1902 Encyclopedia > Napoleon I > Decline and Fall of Napoleon

Decline and Fall of Napoleon

Arrived now at the pinnacle, Napoleon pauses, as he had paused after Marengo. We are disposed to ask, what use will he now make of his boundless power? It was a question he never considered, because the object he had set before himself in 1803 was not yet attained; he was not in the least satiated, because, much as he had gained, he had not gained what he sought, that is, the humiliation of England. As after Tilsit, so after Schonbrunn, he only asks, How may the new resources be best directed against England? Yet he did not, as we might expect, devote himself to crushing the resistance of the Peninsula. This he seems to have regarded with a mixed feeling of contempt and despair, not knowing how to overcome it, and persuading himself that it was not worth a serious effort. Her persisted in saying that the only serious element in the Spanish opposition was the English army; this would fall with England herself; and England, he thought, was on the point of yielding to the blockade of the continental system. He devotes himself henceforth therefore to heightening the rigor of this blockade. From the beginning it had led to continual annexations, because only Napoleon’s own administration could be trusted to carry it into effect. Accordingly the two years 1810-11 witness a series of annexations chiefly on the northern sea-coast of Europe, where it was important to make the blockade more efficient. But on this northern sea-coast lay the chief interests of Russia. As therefore in 1805 he had brought Austria and Russia on himself by attacking England, so in 1810 he presses his hostility to England to the point that it breaks the alliance of Tilsit and leads to a Russian war.

The year 1810 is occupied with this heightening of the continental system and the annexations which it involved. That he had long contemplated the annexation of Holland. Appears from the offer of the crown of Spain which he made to Louis in 1808, and the language he ten used ("La Hollande ne saura sortir de ses ruines"). He now took advantage of the resistance which Louis made to his ruinous exactions. Louis was driven to abdicate, and the country was organized in nine French departments. In August the troops of the king of Westphalia were forced to make way for French troops at the mouths of the Elbe and Weser; and a few months later the whole coast between the Rhine and the Elbe was annexed. At the same time Napoleon began to make war on neutral commerce, especially American, affirming that in order to complete the destruction of English trade it was only necessary to prohibit it when it made use of neutral bottoms. So thoroughly in earnest was he with his Continental system; and indeed it is beyond dispute that great distress and discontent, nay, at last a war with United States, were inflicted upon England by this policy.

But the pressure of it was felt even more on the Continent, and the ultimate cause of the fall of Napoleon was this, that under the weight of the Continental system the alliance of Tilsit broke down sooner than the resistance of England. That alliance had been seriously weakened by the Austrian marriage, and by Napoleon’s refusal to give the guarantees which Russia required that Poland should never be restored. Indeed Napoleon had seemed to take pleasure in weakening it, but perhaps he had only desired to make it less burdensome to himself without destroying it. At the end of 1810 measures were taken on both sides which conveyed the impression to Europe that it was practically at an end. Alexander refused to adopt Napoleon’s policy towards neutrals; Napoleon answered by annexing Oldenburg, ruled by a duke of the Russian house; Alexander rejoined by an ukase (December 31st) which modified the restrictions on colonial trade and heightened on French trade.

In 1811 the alliance of Tilsit gradually dissolves. Napoleon’s Russian expedition is hardly to be regarded as a freak of insane pride. He himself regarded it as the unfortunate effect of a fatality, and he betrayed throughout an unwonted reluctance and perplexity. The truth is, he could not now stop. Upon the Continental system he had staked everything. He had united all Europe in the crusade against England, and no state, least of all such a states as Russia, could withdraw from the system without practically joining England. Nevertheless we may wonder that, if he felt obliged to make war on Russia, he should have chosen to wage it in the manner he did, by an overwhelming invasion. For an ordinary war his resources were greatly superior to those of Russia. A campaign on the Lithuanian frontier would no doubt have been unfavorable to Alexander, and might have forced him to concede the points at issue. Napoleon had already experienced in Spain the danger of rousing national spirit. It seems, however, that this lesson had been lost on him, and that he still lived in the ideas which the campaigns of 1805, 1806, and 1807 had awakened, when he had occupied Vienna and Berlin in succession, overthrown the Holy Roman Empire, and conquered Prussia. He makes a dispute about tariffs the ground of the greatest military expedition known to authentic theory! In this we see a stroke of his favorite policy, which consisted in taking with great suddenness a measure far more decisive than had been expected; but such policy seems here to have been wholly out of place. He was perhaps partly driven to it by the ill-success of his diplomacy. War with France meant for Russia sooner or later alliance with England, but Napoleon was not able to get the help of Turkey, and Sweden joined Russia. Turkey had probably heard of the partition-schemes which were agitated at Tilsit, and was also influenced by the threats and promises of England. Sweden suffered grievously from the Continental system, and Bernadotte, who had lately become crown prince, and who felt that he could only secure his position by procuring for Sweden some compensation for the recent loss of Finland, offered his adhesion to the power which would help him in acquiring Norway. Napoleon declined to rob his ally, Denmark, but Alexander made the promise, and Sweden was won. Against Russia, Sweden, and England (a coalition which formed itself but tardily) Napoleon assembled the forces of France, Italy, and Germany, and hoped to win, as usual, by the rapid concentration of an overwhelming force. The army with which he invaded Russia consisted of somewhat more than 600,000 men,- the French troops mainly commanded by Davoust, Oudinot, and Ney, the Italian troops by Prince Eugene, the Poles by Poniatowski, the Ausrtian contingent (33,000 men) by Schwarzenberg, the remaining German troops by Gouvion St Cyr. Reynier, Vandamme, Victor, Macdonald (who had the Prussian contingent), and Augereau. When we consider that the war of the Peninsula was at the same time at its height, and that England was now at war with the United States, we may form a notion of the calamitous condition of the world!

Russia had been easily defeated at Australitz and Friedland, where it fought far from home for a cause in which it was but slightly interested. Against an invasion it was an invincible as Spain, being strengthened by a profound national religion and perfect loyalty to the Government; in addition it had the strength of its vast extents, its rigorous climate, and the half-nomad habits of its people. By his prodigious preparations Napoleon provoked a new national war under the most difficult circumstance, and yet he appears to have desired peace and to have advanced most reluctantly. His campaign runs the same course as against Austria in 1805 and 1809. There is the successful advance, the capture of the fortress (Smolensk), the great victory (at Borodino), the entry into the capital (Moscow); but of all this no result. No negotiation follows, and Napoleon suddenly finds himself helpless, as perhaps he would have done in 1805 and 1809, had the enemy shown the same firmness. On May 16, 1812, he arrived with Marie Louise at Dresden, where for the last time he appeared as king of kings,-the emperor of Austria, the king of Prussia, a multitude of German sovereigns, Metternich, and Hardenberg paying court to him. On the 28th he set out again and traveled by Glogau, Thorn, Dantzic, Konigsberg, Gumbinnen, to Wilkowyski, where he arrived on June 21st. On the 24th the mass of the army passed the Niemen at Kovno, and on the 28th Napoleon entered Vilna, which was evacuated by the Russians. Here he remained till July 16th. In this long delay, as well as in other circumstances, the unwonted perplexity of his mind appears. Alexander, who had by this time gained greatly in decision of character, refuses to negotiate while the enemy stands on Russian territory; Napoleon in conversation with Balacheff shows an almost pathetic desire for an amicable arrangement. He is embarrassed again when a deputation from Warsaw, where a diet had met bids him only say that "Poland exists, since his decree would be for the world equivalent to the reality." This word he declines to say, alleging his obligations to Austria. From his conversations with Narbonne (Vilemain, Sourvenirs) we find that he had deliberately considered and rejected what we may call the rational mode of waging war with Russia, that is, through the restoration of Poland. He admitted that he might indemnify Austria and, if necessary, Prussia elsewhere, but he argued that he could not afford to open the floodgates of republicanism; "Poland must be a camp, not a forum." He had in fact-perhaps mainly since his second marriage-come to regard himself as the representative of legitimacy against the Revolution. It was thus with his eyes open that he preferred the fatal course of striking at Moscow. His judgment was evidently bewildered by the successes of 1805 and 1806, and he indulges in chimerical imaginations of delivering Europe once for all from the danger of barbaric invasion. It is to be observed that he seems invariably to think of the Russians as Tartars!

