Page images

and they will do for me what perhaps no one else can make them do He said he had several of the advantages possessed by Buonaparte, from his freedom of action, and power of acting without being constantly called to account. Buonaparte was quite free from all inquiry-he was himself, in fact, very much so. The other advantages Buonaparte possessed, and which he made so much use of (LordWellington said), was his full latitude of lying, that, if so disposed, he added, he could not do."

abolition is not likely to be adopted under any monarchical government. We shall soon see that the new sovereign of France will restore the Imperial Guards, with all their distinguished privileges and external brilliancy. There is one point, however, which we never could understand_why our Household Cavalry, having beaten the picked cuirassiers of Napoleon at Waterloo without defensive armour, should afterwards be made to adopt the useless incumbrance which had proved as weak as silk before their brawny arms and well-poised weapons. We conclude it must have been for the imposing nature of the pageant, and to gladden the eyes of the Cockneys on a gala-day. The cuirasses will assuredly be laid aside whenever the gallant wearers are called into the field of action. Man and horse are equally impeded by the additional weight with which both are overloaded.

We subjoin one more extract, which presents a comprehensive summary of Lord Wellington's feelings, views, and position, at the time when it was written, during his last brilliant campaign, previous to the general peace of 1814:

It is certain that English generals are often deprived of half their free judgment and power of command, by the dread of responsibility, and tbe certainty that a single failure will for ever shut them out from all hopes of future advancement. Sir John Moore, in particular, was much fettered and thwarted by these impediments, as also by the undue interference of incompetent or ill-informed political officials, who, as often as they meddled, were sure to mislead.

Lord Wellington soared above all this when he had achieved a colossal reputation by a long course of victory, and thus, many obstacles, as he himself freely admitted, were swept out of his path. At all times his intelligence was constant and accurate. He knew every movement and intended operation of the enemy almost as soon as they were conceived, while they, on the other hand, were totally in the dark as to his plans, except by what they could collect from the English newspapers in opposition, who never failed to supply them to the best of their abilities. The Duke, in the Peninsula, had an unlimited command of secret-service money, which was most effectively employed, while it has never appeared that the expenditure

Correct information is the base of all brilliant strokes in war, and must be obtained, coute qui coute, by the commander who means to astonish the world and his opponents by an unexpected blow. Napoleon, during bis first Italian campaign in 1796, gave £900 to a spy, who informed him of the intended combination of the dif. ferent Austrian corps for the relief of Mantua, and this enabled him to antici. pate and divide them, and to win Rivoli and Arcola. The Duke had faithful correspondents on whom he could depend even at the head-quarters, and in the immediate families of the generals opposed to him.

Our limits warn us that we must close

“You ask me if Lord Wellington has recollected with regard ? He seems to bave had a great opinion of him, but has scarcely ever mentioned him to me. In truth, I think Lord Wellington has an active, busy mind, always looking to the future, and is so used to lose a useful man, that as soon as gone, he seldom thinks more of him. He would be always, I have no doubt, ready to serve any one who had been about him, who was gone, or the friend of a deceased friend, but he seems not to think much about you when once out of the way. He has too much of everything and everybody always in his way to think much of the absent." (The fact was, he had neither time nor fancy for the parade of sentiment. He was not a man to get up such parting scenes as the last interview of Napoleon with Lannes at Essling, and Duroc at Bautzen. He was in every respect the antipodes of theatrical effect.) " He said the other day he had got advantages now over every other general. He could do what others dare not attempt, and he had got the confidence of the three allied powers, so that what he said or ordered was, right or wrong, always thought right. And the same, said he, with regard to the troops ; when I come myself the soldiers think what they have to do the most important as I am there, and that all will depend on their exertions; of course these are increased in proportion,

was excessive.

Mr. Larpent's volumes, which we do, re- nally published in the early part of commending them to all readers who 1851, soon after the decease of the wish to be amused while they are in. author. The book was reviewed at structed, and who will find them to

great length in the Quarterly Review combine the utile cum dulci in very for December, 1851, and especially reagreeable proportions. They have commended as deserving translation. rapidly gone through the first edition, The author left these memoirs as an ina second is announced, and their popu- heritance to his children, and says him. larity cannot fail to be enduring. They self, in bis preface, that he considers will last and be referred to as a valuable them more in the light of family proappendage to the history of the greatest perty than as documents suited for warrior of our age, and as containing publication. In many respects they anecdotes equally interesting and au- soar beyond personal anecdotes or thentic of his private character and private memoranda, and reach the imtransactions. He was not a man of portance of authentic history. There warm, enthusiastic impulse. Had he are points we shall select' in which been so moulded he would have been

