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The Life of Napoleon Bonaparte - Vol. III. (of IV.)
by William Milligan Sloane
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From the beginning Napoleon had made the most of his enemy's being the aggressor. There were no terms too harsh for the "Moniteur" to apply when speaking of the hostile court and the resisting populations. The Emperor's proclamations reveled in abuse of the Tyrolese and of Schill. The latter was a Prussian partizan who, having distinguished himself after Jena, was now striving to use the Austrian war in order to arouse the North Germans. He had already gathered a few desperate patriots, and in open hostility was defying constituted authority with the intention of calling his country to arms. The news of Eckmuehl had destroyed his chances of success, and he was soon to end his gallant but ill-starred career in a final stand at Stralsund, whither he had retreated. He was stigmatized by Napoleon as a "sort of robber, who had covered himself with crimes in the last Prussian campaign." In repeated public utterances the Emperor of Austria was characterized as cowardly, thankless, and perjured, while the Viennese were addressed as "good people, abandoned and widowed." The last acts of their flying rulers had been murder and arson; "like Medea, they had with their own hands strangled their own children."

This policy of wooing the people while abusing their rulers had been successfully undertaken in Italy, and continued with varying results from that day. No more effective revolutionary engine could have been devised for Europe in Napoleon's age. The specious statements of the Emperor were based on truth, and while the idea they expressed was distorted and reiterated until its exaggeration became falsehood, yet France and the Napoleonic soldiers appeared to fight and suffer enthusiastically for what they still considered a great cause. Even the dull boors, whose intelligence had been nearly quenched by centuries of oppression, felt stirrings of manhood as they listened to the Emperor's fiery words; the middle classes, though not deceived, had no power to refute such language from such a man; and among the few truly enlightened men of each nation who were aware of their country's abasement under dynastic absolutism, a tremendous impression was often created, at least temporarily.

This fact had already been well illustrated in Poland. Austria had another appanage whose people cared little for the prestige of their foreign kings and much for their own liberties. The Hungarians were a conservative, capable race; many of them were ardent Protestants, well educated and well informed, successfully combining in their institutions the best elements of both civic and patriarchal life. To them Napoleon issued a proclamation on May fifteenth which was a masterpiece of its kind. It set forth that the Emperor Leopold II in his short reign had acknowledged their rights and confirmed their liberties; that Francis I had sworn to maintain their laws and constitution, but had never convoked their estates except to demand money for his wars; that in view of such treatment, Hungary should now rise and secure national independence. The proclamation produced some effect, but as a whole the Hungarians stood fast in their allegiance.

Four years earlier Napoleon's proclamation declaring that the Bourbons of Naples had ceased to reign was launched from Schoenbrunn. Now another, to which reference has already been made, equally famous, was dictated within its walls, though dated, May seventeenth, from the "Imperial Camp at Vienna." It was a document even abler than that addressed to the Hungarians. Citing the abuses which had from immemorial times resulted from the confusion of temporal with spiritual power in the papacy, it revoked the donation of Charles the Great to Hadrian I (made a thousand years before!), declared that Pius VII had ceased to reign, and that, as an indemnity for the loss of his secular power, he was to receive an annual increase of income amounting to two million francs. In time of peace this decree would have produced throughout Europe a tremendous stir; but in the interval between the two acts of a great campaign, men were much more occupied with speculations about the decision of arms than with a change which was, after all, only another phase of a protracted, tiresome struggle in which the papacy had long since fallen from its pinnacle. It was, however, an element of terrific demoralization in the house of Austria, which thus saw the consolidation of Italy under the Napoleon family complete, and their last hope to regain their European influence by enlargement in that peninsula extinguished.

Such was the scenic diversion provided for the great world in the pause of a few days after the occupation of Vienna. These moments were likewise occupied by the greatest military activity. Morning, noon, and night secretaries wrote and messengers ran; the roads of central Europe resounded beneath the feet of tramping infantry and the hoofs of horses which were dragging provision-trains and artillery carriages, or bearing despatches to distant points.

The Archduke Charles was a fine strategic theorist, in his age second only to Napoleon. After the fatal division of his army before Landshut, he had wonderfully retrieved his strength in seizing Ratisbon, crossing the Danube, and standing at Cham eighty thousand strong, as he did after his reinforcement by the division which he called in from the Bohemian Forest. But again he became the victim of indecision. Calling for peace negotiations, he loitered long at Budweis, failed to join Hiller so as to throw their united force across the French advance to Vienna, and when at last he brought up on the slopes of the Bisamberg he seemed for an instant aimless. Thus can the hope of peace paralyze a great general's activity. But when, having offered to open negotiations with his adversary, he received no answer, when he learned that the Austrian ministry also was determined to fight the struggle out, he was himself again. His plan was the greatest perhaps ever devised by him: so great, indeed, that four years later Napoleon made it his own at Dresden. It was to free Vienna by threatening the French communications.

The idea was old enough; the novelty lay in the details. Kollowrath was to detach twenty-five thousand men from his own force, and to seize Linz with its bridge; the Archduke John was to join the Army of the Tyrol, which had retreated to the head waters of the Enns, and then march with fifty thousand men to the same point. But Massena was already master of the Enns valley, and Bernadotte was sent to assist Vandamme at Linz. The Emperor had already divined the plan, and thwarted it by the rapidity with which his orders were transmitted and distant divisions summoned. The communications were threatened, but not broken, and Napoleon gave his whole attention to the problem of crossing a great river in the face of an enemy. He had done it before, but never under circumstances so peculiar as these which confronted him in the size of the Danube and the strength of his foe.

The mighty stream follows for the most part a single channel until it enters the plains which face Vienna on the north, where, at intervals, it divides into several arms, inclosing numerous islands. These branches are nearly all substantial streams; many of them are navigable. It was determined to choose two such points, one above and the other below the town, to build bridges at both, and to select whichever one should prove more feasible when the task was done. The enterprise above the town failed entirely through the vigilance of the Austrians. Massena had better success at the other end, and succeeded in gathering sufficient material without great difficulty; his bridges between the two shores by the island of Lobau were ready on May twentieth. In this interval Charles advanced, and occupied a line farther forward in the great plain, stretching from hamlet to hamlet—from Korneuburg, Enzersfeld, and Gross-Ebersdorf to Strebersdorf. Eugene and Macdonald had reached Villach, whence they could march direct to Vienna; the Archduke John was at Voelkermarkt, on his way down the Drave toward Hungary. Two days before, eight hundred French soldiers had crossed into the island of Lobau to drive out the Austrian scouts; on the nineteenth Napoleon arrived, and the necessary fortifications were constructed; on the twentieth the passage began, and Massena, with Lannes's light cavalry, was sent out to reconnoiter.



CHAPTER XVI

ASPERN, ESSLING, AND WAGRAM[31]

[Footnote 31: See Marbot: Memoirs. Smekal: Die Schlacht bei Aspern und Essling. Strobl: Aspern und Wagram. Cadet de Gassicourt: Voyage en Autriche. Schmoelzer: Hofer und seine Kampfgenossen.]

The Marchfeld — Tactics of the Two Armies — The Battle in Aspern and Essling — The Indecisive Result — Napoleon's Retreat — Character of the Battle — Discontent in the French Army — The Spirit of Austria — Preparations to Renew the Conflict — The French Army on the Lobau — Napoleon's New Tactics — The First Day of Wagram — Napoleon's Use of Artillery — The Second Day of Wagram — The Victory Dearly Bought — A French Panic — Napoleon's Dilemma.

Charles, having apparently determined to let his enemy cross unmolested, and to fight the decisive battle on his own ground, had advanced meantime to still another line of hamlets—Strebersdorf, Gerasdorf, Deutsch-Wagram. On the morning of the twenty-first Napoleon's army was partly across the main stream, some of his troops being yet on the Lobau, some entirely over on the left bank, but a large portion still on the right bank. His cavalry was again sent to clear the Marchfeld of the Austrian light horse, who were coursing from one vantage-point to another; and he himself, in order to survey the country, advanced to the first slight rise beyond the low meadows which border the river. Near where he stood was the comfortable hamlet of Aspern, composed like the others round about of one-story stone houses and high stone barns, some of which are of great size, with walls many feet thick. The farmsteads and churchyards are inclosed with ordinary masonry walls. At a short distance to the eastward lay Essling, which, like Aspern, had a few hundred inhabitants, and farther still, but easily visible, the somewhat larger village of Enzersdorf. The plain, though not rolling, is yet not perfectly flat, and small watercourses traverse it at frequent intervals, their direction marked by the trees growing on their banks. The most important of these, the Russbach, was some miles north of where he stood. Turning to Massena, after scanning the ground, he said: "I shall refuse on the left, and advancing on the right, turn in the Austrian front to the left." That is, he would leave his own left on the river, turn the Austrian left, and rolling up their line, inclose them with their rear to the Danube. His success would be their annihilation, for they had no means of crossing in retreat.