In relating this war we have to beware of national exaggerations on both sides. On Napoleon’s side it is absurdly said that he was only vanquished by winter, whereas it is evident that he brought the winter upon himself, first by beginning so late, then by repeated delays, at Vilna, at Vitebsk, and most of all at Moscow. On the other side we must not admit absolutely the Russian story that he was lured onward by a Parthian policy, and that Moscow was sacrificed by a solemn universal act of patriotism. Wellington’s policy of retrograde movements had indeed come into fashion among specialists, and an entrenched camp was preparing at Drissa on the Dwina in imitation of Torres Vedras. But the nation and the army were full of reckless confidence and impatience for battle; only their preparations were by no means complete. The long retreat to Moscow and beyond it was unintentional, and filled the Russians with despair, while at the same time it agreed with the views of some of the more enlightened strategist.

As usual, Napoleon took the enemy by surprise, and brought an overwhelming force to the critical point. When he crossed the Niemen the Russians were still thinking of an offensive war, and rumors had also been spread that he would enter Colhynia. Hence their force was divided into three armies: one, commanded by the Livonian Barclay de Tolly, had its headquarters at Vilna, a second under Prince Bagration was further south at Volkwysk, the third under Tormaseff was in Volhynia. But the total of these armies scarcely amounted to 200,000 men, and that of Barclay de Tolly opposed little more than 100,000 to the main body of Napoleon’s host, which amounted nearly to 300,000. Hence it evacuates Vilna and retires by Svenziany to the camp at Drissa. Barclay arrives at Drissa on July 9th, and here for the first time the emperor and the generals seem to realize the extent of the danger. Alexander issues an ukase calling out the population in the proportion of five to every hundred males, and hurries to Moscow and thence to St Petersburg in order to rouse the national enthusiasm. The Drissa camp is also perceived to be untenable. It had been intended to screen St Petersburg, and Napoleon is seen to look rather in the direction of Moscow. Barclay retires to Vitebsk, but is obliged, in order to effect his junction with Bagration, to retreat still further, and Napoleon enters Vitebsk on the 28th. The road to Moscow passes between the Dwina, which flows northward, and the Dnieper, which flows southward, Vitebsk on the one river and Smolensk on the other forming, as it were, the two doorposts. We expect to find Napoleon at this point cutting the hostile armies in two and compelling that of Bagration to a surrender; he has a great surrender; he has a great superiority of numbers, and he might have had the advantage of a friendly population. But his host seems unmanageable, and the people are estranged supplies. Barclay and Bagration effect their junction at Smolensk on August 3d, and now have a compact army of at least 120,000 men. They evacuated Smolensk also on the 18th, but only after an obstinate defence which left Napoleon master of nothing but a burning ruin.

Both at Vitebsk and Smolensk be betrayed the extreme embarrassment of his mind. Should be go into winter quarters? Should he press forward to Moscow? It was a choice of desperate courses. His army was dwindling away; he had forfeited the support of the Poles; Germany was full of discontent; and yet a large part of his army was Polish or German; how could he delay? And yet if he advanced, since August was already running out, he must encounter the Russian winter. He determined to advance, relying on the overwhelming effect that would be produced by the occupation of Moscow. He would win, as after Austrerlitz and Friedland, through the feeblesness and fickleness of Alexander.

Meanwhile his unresisted progress, and the abandonment by Barclay of one position after another, created the greatest consternation among the Russians, as well they might. Barclay was a German, and might well seem another Melas or Mack. A cry arose for his dismissal, to which the czar responded by putting old Kutusoff, who was at least a Russian, at the head of all his armies. This change necessarily brought on a great battle, which took place on September 6th near the village of Borodino. More than 100,000 men and about six hundred pieces of artillery were engaged on each side. It ended in a victory, but an almost fruitless victory, for the French. They lost perhaps 30,000 men, including Generals Montburn and Caulaincourt, the Russians nearly 50,000, including Prince bargation. Here again Napoleon displayed unwonted indecision. He refused to let loose his guard, consisting of 20,000 fresh troops, who might apparently have effected the complete dissolution of the hostile army, and materially altered the whole sequel of the campaign. He said, "At 800 leagues from Paris one must not risk one’s last reserve."

This battle, the greatest after Leipsic of all the Napoleonic battles, was followed by the occupation of Moscow on September 14, which, to Napoleon’s great disappointment was found almost entirely empty. After a council of war held at Fili, Kutusoff had taken the resolution to abandon the old capital, the loss of which was held not to be so irreparable as the loss of the army. But, as with Old Russian craft he had announced Borodino to the emperor as a victory, the sensation produced upon the Russian public by the fall of Moscow wall all the more overwhelming. Nor did the next occurrence, which immediately followed, at first bring any relief. Fires broke out in Moscow on the night after Napoleon’s entrance; on the next night, by which time he was quartered in the Kremlin, the greater part of the city was in flames, and on the day following he was forced by the progress of the conflagration to evaluate the Kremlin again. But on the first intelligence of this catastrophe the destruction of Moscow was attributed in Russia to the French themselves, and was not by means regarded as a crushing blow dealt at Napoleon by Russian patriotism.

It is indeed not clear that this event had any decisive influence upon the result of the war. Nor does it seem to have been the deliberate work of the patriotism of Moscow. The beginner of it was one man, Count Rostopchin, governor of Moscow, who is show by many public utterances to have brooded for some time over the thought, and is proved to have made preparations for carrying it into effect before leaving the town. It is, however, supposed that what was begun by him was completed by a rabble which had no object but plunder, and partly by French soldiers. The immediate effect of it was to deepen the alarm of the Russians, and, when, this feeling passed away, to deepen their hatred of the French. Now came the critical moment. Would Alexander negotiate? That is, would he listen to certain timid courtiers about him, such as Romanzoff, or would he be inspired by the patriotic ardor of his people and lean on his nobler counselors, the German patriot Stein or Sir Robert Wilson? The pressure for a moment was great; we can imagine that had the Russian army been dissolved at Borodino it might have been irresistible. But he stood firm; he refused to negotiate; and Napoleon suddenly found that he had before him, not the simple problem he had solved so often in earlier life, but the insoluble puzzle he had first encountered in Spain. His failures in Egypt and in Spain had been more or less disguised. He was now in danger of a failure which could not be concealed, and on a far larger scale; but had he retreated forthwith and wintered in Vilna, where he might have arrived early in November, the conquest of Russia might have seemed only to be postponed for a year. Instead of this he delayed five weeks in Moscow, and then complained of the Russian winter1 After planning a demonstration on St Petersburg, weighing Daru’s scheme of wintering in Moscow (which he called "un conseil de lion"), and waiting in vain for the czar’s submission, he set out on October 18th after blowing up the Kremlin. He marched southward to Kaluga, hoping to make his way through a richer and unexhausted country. But while his force had dwindled the Russian had increased. Peace with Sweden had released a Russian force in Finland; peace with Turkey released the army of the Danube; meanwhile levies were proceeding through the whole empire. Napoleon’s plan was frustrated by a check he received at Malojaroslavetz, and he had to turn northward again and return as he had come. He reached Smolenks on November 9th, when he might have been at Vilna. He marched by orcza to the Berezina, which he struck near Borisoff. Here Tchitchagoff at the head of the Danube army con fronted him, and two other Rusian armies were approaching. Napoleon on his side was joined by what remained of the corps of Oudinot and Victor, who had held the line of the Dwina. But was the army of Napoleon which was thus reinforced?

In July it had consisted of more than 250,000 men. It had suffered no decisive defeat, and yet it amounted now only to 12,000; in the retreat from Moscow alone about 90,000 had been lost. The force which now joined it amounted to 18,000, and Napoleon’s star had still influence enough to enable him to make his way across the Berezina, and so escape total ruin and captivity. But December came on, and the cold was more terrible than ever. On the evening of December 6th a miserable throng, like a crowd of beggars, tottered into Vilna.

The corps of Macdonald, Reynier, and Schwarzenberg (among whom were included the Austrian and Prussian contingents) had escaped destruction, having been posted partly on the Polish frontier partly in the Baltic provinces. For these we may deduct 100,000 from the total force; it then appears that half a million had Perished or disappeared. They had perished not by unexpected cold; "the cold had but finished the work of dissolution and death almost accomplished by the enemy, by hardship, and especially by hunger" (Charras); nor is cold unusual in Russia in November! Napoleon’s error was one which may be traced as clearly in the campaigns of 1805 and 1806, the error of making no provision whatever for the case of ill-success or even success less than complete. It was now the twentieth year that Europe was tearing itself to pieces. For some years past the pretence of Revolutionary principles had been given up. there was now no pretext for war except the so-called maritime tyranny of England; but yet the magnitude of wars had increased beyond all measurement. The campaign of 1812 left everything in civilized history far behind it. All the abuses of the old monarchy and all the atrocities of the Revolution put together were as nothing compared to this new plague, bred between the Revolution and the old monarchy, having the violence of the one and the vainglory of the other, with a barbarous destructiveness peculiar to imperialism superadded.

