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tenable, and there was nothing for up supports to a disputed point. it but to move off as fast and in as Wherever a ground of vantage was good order as he could.
contended for, thither did each comDo you remember that, consulting mander accumulate masses of men with his generals on the field after until the action ceased in that nightfall, the exhausted Emperor fell direction, not so much because any asleep in his chair, and, on waking marked advantage had been gained up after a few minutes, had lost all as because human effort in that recollection of where he was and of quarter could do no more. The what had happened? I cannot find Allies were superior in artillery and out exactly where this council was cavalry, and the Cossacks, in the held, but think it merits a stone to course of the 18th, succeeded in mark it as well as any spot on the overlapping and threatening Napofield. These few moments of in- leon's left flank; but it was on the sensibility were all the sleep he got north, where the Allies had been that night: he hurried back to the largely reinforced since the 16th, town at eight o'clock, and was occu- that the principal impression was pied till morning in ascertaining the made and the French were driven state of his army and in arranging into the suburbs in such sort, that for the continuance of the retreat, but for the coming of night it might and its protection by a rear-guard. have been hard to secure the town It was not his way to acknowledge and the line of retreat. Napoleon deficiency on his own part; but I watched, as of old, for some misfancy that he must have felt very take or omission his keenly how the misery in which he enemy's part, which might enable and his were now sunk was owing to him to deliver one of his masterhis own obstinacy and the castles in strokes and thus to secure the victhe air which he had allowed himself tory; but he watched in vain. to dote upon. Where was now his Before he fought the battle of hope of chastising Prussia, for which Leipzig, Napoleon must have known he had sacrificed every dictate of that the greatest advantage he could prudence? Where was his cherished reasonably hope for from fighting prestige, relying on which he had was an undisturbed retreat to declined and neglected to provide France. In case of his not being in any way against adversity? In able to deliver a severe check to the what a condition was his empire, Allies he would of course still have put together with so much blood to retreat, but amid circumstances and treasure ! already falling to not much more favourable than pieces, and that which was nomin- those which attended his retreat ally subject territory not even afford- from Russia the year before. Any ing him a safe and unmolested pas- facility, therefore, which by the sage back to France! The more I skill of his engineers and the exerreflect on the condition to which tions of his troops could have been he had now brought himself, the provided for a rapid exodus from more damaged does his character as Leipzig should have been sought a general and a ruler appear. after by him with the utmost
The battles of the 16th and 18th earnestness. But it is a truth, were remarkable for hard fighting never explained, that to the very rather than for brilliant strokes of last he persisted in refusing atten generalship. Both leaders had dis- tion to his line of retreat. When posed their forces advantageously, pressed by his generals and staff, he and both were prompt at bringing sent Bertrand to keep open the one
road to Weissenfels ; but beyond horses, foot-soldiers, and campthis he did nothing. In the marshes followers, all struggling along toto the westward of Leipzig the rivers gether; narrow bridges in front over Pleisse and Elster, often separating which no more than one carriage and reuniting, run in several could pass at a time; an almost channels. The great road crosses endless crowd in rear pressing on several of these channels with frantic energy. Very soon the bridges; but for a long way north parallel and cross streets must have and south of this great road there been choked with them too. Then was in those days no bridge. To fancy the Allied forces charging inmake temporary bridges at other to this helpless mass, or mowing points was therefore an obvious them down with case-shot whernecessity if an immense force were ever a view of them could be got ! to be moved rapidly from the city Scarcely could soldiers be in a more towards the Rhine. But no repre- miserable plight. If the streamis sentation could induce the Emperor had been bridged on ten lines the to give attention to this important French army could not have escaped matter. He might have made without heavy loss; but when all bridges before the battle began ; he had to pass by one series of narrow might have made them on the 17th bridges, what a problem was preOctober, which intervened between sented ! No leader was ever guilty the two terrible days of fighting; of more unpardonable neglect than he might even have made them on Napoleon in this matter. the night between the 18th and as the rear-guard could keep the 19th,- but he did not. His mind assailants at bay, the foremost corps seemed to turn with some uncon- continued to hurry across the querable aversion from this dis- streams; but it was soon apparent agreeable duty-among many proofs that if any more could get away a most glaring one that his capacity with their lives for a prey, as the was no longer of that uniform ex- Scripture expresses it, that was as cellence which it once had been. much as could be effected: no more Thus, when the inevitable retreat vehicles could
So the was ordered, the whole of his wretched beings set fire to their immense force, with artillery and waggons and essayed to flee unenbaggage, had to depart by one cumbered. Then when all attempt at narrow street, the Frankfurter resistance was relinquished, and the Strasse, which led over the bridges, only remaining hope of evading the and so on by the great highway to enemy'was in the speed of their flight, Lindenau.
