Puslapio vaizdai
PDF
„ePub“

at the gates. Napoleon gazed every moment, expecting to see a train of bearded boyards arriving to fling themselves at his feet, and place their wealth at his disposal. His first exclamation was, "Behold at last that celebrated city!"His next, "It was full time." His army, less regardful of the past or the future, fixed their eyes on the goal of their wishes, and a shout of "Moscow !-Moscow !"-passed from rank to rank.

When he entered the gates of Moscow, Buonaparte, as if unwilling to encounter the sight of the empty streets, stopt immediately on entering the first suburb. His troops were quartered in the desolate city. During the first few hours after their arrival, an obscure rumour, which could not be traced, but one of those which are sometimes found to get abroad before the approach of some awful certainty, announced that the city would be endangered by fire in the course of the night. The report seemed to arise from those evident circumstances which rendered the event probable, but no one took any notice of it, until at midnight, when the soldiers were startled from their quarters by the report that the town was in flames. The memorable conflagration began amongst the coachmakers' warehouses and workshops in the Bazaar, or general market, which was the most rich district of the city. It was imputed to accident, and the progress of the flames was subdued by the exertions of the French soldiers. Napoleon, who had been roused by the tumult, hurried to the spot, and when the alarm seemed at an end, he retired, not to his former quarters in the suburbs, but to the Kremlin, the hereditary palace of the only sovereign whom he had ever treated as an equal, and over whom his successful arms had now attained such an apparently immense superiority. Yet he did not suffer himself to be dazzled by the advantage he had obtained, but availed himself of the light of the blazing Bazaar, to write to the Emperor proposals of peace with his own hand. They were dispatched by a Russian officer of rank, who had been disabled by indisposition from following the army. But no answer was ever returned.

Next day the flames had disappeared, and the Frencli officers luxuriously employed themselves in selecting out of the deserted palaces of Moscow, that which best pleased the fancy of each for his residence. At night the flames again

M

arose in the north and west quarters of the city. As the greater part of the houses were built of wood, the conflagration spread with the most dreadful rapidity. This was at first imputed to the blazing brands and sparkles which were carried by the wind; but at length it was observed, that, as often as the wind changed, and it changed three times in that terrible night, new flames broke always forth in that direction, where the existing gale was calculated to direct them on the Kremlin. These horrors were increased by the chance of explosion. There was, though as yet unknown to the French, a magazine of powder in the Kremlin ; besides that a park of artillery, with its ammunition, was drawn up under the Emperor's window. Morning came, and with it a dreadful scene. During the whole night, the metropolis had glared with an untimely and unnatural light. It was now covered with a thick and suffocating atmosphere, of almost palpable smoke. The flames defied the efforts of the French soldiery; and it is said that the fountains of the city had been rendered inaccessible, the water-pipes cut, and the fire-engines destroyed or carried off.

Then came the reports of fire-balls having been found burning in deserted houses; of men and women, that like demons, had been seen openly spreading the flames, and who were said to be furnished with combustibles for rendering their dreadful work more secure. Several wretches against whom such acts had been charged, were seized upon, and, probably without much inquiry, were shot on the spot. While it was almost impossible to keep the roof of the Kremlin clear of the burning brands which showered down the wind, Napoleon watched from the windows the course of the fire which devoured his fair conquest, and the exclamation burst from him, "These are indeed Scythians!"

The equinoctial gales rose higher and higher upon the third night, and extended the flames, with which there was no longer any human power of contending. At the dead hour of midnight, the Kremlin itself was found to be on fire. A soldier of the Russian police, charged with being the incendiary, was turned over to the summary vengeance of the Imperial Guard. Buonaparte, was then, at length, persuaded, by the entreaties of all around him, to relinquish his quarters in the Kremlin, to which, as the visible mark of his conquest, he had seemed to cling with the tenacity of

a lion holding a fragment of his prey. He encountered both difficulty and danger in retiring from the palace, and before he could gain the city-gate, he had to traverse with his suite streets arched with fire, and in which the very air they breathed was suffocating. At length, he gained the open country, and took up his abode in a palace of the Czar's called Petrowsky, about a French league from the city. As he looked back on the fire, which, under the influence of the autumnal wind, swelled and surged round the Kremlin, like an infernal ocean around a sable Pandemonium, he could not suppress the ominous expression, "This bodes us great misfortune."

[ocr errors]

66

The fire continued to triumph unopposed, and consumed in a few days what it had cost centuries to raise. Palaces and temples,' says a Russian author, "monuments of art, and miracles of luxury, the remains of ages which had past way, and those which had been the creation of yesterday; the tombs of ancestors, and the nursery-cradles of the present generation, were indiscriminately destroyed. Nothing was left of Moscow save the remembrance of the city, and the deep resolution to avenge its fall."