But what was Napoleon’s position? Any Government but the strongest would have sunk under such a blow, but Napoleon’s Government was the strongest, and at its strongest moment. Opposition had long been dead; public opinion was paralyzed; no immediate rising was to be feared. Should be then simply take the lesson home, and make peace with Alexander? This was impossible; he must efface the disaster by new triumphs. But, as this was evident to all, Alexander could not perceive that he must not lose a moment, but must hasten forward and rouse Germany before Napoleon should have had time to levy a new army. 1813 must be filled with a war in Germany, as 1812 with the war in Russia.

Napoleon left the wreck of his army at Smorgoni on December 5 9as he had left his Egyptian army thirteen years before), traveling in a carriage placed upon a sledge and accompanied by Caulaincourt and Duroc. He had an interview with Maret outside Vilna, and then traveled to Warsaw, where he saw his ambassador De Pradt, who has left an account of his confused talk. Here, as in the famous 29th bulletin, published a little after, we observe that the consoles himself for the loss of his army by reflecting that his own health was never better-he kept on repeating this. Then he said, "From the sublime to the ridiculous there is but a step"; for the retreat from Moscow strikes him as ridiculous! From Warsaw he passed to Dresden, where he saw his ally the king of Saxony, and wrote letters to the emperor of Austria and to the king of Prussia. He then made his way by Erfurt and Mainz to Paris, where he arrived on December 18th. The bulletin had appeared two days before.

He had said to De Pradt that he intended to raise 300,000 men and be on the Niemen again in the spring. The first part of this intention he fulfilled, for in April he reappeared in the field with 300,000 men; but the campaign was fought not on the line of the Niemen, nor of the Vistula, nor of the Oder, and he had no fight a battle befoee he could even reach the Elbe. For a great event took place less than a fornight after his arrival in Paris, the defection of the Prussian contingent under York from the grand army; this event led to the rising of Prussia against Napoleon. York’s convention with the Russians is dated December 30th. On January 22, 1813, Stein appeared at Konigsberg and procured the assembling of the estates of East Prussia, in which assembly the Prussian landwehr was set on foot. On February 27th he concluded for the czar the treaty of Kalisch with Prussia, by which the old Coalition of 1806 may be said to have been revived. Prussia now rushed to arms in a wholly new spirit, emulating Spain and Russia in devotion, and adding to devotion an intelligence peculiar to herself. At the same time measures were taken to break up the Confederation of the Rhine. Tettenborn cleared the French out of the northern departments in March; Saxony too passed into the hands of the allies, and it was hoped that the king himself might be induced to follow the example of the king of Prussia. But April came, and Napoleon took the field again,

By rapidity and energy he was still able to take the offensive. Though Russia and Prussia were now as Spain, yet the process of calling out and drilling their population was only just begun, and it proceeded slowly. Their united available force at the opening of the campaign scarcely exceeded 100,000 men. Austria and the middle states did not abandon Napoleon. With tact and with judicious concession he might yet retrieve his position; perhaps no one, as yet, had begun to think of his fall. He left Paris for Mainz on April 15th. His object was Saxony, where Dresden, the scene of his last display of omnipotence les than a year ago, was now the residence of the czar and the king of Prussia united against him. Eugene was maintaining himself on the lower Salle with an army of about 70,000 men, and Napoleon was to march by way of Erfurt to join him. Between Erfurt, Bamberg, and Mainz he had by this time about 150,000 men, troops indeed without discipline and with imperfect drill, youths, the last hope of France, but well officered and not wanting in the enthusiasm which his name still inspired. There was, however, a serious deficiency of cavalry. Mean while Davoust, stationed on the Weser with 30,000 men, was holding down the insurrection of North Germany.

The war which now commenced ended not only to the disadvantage of Napoleon, but unlike any former war it ended in a complete defeat of France, may, in the conquest of France, an event to which nothing parallel had been seen in modern Europe. Nor was this result attained by any political or revolutionary means e.g., by exciting a republican or Bourbon party against Napoleon’s authority, but by sheer military superiority. The causes of this remarkable result must be noted as we proceed. Meanwhile we remark that the war, though technically one, is really three distinct wars. There is first the war with Russia and Prussia which occupies the month of May, and is concluded by an armistice on June 4th. There is next a war with Russia, Prussia, and Austria, which begins in August and is practically terminated in October by the expulsion of Napoleon from Germany. Thirdly, there is an invasion of France by the same allied powers. This began in January 1814, and ended in April with the fall of Napoleon.

In the first of these wars Napoleon maintained on the whole his old superiority. It has excited needless admiration that with his raw levies he should still have been able to win victories, since of his two enemies Russia had suffered as much as himself in 1812, and Prussia’s army was at the beginning of the year actually to make. In the first days of May he advanced down the valley of the Saale, making for Leipsic by Naumburg, Weissenfels, and Lutzen. On the 2d was fought the battle commonly called from Lutzen, though the Germans usually name it from the village of Gross-Gorschen. By this battle, in which the great military reformer of Prussia, Scharnhorst, received the woundof which he died soon after, the allies were driven to retreat across the Elbe, and Dresden was restored to the king of Saxony. The Prussians attribute their ill-success partly to the insufficiency of the Russian commander Wittgenstein, under whom they fought. Napoleon soon pursued the allies across the Elbe, and another battle was fought on May 20 and 21 at Bautzen on the Spree. Here again Napoleon remained master of the field, though his loss seems to have been considerably greater than that of the enemy. The allies retired into Silegia, and a pause took place, which led to the armistice of Poischwitz, signed on June 4th. During this armistice Napoleon formed the resolution which led to his downfall.

He might seem now to have almost retrieved his losses. If he could not revive the great army of the Revolution which lay buried (or unburied) in Russia, he had reasserted the ascendancy of France. Politically he had suffered but one substantial loss, in the rebellion of Prussia. The blows of Lutzen and bautzen had arrested the movement which threatened to dissolve the Confederation of the Rhine and to unite all Germany against him. They had also shaken the alliance of Prussia and Russia. Between the generals of the two armies there reigned much jealousy; the old question, raised after Austerlitz and Friedland, was beginning to be asked again by the Russians, Why should they fight for others.

At Tilsit Napoleon had dissolved the Coalition by forming as it were a partnership with Russia. It might seem possible now to form a similar partnership with Austria. This course had indeed been entered upon at the marriage of the archduchess. Napoleon seems to have taken this alliance seriously. He conceived it as the final suppression of the revolution, as a complete adhesion on his own part to conservatism. The language of the bulletin at this time is ultra-conservative. Thus the enemy is described as ‘preaching anarchy and insurrection." Stein is charged with :rousing the rabble against proprietors." But, though he had borrowed the Austrian tone, he had not yet enlisted Austrian interests on his side. It was evidently in his power to confer on Austria the greatest advantages, and, as it were, to divide his power with her. Less than this he could not offer, since the losses of France and Russia had given to Austria a decisive weight, but it might seem that he might offer it without much humiliation, as the alliance with Austria had subsisted since 1810 and had been cemented by marriage. If he did not thus with Austria, he might expect her to adhere to the other side, for in such a crisis neutrality was out of the question. Could Napoleon then hope to overcome a quadruple alliance of England, Russia, Prussia, and Austria? Such a hope was not justified by the victories of Lutzen and Bautzen. The force of Prussia increased every day, and the Spanish enthusiasm with which her new army fought had been displayed even on those fields; the force of Asutria had been impaired by no Russian campaign; while France was evidently near the end of her resources. The legerdemain by which, in 1800, 1805, 1806, Napoleon had made conquests was now worn out; his blows were no longer followed by adjacent submission and surrender; he was not even able, for want of cavalry, to make his victories decisive. Thus ample concessions to Austria were indispensable’ but, these assumed, his position might seem good.