they are particularly valuable. The less fitted for his post; but he was in- portion of this work pre-eminently variably just, honourable, and con- interesting to English readers, is sistent, governed by sound principle that which treats of the campaign of and habitual self-control. If not given Waterloo, where the author first came to inordinate praise, he was equally in contact with the Duke of Welsparing of censure,* and one leading lington, being attached to his headreason which, in conversation, he as- quarters to keep up the correspondence signed for not writing the history of and connexion between the English his own campaigns was, that he should commander-in-chief and the Prussian be compelled to speak the truth, and Field-Marshal Blucher. He proceeded pare down reputations which had been to his appointment without much eminflated beyond their wholesome bulk. pressement, not anticipating that it Voltaire, who delighted in undervaluing would prove particularly satisfactory or human nature, said, that no man was important. The result equally falsified a hero to his valet-de-chambre-mean- his expectations. By some strange mising that close intimacy unveils in- conception, General VonGneisenau, the firmities, and dissipates the halo of chief of the Prussian staff, bad adopted superiority with which greatness ap- a very erroneous estimate of the Duke pears to be surrounded when viewed of Wellington's character, which he from a distance. The phrase has be- endeavoured to impress on the envoy. come proverbial, but is rather a He warned him on his departure to be pungent sarcasm than an aphoristic much on his guard with the Duke, for, truth. There are characters which will as he said, by his early relations with endure the test of the most familiar India, and his transactions with the scrutiny, and retain their pretensions deceitful nabobs, this distinguished even when we are introduced to them general had so accustomed himself to behind the scenes of every day life. duplicity, that he had at last become The Duke was one of these rare ex- such a master in the art, as even to amples. His nearest associates never outwit the nabobs themselves. Engfelt their respect diminished by in. lishmen can afford to smile while they timacy, and the veneration which all are a little astonished at the extraacknowledged for the patriot, the legis- ordinary mistakes of foreigners, even lator, and the victorious commander, when friends and allies. A more is increased rather than diminished as straightforward, guileless person than we become better acquainted with the the Duke of Wellingtor never exmanners, opinions, and domestic habits isted in the annals of public life. His of the individual man.

unswerving honesty and singleness of Baron Muffling's volume, entitled

purpose, is, perhaps, his highest dis“ Passages from my Life," ably edited tinguishing quality, a great secret of by Colonel Philip Yorke, was origi. his constant success, and the undoubted

. The memorable order after the retreat from Bargos may be quoted as an exception, but it was issued under very trying circumstances and a great disappointment. The Duke himself subsequently admitted that in some points it exceeded in harshness.

charm by which he won the confidence able authority representing it as lax of all who came in contact with him, and indulgent, when compared with either when joined in command, as. our own. During the battle of Watersociated in diplomacy, or entirely sub- loo, Baron Mufling saw a very striking ordinate to his controlling genius. illustration of the uncompromising spirit Baron Muming soon found that Gneise- with which English officers carry out nau (who in fact really commanded the the orders delivered to them. Two Prussian army, while Blucher merely brigades of British cavalry stood on the acted the part of " Marshal Forwards,”

left wing.

He rode up to the com. as the bravest in battle and most inde- manders of both, and urged them at a fatigable in exertion), had led him into critical moment to cut in upon the a gross misconception as to the great scattered infantry of the enemy, observ. man with whom he was now in constant ing that they could not fail to bring intercourse. In a short time he back at least 3,000 prisoners. Both won his entire confidence, which the agreed with him fully, but, shrugging Duke bestowed on him without reserve, their shoulders, answered, “Alas ! we when he found the Prussian officer, in dare not; the Duke of Wellington is every point discussed between them, very strict in enforcing obedience to told him the simple truth. Muflling prescribed regulations." says, “ he had seen that I had the well- The Prussian general had afterwards fare of all at heart, and that I en- an opportunity of speaking with the tertained towards him the reverence due Duke on this point, which he did with to those talents as a commander, which the less reserve, as the two officers in did not more distinguish him than the question were amongst the most disopenness and rectitude of his cha

tinguished of the army, and had renracter." The following remarks on dered signal services with their brigades the unlimited authority exercised by in the proceedings of the day. The the English general are well worthy of Duke replied at once, that the two gebeing transcribed and remembered :- nerals were perfectly correct in their

answer, for had they made such a gra“I perceived" (says Baron Muftling), tuitous attack without his permission, * that the Duke exercised far greater power even though the greatest success had in the army he commanded than Prince

crowned their attempt, he must have Blucher in the one committed to his care.

