has Moreau returned from America?" asked Napoleon, looking up
"Yes, sire; he has left the banks of the Delaware to fight against
his country, as a general of the Emperor of Russia."
The emperor looked thoughtfully, and suddenly he raised his eves,
while a pleased expression lit up his countenance.
"My enemies assert that I have a heart of iron," he said, in a
gentle voice; "they charge me with being insensible to human
emotions--to compassion, friendship, and love. Well, then, I could
have had Moreau and Bernadotte both killed; they were in my power,
and deserved death. Moreau had entered into a conspiracy against me
and the existing laws of our country--a conspiracy whose object was
to assassinate me. I believe I would have been justified if I had
made him feel the rigor of my laws, and expiate his murderous intent
by death. Bernadotte disobeyed my orders in two battles; I would
have been justified in having him tried by a court-martial, which
would certainly have passed sentence of death upon him. I permitted
Moreau to emigrate to America, and indulge his republican
predilections there without hinderance; and Bernadotte to go to
Sweden, and gratify the desires of his ambitious heart. I pardoned
both because I loved them. They now reward me by allying themselves
with my enemies. This is all right, however, for I have placed both
under heavy obligations, and nothing is more difficult to forgive
"Sire, as I have alluded to these traitors, I must mention still
another. General Jomini, adjutant-general of Marshal Ney, has
deserted his post and gone over to the camp of the allies to offer
his services to the sovereigns. He has become a member of the
Emperor Alexander's staff."
"Well," cried Napoleon, with the semblance of unalloyed mirth, "the
world and posterity will have to pardon me now if I lose a few
battles in this campaign, for those who are fighting against me are
commanded by generals who have learned the art of war from me--
pupils of mine. I must, therefore, allow them to gain a battle or
two to prove that I am a good teacher. Besides, Jomini is not as
guilty as Moreau and Bernadotte. He is a native of Switzerland, and
his treason is aimed only at myself, and not at his country."
"It seems such is Jomini's excuse, too," said Caulaincourt, "for I
have been told that he treated General Moreau with surprising
coolness, and when the latter offered him his hand he did not take
it, but withdrew with a chilling salutation. To the Emperor
Alexander, who rebuked him for it, he replied that he would gladly
welcome General Moreau anywhere else than at the camp of the enemies
of Moreau's own country. For if he, Jomini, were a native of France,
he would assuredly at this hour not be at the camp of the Emperor of
"Ah!" exclaimed the emperor, "I am convinced that miserable Jomini
imagines that he acted in a very noble and highly-dignified manner.
A traitor who is ashamed of another traitor, and blushes for him!
Ah, Caulaincourt, what a harrowing spectacle! These acts of
treachery will in the end make me unhappy! [Footnote: Napoleon's
words.--Constant's "Memoires," vol. v., p, 245.] For does not
Austria, too, wish to betray me? Has she not entered into an
alliance with me, and does she not now wish to forsake me merely
because she imagines that it would be more advantageous to her to
side with my enemies? Austria is oscillating, and Metternich thinks
he can preserve her equilibrium by placing Austrian promises as
weights now into this, now into that scale. But the cabinet of
Vienna deceives itself. Count Metternich wants his intrigues to pass
for policy, while the whole object of Austria is to recover what she
has lost." [Footnote: Napoleon's words.--Fain, "Manuscrit de 1813,"
At this moment a carriage was heard to roll up to the palace and
stop close under the windows of the cabinet. Maret, who, during the
conversation between Napoleon and Caulaincourt, had retired into a
window-niche, turned and looked out into the street.
"Sire," he then said, quickly, "Count Metternich has arrived, and
already entered the palace."
"Ah, he is really coming, then!" exclaimed Napoleon, with an air of
scornful triumph; "he wishes me to tear the mask from his smirking
face! Well, I shall comply with his wishes; I, at least, shall not
dissemble, nor veil my real thoughts! Austria shall learn what I
think of her!"
The door opened, and Roustan entered again. "Sire," he said. "his
excellency Count Metternich, minister plenipotentiary of his majesty
the Emperor of Austria, requests an audience of your majesty."
Napoleon turned his head slowly toward the Dukes de Vicenza and
Bassano. "Enter the cabinet of my private secretary, Fain," he said.
"Leave the door ajar; I want you to hear all. Fain, if he pleases,
may take notes of this interview, that he may afterward accurately
testify to it. Go!"
The two gentlemen bowed in silence and withdrew. The emperor gazed
after them until they disappeared through the door of the cabinet;
then turning toward Roustan, "Let him come in," he said, with a
A few minutes afterward the slender form, and the handsome, florid,
and smiling face of Count Clement de Metternich appeared on the
threshold of the imperial cabinet.
NAPOLEON AND METTERNICH.
The emperor quickly met the Austrian minister, but, as if
restraining himself, he stood in the middle of the room. Metternich
approached, making a still, solemn bow, and quickly raised his head
again, and turning his fine face, from which the smile did not
vanish for a moment, toward the emperor, he waited in respectful
silence for the latter to address him. Napoleon cast a menacing
glance of hatred upon him; but Metternich did not seem to perceive
his threat. He fixed his large blue eyes with perfect calmness on
the face of the emperor, and awaited the commencement of the
The emperor felt that it was his province to break this silence.
"Well, Metternich," ho said, "yon are here, then! You are welcome!
But answer me, without circumlocution, What do you want?"
"Sire, Austria wishes me to mediate a peace between the Prussian and
Russian allies and your majesty."
"Ah, you want peace!" exclaimed Napoleon, sarcastically. "But why so
late? We have lost nearly a month, and your mediation, from its long
inactivity, has become almost hostile. It appears that it no longer
suits your cabinet to guarantee the integrity of the French empire?
Be it so; but why had you not the candor to make me acquainted with
that determination at an earlier period? It might have modified my
plans--perhaps prevented me from continuing the war."
"But your majesty ought graciously to remember that, for the
present, there is no question of Austria and her wishes," said
Metternich, calmly; "that Austria is merely trying to mediate peace
between your majesty and the sovereigns of Russia and Prussia."
"Ah, that is what you call mediating," exclaimed Napoleon,
sneeringly. "When you allowed me to exhaust myself by new efforts,
you doubtless little calculated on such rapid events as have ensued.
I have gained, nevertheless, two battles; my enemies, severely
weakened, were beginning to waken from their illusions, when
suddenly you glided among us, and, speaking to me of an armistice
and mediation, you spoke to them of alliance and war. But for your
pernicious intervention, peace would have been at this moment
concluded between the allies and myself. You cannot deny that, since
she has assumed the office of mediator, Austria has not only ceased
to be my ally, but is becoming my enemy. You were about to declare
yourself so when the battle of Lutzen intervened, and, by showing
you the necessity of augmenting your forces, made you desirous of
gaining time. You have improved your opportunity, and now you have
your two hundred thousand men ready, screened by the Bohemian hills;
Schwartzenberg commands them; at this very moment he is
concentrating them in my rear; and it is because you conceive
yourself in a condition to dictate the law, that you pay this
"Sire, dictate!" echoed Metternich, in a tone of dismay, but with a
"Yes, dictate!" repeated Napoleon, in a louder voice. "But why do
you wish to dictate to me alone? Am I, then, no longer the same man
whom you defended yesterday? If you are an honest mediator, why do
you not at least treat both sides alike? Say nothing in reply, for I
see through you, Metternich: your cabinet wishes to profit by my
embarrassments, and augment them as much as possible, in order to
recover a portion of your losses. The only difficulty you have is,
whether you can gain your object without fighting, or throw
yourselves boldly among the combatants; you do not know which to do,
and possibly you come to seek light on the subject. Well, then, let
us see! Let us treat! What do you wish?"
