Such immoralities, inequalities, and absurdities were the necessary consequence of a fight for the means of subsistence between two combatants one of which had no hands and the other no feet. So extensive was the traffic, however, that although England had found it necessary, in consequence of the Spanish rebellion, to restrict her paper blockade to the coasts of Holland, France, and northern Italy, she nevertheless doubled her importations of naval stores during the season of 1808, while the prices of wool, silk, and colonial wares gave temporary promise of a revival of manufactures. As long as Napoleon's energy was elsewhere engaged, the ubiquity of English war-ships on the high seas rendered the use of "simulated papers" inordinately profitable; and even after he began to give his undivided attention to policing the harbors and guarding the coast-line, it continued to be fairly so. It must further be remembered that in the treaty which Russia made with Sweden on September seventeenth, 1809, the latter country promised not only to cede Finland, but also to shut out from her harbors all British ships except such as brought salt and colonial wares. In January, 1810, Napoleon had made an agreement with the same power that he would hand back Pomerania, but in return Sweden was to import nothing but salt.
The Austrian marriage having now been consummated and Austria having been added to his system, Napoleon was ready in June to open his novel campaign and begin the commercial warfare which eventually furnished one of the most important elements in his overthrow, the other two being the national uprisings and the treachery of his friends, so called. But the zenith had not even yet been reached by his star. It was with undimmed sagacity and undiminished power that, accompanied by his bride, he set out about the end of April from Compiegne, to visit the Dutch frontier, his object being to observe how far Holland's well-nigh open contempt for his cherished scheme would now justify the destruction of her autonomy and the utter overthrow of her government. The nominal purpose of the journey was to please the young Empress, and to gratify the peoples of Belgium and Brabant by a sight of her charms. This aim was observed in all the arrangements, but in well-nigh every town visited the sun's first rays saw the Emperor on horseback inspecting troops, ships, fortifications, and arsenals; and when its last beams faded away the unwearied man was still holding interviews with the local authorities, in which every detail of administration was revised and strengthened. To all appearance the end of the journey was as prosperous as its inception. Favors were distributed with lavish hand, the people displayed a wild enthusiasm when the affable but distant Empress showed herself, and nothing occurred to mar the outward state in which the Emperor returned to Paris. But the condition of his mind cannot be depicted, such was his rage and humiliation in regard to a revelation of treachery made inadvertently and innocently by Louis on the eve of their separation. To explain what had occurred a short retrospect is necessary.
From earliest childhood certain qualities of Louis had endeared him to Napoleon. The school of poverty, in which the younger brother had been the pupil of the elder, was likewise a school of fraternal affection. Throughout the Italian and Egyptian campaigns they stood in intimate relations as general and aide-de-camp, and one of the earliest cares of the First Consul was to bestow the beautiful Hortense de Beauharnais on his favorite brother. In 1804 Louis was made general, then councilor of state, and finally in 1806 he was elevated to the throne of Holland. His child until its untimely death was cherished by Napoleon as a son destined to inherit imperial greatness. But, like the other royal Bonapartes, the King of Holland regarded his high estate not as a gift from the Emperor, but as a right. He ruled the land assigned him, if not in his own interest, at least not in that of the Empire, and from the outset filled his letters with bitter complaints of all that entered into his lot, not excepting his wife. Napoleon admonished and threatened, but to no avail. The interests of his own royalty and of the Dutch were nearer to Louis than those of the Empire.
At last the Emperor hinted that the air of Holland did not agree with its monarch, indicating that circumstances required it to be incorporated with France. In March, 1808, he offered the crown of Spain as a substitute. A little later the suggestion was made that Louis might have the Hanseatic towns in exchange for Brabant and Zealand. Both propositions were scouted. When we remember who the potentates were, by whom such offers were made and refused, we seem forced to dismiss all notions of patriotism, uprightness, and loyalty as the motives of either, and must attribute Louis's course to petulance. Napoleon was highly incensed. On the failure of the Walcheren expedition, both Brabant and Zealand were occupied by French troops, and Louis was summoned to Paris. His first desperate thought was one of resistance, but on reflection he obeyed. On his arrival he learned that his fate was imminent. Napoleon announced to the legislature that a change in the relations with Holland was imperative. The minister of the interior explained that, as being the alluvium of three French rivers—namely, the Rhine, the Meuse, and the Scheldt—that land was by nature a portion of France, one of the great imperial arteries. Louis sought to fly, but was detained. He at once despatched the Count de Bylandt with orders to close the Dutch frontier fortresses and defend the capital against the French troops. This was done, but Louis's defiance was short. After signing a treaty which bound him, among other things, to open his fortresses, seize all "neutralized," and even all neutral, vessels in his harbors, including those of the United States,—a document which thus left him only a nominal throne,—he was permitted early in April, 1810, to return to Amsterdam.
Napoleon's subsequent course was dictated by what might appear to be a sudden change of view, but was in reality a revival of his perennial hopes for peace with England. Having in mind the annexation of Holland, it occurred to him that by desisting from that measure he might wrench from Great Britain the lasting peace which she had thus far refused. Accordingly he ordered his brother to open a negotiation with London and represent his kingdom as in danger of annihilation unless the British government would consent to a cessation of hostilities and an enduring treaty of peace. This was done, and though Labouchere, Louis's agent, had so little to offer that his propositions were farcical, yet there was at least the show of a diplomatic negotiation. At this juncture the superserviceable Mephistopheles of the Empire, Fouche, intervened. By an agent of his own he approached the cabinet of St. James with an offer of peace on the basis of restoring the Spanish Bourbons and compensating Louis XVIII by a kingdom to be carved from the territories of the United States!
The agent of Fouche reached London somewhat ahead of the one sent by Louis. He was firmly sent to the right-about. Labouchere was then told that before entering further on the question, a proposition for peace must be formulated and presented, not by the King of Holland, but by the Emperor. The failure of the Walcheren expedition had exasperated England, Canning had fallen, and Lord Wellesley, his successor, represented a powerful sentiment for the continuation of the war. Napoleon replied, therefore, by a note suggesting not a definite peace, but a step toward it. If England would withdraw the orders in council of 1807, he would evacuate Holland and the Hanseatic towns. His note closed with a characteristic threat. If England should delay, having already lost her trade with Naples, Spain, Portugal, and the port of Triest, she would now lose that with Holland, the Hanseatic towns, and Sicily.
Nothing dismayed by his first rebuff, the audacious Fouche again intervened. This time he selected Ouvrard, a friend of Labouchere's and of his own, a man well known as a stormy petrel of intrigue, to operate insidiously through the accredited envoy, who innocently supposed his friend to be representing Napoleon's own views. There was consequently but little sense of restraint in the renewed negotiation. Virtually the entire continental situation was considered as open, and Fouche's pet scheme of an American kingdom for Louis XVIII was further amplified by the suggestion of an Anglo-French expedition to establish it. Labouchere having returned to Holland, much of the negotiation had been carried on by letter, and Napoleon, getting wind during his Belgian visit of Ouvrard's presence at the Dutch court, suspected trickery and called for the correspondence. Its very existence enraged him; that such matters should have been put in writing was compromising to his entire policy. Ouvrard afterward declared that he personally informed the Emperor of what was going on, but he could never prove it; the only possible basis which can be found for his statement consists in the seizure and confiscation about this time of some hundred and thirty American vessels lying in continental harbors; but, base as that deed was, it proves nothing and was due to another cause. It is not easy to determine whether this deed was a well-considered measure of French diplomacy, intended to arouse the pugnacity of the United States, or a temporary shift to fill empty coffers. In either case it was not intended to have a direct bearing on irregular diplomatic negotiations between England and Holland. The circumstances were a direct result of the Berlin Decree.
THE CONTINENTAL SYSTEM COMPLETED
The Bayonne and Rambouillet Decrees — Fouche Replaced by Savary — Abdication of King Louis — Conduct of Louis and Lucien — Holland Incorporated into the Empire — Napoleon's Relatives Untrue to his Interests — French Empire at its Greatest Extent — The Continental System as Perfected — Discontent in Russia and in Sweden.
The American Embargo Act of 1807 had been for manifest reasons entirely to Napoleon's liking, as is proved by the Bayonne Decree of 1808, which ordered the seizure and sale in French harbors of all American ships transgressing it. The Non-intercourse Act of March first, 1809, was, however, quite another thing. It was passed by the Democratic majority of Congress in defiance of Federalist sentiment, and prohibited commercial intercourse with both Great Britain and France. Napoleon declared that French vessels had been seized under its terms in United States harbors; and it was nominally in retaliation for this, which was not a fact, that, according to the Rambouillet Decree, issued on March twenty-third, 1810, American vessels with their cargoes, worth together upward of eight million dollars, were seized and kept. In reality Napoleon regarded or pretended to regard the Non-intercourse Act as one of open hostility to himself, and used it to fill his depleted purse, exactly as he used the substitutes passed by Congress in the following year to bring on the War of 1812. Owing to the general use of "simulated" American papers and seals, the non-intercourse system introduced British goods into every continental harbor. A vessel holding both a French and a British license and "simulated papers" of the United States or any other neutral state might by unscrupulous adroitness trade in English goods almost without restriction, and this was far from Napoleon's intention. Between 1802 and 1811, nine hundred and seventeen American vessels were seized by the British and five hundred and fifty-eight by the French in their harbors; the number seized in the ports of Holland, Spain, Denmark, and Naples was very large, but it is not definitely known. The dealings of Napoleon with the United States in this matter, like those of England, were irregular and evasive; but there is nothing in them to show that the Emperor of the French contemplated either the dismemberment of the American republic or the abandonment of his Continental System.