He took the momentous resolution to make no such concessions, saw Austria join the Coalition, and after a campaign of two months found himself driven in tumultuous ruin across the Rhine. This step is the counterpart of Tilsit, and destroyed the work of Tilsit. Was he simply blinded by passion? His language might lead us to think so. Austria was the state which he had oftenest defeated, and he seems to have been unable to regard it with the respect which he had shown to Russia at Tilsit. From the beginning of 1813 we find him calculating indeed on the help of Austria, and fully recognizing the importance of her alliance, yet indignant at the very thought of having to pay for it. He would prefer to make advances to his enemy Russia rather than give his ally Austria any equality with himself in the alliance. Austria on her part seems disposed to be faithful to him. She begins by adhering to the substance of her treaty of March 1812, but requiring certain modifications in it. Napoleon must withdraw from north-west Germany, dissolve the duchy of Warsaw, cede Illyria, perhaps also dissolve the Confederation of the Rhine. But on the last point she might probably have given way, so that Napoleon, already victorious against Russia and Prussia, might now, without yielding any substantial part of his power, have checkmated another Coalition by the help of Austria. Nevertheless it seems as if Napoleon, though this course was open to him for several months, was not for a moment attracted by it, though the clamor for peace which his own army and his own marshals raised compelled him to profess to take it into consideration. He continued deliberately to contemplate in preference a war against Russia, Prussia, and Austria united, and regarded the armistice simply as a delay which would enable him to bring up new forces. Austria on her part was gradually convinced that no concession was to be obtained from him, and drifted towards the decisive resolution which she could not avoid. Metternich has left us an account of the interview, lasting ten hours, which he had with Napoleon on June 28, in the Marcolini palace at Dresden. We see in it Napoleon’s contempt for a power he has so often defeated, his inability to believe that it has still spirit to resist; at the same time we become aware that he believes himself to be necessary to the Austrian emperor, as being the bulwark of all thrones and of monarchy itself against the Revolution. Metternich can hardly have imagined the famous dramatic trait where Napoleon, on being told that his troops were "not soldiers, but children," answered, turning pale- "You are no soldier; you do now know what passes in a soldier’s mind; I grew up in the field, and a man like me troubles himself little about the life of a million of men" (the actual expression he used, adds Metternich, cannot be reported), and then flung his hat into a corner of the room. That this was a true description of his way of thinking had become visible to most since the Russian catastrophe, and the audacious frankness with which he blurts it out is quite in his characteristic manner.

When this interview took place, a treaty had just been signed at Reichenbach by which Austria had engaged, as mediating power, formally to offer conditions of peace to Napoleon and to declare war on him in case of refusal. She proceeded to offer the conditions above mentioned with the exception of that which refers to the Confederation of the Rhine. A congress met at Prague in the course of July, but Napoleon did not allow its deliberations to make serious progress. He paid no attention to an ultimatum presented on August 8th. On midnight of August 10-11 the armistice was declared to be at an end, and the doom of Napoleon was sealed. It was a strange decision on his part, but perhaps he judged rightly that he had no choice but between ruin and absolute, impossible victory!

Europe now plunges again into a struggle as desperate and as destructive as that of 1812. more evidently even than in 1812 is Napoleon responsible for this ruin of all civilization. He cannot any longer speak even of the liberty of the seas, for he is forced himself to admit that the Continental system is dead, and yet refuses to surrender that ascendancy for which the Continental system had all along been the pretext. Infatuated France, however, has by this time furnished more than 400,000 men to perish in a contest where there might be chances, but could be no probabilities, of victory. His headquarters are now at Dresden, and his armies are arranged along the whole course of the Elbe from Bohemia to its mouth. This position has been somewhat weakened by the adhesion of Austria to the Coalition, for Austria masses her troops on the north-west of Bohemia, threatening Dresden and Napoleon’s communications from the left side of the Elbe. The force of the allies (approaching 500,000 men) consists of three great armies, of which the first, principally Austrian, and commanded by Prince Schwarzenberg, is stationed on the Eger in Bohemia; the sovereigns are here. The old Prusso-Russian army, which had made the convention of Poischwitz, is still in Silesia. It contains more Russians than Prussians, but a Prussian officer is now put at the head of it. This is Blucher, the dashing general of hussars, now an old man of seventy years; on his staff are some of the leading theorists and enthusiasts of the Prussian army, such as Gneisenau. But the bulk of the Prussian force is stationed in the mark of Brandenburg. In this final muster of the armies of Europe we see that moral forces have passed over from France to the allies. In the French camp there reigns weariness and desire for peace, among the Prussians and Russians heroic ardor and devotion. But the old mismanagement reappears on the side of the allies. In the Bohemian camp Schwarzenberg’s authority was almost annulled by the presence of the sovereigns; in Silesia the heroic Prussian general is in command of an army mainly Russian. But in the mark perhaps the greatest blunder was made, for here the main Prussian force was put under the orders of the crown prince of Sweden, the Frenchman Bernadotte, wholly alien to the German cause, and bent upon propitiating French public opinion with a view to the succession of Napoleon. Bernadotte is not the only member of the old republican opposition who is seen in the allied camp now that napoleon’s fall begins to be thought of as possible. Moreau, the man who helped in 1799 to found the consulate, desiring probably to see France ruled by a series of Washingtons each holding office for a short term, appears in the Austrian camp. It Napoleon was to be dethroned, who had a better right to succeed him?

The campaign opens with a blow aimed at Berlin, where perhaps Napoleon wished to extinguished the popular insurrection at its source. Oudinot marches on it from Baruth, and is supported by a force from Magdeburg; Davoust sends another corps from Hamburg. Bernadotte proposes to retire and sacrifice Berlin, but in spite of him Bulow fights on August 23d the battle of Grossbeeren, within a few miles of the capital. Here first the landwehr distinguished itself, and Berlin was saved. The attack from Magderburg was defeated by Hirschfeld at Hagerlberg on the 27th. Meanwhile Napoleon himself, at the head of 150,000 men, had marched against Blucher on the Katzbach. Blucher retired before him, and he was compelled to return to the defence of Dresden, but he left Macdonald with perhaps 50,000 or 60,000 men to hold Blucher in check. Almost immediately after his departure (August 26th) Macdonald was defeated by Blucher in the battle of the Katzbach. Thus the campaign began with two Prussian victories. But when the great army of Bohemia moved upon Dresden Napoleon showed his old superiority. On August 27th he inflicted on it a terrible defeat. In this battle Moreau, the hero of Hohenlinden, was mortally wounded by a cannon-ball. It seemed for a moment likely that this battle, followed up with Napoleon’s overwhelming rapidity, would decide the campaign. He prepared to cut off his enemy’s retreat into Bohemia. But the news of Grossbeeren and Katzbach arrived; Napoleon is also said to have been attacked by illness; he altered his plan in the moment of execution. The grand stroke of the campaign failed, and, instead of cutting off the retreat of the great army, Vandamme was taken prisoner at Kulm with 10,000 men after a battle in which he had lost half that number (August 30th). It was evident that the times of Marengo and Austerlitz were over. Napoleon’s ability and authority were as great as ever; he controlled larger armies; he opposed a Coalition which was an unwieldy as former Coalitions; and yet he had suffered four defeats in a single week and had won but one victory. Within another week he suffered another blow. A new advanced was made on Berlin by Ney, who was defeated with great loss at Dennewitz by the Prussians under Bulow (September 6th).

Here then ends Napoleon’s ascendancy; henceforth he fights in self-defence or in despair. Yet the massacre was to continue with unabated fury for two months longer. He spent the greater part of September in restless marches from Dresden, now into Silesia, now into Bohemia, by which he wore out his strength without winning any substantial advantage. Towards the end of the month a new phase of the war begins. From the beginning the allies had given each other rendezvous in the plain of Leipsic. Hitherto Napoleon had held the line of the Elbe, and had presented a single mass to the three separate armies of the Coalition. Now that his collapse begins to be visible, begins the converging advance on Leipsic. The Silesian army crossed the Elbe at Wartenburg on October 3d, and on the next days northern army also crossed at several points. At the same moment the Confederation of the Rhine began rapidly to dissolve. A troop of Cossacks under Czernicheff upset the kingdom of West phalia (October 1st). Bavaria abandoned Napoleon, and concluded the treaty of Ried with Austria (October 8th). But for form’s sake a final massacre was still necessary. It took place on a satisfactory scale between October 14th and 19th, and ended in the decisive defeat of Napoleon and the capture of Leipsic. Perhaps nearly half a million of men were engaged in these final battles. It is reckoned that in the last three days the Prussians lost sixteen, the Russians twenty-one, and the Austrians fourteen thousand men-total, fifty-one thousand. Napoleon left twenty-three thousand behind him in the hospitals and fifteen thousand prisoners; his dead may have been fifteen thousand. He lost also three hundred pieces of artillery. The sufferings of the wounded almost exceed anything told of the retreat from Moscow. It is a misfortune that the victors allowed him to cross the Rhine in safety; had they pressed the pursuit vigorously, helped as they now were by the Bavarians, they might have brought his career to an end at this point. But for such a decisive measure perhaps even their political views were not yet ripe. However, as at the Berezina in 1812, so now, he had to clear his road by another battle. The Bavarians under Wrede met him at Hanau, eager to earn some merit with the victorious Coalition; but he broke his way through them and arrived at Frankfort. On November 1st and 2d he carried the remains of his army, some 70,000 men, across the Rhine at Mainz.