"Sire," said Metternich, with his smiling calmness, which had not
yielded for an instant to the storm of Napoleon's reproaches,
"Austria has no motives of self-interest. The sole advantage which
the Emperor Francis wishes to derive from the present state of
affairs is the influence which a spirit of moderation, and a respect
for the rights of independent states, cannot fail to acquire from
those who are animated with similar sentiments. Austria wishes not
to conquer, but to preserve."
"Speak more clearly," interrupted the emperor, impatiently; "but do
not forget that I am a soldier."
"Your majesty has taught Europe by upward of fifty battles never to
forget that," said Metternich, with a pleasant nod. "Austria wishes
to wound your majesty neither as a soldier nor as an emperor. She
simply desires to establish a state of things which, by a wise
distribution of power, may place the guaranty of peace under the
protection of an association of independent states."
"Words, words!" cried Napoleon, impatiently. "Words having no other
object than evasion, veiling your own designs! But I mean to go
directly to the object. I only wish Austria to remain neutral, and I
am ready to make sacrifices to her for it. My army is amply
sufficient to bring back the Russians and Prussians to reason. All
that I ask of you is to withdraw from the strife."
"Ah, sire," said Metternich, eagerly, "why should your majesty enter
singly into the strife? Why should you not double your forces? You
may do so, sire! It depends only on you to add our forces to your
own. Yes, matters have come to that point that we can no longer
remain neutral; we must be either for or against you."
The emperor bent on him one of those piercing glances which the
eagle bends upon the clouds to which he is soaring, seeking for the
sun behind them. "And which would be more desirable to you," he
asked, "to be for or against me?"
"Ah, sire, the Emperor Francis wishes for nothing more ardently than
that the state of affairs should enable him to be for France, whose
emperor is his son-in-law."
"But my father-in-law imposes conditions! Pray, tell me what they
are!" exclaimed Napoleon, striding up and down the apartment, while
Metternich walked by his side, respectfully holding his hat in his
"Tell me what these conditions are!" repeated Napoleon.
"Sire, they are simply these," said Metternich, in a bland tone.
"During the late decade the affairs of Europe have been disturbed in
a somewhat violent manner. Austria only wishes to have the
equilibrium of Europe reestablished, and all the states occupy again
the same position which they held prior to these convulsions. If
your majesty consents to contribute your share to this restoration,
Austria in return offers to France her lasting alliance and, in case
the other powers should pursue a hostile course, her armed
assistance. Austria wishes to make no conquests, to acquire no
provinces, no titles--she is animated with the spirit of moderation.
She demands only order, justice, and equality for all, and,
moreover, only the restoration of such states as have been
recognized for centuries as members of the general confederacy of
European states, the reconstruction of those thrones which have
existed for ages, and whose rulers have a legitimate right to their
sovereignty. I believe your majesty cannot deny that the Bourbons
have a well-founded right to Spain, and that the Spaniards now, by
the blood shed in their heroic struggle, have established their
right to restore the throne to their legitimate rulers. You will
have to admit, further, that no Christian sovereign, how powerful
soever he may be, has a right to overthrow the Holy See of St.
Peter, and to keep the vicegerent of God away from the capital which
all Christendom has so long recognized as his own. You will have to
admit, too, that both Lombardy and Illyria have long been
possessions of Austria, and that Switzerland has been recognized as
a confederation of republics by all the powers of Europe. If your
majesty acknowledges all this, and consents to restore the state of
things in accordance with those well-established rights, it only
remains for us to find compensation for the three powers which have
already allied themselves against you. As for Prussia, I believe a
portion of Saxony would be the most suitable indemnity for her.
Russia, I suppose, would be content if, after the dissolution of the
duchy of Warsaw, Poland should once more fall to her share, and
England demands only the possession of a few fortified places and
safe harbors on the shores of Holland."
The emperor uttered a cry of anger, and, suddenly halting, cast
glances on Metternich which seemed to borrow their fire from the
lightning. "Are you through with your proposals, sir?" he asked, in
a threatening tone.
Metternich bowed. "Yes, sire."
"Well, then," cried the emperor, stepping up to the minister, "to
all this I respond only by the question: How much money has England
given you to play this part?"
At this question, uttered in a menacing voice, Metternich turned
pale, the smile passed from his lips, his brow darkened, and his
eyes, usually so mild and pleasant, kindled with anger, and allowed
the thoughts, generally concealed in the innermost recesses of the
diplomatist's heart, to burst forth for a moment, and betray hatred.
"Ah," cried Napoleon, in a triumphant tone, "I have at length torn
the mask from your smiling features, and I see that a serpent is
hidden under them as under roses. It would sting, but I know how to
be on my guard; I will never grant Austria the right to insult,
dictate to, and humiliate me. I will compel her, as I have done so
often, to prostrate herself in the dust before me, and ask mercy and
forbearance. Do you hear what I say? I will humiliate Austria,
trampling her in the dust." The emperor violently raised his
clinched fist, and striking it downward struck Metternich's hat,
which the minister still held in his hand, and caused it to fall to
The emperor paused and looked at Metternich, as if to request him to
pick up the hat. But the latter did not make the slightest movement.
His thoughts and his hatred had already retired into his bosom; his
brow was serene again, and his accustomed smile returned. He looked
first at the hat, and then at the emperor, who followed his glances,
and met them sullenly and defiantly. This little incident, however,
seemed to have dispelled Napoleon's anger, or at least to have
appeased the first stormy waves of the sea. When he spoke again his
tone was milder, and his look less scorching, returning from time to
time, as it were involuntarily, to the hat lying on the floor a few
steps from him. He commenced pacing the apartment again with quick
steps. Metternich followed him, only with somewhat slackened pace,
and thus compelled the emperor to walk a little slower.
