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CONTINUATION OF THE LIFE
NAPOLEON BONAPARTE, &c.
BONAPARTE'S EXERTIONS TO RETRIEVE HIS LOSSES_RE-CA
PITULATION OF THE SUFFERINGS OF HIS ARMY-ESCAPE OF THE KING OF PRUSSIA FROM GENERAL DESAIX-RAPID ADVANCE OF THE RUSSIANS-OPPOSITION EVINCED IN GERMANY AGAINST BONAPARTE-DECLARATION OF RUSSIA-ADDRESS OF THE FRENCH SENATE TO THE EMPEROR-HIS REPLY.
WHEN Bonaparte returned from his disastrous campaign in Russia, he endeavoured to conceal the alarm and anxiety which must have tortured his mind, by hunting exercises, attending the opera, splendid levees, and other similar devices. Yet he was actively, though silently, employed in organizing the means which his empire afforded, in order to resist the impetuous torrent which, gathering additional strength in its progress, continued to roll on towards his frontiers.
But before we proceed to state the wonderful exertions which this extraordinary man exbibited, at this critical juncture, it will be proper to revert to the state of his hitherto invincible army, which he left in the dreadful wilds of Russia.
It is impossible to depict in language sufficiently strong and expressive the losses, privations, and miseries of all kinds
encountered by the French army during its retreat. Every side presented the ruins of an immense army; the soldiers fled, pursued by fear and terror; the roads were choaked with the dead and dying, carriages, cannen, baggage, arms, &c. Condemned to perish far from their own countries, they, in different languages, cursed the ambition that had caused their destruction. Those who remained under the colours of their different legions, followed them without courage, or hope. Worn out with the most unparralleled sufferings, at the first shot they either threw away their arms, or fought from mere desperation. They generally marched at night, and halted during the day iq hollow squares, surrounded with Cossacks. Those who lay down to rest their weary
and benumbed limbs, seldom arose; death crept through their vitals, and terminated their sufferings. Even when the wreck of this once mighty army reached Wilna, where they hoped to enjoy refreshment, and pause, they found their exasperated enemy at their heels; and they were compelled to continue their retreat, 'leaving behind above 500,000lb. of corn and biscuit, which Marshal Mackdonald had collected with inconceivable expedition.
The Russian army during the pursuit also suffered much loss, and sustained many privations; but they were inured to their climate, and animated with feelings of vengeance for the plundering of their towns and villages, the massacre of their countrymen, and the destruction of their boasted capital.
At Konigsberg 70 generals, 10 colonels, and about 1000 other officers arrived, with scarcely any troops ; some were on horseback, some on foot, and all in the most wretched condition. Murat also arrived here, at the head of two battaliops of French guards, which, however, only contained 150 men each; and these were so much exasperated by the sufferings they had experienced, that they refused to mount guard before the lodgings of the officers. The Duke of Bassano arrived single in a sledge. The only cavalry corps belonging
to the grand army was formed of 600 officers; but these, with all their skill and gallantry, could be kept together but for two days.-One hundred and fifty sledges passed through Posen, at the end of December, which was all that remained of a division of cavalry.
When the severity of the season was in some degree lessened, the disposal of the frozen corpses that covered the ground through which the French army retreated, claimed the serious attention of the Russian government. The frost rendered it impossible to bury them, while the rapid change of season in this country rendered delay extremely dangerous; numerous parties were therefore employed to collect and burn the dead. In the governments of Moscow, Witepsk, and Mobilow, upwards of 200,000 dead bodies of the French and their allies were reported to be burned; and in the city of Wilpa and its environs 53,000!
