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Napoleon In Paris

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The First Italian Campaign

The Egyptian Campaign

Statesman And Lawgiver

The Concordat

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Preparations For War With England

Sale Of Louisiana

Establishment Of The Empire

King of Italy

Campaign Of 1805-1806-1807

The Peace Of Tilsit

Napoleon's Empire

Family Affairs

The Berlin Decree

War In The Peninsula

Bonapartes On The Spanish Throne

Disaster In Spain

Alexander And Napoleon In Council

Napoleon At Madrid

Talleyrand's Treachery

The Campaign Of 1809

Wagram

The Divorce

A New Wife

An Heir To The Crown

The Pope

Conscription

Evasions Of Blockade

Tilsit Agreement Broken

The Russian Campaign

The Burning Of Moscow

A New Army

Campaign Of 1813

Campaign Of 1814

Abdication

Ruler Of Island Of Elba

Return To Paris

Hundred Days

Second Abdication

Napoleon's Surrender

Sent To St. Helena

Life In Exile

Death Of Napoleon

Second Funeral Of Napoleon

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Life Of Napoleon Bonaparte With A Sketch Of Josephine

Book:        Life Of Napoleon

Author:      Tarbell, Ida

 

 

Chapter XV.

 

Disaster In Spain - Alexander And Napoleon In Council - Napoleon At Madrid

 

     Napoleon amazed at this unexpected popular uprising in Spain, and

angry that the spell of invincibility under which his armies had fought,

was broken, resolved to undertake the Peninsular war himself.  But before

a campaign in Spain could be entered upon, it was necessary to know that

all the inner and outer wheels of the great machine he had devised for

dividing the world and crushing England were revolving perfectly.

 

     Since the treaty of Tilsit he had done much at home for this machine.

The finances were in splendid condition.  Public works of great importance

were going on all over the kingdom; the court was luxurious and brilliant,

and the money it scattered, encouraged the commercial and manufacturing

classes.  Never had fetes been more brilliant than those which welcomed

Napoleon back to Paris in 1807; never had the season at Fontainebleau been

gayer or more magnificent than it was that year.

 

     All of those who had been instrumental in bringing prosperity and

order to France were rewarded in 1807 with splendid gifts from the

indemnities levied on the enemies.  The marshals of the Grand Army

received from eighty thousand to two hundred thousand dollars apiece;

twenty-five generals were given forty thousand dollars each; the civil

functionaries were not forgotten; thus Monsieur de Segur received forty

thousand dollars as a sign of the emperor's gratification at the way he

had administered etiquette in the young court.

 

     It was at this period that Napoleon founded a new nobility as a

further means of rewarding those who had rendered brilliant services to

France.  This institution was designed, too, as a means of reconciling old

and new France.  It created the title of prince, duke, count, baron, and

knight; and those receiving these titles were at the same time given

domains in the conquered provinces, sufficient to permit them to establish

themselves in good style.

 

     The drawing up of the rules which were to govern this new order

occupied the gravest men of the country, Cambaceres, Saint-Martin,

Hauterive, Portalis, Pasquier.  Among other duties they had to prepare the

armorial bearings.  Napoleon refused to allow the crown to go on the new

escutcheons.  He wished no one but himself to have a right to use that

symbol.  A substitute was found in the panache, the number of plumes

showing the rank.

 

     Napoleon used the new favors at his command freely, creating in all,

after 1807, forty-eight thousand knights, one thousand and ninety barons,

three hundred and eighty-eight counts, thirty-one dukes, and three

princes.  All members of the old nobility who were supporting his

government were given titles, but not those which they formerly held.

Naturally this often led to great dissatisfaction, the bearers of ancient

names preferring a lower rank which had been their family's for centuries

to one higher, but unhallowed by time and tradition.  Thus Madame de

Montmorency rebelled obstinately against being made a countess, - she had

been a baroness under the old regime, - and, as the Montmorencys claimed

the honor of being called the first Christian barons, she felt justly that

the old title was a far prouder one than any Napoleon could give her.  But

a countess she had to remain.

 

     In his efforts to win for himself the services of all those whom

blood and fortune had made his natural supporters, the emperor tried again

to reconcile Lucien.  In November, 1807, Napoleon visited Italy, and at

Mantua a secret interview took place between the brothers.  Lucien, in his

"Memoirs," gives a dramatic description of the way in which Napoleon

spread the kingdoms of half a world before him and offered him his choice.