To men of less daring this would have seemed a mad plan. A careful general would, without hesitation, have seized and strongly garrisoned Aspern, Essling, and Enzersdorf, in order that his own line of retreat might be secure, and sufficient room be assured in which to deploy. Pelet, in his memoirs, declares that the Emperor's orders were "to cross the river and march against the enemy." Be this as it may, there were as yet only three infantry divisions on the left bank of the Danube, and Aspern was but weakly garrisoned. Charles was determined to maintain if possible his superiority of numbers. The river was somewhat swollen and he sent floats laden with stones down the main channel to crash through Napoleon's bridges. The attempt met with only slight success, though it weakened the most important bridge. Meantime the Austrians were advancing in five columns, one by Breitenlee against Aspern, one by Aderklaa against Essling, one direct on Enzersdorf to their left; the two others were cavalry, and bore in the general direction of Breitenlee toward Aspern. They appeared in full sight about one o'clock, the column destined to attack Napoleon being nearest. Napoleon's over-confidence disappeared at once, and while the Austrians deployed for the attack, and occupied Aspern, he sent in Molitor's division to seize and hold that hamlet, Massena being in command. The divisions of Legrand and Boudet were in the rear, on the right and left respectively. Bessieres, with the cavalry of Lasalle and Espagne, stood between Aspern and Essling; the division of Carra Saint-Cyr arrived later and was held in reserve. Lannes and Boudet, with a small force, were ordered to hold Essling. Enzersdorf was abandoned, and quickly occupied by the Austrian left.

The fighting at Aspern was awful. The French pushed in, were driven out, then turned and seized the place again. Once more, and still once more, the same alternation of success and defeat was repeated, the thickest of the fight being at the churchyard in the western end of the village. At Essling the fore-post about which the battle raged was a great barn with mighty walls and vaulted cellars. Meanwhile the Emperor was calling in his troops as fast as possible from behind, but at three in the afternoon his main bridge over the chief arm of the Danube gave way before masses of rubbish brought down from the hill-country by a freshet, which was hourly increasing in volume. The Austrians were from first to last superior in numbers on the battle-field; their enfilading batteries were able to sweep the French lines for several hours, and the carnage was dreadful. At last Bessieres succeeded in dislodging them from Essling, and by great exertion that place was held until dusk, when the Austrians drew off to bivouac. But at Aspern the numbers engaged were greater, Legrand being sent in toward nightfall. The Archduke intended to take and hold the village if possible, and the fighting continued there until midnight. Weakened and inferior in numbers though the French were, they understood better than their foes the defense of such a place, and when firing ceased they still held half of the long main street.



By midnight the French bridge was again repaired, and Davout, in response to Napoleon's urgent orders, began to bring up reinforcements, especially artillery, holding them on the south shore of the main stream in readiness for crossing. At two in the morning the Austrians made still another effort to drive out the enemy from Aspern; soon afterward they again attacked Essling. Massena called in Carra Saint-Cyr to Aspern; within an hour both attacks had been repulsed, and the latter hamlet was entirely cleared of the enemy. While the desperate struggle again went on, the Emperor once more surveyed the field; and when at seven in the morning Davout sent word that a portion of the reinforcements was already on the Lobau, Napoleon determined to break through the enemy's center, and for that purpose threw forward the troops already on the ground. But once more the weakened and patched structure over the Danube gave way, and the arrival of reinforcements was stopped; the available French force was immediately drawn back, and stationed to hold the line from Aspern to Essling. The enemy was encouraged and pressed on to the attack with renewed vigor; in the former village the scenes of the previous day were repeated, first one and then the other contestant holding it for a time. In the center, where the Austrians almost broke through the line, Napoleon quickly brought together his recently arrived artillery and Bessieres's cavalry; after terrific struggles they succeeded in holding the Austrians in check. On the right Essling, after being captured and recaptured several times by each side, was taken and long held by the enemy's left; it was then retaken at about three in the afternoon, by a portion of the French reserve, Napoleon's "young guard." Thereupon, from the sheer exhaustion of both sides, the conflict ceased, nothing being heard but desultory discharges of artillery. The French were in possession of both Aspern and Essling. At seven the Emperor called a council of war; the generals advised recrossing the Danube and a retreat into Vienna. "You must mean to Strasburg," said their chief; "for if Charles should follow, he might drive me thither, and if he should march to cut me off at Linz, I must march thither, too, to meet him. In either case, I must abandon the capital, my only source of supplies." There was no reply, and it was determined to withdraw into the Lobau, and hold it until a stronger bridge could be constructed and Davout bring over his entire force. After two days of terrific defensive fighting,—so terrific that the Austrians were several times on the point of retreat,—Napoleon was obliged to abandon the field.

The night of May twenty-second was the beginning of such bitterness for the French emperor as he had not yet tasted. His enemy's forces numbered about seventy thousand, his own perhaps forty-five thousand; but this was entirely his own fault, due largely to overweening confidence in himself and a weak contempt for foes who, after a long and severe novitiate, now fought like veteran Frenchmen, and were led by one who had learned the lessons of Napoleon's own strategy. Five times Essling had been lost and won; how often Aspern had been captured and retaken could only be estimated. Both hamlets were now abandoned by the French. The last Austrian charge against the center had been made and repelled with fiery valor, but in it Lannes was mortally wounded. The grand total, therefore, of the two days was a loss of gallant troops by the thousand, and of this marshal, Napoleon's greatest division general, the friend of his youth, and the only surviving one that was both fearless and honest. Worse even than this, the "unconquerable," though not conquered, had been checked, and that, too, not in a corner, as in Spain or at Eylau, but in the sight of all Europe, on a field chosen by himself.

As the war-sick Emperor passed the litter on which lay his old comrade, he threw himself on the living but maimed and half-conscious form in an agony of tenderness; and that night, as he sat at table before an untasted meal, briny tears rolled over cheeks which did not often know the sensation. But the bulletin which he dictated ran, "The enemy withdrew to their position, and we remained masters of the field." This latter clause was exactly as true of the French at Aspern as it had been of the Russians at Eylau—the affair was a technical victory, a moral defeat. The Austrians celebrated the battle as their victory, the honors of which they accorded to the last cavalry charge under Prince John Liechtenstein; and in the peaceful churchyard at Aspern lies the effigy of a majestic lion stricken to the heart, as a reminder to patriotic Austrians of those two days' victorious fighting, which literally drenched the spot with blood. "We could not use the victory," wrote Charles's chief of staff on the twenty-fourth; "for the enemy's strong position made pursuit impossible." This he well knew, because the night before the Austrians had tried with signal failure to dislodge the French army from the Lobau.

The respective feelings of the two forces are mirrored in two facts. On the twenty-third Napoleon again visited Lannes, who was now fully conscious and aware that he was doomed. He was as fearless as ever and with the stern candor of an old republican poured out to the Emperor all that he felt. The army, he said, was weary of bloodshed, the nation of its sense of exhaustion; for both were alike aware that they suffered and bled no longer for a principle, but for the boundless ambition of one man. The veteran marshal refused all sympathy or consolation, and turned his face to the wall. Both Marbot and Pelet declare that this story of Cadet de Gassicourt is an invention; if so, it is a clever one, for we know from other sources that the language ascribed to Lannes expressed the sentiments of the soldiery. As there was little chance for booty in such rapid marching and constant fighting, the youth and the poor were disheartened. The great fortunes won by the officers were of little use while peace was denied for their enjoyment; the millions of Massena did not save him from the exposures and hardships of the battle-field, and he confessed that he loved luxury and immoral self-indulgence. Such voices had created an undercurrent of discontent.

The feeling of Charles and his soldiers was not greatly different. There was nothing possible as the result of their victory but to take up a more comfortable position on the same Marchfeld which had witnessed their losses. Before them were the bodies of ten thousand dead and four times that number had been wounded: losses which were about equally divided between their brethren and their foes. The Archduke urged that now was the time for diplomacy. The battle of Aspern had softened Napoleon, he said, and Austria might secure an advantageous peace. But Francis had not changed his nature; he would await the final decision. His brother Ferdinand would soon arrive from Poland, and John was already in Hungary. To Frederick William III he had offered Warsaw if Prussia would only come to his assistance. But the King of Prussia was stubborn. Fearing lest Austria should secure German leadership, and expecting in the end to gain more from Russia, he refused, in spite of the earnest advice of all his ministers, to assist his rival. It was only when he was assured that Alexander intended to remain neutral that he consented to a secret armament, but then it was too late. The insurrection in Westphalia, to assist which Schill, in disobedience of orders, had led his battalion of hussars from Berlin, was easily suppressed. This fact, with Napoleon's signal success in Bavaria, seemed to justify Frederick William, and the failure of Francis to secure any advantage after Aspern confirmed the opinion. Such, however, was the temper of the Prussian people that, under moral compulsion, their King finally proposed formal terms of alliance. Austria's real spirit appeared in her vague answer. She first asked England for more assistance, but failing to secure it, turned ungraciously and with indefinite proposals to Prussia. Her envoy of course found no response. Thus it was that Charles and Napoleon lay for weeks watching each other like gladiators, each ready to take advantage of any false step made by the other, and both steadily gathering strength to renew the struggle in the same arena.

Napoleon seemed to make his preparations with a determination to risk all in the next encounter. His line of communication with the west was abandoned altogether; the Tyrol, too, was virtually evacuated, and Lefebvre, with the Bavarians, relieved Vandamme and Bernadotte at Linz, so that both the latter might at once advance within striking distance. Eugene had reached Bruck in Styria, and was therefore at hand; Marmont with ten thousand men was called from Illyria. Being thus safe toward the south, the Emperor sent two divisions to watch the Austrians at Presburg. Before June tenth he had compacted in and about Vienna an army of two hundred and forty thousand men. On the thirteenth the Archduke John, having turned and advanced toward Raab, was attacked, defeated, and driven back into Hungary by Eugene, who had learned, if not generalship, at least obedience, and having carefully obeyed his stepfather's injunctions, had thus won an important victory.

