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

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It was on this same day that King Frederick William issued his proclamation
to the Prussian people, declaring that war had begun with France, and
summoning the nation to enter upon the struggle as one that must end either
in victory or in total destruction. The proclamation was such as became a
monarch conscious that his own faint-heartedness had been the principal
cause of Prussia's humiliation. It was simple and unboastful, admitting
that the King had made every effort to preserve the French alliance, and
ascribing the necessity for war to the intolerable wrongs inflicted by
Napoleon in spite of Prussia's fulfilment of its treaty-obligations. The
appeal to the great memories of Prussia's earlier sovereigns, and to the
example of Russia, Spain, and all countries which in present or in earlier
times had fought for their independence against a stronger foe, was worthy
of the truthful and modest tone in which the King spoke of the misfortunes
of Prussia under his own rule.

[Spirit of the Prussian nation.]

[Idea of Germany unity.]

But no exhortations were necessary to fire the spirit of the Prussian
people. Seven years of suffering and humiliation had done their work. The
old apathy of all classes had vanished under the pressure of a bitter sense
of wrong. If among the Court party of Berlin and the Conservative
landowners there existed a secret dread of the awakening of popular forces,
the suspicion could not be now avowed. A movement as penetrating and as
universal as that which France had experienced in 1792 swept through the
Prussian State. It had required the experience of years of wretchedness,
the intrusion of the French soldier upon the peace of the family, the sight
of the homestead swept bare of its stock to supply the invaders of Russia,
the memory of Schill's companions shot in cold blood for the cause of the
Fatherland, before the Prussian nation caught that flame which had
spontaneously burst out in France, in Spain, and in Russia at the first
shock of foreign aggression. But the passion of the Prussian people, if it
had taken long to kindle, was deep, steadfast, and rational. It was
undisgraced by the frenzies of 1792, or by the religious fanaticism of the
Spanish war of liberation; where religion entered into the struggle, it
heightened the spirit of self-sacrifice rather than that of hatred to the
enemy. Nor was it a thing of small moment to the future of Europe that in
every leading mind the cause of Prussia was identified with the cause of
the whole German race. The actual condition of Germany warranted no such
conclusion, for Saxony, Bavaria, and the whole of the Rhenish Federation
still followed Napoleon: but the spirit and the ideas which became a living
force when at length the contest with Napoleon broke out were those of men
like Stein, who in the depths of Germany's humiliation had created the
bright and noble image of a common Fatherland. It was no more given to
Stein to see his hopes fulfilled than it was given to Mirabeau to establish
constitutional liberty in France, or to the Italian patriots of 1797 to
create a united Italy. A group of States where kings like Frederick William
and Francis, ministers like Hardenberg and Metternich, governed millions of
people totally destitute of political instincts and training, was not to be
suddenly transformed into a free nation by the genius of an individual or
the patriotism of a single epoch. But if the work of German union was one
which, even in the barren form of military empire, required the efforts of
two more generations, the ideals of 1813 were no transient and ineffective
fancy. Time was on the side of those who called the Prussian monarchy the
true centre round which Germany could gather. If in the sequel Prussia was
slow to recognise its own opportunities, the fault was less with patriots
who hoped too much than with kings and ministers who dared too little.

[Formation of the Landwehr.]

For the moment, the measures of the Prussian Government were worthy of the
spirit shown by the nation. Scharnhorst's military system had given Prussia
100,000 trained soldiers ready to join the existing army of 45,000. The
scheme for the formation of a Landwehr, though not yet carried into effect,
needed only to receive the sanction of the King. On the same day that
Frederick William issued his proclamation to the people, he decreed the
formation of the Landwehr and the Landsturm. The latter force, which was
intended in case of necessity to imitate the peasant warfare of Spain and
La Vendée, had no occasion to act: the Landwehr, though its arming was
delayed by the poverty and exhaustion of the country, gradually became a
most formidable reserve, and sent its battalions to fight by the side of
the regulars in some of the greatest engagements in the war. It was the
want of arms and money, not of willing soldiers, that prevented Prussia
from instantly attacking Napoleon with 200,000 men. The conscription was
scarcely needed from the immense number of volunteers who joined the ranks.
Though the completion of the Prussian armaments required some months more,
Prussia did not need to stand upon the defensive. An army of 50,000 men was
ready to cross the Elbe immediately on the arrival of the Russians, and to
open the next campaign in the territory of Napoleon's allies of the Rhenish


The War of Liberation--Blücher crosses the Elbe--Battle of Lützen--The
Allies retreat to Silesia--Battle of Bautzen--Armistice--Napoleon intends
to intimidate Austria--Mistaken as to the Forces of Austria--Metternich's
Policy--Treaty of Reichenbach--Austria offers its Mediation--Congress of
Prague--Austria enters the War--Armies and Plans of Napoleon and the
Allies--Campaign of August--Battles of Dresden, Grosbeeren, the Katzbach,
and Kulm--Effect of these Actions--Battle of Dennewitz--German Policy of
Austria favourable to the Princes of the Rhenish Confederacy--Frustrated
Hopes of German Unity--Battle of Leipzig--The Allies reach the Rhine--
Offers of Peace at Frankfort--Plan of Invasion of France--Backwardness of
Austria--The Allies enter France--Campaign of 1814--Congress of Châtillon--
Napoleon moves to the rear of the Allies--The Allies advance on Paris--
Capitulation of Paris--Entry of the Allies--Dethronement of Napoleon--
Restoration of the Bourbons--The Charta--Treaty of Paris--Territorial
Effects of the War, 1792-1814--Every Power except France had gained--France
relatively weaker in Europe--Summary of the Permanent Effects of this
Period on Europe.

[Napoleon in 1813.]

The first three months of the year 1813 were spent by Napoleon in vigorous
preparation for a campaign in Northern Germany. Immediately after receiving
the news of York's convention with the Russians he had ordered a levy of
350,000 men. It was in vain that Frederick William and Hardenberg affected
to disavow the general as a traitor; Napoleon divined the national
character of York's act, and laid his account for a war against the
combined forces of Prussia and Russia. In spite of the catastrophe of the
last campaign, Napoleon was still stronger than his enemies. Italy and the
Rhenish Federation had never wavered in their allegiance; Austria, though a
cold ally, had at least shown no signs of hostility. The resources of an
empire of forty million inhabitants were still at Napoleon's command. It
was in the youth and inexperience of the new soldiers, and in the scarcity
of good officers, [179] that the losses of the previous year showed their
most visible effect. Lads of seventeen, commanded in great part by officers
who had never been through a campaign, took the place of the soldiers who
had fought at Friedland and Wagram. They were as brave as their
predecessors, but they failed in bodily strength and endurance. Against
them came the remnant of the men who had pursued Napoleon from Moscow, and
a Prussian army which was but the vanguard of an armed nation.
Nevertheless, Napoleon had no cause to expect defeat, provided that Austria
remained on his side. Though the Prussian nation entered upon the conflict
in the most determined spirit, a war on the Elbe against Russia and Prussia
combined was a less desperate venture than a war with Russia alone beyond
the Niemen.

[Blücher crosses the Elbe, March, 1813.]

When King Frederick William published his declaration of war (March 17),
the army of Eugène had already fallen back as far west as Magdeburg,
leaving garrisons in most of the fortresses between the Elbe and the
Russian frontier. Napoleon was massing troops on the Main, and preparing
for an advance in force, when the Prussians, commanded by Blücher, and some
weak divisions of the Russian army, pushed forward to the Elbe. On the 18th
of March the Cossacks appeared in the suburbs of Dresden, on the right bank
of the river. Davoust, who was in command of the French garrison, blew up
two arches of the bridge, and retired to Magdeburg: Blücher soon afterwards
entered Dresden, and called upon the Saxon nation to rise against Napoleon.
But he spoke to deaf ears. The common people were indifferent; the
officials waited to see which side would conquer. Blücher could scarcely
obtain provisions for his army; he passed on westwards, and came into the
neighbourhood of Leipzig. Here he found himself forced to halt, and to wait
for his allies. Though a detachment of the Russian army under Witgenstein
had already crossed the Elbe, the main army, with Kutusoff, was still
lingering at Kalisch on the Polish frontier, where it had arrived six weeks
before. As yet the Prussians had only 50,000 men ready for action; until
the Russians came up, it was unsafe to advance far beyond the Elbe. Blücher
counted every moment lost that kept him from battle: the Russian
commander-in-chief, sated with glory and sinking beneath the infirmities of
a veteran, could scarcely be induced to sign an order of march. At length
Kutusoff's illness placed the command in younger hands. His strength failed
him during the march from Poland; he was left dying in Silesia; and on the
24th of April the Czar and the King of Prussia led forward his veteran
troops into Dresden.

[Napoleon enters Dresden, May 14.]

[Battle of Lützen, May 2.]

Napoleon was now known to be approaching with considerable force by the
roads of the Saale. A pitched battle west of the Elbe was necessary before
the Allies could hope to win over any of the States of the Rhenish
Confederacy; the flat country beyond Leipzig offered the best possible
field for cavalry, in which the Allies were strong and Napoleon extremely
deficient. It was accordingly determined to unite all the divisions of the
army with Blücher on the west of Leipzig, and to attack the French as soon
as they descended from the hilly country of the Saale, and began their
march across the Saxon plain. The Allies took post at Lützen: the French
advanced, and at midday on the 2nd of May the battle of Lützen began. Till
evening, victory inclined to the Allies. The Prussian soldiery fought with
the utmost spirit; for the first time in Napoleon's campaigns, the French
infantry proved weaker than an enemy when fighting against them in equal
numbers. But the generalship of Napoleon turned the scale. Seventy thousand
of the French were thrown upon fifty thousand of the Allies; the battle was
fought in village streets and gardens, where cavalry were useless; and at
the close of the day, though the losses on each side were equal, the Allies
were forced from the positions which they had gained. Such a result was
equivalent to a lost battle. Napoleon's junction with the army of Eugène at
Magdeburg was now inevitable, unless a second engagement was fought and
won. No course remained to the Allies but to stake everything upon a
renewed attack, or to retire behind the Elbe and meet the reinforcements
assembling in Silesia. King Frederick William declared for a second battle;
[180] he was over-ruled, and the retreat commenced. Napoleon entered
Dresden on May 14th. No attempt was made by the Allies to hold the line of
the Elbe; all the sanguine hopes with which Blücher and his comrades had
advanced to attack Napoleon within the borders of the Rhenish Confederacy
were dashed to the ground. The Fatherland remained divided against itself.
Saxony and the rest of the vassal States were secured to France by the
victory of Lützen; the liberation of Germany was only to be wrought by
prolonged and obstinate warfare, and by the wholesale sacrifice of Prussian

[Armistice, June 4.]

[Battle of Bautzen, May 21.]

It was with deep disappointment, but not with any wavering of purpose, that
the allied generals fell back before Napoleon towards the Silesian
fortresses. The Prussian troops which had hitherto taken part in the war
were not the third part of those which the Government was arming; new
Russian divisions were on the march from Poland. As the Allies moved
eastwards from the Elbe, both their own forces and those of Napoleon
gathered strength. The retreat stopped at Bautzen, on the river Spree; and
here, on the 19th of May, 90,000 of the Allies and the same number of the
French drew up in order of battle. The Allies held a long, broken chain of
hills behind the river, and the ground lying between these hills and the
village of Bautzen. On the 20th the French began the attack, and won the
passage of the river. In spite of the approach of Ney with 40,000 more
troops, the Czar and the King of Prussia determined to continue the battle
on the following day. The struggle of the 21st was of the same obstinate
and indecisive character as that at Lützen. Twenty-five thousand French had
been killed or wounded before the day was over, but the bad generalship of
the Allies had again given Napoleon the victory. The Prussian and Russian
commanders were all at variance; Alexander, who had to decide in their
contentions, possessed no real military faculty. It was not for want of
brave fighting and steadfastness before the enemy that Bautzen was lost.
The Allies retreated in perfect order, and without the loss of a single
gun. Napoleon followed, forcing his wearied regiments to ceaseless
exertion, in the hope of ruining by pursuit an enemy whom he could not
overthrow in battle. In a few more days the discord of the allied generals
and the sufferings of the troops would probably have made them unable to
resist Napoleon's army, weakened as it was. But the conqueror himself
halted in the moment of victory. On the 4th of June an armistice of seven
weeks arrested the pursuit, and brought the first act of the War of
Liberation to a close.

[Napoleon and Austria.]