The work of eight years was undone; Napoleon was thrown back to the position he had occupied at the rupture of the peace of Amiens. The Russian disaster had cancelled Friedland; Leipsic had cancelled Austerlitz. But could Napoleon consent to humble himself? If he could not make concessions in the summer, still less could he do so now. Could he return and reign quietly at Paris, a defeated general, his reputation crushed by the two greatest disasters of history? But he might by abdicating have spared France, already mortally exhausted, the burden of another war. It is among the most unpardonable even of his crimes to have dragged his unhappy country through yet another period of massacre, though nothing that could even appear to be a national interest was at stake. In November advances were made to him by the allies, in which peace was proposed on the basis of the "natural frontiers." This would have secured to France the main fruits of the First Revolutionary War, that is, Belgium, the Left Bank, Savoy, and Nice. Such terms seem generous when we consider prostration of France and the overwhelming superiority of the allies. But though the Preussian war-party loudly protested against them, and maintained the necessity of weakening France so as to render her harmless, Austria favored them, being jealous alike of Prussia and of the spirit of liberty which the war was rousing in the German population. A little compliance o n the part of Napoleon might at this moment have made the general desire for peace irresistible. But he showed no such disposition. He first evaded the proposal, an then, too late, accepted it with suspicious qualifications. After having been decimated, France must now be invaded and subjugated, for him

On December 1st the allies issued their manifesto from Frankfort, in which they declare themselves at war not with France but with Napoleon (an imitation of the Revolutionary principle "Peace with peoples, war with Governments"), and their invasion followed with almost Napoleonic rapidity. The three armies remain separate as they had been in Germany. The great army under Schwarzenberg passes through Switzerland, and makes its way to the plateau of Langre (the source of the Seine, Aube, and marne), where it begins to arrive about the middle of January; Blucher’s Silesian army crosses the middle Rhine to Nancy; the northern army, nominally under Bernadotte, passes through Holland. In the course of the march Switzerland and Holland were swept into the Coalition, the resources of which were now become overwhelming. It would be difficult to state for what object Napoleon now called on France to fight another campaign, particularly as the allies guaranteed to her a larger territory than she had possessed under the old monarchy. His officers indeed wondered what personal object he could have. They were astonished to hear him talk of another campaign in Germany to be undertaken, &c. He was no doubt a prey to illusions, his fortune having accustomed him to expect results ten times greater than the probabilities justified, but his confidence was founded on (1) the great force which still remained to him shut up in German fortresses, (2) the mutual jealousy of the allies, (3) his own connection with the emperor of Austria, (4) the patriotism which would be roused among the French, as in 1792, by the invasion. But his calculations were confounded by the rapidity of the invaders, who gave him no time to call out the nation. The Senate did indeed grant him 300,000 men, but to levy, drill, and arm them was impossible, and he had neglected to fortify Paris. In the armies which had returned from Germany there began desertion of all who were not French. The campaign opened at the end of January and was over at the end of March. The scene of it was the country between the Marne, Aube, and Seine, partly also the department of Aisne. At first, though successful at Brienne, Napoleon seemed unable to resist the superior numbers of the enemy. He was defeated at La Rothiere. But the invaders were as yet irresolute; they divided their forces. This gave him an opportunity. He attacked Blucher, and, though with greatly inferior forces, won four battles in four days, at Champaubert (February 10th), at Montmirail (11th), at Chateau-Thierry (12th), at Vauchamps (13th). For the moment this brilliant success gave the campaign quite another character; the hopes and patriotic feelings of the French were roused. A congress had already been opened at Chatillon, and under the impression of these victories it would have been easy to conclude a peace, had not Napoleon’s position made a reasonable peace inadmissible to him. He felt this, and fell back upon illusions and upon attempts to sever Austria from the Coalition. At the beginning of March the Coalition was strengthened by the treaty of Chaumont, in which each of the four powers bound themselves for twenty years to keep 150,000 men on foot. Directly afterwards Napoleon received a crushing blow from the fall of Soissons and the junction of Blucher with the northern army under Bulow, which had entered France by way of Holland and Belgium. Their united force amounted to more than 100,000. The battles of Craonne and laon followed, in which Napoleon, without suffering actual defeat, saw his resources dwindle away. On March 18th the conferences at Chatillon came to an end, the plenipotentiaries of the allies declaring Napoleon to have no intention but that of gaining time. About the 24th the allies came to the resolution to march on Paris. They had before them only Marmont and Mortier, for Napoleon himself had resolved to maneuver in their rear, and had marched to St Dizier. The marshals, after an engagement at Fere Champenoise, made good their retreat to Paris, where the enemy followed them on the 29th. Joseph Bonaparte withdrew Marie Louise and the king of Rome to Tours. On the 30th the allies attacked in three divisions,-the Silecian army on the side of Montmartre, Prince Eugene of Wurtemberg and Barclay de Tolly by Pantin and Romainville, the crown prince of Wurtemberg and Giulay by Vincennes and Charenton. In the afternoon, after an obstinate resistance, the marshals offered a capitulation, and engaged to evacuate the town before seven o’clock in the morning. Napoleon, advancing by forced marches, was too late. The military struggle is over; the political struggle begins.

Since 1804 there had been no independent political life in France. During the Russian expedition, indeed, a certain General Malet had spread a false report of Napoleon’s death in Russia, and had produced a forged decree of the Senate restoring the republic. His attempt had for the moment had so much success that Napoleon had painfully felt the precariousness of his dynasty, the purely provisional character of the monarchy he had founded. Again, when Napoleon had made his last appeal for help to the Corps Legislatif, Laine of Bordeaux had conjured the emperor, while he defended the country, to maintain the entire execution of the laws which guarantee to the French liberty, security, and property, and to the nation the free exercise of its political rights. Napoleon had replied with an outburst of indignation. But now at last it became necessary to take an independent resolution, for in the influential classes it began to be understood that Napoleon must fall, and in particular the generals asked themselves for what rational purpose troops were still levied and battles still fought. But not even the germs were visible of any authority that could replace that of Napoleon. Should he be succeeded by another general, or by a regency for his son, or by the Bourbons? The first course might have been possible had some Moreau been at hand; even as it was, Bernadotte, who, like Napoleon, was a Jacobin developed into a prince, made pretensions which were favored by the czar. Such a course would have been a revival of the consulate, but it would not have satisfied the republican party, while it would have been rejected by monarchists of every shade. In favor of the regency, as against the Bourbons, there was much to be said. It would not begin with a fantastic transformation-scene, and it would have a hold on the popular imagination. The decision fell out by a sort of accident. To a regency the natural road was by an abdication which would preserve the principle of inheritance. Such an abdication Napoleon gave. On April 4th he reviewed his troops at Fontainebleau, and announced his intention of attacking the allies in Paris. They received his words with enthusiasm; but just at this point the mainstay of his power failed him. The military aristocracy, the marshals, refused to follow him, and Napoleon perceived in a moment that the end come. Though in arguing with them he had said that a regency of Marie Louise, whom he called "a child" was impossible, yet he now abdicated on condition that his son should succeed under the regency of the empress. Ney, Macdonald, and Caulaincourt set out for Paris to negotiate the establishment of the regency.

Napoleon’s power rested first on the support of the great military magnates, but secondly on the great civil dignitaries, lavishly enriched by him, whose organ was the Senate. While the marshals forced him to abdicate, his reign had been brought to an end in a wholly different way by the Senate. Talleyrand, vice-president of this body, who had for some time been intriguing in favor of the Bourbons, pronounced openly in favor of them before the sovereign when they entered Paris. "The regency," he said, "was an intrigue; the Bourbons alone were a principle." He convoked the Senate on April 1st, and on April 2d it voted the deposition of Napoleon and his family. This decision was ratified the next day by the Corps Legislatif.

Then occurred the abdication in favor of his family, which had the support of the army. The instrument was brought to Paris by not less than three famous marshal, Ney and Macdonald having been joined on their way from Fontainebleau by Marmont. The two solutions were thus brought together before the allied sovereigns, of whom Alexander was not favorably disposed to the Bourbons, and Francis was the father of Marie Louise. For a moment the balance trembled.

But Marmont had been brought in contact, during his defence of Paris, with Talleyrand, and had committed himself to him before he knew of the view of the marshals. After evacuation Paris he had been stationed on the Essonne. Here he had entered into an engagement to place his corps at the service of the new provisional Government which the Senate had constituted; the arrangement was that on April 5th the corps should quit its position and march into Normandy. But when the marshals passing through his camp from Fontainebleau told him of their commission, he had revealed his secret with expressions of penitence; he had countermanded his orders to the inferior officers, and had gone with the marshals to Paris. In his absence, however, General Soulham, influenced by a fear that the plot had become known to Napoleon, gave orders to the troops to march on Versailles. This appearance of division in the army was fatal to Napoleon’s family. It decided Alexander to declare for the Bourbons, and Caulaincourt was instructed to demand from Napoleon and abdication pure and simple. In return he was to retain the title of emperor, and to have the island of Elba in sovereignty, while Marie Louise was to have a principality in Italy.

