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The Reign of George III. - (Continued.) page 5


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The next day the battle paused, as by mutual consent; and, as it was evident that the French must eventually retreat, this day should have been spent in preparing temporary bridges to cross the rivers; but, as at Moscow, the presence of mind of Buonaparte seemed to have deserted him. He dispatched general Mehrfeldt to the allied monarchs, to propose an armistice, on condition that he would yield all demanded at the conference of Prague - Poland, and Illyria, the independence of Holland, Spain, and Italy, with the evacuation of Germany entirely. Before he went Mehrfeldt informed him that the Bavarians had gone over in a body to the allies. But in vain did Buonaparte wait for an answer - none was vouchsafed. The allied monarchs had mutually s worn to hold no, further intercourse with the invader till every Frenchman was beyond the Rhine.

On the morning of the 18th the battle recommenced with fury. The French were now fighting close under the walls of the town, and Napoleon, posted on an eminence called Thonberg, watched the conflict. Till two o'clock the fight raged all along the line, round the city; and neither party seemed to make any advance. At length the allies forced their way into the village of Probstheide, and threw the French on that side into great confusion. Ney, on the north side, was also fearfully pressed by Blücher and the crown prince of Sweden, and was compelled to retreat under the walls. On a sudden, as the Russians advanced also against Ney, the Saxons - ten thousand in number - went over to them with a shout. They were sent to the rear, but their cannon was at once turned against the ' enemy. By evening it was clear that the French could not hold their position another day. Schwartzenberg announced to the allied sovereigns that victory was certain, and they knelt on the field, and returned thanks to God. The French knew this better than their opponents, for in the two days they had fired two hundred and fifty thousand cannon- balls, and had only about sixteen thousand cartridges left, which would not serve for more than two hours, much of their artillery having been sent to Torgau. The retreat, therefore, commenced in the night. There was only one bridge prepared, of timber, in addition to the regular stone bridge, over which one hundred thousand men must pass, with the enemy at their heels. To add to the misery, the temporary bridge soon broke down. Napoleon took a hasty leave of the king and queen of Saxony, ordered Poniatowski to defend the rear, and himself made for the bridge. It was not without much difficulty, and considerable alarm lest he should be surrounded and taken, that he and his suite got across. Then there was a terrible scene of crushing and scrambling; and the enemy, now aware of the flight, were galloping and running from all sides towards the bridge, to cut off the fugitives. Soon after Buonaparte had got over, the bridge was blown up by the French officer in charge of the mine already made, and twenty-five thousand men were left to surrender as prisoners in the town. Amongst these were marshals Macdonald and Poniatowski; but, disdaining to surrender, they sprang, with their horses, into the Pleisse - to swim. Macdonald escaped, but Poniatowski, though he crossed the Pleisse, was again nearly cut off, and plunging into the deep and muddy Elster, was drowned. No braver man perished in these tragic campaigns; both allies and French in Leipsic followed his re- mains to the tomb, in sincere honour of his gallantry. The triumph of the allied monarchs was complete. They met in the great square of the city, and congratulated each other. The king of Saxony was sent, without any interview, under a guard of Cossacks to Berlin, and at the general congress he was made to pay dearly in territory for his besotted adhesion to the invader of Germany. In this awful battle the French lost three hundred guns. The slain on both sides amounted to eighty thousand, and thousands of the wounded lay for days around the city, exposed to the severe October nights, before they could be collected into lazarettos; and the view of the whole environs of Leipsic, covered with dead, was fearful.

On the 23rd of October Napoleon reached Erfurt, whose fortifications afforded him the means of two days' delay, to collect his scattered forces. As they came straggling in, in a most wretched condition, and without arms, his patience forsook him, and he exclaimed, " They are a set of scoundrels, who are going to the devil! I shall lose eighty thousand before I get to the Rhine! " In fact, he had only eighty thousand men left, besides another eighty thousand in the garrisons in the north of Germany - thus also lost to him. Of his two hundred and eighty thousand men, had utterly perished one hundred and twenty thousand. He sent Orders to those in the garrisons to form a junction in the Valley of the Elbe, and so fight their way home; but this was not practicable; and in a few months they all surrendered, on conditions. He here dismissed such of the Saxon and Baden troops as remain ed with him, and offered the same freedom to the Poles; but these brave men - with a generosity to which the betrayer of their country had no claim - refused to disband till they had seen him safe over the Rhine. Murat, with less fidelity, took his- leave again, on the plea of raising troops on the frontiers of France, to facilitate Napoleon's retreat, but, in reality, to get away to Naples, and make terms for himself.

