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old people, borne down by grief more than by age, had not sufficient power to follow their families, and expired near the houses in which they were born. The streets, the public places, and particularly the churches, were filled with these unhappy people, who lying on the remains of their property, suffered even without a murmur. No cry, no complaint was heard. Both the conqueror and the conquered were equally hardened ; the one by excess of fortune, the other by excess of misery
The fire, whose ravages could not be restrained, soon reached the finest parts of the city. Those palaces which we had admired for the beauty of their architecture, and the elegance of their furniture, were enveloped in the flames. Their magnificent fronts, ornamented with bas-reliefs and statues, fell with a dreadful crash on the fragments of the pillars which had supported them. The churches, though covered with iron and lead, were likewise destroyed, and with them those beautiful steeples, which we had seen the night before, resplendent with gold and silver. The hospitals too, which contained more than twelve thousand wounded, soon began to burn. This offered a dreadful and harrowing spectacle. Almost all these poor wretches perished. A few, who still lingered, were seen crawling half burnt amongst the smoking ruins; and others, groaning under heaps of dead bodies, endeavoured in vain to extricate themselves from the horrible destruction which surrounded them.
Towards evening, when Napoleon no longer thought himself safe in a city, the ruin of which seemed inevitable, he left the Kremlin, and established himself with his suite in the castle of Peterskoe. When I saw him pass by, I could not behold without abhorrence the chief of a barbarous expedition, who evidently endeavoured to escape the decided testimony of public indignation, by seeking the darkest road. He sought it, however, in vain. On every side the flames seemed to pursue him, and their horrible and mournful glare, flashing on his guilty head, reminded me of the torches of Eumenides pursuing the destined victims of the Furies !
Retreat from Aroscow.
THOSE who did not witness the departure of the French
from Moscow, can form but a faint idea of what the Greek and Roman armies were, when they abandoned the ruins of Troy or of Carthage. But they who observed the appearance of our army at this moment, acknowledged the accuracy of those interesting scenes which are so admirably described in the writings of Virgil and Livy. The long files of carriages, in three or four ranks, extended for several leagues, loaded with the immense booty wbich the soldiers had snatched from the flames; and the Muscovite peasants, who were now become our servants, resembled the slaves which the ancients dragged in their train. Others carrying with them their wives. and children, represented the warriors amongst whom the captives had been divided.
Afterwards came numerous waggons filled with trophies, among which were Turkish or Persian standards torn from the vaulted roofs of the palaces of the Czars, and, last of all, the celebrated cross of Saint Iwan gloriously closed the rear of an army which, but for the imprudence of its chief, would have been enabled to boast that it had extended its conquests to the very limits of Europe, and astonished the people of Asia with the sound of the same cannon with which the pillars of Hercules had re-echoed.
The cavalry was now (November 19), totally dismounted, and Napoleon wanting an escort, all the officers who had been able to preserve a horse, were formed into four companies of 150 men each. Generals Defrance, Saint-German, Sebastiani, &c. acted as captains, and the colonels constituted the subofficers. This squadron, to which the name of sacred was given, was commanded by General Grouchy, under the orders of the King of Naples. Their duty was never to loose sight of the Emperor. But these borses, which had hitherto resisted the rigour of the climate, having been better taken care of than those of the soldiers, perished as soon as they were made to bear their share of fatigue and privations; and at the end of a few days the sacred squadron was no
The enemy continued to follow us at the distance of two or three musket shots, while the poor remains of the army, having no longer the means of defence, continued their march in the extremest disorder. The men were incessantly harrassed by the cossacks, who at every defile fell upon the rear of our column, plundered our baggage, and compelled us to abandon our artillery, which the horses could no longer draw. Napoleon had hitherto travelled in a chariot almost hermetically closed, and filled with furs. He wore a pelisse and a bonnet of sable furs, which prevented him from feeling the severest cold; but after we quitted Krasnoe, he often proceeded on foot, followed by his staff, and saw, without emotion, the miserable wrecks of an army, once so powerful, file before him. Yet his presence never excited a single murmur; on the contrary, it reanimated the most timid, who forgot all their sufferings and all their fears at the sight of the Emperor.
We quickly entered into Doubrowna. The town was in a better state of preservation than any through which we had passed in our journey from Moscow. It had a Polonese sub-prefect, and a commandant of the town. The inhabitants were principally Jews, who procured us a little flour, brandy, and metheglin. They also exchanged the paper-money of the soldiers for cash. In fine, astonished at the confidence of these Israelites, and the honesty of our soldiers, who paid for everything they took, we thought plenty was about to revisit us, and that our misfortunes were near their close.
Yet we were struggling under accumulated evils. “Bread ! bread !” was the incessant cry of the feeble remains of our once powerful army. The followers of the camp of every kind suffered greatly, particularly the commissaries and storekeepers, who had been little accustomed to privations.—But none were more to be pitied than the physicians, and especially the surgeons, who, without hope of advancement, exposed themselves like the common soldiers, by dressing the wounded on the field of battle. While we were at Doubrowna, I saw a young surgeon pear a house which the soldiers surrounded in crowds, because it was reported that provisions were to be procured there. He was plunged in the profoundest grief, and with an eager and an anxious countenance, was violently endeavouring to force his way into the place. But when he was again and again driven back by the crowd, he exhibited the wildest despair. I ventured to inquire the cause." Ah, captain !” said he, “ I am a lost man.
For two days I have had no food, and ascertaining that they sold bread in this house, I gave the sentinel six francs to suffer me to enter. But