Having traced the whole English-Dutch conspiracy directly to Fouche, Napoleon contemplated bringing the treacherous minister to trial on the charge of treason. Fearing, however, the effect not merely in Europe, but particularly in France, of such a spectacle, and the revelations which must necessarily accompany it, he contented himself with degrading and banishing his unruly henchman. The important office of police minister was filled by the appointment of Savary, an equally unscrupulous but more obedient tool. The murderer of Enghien, and the keeper of Ferdinand as he now was and had been since Talleyrand's return to public life, was both feared and hated in Paris. "I believe," he says in his memoirs, "that news of a pestilence having broken out on some point of the coast would not have caused more terror than did my nomination to the ministry of police."
Louis, within the narrowed sphere of his activities, continued quite as incorrigible as before. He refused the perfect obedience demanded, and even treated the French diplomatic agent in Holland with indignity. Napoleon's scorn burst its bounds. "Louis," he wrote in a letter carefully excluded from the authorized edition of his correspondence, "you do not want to reign long; your actions reveal your true feelings better than your personal letters. Listen to one who has known those feelings longer than even you yourself. Retrace your steps, be French at heart, or your people will drive you out, and you will leave Holland, the object of pity and ridicule on the part of the Dutch. Men govern states by the exercise of reason and the use of a policy, and not by the impulses of an acid and vitiated lymph." Two days later, on hearing of a studied insult from his brother to the French minister, he wrote again: "Write no more trite phrases; you have been repeating them for three years, and every day proves their falseness. This is the last letter I shall write you in my life." In a short time French troops were marching on Amsterdam. Louis summoned his council and advised resistance; but the councilors convinced him how useless such a course would be. The dispirited King at once abdicated and fled.
For some days Louis's whereabouts were unknown. There was much talk, and Napoleon was agitated. He wrote beseeching Jerome to learn where the fugitive was and send him to Paris, that he might withdraw to St. Leu and cease to be the laughing-stock of Europe. In ten days it was known that Louis was at Teplitz in Bohemia. A circular was at once addressed to the French diplomatists abroad, explaining that the King of Holland must be excused for his conduct on the ground of his being a chronic invalid. Inasmuch as about the same time Lucien found the air of the French department of Rome not altogether to his liking, and besought his brother's leave to expatriate himself to the United States, the family relations of the Emperor were published throughout Europe in a most unbecoming light. The ship in which Lucien sailed was captured by an English frigate, and he was taken to England, where he remained in an agreeable captivity until 1814.
The "Moniteur" of July ninth, 1810, published a laconic imperial decree stating that Holland was henceforth a portion of the Empire. "What was I to do?" the Emperor exclaimed at St. Helena. "Leave Holland to the enemy? Nominate a new king?" It is difficult from his standpoint to answer these questions except in the negative. Louis had viewed his royal task as if he had been a dynastic king, which of course he never was, though much beloved by many of his subjects. He had moved the capital from The Hague to Amsterdam, had reformed the Dutch jurisprudence by the introduction of the Code Napoleon, had patronized learning and the arts. In all this he had not followed his brother's leading, and the results were excellent. But the Dutch merchants suffered exactly in proportion to the enforcement of the continental blockade, riots of the unemployed became frequent, and the King, forgetting the ladder by which he had climbed, became the friend and the ally of his people. His fate was a natural consequence of his conduct.
As a portion of the French empire, Holland was divided into eight departments, her public debt was scaled down from eighty to twenty millions, the French administration was put upon a basis of the most rigid economy, and for the ensuing four years the Dutch found what consolation they might for the loss of their independence and their trade in a tolerable physical well-being, in the suppression of all disorders, and in an enforced calm such as Louis, by reason of his false position, had not been able to secure for them—a boon which, it must be confessed, their placid dispositions did not undervalue. When, however, opportunity was ripe, they bravely rose to assert once more their nationality.
In this connection it is interesting to note the effect which the conduct of the Emperor's family had finally produced in his mind. Brothers and sisters alike had come to consider their changed fortunes as having introduced them into the royal hierarchy of the old absolutist Europe, which their narrowness and ignorance led them to regard as still existent. Their behavior was distinctly that of the old dynastic sovereigns, whose lives were their model. The Emperor at last saw his mistake. "Relatives and cousins, male or female," he said in September to Metternich, "are all worthless. I should not have left a throne in existence, even for my brothers. But one grows wise only with time. I should have appointed nothing but stadholders and viceroys." This policy he thenceforward adopted. Carrying out the threat made in response to Joseph's complaints, Spain as far as the Ebro had been annexed to the Empire in March, 1810; in December the whole North Sea coast as far as Luebeck was likewise incorporated into the Empire. Jerome was deprived of a portion of Hanover, which he had received only in January, and the Duke of Oldenburg, who had married that favorite sister of Alexander for whose hand Napoleon had tentatively sued, was dethroned.
The same year Valais, the little commonwealth which had been separated from Switzerland and made independent in order to neutralize the highway into Italy, was likewise annexed. This new department, called that of the Simplon, together with the four erected out of the coast-line of the North Sea, brought the limits of Napoleonic empire to their greatest extent. The Illyrian provinces and the Ionian Isles were not under direct civil administration from Paris, being held as military outposts. Biscay, Navarre, Aragon, and Catalonia were each likewise held as military governments. Murat was made king of Naples, Louis's infant son became grand duke of Berg, Elisa was already grand duchess of Tuscany and princess of Lucca and Piombino. It will be remembered that Pauline was duchess of Guastalla, Jerome king of Westphalia, Joseph king of Spain, Berthier prince of Neuchatel, Talleyrand prince of Benevento, and Eugene viceroy of the kingdom of Italy. These states, together with the Confederation of the Rhine, the Helvetic Republic, Bavaria, Saxony, Wuertemberg, and Denmark, with Norway, were all vassal powers. But Rome, Genoa, Parma, Florence, Siena, Leghorn, Osnabrueck, Muenster, Bremen, and Hamburg were now capitals of actual French departments, the total number of which reached one hundred and thirty. They were directly administered by a central bureaucracy as autocratic as any military despotism.
Thus at last was carried out the program of the Revolution, whose leaders had determined in 1796 to close the Continent to English commerce. What republican idealism had imagined, imperial vigor at least partially realized. According to the Trianon decree of August fifth, 1810, and that of Fontainebleau, issued on October eighteenth of the same year, French soldiers crossed the frontiers of the Empire, seized every depot of English wares within a four-mile limit, and burned all the contents except the sugar and coffee, which were transported to the great towns, and sold at auction for the Emperor's extraordinary expenses; the smugglers themselves were hunted down, captured, and handed over to the tender mercies of a court created especially to try them. From the Pyrenees to the North Cape the "licenses" devised by the Directory and issued by the Empire were the only certificates under which English goods could be introduced into the now nearly completed system. Denmark, which still held Norway under its sway, had neither forgotten nor forgiven the bombardment of Copenhagen in 1807; and her king, Frederick VI, hoping that in the chapter of accidents Sweden too might fall to his crown, was only too willing to assist the Emperor and close his ports to all British commerce, even to "neutral" ships carrying English goods. The popular fury against England made the people willing to forego all the comforts and advantages of free trade in colonial wares.
It was with jealous eyes that Napoleon saw Russia's growing lukewarmness and marked her evasions of her pact. He knew also that in spite of his decrees and his vigilance English goods were still transported under the Turkish flag into the Mediterranean. But direct and efficient intervention on the Baltic or in the Levant was as yet impossible. To complete one portion of his structure, a cordon must first be drawn about both Sweden and Spain. The former was apparently secure, for Gustavus IV, having nearly ruined his country by persisting in the English alliance, had made way for his uncle, who now ruled as Charles XIII under the protection of Napoleon. The new King, being childless, had selected as his successor Marshal Bernadotte, whose kindly dealings with the Pomeranians had endeared him to all Swedes. The estates of Sweden, remembering that he had married a sister of Joseph Bonaparte's wife, and recalling his long association with Napoleon, believed that in him they had a candidate acceptable to the French emperor, and therefore formally accepted him. They did not know the details of his unfriendly relations to Napoleon, nor with what unwillingness consent was given by the Emperor to his candidacy. The bonds of French citizenship were most grudgingly loosed by the Emperor, for there rankled in his breast a deep-seated feeling of distrust. But he was forced to a distasteful compliance by the fear of exposing unsavory details of his own policy. The new crown prince himself was well aware of the facts. He coveted Norway and asked for it, that on his accession he might bring Sweden a substitute for the loss of Finland; but Napoleon would not thus alienate the King of Denmark. The Czar was not hampered in the same way, and in December, 1810, offered Sweden the coveted land as the price of her alliance. When we recall the early republicanism of Bernadotte, his repeated failures in critical moments,—as on the Marchfeld and elsewhere,—the impatient and severe reproofs administered to the inefficient and fiery Gascon by his commander, we are not amazed that the crown prince Charles John, as his style now ran, began immediately after his installation at Stockholm to vent his spleen on Napoleon. Though there was no declared enmity, yet this fact augured ill for the steadfastness to the French alliance of the land over which he was soon to reign.
