Puslapio vaizdai




Majesty is well,» wrote Berthier on the 24th, "and endures according to his general habit the exertion of mind and body.» Once more his enemy was not annihilated, but this contentment and high spirits seem natural to common minds, which recall that in a week he had evolved order from chaos, and had stricken a powerful, united foe, cutting his line in two, and sending one portion to the right-about in utter confusion. No wonder that Napoleon ever regarded the strategic operations culminating at Eckmühl as his masterpiece in that particular line. Jomini, his powerful critic, remained always of the same opinion. French history knows this conflict as the Battle of Five Days; Thann, Abensberg, Landshut, Eckmühl, and Ratisbon being the places in or near which on each day a skirmish or combat occurred to mark the successive stages of French victory.

Its results were of the most important kind. In the first place, Austria's pride and confidence were gone. She had lost 50,000 men, and her warfare was no longer offensive, but defensive. Charles called for peace, but the Emperor would not listen. The Archduke John, moreover, was compelled to abandon the Tyrol, and when he found himself again in Italy, he was no longer confronted by Eugène alone, that excellent youth but feeble general, whom he had so easily defeated: Macdonald was associated with the viceroy in the command. In Poland, also, Ferdinand's easy successes had carried him too far in pursuit of Poniatowski, and he began to retreat. Lefebvre with the Bavarians was stationed at Salzburg to prevent an irruption of the Tyrolean mountaineers toward the north; all the rest of the Emperor's army was immediately ordered to march on the Austrian capital.

The advance was scarcely contested. Hiller, commanding Charles's left wing, had checked his retreat, crossed the Inn with his 30,000 men, and had successfully attacked Wrede at Erding. He had probably heard that Charles was marching to Passau, but the news was false. Learning the truth, he turned again and recrossed the Inn; thence he continued to withdraw, stopping an instant at the Traun to avail himself of a strong position and hold the line if Charles were perchance coming thither to join him. At Ebelsberg, on May 3, he made a splendid and momentarily successful resistance, but was overwhelmed by superior numbers. Hearing of his leader's slow advance, and being himself in despair, on the 7th he led his army at Mautern across to the left bank of the Danube in order to effect a junction with the disheart

ened Archduke, and destroyed the bridge behind him. The forces of Charles and Hiller met and halted on the slopes of the great hill known as the Bisamberg, which overlooks Vienna from the north shore, and commands the fertile plains through which the great river rolls past the Austrian capital.

Day after day, with unimportant interruptions but no real check, the French ranks marched down the right bank of the stream. On May 10 they appeared before Vienna. Then, as now, it had no efficient fortifications, and its garrison consisted of a citizen militia, strengthened by a small detachment which Hiller had sent forward to reinforce and encourage them. The defenders were commanded by the Archduke Maximilian. There was a brave show of resistance; all the suburbs were evacuated, and the populace gathered behind the old brick walls which had been erected two centuries before against the Turks. At first Napoleon thought there would be a second instance of such embittered and desperate resistance as he had encountered at Madrid. But a feint of the French to cut off the communication of the town with the river, together with a few cannon-balls, quickly brought the unhappy capital to terms; Maximilian marched out at midnight on the 11th, and on the 12th Napoleon returned to the neighboring palace of Schönbrunn, where he had already established his headquarters. The news which arrived from day to day was most encouraging. Poniatowski was again in possession of Warsaw, which the Archduke Ferdinand had evacuated in order to rejoin his brother Charles. The Archduke John, flying before Macdonald, had passed the Carinthian mountains into Hungary, where the liberal movement threatened Austrian rule. The Bavarians, under Lefebvre, had, after desperate fighting, driven the Tyrolese rebels from Innsbruck. It seemed a proper time to complete, if possible, the demoralization of the whole Austrian empire before crossing the Danube to annihilate its military force. Francis had sown the wind in his declaration of war: he must reap the whirlwind.

