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 8


Pages: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 <8> 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16

On the 11th of April, the day after the destruction of the French and Bavarians in the pass of Brixen, Hofer attacked the Bavarian colonel, Bärnklau, on a piece of table-land near Sterzing, called Sterzinger Moss; but found it impossible to break his square, till he. sent a load of hay in that direction, guided by a girl, the daughter of a tailor, named Camper, who went on shouting, as the Bavarian balls flew around her, " On with ye! Who cares for Bavarian dump- lings!" The Tyrolean riflemen, following the wagon, and protected by it, soon broke the square, and the whole troop was killed or taken prisoners.

At the same time, Joseph Spechbacher, a wealthy peasant of Rinn - equal, if not superior, to Hofer himself in ability and gallantry - had occupied the lower Valley of the Inn. The alarm-bells pealed from every church-tower in the country, the peasants rushed to arms, and the Bavarians, levying contributions at Axoms, fled. Spechbacher invested Halle, in which was a Bavarian garrison of four hundred men, and, making a number of great fires on one side of the city, as if about to attack on that side, stole up, in the darkness, to the gate on the other side, demanded entrance as a common passenger, and, obtaining it, let in his followers, and made the garrison prisoners. On the 12th he appeared before Innsbruck, the peasantry in his train shouting, " Vivat Franzi! Down with the Bavarians! " The peasantry rushed on the guns, and turned them on the Bavarians; the Citizens joined them; and the people of the upper valley of the Inn, headed by major Teimer, poured down in crowds. Colonel Dittfurt, who had committed dreadful atrocities on the people of the Fleimser-Thal the preceding winter, made a desperate résistance, but was killed, and general Kinkel and his garrison surrendered. Immediately after, Hofer and his riflemen attacked the forces with which Wrede and Brisson had crossed the Brenner, and defeated them at Sterzing. He took both the Commanders, ten staff officers, above a hundred other officers, eight thousand infantry, and a thousand cavalry, prisoners, and with these they marched triumphantly down to Innsbruck. Thus the whole of the Tyrol, in a very few days, was freed from the Bavarians, and Tyrolese officers appointed instead of the Bavarian ones for all departments. The prisoners were all treated with humanity, except one tax-gatherer, who, having boasted that he would grind the people till they ate hay, was compelled to swallow a good lock of hay himself.

These brilliant achievements being accomplished by the Tyrolese themselves, lieutenant field-marshal von Chasteler, as general-in-chief, and baron von Hormayr, as civil intendant, arrived with an Austrian force to govern the country. Some of the Austrians deemed it a condescension to fight with peasantry; and general Marschall, who had been sent to guard the southern Tyrol, declared that lie considered it an insult to have to make common cause with mere peasantry, and refused to sit down to table with Hofer. He was removed, and the count Leiningen took his place. Hofer and he afterwards, supported by Chasteler himself, expelled a large force that had marched in from Trent, under generals Lemoine and Baraguay d'Hilliers.., In the engagement Hofer rescued Leiningen from capture.

The success of Napoleon in Austria enabled him to send general Lefebvre, duke of Dantzic, with a powerful force, who, assisted by "Wrede, drove the Austrians, under Jellachich, out of Salzburg, and, marching into the Tyrol, defeated Chasteler. The Bavarians followed in his track, and Chasteler and Hormayr abandoned the country and the people to their fate.

Once more Hofer, Spechbacher, Eisenstecken, and their brave peasantry beat the French and Bavarians at all points, and drove them out of the country, whereupon Hormayr returned to govern. After the battle of Asperne, Francis II. sent word that his faithful Tyrolese should be united to Austria for ever, and that he would never conclude a peace in which they were not indissolubly united to his monarchy. But Wagram followed, and Francis forgot his promise. The Tyrol was again handed over to the French, to clear it for the Bavarians.. Lefebvre marched into the Tyrol with forty thousand men, and an army of Saxons, who, he said, had to bear the brunt of the fighting. Hofer, Spechbacher, the capuchin, Joachim Haspinger, and Schenk, the host of the "Krug" or "Jug," again roused the whole country, destroyed or drove back the Saxons; and when Lefebvre himself appeared near Botzen with all his concentrated forces, they compelled him also to retire from the Tyrol with terrible loss. Hofer once more became the governor of the country, and his companions, Spechbacher and Haspinger, pursued the French and Saxons to Salzburg, and took many prisoners on the way.

