« AnkstesnisTęsti »
tial amount of food hidden by individuals was produced. General Coffinière, commandant of the town, in a proclamation addressed to the civil population, said that the capitulation might be deferred four or five days, but the delay would be useless. M. Véron on this point expresses himself with justifiable indignation
'Useless, a prolongation of resistance for four or five days when they knew that on all sides there were being organised new armies, for which the question of days might be vital!-when General Jarras stated that the Prussians were so anxious to finish that on the evening of the 26th, in spite of the impossibility of presenting his "full powers" which he had forgotten, his signature would have been accepted immediately if he had consented to give it !-when the army of the Loire, already sufficiently strong to defeat the Prussians ten days later at Coulmiers, could hope to succeed in raising the blockade of Paris if the 200,000 men of Prince Frederick Charles had been retained in front of Metz one week longer!'
What would have been the result of a week gained for the French it is of course impossible to say, but we can certainly affirm with confidence that the chances of success of the army of the Loire would have been largely increased. So critical, indeed, did the state of affairs appear to the Germans, that after the victory of Coulmiers the German headquarter staff at Versailles kept their fourgons packed for several days. Their fears would have been indeed well founded had Bazaine not only continued his resistance till November 29, but by continued sorties to a short distance convinced Prince Frederick Charles that all his men and efforts were needed. But thanks either to the carelessness of Bazaine with regard to spies or to private correspondence with the prince, the latter knew well how matters stood, and six days before the capitulation the latter was well aware that only a few days' more food remained in Metz. The proof of this knowledge is afforded by the fact that as early as October 24 a portion of the investing force was allowed to commence their march to the west, and that on the 24th General Stiehle had shown General Changarnier a train of provisions. These,' said the chief of the German staff, are provisions which I have caused to come for your famished army.' But Prince Frederick Charles knew well from the missions of Regnier and Bourbaki, as well as from Bazaine's attitude, that the marshal, provisions or no provisions, had no intention of quitting Metz save with the concurrence of the Germans. This was even then suspected in the French army. Colonel d'Audlan, in a letter to the
VOL. CLXIV. NO. CCCXXXVI.
'Indépendance Belge,' thus describes a curious incident of the siege :
'Many sagacious spirits divined the evil at the beginning; many brave hearts wished to anticipate it, and I tell you that it is an honour for me to have been one of the authors of the conspiracy which was formed in the first days of October, to force Bazaine to march or resign. Generals Aymard, Courcy, Clinchant, Péchot, Colonels Boissonnet, Lewal, Davoust, d'Audlan, and I-we wished with all our strength to get out of the impasse to which we were being precipitated, and which the others did not see, or did not wish to see.... But we had need of a leader, a general of division, whose name and seniority would have rallied round us the army with which we should have arrested the chiefs. Well, not one would take this responsibility; not one had heart enough to put himself forward to save, at the same time, the army and France. Ah, they are very culpable, both the generals and the marshals, and they will have a strict account to give to history, and perhaps the tribunals!'
General Changarnier was one of those asked by General Clinchant and his friends to put himself at the head of the movement. He declined to take any part in the affair, calling those moving in it traitors, and saying, 'I would 'sooner the army perish than see it saved by indiscipline.'
Of course it is a dangerous doctrine that officers should constitute themselves judges of the conduct of their commander-in-chief, and, convicting him without formal trial, depose him from his command. This was, however, a special case not to be judged by ordinary rule. The salvation of the army depended on the action of the army, and it was manifest that the marshal, who had let slip so many opportunities of using the army with effect, was not likely to change his course when the favourable chances of success had largely diminished. His conduct was due either to treason or incapacity; that was clear. It was, therefore, in our opinion the duty of the army to place at its head some one in whose loyalty, courage, and ability it had confidence.
To return to the capitulation. By it were surrendered to the Germans 173,000 officers and men, including the garde mobile, the francs-tireurs, and the douaniers, 11,665 pieces of artillery, more than three millions of projectiles, 23,000,000 cartridges, 124,000 chassepots, 150,000 muskets of old pattern, 53 colours, 9,000 limbers and carriages, and a large quantity of powder and other stores. Here again we must interrupt the course of our narrative in order to say a few words about the surrender of the colours and matériel. It was clearly Bazaine's duty, when he determined on a capitulation, to destroy all the colours and all the matériel not needed for the last two or three days.
As to the
We have related the story of the colours. matériel there was a discussion at the council of war on October 24; but it was put an end to by the remark of one of the members, who observed that it would be more digni'fied not to commit any destruction which might give rise 'to grave disorder.' It is tolerably certain that Bazaine would have evaded a contrary decision. Of course the Germans would have been furious, and would have granted nothing but unconditional surrender; but what would have been the result? The answer is simple. The officers would have been deprived of their swords and personal effects, and the civil population would have been treated with some harshness. Such a price, however, would not have been too high a price to pay for depriving the enemy of the symbols of military honour and a quantity of carriages and stores which were of great value to them.