From the beginning Napoleon had made. the most of his enemy's being the aggressor. There were no terms too harsh for the « Moniteur» to apply when speaking of the hostile court and the resisting populations. The Emperor's proclamations reveled in abuse of the Tyrolese and of Schill, the Prussian partizan who, having distinguished himself after Jena, was now striving to use the Austrian war in order to arouse the North Germans. He had already gathered a few desperate patriots,

[graphic][subsumed][merged small][merged small]

and in open hostility was defying constituted authority with the intention of calling his country to arms. The news of Eckmühl had destroyed his chances of success, and he was soon to end his gallant but ill-starred career in a final stand at Stralsund, whither he had retreated. He was stigmatized by Napoleon as a « sort of robber who had covered himself with crimes in the last Prussian campaign.» In repeated public utterances the Emperor of Austria was characterized as cowardly, thankless, and perjured, while the Viennese were addressed as "good people, abandoned and widowed.» The last acts of their flying rulers had been murder and arson; «like Medea, they had with their own hands strangled their own children.>>

[ocr errors]

This policy of wooing the people while abusing their rulers had been successfully undertaken in Italy, and continued with varying results from that day. No more effective revolutionary engine could have been devised for Europe in Napoleon's age. The specious statements of the Emperor were based on truth, and while the idea they expressed was distorted and reiterated until its exaggeration became falsehood, yet France and the Napoleonic soldiers appeared to fight and suffer enthusiastically for what they still considered a great cause; and even the dull boors, whose intelligence had been nearly quenched by centuries of oppression, felt stirrings of manhood as they listened to the Emperor's fiery words. The middle classes were not deceived, but they had no power to refute such language from such a man; and among the few truly enlightened men of each nation who were aware of their country's abasement under dynastic absolutism, a tremendous impression was often created, at least temporarily. This fact had been well illustrated already in Poland. Austria had another appanage whose people cared little for the prestige of their foreign kings and much for their own liberties. The Hungarians were a conservative, capable race; many of them were ardent Protestants, well educated and well informed, successfully combining in their institutions the best elements of both civic and patriarchal life. To them Napoleon issued a proclamation on May 15 which was a masterpiece of its kind. It set forth that the Emperor Leopold II. in his short reign had acknowledged their rights and confirmed their liberties; that Francis I. had sworn to maintain their laws and constitution, but had never convoked their estates except to demand money for his wars; that in view of such treatment, Hungary should now rise

and secure national independence. The proclamation produced some effect, but as a whole the Hungarians stood fast in their allegiance.

Four years earlier Napoleon's proclamation declaring that the Bourbons of Naples had ceased to reign was launched from Schönbrunn. Now another, to which reference has already been made, equally famous, was dictated within its walls, though dated May 17, from the «Imperial Camp at Vienna.» It was a document even abler than that addressed to the Hungarians. Citing the abuses which had from immemorial times resulted from the confusion of temporal with spiritual power in the papacy, it revoked the donation of Charles the Great to Hadrian I. (made a thousand years before!), declared that Pius VII. had ceased to reign, and that, as an indemnity for the loss of his secular power, he was to receive an annual increase of income amounting to 2,000,000 francs. In time of peace this decree would have produced throughout Europe a tremendous stir; but in the interval between the two acts of a great campaign men were much more occupied with speculations about the decision of arms than with a change which was, after all, only another phase of a protracted, tiresome struggle in which the papacy had long since fallen from its pinnacle. It was, however, an element of terrific demoralization in the house of Austria, which thus saw the consolidation of Italy under the Napoleon family complete, and their last hope to regain their European influence by enlargement in that peninsula extinguished.

Such was the scenic diversion provided for the great world in the pause of a few days after the occupation of Vienna. These moments were likewise occupied by the greatest military activity. Morning, noon, and night secretaries wrote and messengers ran; the roads of central Europe fairly rang beneath the feet of tramping infantry and the hoofs of horses which were dragging provision-trains or artillery carriages, and bearing despatches to distant points.

The Archduke Charles was a fine strategic theorist, in his age second only to Napoleon. After the fatal division of his army before Landshut, he had wonderfully retrieved his strength in seizing Ratisbon, crossing the Danube, and standing at Cham 80,000 strong after his reinforcement by the divison which he called in from the Bohemian Forest. But again he became the victim of indecision. Calling for peace negotiations, he loitered long at Budweis, failed to join Hiller so as

[graphic][merged small][merged small]
« AnkstesnisTęsti »