brought them to court-martial. The rules of the English service permitted

“ With us,” he added, “it is a fixed the suspension of any officer, and sendling him back to Englard. The Duke had used this

rule, that a general placed in a prepower during the war in Spain, when dis- arranged position has unlimited power obedience showed itself amongst the higher

to act within it, according to his judgofficers. Sir Robert Wilson was an instauce

ment; for instance, if the enemy as. of this. Amongst all the generals, from the sails him, he may defend himself on leaders of corps to the commanders of brigades, the spot, or meet the foe from a covered not one was to be found in the allied position ; and in both cases he may army who had been known as refractory. pursue them, but never further than It was not the custom in this army to criticise the obstacle behind which the position or control the commander-in-chief. Dis

assigned him lay; in one word, such cipline was strictly enforced, every one knew

obstacle, until fresh orders, is the limit his rights and his duties. The Duke, in

of his action." matters of service, was very short and de

The idle tales that the allies were cided. He allowed questions, but dismissed all such as were unnecessary. His detractors surprised at the opening of the camhave accused him of being inclined to en- paign of 1815, their forces dislocated, croach on the functions of others, a charge

and that the Prussians won the great which is at variance with my experience.” fight, while the English only with dif.

ficulty held their position, have long We have been so accustomed to been refuted by ample military investhink the code of military discipline in tigation, and the sound conclusions are the Prussian service, established by now fully confirmed by this memoir Frederick William, and carried out with of Baron Muffling, which corroborates additional severity under his son and and enlarges on the opinion he delivered successor, Frederick the Great, as so long since in a former published acstern and peremptory, so absolute count of the battle of Waterloo. His in principle and detail, that we are testimony is most explicit as to the rather surprised to find an unquestion- fact, “that the battle could have af


had declared Napoleon outlawed, it was his intention to have hiin shot, whenever he caught him. But he desired, at the same time to know what were the Duke's views on this subject, for should he entertain the same as himself, he wished to act in concert with him. The Duke stared at me in astonishment, and in the first place disputed the correctness of this interpretation of the Viennese declaration of outlawry, which was never meant to incite to the assassination of Napoleon. He therefore did not think that they could acquire from this act any right to order Napoleon to be shot, should they succeed in making him a prisoner of war. But be this as it may, as far as his own position, and that of the FieldMarshal with respect to Napoleon were concerned, it appeared to him that, since the battle they had won, they were become much too conspicuous personages to justify such a transaction in the eyes of Europe. I had already felt the force of the Duke's arguments before I most reluctantly undertook my mission, and was little disposed to dispute them. •I, therefore,' continued the Duke, “wish my friend and colleague to see this matter in the light I do; such an act would hand down our names to history stained by a crime, and posterity would say of us, that we did not deserve to be the conquerors of Napoleon; the more so as such a deed is now quite useless, and can have no object.'”

forded no favourable result to the enemy, even if the Prussians had never come up." Sir Walter Scott's conclusion was perfectly right, when he wound up his narrative by saying, “The laurels of Waterloo must be dividedthe British won the battle, the Prus. sians completed and rendered available the victory.” It was an action of concert from the beginning, and the late arrival of the Prussians was not calculated on. In all reasonable estimate, they were expected on the ground earlier. The heavy rains had clogged and impeded the roads, and made them almost impassable for artillery, tumbrils, and ammunition wagons, rendering the march of infantry slow and irregular. The Duke himself said, "even if Blucher had not come up at all I would have held my ound through the night; he must have been with me early in the morning, and we then would not have left Bonaparte an army.” In Captain Siborne's original model, the Prussian advance is represented as over-lapping the French right at Planchenôit at a much earlier hour in the day than this movement actually took place. He was long before he was convinced of this error, of which he finally received full conviction, and altered the model accordingly. The most remarkable incident alluded to in the memoirs of Baron Muffling, is the strange fact that Blucher positively intended to treat Napoleon as a brigand, and shoot him off hand, if the chances of war, a private treaty, or treachery, had placed him in his power; and that it was only through the urgent remonstrances of the Duke of Wellington that the savage old Prussian was induced to give up a measure of personal vengeance, which, if circumstances had allowed him to carry it into effect, would have tarnished his own laurels, and cast an indelible disgrace on his country. Muffling's account of this intended outrage, more worthy of Attila or Genghis, than of a warrior of the nineteenth century, is as characteristic as it is interesting. He says:

“ During the march on Paris, Field-Marshal Blucher had at one time a prospect of getting Napoleon into his power; the delivering up of Napoleon was the invariable condition stipulated by him in every conference with the French Commissioners sent to treat for peace or an armistice. I received from him instructions to inform the Duke of Wellington, that as the Congress of Vienna


