HotFreeBooks.com
The Life of Napoleon Bonaparte - Vol. III. (of IV.)
by William Milligan Sloane
Previous Part     1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9     Next Part
Home - Random Browse

Almost immediately after the rupture with England, Alexander had the mortification of seeing his worst fears realized. Napoleon had opened to him at Tilsit a dazzling vista of territorial aggrandizement. Slowly but surely the desired effect was produced. Aware of all the dangers he ran, the Czar nevertheless sacrificed every other consideration, even that of his people's material comfort, in order to demonstrate his good faith. By declaring war he likewise paid in advance. But at the earliest possible moment, on November seventh, his ambassador to France, sent for the purpose, demanded the return—to wit, the two principalities of Wallachia and Moldavia. Simultaneously and in another quarter this same demand was made emphatic. Immediately after the meeting at Tilsit, Guilleminot, a French general, had been sent as mediator between Russia and Turkey to the seat of war on the Danube. An armistice was concluded under his direction at Slobozia, in which were two or three compensatory clauses promising that Russia would make restitution to Turkey of certain vessels and munitions of war which had been captured. The Czar professed to take great umbrage at these stipulations. Shortly afterward he rejected the whole paper, and the Russian troops remained in Wallachia. This conduct was intended to indicate his obstinate determination to have the vague promises of Napoleon defined, and then to secure their performance.

The Emperor of the French had been kept well informed by Savary, and knew that the Tilsit alliance, being distasteful to the Russian people, hung on the personal good will of their sovereign. He would have been glad to put Alexander off with some slight rectification of the border-line between Russia and Turkey and with further indefinite promises, but he dared not. Accordingly he devised the plea that the aggrandizement of the Eastern and Western empires must keep equal pace, not in the West, for that was his by right, but in those debatable lands wherewith Russia hoped to secure a permanent seat in the councils of Europe. He was confirmed in his desire to postpone the partition of Turkey by finding that Mustapha, the Sultan who had overthrown Selim in defiance of France, was now ready in turn to make friends with her and perform her behests. The hope of getting Egypt was again awakened, but the times were not ripe and delay must be secured.

In addition to these considerations there was that of immediate safety. The last two campaigns had seen Napoleon a victor, once over Austria and Russia combined, again over Prussia and Russia combined; but in each there had been moments when the coalition of the three would have overwhelmed him. For this reason he would gladly have declared at Tilsit that the house of Hohenzollern had ceased to reign, in order thereby to preclude any future danger from a triple alliance. This idea he had abandoned for the time in order to gratify Alexander. His ally secure, he now returned or pretended to return to it. Prussia was regaining her strength too rapidly; her embittered hostility was an ever-increasing menace. On the plea that she could never pay the promised indemnity, and was therefore to be treated as a bankrupt, Napoleon declared at last that Russia could have the Danube provinces if France could take Silesia for the grand duchy of Warsaw. "Prussia," ran Napoleon's despatch on this subject—"Prussia would have but two millions of inhabitants; but would not that be enough for the welfare of the royal family, and is it not in their interest to place her without delay and with perfect resignation among the inferior powers, since all their efforts to restore the position she has lost merely serve to distress their subjects and cherish idle regrets?" "What the Emperor would prefer," said this same memorandum, "is that the Turks should remain in peaceable possession of Wallachia and Moldavia; still he would hand over these provinces to the Czar in return for a just compensation from Prussian lands; and finally, though far from wishing a complete partition of Turkey, he desires you not to condemn utterly the plan, but rather to dwell on the motives for postponing it. This ancient project of Russian ambition is a tie which can bind Russia to France."

For the purposes of this difficult negotiation Napoleon had chosen Caulaincourt, his devoted servant and most adroit diplomat. Having been concerned in the expeditions to Strasburg and Ettenheim which captured Enghien, the ambassador had been deeply, though unjustly, involved in the disrepute of the execution, and that fact was a tie which bound him to his master. The two seemed thoroughly to understand each other. Alexander had chosen an envoy who was the very antipodes of the adroit and elegant Caulaincourt. Count Tolstoi was a bluff soldier, selected in the belief that he would be uninfluenced by the intrigues of Paris society, and could secure the utmost return for the agreement of Tilsit by direct negotiation with the Emperor himself, as one old soldier talking with another. This officer was instructed to lay great stress on the liberation of Prussia, but to remember that the object of his mission was to cement harmony and confidence. On the journey to Paris he paused at Memel to pay his respects to Frederick William and his Queen. He found them, considering their station, actually in want, dependent on the Czar's gifts of clothes and other necessaries for the little personal comfort they enjoyed. This made a deep impression on Tolstoi's heart, and though received at Paris with such distinction as had never been accorded to any other ambassador, he was cold and distant with both the Emperor and the court. At last there was positive disagreement between him and the great personages of the capital; there was even a rumor that Ney and he would fight a duel. The offensive remarks which led to such tension were due to a statement by Tolstoi that Russia had been beaten by accident, that Russian soldiers were invincible, and might one day take their revenge.

Moreover, the ambassador could not even get on with Napoleon. Both he and his staff avoided the splendors of Fontainebleau, preferring to frequent the drawing-rooms of a notorious actress whose name had often been linked with that of the Emperor. Under such circumstances diplomacy gathered but little fruit. Napoleon offered both the Danubian provinces for Silesia, or else the evacuation of Prussia proper for that of Wallachia; he even mentioned the magic word "Constantinople" as part of Russia's share in an eventual partition of the whole Turkish empire. Tolstoi wrote to St. Petersburg that France was postponing the evacuation of Prussia for selfish purposes, meaning to dismember her; and from that starting-point depicted the horrors of a Napoleonic Europe. Such opinions dismayed Alexander, and although he received Caulaincourt with distinction equal to that which had been accorded to Tolstoi, he firmly refused the bargain offered by him. He would not consent to a further dismemberment of Prussia, partly for sentimental reasons, chiefly because he could not endure the strengthening of the grand duchy of Warsaw, the new political organism which suggested the restoration of Poland. As to the principalities, these he would have. Russian society had for the moment repressed its hostility to the Czar and his treaty of Tilsit, and was quietly waiting to see what would be the substantial results. No gain less than the acquisition of Wallachia and Moldavia would reinstate Alexander in their good will or make the French alliance endurable. This was of course a serious crisis; but Caulaincourt, nothing dismayed, set himself, by the exercise of all those social arts of which he had such a mastery, to win the aristocratic circles of St. Petersburg.

In the month of December, 1807, Napoleon was on a royal progress through his kingdom of Italy, and the news of the diplomatic crisis in Russia reached him at Venice, which had become his as a result of Austerlitz and by the treaty of Presburg. Although he had gone thither for a serious consultation with Joseph, its fascinations were already weaving curious plans in the Emperor's mind. His rapid journey through Lombardy and a short visit to Milan, whence he fulminated his reply to the English admiralty, had convinced him of the firm sovereignty he exercised throughout these splendid realms. In the few days of his presence he had further strengthened his power by many generous and beneficent decrees. It was with a sense of security that he came to Venice; at once he yielded to her spell, realizing that at last his control of the Adriatic was complete, inasmuch as now he held both shores and commanded the entrance by the possession of Corfu. Just beyond was the brilliant East, ripe for conquest. Could he or should he lose the opportunity to use such a superb base of operations, win the gratitude of all Venetia by restoring the ancient glories of her capital, and thereby lay his hand at last on the bauble which had once before so dazzled him? Besides, Great Britain, his hated rival, scorning the terms he had offered, disdaining the continental blockade, anchored in her strength by the control of Western seas, was vulnerable in India, and there alone. These considerations returned with overpowering allurement to his imagination, and four millions of francs were appropriated to improve the harbor and restore somewhat the splendors of Venice.

New Year's day found the Emperor again at the Tuileries, in time to receive a new courier from Russia with still more vigorous representations of Alexander's desires. The idea of a general partition of Turkish lands grew stronger, and in an interview with Metternich, Napoleon hinted that Austria should have a share. Instructions were sent to Caulaincourt that he should hold out hopes in order to gain time and to learn whether it was definitely impossible that matters should remain as the treaty of Tilsit, taken literally, had arranged them. This procrastinating attitude of mind had a twofold cause. One appears to have been a gradual realization in Napoleon's consciousness that dreams and schemes must materialize, that in the mystery of a life like his one step inevitably leads to another, that his career must encircle the vast globe, while he himself was but mortal, finite, and already verging to the utmost limit of his powers. A year before he had written to Josephine that he was of all men the most enslaved; "my master has no bowels, and that master is the nature of things." The other cause was the fearless and warlike attitude taken in Great Britain by both crown and Parliament and announced with threats of eternal war at the opening of the legislative session of 1807. It appears probable, likewise, that whatever answer should be given by Alexander to his pregnant question, he felt his only safety now to be in the alliance with the Czar.

Time, time, time—that was the prime necessity; there were only twenty-four hours in the day, and only a certain quantity of nerve force in his own system. Before the partition of Turkey, if Alexander's reply should make it inevitable, two weighty matters must be settled: first, the road to an Oriental empire must be secured; and second, the already existing Western empire of Europe must be rounded out by the "regulation" of Spanish affairs—the appropriation, if it should seem best, of the whole Iberian peninsula. Any tyro in geography could see by a glance at the map that as navigation was in those days—that is, by the propulsion of fickle winds amid the partly known currents of ocean and sea—the command of Gibraltar and Malta meant the control of the Levant, and the British held both places. With Spain in French hands, Gibraltar eventually might be taken, but the case of Malta was far different. In the possession of a seafaring nation like the English the island was impregnable. But was this in reality the only outlet for the French empire to the East? From France proper, yes; but from Italy, by the Adriatic, there was an admirable alternative, if not, indeed, the only true line of trade.