Before Buonaparte quitted Erfurt he learned that his late allies, the Bavarians, with a body of Austrians under general Wrede, were marching to cut off his line of retreat to the Rhine, and that another body of Austrians and Prussians were marching from near Weimar, on the same point, with the same object. He left Erfurt on the 25th of October, amid the most tempestuous weather, and his rear incessantly harassed by the Cossacks. He met Wrede posted at Hanau, but with only forty-five thousand men, so that he was able to force his way, but with a loss of six thousand, inflicting a still greater on the Austro-Bavarians, of nearly ten thousand. On the 30th of October Napoleon reached Frankfort, and was at Mainz the next day, where he saw his army cross, and on the 7th of November he left for Paris, where he arrived on the 9th. His reception there was by no means encouraging. In addition to the enormous destruction of life in the Russian campaign, the French public now - instead of the reality of those victories which his lying bulletins had announced - saw him once more arrive alone. They saw Murat passing at a wing speed through the country, and they eagerly inquired what had become of the two hundred thousand men who had disappeared. It was in vain that about four thousand Bavarian prisoners were ostentatiously paraded before them, with a few captured banners; they still demanded where were their fathers, their brothers, and their sons? And the whole frightful truth soon burst upon them. Then the notes of the French people changed at once. For these twenty years they had read, without a feeling of compunction, of the slaughters and the ravages committed by their countrymen and relatives on all the peoples of the continent, and consoled them- selves for the deaths that occurred by saying, " Our sons and brothers have fallen for the glory of France! " But now they bitterly exclaimed, " They have been sacrificed to the ambition of a tyrant! " Nor was their indignation at all diminished when they heard the story of the miseries which had tracked the march of the remnant of their army out of Germany. There the whole road had been covered with carcases of the dead and the dying. The ditches were filled with such as were worn down by fatigue and famine, for the country people refused them everything but destruction. Their horses lay dead amongst them, and their blown-up ammunition and baggage-wagons obstructed the roads; while on both sides of their way smoked the remains of the villages, which they burnt down in their vengeful fury.

When the advanced guard of the allies came in sight of the Rhine, over which the last of the hated invaders had fled, they raised such shouts of "The Rhine! the Rhine!" that those behind rushed forward, supposing that it was a. call to action; but they soon learned the true cause, and joined in a mighty acclamation, that proclaimed the haughty and sanguinary oppressor driven out, and the soil of Germany at length freed from his licentious and marauding legions. It turned out that they had left behind them one hundred and forty thousand prisoners, and seven hundred and ninety- one guns.

On the 2nd of November Hanover was again delivered to England; the duke of Brunswick, who had maintained his stern hatred to Buonaparte, also returned to his patrimonial domains; the kingdom of Westphalia dissolving like a dream, the différent portions of Jerome's ephemeral realm reverted to its former owners. The confederacy of the Rhine was at an end, the members of it hastening to make peace with the allies, and save as much of their dominions as they could. Bernadotte, immediately after the defeat of Buonaparte at Leipsic, entered, Denmark, and overran the country of that ally of France, The Danish army speedily consented to an armistice, by which it was agreed that the Swedes should occupy Holstein and a part of Sleswick till the French were expelled from all the Danish fortresses. It was already stipulated, as the price of his co-operation, that the crown prince should receive Norway to add to the Swedish crown.

Holland rose in exultation on the news of the overthrow of Buonaparte at Leipsic. His dominion over that country had been a bitter thraldom. Its sons had been dragged yearly, by conscription, to his great slaughter-houses called battle-fields in distant regions. Their trade had been crushed by his continental system; their colonies seized by England; their mercantile sources thus dried up - in fact, he had squeezed the wealth and the life out of Holland as out of a sponge, and hordes of French officials maintained an insolent and lordly dominance all over the country. The Dutch had risen to throw off this hateful and ruinous yoke, on the disasters in Russia; but the French forces in Holland had then been sufficient to put them down, and to severely punish them for the attempt. But the necessities in Germany had nearly drained Holland of French troops, and they now rose once more joyfully at Amsterdam, on the 15th of November, and at the Hague on the 16th. They appointed count Styrum governor in the name of the prince of Orange, and a deputation was dispatched to London to invite the prince to return, and to solicit the support of the British government. They received the most prompt assurances of assistance from England. A man-of-war was immediately put at the service of the prince of Orange, and, after a nineteen years' exile, he embarked on the 25th, and entered Amsterdam on the 1st of December as king of Holland, amid the most enthusiastic acclamations. An army of twenty-five thousand men was soon enrolled; the allies were at hand; the French authorities fled, after laying hands on all the booty they could carry off; and with the exception of the fortress of Bergen-op-Zoom, the country was speedily cleared of them.