By an irony of fortune the Government founded at Brumaire, in which everything had been sacrificed to military efficiency, was the only one of the three Governments of France since 1789 which actually succumbed before an invader. The total result of so many conquests was that France, which, when Napoleon’s name was first heard of, was in substantial possession of Belgium, the left bank of the Rhine, Savoy, and Nice, had now lost the first two acquisitions; and we shall see what measures he took to deprive her of the other two. His fatal power of bewildering the popular mind was already at work again. This last campaign, the most unpatriotic he ever fought, had seemed to redeem his faults, and had given him the name of a heroic defender of his country. This view made way fast, as soon as he had the restored Bourbons for a foil.

In the meantime, however, all the hatred, long suppressed, of individuals and of parties broke loose upon him. For the moment he seems to have utterly lost heart. On the night of April 11th, after signing the unconditional abdication, he is said to have taken a dose of a poison which ever since the Russian campaign he had kept by him. But vomitings, we are told, came on and saved him. On the 20th, when he bade farewell to his soldiers, he had resolved to live in order "to narrate to posterity the great deeds we have done together." He soon found another object for life; but a year later, after another downfall far more complete and ignominious, he clings to life, and he clings to it afterwards in captivity. The soldiers idolized him still, and his parting scene at Fontainebleau, when he kissed the eagle, was pathetic; but when he reached the south of France he met with other demonstrations of feeling. At Avignon and Orgon the crowd attacked the carriages, and wanted to throw the tyrant into the Rhone. He was compelled to disguise himself. At the coast he was met by an English frigate which landed him on May 4th at Porto Ferraio, in elba. It seems to have been arranged among the sovereigns that his wife and child were not to rejoin him, nor did he complain of this. Marie Louise set out on April 23d, and was at Schonbrum again before the end of May. About the same time Josephine died at Malmaison, in the arms of her children Eugene and Hortense.

It must have occurred to Napoleon very soon after his arrival in Elba that he was not yet driven to autobiography. Never was a great state in a position so untenable and monstrous as France after he quitted the helm. In twenty years of thrilling events, in the emotions first of tragedy and then of epic poetry, the French had forgotten the Borubon court, when suddenly the old Comte de pProvence (under the name of Louis XVIII.) and the Comte d’Artois, Comde and the Duc d’Angouleme, and the orpheline du Temple reappeared and took possession of the country before even a royalist party had formed itself in France. Politically, indeed, they brought liberty, for they created a parliament where all assemblies had been mute and servile for fourteen years; but they unsettled all domestic affairs, the position of public men, the prospects of the army, the title of estates, in a manner so sudden and intolerable, and that at a moment when the country had suffered conquest from without, that some new convulsion seemed manifestly imminent. Disgraced, bewildered, and alarmed at the same time, the French could think with regret even of the reign of Napoleon. The wholesale massacre of the last two years might have been expected to seem like a bad dream as soon as the spell was snapped, but it began to seem regrettable in comparison with the present humiliation. Another event happened which was like a new revolution. The prisoners and the troops shut up in German fortresses returned to France under the treaty, perhaps not less than 300,000 men. What could be more evident than that if all these soldiers could take the field again, and under Napoleon, France might yet escape the humiliation of a Government imposed by foreigners, and perhaps also recover her lost frontiers. The congress of Vienna entered upon business in September, and from this time a new chapter of politics opened. France ceased to be the general bugbear, and new alliances began to be formed in order to check the aggressive spirit of Russia. The European Coalition, once dissolved, might not be so easily reconstituted. Internal politics also had altered. A wild party of ultras had sprung up among the royalists; the church was beginning to give disquiet to the holders of national property; the army was enraged by seeing émigrés who had fought against France appointed in great numbers to the command of regiments.

It was not the first time that Napoleon had gone into a sort of exile. As he had disappeared in the East, and returned to make Brumaire, so he might come from Elba to rescue France. The situation was not intolerable than in 1799. as then, so now, had he not returned a revolution would, nevertheless, have taken place. Fouche was weaving a military plot, which would have carried to power perhaps the duke Orleans, perhaps the king of Rome.

He entered upon the last of his thousand adventures on February 20, 1815, when he set sail from Porto Ferraio with General lBertrand and Drouot and 1100 soldiers. On March 1st he reached the French coast between Cannes and Antibes. Twenty days after he entered the Tuileries in triumph.

He had judged the feeling of the army correctly, and also the effect which would be produced by his prodigious fame. These causes were more than enough to overthrow a Government so totally without root as that of the Borubons. From the coast he took the way across the mountains of Provence by Sisteron and Gap to Grenoble. The soldiers sent from this town to stop him were disarmed when he uncovered his breast and asked, Which of them would fire on his emperor? He was then joined by the royalist La Bedoyere. Macdonald at Lyons stood firm, but was deserted by his soldiers. New, who commanded in the east, at first declared himself violently against his old chief, but the military feeling afterwards gained him, and he joined Napoleon at Auxerre. The king left the Tuileries on the 19th, retiring northward, and on the next day Napoleon entered Paris.

At Brumaire he had put down Jacobinism, and given the nation order and repose. Now he was summoned, in the name of liberty, to protect the acquisitions of the revolution and to defend the national honor against the triumphant foreigner. The Hundred Days are the period of popular or democratic imperialism. Those who sided with him told him frankly that he must turn over a new leaf, and he professed himself ready to do so. It would be rash to say that this was impossible. He was but forty-five; his return from Elba was an astonishing proof that he still possessed that elasticity of spirit, that power of grasping the future, which he had often shown so remarkably. Here then, as at a second Brumaire, might begin a third Napoleonic period. The mad crusade against England and the world-empire which sprang out of it were now to be forgotten; he was to stand out as a hero of national independence and of modern ideas together, a representative of the free modern people against the Holy alliance. This last and most surprising of his transformations was already most prosperously begun. But at this point fortune deserted him once for all. napoleon Liberator remained a poetical idea, transforming his past life into legend, and endowing French politics with a new illusion; the attempt to realize it came to an end in a hundred days (March 13 to June 22).

The ultimate cause of this failure seems to have been a change in Napoleon himself. It had long been remarked that the emperor Napoleon was wholly different from the general Bonaparte of the Italian campaigns. Bonaparte had been lean, shy, laconic, all fire and spirit, the very type of republican virtue imagined by Rousseau; the emperor was fat and talkative, and had his fits, according to Marmont, of indolence ease. Once or twice there had been attacks of illness, by which he had been temporarily incapacitated; but this had been hushed up. on the whole he had never yet been wanting to himself. In the campaign of 1814 his activity had been prodigious, and the march to Paris in twenty days, with which he had opened 1815, had been a great display of vigor. But he could not maintain himself at this level. A physical decay had begun in him, affecting through his body, not indeed his mind, but his will and his power of application. "I do not know him again," said Carnot. "He talks instead of acting, he the man of rapid decisions; he asks opinions, he the imperious dictator, who seemed insulted by advice; his mind wanders, though he used to have the power of attending to everything when and as he would; he is sleepy, and he used to be able to sleep and wake at pleasure." This last symptom was the most striking; in some of the most critical and terrible moments of the Waterloo campaign he seems to have been scarcely able to keep himself awake.

The constitutional history of the Hundred Days may be dispatched summarily, since it led to nothing. On March 13 an imperial decree was issued from Lyons dissolving the two chambers established by the Bourbons, and convoking an extraordinary assembly in Field of May for the purpose "of correcting and modifying our constitutions and of assisting at the coronation of the empress, our dear and well-beloved spouse, and of our dear and well-beloved son." But the prospect soon changed, and, as it was necessary that the empire, like the monarchy, should have its charter, it seemed impossible to wait till May. Napoleon had recourse to Benjamin Constant, that is, he marked his change of policy by sending for the leader of the opposition. The "Acte Additionel aux Constitutions de l’Empire," dated April 22, was drawn by Constant, examined by a committee, and then adopted by the council of state. The most remarkable feature of it is the preamble, in which he explains his change of attitude by saying that "formerly he had endeavored to organize a grand federal system in Europe, which he had regarded as agreeable to the spirit of the age and favorable to the progress of civilization," that "for this purpose he had adjourned the introduction of free institutions," but that "henceforward he had no other object but to increase the prosperity of France by strengthening public liberty."