Since the first awakening of his ambition, Napoleon had dreamed of supremacy in the Mediterranean, and every successive treaty made with Northern powers had looked to some strengthening of French influence on that sea. Now at last he had Corfu, and the English, straitened for troops, were withdrawing the forces which occupied Sicily to send them into Portugal. The squadrons from Brest, Lorient, and Rochefort were at once ordered to unite in the Mediterranean. This was the moment to seize Sicily, and with that island added to Corfu, France would control the best road into Egypt. But the hostile fate which seemed to attend all Napoleon's undertakings by sea again checkmated him. English cruisers were found hovering about Corfu, and the landing in Sicily was temporarily abandoned in order to sweep the English from the waters of the Ionian Isles. In the event of success, the invasion of Turkey, the seizure of Egypt, and the gratification of Alexander would be easy. More remotely, the deadly blow at England could be struck in Asia. What a conception! What a debauch of the imagination!

But there was one specter which, though laid for intervals, would not entirely down, and returned with stolid persistency: the existence of the Western empire hung on the thread of a single life; the very crowns of France and Italy had no heir. The situation was much discussed in court circles, sometimes even among the people, and was becoming acute. In order to solve the problem peace was essential, and not a remote, but an immediate one, if possible. The Russian ambassador, returning from London, had reported on his journey through France that the English were not so envenomed as they seemed. It was only a straw, yet it was talked of. At once Napoleon seized it, and announced that his one aim, his most ardently desired goal, was—peace.

It was now the close of January; Tolstoi was invited to join a hunting-party, and in the heart of the forest Napoleon found means to be alone with him. After a long, vague, contradictory, but dramatic conversation setting forth the same three alternatives,—peace between Russia and Turkey without the principalities, or the principalities in exchange for Silesia, or the ultimate but not immediate partition of Turkey,—the great actor suddenly paused as if in an ecstasy of sincerity, and snatching his hat off his head with both hands, flung it on the ground as he said: "Hark you, M. Tolstoi; it is not the Emperor of the French, but an old general of division that is now talking to another. May I be thought the vilest of men if I do not scrupulously fulfil the contract I made at Tilsit, and if I do not evacuate both Prussia and the duchy of Warsaw as soon as you have withdrawn your troops from Moldavia and Wallachia! I am neither a fool nor a child, not to know what I stipulate, and what I stipulate I always fulfil." Leaving this objurgation time to work its effect, the Emperor of the French a few days later—on February second—wrote with his own hand to the Emperor of all the Russias. It was an innocent and kindly epistle, advising his friend to strengthen his army, and promising all aid possible in case he should feel that the border-line of Sweden was too near St. Petersburg. An army of fifty thousand men, Russian, French, perhaps a "little Austrian," marching into Asia by way of Constantinople, would not reach the Euphrates before England would begin to tremble. "I am strong in Dalmatia, you on the Danube. One month after an agreement we could be on the Bosporus. But our mutual interests require to be combined and equalized in a personal conference. Tolstoi is not built on the proportions of Tilsit. We could have everything ready, you and I, or perhaps Caulaincourt and Rumianzoff, before March fifteenth, and by May first our troops could be in Asia at the moment when those of your Majesty were in Stockholm. We would have preferred peace, you and I, but we must do what is predestined, and follow whither the irresistible march of events conducts us."

This letter was a masterpiece. It meant, first, a little European war, short and sharp, whereby Russia would get Finland as a sop and have her attention drawn off from Prussia and Spain; secondly, a menace which would bring England to terms and produce a peace; thirdly, the neutralization of Austria by inviting her to sit down at the feast; lastly, the consolidation of Napoleon's dynasty for the ultimate completion of his designs in the Orient either with or without Russia's aid. The alternative would be a war of hitherto unknown dimensions, including not only all Europe, but Asia Minor and northern Africa; out of such a conflict might result a permanent order the foundation and copestone of which would be French supremacy. England would of course rush to the assistance of Sweden, the only land now left in Europe that had never fallen into the orbit of the French system. At that moment Spain and Portugal, abandoned to their fate, must drop into French hands. If England should still prove resolute, then an expedition to Egypt would sail from Corfu, while simultaneously the united armies of Russia, France, and Austria would march to the conquest of Turkey and the seizure of India. It was a scheme so vast, so logical, so imperial, that it left far behind the dreams of a Corsican patriot or the visions of an ardent Frenchman. Successful as a soldier, the Emperor was carried by each new victory into widening circles of enterprise which could have no relation to narrow national limits.



CHAPTER IX

FRENCH EMPIRE AND EUROPEAN NATIONALITY[20]

[Footnote 20: See Oman: Peninsular War. Martins: Historia de Portugal. Delagrave: La Campagne de Portugal. Also Memoirs, etc., by Barkhaeusen, Brandt, Gomm, Moore, Naylies, Roverea, Savary, Miot de Melito.]

Diplomatic Fencing with Russia — Caulaincourt and Rumianzoff — Plight of the Czar — Napoleon and the Papacy — The Pope a Prisoner — The House of Braganza — Partition of Portugal — Flight of the Royal Family — Junot's Aspirations — The Condition of Spain — The Court — The Crown Prince — The Popular Factions — Napoleon's Plans — Quarrel of Charles and Ferdinand — Trial of Ferdinand — Invasion of Spain — Napoleon and Lucien at Mantua — Napoleon and Joseph at Venice — Godoy Thwarted — The French Armament — The Humiliation of Spain — Fall of Godoy — Abdication of the King.

[Sidenote: 1808]

The instructions issued by Napoleon to Caulaincourt in this crisis reveal the writer's entire political system during the turning-point of his career: they show him at the height of his powers, promising, cajoling, suggesting, procrastinating, representing his own actions in the best light without regard to truth, using Russia as long as she could serve him, and abandoning her within a few days when she became recalcitrant; all this to gain time and opportunity. The Czar had been from the outset instigated by the French ambassador to seize Finland, but feeling that success in that quarter would weaken his claims on the principalities, he hesitated. Court intrigue began to thicken about him once more. With every day the miseries and uncertainties of his position made him more wretched. At last he behaved with the inconsistency of distraction and hesitation. Almost while soothing words were being uttered to the Swedish ambassador, Russian columns suddenly burst into the Swedish province, and were not withdrawn. Alexander renewed his demand for the Danube provinces. Napoleon sent him exquisite presents, Sevres porcelain or some specimen of choice armor. At last came the letter of February second. The first impression made on the Czar by its reading was one of exaggerated joy and enthusiasm: "Ha! the style of Tilsit! What a great man! What large ideas!" Such were his exclamations as he read. But calm deliberation awakened suspicions, and before long a defiant spirit led to a categorical request that any ultimate design on Silesia should be formally renounced, whereupon Caulaincourt replied: "The Emperor Napoleon demands that your Majesty shall not be more urgent with him than he is with you."

As a preliminary to the second personal interview between the two monarchs, suggested at Tilsit, and for which proposals were now renewed from Paris, the two ministers, Caulaincourt and Rumianzoff, finally began to discuss the terms of a partition of Turkey. The diplomatic gladiators were well matched; between offer and substitute, demand and excuse, feint and counterfeint, the days passed in a most entertaining manner, until suddenly the Czar became aware that time was flying and that he was not making headway. Somewhat petulantly the interview was postponed, for it was clear that the ministers would not agree by the time suggested, and without an agreement Alexander refused to attend. Meanwhile his troops in Finland had met with bitter and obstinate resistance. His army had been driven from eastern Bothnia, and his fleet lay blockaded by that of Great Britain under Admiral Saumarez. St. Petersburg was terrified by the presence of an English fleet in the Baltic. The Czar could not weaken his force on the Danube, lest he should lose the coveted provinces, and he dared not withdraw troops from Poland, for the French were still in Silesia. With the understanding that Bernadotte should be their active auxiliary, the Russian forces had rashly crossed the Swedish border with inadequate numbers; and in reality the marshal did set out to join them, but half-way on his march, for some unexplained reason, he had paused. Caulaincourt said it was because of the difficulties encountered in crossing the Belt; but the halt was, of course, one move in Napoleon's game. On April twenty-fifth the latter wrote to Talleyrand: "Was I to send my soldiers so lightly into Sweden? There was nothing for me there." Simultaneously the French forces in both Poland and Prussia were compacted and strengthened, while at the confluence of the Bug and the Vistula, in the grand duchy of Warsaw, over against the Russian frontier, were steadily rising the walls of a powerful fort above which waved the tricolor. What a plight was this for the White Czar, the grandson of Catherine II, the philosophic monarch educated by Laharpe, the beneficent despot! Behind him a disgusted nation, before him illimitable warfare; bound by the letter of an ambiguous treaty, occupied in a doubtful conquest, thwarted in his ambitions; in short, if not checkmated, put into a position very much like that known in the noble game of chess as stalemate!

Napoleon's treatment of the Czar makes the whole situation in northern Europe and Austria easily comprehensible; it is necessary to examine from the same standpoint, also, what occurred in the southern states of Europe, remote as they were; otherwise the course of affairs at the opposite extremities of Europe seems utterly mysterious. If the path followed at St. Petersburg was tortuous, what shall be said of the policy pursued in the Papal States, in Tuscany, in Portugal and in Spain? During the diplomatic reconnaissance led by Caulaincourt, the statesmen of these countries had been busy at Fontainebleau. What Cardinal Bayanne seemed anxious to obtain for Pius VII—namely, the inviolability of his territories—had been lost even before the concessions demanded from the Pope were made. The trembling prelate had consented to join the federation against England, to drive out the monks, to accept an increased French representation in the College of Cardinals, and to admit Venetia to the Concordat. But to use Napoleon's own expression in the decree issued from Vienna on May seventeenth, 1809, the Western Emperor had already "resumed the grant" of Charles the Great which had been used against his successor. There was no longer a hostile strip of land, stretching from sea to sea, which separated the kingdoms of Naples and Italy, for the three legations were occupied in December, 1807.