"Now," said Napoleon, loudly, "I know what you want! Not only
Illyria, but the half of Italy, the return of the pope to Rome,
Poland, and the abandonment of Spain, Holland, and Switzerland! This
is what you call the spirit of moderation! You are intent only on
profiting by every chance; you alternately transport your alliance
from one camp to the other, in order to be always a sharer in the
spoil, and you speak to me of your respect for the rights of
independent states! You would have Italy; Russia, Poland; Prussia,
Saxony; and England, Holland and Belgium: in fine, peace is only a
pretext; you are all intent on dismembering the French empire! And
Austria thinks she has only to declare herself, to crown such an
enterprise! You pretend here, with a stroke of the pen, to make the
ramparts of Dantzic, Custrin, Glogau, Magdeburg, Wesel, Mentz,
Antwerp, Alessandria, Mantua, in fine, all the strong places of
Europe, sink before you, of which I did not obtain possession but by
my victorious arms! And I, obedient to your policy, am to evacuate
Europe, of which I still hold the half; recall my legions across the
Rhine, the Alps, and the Pyrenees; subscribe a treaty which would be
nothing but a vast capitulation; and place myself at the mercy of
those of whom I am at this moment the conqueror! It is when my
standards float at the mouths of the Vistula, and on the banks of
the Oder; when my army is at the gates of Berlin, and Breslau; when
I am at the head of three hundred thousand men, that Austria,
without drawing a sword, expects to make me subscribe such
conditions! This is an insult, and it is my father-in-law that has
matured such a project; it is he that sends you on such a mission!"
[Footnote: This whole speech contains only Napoleon's words.--Vide
Fain, "Manuscrit de 1813," vol. i.]
While thus speaking, the emperor was still walking, and Metternich
by his side. Whenever they passed the hat lying on the floor,
Napoleon cast a quick side-glance on Metternich, who appeared to
take no notice of the hat, and it seemed entirely accidental that he
slightly wheeled aside, and thus succeeded in passing without
"You," cried Napoleon, in a thundering voice, "have taken upon
yourself the mission of insulting me, and you think I will quietly
"Sire," said Metternich, with his imperturbable calmness, "I believe
you have already punished me for it!"
Now for the first time his eyes turned significantly toward his hat,
and then fixed themselves steadfastly on the emperor. They did not
dare to threaten, but they defied Napoleon. They said: "You have
insulted me by knocking my hat out of my hand. I will not pick it
up, but demand satisfaction."
Possibly Napoleon understood this language, for a smile, full of
sarcasm and contempt, played around his lips, and he slightly
shrugged his shoulders.
"I beg you to consider, besides," added Metternich, calmly, "that I
am here only because my sovereign has commissioned and ordered me to
repair to you, and that, as a faithful servant, I have repeated only
what the emperor commanded me."
"Ah," cried Napoleon, with a harsh laugh, "you wish to make me
believe that you are but the emperor's echo? Well, I will suppose it
to be true. Then go and tell your master that I henceforth decline
his mediation, and that nothing would exasperate me more than the
idea that Austria, in return for her crimes and her breach of faith,
should reap the best fruits and become the pacificator of Europe.
Ask the Emperor Francis in what position he intends to place me in
regard to my son? Tell him he is entirely mistaken if he believes a
disgraced throne can be a refuge in France for his daughter and
grandson. [Footnote: Napoleon's words.--Vide Fain, "Manuscrit de
1813," vol. i.] That is my reply to the Emperor Francis. Go!"
Metternich bowed; considering the emperor's words equivalent to his
dismissal, he turned and crossed the room. His way led him past his
hat; he took no notice of it, but quietly walked on toward the door.
"He does not wish to take his hat," thought Napoleon.
Metternich reached the door, turned again to the emperor, and made
him a last reverential bow.
"One word more, Count Metternich!" cried Napoleon. "Come, I have
still something to say to you."
Metternich blandly nodded assent and returned. Napoleon commenced
again pacing the room, with Metternich by his side. The emperor now
directed his steps in such a manner that he himself was near the
hat. "I wish to prove to you, Metternich," said Napoleon, "that I
have seen through you, and that the true reason of your coming is
well known to me. You did not for an instant believe that I could
accept these proposals, which would dishonor and annihilate me; you
know me too well for that; but they were only to be the pretext of
the real wish that brought you hither. To be able to ally yourself
in a seemingly loyal manner with my enemies, you want to get rid of
the alliance which is still connecting Austria with France. In
direct contradiction to all that Austria has hitherto said to me,
you wish to annul the treaty of Paris. Admit that this is the case."
The emperor, with his eyes fixed steadfastly upon Metternich,
crossed the apartment. Suddenly seeming to find an obstacle in his
way, he turned his eyes toward the floor. It was Metternich's hat,
which his foot had already touched. As if merely to remove the
obstruction, he stooped, took up the hat, and threw it with an
indifferent and careless motion on a chair near the door. He then
quietly passed on and fixed his eyes again upon Metternich.
[Footnote: Vide "Memoires de la Duchesse d'Abrantes," vol. xvi., p.
173. There is another version of this scene, according to which it
was not Metternich's, but the emperor's hat that fell to the floor.-
-Vide Hormayr, "Lebensbilder," vol. iii., p. 480.] "Well, reply to
me--deny it if you can!"
"Sire," said Metternich, in a bland, insinuating voice, "I had
already the honor of telling you that matters have come to that
point that we can no longer remain neutral, but that we can take up
arms for your majesty, only if you consent to grant us all that I
have laid before you, and--"
"No," interrupted Napoleon, proudly, "do not repeat the insult! The
interview is ended. I know what you desire, and I do not intend to
disappoint you! I will not be a dead weight upon my friends, nor
raise the slightest objection to the abandonment of the treaty that
allies me with Austria, if such be the wish of the Emperor Francis.
I shall tomorrow repeat this to you in writing and in due form. Now
we are through--farewell!" He turned his back on Count Metternich,
with a quick nod, and continued his way across the room.
Metternich cast a last smiling glance on him; went with rapid, soft
steps to the chair, took his hat which the emperor had picked up,
hastened across the room, and went out without a word or a bow.
When Napoleon heard him close the door, "He is gone," he murmured,
"the alliance is broken. I have now no ally but myself!" For a
moment he looked melancholy, and then starting glanced at the small
door leading into the cabinet of Baron Fain, his private secretary.
He remembered that his two dukes were there, and that they could not
only hear but see all. Composing his agitated face, he shouted in a
merry voice, "Caulaincourt and Maret, come in!"
The door opened immediately; the Dukes de Bassano and Vicenza
appeared on the threshold and reentered the room. "Well, have you
heard every thing?" asked Napoleon.
"And Fain? has he taken notes?"
"Sire, he has written down every thing as far as it was possible,
considering the rapidity of the conversation." [Footnote: Fain,
"Memoires de 1813." Fain gives a full account of this interview, and
I have strictly followed his narrative.]
"Ah, I shall read it afterward," said the emperor; "it is always
good to know in what manner we shall be recognized by posterity.
Now, gentlemen, since you have heard all, you understand that war is
unavoidable, and that Austria will side with my enemies."
"Sire, we have heard it, and it has filled our souls with uneasiness
and anxiety," said Maret.
"Perhaps, nevertheless, a compromise may still be possible,"
exclaimed Caulaincourt. "The armistice has not yet expired, and, in
accordance with the orders of your majesty, I have already made the
necessary overtures for prolonging it to the 15th of August."
"It will be prolonged, you may depend upon it," said Napoleon, "for
the allies need time for completing their preparations. We shall
have an armistice to that time, but then war will break out anew,
and it will be terrible. I shall not indeed wage it as emperor, but
as General Bonaparte." [Footnote: Napoleon's words.]