But the peace of Vienna was now concluded, and, on the 30th of October, baron Lichtenthurm appeared in the camp of the Tyrolese, and delivered a letter to the leaders from the archduke John, requesting them peaceably to disperse, and surrender the country to the Bavarians. This was a terrible blow to these brave men. They appeared prostrated by the news, and Hofer announced to Spechbacher, who was still fighting with the Bavarians, that peace was made with France, and that the Tyrol was forgotten! Hofer returned to his native vale of Passeyr, and still held out against the French, and the Italian mercenaries under Rusca, whom he defeated with great slaughter. But traitors were amongst them, who guided the French to their rear. Hofer escaped into the higher Alps, but thirty of the other leaders were taken and shot without mercy. Another traitor guided the French to Hofer's retreat in the high wintry Alps, near the Oetzthaler Firner. He had been earnestly implored to quit the country, but he refused. As the French surrounded his but, on the 17th of February, 1810, he came out calmly and submitted. He was carried to the fortress of Mantua, and Napoleon sent an order that he should be shot within four-and-twenty hours. He would not suffer himself to be blindfolded, nor would he kneel, but exclaimed - " I stand before my Creator, and, standing, I will restore to him the spirit he gave! " Thus died, on the 20th of February, 1810, the brave Hofer - another murdered man, another victim of the sanguinary vengeance of Buonaparte against whatever was patriotic and independent. Yet, even Hofer was better treated than his friend and coadjutor, Spechbacher. Hofer's son received a fine estate from the emperor Francis; but Spechbacher, having escaped the Bavarians by strange adventures and unheard-of hardships, and having made his way to Vienna, was left unnoticed by the emperor, and might have perished of starvation, but for Hofer's son, who engaged him as his steward.

The arbitrary crushing of the freedom of the Tyrol, and the handing of it over to the Bavarians as a gift, was not the only oppression of this period of Napoleon's career, which the Germans call his supremacy. He seemed to have put down all opposition on the continent, except in Spain, and he dictated to all nations according to the arrogance of his will. His general in Poland, Poniatowski, himself a Pole, was employed to put down his countrymen, to whom he had held out delusive hopes of the restoration of their nationality. Poniatowski fell on the Austrians with forty thousand men, and made himself master of Warsaw, whilst the archduke Ferdinand was besieging Thorn. He then advanced against the archduke, beat him in two battles fought in April and May, and eventually drove the Austrians out of the grand duchy of Warsaw. Buonaparte then divided Galicia, giving one portion to the emperor of Russia, and adding the other to the grand duchy of Warsaw, which was restored to the king of Saxony. Thus the Poles saw an end of all the august hopes with which Buonaparte had endeavoured to inspire them, in order to induce them to fight his battles for the subjugation of other peoples.

We have seen that the archduke John, whilst advancing victoriously into Italy, driving the viceroy, Eugene Beauharnais, before him, when he had advanced almost to Venice, was recalled by the news of the unfortunate battle of Eckmühl, and the orders of the Aulic council. The Italians had received him with open and avowed joy; for, rigorous and unpopular as the rule of Austria in Italy had been, it was found to be light and easy in comparison with the yoke of Buonaparte. In common With all other people, the Italians found that Buonaparte's domination, introduced with lofty pretences of restoring liberty and crushing all old tyrannies, was infinitely more intolerable than the worst of these old tyrannies. It was one enormous drain of military demand. The life-blood of the nation was drawn as by some infernal and insatiable vampire, to be poured out in all the other lands of Europe for their oppression and curse. Trade vanished, agriculture declined under the baleful incubus; public robbery was added to private wrong; the works of art - the national pride - were stripped from their ancient places, without any regard to public or individual right, and there remained only an incessant pressure of taxation, enforced with insult, and often with violence.

When the archduke began to retreat, Beauharnais pursued him far more actively than he had been pursued, and he was aided in his operations by marshal Macdonald. John, however, repeatedly turned and gave the French a sanguinary check, as at Corregliano, and in the valley of Raab. Both generals were at the same time hastening to reinforce their respective commanders-in-chief; but Beauharnais, with French characteristic alertness, managed to join Buonaparte before the battle of Wagram; and the archduke John, though continually urged, by letters from the archduke Charles, to make all speed, managed, with characteristic Austrian slowness, to reach Presburg, and there remain inactive till his brother was beaten, and Austria laid at the feet of the conqueror. Many have been disposed to attribute the strange conduct of the archduke John to treason in his array. The French, as at other times, sent their emissaries amongst the Austrian officers, and the sudden wealth of some of them would seem to indicate that they had accepted the bribes. But this could not have prevented the archduke from marching, if he were disposed to march; and we must rather look for the real reason of both this strange delay, and of the Austrian disasters in general, to the system of placing at the head of their armies members of the royal family, merely because they were such. The French armies were led on by men, every one of whom had risen by their talents and energy; the Austrians, by men who were archdukes, and nothing more. The causes of the différent results of the two commands are palpable enough.