occurred the dreadful catastrophe If you stood in the Frankfurter with which Cruickshank's pencil Strasse, my dear Editor, you would made my infant eyes familiar. One soon perceive that, such a host of the bridges, whose demolition pressing into it, a jam could hardly had been designed to arrest the be avoided by any regulation or enemy's pursuit, was, by a blunder, arrangement; and, if you considered prematurely blown up. This was that, while the French were push- the incident which crowned the ing through it, a victorious enemy disaster. The small semblance of was forcing his way into the town discipline or order which had rebehind them, you would quite mained up to this period was now realise the dire confusion which dissolved. The men rushed into entangled everything in that out the dark waters, and, being unable pouring. Guns, carriages, cavalry to combat the stream, or sinking
in the deep mud of its bed, were Cracow among the kings and heroes drowned in numbers. The enemy of Poland. I have in vain endeavin great force was on their flanks oured to discover the grave in which and rear, and the only alternatives it temporarily rested in Leipzig; and were death or surrender. Another I am not astonished that there is no great French army was ruined, and record of this particular grave, seeing but a few shattered remains of that within and without the walls were on their way back to tell the there must have been pits and tale of woe.
trenches open, into which the dead The modern bridge does not, I were being put from morning till imagine, bestride exactly the same night. space as did this bridge of fate. This retreat of Napoleon's back to But close to it there is a pillar com- France, across Germany, seems on a memorating the demolition. The careless view to contradict a wellspan of it is very moderate; indeed, known maxim of war, which affirms as you stand looking at it you fancy that a general whose communicait does not very much exceed some tions with his base are interrupted, of the longest jumps that you now
while at the same time he is conand then hear of. It happens too, fronted or followed by a superior sometimes, that the river has shrunk force whose communications are to a scanty stream, and looks of such complete, is checkmated. The Ema moderate depth that it could hardly peror had undoubtedly been severely present much difficulty to determined beaten at Leipzig : on his rear and men essaying to cross. Everything, on his flank were his victorious however, seems to have conspired on enemies; except some magazines at this fatal 19th October 1813 to make Erfurth, which lay on his route, he the wreck of the French army com- had nothing to fall back on; and plete. A deep flood was rolling be- the Bavarians, in force between him tween the steep and slippery banks, and the Rhine, were waiting to bar and the river must have been full his passage. Yet the game was not for some days, from the depth of at an end. He made a retreat, such mud which is reported.
as it was, to France, and brought Among the few who escaped after a small number of famished and the explosion was Marshal Mac- diseased wretches to languish in donald, who boldly swam his horse the fortresses on the Rhine. But I across ; and among the drowned was believe his condition, if surveyed the brave Poniatowski, who also carefully, was checkmate. It must tried to cross the channel on be remembered, I am told, that a horseback, but slipped back on at- general, at whatever disadvantage tempting to climb the farther bank. he may lie, has it always in his His body, having been found and re- power to refuse to lay down his arms, cognised, was carried to a room in the and to endeavour to cut his way basement storey of the Rath-haus through his enemies, preferring sufto await burial, which it received fering and death to the acknowwith great solemnity and honour ledgment of defeat. The maxim from the Allied sovereigns. It did which I mentioned above is framed not, however, remain long in Leip- on the supposition that, where the zig, but was exhumed and carried situation is desperate, common to Warsaw, where it was again en- humanity will dictate submission tombed. Finally, in 1816, it was, on the best terms that can be obby permission of the Emperor Alex- tained. Napoleon preferred that ander, awarded a resting-place at thousands and thousands of his troops should perish by the sword, their fire was very hot over a space by famine, and afterwards by pes- which he had to pass, and he tilence, rather than that he should crawled along there on his hands avert useless destruction by com- and knees, but never thought of position with his foe. But he did waiting, or of seeking another path. not in the least retrieve his position Nobody has ever given a reason after this day of Leipzig; he merely why fortune should constantly drew the war on to the soil of favour these strong adventurous France instead of Germany, wore men; nor why they should be out a few months in unsuccessful aware, as they seem to be, that defence of his capital, and then sur- they are proof against accidents rendered not only his arms but his that may come to other men. Force crown. The days of Leipzig were of will and physical vigour might the days of Fate.