"Oh, sire," sighed Maret, "the whole world is longing for peace, and
France, too, entertains no more ardent wish. I have received many
unmistakable intimations in regard to it. Paris is not only hoping
for peace, but expecting it confidently, after the two victories by
which your majesty has humiliated your enemies."
"Paris is very badly informed if she thinks peace to depend upon
me," replied Napoleon, indignantly. "You see how greedily Austria
augments the demands of my enemies, by placing herself at their
head. We were always obliged to conquer peace. Very well, we will
conquer it again. The armistice will be prolonged to the 15th of
August--time enough to complete, on our side, all necessary
preparations, and decree a new conscription. But then, after the
armistice, war--a decisive, bloody war--a war that will lead to an
honorable peace! Believe me, he who has always dictated peace cannot
submit to it with impunity. Courage, therefore! France wants peace,
and so do I, but my cannon shall dictate the terms, and my sword
write them!" [Footnote: Napoleon's words.--Vide "Memoires du Due de
Rovigo," vol. ii.]
DELIVERANCE OF GERMANY.
ON THE KATZBACH.
The armistice expired on the 15th of August, and hostilities were
resumed. The state of affairs, however, was essentially different
from what it was at the commencement of the armistice; for, at that
time, Napoleon had just obtained two victories. During the
armistice, the allies had won an important victory over him; they
had gained Austria over to their side, and now, at the renewal of
hostilities, Austria reenforced the allies with two hundred thousand
men. For nearly fourteen years Napoleon was invariably the more
powerful enemy, not only on account of his military genius, but of
the numerical strength and excellent organization of his forces.
For the first time the enemy opposed him with superior forces, and
this vast host struggled, moreover, with the utmost enthusiasm for
the deliverance of the fatherland--with the energy of hatred and
wrath against him who had so long enslaved and oppressed it. But
Napoleon still possessed his grand military genius. Soon after the
expiration of the armistice, he gained a new victory over the
allies, that of Dresden; [Footnote: The battle of Dresden lasted two
days, the 26th and 27th of August. Moreau died on the 2d of
September, and the battle of Culm was fought on the 29th and 30th of
August.] and in this battle Moreau, the French general, who was
fighting against his own countrymen, was struck by a French ball,
which caused his death in a few days. But the allies took their
revenge for the defeat of Dresden in the great victory of Culm,
where they, also after a two days' battle, achieved a brilliant
triumph over General Vandamme.
General Blucher and his Silesian army had not participated in these
battles. At the time when the Russians, the Austrians, and a part of
the Prussians, were fighting and yielding at Dresden, Blucher was at
length to attain his object, and. meet the enemy in a pitched
battle. Since the 20th of August he stood near Jauer with his army,
which was ninety thousand strong, composed of Russians and
Prussians, and awaited nothing more ardently than the approach of
the enemy, in order to fight a general battle. Fortune seemed to
favor his wishes, for Napoleon himself was advancing. On the 21st of
August the scouts reported the approach of the hostile columns, who
had crossed the Bober at Lowenberg. Blucher's eyes lit up with
delight; he stroked his white mustache, and said: "We shall have a
fight! To-morrow we meet the French!"
But the morning of the 23d of August dawned, and the eyes of the
general were still unable to descry the advancing enemy. Yet his
scouts reported that the French army was advancing, and that only a
detachment had set out for Dresden. "Then Bonaparte has left with
this detachment," grumbled Blucher; "for if he were still with them,
the French would not creep along like snails."
At length, on the 26th of August, the general's wishes seemed to be
near fulfilment. The French were advancing. They approached the
banks of the Katzbach, to the other side of which the Silesian army
was moving. "We shall have a fight!" shouted General Blucher,
exultingly; "the good God will have mercy on me after all, and treat
me to a good breakfast! I have been hungering for the French so
long, that I really thought I should die of starvation. I shall
furnish the roast; and, that there may be something to drink, the
rain is pouring down from heaven as though all the little angels on
high were weeping for joy because they are to have the pleasure of
seeing old Blucher at work!--Glorious hosts in heaven!" added
Blucher, casting a glance at the leaden sky, "now do me only the
favor to put an end to your weeping, and do not give us too much of
a good thing. Pray remember that you put under water not only the
enemy, but ourselves, your friends. Do not soften the soil too much,
else not only the French will stick in the mud, but ourselves, your
But "the little angels on high" poured down their "tears of joy" in
incessant torrents from early dawn. It was one of those continuous
rains from a dull gray sky, giving little hope of fine weather for
many days. The soil was softened, the mountain-torrents swollen, and
vast masses of water foamed into the Katzbach, so that this peaceful
little stream seemed a furious river. A violent norther was blowing,
and driving the rain into the faces of the soldiers, drenching their
uniforms, penetrating the muskets, and moistening the powder.
"Well, if the boys cannot shoot to-day, they will have to club their
muskets," said Blucher, cheerfully, when he and his suite rode out
of Bollwitzhof, his headquarters, to reconnoitre the position of the
But the wind and rain rendered a reconnoissance a matter of
impossibility. The enemy was nowhere to be seen, but still the dull
noise of rumbling cannon and trotting horses was heard at a
distance, and the patrols reported that they had seen the foe
approaching the Katzbach in heavy columns; not, however, on the
other bank, but on this side. At this moment General Gneisenau came
up at a full gallop. He had gone out toward the pickets to
reconnoitre, and came back to report that the French were forming in
line of battle at a short distance on the plateau near Eichholz, and
that they had crossed to the right side of the Katzbach.
"Right or left," said Blucher, "it is all the same to me, provided
we have them. If they have already crossed the river, well then they
know the road, and will be better able to find their way back. Let
us allow them to cross, until there are enough of them on this
side." Then, turning with noble dignity toward his officers, he
added, in an entirely changed, grave, and measured tone: "Gentlemen,
the battle will commence in a few hours. Promptness and good order
are of vital importance now.--The orderlies!"
The orderlies hastened to him. "You will ride to General York, who
is occupying the plateau of Eichholz, and tell him to allow as many
French as he thinks he can beat to march up the ascent, and then he
is to charge them!" shouted Blucher to the first orderly, and, while
he sped away at a furious gallop, the general turned to the second.
"You will hasten to General von Sacken and tell him that it is time
for attacking the French!--And we, gentlemen," he added, addressing
his staff, "will place ourselves at the head of our troops. The
soldiers must have their meals cooked by two o'clock; all the
columns will then commence moving. When the enemy falls back, I
expect, above all, the cavalry to do their duty, and to act with
great courage. The foe must find out, that on retreating he cannot
get out of our hands unhurt. And now, forward! The battle begins at
two o'clock!" He spurred his horse, and galloped again toward the
troops. With a serene face and joyful eyes he rode along the front.
"Boys," he shouted, "cook your dinners quickly, do not burn your
mouths, and do not eat your soup too hot; but when you have eaten
it, then it is time for cooking a whipping soup for the French."