THE COURSE OF THE PENINSULAR WAR
[Footnote 36: See Napier, Peninsular War.]
Napoleon's Plans for Spain — Character of the Troops Sent Thither — Conflicting Policies in England — The Battle of Busaco — The Lines of Torres Vedras — Soult's Dilatoriness — Consequences of the Spanish Campaign — English Opinion Opposed to Wellington — Difficulties of Spanish Warfare — Marmont Replaces Massena — French Successes — Their Slight Value — The French Character and the Spanish Invasion.
But matters were much worse beyond the Pyrenees, where there was open warfare. The seizure of the northern provinces marked the commencement of a new policy, nothing less than the incorporation of all Spain in France. Azanza, the envoy of Joseph at Paris, could scarcely trust his senses when, after long and fruitless efforts to persuade Napoleon that the troubles of Spain were due to the rapine of the French generals and the quarrels of their unbridled soldiery, and that the new King's moderation would be a perfect remedy if left to work its effects, he was finally shown his master's carefully written abdication, only waiting on events for publication, and was harshly told in reply to his intercessions for the integrity of his country that it was merely "the natural extension of France." It was Talleyrand who originally said that Italy was the flank of France, Spain its natural continuation, and Holland its alluvium.
Spain was to be conquered step by step, and by a season of military administration each new acquisition was to be made ready for the eventual dignity of a French department. A manifesto setting forth this policy was prepared and was to be duly issued to the Spanish people, but it never reached Madrid. The courier who carried it was captured by a guerrilla, and the proclamation was at once printed in a popular journal and copied thence into the "London Courier." It is not difficult to imagine how its perusal intensified the ever-growing national passion of the insurgent Spaniards for emancipation from the French yoke.
This spirit was England's powerful ally and Massena's destructive foe. The great marshal, second in ability only to his imperial master, had succeeded to the command in the peninsula. The Imperial Guard was the mainstay of the reinforcements despatched thither in order to end the military conflict and inaugurate the new peaceful warfare by enforcing the Continental system of commercial embargo for humiliating England. Besides the guard there were, however, some of those regiments which had quailed at Vienna before the supposed approach of the Archduke John's army from Hungary after the battle of Wagram, by no means the flower of the Emperor's troops. These newcomers, together with the forces already in Spain under Suchet, Augereau, Reille, and Thouvenot, and the remnant of those troops which had been under Soult, were quickly organized for offensive warfare, first against the Spaniards and then against the English under Wellington who were still holding Portugal. The three army corps which were collected in Leon ready for advance were commanded respectively by Ney, Junot, and Regnier. Their number on paper was eighty thousand; in reality there were not more than fifty thousand effective fighting men. By the arrival of Hill's corps to reinforce Wellington the English numbered nearly if not quite as many.
For three years public opinion in England had been divided, some sustaining on the one hand Canning's policy of striving to defeat Napoleon by rousing the Continental nations and furnishing them with subsidies for warfare, others preferring that of Castlereagh, which advocated the sending of English forces into the Continent. The latter theory had temporarily prevailed. Three expeditions, one to Portugal, one to Walcheren, and one to Sicily, had been entire or partial failures. But Wellington's victory at Talavera having kept the peninsular ports open to English trade, his older brother, Lord Wellesley, who was now secretary for foreign affairs in the new cabinet, and who ardently believed that thus alone could England win, managed continuously to reinforce the army in Portugal until at last it was strong in numbers and efficient as a fighting machine.
From beginning to end Massena's campaign was marked by unexpected disaster. Such were the zeal and endurance of the Spaniards that the old, ill-constructed fortress of Ciudad Rodrigo held out from the beginning of June until the ninth of July. Owing to the great heat and the preparations necessary in a hostile and deserted land, Almeida, which next blocked the way, was not even beleaguered until August fifteenth, and it held out for nearly a fortnight. Finally, on September sixteenth, Massena crossed the Portuguese frontier, and Wellington, who lay near by but had not ventured to assume the offensive, began a slow and cautious retreat down the valley of the Mondego, devastating the country as he went. At last he made a stand on the heights near Busaco, over against a gorge where the river breaks through the hills into the plains below. Massena attacked on September twenty-seventh and was repulsed with a loss of four thousand five hundred dead and wounded. His division commanders showed at once a spirit which soon developed into unruliness: they had declared from the outset that their force was not sufficiently strong for the task assigned to it, and they now demanded a retreat. But the veteran Massena stood firm: his scouts had brought word of a certain unprotected vale or rather depression of the land on the English left, which, having apparently escaped Wellington's observation, was not fortified, and the French commander determined to outflank his foe on that line. The movement was thoroughly successful and the British began a rapid retreat southward before the advancing French.
Massena found easy sustenance for man and beast in the rich lowlands about Coimbra, and halting in that town for a short time to recruit his strength and nurse his sick, started at last in the full tide of success for Lisbon and the sea, to drive the English to their ships and complete the Continental embargo. As one day succeeded another, his hopes grew higher until at last he overtook and began to skirmish with the English rear-guard. But after a final dash on October eleventh, that rear-guard suddenly vanished. Two days later the French were brought suddenly to a standstill before a long, perfectly constructed, and bristling line of fortifications of whose existence they had known absolutely nothing. These were the famous lines of Torres Vedras, constructed by Wellington in his recent enforced vacation, to guard his eventual retreat and embarkment, provided Sir John Moore's unfortunate campaign and the last Austrian war should find a climax in a similar French victory over all Spain. These lines effectually protected the right bank of the Tagus. They consisted of one hundred and fifty-two redoubts, equipped with seven hundred guns and manned by thirty thousand English, thirty thousand Portuguese, and eight thousand Spaniards. As Massena now had but forty-five thousand men, there could be no question of storming such a fortress, and nothing was left but to await reinforcements and plan a strategic movement by which he might cross the Tagus, threaten Lisbon from the left bank, draw off the foe to its defense, and thus perhaps, having weakened the garrison, secure the possibility of a successful attack on the fortified lines in front.
The notion was not visionary. Soult had been despatched with a strong force southward into Andalusia, with orders to crush out the resistance of that province; he was then to turn westward, join Massena in Portugal, and cooeperate with him under his orders for the expulsion of the English. The belated expedition had not arrived, but in spite of the delay and disappointment it must surely come at last; and if the Emperor would but consent to order up the troops lying in Castile, the quickly formed and brilliant plan of Massena would be feasible. But, alas for the scheme, what was apparently jealousy on the part of Soult had quenched all ardor in the Andalusian invasion. He was at this moment before Cadiz, carrying on a siege in which either the Spanish were displaying great courage or the French but little heart. His sluggish progress was not unobserved at Paris, and finally under pressure he left half his force before the walls of the "white city," while with the other he advanced and captured the fortress of Badajoz. There he paused of necessity, being falsely informed that Massena, who had only withdrawn toward Santarem, was in full retreat, but being correctly notified that the portions of his own force left before Cadiz were not able to hold their own. Having been virtually defeated in his attack on Sir John Moore, his invasion of Portugal in 1809 had been temporarily successful; but he had occupied Oporto only to conspire like Junot for the crown of the country, and he had been driven out without difficulty by the English. Made commander-in-chief after the empty victory of Wellington at Talavera, he had won a great battle at Ocana on November nineteenth, 1809; but since then his time had been virtually wasted, for his bickerings with Joseph and his jealousy of Massena made all his successes, even this last one at Badajoz, entirely useless. In a short time he returned to Cadiz, and the French before Lisbon remained therefore without their auxiliaries.
Both these checks displeased Napoleon greatly. It is often stated that it was because he felt contempt alike for the Spanish guerrillas and the English infantry that he delegated the conduct of affairs in the peninsula to his lieutenants. Quite the reverse appears to be the truth. Foy, Massena's envoy, reached Paris about the end of November, and found the Emperor in something like a dull fury. His personal experience had now the confirmation of that undergone by Massena and Soult, two of his greatest lieutenants. He had himself found the rugged and ill-cultivated country unable to support large armies. It was a discouraging fact that neither Soult nor Massena had succeeded better than the great captain himself, and Napoleon was thus convinced that the Continental System could not be enforced against such dogged persistency as that of the unreasoning, disorganized, but courageous and frenzied Spaniards, assisted by the cold, calculating, and lucky Wellington: at least not without terrible cost in life and money. Accordingly Massena was left without immediate reinforcement, while on December tenth, 1809, was promulgated the decree incorporating the North Sea coast into the Empire. Alexander chose to regard this fateful act as merely disrespectful, remonstrated with the French envoy at St. Petersburg, and sent a circular to the powers reserving the rights of his house over Oldenburg; he refused the petty indemnification of Erfurt offered by Napoleon, and a year later, in December, 1810, issued a ukase which laid prohibitive duties on French silks and wines, while at the same time it favored the "neutral" traffic in English wares. But at the moment he bore the affront without any menace of war, and merely called attention to the common obligations of friendship between sovereigns. If the breach were to occur, it must be plainly and manifestly Napoleon's doing.