Napoleon's motive for granting this interval to his enemies, the most fatal
step in his whole career, has been vaguely sought among the general reasons
for military delay; as a matter of fact, Napoleon was thinking neither of
the condition of his own army nor of that of the Allies when he broke off
hostilities, but of the probable action of the Court of Vienna. [181] "I
shall grant a truce," he wrote to the Viceroy of Italy (June 2, 1813), "on
account of the armaments of Austria, and in order to gain time to bring up
the Italian army to Laibach to threaten Vienna." Austria had indeed
resolved to regain, either by war or negotiation, the provinces which it
had lost in 1809. It was now preparing to offer its mediation, but it was
also preparing to join the Allies in case Napoleon rejected its demands.
Metternich was anxious to attain his object, if possible, without war. The
Austrian State was bankrupt; its army had greatly deteriorated since 1809;
Metternich himself dreaded both the ambition of Russia and what he
considered the revolutionary schemes of the German patriots. It was his
object not to drive Napoleon from his throne, but to establish a European
system in which neither France nor Russia should be absolutely dominant.
Soon after the retreat from Moscow the Cabinet of Vienna had informed
Napoleon, though in the most friendly terms, that Austria could not longer
remain in the position of a dependent ally. [182] Metternich stated, and
not insincerely, that by certain concessions Napoleon might still count on
Austria's friendship; but at the same time he negotiated with the allied
Powers, and encouraged them to believe that Austria would, under certain
circumstances, strike on their behalf. The course of the campaign of May
was singularly favourable to Metternich's policy. Napoleon had not won a
decided victory; the Allies, on the other hand, were so far from success
that Austria could set almost any price it pleased upon its alliance. By
the beginning of June it had become a settled matter in the Austrian
Cabinet that Napoleon must be made to resign the Illyrian Provinces
conquered in 1809 and the districts of North Germany annexed in 1810; but
it was still the hope of the Government to obtain this result by peaceful
means. Napoleon saw that Austria was about to change its attitude, but he
had by no means penetrated the real intentions of Metternich. He credited
the Viennese Government with a stronger sentiment of hostility towards
himself than it actually possessed; at the same time he failed to
appreciate the fixed and settled character of its purpose. He believed that
the action of Austria would depend simply upon the means which he possessed
to intimidate it; that, if the army of Italy were absent, Austria would
attack him; that, on the other hand, if he could gain time to bring the
army of Italy into Carniola, Austria would keep the peace. It was with this
belief, and solely for the purpose of bringing up a force to menace
Austria, that Napoleon stayed his hand against the Prussian and Russian
armies after the battle of Bautzen, and gave time for the gathering of the
immense forces which were destined to effect his destruction.

[Metternich offers Austria's mediation.]

Immediately after the conclusion of the armistice of June 4th, Metternich
invited Napoleon to accept Austria's mediation for a general peace. The
settlement which Metternich contemplated was a very different one from that
on which Stein and the Prussian patriots had set their hopes. Austria was
willing to leave to Napoleon the whole of Italy and Holland, the frontier
of the Rhine, and the Protectorate of Western Germany: all that was
required by Metternich, as arbiter of Europe, was the restoration of the
provinces taken from Austria after the war of 1809, the reinstatement of
Prussia in Western Poland, and the abandonment by France of the
North-German district annexed in 1810. But to Napoleon the greater or less
extent of the concessions asked by Austria was a matter of no moment. He
was determined to make no concessions at all, and he entered into
negotiations only for the purpose of disguising from Austria the real
object with which he had granted the armistice. While Napoleon affected to
be weighing the proposals of Austria, he was in fact calculating the number
of marches which would place the Italian army on the Austrian frontier;
this once effected, he expected to hear nothing more of Metternich's

[Napoleon deceived as to the forces of Austria.]

It was a game of deceit; but there was no one who was so thoroughly
deceived as Napoleon himself. By some extraordinary miscalculation on the
part of his secret agents, he was led to believe that the forces of [***]
whole force of Austria, both in the north and the south, amounted to only
100,000 men, [183] and it was on this estimate that he had formed his plans
of intimidation. In reality Austria had double that number of men ready to
take the field. By degrees Napoleon saw reason to suspect himself in error.
On the 11th of July he wrote to his Foreign Minister, Maret, bitterly
reproaching him with the failure of the secret service to gain any
trustworthy information. It was not too late to accept Metternich's terms.
Yet even now, when the design of intimidating Austria had proved an utter
delusion, and Napoleon was convinced that Austria would fight, and fight
with very powerful forces, his pride and his invincible belief in his own
superiority prevented him from drawing back. He made an attempt to enter
upon a separate negotiation with Russia, and, when this failed, he resolved
to face the conflict with the whole of Europe.

[Treaty of Reichenbach, June 27.]

There was no longer any uncertainty among Napoleon's enemies. On the 27th
of June, Austria had signed a treaty at Reichenbach, pledging itself to
join the allied Powers in the event of Napoleon rejecting the conditions to
be proposed by Austria as mediator; and the conditions so to be proposed
were fixed by the same treaty. They were the following:--The suppression of
the Duchy of Warsaw; the restoration to Austria of the Illyrian Provinces;
and the surrender by Napoleon of the North-German district annexed to his
Empire in 1810. Terms more hostile to France than these Austria declined to
embody in its mediation. The Elbe might still sever Prussia from its German
provinces lost in 1807; Napoleon might still retain, as chief of the
Rhenish Confederacy, his sovereignty over the greater part of the German

[Austria enters the war, Aug. 10.]

[Congress of Prague, July 15-Aug. 10.]

From the moment when these conditions were fixed, there was nothing which
the Prussian generals so much dreaded as that Napoleon might accept them,
and so rob the Allies of the chance of crushing him by means of Austria's
support. But their fears were groundless. The counsels of Napoleon were
exactly those which his worst enemies would have desired him to adopt. War,
and nothing but war, was his fixed resolve. He affected to entertain
Austria's propositions, and sent his envoy Caulaincourt to a Congress which
Austria summoned at Prague; but it was only for the purpose of gaining a
few more weeks of preparation. The Congress met; the armistice was
prolonged to the 10th of August. Caulaincourt, however, was given no power
to close with Austria's demands. He was ignorant that he had only been sent
to Prague in order to gain time. He saw the storm gathering: unable to
believe that Napoleon intended to fight all Europe rather than make the
concessions demanded of him, he imagined that his master still felt some
doubt whether Austria and the other Powers meant to adhere to their word.
As the day drew nigh which closed the armistice and the period given for a
reply to Austria's ultimatum, Caulaincourt implored Napoleon not to deceive
himself with hopes that Austria would draw back. Napoleon had no such hope;
he knew well that Austria would declare war, and he accepted the issue.
Caulaincourt heard nothing more. At midnight on the 10th of August the
Congress declared itself dissolved. Before the dawn of the next morning the
army in Silesia saw the blaze of the beacon-fires which told that
negotiation was at an end, and that Austria was entering the war on the
side of the Allies. [184]

[Armies of Napoleon and the Allies.]

Seven days' notice was necessary before the commencement of actual
hostilities. Napoleon, himself stationed at Dresden, held all the lower
course of the Elbe; and his generals had long had orders to be ready to
march on the morning of the 18th. Forces had come up from all parts of the
Empire, raising the French army at the front to 300,000 men; but, for the
first time in Napoleon's career, his enemies had won from a pause in war
results even surpassing his own. The strength of the Prussian and Russian
armies was now enormously different from what it had been at Lützen and
Bautzen. The Prussian Landwehr, then a weaponless and ill-clad militia
drilling in the villages, was now fully armed, and in great part at the
front. New Russian divisions had reached Silesia. Austria took the field
with a force as numerous as that which had checked Napoleon in 1809. At the
close of the armistice, 350,000 men actually faced the French positions
upon the Elbe; 300,000 more were on the march, or watching the German
fortresses and the frontier of Italy. The allied troops operating against
Napoleon were divided into three armies. In the north, between Wittenberg
and Berlin, Bernadotte commanded 60,000 Russians and Prussians, in addition
to his own Swedish contingent. Blücher was placed at the head of 100,000
Russians and Prussians in Silesia. The Austrians remained undivided, and
formed, together with some Russian and Prussian divisions, the great army
of Bohemia, 200,000 strong, under the command of Schwarzenberg. The plan of
the campaign had been agreed upon by the Allies soon after the Treaty of
Reichenbach had been made with Austria. It was a sound, though not a daring

[Plan of the Allies.]

The three armies, now forming an arc from Wittenberg to the north of
Bohemia, were to converge upon the line of Napoleon's communications behind
Dresden; if separately attacked, their generals were to avoid all hazardous
engagements, and to manoeuvre so as to weary the enemy and preserve their
own general relations, as far as possible, unchanged. Blücher, as the most
exposed, was expected to content himself the longest with the defensive;
the great army of Bohemia, after securing the mountain-passes between
Bohemia and Saxony, might safely turn Napoleon's position at Dresden, and
so draw the two weaker armies towards it for one vast and combined
engagement in the plain of Leipzig.

[Napoleon's plan of attack.]

In outline, the plan of the Allies was that which Napoleon expected them to
adopt. His own design was to anticipate it by an offensive of extraordinary
suddenness and effect. Hostilities could not begin before the morning of
the 18th of August; by the 21st or the 22nd, Napoleon calculated that he
should have captured Berlin. Oudinot, who was at Wittenberg with 80,000
men, had received orders to advance upon the Prussian capital at the moment
that the armistice expired, and to force it, if necessary by bombardment,
into immediate surrender. The effect of this blow, as Napoleon supposed,
would be to disperse the entire reserve-force of the Prussian monarchy, and
paralyse the action of its army in the field. While Oudinot marched on
Berlin, Blücher was to be attacked in Silesia, and prevented from rendering
any assistance either on the north or on the south. The mass of Napoleon's
forces, centred at Dresden, and keeping watch upon the movements of the
army of Bohemia, would either fight a great battle, or, if the Allies made
a false movement, march straight upon Prague, the centre of Austria's
supplies, and reach it before the enemy. All the daring imagination of
Napoleon's earlier campaigns displayed itself in such a project, which, if
successful, would have terminated the war within ten days; but this
imagination was no longer, as in those earlier campaigns, identical with
insight into real possibilities. The success of Napoleon's plan involved
the surprise or total defeat of Bernadotte before Berlin, the disablement
of Blücher, and a victory, or a strategical success equivalent to a
victory, over the vast army of the south. It demanded of a soldiery,
inferior to the enemy in numerical strength, the personal superiority which
had belonged to the men of Jena and Austerlitz, when in fact the French
regiments of conscripts had ceased to be a match for equal numbers of the
enemy. But no experience could alter Napoleon's fixed belief in the fatuity
of all warfare except his own. After the havoc of Borodino, after the even
struggles of Lützen and Bautzen, he still reasoned as if he had before him
the armies of Brunswick and Mack. His plan assumed the certainty of success
in each of its parts; for the failure of a single operation hazarded all
the rest, by requiring the transfer of reinforcements from armies already
too weak for the tasks assigned to them. Nevertheless, the utmost that
Napoleon would acknowledge was that the execution of his design needed
energy. He still underrated the force which Austria had brought into the
field against him. Though ignorant of the real position and strength of the
army in Bohemia, and compelled to wait for the enemy's movements before
striking on this side, he already in imagination saw the war decided by the
fall of the Prussian capital.

[Triple movement, Aug. 18-26.]

[Battle of Dresden, Aug. 26, 27.]

[Battles of Grossbeeren, Aug. 23, and the Katzbach, Aug. 26.]

On the 18th of August the forward movement began. Oudinot advanced from
Wittenberg towards Berlin; Napoleon himself hurried into Silesia, intending
to deal Blücher one heavy blow, and instantly to return and place himself
before Schwarzenberg. On the 21st, and following days, the Prussian general
was attacked and driven eastwards. Napoleon committed the pursuit to
Macdonald, and hastened back to Dresden, already threatened by the advance
of the Austrians from Bohemia. Schwarzenberg and the allied sovereigns, as
soon as they heard that Napoleon had gone to seek Blücher in Silesia, had
in fact abandoned their cautious plans, and determined to make an assault
upon Dresden with the Bohemian army alone. But it was in vain that they
tried to surprise Napoleon. He was back at Dresden on the 25th, and ready
for the attack. Never were Napoleon's hopes higher than on this day. His
success in Silesia had filled him with confidence. He imagined Oudinot to
be already in Berlin; and the advance of Schwarzenberg against Dresden gave
him the very opportunity which he desired for crushing the Bohemian army in
one great battle, before it could draw support either from Blücher or from
Bernadotte. Another Austerlitz seemed to be at hand. Napoleon wrote to
Paris that he should be in Prague before the enemy; and, while he completed
his defences in front of Dresden, he ordered Vandamme, with 40,000 men, to
cross the Elbe at Königstein, and force his way south-westwards on to the
roads into Bohemia, in the rear of the Great Army, in order to destroy its
magazines and menace its line of retreat on Prague. On August 26th
Schwarzenberg's host assailed the positions of Napoleon on the slopes and
gardens outside Dresden. Austrians, Russians, and Prussians all took part
in the attack. Moreau, the victor of Hohenlinden, stood by the side of the
Emperor Alexander, whom he had come to help against his own countrymen. He
lived only to witness one of the last and greatest victories of France. The
attack was everywhere repelled: the Austrian divisions were not only
beaten, but disgraced and overthrown. At the end of two days' fighting the
Allies were in full retreat, leaving 20,000 prisoners in the hands of
Napoleon. It was a moment when the hearts of the bravest sank, and when
hope itself might well vanish, as the rumour passed through the Prussian
regiments that Metternich was again in friendly communication with
Napoleon. But in the midst of Napoleon's triumph intelligence arrived which
robbed it of all its worth. Oudinot, instead of conquering Berlin, had been
defeated by the Prussians of Bernadotte's army at Grossbeeren (Aug. 23),
and driven back upon the Elbe. Blücher had turned upon Macdonald in
Silesia, and completely overthrown his army on the river Katzbach, at the
very moment when the Allies were making their assault upon Dresden. It was
vain to think of a march upon Prague, or of the annihilation of the
Austrians, when on the north and the east Napoleon's troops were meeting
with nothing but disaster. The divisions which had been intended to support
Vandamme's movement from Königstein upon the rear of the Great Army were
retained in the neighbourhood of Dresden, in order to be within reach of
the points where their aid might be needed. Vandamme, ignorant of his
isolation, was left with scarcely 40,000 men to encounter the Great Army in
its retreat.