When the exhausted fugitives had escaped from the Russian territory, fresh disasters and dangers awaited them. The Prussians who served under Mackdonald left him in order to join General D’York. In the meantime, the king of Prussia (being still in the power of France) ordered General D’York to be arrested as a traitor, and tried for contumacy, if he did not appear; and General Kleist was sent to take the command of bis troops. To prove further to Europe his devotion to Bonaparte, the king sent Prince de Hadzfeld on a mission to Paris, in order to set forth his sorrow and indignation at the disobedience of his troops. All this scene of mockery was got up under the direction of General Desaix, the French commandant. He next attempted to disarm the Prussian soldiery in Berlin, which being resisted, he prepared to carry the king a prisoner to Breslaw ; but his Prussian majesty, having been informed of the plot through Prince Ferdinand, saved himself by flight, during the night of January 17th, with two of his adjutants and ten of his own gensd'armes. On arriving at Potsdam, he ordered the drums to be beat, as a pursuit was apprehended. His majesty, in con
sequence, set out on the road to Silesia, with 6000 guards, after having declared the Crown-Prince of age, and given him his benediction.
The Emperor Alexander appears to have known well the enemy he had to contend with : be, therefore, did not consider the retreat of Bonaparte, and the destruction of his army, as a sufficient pledge of security. On the contrary, he seems to have increased his exertions, and ordered a new levy of about 300,000 men. • The arm of the Giant,' says the Russian monarch, is broken, but his destructive strength must be prevented from reviving; and his power over the nations, who serve him out of terror, must be taken away. Russia, extensive, rich, and pacific, seeks no conquests,-wishes not to dispose of thrones. She desires tranquillity for herself, and for all. She will not, however, suffer the wicked so to abuse her moderation, as to endanger the well-being of herself, or of other nations."
Field-marshal Prince Smolensko addressed a noble declaration to the states and sovereigns of the continent, when his army passed the boundary of Russia, which was followed by a proclamation from his master the emperor-Ages (says this document) may elapse before an opportunity equally favourable again presents itself; and it would be an abuse of the goodness of Providence not to take advantage of this crisis to reconstruct the great work of the equilibrium of Europe, and thereby to insure public tranquillity and individual happiness.
The Russians advanced with great rapidity: Warsaw, Pillau, Thorn, Liebau, Posen, Berlin, and Dresden, was successively taken. The whole of the country between the Ems and the Weser also evinced strong symptoms of insurrection. The Russians were every where received with joyous acclanations.' The peasantry in Hanover flew to arms. The states of Baden, Wirtemberg, and Bavaria, were in commotion. In Hamburgh, the cries of Down with Napoleon ! resounded on every side ; French cockades and flags were
torn down, the police officers beaten, and the French garrison were compelled to a rapid retreat. Even in Vienna, the news of the discomfiture of the French army was hailed with every symptom of joy, and which the government did not seem inclined to repress, although it was loudly complained of by the French ambassador.
During these transactions Bonaparte was exerting himself to retrieve his character. Besides the 350,000 men which were placed at the disposal of the minister of war, the different cities of France was called upon to shew their loyalty by assisting the efforts of their emperor. The municipal corps of Paris set the example, by a voluntary offer of 500 cavalry. The senate proposed to provide for the permanence and security of the government, by binding itself by an oath to the infant King of Rome, as heir apparent to the empire. Bonaparte, in his answer, dwelt on the uncertainty of life; thus supporting the recommendation in favour of the King of Rome; talked obscurely of a cowardly soldiery ruining the independence of states, and boasted of what he had done for the regeneration of France.
On Monday the 14th of February, 1813, Bonaparte proceeded from the palace of the Thuilleries to the palace of the legislative body, in great state; and, after the oath had been administered, he delivered the following remarkable speech :
• The war again lighted in the North of Europe offered a favourable opportunity to the projects of the English upon the Peninsula. They have made great efforts. All their hopes have been deceived. Their army was wrecked before the citadel of Burgos, and obliged, after having suffered great losses, to evacuate the Spanish territory.- I myself entered Russia. The French arms were constantly victorious in the fields of Ostrowno, Poltosk, Mobilow, Smolensk, Moscow, Malairaslovitz. The Russian armies could not stand before our armies. Moscow fell into our power. Whilst the barriers of Russia were forced, and the impotency of her arms acknowledged, a swarm of Tartars turned their parricidal