The Swiss acted a more cautious part. Fearful that Napoleon might yet, by some other wonderful chance, regain his power, they summoned a diet, passed an order for the neutrality of the cantons, and issued an order calling on the allies to respect this, and not attempt to march troops through their country. This would have suited Buonaparte extremely well, as it would have closed his eastern frontiers to the Austrians, who were marching that way under count Bubna; but the Austrians informed the Swiss authorities that they should certainly march through; and the allied sovereigns dispatched count Capo d'Istria and herr Lebzeltern to Zurich to State that the power of France over Switzerland was at an end, and to desire them to send deputies to meet them, and to establish an in- dependent government for Switzerland. Thus assured, the greater part of the cantons sent their deputies to Zurich, who proclaimed the restoration of national independence, and gave free consent for the allies to march through it.

Whilst ail the countries which Buonaparte, at such an incalculable cost of life and human suffering, had compelled to the dominion of France were thus re-asserting their freedom, Buonaparte, in Paris, presented the miserable phantom of a vanished greatness. He called on the senate to vote new conscriptions, telling them that theirs had been made by him the first throne of the universe, and they must maintain it as such; that without him they would become nothing. But the allies were now entering France at one end, and Wellington was firmly fixed in the other; ere long the insulted nations would be at the gates of Paris, and the senate and people demanded peace. Buonaparte refused to listen, and the senate voted the conscription of three hundred thousand men, knowing that there was no longer any authority in the country to raise them. La Vendée, and ail the catholic south, were on the verge of insurrection; Murat, in Naples, was ready to throw off his last link of adhesion to Buonaparte; and the defeated usurper stood paralysed at the approach of his doom.

It was natural that this mighty turn in affaire on the continent should be watched in England with an interest beyond the power of words. Though this happy country had never felt the foot of the haughty invader, no nation in Europe had put forth such energies for the overthrow of the usurper; none had poured forth such a continual flood of wealth to arm, to c10the, to feed the struggling nations, and hold them up against the universal aggressor. Parliament met on the 4th of November, and, both in the speech of the prince regent and in the speeches in both houses, one strain of exultation and congratulation on the certain prospect of a close to this unexampled war prevailed. At that very moment the Gallic invader was on his way to Paris, his lost army nearly destroyed, the remains of it chased across the Rhine, and himself advancing to meet a people at length weary of his sanguinary ambition, and sternly demanding peace.

Lord Castlereagh, in enumerating the aid given by England to the sovereigns of the continent in this grand effort to put down the intolerable military dominance of Buonaparte, drew a picture of expenditure such as no country had presented since the commencement of history. He said that the nations of the north of Europe were so exhausted by their former efforts, that not one of them could move without our aid; that this year alone we had sent to Russia two million pounds; to Prussia two million pounds; to Austria one million pounds in money, and one hundred thousand stand of arms; to Spain two million pounds; to Portugal one million pounds; to Sicily four hundred thousand pounds. By these aids Russia had been able to bring up men from the very extremities of the earth, and Prussia to put two hundred thousand men into the field. We had sent during the year five hundred thousand muskets to Spain and Portugal, and four hundred thousand to other parts of the continent. There was something sublime in the contemplation of one nation, by the force of her wealth and her industry, calling together the armies of the whole world to crush the evil genius of the earth. The idea was poetically grand, apart from considerations lying below the mere surface.

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Pictures for The Reign of George III. - (Continued.) page 5

French forces near Kaya
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Alicante
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Battle of Tarragona.
Battle of Tarragona. >>>>
Dividing the spoils
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English forces in France
English forces in France >>>>
Lord Castlereagh
Lord Castlereagh >>>>
Napoleon at Fontainebleau
Napoleon at Fontainebleau >>>>
Oak of Heney IV
Oak of Heney IV >>>>
Marshal Bulow
Marshal Bulow >>>>
Escurial
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Banquet given to the Emperor of Russia
Banquet given to the Emperor of Russia >>>>

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