With this fulcrum Bayanne had been moved to negotiate a formal treaty containing all Napoleon's stipulations. The Pope was exasperated by the occupation of his lands, and refused his assent to the paper; he would not even enter the French federative system. This attitude appears to have been quite as agreeable to the Emperor of the French as one of submission would have been. Appealing to public opinion on the ground of necessity, he sent his troops on February second, 1808, into the city of Rome; in March, Ancona, Macerata, Fermo, and Urbino were consolidated with the kingdom of Italy; and before the end of April, the foreign priests were banished, the Pope's battalions were enrolled under the tricolor, and the guard of nobles was disbanded: the entire administration was in French hands. For a year the successor of St. Peter remained a faineant prince shut up in the Quirinal. To a demand for the resignation of his temporal power he replied by a bull, dated June tenth, 1809, excommunicating the invaders of his states; thereupon he was seized and sent a prisoner to Grenoble. Napoleon, looking backward in the days of his humiliation, said that this quarrel with the Pope was one of the most wearing episodes in all his career. It undid much of the web knitted in the Concordat, by alienating the Roman Catholics both in France itself and in his conquered or allied lands.

During the same autumn months of 1807 another treaty was negotiated at Fontainebleau; namely, a secret compact with Spain for the partition of Portugal. The house of Braganza, like the other so-called legitimate monarchies of Europe, had fallen into a moral and physical decline. The Queen was a lunatic, and her son Don John, who was regent, though a mild and honorable man, lacked every element of greatness such as would have enabled him to swim in the troubled waters of his time. The land, moreover, was saturated with democratic principles. There had been a tacit understanding that on account of the enormous tribute paid to France for the acknowledgment of neutrality she would close one eye to the traffic with England, which was essential to the prosperity, if not to the very existence, of the little country. But the Berlin and Milan decrees were intended to be measures of serious war, and the Emperor now insisted that they should be enforced. Although the regent was the son-in-law of Charles IV of Spain, yet after the peace of Tilsit the court of Madrid united with that of Fontainebleau in an effort to compel the closing of all Portuguese harbors and the fulfilment of the decrees to the letter, demanding the dismissal of the English minister, the arrest of all British subjects, and the confiscation of all English goods. The reply of John was a consent to everything except the arrest of innocent traders.

This partial refusal was a sufficient pretext; at once the French envoy at Lisbon was recalled, Junot was ordered to enter Spain and to march on Portugal, while the terms of partition were settled at Fontainebleau with Charles's minister, Izquierdo, in a compact which Napoleon must have looked upon as the great practical joke of his life. For fear he should be too quickly found out, he positively inhibited Charles from communicating it to his ministers. The French ambassador at Madrid was also kept in ignorance of its terms. Under it the King of Spain was to be styled Emperor of the Two Americas; and in return for Etruria, which was at last to be formally incorporated with the kingdom of Italy, he was to have what he had so long desired, the virtual sovereignty of Portugal. Over one portion the young King of Etruria was to reign as a vassal; over a second, the generalissimo and high admiral of Spain, the Prince of the Peace, the Queen's paramour, the King's trusted servant, Manuel Godoy; a third was to remain unappropriated for Charles's disposal at a later date.

The treaty ended with the seemingly innocent stipulation that a new French army of forty thousand men should be formed at Bayonne, to be in readiness should Great Britain land troops in Portugal. It was not, however, to enter Spain without the agreement of both contracting parties. Meantime Junot, by his Emperor's command, was sending home maps, plans, topographical sketches, and itineraries of Spain. Although twenty-five thousand Spaniards were marching with him, he received orders, dated October thirty-first, three days after the treaty was signed at Fontainebleau, to seize all the strong places of Portugal, occupy them with French troops, and not to permit the Spaniards to garrison a single one. His first object, he had been already told, should be to capture the fleet lying in the Tagus and to take the regent prisoner. The clever and ambitious general marched swiftly, and on November twenty-seventh reached, with his exhausted troops, Abrantes, a town about eighty miles from Lisbon. The news of his arrival was unexpected in the capital; worse still, as it appeared to the dismayed court, were the evidences that he would receive an enthusiastic reception from many influential elements of the population, who still considered the word "French" a synonym for "democratic." Sir Sidney Smith, who commanded the British ships in the Tagus, addressed a letter to Don John promising that England would never recognize a rule in Portugal hostile to the house of Braganza, and strongly urging him to embark the royal family for the Portuguese dominions in South America. The prince had probably read what had been published in the "Moniteur" of November thirteenth: to wit—"The regent of Portugal loses the throne. The fall of the house of Braganza is a new proof of the inevitable destruction attending those who unite with England." At any rate the hard-pressed ruler was unnerved, and issued a jerky, feeble proclamation, declaring that he would never submit to the tyranny of Napoleon, announcing his flight, naming a council of regency, and requesting those who were so disposed to accompany him. A very few faithful subjects joined themselves to the royal family, and with the mad Queen in their midst the little band embarked.

The fleet had hardly worked its way out of the river when Junot reached Lisbon with a small corps of panting, worn-out men. His prey had escaped, but so had the mad Queen, and from that moment he began to wonder why a crown would not sit comfortably on his own head. He had been Bonaparte's faithful confidant from the outset of his career, and could furnish a queen who boasted an ancestry no less distinguished than that of the Greek emperors of the Comnenian family. The people were most friendly, deputations from the powerful secret society of Freemasons presented addresses, the regency made no resistance, the commander-in-chief and his army gave in their submission. But the French general showed no sign of organizing the liberal government which they so earnestly desired and fully expected. On the contrary, he established military provinces, seized all the public moneys, and sought to conciliate his master's debtors at his master's expense; for, instead of the forty millions indemnity demanded by Napoleon, he took his pen, like the unjust steward, and wrote twenty. In return the Portuguese radicals were to ask the Emperor that he should be made their king. Owing in part to Junot's insatiable greed and his appropriation of enormous private treasure,—an example which his army was quick to follow,—in part to the subsequent disenchantment and a general revulsion of feeling, the plan came to naught. Before long the Spanish general Bellesca seized the French governor of Oporto and began a rebellion in favor of Don John. The commander-in-chief, called from Lisbon to suppress the insurgents, left the city under a committee at the head of which was the Bishop of Oporto. The prelate at once applied to England for help, and in a short time the whole country had organized secret juntas in order to throw off the French yoke. England responded with alacrity, sending troops from Sicily and from Ireland; but the strongest reinforcement of all was the general appointed to command them, Sir Arthur Wellesley. Before the middle of August, 1808, the Peninsular war was raging and the laurels were England's.

Meantime the contemplated upheaval had occurred in Spain. It is impossible to conceive deeper degradation than that into which the Bourbon monarchy of that country had sunk, and the court had carried the country with it in its debasement. The population had fallen to ten millions, and of a nominal army of a hundred and twenty thousand men not fifty thousand were really effective. The host of office-holders and privileged nobility which battened like leeches on an exhausted treasury was equaled in number only by the clergy, secular and regular, with nuns, novices, and servants, who lived on the revenues of the ecclesiastical estates, and on what could be extorted from an impoverished people. By a terrible form of primogeniture the lands which did not belong to the Church had gradually fallen into the hands of a few owners, who lived in state at Madrid and never laid eyes on their farms, forests, or pastures. The peasantry had no interest to improve what might be taken from them at the death of the proprietor, or by caprice be appraised at a higher value on account of their very efforts toward the amelioration of their lot. The grandees kept gloomy state in vast palaces filled with hordes of idle servants. The remnants from their lavish but poorly served tables supported the crowds of beggars that thronged their gates. Of social life they had little; they were gloomy, lonely, and sullenly indifferent. In their stables stood herds of mules and hung stores of gaudy trappings, but these were used only a few times each year to convey the owners in proper dignity to the great public functions.

On such a foundation stood the court: the King, generous-minded but deceived, and jealously attached to the crown servants, impatient of any annoyance, and always declaring a willingness to resign his throne; the Queen, clear-headed and ambitious, but self-indulgent, extravagant, and vicious; Godoy, the Prince of the Peace,—so called from the treaty which he had negotiated at Basel to conclude the French and Spanish revolutionary wars,—the real ruler, soothing the King's sensibilities and gratifying the Queen's passions. To preserve his ascendancy this trimmer had thrown in his lot with Napoleon; but, faithless and perfidious, he would gladly have rejected that or any other protection to fly to one he believed stronger. In any centralized monarchy the administrative law is the backbone; in Spain the administration was feeble and corrupt, for every member of it was engaged in humbly imitating the example of its head, whose house was a depot of plunder, whence toward the close of his career the spoils were transferred on pack-mules by night, no one knew whither. It was said, and many sober men believed it, that Godoy had all the wealth of Spain.

Ferdinand, Prince of Asturias, and heir apparent to the throne, was a young widower of good impulses but feeble character. His deceased wife, married in 1803, had been the daughter of Queen Caroline of Naples; having quarreled with her mother-in-law, Louisa, she had died prematurely, probably poisoned. The prince knew the scandals of his father's household and the abuses of Godoy's administration, but thought the bonds of degradation too strong to be stricken off by a weak hand like his own. His followers, however, headed by the Duke del Infantado and the ambitious Canon Escoiquiz, his former tutor, were numerous and enlightened. They understood how hollow was the protection vouchsafed by Napoleon to Godoy, and how faithless was the pretended friendship of the latter for France. Their plan was that Ferdinand should refuse the proffered hand of Godoy's sister-in-law, demand that of a Beauharnais princess, and thus secure the interest and aid of the French emperor. With such support they might hope to overthrow the minister and reform the administration. No doubt they also dreamed of power and place for themselves.