Meantime all was activity on the Lobau. A new and solid bridge was built across the main stream. To forestall another such accident as had occurred before, this structure was not only protected by piles, but guarded by rowboats which were armed with field-pieces and manned by artillerymen. The enemy had withdrawn behind the Russbach in a line from Deutsch-Wagram to Markgrafneusiedl, leaving only a corps to fortify the old line from Aspern to Essling. In consequence the Emperor entirely changed his plan. The island of Lobau was first strongly fortified, and then, not one, but numerous bridges were constructed to the mainland on the left bank under cover of the guns. Lower down similar measures were taken. In this way the French troops could effect their passage very rapidly and much farther eastward than before, avoid the Aspern-Essling line, and reaching Enzersdorf under protection of their own forts, turn the enemy's left almost in the act of crossing, and so roll up the left wing of his line, which was strongly posted on high ground behind the Russbach, from Markgrafneusiedl through Parbasdorf toward Wagram, where it was connected with the center. These arrangements were all completed by July first, on which date the Emperor left Schoenbrunn for the Lobau. During the fighting at Aspern he had observed the field from the swinging rungs of a rope-ladder fastened to one of the tall trees on the island. This time he brought with him a long step-ladder, one of those used in the palace gardens to trim high shrubs. The Archduke John was now in Presburg; the Archduke Charles had raised his numbers to a hundred and thirty thousand men. On and near the Lobau were a hundred and eighty thousand French soldiers; twenty-two thousand more were behind.

It was the fifth before all the preliminary moves were successfully taken. The passage had been safely accomplished during the previous night exactly as had been planned, a feint against Aspern having thrown the Austrians on a false scent. In the morning, therefore, the two lines were arrayed opposite, but somewhat obliquely, to each other, the French right overlapping the Austrian left beyond Enzersdorf as far as Wittau, so as either to prevent the approach of Archduke John or to outflank the Austrian left according to circumstances. The French center was thus in front of the Austrian left, and Massena, with the French left resting on the Danube, was to attack the Austrian center at the village of Gerasdorf, while Bernadotte and Eugene were to throw themselves on Charles's left, which stretched behind the Russbach from Wagram to Markgrafneusiedl. Napoleon waited for some hours while scouts reconnoitered toward Presburg. Being assured about five that John had not left that city nor given any signs of moving, he prepared his columns, and about seven in the evening ordered the onset.

Massena made a vigorous effort to hold the enemy's center and right, while Napoleon launched his own center and right against the positions held by his opponent's left. For some hours there was vigorous fighting, but Charles saw the Emperor's manoeuver, and swiftly throwing his reserve from behind Gerasdorf into his left, gained time to call up reinforcements from his right at the Bisamberg. Bernadotte moved slowly, and did not render his force effective at the crucial moment. Napoleon was much incensed by his apparent sluggishness. An attack made at seven against Wagram by Oudinot failed. This hamlet was the key of the Austrian position, forming as it did the angle of their line, and the fighting there was desperate. By nine o'clock the French were thrown back all along, and compelled to resume the positions they had held in the morning. At eleven a last attempt was made by Eugene and Bernadotte on Wagram, but like the other it was bloody and useless. At the council-fire that evening the leaders of the French left and center were ordered to move farther to the right, and to concentrate next morning on the positions behind the Russbach. About dawn the change was made, and before sunrise all was ready, the Emperor having passed a sleepless night on his tiger-skin behind the bivouac fire in front of his tent.



But Charles did not wait to be attacked. With new courage and added confidence he ordered his right, under Klenau, to follow down the Danube against the enemy's weakened left, which might thus be turned, while with the break of day his center advanced against Massena. For a time the Austrians carried all before them, and Massena retreated step by step until it appeared as if the tables would be turned and Napoleon overwhelmed by his own tactics. Both Aspern and Essling were taken, and then, turning north, the united Austrian center and right entirely surrounded the French left and attacked it on the flank. They thought themselves victorious, when unexpectedly the heavy artillery on the Lobau opened fire upon them, and they began to waver. At this crisis the great artillerist brought into action the strong batteries of his own arm which he had so carefully prepared. Lauriston was chosen to carry out the decisive movement, and his splendid conduct not merely secured the victory, but made it overwhelming. According to the most conservative estimate, there were under his command one hundred field-pieces,—sixty from the guard,—and these were supported by cavalry and cuirassiers; some estimate the number of guns at four hundred, but this is manifestly a wild exaggeration. As the artillery rolled up and unlimbered, volleys of shot, shell, and grape began to follow in swift succession, and in a short time the enemy's pursuit was not only stayed, but with the approach of Macdonald's infantry to form a new flank it was turned into retreat. The Austrians made one gallant stand, but were finally forced back to the foot of the Bisamberg.

Meantime Davout had attacked the left. While he fought he was steadily reinforced, until at one time, about midday, over a third of the army was concentrated under his command. The Austrians opposed to them could not, even with their vantage of high ground, withstand the ever stronger pressure, and slowly rolled back northward in a curve. Eugene captured Wagram, and then turned in that direction to unite with Macdonald, whose division had joined that of Wrede, and had been steadily pushing back the enemy's line toward the same point. They were supported by Davout and Oudinot. The Austrians on the right were then once more dislodged and compelled to withdraw on the highway to Bruenn. It was about two in the afternoon. Davout had been ordered to wait for a signal to make the decisive advance. It was given, and as Oudinot rushed up the heights at Parbasdorf, his comrade appeared from Markgrafneusiedl, driving the enemy before him. A breach in the opposing line was made at once, and the whole Austrian wing, being thus disorganized, hurried back to reform if possible beyond Wagram, cross the Russbach, and join the main army. They were successful. The French right halted just beyond the village which gave its name to the battle. Lasalle, a brilliant light-horse general, was killed in the last charge, and both armies bivouacked for the night. Next morning Charles withdrew toward Znaim, Massena, Davout, and Marmont following with the van of Napoleon's army. Several skirmishes took place between portions of the Austrian rear and various corps of the French van, in which the latter were decidedly checked. Marmont was obliged to assume the defensive under the walls of Znaim. The Austrian losses at the battle of Wagram were computed at twenty-four thousand, including seven hundred and fifty-three officers. Those of the French were certainly not less, if we include seven thousand who were taken prisoners. They lost, moreover, twelve standards and eleven guns.

In the early hours of July sixth, Charles had despatched an adjutant to Presburg with orders to the Archduke John to march at once and attack the enemy's rear. The story at first accepted was that the messenger found the bridges over the river March destroyed, and arrived six hours too late for his errand to be successful. There were, however, many at the time who attributed criminal negligence to John, among them his own brother, the commander-in-chief. For a time, by means of court intrigue and persistent misrepresentation, the blame was put, not on John, but on Charles, but eventually the former was found guilty and banished to Styria. Had the latter's plan succeeded, Napoleon would have had a different task—a task so difficult that the issue of the battle might well have been doubtful, if not disastrous. As it was, the victory was dearly bought, and the Austrians were not demoralized.

On the other hand, in the very hour of victory the French, who had halted to take breath, were thrown into a panic by the appearance of a few Austrian pickets from the Archduke John's army, then coming up, and thousands of the victorious soldiers fled in wild demoralization toward the Danube. John, whose appearance but a short time earlier would have turned his brother's defeat into victory, drew back his thirteen thousand men in good order to guard Hungary. As Napoleon himself had been in a dangerous condition of over-confidence before Aspern, so now his soldiery were clearly in the same plight. Self-conceit had made them unreliable. Bernadotte's corps had displayed something very much like cowardice and mutiny at the last. The army still fought in the main like the perfect machine it was, but the individual men had lost their stern virtue. They believed that victory, plunder, and self-indulgence were the fair compensations of their toils. Ungirt and freed from the restraints of discipline, they gave signs that the petulance, timidity, and unruliness which had been manifested in Poland and Prussia were not diminished.

Their Emperor, if his vision had been unclouded, would have understood that endurance, suffering, and privation would make such men an untrustworthy dependence in the hour of need. How changed he was himself is clear from the fact that Bonaparte would never have rested until his foe was disorganized and overpowered, while Napoleon saw himself forced to treat with an opponent who, though beaten, was still undaunted and active. If the victor had been fighting for life, his position would have been morally strong; fighting as a world-conqueror, it was illogical; fighting as equal with equal to repel aggression, it was comprehensible. This last was the attitude into which he was forced by the campaign of Aspern, Essling, Wagram. Francis, whose power he had meant to crush, upon whom a few short weeks before he had heaped insult and abuse, had turned out a most dangerous foe. Technically conquered, it would not be well for his opponent to try conclusions with him again in the still uncertain position of the Napoleonic power. Rather reap the field secured, the daunted conqueror reasoned, than risk devastation by grasping for more. This, and no other, is the explanation of that remarkable somersault in Napoleon's diplomacy which followed in the next few weeks.



CHAPTER XVII

THE PEACE OF SCHOeNBRUNN[32]

[Footnote 32: See Majol de Lupe: Fournier: Gentz und der Friede von Schoenbrunn in Deutsche Rundschau, tom. 44. Un pape prisonnier a Savone, d'apres des documents inedits. In Le Correspondant, 6 articles, du 10 mars au 25 mai. Clair: Hofer et l'insurrection du Tyrol.]

Schill and the Duke of Brunswick — Andreas Hofer — The Armistice of Znaim — The Northern Powers Adhere to France — Wellesley's Successes in the Peninsula — The Walcheren Expedition — Negotiations for Peace — Austria a Second-rate Power — Attempt on Napoleon's Life — His Great Uneasiness — The Tyrol Subdued — The Pope a Prisoner.