[Battle of Kulm, Aug. 29, 30.]

He threw himself upon a Russian corps at Kulm, in the Bohemian mountains,
on the morning of the 29th. The Russians, at first few in number, held
their ground during the day; in the night, and after the battle had
recommenced on the morrow, vast masses of the allied troops poured in. The
French fought desperately, but were overwhelmed. Vandamme himself was made
prisoner, with 10,000 of his men. The whole of the stores and most of the
cannon of his army remained in the enemy's hands.

[Effect of the twelve days, Aug. 18-30.]

[Battle of Dennewitz, Sept. 6.]

The victory at Kulm secured the Bohemian army from pursuit, and almost
extinguished the effects of its defeat at Dresden. Thanks to the successes
of Blücher and of Bernadotte's Prussian generals, which prevented Napoleon
from throwing all his forces on to the rear of the Great Army,
Schwarzenberg's rash attack had proved of no worse significance than an
unsuccessful raid. The Austrians were again in the situation assigned to
them in the original plan of the campaign, and capable of resuming their
advance into the interior of Saxony: Blücher and the northern commanders
had not only escaped separate destruction, but won great victories over the
French: Napoleon, weakened by the loss of 100,000 men, remained exactly
where he had been at the beginning of the campaign. Had the triple movement
by which he meant to overwhelm his adversaries been capable of execution,
it would now have been fully executed. The balance, however, had turned
against Napoleon; and the twelve days from the 18th to the 29th of August,
though marked by no catastrophe like Leipzig or Waterloo, were in fact the
decisive period in the struggle of Europe against Napoleon. The attack by
which he intended to prevent the junction of the three armies had been
made, and had failed. Nothing now remained for him but to repeat the same
movements with a discouraged force against an emboldened enemy, or to quit
the line of the Elbe, and prepare for one vast and decisive encounter with
all three armies combined. Napoleon drove from his mind the thought of
failure; he ordered Ney to take command of Oudinot's army, and to lead it
again, in increased strength, upon Berlin; he himself hastened to
Macdonald's beaten troops in Silesia, and rallied them for a new assault
upon Blücher. All was in vain. Ney, advancing on Berlin, was met by the
Prussian general Billow at Dennewitz, and totally routed (Sept. 6):
Blücher, finding that Napoleon himself was before him, skilfully avoided
battle, and forced his adversary to waste in fruitless marches the brief
interval which he had [***] from his watch on Schwarzenberg. Each conflict
with the enemy, each vain and exhausting march, told that the superiority
had passed from the French to their foes, and that Napoleon's retreat was
now only a matter of time. "These creatures have learnt something," said
Napoleon in the bitterness of his heart, as he saw the columns of Blücher
manoeuvring out of his grasp. Ney's report of his own overthrow at
Dennewitz sounded like an omen of the ruin of Waterloo. "I have been
totally defeated," he wrote, "and do not yet know whether my army has
re-assembled. The spirit of the generals and officers is shattered. To
command in such conditions is but half to command. I had rather be a common


[German policy of Stein and of Austria.]

The accession of Austria had turned the scale in favour of the Allies; it
rested only with the allied generals themselves to terminate the warfare
round Dresden, and to lead their armies into the heart of Saxony. For a
while the course of the war flagged, and military interests gave place to
political. It was in the interval between the first great battles and the
final advance on Leipzig that the future of Germany was fixed by the three
allied Powers. In the excitement of the last twelve months little thought
had been given, except by Stein and his friends, to the political form to
be set in the place of the Napoleonic Federation of the Rhine. Stein, in
the midst of the Russian campaign, had hoped for a universal rising of the
German people against Napoleon, and had proposed the dethronement of all
the German princes who supported his cause. His policy had received the
general approval of Alexander, and, on the entrance of the Russian army
into Germany, a manifesto had been issued appealing to the whole German
nation, and warning the vassals of Napoleon that they could only save
themselves by submission. [185] A committee had been appointed by the
allied sovereigns, under the presidency of Stein himself, to administer the
revenues of all Confederate territory that should be occupied by the allied
armies. Whether the reigning Houses should be actually expelled might
remain in uncertainty; but it was the fixed hope of Stein and his friends
that those princes who were permitted to retain their thrones would be
permitted to retain them only as officers in a great German Empire, without
sovereign rights either over their own subjects or in relation to foreign
States. The Kings of Bavaria and Würtemberg had gained their titles and
much of their despotic power at home from Napoleon; their independence of
the Head of Germany had made them nothing more than the instruments of a
foreign conqueror. Under whatever form the central authority might be
revived, Stein desired that it should be the true and only sovereign Power
in Germany, a Power to which every German might appeal against the
oppression of a minor Government, and in which the whole nation should find
its representative before the rest of Europe. In the face of such a central
authority, whether an elected Parliament or an Imperial Council, the minor
princes could at best retain but a fragment of their powers; and such was
the theory accepted at the allied head-quarters down to the time when
Austria proffered its mediation and support. Then everything changed. The
views of the Austrian Government upon the future system of Germany were in
direct opposition to those of Stein's party. Metternich dreaded the thought
of popular agitation, and looked upon Stein, with his idea of a National
Parliament and his plans for dethroning the Rhenish princes, as little
better than the Jacobins of 1792. The offer of a restored imperial dignity
in Germany was declined by the Emperor of Austria at the instance of his
Minister. With characteristic sense of present difficulties, and blindness
to the great forces which really contained their solution, Metternich
argued that the minor princes would only be driven into the arms of the
foreigner by the establishment of any supreme German Power. They would
probably desert Napoleon if the Allies guaranteed to them everything that
they at present possessed; they would be freed from all future temptation
to attach themselves to France if Austria contented itself with a
diplomatic influence and with the ties of a well-constructed system of
treaties. In spite of the influence of Stein with the Emperor Alexander,
Metternich's views prevailed. Austria had so deliberately kept itself in
balance during the first part of the year 1813, that the Allies were now
willing to concede everything, both in this matter and in others, in return
for its support. Nothing more was heard of the dethronement of the
Confederate princes, or even of the limitation of their powers. It was
agreed by the Treaty of Teplitz, signed by Prussia, Russia, and Austria on
September 9th, that every State of the Rhenish Confederacy should be placed
in a position of absolute independence. Negotiations were opened with the
King of Bavaria, whose army had steadily fought on the side of Napoleon in
every campaign since 1806. Instead of being outlawed as a criminal, he was
welcomed as an ally. The Treaty of Ried, signed on the 3rd of October,
guaranteed to the King of Bavaria, in return for his desertion of Napoleon,
full sovereign rights, and the whole of the territory which he had received
from Napoleon, except the Tyrol and the Austrian district on the Inn. What
had been accorded to the King of Bavaria could not be refused to the rest
of Napoleon's vassals who were willing to make their peace with the Allies
in time. Germany was thus left at the mercy of a score of petty Cabinets.
It was seen by the patriotic party in Prussia at what price the alliance of
Austria had been purchased. Austria had indeed made it possible to conquer
Napoleon, but it had also made an end of all prospect of the union of the
German nation.

[Allies cross the Elbe, Oct. 3.]

Till the last days of September the position of the hostile armies round
Dresden remained little changed, Napoleon unweariedly repeated his attacks,
now on one side, now on another, but without result. The Allies on their
part seemed rooted to the soil. Bernadotte, balanced between the desire to
obtain Norway from the Allies and a foolish hope of being called to the
throne of France, was bent on doing the French as little harm as possible;
Schwarzenberg, himself an indifferent general, was distracted by the
councillors of all the three monarchs; Blücher alone pressed for decided
and rapid action. At length the Prussian commander gained permission to
march northwards, and unite his army with Bernadotte's in a forward
movement across the Elbe. The long-expected Russian reserves, led by
Bennigsen, reached the Bohemian mountains; and at the beginning of October
the operation began which was to collect the whole of the allied forces in
the plain of Leipzig. Blücher forced the passage of the Elbe at Wartenburg.
It was not until Napoleon learnt that the army of Silesia had actually
crossed the river that he finally quitted Dresden. Then, hastening
northwards, he threw himself upon the Prussian general; but Blücher again
avoided battle, as he had done in Silesia; and on the 7th of October his
army united with Bernadotte's, which had crossed the Elbe two days before.

The enemy was closing in upon Napoleon. Obstinately as he had held on to
the line of the Elbe, he could hold on no longer. In the frustration of all
his hopes there flashed across his mind the wild project of a march
eastwards to the Oder, and the gathering of all the besieged garrisons for
a campaign in which the enemy should stand between himself and France; but
the dream lasted only long enough to gain a record. Napoleon ventured no
more than to send a corps back to the Elbe to threaten Berlin, in the hope
of tempting Blücher and Bernadotte to abandon the advance which they had
now begun in co-operation with the great army of Schwarzenberg. From the
10th to the 14th of October, Napoleon [***] at Düben, between Dresden and
Leipzig, restlessly expecting to hear of Blücher's or Bernadotte's retreat.
The only definite information that he could gain was that Schwarzenberg was
pressing on towards the west. At length he fell back to Leipzig, believing
that Blücher, but not Bernadotte, was advancing to meet Schwarzenberg and
take part in a great engagement. As he entered Leipzig on October 14th the
cannon of Schwarzenberg was heard on the south.

[Battle of Leipzig. Oct 16-19.]

Napoleon drew up for battle. The number of his troops in position around
the city was 170,000: about 15,000 others lay within call. He placed
Marmont and Ney on the north of Leipzig at the village of Möckern, to meet
the expected onslaught of Blücher; and himself, with the great mass of his
army, took post on the south, facing Schwarzenberg. On the morning of the
16th, Schwarzenberg began the attack. His numbers did not exceed 150,000,
for the greater part of the Russian army was a march in the rear. The
battle was an even one. The Austrians failed to gain ground: with one more
army-corps Napoleon saw that he could overpower the enemy. He was still
without intelligence of Blücher's actual appearance in the north; and in
the rash hope that Blücher's coming might be delayed, he sent orders to Ney
and Marmont to leave their positions and hurry to the south to throw
themselves upon Schwarzenberg. Ney obeyed. Marmont, when the order reached
him, was actually receiving Blücher's first fire. He determined to remain
and defend the village of Möckern, though left without support. York,
commanding the vanguard of Blücher's army, assailed him with the utmost
fury. A third part of the troops engaged on each side were killed or
wounded before the day closed; but in the end the victory of the Prussians
was complete. It was the only triumph won by the Allies on this first day
of the battle, but it turned the scale against Napoleon. Marmont's corps
was destroyed; Ney, divided between Napoleon and Marmont, had rendered no
effective help to either. Schwarzenberg, saved from a great disaster,
needed only to wait for Bernadotte and the Russian reserves, and to renew
the battle with an additional force of 100,000 men.

[Storm of Leipzig, 19th. French retreat.]

[Battle of the 18th.]

In the course of the night Napoleon sent proposals for peace. It was in the
vain hope of receiving some friendly answer from his father-in-law, the
Austrian Emperor, that he delayed making his retreat during the next day,
while it might still have been unmolested. No answer was returned to his
letter. In the evening of the 17th, Bennigsen's army reached the field of
battle. Next morning began that vast and decisive encounter known in the
language of Germany as "the battle of the nations," the greatest battle in
all authentic history, the culmination of all the military effort of the
Napoleonic age. Not less than 300,000 men fought on the side of the Allies;
Napoleon's own forces numbered 170,000. The battle raged all round Leipzig,
except on the west, where no attempt was made to interpose between Napoleon
and the line of his retreat. As in the first engagement, the decisive
successes were those of Blücher, now tardily aided by Bernadotte, on the
north; Schwarzenberg's divisions, on the south side of the town, fought
steadily, but without gaining much ground. But there was no longer any
doubt as to the issue of the struggle. If Napoleon could not break the
Allies in the first engagement, he had no chance against them now when they
had been joined by 100,000 more men. The storm of attack grew wilder and
wilder: there were no new forces to call up for the defence. Before the day
was half over Napoleon drew in his outer line, and began to make
dispositions for a retreat from Leipzig. At evening long trains of wounded
from the hospitals passed through the western gates of the city along the
road towards the Rhine. In the darkness of night the whole army was
withdrawn from its positions, and dense masses poured into the town, until
every street was blocked with confused and impenetrable crowds of cavalry
and infantry. The leading divisions moved out of the gates before sunrise.
As the throng lessened, some degree of order was restored, and the troops
which Napoleon intended to cover the retreat took their places under the
walls of Leipzig. The Allies advanced to the storm on the morning of the
19th. The French were driven into the town; the victorious enemy pressed on
towards the rear of the retreating columns. In the midst of the struggle an
explosion was heard above the roar of the battle. The bridge over the
Elster, the only outlet from Leipzig to the west, had been blown up by
--the mistake of a French soldier before the rear-guard began to cross. The
mass of fugitives, driven from the streets of the town, found before them
an impassable river. Some swam to the opposite bank or perished in
attempting to do so; the rest, to the number of 15,000, laid down their
arms. This was the end of the battle. Napoleon had lost in the three days
40,000 killed and wounded, 260 guns, and 30,000 prisoners. The killed and
wounded of the Allies reached the enormous sum of 54,000.