 

     "He struck a great blow with his hand in the middle of the immense

map of Europe which was extended on the table, by the side of which we

were standing.  'Yes, choose,' he said; "you see I am not talking in the

air.  All this is mine, or will soon belong to me; I can dispose of it

already.  Do you want Naples?  I will take it from Joseph, who, by the by,

does not care for it; he prefers Mortefontaine.  Italy - the most

beautiful jewel in my imperial crown?  Eugene is but viceroy, and, far

from despising it, he hopes only that I shall give it to him, or, at

least, leave it to him if he survives me; he is likely to be disappointed

in waiting, for I shall live ninety years.  I must, for the perfect

consolidation of my empire.  Besides, Eugene will not suit me in Italy

after his mother is divorced.  Spain?  Do you not see it falling into the

hollow of my hand, thanks to the blunders of my dear Bourbons, and to the

follies of your friend, the Prince of Peace?  Would you not be well

pleased to reign there, where you have been only ambassador?  Once for

all, what do you want?  Speak!  Whatever you wish, or can wish, is yours,

if your divorce precedes mine.'"

 

     Until midnight the two brothers wrestled with the question between

them.  Neither would abandon his position; and when Lucien finally went

away, his face was wet with tears.  To Meneval, who conducted him to his

inn in the town, he said, in bidding him carry his farewell to the

emperor, "It may be forever." It was not.  Seven years later the brothers

met again, but the map of Europe was forever rolled up for Napoleon.

 

     The essential point in carrying out the Tilsit plan was, the fidelity

of Alexander; and Napoleon resolved, before going into the Spanish war, to

meet the Emperor of Russia.  This was the more needful, because Austria

had begun to show signs of hostility.

 

     The meeting took place in September, 1807, at Erfurt, in Saxony, and

lasted a month.  Napoleon acted as host, and prepared a splendid

entertainment for his guests.  The company he had gathered was most

brilliant.  Beside the Russian and French emperors, with ambassadors and

suites, were the Kings of Saxony, Bavaria, and Wurtemberg, the Prince

Primate, the Grand Duke and Grand Duchess of Baden, the Dukes of Saxony,

and the Princes of the Confederation of the Rhine.

 

     The palaces where the emperors were entertained, were furnished with

articles from the Garde-Meuble of France.  The leading actors of the

Theatre Francais gave the best French tragedies to a house where there

was, as Napoleon had promised Talma, a "parterre full of kings." There was

a hare hunt on the battle-field of Jena, to which even Prince William of

Prussia was invited, and where the party breakfasted on the spot where

Napoleon had bivouacked in 1806, the night before the battle.  There were

balls where Alexander danced, "but not I," wrote the emperor to Josephine;

"forty years are forty years." Goethe and Wieland were both presented to

Napoleon at Erfurt, and the emperor had long conversations with them.

 

     In spite of these gayeties Napoleon and Alexander found time to renew

their Tilsit agreement.  They were to make war and peace together.

Alexander was to uphold Napoleon in giving Joseph the throne of Spain, and

to keep the continent tranquil during the Peninsular war.  Napoleon was to

support Alexander in getting possession of Finland, Moldavia, and

Wallachia.  The two emperors were to write and sign a letter inviting

England to join them in peace negotiations.

 

     This was done promptly; but when England insisted that

representatives of the government which was acting in Spain in the name of

Ferdinand VII. should be admitted to the proposed meeting, the peace

negotiations abruptly ended.  Under the circumstances Napoleon could not

recognize that government.

 

     The emperor was ready to conduct the Spanish war.  His first move was

to send into the country a large body of veterans from Germany.  Before

this time the army had been made up of young recruits upon whom the

Spanish looked with contempt.  The men, inexperienced and demoralized by

the kind of guerrilla warfare which was waged against them, had become

discouraged.  The worst feature of their case was that they did not

believe in the war.  That brave story-teller Marbot relates frankly how he

felt:

 

     "As a soldier I was bound to fight any one who attacked the French

army, but I could not help recognizing in my inmost conscience that our

cause was a bad one, and that the Spaniards were quite right in trying to

drive out strangers who, after coming among them in the guise of friends,

were wishing to dethrone their sovereign and take forcible possession of

the kingdom.  This war, therefore, seemed to me wicked; but I was a

soldier, and I must march or be charged with cowardice.  The greater part

of the army thought as I did, and, like me, obeyed orders all the same."

