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they should kill their own men. The intrepidity of our troops finally bore us in triumph over all opposition: the enemy fled in disorder in sight of the two emperors of Austria and Russia, who had taken their station on a rising ground, in order to be spectators of the contest. They ought to have been satisfied, for I can assure you they witnessed no child's play. For my own part, my good friend, I never passed so delightful a day. The emperor received me most graciously when I arrived to tell him that the victory was ours; I still grasped my broken sabre, and, as this scratch upon my head bled very copiously, I was all covered with blood. He named me general of division. The Russians returned not again to the charge--they had enough; we captured every thingtheir cannon, their baggage, their all in short; and Prince Ressina was among the prisoners."
APOLEON entered, unresisted, into the
ancient citadel of the Kremlin. Moscow he looked upon as an asylum, after the
sufferings and fatigues of his army. He found immense resources within the city, and here, therefore, he resolved to establish his
winter quarters,—and looked proudly around on his conquest. But, during the night, a frightful conflagration broke out. Rostopchin, the governor of the city, had determined, in evacuating it, on an immense sacrifice, for the salvation of his country. Russia was lost, if the French should find a shelter in Moscow. At an appointed signal, and by order of Rostopchin, a band of convicts spread themselves throughout the city, carrying flame in their hands, and set fire to it in a thousand parts. Moscow crumbled away beneath the conflagration; and little more of her was left, in a few hours, than a heap of cinders and ruins.
The winter was approaching, and the French had no longer an asylum to look forward to against its rigours. Napoleon still flattered himself with the hope of peace, and Alexander prolonged the negotiations purposely, with the view of detaining his enemy amid the ruins of Moscow. At length, the negotiations were broken up, and the order was issued for retreat. The emperor quitted the city at the head of a hundred thousand fighting men, after forty days of fruitless expectation. “Your day of warfare is ended,” had said old Kutusoff, “and ours is about to begin.” The winter set in suddenly, with more than its usual rigour, even in the heart of Russia. The French troops, paralysed by the cold, were pursued and harrassed in their retreat by innumerable enemies, and the roads were covered with their frozen corses. Still, however, the army marched in tolerable order as far as the Beresina, which it had to cross in the presence of three Russian armies. The river was, as yet, unfrozen over, though covered with floating ice. It was necessary to construct rafts, under the fire of the enemy, and at the same time make head against them unceasingly. At this place were, again, achieved prodigies of heroism; but the rafts were encumbered by multitudes of stragglers and disarmed soldiers, and, yielding to the pressure, thousands of men were engulfed in the waters of the Beresina. At length, after incredible efforts, this formidable barrier was cleared; but the moral as well as physical strength of the soldiers was beaten down; the cold set in afresh, with renewed rigour; and the retreat was, thenceforth, one vast and frightful rout.
APOLEON signed, on the 13th of April, 1814,
at Fontainbleau, the treaty which declared him and his descendants to have forfeited the throne of France. The sacrifice being complete, on
the 20th of April, Napoleon took leave of his brave army. His guard awaited him under arms, and ranged in battle order, in the court yard of the palace. The emperor traversed his apartments, and found, in his passage, the duke of Bassano, generals Belliard and Fouler, his secretary, baron Fain, and a few superior officers—the last and sole remains of a court which had, once, been the most numerous and brilliant in Europe. He held out his hand to them, rapidly descended the stairs, and, advancing towards his guard, cast an agitated look upon his old warriors, and spoke as follows: "Soldiers of my old guard, I bid you farewell. For twenty years past, I have found you ever on the path of glory and of honour. In these latter days, as in those of
our prosperity, you have not, for a moment, ceased to be models of valour and of fidelity. With men like you, our cause could not be lost; but the war had been, already, too far prolonged. It must now, too, have been a civil war; and France must have suffered, more than she has already done. I have therefore sacrificed your interests and my own, to those of our country,—and I am about to depart. You, my friends, will continue to serve France; whose happiness has been my only aim, and will be ever the object of my prayers. Lament not for my fate. If I have consented to survive you, it is that I may still contribute to your glory: I am about to cominit to writing the great things which we have achieved together. Farewell, my children! Fain would I press you all to my heart, let me, at least, embrace your standard !” At these words, general Petit, snatching up the eagle, advanced with it towards the emperor. Napoleon kissed the ensign, amid the loud sobs of his soldiers. The emperor, greatly agitated, recovered himself by an effort, and resumed with a firmer voice ;—“Yet once again, adicu, my old companions in arms! Let this last embrace pass into your hearts !" Then throwing himself into his carriage, he departed for the island of Elba ; which had been assigned to him, in full sovereignty, by the treaty of Fontainbleau, and whither the generals Bertrand, Drouet, and Cambronne, with four hundred soldiers of the guard, had obtained permission to follow his fortunes.
Thus fell, the first time, that colossus of power which had governed France for fourteen years, and seen, for a time, the entire continent subject to its will.