As time passed, the sympathies of the nation rallied more and more to Ferdinand, until at last he became the leader and representative of the solid elements in society. Between the waning power of Godoy and the rising popularity of the crown prince, something like an equilibrium was at last established, and in 1807 the two embittered factions stood like gladiators looking for a chance to strike. This situation was made to Napoleon's hand; but as it gave rise to more and more serious intrigues, a decision had to be taken promptly. Should he accede to Ferdinand's desire, formally communicated in a letter sent by Escoiquiz on October twelfth? Talleyrand and Fouche both urged the adoption of the policy. What prompted Talleyrand cannot be surmised. After Austerlitz he had urged moderation, but it was probably because he was bribed by the vanquished. His judgment and interest may, however, have kept equal pace in that conclusion. He was most likely influenced in this one by the Empress, whose position was becoming desperate, for the Bonaparte family were now persistently and openly urging a divorce. All Josephine's arts seemed unavailing against her obdurate enemies, and her last hope was to obtain royal alliances for her relatives, thus securing new support against those of the Emperor. She had a charming niece, Mlle. Tascher de la Pagerie, to whom she was ardently devoted; and to set on the throne of Spain one who was almost a daughter would both gratify natural affection and fortify her own position.

There is no indication, however, that Talleyrand's hand was crossed this time, though again his judgment coincided with his interest in sound advice. The country was utterly disorganized and a change must occur; the people were too haughty to endure their humiliation longer; it would be better to support Ferdinand as a reformer, and thereby secure for the French system not merely the kingdom proper, but all her colonial dominions. As Fouche put it, the King had so far been one of the best of French prefects, and if he were no longer efficient his legitimate heir had better be continued in the office. But the idea of securing the Spanish colonies for his Empire dazzled and allured the Emperor more than the assured support of Spain. Having determined for that purpose to put one of his brothers on the Spanish throne, he disregarded both the clamorous calls for aid from the King on one side and the approaches of Ferdinand on the other. All remonstrance from his own family was vain, and he proceeded with his scheme. A new conscription secured the forty thousand men for Bayonne, and General Clarke was ordered to fortify the frontier.

Exactly in the nick of time the intrigues at Madrid had come to a head. On October twenty-eighth an armed Spanish force seized the person and papers of Ferdinand. Godoy feigned illness and kept his rooms, while the Queen examined what was found. It was said that there was a cipher code for corresponding with friends; a memorial from Ferdinand to Napoleon charging Godoy with a design to seize the throne, and mentioning his mother's shame in covert terms; a memorial from Escoiquiz asking from the Emperor the hand of a French princess; and an order under the seal of Ferdinand VII, with blank date, to the Duke del Infantado, appointing him to the command of New Castile on the King's death. Two days later Godoy's connection with the seizure was proved; for, ill as he feigned to be, he was observed entering the Escorial after nightfall. Next day the King announced the discovery of this "conspiracy" in a proclamation to his people, and wrote a letter of similar wording to Napoleon, complaining that Beauharnais, the French ambassador, had been the center of the intrigue. The charge was strictly true, for this brother of the Empress's first husband, though a bluff, honest man, was blindly self-confident, and had fallen into the trap set for him in Paris. He was not unwilling to gratify Josephine, he despised Godoy, and his evident friendship for the crown prince had been largely instrumental in creating the popular confidence that France would regenerate Spain by means of the legitimate heir.

Charles also announced his intention of cutting Ferdinand off from the succession, and humbly requested Napoleon's advice. A commission of Castilian grandees was appointed to try the culprit, while simultaneously strenuous efforts were made to force a confession of conspiracy from him. The latter scheme failed, but the prince obeyed with alacrity the summons to appear. Exactly what occurred is unknown, but it can be imagined; some of the facts leaked out, and the result was a wretched compromise both at court and among the people. The prince asserted that he had written the suspicious order during his father's recent illness, basely denounced his accomplices, and by declaring that it was Beauharnais who had suggested his asking a wife from the Emperor strengthened the general belief that Napoleon had instigated his entire course. This was enough to cow the King and Queen. The offender was at once released, and wrote a formal request for pardon. His sire issued a proclamation granting the boon. His friends were formally tried, but Godoy dared not ask questions compromising the French ambassador, and they were acquitted.

During the trial the "secret hand" was indicated as being still unknown; some said it was that of the Queen, a few thought the grand inquisitor had been meddling. Napoleon sent a wily and misleading epistle declaring that he had never received a letter from the Prince of Asturias,—which literally was true, though he had been informed of its existence and of its contents,—and that he had heard nothing but the vague gossip of palace talk. This letter of Napoleon's was confided on November thirteenth to one of his shrewdest counselors, the chamberlain de Tournon, who was carefully instructed to bring home the most accurate information he could secure regarding the state of public feeling, and secretly to observe the condition in which he found the frontier fortresses of Pamplona and Fuenterrabia. On the same day orders were issued for Dupont to take advantage of the general excitement incident to the recent events, cross the frontier with his division, and advance to Vitoria, whence he should reconnoiter the surrounding country. As if to emphasize his own indifference, in reality to avoid unpleasant questions and with the most serious objects in view, the Emperor set out for Italy a few days earlier; and the day of his arrival in Milan was the date on which Dupont invaded Spain. During this visit to Venice, which has been referred to as the time in which Russia was brought to a standstill and the ultimate method of procedure in the Orient outlined, Napoleon met the Queen Regent of Etruria. She declared, as was expected of her, that she could not continue to reign where she did not rule, her dominions being occupied on the ground of large policy by French troops; accordingly she was despatched to Madrid with a royal train. Her sometime kingdom was incorporated with that of Italy, and the unsuspecting Beauharnais was instructed to have her new Portuguese realm ready against her arrival.

But the real object of that winter journey to Italy seems to have been the two interviews which the Emperor had with his brothers Joseph and Lucien, the former being beckoned from Naples to Venice, the latter from Rome to Mantua. The younger brother had, after the first juvenile heats of radicalism, become a moderate republican, holding his convictions resolutely. Having opposed a hereditary consulate for Napoleon, and unmindful of any reward he might have claimed for his services of Brumaire, he withdrew from public life to spend his time in study and the gratification of his literary tastes. On the death of his first wife, by whom he had two daughters, he married, in direct opposition to Napoleon's wishes, the beautiful and accomplished Mme. de Jauberthon. This was in 1803. Having been importuned to put her away and lend himself to the project of buttressing the Empire by accepting a crown and contracting a royal marriage, he had refused. By far the ablest and most courageous of the Bonaparte brothers, he was utterly indifferent to the rise of Napoleonic empire, for his principles were fixed. It was with reluctance that he came to Mantua. There are two accounts of what happened there: that which has long been accepted—of Lucien hotly refusing the crown of Portugal, with the hand of Prince Ferdinand for his daughter Charlotte; and that which makes Napoleon's first offer to have been Etruria. Both accounts agree, however, that the Emperor raised his bid to the promise of Italy—always on condition that his brother should divorce his wife and rule in the interest of the imperial power. Lucien disdained even this bribe, declaring that he would accept the crown, but that he would rule in the interests of his subjects, and that he would in no case consider a divorce. Angry words were spoken. Napoleon crushed in his hand a watch with which he had been toying, hissing out that thus he would crush wills which opposed his. "I defy you to commit a crime," retorted Lucien. Before parting there was a half reconciliation, and Napoleon requested that at least his brother's eldest daughter might be sent to Paris for use in the scheme of royal alliances. Lucien assented, and the child, a clever girl of about fourteen, was sent to live with Madame Mere. She was thoroughly discontented, and wrote bright, sarcastic letters to her stepmother, whom she loved, depicting the avarice of her grandmother and the foibles of her other relatives. These, like all other suspected letters of the time, were intercepted and read in the "cabinet noir"; their contents being made known to Napoleon, he sent the petulant, witty writer back to her father. Despairing of any support from Lucien or his family, Napoleon formally adopted his stepson Eugene, the viceroy, with a view to consolidating and confirming the Italian feeling of dependence on France.

Joseph's character also had ripened by this time. Experience had destroyed the adventurous spirit in which he entered on his career; he had become a gentle, philosophic, industrious monarch, careful of the best interests of his people, and he was accordingly beloved by them. Roederer had introduced order into the Neapolitan finances, his own administrative reforms worked smoothly, and the only discontented element of his people was composed of the nobles, who chafed at the repression of their power and the curtailment of their privileges. There is positive evidence that Joseph was summoned and came to Venice, but there is no record of the interview, except a marginal note written by Joseph himself in an existing copy of Miot de Melito's memoirs, to the effect that Napoleon spoke of the troubles among the members of the royal family of Spain as likely "to produce results which he dreaded." The last word is underscored. "I have enough anxiety prepared," he said; "troubles in Spain can only benefit the English, who do not desire peace, by destroying the resources which I find in that ally to carry on the war against them." Over and above this information there is, however, a high probability that Joseph was then informed that since Lucien had proved refractory, he himself was now destined for Spain; that the King expressed at first a decided unwillingness to accept the unwelcome task; and that, like Lucien, he departed under his brother's disfavor. Napoleon's offer had already been discussed at Tilsit as a contingency. Joseph was so accustomed to obey that a sober second thought led him to repent of his creditable hesitation; within a week, and before leaving Venice, he had despatched a confidential messenger to secure Alexander's formal compliance with his transfer to Spain. He was under the spell of the magician, for it was probably Napoleon who prompted his thoughts. After that of Charles the Great, the empire of Charles V had been the most splendid in Europe, and Joseph perhaps dreamed that if not first he might be second, eclipsed only by his brother.