Napoleon's failure to reinforce Massena left the situation before Lisbon precarious. It cannot be proved that he understood all the difficulties in Wellington's position, but it is not unlikely that he did. Lisbon was overcrowded with fugitives, and demanded speedy relief by offensive operations. If Massena had opened a bombardment from the opposite bank, its inhabitants would have risen in rebellion against the English general. The opposition party in Westminster used what seemed in England to be the perennial and everlasting delay of the younger brother as ground to attack the older one's conduct and to arraign the entire ministerial policy. The English people had heard of the Spanish insurrection with wild delight, but the inefficiency and stubbornness of the insurgent leaders, together with the untrustworthiness of the provisional governments, had cooled their ardor, and after the defeat at Ocana—a battle which the vainglorious Spaniards had fought in direct opposition to Wellington's advice—they were loud in abuse of their allies. Lord Liverpool openly attacked Wellington, popular discontent was heightened by the opposition taunts, and it seemed for a time as if the ministry must abandon the expedition or fall.
But if Wellington required all the force of his will and the compulsion of a higher necessity to make him deaf to the clamor of his allies for an advance, Massena had equal need for strength to sustain his forces, and to resist the clamor of his own generals for retreat. Foy finally brought back the necessary orders for reinforcements to come in from Castile; but, as a large proportion of the men stationed in that province existed merely on paper, only nine thousand could be spared from those who actually were there. Still Massena stood like a rock. Wellington wrote home that with all his money, and assisted by the good will of the inhabitants, he could not have maintained one division where all the winter long Massena found sustenance for sixty thousand men and twelve thousand beasts. This tribute to the campaigning powers of the French reveals incidentally the exaggerated conception of their strength entertained by the enemy.
The return of Soult to Cadiz emboldened Wellington to advance into Spain. After various movements on the part of both sides, Massena was beaten at Fuentes de Onoro, and Almeida was retaken by the English. Badajoz was beset by the English, and Soult once more advanced to its assistance. He, too, was defeated in a battle at Albuera, but succeeded finally in effecting a junction with Massena, so that Wellington felt compelled to retreat again into Portugal before the united army. The exasperation of Napoleon at the failure of Massena in the battle of Fuentes de Onoro led to the disgrace of the old marshal, and Marmont was sent to replace him. Such was the difficulty which the French experienced in securing commissary stores from an impoverished land that Wellington seemed content to let want fight his battles. The season of 1811 was marked by inactivity on both sides except in the east, where Suchet captured Aragon and Valencia, annihilating the Spanish army under Blake. But at the close of the year Soult was compelled to withdraw southward toward the coast, in the hope of securing indispensable supplies. The Spanish guerrillas of central Spain harassed the French soldiers and took the heart out of them. Wellington at once resumed the offensive; Ciudad Rodrigo fell before him on January twelfth, 1812, and on April eighth, after one of the bravest and bloodiest assaults recorded in English annals, Badajoz also was carried.
Marmont drew back for concentration, and the English advanced to the Duero. Thereupon the French turned again, Wellington retreated on Salamanca, and there made his stand, defeating his enemy on July twenty-second, in a brilliant engagement. The French commander then marched to Burgos, but his opponent, instead of following, turned toward Madrid, in order first to drive Joseph from his capital. By that time Burgos had been made so strong that all efforts to capture it proved unavailing, Soult at once abandoned Cadiz and turned northward to aid Joseph. The English were thus between two foes, and such was the demoralization of the British soldiery when they understood their danger that Wellington could with difficulty lead them back into Portugal. At the close of 1812 the French were in control of all Spain except the south, which had been freed by Soult's northward movement. Cadiz became the capital of the nationalists, but they could not restrain their revolutionary impulses long enough to form a respectable or trustworthy government, and Wellington was once more relegated to inactivity. His enforced leisure was occupied by the consideration of plans for the great successes with which he crowned the following season.
Viewed from a military standpoint, the French warfare in Spain appeared utterly disastrous. Regiments melted away like ice before an April sun; desertions became ominously numerous, and disease laid thousands low. Guerrilla warfare demoralized the regular forces. The new conscripts at first showed a noisy zeal, but they had been torn too young from their home nurture, and had neither strength nor power of resistance. The troops from vassal kingdoms and newly annexed territories were dismayed by the sufferings they had to endure, and beheld with interest the national uprising of the Spaniards, which, in spite of local jealousies, of rabid and radical doctrines that could lead to nothing but anarchy, of disastrous failure in government, of feebleness and falsehood in the temporary rulers, seemed likely to render of no avail the efforts and successes of a great empire.
[Footnote 37: Oman, History of the Peninsular War, furnishes much valuable material on this period. His point of view in one feature is corrected by J. B. Rye and R. A. Bence-Pembroke of Oxford. See the Army Service Corps Quarterly, October, 1905.]
Yet in some respects the French character appeared in a stronger light throughout the disasters of the Peninsular war than at any other time. Marbot's tale of the beautiful young cantiniere, or woman sutler, of the Twenty-sixth regiment, who after Busaco rushed unhurt through the English outposts in order to alleviate the sufferings of the captured general of her brigade, and who returned on her donkey through the lines without having suffered an insult, reflects equal credit on the unselfish daring of the French, which she typified, and on the pure-minded gallantry of the English. The same writer's narrative of the French deserters who, under a leader nicknamed Marshal Stockpot, established themselves as freebooters in a convent not far from Massena's headquarters at Santarem, and of the general's swift, condign punishment of such conduct, graphically delineates the straits of the French, which led them into the extreme courses that devastated the land, but it also displays the quality of the discipline which was exercised whenever possible. Nor should it be forgotten that the two most splendid writers of France's succeeding age were profoundly impressed with the terrible scenes of the French invasion of Spain. George Sand was in Madrid as an infant for a considerable portion of 1808; Victor Hugo passed the year 1811 in a Madrid school, fighting childish battles for "the great Emperor," whom his Spanish schoolmates called Napoladron (Napo the robber). Upon both the fact of their connection with the repulse of Napoleon's armies left a profound impression. The former was irresistibly drawn to revisit the country; the latter recalled his impressions in some of his noblest verse.
BIRTH OF THE KING OF ROME
[Footnote 38: References as before, and Helfert: Marie Louise. Welschinger: La censure sous le premier empire. Wertheimer: Die Heirat der Erzherzogin Marie Louise mit Napoleon I. Montbel: Le duc de Reichstadt. Welschinger: Le roi de Rome.]
England Under the Continental System — End of Constitutional Government in France — Napoleon's Personal Rule — Wealth of his High Officials — Literature and the Empire — Mme. de Stael's Aspirations — Her Attempts to Win Napoleon — Her Genius Saved by Defeat — The Decennial Prizes — Pregnancy of Maria Louisa — The Heir of the Napoleon Dynasty.
It would be idle to suppose that during the winter of 1810-11 the Spanish situation was not thoroughly appreciated by the imperial bridegroom at Paris, or that he underrated the ultimate effects of what was taking place in the Iberian peninsula if the process were to go on. Still less is it probable that with the direction of all his energy toward that quarter he could not have quenched the uncertain and spasmodic efforts of Spanish patriotism, either by arts of which he was a master, or by making a desert to call it a peace. No; every indication is that his eye was still fixed on England at her vital point, and that he took his measures in the North to deal her such a thrust that the life-blood which sustained the Peninsular war would either flow inefficacious, or be turned away altogether from Spain, and change the ever-doubtful success of Wellington into assured disaster. Wealthy as England was, it was certain that her credit could not long hold out in view of the lavish subsidies she was constantly granting to continental powers, while the expeditions to Spain, Holland, and Sicily were even more costly, inconclusive as they had so far been. In 1810 English bank-notes were twenty per cent. below par, and the sovereign could be exchanged on the Continent for only seventeen francs instead of the twenty-five it usually brought. Business failures were becoming ominously frequent in London, and panic was stalking abroad. What must be the necessary result if the continental embargo were more thoroughly enforced? The enormous contraband trade of the North was now virtually at an end. Where English merchants had so far been able to secure at least half of the prices obtained from the consumers by smugglers, they could now no longer secure even that doubtful market at any price; the incorporation of Holland and the North Sea shores into France left virtually no opening into Europe for them except through Russia. The fate of England and of the world seemed to hang on how far the Czar could or would keep the engagements which he had made at Tilsit.