Bazaine, however, showed himself in every respect egotistical and wanting in sentiments of honour. Throughout the siege he had only thought of personal consequences and objects. He had shut himself up in his quarters, and never visited either the camps or the hospitals. Indeed, he carried his selfishness to such an extent that, once the fare. well order written, on October 28, he had taken no steps either to ensure the troops being fed on the 29th, or to secure the proper winding-up of the business of the headquarter office. He washed his hands of the army altogether, and thought but of placing himself out of reach of the insults and even attacks which he dreaded might be made on him. He had good reason for fear, having been plainly told by one of his officers that he was detested. Writing, therefore, to Prince Frederick Charles to ask permission to present himself at the German headquarters on the morning of the 29th in order to constitute himself a prisoner, he did not even wait for a reply. Setting off at 8 A.M. on the 29th, on the road he met a German officer, who brought him a letter from Prince Frederick Charles, refusing the request which he had made, and intimating that he could not pass the French lines till 5 P.M. on that day or 9.30 A.м. on the 30th. He dared not, however, return to his headquarters, but continued his journey to Moulins, the last village occupied by the French, and there he hid himself in the most remote house. At 4 P.M. he resumed his journey, and crossed the German lines at the village of Ars. He found the inhabitants awaiting his arrival, and, to quote the words of Colonel d'Audlan in his 'Metz, Campagne et Négociations,' they'received him with cries, hootings, and hisses. They
even threw stones at his carriage; it was necessary for the Prussian gendarmes to rescue the traitor from the 'indignation of the crowd, and conduct him to Prince 'Frederick Charles's quarters at the Château of Corny.'
Thus ended in everlasting shame the military career of the most ignoble soldier who ever received the bâton of Marshal of France. This catastrophe did not take every one by surprise. His conduct in Mexico had been so unprincipled, so rascally in every respect, that it had been even a question at one time of trying him by court-martial. The Emperor could not, however, afford to dispense with the support of one who was undoubtedly personally fearless, was supposed to be well versed in the art of war, was credited with influence in the army, and whose want of scruples rendered him a useful instrument of a despotic government. It was thought that considerations of self-interest would have secured his fidelity; and instead, therefore, of being sent before a courtmartial, he became the pet of the fêtes at Compiègne. Unfortunately for the Emperor, unfortunately for France, he saw in the war an opportunity of obtaining supreme political power, and to his unmeasured ambition and sordid greed he sacrificed his master, his army, and his country. That he was guilty of deliberate treason from the time he assumed the command of the army, those who have read this article can scarcely doubt, for he was wanting neither in courage nor military capacity. The proofs alleged against him make it clear that he thought not of defeating or escaping from the enemy, but solely of becoming the arbiter of the fortunes of France. His defence is valueless against the evidence not only of witnesses, but of his own acts and writings. He, in short, convicts himself, and his habitual trickery and his ingrained habits of falsehood render it impossible to accept his own word on any subject. We not only consider the accusation fully proved against him, but we believe that his conduct was even worse than it appeared to be. We have indeed a moral certainty that had it not been for his own cunning and the interested objects of the Germans, the evidence against him would have been much more damning than it was. To those who are charitably disposed to give him the benefit of a doubt, to attribute his inaction at Metz to either want of energy or to a feeling of loyalty towards the Emperor, we will put a single question, with which we shall conclude this article: Assuming that he had guilty designs, could he have set more systematically to work to carry them out than he did?
ART. II.-1. Manual of Injurious Insects and Methods of Prevention. By ELEANOR A. ORMEROD, F.M.S. London: 1882.
2. Guide to Methods of Insect Life. By ELEANOR A. ORMEROD, F.M.S. London: 1885.
3. First Annual Report on the Injurious and other Insects of the State of New York. By J. A. LINTNER, State Entomologist. Albany: 1882.
4. Compte-rendu des Travaux du Service du Phylloxera. Ministère de l'Agriculture. Paris: 1885.
5. Observations sur le Phylloxera et sur les Parasitaires de la Vigne. Par les délégués de l'Académie, Institut de France. Nos. 1, 2, 3, et 4. 1881-84.
6. Enquête de l'Académie des Sciences. Phylloxera vastatrix. Recueil des Documents. 1879.
7. Farm Insects: being the Natural History and Economy of the Insects injurious to the Field Crops of Great Britain and Ireland. By JOHN CURTIS, F.L.S. Illustrated. London: 1883.
N the happy balance between the energies of nature and the industry of man which is an outcome of longestablished civilisation, we are apt to overlook the mighty forces that are at times developed by some of the smallest species of living creatures. Partly owing to the peculiarities of our climate, partly to our insular position, and partly to other causes, we are inclined to hear of insect ravages as if we owned a charmed safety from such attacks. But the experience of to-day in both the new and the old world recalls the memory of devastations recorded in the earliest histories.
The Rocky Mountain locust in its migratory flights hides the sun and fills the air as far as the eye can reach. From the highest peaks of the Sierra Nevada it has been seen filling the valleys below and the air above as much higher as they could be distinguished with a good field glass. Rich and fertile portions of the Southern United States are incapable of cultivation from the hosts of mosquitoes that abound in them. The same insect effectually shuts out portions of British America from exploration; while in Eastern Europe and in Asia the attacks of its host have caused insanity in travellers, and the death of domestic animals unprovided with means of defence.'*
* First Annual Report on Injurious and other Insects, by J. A. Lintner, State Entomologist, New York, 1882, p. 14.