be urged as the causes of the men's His personal courage, however, temerity; but strength of will or of is very distinctly witnessed by the body cannot keep off the strokes of records of these events. It does shot and shell! not seem as if he courted, or defied, Most of those who have roamed or despised danger in the chivalrous over the vast theatre of his German sense, so much as that his mind defeat, and mused on his fortunes was so absorbed in the direction of and character, will spend some his battles that he had no place in time before Napoleon's portrait by it for apprehensions about himself. Delaroche in the Museum. The Constantly we read of him standing momentous act of his life-drama in situations where his staff and which was begun at Leipzig ended others were being destroyed close at Fontainebleau ; and, as we look to him, and where shot and shell at the fallen hero, the baffled poliwere falling profusely about ; while tician, the conqueror who was to he, surveying and contemplating conquer no more, we ascertain the the fortunes of the field, was ab- goal of his infatuation, and recogsolutely insensible to what was nise the answer of Providence to passing at his elbow. At Hanau, one who had said, “Tush! God while he was giving some direc- hath forgotten.”. All is past; all tions, a shell fell quite close to is lost; empire is vanishing away; him. He paid no attention to it, and the fixed gaze peering into and no one dared to interrupt his space, and daring to regard neither speech; but those about him hard- the past nor the future, offers a ly breathed while they awaited the terrible lesson. Not a scintilla of explosion. The missile penetrated comfort derived from honour saved, so far into the ground that its or duty done, is to be traced in bursting was harmless. Napoleon the expression. The glory had does not seem to bave been aware departed, and with it had gone all that there ever had been any that could lift up the soul. That danger. At the passage of the look of blank despair tells that Elbe, when a ball struck some nothing is left ! wood close to him, and sent a On being cleared of its invaders, splinter on to his neck, he so far Leipzig presented a series of scenes recognised the danger as to say, as horrible as the mind can con“If it had struck me on the breast, ceive. Heaps upon heaps of dead all had been over.” When he was and dying lay all round and all suddenly recalled to Dresden by through it, some of them nearly the unexpected attack of the Allies, filling the Frankfurter Strasse up
VOL. CXX.—NO. DCCXXIX.
to the fatal bridge. The sick and shelter for the sick, prisoners could wounded amounted to nearly forty not hope to fare very well. These thousand, besides
were thrust into any place, no number of unwounded prisoners. matter how noisome, where they The resources of the town were could be secure. Many of them utterly exhausted, so that one sees were stowed in the cemeteries, in that these wretches who could not the vaults with the dead, whose get away had but a miserable pros- coffins they burned to keep thempect; yet no anticipation of their selves from perishing of cold. The misery could correctly foreshadow scenes and the suffering were altothe event. It is certain that of gether as dreadful and shocking as the innumerable sick and wounded can be conceived. “It is well,” none had bed or shirt; and that a says one of the German writers very large number had not even who recount these things, “that protection from the weather, but our children should learn with lay in sheds, on dunghills, and in what suffering their freedom has the streets. Fifty-six hospitals been bought.” were improvised, but these afforded It is a relief to turn from the scarce more than shelter from the recital or perusal of these horrors weather. Medical attendance, ap- to the present aspect of the town pliances, or stores, were procurable and country where they were enin quantity altogether inadequate acted. Spring is budding; the to the requirements of the occasion. trees are alive with birds; and Where the wounded were fortunate where the skaters were lately busy, enough to find cover, they are de- you have dancing shadows and scribed as packed together like sparkling fountains. As warmth herrings in a barrel, and lying in and sunshine gladden the sober the blood-stained rags in which industrious region, and the ploughthey were brought in from the man, in full security of his reward field. Of course mortification, in autumn, begins his patient lalock-jaw, and other horrors over- bour, the scenes are suggestive of took the mutilated. Rough shingles only hope and peace. The small were used for splints, and it is birds, not hunted and persecuted known that amputations were in as they are elsewhere, skim across many cases performed by persons your path, or pursue their fancies who knew nothing of surgery. The whatever they may be—the old ones town had been left so destitute of foraging, the young trying their provision of food that it was im- pinions, almost within your grasp possible to feed the immense hosts so little terror have they of human that were left in it helpless ; and kind. Their tameness does no it is a horrible truth that French arise, like that of Alexander Sel soldiers were seen grubbing in the kirk's friends, from unacquaintanc dirt-heaps for bones and apple or with man, but from long experi vegetable parings. In some parts ence that man is not their enemy of the town birds and dogs fed on German boys are not given to toi human bodies. To crown all this, turing and putting to death in a pestilence, as might have been wanton way. If they go about i expected, broke out, and afflicted spring and summer equipped wit the peaceful inhabitants as well as fly-nets and canisters like candl the soldiers.
boxes for the capture of insect Where it was so hard to find this is allowed in the interest