This neat misrepresentation deserves notice as having imposed on many people. For the rest it is to observed that this act creates an hereditary peerage. The Field of May was held, but not till June 1. Napoleon appeared in a grand costume and distributed flags, but the "well-beloved spouse and son" were not there; Europe had declared against him. On the 12th he set out for the campaign.

The great powers had issued immediately on hearing of Napoleon’s disembarkation (March 13th), a declaration putting him outside all civil social relations, and consigning him to public vengeance "an enemy and disturber of the peace of the world." On March 25th they reconstituted the Coalition. Was this a disappointment ot Napoleon? A war of liberation was perhaps necessary to him. To be freely accepted by the French people, and then to be rejected by Europe, gave him precisely the opportunity he sought of standing forth as the heroic champion of national independence. He had now all the soldiers who at the time of his first fall had been locked up in fortresses or foreign prisons. His position was therefore such as it had been in 1813, not in 1814, and he proposed to defend not a vast empire but simply France, so that he had on his side patriotism and liberalism. All this, own genius! Would not so much suffice? Probabnly he remembered Brumaire, how low the fortune of France at that time had been, and how suddenly Marengo had restored all. for the moment, however, the inequality of numbers was great. In June the allies had in the filed more than 700,000, Napoleon little more than 200,000, men. There were already English troops in Belgium, where they were engaged in establishing the new kingdom of the Netherlands, and there were Prussian troops in the Rhenish province which had just been given to Prussia. It was a question for Napoleon whether he should assume a defensive attitude and allow the allies to invade France-this in itself would have suited his new policy best-or carry the war into Belgium, a country long united with France, and attack the English and Prussians. He shrank from inflicting a new invasion upon France, especially on account of the strength of the royalist party in many regions, and thus it was that the scene of the campaign was laid in Belgium. The English had their headquarters at Brussels, the Prussians at Liege. He formed the plan of dividing them and beating them in turn, as he had served the Austrians and Sardinians at the very beginning of his career. Many circumstances, however, were different. Wellington and Blucher with Gneiseanu were superior to Colli and Beaulieu; the Napoleon of 1815 was vastly inferior to the Bonaparte of 1796.

Of all the Napoleonic campaigns this was by far the most rapid and decisive. Even the Marengo campaign had lasted a month, but this was decided in three days. Leaving Paris on the 12th, Napoleon was in Paris again on the 21st, his own fate and that of his empire and that of Franc decided. Everything concurred to make this short struggle the most interesting military occurrence of modern history: its deperate intensity, its complete decisiveness, the presence for the first and last time of the English army in the front of the European contest, the presence of the three most renowned commanders, Napoleon, Wellington, and Blucher. Accordingly it has been debated with infinite curiosity, and misrepresented on all sides with infinite partiality. Napoleon’s army amounted to 122,401 men; it contained a large number of veterans, besides many who had seen the campaigns of 1813-14, and was perhaps the finest army he had ever commanded. That of Wellington was composed of Englishmen, Hanoverians, Brunswickers, Nassauers, Germans, and Netherlands; the total is stated at 105,950. But in the Netherlanders of the newly-established kingdom no confidence could be placed, and yet these amounted to nearly 30,000; the english too (about 35,000) were in great part raw recruits (the Peninsular veterans being mainly absent in America); altogether Wellington pronounced it "the worst army ever brought together." The army of Blucher numbered 116,897 disciplined troops, animated by an intensely warlike spirit. Napoleon’s opening was prosperous. He maintained so much secrecy and used so much rapidity that he succeeded in throwing himself between the two armies. On the 15th he advanced and occupied Charleroi. On the 16th he engaged the Prussians at Ligny and the English at Quatrebras, desiring to block the cross-road between Quatrebras and Sombreffe, and so to sever the two armies. Napoleon personally commanded against the Prussians, and here he gained his last victory. The battle was very bloody; about 12,000 Prussians fell, and Blucher himself was wounded. At Quatrebras Ney met Wellington and was forced to retreat. But the defeat of Blucher made it necessary for Wellington to retire on Brussels in order to effect a junction with the Prussians. The 17th was spent in this retrograde movement, and on the 18th Wellington accepted battle on the heights of St jean, from which the French name it, while the English give it the name of Waterloo, a village four miles nearer to Brussels, where Wellington wrote his dispatch. He accepted battle in full reliance upon the help of the Prussians, who are not therefore to be considered as having saved him from defeat.

Military writers point out several errors, some of them considerable, committed by Wellington, but their criticism of Napoleon, which begins by sweeping away a mass of falsehood devised by himself and his admirers in order to throw the blame upon others, is so crushing that it seems to show us Napoleon after his brilliant commencement acting as an indolent and inefficient general. He first, through mere want of energy, allows the Prussians to escape him after Ligny, and then sends Marshal Grouchy with 33,000 men in the wrong direction in pursuit of them. owing to this mismanagement Grouchy is at Wavre on the day of the battle of Waterloo, fighting a useless battle against the Prussian corps of Thielemann, while Blucher is enabled to keep his engagement to Wellington. Everywhere during these days Napoleon appears negligent, inactive, inaccessible, and rather a Darius than an Alexander, so that it has been plausibly maintained that he was physically incapacitated by illness. The battle itself was one of the most remarkable and terrible ever fought, but it was perhaps on both sides rather a soldier’s than a generals’ battle. It consisted of five distinct attacks on the English position:- (1) an attack on the English right by the division Reille, (2) an attack on the left by the division D’Erlon (here Picton was killed), (3) a grand cavalry attack, where the splendid French cavalry "foamed itself away" upon the English squares, (4) a successful attack by Ney on La Haye Sainte (which Wellington is thought to have too much neglected; it was after this that the French prospect seemed brightest), (5) the charge of the guard. In the middle of the third act of this drama the Prussians began to take part in the action. The battle seems to have begun about 11.30, and about 8 o’clock in the evening the cry "Sauve qui peut" rose from the guard. A general advance of the English decided the victory, and then the pursuit was very thoroughly accomplished by the Prussians under Gneisenau. Napoleon at first took refuge in a square. At Genappe he left this, and arrived at Charleroi about daybreak with an escort of about twenty horsemen.

He lost probably more than 30,000 out of 72,000 men, but the grand army was utterly dissolved. The whole loss of the allies was somewhat more than 22,000. Had Napoleon been victories, he would but have opened the war prosperously, for half a million soldiers, in addition to those of Wellington and blucher, were on the march for France; being completely defeated, he had no resource, but was ruined at once. France was conquered, as she had been conquered the year before; but her second fall appears far more humiliating and dismal than her first, when we consider how enthusiastically she had rallied to Napoleon and how instantaneously Napoleon and she had been struck down together. It was a moment of unrelieved despair for the public men who gathered round him on his return to Paris, and among these were several whose fame was of earlier date than his own. La Fayette, the man of 1789; Carnot, organizer of victory to the Convention; Lucien, who had decided the revolution of Brumaire,-all these met in that comfortless deliberation. Carnot was for a dictatorship of public safety, that is, for renewing his great days of 1793; Lucien too liked the Roman sound of the word dictator. "Dare,!" he said to his brother, but the spring of that terrible will was broken at last. "I have dared too much already," said Napoleon. Meanwhile, in the Chamber of Representatives the word was not dictatorship but liberty. Here :a Fayettte caused the assembly to vote itself permanent, and to declare guilty of high treason whoever should attempt to dissolve it. He hinted that, if the word abdication were not soon pronounced on the other side, he would himself pronounce the word "decheance." The second abdication took place on June 22d. "I offer myself a sacrifice to the hatred of the enemies of France. My public life is finished, and I proclaim my son emperor of the French." On the 25th he retired to Malmaison, where Josephine had died the year before. He had by no mean even yet ceased to hope. When his son was passed over by the Chamber of Representatives, who named an executive commission of five, he protested that he had not intended to make way for a new Directory; and, as Carnot and Caulaincourt were on this commission, the circumstances of Brumaire seem to have flashed into his memory. He saw again two Directors supporting him, and the other three (Fouche, Grenier, and Quinette- a traitor and two babies, as he expressed it) might remind him of Barras, Moulin, and Gohier. On the 27th he went so far as to offer his services once more as general, "regarding myself still as the first soldier of the nation." He was met by a refusal, and left Malmaison on the 29th for Rochefort.

France was by this time entering upon another Reign of Terror. Massacre had begun at Marseilles as early as the 25th. What should Napoleon do? He had been before the enemy of every nation, and now he was the worst enemy, if not of France, yet of the triumphant faction in France. He lingered some days at Rochefort, where he had arrived on July 3d, and then, finding it impossible to escape the vigilance of the English cruisers, went on the 15th on board the "Bellerophon" and surrendered himseld to Captain Maitland. It was explained to him that no conditions could be accepted, but that he would be "conveyed to England to be received in such manner as the prince regent should deem expedient." He had written at Rochefort the following characyeristic letter to the prince regent: - "Royal Highness,- A prey to the factions which divide my country and to the enmity of the greatest powers of Europe, I have terminated my public career, and I come, like Themistocles, to seat myself at the hearth of the British people. I place myself under the protection of its laws, which I claim from your royal highness as the most powerful, the most constant, and the most generous of my enemies."