Godoy was an adroit diplomat. In reply to Napoleon's letter he personally asked and urged the bestowal on Ferdinand of a French princess in marriage, but at the same time he also urged the publication of what had been stipulated at Fontainebleau. The answer was most dilatory, and when it was written there was a new tone: Napoleon would gladly draw the bonds of alliance tighter by such a match as had been so often suggested, but could such a mark of confidence be shown to a dishonored son without some proof of his repentance? He added that it would be premature to publish the articles of Fontainebleau. In open contempt of that document, a decree was issued on December twenty-third, 1807, from Milan, appointing Junot governor of all Portugal. On February second, 1808, this paper was communicated to the King of Spain by Beauharnais, with the intimation that the treaty must temporarily remain suspended. The scales now fell from Godoy's eyes. His agent in Paris informed him that he had been coldly received by Champagny, the Minister of External Relations; and soon afterward Mlle. Tascher de la Pagerie was married to an unimportant member of the Rhenish Confederation, the Duke of Aremberg. It was thought at Madrid that the Emperor had abandoned both the court factions; public opinion, whether favorable to one or the other, was soon united in a common irritation against France, and before long it was current talk that Napoleon contemplated the dismemberment of Spain by the connivance of Godoy.

Meantime the new conscription had been carried through, and ever larger numbers of French striplings, dignified by the name of troops, appeared at Bayonne, and crossed the border. The sturdy Spaniards regarded them with amazement and contempt. There was no appearance as yet of any English invasion, and the army in Portugal was in no need of assistance; but Moncey followed Dupont with thirty thousand so-called men; Duhesme led an army corps to Barcelona at one end of the Pyrenees, while Darmagnac passed the gorge of Roncesvalles into Navarre with his division, and seized Pamplona; Bessieres hurried on behind with the guard; and Jerome was ordered to levy forty thousand men in Westphalia. Figueras, San Sebastian, and Valladolid were soon in French hands. The "Moniteur" of January twenty-fourth explained that these acts were necessitated by plans of the English to land at Cadiz. Six days afterward the Emperor estimated that he had eight hundred thousand men under arms, and that he would soon have eighty thousand more. In the presence of such facts the Prince of the Peace was prostrated, while terror overpowered the feeble King and his wicked consort. Nor was their panic diminished when a second letter arrived from Napoleon, dated February twenty-fifth, which plainly showed a determination to quarrel. "Your Majesty asked the hand of a French princess for the Prince of Asturias; I replied on January tenth that I consented. Your Majesty speaks no more of this marriage. All this leaves in the dark many objects important for the welfare of my peoples." In a few weeks Izquierdo arrived from Paris and reluctantly explained the appalling truth: that the gossamer bonds of the treaty he had negotiated at Fontainebleau were blown away, and that Portugal was to be given entire to one of the Bonapartes. This was the explanation of the appalling armaments in northern Spain, beyond the Ebro. Godoy returned an answer refusing all proposals tending to such a conclusion. Izquierdo carried back this reply, and toward the close of March Talleyrand was appointed to negotiate with him under the pretense of finding some compromise.

Talleyrand was heartily sick of his inactivity, and eagerly seized the opportunity to reassert his importance. Abandoning utterly the position of semi-resistance to Napoleon which he had held for some time past, he now used his adroit and clever gift to further the Emperor's schemes. The document which was finally drawn up by him gave the French equal rights in the Spanish colonies with Spanish subjects, and proposed an exchange for Portugal of the great march north of the Ebro, which had once been held by Charles the Great and was now held by Napoleon. When Izquierdo heard the hard stipulations he cried out in dismay, but to every remonstrance came the cool reply that such was the Emperor's will. Early in March Bessieres entered Spain with thirty-five thousand men. This raised the total number in the scattered divisions of the French troops now south of the Pyrenees to about a hundred thousand. The Spaniards were at last thoroughly awake to the fact of their humiliation. Excitement became more and more intense, until an eruption of popular violence was imminent.

At this crisis Napoleon took a step of great significance. Murat, Grand Duke of Berg, arrived at Burgos on March thirteenth, with full powers as commander-in-chief, and at once assumed command. Ordering a concentration of all the divisions, he slowly marched on Madrid. The Prince of the Peace and the King heard their hour striking. Godoy's first thought was to imitate the example set by the house of Braganza, and, flying beyond the seas, to establish the Spanish Bourbons in Mexico or Peru. The Queen was from the first ardent for a project which would prolong the semblance of power for herself and the favorite, but it was days before Charles could bring himself to such a conclusion. At last, on March fifteenth, the council was summoned to hear his determination, and orders were given to keep open the route to Cadiz. The populace felt that disgrace could go no further, and, denouncing Godoy, besought the King to remain.

They could get no satisfactory answer from Aranjuez, where the vacillating, terrified, and disunited court now was. One day followed another, and the streets of that town swarmed with angry men whose pride and scorn found expression in calls for Godoy's death. On the evening of the seventeenth they began to riot, and the wretched prince saw his house surrounded. Half clad and half starved, he tried first one door and then another; all were beset, and he was compelled to take refuge in the loft, where he remained hidden under a rubbish heap while the mob worked their will in the handsome rooms below. Next morning Charles yielded to the popular clamor, and deposed Godoy from his high offices. For forty-eight hours the minister lay concealed. At last he could no longer endure the tortures of hunger and thirst; evading the attention of his own household, he reached the street, and on the nineteenth was taken in charge by the guards who held it. The rumor of his capture spread fast, and it required great courage on the part of the soldiers to protect their prisoner from violence. Their efforts were only partly successful; they had a bloody and fainting burden when they reached their barracks and withdrew behind the doors. In that moment, when it seemed as if the mob would finally break down even the strong entrance and seize its prey, Charles despatched his son to calm the storm.

The people adored the Prince of Asturias, and without difficulty he quieted the rioters and offered life to his enemy. The haughty grandee, broken by pain, fell on his knees and implored protection; but he retained enough of interest in the situation to murmur through his gory lips, "Are you already king?" "Not yet, but I shall be soon," was the reply. On a promise that the traitorous betrayer of his country's honor should be delivered to the courts and tried by the rigor of the law, the excited populace withdrew. At once Charles began preparations to carry Godoy beyond their reach; but the fact could not be kept secret, and once more rioting began. The populace of Madrid burned all the palaces belonging to the prince, except one, which they spared because they thought it was the property of their sovereign. The King submitted to what was inevitable, but determined to lay down the burden of his royal dignity. On the same day, the nineteenth, he signed the necessary papers and abdicated in favor of his son. Next morning, in the presence of a great council summoned to Aranjuez, he explained that he was overwhelmed by misfortune and the weight of government, and that for his health's sake he must seek the ease of private life in a milder clime.



CHAPTER X

THE AWAKENING OF SPAIN[21]

[Footnote 21: See Baumgarten: Geschichte Spaniens vom Ausbruch der Franzoesischen Revolution bis auf unsere Tage. Manini: Historia de la marina real espanola. Arteche y Maro: Guerra de la Independencia. Torino: Guerra de la Independencia.

On the question of the national rising in Spain see an article by J. B. Rye and R. A. Bence-Pembroke, of Oxford, in the Army Service Corps Quarterly, October, 1905.]

The National Spirit — The Spaniards and their Dynasty — Murat's Fatal Blunder — Louis Napoleon and the Spanish Throne — Napoleon's Subterfuge — A Trap for Charles and Ferdinand — The Course of Savary — Napoleon and Ferdinand — Dethronement of the Spanish Bourbons — Quarrels of Father and Son — The Madrid Massacre — Ferdinand a Prisoner — Napoleon's Idea of Legitimacy — The Spanish Cortes at Bayonne — Joseph, King of Spain — The Spanish People — Agitations in Madrid — Uprising of Spain.

If there be a time when the turn of Napoleon's fortunes is evident, it is the spring of 1808. Between the determination to complete his system of commercial warfare in western Europe and the contempt which he entertained for the Spanish throne, he appears to have fallen into a deadly snare—the failure to appreciate how strong and lively was the popular passion for nationality in Spain, a feeling so long eclipsed by the failures of Spanish government, the licentiousness of the Spanish court, and the turbulence of personal ambitions indifferent to the public welfare. The measures he devised and ordered taken were ruthless in their purpose to cow officials and monarch, in their stern repression of disorder, in their intent to give a bitter lesson to all opposing his designs. But rude as was his procedure, admirable as were his military dispositions, there is abundant evidence of his consciousness that ultimately he must reckon with the national pride of a people which, though crushed to earth, was eager to rise again. But such reckoning must be postponed until after conquest and the effort to rise was put forth in the resistance to invasion with a speed and vigor no one could have foreseen. Ferdinand's first act as king was to request Napoleon's favor and protection. His letter was written on March twentieth, and intrusted to an embassy of three grandees. Charles and Louisa had, however, repented almost before the formalities of abdication were over, and the newly arrived Queen of Etruria supported them in their fickleness. With despicable inconsistency they too despatched an embassy, but to Murat, imploring his interference on their behalf and his favor for Godoy. In reply, Murat, whether from slyness or from a desire to gain time, requested a formal, written demand to that effect. He was promptly furnished with a paper, signed by both King and Queen, declaring that they had acted under fear, and begging to be reinstated. This document was a precious arrow for Napoleon's quiver. Still, the perplexity of the French commander was great; he knew nothing of Napoleon's plans, he dared not acknowledge Ferdinand as king, and he dared not restore Charles, whose sovereignty he had been virtually menacing by his march. In this dilemma he despatched an aide-de-camp to Aranjuez with verbal messages of comfort, and, hurrying forward, entered Madrid with his army on the twenty-third.