If Napoleon was made aware of the tender dispositions of Blucher towards him, we can readily understand his anxiety to escape from France, and the comparative security with which he must have felt himself surrounded, when treading the quarter-deck of a British seventy-four. It was not easy to divert Blucher from the object he had doggedly taken up, but the Duke prevailed and won him over. Gneisenau's final communication to Baron Muffing on the subject marks the yielding deference paid to the English general, while the Prussian authorities acknowledge no sympathy with his moral convictions :

[ocr errors]



MUFFLING. "I am directed by the Field-Marshal to request your Excellency to communicate to the Duke of Wellington, that it had been his intention to execute Bonaparte on the spot where the Duc D'Enghien was shot; that out of deference, however, to the Duke's wishes, he will abstain from this measure, but that the Duke must take on himself the responsibility of its non-enforcement. It appears to me that the English would feel embarrassed by the delivery of Bonaparte to


[ocr errors]

them; your Escellency will therefore only ment on the whole family. The women direct the negotiations, so that he may be de- screamed and fainted. The father livered up to us. When the Duke of Welling- wept and implored, but the young ton declares himself against the execution

Frenchman sat pallid, silent, and apof Bonaparte, he thinks and acts in the matter as a Briton. Great Britain is under

palled. The English officer interweightier obligations to no mortal man than

fered, and tried to pacify his brother to this very villain ; for by the occurrences

lodger, who, he thought, was seized whereof he is the author, her greatness, pros

with sudden insanity. perity and wealth, have attained their present

He became collected in a moment, elevation. It is quite otherwise with us Prus- and resumed his habitual mildness. sians. We have been impoverished by him. “Madam,” said he, addressing the Our nobility will never be able to right lady of the mansion, “ pardon me, itself again. But be it so! If others will while I explain my strange conduct. assume a theatrical magnanimity, I shall not Your son, who stands there, was an set myself against it. We act thus from

inmate of my father's house in Berlin esteem for the Duke, and—weakness.

for two months. He was received as I (Signed) “ Count Von GNEISENAU.

have been by you, with kindness and "Senlis, June 29th, 1815."

respect, and all his wants anticipated;

but his daily conduct, without the This is unquestionably a very unique slightest provocation, was such as I official document, and shows the lasting have now exhibited ; let him deny or rancour which the excesses of the resent this as he pleases. I leave your French in Prussia had implanted in house, now that he has returned to it; the memories of her children and war. and he knows where to find me." So riors. Our “gentlemen of England, saying, he left the room.

The young who live at home at ease,” know Frenchman was too conscious of the nothing of these little episodes of war, truth of this charge to take any further by practical experience, or they would steps in the matter, or evince the slightlisten with less unction to the ha- est resentment. On the march up to rangues of peace-demagogues, who Paris after Waterloo, the Prussians would fain persuade them that a standing occupied the finest chateaux and most army is an unnecessary evil, and that comfortable farms; and in the morning the soldier's calling is as unholy as it before their departure, generally burne is wasteful and superfluous. An indi- ed the stables, broke the furniture, and vidual case of retaliation on the part particularly wreaked their vengeance of a Prussian ollicer, occurred within on the ornamental glasses and large the writer's knowledge, soon after the mirrors with which French mansions occupation of Paris by the allies in are so amply provided. The English 1815. He was billeted on a French army, who followed in their track, family, who treated him with great found the marks of their predecessors kindness, and he conducted himself in visible desolation wherever they ar. with reciprocal decorum.* After two rived. When the restoration of the picor three months, the eldest son of the tures and statues in the Louvre was dehouse, who had been taken prisoner in termined on, the French government the retreat from Moscow, returned entreated the Duke of Wellington to from Russia, and came home. The prevent their dispersion ; but here he Prussian and he recognised each other exercised the same conscientious inat the first glance, and scarcely ac- tegrity with which he had interdicted nowledged acquaintanceship by a cold personal outrage on Napoleon. He inclination. Dinner was announced. refused peremptorily to interfere. As The Prussian, for the first time, found the French, he said, had seized these fault with everything, swore at the ser. masterpieces of art by force of arms vants, llung the dishes about as wildly and as trophies of conquest, they had as Petruchio does in the farce, broke a just right to disgorge them when the plates, glasses and decanters, dashed tide of success turned back into andown his chair, and finally, drew his other channel. It was an opportunity sword and began gesticulating like a for teaching them a great moral lesson, madman, declaring that he would sum- which ought not to be neglected. But mon in his troop and inflict chastise- again, when Blucher, in an ebullition

* The writer's brother, a young officer in the staff corps, was quartered in the same house.

« PreviousContinue »