Napoleon's course was probably somewhat influenced both by the mutterings of national discontent in France and by the actual insurrections which were taking place in Germany. Schill, after leaving Berlin, had been successively harassed by the Dutch, the Westphalians, and the Danes, until in despair he threw himself into Stralsund in hope of cooeperation from an English fleet. The city was immediately beleaguered, and on May thirty-first it fell. The King of Prussia had already denounced the gallant adventurer and his companions as a robber band of outlaws. As has been told, the daring patriot was killed in the assault, and only a hundred and fifty of his comrades escaped. The officers who fled into Prussia were court-martialed, and punished by a light sentence of imprisonment. Those captured in Stralsund were taken to Brest and sentenced to penal servitude. Frederick William, the young Duke of Brunswick, deprived by Napoleon of his throne, and determined to avenge his father, had raised, during the progress of the French campaign in Austria, a corps of Bohemian and other adventurers, which was soon famous for its extraordinary exploits, and became world-renowned as the Black Legion. With this force, assisted by that of the Austrian commandant in Franconia, General Kienmayer, he defeated the Saxons at Nossen, a French army under Junot at Berneck, and repelled King Jerome of Westphalia; he then seized Dresden, Leipsic, and Lindenau, holding at the time of Wagram a considerable portion of Franconia. Napoleon's victory rendered his situation desperate, but with fifteen hundred men he cut his way northward through Leipsic, Halle, Halberstadt, and Brunswick, defeating the Westphalian, Saxon, and Dutch troops which sought to intercept him, and reached the shores of the North Sea at Elsfleth, where, seizing a merchant flotilla, he embarked with his men for England. He was received in London with jubilation, and was richly pensioned for his heroic adventures.

Almost simultaneously the Tyrolese, taking advantage of Lefebvre's withdrawal, rose again. The exploits of their hero, Andreas Hofer, form a romantic episode of history, but they very indirectly affected the central story, if at all. In the five weeks intervening between Aspern and Wagram, that able and devoted man had virtually reorganized his country and cleared it of intruders. Even the double invasion of French and Bavarians, on one side from Klagenfurth, on the other down the valley of the Inn, was successfully repelled. The tactics of Hofer's men were most effective against regular troops, who, marching in thin lines through mountain defiles, were cut down by sharp-shooters, overwhelmed with rocks hurled from high ledges over the precipitous walls of ravines, entrapped by ambushes, or slaughtered by the scythes, clubs, and pitchforks of the peasantry.

Leaving Eugene to hold the Marchfeld, Napoleon and his army pressed on after Marmont in pursuit of Charles. Before Znaim, which was reached on the eleventh, the vanguard had just suffered something very like a repulse, and the Emperor made ready for another battle if it should be necessary. In the very midst of the preparations came a proposition from Charles for an armistice. After a long discussion by the French generals, Napoleon accepted it. "You must fight only when the hope of any fortunate turn is gone," he wrote about this time; "for in its nature the result of a battle is always doubtful." The Archduke's motive was to gain time. The Emperor Francis had accepted a plan proposed by John for a reunion of the Austrian armies on the confines of Hungary to continue the war, and he was still hoping to retrieve the blunder he had made in not negotiating on equal terms with Prussia. He therefore acquiesced in Charles's proposal, though not intending the armistice as a preliminary of peace. Napoleon affected uncertainty, and demanded an enormous cession of territory as the price of a truce. Francis in turn demurred, but finally yielded. To this again Charles, confident in his ability to carry on the war, would not listen. His quarrel with Francis and John was growing more bitter; and the Emperor felt that in order to compose the family difficulties and allay jealousies, time must now be gained at any price. Francis therefore persisted, Charles resigned the command, and the former assumed it himself.

The Austrian Emperor's first step was to open negotiations in the hope of prolonging them until he could rearrange the control of his army and recuperate his strength, trusting that in the interval the kaleidoscope of European diplomacy might entirely change. He was not disappointed in the fact of a change, but the change was far different from what he had expected. The King of Prussia now definitely withdrew the propositions which he had half-heartedly made before Wagram. He thought it was better to reign behind the Oder than not to reign at all. The Czar kept the promise made at Erfurt most unwillingly; but having at last secured Finland, he felt bound to fulfil the letter of his engagement. Prince Galitzin had been put at the head of thirty thousand unwilling Russians, and sent to invade Galicia. Crossing the frontier, his officers declared their distaste for the task, and knew they were reflecting the sentiments of an overpowering majority of their own nation. The invasion turned out a farce, and was rather in the nature of a friendly reception by the inhabitants.

Francis therefore hoped for something from Alexander's lukewarmness. The latter, however, would do nothing, for nominally, and in occasional skirmishes really, he was fighting Turkey, and meant, after the peace, to claim the fulfilment of Napoleon's promise. It would be impolitic to jeopardize his whole ambition by any deviation from the letter of the Erfurt agreement. Francis therefore was informed that he must make the best terms with Napoleon that he could. As to Great Britain, the chances seemed better. In the seas that bordered Italy and the Ionian Isles, off the coasts of Spain and Portugal, on the waters of the Baltic, her flag was seen. Wellesley had been landed in the Iberian peninsula, and, driving Soult before him, had not only expelled the French from Portugal, but had defeated Victor at Talavera, and was preparing for the invasion of Spain. The English government had in readiness another army of forty thousand men and another fleet of thirty-five ships of the line. Where best could they employ them? After long deliberation the selfish policy was adopted of using them, not to cripple Napoleon, but for England's immediate advantage. They were not sent to reinforce Wellesley and insure the conquest of Spain, nor to save Schill, nor to strengthen Austria. By any one of these courses the European uprising against the French emperor would have been inaugurated that very year.

As it was, they were despatched to destroy the dockyards of the Netherlands, where it was said, and perhaps believed, that Napoleon was building ships to dispute British supremacy at sea. After disembarking on the island of Walcheren, the army combined with the fleet in a successful attack on Flushing, which fell on August fifteenth. This was their only success. Fouche raised an army of national guards, and Bernadotte, who, having incurred the Emperor's displeasure at Wagram for his slowness and lack of success, had been sent home in disgrace, was induced to put himself at its head. The army and navy officers of the English disagreed as to how they should meet him. The result was separation and disaster; the fleet sailed back to England and the army withdrew to Walcheren, where it was held in check while the swamp-fever devastated its ranks. About the same time a plague also broke out in the Austrian army, and, as was claimed, destroyed its efficiency. Wellesley, unsupported, saw himself threatened by a flank movement of Soult and drew back, while, in August, Sebastiani defeated a division of the Spanish army.

These were the circumstances which turned the pretended peace negotiations of Francis into reality. When proceedings first began at Altenburg they were simply farcical. Napoleon really needed peace, if Prussia and Russia were meditating war; but the first proposal made by Austria he scorned, and talked of Francis's abdication, with a partition of Hapsburg lands among the new Napoleonic states. When the nominal plenipotentiaries, Champagny and Metternich, actually met, the former still scouted anything like reasonable terms, demanding for his Emperor the lands occupied by French troops. The Austrian, anxious to gain time, replied with equally impossible propositions. But as the summer passed, and Francis's hopes of support grew fainter and fainter, he sent a personal representative, General Bubna, to Napoleon, and this plenipotentiary began to display sincerity. Thereupon the Emperor of the French manifested his earnest desire for peace. So far he had relied on the Czar, who stood by the alliance in the face of his people's opposition. How much longer, Alexander must have asked himself, could this state of things continue? It was praiseworthy in him that he cared nothing for popular opinion, but he might not be able to hold out against it much longer. It was very significant that in a formal note just received from St. Petersburg by the hand of a Russian officer, Alexander advised peace. To this messenger, when speaking of the chances for renewing hostilities, Napoleon exclaimed in undisguised horror, "Blood, blood, always blood!" And then, with a sudden change of manner, he said: "I am anxious to get back to Paris." Like his generals, the Emperor of the French was plainly sick of war. His sad countenance, like theirs, was an open book in which the Russian could clearly read this important fact. Indeed, the anxious, war-worn, unsettled Napoleon actually contemplated an alliance with Austria. It was clear that if her territories were left intact she would gladly join in one. He had need to be done with her in order to settle his affairs in Spain and elsewhere. But he feared Francis, and hoped that such a vacillating temporizer might abdicate in favor of some thoroughly trustworthy successor. Napoleon confessed to Bubna that he admired the Austrian troops; they were as good as his own, and under his leadership would be victorious. Champagny's demands, he admitted, were not final, but certain territories on the south, on the west, and in Galicia he must have.

With this understanding, full powers were given to Prince Liechtenstein, and he went direct to Schoenbrunn. The terms of peace turned out very hard indeed. A war indemnity of a hundred million francs was first incorporated in the treaty itself; but afterward, in a secret article, Francis was required to reduce his army to a hundred and fifty thousand men, and the indemnity was diminished to eighty-five millions. This would have been an awful burden to lay on the empire even as it had been, and Austrian territory was now to be seriously diminished. Salzburg, Berchtesgaden, and the Inn quarter went to the Confederation of the Rhine, New Galicia to the grand duchy of Warsaw, along with a large district in East Galicia and the town of Cracow. A small strip of the same province was reserved for Russia. But the most deadly blow was the constitution of a subsidiary government, to be known as Illyria, by the surrender directly to France of Goerz, Monfalcone, Triest, Carniola, Willach in Carinthia, and Croatia east of the Save. This made Austria not only a second-class, but an inland power, cutting her off entirely from the sea; but she was, nevertheless, to enter the Continental System against England, and recognize all that Napoleon had done or might do in Spain, Portugal, and Italy. These were the hard but imperative conditions which the Emperor laid down. Liechtenstein accepted them subject to his sovereign's approval.