The Austrians being again expelled from Italy, Buonaparte, in his all-absorbing cupidity, determined to turn adrift the pope, and add his little vineyard to his now cumbrously overgrown Ahab's domains. He had begun this spoliation in 1808, as we have recorded, seizing on the greater part of the pontiff's territories-, sending away his cardinals, and reducing him to little better than a solitary prisoner in his own palace. This was an ungrateful return to the poor old pope for making the long journey into France to crown him, and thus to give a sacred sanction to his usurpation of the imperial crown - a sanction of immense effect throughout the catholic world. On his return to Italy, Pius VII. appeared quite favourably disposed towards Buonaparte, declaring, in his address to the College of cardinals, that he was set up by Providence for the revival of religion in France, where it had been trampled on and denied. But these considerations did not at all influence Buonaparte, nor the thought of the mischievous effect that further injury to the pope must have on the vast body of catholic clergy and of pious catholics in various countries of Europe. He saw the remaining territories of the pope stretching across Italy, cutting it in two, and preventing the design which he now had of declaring himself the successor of Charlemagne, and of making Rome the capital of his European empire.

Pius VII. had given Buonaparte great offence by refusing to declare war on the English, and thus keeping up a breach in his system of exclusion of English commerce. He had, therefore, already taken military possession of Civita Vecchia and Ancona, but he now resolved to take the whole temporal dominion from the pope, and abrogate, by virtue of his assumed heirship of Charlemagne's realm, the gift of Charlemagne to the church. An all-powerful despot can do what he pleases, except to extinguish the moral convictions of mankind. They remain, and in their inner sanctuary of the soul laugh at all false pretences.

On the 2nd of February, 1809, general Miollis, by order of Buonaparte, took possession of Rome, disarmed and disbanded the pope's guard, and marched his other soldiers to the north, telling them they should no longer remain under the effeminate rule of a priest. Miollis then gave the pontiff the alternative to join the French league, offensive and defensive, or to be deposed. The pope firmly refused to concede his rights to anything but absolute force. On the 17th of May, therefore, Napoleon's decree for the deposition of the pope from his temporal power was proclaimed. It assumed the heirship of Charlemagne to be in Buonaparte; declared the union of the spiritual and temporal powers to be the source of all scandals and discords in the catholic church; that they were, therefore, at an end - the Roman state for ever united to the French empire.

On the 10th of June Pius issued a bull excommunicating Buonaparte and all who aided him in his sacrilegious usurpation of the patrimony of St. Peter; and this was followed, on the 6th of July, by general Radet forcing the gates of the Vatican, taking possession of it with his troops, entering the presence of the pope, who was amid his priests, and clad in his pontificals, and demanding that he should instantly sign a renunciation of all the temporal estates attached to the see of Rome. Pius declared that he neither could nor would perform any such sacrilegious act. He was then informed that he must quit Rome. " This, then," said the pontiff, "is the gratitude of your emperor for my great condescension towards him and towards the Gallican church; God's will be done. I have probably erred in what I have done for the French emperor, and God means to punish me for it! " and, taking his breviary under his arm, he walked out of his palace, guarded by the usurper's soldiers. It was three o'clock in the morning. Cardinal Pacca was alone permitted to accompany him in the carriage awaiting him, and they were whirled away by a rapid and almost uninterrupted journey to Alessandria, and to the foot of the Alps. There, quite worn out, the inflexible old man demanded whether Napoleon wanted to have him dead or alive. The answer was, " Certainly alive." "Then," replied the suffering but unconquered old man, " you must let me have some rest." This was accorded, but the following day they hurried over Mont Cenis, and never stopped till they reached Grenoble.

<<< Previous page <<< >>> Next page >>>
Pages: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 <8> 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16

Pictures for The Reign of George III. - (Continued.) page 8

The Battle of Talavera
The Battle of Talavera >>>>
Lord Collingwood
Lord Collingwood >>>>
Via Mala
Via Mala >>>>
Execution of Andrew Hofer
Execution of Andrew Hofer >>>>
Campo Vaccino
Campo Vaccino >>>>
Pope Pius VIII
Pope Pius VIII >>>>
Burdett riots
Burdett riots >>>>
Sir Francis Burdett
Sir Francis Burdett >>>>
Marriage of Napoleon
Marriage of Napoleon >>>>
The fire at the Austrian ambassadors ball
The fire at the Austrian ambassadors ball >>>>
Scene in the Peninsula
Scene in the Peninsula >>>>
Port of Rotterdam
Port of Rotterdam >>>>

Home | Privacy Policy | Copyright | About