"Yes, Father Blucher, we will cook it for them!" shouted the
"I am afraid that soup won't agree with the French," said Blucher,
with a humorous wink. "Blue-bean soup is hard to digest. But they
will have to swallow it, whether they like it or not, won't they?"
"Yes, they will!" laughed the soldiers; and Blucher galloped over to
the other regiments, to fire their hearts by similar greetings.
It was two o'clock! "Boys, the fun will commence now!" shouted
Blucher's powerful voice. "Now I have French soldiers enough on this
side of the river. Forward!"
Forward they went, at a double-quick, directly at the French. The
cannon boomed, the musketry rattled; but the rain soon silenced the
"Boys," shouted Major von Othegraven to his battalion of the
Brandenburg regiment, "if we cannot shoot them, we can club them!"
And amid loud cheers the soldiers turned their muskets, and struck
their enemies with the butts. A terrible hand-to-hand struggle
ensued--howls of pain, dreadful abuse and imprecations burst from
both sides; but at length they ceased on this part of the field: the
Brandenburg soldiers had killed a whole French battalion with the
stocks of their muskets! [Footnote: Beitzke, vol. ii., p. 204.]
The battle raged on amid the terrible storm beating on the
combatants. The wind blew violently, and the rain descended in
torrents. The men sank ankle-deep in the softened soil, but
"Forward!" sounded the battle-cry, and the soldiers left their shoes
in the mud, rushing in their socks or bare-footed on the enemy, who
fought with lion-hearted courage, here receding and there advancing.
"Father Blucher, we are doing well to-day!" shouted the soldiers to
their chieftain, galloping up to the infantry.
"Yes, we are doing well," cried Blucher; "but wait, boys--we shall
do still better!"
At this moment the artillery boomed from the other side. Two
officers galloped up to Blucher. One was the orderly he had sent to
General von Sacken.
"What reply did General von Sacken make?" shouted Blucher.
"'Reply to the general, "Hurrah!"' [Footnote: Beitzke, vol. ii., p.
201.] was all he said, your excellency."
"A splendid comrade!" cried Blucher, merrily.
"General," said the second officer, in an undertone, "I beg leave to
make a communication in private."
"In private? No communications will be made in private to-day,"
replied Blucher, shaking his head; "my staff-officers must hear
every thing." And he beckoned to his aides and officers to come
closer to him.
"Your excellency then commands me to utter aloud what I have to
"Well, speak directly, and, if you like, so loudly that the French
will hear, too!"
"Well, then, general, I have to tell you that no time is to be lost,
and that we must hasten to advance, for the Emperor Napoleon himself
is coming up at the head of his troops; he is already in the rear of
"Ah," inquired Blucher, with perfect composure, "is the Emperor
Napoleon in my rear? Well, I am glad of it; then he is able to do me
a great favor." He turned his eyes again toward the battle array
with a defiant smile, as if confident of final victory.
The victory was not decided, although the murderous struggle had
lasted already an hour. Marshal Macdonald constantly moved up fresh
troops, and Blucher had sufficient reserves to meet them. Here the
Prussians gave way, and there the French. 'From the right wing of
the Prussian army orderlies informed General Blucher that General
York, with his troops, had repulsed the enemy, and was advancing
victoriously; messengers hastened to him from the left wing, and
told him that General Langeron was about to fall back, that the
Prussian cavalry were retreating, and the French cavalry approaching
in dense masses, and that the Prussian batteries were in imminent
danger of falling into the hands of the enemy.
Blucher uttered an oath--a single savage oath; then he turned his
head aside and shouted, "Hennemann! pipe-master!"
Christian Hennemann galloped up immediately. He was in full hussar-
uniform, but did not belong to the ranks; he was in the suite of his
general, and had to be constantly near him. On the pommel of his
saddle was a long iron box, and in his mouth a short clay pipe.
"General, here I am!"
"Give me a short pipe, for now we charge the enemy!"
Hennemann took the pipe from his mouth, handed it to the general,
and said, with the utmost equanimity: "Here it is! It has been
burning some time already, and I began to think the general had
entirely forgotten the pipe and myself."
Blucher put the pipe into his mouth. At this moment a Brandenburg
regiment of lancers galloped up, headed by Major von Katzeler,
Blucher's former adjutant. "We are going to assist our men!" shouted
Katzeler, saluting the general with his sword.
"We are moving to the relief of our comrades!" cried a captain of
hussars, thundering up at the head of his regiment.
"Very well!" said Blucher. "God bless me. I must go with them! I can
stand it no longer!" Drawing his sword, he galloped with the courage
and ardor of a youth to the head of the column of hussars, who
received him with deafening cheers. The bugles sounded, and forward
sped Blucher at an impetuous gallop.
Suddenly some one shouted by his side: "General! general!" It was
the pipe-master. Blucher, looking at him with eyes flashing with
anger, said: "Begone! Ride to the rear!"
"God forbid!" said Hennemann, composedly; "here is my place; did not
the general order me always to remain near him and hold a short pipe
in readiness? Well, I am near, and the pipe is ready."
"I do not want it now, Christian; we are about to charge the enemy.
To the rear, pipe-master!"
"I cannot think of it, general; no one is at liberty to desert his
post, as you told me yourself," cried Hennemann. "I am at my post,
and will not allow myself to be driven from it. You will soon enough
"Forward!" cried the general. And amid loud cheers the hussars
rushed upon the enemy, Blucher fighting at their head, brandishing
his sword with the utmost delight, forcing back the enemy, and
wresting from him the advantages he had already gained. The French
being driven back, Blucher suddenly commanded a halt.
"Boys!" he shouted, in a clarion voice, "this is a butchery to-day;
let us stop a moment, take a drink, and fill our pipes.--Pipe-
master, my pipe!"
"Did I not say that you would soon need me?" asked Hennemann, in a
triumphant voice. "Here is your pipe, general!"
When the horses had taken breath, and the bold hussars a drink, and
filled their pipes, the general's voice was again heard: "Forward in
God's name!--we shall soon be done with the French!"
Toward dusk the battle was decided. In wild disorder fled the enemy,
delayed by the softened soil, blinded by the rain, and obstructed by
the Katzbach and the Neisse, with their roaring waters swelling
every moment. In hot pursuit was the exultant victor, thundering
with his cannon, and hurling death into the ranks of the fugitives.
Field-pieces were planted on the banks of those streams, and when
the French approached, they were greeted with fearful volleys.
Turning in dismay, flashing swords and bayonets menaced them. Piles
of dead were lying on the banks of the Katzbach; thousands of
corpses were floating down the foaming waters, showing to Silesia
the bloody trophies of battle, and that Blucher had at length taken
revenge upon his adversary. At seven o'clock in the evening all was
still. On all sides the French had fled.
BLUCHER AS A WRITER.
Darkness came, and the rain continued. The "dear little angels in
heaven," who, as Blucher said in the morning, wept for joy at the
prospect of a fight, were now perhaps shedding tears of grief at the
many thousands lying on the battle-field with gaping wounds, and
whose last sighs were borne away on the stormy wind of the night.