[Conditions of peace offered to Napoleon at Frankfort, Nov. 9th.]

[Allies follow Napoleon to the Rhine.]

The campaign was at an end. Napoleon led off a large army, but one that was
in no condition to turn upon its pursuers. At each stage in the retreat
thousands of fever-stricken wretches were left to terrify even the pursuing
army with the dread of their infection. It was only when the French found
the road to Frankfort blocked at Hanau by a Bavarian force that they
rallied to the order of battle. The Bavarians were cut to pieces; the road
was opened; and, a fortnight after the Battle of Leipzig, Napoleon, with
the remnant of his great army, re-crossed the Rhine. Behind him the fabric
of his Empire fell to the ground. Jerome fled from Westphalia; [186] the
princes of the Rhenish Confederacy came one after another to make their
peace with the Allies; Bülow, with the army which had conquered Ney at
Dennewitz, marched through the north of Germany to the deliverance of
Holland. Three days after Napoleon had crossed the Rhine the Czar reached
Frankfort; and here, on the 7th of November, a military council was held,
in which Blücher and Gneisenau, against almost all the other generals,
advocated an immediate invasion of France. The soldiers, however, had time
to re-consider their opinions, for, on the 9th, it was decided by the
representatives of the Powers to send an offer of peace to Napoleon, and
the operations of the war were suspended by common consent. The condition
on which peace was offered to Napoleon was the surrender of the conquests
of France beyond the Alps and the Rhine. The Allies were still willing to
permit the Emperor to retain Belgium, Savoy, and the Rhenish Provinces;
they declined, however, to enter into any negotiation until Napoleon had
accepted this basis of peace; and they demanded a distinct reply before the
end of the month of November.

[Offer of peace withdrawn, Dec. 1.]

[Plan of invasion of France.]

[Allies enter France, Jan., 1814.]

Napoleon, who had now arrived in Paris, and saw around him all the signs of
power, returned indefinite answers. The month ended without the reply which
the Allies required; and on the 1st of December the offer of peace was
declared to be withdrawn. It was still undecided whether the war should
take the form of an actual invasion of France. The memory of Brunswick's
campaign of 1792, and of the disasters of the first coalition in 1793, even
now exercised a powerful influence over men's minds. Austria was unwilling
to drive Napoleon to extremities, or to give to Russia and Prussia the
increased influence which they would gain in Europe from the total
overthrow of Napoleon's power. It was ultimately determined that the allied
armies should enter France, but that the Austrians, instead of crossing the
north-eastern frontier, should make a détour by Switzerland, and gain the
plateau of Langres in Champagne, from which the rivers Seine, Marne, and
Aube, with the roads following their valleys, descend in the direction of
the capital. The plateau of Langres was said to be of such strategical
importance that its occupation by an invader would immediately force
Napoleon to make peace. As a matter of fact, the plateau was of no
strategical importance whatever; but the Austrians desired to occupy it,
partly with the view of guarding against any attack from the direction of
Italy and Lyons, partly from their want of the heavy artillery necessary
for besieging the fortresses farther north, [187] and from a just
appreciation of the dangers of a campaign conducted in a hostile country
intersected by several rivers. Anything was welcomed by Metternich that
seemed likely to avert, or even to postpone, a struggle with Napoleon for
life or death. Blücher correctly judged the march through Switzerland to be
mere procrastination. He was himself permitted to take the straight road
into France, though his movements were retarded in order to keep pace with
the cautious steps of Schwarzenberg. On the last day of the year 1813 the
Prussian general crossed the Rhine near Coblentz; on the 18th of January,
1814, the Austrian army, having advanced from Switzerland by Belfort and
Vesoul, reached its halting-place on the plateau of Langres. Here the march
stopped; and here it was expected that terms of peace would be proposed by

[Wellington entering France from the south.]

It was not on the eastern side alone that the invader was now entering
France. Wellington had passed the Pyrenees. His last victorious march into
the north of Spain began on the day when the Prussian and Russian armies
were defeated by Napoleon at Bautzen (May 21, 1813). During the armistice
of Dresden, a week before Austria signed the treaty which fixed the
conditions of its armed mediation, he had gained an overwhelming triumph at
Vittoria over King Joseph and the French army, as it retreated with all the
spoils gathered in five years' occupation of Spain (June 21). A series of
bloody engagements had given the English the passes of the Pyrenees in
those same days of August and September that saw the allied armies close
around Napoleon at Dresden; and when, after the catastrophe of Leipzig, the
wreck of Napoleon's host was retreating beyond the Rhine, Soult, the
defender of the Pyrenees, was driven by the British general from his
entrenchments on the Nivelle, and forced back under the walls of Bayonne.

[French armies unable to hold the frontier.]

[Napoleon's plan of defence.]

Twenty years had passed since, in the tempestuous morn of the Revolution,
Hoche swept the armies of the first coalition across the Alsatian frontier.
Since then, French soldiers had visited every capital, and watered every
soil with their blood; but no foreign soldier had set foot on French soil.
Now the cruel goads of Napoleon's military glory had spent the nation's
strength, and the force no longer existed which could bar the way to its
gathered enemies. The armies placed upon the eastern frontier had to fall
back before an enemy five times more numerous than themselves. Napoleon had
not expected that the Allies would enter France before the spring. With
three months given him for organisation, he could have made the
frontier-armies strong enough to maintain their actual positions; the
winter advance of the Allies compelled him to abandon the border districts
of France, and to concentrate his defence in Champagne, between the Marne,
the Seine, and the Aube. This district was one which offered extraordinary
advantages to a great general acting against an irresolute and
ill-commanded enemy. By holding the bridges over the three rivers, and
drawing his own supplies along the central road from Paris to
Arcis-sur-Aube, Napoleon could securely throw the bulk of his forces from
one side to the other against the flank of the Allies, while his own
movements were covered by the rivers, which could not be passed except at
the bridges. A capable commander at the head of the Allies would have
employed the same river-strategy against Napoleon himself, after conquering
one or two points of passage by main force; but Napoleon had nothing of the
kind to fear from Schwarzenberg; and if the Austrian head-quarters
continued to control the movements of the allied armies, it was even now
doubtful whether the campaign would close at Paris or on the Rhine.

[Campaign of 1814.]

For some days after the arrival of the monarchs and diplomatists at Langres
(Jan. 22), Metternich and the more timorous among the generals opposed any
further advance into France, and argued that the army had already gained
all it needed by the occupation of the border provinces. It was only upon
the threat of the Czar to continue the war by himself that the Austrians
consented to move forward upon Paris. After several days had been lost in
discussion, the advance from Langres was begun. Orders were given to
Blücher, who had pushed back the French divisions commanded by Marmont and
Mortier, and who was now near St. Dizier on the Marne, to meet the Great
Army at Brienne. This was the situation of the Allies when, on the 25th of
January, Napoleon left Paris, and placed himself at Châlons on the Marne,
at the head of his left wing, having his right at Troyes and at Arcis,
guarding the bridges over the Seine and the Aube. Napoleon knew that
Blücher was moving towards the Austrians; he hoped to hold the Prussian
general in check at St. Dizier, and to throw himself upon the heads of
Schwarzenberg's columns as they moved towards the Aube. Blücher, however,
had already passed St. Dizier when Napoleon reached it. Napoleon pursued,
and overtook the Prussians at Brienne. After an indecisive battle, Blücher
fell back towards Schwarzenberg. The allied armies effected their junction,
and Blücher, now supported by the Austrians, turned and marched down the
right bank of the Aube to meet Napoleon. Napoleon, though far outnumbered,
accepted battle. He was attacked at La Rothière close above Brienne, and
defeated with heavy loss (Feb. 1). A vigorous pursuit would probably have
ended the war; but the Austrians held back. Schwarzenberg believed peace to
be already gained, and condemned all further action as useless waste of
life. In spite of the protests of the Emperor Alexander, he allowed
Napoleon to retire unmolested. Schwarzenberg's inaction was no mere error
in military judgment. There was a direct conflict between the Czar and the
Austrian Cabinet as to the end to be obtained by the war. Alexander already
insisted on the dethronement of Napoleon; the Austrian Government would
have been content to leave Napoleon in power if he would accept a peace
giving France no worse a frontier than it had possessed in 1791.
Castlereagh, who had come from England, and Hardenberg were as yet inclined
to support Metternich's policy, although the whole Prussian army, the
public opinion of Great Britain, and the counsels of Stein and all the
bolder Prussian statesmen, were on the side of the Czar. [188]

[Congress of Châtillon, Feb. 5-9.]

Already the influence of the peace-party was so far in the ascendant that
negotiations had been opened with Napoleon. Representatives of all the
Powers assembled at Châtillon, in Burgundy; and there, towards the end of
January, Caulaincourt appeared on behalf of France. The first sitting took
place on the 5th of February; on the following day Caulaincourt received
full powers from Napoleon to conclude peace. The Allies laid down as the
condition of peace the limitation of France to the frontiers of 1791. Had
Caulaincourt dared to conclude peace instantly on these terms, Napoleon
would have retained his throne; but he was aware that Napoleon had only
granted him full powers in consequence of the disastrous battle of La
Rothière, and he feared to be disavowed by his master as soon as the army
had escaped from danger. Instead of simply accepting the Allies' offer, he
raised questions as to the future of Italy and Germany. The moment was
lost; on the 9th of February the Czar recalled his envoy from Châtillon,
and the sittings of the Congress were broken off.

[Defeats of Blücher on the Marne Feb. 10-14.]

[Montereau, Feb 18.]

[Austrians fall back towards Langres.]

Schwarzenberg was now slowly and unwillingly moving forwards along the
Seine towards Troyes. Blücher was permitted to return to the Marne, and to
advance upon Paris by an independent line of march. He crossed the country
between the Aube and the Marne, and joined some divisions which he had left
behind him on the latter river. But his dispositions were outrageously
careless: his troops were scattered over a space of sixty miles from
Châlons westward, as if he had no enemy to guard against except the weak
divisions commanded by Mortier and Marmont, which had uniformly fallen back
before his advance. Suddenly Napoleon himself appeared at the centre of the
long Prussian line at Champaubert. He had hastened northwards in pursuit of
Blücher with 30,000 men, as soon as Schwarzenberg entered Troyes; and on
February 10th a weak Russian corps that lay in the centre of Blücher's
column was overwhelmed before it was known the Emperor had left the Seine.
Then, turning leftwards, Napoleon overthrew the Prussian vanguard at
Montmirail, and two days later attacked and defeated Blücher himself, who
was bringing up the remainder of his troops in total ignorance of the enemy
with whom he had to deal. In four days Blücher's army, which numbered
70,000 men, had thrice been defeated in detail by a force of 30,000.
Blücher was compelled to fall back upon Châlons; Napoleon instantly
returned to the support of Oudinot's division, which he had left in front
of Schwarzenberg. In order to relieve Blücher, the Austrians had pushed
forward on the Seine beyond Montereau. Within three days after the battle
with Blücher, Napoleon was back upon the Seine, and attacking the heads of
the Austrian column. On the 18th of February he gained so decisive a
victory at Montereau that Schwarzenberg abandoned the advance, and fell
back upon Troyes, sending word to Blücher to come southwards again and help
him to fight a great battle. Blücher moved off with admirable energy, and
came into the neighbourhood of Troyes within a week after his defeats upon
the Marne. But the design of fighting a great battle was given up. The
disinclination of the Austrians to vigorous action was too strong to be
overcome; and it was finally determined that Schwarzenberg should fall back
almost to the plateau of Langres, leaving Blücher to unite with the troops
of Bülow which had conquered Holland, and to operate on the enemy's flank
and rear.

[Congress of Châtillon resumed, Feb. 17-March 15.]

The effect of Napoleon's sudden victories on the Marne was instantly seen
in the councils of the allied sovereigns. Alexander, who had withdrawn his
envoy from Châtillon, could no longer hold out against negotiations with
Napoleon. He restored the powers of his envoy, and the Congress
re-assembled. But Napoleon already saw himself in imagination driving the
invaders beyond the Rhine, and sent orders to Caulaincourt to insist upon
the terms proposed at Frankfort, which left to France both the Rhenish
Provinces and Belgium. At the same time he attempted to open a private
negotiation with his father-in-law the Emperor of Austria, and to detach
him from the cause of the Allies. The attempt failed; the demands now made
by Caulaincourt overcame even the peaceful inclinations of the Austrian
Minister; and on the 1st of March the Allies signed a new treaty at
Chaumont, pledging themselves to conclude no peace with Napoleon that did
not restore the frontier of 1791, and to maintain a defensive alliance
against France for a period of twenty years. [189] Caulaincourt continued
for another fortnight at Châtillon, instructed by Napoleon to prolong the
negotiations, but forbidden to accept the only conditions which the Allies
were willing to grant.

[Napoleon follows Blücher to the north. Battle of Laon, March 10.]