Napoleon had frequently enjoined his brother-in-law to enter the city, recruit his supplies, and give his troops a rest; but with those injunctions he had likewise given strict commands to allay any fears in the court. These instructions had not contemplated the revolution of Aranjuez, and by it every condition was changed. Murat would have been wise if he had disobeyed the letter of his orders; but he did not, for new circumstances breed new ideas, and within twenty-four hours he had made up his mind. Here was a new kingdom; the other men of the family—Louis, Jerome, and Joseph—all had crowns; the grand duchy of Berg was very well, but a kingdom was better, and he might secure that of Spain for himself. For this end he must throw Ferdinand altogether into the shade, while placing the glory and power of France in the most brilliant illumination. It was a fatal step to occupy Madrid, more fatal still for the French general to exhibit himself in a martial splendor which sadly contrasted with the troops of beardless boys at his back. He was received by the inhabitants with cool contempt. Next day Ferdinand made his royal entry. The populace went mad with delight, and displayed a passionate devotion which augured ill for the schemes of Prince Joachim of Berg. A less egoistic man would have seen that a national uprising was imminent. But Murat was neither modest nor penetrating; he was a great and dashing cavalry general, at times an excellent commander-in-chief, but he was not a statesman. His conduct entangled the skeins of Spanish intrigue into a knot which only war could sever.

His course did not even ultimately lead to the goal, but to consequences far different. When on March twenty-fifth Napoleon received the despatch announcing the revolution of Aranjuez and Murat's neutral attitude, he replied in commendatory language, instructing his brother-in-law to keep the balance as it was, neither recognizing the new King until further directions, nor indicating by any action that the old one had ceased to reign. The same day, the twenty-fifth, a letter was despatched to King Louis at The Hague, asking for an answer in categorical terms as to whether he would accept the Spanish throne. Joseph had hesitated and was momentarily out of favor, while the perpetual smuggling of the Dutch had convinced Napoleon that the only means to secure the continental embargo was to incorporate Holland with France. Three days later Murat received still higher praise, with a perfectly irrelevant clause interjected: "I suppose Godoy will come by way of Bayonne." This was, of course, a hint to send the Prince of the Peace into France. If the commander of the French forces should act on the suggestion, he would do the work thoroughly; and under the same date Bessieres was instructed to treat the old King and Queen with distinction if they should pass his way. Publicly it was to be made known in Madrid that the long-talked-of visit by the Emperor would not be further postponed. Such was Napoleon's confidence in the quick apprehension of his subordinates that henceforward he regarded the whole royal household of Spain as his prisoners.

There is in existence what purports to be a letter from Napoleon to Murat, dated March twenty-ninth.[22] It is undoubtedly by Napoleon, but it was either written at the time, for public effect, and not sent, or it was a later fabrication intended to mislead posterity, because its formal style is not used elsewhere in the correspondence. It explains to "His Imperial Highness" what was not known until ten years later, namely, that the Spaniards were a people with violent political passions, capable of indefinite warfare; that the nation could and must be regenerated only by careful management; and that nothing must be done precipitately. At the same time it gives the Protector, as Murat is designated, his own option in regard to a recognition of Ferdinand, expresses disapproval of the precipitate seizure of Madrid, and warns him that he must not create an irrepressible opposition. Whether the letter be authentic or not, whether it was sent or not, really matters but little as regards our judgment of the facts. The disorganization of Spain had been its own work; the court intrigues were already burning before they were fanned by Napoleon's agents in the hope that, like the royal house of Portugal, the incapable Spanish Bourbons would fly to America. The revolution of Aranjuez was a bitter disappointment to the great schemer, and disconcerted his plans. But Murat's conduct and Ferdinand's character rendered difficult, if not impossible, any course which would combine the consummation of his fixed designs with even the slightest degree of popular good will in Spain. Nothing was to be gained at such a supreme moment by the ordinary brutal abuse which the Emperor was accustomed to heap on his brother-in-law for commonplace offenses; moreover, in view of the disappointing revolution, Murat's course was perhaps as good as any other. He must, however, bear whatever responsibility attached to it, and that responsibility would have been his even without the supposititious letter which he never received. The contempt of the people for the boy-soldiers at whose head he had marched into Madrid, combined with disdain for his own pompousness and with fury at his subsequent cruelty, goes far to account for much that was disastrous to French prestige and to France in the sequel.

[Footnote 22: For a discussion of this letter see Murat, by Murat, Paris, 1897, p. 139. Rosebery: The Last Phase, pp. 10 and 11.]

In order to secure the Spanish crown it was now necessary that both the quarreling factions should be removed from the scene of their scandalous intrigues. Perhaps it would be possible, perhaps not. Napoleon set out on April second for Bayonne, accompanied by his Empress with a stately suite, and the adroit Savary was despatched to Madrid. Savary's memoirs indicate that his instructions for this memorable journey were very vague: the Emperor wished to see whether the Bourbons merited dethronement; in other words, whether they could be uncrowned. For himself, Savary naively declared that much of his own participation in the subsequent events was mere accident. Murat had obeyed both his verbal and his implied instructions. According to the former, Charles and his consort were in the Escorial, treated with all honor, but prisoners. Godoy, also, was aware that he must soon appear at Bayonne. But Murat had gone further, for he had slyly suggested to Napoleon that Ferdinand should appear at the same rendezvous. Beauharnais told Ferdinand to his face that he ought to meet Napoleon half-way on his journey, in order the better to make his peace.

This hint was quietly conveyed to Savary before his departure, and he was at the same time intrusted with a letter to Murat expressing a desire that the Prince of Asturias should either remain at Madrid or come out to meet the Emperor, who intended not to enter Spain for the present, but to wait at Bayonne. The careful plan worked admirably. No one knows on conclusive evidence what Savary said to Ferdinand, what hopes he held out, what promises he made in his master's name; but on April tenth the young King placed Madrid under the administration of a junta and set out, expecting to meet Napoleon at Burgos. He had been easily moved to this course, for Murat had so far coldly refused to recognize him, while Savary was prodigal of obsequiousness and addressed him as king. His ministers Escoiquiz and Cavallos declare, in their justificatory writings, that in addition to the impression produced by his conduct, Savary actually said, as if in a burst of military frankness, that the Emperor was already on his way to assure himself whether Ferdinand's dispositions toward the French system were as sincere as his father's had been, and would of course be favorably impressed if a personal interview should be sought by the young King before his guest could reach Madrid.

At Burgos Ferdinand learned that Napoleon was not yet within the Spanish borders; at Vitoria he was informed that the Emperor had not yet even passed Bordeaux. His people had utterly disapproved of the journey, but they acclaimed him joyously on the two days' progress to Burgos. Thereafter he remarked a change, and the nearer he approached the frontier the more they showed their irritation at his insensate folly. At Vitoria, therefore, he summoned Savary, whose carriage was "accidentally in the King's convoy," and reproached him with deceit. It was too late; divisions of French soldiers were scattered all about, among them the splendid cavalry of Bessieres. To wheel and return would have been an open insult to the Emperor, which French soldiers would not have tolerated. The uneasy young King thereupon penned and despatched by a special courier a long letter recalling the facts, and begging the Emperor to terminate the equivocal position in which he found himself placed.

The reply was speedy and most insulting, for it studiously avoided the recognition of Ferdinand's sovereignty. The Emperor had expected before this to visit Madrid in person and institute some necessary reforms, but affairs in the North had delayed him, and the revolution at Aranjuez had changed the situation. He hoped Ferdinand would quickly put an end to any attempt at a trial of Godoy, for its revelations must necessarily dishonor the Queen. "Your Royal Highness," he wrote, "has no other rights to the throne than those transmitted through your mother." Had the abdication been a free act or not? He would like to talk to Ferdinand as to whether or not it was forced by the riots of Aranjuez. His "Royal Highness" had behaved ill about his marriage, for he should not have acted without the King's knowledge, and every such approach to a foreign sovereign made by an heir apparent is a criminal act. If there had not been force at Aranjuez, there would be no difficulty in recognizing Ferdinand; moreover, a French marriage for him would be not merely advantageous to the Spaniards, but to the interest of the French.

The following day, April seventeenth, orders were issued to Bessieres that if the prince should continue his journey there should be no interference; but if, however, he turned back toward Burgos, he was to be arrested and brought by force to Bayonne. Ferdinand hesitated as he read the insults, promises, and compliments which made up Napoleon's letter. His Spanish counselors advised a return; Savary laughed at such scruples, and was not only voluble in verbal commentaries on the ambiguous text, but profuse in promises. On the twentieth Ferdinand VII of Spain, as his supporters called him, was at the gates of Bayonne. He was received, not with royal honors, but by his own legates, the three grandees whom he had sent to Napoleon; and they told him with mournful accents that the Emperor with his own lips had declared that the Bourbons could no longer reign in Spain. It was with dejected mien and shaky steps that the young monarch and his suite followed Duroc and Berthier to the wretched quarters provided for their residence. The Empress was, throughout the three months spent at Bayonne, both gracious and conciliatory, playing her part as hostess with grace, and alleviating with kindness the bitterness of her compulsory guests. On the evening of Ferdinand's arrival a handsome dinner was given at the chateau where the court was lodged, and the visiting prince was most decorously treated. His train grew more joyous and hopeful as the hours passed, although they noted that the Emperor did not address his guest as king. Still, that was a slight matter, and they returned in gaiety to their poor lodgings—all but one: Canon Escoiquiz had been asked to remain for a short private interview, while Savary escorted his master. It was an identical communication which was then made in the same hour to both minister and prince; short, terse, and brutal: to wit, the Bourbons had ceased to reign in Spain, and Ferdinand would be indemnified by Etruria if he would formally renounce a crown which was not even technically his, since Charles declared that he had abdicated through fear. The document in which this was announced had already been printed and published at Madrid by Napoleon's command. He now summoned Charles, Louisa, and Godoy to Bayonne.