Blucher rode across the field toward his headquarters; no one was by
his side but his friend, General Gneisenau, and, at some distance
behind them, Christian Hennemann, holding a burning pipe in his
mouth. Absorbed in deep reflections, they were riding along the
dreadful road strewed with dead and wounded soldiers, and through
pools of blood. Even Blucher felt exhausted after the day's work;
his joy was suppressed by the incessant rain that had drenched his
clothes, and by the groans of the dying, which rent his ears and
filled his soul with compassion. But soon overcoming his sadness, he
turned toward Gneisenau. "Well," he said, "this battle we have
gained, and all the world will have to admit it; now let us think
what we may put into our bulletin to tell the people HOW we have
gained it. For ten years past Bonaparte has issued such high-
sounding accounts of his victories that I always felt in my anger as
though my heart were a bombshell ready to burst. Well, this time,
let us also draw up such a bulletin of victory, and show that we
have learned something. Let us proclaim that we have conquered, and
draw up the document as soon as we arrive at Brechtelshof."
"General, you will have to decide the name of the battle," said
Gneisenau. "How is it to be known in history?"
"Yes, that is true," said Blucher, thoughtfully, "it must have a
name. Well, propose one, Gneisenau!"
"We might call it the battle of Brechtelshof, because the
headquarters of our brave chieftain, our Father Blucher, are at that
place," said Gneisenau, in a mild tone.
"No, do not mix me up with the matter," said Blucher, hastily; "the
good God has vouchsafed us a victory, let us humbly thank Him for
it, and not grow overbearing.--Wait, I have it now! We shall call
it, in honor of General von Sacken, the battle of the Katzbach; for,
by Sacken's vigorous cannonade from Eichholz, on the Katzbach, and
with the assistance of his brave cavalry, that drove the enemy into
the river, we gained the victory, and the battle ought to have that
name. 'The battle of the Katzbach!'--Well, here are our quarters!"
"Now, general, you must rest," said Gneisenau, with the tenderness
of a son. "You must change your dress, take food, and repose on your
laurels, though there is but a straw mattress for you."
Blucher shook his head. "My clothes will dry quickest if I keep them
on my body," he said, "and I must do so, for we have still a great
many things to attend to; we must inform the king of our victory,
take care of our wounded, arrange for the pursuit of the enemy; and,
finally, write the bulletins of victory. We may take refreshment,
but I do not care for laurels with it--laurels are bitter. But let
us take a drink, and smoke a pipe.--Pipe-master!"
Fifteen minutes afterward, General Blucher entered with Gneisenau
the small chamber called his headquarters; all the other rooms were
filled with the wounded prior to the general's arrival at
Brechtelshof. Pains had been taken to render this chamber as cosy
and comfortable as possible, and, when Blucher entered, he was
gratified in seeing a straw mattress near the wall, and on the table
(beside a flickering tallow-candle placed in a bottle) a flask of
wine, with a few glasses, and near it a large inkstand and several
sheets of paper.
"Well," cried Blucher, cheerfully, "let us divide fraternally,
Gneisenau; I will take the wine, and you the ink. But, first, I will
give you a glass, and in return you will afterward let me have a
drop of ink." Sitting down on one of the wooden stools, he quickly
filled two glasses to the brim. "Gneisenau," he said, solemnly, "let
us drink this in honor of those who are lying on the battle-field,
and who hare died like brave men! May God bid them welcome, and be a
merciful Judge to them! Let us drink also in commemoration of Queen
Louisa and Scharnhorst, who both doubtless looked down upon us from
heaven to-day, and assisted us in achieving a victory. To them I am
indebted for all I am. But for the angelic face of the queen the
calamity of the accursed year 1807 would have driven me to despair
and death: and but for Scharnhorst I should never have been
appointed general-in-chief. Why, they all considered me a bombastic
old dotard of big words and small deeds; but Scharnhorst defended me
before the king and the emperor, and what I am now I am through him,
because he, the noblest of men, believed in me. And I will not give
the lie to his faith, I will still accomplish glorious things--to-
day's work is only a beginning."
"But what you have done to-day is something glorious, your
excellency," said Gneisenau. "That we have gained the battle, thanks
to your generalship and the enthusiasm of the troops, is not the
greatest advantage. A more important one is, that the Silesian army
has been able to prove what it is, and what a chieftain is at its
head. Now, all those will be silenced who constantly mistrusted and
suspected us; who tried to sow the seeds of discord between the
Silesian army and the headquarters of the allies; and who were
intent on preventing your excellency from entering upon an
independent and energetic course of action."
"It is true, they call me a mad hussar," said Blucher, shrugging his
shoulders; "and Bonaparte, as I read somewhere the other day, calls
me even a drunken hussar. Well, no matter! let them say what they
please. And, moreover, they are all, to some extent, justified in
making such assertions; for I cannot deny that the years of waiting,
during which I was obliged to swallow my grief, really made me a
little mad, and with sobriety I never intend to meet Bonaparte; but,
for all that, it is unnecessary for me to be drunk with wine. I am
still intoxicated with joy that we have at length been allowed to
attack the French, and God grant that I may never awaken from this
intoxication! Well, Gneisenau, now let us go to work!--you with the
ink, and I with the wine! Draw up the necessary instructions for the
pursuit of the enemy, and, in the mean time, I will consider what I
have to write."
Gneisenau took the pen, and wrote; Blucher the glass, and drank.
Half an hour passed in silence; Gneisenau then laid down his pen,
for he had finished the instructions; and Blucher pushed the glass
aside, for the bottle was empty.
"I beg leave now to read the instructions to your excellency," said
"No," said Blucher, "not now! I have myself gathered some thoughts,
and if I defer writing them down, they will fly away like young
swallows. Such ideas, that are to be written down, are not
accustomed to have their nest in my head, and for this reason I will
let them out immediately. I will write to the king and to the city
of Breslau, informing him that we have gained the battle, and the
city of Breslau that it ought to do something for my wounded. Give
me the pen; I shall not be long about it." With extraordinary
rapidity he wrote words of such a size that it would have been easy
even for a short-sighted person to read them at a distance; and,
although they were drawn across the paper very irregularly, the
general always took pains to have broad intervals between the lines,
that there might be no probability of leaving them illegible. A
sheet was soon filled; Blucher fixed his signature, and contemplated
the paper for a moment. Half an hour afterward two other sheets,
filled with strange and uncouth characters, lay before the old
general, and he cast the pen aside with a sigh. "It is abominable
work to write letters," he said; "I cannot comprehend why you,
Gneisenau, who are so good a soldier, at the same time know so well
how to wield the pen. It is not my forte, although I had a notion
once to be a savant, and really become a sort of writer. In those
calamitous days, subsequent to 1807, despair and ennui sought for
some relief to my mind, and made me write a book, and I believe a
"A book?" asked Gueisenau, in amazement. "And you had it printed,
"Not I; I was no such fool as to do that. The critics and newspaper
editors, who talk about every thing, and know nothing, would have
pounced upon my book, and severely censured it. No, my dear
Gneisenau, one must not cast pearls before swine. I keep my book in
my desk, and show it only to those whom I particularly esteem. When
we return home from the campaign I will let you read it; I know it
will please you, and you will learn something. My work is called
'Observations on the Instruction and Tactics of Cavalry.' A splendid
title, is it not? Well, you may believe me, there is a great deal in
it, and many a one would be glad of having written it. [Footnote:
Blucher was proud of this work, the only one he ever wrote, and
always referred to it in terms of great satisfaction.--Vide
Varnhagen von Ense, "Life of Prince Blucher of Wahlstatt," p. 530.]