Blücher was now on his way northwards to join the so-called army of
Bernadotte upon the Aisne. Since the Battle of Leipzig, Bernadotte himself
had taken no part in the movements of the army nominally under his command.
The Netherlands had been conquered by Bülow and the Russian general
Winzingerode, and these officers were now pushing southwards in order to
take part with Blücher in a movement against Paris. Napoleon calculated
that the fortress of Soissons would bar the way to the northern army, and
enable him to attack and crush Blücher before he could effect a junction
with his colleagues. He set out in pursuit of the Prussians, still hoping
for a second series of victories like those he had won upon the Marne. But
the cowardice of the commander of Soissons ruined his chances of success.
The fortress surrendered to the Russians at the first summons. Blücher met
the advanced guard of the northern army upon the Aisne on the 4th of March,
and continued his march towards Laon for the purpose of uniting with its
divisions which lay in the rear. The French followed, but the only
advantage gained by Napoleon was a victory over a detached Russian corps at
Craonne. Marmont was defeated with heavy loss by a sally of Blücher from
his strong position on the hill of Laon (March 10); and the Emperor
himself, unable to restore the fortune of the battle, fell back upon
Soissons, and thence marched southward to throw himself again upon the line
of the southern army.

[Napoleon marches to the rear of the Allies, March 23.]

[The Allies advance on Paris.]

Schwarzenberg had once more begun to move forward on the news of Blücher's
victory at Laon. His troops were so widely dispersed that Napoleon might
even now have cut the line in halves had he known Schwarzenberg's real
position. But he made a détour in order to meet Oudinot's corps, and gave
the Austrians time to concentrate at Arcis-sur-Aube. Here, on the 20th of
March, Napoleon found himself in face of an army of 100,000 men. His own
army was less than a third of that number; yet with unalterable contempt
for the enemy he risked another battle. No decided issue was reached in the
first day's fighting, and Napoleon remained in position, expecting that
Schwarzenberg would retreat during the night. But on the morrow the
Austrians were still fronting him. Schwarzenberg had at length learnt his
own real superiority, and resolved to assist the enemy no longer by a
wretched system of retreat. A single act of firmness on the part of the
Austrian commander showed Napoleon that the war of battles was at an end.
He abandoned all hope of resisting the invaders in front: it only remained
for him to throw himself on to their rear, and, in company with the
frontier-garrisons and the army of Lyons, to attack their communications
with Germany. The plan was no unreasonable one, if Paris could either have
sustained a siege or have fallen into the enemy's hands without terminating
the war. But the Allies rightly judged that Napoleon's power would be
extinct from the moment that Paris submitted. They received the
intelligence of the Emperor's march to the east, and declined to follow
him. The armies of Schwarzenberg and Blücher approached one another, and
moved together on Paris. It was at Vitry, on March 27th, that Napoleon
first discovered that the troops which had appeared to be following his
eastward movement were but a detachment of cavalry, and that the allied
armies were in full march upon the capital. He instantly called up every
division within reach, and pushed forward by forced marches for the Seine,
hoping to fall upon Schwarzenberg's rear before the allied vanguard could
reach Paris. But at each hour of the march it became more evident that the
enemy was far in advance. For two days Napoleon urged his men forward; at
length, unable to bear the intolerable suspense, he quitted the army on the
morning of the 30th, and drove forward at the utmost speed along the road
through Fontainebleau to the capital. As day sank, he met reports of a
battle already begun. When he reached the village of Fromenteau, fifteen
miles from Paris, at ten o'clock at night, he heard that Paris had actually

[Attack on Paris, March 30.]

[Capitulation of Marmont.]

[Allies enter Paris, March 31.]

The Allies had pressed forward without taking any notice of Napoleon's
movements, and at early morning on the 30th they had opened the attack on
the north-eastern heights of Paris. Marmont, with the fragments of a beaten
army and some weak divisions of the National Guard, had but 35,000 men to
oppose to three times that number of the enemy. The Government had taken no
steps to arm the people, or to prolong resistance after the outside line of
defence was lost, although the erection of barricades would have held the
Allies in check until Napoleon arrived with his army. While Marmont fought
in the outer suburbs, masses of the people were drawn up on Montmartre,
expecting the Emperor's appearance, and the spectacle of a great and
decisive battle. But the firing in the outskirts stopped soon after noon:
it was announced that Marmont had capitulated. The report struck the people
with stupor and fury. They had vainly been demanding arms since early
morning; and even after the capitulation unsigned papers were handed about
by men of the working classes, advocating further resistance. [190] But the
people no longer knew how to follow leaders of its own. Napoleon had
trained France to look only to himself: his absence left the masses, who
were still eager to fight for France, helpless in the presence of the
conqueror: there were enemies enough of the Government among the richer
classes to make the entry of the foreigner into Paris a scene of actual joy
and exultation. To such an extent had the spirit of caste and the malignant
delight in Napoleon's ruin overpowered the love of France among the party
of the old noblesse, that upon the entry of the allied forces into Paris on
the 31st of March hundreds of aristocratic women kissed the hands, or the
very boots and horses, of the leaders of the train, and cheered the
Cossacks who escorted a band of French prisoners, bleeding and exhausted,
through the streets.

[Napoleon dethroned, April 2.]

Napoleon's reign was indeed at an end. Since the rupture of the Congress of
Châtillon on the 18th of March, the Allies had determined to make his
dethronement a condition of peace. As the end approached, it was seen that
no successor was possible but the chief of the House of Bourbon, although
Austria would perhaps have consented to the establishment of a Regency
under the Empress Marie Louise, and the Czar had for a time entertained the
project of placing Bernadotte at the head of the French State. Immediately
after the entry into Paris it was determined to raise the exile Louis
XVIII. to the throne. The politicians of the Empire who followed Talleyrand
were not unwilling to unite with the conquerors, and with the small party
of Royalist noblesse, in recalling the Bourbon dynasty. Alexander, who was
the real master of the situation, rightly judged Talleyrand to be the man
most capable of enlisting the public opinion of France on the side of the
new order. He took up his abode at Talleyrand's house, and employed this
dexterous statesman as the advocate both of the policy of the Allies, and
of the principles of constitutional liberty, which at this time Alexander
himself sincerely befriended. A Provisional Government was appointed under
Talleyrand's leadership. On the 2nd of April the Senate proclaimed the
dethronement of Napoleon. On the 6th it published a Constitution, and
recalled the House of Bourbon.

Louis XVIII. was still in England: his brother, the Count of Artois, had
joined the invaders in France and assumed the title of Lieutenant of the
Kingdom; but the influence of Alexander was necessary to force this
obstinate and unteachable man into anything like a constitutional position.
The Provisional Government invited the Count to take up the administration
until the King's arrival, in virtue of a decree of the Senate. D'Artois
declined to recognise the Senate's competency, and claimed the Lieutenancy
of the Kingdom as his brother's representative. The Senate refusing to
admit the Count's divine right, some unmeaning words were exchanged when
d'Artois entered Paris; and the Provisional Government, disregarding the
claims of the Royal Lieutenant, continued in the full exercise of its
powers. At length the Czar insisted that d'Artois should give way. The
decree of the Senate was accordingly accepted by him at the Tuileries on
the 14th of April; the Provisional Government retired, and a Council of
State was formed, in which Talleyrand still continued to exercise the real
powers of government. In the address made by d'Artois on this occasion, he
stated that although the King had not empowered him to accept the
Constitution made by the Senate on the 6th of April, he entertained no
doubt that the King would accept the principles embodied in that
Constitution, which were those of Representative Government, of the freedom
of the press, and of the responsibility of ministers. A week after
d'Artois' declaration, Louis XVIII. arrived in France.

[Louis XVIII. and the Czar.]

[Louis XVIII. enters Paris, May 3.]

Louis XVIII., though capable of adapting himself in practice to a
constitutional system, had never permitted himself to question the divine
right of the House of Bourbon to sovereign power. The exiles who surrounded
him were slow to understand the needs of the time. They recommended the
King to reject the Constitution. Louis made an ambiguous answer when the
Legislative Body met him at Compiègne and invited an expression of the
royal policy. It was again necessary for the Czar to interfere, and to
explain to the King that France could no longer be an absolute monarchy.
Louis, however, was a better arguer than the Count of Artois. He reasoned
as a man whom the sovereigns of Europe had felt it their duty to restore
without any request from himself. If the Senate of Napoleon, he urged, had
the right to give France a Constitution, he himself ought never to have
been brought from his peaceful English home. He was willing to grant a free
Constitution to his people in exercise of his own royal rights, but he
could not recognise one created by the servants of an usurper. Alexander
was but half satisfied with the liberal professions of Louis: he did not,
however, insist on his acceptance of the Constitution drawn up by the
Senate, but he informed him that until the promises made by d'Artois were
confirmed by a royal proclamation, there would be no entry into Paris. The
King at length signed a proclamation written by Talleyrand, and made his
festal entry into the capital on the 3rd of May.

[Feeling of Paris.]

The promises of Louis himself, the unbroken courtesy and friendliness shown
by the Allies to Paris since their victory a month before, had almost
extinguished the popular feeling of hostility towards a dynasty which owed
its recall to the overthrow of French armies. The foreign leaders
themselves had begun to excite a certain admiration and interest. Alexander
was considered, and with good reason, as a generous enemy; the simplicity
of the King of Prussia, his misfortunes, his well-remembered gallantry at
the Battle of Jena, gained him general sympathy. It needed but little on
the part of the returning Bourbons to convert the interest and curiosity of
Paris into affection. The cortège which entered the capital with Louis
XVIII. brought back, in a singular motley of obsolete and of foreign
costumes, the bearers of many unforgotten names. The look of the King
himself, as he drove through Paris, pleased the people. The childless
father of the murdered Duke of Enghien gained the pitying attention of
those few who knew the face of a man twenty-five years an exile. But there
was one among the members of the returning families whom every heart in
Paris went out to meet. The daughter of Louis XVI., who had shared the
captivity of her parents and of her brother, the sole survivor of her
deeply-wronged house, now returned as Duchess of Angoulême. The uniquely
mournful history of her girlhood, and her subsequent marriage with her
cousin, the son of the Count of Artois, made her the natural object of a
warmer sympathy than could attach to either of the brothers of Louis XVI.
But adversity had imprinted its lines too deeply upon the features and the
disposition of this joyless woman for a moment's light to return. Her voice
and her aspect repelled the affection which thousands were eager to offer
to her. Before the close of the first days of the restored monarchy, it was
felt that the Bourbons had brought back no single person among them who was
capable of winning the French nation's love.

[Napoleon sent to Elba.]


The recall of the ancient line had been allowed to appear to the world as
the work of France itself; Napoleon's fate could only be fixed by his
conquerors. After the fall of Paris, Napoleon remained at Fontainebleau
awaiting events. The soldiers and the younger officers of his army were
still ready to fight for him; the marshals, however, were utterly weary,
and determined that France should no longer suffer for the sake of a single
man. They informed Napoleon that he must abdicate. Yielding to their
pressure, Napoleon, on the 3rd of April, drew up an act of abdication in
favour of his infant son, and sent it by Caulaincourt to the allied
sovereigns at Paris. The document was rejected by the Allies; Caulaincourt
returned with the intelligence that Napoleon must renounce the throne for
himself and all his family. For a moment the Emperor thought of renewing
the war; but the marshals refused their aid more resolutely than before,
and, on the 6th of April, Napoleon signed an unconditional surrender of the
throne for himself and his heirs. He was permitted by the Allies to retain
the unmeaning title of Emperor, and to carry with him a body-guard and a
considerable revenue to the island of Elba, henceforward to be his
principality and his prison. The choice of this island, within easy reach
of France and Italy, and too extensive to be guarded without a large fleet,
was due to Alexander's ill-judged generosity towards Napoleon, and to a
promise made to Marmont that the liberty of the Emperor should be
respected. Alexander was not left without warning of the probable effects
of his leniency. Sir Charles Stewart, military representative of Great
Britain at the allied head-quarters, urged both his own and the allied
Governments to substitute some more distant island for Elba, if they
desired to save Europe from a renewed Napoleonic war, and France from the
misery of a second invasion. The Allies, though not without misgivings,
adhered to their original plan, and left it to time to justify the
predictions of their adviser.

[Treaty of Paris, May 30.]

It was well known what would be the terms of peace, now that Napoleon was
removed from the throne. The Allies had no intention of depriving France of
any of the territory that it had held before 1792: the conclusion of a
definitive Treaty was only postponed until the Constitution, which
Alexander required King Louis XVIII. to grant, had been drawn up by a royal
commission and approved by the King. On the 27th of May the draft of this
Constitution, known as the Charta, was laid before the King, and sanctioned
by him; on the 30th, the Treaty of Paris was signed by the representatives
of France and of all the great Powers. [191] France, surrendering all its
conquests, accepted the frontier of the 1st of January, 1792, with a slight
addition of territory on the side of Savoy and at points on its northern
and eastern border. It paid no indemnity. It was permitted to retain all
the works of art accumulated by twenty years of rapine, except the trophies
carried from the Brandenburg Gate of Berlin and the spoils of the Library
of Vienna. It received back nearly all the colonies which had been taken
from it by Great Britain. By the clauses of the Treaty disposing of the
territory that had formed the Empire and the dependencies of Napoleon,
Holland was restored to the House of Orange, with the provision that its
territory should be largely increased; Switzerland was declared
independent; it was stipulated that Italy, with the exception of the
Austrian Provinces, should consist of independent States, and that Germany
should remain distributed among a multitude of sovereigns, independent, but
united by a Federal tie. The navigation of the Rhine was thrown open. By a
special agreement with Great Britain the French Government undertook to
unite its efforts to those of England in procuring the suppression of the
Slave-trade by all the Powers, and pledged itself to abolish the
Slave-trade among French subjects within five years at the latest. For the
settlement of all European questions not included in the Treaty of Paris it
was agreed that a Congress of the Powers should, within two months,
assemble at Vienna. These were the public articles of the Treaty of Paris.
Secret clauses provided that the Allies--that is, the Allies independently
of France--should control the distributions of territory to be made at the
Congress; that Austria should receive Venetia and all Northern Italy as far
as the Ticino; that Genoa should be given to the King of Sardinia; and that
the Southern Netherlands should be united into a single kingdom with
Holland, and thus form a solid bulwark against France on the north. No
mention was made of Naples, whose sovereign, Murat, had abandoned Napoleon
and allied himself with Austria, but without fulfilling in good faith the
engagements into which he had entered against his former master. A nominal
friend of the Allies, he knew that he had played a double game, and that
his sovereignty, though not yet threatened, was insecure. [192]

[Territorial arrangements of 1814.]