The fire raged till the 19th with unabated violence, and then began to slacken for want of fuel. It is said, fourfifths of this great city were laid in ruins.

1. When did the French enter Moscow?

2. Describe the city, as seen from the Mount of Salvation.

3. What is the Kremlin?

4. Were the inhabitants within it? 5. What was Napoleon's exclamation on entering it?

6. What fearful rumour was spread about, shortly after their arrival?

7. In what quarter of the city did the fire begin?

8. What did Napoleon do on being roused by the cry of fire?

9. What did Buonaparte write by the light of the blazing bazaar?

10. Did the French soldiers succeed in putting out the fire at first?

Scott's Life of Buonaparte.

12. Of what material was the greater part of the houses built?

13. On the wind changing where was the fire seen to break forth?

14. What was the probab'e intention of directing the fire on the Kremlin?

15. Describe the city when daylight appeared.

16. What had been done to prevent the soldiers from extinguishing the flames? 17. What reports were brought to the Emperor's ears?

18. What did he say when watching the fire at the palace window?

19. What was the state of matters on the third night?

20. What dangers did Napoleon meet on leaving the city, and where took he

11. What happened again, the second up his abode ? night?

i Napoleon entered Russia June 24th, 1812, with an immense host, numbering half-a-million of men. Of this great army it has been calculated that 125,000 perished in battle, 132,000 died of fatigue, hunger, and cold, during their retreat after the burning of Moscow, and 193,000 were taken prisoners, including 48 generals and 3000 inferior officers.

21. What says a Russian author about the destruction of Moscow ?

22. What became of the great army which Napoleon carried into Russia?

23. Is not war a terrible evil, and should we not do all we can to bring it to an end?

24. What think you of the man who kindles war, like Buonaparte, to gratify his own ambition?

25. In what sense must Napoleon be called GREAT?

26, What does Christ say in Matthew, 5th chap. and 9th verse?

XI.-SKETCH OF THE LAWS, CUSTOMS, &c., IN THE REIGN OF QUEEN ELIZABETH.

[blocks in formation]

Q. What great invasion was made in the reign of Elizabeth?

A. Philip II. of Spain, (the husband of the late queen of England), prepared a vast fleet to exterminate the Reformation in the British empire.

Q. What was the Spanish fleet ostentatiously called?

A. "The Invincible Armada :" it consisted of 130 gigantic ships, and a vast number of boats and flat-bottomed transports.

Q. What were the flat-bottomed transports for?

A. The duke of Parma (in Italy) intended to transport to England 50,000 troops from Spain and the Netherlands, to support the armada.

Q. Who commanded this formidable Spanish force?

A. The greatest generals of the age; the troops themselves were experienced soldiers, well armed and disciplined.

Q. What force had the English to oppose against this en

ormous armament?

A. All the sailors of England amounted to 14,000 men; and the whole navy comprised only 28 frigates: but many other vessels were built and manned by private individuals. Q. Who commanded the British fleet?

A. Lord Howard of Effingham (in Surrey), who was supported by Drake, Hawkins, and Frobisher.

Q. What land forces were mustered to oppose the landing of the Spaniards?

A. A great many in different places; but the chief force was under the earl of Leicester, at Tilbury Fort (in Essex). Q. Did not Elizabeth shew great magnanimity in this emergency?

A. Yes; with a general's truncheon in her hand, and a steel corslet (surmounted with a white plume) on her head, she rode through the ranks at Tilbury, to exhort the soldiers.

Q. What was the first disaster which the armada met with? A. No sooner had it left the Tagus (in Portugal), than a storm disabled several ships, and the fleet returned into the harbour to be repaired.

Q. Where did the fleet anchor, when it reached the channel?

A. Near Calais; and while it was lying at anchor, Effingham sent eight fire-ships into the midst; and caused such a panic, that the whole fleet resolved to return home again.

Q. Did the armada return back again to Spain, according to this intention?

A. No; several ships were taken by the English; more were disabled; and a tempest arose to complete the destruction. (1588)."

Q. How did Elizabeth show her piety and gratitude to God for this great victory.

A. She caused medals to be struck with a fleet wrecked by a tempest on one side, and on the reverse were these words,

66

He blew with his winds, and they were scattered."

Q. Who was queen of Scotland when Elizabeth ascended the throne?

A. The beautiful Mary, called Mary Queen of Scots; who was the great-grand-daughter of Henry VII. of England, and second cousin to Elizabeth.

Q. How did the queen of Scots incur the displeasure of Elizabeth?

A. Mary laid claim to the crown of England; and though she did not enforce her claim by open war, yet she assumed the title and arms of the English monarch.

Q. In what trouble did Mary involve herself with her own nation?

« AnkstesnisTęsti »