OREALD.COM - An Old Electronic Library
eng: a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z

The Reign of George III. - (Continued.) page 6


Pages: 1 2 3 4 5 <6> 7 8 9 10 11

But lord Castlereagh called on parliament to maintain the same scale of expenditure and exertion till the great drama was completed. He estimated that there would still be wanted for 1814 four million pounds for the Peninsula, and six million pounds for Germany. He stated that our army in ail quarters of the world amounted to two hundred and thirty thousand men, and that it was probable that we should have occasion to send from fifteen thousand to twenty thousand men to Holland, which, he recommended, should be raised by drafts from the militia. Of seamen, one hundred and forty thousand, and thirty-one thousand marines were voted, as it was resolved to chase the flag of the troublesome Americans from the seas. Ail these proposals were assented to without hesitation, and, with the warmest encomiums on the achievements of lord Wellington in Spain and the south of France, parliament adjourned on the 26th of December till the 1st of March, 1814.

At the opening of the year 1814 Buonaparte was busy endeavouring to made good some of his false steps, so as to meet the approaching allies with ail possible strength. He made haste to liberate the captive pope, and thus remove one of the causes of the hostility of the Italians to him, for in Italy the Austrians were bearing hard on his viceroy, Eugene, who had but about forty-five thousand men there, whilst Murat, at Naples, so far from supporting the claims of Napoleon, was endeavouring to bargain with the allies for the kingdom of Naples. Buonaparte, at the commencement of the year, sent cardinal Maury and the bishops of Evreux and Plaisance to Pius VII., at Fontainebleau. But, even under such pressing circumstances, Buonaparte could not make a generous offer. He endeavoured to bargain for the cession of a part of the papal territories, on condition of the surrender of the rest. But Pius, who had always shown great spirit, replied that the estates of the church were not his to give, and he would not give his consent to their alienation. Foiled on this point, Buonaparte then sent word that the pope should be unconditionally liberated. " Then," said Pius, " so must all my cardinals." This was refused, but he was permitted to go alone, and a carriage and guard of honour were given him. Before departing, Pius called together the cardinals, seventeen in number, and commanded them to wear no decoration received from the French government, and to assist at no festival to which they should be invited. He then took his leave, on the 24th of January, and reached Rome on the 18th of May. Thus ended the most foolish of ail the arbitrary actions of Napoleon. The folly of it was so obvious that he disclaimed having ordered the seizure of the pope, but he showed that this was false by keeping him prisoner more than five years.

Another matter which he was in equal haste to set right was the captivity of the king of Spain. He had one hundred thousand of his best-disciplined and seasoned troops in Spain, and he was anxious to get them out to meet the approaching allies. Besides this, he was equally anxious to render the stay of lord Wellington in the south of France indefensible. To effect these purposes, he determined not only to liberate Ferdinand of Spain, but to send him home under the conditions of a treaty, by which a full exchange of prisoners should be effected, and the continuance of the English there be declared unnecessary. Nay, he did all in his power to embroil the Spaniards with their deliverers, the English. He sent, for these purposes, soon after his return to Paris, M. de la Forest to Ferdinand, at Valençay, but under the name of M. Dubois, so that neither the Spanish cortes nor the English should know anything of the matter. La Forest carried to Ferdinand this impudent letter - perhaps the most impudent one ever written, even by Buonaparte, when we consider the manner in which he had kidnapped the royal family of Spain, and had endeavoured, and was endeavouring up to that moment, by a most bloody and desolating war in their dominions, to supplant: - " My Cousin, - The state of my empire and of my political situation lead me to put a final adjustment to the affaire of Spain. The English are exciting anarchy and jacobinism. They endeavour to overthrow the crown and the nobility, in order to establish a republic. I cannot, without being deeply affected, think on the destruction of a nation which interests me, both by its neighbour- hood and its common interest concerning maritime commerce. I wish to re-establish the relations of friendship and good neighbourhood which have so long been established between France and Spain. You will, therefore, listen to what the comte de la Forest will propose in my name," &c.