 

     The appearance of the veterans and the presence of the emperor at

once put a new face on the war; the morale of the army was raised, and the

respect of the Spaniards inspired.

 

     The emperor speedily made his way to Madrid, though he had to fight

three battles to get there, and began at once a work of reorganization.

Decree followed decree.  Feudal rights were abolished, the inquisition was

ended, the number of convents was reduced, the custom-houses between the

various provinces were done away with, a political and military programme

was made out for King Joseph.  Many bulletins were sent to the Spanish

people.  In all of them they were told that it was the English who were

their enemies, not their allies; that they came to the Peninsular not to

help, but to inspire to false confidence, and to lead them astray.

Napoleon's plan and purpose could not be mistaken.

 

     "Spaniards [he proclaimed at Madrid], your destinies are in my hands.

Reject the poison which the English have spread among you; let your king

be certain of your love and your confidence, and you will be more powerful

and happier than ever.  I have destroyed all that was opposed to your

prosperity and greatness; I have broken the fetters which weighed upon the

people; a liberal constitution gives you, instead of an absolute, a

tempered and constitutional monarchy.  It depends upon you that this

constitution shall become law.  But if all my efforts prove useless, and

if you do not respond to my confidence, it will only remain for me to

treat you as conquered provinces, and to find my brother another throne.

I shall then place the crown of Spain on my own head, and I shall know how

to make the wicked tremble; for God has given me the power and the will

necessary to surmount all obstacles."

 

     But a flame had been kindled in Spain which no number of Napoleonic

bulletins could quench - a fanatical frenzy inspired by the priests, a

blind passion of patriotism.  The Spaniards wanted their own, even if it

was feudal and oppressive.  A constitution which they had been forced to

accept, seemed to them odious and shameful, if liberal.

 

     The obstinacy and horror of their resistance was nowhere so tragic

and so heroic as at the siege of Saragossa, going on at the time Napoleon,

at Madrid, was issuing his decrees and proclamations.  Saragossa had been

fortified when the insurrection against King Joseph broke out.  The town

was surrounded by convents, which were turned into forts.  Men, women, and

children took up arms, and the priests, cross in hand, and dagger at the

belt, led them.  No word of surrender was tolerated within the walls.  At

the beginning Napoleon regarded the defence of Saragossa as a small

affair, and wished to try persuasion on the people.  There was at Paris a

well-known Aragon noble whom he urged to go to Saragossa and calm the

popular excitement.  The man accepted the mission.  When he arrived in the

town the people hurried forth to meet him, supposing he had come to aid in

the resistance.  At the first word of submission he spoke he was assailed

by the mob, and for nearly a year lay in a dungeon.

 

     The peasants of the vicinity of Saragossa were quartered in the town,

each family being given a house to defend.  Nothing could drive them from

their posts.  They took an oath to resist until death, and regarded the

probable destruction of themselves and their families with stoical

indifference.  The priests had so aroused their religious exultation, and

were able to sustain it at such a pitch, that they never wavered before

the daily horrors they endured.

 

     The French at first tried to drive them from their posts by sallies

made into the town, but the inhabitants rained such a murderous fire upon

them from towers, roofs, windows, even the cellars, that they were obliged

to retire.  Exasperated by this stubborn resistance they resolved to blow

up the town, inch by inch.  The siege was begun in the most terrible and

destructive manner, but the people were unmoved by the danger.  "While a

house was being mined, and the dull sound of the rammers warned them that

death was at hand, not one left the house which he had sworn to defend,

and we could hear them singing litanies.  Then, at the moment the walls

flew into the air and fell back with a crash, crushing the greater part of

them, those who had escaped would collect about the ruins, and sheltering

themselves behind the slightest cover, would recommence their

sharpshooting."

 

     Marshal Lannes commanded before Saragossa.  Touched by the devotion

and the heroism of the defenders, he proposed an honorable capitulation.

The besieged scorned the proposition, and the awful process of undermining

went on until the town was practically blown to pieces.

 

     For such resistance there was no end but extermination.  For the

first time in his career Napoleon had met sublime popular patriotism, a

passion before which diplomacy, flattery, love of gain, force, lose their

power.

 

     It was for but a short time that the emperor could give his personal

attention to the Spanish war.  Certain wheels in his great machine were

not revolving smoothly.  In his own capital, Paris, there was friction

among certain influential persons.  The peace of the Continent, necessary

to the Peninsular war, and which Alexander had guaranteed, was threatened.

Under these circumstances it was impossible to remain in Spain.