It was perhaps the only course open to him. In France his life could scarcely have been spared, and Blucher talked of executing him on the spot where the Duc d’Enghien had fallen. He therefore could do nothing but what he did. His reference to Themistocles shows that he was conscious of being the worst enemy that England had ever had. Perhaps he remembered that at the rupture of the treaty of Amiens he had studied to envenom the contest by detaining the English residents in France. Still he might reflect, on the other hand, that England was the only country which had not been trampled down and covered with massacre by his soldiers. It would have been inexcusable if the English Government had given way to vindictive feelings, especially as they could well afford to be magnanimous, having just won the greatest of all victories. But it was necessary to deprive him of the power of exciting new wars, and the experiment of Elba had shown that this involved depriving him of his liberty. The frenzy which had cost the lives of millions must be checked. This was the principle laid down in the declaration of March 15th, by which he had been excommunicated as a public enemy. It was therefore necessary to impose some restraint upon him. He must be separated from his party and from all the revolutionary party in Europe. So long as he remained in Europe this would involve positive imprisonment. The only arrangement therefore which would allow him tolerable personal comfort and enjoyment of life was to send him out of Europe. From these considerations grew the decision of the Government to send him to St Helena. An Act of Parliament was passed "for the better detaining in custody Napoleon Bonaparte," and another Act for subjecting St Helena to a special system of government.

He was kept on board the "Bellerophon" till August 4th, when he was transferred to the "Northumberland." On October 15th he arrived at St Helena, accompanied by Counts Montholon, Las Cases, and Bertrand, with their families, General Gourgaud, and a number of servants. In April 1816 arrived Sir Hudson Lowe, an officer who had been knighted for bringing the news of the capture of Paris in 1814, as governor.

The rest of his life, which continued till May 5, 1821, was occupied partly in quarrels with this governor, which have now lost their interest, partly in the task he had undertaken at the time of his first abdication, that of relating his past life. He did not himself write his narrative, nor does it appear that he even dictated it word for word. It is a report made partly by General Gourgaud, partly by Count Montholon, of Napoleon’s impassioned recitals; but they assure us that this report, as published , has been read and corrected throughout by him. It gives a tolerably complete account of the period between the siege of Toulon and the battle of Marengo. On the later periods there is little except a memoir on the campaign of 1815, to which the editors of the Correspondence have been able to add another on Elba and the Hundred Days.

These memoirs have often been compared to the Commentaries of Caesar, and their value would indeed be priceless if they related to a period imperfectly known. But an age which has abundance of information, and takes history very seriously, is struck particularly by the elaborate falsifications which they contain. A vast number of misstatements, many of them evidently intentional, have been brought home to him, and in several cases he has tried to foist into history apocryphal documents.

Here, as throughout his life, he shows quite a peculiar talent for misrepresentation. He knows that nine readers out of ten take a lucid statement for a true one, and his statements are always lucid, precise, and direct. And thus it has been, and is, particularly difficult to eradicate the Napoleonic legend, which has grown up in the very midst of the 19th century, and would perhaps never have been seriously shaken but for the failure of the Second Empire. Its growth was helped by the accident that at the moment of quitting the scene he seemed to be fighting for a good cause. Look at Napoleon’s career between 1803 and 1814, when it was shaped most freely by his own will; here everything is anti-popular,, illiberal, and immoral, as well as ruinous beyond all precedent. In particular he stands out as the great enemy and oppressor of nationalities, so that the nationality movement, when it begins in Spain and Tyrol and spreads through North Germany, is a reaction against his tyranny. But in 1815 he succeeded in posing as a champion and martyr of the nationality principle against the Holy Alliance. The curtain fell upon this pose. It brought back the memory of that Bonaparte who at the end of the 18th century had seemed the antique republican hero dreamed of by Rousseau, and men forgot once more how completely he had disappointed their expectations. By looking only at the beginning and end of his career, and by disregarding all the middle of it, a, imaginary, Napoleon has been obtained who is a republican, not a despot, a lover of liberty, not an authoritarian, a champion of the Revolution, not the destroyer of the revolution, a hero of independence, not a conqueror, a friend of the people, not a contemner of the people, a man of heart and virtue, not a ruthless militarist, cynic, and Machiavellian. This illusion led to the restoration of the Napoleonic dynasty in 1851.

He died of an ulcer in the stomach on May 5, 1821. In his will he declared himself a Catholic, wished his ashes to repose "on the banks of the Seine in the midst of the French people whom he had loved so well," spoke tenderly of Marie Louise and his son, and of all his relatives except Louis, whom he "pardoned" for the libel he published in 1820, disavowed the Manuscrit de Sainte-Helene, a mystification which had recently had much success, defended the execution of D’Enghien, imputed the two conquests of France of Marmont, Augereau, Talleyrand, and La Fayette, whom he "forgave," and devoted the English oligarchy, to whom he ascribed his premature death, to the vengeance of the English people. In a codicil he added a truly Corsican touch, bequeathing 10,000 francs to the subaltern officer Cantillon, "who has undergone a trial upon the charge of having endeavored to assassinate Lord Wellington, of which he was pronounced innocent. Cantillon had as much right to assassinate that oligarchist as the latter had to send me to perish upon the rock of St Helena."

He was buried at Longwood in St Helena; but in the reign of Louis Philippe his remains were removed by permission of the english Government to the Invalides at Paris, where a stately dome was erected over the sarcophagus that contains them.

Posterity has not yet ceased to be perplexed by Napoleon’s career. He inflames national partialities more than any other personage, and his activity, by embracing many countries, transcends the field of view of the historians of each nation. Till a recent time his life was written chiefly from French memoirs,- when by French writers, with great ignorance of all affairs not French, when by English writers, with imperfect knowledge of all affairs not French or English, and by all writers alike, especially French writers, with extreme prejudice. Then came M. Thiers (1845), professing to write from official papers; but his untrustworthiness in particular matters has long been demonstrated, and some recent investigators (see, for instance, De Martel, Les Historiens Fantaisistes) profess to convict him of the most outrageous contempt for truth. The story is now being slowly transferred from the basis of memoirs to that of official papers and correspondence. The Correspondence of Napoleon himself in thirty-two volumes (which began to appear in 1858) is necessarily the corner stone, though it has been edited in the most unsatisfactory way, many letters having been withheld and others mutilated, even if some have not been garbled. On this foundation M. Lanfrey based his history, which extents unfortunately only as far as 1811. It is the first essay towards a serious estimate of the career; what the writer chiefly wants is a first-hand knowledge of the affairs of foreign nations. It still remains to fuse together these materials with those equally rich that have been lately furnished by German research and by the opening of the different national archives. On German affairs the principal works are those of Ranke, Pertz, Oncken, and Treitschke. For the substance of them the English reader may refer to Professor Seeley’s Life and Times of Stein. A good account (founded on original documents) of the Russian campaign by Bogdanovitch may be read in German. Colonel Jung in two works, Bonaparte et son Temps and Lucien Bonaparte et ses Memoires, shows himself a true historical critic. The former work renders earlier books on the first period of Bonaparte (Coston, Libri, &c.) superfluous. Of military works, Rustow on the Italian campaigns, Charras on the campaign of 1815, and Charras’s fragment on the campaign of 1813, with Mr Dorsey Gardner’s volume on the campaign of 1815, may be recommended. Recent years have also brought valuable new memoirs, those of Marmont, of Miot de Melito, of Hardenberg (included in Ranke’s Life), of Mme. De Remusat, of Metternich. Mme. De Remusat with the Duchesse d’Abrantas gives the best picture of his private life. This whole class of books should be used with caution. Marmont often excites distrust; still more the earlier memoir-writer Bourrienne. The reader must also be on his guard against apocryphal works, such as Memoires tires des papiers d’un homme d’etat, long attributed quite without ground to Hardenberg, and the Manuscrit venu de Ste-Helene. (J.R.S.)

Read the rest of this article:
Napoleon I - Table of Contents

Share this page:

Search the Encyclopedia:

About this EncyclopediaTop ContributorsAll ContributorsToday in History
Terms of UsePrivacyContact Us

© 2005-17 1902 Encyclopedia. All Rights Reserved.

This website is the free online Encyclopedia Britannica (9th Edition and 10th Edition) with added expert translations and commentaries