But, imbecile as Ferdinand was, he had too strong a gleam of common sense to act as Buonaparte wanted him. He replied that he had been five years and a half from Spain, kept in utter ignorance of what had passed there, and that he could enter into no treaty without first Consulting with the Spanish regency. La Forest observed that his majesty had had the information of the progress of events in Spain from the French papers; but that did not satisfy even the dull senses of Ferdinand. La Forest then endeavoured to incense him against the English and the cortes. He represented England as little better than a republic, and that it had encouraged the cortes to excite republicanism - a circumstance particularly distressing to Napoleon. This seems to have alarmed the weak mind of Ferdinand, and he consented that a treaty should be drawn up betwixt La Forest and the duque de San Carlos. By this treaty Buonaparte recognised Ferdinand VII. and his successors as king of Spain and the Indies, and Ferdinand, on his part, bound himself to maintain the integrity of his empire, and to oblige the English immediately to evacuate every part of Spain. The contracting powers were to maintain their maritime rights against England; and whilst Buonaparte surrendered all fortresses held by him in Spain, Ferdinand was to continue to ail the Spaniards who had adhered to king Joseph all the rights, privileges, and property they had enjoyed under him.

Could this treaty have been carried out, Buonaparte would at once have obtained his one hundred thousand veterans from Spain, and completely paralysed the army of lord Wellington. The duque de San Carlos conveyed the treaty to Spain. He was instructed to inquire into the state of the regency and the cortes, whether they were really so infected with infidelity and jacobinism as Napoleon had represented; but, whether so or not, he was to procure the ratification of the treaty by these bodies, and Ferdinand undertook to deal with them himself when once safe upon the throne. San Carlos travelled eastward into Spain, and visited the camp of Suchet, who very soon communicated to general Capons, who was co-operating with general Clinton, that there was peace concluded betwixt Spain and France, and that there was no longer any use for the English. Capons was very ready to act on this information, and enter into a separate armistice with Suchet; but, fortunately for both Spain and the English, neither the regency nor the cortes would sign the treaty so long as the king was in durance in France.

But before this could be known, such was the impatience of Buonaparte to annihilate the power of the English in Spain, and to procure the immediate return of his veterans, that he released generals Palafox and Zayas from the prison of Vincennes, and sent them, with the canon Escoiquiz and Don Pedro de Macanaz, to Valençay, to persuade Ferdinand to sign an immediate suspension of hostilities between Spain and France - so anxious was this universal bloodspiller " for all useless expenditure of blood to be avoided! " Ferdinand consented to this conditionally that the regency and cortes consented to it, and Palafox was dispatched into Spain to endeavour to accomplish the object; but Ferdinand, at the same time, gave Palafox secret instructions to see the English minister at Madrid, and tell him that the treaty was a hoax. The journey of Palafox was unnecessary,- for-, before his arrival - that is, on the 28th of January - the regency had given its answer on behalf of the cortes as well as of itself - that the treaty could not be entertained till the king was free and in Spain. Thus were the artful endeavours of Buonaparte defeated.

Lord Wellington had been duly informed of the progress of these manœuvres, and they had given him great anxiety; nor were these the only causes of anxiety which affected him. The English ministry were so much absorbed with the business of supporting the allies in their triumphant march after Buonaparte, that they seemed to think the necessity of lord Wellington's exertions at an end. At the close of 1813 they recalled Sir Thomas Graham and some of his best battalions to send them into Holland. They appeared to contemplate still further reductions of the Peninsula army, and lord Wellington was obliged to address them in very plain terms to impress them with the vital necessity of maintaining the force in this quarter unweakened. He reminded them that thirty thousand British troops had kept two hundred thousand of Buonaparte's best troops engaged in Spain for five years; that without this assistance Spain and Portugal would have long ago been completely thrown under the feet of the invader, and the allies of the north would have had to contend against the undivided armies and exertions of Napoleon; that to render his own army inefficient would be at once to release one hundred thousand veterans such as the allied armies had not had to deal with. This had the proper effect; and, as soon as his lordship could get the necessary supplies, he resumed his operations to drive Soult from under the walls of Bayonne.

Early in February he commenced his operations, and carried them forward with a vigour most extraordinary. He drove Soult from all his entrenchments before Bayonne, and again on the 27th he routed him at Orthez and pursued him to the banks of the Adour. This was a sharply con- tested field, the English having nearly three hundred killed and two thousand wounded; but the loss of the French was far heavier, for they flung down their arms and ran, and there was a great slaughter of the fugitives. The towns of Bayonne and Bourdeaux being now left uncovered by the French, Wellington sent bodies of troops to invest them. Bourdeaux at once opened its gates, and proclaimed Lonis XVIII. Lord Wellington had issued Orders that the English should take no part in any political demonstrations, but should leave all such decisions to the. allies, who would settle by treaty what dynasty should reign. He himself followed Soult to Tarbes, where he expected that he would give battle; but Soult was anxious for the arrival and junction of Suchet, who was advancing from Spain with upwards of twenty thousand men. Soult, therefore, retreated to Toulouse, which he reached on the 24th of March.