This might not have been so completely true if the French finances had been desperate; but they were not—that is, the Emperor's personal finances were not. After the legislative assembly met in December, 1809, it was soon clear to France that the farce of constitutional government under the Empire was nearly played out. Not only were the members of the senate, who should have retired according to the constitution, kept in their seats by a decree of the body to which they belonged, but an imperial edict appointed the deputies for the new departments without even the form of an election. Fontanes retired from the presidency of the senate to become grand master of the university; the grand chamberlain of the palace was appointed in his stead. The Emperor had already sold to private corporations the canals which belonged to the state; the legislature ratified the illegal act. The penal code was now ready. It contained the iniquitous and dangerous penalty of confiscation for certain crimes, thus punishing the children for the faults of their sires, and opening a most tempting avenue to the courts for indulgence in venality under legal forms. There was little debate, and the code was adopted in its entirety as presented.
The reason for this paralysis of constitutional government is clear. Even the immense war indemnities taken from conquered states did not suffice for the maintenance of the enormous armies which covered Europe like swarms of locusts. The marshals and generals were insatiate, and the greed of the civil administrators was scarcely less. From the top to the bottom of the public service every official stood with open hand and hungry eyes. This state of things was directly due to Napoleon's policy of attaching everybody to himself by personal ties, and in giving he had the lavish hand of a parvenu. The recipients were never content, hoarding their fees, and becoming opulent, pursuing all the time each his personal ambitions, and ofttimes returning insolence for favors. To meet these enormous expenditures there had been inaugurated throughout Europe a system of what may be termed private confiscations, the vast dimensions of which can never be justly estimated. German princes and Spanish grandees, English merchants and the Italian clergy, had all been wrung dry; timorous statesmen, crafty churchmen and sly contractors, unprincipled financiers and ambitious politicians, not one was forgotten or overlooked in the accumulation of hoards which, having long been called the army chest, were now erected into the dignity of an "extraordinary domain."
Kept so far in a decent obscurity, these ill-gotten possessions, which belonged, if not to their original owners, then to the state, were, in the low condition of public morality, not merely recognized—they were actually increased from new sources of supply. The confiscated palaces, forests, lands, and fisheries, the proceeds from the sale of American ships, values of every kind, were all made the private property of the Emperor. If any of these rills of revenue should run dry, the criminal code with its legislation of confiscation might be relied on to supply a menace strong enough to express inexhaustible treasure from storehouses yet untouched. One orator declared this barbaric fund to have been in the Emperor's hands a "French Providence, which made the laurel a fertile tree, the fruits of which had nourished the brave whom its branches covered." Napoleon had found the crown moneys sufficient for himself. Berthier now had a revenue of one million three hundred and fifty thousand eight hundred francs, and Davout was scarcely less regal with one of nine hundred and ten thousand; Ney had only seven hundred and twenty-eight thousand, and Massena five hundred thousand; Soult was ambitious to increase his income of three hundred and five thousand by securing the Portuguese crown. What with the great public charities endowed from this extraordinary fund, what with the great public works in Paris and elsewhere which had been carried on by its means, the total expenditures had been more than four hundred and thirty million francs. The total receipts had risen to about seven hundred and sixty millions, and there were therefore still in the Emperor's purse upward of three hundred millions. He could not be called destitute or even poor.
The same years which saw the extinction of the remnants of legislative independence saw likewise the establishment of six state prisons, in which were to be confined those disaffected persons who were too powerful to be left at liberty, but whose trials in open court would have revealed troublesome facts. The censorship of the press was likewise reestablished with iron rigidity, and the publishers purchased the meager immunities they were permitted to enjoy by the payment of whatever pensions the Emperor chose to grant to needy men of letters. Chenier the poet, Bernardin de Saint-Pierre, the author of "Paul and Virginia," and others enjoyed, in addition to decorations of the Legion of Honor, substantial incomes that were virtually paid by their fellow-craftsmen; while a chosen few—including Gros, Gerard, Guerin, Lagrange, Monge, and Laplace—were elevated to the new baronage. Even Carnot did not hesitate to accept employment and place from Napoleon. At first he solicited a loan for the relief of his urgent necessities. This the Emperor made unnecessary by ordering the War Office to pay all arrears in his rations and other perquisites, by giving him a commission to prepare a volume on fortification, and by according him a pension of ten thousand francs. The ponderous sledge-hammer of the censorship was apparently forged to kill a gnat. Nothing is known to the history of literature so subservient and humble as the conduct of the great majority of French writers and artists under the Empire.
There was one exception—Mme. de Stael. That overestimated woman had gained the halo of martyrdom by the so-called persecution of the Emperor. But the persecution was, in the opinion of keen observers, more on her part than his. The Committee of Public Safety had found her an intriguer, and had called upon her husband to remove her from Paris; the Directory kept her under watch at Coppet, and ordered her arrest should she return to France. Her aspirations were boundless, and Mallet du Pan, royalist agent, said that she shamelessly flaunted her charms on public occasions. In 1796, aspiring to rule the country through her friends, she wrote to Bonaparte, who was in Italy, that the widow Beauharnais was far from possessing the necessary qualities to supplement those of a genius such as he was, and on his return to Paris she at once made suspicious advances to win his favor. Bourrienne declares that he saw one of her letters to Bonaparte, in which she flatly stated that they two, she herself and her correspondent, had been created for each other. Mention has elsewhere been made of the coldness with which Bonaparte treated her when by her own request she was presented to him in Talleyrand's drawing-room. Not long afterward, at the reception given by the minister of foreign affairs to the conqueror of Italy, the indefatigable seeker for notoriety addressed the latter once again.
The scene is given in the memoirs of Arnault. At first she plied her suit with fulsome compliment. Bonaparte listened coldly, and the conversation flagged. In despair she blurted out, "General, what woman could you love the most?" "My own," was the stinging reply. ("Quelle femme?" "La mienne.") Woman and wife being the same word in French, Napoleon's retort was a disdainful pun. "Very well; but which would esteem you the highest?" she persisted. "The best housekeeper." "Yes, I understand; but which one would be for you the foremost among women?" "She who should bear the most children, madame," was the icy rejoinder, as the harried and disgusted soldier turned on his heel. Somewhat later she said to Lucien in a melting voice, "I am but a fool in my desire to please your brother. I am at a loss when I wish to converse with him. I choose my language and modify my expressions; I want to make him think of me and occupy himself with me. It ends in my being and feeling as silly as a goose." When the complacent Lucien reported the language his brother replied: "I know her thoroughly.... She declared to one who informed me that since I would neither love her nor permit her to love me, there was nothing left but for her to hate me, as she could not remain indifferent. What a virago!" In a letter to Joseph, dated March nineteenth, 1800, the future Emperor wrote: "M. de Stael is in the depths of misery, and his wife is giving dinners and balls. If you should continue to see her, would it not be well to have the woman allow her husband one thousand or one thousand two hundred francs a month? Have we already reached a time when, without any protest from decent people, not merely morality but the most sacred ties which bind children to their parents can be trampled under foot? Suppose we judge Mme. de Stael as we should a man,—only, of course, as a man inheriting the fortune of M. de Necker,—one who had long enjoyed the prerogatives of a distinguished name, and who should leave his wife in misery while he lived in abundance: could we associate with a man like that?"
Soon afterward the battle of Marengo was fought. All her passion being now turned into hate, the scheming woman openly desired Bonaparte's defeat. Thenceforward she was an avowed and bitter enemy; he would have called her a conspirator. The ten years of her banishment, as she herself declared, were occupied in wandering from court to court in England, Russia, Prussia, and Sweden, engaged in the task of undermining the Emperor's name and fame, and in fomenting the coalitions which eventually ruined him. As Bonaparte became an ultra-imperialist she became an ultra-liberal. Her book on Germany, published in 1810, was a laudation, in the main just and fair, of a regenerated land; but it held up to France as a model the achievements of the country which was now her bitterest foe. The censors gave it a fictitious renown by ordering its complete suppression.
When, in November, 1810, the decennial prizes, instituted as a spur to literature and science, were distributed, the judges could find nothing in science later than 1803 worthy of their favor; but the prize-winners, old as they were, were all men of real distinction. The names of the literary men who were crowned are now known only to the student of history. Napoleon demanded why the name of Chateaubriand had been omitted from the list, as it was. He may have remembered, as one of his detractors suggests, that in that writer's great book the Roman doctrine of obedience to constituted authority was attractively presented; or else, and more probably, he may have wished his list of authors to be more brilliant. The Emperor may have instituted those prizes, as his apologists declared he himself said that he did, to keep active minds from occupying themselves with politics; but the exhibition of how the Empire had crushed out originality and fecundity in the French brain must have appalled him, whatever were his thoughts.
