« ForrigeFortsett »
IT is an observation of Mr. Hume's, that History, being
1 a collection of facts which are multiplying without end, is obliged to adopt, like most other Sciences, Arts of Abridgment; to retain the more material events, and to drop all the minute circumstances which are interesting only during the time, or to the persons engaged in the transactions. It is not pretended that our Annual Sketches of the succeeding years, which aim only at aiding the memory, by tracing such connections and relations as may be per. ceived in so short a time, after the events described, attain to the solidity, importance, and dignity, of just and legitimate history: for which they are only intended to supply materials, and, in the mean time, in some measure to supply their place. But a tolerable execution of even our design, requires the aid of abridgment in proportion to the variety of scenes to be described, and events to be recorded. We had not lost sight of this maxim in the composition of the HISTORY OF EUROPE, for 1807 ; which has however extended to a length, for which perhaps we ought, at least to our most accomplished and refined readers, to make an apology. Certainly if the scale of narration were to be in proportion to the multiplication of facts, History would totter under its own weight, and endless details would prevent attention to those general conclusions or results, that bestow on par. ticular details their principal importance. Never perhaps, since the contest between religious tyranny, and religious liberty, the sister and powerful ally of political freedom, in the reign of the Emperor Charles V, was there so eventful a crisis. France and Russia contended on the banks of the Vistula, for the empire of the political world ; and this-we hesitate to say wbether it was settled, or only put in a train
for being settled at the peace of Tilsit: while expeditions from Great-Britain were sent out into every quarter of the world.
The great affairs of nations fall naturally into two classes, according to the physical divisions of the year into Summer and Autumn; and Winter and Spring: the former division, the season of action in the field ; the latter, that of deliberation and debate in the councils of states, and sovereign princes. In the year 1807, two campaigns were to be described, and an account given of the business and debates of two sessions of the British parliament.The first campaign was terminated by the long cessation of arms, at least of field-operations, which succeeded to the horrible battle of Eylau : the second, that which was opened in the beginning of June, and terminated in the armistice that followed the decisive battle of Friedland. To trace, if possible, among scenes so various, such relations and dependences ag might help to weave them into some kind of narrative, more interesting than an assemblage of facts arranged in the mere order of time, was a task neither easy, nor to be performed in haste, or without waiting a little for the developement of time. And the advantages we have derived from this æconomy, which we hope will appear manifest in the History of Europe, will also, we trust, apologize for the late publication of the present volume.
Such an apology for tardy publication, may not proba bly, according to present appearances, occur soon again. The Continent of Europe, notwithstanding the glorious efforts of Austria and many parts of Spain, appears to be sinking fast into a state of degradation, and the servility, monotony, and barbarism of a military government.-- But wherever Liberty, carrying in her train all that gives grace, dignity, and value to life, takes up her abode, it will be our business to attend her: without however being inattentive to the situation, character, and fate, of the unfortunate nations she may leave behind.
London, i8th of October, 1809.
General Aspect of Europe.-Resources of the opposite Belligerent
Powers-and Views.-Fragility of Confederations.-General Marins and Measures of Buonaparte.-Position and Strength of the French and Russian Armies.--Military Force remaining to the King of Prussia after the Battles of Jena and Pultusk.- The general Plans of the opposite Armies.-Battles of MohringenBergfried-Deppen-Hoff-und Eylau. -Retreat of the French on the Vistula--and of the Russians behind the Pregel.
T the commencement of 1807, ror of Russia, and the king of Prus. R every eye was fixed on the sia on the one part, and, on the coasts of the Baltic. It was here other, Buonaparte emperor of that the destinies of Europe were to France, and king of Italy. The be decided, as they had been in latter derived support from the former periods, on those of the Me- nations whom he had subdued or diterranean. The genius and the intimidated, ---Italy, Spain, Holland, resources of the north were brought and a great part of Germany : the into conflict with those of the south. former depended on the aid of A mighty contest was to be decided Sweden, and the cordial and vigo. by arms between Alexander empe. rous co-operation of Great Britain. Vol. XLIX.