Much yet remained to be settled by the Congress at Vienna, but in the
Treaty of Paris two at least of the great Powers saw the objects attained
for which they had straggled so persistently through all the earlier years
of the war, and which at a later time had appeared to pass almost out of
the range of possibility. England saw the Netherlands once more converted
into a barrier against France, and Antwerp held by friendly hands. Austria
reaped the full reward of its cool and well-balanced diplomacy during the
crisis of 1813, in the annexation of an Italian territory that made it the
real mistress of the Peninsula. Castlereagh and every other English
politician felt that Europe had done itself small honour in handing Venice
back to the Hapsburg; but this had been the condition exacted by Metternich
at Prague before he consented to throw the sword of Austria into the
trembling scale; [193] and the Republican traditions both of Venice and of
Genoa counted for little among the statesmen of 1814, in comparison with
the divine right of a Duke of Modena or a Prince of Hesse Cassel. [194]
France itself, though stripped of the dominion won by twenty years of
warfare, was permitted to retain, for the benefit of a restored line of
kings, the whole of its ancient territory, and the spoil of all the
galleries and museums of Western Europe. It would have been no unnatural
wrong if the conquerors of 1814 had dealt with the soil of France as France
had dealt with other lands; it would have been an act of bare justice to
restore to its rightful owners the pillage that had been brought to Paris,
and to recover from the French treasury a part of the enormous sums which
Napoleon had extorted from conquered States. But the Courts were too well
satisfied with their victory to enter into a strict account upon secondary
matters; and a prudent regard on the part of the Allies to the prospects of
the House of Bourbon saved France from experiencing what it had inflicted
upon others.

[All the Powers except France gained territory by the war, 1792-1814.]

The policy which now restored to France the frontier of 1792 was viewed
with a very different feeling in France and in all other countries. Europe
looked with a kind of wonder upon its own generosity; France forgot the
unparalleled provocations which it had offered to mankind, and only
remembered that Belgium and the Rhenish Provinces had formed part of the
Republic and the Empire for nearly twenty years. These early conquests of
the Republic, which no one had attempted to wrest from France since 1795,
had undoubtedly been the equivalent for which, in the days of the
Directory, Austria had been permitted to extend itself in Italy, and
Prussia in Germany. In the opinion of men who sincerely condemned
Napoleon's distant conquests, the territory between France and the Rhine
was no more than France might legitimately demand, as a counterpoise to the
vast accessions falling to one or other of the Continental Powers out of
the territory of Poland, Venice, and the body of suppressed States in
Germany. Poland, excluding the districts taken from it before 1792,
contained a population twice as great as that of Belgium and the Rhenish
Provinces together: Venice carried with it, in addition to a commanding
province on the Italian mainland, the Eastern Adriatic Coast as far as
Ragusa. If it were true that the proportionate increase of power formed the
only solid principle of European policy, France sustained a grievous injury
in receiving back the limits of 1791, when every other State on the
Continent was permitted to retain the territory, or an equivalent for the
territory, which it had gained in the great changes that took place between
1791 and 1814. But in fact there had never been a time during the last
hundred and fifty years when France, under an energetic Government, had not
possessed a force threatening to all its neighbours. France, reduced to its
ancient limits, was still the equal, and far more than the equal, of any of
the Continental Powers, with all that they had gained during the
Revolutionary War. It remained the first of European nations, though no
longer, as in the eighteenth century, the one great nation of the western
continent. Its efforts after universal empire had aroused other nations
into life. Had the course of French conquest ceased before Napoleon grasped
power, France would have retained its frontier of the Rhine, and long have
exercised an unbounded influence over both Germany and Italy, through the
incomparably juster and brighter social life which the Revolution, combined
with all that France had inherited from the past, enabled it to display to
those countries. Napoleon, in the attempt to impose his rule upon all
Europe, created a power in Germany whose military future was to be not less
solid than that of France itself, and left to Europe, in the accord of his
enemies, a firmer security against French attack than any that the efforts
of statesmen had ever framed.

[Permanent effect on Europe of period 1792-1814.]

[National sense excited in Germany and Italy.]

The league of the older monarchies had proved stronger in the end than the
genius and the ambition of a single man. But if, in the service of
Napoleon, France had exhausted its wealth, sunk its fleets, and sacrificed
a million lives, only that it might lose all its earlier conquests, and
resume limits which it had outgrown before Napoleon held his first command,
it was not thus with the work which, for or against itself, France had
effected in Europe during the movements of the last twenty years. In the
course of the epoch now ending the whole of the Continent up to the
frontiers of Austria and Russia had gained the two fruitful ideas of
nationality and political freedom. There were now two nations in Europe
where before there had been but aggregates of artificial States. Germany
and Italy were no longer mere geographical expressions: in both countries,
though in a very unequal degree, the newly-aroused sense of nationality had
brought with it the claim for unity and independence. In Germany, Prussia
had set a great example, and was hereafter to reap its reward; in Italy
there had been no State and no statesman to take the lead either in
throwing off Napoleon's rule, or in forcing him, as the price of support,
to give to his Italian kingdom a really national government. Failing to act
for itself, the population of all Italy, except Naples, was parcelled out
between Austria and the ancient dynasties; but the old days of passive
submission to the foreigner were gone for ever, and time was to show
whether those were the dreamers who thought of a united Italy, or those who
thought that Metternich's statesmanship had for ever settled the fate of
Venice and of Milan.

[Desire for political liberty.]

The second legacy of the Revolutionary epoch, the idea of constitutional
freedom, which in 1789 had been as much wanting in Spain, where national
spirit was the strongest, as in those German States where it was the
weakest, had been excited in Italy by the events of 1796 and 1798, in Spain
by the disappearance of the Bourbon king and the self-directed struggle of
the nation against the invader; in Prussia it had been introduced by the
Government itself when Stein was at the head of the State. "It is
impossible," wrote Lord Castlereagh in the spring of 1814, "not to perceive
a great moral change coming on in Europe, and that the principles of
freedom are in full operation." [195] There was in fact scarcely a Court in
Europe which was not now declaring its intention to frame a Constitution.
The professions might be lightly made; the desire and the capacity for
self-government might still be limited to a narrower class than the friends
of liberty imagined; but the seed was sown, and a movement had begun which
was to gather strength during the next thirty years of European history,
while one revolution after another proved that Governments could no longer
with safety disregard the rights of their subjects.

[Social changes.]

Lastly, in all the territory that had formed Napoleon's Empire and
dependencies, and also in Prussia, legal changes had been made in the
rights and relations of the different classes of society, so important as
almost to create a new type of social life. Within the Empire itself the
Code Napoléon, conferring upon the subjects of France the benefits which
the French had already won for themselves, had superseded a society resting
on class-privilege, on feudal service, and on the despotism of custom, by a
society resting on equality before the law, on freedom of contract, and on
the unshackled ownership and enjoyment of land, whether the holder
possessed an acre or a league. The principles of the French Code, if not
the Code itself, had been introduced into Napoleon's kingdom of Italy, into
Naples, and into almost all the German dependencies of France. In Prussia
the reforms of Stein and Hardenberg had been directed, though less boldly,
towards the same end; and when, after 1814, the Rhenish Provinces were
annexed to Prussia by the Congress of Vienna, the Government was wise
enough and liberal enough to leave these districts in the enjoyment of the
laws which France had given them, and not to risk a comparison between even
the best Prussian legislation and the Code Napoleon. In other territory now
severed from France and restored to German or Italian princes, attempts
were not wanting to obliterate the new order and to re-introduce the
burdens and confusions of the old regime. But these reactions, even where
unopposed for a time, were too much in conflict with the spirit of the age
to gain more than a temporary and precarious success. The people had begun
to know good and evil: examples of a free social order were too close at
hand to render it possible for any part of the western continent to relapse
for any very long period into the condition of the eighteenth century.


It was indeed within a distinct limit that the Revolutionary epoch effected
its work of political and social change. Neither England nor Austria
received the slightest impulse to progress. England, on the contrary,
suspended almost all internal improvement during the course of the war; the
domestic policy of the Austrian Court, so energetic in the reign
immediately preceding the Revolution, became for the next twenty years,
except where it was a policy of repression, a policy of pure vacancy and
inaction. But in all other States of Western Europe the period which
reached its close with Napoleon's fall left deep and lasting traces behind
it. Like other great epochs of change, it bore its own peculiar character.
It was not, like the Renaissance and the Reformation, a time when new
worlds of faith and knowledge transformed the whole scope and conception of
human life; it was not, like our own age, a time when scientific discovery
and increased means of communication silently altered the physical
conditions of existence; it was a time of changes directly political in
their nature, and directly effected by the political agencies of
legislation and of war. In the perspective of history the Napoleonic age
will take its true place among other, and perhaps greater, epochs. Its
elements of mere violence and disturbance will fill less space in the eyes
of mankind; its permanent creations, more. As an epoch of purely political
energy, concentrating the work of generations within the compass of twenty
five years, it will perhaps scarcely find a parallel.


The Restoration of 1814--Norway--Naples--Westphalia--Spain--The Spanish
Constitution overthrown: Victory of the Clergy--Restoration in France--The
Charta--Encroachments of the Nobles and Clergy--Growing Hostility to the
Bourbons--Congress of Vienna--Talleyrand and the Four Powers--The Polish
Question--The Saxon Question--Theory of Legitimacy--Secret Alliance against
Russia and Prussia--Compromise--The Rhenish Provinces--Napoleon leaves Elba
and lands in France--His Declarations--Napoleon at Grenoble, at Lyon, at
Paris--The Congress of Vienna unites Europe against France--Murat's Action
in Italy--The Acte Additionnel--The Champ de Mai--Napoleon takes up the
offensive--Battles of Ligny, Quatre Bras, Waterloo--Affairs at
Paris--Napoleon sent to St. Helena--Wellington and Fouché--Arguments on the
proposed Cession of French Territory--Treaty of Holy Alliance--Second
Treaty of Paris--Conclusion of the Work of the Congress of Vienna--
Federation of Germany--Estimate of the Congress of Vienna and of the
Treaties of 1815--The Slave Trade.

Of all the events which, in the more recent history of mankind, have struck
the minds of nations with awe, and appeared to reveal in its direct
operation a power overruling the highest human effort, there is none equal
in grandeur and terror to the annihilation of Napoleon's army in the
invasion of Russia. It was natural that a generation which had seen State
after State overthrown, and each new violation of right followed by an
apparent consolidation of the conqueror's strength, should view in the
catastrophe of 1812 the hand of Providence visibly outstretched for the
deliverance of Europe. [196] Since that time many years have passed. Perils
which then seemed to envelop the future of mankind now appear in part
illusory; sacrifices then counted cheap have proved of heavy cost. The
history of the two last generations shows that not everything was lost to
Europe in passing subjection to a usurper, nor everything gained by the
victory of his opponents. It is now not easy to suppress the doubt whether
the permanent interests of mankind would not have been best served by
Napoleon's success in 1812. His empire had already attained dimensions that
rendered its ultimate disruption certain: less depended upon the
postponement or the acceleration of its downfall than on the order of
things ready to take its place. The victory of Napoleon in 1812 would have
been followed by the establishment of a Polish kingdom in the provinces
taken from Russia. From no generosity in the conqueror, from no sympathy on
his part with a fallen people, but from the necessities of his political
situation, Poland must have been so organised as to render it the bulwark
of French supremacy in the East. The serf would have been emancipated. The
just hatred of the peasant to the noble, which made the partition of 1772
easy, and has proved fatal to every Polish uprising from that time to the
present, would have been appeased by an agrarian reform executed with
Napoleon's own unrivalled energy and intelligence, and ushered in with
brighter hopes than have at any time in the history of Poland lit the dark
shades of peasant-life. The motives which in 1807 had led Napoleon to stay
his hand, and to content himself with half-measures of emancipation in the
Duchy of Warsaw [197], could have had no place after 1812, when Russia
remained by his side, a mutilated but inexorable enemy, ever on the watch
to turn to its own advantage the first murmurs of popular discontent beyond
the border. Political independence, the heritage of the Polish noble, might
have been withheld, but the blessing of landed independence would have been
bestowed on the mass of the Polish people. In the course of some years this
restored kingdom, though governed by a member of the house of Bonaparte,
would probably have gained sufficient internal strength to survive the
downfall of Napoleon's Empire or his own decease. England, Austria, and
Turkey would have found it no impossible task to prevent its absorption by
Alexander at the re-settlement of Europe, if indeed the collapse of Russia
had not been followed by the overthrow of the Porte, and the establishment
of a Greek, a Bulgarian, and a Roumanian Kingdom under the supremacy of
France. By the side of the three absolute monarchs of Central and Eastern
Europe there would have remained, upon Napoleon's downfall, at least one
people in possession of the tradition of liberty: and from the example of
Poland, raised from the deep but not incurable degradation of its social
life, the rulers of Russia might have gained courage to emancipate the
serf, without waiting for the lapse of another half-century and the
occurrence of a second ruinous war. To compare a possible sequence of
events with the real course of history, to estimate the good lost and evil
got through events which at the time seemed to vindicate the moral
governance of the world, is no idle exercise of the imagination. It may
serve to give caution to the judgment: it may guard us against an arbitrary
and fanciful interpretation of the actual. The generation which witnessed
the fall of Napoleon is not the only one which has seen Providence in the
fulfilment of its own desire, and in the storm-cloud of nature and history
has traced with too sanguine gaze the sacred lineaments of human equity and

[Settlement of 1814.]