During the winter of 1810-11 Napoleon's private life was virtually devoted to beneficence. In addition to the favors granted to Carnot, he lavished money on other objects, some not so worthy. Canova, who had been called from Rome to make a portrait-statue of the Empress, obtained a substantial grant for the learned societies of that city. Chenier, like Carnot, had been a pronounced adversary of the Empire. He now sought employment under it, and was made inspector-general of the university, an office which he did not live long to enjoy. All the old favorites were remembered in a general distribution of good things. Talleyrand having just lost an immense sum by the failure of a trusted bank, the Emperor came to his relief by purchasing one of his minister's most splendid palaces for more than two million francs. The court resided sometimes at St. Cloud, sometimes at Rambouillet, sometimes at the Trianon, but for the most part at Fontainebleau, where the ceremonious life, to which all concerned were now well accustomed, was marked by none of the old awkwardness and friction, but ran as brilliantly as lavish expenditure could make it.
The pregnancy of the Empress was celebrated with great festivities, during which Napoleon performed one of his most applauded acts—the endowment of a vast maternity hospital. The Empress was brought into great prominence as the president of a society consisting of a thousand noble ladies under whose patronage the charity was placed.
The unconcealed and ecstatic delight of the prospective father found vent in delicate and tender attention to the mother of his child, and until her deliverance he was a gentle, devoted, and considerate husband. His whole nature seemed transformed. When in the early morning of March twentieth, 1811, word was brought that the Empress was in labor, and that a false presentation made it of instant necessity to choose between the life of the mother and that of the child, the feelings of the Emperor can better be imagined than described.
If the expected heir should die his dynasty would be jeopardized, his enemies would once more be making appointments over his grave, the hopes of a lifetime might be shattered. But there was not a moment's wavering. "Think only of the mother," he cried. The fears of the attending physician were vain, after all, and the man-child, coming without a cry into the world and lying breathless for seven minutes as if hesitating to accept or decline his destiny, finally gave a wail as at last he caught the breath of life. Napoleon turned, caught up his treasure, and pressed it to his bosom. A hundred guns announced the birth, and the city burst into jubilations, which were reechoed throughout Europe from Dantzic to Cadiz. Festival succeeded festival, and for an interval men believed that the temple of Janus would be again closed. No boy ever came on the earthly stage amid such splendors, or seemed destined to honors such as appeared to await this one. The devotion of the father was passionate and unwavering. It lasted even after he had been deserted and betrayed by the mother, after the child had been estranged and turned into an Austrian prince.
TENSION BETWEEN EMPEROR AND CZAR
[Footnote 39: References: Bernhardi, Geschichte Russlands, II. Ranke, Hardenberg u. Preussen (vol. 48 of his complete works, 1879). Lefebvre, Histoire des Cabinets de l'Europe. Vandal, Napoleon et Alexandre Ier, parts of Vols. II and III.]
Menaces of War — Napoleon's "Extraordinary Domain" — Rupture of the Concordat — The Prospect of War — The Empire Prepared for a Commercial Siege — Napoleon's Self-deception — The Empires of Ocean and Continent — The Czar's Humiliation — Poland and the French Empire — Alexander's Approach to Francis — Spurious Negotiations.
Among other bodies which sent deputations to congratulate the Emperor on the birth of his child was the Paris Chamber of Commerce. Their address was sufficiently adulatory, but it contained a suggestion that the trade and commerce of the country were not all that could be desired. Napoleon replied in language which attracted attention throughout Europe. There was some irritability in his tone, but there was an unqualified assurance with regard to the future. He said, among other things, that England was depressed. This was true; the new measures taken to enforce the Continental system had told. British harbors were glutted with the products of all the colonies—not only of her own, but of those she had seized during the Napoleonic wars. The storehouses could hold no more; and as colonial trade was conducted by barter, all the products of English industry must remain at home for lack of an export market. Business was at a standstill, and the specter of English bankruptcy stalked abroad. As to France, the Emperor declared that he was in no sense the successor of either Louis XIV or Louis XV, but of Charles the Great; for the present Empire was but the continuation of the old Frankish dominion. In four years, he said in substance, I shall have a navy. When my fleets shall have been three or four years at sea we can hold our own with the English. I know I may lose three or four battles; very good, I will lose them. But we are ever courageous, ever booted and spurred, and we shall succeed. Before ten years have expired I shall have beaten England. No state of Europe will any longer have intercourse with her. It is my customhouses which do the greatest harm to the English. Her blockade has injured herself the most by teaching us how to get on without her products, her sugar, her indigo. A few years longer, and we shall be thoroughly accustomed to it. I shall soon have enough beet-root sugar to supply all Europe; for your manufactures there is an open market in France, Italy, Naples, and Germany. At the close he added words to this effect: The Bank of France is full of silver, while that of England has not a white sou [five francs]. Since 1806 I have taken over a milliard francs in contributions. I alone have money. Austria is already bankrupt, and Russia and England will be. There exist three versions of this famous allocution. In one of them are the words: "I showed mercy to the Emperor of Russia at Tilsit in return for promises of help; but if those promises are not kept, I will go, if need be, to Riga, to Moscow, to St. Petersburg."
Three points of the utmost significance demand attention in this, a typical deliverance of the "imperator," uttered at the flood-tide of imperial success: two of them, both negative, are ominous; the third is positive and plain. There is no reference to the financial condition of France, or to the ecclesiastical situation. Russia was openly threatened. The boast of wealth referred to Napoleon's own "extraordinary domain." About this time Metternich reported to his government that France was the richest country in Europe, but that her treasury was empty. The budget of 1811 had nine hundred millions on the credit side, but it had also nine hundred and fifty-four millions on the debit. The previous year had required five hundred and ten millions for army and navy, the present required six hundred and fifty millions. It was a fixed principle of the Emperor to make each generation pay its own expenses. The only source of supply he could find was an increase of the indirect taxes and the institution of a state monopoly in tobacco. His remedy would have been adequate but for two causes—the drought of the ensuing summer and Russia's hostile attitude in regard to French silks and wines. The year 1811 closed with a deficit of forty-eight millions. This fact had a bearing on the political situation because in general the Emperor's remedy for an empty treasury was a new war.
The ecclesiastical situation had now become acute. As one bishopric after another had fallen vacant, bishops had been nominated by the Emperor; but the Pope, who was still sitting in captivity at Savona, had from the moment of his incarceration steadily refused to institute them. For a time, as has been explained, the difficulty had been ingeniously avoided by the process of ecclesiastical law, according to which the chapters of the various dioceses elected the imperial candidates as vicars capitular, and thus enabled them to perform episcopal functions without regard to institution. But this could not go on forever, and every effort had been made to induce the prisoner of Savona to yield. In response he took a firmer stand, and indicated to the chapters both of Italy and France that they should no longer elect the imperial nominees as vicars capitular. This was a rupture of the Concordat, and was so regarded by Napoleon. The attitude of all pious Catholics was becoming uneasy, and this new declaration of war by the Church could only serve to heighten the bellicose humor of the Emperor. The Pope was eventually brought to terms, partly by increasing the rigors of his imprisonment, partly by terrorizing his agents in France, but chiefly through the representations made to him by the ablest ecclesiastics of the realm, and by the summoning of a church council, which turned out nearly as subservient to the secular authority as the Jewish Sanhedrim had been.
With reference to the third point, it seems impossible to determine whether the menace to Russia was actually made, as one version of the reply has it, or whether a later speech, at the opening of the legislature in June, and the report on the situation of France, issued in the same month, have not both been confused with the Emperor's talk in March. In either case the result was identical, for France and Europe instinctively took in the situation, and clearly understood that the Emperor was not indisposed toward the renewal of war in northern Europe. This third point was of course the most noteworthy of the three, for it could be only a question of time when the storm should burst.
If it were possible at that epoch of the world's history to distinguish between Napoleon the man and Napoleon the embodied political force of Europe, the aspect of the former would abound in human interest. Filled with paternal tenderness, his sole ambition appeared for a time to be that of retaining what he had gained, the leadership of a Western empire as splendid as that of Charles the Great. To make sure of this acquisition and hand it on to his heir, he seems for a moment to have dreamed of standing forth as the pacificator of Europe. He actually withdrew the mass of his troops from Germany for use in Spain, leaving only enough to watch Prussia and guard Westphalia; with the former power he finally formulated his pecuniary demands, as if thus to put an end to strife. The "rebellion" in Spain he intended to crush out by the pacific operations of a commercial warfare with England, which he felt certain would bring Great Britain to terms, now that for the first time since the outbreak of hostilities the blood of her soldiers "was flowing in a stream." He was probably strengthened in this conviction by the reluctant consent of the cabinet of St. James to open negotiations for the exchange of prisoners on the very basis he had suggested long before. Believing, moreover, that European princes had by this time lost their delicate sensibility, it seemed no monstrous crime to consolidate his empire for its commercial siege by the simple expedient of removing the Duke of Oldenburg from his hereditary domains which bordered on the ocean and offering him the inland sovereignty of Erfurt, or by adopting the alternative expedient of leaving him to enjoy the former under French protection. It seems presumptuous to attempt any revelation of his feelings, but surely he might hope that then, controlling every inlet to European commerce from Corfu around by Triest, Italy, Spain, and the Texel as far as Luebeck, his wall of protection for French manufactures would do its work, that in a few years France would be the industrial and commercial center of continental Europe. With Paris the capital of a new Western empire, the true relation between the secular and ecclesiastical heads of the world would be reestablished, as it could not be while the papacy had its seat at Rome, and all things would work together under a strong hand to humble the island empire of England, destroy her ascendancy on the mainland, and thus bring in a moral and material millennium for the civilized world.
