cannon ;

not very

[ocr errors]

with the British. In artillery, the pised all scruples of this kind, seized French were very powerful. Soult without hesitation the property of the alone carried with him about 200 Spaniards. These circumstances, when pieces of

and in this manner duly considered, will convey some idea had greatly the advantage of his an- of the different situations of the contagonist in the strength of one mighty tending armies,—they will shew how arm, of which the English have never inferior the resources of all kinds were perhaps sufficiently availed themselves. with which the British general was

In another circumstance, and that called upon to resist the enemy, and not the least material to the efficiency will

go farther to explain the obstacles of an army, the French, from a poli- which he surmounted, and the talents су honourable, had

many ad. which he displayed in this retreat, than vantages, -we allude at present to the the most laboured panegyric. Let it commissariat. It is remarkable, that be remembered, that with means so although the British entered Spain for unequal he set the enemy at defiance, the avowed purpose of saving it from and conducted the retreat of his army the most cruel of all tyrannies, and al- in safety; that the French, with all though they had performed the most their advantages, never ventured to signal exploits to secure this great ob. attack him, and seldom took up a poject, their armies never were so well sition which they were not careful to supplied with provisions as those of secure by all the resources of the milithe

enemy: The Spaniards were will. tary art. This was destined to be the ing enough that the English should last trial of that admirable self-comfight for them, but they seem never to mand by which Lord Wellington kept have been very willing to make any the natural boldness of his character considerable sacrifice to the cause of in subordination to the maxims of prunational independence. The English dence; the remainder of his career in were too honourable to take any thing the peninsula was to be illuminated by by violence, and they were therefore one constant blaze of glory. ill supplied ; but the French, who des

[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]


Affairs of Russia. Causes which led to the Rupture betwixt Russia and France. Preparations of the Parties. The French invade Russia. Progress of the Campaign till the Advance of the Invader upon Smolensko.


He campaign of the French in Rus. No


who knew any thing of sia will form one of the most interest- the character of Buonaparte, or the ing and extraordinary passages in his- policy of the French government, tory, whether we consider the mighty could doubt for a moment as to the interests which depended on its issue, real nature of the treaty of Tilsit. the greatness of the means employed It was but a hollow truce, consented on both sides, the singular and striking to by the French ruler till he should events which marked its progress, or be able to accomplish other more the momentous consequences with pressing objects of his ambition. That which it was followed. The greatest a lasting and friendly intercourse military power which modern Europe should have subsisted' betwixt the ever saw had been concentrated for French government, in the plenitude the purpose of achieving a conquest, of its power, and any state of Europe, which was expected to lay the whole not yet reduced to abject dependence, civilized world at the feet of the con- was beyond all sober calculation; the queror. But all the efforts of genius, whole course of French policy, all the discipline, and numbers were rendered acts of the new government, whether abortive by the heroic courage and in peace or war, indicated a fixed depatriotism of the Russian people ; and sign of attaining universal empire. the vast preparations of the invader, Whether it was at any time by which he had arrogantly calculated even upon the exclusive views of amon obtaining universal dominion, avail. bition, to cherish so hazardous a proed him not in this season of unwonted ject, is of no importance; but that it trial. Defeated and disgraced, his was really entertained, acted upon, and armies annihilated, and himself a fugi- even avowed, is beyond all dispute. tive, he was compelled not only to The Emperor Alexander must have abandon his unlucky enterprise, but been aware of this; he could not be to leave his former 'conquests to the blind to what the humblest politicians unsparing vengeance of his enemies, in other parts of Europe had

perwho, gathering strength as they ad- ceived ; and how much soever he might vanced, and animated by a succession have been misled by the artifices of of triumphs, were at last enabled to the enemy, and a momentary feeling execute an awful retribution for all of dislike towards England, he could the

wrongs which they had endured. not long remain in error as to the

very wise,


course of policy which he was called indignation or despair. The strength upon to pursue towards France. Nor

of Russia could seldom indeed be rencould he be ignorant that his power dered efficient at any distance from the gave him a fair chance, on the first confines of the empire; but it might favourable opportunity, of performing prove not the less formidable when what his duty urged him to attempt these confines should be passed, and