The Empire of Napoleon had indeed passed away. The conquests won by the
first soldiers of the Republic were lost to France along with all the
latest spoils of its Emperor; but the restoration which was effected in
1814 was no restoration of the political order which had existed on the
Continent before the outbreak of the Revolutionary War. The Powers which
had overthrown Napoleon had been partakers, each in its own season, in the
system of aggrandisement which had obliterated the old frontiers of Europe.
Russia had gained Finland, Bessarabia, and the greater part of Poland;
Austria had won Venice, Dalmatia, and Salzburg; Prussia had received
between the years 1792 and 1806 an extension of territory in Poland and
Northern Germany that more than doubled its area. It was now no part of the
policy of the victorious Courts to reinstate the governments which they had
themselves dispossessed: the settlement of 1814, in so far as it deserved
the name of a restoration, was confined to the territory taken from
Napoleon and from princes of his house. Here, though the claims of
Republics and Ecclesiastical Princes were forgotten, the titles of the old
dynasties were freely recognised. In France itself, in the Spanish
Peninsula, in Holland, Westphalia, Piedmont, and Tuscany, the banished
houses resumed their sovereignty. It cost the Allies nothing to restore
these countries to their hereditary rulers, and it enabled them to describe
the work of 1814 in general terms as the restoration of lawful government
and national independence. But the claims of legitimacy, as well as of
national right, were, as a matter of fact, only remembered where there
existed no motive to disregard them; where they conflicted with
arrangements of policy, they received small consideration. Norway, which
formed part of the Danish monarchy, had been promised by Alexander to
Bernadotte, Crown Prince of Sweden, in 1812, in return for his support
against Napoleon, and the bargain had been ratified by the Allies. As soon
as Napoleon was overthrown, Bernadotte claimed his reward. It was in vain
that the Norwegians, abandoned by their king, declared themselves
independent, and protested against being handed over like a flock of sheep
by the liberators of Europe. The Allies held to their contract; a British
fleet was sent to assist Bernadotte in overpowering his new subjects, and
after a brief resistance the Norwegians found themselves compelled to
submit to their fate (April--Aug., 1814). [198] At the other extremity of
Europe a second of Napoleon's generals still held his throne among the
restored legitimate monarchs. Murat, King of Naples, had forsaken Napoleon
in time to make peace and alliance with Austria. Great Britain, though
entering into a military convention, had not been a party to this treaty;
and it had declared that its own subsequent support of Murat would depend
upon the condition that he should honourably exert himself in Italy against
Napoleon's forces. This condition Murat had not fulfilled. The British
Government was, however, but gradually supplied with proofs of his
treachery; nor was Lord Liverpool, the Prime Minister, inclined to raise
new difficulties at Vienna by pressing the claim of Ferdinand of Sicily to
his territories on the mainland. [199] Talleyrand, on behalf of the
restored Bourbons of Paris, intended to throw all his strength into a
diplomatic attack upon Murat before the end of the Congress; but for the
present Murat's chances seemed to be superior to those of his rival.
Southern Italy thus continued in the hands of a soldier of fortune, who,
unlike Bernadotte, was secretly the friend of Napoleon, and ready to
support him in any attempt to regain his throne.

[Restoration in Westphalia.]

The engagement of the Allies towards Bernadotte, added to the stipulations
of the Peace of Paris, left little to be decided by the Congress of Vienna
beyond the fate of Poland, Saxony, and Naples, and the form of political
union to be established in Germany. It had been agreed that the Congress
should assemble within two months after the signature of the Peace of
Paris: this interval, however, proved to be insufficient, and the autumn
had set in before the first diplomatists arrived at Vienna, and began the
conferences which preceded the formal opening of the Congress. In the
meantime a singular spectacle was offered to Europe by the Courts whose
restoration was the subject of so much official thanksgiving. Before King
Louis XVIII. returned to Paris, the exiled dynasties had regained their
thrones in Northern Germany and in Spain. The process of reaction had begun
in Hanover and in Hesse as soon as the battle of Leipzig had dissolved the
Kingdom of Westphalia and driven Napoleon across the Rhine. Hanover indeed
did not enjoy the bodily presence of its Sovereign: its character was
oligarchical, and the reaction here was more the affair of the privileged
classes than of the Government. In Hesse a prince returned who was the very
embodiment of divine right, a prince who had sturdily fought against French
demagogues in 1792, and over whose stubborn, despotic nature the
revolutions of a whole generation and the loss of his own dominions since
the battle of Jena had passed without leaving a trace. The Elector was
seventy years old when, at the end of the year 1813, his faithful subjects
dragged his carriage in triumph into the streets of Cassel. On the day
after his arrival he gave orders that the Hessian soldiery who had been
sent on furlough after the battle of Jena should present themselves, every
man in the garrison-town where he had stood on the 1st of November, 1806. A
few weeks later all the reforms of the last seven years were swept away
together. The Code Napoleon ceased to be the law of the land; the old
oppressive distinctions of caste, with the special courts for the
privileged orders, came again into force, in defiance of the spirit of the
age. The feudal burdens of the peasantry were revived, the purchasers of
State-lands compelled to relinquish the land without receiving back any of
their purchase-money. The decimal coinage was driven out of the country.
The old system of taxation, with its iniquitous exemptions, was renewed.
All promotions, all grants of rank made by Jerome's Government were
annulled: every officer, every public servant resumed the station which he
had occupied on the 1st of November, 1806. The very pigtails and powder of
the common soldier under the old regime were revived. [200]

[Restoration in Spain.]

The Hessians and their neighbours in North-Western Germany had from of old
been treated with very little ceremony by their rulers; and if they
welcomed back a family which had been accustomed to hire them out at so
much a head to fight against the Hindoos or by the side of the North
American Indians, it only proved that they preferred their native
taskmasters to Jerome Bonaparte and his French crew of revellers and
usurers. The next scene in the European reaction was a far more mournful
one. Ferdinand of Spain had no sooner re-crossed the Pyrenees in the spring
of 1814, than, convinced of his power by the transports of popular
enthusiasm that attended his progress through Northern Spain, he determined
to overthrow the Constitution of 1812, and to re-establish the absolute
monarchy which had existed before the war. The courtiers and ecclesiastics
who gathered round the King dispelled any scruples that he might have felt
in lifting his hand against a settlement accepted by the nation. They
represented to him that the Cortes of 1812--which, whatever their faults,
had been recognised as the legitimate Government of Spain by both England
and Russia--consisted of a handful of desperate men, collected from the
streets of Cadiz, who had taken upon themselves to insult the Crown, to rob
the Church, and to imperil the existence of the Catholic Faith. On the
entry of the King into Valencia, the cathedral clergy expressed the wishes
of their order in the address of homage which they offered to Ferdinand.
"We beg your Majesty," their spokesman concluded, "to take the most
vigorous measures for the restoration of the Inquisition, and of the
ecclesiastical system that existed in Spain before your Majesty's
departure." "These," replied the King, "are my own wishes, and I will not
rest until they are fulfilled." [201]

[Spanish Constitution overthrown.]

The victory of the clergy was soon declared. On the 11th of May the King
issued a manifesto at Valencia, proclaiming the Constitution of 1812 and
every decree of the Cortes null and void, and denouncing the penalties of
high treason against everyone who should defend the Constitution by act,
word, or writing. A variety of promises, made only to be broken,
accompanied this assertion of the rights of the Crown. The King pledged
himself to summon new Cortes as soon as public order should be restored, to
submit the expenditure to the control of the nation, and to maintain
inviolate the security of person and property. It was a significant comment
upon Ferdinand's professions of Liberalism that on the very day on which
the proclamation was issued the censorship of the Press was restored. But
the King had not miscalculated his power over the Spanish people. The same
storm of wild, unreasoning loyalty which had followed Ferdinand's
reappearance in Spain followed the overthrow of the Constitution. The mass
of the Spaniards were ignorant of the very meaning of political liberty:
they adored the King as a savage adores his fetish: their passions were at
the call of a priesthood as brutish and unscrupulous as that which in 1798
had excited the Lazzaroni of Naples against the Republicans of Southern
Italy. No sooner had Ferdinand set the example, by arresting thirty of the
most distinguished of the Liberals, than tumults broke out in every part of
the country against Constitutionalist magistrates and citizens. Mobs,
headed by priests bearing the standard of the Inquisition, destroyed the
tablets erected in honour of the Constitution of 1812, and burned Liberal
writings in bonfires in the market-places. The prisons were filled with men
who, but a short time before, had been the objects of popular adulation.

[The clergy in power.]

Whatever pledges of allegiance had been given to the Constitution of 1812,
it was clear that this Constitution had no real hold on the nation, and
that Ferdinand fulfilled the wish of the majority of Spaniards in
overthrowing it. A wise and energetic sovereign would perhaps have allowed
himself to use this outburst of religious fanaticism for the purpose of
substituting some better order for the imprudent arrangements of 1812.
Ferdinand, an ignorant, hypocritical buffoon, with no more notion of
political justice or generosity than the beasts of the field, could only
substitute for the fallen Cortes a government by palace-favourites and
confessors. It was in vain, that the representatives of Great Britain urged
the King to fulfil his constitutional promises, and to liberate the persons
who had unjustly been thrown into prison. [202] The clergy were masters of
Spain and of the King: their influence daily outweighed even that of
Ferdinand's own Ministers, when, under the pressure of financial necessity,
the Ministers began to offer some resistance to the exorbitant demands of
the priesthood. On the 23rd of May the King signed an edict restoring all
monasteries throughout Spain, and reinstating them in their lands. On the
24th of June the clergy were declared exempt from taxation. On the 21st of
July the Church won its crowning triumph in the re-establishment of the
Inquisition. In the meantime the army was left without pay, in some places
actually without food. The country was at the mercy of bands of guerillas,
who, since the disappearance of the enemy, had turned into common brigands,
and preyed upon their own countrymen. Commerce was extinct; agriculture
abandoned; innumerable villages were lying in ruins; the population was
barbarised by the savage warfare with which for years past it had avenged
its own sufferings upon the invader. Of all the countries of Europe, Spain
was the one in which the events of the Revolutionary epoch seemed to have
left an effect most nearly approaching to unmixed evil.

[Restoration in France.]

In comparison with the reaction in the Spanish Peninsula the reaction in
France was sober and dignified. Louis XVIII. was at least a scholar and a
man of the world. In the old days, among companions whose names were now
almost forgotten, he had revelled in Voltaire and dallied with the
fashionable Liberalism of the time. In his exile he had played the king
with some dignity; he was even believed to have learnt some political
wisdom by his six years' residence in England. If he had not character,
[203] he had at least some tact and some sense of humour; and if not a
profound philosopher, he was at least an accomplished epicurean. He hated
the zealotry of his brother, the Count of Artois. He was more inclined to
quiz the emigrants than to sacrifice anything on their behalf; and the
whole bent of his mind made him but an insincere ally of the priesthood,
who indeed could hardly expect to enjoy such an orgy in France as their
brethren were celebrating in Spain. The King, however, was unable to impart
his own indifference to the emigrants who returned with him, nor had he
imagination enough to identify himself, as King of France, with the
military glories of the nation and with the democratic army that had won
them. Louis held high notions of the royal prerogative: this would not in
itself have prevented him from being a successful ruler, if he had been
capable of governing in the interest of the nation at large. There were few
Republicans remaining in France; the centralised institutions of the Empire
remained in full vigour; and although the last months of Napoleon's rule
had excited among the educated classes a strong spirit of constitutional
opposition, an able and patriotic Bourbon accepting his new position, and
wielding power for the benefit of the people and not of a class, might
perhaps have exercised an authority not much inferior to that possessed by
the Crown before 1789. But Louis, though rational, was inexperienced and
supine. He was ready enough to admit into his Ministry and to retain in
administrative posts throughout the country men who had served under
Napoleon; but when the emigrants and the nobles, led by the Count of
Artois, pushed themselves to the front of the public service, and treated
the restoration of the Bourbons as the victory of their own order, the King
offered but a faint resistance, and allowed the narrowest class-interests
to discredit a monarchy whose own better traditions identified it not with
an aristocracy but with the State.