But alas for such self-deception, if, indeed, it ever existed. Nature is too complex and habit too strong for such sudden sublimations of purpose. Had the true, complex Napoleon in his supposed communing asked the question, What then? sincerity would have compelled him to reply, More beyond. Men remembered to have heard him use the expression, "Emperor of the Continent," in these very days, jocularly, perhaps, but still with significance. Orders were issued in March, 1811, to fit out vessels for two expeditions, one against Sicily and Egypt, one against Ireland; if these were successful he could then work his will at the Cape of Good Hope and ultimately in the East and West Indies. "They want to know where we are going, where I shall plant the new Pillars of Hercules," he said. "We will make an end of Europe, and then, as robbers fling themselves on others less bold, we will fling ourselves on India, which the latter class have mastered." About the same time the Bavarian minister, pleading for peace, received the retort: "Three years more, and I am lord of the universe." When Mollien advised against war, on account of the fiscal disorders, the reply was: "On the contrary, the finances are falling into disorder, and for that very reason need war." Behind Napoleon the father was the ambitious and haughty statesman combined with the self-reliant general, the embodiment of French ambitions as they had consolidated in the old regime, and had been transmitted through the Revolution, the Directory, and the Consulate to the Empire.
But there were two other gladiators in the arena: England, hard pressed but still undaunted in her mastery of the seas which flowed around her majestic colonial empire; Russia, grimly determined to hold an even balance with France in Europe while reestablishing by the overthrow of Turkey the eastern counterpoise to Napoleon's western dominion. The Czar of Muscovy would fain have passed for a philosopher. Fourteen years earlier, when in his eighteenth year, he had fallen under the charm of Prince Adam Czartoryski, a youth of about his own age, whom the Empress Catherine had taken as a hostage after the final dismemberment of Poland in 1795. Trained by his grandmother to play her own role of enlightened despot, the young ruler, still in those early years when generous impulses rule, conversed with his friend, the representative of a downtrodden land, about the possibility of a restored and regenerated Poland, avowing his secret detestation of all that he was compelled in public to profess. We may picture the joy of the noble Pole at the thought of his country made whole once more, even though it were destined to be but semi-autonomous as a member of the Russian empire. But years rolled by, and Czartoryski, though preferred to place and honor by the Czar, heard less and less of the young philosopher's scheme. In 1805 he finally wrung from Alexander a promise that he would begin to act; but it was very soon withdrawn, and Czartoryski retired to his estates. The realities and selfishness of life eclipsed the man of sensibility and developed the despot. For a time, however, he essayed the role of European mediator, with what success Tilsit is the witness.
Disgusted from the practical point of view with the old dynasties and their chicanery, Alexander had not only eschewed the idea of a reconstructed Poland, but had become indifferent to the territorial lines of all ancient Europe, and momentarily dreamed of Napoleon as his twin emperor. To this end he too must likewise be a conqueror. Finland he had gained, but at the price of adhesion to a commercial system which was gradually ruining his people. The exhausting, slow-moving war with Turkey was still dragging on, and neither Moldavia nor Wallachia was yet acquired. Oldenburg was incorporated into France. The grand duchy of Warsaw was not merely the specter of a restored Poland: the addition of Galicia to its territories had given it solidity and substance. The Franco-Austrian alliance was a menace to all the Czar's aspirations on the Balkan peninsula. It was clear that he must choose between keeping his engagements to the letter and an open rupture. He had been beaten and humiliated at his own game.
The first steps toward a rupture had already been taken before Napoleon's second marriage. In the last days of 1809 Alexander had negotiated with Caulaincourt, the French ambassador at St. Petersburg, a treaty requiring from his ally a formal promise that Poland should never be restored and the name never officially used. It is certain, from the language used at the time, that the two questions of Poland and the Russian marriage were not connected; the former he could raise merely as an ally with a just expectation of a favorable reply. It is of course possible that Alexander hoped Napoleon might connect them, and thus sign the Polish treaty in the hope that his request for the grand duchess would be granted as a return. In that case the Russian emperor could still have refused his sister's hand, putting his ally's compliance in regard to Poland on the ground of existing political relations. He might then have laughed in his sleeve at his outwitted dupe. Be that as it may, Napoleon was the craftier. He replied that he would sign, not this document, but one slightly different, though quite as satisfactory to Russia. Accordingly he drew up, executed, and forwarded to Russia a counter-project promising "never to give help or assistance to any power, or to any internal rising whatsoever, looking to a restoration of the kingdom of Poland." A few days after its arrival at St. Petersburg came the news of the Austrian marriage.
Two courses were now open to the Czar. One was to take advantage of the strong Russian party which existed among the Poles in Warsaw, promise a restoration of Poland with himself as king, and enter on an offensive campaign against France. This scheme is contained in an extant letter addressed to him by Prince Galitzin. The other was to negotiate further and await events. After dallying for a time with the former idea, the Czar at length told Czartoryski that he could never consider giving up provinces already incorporated into Russia,—which meant of course that he would not restore the integrity of Poland,—but that he might accept the crown of the grand duchy of Warsaw as it was, including Galicia. Secret agents were thereupon despatched to sound the Austrian court. If the partition of Turkey should take place, as was already determined, could not Russia and Austria join hands to secure each her own interests against France? In view of the fact that Napoleon had rejected the idea of destroying Turkey because Russia had displayed jealousy of Austria and had refused her any share in the Turkish lands, this was a virtual declaration of hostilities.
Alexander's overture was unheeded at Vienna, at least for the moment, because Metternich was in Paris wooing Napoleon's good will. Simultaneously and openly, therefore, the fencing between Paris and St. Petersburg went on. A rejoinder to the counter-project was laid on Napoleon's desk, containing the identical words, "that the kingdom of Poland shall never be restored." This persistence angered the recipient, and seemed capable of but one interpretation. If Alexander did not consider the guarantees given by France after Friedland and Wagram to be sufficient, could Napoleon see in this reiterated demand anything more or less than a determination of the Czar not to abide by the engagements of Russia unless new ones were given by himself? He returned therefore a softly worded, non-committal reply, and began to make unmistakable preparations: a journey to Flanders for the purpose of rousing public opinion on his behalf, the strengthening of certain fortresses, and a general rapprochement to Austria in all his relations. The negotiations continued a little longer, Russia insisting on the phrase as first written, France declaring that its use would be a confession of the insinuation contained in it, and therefore incompatible with her dignity. Any other equivalent language she would use, but not that.
THE ARRAY OF NATIONS
[Footnote 40: References as before, to which add Lehmann: Scharnhorst, Vol. II.]
Estrangement of France and Russia — Premonitions of War — Alexander's Secret Policy — The Various Factors in the Situation — Bernadotte — The Eve of a General Conflagration — England and Prussia — Austria and Prussia — Alliance between Sweden and Russia — England and the United States — The Confederation of the Rhine — The State of France.
Meanwhile Metternich, confident that in the partition of Turkey better terms could be obtained for Austria from Napoleon than from Alexander, was doing his utmost to embitter the relations of France and Russia. A strong Russian party in Vienna was in close touch with the numerous Poles in Warsaw who looked to Alexander for the restoration of their country's integrity. In both places there was much talk of the restoration of Poland, in Warsaw especially, and the phrase was constantly in the newspapers. Alexander's ambassador in Paris made urgent representations concerning "a persistent rumor that the Emperor intends to restore Poland." Napoleon retorted in fury, and threatened war, but immediately wrote a soothing assurance that he was still true to the engagements of Tilsit, and as to the treaty itself he would agree to changes, but would never brand his own memory with dishonor. On July first, while the lines were in the copyist's hands, there occurred the incident which many thought at the time changed the course of history. During a magnificent festival given by the Austrian ambassador, the decorations in an open court took fire, and the conflagration spread, enveloping the entire embassy. All the important guests escaped unhurt except Kourakine, the Russian ambassador, who was so injured that he could no longer perform his official duties. It appeared to throw a strong light on Napoleon's character as a man that almost immediately his humor seemed to change; his personal obligations to the much-abused but well-bred envoy could not now be wiped out by a gentle reply to the master; hence, apparently, he curtly dismissed the Russian charge d'affaires, and ended the negotiation. It was when this news reached St. Petersburg that Alexander a second time offered Norway to Sweden.