-the reduction of the influence of her enemies should be reduced to comFrance, which had spread so much bat on her own soil, and under all the misery over the continent. Russia

Russia disadvantages which the extent of the had not indeed made a very conspicu. country and the severity of the clious figure in European wars, waged mate presented to an invader. at a distance from her own frontiers ; The military talent of the Russian and many persons rashly concluded, commanders had not, generally speakthat she was therefore impotent as to ing, appeared of the first order in the resources, and wholly insignificant in great battles to which they had lent the arrangements of European policy: their aid since the French revolution ; No intelligent Russian, however, could but it was to be expected that the commit so gross an error; while the leading men of such a country would, Russian government must have been in extremities, display that sort of ini. aware of the ample resources of the litary genius whịch, in the operations empire when the hour of trial should of a protracted, defensive warfare, arrive, and ought never to have sunk, might overpower the first tacticians like the rulers of feebler states, into of the age. Such a country as Rus. despondency. It is true, indeed, that sia, with a population brave, hardy, Russia, removed at so great a distance and persevering, could not be sudden. from the ordinary theatre of European ly conquered; it must, in any circum war, had exercised but little controul stances, have made a long and despeover its results ; that she had been rate resistance; and its permanent subfound tardy and impotent in the de. jugation appeared'utterly impossible to fence of Germany; and had of late all reasonable men. Such, however, sacrificed her political character by a was the melancholy extravagance of monstrous union with the common

many persons, that they considered the enemy. Her alliance had often been conquest of Russia as certain, when unavailing to the continental nations Buonaparte left Paris with the avowed struggling against France, because her purpose of undertaking this hazardous troops could seldom be brought into enterprise; and if he condescended, in the field till the contest had been de this instance, to listen for a moment cided ; because, when they did reach to the advice of his servile admirers, the scene of action, their bravery was they may justly be charged with harendered unavailing by defective ar. ving contributed to precipitate his rangements; and because the poverty downfal.. of the Russian treasury constantly The Russian government was sen. prevented the military energies of the sible of its real condition of the na. country from developing themselves. tural resources of the country--the This casual weakness arose out of devoted patriotism of the people the the general condition of Russia; but means of defence which they possessit was not of such a nature as to create ed--the rashness of the assailants, and, a suspicion of her real strength, when above all, of the impossibility of long it should be drawn out under a better averting the struggle into which the system, or roused into full vigour by circumstances of Europe must one



[ocr errors]

day hurry Russia with Franee. They throughout the continent; to seduce knew that neither the treaty of Tilsit, or compel all nations to give them efnor any other obligation, how solemn fect, and in this manner to dissolve for soever, could avert for a moment the ever the commercial relations of Great vengeance of Buonaparte against Rus. Britain with continental Europe. To sia, whenever circumstances might fa- induce the nations over whom he dared vour its execution. They felt that the not yet avow a direct influence, to actreaty, whatever nominal advantages cede to this monstrous system, he init might have conferred on Russia, had vented many absurd fictions ; he rein reality sealed her degradation ; and presented England as the eternal enethey detested the odious restraints my of the continent, the tyrant of the which threatened their country with seas, the disturber of the peace of ruin.-When Buonaparte entered into Europe, and the foe of the civilized the treaty of Tilsit, his mind was fill- world. He strenuously insisted on the ed with the arrogant notion that he principle said to have been recognized was destined to effect the downfal of by the treaty of Utrecht, that free England, which he hated, as the asy. ships should make free goods, and lum of liberty, the successful enemy vainly supposed that in time of war he of France, and the great barrier to his might thus neutralise the force of the projects of ambition. He knew that British navy by providing for the pera direct attack on England was alto. manence of the commercial relations gether hopeless while her navy trium- of France. He called his system phed on the ocean ; while her armies « The Continental System,” as if he maintained a pre-eminence not less himself had already been absolute conspicuous, and the stability of the master of the European continent ; government was fixed in the affections thus betraying his conviction, that noof the people. He had threatened an thing short of an entire combination invasion, which he soon perceived that of the continental powers, under one he could never accomplish ; for he was undivided scheme of despotism, could instantly confined to his own ports by ever affect the prosperity and grandeur fleets which he did not venture to of England. He had introduced many meet; his gasconades were in a few singular conditions into the treaty of weeks answered by the appearance of Tilsit; but that by which Russia more than half a million of men in bound herself to accede to the conti. arms; and England thus exhibited to nental system, and to exciude British him the exasperating spectacle of a produce and manufactures from her mighty and generous nation, defying all ports, he was chiefly anxious to enhis menaces. Finding all direct efforts force. The Emperor of Russia soon to subjugate her impracticable, he re- found that he had been deceived when solved on measures for gradually ex- he agreed to this article, and that he hausting her resources. Such was the would be compelled to violate the origin of the Berlin and Milan decrees, treaty, even should the French ruler by which the commerce of England hesitate to set him the example. was excluded from the continent. But

