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The Campaign of 1813.


revolutionary age, as a natural consequence, civil command. The peculiarity of Napoleon's character, indeed, seems to lie in this, that, from the very first, he acted on the principle that the soldier was not merely bound to obey, but entitled to command the state, whose safety he pledged; hence he took into his own hand, not only the strategics of the campaign-(which he was perfectly entitled to do), but the conditions of the peace: Campo Formio was as much his work as Rivoli. By an overwhelming instinct, he at this early period, anticipating his future destiny, identified the soldier with the government; and it is only by bringing this, his double character, to bear upon every particular moment of his future fortunes, that a proper estimate can be formed. No greater error, therefore, can possibly be than to take any one of his famous campaigns, and judge it purely on military principles. It may be, perhaps, that his first Italian campaign will suffer little or nothing by such an analysis; but certain we are, that Napoleon the Emperor, in 1806, 1809, and 1812, acted on principles, about which Napoleon the General of 1796, with all his brilliant and confounding rashness, might have hesitated. And above all in the critical year of 1813, when, after the fatal precipitation from Moscow, so much depended on the maintenance before Europe of an imposing political attitude in Germany, we shall not be sur prised, if any judgment passed upon the memorable campaigns of Lützen and Leipzig, from a purely military point of view, prove insufficient and unsatisfactory. Here, if anywhere in his portentous career, a careful balancing of contending military and political motives is necessary to a just appreciation.

That the campaign of 1813, in Germany, is beyond all comparison the most important, the most instructive, and the most interesting of all those in which Napoleon was engaged, will be manifest upon the slightest consideration. The celebrated Italian campaign on which the admirers of the brilliant soldier delight to dwell, was a master-piece of combined nimbleness and vigour that strikes the merely military imagination with an effect truly electric; but there is a uniformity about the strategic progress of the young conqueror, which leads us to suspect that he owes his astonishing success as much to stupidity, indecision, and division of counsels in his adversaries, as to his own unquestioned genius; and for moral and political interest there is absolutely nothing, and worse than nothing; an audacious young hypocrite with a few sounding phrases about liberty and glory, but who believes only in grapeshot, making use of the unsuspecting enthusiasm of one party, and the vacillating weakness of another, to work out objects of the most pure, gross, and unpalliated selfishness. In the future German wars, again, we lose even the one military point which, in his first

great campaign, forces sympathy from the most unwilling heart; we see no longer the animating spectacle of an unassisted adventurer triumphing again and again over superior masses, by sheer boldness of conception, and celerity of movement; but we see, as at Ulm, in 1805, a mouse taken in a trap by a rat-catcher, which is no wonder; or, as at Jena, in 1806, a congregation of feeble, vain-glorious lordlings and superannuated aristocrats, having their beards plucked, their teeth pulled out, their ears cropped, and their bare bodies publicly flogged by a bold bravo with a club. In these two wars, if the military interest is little, the moral interest is less; for the conqueror, there can be no sympathy with those who believe that Christianity put an end for ever to the rights (if it ever had any) of the sword; for the conquered, as little with those who feel that a government which trains its people to be mere machines, has no right to be astonished when mere machines-in the shape of guns and cannon-balls-get the better of them. Nay, even where as in the campaign of 1809, over which the chivalrous genius of Stadion, and the soldiership of the Archduke Charles presided, the Austrian wars, for once, assume a popular and a decidedly moral character-what a sad interest is it to find such days of heroic devotion as Aspern and Wagram, followed up by the weakness and pusillanimity which dictated the peace of Vienna in 1809, implying as it did the treacherous abandonment of the heroic Tyrolese, and the degradation of the imperial family, by a political marriage of which the baseness could be equalled only by the futility? The campaign of 1813, therefore, stands prominently forward, among all the German campaigns of Napoleon, as the only one, in which the immense military energy and concentrated political activity of the French ruler, had to struggle with not unworthy forces, on a fair field, and with a tremendous moral interest. Scharnhorst and Gneisenau were men of the highest order of military intellect that thoughtful Germany could produce: to these were added the French experience of Bernadotte, who, if he might reasonably be a little backward to strike blows against his ancient country, could certainly say how others might most efficiently strike them; and to put the designs of such men into execution with more eagerness than they could plan them, there was always at hand, the fiery enthusiasm, the determined pertinacity, and the hard-hitting energy of Marshal Blücher. Napoleon, therefore, though he might look for some exhibition of hereditary clumsiness from the Austrians, when they had joined the contest, was counting without his host if he expected in Lützen and Bauzen from the Prussians only a repetition of the strategic blunders that, as much as his own genius, had brought about the double prostration of Jena and Auerstädt; and much

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more did his vain military conceit, and despotic contempt of others deceive him, if he imagined that any sublime talk about French glory and honour, and fuming denunciations against Prussian defection, revolt, treason, and anarchy, were moral forces of any available weight, when set against the sworn determination of a once divided brotherhood to agree, and an insulted people to be avenged. Great truly were the forces, military and moral, strategical and political, now combined against the conqueror; but, on the other hand, his genius was undiminished; the forces at his command superior to those with which he had gained his first laurels in Italy; his control of these forces altogether despotic; and now at length on her great central battle-field of Saxony, Europe was to witness a mighty struggle, not as before of military genius with military mediocrity, of energy with weakness, of decision with vacillation, of audacity with timidity; but of material might against moral might, of soldiers against citizens, of a conqueror against the nations. On the issue of this struggle the decision of the most important question in our modern social state depended. Is it possible, and how is it possible, for civilised nations at the present day to save themselves from being ridden over, trampled down, quartered and cut in pieces, at the pleasure of any mere conqueror, after the fashion that Asia and Africa were in ancient times by Alexander the Great?