But the conqueror was in haste. On October twelfth there had been a great review of his troops at Schoenbrunn. In the crowd was a youth, scarcely more than a child, who pressed forward to gain access to Napoleon. His urgency attracted the attention of Berthier, and he was seized by General Rapp. On his person was a large knife, and he openly avowed his purpose of assassination. He was confronted with his intended victim. His name, he said, was Staps, and he was the son of a Protestant pastor at Naumburg. The Emperor coldly asked what he would do if pardoned. "Try again to kill you," was the culprit's reply. He avowed no penitence, but declared he had no personal feeling. He would gladly have reasoned with Napoleon, he further said, if he could but have gained an interview; if unsuccessful in his plan, he would have thought it a deed of honor to smite down the world's oppressor. The would-be assassin was secretly shot, and the police had instructions to say, if there should be much talk, that he was crazy. This event seemed deeply to impress the intended victim with the intensity of feeling among the common people of Germany, and he was anxious to be gone. His fears were well founded; assassination was in the minds of many unbalanced men. A captain in the Austrian army actually sought a furlough, giving as his reason that he desired to kill Napoleon.

This mania for assassination completed the depression of spirits which for some time past had been noticeable in the French emperor. Severely wounded in the great toe at Ratisbon, he had there been compelled to exercise enormous self-control to prevent a panic in the army. Knocked senseless by a fall from his horse on the road to Schoenbrunn, he had for the same reason been forced to enjoin silence on nearly two hundred persons who were aware of the fact. At Essling he had thought it necessary to throw himself into the bullet hail to sustain the morale of his troops, and having saved Lannes from drowning during a preliminary reconnaissance of the Danube banks, he had finally lost him under the most distressing circumstances. To cap the climax of these experiences, it now seemed as if his own life were in constant jeopardy. When, therefore, the official articles of the peace were drawn up on the fourteenth, and Liechtenstein departed to lay them before Francis, the French cannon did not wait for formalities, but proclaimed the peace as already made. The next night Napoleon was on his way to Paris.

The armistice of Znaim had utterly crushed the hopes of the Tyrolese, but they continued to fight in despair. The peace of Schoenbrunn set free the entire French army to overwhelm them. A second double invasion was organized. Prince Eugene offered amnesty to the insurgents, and the Austrian ministry advised them to cease resistance. But Hofer had by this time convinced himself that his mission was more than earthly. After some hesitation, he refused to accept Austria's advice, and the conflict was renewed. The Tyrolese were now alone, and after a vain resistance the combatants dispersed among the mountains. The land was again reduced to submission. Hofer remained safely hidden for some time, but he was eventually betrayed, captured, and sent to Mantua for the formality of a trial. Napoleon's directions to Eugene were very concise. Whenever the order should reach him, the viceroy was to name a court-martial, try the prisoner, and have him shot. Throughout suffering and imprisonment the hero displayed the greatest firmness, and met his death with lofty devotion. In the previous spring, when at Austria's instigation the Tyrol had risen, he had been ennobled; ten years later the title and estates of Passeyr were bestowed on his family. Among the eastern Alps the name of Andreas Hofer is like that of William Tell among the mountains of Switzerland. His rugged virtues are celebrated in verse, and tradition lingers about his haunts.

Napoleon's decree of May seventeenth, depriving the Pope of his secular power, reached Rome in due time, and Murat proceeded without delay to execute it. There were no difficulties, for it will be remembered that in February General Miollis had occupied the city. A committee of administration was immediately named, whose duties were to prepare the way for incorporation with Italy. On June tenth formal proclamation was made that Pius VII was no longer a secular prince, his dominion having passed to the King of Italy. He was still to reside in Rome as spiritual head of the Catholic Church. That night the Pope promulgated a bull excommunicating Napoleon and his adherents, favorers, and councilors. Unlike similar instruments of his predecessors, it contained a clause declaring the punishment to be purely spiritual, and prohibiting every one from using it as a sanction for attack on the persons of those against whom it was issued. On the night of July fifth a French general with his guard forced the doors of the Quirinal palace, and demanded from Pius a formal renunciation of his secular power. The Pope having firmly and quietly refused, he was informed that he must make ready to leave the city. At three the next morning he was placed in a carriage with a single cardinal, and on a second dignified and solemn refusal to comply was carried to Florence. There he was separated from his one companion and put in charge of the gendarmes. Traveling by day and night, sometimes in a litter, sometimes by sea, the aged man was finally brought to Grenoble. The devout French of that city could not understand the secrecy and haste of his journey, and hastened to pay him homage. So great were the crowds and so intense was the feeling that very soon his presence in France was considered dangerous. He was therefore carried back to Savona, where he remained a state prisoner under rigid supervision in decent but plain apartments until 1812, when he was conducted to Fontainebleau and lodged like a prince.



CHAPTER XVIII

NAPOLEON'S FATAL DECISION[33]

[Footnote 33: See Welschinger: Le divorce de Napoleon. Vandal: Negociations avec la Russie relatives au second mariage de Napoleon, in the Revue historique, tom. 44, pp. 1-42.]

Napoleon's Explanations to Alexander — His New Manner — Sad Plight of Josephine — The Divorce Announced and Confirmed by the Senate — Negotiations for the Czar's Sister — Napoleon's Impatience — His Desire for a Great Match.

The treaty of Schoenbrunn was a flagrant violation of the agreement made between Napoleon and Alexander at Erfurt, inasmuch as it materially enlarged the grand duchy of Warsaw and thus menaced Russia with the reconstruction of Poland. "Clearly," said Rumianzoff to Caulaincourt, "you want to be rid of the Russian alliance, and to substitute for it that with the grand duchy." Alexander was very angry, but, though in the strict observance of forms he had been irreproachable, his conduct in the real support of his ally had not been sincere. His people were more embittered with the French alliance every day, and Napoleon knew how both the nation and the Czar would feel when they were informed that provinces occupied by Russian troops had been assigned to Poland. Francis, wroth as he was, had not dared to disturb the popular joy so loudly expressed over Napoleon's premature announcement of peace. Accordingly, on October twentieth, 1809, the very day in which the papers were signed and ratified, an explanation was sent to Alexander by the Emperor of the French. It pleaded that he could not abandon a friendly people to Austria's vengeance, but declared that he would guarantee their good behavior under Saxon rule; as for the names of Poles and Poland, for all he cared, they might disappear from history. The Czar accepted the excuse with what grace he could, for the partition of Turkey was not yet accomplished. But the peace of Schoenbrunn marked the initiation of a policy which dissolved the peace of Tilsit. There could now no longer be any serious question of marriage between members of the two courts. Compelled by circumstances to choose between a dual alliance with a first-rate power which must share on equal terms in the dominion of the world, and one with a second-rate power whose armies were surpassed by none, Napoleon had deliberately chosen the latter, as the shortest way to absolute and complete supremacy, to the assertion of a sovereign will over a conquered universe.

Napoleon's return to Paris was celebrated in the manner usual after a victorious campaign. The departments of government issued the most fulsome addresses; subsidiary and vassal kings crowded to offer their congratulations; there were the ordinary manifestations of popular joy, and no one seemed to remember that the Emperor had been smitten by the papal bolt. But men remarked a great change in his bearing and expression. Cambaceres said that he seemed to be walking in the midst of his glory. Moreover, he withdrew from the capital, and held his court in Fontainebleau. The air was all surcharged. The Duc de Broglie tells us in his memoirs that he had seen the Empress early that year, surrounded by the brilliant throng of "ladies in waiting, ladies of the court and palace, accompanied by the train of 'readers,' which composed the harem of our sultan, and enabled him for a time to endure the painted old age of the former sultana." The truth which underlies this is notorious, and the scene over the divorce before the Emperor's departure for the campaign just concluded bears witness to the depth to which Josephine had fallen in her desperate attempts to retain both her place and some portion of Napoleon's tenderness.



Napoleon himself had long since announced that he was superior to plain virtues, and the list of his paramours was daily growing longer and better known. But all this self-abasement on the part of Josephine and all the self-indulgence of Napoleon could not do more than postpone the judgment day. "My enemies," the Emperor was accustomed to cry out—"my enemies make appointments at my tomb." He could not rest content with an empire for himself which he knew would break of its own weight on his death unless he left a legitimate heir. On his return from Austria his resolution to divorce the Empress was taken, and Eugene was summoned to convey it to his mother. Josephine, though forewarned, was still unable to realize the fact. She behaved well; her own long career of intrigue, license, and extravagance forbade recriminations, and besides, she was to enjoy the title and state of an empress for life. Still, as women under the Directory loved, she loved her husband, and there had been much tenderness between them, neither taking very seriously the infidelities of the other. To the end, even after the moderate beauty and great physical charm of her middle age were transformed into the faded colors and form of old age (for she was old at forty-five), and when the arts of the toilet could no longer conceal the ravages of time and license, there still continued to exist between the Empress and her second husband a mutual good will and a feeling of comradeship engendered by the memories of adventure, risk, plots, and gains encountered side by side through a married life of thirteen years. She had little intellect and not much character, but she had much feminine sweetness and many soft, winning ways. Her only weapon, therefore, in the hour of defeat was tears, and those she shed abundantly. When the paroxysms of grief were over, the Emperor made a display of tenderness, and the Empress manifested a gentle and affecting courage.

On December fifteenth, 1809, before the grand council held in the Tuileries, the divorce was pronounced, and the next day it was confirmed by decree of the senate. Josephine withdrew to Malmaison to drag out her remaining years in empty state, for the support of which she had a grant of two million francs a year. To the hour of her death, five years later, she asserted her love for Napoleon, and in general she displayed great anxiety for his welfare and success. Posterity has always felt a certain tenderness for the unfortunate woman who was raised so high and then cast down so suddenly. She was not virtuous, she was not strong, she was not even very beautiful. Her wrong-doing was like the naughtiness of household pets, impulsive but not malicious, deceitful but without rancor, determined but quickly deprecated. For this reason her misfortune has veiled her weakness and softened the harshness of men's judgment.