Let us say no more about it. Here are my two dispatches; there is
the letter to the king, and here is my letter to the city of
Breslau, and--you must do me a favor, Gneisenau. You must read what
I have written, and if I have made any blunders in orthography or
grammar, be so kind as to correct them."
"But, your excellency," said Gneisenau, "no one can express himself
so vigorously as you, and no one knows how to put the right word in
the right place as quickly as you do."
"Yes, as to the words, yon are right. But the grammar! there's the
rub. Men are so foolish as to refuse speaking as they please, but
render life even more burdensome by all sorts of grammatical rules.
I have never in my whole life paid any attention to them, but have
spoken my mind freely and fearlessly. But as people really do
consider him a blockhead who does not talk as they do, let us humor
them, and please correct my mistakes; but, pray, do so in such a
manner that it will not be found out." He handed Gneisenau the pen,
and pushed the two letters toward him. "Correct what I have
written," he said; "in the mean time I will read what you have
"And pray be so kind as to correct it, too, your excellency," begged
Gneisenau, "for possibly I may have made mistakes weighing heavier
than mere infractions of grammatical rules, and I may not have
succeeded in rendering your instructions in words as concise and
distinct as you gave them to me."
"Well, we shall see," exclaimed Blucher, smiling, and taking up the
"Very good," he said, after reading it through, "every thing is done
just as I wished it, and if all our commanders act in accordance
with these instructions, we shall give the enemy no time for taking
a position anywhere, but completely disperse his forces without
being compelled to fight another battle."
"And when the city of Breslau reads this noble and affecting plea
for your wounded," said Gneisenau, "they will be nursed in the most
careful manner, and our able-bodied soldiers will receive wagon-
loads of food and refreshments. And when the king reads this
dispatch, announcing our victory in language so modest and
unassuming, his heart will feel satisfaction, and he will rejoice
equally over the victory and the general to whom he is indebted for
"Have you corrected the grammatical blunders?"
"I have, your excellency; I have erased them so cautiously that no
one can see that any thing has been corrected."
"Well, then, be so kind as to dispatch a courier."
"But, your excellency," said Gneisenau, "shall the courier take only
these two dispatches? Have you forgotten that you promised Madame
von Blucher to write to her after every battle, whether victorious
or not, and that I solemnly pledged her my word to remind your
excellency of it?"
"Well, it is unnecessary to remind me," cried Blucher, taking up the
letter he had first written. "Here is my letter to Amelia. She is a
faithful wife, and I surely owed it to her to tell her first that
the Lord has been kind and gracious enough toward me to let me gain
the battle. But you need not correct it. My Amelia will not blame me
for my grammatical blunders, and to her I freely speak my mind."
"Did you inform your wife, too, that you drew your sword yourself,
and rushed into the thickest of the fray?"
"I shall take good care not to tell her any thing of the kind,"
exclaimed Blucher. "As far as that is concerned, I did not speak my
mind to her. It is true I had promised my dear wife to be what she
calls sensible, and only to command and play the distinguished
general who merely looks on while others do the fighting. But it
would not do--you must admit, Gneisenau, it would not do; I could
not stand still like a scarecrow, while my old adjutant, Katzeler,
was charging with the hussars; I had to go with them, if it cost my
life. You will do me the favor, however, not to betray it to
"Even though I should be silent, your excellency, your wife would
hear of it."
"You believe Hennemann will tell her?" asked Blucher, almost in
dismay. "Yes, it is true, she has ordered the pipe-master not to
lose sight of me in battle, and always to remain near me with the
pipe. Well, the fellow has kept his word; but he will now also
fulfil what he promised my wife, and tell her every thing. Yes, the
pipe-master will tell her that I was in the charge of the light
"Yes," exclaimed Gneisenau, smiling, "he will betray to your wife
and to history that Blucher fought and charged at the battle of the
Katzbach like a young man of twenty. But for the pipe-master history
might not know it at all."
"Gneisenau, you are decidedly too sharp," cried Blucher, stroking
his mustache. "Well, please forward the dispatches, and then let us
try to sleep a little. We must invigorate ourselves, for we shall
have plenty to do to-morrow. 'Forward, always forward!' until
Bonaparte is hurled from his throne; and hurled from it he will be!
Yes, as sure as there is a God in heaven!"
THE REVOLT OF THE GENERALS.
On the morning of the 10th of October, Napoleon took leave of the
King and Queen of Saxony, after delivering at Eilenburg, whither he
had repaired with the royal family of Saxony, a solemn and
enthusiastic address to the corps which his faithful ally, King
Frederick Augustus, had added to his army, and which was to fight
jointly with the French against his enemies. He then entered the
carriage and rode to Duben, followed by his staff, the whole park of
artillery, and all the equipages. Gloomy and taciturn, the emperor,
on his arrival at the palace of Duben, retired into his apartments
and spread out the maps, on which colored pins marked the various
positions of the allies and his own army. "They are three to one
against me," he murmured, bending over the maps and contemplating
the pins. "Were none but determined and energetic generals, like
Blucher, at their head, my defeat would be certain. They would then
hem me in, bring on a decisive battle, and their overwhelming masses
would crush me and my army. Fortunately, there is no real harmony
among the allies; they will scatter their forces, post them here and
there, and in the mean time I shall march to Berlin, take the city,
repose there, and, with renewed strength, attack them one after
another. Ah, I shall succeed in defeating them, I--"
There was a low knock at the door, and Constant, his valet de
chambre, entered the room. "Sire," he said, "Marshal Marmont and the
gentlemen of the staff are in the reception-room, and request your
majesty graciously to grant them an audience."
An expression of surprise overspread the emperor's face, and for an
instant he seemed to hesitate; but gently nodding he said, calmly:
"Open the door. I grant them the audience."
Constant opened the folding-doors, and in the reception-room were
seen the marshals and generals assembled. Their faces were pale and
gloomy, and there was something solemn and constrained in their
whole bearing. When Napoleon appeared on the threshold, the groups
dispersed, and the gentlemen placed themselves in line, silent and
noiseless, along the wall opposite the emperor, seemingly at a loss
whether they or the emperor should utter the first word. Napoleon
advanced a few steps. For the first time his generals, the
companions of so many years and so many battles, seemed unable to
bear the emperor's glance. Napoleon saw this, and a bitter smile
flitted over his face. "Marmont," he exclaimed, in his ringing
voice, "what do you all want? Speak!"
"Sire," said the marshal, "we wish to take the liberty of addressing
a question and a request to your majesty."