Lord Wellington came up with him on the 9th of April, in the meantime having had to get across the rapid Garonne, with all his artillery and stores, in the face of the French batteries. The next morning, the 10th, being Easter Sunday, Wellington attacked Soult in all his positions. These were remarkably strong, most of his troops being posted on well - fortified heights, bristling; with cannon, various strongly-built houses being crammed with riflemen; and a network of vineyards and orchards, surrounded by stone walls, and intersected by streams,: protected his men, and rendered the Coming at them most difficult. The forces on both sides were nearly equal. Soult had about forty-two thousand men, and Wellington, besides his army composed of English, Germans, and Portuguese, had a division of fifteen thousand Spaniards. The difficulties of the situation far out-balanced the excess of about three thousand men on the British side; but every quarter was gallantly attacked and, after a severe conflict, carried. Soult retired into Toulouse, and during the ensuing night he evacuated it, and retreated by Castelnaudary to Carcassonne. The loss of the allies in killed was six hundred, and about four thousand wounded. Soult confessed to three thousand two hundred killed and wounded, but we may calculate his total loss at little less than that of the allies, although his troops had been protected by their stone walls and houses. There were many of our officers severely wounded, and several killed. Colonel Douglas lost a leg, colonel Pack and major-general Brisbane were wounded. Colonel Forbes, of the 45th, and colonel Coglan, of the 61st, were killed.

On the 12th of March Wellington entered Toulouse amid the acclamations of the people. Yet, with an assurance most astounding, Buonaparte everywhere proclaimed that Soult had won a great victory at Toulouse, and some of their historians coolly assert it to this day. If being driven into Toulouse one day and out of it the next, leaving the English in possession of the town, and his retreating to Castelnaudary, nearly forty miles off, before he stopped, be victory, then assuredly he had a glorious victory. Yet, on these evidences of a victory, the late king Louis Philippe sanctioned the project of erecting a column in honour of Soult's victory over Wellington! " A victory," says M. Capefigue in his " Europe during the Consulate and the Empire," published so late as 1840, " which has created a confraternity between Soult and the duke of Wellington." It is pitiful to see the French, in their agony to cover the continual defeats of Soult, thus endeavouring to imagine a victory for him where the facts are so glaringly contrary the pretence, indeed, being completely swept away by Soult himself. Writing to Suchet at the time, he confessed that the battle had been most murderous, and having completely overset all his determinations, had compelled him to enter Toulouse, which he saw that he could not hold. In a subsequent letter, he added that he was compelled to evacuate Toulouse, and the next day should endeavour to reach Villefranche, twenty-four miles off.

But lord Wellington was not only accused by the French of defeat, but of fighting the battle five days after the abdication of Buonaparte, and therefore incurring a most needless waste of life. The fact was, that it was not till the afternoon of the 12th of April that colonel Cooke and the French colonel, St. Simon, arrived at Toulouse, bringing the official information that Buonaparte had abdicated at Fontainebleau on the 4th. Thus the battle was fought a week before the knowledge of the necessity for fighting was received. Moreover, we have the evidence of Soult's own correspondence that on the 7th of April, after he had heard of the entrance of the allies into Paris, he was determined to fight another battle, and for the very reason that the allies had entered Paris. When the English and French colonels arrived at Soult's camp with the same news that they had communicated to Wellington, Soult refused to submit to the provisional government until he received orders from Napoleon; nor did he acknowledge this government till the 17th, when Wellington was in full pursuit of him towards Castelnaudary. On the 18th a convention was signed betwixt Wellington and Soult, and on the following day a like one was signed betwixt Wellington and Suchet. On the 21st lord Wellington announced to his army that hostilities were at an end, and thanked them "for their uniform discipline and gallantry in the field, and for their conciliatory conduct towards the inhabitants of the country."

<<< Previous page <<< >>> Next page >>>
Pages: 1 2 3 4 5 <6> 7 8 9 10 11

Pictures for The Reign of George III. - (Continued.) page 6

French forces near Kaya
French forces near Kaya >>>>
Alicante
Alicante >>>>
Battle of Tarragona.
Battle of Tarragona. >>>>
Dividing the spoils
Dividing the spoils >>>>
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
Escurial >>>>
Banquet given to the Emperor of Russia
Banquet given to the Emperor of Russia >>>>

Home | Privacy Policy | Copyright | About