Almost a month before the formal divorce Caulaincourt had received instructions to address the Czar on the question of marriage between his sister Anne, now sixteen years of age, and the Emperor of the French. The ambassador was to make no formal demand, but was to ask for some expression of general intentions and feelings. Alexander was in the provinces, and did not return until the middle of December. Meantime Caulaincourt, after careful inquiry, had learned that the young princess was frail in health and not yet of marriageable age. The letter to his master conveying this information was crossed by one of Napoleon's making a formal demand. The difference in confessional adherence was of no account, he said, and an immediate answer was desired. "Take as your standpoint that children are wanted." This put the Czar in a serious dilemma. An alliance with France was still near his heart. By the treaty of Friedrichshamn, which had been signed on September ninth, 1809, he had secured Finland at last, but of the other splendid projects suggested at Tilsit and confirmed at Erfurt not one was realized. Aside from the chagrin he had felt at the war with Austria, and its menacing results in the enlargement of Poland, there was now an additional cause of anxiety; for in the conflict with Turkey his troops had but recently been driven back across the Danube. If he broke with Napoleon he might even lose Moldavia and Wallachia, and realize nothing further. A few weeks had softened the displeasure he felt after Schoenbrunn, and he now began to shower favors on Caulaincourt, expressing the greatest anxiety for the match. The youth of the princess was, however, a serious obstacle, and he must consult his empress-mother. Of course the dowager made every objection to the marriage; she was an ardent sympathizer with the old Russian party, and hated Napoleon. There is little doubt that she was entirely right, moreover, in declaring at last as an insuperable obstacle that her daughter was too young. Alexander then turned his whole attention to cajoling the French ambassador in order to gain time. He had always been more Napoleon's friend than his ally, he said; surely the Emperor would grant a delay for a few months.

But this was exactly what the suitor would not do. His dignity forbade him to abide the empress-dowager's time; the divorce had been pronounced, and state reasons made his marriage imperative. "To adjourn is to refuse," he replied; "and besides, I want no strange priests in my palace between my wife and me." This was apparently a complete somersault, for it meant that either Alexander must yield or the alliance would be jeopardized. No one can divine from the evidence exactly which alternative Napoleon desired; but in view of his general character, of the treaty he had made with Francis, and of subsequent events, it was probably the latter. He could have used the Czar's compliance to found his dynasty, but he seems to have made up his mind that Austria was the better dependence. Besides, he had very serious reasons of state for urgency. He recognized at every step of his career that his power rested in the popular will, not on tradition or theories. Hence, at every moment two purposes were immediate: first, to keep the popular favor; second, to transform his tenure of power by the infusion of a dynastic element.

In the winter of 1809 the people of France were not comfortable. The promised peace with England seemed again postponed; the war in the Spanish peninsula was still raging; the Continental System was steadily undermining public prosperity. There was stagnation in the great French seaports; hand in hand with commerce, both industry and trade were languishing. The great southern towns, deprived of their Spanish market, were nearly bankrupt. In addition the clergy and their adherents were thoroughly roused by the treatment of the Pope. On the other hand, the Emperor's personal popularity was also suffering serious ravages. In the new administrative system the places which led to promotion had now for a long time been given to members of the old nobility; the recipients looked on them as their right, and neither they nor their families were grateful, while the sturdy democracy felt slighted and injured. Even the new nobility grew more unmanageable with every day. In full possession of their estates, titles, and incomes, they felt their independence, and refused to be longer guided by the hand which had led them into their promised land. They had allied themselves with the oldest families in France, and the haughtiness of family pride led them to feel condescension for the great adventurer whose blood so far flowed in no aristocratic veins. It seemed to Napoleon that in order to secure popular good will he must restore prosperity, which was not easy, and to assert a moral ascendancy over his court he must make a suitable match, which was easy enough. Neither must be half done; his prestige required a great stroke, and it was better to make the match first, and thereby ease the tension until England could be brought to terms—with Russia's aid if possible, without it if necessary.



CHAPTER XIX

THE AUSTRIAN MARRIAGE[34]

[Footnote 34: See Welschinger: Le Divorce de Napoleon. Vandal: Napoleon et Alexandre Ier, Vol. II, Le second mariage de Napoleon. Correspondance de Marie Louise 1799-1847. Lettres intimes et inedites a la C^tesse de Colloredo et a Mlle de Poutet, depuis 1810 C^tesse de Crenneville. Welschinger: Le mariage de Napoleon et de Marie Louise, in Revue de la revolution, Paris, Nov., 1788. Durand, Madame la Generale, A Memoir, Napoleon and Marie-Louise ("Memoires sur Napoleon et Marie-Louise").]

Anxieties of the Austrian Court — The Plan for a Matrimonial Alliance with Napoleon — Opening of Formal Negotiations — The Deliberations in Paris — Napoleon's Decision — The Czar's Indignation — The Ceremonies at Vienna — Napoleon's Preparations — His Meeting with Maria Louisa — The Wedding — Gifts and Rejoicings — Impressions of the New Empress — The New Dynasty.

[Sidenote: 1809-10]

The court of Vienna had regarded what were apparently preparations for a matrimonial alliance between France and Russia with nothing less than consternation. Such an arrangement would, if consummated, temporarily seal the political bond already existing, and might guarantee it indefinitely. The empire of Austria, already shorn of so many fair territories, was no longer a first-rate power. The language used by Napoleon after the armistice of Znaim about Francis and the necessity for his abdication, had made a deep impression in view of the events at Bayonne. Was the ancient monarchy really to be humiliated and remain permanently dismembered? Not if an imperial alliance was the only thing necessary to secure Napoleon's favor. There was an archduchess of the proper age, and the house of Hapsburg was far more ancient and splendid than the house of Romanoff.

Among the many confidential agents of Napoleon concerned in formulating the treaty of Schoenbrunn was a certain Alexandre de Laborde, who had once been in the Austrian service and knew Vienna well. Remaining behind after his employer's departure, he wrote a memoir in December, 1809, which, though sent to Maret, was intended for the Emperor himself, and was seen by him. In it is detailed a conversation with Metternich, in which the latter had first vaguely and then distinctly spoken of a match between Napoleon and the Archduchess Maria Louisa. This, it was explained, was to be considered only in case the divorce should take place, and the Austrian minister declared that his master knew nothing of the project. There is no reasonable doubt that Laborde's statement was substantially true, for as long as there was glory in being the author of the suggestion Metternich claimed the credit of it, and, in a letter of September eleventh, 1811, categorically asserted that it was his; but after Napoleon's fall he declared that the scheme originated in France, and it was then said that Napoleon had himself taken the initiative, on a hint from Schwarzenberg, the new Austrian ambassador in Paris. Whether Napoleon or Francis was the suitor, it soon transpired that both were willing. When, therefore, the former learned that the fate of the Russian alliance was in the hands of the empress-dowager, he gave the surly answer already quoted, and turned toward Austria. During the pathetic scene of the divorce he formally asserted that having lost hope of offspring by his well-beloved spouse, he was about to sacrifice the tenderest emotions of his heart for the welfare of his people. Being but forty years old, he might still hope to bring up children and train them in his own ideas. Josephine gave her consent to the dissolution of her marriage, because it was an obstacle to the well-being of France, in that it stood in the way of her country's future government by the descendants of a great man.

To emphasize this thought, the Emperor employed two devices. The first was to produce an effect intended for home consumption. After the battle of Wagram, Stadion, the Austrian minister of foreign affairs, who had advocated the war, resigned; Metternich, who had been called from the embassy at Paris to negotiate the peace on his master's side, remained in Vienna to succeed Stadion, and Prince Schwarzenberg was appointed to France. But the Countess Metternich was still in Paris. The Beauharnais family—Eugene with the Austrian ambassador, Josephine and Queen Hortense with Frau von Metternich—opened the negotiation for securing Maria Louisa as the second Empress of France. To remove all religious scruples, the bishops' court of Paris met, and on January fourteenth pronounced Napoleon's first marriage null.

The second device was to lay before an extraordinary council the two alternatives and ask their decision. Murat, Cambaceres, and probably Fouche, voted for Russia. Fouche, like Talleyrand, had long been suspected of playing not for Napoleon's, but for his own interest. A certain independence of conduct and language which he had displayed in raising the national guards to repel the Walcheren expedition had awakened further suspicion in the Emperor's mind, and there had been plain speaking between them. The minister of police, according to one account, now declared that there were only two parties in Europe—those who had gained and those who had lost by the Revolution; that Russia belonged to the former, and was the true ally for the French empire. It was believed that this argument was an endeavor to regain the Emperor's favor, for the words have a Napoleonic ring. The majority of the council, however, was under Maret's leadership, and after a long, vague harangue from Talleyrand, in which he seemed to concur with Maret, expressed itself in favor of Austria. From immemorial times she had been the pivot of every Continental coalition against France. She was now irritated, and must be soothed.