Murat had found trouble in liberating the Prince of the Peace, for the junta feared the populace if they should remember the object of their hate and scorn. But he finally succeeded, and in the last days of April Godoy reached Bayonne, where by the thirtieth all the puppets were assembled. Dejected and broken-spirited, the minister agreed to play the part assigned to him. The honors of a royal progress had been paid to Charles, and he posed for a few days as the King. Ferdinand, whose character and behavior awakened the contemptuous scorn even of Talleyrand, was the culprit at the bar, charged with dishonoring his parents. The trial scene was a shocking exhibition of human frailty. Ferdinand was summoned before a bench composed of his parents, who claimed to be still sovereigns, and the French emperor; Godoy, looking like a bull, as Talleyrand thought, sat sullenly by. The old King demanded his crown. Ferdinand persistently refused to surrender it. Finally the trembling and invalid father rose on his shaky, rheumatic legs and brandished his staff; the undutiful son remained unmoved. A second demand was made by letter; it was to the same effect, but the answer was different. Ferdinand agreed that he would renounce his throne before the assembled Cortes at Madrid, but there only, and to Charles IV alone. At Napoleon's command Charles refused to consider the proposal, giving as a reason that Spain could be saved only by the Emperor. This was Napoleon's opportunity. Two days later an imperial decree was promulgated, which appointed Murat dictator of Spain, under the style "lieutenant-general of the kingdom."



Meantime that intriguer had been making for himself a tortuous approach to royalty. Nothing could more hasten the progress of events than a riot in Madrid. The sensibility of the inhabitants of that city had been rasped by the French occupation; they had seen the departure of their idol with irritation, and had been further exasperated by Godoy's liberation. Murat set fire to the train of their passions first by a new disposition of his forces, which so menaced the place as to make it clear that he was no longer an ally, but a conqueror, and then by the announcement that the infante Don Francisco was to be despatched to Bayonne with his uncle and all the remaining members of the royal family, including the Queen of Etruria and her children. On May second the entire population rose to resist this insolent tyranny. Murat was ready for the move; the conflict was short, but it was sharp, for he lost several hundred soldiers, perhaps half as many as the patriots, in whose ranks some eight hundred fell. The aspirant to royal honors yielded with ostentatious grace to the first representations of the junta, and promised a general amnesty; but he also thought it best to make an example before the eyes of his future subjects, and in spite of his plighted word two hundred of the insurgent patriots were seized and shot. This very day, however, there was pronounced a decree of rude disenchantment for him. It was on May second that Napoleon definitely wrote to him that the kingdom of Spain could not be his; he might have Naples or Portugal. The Emperor was tired of Bayonne, and longed to be back in Paris, where he could be active about the business of perpetuating his empire and his dynasty. The stubborn Ferdinand was therefore summoned once more, and charged with having instigated the upheaval of Madrid. He remained mute for some minutes, and with downcast eyes. "If before midnight," came the cold words of the Emperor, "you have not recognized your father as legitimate king, and notified the fact at Madrid, you will be treated as a rebel." Some declare that there was besides a menace of death.

This ended all resistance. Ferdinand resigned his rights as king into his father's hands, his rights as heir into those of Napoleon. Charles had already assigned his rights as king to the same suzerain.[23] The complacent old man was actually cheerful and joyous, as his entertainer desired he should be; but Ferdinand, in spite of the fact that he was to have the chateau of Navarre with an income of a million francs, in spite of promises that all the royal family would be liberally pensioned, remained silent and gloomy. Napoleon was not pleased by this behavior, and in commending him to the hospitality of Talleyrand, at the splendid castle of Valencay, declared that his whole character could be summed up in a single word—sullen. Poor Talleyrand! he saw himself condemned to the "honorable mission" of turnkey to a dispossessed monarch whose guard of honor was a troop of eighty mounted police. By the Emperor's grace the young culprit was not to be committed to jail, for he had voluntarily surrendered himself; but Talleyrand was to watch and amuse him, and discover, if possible, some charming and marriageable girl to entangle his affections, so that in her society he might forget the delights of power, while time should weaken the promptings of ambition and revenge. In a few days Charles, Louisa, and Godoy were comfortably installed at Compiegne, while Ferdinand, with his brother, went sullenly away to "visit" at Valencay. The prisoner's character was soon displayed. The day of his arrival at his destination he wrote a cringing letter to Napoleon, and soon after not only congratulated the Emperor on the accession of the King of Naples to the throne he had claimed for his own, but even felicitated Joseph himself on his coronation as Catholic Majesty.

[Footnote 23: Originals will be found in Oman, Vol. I, pp. 616-18.]

Napoleon knew the mysterious power throughout Europe of that charmed word "legitimacy." He despised the concept that it expressed, while he meant to make the most of its power. Having misunderstood the strength of Spanish patriotism, he now made the blunder of supposing that the Spaniards would receive as a legitimate prince whomsoever he chose to appoint as heir to the "legitimacy" which the Spanish Bourbons had just put into his hands. Louis, moreover, had but recently illustrated the force of a new environment under the notion of legitimacy. Replying to Napoleon's letter of March twenty-fifth, he had flatly refused the Spanish crown, on the ground that he had sworn a solemn oath to the Dutch. Joseph was immediately restored to favor and ordered to Bayonne. He came with apparent alacrity, due, as he claimed, to his desire to free his beloved brother Napoleon from embarrassment. Soon all was apparently ready for his inauguration.

The treaty of Fontainebleau had produced unexpected complications and disastrous results on its political side; the apparently insignificant military clauses had so far been successfully executed. One Spanish army was far away on the Baltic, held under curb by Bernadotte; another had been despatched to western Spain, and had remained there; in the mean while the north and the center of the country were occupied by the French. General Solano had made some movement to lead back his troops into the occupied territory, but was checked in his advance by instructions from the ministers of Charles IV at Madrid. Uncertain as to their powers in a revolutionary crisis, he rendered only a half-obedience; but it was sufficient for Napoleon's object, and there was no body of Spanish troops within striking distance of the capital. Accordingly, when the Spanish notables were summoned to Bayonne, they could not well refuse, and a hundred and fifty of them responded. On June sixth, 1808, the crown of Spain was offered to Joseph by this strange Cortes, and he accepted it. At the same time the new constitution, destined by Napoleon to regenerate the country, was laid before the same body, which discussed and adopted it. In the following month his Catholic Majesty presented himself, with this document and a cabinet of able ministers, to the people of Madrid. Charles IV and his followers found Compiegne too cold, and soon moved, first to Marseilles, then to Italy. Murat became King of Naples. Ferdinand remained contentedly in France, licking the hand which had struck him down. Napoleon returned to Paris, uneasy at the attitude of the Spanish nation, but hoping that local discontent could be smothered by the strong hand, as he had seen it smothered in France, Italy, and the Orient. In this, however, he was to find himself sadly mistaken.

In the story of Spanish degradation at its worst two names must stand together as partners in political crime—those of Godoy and Escoiquiz, who sought to mask their own base ambitions behind the acts of their feeble creatures, the King and Ferdinand respectively. Throughout the whole vile complot moves also the figure of the Queen, whose counterpart must be sought in the annals of witches, furies, and hetaerae. But there were still left uncontaminated eleven millions of the Spanish people. They were indolent by nature, had been fettered both by tradition and by worn-out institutions, and had long groaned in the chains of corrupt administration. With the removal of the Bourbons all these paraphernalia were swept away. The brothers Napoleon believed, and no doubt honestly, that pure and capable administration under a modern system would soon produce order, industry, prosperity, and peace, and that a grateful nation would before long acclaim its preservers, and enroll itself as a devoted ally against the "perfidious and tyrannical" supremacy of Great Britain. It is useless to speculate how far this dream would have been realized but for the utter rottenness of the instruments with which the reformers worked. The King's senility, the Queen's lust, Godoy's greed, Escoiquiz's self-seeking, Ferdinand's unreliability, Murat's ambition, made a poor armory of weapons wherewith to accomplish a beneficent revolution. But the one vital blunder was, after all, not in the use of such tools: it was in the contempt for nationality shown first in making the treaty of Fontainebleau, then in its violation by the subsequent seizure of Portugal, and finally in the occupation of Spain by French troops. Declaring that more had been lost than gained by the events which occurred at Bayonne, Talleyrand says that on one occasion he icily observed to Napoleon that society would pardon much to a man of the world, but cheating at cards never. If this be true, it was a stinging rebuke and one which touched the heart of the whole matter.

To the bloody butchery and broken faith of May second, the day of the Madrid riots, may be attributed the turn of Napoleon's fortunes. How far he was responsible for each of Murat's successive acts cannot be known. With exaggerated conceptions of the Emperor's ubiquity, some attribute every detail in every step to the direct intervention of the master. This is unproved and highly improbable; but the spirit was his, and the use he made of each occasion as it arose is matter of history. The fires of rebellion were lighted thenceforth on every Spanish hearth. Madrid itself was dangerous enough, but Madrid was not Spain, as Paris is France, and the fine local enthusiasm of uncorrupted Spanish blood in every district was awakened into vigorous activity by the news of how faithless had been the French treatment, not only of the royal house, but of the citizens—men and women who were themselves true Spaniards, brothers and sisters of every other Spaniard. This possibility Napoleon had not foreseen, and he did not grasp the fact until long afterward, when years of bitter experience had rolled over his head. The Madrid riots, suppressed by Murat with such terrible bloodshed, were at the time, in Napoleon's mind, only a welcome leverage for moving Ferdinand to compliance, and that was all.