[The Charta.]

The Constitution promulgated by King Louis XVIII. on the 4th of June, 1814,
and known as the Charta, [204] was well received by the French nation.
Though far less liberal than the Constitution accepted by Louis XVI. in
1791, it gave to the French a measure of representative government to which
they had been strangers under Napoleon. It created two legislative
chambers, the Upper House consisting of peers who were nominated by the
Crown at its pleasure, whether for life-peerages or hereditary dignity; the
Lower House formed by national election, but by election restricted by so
high a property-qualification [205] that not one person in two hundred
possessed a vote. The Crown reserved to itself the sole power of proposing
laws. In spite of this serious limitation of the competence of the two
houses, the Lower Chamber possessed, in its right of refusing taxes and of
discussing and rejecting all measures laid before it, a reality of power
such as no representative body had possessed in France since the beginning
of the Consulate. The Napoleonic nobility was placed on an equality with
the old noblesse of France, though neither enjoyed, as nobles, anything
more than a titular distinction. [206] Purchasers of landed property sold
by the State since the beginning of the Revolution were guaranteed in their
possessions. The principles of religious freedom, of equality before the
law, and of the admissibility of all classes to public employment, which
had taken such deep root during the Republic and the Empire, were declared
to form part of the public law of France; and by the side of these
deeply-cherished rights the Charta of King Louis XVIII. placed, though in a
qualified form, the long-forgotten principle of the freedom of the Press.

[Encroachments of Nobles.]

Under such a Constitution there was little room for the old noblesse to
arrogate to itself any legal superiority over the mass of the French
nation. What was wanting in law might, however, in the opinion of the Count
of Artois and his friends, be effected by administration. Of all the
institutions of France the most thoroughly national and the most thoroughly
democratic was the army; it was accordingly against the army that the
noblesse directed its first efforts. Financial difficulties made a large
reduction in the forces necessary. Fourteen thousand officers and sergeants
were accordingly dismissed on half-pay; but no sooner had this measure of
economy been effected than a multitude of emigrants who had served against
the Republic in the army of the Prince of Condé or in La Vendée were
rewarded with all degrees of military rank. Naval officers who had quitted
the service of France and entered that of its enemies were reinstated with
the rank which they had held in foreign navies. [207] The tricolor, under
which every battle of France had been fought from Jemappes to Montmartre,
was superseded by the white flag of the House of Bourbon, under which no
living soldier had marched to victory. General Dupont, known only by his
capitulation at Baylen in 1808, was appointed Minister of War. The Imperial
Guard was removed from service at the Palace, and the so-called Military
Household of the old Bourbon monarchy revived, with the privileges and the
insignia belonging to the period before 1775. Young nobles who had never
seen a shot fired crowded into this favoured corps, where the musketeer and
the trooper held the rank and the pay of a lieutenant in the army. While in
every village of France some battered soldier of Napoleon cursed the
Government that had driven him from his comrades, the Court revived at
Paris all the details of military ceremonial that could be gathered from
old almanacks, from the records of court-tailors, and from the memories of
decayed gallants. As if to convince the public that nothing had happened
during the last twenty-two years, the aged Marquis de Chansenets, who had
been Governor of the Tuileries on the 10th of August, 1792, and had then
escaped by hiding among the bodies of the dead, [208] resumed his place at
the head of the officers of the Palace.

[Encroachments of the clergy.]

[Growing hostility to the Bourbons.]

These were but petty triumphs for the emigrants and nobles, but they were
sufficient to make the restored monarchy unpopular. Equally injurious was
their behaviour in insulting the families of Napoleon's generals, in
persecuting men who had taken part in the great movement of 1789, and in
intimidating the peasant-owners of land that had been confiscated and sold
by the State. Nor were the priesthood backward in discrediting the
Government of Louis XVIII. in the service of their own order. It might be
vain to think of recovering the Churchlands, or of introducing the
Inquisition into France, but the Court might at least be brought to invest
itself with the odour of sanctity, and the parish-priest might be made as
formidable a person within his own village as the mayor or the agent of the
police-minister. Louis XVIII. was himself sceptical and self-indulgent.
This, however, did not prevent him from publishing a letter to the Bishops
placing his kingdom under the especial protection of the Virgin Mary, and
from escorting the image of the patron-saint through the streets of Paris
in a procession in which Marshal Soult and other regenerate Jacobins of the
Court braved the ridicule of the populace by acting as candle-bearers.
Another sign of the King's submission to the clergy was the publication of
an edict which forbade buying and selling on Sundays and festivals.

Whatever the benefits of a freely-observed day of rest, this enactment,
which was not submitted to the Chambers, passed for an arrogant piece of
interference on the part of the clergy with national habits; and while it
caused no inconvenience to the rich, it inflicted substantial loss upon a
numerous and voluble class of petty traders. The wrongs done to the
French nation by the priests and emigrants who rose to power in 1814 were
indeed the merest trifle in comparison with the wrongs which it had
uncomplainingly borne at the hands of Napoleon. But the glory of the
Empire, the strength and genius of its absolute rule, were gone. In its
place there was a family which had been dissociated from France during
twenty years, which had returned only to ally itself with an unpopular
and dreaded caste, and to prove that even the unexpected warmth with
which it had been welcomed home could not prevent it from becoming, at
the end of a few months, utterly alien and uninteresting. The indifference
of the nation would not have endangered the Bourbon monarchy if the army
had been won over by the King. But here the Court had excited the
bitterest enmity. The accord which for a moment had seemed possible even
to Republicans of the type of Carnot had vanished at a touch. [209]
Rumours of military conspiracies grew stronger with every month.
Wellington, now British Ambassador at Paris, warned his Government of the
changed feeling of the capital, of the gatherings of disbanded officers,
of possible attacks upon the Tuileries. "The truth is," he wrote, "that
the King of France without the army is no King." Wellington saw the more
immediate danger: [210] he failed to see the depth and universality of
the movement passing over France, which before the end of the year 1814
had destroyed the hold of the Bourbon monarchy except in those provinces
where it had always found support, and prepared the nation at large to
welcome back the ruler who so lately seemed to have fallen for ever.

[Congress of Vienna, Sept., 1814.]

Paris and Madrid divided for some months after the conclusion of peace the
attention of the political world. At the end of September the centre of
European interest passed to Vienna. The great council of the Powers, so
long delayed, was at length assembled. The Czar of Russia, the Kings of
Prussia, Denmark, Bavaria, and Würtemberg, and nearly all the statesmen of
eminence in Europe, gathered round the Emperor Francis and his Minister,
Metternich, to whom by common consent the presidency of the Congress was
offered. Lord Castlereagh represented England, and Talleyrand France.
Rasumoffsky and other Russian diplomatists acted under the immediate
directions of their master, who on some occasions even entered into
personal correspondence with the Ministers of the other Powers.
Hardenberg stood in a somewhat freer relation to King Frederick William;
Stein was present, but without official place. The subordinate envoys and
attaches of the greater Courts, added to a host of petty princes and the
representatives who came from the minor Powers, or from communities which
had ceased to possess any political existence at all, crowded Vienna. In
order to relieve the antagonisms which had already come too clearly into
view, Metternich determined to entertain his visitors in the most
magnificent fashion; and although the Austrian State was bankrupt, and in
some districts the people were severely suffering, a sum of about £10,000
a day was for some time devoted to this purpose. The splendour and the
gaieties of Metternich were emulated by his guests; and the guardians of
Europe enjoyed or endured for months together a succession of fêtes,
banquets, dances, and excursions, varied, through the zeal of Talleyrand
to ingratiate himself with his new master, by a Mass of great solemnity
on the anniversary of the execution of Louis XVI. [211] One incident
lights the faded and insipid record of vanished pageants and defunct
gallantries. Beethoven was in Vienna. The Government placed the great
Assembly-rooms at his disposal, and enabled the composer to gratify a
harmless humour by sending invitations in his own name to each of the
Sovereigns and grandees then in Vienna. Much personal homage, some
substantial kindness from these gaudy creatures of the hour, made the
period of the Congress a bright page in that wayward and afflicted life
whose poverty has enriched mankind with such immortal gifts.

[Talleyrand and the four Powers.]

The Congress had need of its distractions, for the difficulties which faced
it were so great that, even after the arrival of the Sovereigns, it was
found necessary to postpone the opening of the regular sittings until
November. By the secret articles of the Peace of Paris, the Allies had
reserved to themselves the disposal of all vacant territory, although their
conclusions required to be formally sanctioned by the Congress at large.
The Ministers of Austria, England, Prussia, and Russia accordingly
determined at the outset to decide upon all territorial questions among
themselves, and only after their decisions were completely formed to submit
them to France and the other Powers. [212] Talleyrand, on hearing of this
arrangement, protested that France itself was now one of the Allies, and
demanded that the whole body of European States should at once meet in open
Congress. The four Courts held to their determination, and began their
preliminary sittings without Talleyrand. But the French statesman had,
under the form of a paradox, really stated the true political situation.
The greater Powers were so deeply divided in their aims that their old bond
of common interest, the interest of union against France, was now less
powerful than the impulse that made them seek the support of France against
one another. Two men had come to the Congress with a definite aim:
Alexander had resolved to gain the Duchy of Warsaw, and to form it, with or
without some part of Russian Poland, into a Polish kingdom, attached to his
own crown: Talleyrand had determined, either on the question of Poland, or
on the question of Saxony, which arose out of it, to break allied Europe
into halves, and to range France by the side of two of the great Powers
against the two others. The course of events favoured for a while the
design of the Minister: Talleyrand himself prosecuted his plan with an
ability which, but for the untimely return of Napoleon from Elba, would
have left France, without a war, the arbiter and the leading Power of

[Polish question.]

Since the Russian victories of 1812, the Emperor Alexander had made no
secret of his intention to restore a Polish Kingdom and a Polish
nationality. [213] Like many other designs of this prince, the project
combined a keen desire for personal glorification with a real generosity of
feeling. Alexander was thoroughly sincere in his wish not only to make the
Poles again a people, but to give them a Parliament and a free
Constitution. The King of Poland, however, was to be no independent prince,
but Alexander himself: although the Duchy of Warsaw, the chief if not the
sole component of the proposed new kingdom, had belonged to Austria and
Prussia after the last partition of Poland, and extended into the heart of
the Prussian monarchy. Alexander insisted on his anxiety to atone for the
crime of Catherine in dismembering Poland: the atonement, however, was to
be made at the sole cost of those whom Catherine had allowed to share the
booty. Among the other Governments, the Ministry of Great Britain would
gladly have seen a Polish State established in a really independent form;
[214] failing this, it desired that the Duchy of Warsaw should be divided,
as formerly, between Austria and Prussia. Metternich was anxious that the
fortress of Cracow, at any rate, should not fall into the hands of the
Czar. Stein and Hardenberg, and even Alexander's own Russian counsellors,
earnestly opposed the Czar's project, not only on account of the claims of
Prussia on Warsaw, but from dread of the agitation likely to be produced by
a Polish Parliament among all Poles outside the new State. King Frederick
William, however, was unaccustomed to dispute the wishes of his ally; and
the Czar's offer of Saxony in substitution for Warsaw gave to the Prussian
Ministers, who were more in earnest than their master, at least the
prospect of receiving a valuable equivalent for what they might surrender.

[Saxon question.]

By the Treaty of Kalisch, made when Prussia united its arms with those of
Russia against Napoleon (Feb. 27th, 1813), the Czar had undertaken to
restore the Prussian monarchy to an extent equal to that which it had
possessed in 1805. It was known before the opening of the Congress that the
Czar proposed to do this by handing over to King Frederick William the
whole of Saxony, whose Sovereign, unlike his colleagues in the Rhenish
Confederacy, had supported Napoleon up to his final overthrow at Leipzig.
Since that time the King of Saxony had been held a prisoner, and his
dominions had been occupied by the Allies. The Saxon question had thus
already gained the attention of all the European Governments, and each of
the Ministers now at Vienna brought with him some more or less distinct
view upon the subject. Castlereagh, who was instructed to foster the union
of Prussia and Austria against Alexander's threatening ambition, was
willing that Prussia should annex Saxony if in return it would assist him
in keeping Russia out of Warsaw: [215] Metternich disliked the annexation,
but offered no serious objection, provided that in Western Germany Prussia
would keep to the north of the Main: Talleyrand alone made the defence of
the King of Saxony the very centre of his policy, and subordinated all
other aims to this. His instructions, like those of Castlereagh, gave
priority to the Polish question; [216] but Talleyrand saw that Saxony, not
Poland, was the lever by which he could throw half of Europe on to the side
of France; and before the four Allied Courts had come to any single
conclusion, the French statesman had succeeded, on what at first passed for
a subordinate point, in breaking up their concert.

[Talleyrand's action on Saxony.]

For a while the Ministers of Austria, Prussia, and England appeared to be
acting in harmony; and throughout the month of October all three
endeavoured to shake the purpose of Alexander regarding Warsaw. [217]
Talleyrand, however, foresaw that the efforts of Prussia in this direction
would not last very long, and he wrote to Louis XVIII. asking for his
permission to make a definite offer of armed assistance to Austria in case
of need. Events took the turn which Talleyrand expected. Early in November
the King of Prussia completely yielded to Alexander, and ordered Hardenberg
to withdraw his opposition to the Russian project. Metternich thus found

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