But Buonaparte did not thus hesi. while the edicts of Buonaparte were tate. Long before the commercial imited in their operation to the states relations betwixt England and Russia over which he exercised a direct con. underwent any modification, or at least troul, they were found to be in a great

before such modification was made the measure ineffectual. His plan, there- subject of remonstrance and complaint, fore

was to render them general he seized the duchy of Oldenburgb,

and thus insulted the Russian emperor, der his own immediate care as protectboth as the ally and the near relative or of the confederation of the Rhine ; of the family which was dispossessed. and, above all, he maintained, that this The treaty of Tilsit could not, indeed, act of oppression, although it might have lasted much longer, because it seem a violation of the terms, was yet was unjust and absurd in its provisions, agreeable to the spirit of the treaty of and must have proved fatal to Russia Tilsit. Even had his cause been good, and to Europe ; yet the impatience his arguments were too refined to make and rapacity of the aggressor deserve a strong impression in his favour; the to he recorded. It has been often re- terms of a treaty form a much safer marked, that engagements extorted and more palpable basis of interpretaby violence seldom survive the unhappy tion than its alleged spirit; and the combination of circumstances in which majority of mankind are happily more they have been created ; but the im- accessible to plain arguments than to politic haste with which the French logical subtleties. Every one could ruler in this instance proceeded to ma- read and comprehend the terms of the nifest his contempt forallengagements, treaty of Tilsit, while few could judge even those which he had so great an of its spirit ; because few persons

could interest in maintaining, was truly cha- pretend to understand the whole scope racteristic of his nature. The Russian of these momentous negociations.--The government protested against this act rashness of Buonaparte in the seizure of faithless violence ; and the unsatis. of the duchy of Oldenburgh operated factory answer of the French minister just as the vices and follies of conqueamounted to this, that a remonstrance rors have often done before, by assistby any power against its ally had no ing to rescue the world from their typrecedent in the history of nations! ranny, and to open the eyes of mankind It was strange policy in Buonaparte, to the real character of their ambition. if he expected the aid of Russia, and Is has been usual with the revolufelt reluctant, as he well might, to 'tionary governments of France to af. hazard every thing in an attempt to fect moderation aftertheir greatest sucsubdue her, thus to authorise, by his cesses, and to enter into treaties which own example, a breach of the treaty were calculated to impose on surroundon her part.

Yet such was his arro- ing nations a belief of their sinceri. gance or infatuation, that he furnished ty. They have often agreed to evaRussia not only with plausible pre- cuate countries of which, at the date texts, but with sound reasons for vio. of the treaty, they had military poslating a treaty which she must at all session ; but they have taken care at events have speedily determined not to all times either indirectly to secure the observe. He pretended that the posses. subserviency of such countries, or sion of the duchy of Oldenburgh was have most shamefully violated their necessary to enable him to execute his engagements, and resorted to a thoucontinental system ; and, after his own sand pretexts for retaining possession manner, he proposed that the family, by violence, long after other nations whom he had thus driven out, should had sunk into security and repose. receive a compensation for their losses In this point Buonaparte has been by the robbery of their neighbours. their constant and successful imitator; He affected great surprise and indig- and although he stipulated by the nation that the emperor of Russia treaty of Tissit, that his troops should should presume to interfere with the evacuate Prussia, it is probable that no affairs of this duchy, which was un. one but the Emperor Alexander him.

« ForrigeFortsett »