But the city had been full of provincials attracted from all parts of the country to swell the triumph of their idol Ferdinand on his accession to the throne. They returned to their homes inspired with hatred for the French and with bitter scorn for the pretexts on which Spain and Portugal had been torn from a commercial system that brought them considerable prosperity and many comforts, in order that they might be incorporated, under foreign princes, into another system, which not only required serious self-denial, but brought stagnation, disorganization, and the presence of an armed soldiery. One weakness of the Spanish monarchy had always been the absence of centralization, but that very fact had been the national strength in fostering local attachments. Into every city, town, and hamlet, each nourishing its own local pride by local patriotism, came the news from Madrid of how the invaders were trampling not merely upon Spanish rights, but upon every consideration of humanity and good faith. The national will was stirred as never before or since; its expression grew louder every day, until at last the conflagration of devotion to a national cause was kindled far and near. Every community formed its committees, and these organized such neighborhood resistance as was possible, while communicating with other juntas of the same sort to unite their little wars, or guerrillas, into a great combined and vigorous effort wherever the opportunity offered. Under the surface throughout all Spain the fires of resistance began to kindle; the crackling could be heard even while the assembly at Bayonne was adopting the new constitution.



CHAPTER XI

THE FIRST REVOLT OF NATIONS[24]

[Footnote 24: See Yorck: Napoleon als Feldherr. Correspondence of Napoleon, vols. 17 and 18. Ducasse: Les rois freres de Napoleon Ier. Krones: Geschichte Oesterreich im Zeitalter der franzoesischen Kriege. Pelet: Memoires sur la guerre de 1809 en Allemagne. Maxwell: Life of Wellington. Schlesier: Erinnerungen an W. von Humboldt. Arndt: Geist der Zeit. Fichte: Fichtes Leben.]

The New Role of Spain — Guerrilla Warfare — The French Cowed — The Capitulation of Baylen — The French Retreat from Spain and Portugal — Complaints of King Joseph — Napoleon's Exasperation — Imperialist Sentiment in France — The Emperor's Determination — The Spirit of Prussia — The Work of Stein — The Revolution in Turkey — Austria's Anxieties — War Feeling at Vienna — Napoleon Turns to the Czar — Alexander's Hesitancy — Napoleon's Misrepresentations — Austria Warned — Talleyrand and the Czar — Napoleon's Allocution at St. Cloud.

Thus far in the history of Europe all politics had been in the main dynastic. The nations having been consolidated under powerful houses, it was the reigning family which seemed to constitute the national entity, not the common institutions, common speech, common faith, common territory, common aims, and common destiny of the people. Spain, like Italy, had a clearly marked national domain, and, in spite of some striking differences, a fairly homogeneous population. It was fitting and not entirely unnatural that the land of the Inquisition, the land of ignorance, the land of intolerance, the land, in short, which had sunk the lowest under absolutism, should begin the counterrevolution which, checking the excesses of Napoleon and the French Revolution in their disregard for nationality, ushered into the world's forum the nation and national sentiment as the strongest force of the nineteenth century.

This was exactly what happened in Spain. Napoleon's strategy had laughed at the military formation of Frederick the Great's system; the guerrillas of Spain laughed at the formations of regular warfare in any shape. They rose to fight, and dispersed for safety, leaving their smarting foe unable to strike for lack of a billet. The occasional successes of the Spanish regulars showed, moreover, that the generals were not entirely ignorant of Napoleon's own system. When Joseph entered Madrid the whole land was already in open rebellion, except where French force compelled a sullen acquiescence in French rule. The long inactive, sluggish ecclesiastics suddenly seemed to feel the vigor to resist and the power to lead. They joined the insurgents, and invoked the orthodoxy of the nation so as to inflame the passions of the masses against the persecutor of the Pope. Irregular and undefined as were the elements of the uprising, it was nevertheless essentially a popular movement; as Napoleon himself later admitted, it was the people themselves who refused to ratify his new institutions, and who declared for Ferdinand VII. The sequel furnished ample illustration of this fact: the mountaineers of Asturias rose in united rebellion; the inhabitants of Cartagena threw open their arsenals to the volunteers of the neighborhood; the citizens of Saragossa beat off their besiegers, while those of Valencia first massacred the French who took refuge in their citadel, and then repulsed Moncey in a desperate conflict. When the Spanish leaders ventured into an open battle-field they were defeated; on the other hand, when they kept the hills and fought like bandits they were victorious.

So quick and general was the Spanish rising that the various French army divisions shut themselves up for safety in whatever towns they could hold: pretending to defy the national guards, who seemed to spring from the ground without, they were in reality awestricken before the wrath of the armed citizens within. A quick burst of Spanish anger, a sharp stab of the Spanish poniard—the frequency of such incidents began to create a panic among the French boy-soldiers. The seizure and sack of a city had for years been a traditional amusement of the grand army, connected in Italy and Germany with little or no loss of life, and enhanced by the acquisition of enormous booty. The young conscripts, who had heard the oft-told tale from their fathers' lips, found to their bitter disappointment that in Spain a sack meant much bloodshed and little, if any, booty. Sometimes the tables were more than turned. A French squadron put in at Cadiz to cooeperate with a force despatched by Napoleon, under pretense of resisting an invasion threatened by the English, but really for the purpose of terrorizing southern Spain. The arrival of the troops having been delayed by the outbreak of rebellion farther north, the townsfolk of that ancient city rose and seized the fleet. The corpses of French soldiers, wherever found throughout the country, were mutilated by the furious Spaniards, and the wounded received no quarter.

At the end of May, Murat was in Madrid as commander-in-chief, with Moncey as his lieutenant; he had thirty thousand troops. Junot was in Portugal with twenty-five thousand. Bessieres had twenty-five thousand more, half in Old Castile under himself, half in Aragon under Verdier. Duhesme commanded the thirteen thousand who were in Catalonia; Dupont stood on the Tagus near Toledo with twenty-four thousand more. In the first weeks of June four different skirmishes occurred between the French regulars and the insurgents in different parts of the country. Verdier at Logrono on the sixth, Frere in Segovia on the seventh, Lefebvre at Tudela on the eighth, and Lasalle near Valladolid on the twelfth, had all dispersed the hordes opposed to them. By the middle of the month a regular advance was ordered. It took the form of dispersion for the sake of complete occupation. While Lefebvre laid siege to Saragossa, Moncey started for Valencia with ten thousand soldiers, Dupont for Andalusia with nine thousand, and Bessieres's division was distributed throughout Castile up to the walls of Santander, which closed its gates and prepared for resistance. Owing to the defiant attitude and desperate courage of the people, every one of these movements was unsuccessful, each failing in its own special purpose. Cordova was captured, but it had almost instantly to be abandoned. At once Napoleon changed his carefully studied but futile strategy, and determined to concentrate the scattered columns on the critical point, wherever it might be. By this time Palafox and others of the Spanish leaders had shown great ability as generals. The danger now was that a Spanish army would seize Madrid, and thither the French army must betake itself. On July fourteenth Bessieres successfully overwhelmed the opposition made at Medina de Rio Seco by the Spaniards under La Cuesta and the Irish general Blake. The only corps left exposed was that of Dupont, to whom reinforcements had been promptly despatched; but the Spaniards under Castanos caught his army, now twenty-five thousand strong, in the mountain pass of La Carolina, among the Sierra Morena mountains, and on July twenty-first forced him to capitulate at Baylen, where his whole corps laid down their arms.

This was an awful blow, for Madrid was thereby rendered untenable. The Emperor gave orders to retreat behind the Duero, and directed Bessieres to keep open the connection with Junot by way of Valladolid. In fact, he began to appreciate his task, for he warned his generals against any system of cordons in dealing with such an enemy, useful as a string of posts might be in checking smugglers; and besides this change of plan, there were indications that he would himself soon take charge in Spain. There was need of this, for his generals and boy-soldiers did not stop to hold the Duero; evacuating Madrid, they never halted until they were behind the Ebro, in what they considered a kind of French borderland. The siege of Saragossa was abandoned, and Duhesme evacuated Catalonia. Junot's situation was thus rendered most precarious, for when Wellesley landed early in August with fourteen thousand English troops, and found that the junta of Corunna had no need of him, he promptly advanced against the invaders of Portugal. Having driven in the French outposts on the seventeenth, four days later he attacked and defeated Junot at Vimeiro. At the very height of the contest, when victory seemed already secure, Burrard, a superior officer, arrived to assume command. This reduced Wellesley to the rank of an adviser, and, his advice not being taken, Junot escaped to the strong position of Cintra, whence, although entirely cut off from his base in Spain, he was able to dictate his own terms of surrender. He and all his troops had a free return by sea to France, but Portugal was to be evacuated.

Napoleon was at St. Cloud, near Paris, when the news of this disaster arrived. To some extent he was already aware of the situation. He knew that the Spaniards would not keep any stipulations they made, claiming that no faith was due to a hostile army which had entered their country under the guise of allies—an army, moreover, which stole the sacred vessels from the sanctuaries of their churches, and would not keep its promise to restore them. The letters of Joseph, who was now utterly disenchanted, had for some time been but one string of bitter complaints. He had asked the Emperor whether an end could not be made to the organized pillage of the churches, and had told him that the movement in Spain was as irrepressible as that of the French Revolution, emphasizing his hopelessness by the suggestion that if France had raised a million soldiers, Spain could probably raise at least half as many. He said, too, that men talked openly of assassinating him; that he had no friends but the scoundrels, the honest men and patriots being on the other side. "My generals," was the Emperor's comment on this querulousness, "are a parcel of post-inspectors; the Ebro is nothing but a line; we must resume the offensive at Tudela." "I have a spot there," he said, pointing with his finger at his uniform. To calm his brother's fears, he replied that the whole Spanish matter had been arranged long before with Russia; that Europe recognized the change as an accomplished fact; and that the priests and monks were at the bottom of all the trouble, stirring up sedition, and acting for the greedy Inquisition. "There is no question of death, but of life and victory; you shall have both.... I may find in Spain the Pillars of Hercules, but not the limits of my power." True to his old principles, Napoleon refused to "call off the thieves," as Joseph besought him, and declared that, according to the laws of war, when a town was captured under arms pillage was justifiable.

Previous Part     1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9     Next Part
Home - Random Browse