Napoleon's friends assert that he himself really favored the Russian alliance, but looked on the request for delay as a covert refusal, and considered himself the victim of circumstances. This is not probable, for Maret was still his confidential man; at any rate, the Emperor accepted the decision of the majority. Accordingly, a family council was next called, and the matter was laid before them. There was no doubt as to the conclusion: they declared for the Austrian marriage. The formalities of arrangement were speedily concluded. Berthier, the Prince of Neuchatel, was named ambassador extraordinary to marry the Archduchess by proxy at Vienna, and the date was fixed for March eleventh, 1810. The news was received at the Austrian capital with jubilation. The populace had already lost much of its bitterness against the French, for they had convinced themselves that in the last war their own cabinet had been the aggressor. Stadion's resignation was probably to many minds a confession of the fact, though in reality it merely marked a change of policy. The French wounded were nursed by the Viennese with tender care, and even under the lash many turned to regard the strong hand which wielded it as probably the only power able to restore peace and bring back its blessings. In judicious minds the French alliance, even if not a high-spirited course, was popular because it guaranteed Austria on the east against Russia and on the west against France. If her identity were not destroyed, she might hope at some distant day to regain her strength and her place in Europe.

At St. Petersburg the news produced different effects. The conservatives were not greatly disturbed, for now they were freed from the possible disgrace of an imperial marriage with the Bonapartes, and they could put up with the insult if only it should break the bonds which tied them to the hated Continental System of Napoleon. But the Czar was outraged; he had been personally insulted, and his policy was toppling. He had secured nothing, he would be the laughing-stock of his people, and he could no longer justify himself in resistance to popular tendencies. He was likewise true-hearted enough to feel the loss of a friend, and proud enough to smart under the feeling that he had been duped. Much of this he concealed, although his suite thought they could discern all these emotions. In the face of both Austria and France he could not attack the deed itself. Caulaincourt assured him in Napoleon's name that the match had no political character, and changed nothing in the personal friendship which his Emperor continued to feel. He insinuated that the real cause of the decision was the religious difference. But this Alexander would not accept. "Congratulate the Emperor on the choice he has made," was the reply. "He wants children; all France wants them for him. The decision was the one which should have been taken, but it is fortunate that the matter of age stopped us here. Where would we have been if I had not spoken of it to my mother? What reproaches could she not have heaped on me? What must I not have said to you? for it is clear you were dealing in both quarters. Why," he concluded, "has anything been said about the difference in religion, when at the outset the Emperor declared it would be no obstacle?" Thus was reached the second stage in the dissolution of the famous alliance of Tilsit.

The scenes in Vienna were brilliant in the extreme. On the one hand, they marked the Austrian approach to democracy, because for the first time the tricolor was displayed in the streets, and the rigid etiquette of the Hapsburgs, preserved from hoary antiquity with pious care, snapped at every turn which Berthier took. On the other hand, they marked the approach of France to absolutism. Napoleon ordered that his bride should receive the same presents as those which Louis XV had ordered for Maria Leszcynska, the splendors of the ceremonial were to be royal, the new Empress's train was arranged according to the same model, the itinerary of her journey was marked out as a royal progress. The civil contract was signed on the tenth; the religious ceremony occurred on the eleventh, as appointed; and then followed a banquet where Berthier was absolved from all the ceremonies considered obligatory upon one of his rank in the Hofburg. Three days later the new Empress was handed to her traveling-carriage by the Archduke Charles, and amid salvos of artillery, mingled with the cheers of the populace, she set forth. There were a few signs of discontent among little knots who collected to curse their national humiliation, and the aristocracy were not reconciled to see Prince Esterhazy in the role of guide to the Prince of Wagram, as Berthier had now been styled by imperial decree in Paris. But, on the whole, Europe was impressed with a sense of Francis's sincerity. The father went forth a day's journey to spend an evening alone with his daughter and bestow in parting his paternal blessing on a child who had saved her country. Her journey through Bavaria and Wuertemberg was one long ovation, for these countries believed their welfare to be bound up with that of France. On the twenty-sixth her cortege, having passed by way of Strasburg, was moving toward Soissons.

After the divorce Napoleon had withdrawn in solitude to the Trianon at Versailles, as if to mourn his widowhood the appointed and decent time in silence. The spot chosen had a significance with reference to the coming celebrations. For a week he spent his days in the unaccustomed but truly royal occupation of field sports. Once he visited Josephine at Malmaison. The next months he had spent again in Paris conducting the matrimonial negotiations and arranging every detail of the etiquette to be observed in the cumbrous ceremonial which he had devised for the celebration of his marriage in France. When all was completed to his satisfaction he left for Compiegne to supervise the arrangements made for the reception of his new consort, and spent the last week of waiting there. Of all his family the giddiest and most worldly was his sister Pauline. She and his sister-in-law, the sensible and charming Queen of Westphalia, were chosen to advise and counsel regarding matters of dress and behavior. The latter wrote to her brother a full account of the Emperor's passionate expectation. During these days his occupations were singularly human. Much of the time was spent in trying on gorgeous clothes: gold-laced coats, and embroidered waistcoats, which had been sent by Paris tailors. Some of it was passed in the acquisition of accomplishments, notably in learning to waltz. Every day he sent a letter with flowers to meet the new Empress at every stage of her progress, and every day he received a reply from her written in correct French.

At last she reached the close of the final stage, and her bridegroom went out to meet her. Half-way between Soissons and Compiegne were pitched three splendid pavilions. Her suite was to remain in that nearest their last lodging, his in that nearest the palace, the bridal pair were to meet in the central tent, where, according to the custom of feudalism, she was to kneel and pay homage to her liege as his foremost subject. But when the Emperor heard that his bride was so near, his impatience seemed to break through all bounds. Entering his carriage without ceremony or warning, and attended by only a single companion, the King of Naples, he drove far past Soissons until the carriages met, when he stepped out of his own, tore open the door of the other, and entered with the eagerness of a youthful lover to embrace his bride. The prearranged stops were countermanded, and the same evening, at ten, the wedding-train reached Compiegne. Such was the lover's ardor that he again flung propriety to the winds, and, claiming the validity of the procuratorial ceremony at Vienna, slept under the same roof with his bride, instead of in the chamber furnished for his use in one of the administrative buildings. As an excuse for this conduct he pleaded the example of Henry IV.

Next day the ladies and gentlemen of the Empress's court were presented, and formally took the oath of office. On the morrow St. Cloud was reached in the imperial progress; and two days later, on April first, the civil ceremony of marriage was performed in the presence of all the great dignitaries of the empire, including all the cardinals but two. Excepting only those who pleaded their age or infirmities, the entire college had been transplanted from Rome to Paris shortly after the seizure of the Pope. There was the usual festival at night, accompanied by salvos of artillery, with illuminations of the palace grounds and fountains. The weather, like the date, was untoward, but the Parisian populace streamed out in spite of pouring rain to get a foretaste of the more magnificent spectacles soon to follow. The solemn procession of the bridal pair into the capital occurred next day, and the religious ceremony was celebrated in the great gallery of the Louvre, before an assembly declared at the time to be the most superb ever seen in France, except for one ominous fact—the twenty-seven cardinals were absent. They protested that their absence was an empty form, due only to the circumstance that Pius VII had not sanctioned the divorce. But Napoleon was as keenly sensitive to the effectiveness of forms as any Roman prelate; the offenders were banished from Paris, stripped of their great revenues, and forbidden to wear the color or insignia of their office. The popular speech dubbed them black cardinals.

In the first outburst of enthusiastic loyalty, Paris and the nation could not sufficiently manifest their joy. The illuminations were lavish, the crowds exuberant, the presents to the Empress superb. Among the latter was a complete toilet service of silver-gilt, including not merely small vessels, but large pieces of furniture, such as an arm-chair and cheval glass. Apparently the French people felt assured that they had exchanged an old, worn-out dynasty for a new and vigorous one. They were jubilant at the thought of peace and safety, which seemed to a generation cradled under royalty to be even yet impossible in Europe except in connection with a great conquering family. It was for this they poured forth their sentiment and their substance, not for the affection they bore the new Empress.

Measured by a certain standard, Maria Louisa was beautiful. Her abundant light-brown hair softened the high color of her brilliant complexion, her eyes were blue and mild, her features had the pretty but uncertain fullness of her eighteen years, her glance was frank and untroubled; but her lips were full and heavy, her waist was long and stiff, her form was plump like a child's, and her timidity and self-consciousness were uncontrollable. The French taste inclines to lines in the human form which suggest a lithe and sinewy figure; the French instinct seeks in the expression signs of quick emotion, not to say passion; the French eye knows but one standard of taste in dress; that alone is natural to French feeling which is the product of self-control and consummate art. In all these respects the Austrian archduchess was woefully deficient. She was pious, and, as her letters declare, had spent much of the previous winter in praying that Providence would choose another consort for Napoleon. But with the resignation of her faith, which some call fatalism, and with the obedience which German life demands from all women, even those of the highest station, she had accepted her destiny. These qualities, combined with her capacity for motherhood, soon gained a courteous and affectionate support from her husband, and together they defied both irreconcilable royalists and radical republicans, who, in spite of their ever-waning influence and ever-thinning ranks, still annoyed the Emperor by significant whisperings and glances. Both were in despair because the strongest indictment they had urged was now quashed. One pretext of England, Napoleon declared, had been that he intended to destroy the ancient dynasties of Europe. Circumstances having opened the way to his choice of a consort, he had used the opportunity in order to destroy the flimsy plea under which Great Britain had disturbed the nations and had stirred up the strife which had inundated Europe with blood. Metternich heard people wondering in Vienna whether a new French dynasty was really to be established for the peace and welfare of France, or whether the alliance was intended to throw the strength of a hitherto implacable and courageous foe into another Napoleonic combination for the conquest of Europe and the world.