"First, the question, then!"
"Sire, we take the liberty of asking whether your majesty really
intends to cross the Elbe with the army, and to resume the struggle
on the right bank?"
"You ask very abruptly and bluntly," said Napoleon, haughtily. "I
need not listen to you, but I will do so, nevertheless. I will reply
to your question, not because I must, but because I choose to do so.
Yes, gentlemen, I intend to transfer the whole army to the right
bank of the Elbe in order to occupy Brandenburg and Berlin, then
face about to the river, and make Magdeburg the support of my
further operations. [Footnote: Beitzke, vol. ii., p. 491.] This is
my plan, and you, according to your duty, will assist me in carrying
it into execution. I have replied to your question. Now let me hear
"Sire," said Marmont, after a brief silence, "now that we have heard
your gracious reply, I dare to give expression to our request, which
is not only ours, but that of all the officers of the army of
France. Sire, we implore you, give up this bold plan of operations;
do not vainly shed the blood of thousands! The odds are too great,
not only in numbers, but in warlike ardor. The enemy is struggling
against us with the fanaticism of hatred, and his threefold
superiority seems to secure victory to him. Our army, on the
contrary, is exhausted and tired of war, and the consciousness of
being engaged in a struggle that apparently holds out no prospects
of ultimate success, is paralyzing both its physical and moral
strength. Sire, we implore you, in the name of France, make peace!
Let us return to the Rhine! Let us at last rest from this prolonged
war! Oh, sire, give us peace!"
"Oh, sire, give us peace!" echoed the generals, in solemn chorus.
The emperor's eyes were fixed in succession upon the faces of the
bold men who dared thus to address him, and who, at this hour,
confronted him in a sort of open revolt. An expression of anger
flushed his face for an instant, and his features resumed their
impenetrable, stony look. "You have come to hold a council of war
with me," he said. "To be sure, I have not summoned you, but no
matter. It is your unanimous opinion that we should return to the
Rhine, and thence to France, avoid further battles, and make peace?"
"Sire, we pray your majesty this time to repress your military
genius under the mantle of your imperial dignity," cried the
marshal. "As soon as the general is silent, the emperor will
perceive that his people and his country need repose and peace.
France has given her wealth, her vigor, and her blood, for twenty
years of victories, and she has joyfully done so; but now her wealth
is exhausted, her strength and her youth are gone, for there are in
France no more young men, only the aged, invalids, and children; the
fighting-men lie on the battle-fields. Boys have been enrolled, and
are forming the young army of your majesty. Sire, it is the last
blood that France has to sacrifice: spare it! The enemy is thrice as
strong as we are, and even the military genius of your majesty will
be unable to achieve victories in so unequal a struggle. Listen,
therefore, to reason, to necessity, and to our prayer; make peace.
Sire, let us return to France!"
Another flush suffused Napoleon's face, but he controlled his anger.
"You believe, then, that it depends on me only to make peace?" he
asked, in a calm voice. "You think we would find no obstacles in our
way if we endeavored now to return to France?--that the enemy would
leave the roads open to us, and be content with our evacuating
Germany? This is a great mistake, gentlemen. I cannot make peace,
for the allies would not accept it. They know their strength, and
are intent on having war. You say their armies are thrice as strong
as mine, and that is the reason why we could not conquer? I might
reply to you what the great Conde replied to his generals, when he
was about to attack the superior Spanish army, 'Great battles are
gained with small armies.' And on the following day he gained the
battle of Lons. Yes, gentlemen, the victor of Rocroy and Lons was
right; great battles are gained with small armies; only we must make
our dispositions correctly, and scatter the forces of our
adversaries, instead of giving them an opportunity to concentrate
upon one point. It is, therefore, of vital importance for me to hold
the line of the Elbe, for with it I possess all the strong points of
Bohemia; and, besides, the fortresses of Custrin, Stettin, and
Glogau, are close to it. If I have to abandon that river, I abandon
all Germany to the Rhine, with all the fortresses, and the vast
materiel stored there. That would be to weaken us and strengthen the
enemy, now on the left bank. I will, therefore, cross to the right
bank of the Elbe, for thence I am able to deploy my whole army
without hinderance, and connect my line with Davoust at Hamburg, and
St. Cyr at Dresden. We shall easily take Berlin, raise the sieges of
Glogau, Stettin, and Custrin, and become masters of the situation.
Prussia, the hot-bed of this fermentation and revolution, will be
subjugated and crushed. That will discourage the others, and they
will fall back as they have so often, their plans will be
disorganized, and then I shall have gained my cause; for the
strength of the allies consists chiefly in the fact that they are
temporarily in harmony. Let us disorganize their plans, foster their
separate interests, and we gain every thing. When the Prussians see
their country threatened, they will hasten to its assistance; the
Russians, Swedes, and Austrians, will refuse to change and
reorganize their plans of operations for the sake of Prussia, and
discord will prevent them from acting. If Germany had been united,
and acted with one will, I could not have taken from her a single
village or fortress. Fortunately, however, the people do not act
unanimously; wherever ten Germans are assembled, there are also ten
separate interests at war among them, and this fact has delivered
the country into my hands. Let us, therefore, profit by this
national peculiarity; let us stir up their separate interests, and
that will be as advantageous as though we gained a battle. We shall,
then, cross over to the right bank of the Elbe, make Berlin our
centre, support our left on Dresden, our right on Magdeburg, and
face toward the west. At all events, this will bring about an entire
change of position, and it will then be my task to force my plans of
operation upon the allies." [Footnote: Beitzke, vol. ii., p. 492.]
"A task that would be easily accomplished by the genius of your
majesty, which is so superior to that of all the generals of the
allies," said the marshal; "but still this whole plan, how admirable
soever it may be, is altogether too bold. If we pass over to the
right bank of the Elbe, we would give up all connection with France;
the allies, it would be believed, had, by skilful manoeuvres, cut us
off--hurled us into inevitable destruction. Moreover--your majesty
will pardon me for this observation--we can no longer count upon the
assistance of our German auxiliaries. They will abandon us at the
very moment when we need them most. Even Bavaria is no longer a
reliable ally, for, notwithstanding the benefits your majesty has
conferred on her, she is about to ally herself with Austria. Sire,
you said a few minutes ago that you counted upon the discord of the
Germans, but this exists no more, or rather it exists only among the
princes; but we have no longer to fight the latter alone--we have to
struggle against the genius of Germany, which has risen against us,
and for the first time the whole nation is united in hatred and
wrath. Sire, this national spirit is more powerful than all princes
and all armies, for it overcomes the princes, and makes new armies
spring as if from the ground to defend the sacred soil of the
fatherland. Those armies we shall be unable to conquer: for one-half
of ours is composed of soldiers exhausted by continued wars, and
longing for peace; and the other half of young, ignorant conscripts,
who will yield to unwonted privations. Therefore, sire, I dare renew
my prayer, and implore your majesty to give up your plan against
Berlin! Let us not pass over to the right bank of the Elbe, but
march toward the Rhine!"