The real cause of Napoleon's abrupt manner was the news communicated by Metternich that the Russian army had advanced successfully to the Danube. On July seventeenth Francis despatched an envoy requesting his new son-in-law to join him in a protest against the aggressions of the Czar; in other words, to throw the agreements of Tilsit and Erfurt to the winds. Napoleon returned an unhesitating and honorable refusal, but said significantly to Metternich: "If Russia quarrels with us she will lose Finland, Moldavia, and Wallachia," adding that if the Czar, contrary to his engagement of 1808, should seize anything south of the Danube, then he himself would intervene on Austria's behalf. But all Europe seemed convinced that war was inevitable. In all the watering-places the talk was of nothing else. The Russian party in Vienna grew bolder; Pozzo di Borgo, Napoleon's life-long foe, who had been temporarily under a cloud in Russia, appeared in Vienna in his Russian uniform, courted and oracular. A French interpreter on his way to Persia was stopped by him, and bribed to enter the Russian service. In a terse personal note written by his own hand, Napoleon called Alexander's attention to the facts, but without awaiting the reply he went further. Kourakine, partly recovered, was leaving Paris for home. Through him the Emperor poured into his ally's ear a long exposure of the situation, saying in substance that war was to be avoided, that he had not the slightest intention of restoring Poland, and that if the Czar would write what was desired as a guarantee in the form of a newspaper article, the words should be inserted unchanged in the "Moniteur." At the same time orders were sent commanding Caulaincourt to end all negotiation, and the Poles were peremptorily enjoined to silence. Simultaneously schemes for a new naval campaign were gradually being perfected, so that they might be realized the following year.
Something of Alexander's secret diplomacy must have leaked out, but he appeared unmoved. He was steadily preparing for war, strengthening his fortresses, and locating fortified camps in the district between the Dwina and the Dnieper. But his chief concern was with Poland. Relying on the Jesuit influence at Warsaw for support against the jailer of the Pope, he again took up his old scheme of restoring the country as an appanage of the Russian crown, and wrote to Czartoryski. The plan was dazzling: a national army, a national administration, and a liberal constitution. But that nobleman, after a long residence in his native land, had learned how strong was the conviction of his countrymen that Napoleon would give them a more complete autonomy than the Czar, and sent back what must have been a discouraging reply, although it has never been found. Alexander on its receipt determined that the coming war should be defensive on his part, and immediately opened communications with England and Sweden concerning the Continental System. Finally, in the closing days of the year, he issued a ukase excluding wines, silks, and similar luxuries from France, but facilitating the entry of the colonial wares in which England dealt. This was an act of open hostility to his old ally, a declaration of commercial war. Prussia immediately made semi-official advances to the Czar, but they were repelled.
It is not easy to estimate Napoleon's responsibility for what had happened and was about to happen. He was persistently domineering, contemptuous of national feeling and dynastic politics, over-confident in the unswerving devotion of France, inflexible in his policy of territorial aggrandizement, ruthless in applying his peculiar conceptions of finance and political economy, and pitiless in his own self-seeking. On the other hand, Alexander, having received Prussia's autonomy as his part, had proved an untrustworthy ally from the outset. Having seized Finland, he would not pay the price, but first evaded the Continental System, then rejected it, and finally declared commercial war on France; in the latest conflict between France and Austria he had actually wooed the latter's favor. Procrastinating in the marriage affair, he was furious when the suppliant turned elsewhere, and at once displayed an insulting mistrust concerning Poland; finally, he declared diplomatic war by his overtures to England and his secret machinations in Vienna; there was but a final step in the evolution of complete hostility, the declaration of military war. Austria, too, had done her utmost to bring on a conflict, hoping to find her account in the dissensions of the two empires. Her policy demanded her territorial aggrandizement at the expense of Turkey; in a war between France and Russia she was sure to find her account, and there was nothing in Metternich's dealings with Napoleon which tended to preserve the peace of Europe.
Sweden, under Bernadotte, was manifestly anxious to find a cause of offense, being defiant in temper, and ready to do anything for the purpose of strengthening the hands of Alexander and escaping from French protection. So feeble was the titular King of Sweden that the adoptive crown prince speedily became the real ruler, and his personal desires were soon the public policy. It was a strange transformation which took place in the man. He had been generous and kindly in the difficult positions he held as a French general. Avowedly a revolutionary democrat of the most radical stripe, he was nevertheless a true Gascon and failed to display his great abilities wherever his heart was not engaged. He had, moreover, basked in the sunshine of imperial favor, and in an age of atheism had remained in the fold of the Roman Church. Having himself schemed against Napoleon under the promptings of personal ambition, he often gave aid and comfort to the Emperor's enemies. When adopted into the royal family of Sweden it cost him little effort to profess Lutheranism; his republican sympathies were quenched, and he developed into a beneficent despot anxious to put Sweden in line with Russia. He never was able to win the affections of his people, and when before the close of his life they demanded a liberal constitution, this democratic sovereign, brought up under the illumination of French revolutionary doctrines, held back until the paper had to be wrung from him. The phases of Napoleon's life are scarcely more startling than those of this rather commonplace actor on a stage which was provincial when compared with the cosmopolitan scene of the Emperor's life-drama.
In the spring of 1811 all Europe knew that war was inevitable. "It will occur," wrote Napoleon on April second of that year, "in spite of me, in spite of the Emperor Alexander, in spite of the interests of France and those of Russia. I have already so often seen this that it is my experience of the past which unveils to me the future.... It is all a scene in an opera, and the English control the machinery." A week later he notified Alexander that he was aware of the movement of Russian troops toward Poland, and declared that he himself was likewise preparing. Lauriston was sent to replace the too pacific Caulaincourt at St. Petersburg, and Champagny was removed from the Foreign Office to make way for the fiery Maret. There was much to be done before the actual outbreak of hostilities. England's history is the story of her struggles for nationality, for religious, civil, and political liberty, and for mercantile ascendancy. Her inborn longings for the highest civilization were not inconsistent with her grim determination to resist a system that stood on the Continent for progress, but which she had come to believe meant national ruin for her. Prussia, with a new vigor born of self-denial, education, and passionate patriotism; Sweden, restless and uneasy under the yoke of Napoleonic supremacy; Denmark, friendly, but independent in her quasi-autonomy; the United States, chafing under the restrictions of her commerce; Turkey, sick to death, but then as now pivotal in all European politics—the relation of all these powers to the coming conflict was still a question, and during a year much might be done in a diplomatic way to determine it. The whole civilized world was to be in array, although the life-and-death struggle was to be between two insatiate despotisms, one Western and modern, the other Oriental and theocratic. Napoleon grasped the tendency of his own career but dimly. Goethe said of him, "He lives entirely in the ideal, but can never consciously grasp it." Unconsciously, too, Alexander the Great had fought for the extension of Greek culture; Caesar, to destroy the stifling institutions of a worn-out system; Charles the Great, to realize the "city of God" on earth; Napoleon, for nationality, individual liberty, popular sovereignty. What was personal and petty in the work of these Titans, being ephemeral, disappeared in the death of each; what was human and large has endured and will endure. The creative ideas of the revolutionary era with which Napoleon's name is so closely connected are no longer called in question; his own career was now verging to its decline, but in his fall the fundamental conceptions of the epoch were firmly established.
In January, 1812, Wellington, as has been mentioned, stormed Ciudad Rodrigo; on April sixth Badajoz fell. On April eighteenth Napoleon offered terms of peace, Spain to be kept intact under Joseph, Portugal to be restored to the house of Braganza, Sicily to remain under Ferdinand, and Naples under Murat. Considering all the circumstances, the offer was worthy of consideration; but the English cabinet refused it. The possibility of peace with Great Britain being thus extinguished, Napoleon considered what course he should pursue toward the other great Protestant land, which also felt itself to be struggling for life. Some well-informed persons asserted that at first the Emperor contemplated destroying the Hohenzollern power utterly. If so, he quickly dismissed the idea as involving unnecessary risk. With the reforms of Stein and Hardenberg successfully accomplished, with her educational system completed and her army reorganized, with her people electrified at last into true patriotism, Prussia was again a redoubtable power. Her influence permeated all Germany, and the secret associations which ramified everywhere labored for German unity, their members already dreaming of the Jura, Vosges, and Ardennes as the western frontier of their fatherland. At first Frederick William made overtures to the Czar, offering an army of a hundred thousand men. Alexander, desiring a purely defensive war, was cold; but late in 1811 he agreed, in case of an attack on Prussia, to advance as far as the Vistula, "if possible."
Meantime Austria had at first contemplated neutrality, but she abandoned the policy when convinced that, whichever side should be victorious, Prussia would be dismembered. Francis saw Alexander's continued successes on the Danube with growing anxiety, and, learning that Napoleon would put four hundred thousand men into the field, made up his mind that France must win. Accordingly, in March, 1812, a treaty was executed which put thirty thousand Austrian troops under Napoleon's personal command, and stipulated for Austria's enlargement by Galicia, Illyria, and even Silesia, in certain contingencies. During these negotiations Frederick William had learned how stupendous Napoleon's preparations were, and, with some hesitancy, he finally sent Scharnhorst to sound Austria. The result was determinative, and on February twenty-fourth, 1812, a treaty between France and Prussia was signed, which gave Prussia nothing, but exacted from her twenty thousand men for active service, with forty-two thousand for garrison duty, and afforded the French armies free course through her territories, with the right to charge up such requisitions as were made against the war indemnity. To this pass Alexander's narrowness had brought the proud, regenerated nation; its temper can be imagined.