The solution of this enigma has never been found. There was at the moment a lull in the storm; for a time it seemed as if it would lengthen into a prolonged calm. During the ceremonies at the Louvre the Austrian ambassador, who had taken to himself the credit of what was passing, and had impressively accepted the congratulations showered on him, caught up a wine-glass from the breakfast-table, and, appearing at the window, announced in a loud voice that he drank to the "King of Rome," a title reserved under the Holy Roman Empire for the heir apparent. It was but a short time since Schwarzenberg's proud master had renounced his proudest style, that of Roman emperor. The crowd knew that the toast as now given was intended for Napoleon's issue, and they burst into cheers at this new sign of Austrian amity. The captive Spaniards at Valencay were not to be outdone. They chanted a "Te Deum" in their chapel, and drank toasts to the health "of our august sovereigns, the great Napoleon and Maria Louisa, his august spouse." Ferdinand set a climax to his disgusting obsequiousness in a petition begging to be adopted as a son, and asking for permission to appear at court. Compiegne, whither the imperial pair soon returned, was crowded with royal personages, with the most distinguished diplomatists, and with the couriers bearing congratulatory despatches from persons of consequence throughout Europe.



CHAPTER XX

RIGORS OF THE CONTINENTAL SYSTEM[35]

[Footnote 35: References: Marbot, Memoirs, ch. 28. Mahan: Influence of Sea Power. Sloane: Political Science Quarterly, The Continental System of Napoleon, XIII, pp. 213 et seq.]

Measures of Ecclesiastical Procedure — Reforms in the Church — Napoleon as Suzerain of the Pope — Methods of Defying the Continental System — Measures to Enforce it — Rearrangement of German Lands — Napoleon as a Smuggler — "Simulated Papers" — Evasions of the Imperial Restrictions — Visit to the Netherlands — Napoleon and his Brother Louis — The Latter Defiant — Louis's Negotiations with England — Fouche's Interference — His Counterplot.

[Sidenote: 1810]

The consolidation of Napoleonic power appeared to be progressing rapidly. In February a decree of the senate had declared the Papal States to be divided into two French departments, under the names of Rome and Trasimenus. The Eternal City was to give her name, as second city of the Empire, to the imperial heir. The Pope, endowed with a royal revenue of four millions, was to have a palace in each of several different places, and reside, according to his choice, in any one, or in all in turn. He was to swear that he would never contravene the judgments of the Gallican Church, and his successors were each to be similarly bound on their accession to office. Daunou wrote a book, which was published at the Emperor's expense, maintaining the two theses of Machiavelli: first, that the court of Rome had always used its spiritual power to increase its temporal estate; secondly, that its efforts had always been directed against the temporal power strongest at the moment in Italy. Unconquerable as was the resistance of Pius VII on the whole, he had nevertheless surrendered temporarily at the beginning of what might be called the second quarrel of investitures, by inducting into their offices the bishops nominated by Napoleon. After he had been thrown into captivity, however, he flatly refused to continue, and the Emperor cut the knot by installing in the bishoprics, as they fell vacant, men of his own choice, under the style of "vicars of the chapters."

This was but the initial step to an entire destruction of the administrative scheme devised and perfected by the Roman hierarchy. The college of cardinals had first been brought to Paris, and its members then banished in pairs to the great provincial towns; the ecclesiastical courts, with all their archives, were likewise transplanted from Rome to the French capital; the thirty episcopates of the two new French departments were reduced to four; the army of foreign prelates which had been supported by the papal system was dispersed into the various lands from which its members had come. The number of Roman parishes, too, was reduced, and all the convents were secularized. Such of the discharged priests as were ready to swear allegiance to the Emperor and the Gallican Church received a small pension; the rest—and they appear to have been in a majority—saw their personal as well as ecclesiastical goods confiscated and were themselves exiled.

These or similar measures being applied likewise to Piedmont, Liguria, Tuscany, Parma, and Placentia, the sums of money raised from confiscated estates became enormous. A large proportion of these funds flowed of course into the imperial coffers, and to this fact, as well as to the restored public confidence, was largely due the rise in prices on the stock exchange which occurred on the consummation of the Austrian marriage. These sweeping changes were of great service to true religion and to the lands in which they were made, breaking as they did the chains of an ecclesiastical oppression under which the populace had been reduced to poverty, ignorance, and apathy. Unfortunately the new rule, while more economical than the old, was not less arbitrary—military despotism being as little fitted for the development of a people as the rule of a corporation. Men looked aghast as the papacy and papal influence crumbled together, while the seat of real ecclesiastical power was removed from the banks of the Tiber to those of the Seine. Time seemed to be taking its revenge. Seven centuries earlier Lothair had been the vassal of Innocent II; Napoleon was now the suzerain of Pius VII. So contemptible had the Pope become, even in the eyes of devout Catholics, that de Maistre called the inflexible but supine Pontiff a punchinello of no importance.

It had been clear since Trafalgar that though France might dominate earth, air, and fire in Europe, she could not gain the mastery of the sea and its islands, at least, by the ordinary means. The Emperor's infatuation with the plausible scheme of destroying England's commerce by paper blockades and by embargoes on British goods had not been diminished either by his inconclusive struggle in Spain or by his victory over Austria. It was in vain that he had changed his naval policy from one of fleet-fighting to one of commerce-destroying; that he had seized and was continuing to seize neutral vessels laden with British wares; that he had expanded his political system by conquest until he was nominally master of the Mediterranean, Atlantic, and Baltic harbors. Since 1805 English trade with the Continent, so far from diminishing, had steadily increased in the hands of contrabandists and neutral carriers, until it had now reached annual dimensions of twenty-five millions sterling. In spite of the Tilsit alliance, even French soldiers occasionally wore English-made shoes and clothing. English ships carried naval stores out of Russian harbors, and colonial wares found their way from the wharves of Riga to the markets of Mainz. But the chief offenders in defying Napoleon's chimerical policy were the Dutch and Hanseatic cities. The resistance elsewhere in the Continent was passive compared with the energetic smuggling and the clandestine evasion of decrees which went on under the eyes of the officials in places like Amsterdam and Hamburg.

These facts had not been concealed from the Emperor of the French at any time, and he now made ready to enforce the threats which he had uttered in the agony of the late wars. It had come to a life-or-death struggle between the policies laid down respectively in the imperial decrees and in the British orders in council. Neither measure was in the strictest sense military, but it is easy to see that the two were irreconcilable in their intent, while the success of either one meant the ruin of the land which upheld the other. It was for the sake, apparently, of waging this decisive though unwarlike contest that Napoleon renounced leading his victorious legions into Spain for the expulsion of English troops from the peninsula. What he himself called the "Spanish ulcer" might weaken the French system, and one hundred thousand good troops, together with the imperial guard, were to be sent to heal it by overwhelming the great English general who had been made Duke of Wellington, and by seizing Lisbon. But the English commerce with the peninsula was slender in comparison with what she carried on with the Baltic and with Holland through the connivance of governments which were nominally her foes. The Continental System, therefore, must first be repaired, and it was to convert a nominal acquiescence into a real one that Davout was despatched to hold the fortresses from Dantzic westward, while Oudinot was to coerce Holland.

With such purposes in view, the lands taken from Austria were apportioned among Bavaria, Italy, Wuertemberg, and Baden. Each of these vassal states was made to pay handsomely for its new acquisitions. The principality of Ratisbon was given to Dalberg, the prince-primate, and he in turn delivered that of Frankfort to Prince Eugene. The King of Westphalia received Hanover and Magdeburg, promising in return about ten millions a year of tribute, and engaging to support the eighteen thousand French troops who occupied his new lands. The gradual evacuation of South Germany began, and before long the entire coast-land between the Elbe and the Weser was held by soldiers who had fought at Essling and Wagram. Hamburg, Bremen, and the other Hanseatic towns, East Friesland, Oldenburg, a portion of Westphalia, the canton of Valais, and the grand duchy of Berg were destined very soon to be incorporated with France in order to round out the imperial domain. It might be possible for southern Europe to substitute flax and Neapolitan cotton for American cotton, chicory for coffee, grape syrup or beet sugar for colonial sugar, and woad for indigo, but the North could not. Like Louis, though in a less degree, Murat and Jerome, sympathizing with their peoples, had sinned against the Continental System, and were soon to do penance for their sins by the loss of important territories. But for the present the ostensible compliance of the northern dependencies was accepted.

It is a curious and amusing fact that the great smuggler and real delinquent was Napoleon himself. Even he felt the exigencies of France to be so fierce that, by a system of licenses, certain privileged traders were permitted to secure the supplies of dye-stuffs and fish-oil essential to French industries by exporting to England both wine and wheat in exchange. The licensed monopolists paid handsomely for their privilege, not only in the sums which they publicly turned over, but in those which lined the pockets of unscrupulous ministers like Fouche, who winked at great irregularities not contemplated by the immunities secured from Napoleon.

An evasion of the British orders in council analogous to that of the French decrees was extensively practised, and licenses to neutral traders were also issued by the English government. But it practised more discretion, and the regulation of the extensive commerce which resulted was not attended by those court and private scandals so rife in France. The worst feature of the English procedure was its adoption of the so-called "neutralization" system. Dutch, French, and Spanish trading vessels had long been provided by their owners with forged papers certifying a neutral origin, generally Prussian. To these both captains and crews swore without compunction when searched by British cruisers. This system England made her own, issuing not merely to real, but also to sham neutrals, licenses which insured them against search when laden with wares for or from English ports. The firms which engaged in the trade—and after the removal of the non-intercourse restrictions many of them were American—compounded morality with legality, considering themselves perfectly reputable, even though they continued to furnish "simulated papers"—that is, prepared forgeries—to their ships as part of the regular outfit.

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