In endeavouring to gather from the campaign of 1813, an answer to this momentous question, our principal aids, hitherto, have been imported from France ;* and it is needless to say that, had our own strong feelings and interests not served as a constant counteracting principle, we should have gathered little military instruction on such a point, from such a quarter, and in the name of morality, for the most part mere hallucination and jugglery. The French, indeed, of the present age, are morally speaking incapacitated for writing the history of the war of 1813, for many reasons,-First, as they are men, it were hard to see what strong motive they could have for dwelling curiously over the story of their own greatest crimes and misfortunes; such a history it is not their business to write, so much as to use when written; and if they do write it, as they have done in several shapes, the chance is, it will be more with the view of excusing than of explaining their faults; more to show by what a strange conspiracy of untoward circumstances Napoleon was accidentally overthrown, than by what a pig-headed persistency in schemes of gross fraud and

We think we are not mistaken in saying, that the vigorous and spirited work of Colonel Mitchell is the first in this country, which has displayed an extensive and minute knowledge of the best German authorities on a subject so essentially German.

ambitious folly he overthrew himself. This is human nature, that Frenchmen in the year 1845 should think and write so of Napoleon Bonaparte; nothing more; and this is all the criticism that a sensible man requires to make on many thick-strewn passages, or rather on the whole slavish, puerile, foolish, or extravagant tone, of such works as those of Fain and Norvins; but when, beyond the mere weaknesses of frail mortality, we take into account the peculiar faults and follies of French nature, so far from being astonished at much of the perverseness of their judgments on the great events of 1813, we wonder rather that among the many interested witnesses, one and the other should have been found, who could speak on these overpowering events, sine irâ et studio comparatively, more like a man than a Frenchman, and more like a philosopher than a man. Such, for example, is Labaume, who so early as the year 1820, in his introductory observations to the Fall of Napoleon,' speaks of the catastrophe of 1813, in a tone of manly candour, dispassionate clearness, and classical chasteness, which contrasts very favourably with the superficial tinsel and false excitement of the later authors just named. Even Labaume, however, as a Frenchman and a soldier, cannot shake himself free from the magic of Napoleon's name. For, as Norvins very truly observes, though a foreign reader might rest content with a purely historical judgment on that great Epos of recent history, 'le lecteur Français, qui aime à rester sous le charme d'une grande memoire, veut de plus un jugement sur Napoleon. Il a besoin de connoître celui auquel il a obei vingt ans. Personne ne veut renoncer à ses souvenirs; ce serait abjurer sa vie passée.' Alas, for the poor Frenchman! it is indeed a sad retrospect; these twenty years of glory, shall we say, or of shame? if it be of glory, well; but if of shame, then, however French vanity may wince, the reminiscences of that shame the sinner must forget before he can become a saint; the foolish man must abjure his past life, before he can become wise; and the charm of a grand memory' must be broken-the nimbus of a false military glory dispelledbefore any Frenchman can form a sound judgment of Napoleon, or of the year 1813, which saw his fall.

The fact of the matter, indeed, is, that except in the way of purely military and diplomatic detail, as furnishers of the raw material, the French have nothing to do with the subject; for wanting the true inspiration, which is German, they must either write without inspiration and become stupid, or write with a false inspiration and become absurd. No man, be he ever so clever a poet, can write an epic poem, without sympathising with the character of the hero; and the hero of the great European epos of 1813, was not Napoleon in any sense, but the GERMAN

Bade and Richter.

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PEOPLE, and Marshal Blücher. Or if you will have the Frenchman to be the hero of this truly German epos, he is the hero, not as Achilles is in the 'Iliad,' or Ulysses in the Odyssey,' but as Satan is in 'Paradise Lost;' a hero to strike terror and fear, and in a certain subordinate sense to be admired, but above all things to be heartily hated, and in the ultimate catastrophe to be damned. To the Germans, therefore, who, of all European nations, have the best right to hate Napoleon heartily, and damn him unconditionally, the literature of his final precipitation belongs; and we proceed now to inquire shortly how they have executed

their task.

Of the two works which stand at the head of the present article, the one is a strategico-political statement and explanation of the campaign by a close-reasoning Prussian soldier, and the other a detailed history of the same by an accurate, honest, and judicious civilian. The first for impartiality of tone, comprehensiveness of view, closeness of investigation, and justness of military and political judgment, is, in our view, a perfect master-piece; a work of which any nation might be proud, which perhaps no nation, but philosophic and scientific, truthful and cosmopolitan Germany could produce. This is the opinion, also, as we are glad to see, of that highly intelligent English soldier, Colonel Mitchell: though our readers must not suppose that the Prussian officer of artillery is at all inspired with the polemical and almost persecuting_hatred of Napoleon, which so characteristically distinguishes the Englishman." The German is as cool as a judge; he does not, on the one hand, call in the 'genius of Napoleon,' as a Deus ex machinâ, on all occasions to explain things with which it has nothing earthly to do; but as little does he show any desire to deny, or undervalue that genius; you feel at every step of his great arbitration, that he is perfectly just; his award falls indifferently on either side as the plain and unvarnished evidence may dictate: and if in the end, the strong criminal is condemned, the impartial spectator feels that he stands self-convicted, that no indecent note of exultation is lifted over his fall, and that not even a jury from Heaven could have tried the case of the French invader with more patient and conscientious scrupulosity than he has received at the hand of a Prussian soldier, and a German gentleman.

Of Herr Richter's work again, though the same absolute and philosophical impartiality cannot be predicated, yet on the whole we may say, that the tone is moderate and gentlemanly; that, though perfect justice is not on all occasions done to the French, nor the bungling of allies (where they do bungle) castigated with due severity, yet he is perfectly free from those foolish exaggerations and vain-glorious exultations, which make Norvins

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